Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6629/Virgilius – Marginally wrong

Posted by neildubya on January 15th, 2008


Some Virgilius themes leap out at you, others reveal themselves slowly. This puzzle was definitely in the latter category for me, although I expect it would have been quicker had I got 7/32 early on. I could see something happening in the unchecked letters in the top and bottom rows and left and right columns but it looked very strange with OO in both the top row and right-hand column. Eventually, BOOBOO and BLOOMER suggested themselves and MISTAKE emerged. HERESY didn’t seem to fit with the other three but “error” can mean a deviation from an accepted code of behaviour, which I suppose is similar to HERESY.

7/32 MARGINS OF ERROR – which hints strongly at the grid theme. E and R could be seen as the margins of ErroR.
8 PER,R in TUB
9 IDLE – I hesitated a bit before filling this in. “Run slowly” (e.g. as an engine might do) is easy enough but “in vain” took a bit of pondering as it seemed a bit indirect. To do something “in vain” means to do it without success but I can’t think of a meaning of “idle” that means exactly that: there’s “having no purpose or value” (e.g. idle chatter), “without cause or good reason” (e.g. idle rumour) or “having no effect or result” (e.g. idle threat). Unless I’m missing something spectacularly obvious…
13 SUB,US<,MED – wasted a bit of time thinking that “incorporated” might be INC.
21 EURO – sounds like “you row”, in some accents at least.
22 NY in A,ONE
23 hidden in “paINTER COMmonly”
25 KNOT – which is a small wading bird apparently.
29 LATE – this is quite subtle and I’ve only just worked it out. To “go west” can mean to die and LATE (reversed, i.e. going west) is ET AL (“others”).
31 THE in EARN
1 L in BAD – amazingly this was the last one I filled in and I was greatly helped by the fact that I’d already filled in the unchecked B, having spotted the grid theme. It’s a really good clue, with a sting in the tail in form of the cryptic definition “unlocked”.
3 ONUS – “confused” with the C,F,E and D removed.
5 hidden in “phOTOS COP Exposed”
6 ORAL – I got this from the definition (“it’s said”) and worked back. “Second of each pair in four-ball” means split “four-ball” up into pairs of letters – FO UR BA LL – and take the second letter in each pair – O R A L.
11 (SLIDES)*,I,P,S – can’t say I’ve ever the phrase SIDE-SLIPS before but it wasn’t hard to deduce from the wordplay. [Edit: as nmsindy points out in the comments, this is also another thematic hint.]
15 (IVE MADE NO)*,R – MAIDEN OVER. Nice &lit.
30 TROY? – not sure about this one. “In city noted for investment, giving nothing in tax”. The last 4 words provide the wordplay – O in TRY – but I don’t understand the beginning of the clue.

13 Responses to “Independent 6629/Virgilius – Marginally wrong”

  1. Testy says:

    “Investment” can mean a military siege.

  2. nmsindy says:

    Even by Virgilius’ high standards, I thought this was a classic. I got the idea from the SIDE-SLIPS in the centre, though I was initially expecting only the outside columns (in one of which I saw BLOOMER emerging) to be thematic. Then I saw the rows as well. Quite happy with HERESY as pretty equivalent to the other three.

  3. nmsindy says:

    PS I think IDLE = vain rather than “in vain” with in being a link.

  4. Testy says:

    Vain also appears under IDLE in Chambers thesaurus and under definition 7 for IDLE in although it’s not a meaning I’m familiar or particularly at ease with.

  5. nmsindy says:

    IDLE Collins gives ‘vain’ under IDLE – I’ve certainly heard them used interchangeably but practice may of course vary.

  6. Jon says:

    Two weeks in a row I’ve failed to finish the Tuesday puzzle! Most of it was easy enough, but couldn’t get about four or five, not helped by my inability to get 7/32ac, which I thought was very difficult. 17d I thought was a nice clue – with both ‘doctor’ and ‘order’ providing enough indirection to fool me for a bit.

  7. eimi says:

    15 Down was my favourite clue of the year so far, but has been surpassed by one in a forthcoming Bannsider.

  8. abw says:

    30 across – gold is measured in troy ounces by jewellers

  9. Testy says:


  10. petebiddlecombe says:

    Abw: I think Testy is (a bit testily) pointing out that the ‘investment=siege’ link is much stronger than the possible connection between a diamond-weighing system and investment, which might be in diamonds rather than stocks and shares but then again might be in many other things.

    The diagram made it almost certain that there was a theme to find, but like others I didn’t get 7/32 for quite a while, so solved most of the puzzle without seeing it, though I used boo-boo and heresy to get a couple of extra checking letters at the end. And also missed the significance of ‘sideslips’. Time was about 50% slower than ‘Virgilius par’.

  11. Fletch says:

    I think testy is worth his weight in gold as a solid solver.

    Good on you testy, I haven’t been around much lately but I feel we’re kindred spirits!

  12. Testy says:

    Thank’s Fletch. That is high praise indeed considering how much I weigh! I actually feel a bit of a fraud because I cheat mercilessly on crosswords. I rarely finish them without resorting to the internet but I’m like a dog with a bone and am not satisfied with an answer until I understand exactly how it works.

    Apologies to Pete and ABW for the testiness. I guess sometimes I try too hard to live up to my pseudonym.

  13. nmsindy says:

    I think you’re right about siege of Troy = investment – that’s how I saw it (though not immediately of course) when solving.

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