Posted by nmsindy on December 19th, 2006
Another amazing tour de force by Virgilius, whose weekly Indy puzzles usually have a theme.
This time (1) all the sixteen perimeter cells contain the letter F (2) there are seven rows and seven columns with entries. In each one the first entry begins with F and the last entry ends in F. The only “non-F words” are the central ones in the middle column and row. Incredible!
Solving time: 19 mins. Theme came fairly quickly.
* = anagram
6 ALF alfalf(a) is the fodder crop which ALF “repeatedly” “makes most of”
9 FAUNA “fawn” + A Fauna are all animals listed cf flora for plants
10 WINDSURF Thought about this and especially whether “on board” indicated container wordplay. Knowing nothing about windsurfing, I think the whole clue is a definition of what it comprises.
17 GOOF (Foolish error) “Almost” GO OF(f) = explode
23 FOLLOWER Liked this with a good surface reading, suggesting a compromise. O = old + L = left in FLOWER (elite i.e. the best)
25 STAFF Double definition, but thought “use” should have been in past tense as that’s history now.
27 FA(i)L River familiar to solvers Bomb used here in the sense of “fail” in the cryptic reading – originally American slang. The I is “dumped”
2 FEMALE (ME) “turning over” i.e. reversed in a down clue in (LEAF)* . The wording seems the opposite to the natural order, but that’s OK in a crossword, I think. F is an abbreviation for Female and this is used in the next clue.
3 F - abbreviation for FEMALE (2) or FORTE (8) + LAW = rule
4 FAR NORTH The Arctic Regions. Favourite clue, with misleading context of the hit parade.
8 FORTE Got this from 3 above. It means loud (music) opposite to soft (p= piano) that we see more often in crosswords. Don’t understand “Like a couple in song” – reference to some tune, I guess, but I’ve little doubt about the answer in the context of this puzzle.
13 HEART(s) Double context of playing cards and football. Heart of Midlothian is Scottish football team based in Edinburgh, usually known as Hearts, so s = second is sent off.
16 AARDWOLF An African mammal of the hyena family, feeding mainly on termites, if you want to know. Glad the “easy clue to a hard word” policy was followed here as, unlike AARDVARK, which, as the first word in the dictionary, companies have used to get to the top of lists sorted in ABC order, I’d never heard of this one. It’s (A WORD)* in ALF (6 across)
18 OFF OF (I think) Maybe the constraints of the puzzle were pushing Virgilius to the edge, but I think it’s clear enough from the clue – and I’ve heard it used (and corrected!)
24 RUFF As a non-bridge player, had to verify this. (RUFF appears frequently in advanced crosswords, but usually as a bird.) It means trumping using a different suit so e.g. diamond winning over a heart. All this going with an excellent surface reading suggesting an entirely different romantic context.
26 AS OF Definition: Since (with effect from a certain time) SOFA with the A (article) lifted to the top.