Monday, 6 December 2021

No 13420, Monday 06 Dec 2021, Dr. X

Solution to 3D has been deliberately left unsolved and is to be answered only by a non-regular / novice commenter, with proper annotation. Those who have answered earlier in the week, please give others a chance.

1   Ordinary soldier’s tragic end, protecting queen (8) SQUADDIE {S{QU}AD}{DIE}
5   Muslim ruler in fresh mess over termination of Khashoggi (6) SHERIF {SHER{k...gI}F*}
10 Drunkard outside pub shot student in side story (7) SUBPLOT {S{PUB*}{L}OT}
11 Injured over track, getting back pain (7) TORTURE {TOR{RUT<=}E}
12 Establishing the identity of one girl stealing racket (5) IDING {1}{DIN}{G}
13 Fellows in rustic hamlet making Swiss cheese (9) EMMENTHAL {EM{MEN}THAL*}
14 Where air hostesses might be busy escaping as fast as possible (2,4,6) IN FULL FLIGHT [DD]
18 Bright side is, primarily nice-looking girls live in building (6,6) SILVER LINING {Ni...g+GIRLS+LIVE+IN}*
21 Chewing slice of salami, bacon and ham in horse-drawn carriage (6,3) HANSOM CAB {Sa...i+BACON+HAM}*
23 Grant referendum? Britain exits (5) ALLOT bALLOT
24 Most frightful drunk’s back, starting to yell bawdily (7) DIRTILY {DIRe}{LIT<=}{Yell}
25 Most desirable set, endlessly enthralled by precious stone (7) OPTIMAL {OP{TIMe}AL}
26 Joint after ale, turning sluggish (6) LEADEN {DEN}<=>{ALE*}
27 Avoiding silly risk, good to save money (8) SKIRTING {RISK*}{TIN}{G}

1   Bird in woods is kingfisher (6) SISKIN [T]
2   One possessed by ghost in mountainous region of Italy (6) UMBRIA {UMBR{1}A}
3   Industry covering up facts in murder (9) D?L?G?N?E (Addendum - DILIGENCE {LID<=}{I{GEN}CE} - See comments))
4   Where drinkers might be nicely high after scoring new drug is well-known (2,3,6,3) IN THE PUBLIC EYE {IN THE PUB}{nICELY}*{E}
6   Celebrity in front of national bird (5) HERON {HERO}{N}
7   Fume about missing diamonds, cash — it’s hard to digest (8) ROUGHAGE {R{dOUGH}AGE}
8   Pay studs to maintain large plots where livestock are fattened (8) FEEDLOTS {FEE}{D{L}OTS}
9   Hit around, top bowler left after dropping catch (9,5) STUMBLING BLOCK Anno pending (Addendum - {S{TMBLING}{Bo...r}{L}OCK} - See comments}
15 Honest review about northern troupe in English city (9) LANCASTER {LA{N}{CAST}ER<=}
16 Snake hole discovered around dead plant (8) ASPHODEL {ASP}{HO{D}EL*}
17 Arrange a broadcast about regenerative flatworms (8) PLANARIA {PLAN}{A}{AIR<=}
19 Former students from university in Milan reassembled (6) ALUMNI {AL{U}MNI*}
20 Depression about many killed in big German camp for POWs (6) STALAG {S{TAL}AG} Anno pending (Addendum - {S{TALl}AG} - See comments)
22 Colour I love — blue (5) OLIVE

Reference List
Queen = QU, Student = L, Girl = G, Britain = B, Good = G, Money = TIN, New = N, Drug = E, National = N, Diamonds = D,  Large = L, Northern = N, Dead = D, Left = L, University = U, Many = L


It is a pity that a region as beautiful as Italy’s UMBRIA is not on the tourist circuit. There are undulating green slopes leading to the valley of the River Tiber SKIRTING around the edge of the province. The hills beyond are dotted by caves famed for their STALAGmites. In the OLIVE orchards, you can hear the song of the SISKINs and the buzz of the bees drinking the nectar from the ASPHODEL bloom. You can spend a whole morning in meditative calm watching the HERONs on Lake Trasimeno. The FEEDLOTS in the farms have fattened pigs and their soft pork is an export delicacy. O, did I mention the Pecorino Umbro cheese that can give the best EMMENTHAL cheese from Switzerland a tough competition?

