Friday, 31 May 2013

Taxing

TAXING represents Eclogue's second appearance in the national press. This time it is the Sunday Telegraph doing the honours in its Enigmatic Variations series and TAXING appeared as puzzle number 1066 in that canon, a number that is slightly fortuitous given the subject matter of the puzzle.

It uses as its basic premise the proverb 'Au royaume des aveugles, les borgnes sont rois' which solvers can discern by reading corrections to misprints in clue definitions as they appear in clue order. The proverb's English equivalent is of course 'In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king' and both of these versions are given in Brewer's under the heading French. And so the puzzle's theme is based on a pun on the state of being one-eyed.


Au royaume des aveugles, les borgnes sont rois


Logogriph's idea revolved around a number of words in the English language which contain instances of the letters ii occurring together. If one of these letters is omitted what remains in a very small number of instances is still a valid word in its own right - in this case TAXIING > TAXING is just such a word. So the trick was to write a clue which would lead to the longer word in each case while providing only enough spaces to accommodate the shorter word. Ten such words or phrases containing "II" were used to illustrate the theme in the puzzle.

Neither Eclipse nor Logogriph are blessed with anything like 20:20 vision, so it is perhaps surprising that they haven't happened upon this particular theme previously.   The obscurity of the quotation within Brewers is also unusual, in that ready links to the more familiar English equivalent are not especially well sign-posted, nor is the 'translation' particularly exact, hence the additional hints in the preamble to the puzzle.

Finally, solvers were required to encircle in the grid, the number(s) of the clue(s) which did not have misprinted definitions.  These were 1 across and 1 down and therefore the top-left '1' was to be circled, yielding a thematic 'eye' shape.

And 1066? Well that fortuitous piece of editorial scheduling corresponds to the year of the Battle of Hastings where King Harold indeed became a one-eyed king, albeit very shortly before becoming a deceased one.

POSTSCRIPT:
Enigmatic Variations No 1066, Taxing by Eclogue appeared on 14th April 2013. Sadly, just two weeks later the series editor, James Leonard died. An eminence in the realm of crosswords he was noted for his wit, brevity and forbearance. While only a brief relationship spanning just this one puzzle, Eclogue will always be grateful to Mr Leonard for his acceptance of our first EV puzzle and his forbearance of us as newcomers to the party.

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