Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,036 by Virgilius

Posted by Simon Harris on May 5th, 2009

Simon Harris.

*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition.

An interesting exercise in “words that are like other words, but with the initial letter chopped off”. I think it took longer to type out this post than it did to solve the puzzle, but it’ll be interesting to see how other solvers found it.

8 LAMA – [-l]LAMA.
9 UNLIT – [-s]UNLIT.
10 HOOT – [-s]HOOT.
13 LEAD – [-p]LEAD.
22 HOST – [-g]HOST.
27 ERIC – [-x]ERIC.
28 OFTEN – [-s]OFTEN. This one was oddly familiar.
29 AUNT – [-h]AUNT.
1 HANDLERS – [-c]HANDLERS. As in “seconds away”.
3 AUDI – [-s]AUDI. “Ruler” seems to be entirely superfluous here?
5 ITCH – [-w]ITCH.
14 ALL IN – [-f]ALL IN.
15 INION – [-m]INION.
22 HIT MAN – (Walt) [-w]HITMAN.
24 ETON – [-l]ET ON.
26 TANK – [-s]TANK.

12 Responses to “Independent 7,036 by Virgilius”

  1. NealH says:

    Mostly very easy as you say, but I did have to check the dictionary to find out why Eric was the answer to 27 across, since I’d never heard of Xeric. I also fell for the idea that 1 down must be a word starting with an S that meant supplies, so spent a long time on that before I eventually concluded that handlers was the only thing that fitted.

  2. smutchin says:

    Well, this made a pleasant change for me – they were out of Grauniads at the shop by the station by the time I got there, so I got the Indy instead and found this a real treat (I see that one of Monday’s solutions was “Every cloud has a silver lining” which seems apposite) – after all, Brendan is perhaps my favourite Guardian setter. OK, so it wasn’t difficult, but it’s beautifully executed, oozing with wit and clever cryptic definitions, so I really enjoyed it.

    Only one gripe in an otherwise flawless puzzle: in 18a, “off” appears to be doing double duty – “Kick-off” is the phrase that means “start”, not just “kick”, so the clue should read “kick-off off”. Except that wouldn’t make sense for the surface, of course.

    Like Neal, I didn’t understand 27a but guessed it had to be Eric. Also didn’t get 12a – it’s, ahem, a few years since I read Henry IV at school.

    Re 3d – I think “Arab ruler” is fine as it’s a lot more precise as a definition than just “Arab”.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Yes, this was quite an achievement by Virgilius, tho I found it a little trickier to finish than some. I may be wrong but in 18 ac I read “after kick-off” as ‘all the letters except the first’ i.e. of swingers

  4. Testy says:

    Does Saudi mean in particular an Arab that rules? Knowing Virgilius I’m sure that there must be a good justification for it but at the moment I still don’t see how “ruler” makes the definition more precise.

    I had the same problem as NealH with 27 across and also with 1 down, thinking that “seconds” was indicating what letter to deduct rather than being the definition. Even when I got the answer I was still thinking that “dealers” was the definition until I came here.

    I seem to remember Eimi mentioning that a forthcoming Virgilius was, in Eimi’s opinion, his best yet. I wonder if this is the one (I’ve been waiting eagerly). I certainly thought it was good, as ever, but I’m sure I recall others more fondly.

  5. smutchin says:

    Nmsindy – OK, not wholly convinced but I’ll buy that explanation. Thanks.

    Testy – in the sense that it means “a member of the Saud family”, yes.

  6. Testy says:

    Thanks Smutchin. That explains it. BTW my interpretation of “after kick-off” was the same as Nmsindy’s.

  7. eimi says:

    Yes, Testy – in terms of grid construction, I couldn’t dream of pulling off anything as ambitious as a complete grid of words that make another word by the addition of a letter at the start, and then to explain himself in 13 Across was the icing on the cake, but with Virgilius there are so many greats to choose from and it’s quite right that we should all have our own favourites.

  8. Testy says:

    I have to admit I hadn’t considered the feat of grid construction. I guess I almost take it for granted with Virgilius who always manages to work amazing magic with his grids. I wonder which takes the longer to create, the grid or the clues.

  9. Richard Heald says:

    Would it be too much to ask for Virgilius to have included a perimeter message too? Just kidding – this was an awesome achievement, and yet another reason why Virgilius is the daily setter I look forward to most. Incredible that after all these years he still manages to come up with original themes on a fortnightly basis (weekly if you count his Brendan puzzles). Are there any plans to publish his work in book form?

  10. Richard says:

    I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed this brilliant puzzle. And there’s a Brendan in today’s Guardian to look forward to as well … what joy!

  11. Allan_C says:

    Yes, very well constructed. but I initially thought 9 was [s]TARRY (tar being a dark colour) which held me up on 3, 4 and 5 for a while. And like NealH I puzzled over [c]HANDLERS till I realised that ‘seconds’ was a definition.

  12. Shirley says:

    Could I just add how clever I thought this was? Bravo, Virgilius.

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