Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7355/Anax

Posted by John on May 13th, 2010


To say that my heart sank when I saw that I had to blog one of Anax’s crosswords wouldn’t have been quite accurate: the knowledge that I was in for a tough solve was tempered by the fact that it would be very enjoyable. As expected, there are many outstanding clues here, but also two that I don’t understand, and one or two that seem to be a bit odd, but they’re probably not odd really and just need to be explained properly.

6 ADIT — but who knows why? Is it something to do with the French term ‘a dit’?
10 SU({prisone}R RE)NDER
11 HO S{h}E {w}A{s} — I never knew about all this — the only thing Hosea reminds me of was in a Scripture lesson at school and when the teacher said at the start of the lesson “Right. Hosea” someone replied “I am, sir”
12 PATE DE FOIE GRAS — (of dips eager)* around ate — one of several excellent &lits in this crossword
14 EATING — but again who knows why? I’m completely lost here: my initial thought that something was ‘chairing’ (i.e. containing) ‘at’ seems to be barking up the wrong tree
15 SILENCER — (1 l{oudness}) in (screen)* — another excellent &lit., although I wasn’t sure why “screen” was in inverted commas
17 CHEPSTOW — (pets)* in chow
22 LOSE ONE’S TONGUE — l (ego’s unseen too)*
24 THIN G — ‘not my thing’ … ‘not my cup of tea’
25 DUN C{ream} ESCAP{e} — excellent def ‘topping of thick’
26 REEF — I think this is r (= take) (fee)rev., but instruction?…
27 METH USE LA H — crystal meth
1 F US S
3 THE REIN — I’m not sure how to describe this clue: the whole thing gives ‘the rein’ and the last two words are I think the definition
4 FIDGET — (id (eg)rev.) in FT
7 DISTRICT COUNCIL — 1’s in (critic couldn’t)*
8 TRANSGRESS — (strangers)* s{mile}
9 CHEESE — refers to ‘hard cheese’ and also to the fact that people say ‘say cheese’ when taking a photograph
13 PERCOLATOR — per “collater”
16 BONE IDLE — (I’d be)* around on, l{if}e
18 SLOUGH — I was pretty sure this referred to the Betjeman poem, and sure enough, here it is in all its glory
20 M(ON KEY)S — as in ‘couldn’t give a monkey’s’
21 STENCH — (net)rev. in sch
23 StOP A Hook — had never heard of it, but it had to be

37 Responses to “Independent 7355/Anax”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi John
    I think 6ac is AD[m]IT – allow entry without (‘or not’) M[iners]
    14ac is [s]EATING (defaced chairs)

  2. IanN14 says:

    Thanks John,
    There is in fact a nina (NW to SE)
    Otherwise known as those 9d. 14ac. 10ac. 20d. …

  3. pat says:


    Don’t understand this at all. I see MS=writing, but on keys?

  4. IanN14 says:

    ON + KEY (table, as in a diagram) “penned” by MS (writing)

  5. Merlyn says:

    I shall look out for Anax to avoid. I got one and a half (Transgress and …shire – couldn’t think which one). I had some of the theory of some of the others, but gave up trying to finish

  6. nmsindy says:

    Found this a little easier than some Indy puzzles by Anax, some very inventive clues, my favourites were EATING, THING and METHUSELAH. Very enjoyable puzzle.

  7. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Merlyn: it’s worth persevering with Anax puzzles. He’s difficult, but I can think of a few others who can be equally tough when they want to be. He strives to make clues original, so seeing something routine like “on board ship” for “inside SS” (19A) is quite a surprise.

    At 26A, “recipe” as used in, er recipes, is indeed an “instruction to take” – a more helpful definition unless barred-grid puzzle experience leads to a Pavlovian “take => R” response.

  8. pat says:

    IanN14… still don’t get what this means. I cannot see KEY=TABLE under any circumstances. Also, I don’t approve of ON appearing as blatantly in both clue and answer.

  9. nmsindy says:

    Pat, I think part of the trickery is that words can sometimes appear as themselves ie in both clue and answer.

