Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6839/Eimi

Posted by John on September 16th, 2008


Having solved half of this fairly easily I became stuck for a longer period than usual. And this is not surprising in view of the fact that 10 of the 30 answers have more unchecked than checked letters. Several times I came up against an answer with only two out of five, three out of seven, or four out of nine checked letters, and no chance of any further help. Indeed one of them I still can’t do, and one or two of the others I’m rather unsure of.

8 WELL IN G(e)T ON — very nice clue
9 FaIR ISle
11 C(HOLE)T — not a town I’d heard of, but straightforward enough wordplay, as it should be in cases like this
12 TOBERMORY — (Rob Roy met)*
19 STEPNEY — (yen pets)rev. — apparently Des O’C was born in Stepney
21 _U_G_ ??? — the provinces of Japan don’t come to mind easily, but even a list in Google doesn’t seem to help
22 CAIRN GORM — (minor crag)*, but I always thought it was one word: we are given (5,4)
26 M(A D(elight))AME — Mame was a 60s musical
29 HeidELBErg
30 GREAT UNCLE — (cruel agent)*
1 TEND TO — 2 defs
2 ALULAE — (Be-Bop-)A-LULA E — as you might guess, Google was a help here — nice misdirection with ‘Wings’
3 ANTI presumably, since this means ‘opposed to’, but the prayer ???
4 AT HEART — (a threat)*
5 K(in)NOCK — very good clue
6 MIS(0)S OUP — had to do some research here
7 (CINEASTE) — (nice seat)*
13 MACE — also 2 defs
15 STIR — again 2 defs
17 RE U SABLE — I hadn’t known that the Wombles were so green
18 NO-GO AREA — a in (Oregon)* a
20 MARBLES — yet again 2 defs; this I thought the best, although I’m not quite sure why there’s a question mark
23 GO ANNA — the monitor lizard
24 REILLY — “wryly”
25 FEIGN probably, since this fits the definition, but what’s the period drama audition all about? Is it a homophone, and Fane a period drama?
28 LUTE — I’m not sure about the structure of this clue: is it simply 2 defs (“Could be instrumental” and “in keeping crown in place”)? Surely no, since the second one doesn’t mean ‘lute’ in its meaning as a clay or cement. Is it an attempt at an &lit., referring to the fact that a king of old may (very tenuously) have used a lute to pacify his opponents? Or is it an unsatisfactory sort of 2 defs, one of them being “Could be instrumental” and the other being “Could be instrumental in keeping crown in place”?

28 Responses to “Independent 6839/Eimi”

  1. nmsindy says:

    This was so hard, had unusual words and with less than 50% checking, that I thought there must be more to it e.g a perimeter message or some connection between the words. But I see nothing. But I also missed the Nina yesterday that Rightback has explained! The site is accessible again so the answers may be seen.

  2. Geoff Moss says:

    21a is BUNGO. All the across answers (except 9 & 29) are the names of Wombles. It’s a pity Alderney and Shansi couldn’t have been included.

  3. Geoff Moss says:

    28d A ‘lute’ is a rubber seal for the top of a jar or bottle. A ‘crown’ is the top of anything or the metal cap of a bottle.

    A seal would be ‘instrumental’ in keeping the top in place and of course a ‘lute’ is also a musical instrument.

  4. Geoff Moss says:

    25d homophone of ‘fine’ (gladly) as it would have been pronounced in a period drama

  5. Steve B says:

    All of the across clues, except 9 and 29, are characters in the Wombles . . . on which basis I can say that 21AC is Bungo. Roll is ‘bun’, but don’t really get the rest of the clue.

  6. C G Rishikesh says:

    Prob. Go = It’s a deal! It’s a bargain! Sold!

  7. Geoff Moss says:

    3d [m]ANTI[s]- as in praying mantis or a ‘prayer’

  8. John says:

    Thanks for the clarification about the Wombles. Am not an expert on them. BUNGO still a mystery.

    Geoff: re 28ac: Although I was aware of all these facts, I’m still unhappy about the actual structure of the clue.

  9. C G Rishikesh says:

    Re 20d MARBLES

    Sometimes the two def. clue has the question mark as a kind of instruction to the solvers that they should look at the words separately or individually rather than as a unit.

    Mind game? As a unit it might mean Chess, for example.

    Similar example: Press club? (4)

  10. Geoff Moss says:

    Steve B

    You have just repeated what I posted in comment #2 half an hour ago!

    21a One of the definitions in Chamers for ‘go’ is ‘to be sold’

  11. Geoff Moss says:

    21a Bungo was a province of Japan in eastern Ky?sh?. It bordered Buzen, Hyuga, Higo, Chikugo, and Chikuzen provinces.

  12. C G Rishikesh says:

    A US crossword dictionary gives BUNGO under Japanese -> Strait

    I am unable to understand why the clue mentions ‘province’.

