Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6994/Tees

Posted by John on March 17th, 2009


It was with a sinking heart that I embarked on this. Despite what it says at the top of this page under SETTERS, Tees is not medium in difficulty. In fact in my opinion he is quite the most difficult of them all. At one point I was seriously worried that I would have to abandon it and ask for sharper minds than mine to finish it off, but armed with the full panoply of aids I eventually managed. Needless to say, there are some that need further explanation.

9 ARAB — a type of horse and also a race
12 {g}E(BEN)EZER I think, although ‘past prime’ to indicate the removal of the first letter is, to be diplomatic, difficult
13 NEWSFLASH — (Welsh fans)*
15 SP(R)Y — not sure that r for take should be in the Indy crossword, and it’s a difficult (again, to be diplomatic)containment or insertion indicator
16/23/17 RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES — (y so father like Verdi)*
21 MCDONALD — I don’t quite see all this: initially complicit daughter gives cd, and the definition is OK, but the rest?
22 RHODES — rh (does)*
24 LANDING NET — ref. Izaak Walton of The Compleat Angler
25 T{urkey} HEN
26 embittereD ART REstorer — I don’t like such thin hidden indicators, and the complaint is surely fairly obscure
1 HORMONE — (moorhen)*
5 DAMIEN? DAMPEN? — mad is reversed, but from there on …
6 INN(KEEP)ER — peek is reversed — excellent clue, nice use of ‘skirts’
14 SIDE ORDER — somehow this is (desired or)* or something like that, but I can’t see exactly how
16/20 RICHARD WAGNER — rich (w arranged)*, ref. the Ring Cycle
18 KERATIN — since it is the constituent of hair, but the wordplay defeats me. It probably refers to some Wagner character.
19 EVEREST — refers to the double-glazing company

20 Responses to “Independent 6994/Tees”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    21a C[omplicit] D (daughter) in *(OLD MAN)

    5d DAMSEL LES (boy) MAD (nuts) reversed

    14d OR in *(DESIRED) – perhaps this clue was dictated and ‘rapt’ should be ‘wrapped’ or it could be using rapt = carried away. Either way, ‘outcome’ as an anagram indicator is not very satisfactory IMO.

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    18d K + ART* in EIN

    K = thou(sand), EIN one in German.

  3. Tees says:

    It was with sinking heart that I saw the blog of my puzzle – especially with *that* Wil Ransome missing my best creative tricks! I am just like soooo unimpressed. Except for the ‘excellent’ at 6dn – phew. I would have had to self-harm but for it.

    Thanks to Geoff and Colin for taking the trouble to get to grips: fyi Geoff ‘rapt’ also means ‘absorbed’, and ‘outcome’ (though nounal, obviously) is standard Ruth Crisp ‘Teach Yourself’ anagrind fare.

  4. rightback says:

    Thanks very much for the blog. I concur with most of your comments, including that ‘take’ = R should not appear in a daily puzzle. I liked the ‘Welsh fans’ anagram and thought some bits of this were very clever and well worded, but other bits were just too clever (18dn especially).

    14dn: When solving the best I could make of this was that ‘Rapt’ might be the anagram indicator and ‘outcome’ an instruction to put the anagram ‘outside’ the word ‘or’. Geoff’s parsing seems more likely (i.e. ‘outcome’ as the (unsatisfactory) anagram indicator and ‘Rapt’ as the containment indicator), but I don’t think it’s a misprint for ‘Wrapped'; that wouldn’t fit the surface reading, and ‘rapt’ can mean ‘grabbed’.

  5. NealH says:

    I got the arab and monomaniac straightaway, so I thought there was going to be a Gulf States theme but it turned out to be more Wagner instead. I managed to do most of it but had to enlist some help with McDonald and Ebenezer. I find the Tees’ clues a bit unbalanced. They tend to be either easy definitions with easy wordplay or hard definitions with hard wordplay, when ideally you’d want something in the middle. Ebenezer is a good example, since it’s pretty obscure unless you’re very religious and the peculiar [g]eezer clue (with the past prime making me think it had something like old or aged in it) makes it even harder.