  10. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Pat: “key” is potentially confusing because the kind of key Anax means is often a guide to the content of a table. But if you do a Google image search for [map key], it’s hard to argue against these keys being tables themselves.

    I don’t understand the objection to “on” – this is done by many setters with “a” in particular – why should any other word not be treated in the same way?

  11. anax says:

    Many thanks for your kind comments, friends.

    On “ON” – yes, this was a deliberate give-away (there are two other clues with the same “device”). Despite trying to keep things fairly easy I was aware this turned into quite a tough one, so the gimmes were intended to open up otherwise challenging bits of the grid.

    @ IanN14. Blimey mate – I’d hoped it wouldn’t be that easy to spot!

  12. walruss says:

    I share the blogger’s view, that this was a little bit odd in parts. Some good clues.

  13. Prolixic says:

    I don’t usually do the Independent but Anax tipped me the wink that there are one or two contributions to the entente cordiale hidden away in the crossword both in the answers and across one of the diagonals so dived into this one with gusto and found it highly enjoyable!

  14. flashling says:

    Tricky but gettable, looked for the nina and missed it. Thought defaced was very good, made me smile.

  15. Bazza says:

    Enjoyable but tough in places. I seem to recall mentioning the NINA on another ‘blog and Anax swearing that one day he would do it (but perhaps I shouldn’t mention such self regarding nonsense!). Thanks for the ‘heads up’ Prolixic and hats off to Anax for 12a if not more.

  16. Ali says:

    Great stuff as always from Anax.

    I hope that the decision to move the puzzle down the right hand side of the inside back page of the paper ain’t permanent. There’s no easy way of folding it!

  17. scarpia says:

    Thanks John.
    Tough,but very enjoyable.Too many excellent clues to pick favourites.11 across was quite gettable without completely knowing the Biblical reference.I read 3 down as, if something is held it could be described as being therein.

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:


    Got about half of the puzzle this morning and had to give in – this was a toughie! Haven’t been able to get to the blog before now (earning a living rather than faffing about on 225 has been priority today). But of the ones I solved, there were some clues I enjoyed (LOSE ONES TONGUE and METHUSALAH).

    So my contribution today will be to expose the nina for all those lurkers who are too shy to ask, and which no-one has explicitly spelled out, although IanN14 has given you the elements you need.


    Simpsons fans, where are you now your country needs you? Gordon Brown, where are you now … no, perhaps not.

    And if we had some tutting earlier in the week about clues based on Chinese phonemics, then are the French easy game all of a sudden?

    I think we should be told.

    Good puzzle, anax, and thank you for blogging, John.

  19. scarpia says:

    K’s D
    As an outsider I would think it highly unlikely that Simpsons fans could be of any use to Great Britain! :)
    And as for the French – have you forgotten 1066? :)

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Since you mention it, scarpia, I’m grateful for 1066 for two reasons. Firstly I make a living out of teaching French to big people; secondly, the influence of French on the English tongue for the subsequent three centuries or so means we have an incredibly rich language which provides plenty of ammunition for anax and his colleagues. Without that, we’d now be speaking something closer to Dutch. Which wouldn’t be as much fun for cryptic crosswords! So I think I’ll start a petition at no 10 for a posthumous pardon for William the Conqueror. Smiley Dave’s not got much else to occupy him at the moment, has he?

  21. scarpia says:

    Kathryn’s Dad.
    I’ll be the first to sign.I am from the’Norman Isles'(a local,not a tax dodger) and our true language(Guernésiais) is a version of Norman French.I must confess,to my shame,that the only words/phrases that I know are obscenities!

  22. scarpia says:

    À la perchoine – don’t worry Gaufrid this is not an obscenity!

  23. Paul B says:

    Not that long between 888, when the Norse hit the regions surrounding Neustria, 931, when they took Neustria itself, and 1066 when they crossed the Channel to rout the (extremely knackered) Anglo-Saxon army at Hastings. Were they all that French?

    I think you’ll also find that Slough gets a rough time prior to 1937, at about 1678 when the lout Bunyan has a go. If you don’t mind your entendres doubled, that is.

    Bons appetits.

