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Posts Tagged ‘Nutmeg’

Listener No 4493: Devilry by Nutmeg

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 Mar 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 Mar 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!

2018-03-10 23.39.54 copy

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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‘Whoppers’ by Nutmeg

Posted by Encota on 26 May 2017

First of all, thank you Nutmeg for a surprisingly hard, for me at least, puzzle.  I think it’s largely down to not knowing how many letters the Answer is going to contain that always seems to slow me down, as I’ve mentioned here before.

I soon got to wondering how long a list of such words Nutmeg had to play with when creating this grid?  In the spirit of the Entries associated with the ‘normal’ clues in this puzzle, the best I quickly could come up with was:

‘Detangle metallised fibrillar velveret’

i.e. all such Entries were formed by placing a fish inside the initial Answer to the normal clue.  A good example been the first such clue at 4ac:

 Keep close to edge, showing strength (9)

…being FORTE formed as FORT E.  Simply add a fish (here TUNA) and FORTUNATE appears.

My LOI was

Hard Left briefly softens (7)

The checked letters pointed strongly towards the Answer being RETS, as did the definition of ‘softens’ but for some reason it took me ages to recognise ‘Left’ as a reversal indicator, such that RETS was formed as STER(n).  Add a fish (GAR) to form GARRETS.

There were 12 such clues. All others each provided an extra letter, which in order spelt out:  ARE FISHERMEN ALL LIARS OR DO ONLY LIARS (FISH)?  (William Sherwood Fox).  So FISH was not only missing from the phrase but also from the Answers and so needed adding to form the Entries.  At least that’s how I read it!

The Title seems very straightforward this week, though I may be missing something.  I was tempted to add a comment referring to, “The one I caught was this big” but (a) wasn’t sure it would work so well without a vlog and (b) couldn’t reach the keyboard whilst doing so…

And finally, this puzzle clearly links back to a theme from 2016 – after all, surely no-one could claim it’s coincidence that CHAR can be found in ‘the SearCH ARea’…


Tim / Encota

P.S. I was delighted to receive my first ever Listener win of the latest ChambersRevised 13th Edition’ Dictionary during the past month, for Handyman’s April Fool ‘Spaghetti Tree’ re-creation.  Like others, I have been writing ‘Chambers (2016) is the preferred dictionary’, or similar, in my Preambles over the last few months without actually owning a copy, so it is very useful to be sure that I had received the right one!  I suspect I’m not the only one to be confused by this being called the ‘Revised 13th’ and dated 2014 even though it was first printed in 2016.  If I understand it correctly it is labelled 2014 because its word content = those of the 13th edition plus the infamous ‘missing words’ list, neither of which are new in their own right.  [That’s the list that includes the ‘abbot of unreason’, amongst others, if you’re asking.]

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Whoppers by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 May 2017

We always enjoy solving Nutmeg’s crosswords, so downloaded this one with a smile. That smile became a little strained when we read that some answers had to have ‘something’ added before entry in the grid, and that the remaining clues contained an extra letter  that had to be removed before solving. We mused for a while about what the whoppers were going to be and opted for the obvious LIARS, suspecting that we might be looking for something of Nutmeg’s style like her lovely ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, or a puzzle where ‘the more Pooh looked the more Piglet wasn’t there’. There’s a Hilaire Belloc poem about Matilda who told lies and was finally burned but it isn’t ‘short’. Nothing to do but solve.

Ah, yes, of course I had to confirm Nutmeg’s continued membership of the Elite Listener Setters’ Tippling set-up and of course she qualified with ‘Madeira’s base Catholic cu[l]ts in a row (7)’. The clue gave us SERCIAL (C in SERIAL) but we needed the Big Red Book to tell us that sercial is a Riesling-like grape used to make the driest Madeira. Barmen appeared later on when we had started filling our grid with fish and the clue ‘Troops initially withheld assent (6)’ gave us (A)MEN to which we added the BAR. Membership confirmed. Cheers, Nutmeg!

Solving went very slowly at first. As always, we found the clues beautifully set and smiled at a few. ‘It might have been pure b[l]ack antelope on eland’s tail (4)’ gave us another word that needed the BRB to tell us that ‘pure’ could be DUNG, so a GNU was reversed on the tail of the elanD. Nice! We were beginning to make sense of the extra letters and had confirmed that the penultimate word of our short verse was LIARS when that lovely H coming out of ‘W[h]inged gave us FLEW (with a homophone for ‘flu’) and gave us enough letters to realize that FISHERMEN were our liars. ARE FISHERMEN ALL LIARS OR DO ONLY LIARS FISH? Now that we knew that FISH was the missing final word, our grid fill speeded up enormously. We understood why a clue that led to PORTAL was entered as PORTRAYAL and PIKESTAFF had to complete the clue that led to STAFF (Singular river workers = S TAFF).

Upset hare

We almost worked backwards since CHAR, COD, ID and LING were sure to be there, and, of course, they were, together with TUNA in FORTUNATE, GAR in GARRETS, EEL in FREELANCE, PARR in SPARROW and ROACH in BROACHED. Great fun, thank you, Nutmeg!

What on earth, or rather what at sea was a poor jumbled little HARE doing in all that watery stuff! Of course, he was there, but somewhat upset by all the fishy business, down in the right hand bottom corner.

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Listener No 4449: Whoppers by Nutmeg

Posted by Dave Hennings on 26 May 2017

Nutmeg’s previous Listener had entries which started together but then diverged left and right… bifurcating, to you and me. Before that, we had some drawing and colouring in to represent Sherlock Holmes stories.

I have never met Nutmeg, but she always manages to make life slightly difficult for me and her puzzles are never a quick solve. This week, we had to find out what needed adding to a number of answers before entry in the grid. Clues to the other entries had an extra letter that needed to be removed before solving, with them revealing a short verse extract.

14ac IRMA and 15 STARE went in fairly quickly, followed by BARED which needed three letters adding to make its 8-letter grid entry. Another half-dozen were then slotted in, culminating in SURCOAT at 32ac.

The downs were just as tricky with all those extra letters. However, 26dn ORD intersected with the C of SURCOAT, and ORCHARD seemed the likely entry. It seemed likely that we were dealing with either tea, housemaids or fish. I dismissed the first two on the basis that the puzzle’s title would be Brewery or Knees-up. So fish it was, and confirmed when I got FORTE/FORTUNATE in the top row and PIKESTAFF across the middle.

That enabled the north-west quadrant to be finished, and after that the grid came together nicely. Mind you, it wasn’t particularly quick, as I had expected — just short of two hours from beginning to end. The short verse was from Silken Lines and Silver Hooks by William Sherwood Fox:

We ask a simple question
And that is all we wish:
Are fishermen all liars?
Or do only liars fish?


All in all, a typically fun workout from Nutmeg, although I’d have preferred 37ac to be AUDI rather than ALDI!

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