On this morning in 1894, this idyllic calm is broken by a shepherd who has chanced upon the body of a young woman near one of the caves. A local SQUADDIE pedals his bicycle at a furious pace to inform the SHERIFf at Perugia, who ALLOTs the case to Inspector Luca Giovanni, known for his DILIGENCE in investigating unnatural deaths. The fastest means to get to the village is on a HANSOM CAB but even that takes the best of 2 hours. In the meanwhile, the village cops are facing a STUMBLING BLOCK in IDING the body.  Going by the gashes and bruises, it appears that she has been the victim of TORTURE. Giovanni asks for what the cops have found on her person and they show a ring and a bracelet watch from the woman.

The ring is an unremarkable wedding ring without any engraved initials. The watch is a Mappin & Webb piece in gold that immediately indicates England as the probable origin of the victim. The detective turns over the body and, in the grass, he detects a badge. This is the veritable SILVER LINING. Being an ALUMNUS of the Royal Grammar School, LANCASTER, Giovanni recognizes that the badge belongs to The Royal Geographical Society. He sends wires to his contacts in London and in a short while, he discovers that the dead woman is Elizabeth Atkins, the recently married wife of Bradbury Atkins, an avid cave explorer, a man very much IN THE PUBLIC EYE for his daring exploits.  Bradbury is soon caught IN FULL FLIGHT while boarding a train at the Perugia station. He maintains that his dear wife had fallen accidentally while they went about exploring the cave.

Giovanni, for sure, knows that there is a SUBPLOT here. If it was only an accident, why did Bradbury flee from the scene? Is it a lover’s tiff or is there another woman? Or is it just to get the insurance or estate of the rich Elizabeth? Let us hope Giovanni reveals more of his finds in the next episode of “Italian Cop”, the series you can watch on Amazon Prime.

By Gowri


The ALUMNI of 1984, that graduated from Jipmer, Pondicherry, decided to have their 25th reunion in the walled town of Spello, at the foothills of UMBRIA, Italy.

To avoid any last minute STUMBLING BLOCKS, the itenary was planned almost 6 months back. So when a medical conference came up at LANCASTER,  just 1 week earlier, Dr. RKE decided to travel by train from Lancaster to UMBRIA. This would  be a contrast to the FULL FLIGHTS, that he was normally cursed to take. 

He knew, he would be early for the reunion, by a couple of days, but it would give him some much needed time to unwind, from his normal routine which was nothing short of a TORTURE on most days. 

As the train wound its way through scenic countryside, filled with ASPHODELS & daffodils, the doctor felt he could almost hear the songs of the SISKINS & the  chirping of the HERONS, as they flew over the lakes, SKIRTING the hillocks, so skillfully.

Arriving at Spello, late evening, he was delighted to see a HANSOM CAB, at the station. Apparently, a tourist whim, the driver was willing to give the Doctor a ride, to his cottage, in the same resort, where the class would be meeting 2 days later.

As he was climbing into his carriage, the Doc couldn't believe his eyes. Was that Monica Belluci, the famous actress from the 80s? Even though she wore no make up, IDING  her was easy. After all, she had been his favourite actress in college. He spent all the allowance ALLOTTED to him on watching her movies & buying posters of her, from the Trivia shop near his campus.

The cab driver informed him, that she owned a villa in town, which she frequented. She must be tired of always being IN THE PUBLIC EYE. Doc reminisced about her Bride of Dracula in Coppola's movie. Infact the black market rates for tickets of that movie, had created a record of sorts & for once, even the local SHERIFf had turned a blind eye. Only the SQUADDIES were sent to control the crowd.

After freshening up, the Doctor took a leisurely walk around the town square. The SILVER LINING was, even though he was in Italy, there were no Pizza parlours or Burger joints. He normally referred to these as FEED LOTS. Choosing a vegetarian restaurant, he chose a street side table. 

Well who should he see, for the 2nd time that day!! Dressed in an OLIVE green gown, the way she glided, there were no ROUGH edges to her. And surprise of surprises, she stopped at his table & smiling, joined him for dinner. She said, she loved India & Indians. With great DILIGENCE, he relegated her with his fanboy moments. Frequently flashing her brilliant smile, they finished their simple dinner of pasta sprinkled with EMMENTHAL & a green salad of ROUGHAGE. 

Bidding her Goodbye with ' Arrivederci !' he almost skipped back to his cottage. He thought his day couldn't get any better, but he was wrong! 

