Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6257/Scorpion – a tough workout

Posted by petebiddlecombe on November 11th, 2006


Solving time 15:40

I like to see Scorpion puzzles, and I’m pleased to be writing the first Scorpion posting here on “225” – here’s why. From time to time, would-be setters send me puzzles and ask what I think of them. They range from the truly awful to ones that show promise, and a few that I’d be perfectly happy to see in any paper. I try to give constructive criticism, which is usually taken the right way. When the first Indie Scorpion puzzle appeared (this is the third or fourth I think), I had my first ever e-mail telling me that I’d played a tiny part in getting a new setter into a national paper, by commenting on one of his early efforts a few years ago. I say tiny, because the main requirements seem to be a lot of hard work, and practice at setting in less famous places to get yourself noticed. Scorpion has clearly absorbed the important things while probably ignoring a few of my fussier comments. I found his first Indie puzzle very hard, but now he’s in the same “hard but fair” group as Mass, Monk and Nimrod.

1/14 IN THE FIRST FLUSH OF YOUTH – this puzzled me a bit at the time, but I worked out the phrase, after rejecting the dud version with “blush”. Only spotted the “convenience” pun just now, a week after solving!
7 (men)ORCA – an orca being a killer whale, the “island” surface works rather nicely. “Menorca” is the island known us as Minorca (briefly British-occupied, I think).
9 BRA,CH(I)UM – bravo for not using the old cliché “Support” as the first word of this clue. China = chum is more rhyming slang – china plate = mate
10 A,R(ober)T,1ST – “left empty”, and “top” = 1st are original indicators making this quite a tough clue to a fairly frequently used word.
11 HOT DOG – relish = sauce, trap = mouth. Mick the Miller was a famous greyhound, hence the surface reference to the other kind of traps.
13 R(wAlKiEs)OVER – Dog = rover is simple enough but rarely used.
17 CH,EWE,D(THE,Cu)D – good set of crosswordese stuff here – church = CH, theologian = DD (Doc. of Divinity), copper=Cu. EWE=one of flock is nice, though I can’t quite see why a vicar should hide a policeman, so surface isn’t as good some of the others.
21 BASICS =”bay six”
23 ZE(NI)ST – nice use of “in” as part of the answer rather than an “indicator” in the wordplay  
25 C(Y)AN – can = yet another slang word for toilet. Not madly keen on “In A, B” = put B inside A but it’s a minor point
26 DE(H,YDRAT)ED – H=Henry is from some measurement unit in Physics. “Late back during performance” is nice and smooth.
2 N(A,R,R,OWL)Y This is very good work. “Just one state” has to be broken up to get the definition “just”, hooter=owl is novel but fair, and r=rule is in the Concise Oxford. “One state” for NY is unusual but perfectly sound. And the idea that Aussie rules football might borrow the Rugby League hooter makes for a nice surface
4 F(oot)LING – oot=”too upset”. Nice find, making another good surface meaning
6 TRACK,SUIT – “chav” = inferior slob, roughly, in current UK slang
7 ON TWO WHEELS – cryptic def
8 (tad)CASTER – Tadcaster is indeed a Northern town
12 DESECRATION – I=ego in anag. of ‘races to end’
16 PUNCTURE – virtually a plain definition once you’ve chosen ‘cyclist’ as the type of sportsman
19 CICELY=”Sicily”

One Response to “Independent 6257/Scorpion – a tough workout”

  1. says:

    Having done almost every Indy cryptic since the paper appeared, can say this is as hard as it gets. Vocabulary a little wider and wordplay elements more complex with some definitions v cunningly concealed. I guessed CASTER but had no idea why so thanks for explaining that. I did however have TOP DOG for HOT DOG, the other one I was not sure about. I had thought of both possibilities. Solving time (1 mistake) 1 hr 51 mins.

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