Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7407 by Virgilius

Posted by nmsindy on July 13th, 2010


What turned out to be a very easy puzzle from the master, I’d all but two solved in just 11 mins, but the last two 30A and 18D took me another 5 mins, so 16 mins in all.   nmsindy weakness in films was a factor in 18D though it turned out to be someone really well known so got it all right.

Virgilius puzzles usually have themes/Ninas so with the grid filled I looked and saw (John) CLEESE in the middle row.   I know him well from Fawlty Towers and the odd film.    Then saw MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS among the answers.

Confession:  nmsindy has never watched that programme but has of course heard of it and of DEAD PARROT both of which appear also in the grid.     Went to Wikipedia then to discover that four others associated with the show also appear in the grid, Graham CHAPMAN, Eric IDLE, Terry JONES, Michael PALIN.    That’s an impressive amount of thematic material to fit in.   If there is even more that nmsindy has not spotted, would be happy to be so advised.

The clues as always from Virgilius were a joy.

* = anagram


1  COPY    P (page) in COY

3 SPAM    maps  reversed

6 JAPE    J (Jack – cards)   APE  (4 is PARROT)

9 ALL-STAR     Very well hidden in footbALL STARting

11 SUNDIAL     Sun newspaper,    LAID  reversed

12 MINNESOTA   (Maine’s not)*     Definition refers to Minnesota being in centre of US between East and West, I think

13 SWAMI     SWAM  (progressed in school eg whales)  I (one).   Hindu religious teacher I first became aware of from puzzles.

14 NASEBY     (Ben, say)*     Battle in English Civil War (1645)

16 GROUPING    GROPING (searching uncertainly) around U (university)

19 CAUSEWAY    CAUSE (reason)  “weigh” (to consider)

20 PUTS UP    Double definition

23 RAPID     P (power)  in RAID (attack)    fleet (adj) = fast = rapid

25 TIME LIMIT    I’M (twice) in (TITLE)*

27 Maurice UTRILLO  (French painter, 1883-1955)  ILL (not well) in (TOUR)*


29 IDLE   alternate letters (in odd positions) ie ‘oddly’  of InDuLgEd

30 DEAD    had to cycle mentally thro all the D?A? answers before seeing this, think it’s a double definition ie not quick  and ‘to get in touch’ – this I think refers to sport esp rugby union when the ball goes into touch ie out of play (dead).     Virgilius gave us a themed puzzle on the Ireland 2009 Rugby Grand Slam, if I recall.

31 BYES     This refers to extra runs in cricket ie that cannot be credited to a batsman B (first letters of Bill)  YES = OK


1 CHAPMAN    Definition:   itinerant trader    CHA (tea) PM (afternoon) AN

2 Sarah PALIN     First letter of first three words in clue and IN (elected)  & lit

4 PARROT   PAR (standard)  ROT (rubbish)

5 MASSACRE    MASS (crowd)  ACRE (some area of ground)

6 Inigo JONES    J (judge’s)  ONE’S = my, in formal style.     A usage that’s passing out of speech to use “‘one’s” instead of ‘my’ eg “‘one’s first opinion was that it was a clear foul”

7 PRIMARIES   (elections in US in lead-up to Presidential election)   PRIM (proper) ARIES (sign of the Zodiac)

8 FLYING    F (female)  LYING (not to be trusted)

10 TREMBLE    M (male) in TREBLE (high voice)

15 SCUPPERED    SC (namely)  UPPER (higher)  ED (education)

17 USUALLY     U for university twice   SALLY = excursion

18 Clint EASTWOOD     EAST (player in bridge)  WOOD (golf club)

19 CIRCUS    CIRCUITS less IT   eg Picadilly Circus, Oxford Circus

21 PYTHONS    (shiny pot)* less I (one)

22 AMELIA    Hero of novel by Fielding    A M (maiden, from cricket)  ELIA  (Charles Lamb, essayist and poet)

24 DELVE     V (5 in Roman numeral) in DELE   (order – from printing – to delete)

26 MONTY    Nickname of WWII victor at El Alamein, General Montgomery,  hidden in uncomMON TYpe  with an &lit touch as he was controversial at times.

23 Responses to “Independent 7407 by Virgilius”

  1. anax says:


    For reasons unknown I had my eye on the six unches across the centre pretty much from the outset, so did an odd thing and looked at the relevant down clues first; CLEESE dropped into place fairly quickly (as you say, nms, quite an easy puzzle). A quick glance at the acrosses saw SPAM go in straightaway so the MPFC theme jumped out at me. Yes, I was one of those boring people who took delight in reciting Python sketches to like-minded idiots and, oh how we laughed. For those unfamiliar, the Spam sketch was the one with the Vikings. Altogether now… Actually, no, don’t.

    An easy puzzle but full of Virgilius’ usual wit and invention – a joy to solve.

    (Bloody Vikings)

  2. Richard says:

    Well, I expected the Spanish Inquisition … (which is, I suppose, why they didn’t apppear).

  3. Colin Blackburn says:

    I got SPAM and then PARROT straight away. I guessed the theme which was quickly confirmed by PALIN. That CLEESE was in unches didn’t dawn on me for a while even though I’d scanned the (6) clues and not found a suitable clue. I was disappointed that GILLIAM didn’t appear.

    I almost wrote in LAUTREC “low trek” instead of UTRILLO!

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Where’s Gilliam? I want my money back, please.

    Unlike for nms, MPFC was a big part of my adolescence and I’m afraid that I too was one of those bores who would bring out a catchphrase at the drop of a dead parrot. This was as usual really a pleasure, and indeed on the easyish side (for which, after yesterday, Deo Gratia). Only got the theme near the end, though, but when it appeared, a smiley moment. Can’t pick out any clue in particular; it was the Python theme that floated my boat today.

