Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent Prize Puzzle 7285 by Bannsider – Saturday 20 February 2010

Posted by duncanshiell on February 26th, 2010


As I only blog Independent puzzles once a month, I don’t have a great deal of experience of individual setters.  A little research though shows that I have solved Bannsider’s puzzles before as he is a Times Setter and also operates as Aragon in The Listener.  I believe he also judges the monthly clue competition in The Times Crossword Club.

The Fifteensquared Setters page describes Bannsider as Ximenean, Hard.  I’ll certainly go along with that.   I took some time to solve this puzzle. I think I have understood almost all of the constructions, and have only just come up with a possible parsing of  INGROWN as I finish this blog.  Also, I could well be wrong on the wordplay for ECHO.

I was aware that Saturday’s Independents often had a theme.  Before I started to write this blog, I thought that this was a puzzle without a theme.  Wrong!.  I now know a lot more about the Singles and Albums released by the British indie rock band KASABIAN.

KASABIAN‘s latest album is West Ryder PAUPER LUNATIC ASYLUM.  It contains, among others, the following tracks – VLAD THE IMPALER; UNDERDOG; FIRE and THICK AS THIEVES.  The lyrics for another track, ‘Where did all the love go?, contain the word RIBCAGE.

In 2009, KASABIAN played at the Liverpool ECHO Arena .  In 2010 KASABIAN have been nominated for an NME award entitled ‘Giving it Back’ (GENEROSITY).  I guess NME is today what the New Musical Express when I was first interested in rock and pop music. I’m probably stretching the theme here but it’s been fun doing the research.

A difficult but enjoyable crossword that has really come to life since I started to blog it. The clueing was rigorous with excellent surface readings.

Wordplay Entry
1 Double definition (one cryptic). VLAD THE IMPALER – a fairly unpleasant gentleman from an area of Eastern Europe covering present day Hungary and Romania VLAD THE IMPALER (he was reputed to impale the heads of his enemies on posts – ‘sticker on post’)
9 UNDERDO (cook inadequately) + G (the letter remaining after the first and last two [shelled] letters, E,G of EGG are removed) UNDERDOG (the competitior likely to be beaten)
10 See 2 down for full explanataion ASYLUM
11 OTI’S (reference Chris Oti, England Rugby Union winger 1988 to 1991) OTIS (reference ‘Miss Otis regrets’ – song by Cole Porter, written in 1934 for the musical Hi Diddle Diddle)
12 Anagram of (upsetting) TO A SHOPPER APOSTROPHE (reference to the punctuation mark in grocer’s, also more widely to [in]famous grocers’ use of  the apostrophe – e.g. APPLE’S and PEAR’S only £1 for n)
13 ECHO (I am guessing that this is a reference to the words used in International Radio Communication and the NATO phonetic alphabet;  ECHO represents E and is ‘on the way’ through the alphabet to INDIA which represents I) ECHO (to repeat; to parrot)
14 GENE (boy’s name) + (ROSY [healthy] containing [should be eaten] IT) GENEROSITY (the quality of being free and unstiniting with one’s possessions; being big
16 B (last letter of [at last] THUMB) + ONE (I) + SETTER (me; Bannsider) BONESETTER (a person who treats broken or dislocated bones, especially when not surgically qualified.) &Lit.
19 Double definition. FIRE (send off one) FIRE (reference ‘play with fire'; involved with dangerous play)
21 (OB [obiit; died] containing [apprehending] BALT [reference Baltic States of which Estonia is one]) all contained in (in) COMB (search for weapon) COBALT BOMB (weapon)
24 TOBIAS (boy’s name) replacing (overcoming) BIAS with BY TOBY (a more familiar usage of Tobias)
25 First letters (leads) of PATH and ACTUALLY + UP + last letter [close to] of CASTLE + R (rook) PAUPER (one with no money; one stony [broke])
26 Every second letter (regularly) from IN CARIBBEANS BACK reversed (from the east) KASABIAN (British indie rock group formed around 1998/1999, still going strong today),
27 THIEVE (steal; pinch; half-inch [rhyming slang]) contained in (collected by) THICK ASS (stupid idiot) THICK AS THIEVES (intimate; very friendly; close)


Wordplay Entry
2/10a Anagram of (playing) UNMUSICALLY A and T (last letter [finally] of QUINTET) LUNATIC ASYLUM (reference Bedlam [an asylum for lunatics])
3 RES (Royal Engineers – plural) contained in (siezed by) DS (Detective Sergeant [Lewis]) + CODE (morse code) DRESS CODE (may demand uniform [to be worn])
4 Hidden word (in) JEOPARDY HURTLES reversed (skyward) HYDRA (creature)
5 The second letter of GIRLFRIEND is I and it is located (found) IN [between] G and R + OWN (has) INGROWN (turned into the flesh)
6 LASTER (survivor) contained in (buried in) PER (a) PLASTERER (layer of stucco)
7 LAY (not a member of the clergy; not cloth) + TO (last letters [taking tips] of BUT and SHAMPOO) LAY TO (vigorously apply)
8 (UGH (how horrible!) + I) all contained in (tuck into) ROT (nonsense; bunkum; bunk) c ROUGH IT (live in basic conditions; abandon luxury)
14 Anagram of (resort) TARGET + RE (on) + K (king) GREAT TREK (reference to the 1830s and 1840s migration of Boers from Cape Colony into other parts of modern day South Africa)
15 SOFT (piano) containing (covering) A (area) + ABLE (up to it) SOFA TABLE (item of furniture)
17 O DO (plea for one to [do something]) + RANT (hold forth) ODORANT (emitting a strong smell; pungent)
18 Anagram of (various) GO KARTS excluding (no) G (good) and  (introduced) I (one) TROIKAS (chariots; perhaps more stately than the chariots of Ancient Rome))
20 (I [one] + BC [in olden times]) all contained in (consumed by) RAGE (passion) RIBCAGE (the heart is located within the rib cage, hence heart’s prison)
22 I (one) + UP (cheerfaul) + PA (father; old man) all reversed (raised) APPUI (defensive support for a military force)
23 B (book) + OS (outsize) + CH (children) BOSCH (reference Hieronymus Bosch, Dutch painter 1450 – 1516)

