Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6509/Tomohiro

Posted by neildubya on August 27th, 2007


I’ve only got time to say a few general comments on this puzzle so if anyone is stuck on any of the clues please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help. If any of the bloggers wants to do a full review of it, please feel free.

You couldn’t really miss the thing in the centre of the grid which – being a child of the 80s – I recognised straightaway as a space invader (from the iconic arcade game). Another clue is the setter’s pseudonym: Tomohiro Nishikado was the designer of Space Invaders. There was also the thematic clue at 28/15:


25 Responses to “Independent 6509/Tomohiro”

  1. nmsindy says:

    I’ve just finished this and think I am right – I do not like to say too much and there were some clues I do not fully understand, but know I’m right because apart from normal clues there is a themed message to be seen which confirms the doubtful ones and also what Neil Dubya says above, if I have it right.

  2. tadhg says:

    All I’d add is that it’s possible to solve this one without cracking it. There’s a reason for the icon and all the rest of it, as I found out after the grid was filled in, and it’s a cracker.

  3. nmsindy says:

    It is a cracker, indeed, by one of the regulars I’d say renamed for the event. Just would add message is (5,6,3,5,3,4,3,7) with, if I’m right, two letters from it centrally placed having extra significance. Def a Bank Holiday rather than standard weekday puzzle.

  4. Alberich says:

    I got the message (eventually) but what goes in the two central squares, please? Can’t see it for the life of me though it’ll probably dawn as soon as I hit Send. Thanks in advance.

  5. eimi says:

    I considered this as a prize puzzle, but thought the central squares might cause consternation. They are there merely to create the image, but I suppose you could enter I in each to make eyes if you didn’t like leaving squares empty. Nmsindy is right – it is an Indy regular incognito.

  6. Wil Ransome says:

    I knew this would happen: more than an hour of misery trying to cope with clues that I didn’t understand, and then people saying how wonderful it was. I am bewildered by the following:
    The message seems to be THESE SPACES ARE TAKEN – – – EEGINFO-DAILS ????
    25A: Can’t see this at all.
    28A: GEETA???
    35A: M—E is no help: Somerset villages don’t rush to mind.
    41A: Seems to be UFO, but goodness knows why.
    42A: O—O presumably and perhaps there is a Roy Howard and Oroyo is in the US, but …
    48A: King Gunther???
    2D: The wordplay defeats me.
    3D: Probably EAST, but can’t see why.
    7D: Presumably POSE(idon), but is pose really equivalent to front?
    23D: Presumably A–ER-, but …
    36D: “Capone grabs” suggests that it is A—-L, but no words come to mind.
    38D: Evidently LUMEN, but is it really that “dons” are “maybe posh men”? Surely not.

    Perhaps this gives the impression that I am a beginner. By some standards I am, but I do The Times daily, Azed monthly, The Listener often, Mephisto often, The Independent most days, and several other crosswords quite often. Yet in comparison this one seems most unpleasant – far too many difficult clues for very short words, and not a single one that gives delight, something that comes several times a day from The Times etc.

  7. Jon88 says:

    I’m struggling too, but I can clear up some things for Wil: 28a seems to be GUP+TA, though I can’t quite defend encourage = gup. 35a ME(A)RE. 42a, you need to know director Ron Howard and the home of the University of Maine. 48a King Gunther has his own Wiki page. 2d HAI+G (Alexander Haig). 7d, as in “put up a front,” I think. 23d ASS+URE. More enlightenment would be appreciated.

  8. Paul B says:

    With a proper blog, the discussion would habve been made a lot easier – I suspect.

    There’s a bit too much ‘ah sod it’ on this site at the moment, in my view. Although you might ask Everyman and Quixote what they think.

  9. nmsindy says:

    Not seen the solution yet, but I got the final step wrong, I think, from Eimi’s post above (Eimi is my prime suspect for this). The message I referred to was THESE SPACES ARE TAKEN / SEE GRID FOR DETAILS – all the single cells in the grid. What I did tho was see ET in the centre of row 14 and I put that in the blank cells.