    Having said that, I liked the lockmaker CD for keratin and noteworthy cyclist for Wagner.

  6. Jim T says:

    I thought this was a very enjoyable puzzle with inventive clueing.

  7. Tees says:

    Thanks, Jim.

    Unfortunately I like ridiculously difficult (i.e. recently thought up) indication, and try to squeeze these new ideas – the g-EEZER gambit for example – in where possible. Quite a lot of solvers are entertained by them, or so I’m told, and if you find them misleading then welcome to the game!

    And yes, I do like to spice things up with somewhat alternative single-letter providers such as TAKE for R, which in point of fact has appeared in daily puzzles for many years. It probably gets flak due to its Latin roots (tut tut), but as I was trying to explain to someone in another discussion here, you don’t need a Classics degree to know it – as with all indication, it’s merely a question of remembering what is signified, and you only have to learn the coding once. If you still find this particular one dubious, consider ABOUT (among numerous variations) = C or CA: another Latin link, but I’ve seen nary a quibble about it here.

    It’s nice to know that Wil has friends, but if it helps, I wasn’t trying all that hard to be serious up at 3. As it’s probably wiser to accentuate the positive in all things, I should say that, for what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a finer introductory blogging sentence.

  8. John says:

    I’m sorry, Tees, if I appeared less than enthusiastic. I could quite well, like NealH, have complimented you on the lockmaker and the noteworthy cyclist. Perhaps it was simply that the whole experience was a bit overwhelming.

    As for the use of r = take in daily cryptics: in Don Manley’s Crossword Manual he says that this is used mostly in advanced cryptics, which doesn’t I suppose rule it out for daily cryptics if you insist. But I feel that it has its place and that’s not in The Indy. In my opinion the fact that it has a Latin connection is irrelevant: lots of everyday abbreviations come from Latin.

  9. Tees says:

    Well, I’m only pleased you weren’t underwhelmed. A tragedy averted there.

    As to Mr Manley and his pronouncements, fair play. He is said to have a great number of admirers in and even beyond the fraternity. Perhaps in other galaxies. But I’m drawn inexorably toward the view that where indicators enjoy a plain association with a genre, and are seen with reasonable frequency (though possibly not quite as often as RIGHT = R for example), then it is a shame to eschew them. Plus it cuts down on opportunities for a great surface (not that I would claim ever to have written one).

    Among compilers who might pen the occasional decent line, legendary practitioners such as Bunthorne and Araucaria have always found use in their blocked daily travail for TAKE = R.

    There’s no reason why you should share that view, but if an indicator is good enough for those guys it’s certainly good enough for me.

  10. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Re Take = R.

    I see no problem at all.

    Here in India doctors in their prescriptions used to write R.

    The curious among us wondered what that meant and found out.

    What if it has Latin root? I have not had any classical education (though I might have had classic education) but certainly I know many Latin expressions from reading books. In fact, one needn’t read books at all: if one glances at “Words and Phrases from Foreign Languages” at the back of a good dictionary, one would have some insight.

    And I don’t agree with this necessity that for an abbr. to gain validity it must be in a manual, whether written by dons or otherwise. Back in the Sixties when I started out on crosswords there were no “how-to” books at all and many conventions, including abbreviations, used in cryptics were picked up the hard way – if they were not in our armoury already we looked up the dictionary (yes, Chambers without and before any compiler prescribed it).

    in Madras that is Chennai, India

  11. C.G. Rishikesh says:


    …without and before any compiler prescribing it.

  12. Allan_C says:

    As Tees says, ‘R’ for take has appeared in daily cryptics for years; certainly, I’ve never had any problems with it. That being said it did take a little while for the penny to drop in 15a. The whole puzzle was tough, yes, but eventually solved, including Ebenezer, with only a little help. I went a bit astray at first thinking 16/23/17 might be ‘Ring of the Nibelungs’ before I realised the anagrammatic nature of the clue. Wasn’t sure about 26 but Chambers confirmed ‘Dartre’ -a new word to me.
    And if we’re quibbling about Latin-derived ‘R’ what about ‘vert’, a French-derived term used in the obscure terminology of heraldry for ‘green’?

