Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6940/Virgilius

Posted by John on January 13th, 2009


Now that Virgilius has appeared two weeks in a row, has he decided that he can now do every week again? That would be wonderful, although we shall have to wait and see.

I found this crossword extraordinarily difficult, at one point fearing that I’d have to leave it unfinished and ask for help. The theme is man and woman, and Virgilius has included in every clue something appropriate. The six answers with less than 50% checking alerts me to the fact that I am probably not seeing everything — Virgilius only does this when something necessitates it.

8 MICHAELMAS — Michael (Sam)rev.
10 ADAM AND EVE — rhyming slang for believe, = buy
11 NELL — “knell”, ref. The Old Curiosity Shop
12 INTRICATE — (Eric Nina)* over (i.e. around) t
14 SCOTT — Walter Scott, Peter Scott
17/9 MALE AND FEMALE CREATED HE THEM — Genesis 1:27, as some people will know
18 EDGAR — (grade)*
19 BEDFELLOW — (deb)rev. fellow
22 MOLL — Moll Flanders, gangster’s moll
24 USHERETTES — a CD that had me completely flummoxed
26 RAILWAYMAN — (animal wary)*
27 EWES — “use”
1/20 GARDEN OF EDEN — (o f) in (endangered)* — brilliant &lit.
2 G(M)EN
3 JAMES — James Joyce, Henry James
4 A LA{d} N
5 PAULETTE — epaulette with the top removed
7 E(S)MERALD A — wasn’t sure about the gypsy reference but it refers to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. See here
13 CHAP — 2 defs
15 CHARLOTTE — 2 defs
16 JE F F
17 MADWOMAN — (Madam now)*
21 SU(S A)N
23 LULU — 2 defs
25 RENE — put the accent on the second e …

13 Responses to “Independent 6940/Virgilius”

  1. eimi says:

    It would be nice to see more of Virgilius, but there was a gap of three weeks in November due to a supply problem, which I waited until after Christmas to put right because of accelerated deadlines. He will still appear, on average, once a fortnight.

  2. nmsindy says:

    This was a classic Virgilius puzzle – how does he do it? The less than 50% checking was no problem, as you say, given the theme that emerged.

  3. Al Streatfield says:

    Good puzzle.

    The top right corner was fairly tricky. It took me a long time to work out (e)Paulette.

    The only clue I had difficulty understanding was Rene. (I’ve never come across that as an abbreviation of Irene before)

  4. timbo says:

    I used to enjoy Virgilius’ crosswords – but these days they’re too difficult for me. Like quite a few Independent setters he seems to be aiming at the real experts – e.g. the regular contributors to this blog, rather than those of who just enjoy crosswords.

    Its hardly worth buying the indi these days – the crossword was the last thing in it that was any good!

  5. nmsindy says:

    I wouldn’t be discouraged, Timbo. This Virgilius both I and the other bloggers found a bit more difficult than usual by Virgilius. In the nature of things, the standard of difficulty will vary up and down from time to time.

  6. rayfolwell says:

    The only one I didn’t get was Lulu. Apparently it’s an opera by Berg, but what’s the rest of the clue about?

  7. TwoPies says:

    Lulu is also slang for an outstanding person.

  8. NealH says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this difficult. Part of the problem was that I didn’t know the biblical quote and, although 8 across was obviously a male name followed by another male name reversed, the definition of “term” was so vague I had no idea what I was looking for. The only slight criticism I have would be of the “Alan” clue. To make sense, it has to be an &literal but Alan isn’t short for anything as far as I know, although I suppose you could argue that it’s a short name in the sense that it only has 4 letters.

  9. dupin_1 says:

    Virtuoso stuff as usual from the Big V; nothing particularly cogent to add vis-a-vis this puzzle (I didn’t think it abnormally difficult, exc. ‘lulu’ which was unco to me too) just a general appreciation of the craftsmanship, which I think gets chronically overlooked or, at least, taken for granted. The parsing is immaculate, the encryption of the clues is always imaginative but / and ‘elegantly simple’ in the Ockham’s Razor sense (a pet hate of mine is stupidly contrived difficulty) and the holistic effect is second to none.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Re NealH’s comments at 8, I saw Alan just the same as he did i.e. as explained by John and being a short name (having just four letters).

    I must say I thought Michaelmas would be fairly well know as a term in universities etc and it was a pleasing moment when I saw it eventually though USHERETTES was even better.

    I also fully endorse everything Dupin_1 says in comment 9 though I did know the two meanings of LULU all right.

  11. Allan_C says:

    Dupin_1 has my vote, too. Actually I thought it should be Occam’s Razor, but I see from Chambers that both spellings are used. Must remember that if some setter decides to use it in an Indy crossword!

  12. Colin Blackburn says:

    I know MICHAELMAS but as a term it is only used by a small number of older universities. Going to a redbrick university I did the “first term” before imposing on my parents for Christmas. However, according to wikipedia my university (Manchester) does have a Michaelmas term. I find this very surprising since in four years there I never came across the word once.

  13. Al Streatfield says:

    I must leap to the defence of Virgilius(see Timbo’s comments). In my opinion the cluing was excellent, thus giving pleasure not just to “experts” but to people who enjoy crosswords. And there were no words that were out of place in a daily puzzle, except, possibly for “Rene”, although I’m sure a lot of people have heard of this contraction of “Irene”. (E)PAULETTE was, eventually for me, derivable from EPAULET.

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