Hints & Tips March 2022

March 2022 puzzle page

Clues by Enigmatist and Grid by etc

The background to this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph of a stone staircase climbing up the outside of a building, but we cannot see where the staircase leads.

This puzzle marks the 50th anniversary of the death of X, a graphic artist. Solutions to nine clues are the names of, or are related in some way to, works by X. All other clues contain the name of other works by X. Solvers should include with their entry the six-letter surname of X.

The grid represents a Tribar or Penrose Triangle, which is an impossible object that can apparently be represented in a two-dimensional drawing, but can never be realised in three dimensions. As this is a rather confusing grid, I will give some detailed comments on it after the Hints to individual clues.

Enigmatist’s clues are appropriately full of intricate patterns: they may seem paradoxical, but examine them logically and you will find the hidden meanings etched within.

Day 1

Abroad, a reflecting sphere stolen by daughter and tot (3)

Stolen indicates that we should remove a reflecting sphere from abroad. Reflecting suggests reversal so look for the reverse of a short word for sphere. Getting rid of a and this leaves two letters so append daughter to get a word for tot.

Day 2

Publicise the bridge across sea to Ireland (3)

This is rather sneaky. You should be used to hidden clues, but here we are invited to put sea and Ireland next to each other and hunt for a word meaning publicise.

Day 4

Features of desert gecko after full ecdysis – American on vacation caught one (5)

Ecdysis is the act of casting off skin in reptiles so gecko after full ecdysis gives us a letter. American gives us another, then two from caught on vacation and finally one from one should give us features of desert.

Day 8

Peace-keeping force dogs Gabon ice man (3)

Brush up on your International Vehicle Registration code for Gabon, combine it with the best-known peace-keeping force and you should get American slang for an ice man (in the American slang sense of one who ices people).

Day 12

X’s fixation represented by sideways number on gun? (8)

You’re looking for a fixation (in the sense of obsession) of X here. Now this can also be represented by the symbol for a number turned sideways. Which number? Do you see the answer to a previous Day in this clue?

Day 13

Independent take on first sign of snakes works on board? (5)

One single letter abbreviation that I often forget about is R for take (because recipe is the Latin for take). Here we need to start with independent, follow with R for take, then on first sign of snakes. The result means “works on board”, but this has nothing to do with ships.

Day 14

Fine organisational design after liberation of O2? (3)

The definition here is fine (as a verb) though it’s an unusual definition of this common word. Look for an organisational design with more than one O and liberate the second one.

Day 18

It’s easy drawing hands, peril dispelled (3)

Drawing hands means we should delete two letters indicating hands from peril before dispelling the result. The answer is proverbially easy.

Day 21

Reflective horseman’s truism, being in the mountains (4)

Reflective suggests a reversal, in this case of two short words that could truly be spoken by a horseman. The answer is a feline resident of the mountains.

Day 22

Tear gown of professor from dragon (3)

You might expect gown of professor to mean the outer letters of professor, but in this case it means that there is a word for professor going round the outside of dragon. Remove this to leave a word meaning tear (as a verb).

Day 29

Top of waterfall meets with expectation of course, over hide (4)

Top of waterfall should give us one letter and for the rest we need expectation of course (think of a good walk spoiled) but over indicates reversal of this bit. The result should mean hide.

Detailed Comments on the Grid

The Tribar has three legs, each with 9 cells in one direction and 3 in each of the other two. Each pair of legs intersects in a 3 cell by 3 cell by 3 cell cube and this is done in the manner shown, which can be depicted convincingly in 2 dimensions (as shown in the small diagram), but is impossible to construct in 3 dimensions. In order to ensure that the each leg was only 9 cells long, the central cells would need to be stretched before construction (and they are therefore shown as rectangles rather than squares in the small diagram).

So far, so confusing. The natural length of entries in the grid is either 9 (4 going along the length of each leg) or 3 (there are many of these, but the ones in the middle of each leg have been combined into single 8-letter snakes).

The long away and to entries each lie on two different levels which are joined at the matching dotted edges. Shading has been used to assist solvers in following these entries across the levels. On Day 3, the first 9-letter word fits in 24aw. The first six letters go in the yellow cells leading away from cell 24 to the red dotted line. The last three letters go in the yellow cells on the top level leading away from cell 4. Similarly the first three letters of Day 17 go in the blue cells leading to the red dotted line from cell 18 and the last six letters go in the blue cells leading to cell 33 from the red dotted line.

The good news is that the across and back entries work entirely as usual. The down and up entries also work as usual, but it can be tricky to follow the long down entries all the way. Most of these are split into two entries, but Day 19 starts at the cell marked 2 and continues down through the cells marked 12, 20, 25 and ends at 33. The most confusing down entry is possibly Day 5 which starts at cell 23 and goes through 28 before ending at 35.

Days 9, 12 and 15 are each 8-letter snakes wrapping round the middle of one of the legs. Day 9 wraps round the across/back leg, Day 12 wraps around the vertical leg and Day 15 wraps around the away/to leg.

Why was such a bizarre grid used? The Nobel-prize-winning theoretical physicist Roger Penrose was inspired to devise (or rediscover) this optical illusion (with his father) after seeing an exhibition of the Artist’s work at an International Congress of Mathematicians in the 1950’s. The idea was communicated to the Artist who used it, most famously in the work whose title appears in the clue to Day 29.

This month’s bizarre grid is all my own fault. I am also responsible for all of this month’s hints.

Happy solving!

Nick Inglis (etc)

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