Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6512/Nimrod

Posted by neildubya on August 30th, 2007


18D was the key to cracking this one although I somehow got two of the clues that refer to it before working out what was going on. I haven’t played Cluedo since I was a kid and the only characters I remembered were the ones in 1D and 8D. The rest weren’t too tricky to get but some of the other clues in the puzzle were very tough (22A and 2D in particular) and there were a couple of (to me anyway) obscure words (RIANT and TAIPING). Good puzzle though, and a very satisfying solve.

4 SETT(o)
6 S,UP – I’m not sure where UP=London comes from but it’s also used to indicate being at university (from where, you can be sent down)
9 (G IN COST)* – GNOSTIC must be right but the definition – “fly” seems odd. GNOSTIC means “relating to knowledge” and “fly” can mean “cunning or smart”. Maybe this is too subtle for me.
10 NO,I,TOME – I liked this: “bestselling book” is a number one (NO I) TOME.
12 COWGIRL – the female equivalent of a cowboy (i.e. dodgy trader).
14 SAG in LANE
17 SEN in MIST – SEN is a “state enrolled nurse”. I think RN (reigistered nurse) is more common in cryptics but that’s the American abbreviation apparently.
19 (E,M,OTHER)* – I really liked this clue. The surface reading is spot on.
21 (h)OOH(a) – believe it or not, this is in the dictionary: “expressing pleasure, surprise, excitement or pain”.
22 (H BANS IT)* – very good and very tough to get. The definition is just “wormwood”, which is the herb from which the flavouring for ABSINTH is obtained. “Scrubs” is probably stretching things a bit as an anagram indicator but it’s also pretty much unavoidable given “wormwood”. There isn’t actually a “Wormwood Scrubs Hospital” but there is one behind the Scrubs themselves and next to the prison – the Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. I know because my son was born there.
23 (sc)RABBLE,S
25 OEDEE in R,R – only just worked out what the “pt 3 in full” means. It’s the D in OED being spelt out in full: DEE.
28 (SETT)* – STET
29 (AT DESK)* – SKATED. A reference to Christopher Dean, one half of the very marvellous Torvill and Dean.
1 PLUM,FAIR in SUGARY – Professor Plum is an 18D in Cluedo.
2 IOM in BASS – “Man-eating fish” indicates IOM (Isle of Man) in BASS – very clever.
3 A,ITCH – E3 is the London postal district that forms part of the East End, where they are famous for dropping their AITCHes.
4 NO in SW,WHITE – Mrs White is another Cluedo 18D. “SW18″ probably would have been more deceptive were it not for the other clues containing 18.
5 I in TAPING – had to guess this but I think it’s right. The TAIPING rebellion attempted to overthrow the Manchu dynasty, as any fule kno. The surface reading of the clue is excellent and misleading and the wordplay is fair but is the word a bit obscure for a weekday puzzle? Or am I just historically ignorant?
6 SCARLETT O’HAR(e)A – Miss Scarlett is the archetypal femme-fatale in Cluedo and an 18D. I’m not sure that “bootless” is really a good enough indicator to indicator lopping off the last letter of a word but then, I did solve the clue easily enough so maybe that makes it fair.
7 PEACOCK,(NOT HER)* – Peacock is another Cluedo 18D. The PEACOCK THRONE is explained here.
8 ENGLISH MUSTARD – Colonel Mustard is probably the first 18D that people think of when Cluedo is mentioned.
15 GREEN BELT – my knowledge of Cluedo characters ran out after Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum so I guessed this one from the definition and crossing letters. Reverend GREEN is an Anglican vicar in the game.
18 US,P in SECT – “Bush” is the US President (US,P). The surface reading of the clue does have a certain irony to it.
20 EL in RIANT – RIANT means cheerful or mirthful.
24 BLACK – Mr Black was a victim of one of the 18Ds in Cluedo.

11 Responses to “Independent 6512/Nimrod”

  1. nmsindy says:

    UP In my youth, I heard this as meaning going to London, but the usage may have died out. Like you, I do not understand the wordplay for GNOSTIC. Very tough puzzle, liked COWGIRL – did not understand pt 3 in ROE DEER, thanks for that.

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    Both fly and gnostic are defined as ‘knowing’ in Chambers.

    Not sure about your explanation for 1ac!

  3. conradcork says:

    A train to London was routinely called ‘the up train’.

  4. nmsindy says:

    GNOSTIC I was OK with definition (fly) but can’t see the wordplay.

    Took me a long time to see 1 across YAW BUS (All reversed).

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    GNOSTIC – it’s as Neil says, (droppin)G IN COST curried.

  6. nmsindy says:

    GNOSTIC – It is indeed! Thanks, Colin (and Neil). Never thought of ‘curries’ as an anagram indicator, but looking in dicts it seems just fine. The ‘in’ misled me too whereas it’s part of the fodder.

  7. conradcork says:

    Knowing nothing about Cluedo, it wasn’t until this puzzle was blogged that I realised the theme. In solving, I was baffled as to why ‘suspect’ should always turn out to be a colour. So I finished it without, as it were , bottoming it.

  8. Lexico says:

    Gnosis = having knowledge and fly= knowing, sly — but they are by no means synonymous if you consider their separate meanings.

  9. Richard Palmer says:

    I got all the Cluedo-related clues quickly but couldn’t finish this. The NW corner gave me particular grief.

    In 9A there is no way that fly = knowing, sly can define Gnostic = knowing, shrewd. Chambers also defines fly as a familiar spirit but you couldn’t use fly as a definition of whiskey!

    The definition in 2D is also unsound – if a fish eats a man the total biomass does not change.

  10. Lexico says:

    Well, actually I have to confess that Gnostic (not Gnosis as I wrote before) does have a humorous slang meaning in the OED that is equivalent to knowing in the sense of fly (latest quotation from Trollope, 1859). That said, I think this was a synonym way beyond anything we should expect in a weekday (or maybe even advanced) cryptic. Is the setter a lexicographical gnostic, I wonder?

  11. Al Streatfield says:

    Re. 22ac. No way does Scrubs work as an anagram indicator, in my opinion.

    I am amused by the comment: “In the light of Wormwoods Scrubs was pretty much unavoidable”.

    Wouldn’t it have been better to abandon the clue and go back to the drawing board?

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