Mephisto 2429 / Tim Moorey – Carnifex!

Posted on Categories Mephisto
Solving time – about 32 minutes, with fairly extensive use of Chambers.

One of the rules of crossword grid construction observed almost everywhere is “no duplicated entries”. This puzzle throws the rule in the bin and has the answer CARNIFEX four times, in two rotational symmetry pairs. The overall effect is about 95% puzzle and 5% Azed slip. I like the idea of breaking rules on rare occasions, and enjoyed the process of seeing what was going on. To save repetition, a carnifex is an executioner.

Thanks to Tim for an e-mailed explanation of the clue to 18D, which I didn’t understand.

1 CAUL(d) – a head covering of various kinds – nice easy start if your ear for Scots spellings is working well.
4 OSTRACON – (No.,cart,so)<= – a good excuse to learn the origin of “ostracise” if you don’t know it.
10 ALLAN = nalla<= (nalla is a variant of nulla, as is nala, an old advanced cryptic favourite.)
11 UN(ROB)E – Rob Roy justifies “Roy perhaps”
13 CARNIFEX – (FIN(d) CARE)*,X – top = kill
22 S(TILL,i.e.)R – If Mr = Mister, Sr must be Sister!
24 X-AXES – A = acting replaces ER in Handel’s Xerxes
28 DEVANAGARI – (I,RAG(A NAV)ED)<= – it’s the script used for Hindi and other Indian languages, with a horizontal line linking many of the characters. More complicated than you might expect, from what I remember of browsing through a teach-yourself guide on hols in Rajasthan. Corrected post-comment.
30 CARNIFEX – (I in FRANCE*),X – Brewer confirms that Monsieur de Paris is the French equivalent of “Jack Ketch”.
31 ENLEVE = eleven* – test as an AI is justified by the ‘refine’ def. in C, I think.
32 LO,UP,E
34 I(MA)X
1 CAR,NIFE=fine*,X – I suppose re-using {X = times} is a flaw, but a very small one.
2 ALBE,DO(ne)
3 ULOTHRIX = (hit Luxor)* – must have seen this word before as I got it from about 3 checked letters.
4 ONCER – an Aussie MP thought likely not to stay in office for more than one term.
6 TURM(oil),ERIC – eric = (blood-)fine is another advanced cryptic favourite
15 NET CAFES – N,F in (sea etc.)*
18 CARNIFEX – Car. = Carolus = Charles, (k)NIFE,X – Not understanding the clue was my fault – I should have seen ‘by’ as an alternative to ‘times’ as an indicator for the final X, and could then have worked out the rest, as (k)NIFE was the part of the wordplay I did identify as a possibility.
25 (b)ANANA(s) – you can drop the s in ananas = pineapple, without losing meaning.
26 LA(XL)Y – Mephisto’s turn at “doing dirty” as Don Manley called it on the other blog.

5 comments on “Mephisto 2429 / Tim Moorey – Carnifex!”

  1. I finished this but didn’t really understand a few of the answers, so thanks for the explanations. I’ve never come across A = acting and can’t find it in my (old) Chambers. I’ve also never come across ERIC and for some reason didn’t even look it up!

    I’m not sure about this description: DEVANAGARI – (I,R(A NAG)AVED)<=

    I propose: (I,RAG(A NAV)ED)<=


    1. Thanks for the comment – good to see we have at least one Mephisto reader. DEVANAGARI amended – I was too busy bragging about holidays to get things right.
      1. Make that two, though normally (this week being a rare exception) I lose the puzzle before blogging time comes round. I was quite a bit slower than you (37 mins) but didn’t use Chambers and got 2dn wrong (‘albeno’, thinking it was something to do with ‘alb’ and maybe an alternative for ‘albino’). Would have been much slower if I hadn’t known ‘carnifex’ (though initially I thought I was looking for four very similar words rather than the same one four times). Ostracon/ostracise link fascinating!

  2. My initial reaction to finding a second carnifex was that Tim had been hopelessly careless but could such a gaff ever reach print? It certainly made for a most enjoyable and memorable Mephisto.

    I am surprised that Sarah (above) had never come across Eric before since he is surely a first-team player in this world along with Mark, Bill, Anna, Peter et al. Some really sneaky setters bypass the alternative meaning and go for the direct origin of the name as given in the back of Chambers so that even Sarah might be clued with the definition Hebrew princess.

    Erwin (not in Chambers)

    1. Apologies to all Erics out there – I’m still new to these “advanced” cryptics, it really is a whole new and exciting world of language.

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