Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6540\Virgilius

Posted by Colin Blackburn on October 2nd, 2007

Colin Blackburn.

Virgilius’s theme today was just a little obvious, a mirror-symmetric grid with greyed-out rugby goal posts in the middle. Yes, it’s the Badminton Horse Trials…no, of course not, it’s the Rugby World Cup currently being played in France (and Wales!) Every clue somehow had a surface that was about rugby or alluded to it, some answers were rugby-related and several bits of word play used rugby terms (though not RL.) The competition is in the gap between the group stage and the quarter finals, at least one clue reflected this.

The grid is brilliantly constructed and the clue surfaces great, however, I didn’t feel it was one of Virgilius’s best. It felt constrained even though there were the usual flashes of brilliance. Also, I am left confused over several clues, not normal for Virgilius and me. It might be that I’m missing some rugby nuances.

Finally, Virgilius must have set this before the group stages ended as there is no mention of the mighty Argentina!

10 HACK OFF — HACK + OFF — I assume the definition here is “Remove” while “foul kick” = HACK
12 WINSOME — WIN SOME — partial success = win some! Nice clue.
13/15/18 RUGBY WORLD CUP — cryptic def. — not a great cryptic def and very obvious despite the confusing enumeration (5,3,5).
21 HAKA — initials &lit — this was a very neat clue.
24 GOAL — O in GAL — a try is converted into a goal.
27 ODDBALL — ODD BALL — for those of you with no clue what this is all about a rugby ball is oval, an odd ball for soccer players.
29 NO-WIN SITUATIONS — double def. — this was either presumptious, prescient or the puzzle was knocked up in the last few days. Neither Canada nor the USA won any matches. Virgilius could have picked on Japan, Namibia or Portugal but two North American countries provided a neater surface.
1 FORWARDS — cryptic def? — Is this just a cryptic definition referring to the support given by the forwards to the locks in the scrum?
3 TRY TRY TRY AGAIN — 3 x TRY + A GAIN — I read the final A GAIN as another score, maybe the clue can be parsed differently.
4 UNHEROIC ? — cryptic def? — I’m lost on this one.
6 ACKNOWLEDGMENT — (WE MOCK ENGLAND)* + T — good anagram but hopefully the weekend will prove Virgilius wrong. Incidentally, this is a less normal spelling of acknowledgement.
17 PLAY DOWN — PLAY + DOWN — ref. County Down.
22 GALLIC — “gaelic” — nice homophone clue playing on the related adjectives fro the French and the Scottish.
23 PACK UP — PACK + UP — the forwards make up the pack.
27 POINT — double def. — rugby scores are measured in points, a single point victory is possible but worrying if you’re a fan of either team.
26 IRISH — IRIS + (matc)H — that old chestnut flag!

6 Responses to “Independent 6540\Virgilius”

  1. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this – impressive to have everything so thematic. Re specific clues, 4 down was my last and I think was intended to refer to the less successful efforts by those countries, though Scots may not be too unhappy. Hero contrasted with Lion (hero) when the countries play combined. Just a joke really cos the Lions ain’t done so well recently either, I think.

    3 down – think this refer to the phrase “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. 1 down – yes it’s cryptic defn, I think, ref lock forwards. Re 29 across, I think this was left blank till the results became clear with the best appropriate countries then pencilled in.

  2. Testy says:

    I was slowed down by having TRY AND TRY AGAIN for 3D for far too long. I am also unclear how 1D and 4D work.

  3. Wil Ransome says:

    I thought this was quite brilliant. To get every one of the clues connected in some way with the Rugby World Cup was amazing. In every case the clue seemed to work smoothly and not be stretched, except in the cases of 1D and 4D, which don’t convince, although it’s very possible that I’ve missed something.

    Was it really necessary for the goalposts to be in grey? Not that it matters a lot.

  4. eimi says:

    Virgilius requested that the posts be highlighted – obviously white would have been confusing. He also selected USA and Canada as no-hopers and I thought it a reasonably safe bet, but only a last-gasp Japanese try prevented Canada from achieving a win and leaving me to do some last-minute tampering.

    1 Down was a new one on me too, but is actually extremely clever. Wards are, according to Collins, internal ridges or bars in locks that prevent an incorrectly cut key from turning. ‘Supporting’ is ‘for’.

    Nmsindy is right about 4 Down.

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    Thanks for the help! Re the ref to “if at first…” in 3dn I knew that but left it uncommented upon. What I was curious about was the cryptic reading of AGAIN.

    Although I see the argument for 4dn I don’t think it’s a particularly good clue.

  6. Testy says:

    Another reason I didn’t spot that TRY AND TRY AGAIN was wrong was because I think my version of the crossword had the wrong enumeration for 13/15/18 as 5,3,5 which made me initially think it might be WORLD CUP RUGBY and was therefore conviced that the D in AND was correct.

    The most common version of the phrase does seem to be “If at first you don’t succeed try and try again” (going by the number of Google hits) although I accept that “try, try, try again” is also used.

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