Hints & Tips February 2021

Feb 2021 puzzle page

Clues and Grid by Curmudgeon

The background for this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph showing nuts and bolts and coins.

Curmudgeon’s grid commemorates the 50th anniversary of an important alteration that one could consider a small change, but certainly not a loose change. The solutions (mostly 5- or 7-letter) have to be entered jigsaw-wise in the grid. Highlights reveal the name of the occasion and solvers are also asked to determine the relationship between two entries before and after the change.

Curmudgeon has coined some witty and clever clues that give us full value: a sterling performance!

As usual, it’s best to try to solve as many clues as possible before attempting to fill the grid. The highlighted squares give the name of the occasion and these read from left to right. This should allow the solver to place two of the eight 7-letter solutions. The 8-letter snake reads across for seven letters and then down for one letter, so must start in the top level or the middle level. It is noted that Day 9 should be entered down. This does not affect the rest of jigsaw, but the stipulation is made because only the even letters stop Day 9 from being a palindrome.

Advice on the additional elements from GS:

  • In (a) half the redundant item needed for the solution was still in regular use at the time of the change but its full version was not (double the number you first thought of).
  • The solution to (b) is now obviously academic. If it helps, bear in mind there are no hyphenated numbers before twenty-one (6-3).

Day 1

Undressed nymphomaniac tediously performed (5)

This type of clue is very annoying because although it looks daunting the answer is rather simple once you know the trick. Here the solution is written or “buried” within the clue itself. If you remove letters from the front of nymphomaniac and the back of tediously (i.e. undress them) you arrive at a word meaning performed. Signals: undress is rather unusual. Look out for: some of/inside/included in (etc). Example, mate in one word “amateur”, in two “drama test” or three “madam at ease”. On the other hand, if the setter is in a particularly foul mood the inclusion of other signals such as reversed/back/over, might well indicate Etam! [GS]

Day 5

Pursuit long ago of Chinese climbing plant (5)

Abbreviation for Chinese followed by a climbing plant leads to an archaic word for pursuit. [JP]

Day 6

Rook, perhaps, with new 5 28 coin (5)

Not R for rook, but a different corvid followed by abbreviation for new gives you an old coin worth 5 x day 28. [JP]

Days 7 & 8

DIY team working between dawn and dusk (7)

Doctor claimed there’s a point in this system (7)

Two simple anagrams revealing the anniversary required (highlighted squares). Signals for an anagram: Day 7 “working”; Day 8 “doctor”. [GS]

Day 14

With no trace of sugar, muesli comes to lowest part of small intestine (5)

With no trace of sugar suggests that we should remove a single letter from muesli. Now this cleverly worded clue is in the away direction, so “comes to” indicates a reversal, giving us a word for the lowest part of the small intestine. [N&SI]

Day 19

Foul pongs to smell with sulphur on the go from start to finish (5)

Find another verb for smell and take the chemical symbol for sulphur from the start to the end to give you foul pongs. [JP]

Day 28

What made a dozen old coppers squeal about F1 champ (8)

Put another word for squeal ‘about’ the name of a British F1 champion to give you what 12 old coppers made. [JP]

Day 31

Prickly thing involving fashionable small-time gambler (7)

Look for a short word meaning fashionable inside a longer word for a prickly thing. The answer is an unfamiliar American term for a small-time gambler. [N&SI]

Day 33

Ancient city poem: The French Amphibian (7)

There was a Sumerian city on the Euphrates, which is well-known to cruciverbalists since it has a very short name. We add to this a word for poem and a French definite article. The answer is a member of the order of amphibia containing newts and salamanders. Since we need the amphibian rather than the order, take the male form of the French definite article. [N&SI]


We are grateful to other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate), and Alison Ramage & Andre Sonnet (Aramis).

Happy solving!

Nick & Sarah Inglis (etc)

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