Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7357 (Saturday Prize Puzzle) by Bannsider

Posted by duncanshiell on May 21st, 2010


The last Bannsider puzzle I blogged had a theme based on the rock group Kasabian.   I’ve looked at diagonals and unches, and I can’t see any obvious theme in this puzzle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tells me that there is a theme.  There was a rock band in that ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) formed part of a clue.

The puzzle was just 2 letters short of being a pangram.  I haven’t got a J or an X in my solution.  It wasn’t that far short of a double pangram.  If only Bannsider could have got in 2Xs, and 2Js plus one more M and V then we would have had a double pangram.  Easier said than done, I’m sure.

The grid has 90o symmetry which isn’t all that common in blocked puzzles.  Every answer, except the the two long answers intersecting in the middle square, was 8 characters long.

This was a steady solve, with some good cryptic definitions, e.g. ‘make-up artist’ for AD-LIBBER. The purists though might not be too happy with ‘redhead’ as a definition for the President of the Soviet Union.  There were also two excellent reversed hidden words generating ERDGEIST and SPETSNAZ.

The clue for CHORUSED was very clever (Put something useful into practice? Yes and no!).  Equally clever was the clue for IRON LADY

Overall, I felt the clues in this puzzle were of a  very high standard.

Wordplay Entry
1 O (cipher) +  (PAT [reference Postman Pat] containing [carried by] QUE [that, in French] + S [‘s of that’s]) OPAQUEST (most cryptic)
9 A (answer) + TA (thankyou; I’m much obliged) + PINCH (steal) AT A PINCH (should need arise)
10 (RY [reference railway track] and anagram of [wild] KOALA) containing [bears] O (over, in cricket) ROYAL OAK (common pub name; watering hole)
11 Anagram of (fluctuates) HIRE-RATE EARTHIER (reference to 25 across, an earth-spirit)
12 DA (short for duck’s arse, a male hairstyle) + (NUFF [enough; sufficient] containing [brought in] DR [doctor, GP]) DANDRUFF (scaly scurf on the skin under the hair, i.e. it’s in hairdo) &lit
13 WAND (stick) contained in (in) ( R [right] + ANS [answer; solution]) RWANDANS (Africans)
14 Sounds like (audience’s) LATE ON BUZZER slow to respond in quiz) + D (day) LEIGHTON BUZZARD (town, and railway station in Bedfordshire)
20 GOULASH (stew) containing (eaten) H (hot) with AS replaced by IS (is not as) GHOULISH (gruesome)
21 L (first letter of ‘libertarian'; his own ‘first’) + AID (charity) + BACK (second) LAID BACK (libertarian)
22 ELEG (ELEGY [work of a mourner], without the final Y [short]) contained in RATE (class) RELEGATE (send down)
23 AD (advert; poster) + LIBBER (reference WOMEN’S LIBBER [campaigner] excluding [no] WOMEN’S) AD-LIBBER (one who speaks spontaneously or freely, i.e. makes it up; make-up artist)
24 AND (with) + anagram of (curls) (V [very] and POOR) ANDROPOV (reference Yuri Andropov, President [red head in the early 1980s]
25 Hidden word (regularly) reversed (wheeling) in IT IS LIKE A GOD FREE ERDGEIST (earth-spirit)


Wordplay Entry
2 PRO (expert) + BABEL (mix of tongues, with the L [Latin] moved above E [English]) PROBABLE (likely; on the cards)
3 QUA (as) + N (new) + DOING (sufficing, excluding the middle letter [middle leaves] I) QUANDONG (Australian tree)
4 ELO (reference Electric Light Orchestra, a seventies rock band) + QUEEN (excluding, dropping E [English]) + T (tenor)

ELOQUENT (vocal)

