Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6558/Virgilius

Posted by neildubya on October 23rd, 2007


Cryptic crossword setters often borrow terminology from the world of 2D so a bridge-themed puzzle seems very appropriate. This cleverly constructed grid contains NORTH SOUTH EAST WEST in the places you would expect them to be, as well as the four playing card 24A and NO TRUMPS.

5 HEARTS – like this clue, a couple of other Across clues have a football-related surface reading.
7 NO TRUMPS – I’m a bit puzzled by this one and I may be missing something obvious. The full clue is “Three of these will do for game, as opposed to seats” so the wordplay is NOT RUMPS. Not sure about the definition though. I know a little bit about bridge so I know that 3NT (3 NO TRUMPS) is a bid that implies that a partnership thinks they can win the game but isn’t that a bit too specialised for a crossword clue?
10 CLUBS – the second of the 24A to appear in the grid.
16/22/15/13/11 EAST IS EAST AND WEST IS WEST – “and never the twain shall meet”. From the Kipling poem “The Ballad of East and West”. When I solved this, I already had 7D filled in so this confirmed the theme.
20 DIAMONDS – double definition. Baseball is played on a diamond-shaped field.
25 UP,R in STEAM
27 (PASSED)* – SPADES. The surface reading this time has an auctioneering theme (appropriately enough for a bridge-themed puzzle)
1 ONE in WASNT (going up) – TENON SAW was new to me but the wordplay couldn’t be more gentle.
3 STICKLE – “stick’ll”. Sort-of-new to me. I’d heard of stickler of course, so I guess it makes sense for a stickler to be someone who STICKLEs.
4 SUBURBIA – I think this must be a cryptic definition. The surface reading has you thinking about public schools but “dormitory SUBURBs” are (I think) areas that are purely residential (no shops, offices etc).
7 NORTH AND SOUTH – the novel is by Elizabeth Gaskell.
14 SUM,IM< TRY – this was new too but easy enough from the wordplay.
17 STATE in SET (going up)
23 (ARE)*,WAX – a bit of a guess as I didn’t know that WAX could mean rage.

4 Responses to “Independent 6558/Virgilius”

  1. Wil Ransome says:

    Quite apart from the cleverness of the grid, how does Virgilius keep producing these clues? I thought 1D was extraordinary – almost handed to you yet not immediately obvious.

  2. neildubya says:

    Funnily enough, I was in High Street hardware shop today and what did I see – a TENON SAW.

  3. tilsit says:

    I have a Listener puzzle from the eighties by Virgilius which has bridge as the theme and the completed grid leaves you with a bridge problem to solve.

    Absolutely stunning puzzle, as was this one.

  4. timbo says:

    For me the nicest clue was 2 down ‘bridge’ – composer of chamber music played by quartets. Lovely play on the double usages of quartet and bridge. It took me ages to get this because I know nothing about the game, and hadn’t realised it could only be played by groups of four.

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