Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6347 by Mass – Very tough

Posted by nmsindy on February 19th, 2007

nmsindy.

Mass is the only one of the setters, there when I first tackled the Indy, who still sets in the daily paper, though he appears less often.     His puzzles were among the hardest with great skill at exploiting all the meanings of words to the full.    This puzzle exhibits that too. 

This one I found even harder than most of those.     While I’m not an expert in grid matters, I think that the grid here made it harder.     It’s symmetrical through 90 degrees, not just the usual 180, and each corner has 7 words but only 1 of those 7 intersects with words outside the corner i.e. the 4 10-letter words.

Solving time: 61 mins

* = anagram

ACROSS

1 HOME TOWN   A tip-top cryptic definition, which brought a smile when found

2 ODES SA(y)    Took me ages to get this, because I’d pencilled in “mistrust” for “distrust” in 6 down

9  ABSTRACT   A classic Mass-type double definition.   Top drawer.

10 O (SWA)LD    (was)*    King of Northumbria in the 7th century.

18 MA (SQUERA)DE  (square)* with baroque as the anagram indicator.    Produced = made.    “For outside viewing” means put it outside the anagram.

24 C HIT A L   New word for me that I got from the wordplay, verifying after.

25  HOROLOGE    An old timepiece.     For some reason, I was not expecting the answer to be a watch.

DOWN

1 H(E)AVEN    Middle letter of Roquefort.      Another wonderful clue.   I spent a while thinking about actual ports rather than a synonym.

2 MOSLEY    The No 10 refers to 10 across so it all refers to Oswald Mosley, prewar Fascist leader and the No 10 in the surface could have a hint of Downing Street too, I guess.

3 TART AR(m)

8 A R(D)ENNES    A French Department and a French city.     Hard.

15 AM(ERICA)N   Erica = heather in (man)*  i.e. George W Bush is an example of an American.

16 ESSAY I(S)T   Charles Lamb (Elia) an essayist well-known to solvers.

17 SUIT CASE    More Mass magic.

20 Al CAP ONE,  gangster = hood    same = one and “as” is a link. 

3 Responses to “Independent 6347 by Mass – Very tough”

  1. says:

    I didn’t enjoy this, partly because I made such heavy weather of it. The worst aspect was the grid, which I would have hoped the Indy, whose crosswords are so good, would have jettisoned by now. If one gets the long words, the whole thing is reduced to four separate crosswords, and to answer a clue is to provide no help with much of the rest of the crossword. In a good grid, every answer is a help, via several routes, with every other answer.

    In SWEEPSTAKE win = stake is very tenuous it seems. In RIALTO where is the indication that we are to form an anagram of both art and oil? Is a HOROLOGE old? (Not especially, according to Chambers).

    But OK some of the clues were pretty good (SUITCASE, MASQUERADE, MOSLEY, to name three).

    By the way, my reading of CAPONE was cap (= headpiece) + one (same as ‘a’).

  2. says:

    Glad you’re (generally) enjoying the crosswords, Wil – you should enjoy next Monday’s. In SWEEPSTAKE win was TAKE. I can see how you might feel “involving” inadequate to indicate a mixture of art and oil – perhaps a little licence to improve the surface reading.

    I’ve always been quite laissez faire about grids, believing the words are more important than the cross, but I’ll look into retiring a few that create islands (PB has made a similar point in the past) – as you surmised, this is one of the original Indy grids from the time when setters could not design their own.

  3. says:

    Many thanks for responding. Nice to know that the editor is so accessible.

    When I criticise clues I frequently make silly mistakes – yes, of course take not stake.

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four + = 12