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Posts Tagged ‘Printer’s Devilry’

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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‘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!

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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Printer’s Devilry by Qid, Etaoin Shrdlu

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 March 2010

Ataoin Shrdlu

I wonder why the Dumbo easy clues team didn’t go straight to the Internet to research Linotype. It would possibly have saved us hours of cold solving had we found ETAOIN SHRDLU several hours earlier. As it was, we had had our first breakthrough, when we realized that the solutions that were not fitting into our grid were the four-letter ones. Qid had generously made those the easy ones to solve and we had a neat list of twelve, but no idea how to adapt them. We had: WASE, KAIM, DERE, OUZO, TANK, SLIM, SALK, ANNE, BASS, BYTE, ANAL and TEFF. There’s our first red herring! Of course we should know by now that ANNE is far too obvious for a Listener setter in ‘Bird seen in Channel? To some extent’

It was hours later, in the final stages, that we converted ANNE to GULL with the reasoning that to some extent GULL was found in ‘gulf’ – Yes, of course we should have considered ‘gully’ but, at that stage it was no longer relevant.

With all those clues and another sixteen solved, we were up against a blank wall. How to work out which of the remaining eight had extra letters and which had misprints? In despair, I fed ETAO???????? (the extra letters from PLASTERSTONE, NEOTEINIA, STENGAH and APOTHEM) into a word-finder (does this count as desperation or cheating?) and ETAOIN SHRDLU appeared. Of course!

It was a downhill romp from that point on. I have wondered aloud before how many solvers find the solution then work backwards, making the misprints fit. As usual, we did. We met with a problem when TOY had to become HOY and somehow explain the clue, ‘One who’s left, for example, a toy on granny’s demise’ LEGATARY was the answer, we knew, as it intersected with UGLI, TRAMMELER, SPICAS, MITT, UNLOBULAR and LIRA.  However, we played with HOY, a boat, and that didn’t seem to fit with TAR until we saw the second meaning of HOY – to incite which tied in with the third meaning of TAR – to incite to fight.  Still, even if we assumed that Y was ‘granny’s demise’ we still had the problem of the first letter of LEGATARY. ‘One who’s left’ seems to be a legatary, but where is the L in the wordplay – or can a letter be used twice in an &lit. way? Help!

For the 2,4,4,2 notion that Linotype operators would have had in mind, we were playing with ‘… head on’. Lead didn’t immediately spring to mind since lead alone would have been a rather soft material – it needed the antimony of the alloy to expand as it cooled. However, I suppose compilers have to be allowed a little leeway! TO RUSH LEAD IN was confirmed by the corrected misprints.

I am not sure how we got the U corrected letter from ‘Ferns in Laramie as briefly cultivated’ either. But then – if solving were easy, what would we do with our Saturdays?

Qid certainly challenged us!

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