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Listener No. 4365: General Intelligence by Calmac

Posted by Dave Hennings on 16 October 2015

Last year’s Calmac (No. 4300, 22 Across) marked the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip. That puzzle had misprints in the definition for each clue with the correct letters giving help and instruction. Here we had 21 misprints anywhere in the clue, with the incorrect letters leading to a quotation. (Of course, it was only when I was half way through the puzzle that I realised the significance of that last difference.)

Listener 43651ac Take new stock of equids in reserve (8) should have been easy with its obvious misprint of ‘equids’ for ‘equips’!! 11ac, however, was an easy lead-in with OTHELLO, and 12 Elongated braid of heir takes time and trouble (4) actually was obviously ‘heir’ for ‘hair’, leading to TAIL. 17 CEORL, 20 ESAU (with ‘Edam’ for ‘Edom’), 2dn AORTA and 5dn SLOE got the top of the grid going well, and enabled REASSES to go in at 1ac without a misprint at all.

I needed Mrs B to ferret out the fish MORRHUAS at 14ac Shaking harms our fond pond fish (8) My copy of the new 10th edition arrived this week. I decided to splash out on the hardback in the hope that it wouldn’t get as mangled as my old copy has become.

As I was coming down the left side of the grid, I enjoyed the sneaky misprint at 31ac Conspirers against ministers call Marie bent (9), where ‘Marie’ stood in for ‘Maria’. This was soon followed by the nice &lit. at 35ac Round, largely citrus-yellow bit of produce from the East? (6) leading to POMELO (O LEMO[N] P reversed).

I also enjoyed the misprints at 19dn Non-binding trial tainted propaganda’s halo (5), ‘halo’ for ‘half’ giving APPRO, 44dn Go off music hall ace, perhaps (4) for TURN (‘ace’ for ‘act’) and 45dn Waltz acknowledged in past Victorian dated bit (4), with the hidden ZACK, simple once you substitute ‘past’ for ‘part’.

With a lot of the diagram filled, the misprints I had gave me central let—of c·ues. This didn’t actually give me the quotation, but, as the preamble stated, it led me to one by going off on yet another journey to count the letters in clues. We seem to have had this task quite a bit recently, and this time it was the middle ones that were required, each clue having an odd number of letters.

A short time later, I had Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma and strangle………. I came to a halt because the last five clues had an even letter count. It took me until I had finished the clues, for it to dawn on me that the central two letters of these last clues would be needed to finish the quotation with d Atahualpa.

It didn’t need my ODQ to get the quotation, but it did for me to identify the source — Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–59). I was relieved to find that this was perhaps an appropriate saying in the early part of the 19th century, since it certainly wasn’t a fact that me and my mid-20th century class-mates knew (not that I have carried out a survey of the few that I am still in occasional contact with).

Listener 4365 My EntryA bit of research (by which I mean googling) led me to the two perpetrators, although various spellings exist for both them and their victims. MONTEZUMA II (c. 1466 – 1520) was one of the last rulers of the Aztec empire, and was killed during the initial stages of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, by Conquistador Hernán Cortés. ATAHUALPA was the emperor of the Inca Empire before the Spanish conquest, during which, the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro captured him and used him to control the Inca Empire. He was eventually executed by strangulation.

FRANCISCO PIZARRO and HERNAN CORTES could be found in the top right and bottom right quadrants respectively, each surrounding their victim. So thanks to Calmac for an informative and enjoyable puzzle, and for sending me boss-eyed again with all the letter counting!


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