Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7293/Scorpion

Posted by John on March 2nd, 2010


Tough: I don’t know what I’d have done without the reveal facility on the Independent website. But I’m the one at fault, for, apart from one or two quibbles, the clues were understandable and good.

5 UN DIES — I think Scorpion is making a little social comment, that it’s non-U, or ‘common’, to use the word ‘undies’, or perhaps to hang one’s undies on the line
9/20 HOME VIDEO — ({mitr}e dive)rev. in homo
10 AT THIS RATE — a (Hirst)* in Tate
11 FACTOTUM — (caf{e})rev. “totem”
12 dowN IN THe — refers to golf — a ‘hole halfway’ round the eighteen is the ninth
17 ROUGE — rogue with u moved
21 IN TRACTION — {partne}r in (on Titanic)*
22 DUMP — 2 defs, but I think unsatisfactorily close to one another: a place with rubbish is called a dump because you dump things there
23 PERSPIRE — ({athlet}e rips rep)rev. — another criticism: whatever part of speech ‘thus’ leads to, it isn’t a verb
24 LOO KER{b}
1 {P}UNTO WARD — I made this difficult for myself by failing to see that it was Fiat (the Fiat Punto) and not flat
2 ASK AFTER — (ska FT) in (era)*
3/17 INDIAN RUNNER — I suppose usage has led to an Indian being a curry, although there are other types of Indian food — had never heard of the bird but it’s obvious enough
4 S{unke}N A{i}TCH
6 TheaTRE NIghts — hidden rev.
7 OTTOMAN EMPIRE — (motto)rev. (name, ripe)*
8 MARENGO — (game no)* around r — refers to the battle of Marengo
14 SQUARES — 2 defs, one of them referring to the squares on a ballot paper (I think; perhaps it’s something else: I don’t remember there being any squares there the last time I voted)
15 ENTANGLE — (net)* angle
16 ENTOMBED — but I’m not quite sure why: en is ‘In French'; there’s ‘mot’ reversed, which is presumably ‘writing contrarily’, but the rest …
18 EUCLID — UCL in (die)rev.

16 Responses to “Independent 7293/Scorpion”

  1. Matthew says:

    Thanks, John—quite a few I had to guess without fully parsing… and I also read “flat” in 1d for an embarrassingly long time. (I have a feeling my optometrist will be coming into more money soon.)

    For 16d, I think: EN (“in” French)+TOM+DEB backwards—”boy and girl writing contrarily”.

  2. Simon G says:

    Thanks for the blog John. I found this hard going to and finally gave up with around a quarter uncompleted. I too thought 1d referred to ‘flat’ rather than ‘fiat’ – I do find the font on the Indy crossword a little hard to read.

    I did wonder if 1ac referred to UN being a common (as in non-U) pronunciation of ONE followed by DIES as a reference to someone ‘pegging out’ or dying. I think the second reference to ‘squares’ in 14d is indeed a reference to the box on a ballot paper in which one put one’s cross. I also agree with Matthew on 16d.

  3. Mick H says:

    Don’t beat yourself up about using reveal, John – this was very hard, but in many cases just because the cryptic sense was so well disguised. Two of the last I got were actually hidden answers, 12ac and 6dn.
    I agree with Simon on 1ac, I think it’s just using ‘common’ to mean ‘dialect’, as the dictionary terms it, for ‘one’.
    I read ‘fiat’ correctly (maybe it was clearer in the paper?) but assumed it must refer to the word, whose meaning I was a bit hazy about, rather than the car!
    One query – what’s ‘gym’ doing in 4dn? The definition is surely ‘lift’, and ‘aitch’ loses it’s second letter, but where’s gym come in?

  4. sidey says:

    Snatch is a style of weightlifting. Too hard for me today.

  5. Ian says:

    Thanks for the most informative blog John.

    This was one of the toughest crosswords I’ve tackled this year, as far as the broadsheets are concerned anyway.

    I too sspenta considerable amount of time scratching my head around synonyms for ‘fiat’ before the penny dropped!

    Fortunately the long solutions were straightforward and things started to fall into place thereafter.

    Marengo I was aware of from a trip to Torino a few years ago. There for a Juve – Inter clash, I called intoa Delmonico’s one evening for the famed Chicken Marengo, served there for the 1st time 210 years ago to commemorate Napoleon’s away win at Piemonte.

    Here’s the recipe:-

    Chicken à la Marengo.
    Cut up a chicken into joints, and cook in olive oil and a little salt, put in the legs before the other pieces, as they take longer to cook. When a good colour and nearly done, add a bouquet of mixed herbs, pepper, mushrooms, and some slices of truffles; place the chicken on a dish, and add the oil drip by drop to some Italian sauce; stir the whole time. When warm, pour over the chicken, and garnish with fried eggs and sippets of fried bread. If preferred, clarified butter may be used instead of oil.

    Italian Sauce.
    Simmer a lump of butter as big as two eggs in a saucepan, with two tablespoonsful of chopped parsley, one tablespoonful of chopped eschalots, and the same quantity of minced mushrooms, add a bottle of white wine; reduce the sacue, and moisten with a tumblerful of velouté sauce and half a tumblerful of stock; boil over a quick fire, skim off all grease, and as soon as the sauce is thick enough, take off the fire, and keep warm in a bain-marie.

    Solving time 49′

  6. Derrick Knight says:

    There certainly was a sting to this. On first run-through of the across clues I only solved number 10. Thanks, Scorpion, for the down clues. My understanding of 16 down is EN (French for in) + TOM (boy) + DEB (girl) reversed. I enjoyed the struggle.

  7. Derrick Knight says:

    Sorry, Matthew, for repeating your explanation of 16 down. I thought mine was the first comment! Must get better at understanding internet message boards.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Way over my head today, but looking forward to Dac tomorrow.

  9. Mick H says:

    Ian – which was finished first, the chicken or the puzzle?
    Sounds delicious anyway, thanks!

  10. Merlyn says:

    What a toughie! I only got 2D and 15D (I have a limited timeframe). 14D refers to Conservatives as ‘squares’ from a counterculture perspective, as well as the box you tick in voting.

  11. Merlyn says:

    Can someone explain 19A? Couple (TIE) claim tax (VAT) i understand, and MOTIVATE is drive, but where does MO come from?

  12. Mick H says:

    Mo=second (just a mo). ‘On’ puts the rest after it.

  13. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the great blog, John. Yes, this was very difficult as I think I’ve learned to expect from Scorpion – extremely complex manipulation in wordplay. But looking at the grid see that the only answer that I had not heard of before tackling the puzzle was INDIAN RUNNER so very clever misdirection in clues. Favourites, UNDIES, HOME VIDEO, MOTIVATE, LOOKER and SQUARES.

  14. jp says:

    Surely by the wordplay, 7ac should be “intmento” and 19ac should be “tivatemo”. Shouldn’t “on” in the clue be under, behind, beneath or after? A very tough puzzle anyway.

  15. Mick H says:

    In both of those clues it is indeed ‘after’ – INT(M)ENT is after O, and TIVATE is after MO.

  16. Uncle Yap says:

    Indian runner
    an egg-laying duck which originated in Malaysia and China.
    (Free Dictionary by Farlex)

    I feel I have contributed to Scorpion’s excellent puzzle being a Malaysian of Chinese ethnicity :-)

    DUMP is not a DD as we know it but a DUD (duplicate def) as the two meaning are Water from the same well.

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