Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6917/Eimi

Posted by John on December 16th, 2008


Much of this I liked, but there were one or two clues that I wasn’t sure about, for one reason or another.

1 GARCONS — CD, Nancy the place in France
5 SADNESS? — I can’t see this: it looks as if ‘soaps occasionally’ is the alternate letters, so sas, but why ‘swash returning’ leads to dnes, or send reversed, I can’t see. Or is it SADDENS, referring to some character called Nedd Swash? I suspect not.
10 MO(T)OR  
11 ORANGE FREE STATE — amusing, but I can’t see how a noun (Orange Free State) is equivalent to ‘Unable to get a mobile phone signal’. Quite apart from the fact that I dislike clues that indicate a place by ‘in (wherever)’.
16 DR JOHN — I had never heard of him but there he is. ‘ER staff’ to clue ‘Dr’ seems wrong to me: a Dr is not the whole staff, but a member of the ER staff, which consists of doctors and nurses etc, .
17 QUIRE — “choir”, although ‘gathering’ for 24 sheets of paper seems a bit vague
20 TOTALITARIANISM — (most Italian trai{t})*
22 CRAPS — which seems to be the only game that fits C_A_S, and I suppose it’s this because in a crap shoot a gun isn’t used
23 ALCHEMIST — (claims the)* — I didn’t know that the character was particularly subtle. It transpires that this is his name.
25 RES ID ES{t}
1 GET GOING — 2 defs
2 RAMP ARTS — ramparts as a verb, ramp = ‘place where a BMX rider may show off’. Good clue.
3 OVERGENERALISED — (Rio Grande levees)*
5 S{cot}T EVENSON{g}
6 DEMISEMIQUAVERS — (requiem mass Verdi)* minus r
7 ENTRAP — (partne{rs})rev.
8 SURREY — a reference to the ‘Surrey with a Fringe on Top’ in the musical Oklahoma, although ‘fringed by Oklahoma’ seems a bit loose; perhaps I’m not getting it all.
13 SHORT WAVE — 2 defs
14 VILIFIED — (if I) in (devil)*
15 NEW MATHS — (what Mens{a})* — ‘sets’ was a topic in ‘new maths’ — I tried to find a link that showed this, but stumbled across this, which is much more fun and well worth seeing
18 STUCCO — st (cu)rev. co
19 STRAFE — (RAF set)*
21 R(ACE)R

19 Responses to “Independent 6917/Eimi”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    5a ‘swash’ = SEND (sound or movement of breaking waves) which is reversed (returning) in S[o]A[p]S

  2. Testy says:

    5A is actually SADNESS (acording to the online Reveal) so that leaves SEND being indicated by “Swash” which I’m still unsure about.
    11A I thought that this was fine. “in South Africa once” as a definition is vastly better than the incredibly vague “here” which was used in the Grauniad a few days ago for a place name.
    17A has “gathering” as one of the definitions of quire but I’m not entirely sure in what sense this is.
    22A I think you’re right about this one but I’m not entirely happy about it (although I can’t quite put my finger on why).
    14D I can’t come up with a sentence where I could replace “even though” with IF. I presume that “out” is acting as the container indicator but it seems in an odd position. I would have preferred “cast devil out”.

  3. Geoff Moss says:

    17a One of the definitions for ‘quire’ in Collins (Eimi’s preferred dictionary I believe) is “a section or gathering”.

  4. Testy says:

    Sorry Geoff. I see you’ve explained 5A. I wasn’t familiar with that meaning of “SEND”.

  5. Geoff Moss says:

    No need for any apology. You were probably busy typing when I posted.

    14d I think ‘even’ is probably just a link-word, ‘though’ = ‘if’ can be confirmed in Chambers.

  6. beermagnet says:

    16A Dr John The secondary definition here uses the fact that E.R. is an American TV series, and John is American for the Loo, so “E.R. staff” does not equate directly to “Dr”.
    This time I took the ellipsis (… which I rarely understand) to mean “there’s more going on here”. I still don’t understand whether or how it links to the 17A QUIRE clue or answer though.

    8D Can’t see anything wrong with this – the “county” has been given a fringe by Oklahoma.

    15D I can’t see that YouTube link (here at work they ban lots of sites) but I hope it’s the Tom Lehrer song!

  7. SimonHarris says:

    Enjoyed this one, some great clues and I learned a couple of things, so I’m happy.

  8. Paul B says:

    Hoy, Magnet.

    I agree with you about 16ac, where the ‘ER staff toilet’ would certainly be a ‘john for doctors’, or a ‘Dr. John’. As you clearly realise, SI needn’t arrive in nice little quanta in order to present instructions correctly.

