Listener No. 4402: Right and Wrong by tnap
Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 July 2016
Another new setter this week with tnap’s turn to entertain us. (Note to self: don’t use tnap as the first word in a sentence as auto-correct is bound to insist on capitalising him.)
Here we had 35 answers that would need a “wrong” letter replaced by a “right” letter, not always making a real word. Hmmm… I don’t wish to seem daft, but isn’t that a misprint?! Moreover, six wouldn’t be checked by a crossing entry — and that seemed odd. Anyway, the answers with a misprint also had a misprint in their clue. This struck me as a back-to-front way of putting it — the clues with a misprint had a misprint in their entry. The correct letters in the clues would lead to a quotation.
I scanned the across and down clues, and was disappointed to get less than ten of each, even though some of the misprints seemed obvious, such as the showy glass items at 1ac (SCHMELZES) and the intoxicating chew at 7dn (ARECA-NUT).
As the grid filled, I was struck by the large number of Ds and Ts that seemed to be involved in the clashes. And not for the first time in this sort of puzzle, I realised that identifying one wrong letter in an entry didn’t preclude there being another. In fact, every letter could differ from its crossing entries [as proved to be the case with 31dn OLID, for which the crossing entries supplied ETSC].
There were some good misprints here, but my favourite was in 32ac Sauces from far away perhaps add this rich blend to make chaudfroid (3), sauces being the misprint of saucer and leading to UFO. 13dn I irritate old taxman, avoiding customs house (5) was also entertaining, revealing that cheater was an old tax collector!
This wasn’t a particularly quick solve — about 3½ hours, I think, and I must admit that I pretty much needed a full grid before the quotation became clear. Eventually it was revealed as the third line in the following verse:
Two men wrote a Lexicon, Liddell and Scott;
Some parts were clever, but some parts were not.
Hear, all ye learned, and read me this riddle,
How the wrong part wrote Scott, and the right part wrote Liddell.
This is from Edward Waterfield, a Westminster schoolboy, so presumably not very old. I got this by a bit of googling… which was also needed to track down the OED entry since it is only in the index under Lexicon, Liddell and Scott, not learned or riddle.
And so, according to the fourth line, it seemed that letters from SCOTT would need to be replaced by letters from LIDDELL. This struck me as a somewhat loose rule, and I wasn’t particularly impressed. At least it explained the “right” and “wrong” wording given by the preamble.
I decided it was time to create a neater version of my grid to identify the “unchecked” substitutions, and to figure out exactly what was going on. I started by filling in the unmutilated entries and then went through the acrosses and downs, completing those where the normal entries had already identified the misprint. A couple of iterations of this finally identified the six entries where the misprint was lurking in an unchecked square. These were all letters from SCOTT and so needed to be replaced by letters from LIDDELL. But which? My first guess was that the letters of LIDDELL would be spelt out in sequence reading across and down the grid. Sadly, this failed.
Next, I wrote the correct letters that I had identified against each clue in turn, across then down. (The smarter ones amongst you will have done this from the start!) As I wrote L then I then D, I realised that I would end up with five LIDDELLs. I consequently wondered whether SCOTT would appear seven times.
As I wrote the “right” and “wrong” letters side by side, my somewhat tepid enthusiasm for the theme turned into one of delight as, one by one, five LIDDELLs trounced seven SCOTTs. Moreover, the six unchecked substitutions ensured that the exact nature of the replacements was fully understood.
Many thanks to tnap for a most enjoyable PDM, and apologies for initially underestimating the beauty of the puzzle. I hope there’s another one in the wings.