Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6444/Virgilius

Posted by bensand on June 12th, 2007


Always a pleasure to do a Virgilius. Not especially taxing on the obscurity of answers (although 19 was new to me) but inventive and amusing. As indicated in 16/17 there are plenty of double ls scattered through the grid. Although I’m confident about all the answers there are a couple of the short ones where the explanation of the wordplay may need improvement!

10 ALIBI – Hidden word in “triAL I BIzarrely”. When I first looked at it I surmised that this ought to be LIBIZ which in my guess would be a chess defence. After a while failing to get and mileage out of the Z or the B I shifted my hidden word a letter back!
11 ROYAL STAG – Cryptic, and very precise, definition – a royal stag being one that has at least 12 points at the top of its antlers
16/17 LEARNER DRIVERS – driving in the definition relates to driving on a golf course. The second part of the clue refers to the LLs scattered through the grid.
19 SALLY LUNN – ALLY + L in SUN + N. A kind of bun
1 THIRD RATER – This was my favourite clue. RATE is scold and arithmetic is the THIRD R of the educational three rs
2 ALLY – has to be ally really but I can’t make the second part fit neatly. Is it just that it’s the next four letters after 19s first letter?
6 BEACH – B + EACH £x a head = £x each I suppose
7 SHILLYSHALLYING – A closing time pronunciation of “Silly sallying”, also made me laugh
20 YEAR – This seems like an odd one to me. It’s a unit of time and it’s Year(n) for endlessly long. So far so good but what’s the “world revolution” doing there?!

18 Responses to “Independent 6444/Virgilius”

  1. says:

    2D second part: I think that’s all there is to it. 20D: “World revolution” is probably referring to the fact that it takes a year for the earth to complete an orbit of the sun. (As opposed to the day that it takes to revolve around its own axis.)
    Extra thematic element – L shapes made by black squares in the grid. He’s done the same with at least F and H in the past, and possibly T.

  2. says:

    Of course (world revolution that is). The L shapes I’m less surprised to have missed – well spotted!

  3. says:

    7d is SHILLYSHALLIED (although I expect you know that.)

    Peter’s right with 2d but I was surprised that ‘friend’ was used in both surfaces.

    Agree about 1d, terrific clue.

  4. says:

    Yep, I did know shillyshallied – after all shillyshallying wouldn’t have fitted in! I obviously need a proofreader before I submit – ideally a nina specialist.

  5. says:

    Good puzzle with nice theme.

    Didn’t understand the clue to “Royal Stag” but it seems a good one, albeit requiring a lot of knowledge on the part of the solver about “royal stag”.

    In the clue to OPERATIVE, I hope I may be permitted to return to a point I made about a month ago on these pages. Virgilius uses the definition “musical performance” for OPERA, in the same way that he used this definition for SONATA a while back.

    My point is this, basically: A SONATA or an OPERA exist as musical pieces, compositions, scores, or whatever, whether they are performed or not. There are many instances of unperformed OPERAs etc.

    I don’t therefore think “musical performance” is a legitimate definition for SONATA etc…


  6. says:

    Yes, another good puzzle. I liked 6 Across “ABC is, in a way” BASIC. SALLY LUNN brought back pleasing memories, but it’s a long time since I’ve seen one.

  7. says:

    Re No 5. With all respect to Al, surely it is a little nit-picking to suggest “musical performance” is incorrect as a crossword definition for “opera”. Opera is written to be performed; while it is possible to appreciate the music, or even the score, by itself, it is still designed to be “performed” (i.e. executed) by the musicians. Elsewhere on this thread I have said setters need provenance for clues and I feel the dictionaries give the backing in this case.

  8. says:

    ROYAL STAG I got from the crossing letters, looked in Chambers to verify (no sign of it). But it’s in the Concise OED with a definition that completely confirmed the clue. So this L Learned something new today.

  9. says:

    All the operas I’ve ever been to (all one of them) seemed to be musical performances as far as I could tell, but then again I’m not an expert so I could easily be wrong.

  10. says:

    (BTW I’ve never attended a sonata so I’m happy to defer to Al on that one)

  11. says:

    Re. 7

    Chambers 2006 defines SONATA as a “musical composition” not a “musical performance”, presumably thinking along the same lines as me.

    (I haven’t checked OPERA…)

  12. says:

    So? It might not be a dictionary definition but that doesn’t make it unfair – which is surely the most important point. It doesn’t take a huge imaginative leap to realise that all compositions are capable of being performances of one kind or another. I can’t imagine many solvers having a problem with that.

  13. says:

    I feel the same way. Chambers, inter alia, defines opera as: “a musical drama”; Collins and Cassells: “an extended dramatic work in which music constitutes a dominant feature”; Longmans: “A drama set to music” and the COD: “A dramatic work …set to music”. An opera is surely written to be performed, and the definition “musical performance” is correct when it is being performed. The definition “a vehicle that is driven on the roads” is acceptable for “car”, although it is not driven when it is in the garage!

  14. says:

    Neil says: “all compositions are capable of being performances of one kind or another”. Absolutely correct, but the fact that they are capable of being performances doesn’t mean that they are performances, which is what the definition indicates. (As I have suggested above, there are many reasons why compositions might not may make it to be performances- the composer might have got fed up with it and consigned it to the bin- I can’t think why in the case of operas…!… etc …)

    By the way, I wasn’t suggesting that the clue was unfair. Most solvers, including myself, would have been able to work out the answer. The fact that you can work out the answer to a clue, however, doesn’t mean that a clue is a good one, or doesn’t contain an inaccuracy.

    Thanks to Rufus for giving a comprehensive run-down of the definitions of opera. Again, none of them call it a “musical performance”.

    I’m not sure I agree with his analogy using the “car” definition. Most compilers would just use “vehicle” which neatly avoids the question of whether the vehicle is roadworthy etc…


  15. says:

    Whenever I have gone to an opera I have always gone to see a musical performance. I feel therefore that for 90% of the time the definition is accurate and as long as it is accurate at any time it is acceptable as a crossword definition. Al and I must agree to differ!

  16. says:

    As Rufus says, we must agree to differ.

    Can I just make one final comment. “Going to see an opera” is shorthand for “going to see a performance of an opera(a musical drama)”. The opera, like the sonata etc., exists as an entity whether it is performed or not.

    If I was compiling a puzzle, I’d be pretty worried if the definition I wanted to use wasn’t in any of the dictionaries available!


  17. says:

    Watch out Al: If you ever use an expression like “Solving Araucaria yesterday”, there may be some people reminding you that you solved a puzzle, not a setter.

  18. says:

    “Solving Araucaria yesterday” is fine for conversation in a similarly shorthand way to “going to see an opera”…

    I’m not convinced that “Araucaria”, or “Araucaria, for instance” as a definition for “puzzle”, would stack in a crossword clue.

    Compilers surely, if any people, ought to use definitions in their puzzles that are accepted by lexicographers…

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