Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6287/Scorpion – Elusively hard

Posted by neildubya on December 16th, 2006


Like the last Scorpion puzzle a few weeks ago I found this very challenging but very enjoyable. I wish I could put my finger on exactly what made it difficult for me as each time I filled in an answer it seemed so straightfoward and obvious (apart from one or two) it made me wonder why I’d taken so long. I think it was simply because I had trouble parsing many of the clues – that is, sorting out the definition from the rest and then working out exactly what the clue was telling me to do. Once I’d done that, getting all the wordplay elements seemed to happen fairly quickly.

1 SECOND INN (SIGN)* – reasonably easy start.
9 T,(w)EDDING,TON – quite a tough clue to parse and not easy to pick out the definition from the smooth surface. Took me a while to realise that “wife spent” meant take away a “w”, and yet it seems so obvious now. I filled the answer in without knowing that ton=style but I didn’t see what else it could have been.
11 OIL RIG – I got this from the clever def “main workplace” but didn’t see how the clue worked. Looking at it again I see that it’s a reversal of girl (bird) and io (perfect figure “10”).
12 BE,WILDER – a ref to Billy Wilder and a very well hidden definition using “floor” as a verb.
16 (OCCUPIER)* minus UP – not quite sure how to read this clue: “Occupier knocked up negligent old writer”. Is the anagram indicator “knocked” or “negligent”?
18 BORIS in ART – The politician is obviously Boris Johnson – who else? The COD defines an arborist as a “tree surgeon” which I suppose is not quite the same thing as a “student in trunks”. Never mind, it’s still a fun clue.
20 S in ILEUM< – the last one I filled in and without getting the wordplay. Again, I was foxed by a reversal.
22 DW in (OPENED)* – very subtle and hard to parse. Maybe some people would quibble with DW as the borders of “dog show” but if you know you’re looking for an 8 letter word and 6 of them are (opened)* it’s not a hard deduction to make. Spotting the definition is tricky too.
24 BEAU J (A SOIL)* – another tricky one. Took me ages to realise that “bend, broadcasting” meant “beau” because it sounds like “bow”.
1 PantieS<,mIlKmEn – this is clever, well-orchestrated stuff and what’s more it reads well too.
2 S,CRIB in CO(r)NE(r) – another cracker.
4 INDUS,TRIAL, PLANT – one of the more straightforward clues in this puzzle although it took me a while to get INDUS as “Current, overseas”.
5 NAIROBI – I’m assuming this is correct but I don’t understand why. Obviously “African city” is the definition but the only other thing I can see is “rob” for “nick”.
13 EPICUREAN – masterly &lit. “One” is “an”, which comes after (RECIPE)* containing “u”, which is the middle (belly) of “stuff”.
17 OR,(COIN)*,O – Orinoco was, of course, one of the Wombles of Wimbledon Common.

2 Responses to “Independent 6287/Scorpion – Elusively hard”

  1. says:

    I think you’re right – Scorpion is a master of disguise, which can make his clues hard to parse. His definitions are also very cryptic sometimes, as in ‘student in trunks’. Some of the clues are on the borderline of fairness – I have asked for several to be reworked in the past, others I’ve allowed through because I allow more leeway for the Saturday puzzles as they are prize puzzles. A case in point is Nairobi, where ‘extra’ indicates that IN is reversed ‘outside’ A1 ROB.

    I particularly like 11 Across and 1 Down in this puzzle.

  2. says:

    This was really tough but very satisfying when solved – solving time 88 mins. Thanks, Eimi, for explaining Nairobi which was the one I did not fully understand. Also thanks, Neildubya, for explaining the reversal in MUESLI which I missed – I thought it was an indirect anagram which would have been highly unusual in something like the Listener, not to mention the daily cryptic. Re Orinico, this was to me just a river, though the wordplay was friendly – Google elucidated it for me.

    Notice no winners’ names were given in my edition of the paper to-day – I take it this is due to a glitch in the office rather than that no one sent in a correct solution…

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