Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,258 by Mass

Posted by Simon Harris on January 20th, 2010

Simon Harris.

A rare weekday outing for Mass, with whom I’m most familiar via the concise crossword that shares a page with Beelzebub in the Independent on Sunday, and a particularly challenging and very thoroughly medically-themed Saturday prize puzzle at the end of last year.

This was an interesting one: “do” is a strange choice of word around which to build a theme, given that it means everything and nothing. For me, finding “do” as a definition in almost every other clue became quite tiresome quite quickly, though I may simply be smarting because I haven’t yet worked out which sense of the word is required in a few clues (TIRE and SOLVE, for example).

Never mind, the puzzles that I feel less comfortable with are invariably the most highly-praised in the comments, so what do I know :)

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

Across
1 BALDERDASH – (ALDER + D) in BASH.
8 INSOLVENT – (SOLVE in INN) + T[ouch].
9 TWIT – TWI[s]T.
10 LEEWAY – dd.
11 UNBRIDLE – N in BUILDER*.
13 FIT OUT – I in (F + TOUT).
14 MAKING DO – (KING + D[estitution]) in MAO.
17 RESERVED – SERVE in RED.
19 FOX CUB – FOX + CUB.
21 SOFTBALL – SOFT + BALL.
23 ROBUST – ROB + U.S. + T.
25 BILK – B + ILK.
26 RENDITION – N in (R + EDITION).
27 SECRETAIRE – CREES* + (A in TIRE).
Down
1 BELEAGUER – LEAGU[e] in BEER.
2 LIED – hom. of “lead”.
3 ESTONIANS in ETONIAN.
4 DETER – D[i]ETER.
5 SHINDIG – SHIN + DIG.
6 FIELDFARES – FARE in FIELDS. N
7 ASPECT – (SP + E) in ACT.
12 EXORBITANT – TAN in (EX ORBIT).
15 IRON OXIDE – (O + hom. of “knocks”) in (I + RIDE).
16 CELLARET – hom. of “sell” + [cl]ARET.
18 SUFFICEIC in SUFFE[r].
20 COUSIN – (U.S. + I) in CON.
22 BAKER – BA[n]KER.
24 ANTI – ANTI[bes[t]].

9 Responses to “Independent 7,258 by Mass”

  1. Welsh pete says:

    When you do a crossword you solve it

  2. Emrys says:

    This was fun to show all the different meanings of “do”, and I did manage to solve – or guess – all but 1d. Can someone explain 18d, suffice? It does mean “do”, but how to get there from the clue is beyond me.

    In 16d, cellaret, how does “sell” relate to “do”?

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Simon.

    I wasn’t going to comment on this one, since I couldn’t even get started with it, but I usually like to check the answers to learn where I could improve, and having done so would like to constructively offer the following, with apologies to those who don’t like split infinitives.

    As an average but (I hope) improving solver, I’m not a big fan of puzzles where you have to solve one clue to access lots of others (there’s probably a term for that, but I don’t know it). In this instance, 14ac was beyond me (king=best?) so that meant I couldn’t really get going.

    Agree with Simon that ‘do’ is an odd and potentially tiresome choice for a theme, and even reading the blog I’m still unsure on a couple (for instance, when I DO a crossword that doesn’t mean I SOLVE it).

    BILK and CELLARET are pretty obscure, I would say. And TWIST and SERVE as synonyms for ‘do’, if I understand the clueing well, aren’t great. ‘That will serve, that will do’, I suppose.

    So while I appreciate that there will be puzzles that at the minute will be over my horizon, I just thought this was a bit too inaccessible for a daily.

    I think this is my first ever serious whinge, on this site anyway. Am I turning into Grumpy Kathryn’s Dad?

  4. NealH says:

    I’m not a big fan of this type of puzzle. The minute you see all the clues referencing back to 14 you know it’s going to be extremely hard work to get going unless you can solve 14 straight away (which I couldn’t). Even after I’d worked out the theme, it was still difficult to finish because there were so many possible words that mean do in some context or other that it was really no help at all.

    I’m still a bit mystified by tire meaning do (perhaps in the sense of “I’m done in”). Sell as do also seems a bit of a stretch and I wasn’t keen on busy as an anagram indicator. Surprised Mass didn’t manage to work in do in the murder sense anywhere.

  5. sidey says:

    I think tire is in the sense of to attire. Tire v3 in OED.

  6. Ali says:

    Well, this one was certainly easier than the borderline-impossible Tyrus clubs puzzle, but it got the better of me.

    I solved a few of the related clues before I managed to solve 14 itself, but with so many synonyms of ‘do’ and an inability to get any of the left hand side filled, I just couldn’t break the back of it. I should be having another crack at it now of course, but the prospect of going back to it isn’t hugely appealing

    I too have often mixed feelings about these kind of puzzles, but no complaints about this particular one. It was just very tough that’s all.

  7. nmsindy says:

    Mass puzzles tend to be very tough and he is a master at employing the various meanings of words. 14 had to be hard, I’d say, or the puzzle might have yielded too quickly. I too read SUFFICE as IC in SUFFE(r). I was mystified by parties and swindles appearing until 14 was solved and light dawned.

  8. Richard says:

    I found this hard, but managed (after a very slow start) to complete it without recourse to reference books after a good deal of thought. I think it would perhaps have been better to have used it as a Saturday puzzle.

  9. Allan_C says:

    If anyone’s still reading this, late on Thursday, it took me ages to twig the theme and then to find the variations on ‘do’. I went wrong on 18dn, deciding it was ‘service’ IC in SERVE (to ‘do’ a dish for a meal could be said to serve it) so then all I could fit for 21ac was ‘scrabble’ – a game OK, but no wonder I couldn’t make sense of the rest of the clue.

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