  13. Geoff Moss says:

    The board software obviously doesn’t like some foreign letters so please read ‘Kyushu’ for ‘Ky?sh?’ in my last post.

  14. Testy says:

    Getting GREAT UNCLE made me think of the Wombles immediately and I guessed at the theme. Thankfully this helped with the less-than-half-checked across clues.

    Luckily my knowledge of the furry eco-warriors also made up for my ignorance of French towns, Des O’Connor’s life story, Japanes provinces, 60s musicals…

    Thanks for the explanations for ANTI, ALULAE, FEIGN and LUTE which all escaped me.

  15. Geoff Moss says:


    Re comment #8. 28d could be a straight cryptic definition with a play on the use of ‘instrumental’ to lead one toward ‘lute’ or it could be a double definition, the full clue and ‘it could be instrumental’. I favour the former as a lute could be an instrument (rather than instrumental).

  16. Geoff Moss says:

    22a “but I always thought it was one word: we are given (5,4)”

    Just for completeness:

    Cairn Gorm, also commonly referred to as Cairngorm (Gaelic: An Carn Gorm, meaning Blue Hill) is a mountain in the Scottish Highlands overlooking Strathspey.

  17. Al Streatfield says:

    Press club? (4). Answer, of course. IRON

    I thought, probably wrongly, that I had invented this clue (which appeared in a Saturday Independent puzzle of mine ages ago). As far as I remember, I didn’t use a question mark, which I think is definitely optional in this instance

  18. Al Streatfield says:

    Having many answers as names of characters in a children’s TV show, which are impossible to verify if you don’t happen to be familiar with the programme, seems decidedly iffy, in my opinion.

  19. Paul B says:

    They’re both straight DDs in my book. Iron = press (vb) and club (n), while marbles is mind and game, both (n).

    The only reason for the q.m. I can think of is that marbles for mind is vernacular. Or a bit colloquial.

  20. Geoff Moss says:


    Re your comment #18. Is using characters from a series of books written by Elizabeth Beresford any less relevant to a crossword theme than, say, the characters in Dickens or Shakespeare? Not all solvers have a classical bent and these answers would be very appropriate for those who grew up in the ’70s.

    As far as verification is concerned, the answers are easily confirmed by a simple web search:

  21. Geoff Moss says:

    In my last post I should have said that the ‘theme’ is easily confirmed by a simple web search. The answers are of course all clued without any reference to the theme (apart from 17d) and so can be correctly determined without any prior knowledge of the books (or television series), as was proved by John who blogged this one.

  22. eimi says:

    After my last Indy crossword provoked no comments at all this one seems to have put the womble among the pigeons. Thanks to all for the comments which have cleared up most of the queries, but I probably need to explain a couple of other clues:

    19A Not the most obvious definition, but finding that Des O’Connor was a native I couldn’t resist linking the clue to the search for a replacement Countdown presenter

    22A I also thought Cairngorm was one word – it seems to be so as the name of the range, but not as the associated mountain – I was quite pleased to find such an apposite anagram

    25D The intended homonym was ‘fain’ (‘gladly’ in Collins), but a word defined as archaic and therefore not heard often outside period pieces

    26D My Collins defines ‘lute’ as ‘a thin layer of cement used to fix a crown or inlay in place on a tooth’ – the clue was intended as a cryptic definition, but punning on ‘instrumental’ as well

    Apologies for not finding room for Shansi and Alderney. As Geoff has pointed out, the theme was not explicit – what Virgilius calls a ‘ghost theme,’ but I hoped the reference to Wombles in one of the Down clues might help to drop a few pennies

  23. Paul B says:

    Like good ol’ Testy, I rumbled the theme a bit sharpish – long before I saw the down clue in question.

    Lawsie used to do that sort of thing in the Grauniad as Fawley, IIRR. We had an Ewok one day …

  24. davey b says:

    How can I print the Independent Crossword from the net?

  25. nmsindy says:

    It can’t be done, Davey B, I think – interactive only. On Times subscription site, the lower-priced subscriptions similarly do not allow puzzles to be printed out.

  26. Ali says:

    The only way I’ve managed to do it is by cutting and pasting numerous screen grabs from the interactive version into Word, which is admittedly a right pain. A printable version (with the name of the setter!) would be perfect.

  27. Al Streatfield says:

    Re. Geoff’s comments at 20 and 21:

    Nothing wrong with the “ghost theme” per se, but it’s likely only to be of interest to those who, as you say, grew up in the seventies. I grew up in the sixties. Another problem with the puzzle, apart from the underchecked nature of some of the answers, is that the Wombles had some pretty obscure members: TOMSK, CHOLET and BUNGO. Added to the difficulty of fitting the puzzle together and finding suitable down answers, this led to the appearance in the grid of:


  28. Al Streatfield says:

    On another point, I, as I think many other solvers do, have a philosophy of not consulting reference books or using Wikipedia etc. when solving daily puzzles…

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