Hints & Tips March 2024

March 2024 grid page

Clues by Carpathian and Grid by Patch

Enter the prize draw by 31 March.

The background for this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph showing a colourful seaside village with a prominent lifebelt.

This puzzle uses a conventional 7x5x6 grid by Patch and marks the centenary of the foundation of a body. The red cells contain the initials of the body and the letters in the yellow cells must be rearranged to give the means by which the body carries out its work. Both of these should be submitted with solutions.

Three clues are asterisked. These answers are not entered in full, in view of what has been sent out of necessity, in one case leaving a foreign word entry. If you’re wondering what has been sent, you might like to consider the chorus of Message in a Bottle by The Police.

Carpathian has crafted a lively puzzle with hints of danger yet holding out the prospect of a safe haven at the end of the voyage. If you should find yourself beset by storms of doubt or stranded in an impasse, fear not! Help is at hand!

Day 1

Soldiers indifferent coming back after morning sherries (8)

Take a 2-letter abbreviation for non-commissioned soldiers followed by the reverse (coming back) of a hyphenated term for indifferent. All of this should follow an abbreviation for morning to give the plural of a dark sweet sherry. This is one of the asterisked entries, so something thematic must be sent out leaving a 5-letter foreign word for entry in the grid. [NI]

Day 12

…24 hours after former PM gives distress call (6)

A recent Prime Minister who famously couldn’t “get it done” followed by the definition of 24 hours gives us another word for a distress call. This solution may prove useful for the three other clues * asterisked. [GS]

Day 14

Carpathian holds back outdated form of punishment for troublemaker (6)

In the heat of solving you sometimes overlook the fact that setters use their own alias in the clue. As happens here. So Carpathian represents the letter “I”? Possibly, but if it “holds” something it has to be at least two letters. The object pronoun is perfect. The form of punishment spelt backwards was banned in English schools in 1986. This solution may remind older solvers of The Beano comic. [GS]

Day 18

Sudden falls in Scotland: some NCO bungled (7)

An anagram (bungled) gives a Scottish word for sudden/heavy falls (of rain or snow). [JP]

Day 23

Meet model returning with force in voice (7)

Not bumping into an angry cover girl! You’re looking for a short word for ‘model’ going backwards (returning) followed by an abbreviation for force, all inside a word for voice, to give you another word for ‘meet’. [JP]

Day 24

Lays about sushi, oddly producing sloppy Scottish dishes (8)

One of the 3 asterisked clues, so the wordplay should lead you to an answer from which you then take away ‘what has been sent out of necessity’ before entry. You can find the sloppy Scottish dishes in e.g. Sir Walter Scott’s St Ronan’s Well as a dialect word for ‘made up soups or messes’. You need a word for ‘lays’ (perhaps of a minstrel) and put this about the odd letters of sushi to give you the answer. [JP]

Day 30

Very little support for ball New York holds successfully at first (6)

Take a support for a ball and follow it with the initial letter of successfully inside New York. The answer is a colloquial word for very little. [NI]

Day 31

Sustained unusual touchstones church dropped (9)

This is another of the asterisked clues. It’s an anagram (unusual) with the letters “ch” removed (church dropped). This still leaves us with a nine-letter word for (26up) a six-letter entry. This is where the solution to Day 12 might help. [GS]

Day 33

Uniform shirt possibly Scotsman finds perfect (7)

Uniform (to a radio operator) followed by a word for shirt or other garment for the upper body followed by a name for a Scotsman. This word for perfect derives from a 16th century satire. [NI]

I am grateful to the other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate).

Happy solving!

Nick Inglis (etc)

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