Listener No 4345: Essentials by Samuel
Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 May 2015
One of the stalwarts of the crossword world this week, and it was almost certain that we were in for an entertaining puzzle. We were greeted by misprints and extra wordplay letters (30 in total), missing wordplay letters (three), and a clash (one). The misprint corrections were to be converted to numbers helping to draw eleven straight lines in the grid.
1ac was SEISM. Thanks, Samuel… off to a quick start. I switched to the downs. 1dn Tiddler’s sister wearing silk? Quite the opposite (7) wasn’t as obvious, especially as I assumed the corrected misprint would be ‘Toddler’. Luckily, 2dn EOAN, 3 IMP and 4 SPRIG were easier. I decided to carry on with the down clues, since 4ac New trainer’s allowed in flying post (9, two words) eluded me. 5 ASPER, 8 ELTS and 9 TIE didn’t though, and returning to 4ac, I could now see AIR LETTER.
10dn TAUTOMER must be the sort of word that setters dread, especially if a misprint needs to be hidden. Chambers gives tautomer as “(chem) n a readily inconvertible isomer” with isomer “(chem) n a substance, radical, or ion isomeric with another; an atomic nucleus having the same atomic number and mass as another or others but a different energy state”. My brain felt the strain just typing that! Samuel gives us “substance converted to another by switching
ponds bonds”. (I suspect Samuel used How to Bluff Yourself in Chemistry.)
My solving went fairly smoothly with only one slight mistake on the way. For 33dn In Miami, agent cracking down on supply of slow cargo transport rolled up first (4), which was obviously NARC, I had the corrected misprint as ‘snow’ (cocaine, morphine or heroin) as opposed to ‘blow’ (cannabis in British slang or cocaine in the US). That would have meant that my final line segment would have gone hurtling towards and off the left edge of the grid.
Eventually, all the directions given by the extra letters in the wordplay (N, SE, NE, etc) and values given by the misprint corrections, enabled a large MAP to be spelt out, starting with the O of OORT or the A of SAWED.
I suppose there were two ways of now reaching the correct conclusion:
- Consider what MAP, COMPASS (the unclued 12ac) and SENSE OF DIRECTION (40 41) could help with;
- Suspect that there were other clues in the grid and realise why the O was at the start of the lines that spelt out MAP
I was in the first camp. Although I toyed with Treasure Hunt for some time (also 12 letters, but we’d have been told it was two words), ORIENTEERING wasn’t too far behind. This was confirmed by using the O of OORT, rather than the A of SAWED, which became SOWED; the other way round would have presented AORT as a non-word.
So, having used the O, I was still baffled as to how the rest of the word was spelt out in the grid. Since I was going to be away in France for the weekend before this blog appeared, I decided to get a head start on the animation above. It was only then that I saw the letters that my line segments passed through and all became clear. Excellent.
My favourite clues this week were 25dn Without strip? Order to leave the pitch (7, two words) for SEND OFF (SEN DOFF), and 35dn 1970s band
win in, missing the end of Alan Wells’ perfect race? (4) for ELOI. Oh yes, and 21dn Expert team could produce autoerotism with this (8) for VIRTUOSO (V missing from wordplay)!
Thanks, Samuel, As hoped, an entertaining and enjoyable puzzle.