Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6271 – Making Sense of Virgilius

Posted by tilsit on November 21st, 2006


Solving Time: 18 minutes

After yesterday’s enjoyable Tees puzzle, the momentum of the excellence of the recent Indy puzzles continued with today’s puzzle by Virgilius, although the brilliance of most of the puzzle is tempered by a couple of less than satisfying clues. 

Any aspiring setter would do well to study the clue writing in Virgilius’ puzzles as he possesses an amazing talent to provide both novel definitions and  clever ways of presenting his indications.  One of today’s star clues was: 

 21d Discontinuous, like most parts of Fiji (6)

I wonder how many solvers reached for an atlas, or looked in a reference book for a help with this clue, when the solution is right in front of them.  It reminds me of a famous clue from a Times crossword competition eliminator (I think) which read:  They hang from trees in the book of Jeremiah (6) .  A great many solvers went looking in the Bible and struggled to come up with an answer, which was AMENTA (a type of catkin).  The answer of course was hidden in the title of the OT book “Lamentations”.  With Virgilius’ clue,  you had to literally look at the clue and notice that most of the letters in the word were dotted.  Tah-dah!  Brilliant!

As with most Virgilius puzzles, there is always something going on, and todays was no exception, although I have to say I found it almost immediately.  That made solving some of the clues a hunt, rather than a genuine voyage of discovery, but it was no less enjoyable for it.

 And a nice finishing touch hiding 7/26 in the first three letters of 1 down!


7/26   SIXTH SENSE – a straight definition hinting you should look for five linked words in the puzzle.

11   INTO TOUCH –  Ouch (a cry of pain) following IN TOT (popular child) – remainder of clue is definition.

12  RURAL –  River = R, plus one in Russia The River = URAL.  I have to say I have seen this clue a number of times before.  Not the easiest of words to do anything with when cluing.

13   SEEING THE SIGHTS – A cryptic definition clue – I liked the idea of it, but I didn’t feel this worked fully.

15  ACQUIRED TASTE – nice anagram, worked into a lovely definition.

18  HEARING IMPAIRED i.e.  HEARING I’M PAIRED = Being told that I have a partner –  the rest a cryptic definition –  having trouble with audition i.e. deaf.

22 ORIBI – Old = O  bone = RIB  +I  Where would setters be without the vast range of antelopes, who all have unusual names (and plenty of vowels!)?

23  SMELL A RAT –  another nice anagram whch dovetails well with the definition.

26   ON THE NOSE  This was the last clue I solved and held me up for ages till  –   Bridge =  bridge of the nose and “Not each way” = payment (betting)  is exact i.e. on the nose.


1   ESPIES  –  S inside  E PIES (European dishes)  – ESP is of course the SIXTH SENSE – this has to be intentional, doesn’t it?

2   EXIT  – a hidden answer.  Virgilius’ hidden answers are always very cleverly hidden and this was no exception.

 3  PHOTON  HOT under P (Pressure) about =   ON, rest is definition.

5  TECHIE – a nice simple clue with an anagram

6  DRILLS   Routinely teach, i.e.  teach a routine and a DRILL is type of monkey –  double definition.

9  PARTITA  Where orchestra plays = PIT, without skill =  AROUND ART, then plus A equals a type of suite – See Chambers.

10  NORTH STAR  Former PM’s =  (Lord) NORTH’S + TA (thanks) + R (queen).  How many people would know that Lord North was a Prime Minister? (I did!) But is it fair to use that definition to get solvers to NORTH in a daily puzzle? 

16  UNITIVE –  Punitive (Disciplinarians) without P (its head).  Tending to make one = definition.  Another nice clue.

20  AT LAST  –  This clue troubles me –  It was a clue I solved from intersecting letters and assuming that  finally was the definition.  I am not sure about the “Where Oxford is put in shape” I presume this is ATLAS + T, although I am happy to be corrected.

21  DOTTED – See above

24  RANK  Double def.

4 Responses to “Independent 6271 – Making Sense of Virgilius”

  1. says:

    20D Oxford = a type of shoe (among many other “type of” meanings) – so it’s the cobbler’s last that it’s shaped at. 13A – thought the “tautological term” part of the clue made it clearly the right answer when you got it. Didn’t see ESP, but thought EYE OPENER was a sensory bonus like ON THE NOSE. Lord NORTH is a bit tricky, but the definition is pretty clear, and you’d be unlucky not to have quite a few checking letters. He’s so useful that I think we can forgive his use. The list at has plenty of PMs I’m glad I’ve not come across in crosswords.

  2. says:

    Thanks Pete

    Oxford (as shoes) has tripped me up before in Azed and a Listener.

    13a takes me back to the old radio quiz “Many A Slip” where that would have been identified as tautology, had it been read out. I suppose I was thinking that something like ” a fragrance to behold” would be tautological rather than seeing sights.

  3. says:

    I enjoyed this, too. I find the themes make Virgilius that bit easier – solved this in 14 mins. ON THE NOSE was my last answer too – bridge referring to nose eventually giving it to me. Was, surprised, as one who has punted a little in the past, when the dictionary told me it was to bet on a winner (as distinct from each way i.e. half the stake on a win or a place – usually 1,2,3). Had not understood the phrase before. Doing crosswords for a while so have learnt to think cryptically so would never have gone to an Atlas for DOTTED. Ditto, North (the ex-PM) and Oxford = shoe were familiar friends.

  4. says:

    ON THE NOSE is still sitting unfilled-in in the paper now sitting in the recycling bin.

    Oxford, as a shoe, came up quite recently in a clue to OXFORD BAGS, though I can’t recall the puzzle.

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