Inquisitor 1690 Plain by Nimrod

March 23, 2021

Solvers of a suspicious bent will have been immediately dubious that any puzzle by Nimrod was going to be of the plain variety, and a quick glance at the clues will have been sufficient to confirm this. I had the advantage of getting a sneak preview a few days before publication, which was long enough to assure myself that the gimmick in question was that each clue was missing a letter. Tars as a definition making no sense of regular letters from airliners, but with an S to give stars a quite perfect description of ARIES.

This being Nimrod though I’d steeled myself for the long haul, but still managed to draw a bit of a blank with only a handful of answers in place. There’s more going on, you see, answers that are evidently too short for the space available, but all to the north of the grid thankfully as otherwise this would have turned out TO BE IMPOSSIBLE, he said in a slightly hysterical tone of voice. The same tone of voice I would feel myself beginning to adopt the next day when the allegedly simple task of replacing RAM in a gaming PC turned into quite the odyssey, with the suspicion at one point that the machine in question was bricked. A hint for those of you who might face a similarly sticky situation in the future – despite the RAM claiming that it’s taken (no more awful beeping noises), a little extra gentle pressure is required for it to clip into place. Which is all to say that the day was saved, yet again.

But back to the Inquisitor, and 1 and 8 across which,  when you ignore the word counts, lead obviously to SO and AR. As ever, expect the unexpected.

I note from my jottings that I seem to have taken an unusual amount of pleasure from the completion of the clues, 2d in particular garnering a number of ticks (“Source is encircled?”, leading to RISING). Neat, eh?

At the close I had, as expected, a message garnered from the letters that needed to be added to each of the clues. It took about the same time again untangling my dubious-at-best parsing, and a few incorrect answers (the lingering suspicion that there are more in the grid I haven’t picked up on), to get one that made any sense though. INSERT WHAT’S MISSING THEN NOTE ADVICE AT BASE.

Luckily I had already spotted HIGHLIGHT across the bottom of the grid, followed by 1T. No, that isn’t a typo, but exactly how, in my frazzled-by-then state of mind, I had decided to read it. Oh, how I laughed when I realised that I wasn’t in fact looking for a single T to highlight, or the hidden shape of one, but actually that the message read HIGHLIGHT IT. IT being A PREAMBLE which is the most likely looking collection of letters that might fill that gap at the top of the grid. A preamble being what we are indeed missing, the only sticking point being the crossing EWART which, being a name, does not appear in the BRB.

All good stuff. Count me for one as being impressed at how all that fell together, as nicely judged as you would like, both starting and finishing with a missing preamble. Which is all to say that I think, ladies and gentlemen, that we have another candidate for the end of year voting.

One Response to “Inquisitor 1690 Plain by Nimrod”

  1. tonnelier said

    How satisfying it was to finish a Nimrod, even if that didn’t happen till Monday afternoon.

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