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Wordplay by Schadenfreude

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 November 2014

Schadenfreude 001Schadenfreude! Well we know that we are in for a bit of a challenge but that we are in safe hands. There has been more than one Schadenfreude crossword around recently – indeed, there is one in the new Magpie (we actually solved it when we had completed this one but no comments allowed as it is still current!) A six-line preamble telling us that the ‘wordplay leads to the answer with a single letter omitted’ in 12 clues and that ‘in row order these spell out an appropriate word, which can also be read as an instruction …’

When things become more complicated, like this, we realize that it is time to examine the title carefully then begin solving. The title doesn’t tell us a great deal.Obviously there is going to be ‘wordplay’ so I do a quick skim through the clues, noticing that there is a smattering of food, some dancing and sex appeal but not a lot to confirm Schadenfreude’s adherence to the tipsy Listener Compilers’ Club – Ah, but he has ‘A spirit is able to return on small boat (6)’ Could that be CAN in COG giving us COGNAC? Membership renewed!

We expect fairly difficult clues from Schadenfreude but these are pretty generous and we have the good luck to solve APNEA ‘Breathing problem apparently almost finished (5)’ (AP + NEA[t]), ANNATTA ‘A dye turned brown after a time (6)’ (AT + TAN< + O or A – Oh dear, our first dilemma), LAMEDH, ‘A letter plate that is German (6)’ (LAME + D.H. = Dass heisst) and HAMLET ‘Play actor suffered (6)’ (HAM + LET) and we surmise at once that our across answers are going into the grid in reverse. We have very recently solved another crossword that required that device, so perhaps our minds were ready for it. At any rate, it makes for a speedy grid fill.

What do we notice next? On every row, in one of the unchecked cells, we seem to be inserting not one, but two letters, revealing our doubts about which of two options to choose. ANATTO or ANATTA? DIKA or DITA? AREOLE or AREOLA? CHAD or CHAR? ALMA or ALME? HERN or TERN? BENNE or BENNI? EVAN, EUAN or EWAN? GAIA or GAEA? BRAISE or BAIZE? and LIBERIA or SIBERIA? We will probably need LIBERIA because we have already found TOGO, INDIA, SRI LANKA, ERITREA and maybe CHAD which seem to be countries and SIBERIA doesn’t exactly qualify as a ‘country’ does it? Five of those consisted of wordplay only, so we can eliminate the CHAD/CHAR choice as there was a ‘Fish’ in the definition.

Clever stuff this! We ponder for a while then see that those ambiguities can be resolved to give the word ALTERNATIVES.  More Numpty head scratching until we recall that we have just talked about that intriguing clue ‘Shellfish I see stopping behind (7)’ (IV in NATES = NATIVES – only this week we learned from another crossword that oysters raised in a British bed are known as natives. Fascinating things, oysters, aren’t they? Many years ago, I visited an oyster bed that my brother had designed, near Oban and learned that the creatures can actually change sex and fertilise themselves – how’s that for a thought!)

The preamble told us that we had to change two letters in the grid and now we are told to ALTER NATIVES – ‘This will reveal a definition of the five answers whose clues consist of wordplay only’ … Well, that gives us NATIONS doesn’t it? Simples! … and a word that has a definition confirming the way in which across answers are entered. I am enjoying this. STERNS has appeared and I need a definition of that word which = 4,8. Something to do with BACK obviously but I have to go to Chambers and smile aloud when I read ‘ROW BACKWARDS.

I would echo what the editors said some time ago (in that one that caught lots of us out – ho-hum!) More like this!  Many thanks for the enjoyment, Schadenfreude.

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