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Devilry by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 March 2018

We smiled when we saw that the crossword was by Nutmeg (hers always have attractive themes and entertaining clues). Then our smiles changed to gloomy grimaces of consternation. Surely not Printer’s Devilry! … and misprints too. We know that PD clues are either loved or loathed with the second camp of solvers being significantly larger. The problem is that those are a kind of advanced hypothetical word search with no helpful definition appearing in the clue. The solver has to attempt to spot the most likely place in the deviled sentence for the solution word to have been removed, and with Nutmeg’s skill, those are likely to have been well disguised.

Fortunately there were 23 normal clues (well, clues with misprints) and one of those immediately yielded all the proof I needed that Nutmeg retains her entry right to the Listener Setters’ Toping Outfit, ‘Drunken old lecher ignoring fourth letter from one of France’s cuties (8)’ We removed the D from OLDLECHER* and found ROCHELLE and opted for cIties as the corrected misprint. ‘Drunken old lecher’ is rather extreme for Nutmeg, the sober and graceful lady setter (the only other one currently setting Listener puzzles, I believe – that’s under 4% – where are you ladies?)

Later we found that the tipple is ALCOPOPs – ‘Inspector found venAL COP OPerating protection racket (7)’ so cheers, Nutmeg. I think that clue shows how well some of these PDs were hidden and we frequently found ourselves working backwards from potential solutions, to fit the letters into the clues. WINCEY, for example, had to go into ‘In the 19th Century, a felon left for India (6)’ It makes perfect sense, as does ‘a feW IN CEYlon left for India.

There was Nutmeg humour too. ‘Not getting enough? Chat up another dish! (4)’ … but it was not rumpy-pumpy that was lacking this time. ‘Not getting enough? ChAPS Eat up another dish. We solved steadily and our initial dismay turned to pleasure as those misprint clues coupled with the PD led to a fairly speedy grid fill. RALPH, as the printer’s devil soon appeared but we had completely missed the thematic hint in the final clue, ‘Model satanist continued his work (4)’ Model sat anD ARTist continued his work. We had a full grid with just one clue unsolved. Was TANGI or HANGI going to fill 18 across? However, the corrected misprints were obligingly giving us SHADE SIX SYMMETRICAL DEVILS and at once SATAN appeared, resolving that final doubt.

We back-solved to another delightful example of PD that was totally thematic. ‘Being an easily tempted Christian saTAN GIves me a lot of trouble (5)’. We had the hint that the devils were symmetric so there was no frustrating grid stare as FIEND, DAIMON, BELIAL, CLOOTS and HORNIE came into view. Graphically thematic too, not only is there a Christian cross but also an upside down satanic one! Lovely setting; many thanks to Nutmeg.

 

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