  13. Tees says:

    That’s a good point too, with VERT having been around for yonks. OR is gold, and we’re familiar with them both.

    But I think in all fairness I could actually say that so long as an indicator is backed by a recognised work of reference (say Chambers), the fact that I like it and somebody else doesn’t is completely irrelevant. In other blogs we’ve seen a variety of weird and wonderful shorthand discussed, and the general practice has been to look it up in a dictionary and declare its provenance one way or the other. Seems a more logical way to go about things than simply to opine!

  14. Hihoba says:

    I don’t usually comment on daily crosswords, but was very underwhelmed by this one! A company name as an answer (Everest), RACE as line in 7D (dictionary gives lineage, but not line), DARTRE is about as obscure a disease as you could wish to find. I don’t (unlike some of the others) object to R as take, but find thou (which in engineering always meant “thousandth” not thousand) as an indicator for K very obscure for a daily crossword. I would have objected to several of these clues if they had occured in the Inquisitor, let alone the daily Indy!

  15. Hihoba says:

    P.S. Two Companies – McDonald’s too – surely “burgermeister” should only be used if there is a German connotation to the answer. Clever, but very obscure.

  16. Al Streatfield says:

    Plea for clarity:

    Can bloggers (and preferably commenters) possibly use their own names…?

    When Paul B. refers to Wil Ransome as the blogger (who gives his name as John), it just seems to me rather confusing…

  17. Chatmeister says:

    Off-topic prize puzzle related comments removed.

  18. Tees says:

    Any more bloggers out there want to chip in behind Wil?

    Ah, Hihoba! Are you George, Jo or Barnie today? Thanks for your opinions, but I’m afraid that’s all they are: unfortunately I can’t see that they impinge on the point I made above. That these indicators are within the available palette is indisputable, and any compiler is entitled to use them – you now attack thou(sand) for K, which is absolutely robust. That you don’t like something is fine, but it makes no difference. There cannot be any disqualification on the grounds of sentiment.

    Equally, where does it say that Everest (clued as a mountain, depending on how, for the purposes of making a point, one chooses to interpret it) may not be clued (or, as here, alluded to, depending on how, for the purposes of making a point, one chooses to interpret it) as a company? Again, I don’t mind at all that you dislike the gambit, but there’s no substance other than that to what you say.

    As for McDonald, well he’s the famous founder of a chain of restaurants, rather than the restaurant (fyi called McDonald’s) itself and so again, I can’t undertand why you have a problem. And your pooh-pooh for BURGERMEISTER sums up fairly well for me how much fun people here seemed to be prepared to have with yesterday’s puzzle.

    On other matters Collins defines ‘race’ as ‘a line of containers’ (NZ), so given that Collins is a standard reference tome, I could claim it on that alone. However, a line is ‘an ancestral series of people’ which – you may surmise – is not all that different from ‘a group of people of common ancestry’. But drive the wedge of negativity into that by all means.

    I’ll agree with you on DARTRE, and look forward to your next crit of a Gordius puzzle.

  19. Testy says:

    Guten Tag Chatmeister, wie gehst?

    I think -meister as a suffix is in reasonably common parlance in English these days, used meaning someone skilled at, or in charge of, something.

    I thought that the KERATIN clue was great with its beautifully misleading definition and the wonderfully inspired “thou art” wordplay. I think thou for K is great and I’m surprised it’s not used more. I can imagine it being used in something like “I just bought a new motor from this geezer for two thou cos it was past its prime”.

    I also don’t see what the problem is with using names whether they be people (dead or alive) or companies. It seems to be a pretty aritrary convention. So long as Tees isn’t getting free double glazing or a lifetime’s supply of Big Macs then I’m happy about it.

  20. Fletch says:

    As a matter of interest, does 5 comments from a setter on his blog beat the record?

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