Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6901/Mordred

Posted by neildubya on November 27th, 2008


A very good puzzle from Mordred – tricky, but not impenetrably so, and good fun to solve. There’s a Nina too, in the 8th row of the grid, although I’m not sure what significance it has, if any.

1 FIRE,SIDE – “the home” is the definition as FIRESIDE can mean (as an adjective) domestic or familiar.
5 PTO,SIS – with a surface reading straight out of a Carry On film. PTOSIS is drooping of the eyelid.
9 NONES,UCH – UCH is University College Hospital, which I should have got alot quicker as MrsDubya is a nurse there.
14 SIERRA NEVADA – actually much simpler than it first appears: “Western state” is NEVADA and in the Nato alphabet S (“Spain’s lead”) is Sierra.
21 COAST – COSTA with the A moved “west”.
24 IN,(ITS)*,U[-2] – IN SITU
26 NO-SIDE – which is the end of the game in rugby. I think the wordplay is ED (Mordred’s “boss” of sorts I guess),IS,ON but I’m not sure how ON is “half-cut”. Can ON mean drunk?
27 TYPE,CAST – again, not sure how “brilliant” can be TYPE.
1 F(IN)ISH – with all the crossing letters in place I originally filled in FINEST and made a mental note to go back and look at the wordplay. “At the crease” is IN (as in cricket).
2 RE(NT)AL – NT is the National Trust, which our Aussie solvers might get stuck on when the get this puzzle in around 3 weeks or so.
7 SHANGHAI – “snatch” is the definition as SHANGHAI can mean “to kidnap and drug or make drunk and send to sea as a sailor.”
8 SI,(IM A CON)* or (ICON IS A M)* – SIMONIAC. A tough word so Mordred gives us two lots of wordplay to help out. A SIMONIAC is someone who practices SIMONY, which is buying and selling ecclesiastical offices or preferments. I didn’t know this so had to take a guess at the likeliest combination of letters. SIMONIAC was the only one that looked convincing so in it went.
11 GREASE MONKEY – wasn’t sure why “butt” was MONKEY but have just looked it up and found that a MONKEY can be a piledriving machine with a heavy hammer or ram.
16 [-in]JUNCTION – if something’s “unpopular” then it’s not in.
17 UP(RAISE)S – the “good times” are the UPs.
19 ARNI(CA for E)
23 NERVE – which can mean cheek or impudence (“sauce”) and courage (“bottle”).

11 Responses to “Independent 6901/Mordred”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    One of the definitions for ‘on’ in Chambers is ‘on the way to getting drunk (slang)’ so ‘half-cut’ is a good indicator for ‘on’.

  2. nmsindy says:

    Seeing the Nina helped me greatly in finishing this off – I was struggling with the NE quadrant particularly. A setter with a very individual style.

  3. Mick h says:

    Yes, I was stuck on 16 down so started looking for a Nina, and got the J that way. I guess it could be linked to 21ac (ref Dorset).

  4. Patrick Warrington says:

    What is a Nina?

  5. nmsindy says:

    A hidden message, not necessary to solve the puzzle, but seeing it may help. Here it’s JURASSIC in the middle row.

  6. Derrick Knight says:

    The practice of inserting a Nina comes from the superb American cartoonist, Al Herschfeld’s habit of hiding his daughter’s name in his cartoons. Mordred watchers will have spotted the names of my children, their spouses, and grandchildren concealed in earlier grids. I have currently run out of descendants, but my youngest two are due to add a couple more in the near future. Watch for announcements! As always, your comments are much appreciated. Mordred.

  7. Jon88 says:

    You have a descendant named Jurassic? Wow!

    Credit where it’s due: It was Kea who first gave a name to what we used to call “something hidden in the grid”. Anybody who wants to examine the source more completely should surf to

  8. eimi says:

    For those unfamiliar with advanced cryptics, Kea is known as Nestor in the Indy.

  9. Ali says:

    Thanks for the link to the Herschfeld site. As someone who has wasted quite a lot of time staring at completed Listener grids trying to find hidden messages and themes, I’m really glad that I didn’t find a single Nina in any of the drawings I looked at!

  10. Simon says:

    My favourite Independent for years. Thanks setter.

  11. Allan_C says:

    I thought 16dn a bit sneaky. It looked as if it had to be ‘junction’ but I was led astray trying to fit someting around ‘ct’ as an abbreviation for ‘court’. I didn’t know ‘simoniac’ but got that from a spell-checker using the checking letters.

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