Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7331 / Mass

Posted by Gaufrid on April 15th, 2010


It’s been three months since we last saw Mass but again he has come up with a themed puzzle that provided a great deal of enjoyment, at least once 8A/2 had been solved. Without 8A/2 some of the linked clues would have been rather difficult to parse.

Having ‘rustic’ in the clue for 4dn made 6dn rather obvious but some of the other clues generated a bit of head-scratching for a minute or two. There were several less common single letter abbreviations (eg r-rod, p-poise, l-leaf) but all are confimed in Collins.

1 STEP UP  PET (resentment) reversed in SUP (drink)
5 MARLIN  R (rod) L (line) in MAIN (sea) &lit
8/2 THE NAME OF THE GAME  dd – ‘anything that is essential, significant, or important’ and ‘expected or normal conditions, circumstances, etc.’ (Collins)
9 SLOOP  LOO (2) in SP (Spaniard)
11 BRAG  GARB (gear) reversed
12 ASSIMILATE  A[rtifice] *(IT’S A SMILE)
13 EVENSONG  VEN[i]SON (2 one lost) in EG
15 AVERT  A (major road) VERT (green)
17 EQUAL  E (English) QUA[i]L (I must abandon 2)
23 FARO  FAR (considerably) O (old)
25 SWAMI  M (master) in *(I SAW)
27 SEVENS  S (son) EVENS (quits)
28 RATION  [o]RATION (address overlooking the front)

3 PLAN  L (league) in NAP (2) reversed
4 PHEASANT  H (hour) in PEASANT (rustic)
5 MUFFIN  MUFF (make a hash) IN (at home)
6 RUSTICATE  RU (8A/2 in short) IC (I see) in STATE (body politic)
7 ISOLATE  SOL[o] (most of 2) in I (Independent) A (article) TE (note)
10 PRESTIGIOUS  P (poise) TIG (2) in *(SERIOUS)
16 WHISTLER  WHIST (8A/2) LE (the French) R (river)
18 UPGRADE  U[nder] P[ressure] homophone of ‘greyed’ (looked gloomy)
20 DIABOLO  I’D reversed A L (leaf) in BOO[k] (short reference)
21 ARCHES  AR[t] (reduced skill) CHES[s] (2 for the most part)
24 TROT  TRO[u]T (8A/2 is short of universal)

16 Responses to “Independent 7331 / Mass”

  1. Mick Hodgkin says:

    I must start using Collins more for abbrevations – there were there here I wasn’t expecting, P=poise, r=rod and Sp=Spaniard (as opposed to Spain/ Spanish).
    Good theme, though I wasn’t quite clear why some thematic clues referred to 8A/2 (“the name of the game”), and some just to 2 (“the game”).
    Having said that, my fabourite clue was 28 ac – “overlooking the front” a lovely way to indicate a dropped first letter.

  2. nmsindy says:

    This was a joy to solve, reminiscent of Mass themed Indy puzzles of old. So good to fit so many thematic references in, not too hard once 8A/2 was found – esp liked EQUAL, SEVENS and SOLITAIRE.

  3. Fools Gold says:

    I thought that 8/2 was weak. Dissappointing given it was the crux.

  4. nmsindy says:

    Re 8A/2, as the blog explains, these meanings are given in Collins.

    They are shown there as two separate definitions each with its own entry, so I think it’s all fine.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for blogging, Gaufrid. nms @ no 4, the meanings are no doubt both in Collins, so from a setter’s point of view, it’s a fair clue. But it’s certainly not a giveaway as the entry to the rest of the puzzle, even if you twigged that it must be THE something OF THE something. I gave up with about half of it done. For me, this was just too convoluted for a daily crossword – p = poise and r = rod, no doubt, but surely those abbreviations are more at home in one of the weekend puzzles.

    So sorry to be critical, but eimi did say he appreciated feedback, and that’s mine!

  6. eimi says:

    I think that’s fair enough. Collins has a lot of abbreviations that aren’t in the other dictionaries, as does Chambers, but I’m a lot happier with abbreviations that are in more than one source. I also think it fair to say that the key clue was probably the weakest. I did flirt with the idea of introducing an Abba element to it, but that might have gone over some people’s heads.

  7. sidey says:

    Just out of nosiness eimi do you know how many people use the online version?

  8. flashling says:

    It’s all very well saying it’s in collins, but sorry on the train to work it’s not on, i did dac’s yesterday in about 7 minutes, I’m not taking reference books on the train. I don’t mind a crossword you have to work at but when serious solvers need to check obscure definitions, surely you’ve OTT for a daily paper Mass

  9. Richard says:

    I did manage to do this without recourse to reference books, but it took me a very long time, and I think it was probably too hard for a weekday puzzle. I agree with the comments others have made about the weakness of the clue for 8A/2. Nice to see Mass again, though.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Maybe I was lucky today, but I managed to fill the grid fairly quickly, without any real doubt, as if ‘on the train’ – i.e. I did not consult anything.

    If writing the blog I’d have had to check and verify a few things of course.

    Also whatever about the clue for it, the phrase THE NAME OF THE GAME is surely pretty well known.

  11. Ian says:

    Thank you for the explanations Gaufrid.

    I took over 30′ to insert 8A/2!!

    Once that was in things got marginally easier. I had to resort to Chambers to finish it off. The time taken was 76′.

    Looking back at the finished grid, the clues are all fair and I put it down to too much absinthe this afternoon.

    Compared to the Puck effort in today’s Guardian (22′). this represented a stiffer challenge. Both tremendously satisfying.

    Several clues worthy of commendation, esp. ‘Evensong’, ‘Sevens’ and ‘Ration’.

    I haven’t come across this setter before. Does he set for any of the other papers under a different monicker?

  12. nmsindy says:

    Mass, I expect, would not mind me saying he is a veteran setter, who also edited the Indy Weekend crossword at one time, I think, and was very much involved with the Spectator also, has appeared in Listener and so on.

    His appearances in the Indy cryptic have been less frequent in recent times, tho he still appears often in their Concise puzzle, I think.

  13. Simon Harris says:

    I managed to solve this unaided, which isn’t a given for me. It wasn’t a quick solve, but one doesn’t expect that on a Thursday anyway. A few new abbreviations, and perhaps minor gripes that so many of the entries crossing 8A/2 relied on having solved it already, but as I say, it must have been fair since even I cracked it.

  14. Quixote says:

    Mass has been my constant companion in the IOS since it began over 20 years ago. He is responsible for all the themed concise puzzles. He’s a great guy, full of fun, and lives in Spain (near Alicante) with his wife, where I visited him a few years back. Good to see this reappearance in a cryptic.

  15. Merlyn says:

    I found this hard, and only got 8 or 10 answers – even having solved 2 clues which relied on 8A/2 I couldn’t work out the link (I’m still not sure I see them all).

  16. Allan_C says:

    This was definitely an overnight puzzle. I don’t start the puzzle till late evening as a bedtime relaxation. If it’s a real toughie that I have to leave half done, then it often seems surprisingly easy to finish in the morning. Must be my subconscious working on it while I’m asleep, or something. That’s what happened here – with a little help from a word finder.

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