lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, November 05, 2007

Province of knowledge

"Sleep with grimiest of violent idiots."

No, it is not advice, recommendation or exhortation. It is what happens when I have to wait a month to post about a crossword I solved. I ended up doing anagrams of the part of the quotation that formed special instruction to Guardian's October Genius puzzle. I've more horrendous ones, and you can thank me for not inflicting them on you.

Genius puzzles are generally tough to crack, and Lavatch is a good compiler. When the special instructions, which usually accompany such puzzles, state that

10 17 12 18: this principle applies to ten clues in the manner to be determined. Other clues are normal,

my heart soars.

When I am asked to give lessons in solving cryptic crosswords, all I can say is, it requires practice, memory and diligence. More, it requires a cussed-ness of mind that won't let one shrug and move on to other things. A good vocabulary helps, as does a handy Roget's, and treating words in clues as instructions. I told a friend recently that I could possibly explain how I solved a crossword, but it would entail some two hundred words or more to explain how I arrive at one solution. It is some free association, thinking about definitions, other meanings of words and more. Experience helps too.

It is not as though I get the solutions instantaneously, not as such. Some solutions do leap out, others have to be worked out, yet others guessed at and checked. Solving a cryptic crossword is never a straightforward 'start at one across, go through the numbers' affair, even if the quick or concise puzzles sometimes are.

10 17 12 18: So primitive, with little good sense if rambling, according to 13(2,2,3,9,2,6,2,6)
13: What? Son's partner gets married in unappealing locations (6)

A thirty-four letter long solution that needs another solution for clarification! I remember actually rubbing my hands together in anticipation.

Now Lavatch is as tricky as they get. Not only did I have to figure out what the long clue states and how it ties in with 13 across, I still had to figure out which ten of the clues the rule applied to. The good thing was that that was all, no further tinkering was required.

I solved the obvious ones first; then tentatively pencilled in what seemed the right solution, never mind I didn't know why yet. The grid was such that the longest clues were only thirteen squares, and there was only one thirteen letter long clue… it was frustrating. I mean, I thought 7 down was psalm.

I forgot to mention, a lot of charity for him (5)

But why? Then light shone. PS, for postscript, most of alms for charity- him as homophone for hymn. Eureka moment indeed.

So 13 would be m for married, in unappealing locations which are dives or hmm, holes… Holmes. What? Son's partner as Watson's partner, yeah, but is it Sherlock Holmes? Somebody else? What did Sherlock Holmes say, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever, however improbable and all that? That doesn't fit with the thirty-four letters… Wait, it is an anagram, that rambling is an anagram indicator. Let's see: two, two, three- first approximation: it is the? And what letters are left? Wait. Solve some others.

See? It is easier to solve a clue than to write about how the solution is arrived at.

Hips and hands going down?(9)
Firm prohibitions for following tense male reptiles (10)

Ha! Shipwreck and here is a beauty, thecodonts.

That gives a w and an o in the first six-letter part of the clue. Hmm, think. It is the something of something…to? By? At? In? Let's try the anagram out. Much crossing out later, I crosschecked the solution. It is the privilege of wisdom to listen.

It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior.

So which are the other homophones?

Sea in Spain's extremely pretty (4) see, espy
Students find it hard; it is shown by marks…(5,8) Marx, class struggle
Spooner's to adjust curtain that's whole (7) hole, pitfall
Woman with northern fare (4) fair, even
Roe deer ultimately second to game (4) row, tier
Sick novelist overturned ice pots (7) eye-spots, ocelli
Rule a hooligan must mount no bull (5) noble, boyar

Plant boy left on list, say (7)
This was really sneaky. Heel is a synonym of list. Heal is the homophone. The solution is allheal.

And here was the real toughie,
Made Serena strain terribly, clutching pen, to get a little education (13)

I kept thinking in 'made' and 'maid' terms, and it didn't help to consider Serena Williams and her grunting either. Terribly is the anagram indicator. An anagram of strain around quill and Ed for little education-- tranquillised and the homophone here was 'serener'. Sneaky, I tell you.

Thus it is the province of Missus Em to tell you all about it. And this month's Genius by Locum is even sneakier, and I have to wait a whole month before I can crow about it, alas.



Blogger Lalita said...

I know none of you philistines will comment, so I am posting a comment myself. Bravo, Lali. Tee hee.

6:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:42 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

It is our pleausre to bow to the expert. Thecodonts? Seriously? I didn't know there was such a word.

8:54 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Blogkut- Sigh.

Ash- Yeah, seriously. Presumably in the common ancestral line to dinosaurs and crocodiles and birds, says my desktop dictionary. Reptile, definitely. Heh.

11:49 pm  
Blogger dipali said...

The mind boggles as usual at the deviousness of both the mind that sets the puzzle and the mind that solves it!
(What a 'mind'ful comment)

9:08 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali- Re'mind' me to tell you about the puzzles about ballgames of Araucaria, or the latest homophone puzzle, ze mind is buzzing, vonly.

9:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:33 am  

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