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Listener No 4493: Devilry by Nutmeg

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 March 2018

Last year’s Nutmeg concerned William Sherwood and his comment about mendacious piscators (“are fishermen all liars?”). This week, we had a mixture of misprints and printer’s devilry clues.

“Well,” said I (to myself), “a long time since we’ve had PDs in a Listener.” I proceeded with my solve, and only when writing this blog did I look to see exactly how long. It seemed that it had been only two years — Dragon’s PD about decimalisation. I’d have put it at ten or more! OK, before that, we had to go back to 2010 and Pointer’s Double Devilry.

Anyway, this week’s Nutmeg puzzle turned out to be a real toughie for me. Obviously the mixture of two clue types didn’t help, but the lack of a helpful definition in the PD clues didn’t help even more.

I started on the acrosses… and then gave up on them after a dozen or so since not one entry had been slotted in the grid. I tried the downs and they were much more forgiving. I use the qualifier “much more” somewhat loosely. After an hour, I had just 14 entries in the grid, over half of them being from PD clues.

A short while later and I had •A•P• for the unclued 25ac, and it was obvious that RALPH, the printer’s devil himself, would appear there. I really should have got that after reading the preamble, although I suppose it could just as easily have been AFRIT.

After a couple of quite long sessions, the grid was complete. I suppose I wasn’t surprised to make heavy going of two clues: 18ac Being an easily tempted Christian[,] sa[TAN GI]ves me a lot of trouble (5), and 30ac Religious vigilantes nabbed Sikh in T[URBAN ER]ring (7) — the first for a word I’d not heard of, and the second for a comparative that I don’t use very often (and with a clue that reads a bit odd). Also, I wasn’t helped by having it in my head for a long time that 29dn In the 19th century, a fe[W IN CEY]lon left for India (6) was a misprint clue!

At last though, the corrected misprint letters spelt out Shade six symmetric devils. SATAN and FIEND appeared in rows 5 and 9, and CLOOTS, HORNIE, DAIMON and BELIAL in four columns.

Over at the Inquisitor, John H has asked for comments on whether solvers would like to see Printer’s Devilry, Playfair or even numerical puzzles there. I wrote that I would not be averse to any of them, but that Nutmeg had somewhat put me off PDs. Still, we all have our pet hates and peeves, and I probably just got out of bed the wrong side!

Thanks for a tough workout, Nutmeg.
 

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One Response to “Listener No 4493: Devilry by Nutmeg”

  1. shirleycurran said

    Interesting, Dave, that our difficulties and comments concerned the same clues, as is so often the case.

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