    I think Virgilius is a stream of bat’s p*ss, personally.

  5. Scarpia says:

    Pretty easy stuff from Virgilius.Made even easier by having a narrow thematic element.This made otherwise quite difficult clues,such as 19 down very easy to solve.The answer is obvious from the theme and once you know the answer the wordplay is relatively easy to figure out.
    Nothing wrong with the puzzle but I think Brummie made better use of a theme in today’s Guardian.
    I prefer setters to concentrate on clever,witty clues rather than show off by fitting loads of thematic material in the grid,e.g. yesterday’s Klingsor puzzle.

    Naseby was mentioned in the lyrics of MPFC’s Oliver Cromwell song and Terry Jones also featured in their architects sketch.

  6. Scarpia says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @4.
    I know I wasn’t too complimentary about this puzzle but I wouldn’t go so far as to insult the setter! :)

  7. anax says:

    Hehe. Kathryn’s Dad merely meant to say:

    “You shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark”

  8. pat says:

    Finished the puzzle, but at NO STAGE in the proceedings did Monty Python occur to me. Is this normal?

  9. beermagnet says:

    pat: Definitely abnormal

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, anax, for the explanation – you knew what I meant, and I fancy Scarpia’s smiley indicated that he did as well … (and I hope Virgilius too!) Goodness knows what non-Python fans are making of all this.

    Pat, I’m with beermagnet, but more seriously, this was one of those puzzles where you could quite enjoyably solve it and be completely oblivious to the theme. I think I made the same point a few days ago, so I’ll go away for a bit now.

  11. eimi says:

    I’m not bothered about Gilliam’s absence – I never found his animations very funny. I’m more disappointed that the answers didn’t include Shoe, Megaphone, Grunties and Wankel Rotary Engine :-)

  12. Martin H says:

    ‘I prefer setters to concentrate on clever,witty clues rather than show off by fitting loads of thematic material in the grid’ says Scarpia. Absolutely agree. The solver should be the active party in the setter/solver relationship, not a passive admirer. Of course the solver applauds good clueing, in blogs like these for example, but that shouldn’t be the setter’s aim. He’s not some sort of performance artist. Virgilius/Brendan is one of the worst offenders in this respect. There were a few decent clues here, (12 for instance), but nothing anyone could call masterly, and plenty of lazy stuff as well: Three uses of University; ‘ I’m repeatedly'; and the blatantly obvious PALIN, MONTY and PYTHONS.
    Scarpia adds:,e.g. yesterday’s Klingsor puzzle. I couldn’t agree more.

  13. anax says:

    Scarpia/Martin – to be fair, themed puzzles are just a part of the overall mix and part of the pleasure of solving is to identify and use a theme where it exists. This should be fun for setter and solver alike. Isn’t the sequence of Klingsor’s plain (and excellent) and Virgilius’ themed (also excellent) puzzle a demonstration of the solving variety we all crave?

  14. Martin H says:

    I can see your point, anax, where a theme is well-used and not forced – I’m not against themes in principle. Where the quality of the clueing is not so good – as here I maintain – the theme does not make up for it, rather rubs it in the solver’s face.

  15. sidey says:

    4 really should have been THE LARCH.

  16. flashling says:

    Got Spam & Palin within seconds and the theme was set, thought there’d be more themed answers as Virgilius usually seems to get the whole grid alight. Or perhaps he did and I can’t see it. At least I completed it after yesterdays somewhat poor showing. Eimi the cartoons weren’t always that funny but as a director he’s made a few gems (and a few disasters).

  17. flashling says:

    Must admit the clueing for dead was a bit odd, not quick ok fine but in touch, I get the rugby reference but I’d never quite thought of dead being a word that potenially means the opposite of itself (give or take a medium)

  18. Mike says:

    I’m probably too late to share in the fun but here’s one that got missed: Utrillo featured in the Art Gallery sketch. “Well I think Utrillo’s brushwork is fantastic….Urgh! I’ve got Vermeer all down my shirt…etc.”
    I would have moaned inwardly about Virgilius using “university” too often but then I realized that he used it to refer to the same ‘u’ in two different intersecting clues. Thanks Virgilius I enjoyed that a lot.

  19. Tees says:

    Dead parrot, ghost theme – luvverly.

  20. eimi says:

    Re: Gilliam, agreed, flashling. Brazil good, The Fisher King wonderful. Anyone want to buy a half-watched DVD of Tideland or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?

    The customer is always right, but which customer? People who struggled with Klingsor seem to have enjoyed this and others found it too easy, but I enjoyed them both. You obviously can’t please all the people all the time.

  21. Richard says:

    I also enjoyed them both very much. In fact, there have been very few, if any, Indy crosswords in the 3 years while I’ve doing them on a daily basis that I’ve found to be at all dull, which is why I always turn to the Independent first thing in the morning and move on to the Guardian, FT and Times only if time permits. (I’ve seldom managed all 4!)

  22. Bazza says:

    Whilst it is extremely difficult to improve on this excellent puzzle, the addition of “BANGING”, “TWO BRICKS” and “TOGETHER” would have been the icing on the cake for me!

  23. Mike Laws says:

    A couple of quotes from Martin H:

    “… but nothing anyone could call masterly, and plenty of lazy stuff as well”

    “Where the quality of the clueing is not so good – as here I maintain…”

    I have only two things to say about that – b******s!

    (You’ve got two, haven’t you?)

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