Who should he see, virtually outside his door, but Dr.X, his old classmate & room mate of 5 years? He too had arrived early for the reunion. When & how did they lose touch mystified both of them. The entire night was spent catching up & rehashing old stories like stealing PLANARIA from their lab for fun etc. They couldn't believe how DIRTILY maintained their hostel room had been, each blaming the other for it. Dr. RKE, shared his details of meeting Monica Belluci & together they tried to OPTIMALLY guess her age. After all, she had been the oldest Bond Girl in Spectre.

But their biggest surprise & delight came the next day morning. Dr.X confessed that his pet hobby was setting crosswords, difficult ones at that & these he did under the name of Brain Picker. His Crosswords were featured regularly in a famous daily & today was the day of his 150th puzzle. More over, he actively participated in a blog, that solved these puzzles & discussed them on a daily basis

Dr. RKE, sheepishly confessed that he too was an active member of the blog & went under the name of Tale Spinner. What is more, he added a SUBPLOT, daily, by spinning a tale, using the Crossword solutions.

Both of them couldn't believe their own ears. They had been silent admirers of each other for so....long, without even knowing their real identities. This is bonding, in the true sense. 

Well, the rest of the class arrived 2 days later & the highlight of the reunion was the last day Dinner & Dance, for which Monica Belluci was a special guest. Dancing with almost each one of them, she made it memorable. It was with a LEADEN heart, that they said their Goodbyes at the end of the week. But Dr.X  & Dr. RKE exchanged ' Arrivederci!' which roughly translated to 'Till We Meet Again!'

With this promise & fresh hope in their hearts, they boarded their respective flights, knowing fully well that they would meet soon, in a sequel to this story.


  1. SHOLAY 2021
    Jai & Veeru, AGE LONG FRIENDS, specialised in Computer games.

    Within minutes of their release, they could hack & DECODE the most complex of games. While they loved REVENGE games, where 2 players continuously BUMP OFF each other's men, their speciality was hunting games. They loved 'The Ranch Simulator' where each player was a RIDER, who could choose his own horse & go on a hunting spree shooting PATRIDGES.

    These two suddenly shot to fame, when they were called by the State Government, to test their security software being used by JAILORS in prisons. In the state's maximum security facility, prisoners were leaking out as smoothly as milk from UDDERS.

    After obtaining the necessary CLEARANCES, they were led into the Chief Minister' s cabin. The great man, Thakur Baldev Singh, who had sworn in, barely a month back, stood up to greet them. As Jai put out his hand, for a handshake, he realised the Thakur was ARMless (though not harmless, going by his reputation). Excusing himself, the Thakur fitted his prosthetics & proceeded to check if they were EMPIGHT. Then he shook both their hands. He even offered Veeru a REEFER, even though all Government offices came under the No Smoking Zone.
    After a few minutes, he picked up his PHONE & called Asrani, the Chief JAILOR, at the State's maximum Security prison & scheduled an immediate Google meet.

    As Asrani FIRED questions at Jai & Veeru, left, right & centre, the Thakur ABRUPTLY left the room, leaving them alone. OLD TIMERS, that they were, they ESCHEWED direct ANSWERS to most of the questions & ended the meeting.

    At this point, 2 SIDE KICKS of the CM, Soorma & Bhopali entered the room. Nearly ALIKE, in their resemblance to cheap Hindi Movie DACOITS, Veeru had a tough time controlling his laughter. Jai had to hurriedly CHATTER Nineteen to the dozen to cover up.

    When they finally understood what was expected of them, they realised it was child's play for them. All they had to do was find the ERRORS in the Prison Security Software & rectify it.

    The only hitch was, they had to visit the prison, as this was an On Site job.

    The prison itself was on a RIDGE, facing TRUE NORTH & the LAND OWNER for miles around was GABBAR SINGH, the anti social thug with his cronies Sambha & Kaalia.

    Jai & Veeru quickly figured out that Gabbar was remotely hacking the Prison software, thus helping prisoners to escape. His coding expert was Kaliya while his onsite cohort, was the WIDOW NURSE Radha, who frequently visited the prison to conduct Corona Tests. She always, flirted with the JAILOR, thus ensuring that his password was always Radha & it never changed.

    Jai & Veeru, expertly recoded the software, putting the necessary RIDERS & checks, so Gabbar could never USURP their software, system or network again. For added measure, they changed the Server password to BASANTI. After thoroughly checking the system for its safety - Jai muttered - Ab tera kya hoga Kaliya?

