Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7215 by Radian

Posted by NealH on November 30th, 2009


*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, CD=cryptic def, DD=double def, sp=spoonerism

I couldn’t get into this at all and gave up with about half the grid completed. The theme was evidently pi and I think the effort of trying to shoehorn pi into all the across answers made for some difficult clues.

1 Cotton picker: (top notc[h] rice [por]k)*.
8 Lempira: Empir[e] (I think) in La. I only got this after I guessed it must be the Honduran currency and consulted the internet to find out what it was.
9 Spiders: This is some sort of CD, but not sure exactly what. 27 is spinmeisters, so I suppose that’s a reference to spiders spinning webs. I’m not sure about the “baggage controllers” – perhaps it’s a reference to the the snooker spider.
11/23 Three point one four two: (Went hotfoot pioneer)* around Ur. 3.142 is the approximate value of pi.
12 Pica: I don’t think I’d ever have got this. Pica is a printer’s unit of size equal to 12 points (number of the clue). Pica is also apparently latin for magpie. I’m not too sure about the “half a”.
14 Split pin: Lit in PP (parish priest) in sin.
15 Pistol: “Derringer’s exploits ?”. This was an annoying one where I thought of the answer but, not having a clue why it was right, didn’t put it in. Obviously, derringer=pistol but exploits ?
17 Aspire: Aspir[in] + E.
19 Pie Chart: Trip< around each*.
22 Epic: Epic[erie].
25 Tapioca: (Apricot with r replaced by a)*.
26 Sea Pike: Spike (Milligan) around ea.
27 Spinmeisters: &lit. I think this is sp(=special) + ministers* around E.
1 Cameral: CL around Amer[ic]a.
2 Trimesters: Trim + esters.
3 Oratoria: Oratio[n] around OR.
4 Posing: GOP< (which apparently stands for Grand Old Party = Republicans) around S in.
5 Clip: DD.
6 Elegist: E.G. in E-list.
7 Old Testament: Old=(getting on) + testament(=will).
10 Scarlet Women: Scar + (towel)* + men.
13 Discourage: Disco + argue*.
16 Diffuses: Didn’t follow this – “Heavily stressed American stops working out and circulates”. Circulates is probably the definition and US is American, but that’s as far as I can get.
18 Primp up: Prim + pup.
20 Attains: TT in Asian*.
21 Unsafe: Hidden in “shotguns a felon”.
24 Down: Don (Quixote) around w.

39 Responses to “Independent 7215 by Radian”

  1. Andrew says:

    9ac – I think those sets of bungee cords used to hold suitcases together are called “spiders”.

    15ac – I suppose it’s ex-ploits = anag of PLOITS. (

  2. Andrew says:

    .. and 21 ac – the scientific name of the magpie is PICA PICA, so take half of that..

  3. dialrib says:

    16a ff US in dies

    Not sure what outer is doing in 20d

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Too obscure for me today, I’m afraid, but thank you anyway for the blog, Neal.

  5. NealH says:

    “Not sure what outer is doing in 20d”

    Presumably just a reference to it being outside of TT, with far-flung as the anagram indicator.

  6. Quixote says:

    Definitely one for the crossword specialist rather than the everyday solver. That said, there were some nice touches in some of the clues (and I see I got a mention).

  7. Ali says:

    Completely failed to spot the theme here as I couldn’t solve the long anagram, despite being sure it must be a load of numbers! Struggled with a few others too, so a definite victory for the setter. Enjoyed 22A, 27A and 13D

    Re: 15A – is ex- as a prefix an acceptable anagrind? It’s a new one on me if so.

  8. nmsindy says:

    I too found this very tough but it was satisfying to finish. I saw the theme only at the very end and that enabled me to finish the NE corner looking for across answers containing PI. When I tumbled to the theme, I realised why it had been so hard as the theme would have restricted the words that could be used.
    Favourite clue: SPINMEISTERS.

  9. Ian says:

    2¼ hrs to complete but got there in the end. This was a real trial and especially for a Monday morning.

  10. NealH says:

    Unfortunately, I only had half an hour on the train, which wasn’t nearly enough.

  11. walruss says:

    Very difficult. Bit of an odd choice for a Monday??