  10. Derek Harrison says:

    Here are my notes on the across clues. I found this tough. Ximeneans will be fuming!
    9 IDA idea less E
    10 AGA 2 meanings Aga cooker
    12 CRU crux less X
    14 ORB R (radius) in OB (passing!)
    17 KEG Weekend=K!! + eg (say)
    19 TAKEOUT 2 meanings ref. Take-away in US
    20 EST = is in Latin
    24 AT SEA
    25 ISLET is let = has tenants
    26 GREED deer + G (rev.)
    28 GUPTA Gee up + TA
    30 ART Hidden?
    31 BAR 2 meanings?
    32 MORSE ref Morse code
    35 MEARE A in MERE
    37 SILENCE Le (Voltaire is French!) in SINCE
    40 ELVIS anag. SWIVEL less W (women) & lit?
    41 UFO U + sounds like FOE (picked up)
    42 ORONO Ron in Os (Oscars)
    44 ISM is + M
    45 REV RE + V (against)
    46 TALON TAL ref. Mikail Tal + ON
    47 ELAND England less NG (no good)
    49 GUNTHER anag. urgent + H (hospital)

  11. Al Streatfield says:

    Didn’t see yesterday’s Independent. So what I have to go on is the solution, one proper blog (from Wil) explaining why he didn’t like it with detailed comments on the clues, and other vague posts saying it is a “cracker”. Can those who think it is a cracker please say why they think it is a cracker…


  12. Tomohiro says:

    If you want to find out why people think it’s good or otherwise, do the puzzle. You might even come to your own conclusions.

    As to the clue constructions (e.g. ‘passing’ = OB, which is a misread btw) I really don’t see why I should bother to help people here in the absence of a proper blog.

  13. Quixote says:

    I (almost) solved this over two hours while nursing a sore tummy and watching the cricket (the cricket certainly helped the tummy). As it happens I used to go to MEARE (it’s near Glastonbury) with my father on business in the fifties visiting farms. The second half of the nina foxed me and I never got around to verifying ADORAL in the OED.

  14. eimi says:

    I would be quite happy to claim this, but I’m afraid it’s not me. I see a bank holiday slot as an opportunity to schedule the more difficult crosswords normally seen on a Saturday; as I have explained above, I chose not to schedule this as a prize crossword as readers would be confused as to whether anything should be entered in the invader’s eyes.

    Inevitably, the drawing of the invader and the long message in all the unchecked squares meant that some obscure words were used, but on the other hand there was very extensive checking in many of the answers.

    It also meant that there were many more clues than normal. I had to get permission to use the white space usually seen on the right of the Monday crossword. So, the crossword itself was a space invader.

  15. Derek Harrison says:

    This puzzle was a cracker because of its hidden message and the unique grid with the shape of a Space Invader in the middle.

    By the way, in passing in 12ac means by the way = obiter
    Here are my notes on the down clues.
    1. TICK 2 meanings to second vb.
    2. HAIG HAI Japanese assent (not in Chambers) + G (government)
    3. EAST ?
    4 SARK Stark less T
    5. ECCO EC (city) + Co.
    6 SUIT 2 meanings
    7 POSE POSE(IDON) to front. (does demigod mean half of a god?)
    8 ABET Abe (Lincoln) + T (-bar)
    11 GEAR 2 defs. ref. gear-wheel
    13 ROUT R (runs) + OUT
    16 TEE Tee(n)
    18 ESTER anag,
    21 SKEET K in Tees (rev.)
    22 AENEAS anag. seen + AA
    23 ASSURE ASS + (river) URE
    26 GEM 2 defs
    27 DRESSING anag. SENS(E) GRID getting into GEAR
    28/15 INSERT COINS/GAME OVER Anag. cessation GREEN V or Iā€™m
    29 AGE (badin)age
    33 RIVOLI Hidden reversed
    34 REF Initials rev.
    36 ADORAL Dora in AL (Not in Chambers)
    38 LUMEN L (50) + U (University) Men (the cavity of a tubular organ)
    39 NORTH ref. Oliver North?
    40 EFTA Hidden
    43 ODDS odd letters (thus appropriate)

  16. Tomohiro says:

    Since you’ve now effectively blogged it:

    the EAST idea is street under water; ORB is ‘in passing (OBiter) about (e.g. around) radius (R)'; HAI you would not find in Chambers as it is a Japanese word, and it was flagged like the bloomin’ Hinomaru. Has anyone evr bothered to moan about the likes of OUI/ JA (we normally see ‘European affirmatives’, or something like it)? K for weekend is, I concede, the sort of thing that infuriates ‘Ximeneans’, but it’s considered by Ruth Crisp (that well-known, cutting-edge ‘Araucarian’) to be absolutely bog-standard crosswordese; lastly NORTH – is the Iran-Contra scandal now totally forgotten? I don’t think so.