5 Anagram of (should be repaired) A RACK EVEN HE FELT TAKE FRENCH LEAVE (depart suspiciously; bunk off)
6 Hidden word (bottling) reversed (revolutionary) in …partiZAN STEP Sideways…. SPETSNAZ (secret intelligence unit in the former Soviet Union)
7 I (one) + (NADA [nil] containing FIT [match] reversed [is over]) INTIFADA (rising, historical reference, 1987 and on, West Bank and Gaza)
8 USE (practice) contained in (put … into) CHORD (reference ‘vocal chord) (practice) – i.e. the opposite of ‘put something vocal into practice).  This is the ‘no’ bit CHORUSED (put something vocal into practice) – this is the ‘yes’ bit.
14 (EG [for example; for one] + B [brother]) conatined in (involved in) LEAK (escape) LEG BREAK (a type of delivery in cricket)
15 Anagram of (turns) (A [first letter of [leader in] adversity) and I (one) and ROUNDLY (excluding [rejecting] U) IRON LADY (reference Margaret Thtacher, a leader in adversity who roundly rejected U-turns) &Lit  lue
16 GOOD is held in MarGO O’Donnell, so Margo O’Donnel does ……. HOLD GOOD (does apply)
17 UN (French [Lorraine] for ‘a’) + TIT (bird) + LED (being pulled) UNTITLED (Not a Lord; Lord, no!)
18 (BA [British Airways {airline}] + BIZ [business]) all reversed (looking up) containing [covering] M (miles) + WE ZIMBABWE (country; land)
19 RAT (scoundrel) + CHESTS (boxes, excluding [out] S [seconds]) RATCHETS (winds up using teeth)

6 Responses to “Independent 7357 (Saturday Prize Puzzle) by Bannsider”

  1. jmac says:

    A wonderfully devious puzzle. In addition to the clues mentioned by Duncan in his preamble (especially CHORUSED), I particularly like HOLD GOOD. If only all crosswords were this stimulating.

  2. Allan_C says:

    Yes, a satisfying challenge. A bit disappointed (if that’s the right word) though that it didn’t turn out to be a pangram.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Yes, this was one the best puzzles to have appeared in the Indy, I thought – esp liked LAID BACK, ERDGEIST, INTIFADA, CHORUSED, LEG BREAK, HOLD GOOD, UNTITLED. It was particularly impressive that unfamiliar words were clued so clearly and precisely that they could be eventually deduced without doubt from wordplay. A little easier than previous Bannsider puzzles, I thought, tho hard by Indy general standards. Would not worry too much about the pangram element.

  4. Mike Laws says:

    Pangrams aren’t that hard to construct, with a little patience, even avoiding obscure words. Dipangrams are trickier, but by no means impossible. I did a few, on grids that were part of the particular paper’s standard set, but was teased by one particular solver for tucking the awkward letters away in unchecked squares. The only thing I could do to “appease” him was a puzzle in which at least one of the occurrences of each letter was in an cross-checked square, which arguably could be described as a “tripangram”, on the grounds that each letter occurred in three different words.

    Then I decided to give up, before it became too obsessive!

    Anyway, enough waffling. Thanks to Bannsider for a superb crossword, ideally judged for a Saturday prize puzzle.

  5. Bannsider says:

    I remember the puzzle you mention, Mike, I think: in a Times Championship final, I believe (I was safely hiding away in the audience!).
    In fact one or two may remember this grid, a refugee from the Times, which I always found intriguing as a solver, and which is not the easiest to fill with reasonable words. I am therefore relieved to find that solvers don’t appear to have found it as difficult as I feared. As for making it a pangram, maybe next time :-)

  6. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    A tough challenge which I enjoyed. I remember this grid from the Times puzzles around 8 years ago. As well as possibly being hard to fill, it’s slightly “cornery” – although the two central long answers are well-checked, once you’ve got them the puzzle falls into four quarters and you can get rather stuck if one of them is putting up a fight. So I think the Times xwd editor who ditched this grid (probably Mike Laws) did the right thing.

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