  12. Radian says:

    Apologies to all who emerged from their trains/buses/planes feeling disgruntled. I find it difficult to know how tough or easy a puzzle is going to be, much less when it’s going to appear. I was aware that a couple of my recent Saturday puzzles were possibly a bit easier than some, so I admit I did try to raise the bar a bit. Helluva contrast with the Guardian. Perhaps those who do both found the balance OK?

  13. IanN14 says:

    Please carry on as you are, Radian.
    It’s good to have varying degrees of difficulty. Some would have preferred today’s Guardian I’m sure, but I personally prefer a bit of a challenge.

  14. jetdoc says:

    Sorry to hear that some people didn’t like this one. I thought it was particularly enjoyable for a daily puzzle, with a penny-drop moment when the key anagram fell into place. Thanks, Radian.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hear, hear, Ian! And thanks, Radian.

    [I did cheat to get the theme but managed the rest ok. I particularly liked 26ac and 6 and 24dn,]

  16. sidey says:

    Nothing wrong with it Radian, except the Guardianism for pistol. Shame the editor isn’t slightly more in tune with the requirements of Monday solving.

  17. jetdoc says:

    I quite liked the wordplay for PISTOL. And it’s nice to get a more challenging puzzle on a day when the rest are, let’s say, somewhat less than challenging.

  18. Paul B says:

    Well, The Anagruid came up with the antidote, that’s for sure, Jetdoc old bean.

    But I enjoyed Radian’s challenge, and admired his courage at PISTOL. I’d have shot, fired or (for alcohol fans) loaded the darned thing meself, but hey, the things fear does to people.

    Araucaria has no fear, just like Radian.

  19. Quixote says:

    I don’t like criticising my infinitely more knowledgeable and talented colleagues in public, and I try to make allowances for those of a more libertarian disposition,and furthermore I know my comments will attract a hateful response, but someone has to say it — the clue for PISTOL was absolute completely unjustifiable rubbish!

  20. Wil Ransome says:

    I enjoyed this and thought it was very clever of Radian to fit all those words in. At the time it presented no difficulty, but 16dn now seems incomprehensible: I see the ff US but how is dies = working out?

    And I’m sorry to disagree with Quixote, who knows far more about these things than I do, but I rather liked 15ac. I can’t see why it’s completely unjustifiable rubbish, except that the definition may be by example and ‘exploits?’ may be insufficient, although I should have thought the question mark just about swung it.

  21. pennes says:

    Radian ; thanks for the post. I have wondered how easy it is, as a setter, to judge the level of difficulty: it must be impossible to view it as a solver would see it for the first time

  22. doublesqueeze says:

    I confess to liking the PISTOL clue; libertarian, but derivable (eventually!)

  23. eimi says:

    This theory, which belongs to me, is as follows… This is how it goes…

    The setters are named in the Indy, unlike in The Times, so regular solvers will learn what to expect and I don’t feel any great need to homogenise. I didn’t particularly like the clue to PISTOL and advised Radian that it would upset the Ximeneans, as, indeed, it has, but he was happy to stand by it and, as I have explained previously, I’m an enlightened despot.

    I think next Monday’s puzzle will be easier, but what do I know? I don’t see any great need to baby solvers on a Monday; as Jetdoc has pointed out, other papers tend to schedule easier puzzles on a Monday, so I’m offering a choice by failing to be in tune with the requirements for Monday solving. It may be the start of the week, but it might be suggested that, after a couple of days of relaxation, solvers should be ready to take on the toughest challenge. All of which is, of course, complete bullshit, because working practices have changed completely, family life has changed completely and the best I can do is try to present the best crosswords I can, with the considerable handicap of the lowest financial resources.

    I think it was tough, but fair. Even the outrageously libertarian PISTOL. The clue’s in the word ‘clue’. Thanks, doublesqueeze, for you comment which arrived as I was composing this fence. Derivable – that’s what it’s all about really.

  24. eimi says:

    Last paragraph, unpreviewed, should of course read “your comment which arrived as I was composing this defence”. Although I note that Chambers gives fence as an archaic version of defence.

  25. nmsindy says:

    As indicated in my comment at 8 above, I found this a very satisfying puzzle. Tough, but fair, as Eimi has said. And with 23 comments so far, as they say in advertising, the only bad publicity is no publicity…

  26. Ali says:

    The Indy getting more comments than the Guardian?! Good stuff!

    A tendency towards hard puzzles on Mondays is one of the Indy’s standout features as far as I’m concerned. Besides, I’d always rather be beaten by a tough, fair puzzle than race through an easy one any day of the week, so no complaints here.

