Mephisto 2496 – Paul McKenna

Posted on Categories Mephisto
Solving time: about 40 minutes in two sessions, no books.

I solved this one yesterday after finding that the expected blogger was too busy and seeing that …

“Jeff”, the setter of the same day’s Sunday Times puzzle, said in comments here that there were links with this puzzle. I solved this puzzle after seeing that statement, but hadn’t done the ST one and I don’t think I remembered any ST answers from the blog. The answers PLAIN, NOVEL and HORNET appear in both puzzles, but I can’t see anything else remarkable in this one – no Jeff, Paul or Chubber (joint pseudonym of Jeff & Paul) in the grid for example.

For once my guesses about words I didn’t know all turned out to be correct. I’ve marked as S=’starter’ the clues that I solved in the first of the two sessions – about 10-15 minutes. As these included three of the four 12-letter answers, it’s not suprising that the second session was plain(!) sailing.

1 NUT,CRACKER – it turns out that a nutcracker is a type of crow.
11 BL,A,(taplas)H – term = “the end of something” is a fairly common last letter indicator in barred grid puzzles. blah means ‘insipid’, and taplash is stuff that you don’t want from a barrel – the dregs or poor/weak alcohol such as stale beer
13S IMMASK = miasm*,K – Chambers confirms that this is a ‘bardism’ for ‘disguise’
14 RI(GO)LL – a borrowed Fr. word for a gutter or water channel
15S QUARTER FINAL = (a tranquil ref)* – I was going to quibble about whether a QF really had eight competitors, but the Chambers def is “the round before the semi-final”, rather than a match in that round.
19 NAN(ny),Du. – the rhea in one of the local languages
21 O,CAR,INA = ani rev. – the ani is a bird called the black cuckoo
22 INFER,NO – ref. Dante’s poem
23 NOVEL – 2 def’s, one the book by Kipling.
27S CHESTERFIELD = (heretics fled)*
28 HO(R.N.,E)T – RN = Registered Nurse, Vespa = the wasp genus
29S SO(CIA)L. – Cia. = ‘compagnia’ = It. for company
30 EVOL=love rev.,UTE=truck
31S A,LIT. – nice to know that the ‘literally’ in “&lit.” is in Chambers …
2S ULMUS – hidden word – the elm genus
3 TAM,A,L – Scottish hat, N African dish
4 CHAR,ADES – the def. being a reference to the clue type
5 REST,AU(R.A.)TEUR – not sure exactly how Oliver fits in. On edit: it’s Jamie, as George points out
6 CAR(e),RYCOT=(to cry)*
7S KNIFE AND FORK – a trencherman in Dickens
8 R,HONE(st)
9 D,ELAINE = a Fr. version of Helen if you look in the ‘some first names’ section of C.
10 TELL=a mound,(s)TALE
16 KNITCHES – move the N in kitchens
17 C,ONFETTI=(it often)* & lit
18 T(R)OPICAL = like a trope = a figure of speech such as irony
20 ANCHO(r),V(aguel)Y – brit = a young herring/sprat etc – the anchovy is in the herring family.
24 C,EROS=sore rev. – sore = a hawk in its first year Corrected from ‘CELOS’ post-comment.
25S CEILI – hidden – the dh can be dropped
26 PLAIN – 2 defs

4 comments on “Mephisto 2496 – Paul McKenna”

    1. You’ve got it – I didn’t think that Oliver might be a surname.
  1. I found this one really difficult again. I got the long acrosses – QUARTER FINAL and CHESTERFIELD – straight away but then couldn’t get anything else at all. After several days of headscratching and desperate letter matches I managed all but six, mainly in the top right.
    This week’s is a bit of a record for me though, but I’ll keep that for next Sunday
    1. Hang in there! You were unlucky that these two gave you no first letters for others. It’s probably worth trying to find the one or two hidden word answers (ULMUS and CEILI here), though obviously that’s much easier with knowledge of ULMUS and the confidence that “wrong” spellings like CEILI often turn out to be in C. Also watch out for words from Shakespeare and others like IMMASK – when not total nonsense like EALE, these are often just normal words (MASK) with extra bits or warped spelling.

      Another to ponder here might have been 7D. If you suppose the 3-word phrase has middle word AND or THE (pretty likely), then given those two 12s, you must have one of four choices: ???F/AND/?F???, ???F?/AND/F???, plus the two equivalents with THE. That in turn means that 23 may well start with N,D,H or E – which might be enough to get strange = NOVEL (or EERIE!).

      Now I’m off to try 2497…

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