Listener No. 4394: Against Expectation by Duck
Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 May 2016
No need to introduce this week’s setter, except to say that his last Listener was back in 2009 and had the canonical hours as its theme. Here we were faced with six clues that were masquerading as, well, something else! All the others had an extra letter in the wordplay that would give advice.
1ac was soon slotted in as PEDANT and I perused the intersecting downs. 2 was DANGER and 4 was SISTER. These were easy clues. Except that the S of SISTER didn’t agree with the T of PEDANT. Obviously, anagrams were involved here. [!!]
After two hours, I only had 20 clues solved and no sign of a PDM. Luckily, the extra letters in the wordplay would tell all, but they were very slow in being teased out of their clues. And it was about this time that a rereading of the preamble told me that “…2 and 8 can be found in the OED. But 2 was DANGER, wasn’t it, and that sure as hell was in my copy of Chambers! Obviously 2dn was something else, and I got really confused.
Moreover, the six special clues looked as they they were yielding gobbledy-gook as entries. Another two (or was it three or even four) hours later and all was eventually revealed as the extra letters spelt out Seek letter mixture; gravity defied. The clues weren’t cryptic at all, but just contained a mixture of the letters of the entry required.
They were all entries climbing upwards and were types of apple: BRAMLEY, IDARED, RUSSET, CODLIN, RIBSTON… and 8dn CR•SP•N. Now that wasn’t in Chambers apparently but was in OED and looked like CRISPIN, or was it CRISPEN (or even CRESPIN)? Luckily, my local library has online access to the OED, so I used that, only to find that the only crispin it gives is “A name given to a shoemaker, in allusion to Crispinus or St. Crispin…” and that was in Chambers anyway. There was also crispen which just means to make more crisp.
A search of the full text gave the following: “Mutsu, n. Chiefly N. Amer. A large yellow-green variety of dessert apple developed in Japan as a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo; the tree bearing this fruit. Also called Crispin“.
Now, as I write this blog, I cannot believe that the average solver was expected to find this reference in order to be sure of the spelling required and I feel sure that I must be missing something. Does the paper version of the OED actually include Crispin?
The idea of the puzzle was interesting, and the hiding of letter mixtures in totally valid cryptic clues that led to misleading words was indeed clever. Thanks to Duck for a real toughie. But crispin?!