Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6554/Merlin

Posted by neildubya on October 18th, 2007


Just spotted the Nina in this puzzle – look at the unchecked letters around the perimeter (the left-hand side doesn’t work properly because it needs a three-letters rather than four).

5 BORE in CIA (all reversed)
7 A,GAR[-l]IC – a reasonably confident guess given “pungent plant” for GARLIC.
9 A,DEPT – this took far longer than it should have and was a much simpler clue than I first thought.
10 ESCALADO/ESCALADE? – not sure about this one. ESCALADE means “the scaling of fortified walls using ladders” which fits with the definition “technique for attacking high” but doesn’t work with the wordplay which I think is (CASELOAD)*, with “high” doing double duty as the anagrind. But none of the dictionaries I currently have access to have ESCALADO; put it into Google and you’ll get references to a board-game.
11 (TENTH HIT HUMBLE)* – “pie” is the too-hard-to-resist anagram indicator.
12 hidden in “gO TO LITHuania” – another guess but anything ear-related beginning OTO- is usually a good bet.
18 E,N,DOC,(ADREN[G for A]LIN)* – I saw GLAND almost straight away but ENDOCRINE took a while to tease out. Excellentclue.
23 (BOWELS)* – ELBOWS. This is very cleverly done: “Divers” is another spelling of “diverse” but it’s hard to see that with “the bends” (a condition which affects deep-sea divers”) in the clue. Hats off!
24 E in ROEDER – “Does drug” is very deceptive as “does” (female deer) is the definition. I think it’s a little bit unfair to expect everyone to have heard of Glenn Roeder but regular Indy solvers are probably used to such references now.
2 (RELATION)* – ORIENTAL. Absolutely staggered that I had to look at this more than once before I got it!
6 C in BATH – I spent some time trying to think of a city in Georgia that has four letters.
13 CHI in TEES – the clue to this put me in mind of the only joke I’ve ever invented. I work in a department of TECHIES andsomeone said something funny about trojan horses (a type of computer virus) and I replied: “I fear the geeks, even when they come bearing quips”. Nobody laughed, and I had to explain that it was an exceptionally witty pun based on the line from the Aeneid: “I fear the Greeks, even when they come bearing gifts”. OK, I know it’s not exactly laugh-out-loud stuff but I liked it.
18 E,THY,L – filled this in without knowing what it had to with “radical”. Having looked it up, a radical is a “a group of atomswhich remains unchanged during a series of chemical reactions, but is normally incapable of independent existence” and an ETHYL is one of them.
19 DUNMOW – I only got this because we had a reference to the Dunmow Flitch trials in a puzzle a while back. DUN can mean “pester” but I can’t link MOW and “grimace”.
20 E in EPEE

8 Responses to “Independent 6554/Merlin”

  1. conradcork says:

    Re 19 down. Chambers gives a third meaning of ‘mow’ as ‘a wry face’ and ‘to make grimaces’. One lives and learns. :-)

  2. neildubya says:

    Ta. Must get a copy of Chambers for my desk at work.

  3. nmsindy says:

    ESCALADO is in Chambers. Themes like this force less familiar words into the grid, but the wordplay was friendly. Seeing the theme sped up final solving. Good stuff, as always from Merlin. I too confirmed ‘mow’ = grimace in C.

  4. fgbp says:

    I suspect the “geeks” joke is one of those phenomena that springs up simultaneously in lots of independent places. The version I heard was “geeks bearing gifs”.

  5. Richard Palmer says:

    I’m not sure neildubya spotted all of the Nina.
    The E in the first column is part of it and the clue to 11 across does not make sense unless you spot it.

  6. Testy says:

    Would you care to elaborate?

  7. Richard Palmer says:

    The grid represents a game of Hunt the Thimble. HOT and WARM point towards the bottom left corner.
    The thimble is formed from THInking, dunMow, ELBows in a thimble shape.

  8. nmsindy says:

    Many thanks for that elaboration, Merlin. A long, long time ago, I played a game like that but ’twas not known as that, rather HOT OR COLD, if memory serves.

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