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‘His’ by Nebuchadnezzar

Posted by Encota on 1 December 2017

Firstly, thanks to Nebuchadnezzar for a very cleverly constructed puzzle.

In solving, it helped me to spot ‘DUDENEY’ quite early on at 1 down as, like many other Listener solvers, I suspect, knew a fair bit about him (and Sam LOYD) through the years of articles from Martin Gardner.  I wasn’t immediately sure if 1d’s DUDENEY was one of the two clues that didn’t have a definition or was some sort of all-in-one – but that became clear later.

There were a couple of points where I wondered initially if something was wrong in the puzzle but, of course, it was, as often is the case for me, a PICNIC* moment.  The first was 11d’s:

  Trim spruce amidst northern mist (4)

With SMIR being hidden backwards in tRIMSpruce, then it appeared that northern was a ‘reversed upwards’ indicator but with the associated double duty problem in the clue (since SMIR needed also to be defined as a ‘northern mist’, I believe.  Eventually, when I could see that ‘amidst’ was the word to be removed, it became clear that this was actually SMIR(k).  Very, very sneaky – I loved it!!

Talking of K’s (as we nearly were!) the second was the mention of the letter K in the Preamble.  Surely SNAKE could easily have been SNARE or similar, I first thought, so that there could be a clash in the right place for the top-right Dot.  What a simple thing to fix, I thought.  But no, PICNIC still applied, and the cleverly hidden ‘THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX’ of course needed one character to stand alone, and K it was.  [Excellent re-use of the ‘TH’ in the shape as well – a superb construction!]

I was briefly caught out by LECH and LETCH in 42a, too.  The latter was not in one of my versions of the Dictionary, so I initially thought this must be a clue with a missing T.   Again, my error – all became clear once I could see what the indicated letters needed to spell out.

I still haven’t quite worked out the Title.  I first wondered if the H of Henry and the S of Sam had any relevance?  Then I wondered if it was about the ownership of the puzzles, as I had read that Loyd had published some of Dudeney’s without his permission.  Perhaps it’s that?  Not sure!

Great fun – thanks again!

Tim / Encota

*Problem In Chair, Not In Crossword

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