Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,339 by Tees (Saturday Prize Puzzle, 24/04/10)

Posted by Simon Harris on April 29th, 2010

Simon Harris.

A challenging ornithologically-themed Tees this week, which didn’t seem to get any easier once the theme was rumbled. A few of the thematic entries were quite obscure, and I half expected to have a couple of gaps in the blog. Some frantic dictionary-checking got me there in the end though, albeit with a couple that I can’t fully explain.

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

9 HARSH – R in HASH.
11 OF A FEATHER – dd., and this week’s key entry. All down clues lack definitions, but this one tells us that the entries are all birds. There’s a kind of “down = feather” pun going on then, it seems.
12 GABBLE – BB (“bees”) in GALE (“windborne”). Clever one.
15 LUDLOW – [grende]L + WOULD*.
20 REPEOPLE – OP in (REPEL + E).
22 PINIONPIN + ION. This can mean “to confine the wings of”, thus “to keep downs (i.e. birds) down”.
23 DEHISCENCE – D (500, thus “many”) + CHINESE* + CE.
25 AWAREA + W + ARE.
1 BOATTAIL – (TT in AA) in BOIL.
4 SHOEBILLS + ((OE + B) in HILL). I’m not sure how to make B from “preface”, so I’m probably missing something here.
5 ARCTIC TERN – CAR* + TIC + hom. of “turn”.
6 PHOEBE – (HOE in Pb) + [lin]E.
8 SEA PIE – A PI in SEE.
13 BUDGERIGAR – BUDGE + RIGA + R[ock]. I’m not sure why the rock is Northern, other than for the surface reading. It may be that “Northern” applies to Riga, which I think is roughly as far North as the middle of Scotland, and is rumoured to be very nice indeed.
16 OXPECKER – (X + PE) in OCKER.
19 PERNIS – (SIN + REP)<.
22 PEEWIT – WEE< in PIT.
24 GLED – [sin]GLE-D[ecker].

17 Responses to “Independent 7,339 by Tees (Saturday Prize Puzzle, 24/04/10)”

  1. jp says:

    Re 4 down: the preface to ‘be’ is ‘b’.

  2. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this, tho I’m sure only paid-up ornithologists could have solved it without “cheating”. I was pleased tho to work out quite a few of the birds from the wordplay alone, verifying after. I guess the unusual names were needed to meet the v demanding requirement that every down entry was the name of a bird. Read “capital – Northern” as being Riga, located towards the North vis-a-vis London anyway. Liked the ‘OF A FEATHER’ idea and three across clues I esp liked were SONOROUS, IDIOCIES and LUDLOW. Did Tees do something similar with trees not too long ago?

  3. Fletch says:

    It was one of those where I thought I’ve got the theme, I’ve filled in about half of it, I really can’t be arsed checking the dictionary any more for obscure birds.

  4. petebiddlecombe says:

    I think I got to the end unaided, but it took a mighty long time, and the difficulty finished up as what I remembered about the puzzle. A set of 14 or so birds or trees seems like a selection from a pretty long list, some of which you won’t know; Nimrod’s set of cakes a while back was mostly if not all in your head, and presumably a subset of a much shorter list – so just thinking of a few more cakes helped you solve the puzzle and I remember it as being fun.

  5. Duggie says:

    A smashing puzzle and very hard to get started. If this had appeared in another paper it would probably have had an introductory note. But sometimes deciphering the theme is part of the fun. And every bird is in Chambers – even Pernis, which is a genus and appears under honey buzzard. I thought ‘windborne bees’ was lovely – and poetically in tune with the theme.

  6. jmac says:

    I know little about ornithology, but I thought the more obscure birds were clued very fairly (simply) so that no specialist knowledge was required – of course I needed to check some answers but for a weekend puzzle I don’t mind doing this. I thought the use of “down” in 11 across was delightful.

  7. walruss says:

    Very inventive again from Tees and The Independent, and for me a manageable level of difficulty for a weekend prize puzzle. I had the coffee, the toast and marmalade, radio four, the internet, my trusty dictionary and the cat to help me, and so I will agree that it wasn’t one for the number 12 bus! The ‘of a feather’ device I liked very much, with some great stuff as noted.

  8. Allan_C says:

    Re Duggie’s comment, if I find a cryptic with an introduction in Another Paper I tend to leave it alone as bordering on the “Inquisitorial”. And in this case I would have missed a great puzzle. Of course, an into to this one would almost have given the game away with no need to solve 11ac.

  9. Fletch says:

    The standard Guardian intro would’ve been Down clues are of a kind and lack definition – hardly an Inquisitor type preamble.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Maybe I was just lucky but I saw the theme within about 5 minutes (ie that the down clues were birds with no definition) so did not feel there was any need for a special instruction or introduction.

  11. Tees says:

    AFAIK the Indy doesn’t run preambles at the moment (can’t be done online, I believe), so themes have to be nudged at in other ways. Which is no bad thing. Change the pseudonym, maybe, use a ‘ghost theme’ a la Virgil, or create a clue that holds the key. I thought ‘of a feather’ a pretty generous hint, and hopefully ’twas slightly more fun than your (standard) Groaniad intro.

    Thanks for the nice comments, and great blog.

  12. flashling says:

    Well not being a twitcher I found this hard, got the bird theme quickly but gled was listed in the online dictionary (ok I cheated by my own rules) as archaic and the 6th in a list of alternative spellings and a lot of the others i’d not heard of before. Still impressed PeterB finished this without aids.

    Couldn’t do today’s no shop locally had a copy by 9 this morning, distribution problem in the Dartford area?

  13. Tees says:

    In a prize puzzle I can confirm that you may expect a higher level of difficulty. Or engagement, depending on your POV.

    FYI GLED is Scot. or N Eng. (Chambers). Collins, somewhat less rigorously, asserts that it’s a ‘former Brit name for the red kite’. Neither assigns an ‘arch.’ tag. But along with SOED these are the reference works I try to stick to: I don’t know what you mean by ‘the online dictionary’.

  14. flashling says:

    I don’t mind tough Tees, it’s fair enough, sorry can’t remember which website, I put gled into search engine and found an entry which said archaic for a buzzard. Maybe trying to do the saturday crossword after a few pints down the pub isn’t a great idea either!

  15. Tees says:

    Oh, I don’t know. It seemed to make Araucaria EASIER all those years ago!

  16. Moose says:

    Really liked the March 2015 blog as it is described it as impenetrable or impossible in my case.13d Budgerigar? 16a never heard of ocker.Dehiscence? Tried for anagram but failed miserably.If you don’t get 11d which I obviously didn’t its even harder.Not an ornithologist but again hats off to you guys who finished this.I didn’t even get started ! Sorry got 26 across as it was an anagram.Ladybird book of birds would have come in handy! After doing yesterday’s crossword justice this was way out of my league.

  17. Moose says:

    Sorry 11a

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