Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6308/Mass New Year’s Brunch

Posted by tilsit on January 4th, 2007


Solving time 25 minutes

I have really enjoyed the Indy daily puzzles recently and I know that a number of crossword chums have also done so, so I feel a bit odd about today’s challenge.  Maintaining a high standard is always a tough task and the best I can liken today’s to is using up the festive left overs.  It’s all quite pleasant and worthy, but it’s not quite like the meal the day before.  To use another analogy, a bit like the Vicar of Dibley versus One Foot in the Grave.

Mass is one of the longest serving setters and always reminds me of the late Custos from the Guardian.  In the 80′,s we used to have Custos and Araucaria alternating on Saturday and when I finished Custos it was a nice feeling, but you immediately longed for the following Saturday’s Araucaria which was invariably going to make you smile.  Mass puzzles are beautifully crafted and absolutely fair, but it’s just a nice puzzle.

Today’s was very much like that –  as a crossword nerd, I can appreciate the lovely  clues, but really that was it.  Didn’t laugh out loud or have some theme to look for, but it was worthy of the Indy canon and better than many others in the other papers.

Not easy to get into either, as there were no really long answers.


1  POLARIS    – OL(D) not quite well established in PARIS capital.

5  STRETCH  – Double definition  –  a nice clue.

9 RESPITE     – Concerned with = Re  Ill Will = Spite

11 PHOTOSTAT  – This caused me most trouble  HOT inside POST + A  + T (lighT ultimately)

12 LEILA  – Anag of ELLA plus I.    Hmmmm.   not one of my favourites.

13 TWEAK  –  W in TEAK = Timber?  Don’t feel comfortable with that.

15 ENAMELLED  – NAME  in ELLE plus D.  Liked this clue, although is French necessary in the clue?  I think it adds nicely to the surface.

17 PURPORTED –   Anag of PRUDE with PORT inside.

22 MENELAUS  – hidden reversed in  MeneLAUS Undoubtedly.

25  GRANDEE   –  GRAND (PIANO) + EE  (keys)

28 NASCENT  –  N A = North American  SCENT


1    PARAPET –  APE (Primate) in PART  –  Clever definition “It helps to fortify” as in a fortification (castle, etc).

4  SWEETMEAT  –  Anag of MAE WEST with  ET inside

6  REPELLENT  – Like Herbert TREE as a frequent response to Actor in a clue,  Ms Terry (Wasn’t she known as  Dame  ELLEN Terry??) leads to ELLEN.  REP = Theatre (repertory)   with  T for Temperature.


8 HAGGARD –  Sir Henry Rider HAGGARD (King Solomon’s Mines, She)

14  KNOWLEDGE  –  Another poor clue, methinks, probably the last to be written.  Anyone know Mr Wold?

16 ADDICTION  –  C for Cocaine in ADDITION   Great & lit clue.  – it  redeems 14.

17 PLUNGER  –  A new def on me  –  A reckless player?  P + LUNG =  ER   rising note.

23  TEENY  –  Is a TEE an area for drivers in Golf?  I fretted about this for a while and then of course realised it is acceptable.

24 INCAS  –  IN  +  CAS (T)  Shy in crosswords now usually means throw (as in Coconut Shy), so this didn’t really hold me up.

6 Responses to “Independent 6308/Mass New Year’s Brunch”

  1. says:

    I remember Custos too. When I couldn’t rely on finishing Araucaria or other difficult setters, his puzzles were an important source of encouragement. I’d say that any daily paper should have a couple of puzzles a week in the plain dealing / fairly easy / “just a nice puzzle” style. But this role at the Indie usually seems to be played by Phi and Dac most of the time, with Virgilius fairly close to them. In the past I’ve found Mass one of the tougher Indie setters, and today’s puzzle was surprisingly quick – almost certainly my fastest ever for Mass. Did someone tell him that Dac was harder than usual yesterday? Apart from Ken Wold as “Mr Obvious Anagram” I had no complaints.

  2. says:

    PLUNGER was my last – with the “reckless” meaning (in gambling) confirmed in the Concise OED – I’d flirted with PLUGGER. I may be wrong, but, when verifying with Mass, the Concise OED always seems to explain so maybe he uses it a lot. I agree that his puzzles have become easier in recent years.

  3. says:

    It is a coincidence that the late and greatly lamented Custos (Alec Robins) has been mentioned. ITV are re-running Inspector Morse and apparently Custos inspired the whole thing – something I was unaware of. (

    Yesterday’s Morse episode featured an academic crossword-setting character who I presume was based on Custos but I’m very glad the real Custos met a far more peaceful end!

  4. says:

    If you look through most of the early Morse episodes you will find that many of the characters have the surnames of leading setters. Some of them may have another link.

    The whole thing comes to a crescendo in my favourite episode Masonic Mysteries (ITV this Saturday evening at 7:30 ish) where one of the characters who is a retired policeman and Morse’s mentor is named Macnutt (as in Ximenes!)

  5. says:

    Late for me but wondered why the wonderful Paul puzzle in the Guardian wasn’t blogged today – it deserves more than a mention!

    tilsit mentioned above the fact that Araucaria ‘was invariably going to make you smile.’ Paul today surpassed that – I haven’t laughed at a clue like 9a for a long while. I could just visualise (or rather hear) Her Majesty saying ‘OFTEN’ in that way.

    8a, and 10,26 a also made me smile a long time (though is Wapping really the ‘new’ Fleet Street?) and 4d had me hitting my head when I realised ‘Napoleon’ wasn’t the obvious suspect but rather an Orwellian construct!

    Brilliant Paul – thanks for making a good day better!

    (p.s. would appreciate an explanation of 6d – got the A + P + TEES bit and easily enough to work out the answer but where does the rest fit in?)

    (p.p.s – sorry to post this on the Indie blog!)

  6. says:

    It’s not entirely inappropriate as Paul will soon be returning to the Independent as his Punk alter ego (Jan 11 and Feb 1 for starters).

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