Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7469 by Nimrod

Posted by flashling on September 23rd, 2010


Well I suppose I was due a tough one and in my view this was hard with several I can’t justify. There is a perimeter Nina whose significance I can’t see either. All suggestions welcome.

6 Closed Circuit – (Cold rice is cut)*
9 Sold – (i)S + OLD (grey whistle test)
10 Chequebook – Hom of Check + B(ishop) + OO (Chess match shorthand for castling) + (Krammi)K
11 Xebec – CE + BE + X (times) all reversed, an old Mediterrean ship
13 Dotterel – (Old sites)* A migrant bird, quite where Time Team comes in I have no idea.
15 October – Clued as Time, OC + to be + R
16 Entraps – Rev hidden in Friend(s Partne)r
19 Eclipsed – B(EE)b’s middle around CLIPS + D(irector)
21 L-Dopa – POD reversed in p(LA)y. Drug to relieve Parkinson’s symptoms.
24 Burgeoning – Can’t see this sorry.
25 Wool – WOO + L
27 Remote Control – in L + R, EMOTE + CON + T + R.O.

1 ICAO Acronym for the International Civil Aviation Organization. Hidden reversed in Amin(o aci)ds
2 Toodle-oo – oo for spectacles, can’t see this one.
3 Teach – (The)* around AC
4 Irrupting – Act of breaking in. NIT + PURR reversed in IT, don’t the Jerry Fighter though.
5 Cumber – C(harlie) + UMBER
7 Coelom – A cavity in the body, pronounced Seel-om so hom. of See + (Herbert) LOM
8 Toodle Pip – Again apart from the cheers bit no idea.
9 Sex – (Watche)S (th)E (bo)X
12 Exchequer – EX + hom of Checker
14 Deep South – Area don’t the link to La Scala though.
17 Red Dwarf – TV Comedy and a type of star.
20 Legume – GUM in General LEE
22 All – Cockney Hall
23 Agent – DangerMouse was a cartoon secret agent.
26 Oslo – O (love) + LO(ok) around S(ex)

30 Responses to “Independent 7469 by Nimrod”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi flashling
    Yes, you had a rather tricky one today. Here’s some help:

    13ac DOTTEREL T (time) TE[am] RE (on) in *(OLD) – “a kind of plover, named from its apparent stupidity in allowing itself to be approached and caught”. Is it fair to define this solely by ‘migrant’?

    24ac BURGEONING URGE ON (get behind) IN (fashionable) in B[yker] G[rove]

    2dn TOODLE-OO TO (closing) D (director) LEO (stars) in OO (spectacles) – ‘to’ as an adverb can mean ‘closed’ but I’m not sure that ‘closing’ is synonymous.

    4dn IRRUPTING NIT (fool) PURR (copy contented Tom) in GI (a fighter of Jerry) reversed

    8dn TOODLE-PIP OODLE[s] (much cut) P[roducer] in TIP (end)

    14dn DEEP SOUTH LA (Louisiana) SC (South Carolina) ALA (Alabama) are all Southern US states

    23dn AGENT A (one) GEN (news) [nigh]T

  2. Derrick Knight says:

    As usual, Gaufrid’s done a good parsing job. I didn’t see the La Scala wordplay. 7 and 13 my last two I nearly gave up on.
    What a week! A nice, gentle opener from eimi; an enjoyable struggle from Anax; even more wonderfully elegant clueing from DAC; this toughie from Nimrod (even the Nina didn’t help with my last two). Preumably the relevance of the Nina is in the word BOXES or TVs. I’m thinking it is a good thing I haven’t got anything pressing to occupy me tomorrow!

  3. anax says:

    I thought this was stunning. OK, Nimrod had to take a few liberties to get all of those TV references in, but what the hell – fantastic achievement. The perimeter will refer to all the clues having a TV theme with, of courses, “boxes” being TVs.

    Difficult to highlight favourite clues; I was just bowled over by the amount of work that clearly went into writing them.

  4. Gaufrid says:

    I’ve just noticed that 18dn is missing from the blog.

    18dn HELIAC A (one) in HELIC[opter] (Budgie not half) – a reference to the books/TV series about Budgie the Little Helicopter, not the TV series starring Adam Faith.

