Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7309 – Saturday Prize Puzzle by Nimrod

Posted by duncanshiell on March 26th, 2010


I found this hard and took a good afternoon to solve it.  There were a couple of words or phrases I had not come across before, namely CACOETHES SCRIBENDI and PULQUE.  I knew the first was an anagram and probably had SCRIBE… in the second word of the phrase.  In the second word, PULQUE, I got the QUE alright, but I also hadn’t come across PULE meaning ‘pipe’ before.  I wondered how obscure these words were, so I amused myself by looking them up on Google and seeing how many hits they each generated.

I then thought  – let’s be silly and see how the other answers fare in Google as well.  This wholly non-rigorous and non-scientific analysis produced a table with END at the top with 935,000,000 hits going down to the bottom four of PULQUE 430,000, ISINGLASS 225,000, NUTANT 63,700 and CACOETHES SCRIBENDI 25,000.  Many words, of course have multiple and/or specialist meanings -e.g. OYSTER Cards for travel in London, E.ON being a power suppllier and Lee Harvey OSWALD (ref Kennedy assanination 1963)

To the puzzle itself, I didn’t detect a theme or a Nina, but I did detect a pangram (every letter of the alphabet used at least once).  Only J, K, W, X and Z stopped it being a double pangram.

I like the surface reading of Nimrod’s clues.  I’m more of an analyst and scientist than a language and literature man, so I particularly liked the clue for CUBE ROOTS.  Other gems for me  were AGONY AUNT and SET SQUARE.

I wasn’t too keen on the grid, where apart from the 4 three letter words in the middle, the number of unchecked letters in each answer was greater than or equal to half the number of letters in the answer. I prefer grids where the number of unchecked letters in a word of an odd number of letters, n, is equal to (n+1)/2 rather than here where it was (n-1)/2.

Wordplay Entry
1/29 Anagram of (knocking) CHOSEN BACTERICIDES CACOETHES SCRIBENDI (a mania or itch for writing)
9 LIZ (reference Liz Hurley, model and actress contained in (introduced in) BEE (competition – e.g. spelling bee)) BELIZE  (country in Central America, frequentlly in the news recently in relation to Lord Ashcroft)
10 JET (black) + SETTER (dog) JET-SETTER (member of the wealthy social set whose members travel frequently, ‘richly one gets around’)
11 AS (when) + PECT (sounds like [to an auditor] pecked [attacked by birds])  The reference to Bodega Bay relates to the film ‘The Birds’ as Alfred Hitchcock filmed much of it on location in Bodega Bay, California) ASPECT (view)
12 CUBE (die, as in the singular of ‘dice’) + ROOTS (concerned with one’s ethnic or cultural identity; feeling of belonging) CUBE ROOTS (2 is the cube root of 8, i.e 8=2*2*2)
13 PULE (pipe) containing QU (quart) PULQUE (fermented drink made in Mexico)
17 Hidden (to peel) in …..threE ONions……. EON (a very large division of geological time)
19 SHOTGUN MARRIAGE – double definition, one cryptic I think , in that it was often arranged to prevent reports of the bride and groom conceiving children out of wedlock SHOTGUN MARRIAGE (hastily arranged wedding or match)
20 DAB (fingerprint) DAB (expert) – double definition
21 TAN (brown) contained in (accepted) NUT (head) NUTANT (nodding)
25 Anagram of (criminal) DEALT and GUNS ANGEL DUST (the drug phencyclidene, a hallucinogen)
26 LOO (WC) + F (first letter [opening] of Fields) + AH (expression that can mean "that’s lovely’") LOOFAH (sponge)
27 STRIKE PAY (cryptic definition relating to the payment made to cover loss of earnings during a strike – ‘top-up’) STRIKE PAY (allowance paid by Trade Unions to their members who are on strike)
28 SECOND (back) SECOND (short time) – double definition
29 See 1 across  


Wordplay Entry
2 A + VENUE (concert location) AVENUE (wide and handsome street – means to reach [one of the concert locations])
3 Hidden (giving) in ……VengabOYS TERiffic…… OYSTER (a source of advantage) NB the Vengaboys are a Eurodance pop group based in the Netherlands, hence the  ‘…..’ continuation of the previous clue
4 TAT (rubbish) + TOO (moreover) TATTOO (drumbeat) Presumably as a pop group, the Vengaboys would have a drummer and we can continue the previous two clues with ‘…..’
5 Anagram of (hastily arranged) RACEMEETING COLT ELECTROMAGNETIC (relating to magnetism [attraction] produced by electricity [current] – ‘attractive currently’)
6 SET (adjust) + SQUARE (old-fashioned) SET SQUARE (drawing instrument)
7 VICES (tools with movable jaws for gripping – ‘restrictions’) + QUAD (court) VICE SQUAD (division of the police)
8 GENT (man) + L (left) + ESSEX (Southend is a town in Essex) less an S (first letter [at first] of Southend) GENTLE SEX (women)
14 IS IN GLASS (poured out) ISINGLASS (material, mainly gelatine, extracted from a sturgeon’s air-bladder, ‘extract of fish’)
15 SOFT TOUCH (pat) SOFT TOUCH (pushover) – double definition
16 A +([ON {working} + Y {year}] contained in [enjoyed by] GAUNT [haggard]) AGONY AUNT (advisor on personal problems, usually in a newspaper, ‘media adviser’)
17 TEND (nurse) excluding the first letter (top, as in ‘behead’) T END (aim)
18 BAN (prohibition,outlawry) reversed (up with) NAB (catch)
22 GI (Reference GI Joe, American soldier) containing (to huig) EMIN (reference Tracey Emin, artist) GEMINI (sign of the Zodiac)
23 Anagram of (away) HEADER ADHERE (stick)
24 (DO [make] containing [all-encompassing] LAWS [rules)]) all reversed (up) OSWALD (man’s name, ‘he’)

2 Responses to “Independent 7309 – Saturday Prize Puzzle by Nimrod”

  1. jmac says:

    A great puzzle that I found pretty tough, but each time I got an answer, it seemed so obvious, that I thought it was just me being a bit slow on the uptake. I almost expected to see that whoever blogged it had completed it in some amazing time, and I am reassured to see that Duncanshiel also found it hard. I think I found it difficult (apart from the unusual words and phrase mentioned above) because Nimrod is such a master of smooth deception (I feel he would make a brilliant con man)- all the clues seemed very fair and the answers didn’t involve deploying bizarre single letters or similar trickery.

    I particularly liked LOOFAH, TATTOO, GENTLE SEX, and OSWALD.

    In 12ac, I see the constituent parts of CUBE ROOTS clearly enough, but “Maybe makes 8 2″ seems a slightly odd way to phrase it.

    Unfortunately, having Mexican relatives, I am familiar with pulque, and would only recommend it to my worst enemy!

    Many thanks Nimrod and Duncanshiell.

  2. sidey says:

    I think the ‘so there’s no report’ in shotgun marriage is the lack of the gun being fired. If it was, there’d be no wedding.

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