12 Responses to “Independent Prize Puzzle 7285 by Bannsider – Saturday 20 February 2010”

  1. jmac says:

    Re 25 across, doesn’t the E come from the end of THE, rather than end of CASTLE? Thanks Duncanshiell for explaining some very tricky clues, and thanks to Bannsider for a wonderfully testing puzzle which kept me occupied for a very long time. I too didn’t spot the theme, but I don’t think it mattered. APOSTROPHE was my favourite.

  2. duncan shiell says:


    Yes you are right – the E does come from the end of THE, but I’ll leave the blog as it is so that readers can understand this exchange of comments.

  3. Richard Heald says:

    I had a few quibbles with this one, I’m afraid.

    5 Dn: ‘has’ does not mean ‘own';

    3 Dn: I don’t like ‘REs’ for ‘Engineers’ (RE itself stands for Royal EngineerS);

    27 Ac: leaving ‘thieve’ intact in the wordplay for THICK AS THIEVES seems rather weak.

    On a lesser note, I thought the nina was perhaps a bit too obscure (even though I consider myself to be down wiv da kids).

    Bannsider is a very talented and inventive setter, but I felt this wasn’t one of his finest.

  4. Allan_C says:

    Never heard of Kasabian (I wondered if it was some obscure geological term – “rock group”) or their singles/albums. But I solved the complete puzzle nevertheless. Favourite clue for me too was for ‘Apostrophe’ – made me groan, though, when I twigged it.

  5. Bannsider says:

    Just a wee small point or two on seeing Richard’s comments:
    RES is actually RE’S (possessive)

    I don’t have the puzzle to hand but “HAS” in the INGROWN clue should read “TO HAVE”, otherwise the clue wouldn’t read properly. If it does say “HAS” then I apologise. Something horrible has happened to my brain (predictably!)

    On THICK AS THIEVES I felt that there was probably enough deception going on in the puzzle generally already without breaking down THIEVE (deceptively clued as it is) even further.

    As for the NINA, well often these things are an answer to the setter’s question, sometimes asked of himself, “what the hell shall I fill the grid with this time?” and as such are as much an aid to self as anything. If they are often obscure to the solver then hopefully that doesn’t really matter.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thank you for the magnificent blog, Duncan. The nmsindy reviews of the Indy years show Bannsider is probably the hardest Indy setter. There is incredibly devious manipulation of words and meanings here and I could not finish it but enjoyed every minute I spent at it and all is clear now. Everything is totally fair.

    I had not heard of the band, never mind their hits, but that was not necessary to solve the puzzle.

    And I think it was the NME back then, I know as a weekly subscriber thro most of the 1960s until, by one of those life-passage factors perhaps, interest gradually faded, ending for no obvious reason round about 1968.

    My favourites, of those I solved, were, like others, APOSTROPHE – also VLAD THE IMPALER.

  7. Richard Heald says:

    Hi Bannsider, thanks for the feedback. I’ve just dug out the print copy of the puzzle, and 3 Dn does indeed have ‘of Engineers’ to indicate the possessive ‘RE’s’ – mea culpa! However, 5 Dn does indicate ‘own’ by ‘has’ not ‘to have’. Result of a subeditorial error perhaps?

  8. eimi says:

    In a sense any mistake that gets in the paper is the editor’s fault (unless someone on the paper changes anything), but I can confirm that Bannsider had ‘has’ in the original, which I should have spotted. In his defence, he sent a note with the puzzle to say that it had “had a pretty traumatic birth as my laptop blew up and I had to re-do it on a different computer”. That should have made me more than usually vigilant.

  9. Fletch says:

    As a fan of Kasabian and Bannsider, this got a big thumbs up from me.

  10. Bannsider says:

    Going back to INGROWN, I see that the clue in my working version reads : “Where second of girlfriends appears to have turned to the flesh”, so somehow I managed to change it to a duff version. This also happened to another clue, which I actually spotted in time. I’ll, er, blame the malfunctioning laptop :-)

    Just finally to say to Duncan that RIBCAGE was a happy coincidence and as he no doubt realises ECHO and GENEROSITY were also not meant to be part of the theme.

  11. duncan shiell says:

    Oh yes!

    I realise that ECHO and GENEROSITY were ‘extras’, but they provided more happy coincidences as I surfed the web looking for information about Kasabian. I am sure you will not be surprised to know that I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of Kasabian. I note that I have one Kasabian track on my I-Pod but that’s from a compilation CD given to me by one of my children who thought I should increase my awareness of ‘modern’ music.

    I too tripped over RIBCAGE by chance. Noting the appearance at the Liverpool Echo Arena was too good to miss out. I don’t think the nomination for the ‘Giving it Back’ award was made until early February this year. I suspect you compiled the crossword weeks or months before the nomination was made. As a matter of interest, what is the lead time between compiling and publication for a blocked daily crossword? I suspect it is shorter than for puzzles for The Listener, Inquisitor etc.

  12. eimi says:

    I generally finalise the week’s crosswords by the Monday of the previous week, and there have been last-minute changes to accommodate topical themes, but some setters send batches of puzzles several months before publication.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

× 7 = forty nine