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Independent 6861/Scorpion (Prize puzzle 11-10-08)

Posted by neildubya on October 17th, 2008


I thought this was a fantastic puzzle: fair and clever (though sometimes complex) wordplay, amusing definitions and some very nice surfaces. Can’t ask for more than that really.

9 [-f]OXY,MORON – excellent clue.
10 alternate letters from “hAmRoLl” in OAP – OAR-LAP. Got this from the wordplay as it was new to me. Apparently it’s a rabbit whose ears stand at right angles to its head (according to Chambers, to which I now have electronic access).
11 TWI(S)T,Y
14 (ANNUAL GIGS EG)* – SIGN LANGUAGE. Not really sure why the definition is “communication for punters” though – any offers?
17 (EPIC GROANING)* – RACING PIGEON. Another great clue with a well-hidden definition. Loved the surface reading too.
21 (READ)*,M[-ostl]Y
22 H in (CLIME)* – MICHEL. That’s Nice, the place in France, rather than the adjective.
23 ALL,[E for I]NKEY
25 BEAM – is “between bars and the floor” a reference to gymnastics apparatus (which the BEAM also is)?
26 (LEG)*,NN,CLOSE – “media in Cannes”, to indicate the middle letters is very good.
2 CO,X,SWA(I)N – “perhaps one over the eight” is a very good definition as it’s a phrase that usually means drunk, which fits in well with the surface reading of the clue.
3 LAM – Lam is in Chambers as an abbreviation for Lamentations, a book of the Bible.
4 GI,RLY – and RLY is an abbreviation for railway.
6 (SHARK)* in POOL (going up) – LOOK SHARP.
7 SPREAD-EAGLE – filled this without understanding why although reason said that “bombastic” had to be the definition as the rest of the clue is wordplay. Sure enough, SPREAD-EAGLE as an adjective can mean boastful or bombastic esp in American patriotism.
12 RING,H,A in S AND M – SANDRINGHAM. Of course, “holiday home” refers to a particular one, rather than them generally.
16 GORMLE[-y],S,S – Antony Gormley, he of Angel of the North fame, is the sculptor.
18 E,S(ACT)UN (going up) – NUTCASE
19 U,R(SIN)E – another corker, with a nicely deceptive surface reading and a good definition (given the surface reading).
21 DYLAN – a reference to the character in The Magic Roundabout but I can’t quite see the wordplay: “any LSD” without the S would be anagram of DYLAN but how is this indicated?
24 N(I)L

8 Responses to “Independent 6861/Scorpion (Prize puzzle 11-10-08)”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    14a is presumably referring to the bookmakers’ telegraphy by arm signals at racecourses (tic-tak).

    Sorry, can’t help with 21d as I don’t have the full clue.

  2. neildubya says:

    21d: “Animated character avoiding any LSD? Unlikely” (5)

    14a: I considered that but it didn’t seem to fit because that particular sign language is for the bookies rather than the punters. Looking at it again though the clue does say “communication amongst punters” and the bookier are in amongst the punters so maybe that’s how it works.

  3. Geoff Moss says:

    21d The only way I can see this clue works is if ‘character’ forms part of both the definition and the wordplay. ‘character avoiding’ could indicate the removal of one letter from ‘any lsd’ with ‘unlikely’ being the anagram indicator.

    I have a vague recollection that the Magic Roundabout used to be popular with university students who thought that some (all?) of the characters were on acid trips and that the program was intended more for adults than children.

    The clue is therefore almost &lit because Dylan was considered to be the most hippy and spaced-out character in the programme.

    14a Chambers defines ‘punter’ as ‘a professional gambler’ which precisely describes a bookmaker since he gambles for a living or profit, albeit with the odds stacked in his favour most of the time.

  4. Andrew says:

    I suppose 21d could be a pure &lit, with the “animated character” being S (because of its shape?), and the whole clue also reading as the definition (as per the Magic Roundabout/hippy interpretation).

  5. nmsindy says:

    In the light of Geoff’s explanation at 3 above (not familiar with the programme myself so I understood nothing before I read that), wonder if “character avoiding” means take out a letter without specifying exactly what it is.

    Very tough puzzle, so weekend appearance seemed appropriate. Thought OXYMORON was absolutely tip-top.

  6. Paul B says:

    That looks right – &lit subtractive anagram.

  7. Duggie says:

    26a How can ‘media’ be justified as meaning middle or middle letters?

  8. Geoff Moss says:


    One of the definitions of medium is ‘the middle position’. Its plural can be media or mediums. So media indicates the middle positions or letters.

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