Clues by Tramp and Grid by Gin
The background to this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph of two colourful rectangular parachutes against a blue sky.
The Grid by Gin is a Seven Dials grid, but with the unusual feature that each cell in the central core contains two letters. On each level there are two 8-letter diametric solutions, each of which uses both of the core letters, though not necessarily in the same order. The shorter 5-letter diametric solutions each use only one of the two core letters.
This puzzle marks the 50th anniversary of X, a programme. Solutions to twelve undefined thematic clues are the names of eight characters and three activities associated with X and the home of X. Solvers should include with their entry the full 6-word name of X, the first four words of which are an anagram of the 14 core letters (so the core functions as a kind of laser display board).
Tramp’s playful and at times naughty clues combine with Gin’s innovative grid to give us silly things to do. Some of the answers don’t appear in Chambers or even in the Uxbridge English Dictionary, so solvers may wish to visit OneLook Dictionary online for confirmation. Remember to submit your entry and if you’re within a gnat’s crotchet of the correct answers then you’ll get points – and what do points mean? Prizes! (if you happen to be this month’s lucky winner). Bring me the heads of Tramp and Gin!
Weed from Britain with one top player? (8)
There are a variety of abbreviations for Britain. Here it is but a single letter followed by the number given. And top player? Think of the big names at Wimbledon or the like. What are they called? (added bonus: we also get the solution to Day 7!) [GS]
Beetles caught inside part of flytrap (6)
The first word is the definition but beware of the word ‘inside’ which is there to mislead you. Imagine rather a full stop after the word ‘caught’ which has its usual one letter abbreviation and then followed by the guts of the word ‘flytrap’ which hey-ho happens to be five letters. Thus no need to start looking for the names of parts in a flytrap. Similar care might be taken with Day 13 where ‘cheese’ is not the definition. [GS]
High flyers here watch over group of scientists (5)
The group of scientists here is one much associated with Faraday. Place it inside a short watch and you should find a place for high flyers. [NI]
Georgia backing doctor and nurse (6)
All abbreviations here. Start with Georgia then doctor backwards then enrolled nurse to give you one of the eight characters. [JP]
As rail travel is terrible (4,8)
A nice anagram to give you what was often the last of the thematic activities. [JP]
Play with mother and friend by lake (8)
The wordplay here is straightforward: a short mother plus a slang friend followed by an abbreviation for lake, but this unusual word (the title of a play) is not in the usual dictionaries. The answer can be confirmed at OneLook Dictionary, where the mentions (below the links to dictionaries) are almost all about the Broadway revival starring Rebecca Hall. [NI]
Song following start of musical? (5)
This is a cute and clever clue because the word ‘Song’ performs a double function. First it is the definition but then also a four letter synonym that is contained as part of the solution. (If only Natalie ‘Would’ sing it – but she didn’t!) [GS]
Smart attorney in New York (5)
Use New York to dress an abbreviation for attorney and you should get this dapper word. [NI]
Moon in a day? I see once in a while (8)
You’re looking for a moon of Jupiter inside an abbreviation for ‘a day’ followed by what sounds like “I see” to give you a word meaning once in a while. [JP]
Tart with room: working model in NY village (8)
This splendid surface misleadingly suggests some immoral activity, but it’s all above board. Start with a pastry and add an abbreviated room and a short word for working. Garnish with a model (in any colour you like as long as it’s black) and you should get a village in NY state. [NI]
Persian king wedded to queen with endless yarn (8)
This clue is an &Lit so the whole clue forms the wordplay and the whole clue also forms the definition (Days 23 and 29 are also &Lit). You need the traditional title for the Persian king, a short abbreviation for queen and literally endless yarn. The whole thing is the name of a Persian king. You probably won’t recognise his name, but his wife and her endless yarns are legendary. [NI]
Empty vegetable tin for consuming (4)
If your tin’s a bit rusty (ho-ho) then time to check out the Periodic Table. Of the eight asterisked characters mentioned in the introduction, this is one of the three which are fictitious. [GS]
I am grateful to the other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate), and Alison Ramage & Andre Sonnet (Aramis)
Nick Inglis (etc)