Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7403/Merlin

Posted by John on July 8th, 2010


A pleasant (but long — 35 clues) solve today from Merlin, although as is usual one or two seem a bit odd. The grid is very strange, in that there is a word (not actually a word) that could be clued but isn’t (but see 9dn below).

Rather a clever Nina, although I’m not sure of the identity of the one at the top left: top right is Cheshire, bottom right is Felix, bottom left is Macavity (from T.S. Eliot) and top left is I think Tiber. Will look this up on Google in due course. No, can’t find it, so offers open.

1 BIT CHER Y — I think — presumably Cher is an actress although isn’t she better-known as a singer?
10 RO{lling Stones} STRUM
11 ISMAILI — 1 (Islam)* I, an &lit.
12 BAG — 2 defs
13 HEEL BAR — refers to the snob used by shoemakers
14 IN GLOBE — a Miltonian word, according to Chambers — shouldn’t this have been signposted? Few would think of this as a word
15 SNAPPING TURTLES — snapping (= photographing) t ((result)* — never heard of them, although I can imagine
19 DOH — 2 defs — whenever Homer appears nowadays one expects The Simpsons
20 PUSS IN THE CORNER — refers to the fact that there is a cat around each of the corners of the completed grid — never heard of the game
25 SITCOMS — Sims around Oct(rev.) — she didn’t immediately come to mind — the only Joan I could think of was Kempson and she’s Rachel Kempson anyway. Like that thing The Times does now — Name That Joan(Sid/Bill/Kim/…) — I’ve seldom heard of half the people there and suspect the bottom of the barrel is sometimes being scraped
26 ICE CUBE — I suppose ice=hit, and a cube is a third power — even I know that Ice Cube is a rapper
28 QED — 2 defs, although the theory of charges one was a bit of a struggle — apparently it stands for quantum electrodynamics as well
29 fulMAR ABOUt
30 DASHIKI — (kid has 1)* (thanks Twiddlepin)
32 TENERIFE — (teen)* rife
1 SlumBER THere
2 TESSERA — (Ares set)rev.
3 HARD BOP — had never heard of it although Chambers gives it — and is a harmonica a harp? Surely not — well yes, a harp includes the set of harmonicas, so does this make it OK? Not sure
4 REMBRANDTESQUE — (quarter men’s bed)*
6 ARMIGER — MIG in (rear)* — pity that ‘arm’ was repeated
9 PIG IN THE MIDDLE — and that explains the strange non-word — shown ‘up’ it is HOG
15 SOP — (po’s)rev.
16 PAS — (sap)rev.
17 TAR — 2 defs
18 S(1)R — although I initially thought of Sri, which isn’t actually a teacher anyway
21 SATURN V — urn in (vast)* — rather a strange anagram indicator
22 IN ORBIT — 1 (Briton)*
23 O(VERSE)E — not the usual meaning
24 NAUTILI — “naughty lie”, although some would dislike this pronunciation and have it as “naughty lee”, which of course is no good here
25 SUMAC — (Camus)rev.
27 E(XI)LE{ven}

14 Responses to “Independent 7403/Merlin”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi John
    The fourth cat is TIBERT. Regarding 3dn, Chambers gives ‘harp’ as an informal term for ‘harmonica’.

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Just to expand a little on my previous comment, Tibert is a constable cat from Reynard the Fox, a medieval French folktale.

  3. Twiddlepin says:

    30a should be DASHIKI

    I thought the HOG thing was rather neat.

  4. Conrad Cork says:

    3 down. At last, a musical reference made for me (and perhaps Tees?). Thanks Merlin.

  5. IanN14 says:

    Never heard of the game at 20ac, but managed to spot the theme, even Tibert; I’m well up on 12th/13th Century folk tales written in Old French. Aren’t we all?
    (Not really, but I know how to use Google).
    It was only when I spotted what was going on that I realised it was pUss.
    Anybody else wondering for a second what sort of children’s parties Merlin went to?…

  6. Gaufrid says:

    You are not alone in not having heard of 20ac. Perhaps this is not surprising as the reference (note the date!) quoted in the relevant Wikipedia article is:

    Boys’ Own Book; A Complete Encyclopedia of Athletic, Scientific, Outdoor and Indoor Sports. With Illustrations. New York: James Millier, Publisher. 1881.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John.

    I managed about three-quarters of this today (an increasingly common experience, sadly). There were too many obscurities for my liking (and my ability-level). The theme is clever, I suppose.

    And yes, Ian, I went there as well. And my mediaeval French isn’t so hot to trot either.

  8. nmsindy says:

    I must say I enjoyed this, the Indy has a bit of a tradition now of being hard on Thursdays and Merlin came up with a very inventive idea. Quite a few of the answers were unfamiliar to me but I found I was able to work most of them out eventually from the wordplay only going to dicts at the very end. Three of the cats were clear, and there were not too many options for the fourth so I went to Bradford’s Crossword Dictionary, my source when completely stuck on themed puzzles like Inquisitor, and there was Tibert. So someone must have used it before in a puzzle.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    I actually studied mediaeval French – thirty years ago, bu it didn’t include folk tales, unfortunately. Not that it makes any difference, as I didn’t spot the Nina, just found the whole layout a bit disconcerting.

    Once explained, though, it’s quite clever. I’ll have to keep my eyes more open in future!

    Like Kathryn’s Dad, too many obscurities, though most of them were gettable

  10. flashling says:

    Well I suspected yesterday the Thursday would be a pig, and in the end was literally correct in places, I like the puss link including bitch. Trying to do this in a hotel bar with no dictionaries let alone specialist ones made this very hard. I’d always known the 9dn game as piggy rather than pig and as for puss in the corner, never heard of it but it was the only thing to make sense. Crosswords like this ought to come with a mental health warning. the non existent 16a dn (or should that be 22a up) was nicely done though.

  11. Tees says:

    Hi all. Amongst whom Conrad! Yup, noted in this fine crossword. 1954 … Walkin’ … Newport Jazz Festival …

  12. Scarpia says:

    Thanks John.
    What a strange grid!
    I usually solve Indie puzzles online and often seem to have problems loading the grid(am I alone?),so I tried reloading this a few times before realising there must be an unclued entry(or a mistake).
    Well worth the trouble though,as I thought this was a very good puzzle with a good number of obscurities – I love to learn new words.
    I agree 14 across should have been signposted as Miltonian.
    3 down – harp is a common term for harmonica in jazz and blues circles.
    Tibert – I knew from the connection with Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet(Tybalt, you rat-catcher… Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives).
    The headmistress at my junior school(Mrs.Slocombe) banned us from playing “Puss in the Corner” :)

  13. Jim T says:

    Great puzzle – very inventive.

  14. Moose says:

    Got a bit more than half and like Kathryn’s dad found too many obscurities and my O level French is good my knowledge of medieval French is slightly more of than nil!.I agree with Scarpia,it’s good to learn new words.

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