Inquisitor 1493 Four in a Row by Ifor

June 14, 2017

In which I mercilessly cheat to get the result, and thank the gods for the combined resources of Google and Google Books. Or, how did we manage before the days of the Internet?

Too late a night, too early a morning, and a complicated looking preamble, not the most winning of combinations. It all boils down to extra words in some clues, extra letters in others, a message and some individuals to find from them, something to highlight. Which no doubt misses the point entirely, but we can worry about that when it comes to the end game. The clues? Not so scary – a few generous anagrams dotted round the place, most of the wordplay fairly apparent, though enough doubt about some to mean any message that’s supposed to appear from the first and last letters of those extra words is going to be severely garbled. Which is exactly the way it ends up. A little solving in the afternoon interrupted by a rainstorm (the first sign a dirty great big blob of water right in the middle of the page), a barbecue (because who knows when we’ll see the sun again), and… A full grid, and… A list of first and last letters from the extra words that appear to be complete gobbledygook no matter which way they’re combined, and superfluous letters that far from revealing “three companions (that) have already fled”, reveal how poor / lazy my parsing skills can sometimes be.

Saturday evening, late… Nothing. Sunday evening… Ditto.

Monday, start at the beginning, and look at some of that parsing again. To get this far:

DIE BREMER S
ROOSTER CAT

What I should do: carry on parsing the clues, to get the complete list of “potential players” and theme.

The reality: consult Google, and find a Brothers Grimm story that I’m vaguely familiar with, having read it to the kids from an old Ladybird book. It’s been 30 odd years since I studied any German, but thanks to crosswords I can still spot the definite article. As luck would have it there’s a handy German & English version on Google Books here: Brothers Grimm Vol. 1: German & English.

I’m guessing then the pick of start and end letters from the extra words will give:

Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (The Bremen Town Musicians)
Rooster Cat Donkey Dog (not necessarily in that order)

Those are the four players we’re supposed to find in the grid? Not in my grid they’re not. In English anyway – the title is in German, so the players too? To Google Translate:

donkey esel
dog hund
cat katze
rooster hahn

Alter a lazy TSETSE to TZETSE at 20ac, and lo and behold they are.

The 5th individual? Presumably one of the robbers? Or “Rauber”, in the far left column. What separates them “clearly” in the story? A window, “Fenster”.

Presumably the superfluous letters will also spell out robbers in German or some variation on it, but at this point my head feels like it’s going to explode, so… Highlight the 30 cells in the grid, and done. That was tough work, as I thought it might be when the grid fell so quickly. Now to lie down in a darkened room. Thanks Ifor for the challenge and the German lesson. Next time? Serpent’s mirror image.

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