    Collecting their remuneration, they were back in their den & NURSING their drinks, when they realised this Sholay had finished & they had never met Gabbar, not even on Zoom, let alone face to face. But then, as Jai said, in these Corona times, everybody is masked. Who is to know what anyone looks like.

    1. Will some one tell Ramesh Sippy that Sholy 2.0 is here. 👋👋👋

    2. ...and the latest computer coded version,at that.

    3. + point. They dont have to cast stars. Body doubles will do. All they need to do is invest in a variety of masks!!!

  2. My last night's tale piece - specially for Vasanth.
    Dont kill me for mutilating the original.

  3. 3Dn. Diligence = Industry (defn. As in being industrious). ANNO. Covering is Lid (up becomes dil). Murder is Ice. Facts are Gen. Gen is 'in' ice giving igence

  4. As norm, super clues Dr.! Super fun while doing 14Ac and 4Dn :-) Hit a 9D while doing it even though got the answer wasn't getting anno until sree_sree clarified. In 25Ac, how is Set = Time, not sure

    1. plan, schedule, or arrange when (something) should happen or be done.
      "the first track race is timed for 11.15"

    2. ...and 5Ac surface reading - is to kill for or die for !! I hope MBS isn't doing this puzzle

    3. Thanks sree_sree! Somehow it doesn't fit well as a synonym for me. But that's just my opinion.

  5. For the clues🙏for my 8nability to solve😡

    1. You are not alone Gemini! Quite few blanks for me as well Feedlots, Roughage, Squaddie to name a few but while some fell on crossings, the ones that didn't, aha'ed upon visiting here. Still, Dr.X is always fun.

    2. That Dr. X is fun- no 2 opinions sir

    3. If CPC and Col.find it tough,the less said about us the better. On the tougher side today needing a lot of googling. Hope it eases up a little tomorrow.

    4. You made my day Padmanabhan ji! However, while thanking you, I rush to say that the simple seeing of my name alongside Col. caused an involuntary shudder! Nowhere close to the ability and speed of the 'Jambavans' that populate this blog and many of it's followers..constantly amazed and humbled. Long way to go for me sir.

  6. Nice clues. Grid words made the puzzle tough to solve

  7. What Katy Did...

    The SILVER LINING was that Katy's father was a popular figure IN THE PUBLIC EYE, not a SQUADDIE but the SHERIF(F) of the town.

    So when some boys in the class tried to TORTURE her by talking DIRTILY and so on, she brought the matter to her father's attention.

    Soon the boys were IN FULL FLIGHT SKIRTING her!

    Without any STUMBLING BLOCK Katy grew up, studied well and is today one among the proud ALUMNI of Harvard.

  8. @DOC Congratulations on your 150 th cw 💥

  9. Congrats Doc.- On for a double century.
    Good spotting LV.

  10. Had a good laugh at the clue for Silver Lining- only Doc.can do it!

  11. Quite a groggy grid (going by the number of visits to the pub) compiled by Dr. X and I managed to solve just seven of the clues. On accessing this blog site, learnt three new words - HANSOM, ASPHODEL AND PLANARIA. Thanq Dr.

  12. 20D: camp for Pows= stalag
    Big German is G
    Depression is alas and about sala
    Many is T
    With regards,

    1. Vasant@0838 is correct.
      T cannot be many since it is not Roman numeral, where has L is.
      Also, alas is not depression... More appropriate is sag.
      Thanks Vasant for a good annotation.
      With regards,

    2. Made me feel younger, literally over six decades as I recalled watching that Hollywood movie Stalag-17 starring William Holden in which the POWs indulge in gambling with rats and cigarettes as the stakes!
      Of course, the '50s to '70s witnessed almost all the movies based on WW-II to be anti-Nazi and probably Tora Tora was the sole movie that presented a version of the pro-Axis powers.....

  13. Quite tough clues given by Dr.X. The only " silver lining" is I could solve(pun intended), along with 13a,17d, 19d. Rest all are bouncers.
    With regards,

  14. 1 2 8 16 Acrosses and 12 13 Downs new words for me!

  15. Very tough one to crack today by Doc. Few new words added to the difficulty.

  16. Doc - that was tough. I cant believe i solved it after 1 hour. Couldnt parse a few though. Still solving 100% itself is great. Thanx to the blog.

  17. Please go easy from tomorrow.