  24. eimi says:

    Thanks for the link to David Brent reading Betjeman (re 18D), John. Poetry analysis was never like that at school.

  25. Moose says:

    Got 3 clues 2d being one.Just read blog.Wont was my time trying to get anymore.Anax not for me!

  26. Moose says:

    To the guys who solved this and thought it was easy,how on earth did you get 14a from that clue! 18a Slough? This was a puzzle which only you expert puzzlers can do! I agree with Merlyn and avoid Anax if you’re a mere mortal!

  27. Moose says:


  28. Jon says:

    Hi Moose,

    I got 14ac from checking letters and the definition, ‘at table’. Sometimes you don’t need to understand all the clue to get the answer. Similar story at 18d.

  29. PhilFire says:

    Reference 14ac (s)eating = defaced chair

  30. Moose says:

    Thanks Jon.Never watched The Simpsons.I agree about not understanding the whole clue as I’ve got quite a few basically on a synonym.I’m still a novice at this and have attempted at least 3 Anax crosswords without much success.I will persevere.I’m an old boy of the same school as Wilfred Owen ,noted war poet.Any crosswords out there with his poems as a Nina?! That would be excellent! Thanks again

  31. Nick Corney says:

    Moose, I was staring at 14ac for a while, wondering where the instructions might be ( most clues have instructions ); defaced looked like a likely candidate. New to me ( Anax likes to be original ), but look out for ‘detailed’ – that’s a bit of a cliche, and defaced works the same way, just the other end! With that , the structure of the clue was plain to see.

  32. Nick Corney says:

    That was the hardest Anax I’ve encountered so far, mind.

  33. Maud'Dib says:

    I’ve been doing the i crossword off-planet on & off for about 3 or 4 years now, but this one I had to give up on halfway through & cheat in order to look up the missing answers. I’ve never before had so many unanswered clues.

    I have a few queries/comments/gripes:

    – 12A sandwiches consumed: how does this give ATE? I would understand “food consumed” as giving ATE (although EATEN fits better grammatically I’d say), but why the reference to *sandwiches* in particular? Or is it meant to be TEA (i.e. British English for a meal of sandwiches and tea?)

    – 24A how does “cup of tea” give “thing”? I can see that “It’s not my thing” = “It’s not my cup of tea”, but this is stretching things too far, isn’t it? “Do you want a thing?” doesn’t mean “Do you want a cup of tea?”. “Thing” and “tea” aren’t synonyms.

    – 25A This clue has a nonsensical surface reading and “topping” can only mean “cap” as a strained cryptic definition (or at least strained in my opinion anyway)

    – 3D “the rein” was suggested, but the answer is a one-word answer of 7 letters – so what *is* the correct answer?

    – 9D Why would *having* “hard cheese” make it hard to smile – the clue needs rewriting IMO. “hard cheese” is something that sb says to sb else – it’s not sth you *have*

    – 20D How does “Monkeys!” = “Damn!” I can’t think of a context where it can.

    Any help appreciated

  34. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Maud’Dib and welcome to 15²

    Perhaps a more detailed parsing of the clues might help you to understand them better.

    12ac an anagram (to get different) of OF DIPS EAGER around (sandwiches) ATE (consumed)

    24ac as John indicated, THING and ‘cup of tea’ are synonymous in the saying ‘It’s not my …’ so we have wordplay THIN (weak) G (good) plus a cryptic indicator

    25ac ‘topping’ can mean something on top of and a DUNCE’S CAP would possible be worn by someone with reduced mental faculties (‘thick’) so it is a cryptic definition plus wordplay DUN (brownish) C[ream] (cream’s first) ESCAP[e] (escape? Not quite)

    3dn THE REIN (what’s attached to the bridle) gives the entry THEREIN (held by this)

    9dn you need to split the clue in half to give ‘It may be hard’ which is sometimes used to describe a CHEESE to differentiate it from soft, eg cottage, cheeses and ‘raising a smile with this’ which, as John says, can be said when a photograph is being taken so that you appear to be smiling

    20dn ‘I couldn’t give a damn’ and I couldn’t give a monkey’s’ are both common sayings with a similar meaning

  35. Maud'Dib says:

    Thanks Gaufrid for your reply.

