Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7144/Virgilius

Posted by John on September 8th, 2009


How Virgilius keeps on thinking up these original ideas I don’t know. This time he is using the numbers of the clues and sometimes also the numbers in their enumerations.

4 A TO P — the letters of the alphabet before Q (queue, say)
7 BUFF — 2 defs or a CD, one sort of merging into the other
10 BASE — the first of the thematic answers: ten is the base we usually use when calculating
12 PS ST
16 POLICE STATIONS — (site cops a lot in)*
18 PHENOBARBITONE — (phone)* bar(B)itone
21 TRIANGULAR — 21 and 10 are both triangular numbers and the oracle at Delphi appears to have had a triangular roof; no, I think I’m trying too hard and have missed the ‘initially’, which is D or, in Greek, delta, which is triangular.
22 EVEN — 22 is even, as is 4
23 FELICITOUS — (of clue is it)*
26 RAIL — 2 defs
27 CUB E — 27 is a cube
28 biG IDEas — ‘bias’ surrounds ‘Gide’
29 PRIME — 29 is a prime number
3 SWEET — I suspect that this is 2 defs and is a literary reference that has passed me by
5 TEA — T is in front of U
6 PERFECT — another thematic clue: 6 (also 28, 496, 8128, and more) is a perfect number in that its factors not including 6 (1, 2 and 3) add up to precisely 6. Most numbers are deficient (factors add up to less than the number) and several are abundant (… more …, like 12, whose factors, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 add up to 16). Not many are perfect. Maths lesson over.
7 BILLY-GOAT — I think this is just a CD, but there may be something devilish that I can’t see
8 FOE — 2 defs (Friends of the Earth)
9 SQUARE — 9 is a square number, 2 defs
14 CATCALL — c (act)* all
15 ABSENTEEISM — (sees men a bit)*, nice semi-&lit.
17 1(T ERA T)I’VE
19 ONGOING — not sure here: it seems that ‘Current’ is the def, in which case ‘running two ways’ also defines ‘ongoing’, but I can’t see how
22 E RR(0)R
24 obsoletE CUrrency
25 ODD — 25 is an odd number, as is 3

8 Responses to “Independent 7144/Virgilius”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Thanks John,
    3d. Think “sweet nothings”.
    19d. Both “on” and “going” can mean running.
    Great puzzle…

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    Excellent puzzle. I was hampered by putting in HEAD for 4ac, thinking it a weakish double definition, and SOL at 24dn, not seeing the &lit.

    In 29ac the enumeration is also a prime, but I expect you knew that. I liked the way he used the enumeration when it was also an example of the number.

    Lots of excellent clues: the anagram at 16ac, the wordplay at 4ac,… but my favourite is what could have simply been a hidden clue at 28ac. While it is fairly simple it is an excellent example of a clue with a central definition.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Another classic from the master, very hard, with the theme becoming apparent to me only close to the very end. I wondered if 1 across was a deliberate red herring re a theme. Great blog, John, and I think you’re right about 7 down – a cryptic definition punning on ‘kids’ and ‘nanny’

  4. Peter Chambers says:

    I think Paul did one with this trick a year or two ago. I think it was on a Saturday, but can’t remember much more about it, other than that it was similarly brilliant.

  5. Jon88 says:

    Re 24d: Did anyone else slam SOL (obSOLete) in there before the crossers proved otherwise?

  6. Colin Blackburn says:

    Yes, see #2. It was one of the first answers I wrote in as I looked at the (3)s first.

  7. Jon88 says:

    Gack! Skimmed right past that. Sorry, Colin.

  8. valerie says:

    Virgilius is quite the most ingenious and elegant setter I have ever encountered. I am surprised never to see tributes to him on the Letters page!

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