Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6527/Merlin – Wizard!

Posted by neildubya on September 17th, 2007


Superb puzzle but tricky in places and a reminder that Monday is not always easy-day in the Independent. There’s a lot to admire in this but I thought that 1A,10A,20A and 4D were all excellent clues.

1 FAT,A,LAT[e],TRACTION – excellent clue to start us off.
9 (CAN SELL PRIVATE)*,G – SPACE TRAVELLING. Another good one but tricky to parse, especially the split in “Private Enterprise”. The capital P is a minor liberty but needed because of the capital E in Enterprise (as in USS Enterprise from Star Trek).
10 (A MORTAL CHESS)* – SCHOLAR’S MATE. Excellent &lit. The Wikipedia page for it even has an animation so you can see some hot mating action.
14 (DRY PLACES)* – CLEPSYDRA. I sort of knew this but even so I waited until I had all the checking letters before filling anything in. Easy enough clue but I wonder if this tripped a few people up.
19 VOICE-OVER – don’t understand this one. I can see the cricket reference (bodyline, OVER) but can’t fit it all together.
20 SMOKE,(IN GLASS)* – SMOKE SIGNALS. Fantastic clue with a wonderfully misleading defintion: “optical communication system”.
25 MADE A CLEAN SWEEP – filled this in without understanding the bit about “someone said to be lucky”. Apparently, chminey sweeps are supposed to be lucky, especially if you see one on your way to a church when you’re getting married.
4 D in ([i]T[em],TRUE LOVES)* – TURTLEDOVES. Another brilliant clue and an &lit. The full clue, for those who haven’t seen the puzzle, is: “Boxing Day’s second of items true love’s sent”.
11 READING,O in LAG (going up) – [The ballad of] READING GAOL. I think a little bit of surface smoothness was sacrificed here to keep the cryptic reading sound.
15 STOCK,TAKE – not completely sure what’s going on here. The full clue is “Make evaluation of meat extract recipe”. “Meat extract” is STOCK, and “extract” is also TAKE; and what’s “recipe” doing? Perhaps indicating a combination of meanings “meat extract”…?
21 MODES[t]
26 LOO([t]

5 Responses to “Independent 6527/Merlin – Wizard!”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Re VOICE OVER VOCE was a bowler in the Bodyline cricket series in the 1930s, I think. Re STOCKTAKE = take = recipe (Latin), I think.

  2. conradcork says:

    14 across is yet another example of Merlin’s ability to make his anagrams apt. Chapeau!

  3. Jamie Brown says:

    Yes the series of Bodyline deliveries is VOCE OVER, as in Bill Voce, one of the notoriously fast Nottinghamshire bowlers used to pepper Bradman and co in the infamous test series.

  4. Wil Ransome says:

    Quite difficult, but really good. I feel I’ve seen 14A before and suspect old lags will call it an old chestnut.

    But I couldn’t do 12D. It looks like ACERS, with some sort of connection with acerbic, but … That’s if 18A is RODEO, which I think it is.

  5. nmsindy says:

    12D was ACER B which I cannot recall meeting outside crosswords and had three unchecked letters, which made me suspect a theme at first.

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