    12A Of course, “sandwiches” is a container-and-contents indicator, an inclusion indicator, a straddling indicator (whatever you want to call it) – I can’t believe I didn’t spot that, although kudos to ANAX for fooling me so well. When I started doing the i cryptic I struggled to spot hidden-word indicators (and still do sometimes, but have got much better at spotting them), but I never thought I’d miss a container-and-contents indicator. Cryptic crosswords are infuriating at times, aren’t they? :o)

    24A I don’t recall coming across a clue like this before where the solver is expected to think of two expressions where two terms that are normally non-synonymous *are* synonymous, as with “thing” and “cup of tea” here (“It’s not my thing/cup of tea”). Is this acceptable? It seems to be going too far to my mind and so seems unfair to me. What’s your take on the fairness or otherwise of this clue? You wrote “… plus a cryptic indicator” – I can’t see one – what’s the cryptic indicator here?

    25A Yes “topping” can mean something on top of sth, but I still think it’s a bit strained to cryptically call a cap a “topping”. Yes it makes sense, but it doesn’t sit right with me somehow, although I’m not sure why. The NSOED actually has “thick” as a noun meaning “a thick/stupid person” (although I’ve never actually heard anyone use “thick” as a noun like that). Plus I don’t like the gibberish surface reading at all.

    3D Can “held by this” mean “therein”? How? In what possible context? I can’t see how this works at all.

    9D You wrote “You need to split the clue in half to give ‘It may be hard’ which is sometimes used to describe a CHEESE to differentiate it from soft, eg cottage, cheeses”. Yes I understood that much, I just don’t think the clue parses properly to give the answer CHEESE. The elements are all there, it just needs rewriting IMO.

    20D “I couldn’t give a damn” = “I couldn’t give a monkey’s” – that’s true, but this is in the same category as 24A. The solver has to think of two sayings where two normally non-synonymous terms *are* synonymous. That’s not fair in a cryptic crossword, is it? (unless the cluer indicates that this is what he/she is doing). Or do you view it differently?

    21D I didn’t mention this one before, but how on earth does “no perfume” give STENCH? Just because someone’s not wearing any perfume doesn’t necessarily mean they stink, does it? They may have showered, but not put on any perfume. I think this clue is fundamentally flawed.

    On the plus side, I thought 16D was particularly good: good surface reading & good wordplay


  36. Gaufrid says:

    It’s been nearly five years since I solved this puzzle so I cannot remember my specific thoughts on it at the time. However, I can say that I have always found Anax’s clues to be fair, if sometimes on the difficult side. He has a style of his own which can take a bit of getting used to but ultimately his puzzles are rewarding, at least for me (perhaps I have an unfair advantage in that I solved a couple of his puzzles before he first appeared in the Indy, and elsewhere, and a great many more since then).

    In 21dn you are reading ‘perfume’ too literally. Rather than the liquid scent that is applied, consider it as meaning ‘pleasant smell’ or ‘fragrance’, the opposite of which (indicated by the ‘no’) would be a STENCH.

  37. Maud'Dib says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    > It’s been nearly five years since I solved this puzzle so I cannot remember my specific thoughts on it at the time.

    Yes, but what are your thoughts on the matter *now*, since I specifically asked you about this?
    How is it fair to expect the solver to think of two specific phrases where normally non-synonymous terms *are* synonymous.
    Unless the cluer indicates in some way [*how* I have no idea] that that is what he/she is doing, how can that possibly be considered fair? I don’t think it can be.

    Re 21D, even if you take “perfume” to mean “pleasant smell” or “fragrance” rather than liquid scent, again it’s possible for someone to not have a *pleasant* smell, but just have a *neutral* smell, neither pleasant nor unpleasant. To get STENCH from “no perfume” is stretching things a bit IMO. BTW I did actually get this clue, but felt ANAX was taking liberties with the wordplay a bit. Of course “No perfume” (as opposed to “Unpleasant fragrance” say) was required for the surface meaning to make sense.


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