Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6725/Merlin

Posted by Ali on May 6th, 2008


This was the first time I’ve encountered Merlin, and I found it a stiff (but satisfying) challenge. There were some easy ones which got me started, but I then needed to make a few leaps of faith with some other clues and had to do some checking of badgers, compounds, Venetians and Portsmouth players to confirm a few others. One or two bits of wordplay have me stumped though.

1 CRUCIFY – CRU + IF in CY – Leap of faith no.1 here. I worked out the IF in CY part, but guessed that C(ommunity) R(elations) U(nit) must be the Irish police
8 OVERSEA – ERSE in OVA. I had OVARIES in here for a while until I realised it made no sense!
10 CLAVIER – means ‘keyboard’ and we appear to have IE for ‘that is’ replacing something, but I’m unsure as to ‘the office’ part
12 PLETHORA – THOR (he of the thunder) in PLEA
14 RHINO – Double definition. One being the horny animal, the other being the archaic slang for money
16 ENTER INTO – (RETENTION)* – A nice anagram, with ‘fluid’ as the indicator
18 IN THE BUFF – (THE FUN FIB)* – And another one here too
23 OYSTER – The ‘native’ definition is common enough, but anybody not living in the Big Smoke could be forgiven for not knowing that Oyster in the name of the funky little swipe cards we Londoners use to get around town on the Tube, buses, etc.
24 ?CREOLIST? – Not sure if this is right or not. ‘Initially organise language’ would give OL, but I can’t see the rest
27 DE FACTO – ACT in (Portsmouth footballer Jermain) DEFO[-e]
27 INFERNO – ([-heathe]N + ON FIRE)*
2 RATEL – RATE,L – A new one on me, so I only got this once all the checking letters wre in place
3 CLACTON – C (the first of children) + TO in CLAN – Clacton is the largest town on the amusingly named ‘Sunshine Coast’ in Essex
6 VILLAGER – LAG in VILER – I stupidly assumed that this must be a character from the Shakespeare play, which is probably what Merlin wanted me to do! And then the penny dropped with the hamlet/village link
8 ELEMENTAL – Brazilian footballing legend turned impotence spokesman [-p]ELE + MENTAL
11 MAGNIFICO – Another leap of faith here once a few checking letters were in place. The wordplay eludes me though I’m afraid
15 HONEYMOON – HONEY,MO,ON – A wonderful &lit, and clue of the day for my money (‘Sweet short time getting on’)
17 ABERDEEN – A,B,ER + NEED rev. – Had never heard of the Earl of Aberdeen before. He was a Tory PM way back in the 1850s
19 HOT DATE – (DO THAT)*,E – Another nice &lit with a misleading use of ‘do’
22 YEMENI – ME (Middle East) in YEN,I

22 Responses to “Independent 6725/Merlin”

  1. C G Rishikesh says:

    11ac: I suggest MAG(NIF)<-IC,O rev. og fin (hand) in magic + O
    – Rishi

  2. C G Rishikesh says:

    Sorry, read ‘of’ for ‘og’. Pity we can’t delete/edit our comments.

    – Rishi

  3. neildubya says:

    24 – I think it’s CREOLISE and an &lit: OLIS (first letters of “organise language in style”) in CREE (Native American).

    Have you spotted the nina? Start at the L in the furthermost right-hand column and read down, then go to the top of that column. Then go to the D in the left-hand column, read down 1 letter and then up to the top of that column. I’m not sure why it’s in that order and why that particular person is nina-ed though.

  4. C G Rishikesh says:

    10: CLAVIER

    I suggest lav (office), i.e. (that is) replacing OMPUT in computer (these letters being the contents of ‘computer’).

    I think office is an euphemism for lav (short for lavatory) is an euphemism.

    I hope I am not insane!

  5. C G Rishikesh says:

    There again, delete everything after “lavatory)”.

    Promise that in future I will reread what I write and change, even if I cannot preview it.

  6. Testy says:

    1A (RUC+IF) in CY: RUC = Royal Ulster Constabulary
    10 LAV+IE replacing contents of ComputeR: I’ve occasionally heard “the office” used as a euphamism for the toilet but wasn’t aware that this was an accepted saying so there may be something else to this.
    18 I wasn’t keen on THE apearing in both fodder and answer
    23 neither of those meanings of OYSTER is familiar to me and the London transport meaning is a bit too parochial for my (northern) liking.
    24 CREOLISE: it’s an &lit, the first letters of Organise Language In Style inside CREE (native American tribe)
    11D I agree with Rishi

    There’s a weird twisted Nina too. Leonardo DiCaprio is muddled up in the unchecked letters down the left and right but I’ve no idea why.

    I also hated this grid. One clue linking two, otherwise separate, halves and 13 clues with <50% checking. I could forgive this if there was a clear theme to help but the Nina here was only a nice thing to find when you’ve finished rather than something which could be spotted early enough to help.

  7. Testy says:

    I must learn to type faster!

  8. Eileen says:

    1ac: R[oyal] U[lster] C[onstabulary] – ‘old Irish police’, now the Police federation for Northern Ireland.

  9. Eileen says:

    Me too, Testy!

  10. Ali says:

    Cheers all for the extra pointers and correction for 1A.

    I did go looking for a Nina near the end of my solve, but certainly didn’t spot anything. How incredibly bizarre. There are no other references to Leo that I can spot, and it’s not his birthday(!), so I wonder why he’s there?!

  11. Radian says:

    Eileen: please don’t start another war here! It’s the PSNI – Police SERVICE for NI. (Shed a tear for the demise of the RUC, always a stalwart trio in puzzles.) Merlin should get his collar fingered too: IRISH police? That’s the Garda Siochana!

  12. Eileen says:

    Mea culpa – and many apologies all round. I misread Google!

  13. nmsindy says:

    Very minor correction – it’s Police Service of Northern Ireland.

    And Merlin is perfectly right – the RUC are ‘old Irish police’ though not the only Irish police…

    Very tough puzzle with some classic clues with a top quality old-fashioned feel e.g. INFERNO, HONEYMOON. With the possible words down the side, and the ungenerous checking I was expecting a Nina, but I did not spot it and solved the puzzle (eventually) without it.

  14. eimi says:

    Catch Me If You Can is a Steven Spielberg film starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role.

  15. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for that, Eimi, I see it now. That explains the appearance of the difficult words. Curiously I did look at the diagonals but did not notice it, not that I’d heard of the film to be honest…

  16. dave brown says:

    29 across They give backing to cut record and mostly make improvements. Can anyone help?


  17. nmsindy says:

    SIDEMEN Dave, new to me but dict confirmed a jazz term.

  18. dave brown says:

    Thanks Nmsindy.But I still don’t understand the wordplay.

  19. nmsindy says:

    SIDE MEN(d), I think, Dave

  20. DUNCE says:

    Compare 16A with 12A of Independent April 3 (Bannsider).Merlin, are you just checking the crossword editor is earning his keep or something? More unkind souls might refer to it as outright plagiarism…

  21. nmsindy says:

    I’d say great minds can sometimes think alike, it’s an anagram I think I’ve seen used a few times.

  22. Richard Heald says:

    29Ac: I think the wordplay for this is actually DIS(c) (rev.) + EMEN(d), & lit.

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