Mephisto 2417 – Christmas Special

Solving time: about 2 hours in two sessions

Another puzzle that suffered the Christmas 2006 web-site curse – the preamble was missing until added a day or two later. 18A was INGREDIENTS, and the six other unclued entries werre: 1A BRANDY BUTTER, 28 PINE KERNELS, 39 GROUND GINGER, 1D BRAZIL NUTS, 12 DRIED FRUIT and 14 BROWN SUGAR. This made the seasonal item to be entered under the grid XMAS PUDDING. Another gripe about the online version: the shaded squares were much too dark – I can only read mine by holding the paper at the right angle for the pencilled letters to show as silver on black. I got very stuck in the bottom right corner and still don’t understand 32 entirely – hence the fairly slow time and second session.

9 REBEC(ca)
11 AD(RE,A)D. – N.B. about = A is justfied in Chambers
13 AIRTAXI – “Ibrox direct” = airt – Scots verb “to direct”. Ibrox is a district of Glasgow and also the name of the stadium used by Rangers FC.
15 FE,NI(l)
22 END(anger) – the Amer. footballers at the ends of the line of scrimmage – defensive ends or tight ends, depending on the side they’re on.
23 CROW = short for crowbar & ref. “stone the crows”
25 I,SO = short for “isolated replay”
27 FEIGN = old word for “fashion” – F=fine replaces R=queen in REIGN
35 TWINING – Twinings is a brand of tea, currently advertised on TV by Stephen Fry.
38 T,OSCA(r) – the opera was filmed in 2002 and probably other times too. Wasted much time trying to make the award a Tony.
3 TENT – write NETT upwards and move the top (T) to the bottom
4 YEX = to spit
5 BA’,IN(I)N – a type of wool
8 (d)EALE(r) – EALE is one of those Shakespeare mystery words where Chambers seem to feel obliged to say “we don’t know what he meant either”. In this case, it might mean “evil”.
10 CAFETIERES – C, F in anag. of EATERIES, &lit. – “set up” must be the anagind.
15 AGAMI – the golden-breasted trumpeter or Agami Heron – A for E in image<=
21 P(ONCE)AU – possibly meant to make you think of Avignon or somewhere else with a famous bridge, like Cahors.
32 ANON, I think – this means “coming soon” in response to a call. But I don’t understand the “aspirant girl” part. Any offers?
34 OBO – from “oil, bulk ore” – a vessel for carrying both.

3 comments on “Mephisto 2417 – Christmas Special”

  1. My solution to the dark squares was to save the file as a gif image, open it in Gimp (a Linux Photoshop-type app) and fill them with light grey.

    However, I was very suspicious of the lack of a preamble so in the end I went out and bought a copy of the paper, and sent in my solution cut out from that for a change.

    Can’t help you with 32dn though – luckily nothing else fits!

  2. I really enjoyed this puzzle, not least becasue it is the first Mephisto I have completed (out of four attempts).
    32D – I think the aspirant girl is AN(O)N, i.e. girl taking in oxygen!
    1. You’ve got it. Good example of the difference between someone solving their first puzzle of this kind and someone who thinks he should be able to solve it fairly easily and doesn’t think about the last few clues properly because he gets impatient.
      (And also shows that complex-looking “special” puzzles are not necessarily more difficult than others.)

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