Fifteensquared

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Independent 6297/Monk – Six wise Monks

Posted by rightback on December 21st, 2006

rightback.

Solving time: 11:36.

Monk is one of my favourite Indie setters and today was another gem with clues as inventive and accurate as ever. Some difficult words – five I didn’t know (12, 24, 25ac; 8, 15dn) – but many of these were made much easier if you spotted the theme, clockwise in the perimeter squares. This was a particularly impressive construction as even without this feature, every answer had at least half its letters checked.

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘low’ = MOO, ‘Geordie’ = NE, ‘butter’ = RAM

* = anagram.

Across
7 (LOW + rev. of TA) inside KIT – I can’t decide if I think ‘power’ is a fair definition of ‘kilowatt’.
9 AD(A + GI)O – a couple of times in the Independent recently I’ve noticed elements of wordplay being clued by short sentence descriptions rather than nounal phrases, for example, ‘one serves’ for GI in this clue, rather than ‘one who serves’ or ‘one serving’. One other recent example was Nimrod’s “Will touring Derby top brass name three, really?” (2, 4, 2) for IS THAT SO in #6286, where ‘Derby top brass name three’ clued HATS; almost brilliant but for the cryptic reading to work I felt that ‘…to name three’ was required.
11 (ONE VOMITED)* – carelessly I initially entered MONTIVIDEO here which held me up on 4dn.
12 anag. of [m]USKRAT[s] – ‘kurta’ is an Urdu word meaning ‘a loose collarless shirt worn by people from the Indian subcontinent’.
14 MO(SQUIT)O
15 EX + C[onvict] + I(T)E
16 (CAME [u]P[o]N)* – the question mark is necessary because ‘pitch’ needs an object, such as ‘tent’, whereas ‘encamp’ is intransitive.
19 (LINKED OK)* – the Klondike Gold Rush took place in the late 1890s.
21 G(HE+TT)O – when solving I thought TT was given by ‘Man races’ (as in Tourist Trophy) but in fact it was just ‘races’. Possibly ‘race’ = TT would be more accurate, though this wouldn’t fit the surface.
23 KNOCK(AB)OUT – excellent clue which the theme helped to solve.
24 rev. of NE (= north-east = Geordie) inside KO – keno is a kind of bingo game, apparently.
25 KERALA (hidden backwards) – hats off to anyone who knew this state on the south-west Indian coast. This obscure name was probably necessitated by the theme and the clue was helpfully straightforward.
26 TOO + D(LEO)O – in another moment of carelessness, I put in ‘toodle-do’ to start with and so struggled on 22dn.
Down
1 MIL(I)E + U – a mile is a ‘middle distance’ in athletics. I like this but perhaps some wouldn’t.
3 rev. of RAM + (SOME)* + T
4 MATERS – double definition, the second of which perhaps needs a question mark?
5 M(A + rev. of LUPIN)ATE
6 MIX + (PRATE)* – ‘taper out’ was my third wrong initial entry. Another of those clues where the clue is part of the wordplay.
8 TON + A + ME – which apparently means a nickname.
15 (N + GENERAL)* – a city in Germany which is apparently twinned with Stoke-on-Trent. Another fairly obscure name but the anagram couldn’t really lead to anything else, as long as you’d seen the theme.
20 I(BAD)AN – the largest city in Nigeria.
22 TEN[ny]SON – I vaguely knew this word but couldn’t have told you that it means ‘a competition in verse between two troubadours before a court of love’ or (in this case) ‘a subdivision of the piece of verse so composed’. A kind of forerunner of today’s freestyle battles, I suppose.

3 Responses to “Independent 6297/Monk – Six wise Monks”

  1. says:

    I knew 25A because I’ve been there on holiday! Worth visiting before it becomes as popular as Goa…

  2. says:

    And the food in Kerala is fantastic.

  3. says:

    Though the theme came very quickly, I found this tough, partly because of the unfamiliar vocab that the theme made necessary, I guess. But clueing is always central to the cryptic puzzle and, for me, the whole puzzle was worth it for the clue to MATERS – brilliant! Solving time: 33 mins.

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