Inquisitor 1547 Northern Lights by Phi

June 27, 2018

This week a veritable feast of Phi. A light rain is falling, so does this mean plenty of quality solving time? No, it means I’m out waiting in the car while “secret” Father’s Day shopping continues. Thank the gods for the Inquisitor. First thoughts? One of two things are true:

  1. I’ve become somewhat expert at Phi’s puzzles having solved at least one a week now for countless years;
  2. Or, more likely, this is on the easy side.

First glance at the grid reveals a simple hidden word at 28ac, a nice anagram three clues above that, an amusingly named bird at 1ac, and a Welsh town that’s a stone’s throw away down in the SW corner. What, I hear you cry, about the unclued entries, and the two where the wordplay gives only an abbreviated version of the definition? The former I can do little about, but the latter, well…

There are only so many dictionary entries for creeping disease that start in S and end in O, so SERPIGO, though it takes a while to spot that the wordplay must give roSEROse.

The second is obviously “transferring”, isn’t it? The wordplay’s easy here, giving TRANSG. So the missing components are PIG and FERRIN? We’ve got pig iron and ferrin is close to “ferric” but unfortunately isn’t a real word so I’m guessing that’s a dead end. “Transporting”? That isn’t going to help either. An impossibly long time later… TRANS(LATIN)G, a vaguely familiar definition admittedly, which gives us “Pig Latin”.

Let’s look at the Wikipedia entry to work out what we should be doing to the unclued entries. “For words that begin with consonant sounds, all letters before the initial vowel are placed at the end of the word sequence. Then, ‘ay’ is added…” Unfortunately trying to move all the consonants before the first vowel of anything we’ve got just produces… More gobbledegook. So no. Google’s definition says we’ve got to “transfer the initial consonant or consonant cluster of each word to the end of the word and add a vocalic syllable”. So let’s just move the first consonant from each unclued entry to the end, add AY, and see if anything emerges. Ah, Northern Lights indeed, they’re all islands up Orkney way. Stronsay, Rousay, Westray, etc. I would claim I’m familiar with them all, but that would be a lie, I’m not familiar with any of them. Thankfully Google is.

So a full grid, job done, in a pretty decent time too even I did make hard work of that end game, and without recourse to unreasonable amounts of coffee. And wasn’t it good? Time for a sneaky DVD and perhaps a drink or two.

4 Responses to “Inquisitor 1547 Northern Lights by Phi”

  1. batarde said

    That was pitched at my level, which makes a nice change. Entertaining stuff, although I’m a little surprised that Phi didn’t embed some sort of cross check for the unchecked letters – doesn’t seem like that much of a tall order. Chamber’s entry on “pig Latin” is pithy and exceedingly helpful – so why did it take me so long to trouble myself with looking it up? I had the unrelated “dog Latin” in the back of my mind, that’s why. A case of barking up the wrong linguistic tree.

  2. jonofwales said

    Chambers being the bible as far as these things go, you’d think I’d have gone there first. But, well… One day I’ll learn.

  3. Phi said

    There’s a setter’s blog on the puzzle (and its much harder EV companion from the same weekend) at

    • jonofwales said

      Thanks. 🙂 I think I’d welcome some of your cold weather, we’re all melting in this neck of the woods.

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