Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6893/Tees

Posted by neildubya on November 18th, 2008


A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle with some great clues and a mini-theme. Two or three potentially tricky words (5, 11 and 25) but I thought these were all fairly clued and very gettable from the wordplay.

1 MACKE[-m],RE,L – a MACKEM is someone from the Wearside, or more specifically Sunderland. I think I’ve also heard the word used in relation to the accent of Wearsiders, but I can’t be sure of that.
5 B(ESSO)N – Luc BESSON directed Nikita and the excellent Leon. Not exactly a household name but the wordplay compensates for this by being straightforward.
9 RO(FOR A)*CK – ROOF RACK. Excellent clue: the convincing surface reading af first had me thinking it was a cryptic def as there didn’t seem to be any obvious wordplay.
15 SP(R)AT
17 N in (POINCARE)* – CAPONIERE. “Supply” is the anagram indicator (think “pliant” or “flexible”).
18 M in (UNION MEN)* – NON-IMMUNE. Mike = M comes from the Nato phonetic alphabet
19 CATCH – I was struggling to place Doc Daneeka until I managed to link fish (or CATCH) with 22. In the novel Catch 22, it’s Doc Daneeka who explains the catch to the novel’s protagonist, Yossarian.
20 TROJAN HORSE – the definition is “bug in system” which, as someone who works in the field of computer security, I’d have to quibble with. A “bug” in Chambers Online and the COED is a fault or error in a machine or computer program which stops it from working properly. A TROJAN HORSE however, is a program that is deliberately introduced into a computer by pretending to be something it isn’t and which has malicious intent. Definitely not a bug. The rest of the clue is a reference to the phrase “use a sprat to catch a mackerel” and the original TROJAN HORSE.
25 C(INCH)ON,A – new to me but (eventually) got it from the wordplay.
27 (IF SEAL BE)* – FEASIBLE. Not really sure why the definition is “an idea”, unless it’s “that’s an idea” which means that something is worth considering, and therefore FEASIBLE?
2 CLOBBER,IN,G – another excellent clue. The surface reading is very misleading and the definition well-hidden in “regulative action of battery”.
3 [-r]EGRET
6 ON in (CRIME BY)* – EMBRYONIC. I liked this one too, although it took some time to work out what was happening, especially ON for “working”.
7 S[-h]ARK
8 hidden in “HamptoN IN Arden” – a reference to one of the three ships used by Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage (the other two were La Pinta and the Santa Maria). And yes, technically the ship was called the Niña rather than the Nina and there are hyphens in the wordplay but not the answer itself. Not a problem for me, others may differ.
11 IS,OP(R)EN,A LINE – I really liked this one too. I’d never heard of the word before but I got it from the wordplay and some checking letters. “Frank” was a nice touch (although it may have been unintended) given the Government’s “Talk to Frank” anti-drugs campaign.
13 LETTER BOMB – “provisionally approved communication” is, I think, a reference to the Provisional IRA. As a cryptic def clue I think it’s very good but I wonder if it oversteps the borders of good taste? It’s certainly hanging around the border, wondering whether or not to make a break for it.
14 GET,H,SEMANE – not sure where SEMANE comes from out of “diocesan perhaps!”
21 HACKS – double def.
22 hidden in “prooF IS Held” – the mini-theme of the puzzle.
23 EDAM – “made up” means very happy indeed. Makes a change from the “cheese made backwards” chestnut.

13 Responses to “Independent 6893/Tees”

  1. Eileen says:

    14dn: Diocesan can mean the bishop of a diocese, so MAN in SEE?

  2. nmsindy says:

    Re NINA, I think accents are ignored in crosswords. Tough puzzle, though I got the fish theme early. There are various theories about where ‘Mackem’ came from as ‘from Sunderland’, some based on accents. Their football team has adopted ‘Black Cats’ as an nickname rather than that. The ‘Black Cats’ was used by the club way way back. One minor niggle, IN DEBT and ‘bankrupt’ don’t seem quite the same.

  3. neildubya says:

    24 – I thought that too but if you are bankrupt then you must be IN DEBT so I thought it was ok on that score.

  4. beermagnet says:

    This was a treat, eh!
    I know I’ve seen some enjoyable puzzles from Tees but this was something else – feeling probably enhanced by an ideal solving experience near the real fire with a decent pint in the pub.
    Linking Catch-22 to the Fish theme – the great PDM when the “sprat to catch a mackerel” part of 20A’s clue is understood (I wouldn’t quibble about the def. there) – some lovely disguised wordplay throughout.

    I’d add 17A to your list of tricky words – I’d pencilled in C(o/a)P(a/o)NIERE but couldn’t decide between those two options.
    Agreed that the wordplay in the others led to them quite nicely though I didn’t get the 25A tree, not helped by spelling Gethsemane with an O there (reveals RE ignorance). Mind you, I wouldn’t include 5 BESSON as “tricky”, he’s well-known enough surely – but I know they aint hard if you know ’em.

    Absolutely loved 2D – suspect Tees is fan of Thing from the Fantastic Four – BTW I think the def. is “action of battery” or just “battery” as the regulatory is part of the wordplay supplying the G.

  5. neildubya says:

    2d def – yes I’m sure it is just “action of battery”. I included “regulatory” in my comment to illustrate how well-hidden I thought it was. Not a very good illustration obviously!

  6. Testy says:

    This left me feeling pretty proud of myself after being able to finish it in spite of the tricky vocab and complex linking of clues. Maybe it’s a sign that the setter did his job well (i.e. easier clues to trickier words) but I think I’ll prefer to kid myself that I’m finally getting better at this game.

    I had question marks over the “an idea”/FEASIBLE thing; the indirectness of SEMANE; and the Catch 22 reference (I had to work back from the answer and then Googled Doc Daneeka. I think it might have been more accessible, but perhaps too easy, if it had been Heller that was name-checked instead).

  7. Al Streatfield says:

    Never heard of Doc Daneeka (although thought Catch 22 was a great book) or Mackem. Didn’t finish it as tend to be put off by obscure cultural and geographical references in daily puzzles. Liked 24 across (Bankrupt Enid disconnected by phone company) IN DEBT

  8. Mick H says:

    Experience teaches me that not all ideas are feasible, and you can be in debt without being bankrupt… but near enough – 27ac is in the sense of ‘that’s an idea’. Anyway, excellent stuff, esp EDAM and TROJAN HORSE.
    And even I spotted the NINA this time!

  9. beermagnet says:

    Mick, are you saying there is a NINA in there that we haven’t seen?

  10. nmsindy says:

    I think Mick H is just joking that he saw the word (NINA).

  11. beermagnet says:

    Thank goodness for that. Ta.

  12. Tees says:

    Easiest Nina I’ve ever set.

  13. Al Streatfield says:

    Re. the reference(s) to cocaine in this puzzle:

    It is not clear whether they are approving or not, but if anyone doubts that cocaine is a naff drug, they are directed to an article on page 21 of today’s (Wednesday) Independent whose headline is: “Every time you consume one gram of cocaine, you are destroying 4.4 square metres of Colombian rainforest”… There is also a leading article on the subject on page 34.

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