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Posts Tagged ‘Devilry’

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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‘Dry*’ by Nutmeg

Posted by Encota on 30 March 2018

*OK, so it was actually called Devilry: the aim in exactly half of the clues was to add the characters of a(n unrelated) word to form a new word or phrase.  And to stop this appearing too random, the expanded phrase made more sense than the original shorter clue.  So perhaps D(EVIL)RY sort of works!

Many of those new phrases were delightful in their own right and, if I understand it correctly (I am new to Printer’s Devilry (PD) puzzles having only ever solved one or two before), making a plausible phrase turn into a more apposite one seems to very much be the skill required of the setter.  I tried to write just one good PD clue and failed miserably – if you haven’t ever done so then give it a try.  You are almost bound to do better than I did!

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Of course, Nutmeg feels that ‘simply’ having all clues in this format would be far too easy, so she chooses to randomly intersperse them with standard cryptic clues!  Not only that, Nutmeg clearly feels that would be too easy too, and so makes a misprint in each definition of these second type of clues!!  And, naturally, the solver has no idea initially which are which.  Easy, eh?

So, where does one start?  I found the misprint clues the easier ones to spot, as their wordplay was unadulterated – and my first in was 40ac’s:

  There’s no escaping at end of work, times being changed (6)

It looked like it would be (wor)K plus an anagram of TIMES*.  The word was clearly KISMET but where was the misprint?  Ah yes, There’s no escaping it – fate, that is – so the corrected letter is I.  Only 22 left to find!

My first Printer’s Devilry clue solved was 19a:

  At high tea, brought up small fish (4)

The clue’s structure pointed towards ‘small fish’ being the definition and the start might newly read ‘High tide …’ and so it was straightforward to spot IDES, some small fish.  The new sentence of course then became:

  At high tIDE Sea brought up small fish (4)

Only 22 PD clues left to find as well!

There were some very clever sentences written here by Nutmeg – perhaps not surprising as I rate her as one of the very best clue writers around.  One example, the PD clue at 33ac:

Hold in the deep may affect skipper’s knock (5)

It’s initially sounding quite nautical, isn’t it, what with ‘the deep’ and ‘skipper’, for example.  However, add WIFIE and it becomes very cricket-based:

HoW I FIEld in the deep may affect skipper’s knock (5)

Very, very clever!!

The final instruction from the 23 misprints was to SHADE SIX SYMMETRIC DEVILS.  I found four quickly, with the last two taking just a few moments longer.  Another clever feature of Nutmeg’s grid was the symmetry of these ‘devilish’ words.

In summary, a great grid with some hard but very fair intermixed clues.  Thanks Nutmeg!

Tim / Encota

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