Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7238 by Anax

Posted by nmsindy on December 28th, 2009


Very difficult puzzle, solving time 70 mins.    Some excellent clues, some very intricate wordplay and a seasonal theme.

* = anagram  < = reversed


1 TWO-STAR    (owt)<    Star guiding to BETHLEHEM (7 across)

5 WATCH    hidden

7 24 down is MAGI     BE TH (L EH) EM     be them = to have their lives

10 THREE-PAIR      1 = I IN (part here)*

11 DINAR   (ran ID)<

12 IT’S BEHIND YOU     I  then IN in (shouted by)*

16 SOUP C   ON

17 ATE (LI)ER     (a tree)*

19 CALLING BIRDS    cf bawling Kurds, today is the fourth day of Christmas, I think

23 PEAR Light

24 MISTLETOE     Zip = 0 in (time let’s)*

25 DO (party) DEC (December = around Christmas) AGO (before) N (noon)     Definition:  form

26 S U ITS        12 is IT’S BEHIND YOU

27 somethinG AY



2 OBLATIONAL    ti (tree) in (a balloon)*

4 Girl LADSOME   (same old)*

5  W I (TT) I   EST (set)*

6  TURN S OUTh less H = hotel

8 HU(N)G    N = and

9 MA RegularlY


14 LIB RET TI   it<

15 BRUSh  SELS   (less)*     Brussels lace

17 CHAR LOCK   (plant)

20 BALL  ShandY     hand = give

21 SPUD     hidden

22 CA RD    My favourite clue

24 M (A G) 1

16 Responses to “Independent 7238 by Anax”

  1. rightback says:

    Some brilliant clues in this – 12ac and 26ac are genius. Thanks to both setter and blogger.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, nms. If you found it difficult, you can imagine how far I got. As they say in these parts, chuffing nora …

    Did about a third of it before going to the Indy website to get the answers. I still don’t understand 10ac, 23ac, 21d and what the definition is in 6dn. Interesting to see what others made of it, but this was definitely the most difficult Indy daily puzzle I’ve tackled in the year or so since I restarted doing cryptics. Not a criticism btw, just an observation.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad

    Don’t despair! – could you have done even a third of it a few months ago? It was indeed hard, but very rewarding – many thanks, Anax! And to nms for the blog.

    Since you [KD, I mean!] are now taking this stuff seriously, if you have any Christmas money left, you could invest in a Chambers to help out with the inexplicable solutions. I’ve discovered today that ‘three-pair'[10ac] or ‘three-pair-of-stairs’ means ‘on a third floor’ and a chat [21 dn] is ‘a small potato of inferior quality’.

    In 6dn, the definition is ‘is there’and in 23ac, PEAR is the Christmas tree [as in ‘a partridge in a’] and L is ‘lights initially’. I’m not sure about PEARL = ‘drop’, though.

  4. nmsindy says:

    I think the pearl = drop is from jewellery

  5. Eileen says:

    Hmm, I wondered about that – I know you get pearl drop earrings but thought they were so called because they were drop earrings made of pearl.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks Eileen at no 3. You’re right, I couldn’t have done that much of the puzzle earlier in the year, but it just seemed like I hit a brick wall today. But the difficulty has to vary, I know, to keep everyone interested. Thanks for the explanations also.

    Might invest in a Chambers when funds permit – is there more than one version?

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Kathryn’s Dad

    The latest version is the 11th Edition, 2008. Gaufrid was kind enough to alert us to Waterstones’£25 offer this time last year, which is where I got mine. I’ve just looked and they’re now selling it at £40! [Amazon: £20.97].

    I’d always thought that Chambers was the definitive dictionary for the Guardian crossword, which is why I bought it. I’ve since discovered that Collins is the one – but it doesn’t always have the answers. I find it more user-friendly, though. [If you’re going to go on to Azed, you’ll definitely need Chambers!]

  8. sidey says:

    I had real problems with this, still don’t see the definition for three-pair.

    Pearl, from OED: 4. A small round drop or globule resembling a pearl in shape, colour, or lustre; esp. a dewdrop or a tear.

  9. nmsindy says:

    THREE-PAIR (from Chambers: on a third floor)

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks, sidey, for that, which rather proves my point above! :-) [Chambers has ‘a lustrous globule’.

  11. Wil Ransome says:

    In the year or so that Anax has been around he has shown that he is one of the very best setters. This was remarkably difficult but had some magnificent clues, especially 12ac. I wasn’t all that sure about ‘be them’ for ‘have their lives’ in 7ac, though. And in 26ac is ‘you’ = ‘u’, as in text messaging? Is it OK for this not to be signposted?

  12. anax says:

    Many, many thanks for all of your kind comments.

    Wil (how are you, friend?):
    The BE THEM bit of BETHLEHEM was an unexpected find which I thought too good to pass up. In looking for alternative wording “to have their lives” seemed the best one that avoided repetition of the two words. It isn’t, perhaps, 100% interchangeable but the stretch from one to the other isn’t too extravagant.
    You=U. Good point, and I added the ? to imply there was something non-standard going on. After submitting the puzzle I wondered if Eimi would ask me to re-write it but – although I’m no mindreader – I’m guessing Eimi felt the same as I do, that lazy txt spk is becoming an established part of the language and sooner or later it will be regarded as just as valid as the sort of English used by the more literate among us. We might as well recognise and embrace it now, even if it does set our teeth on edge.

  13. jetdoc says:

    I have just finished this — didn’t have time to do it yesterday. A really entertaining puzzle, with witty and innovative clues. I got THREE-PAIR from the wordplay but it was not a term I had heard before and I had to check it in Chambers.

    Thanks, Anax.

  14. Duggie says:

    Yes, many canny, hard-to-spot googlies here. I couldn’t finish it without the Reveal button and had to look here for the explanation to ‘hung’. Superb stuff.

  15. nmsindy says:

    HUNG was the last one I understood – it was a choice between ‘hang’ and ‘hung’ till wordplay light dawned.

  16. Paul B says:

    Indeed a fine piece. There were one or two contentious elements in it as others, including Wil, have pointed out, but I for one was glad to see them. Not healthy to have it just so, in my warped view.

    Keep ‘em comin’ O Brother Anax.

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