    The ‘dot dot dot’ thingy to the next clue I assume to be a link on the basis of shared musical tone, and nothing more. As mentioned on a number of occasions hereabouts, this practice became something of a sport in The Anagruid, until someone linked all their across clues and put a stop to it.

  9. Al Streatfield says:

    I across: Like most CDs (cryptic definitions), this produced in me the reaction: Fine, but where’s the rest of the clue?…

    5 across: Even if I were to understand SWASH returning= SEND, which I didn’t, I still can’t understand how “occasionally” can indicate the odd letters of SOAPS.

    20 across: Great clue but, given the number of computer anagram generators, which I don’t use, around, I can’t work out whether I am praising a machine or the skill of the compiler.

    6 down: Potentially a great anagram, but spoilt by the use of “departure” to indicate the removal of “r”. “A radical departure” can only be parsed as “a departure that is radical”. If the surface reading would allow for “a radical’s departure”, then it would be another matter and it could mean “the departure of a radical” …

  10. eimi says:

    Ho, ho, ho

    Compliments of the season to all. I’m glad it made Simon happy, as my attitude is that we are in the entertainment business, not some dry academic discipline, and my main aim is to raise a smile.

    To clear up a few points raised:

    1A Cryptic definitions don’t need other bits (see Manley et al). They may not be everyone’s cup of thé so they should be used sparingly.


  11. eimi says:

    Oops, accidentally pressed return

    5A Was an attempt at a topical clue, as Joe Swash, a soap actor, won the TV series I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here recently. Occasionally seems fairly common to indicate alternate letters

    14D My Collins has ‘even though’ as the fourth definition of ‘if’ – in the context “an attractive if awkward girl”

    As for the criticism that an anagram is too good. I don’t know of any generator that would produce ‘most Italian trai’ when fed with the letters Totalitarianism, but if there was one I wouldn’t hesitate to use it. Surely the finished article is what matters.

    I shall of course compile my next puzzle using slate and chalk …

  12. Al Streatfield says:

    I can’t remember the exact quote but AZED says in the introduction to his book of crosswords something like: “Cryptic Definitions are only half the job”…

    No-one wants cryptic crosswords to be turned into a dry academic discipline but including humour doesn’t exempt the clue from following the principles that govern other clues.

    I have no experience of using anagram generators but don’t some of them give anagrams of a word minus or plus a letter?

    I’ve never before seen “occasionally” used to indicate alternate letters and don’t see the rationale behind it. “Occasionally” means “rarely” and not “every other letter (in this case)”.

  13. Fletch says:

    There was another odd one I hadn’t seen before used recently to indicate alternate letters, ‘constantly’.

    I sense setters are desperately striving to find new ways of doing things, not always successfully in my opinion.

  14. Paul B says:

    Some of us are pretty bloody desperate, I can tell you. Thank God for Kolanticon.

    I was musing only today about the relative merits of any dry academic crosswording disciplines and Libertarianism, and I came to the disappointing conclusion that actually none of the methods we currently employ is particularly fair.

    If I contain ER in DEFENCE, where in that word should you put it? My clue doesn’t tell you even if it’s ultra-Ximenean, so in some peculiar way you need to know the answer before you can solve it.

    I don’t know what we are to do. Stop complaining about Gordius, I suppose.

  15. Testy says:

    Al, I know Azed’s rules are often observed but he is not the arbiter for all crosswords and I don’t see why setters should be bound by his (occasionally changeable) views (things would be pretty dull if everyone was an Azed clone).

    I agree that, unlike most clues, cryptic definitions only offer one way in to the answer but that doesn’t make them invalid and I think (other than anagrams) they are probably one of the easiest type of clue to spot (as there are generally no obvious signs of wordplay in the clue).

    I’ve seen “occasionally” used for alternate letters several times before by various setters. It’s not as common as “oddly” or “regularly” or “alternately”, etc. and I agree it’s not as precise as those but I think it’s still reasonably valid (except perhaps for the strict Ximeneans).

  16. Testy says:

    P.S. I was one of those who railed against “constantly” (which I think is pretty unjustifiable) but at least “occasionally” does indicate that you shouldn’t expect to include all the letters. Even if it doesn’t explicitly indicate that it is alternate letters that are required I think experience tells us that setters would not be so abstruse as to require to pick out randomly placed letters.

  17. nmsindy says:

    I’d certainly hope not, Testy – that would lead to sleepless nights.

  18. Al Streatfield says:

    Just to clarify something in my original posting.

    Eimi took me to mean that I was complaining that the anagrams were “too good”.

    This is far from the case. The higher the quality of anagrams the better, in my opinion. What is at issue may be, but isn’t necessarily, where the quality of the anagram originates, from the compiler or a machine…

  19. eimi says:


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