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Independent 6600/Virgilius — The Man Killers

Posted by Colin Blackburn on December 11th, 2007

Colin Blackburn.

Another highly thematic puzzle from Virgilius. In this case all the down answers can be seen as dangerous women. Corrections and clarifications are in italics.

9 AZORES — “as oars”
14 ENAMEL — storagE NAMELy — think teeth rather than tiaras.
15 ASIA — IS< in A+A — IS is going west here. This got me for a while as I saw East, West and articles and wrote in NEWS without seeing the wordplay.
17 AFFIX — F+F in AIX — I guess the town of AIX got some good news once.
19 REEBOK — BEER< + OK — a REEBOK is an African antelope.
21 TASERING — ANGRIEST* — not sure if the verb to taser has made it into the dictionary yet but this clue makes for a nice &lit.
24 ILL — ILL is hidden both ways in mILLIon, bILLIon, trILLIon, etc.
26 GRIEVOUS R+IE+V+O in GUSI failed to get this one having ?I?E?O?S written in. I can see the wordplay and the definition, I think, but not the answer! Full clue is, “Small boy pinches king that’s very old, causing a lot of pain (8)” This clue may be affected by the correct answer to 16D.
1,20 LIZZIE BORDEN — cryptic def.
4 BATTLE-AXES — I’m not 100% certain of the wordplay here. I can see the weapons but I can’t see Sarah and allies, though one Sarah Battles seems to have existed.
6,18 DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS — cryptic def. — I thought this was the weakest clue of the puzzle.
8 FEMMES FATALES — (MALE FATES)* in FEMS — the theme-defining answer in the puzzle.
18 BLACK WIDOW — BLACK+WIDOW — Nicole-Barbe Clicquot-Ponsardin who revolutionised champagne making was refered to as The Widow. I’m not certain if that means WIDOW amd champagne are synonyms or if I’m missing something more subtle.
16 SHE-BEARS SHE+BEARSI failed to get this one having SHE-DEVIL written in. this may be wrong but it fits with the theme. I don’t get it though. “Old novel supports females more dangerous than males (3-5)”
25,3 MISS OTIS — MISS + O + ‘TIS — Miss Otis Regrets is a song by Cole Porter about a woman who killed her seducer after being abandoned.

9 Responses to “Independent 6600/Virgilius — The Man Killers”

  1. conradcork says:

    I don’t think 16d is she-devil. ‘Old novel supports’ would give she-bears, which are reputed to more deadly than the male.

    This would mean the second letter of 26a is ‘r’. Small boy, Gus, pinching king that is very old ‘rievo’ giving ‘grievous’.

  2. nmsindy says:

    26 is, I think, GRIEVOUS, Gus being the little boy.

  3. nmsindy says:

    The good news to Aix rang a very distant bell of poetry learned long ago – just verified that it’s a Robert Browning poem – good news from Ghent to Aix.

  4. Colin Blackburn says:

    Thanks to both. I couldn’t get she-devil out of my mind since it fitted the theme perfectly.

  5. Paul B says:

    Gus – isn’t he also a ‘theatrical cat’?

  6. nmsindy says:

    BLACK WIDOW is a femals spider which eats its mate, so a brilliant clue! “Female having partner for a meal, with champagne after dark?”

  7. Wil Ransome says:


    Yes this was clearly the answer, and Bradford’s gives “widow” under “Champagne”. But my Chambers doesn’t help. Why does widow = champagne?

  8. beermagnet says:

    You get from widow to champagne via veuve (french, widow) specifically Veuve Clicquot, Louise Pommery and Elizabeth Bollinger. There is something of a tradition of widows being major players in champagne production.

  9. nmsindy says:

    That’s right and it is in my Chambers (2006), Wil, at the end of the entry for Widow.

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