  27. IanN14 says:

    It’s “Dies” = “Stops working”, out(side) of “ff US”.

    I’m not sure either about “ex” as an anagram indicator, but I’ve seen worse. Far worse.
    (“Show” in last Saturday’s Araucaria Prize?).
    Is it much worse than simply “out”, which is used quite often?

  28. IanN14 says:

    …oh, and I’ve just seen that today’s Indy is a Virgilius (yay!)
    But the Guardian’s a Rover (oh, well).
    A week of contrasts?…

  29. Allan_C says:

    Just finished it after googling for Honduran currency. The trouble with long anagrams (11/23) is often working out exactly what is the material and what is the indicator so I tend to leave them hoping for inspiration as checking letters appear, but this took a long time for the penny to drop.

    Great puzzle, though!

    PS 15a may not have been Ximenean but it was the first one I got on my first pass.

  30. Allan_C says:

    Back again.

    Just been looking through all the comments again. No-one seems to have picked up the connection between “pi” and “radian”. A radian is the angle of a semicircle divided by pi.

  31. Quixote says:

    I am disappointed that no one at all has backed me up on my criticism of the PISTOL clue. I also worry that the label ‘Ximenean’ gets used as a sort of shorthand to squash an argument that must have come from some boring old fart from the dark ages who doesn’t understand that crosswords ‘have moved on’ — fiddlesticks!. To claim ‘ex’ as an anagram indicator is bad enough, but then to join it to the anagram fodder is simply awful. At least I am pleased that eimi, as a very decent crossword editor (if I may say so), had some initial misgivings!

  32. Peter says:

    I thought this was great. Long live the difficult crossword on a Monday. And long live the Independent crossword generally. It’s been superb recently. Eimi, you’re doing a great job, and knowing it’s on the lowest financial resources makes it even greater. And I’m in the camp that appreciates the odd rule breaker like 15ac. Sorry, Quixote.

  33. Peter says:

    El? (3,6,10) – The French Revolution springs to mind

  34. walruss says:

    Quixote should not put full stops after his exclamation marks. Also I think he shouts a bit too loud about this puzzle actually, although as I mentioned I found it very hard!

  35. nmsindy says:

    Re PISTOL, nmsindy belongs to the Ximenean school, but Eimi has said he’s not absolutely always strictly Ximenean. The feature where exploits parts are run together is the main non-Xim feature that very occasionally appears, favoured by one or two of the setters in the Indy stable. While not a regular Guardian solver I think it comes from there, and is mentioned by the Guardian crossword editor in his ‘Secrets of the Setters’ book, the classic instance is ‘indeed’ as ‘in deed’. Re the second point – use of ex as an anagram indicator, not so sure there is much wrong with that in the sense (could be got) ‘out of’. Can’t see too much wrong with the French Revolution clue, either. But I’m no expert on all this, really, and weak on the finer points of grammar.

  36. walruss says:

    Nor am I, but maybe ex is intended to be the same as out? If so this might be a mistake because out interpreted in an anagrind in Englsh is out as in inaccurate.

  37. jetdoc says:

    I think ‘ex’ is in the sense of ‘formerly’ — PILOTS was PLOITS before it was anagrammed. Seems fine to me, as long as not over-used — it was perfectly solvable.

  38. jetdoc says:

    Oops, sorry — PISTOL. Could have been PILOTS, though!

  39. Charybdis says:

    As an occasional setter, I remember many years ago being rebuked by a crossword editor for committing the ‘Gateshead’ crime. I can’t remember the exact crime, something like indicating H by ‘hammerhead’ or something.
    I remember being told that this was as unfair as indicating FI by ‘friends. This struck me at the time as overstating the case since FI=friends was so obviously absurd (though I took the point and don’t commit the Gateshead crime any more.)

    The trouble is, to my mind ‘exploits’=PISTOL is equally absurd. Also it smacks of laziness or lack of imagination. If you can come up with a clue which everyone would consider fair why go for second best? It strikes me it would be fine for a thematic crossword where the rules are consistently outrageously broken (chuck in the execrable GESG for scrambled eggs etc while you’re at it).
    But, then again, I suppose if the solvership reckons it’s OK, it IS OK – just as if a group of chessplayers decide you can have two consecutive moves that’s OK. Personally, I’m with Quixote and you can include me out.

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