    For that poster who couldn’t see the hidden message, a hint: it’s a down-unch thing.

  17. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for those explanations which clear everything up – some very subtle but finding the message gave me the answers, though not all understood. Seeing that message was a great moment.

    An incredible grid construction with the very long message fit in as well. ADORAL is not in Chambers but Google verified it (in US dictionaries, I think)

  18. Tomohiro says:


  19. fgbp says:

    Let’s not be TOO hard on today’s blogger, if it wasn’t for whom we would have no website.
    When i buy the Indy I always look at the puzzle as I lift the paper from the shelf (sad but true!) Today I nearly dropped the paper in astonishment. I wondered if the puzzle would contain something special enough to justify the bizarre grid and profusion of short answers. The answer afaic is a resounding “Yes”. Thanks to nmsindy (you rotter!) I spent ages trying to find how to fill in the “eyes”.
    The clues weren’t entirely to a Ximenean’s liking but IMO they were all perfectly fair and the long anagram was lovely. I’d probably never have spotted the message if I hadn’t wondered on the choice of MEARE as an answer (THESESPA had looked promising in the top row already)
    So thank you Tomohiro, whoever you are :-)

  20. APW says:

    So it seems to be OK to praise the puzzle but any criticism seems to rile the compiler…

  21. Al Streatfield says:

    Re. 12 (by Tomohiro): I couldn’t do the puzzle because all the newsagents appeared to be shut by the time I went to buy an Independent (it being a bank holiday).

    Re. 13 (by Quixote): MEARE seems to me far too obscure for an answer in a daily, even a bank holiday one, even if Quixote knows it. ADORAL ditto. (And ORONO)

    Re. 15 (by Derek Harrison): He says: “The puzzle was a cracker because of its hidden message and the unique grid with the space of an invader in the middle”. I do crosswords because the clues are good not because it has a cute grid (whose central image and message led in this case to an excess of clues and short and overchecked answers, and, paradoxically, a couple of almost unsolvable clues). Here, judging by most of the comments on the clues, it didn’t have good ones.


  22. Quixote says:

    I wasn’t defending MEARE. It’s just a strange coincidence that I know this TINY TINY place AND DIDN’T NEED AN OS MAP FOR THE AREA!! However, this wasn’t the hardest clue to solve in a puzzle full of obscure words and difficult clues. It would be interesting to know waht Joe Nonblogging Everyday Solver made of it!

  23. Fletch says:

    Well if it took you 2hrs and you couldn’t finish it I shudder to think!

  24. Tomohiro says:

    Mr Manley’s assertion that the puzzle is ‘full of obscure words and difficult clues’ is meant simply to amuse, I’m sure.

    Of the 47 required words and phrases, only one that isn’t either a legit place name (of which there are four: that little-known island of Sark, Maine University’s Orono, Rivoli in Italy plus Somerset’s Meare) or legit proper names (world-famous Elvis, world-famous General Haig, world-famous Aeneas, world-famous Princess Ida, plus the quite famous Gupta dynasty and Gunther, one-time King of Burgundy associated – quite famously, via Wagner – with Siegfried) is not found in either Collins of Chambers.

    FYI, that one is ADORAL, in SOED (to which the likes of Manley ought to be no stranger) and I’d like to know how DORA in AL, for example, is ‘obscure clueing’.

    So, possibly – and with the greatest possible respect – perhaps it’s his solving skills that are at fault rather than the crossword, especially on a Bank Holiday weekend when solvers might expect the puzzles to jump up a couple of gears. Historically of course, it’s the case absolutely.

    And as a setter of some experience, he should realise that where a thematic grid icon (possibly never before seen in a daily blocked puzzle?), plus 36-letter thematic Nina, plus 19-letter thematic answer … need I go on? … require accommodation, it is not always possible to make every entry a word one’s children would know. And as I’ve tried to point out gently to him above, there aren’t too many tough words here beyond cru, est, ecco & Efta – especially for the Bank Holiday challenge.

    For APW – whoever you are – I hope I’ve managed to defend myself on this point without appearing ‘riled': I do however reserve the right to defend myself – especially in response to ‘criticism’ that’s blatantly unfair, and perhaps designed to provoke.

  25. neildubya says:

    And with that, comments on this post are now closed.