Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6484 (28-07-07)/Monk – Never Straightforward

Posted by neildubya on August 3rd, 2007


Very entertaining puzzle from Monk. Of course, it wouldn’t be Monk with a Nina of some sort and I spotted this one once I solved 17/18/19A – the unchecked letters in the top row of the grid are all Ns and in the bottom row they’re all Ss.

Solving time: 37 mins. I hardly ever time myself but I did on this occasion as I knew I had a clear hour in front of me. I think I usually take longer than this to solve Monk puzzles so I wonder how others solvers did with this one.

9 (TO BE A REAL)* – I liked “crook” as an anagrind.
10 OPE(n)RA(n) – “closing early” is an excellent indicator for this clue.
11 SCRATCH – I filled this in without understanding what “the Devil” meant. Post-solving, Wikipedia tells me that in the short story and film “The Devil and Daniel Webster”, Satan appears as a character called “Mr Scratch”.
12 hidden reversed in “hippopotAMUS TASting” – “nipped” is another good indicator.
14 NUMB,ER,(LEAPT)* – tough clue to parse, not least because “front of car, but not quite” is not an obvious looking definition.
17/18/19 NORTH AND SOUTH – which is Cockney rhyming slang for “mouth”=trap.
25 N,AIR,OBI – a semi-guess as I wasn’t completely sure about OBI (a type of witchcraft practised in the West Indies)
27 SHAV(e),(OUT)* – the bottom right-hand side of the grid was the trickiest bit of this puzzle for me and this was one of the reasons why (along with 20D and 24D). I thought that “out unorthodox” might be an anagram but a word ending -UOT seemed unlikely until SHAVE emerged as a contender for “cut”. I don’t know why but SHAVUOT just looked right.
2 ARRAN (going up),TOR
4 hidden in “oN A SHoestring” – a reference to the very marvellous Ogden Nash.
5 SVEN in NEW,D(i)OR – I wasted a bit of time on this thinking that “Swede in original” might be an anagram.
6 NOWT – TOWN with the N and T swapped around.
16 PUSH-STARTERS – now that’s what I call a cryptic definition.
17 M in NUB,NESS – very natural sounding surface reading.
20 LUM in (PUBS,N)* – excellent clue and a tough one to parse.
24 (STE(-al)THY)* – the last one in for me. With T?T?Y? filled in, something ending -THYS is always seems a good bet for a mythological character so that’s what I tried.
27 SOUS – a sou is an old French coin and SOUS is “under” in French (as in sous-chef).

4 Responses to “Independent 6484 (28-07-07)/Monk – Never Straightforward”

  1. petebiddlecombe says:

    Can’t remember an exact time, but maybe half as long as a difficult Monk.

  2. nmsindy says:

    SCRATCH is a name for the Devil. My trickiest one was 13 across which I finally understood, I think, as alternate letters giving NET (though the defn puzzled me a bit, but I guess it’s nets as in cricket practice, but will await solution with interest)

    Do not usually give solving times except in my own blog, but in view of the queries here, it was 30 mins (fastest for Monk this year so far). My average solving time for Monk this year is 51 mins. Saw the theme within the first 10 mins which helped. As always with Monk, a very enjoyable and satisfying puzzle, clued with rigour.

  3. eimi says:

    An extraordinary achievement, as the clues were also cleverly written to fit in with the Nina.

  4. neildubya says:

    Oops. Missed that completely. As you say though, quite an achievement.

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