  5. flashling says:

    Realised I’ve missed 18D out:
    Heliac – A in HELIC(opter). Some irritating misses in the blog. Thanks Gaufrid for the help, quite why I thought 4ds remaining bit was IT not IG when writing the blog is mystifying.

  6. walruss says:

    Very hard.

  7. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Anax, I can genuinely understand you’re bowled over by the amount of work it took Nimrod to set a crossword like this – because it surely did.

    But, at the risk of being a bit rude [can it become worse after my (unfavourable) comment on the recent Enigmatist?], I do think Mr H’s brainpower is just two or three bridges too far for me.
    And, looking at the number of posts here, for a few others too.

    This is a setter’s crossword, not a solver’s crossword.
    Yes, thát’s what it is [and probably for me the thing I don’t like].
    The balance is not right.
    This forest was even more impenetrable then E’s Wood.

    (I hardly dare ask:) What is ‘I’ standing for in the clue for 27ac?

  8. Martin H says:

    “OK, Nimrod had to take a few liberties to get all of those TV references in, but what the hell”

    Sil has it spot on – a setter’s crossword. Hard work? Sure, but for whose benefit? Just so he can say, “Look, I did it!” It’s not just taking liberties, it’s contempt for the solver.

  9. Eileen says:

    This is a setter’s crossword, not a solver’s crossword.”
    I couldn’t agree more.
    Having given up on this one very early on, after resorting to ‘reveal’ in order to get started, and being met by unknown words and/or inpenetrable wordplay [dotterel = migrant?] from the outset, I was not at all surprised that practically the only people to comment on this puzzle – or, indeed to have completed it – were two fiendish setters themselves, apart, of course, from the gallant Gaufrid and Flashling, to whom my heart goes out. I can only say that, if Mr H had presented this as Enigmatist on Wednesday, I would have offered my blogger’s resignation forthwith.
    At least three bridges too far for this humble solver.

  10. Eileen says:

    Martin H

    I took so long to compose my comment that I hadn’t seen yours!

  11. Tokyocolin says:

    Hear, hear to Eileen. As always, very well said.

  12. Ali says:

    And there I was thinking I’d got the short straw drawing the Anax blog on Tuesday! I couldn’t manage more than 10 clues in 2 fairly lengthy runs at this, and I’m not sure I would have got many more even if I was still doing it a day later. Very, very hard indeed, but I’ve no complaints. Puzzles like this are what keep me coming back for more.

  13. Derrick Knight says:

    Sil, the I in 27 across is difficult, I agree, but I think I refers to the answer: I am being handy….or being handy…I.

  14. redddevil says:

    I always feel frustrated when I know I have the answer but STILL can’t parse the clue and that happened often here.
    I just got the feeling that this was set to say “look how clever I am” but maybe I’m being unfair.
    At any rate I enjoyed the ones I did get though still not sure where the ‘miracle’ occurs in 21 ac (it almost led me to M-DOPA).

  15. anax says:

    Perhaps a little bit unfair, redddevil.
    It’s easy to see a clue set like this as a demonstration of a setter’s cleverness, but for the setter it doesn’t work that way. I can only speak for my own clue-writing motivations, but I suspect that for many setters it’s quite similar; yes, we want to offer a challenge to solvers, but at the same time we want to challenge our own capabilities otherwise it’s a one-sided relationship. There are very rarely any complaints if a setter manages to cram a ton a thematic material into the grid – for the setter, doing this is usually a considerable task, but it’s not an attempt to ‘be clever'; rather it’s an attempt to give solvers an extra level of enjoyment.
    Getting lots of thematic material into clues can be even tougher to do. The message to solvers, though, is not ‘Look how clever I am’. It’s ‘For your entertainment I’m willing to take on a very difficult challenge’. A plain cryptic may take a day to set – a heavily themed puzzle like this could easily take three days, but the pay is the same.

  16. Martin H says:

    anax – your reply to redddevil somehow doesn’t ring true to me. You talk about an extra level of enjoyment for the solver. That could be true if the first level, ignoring the thematic element, was satisfactory.

    Definitions need to be tighter than Actor/Lom; GI/fighter of Jerry; to/closing; time/October; area/deep south; wool/cover in Country File; ‘Sites’ is not a fair anagram indicator, and ‘for revision the bill’s interrupted’ has no coherent cryptic syntax.

    What is ‘not close’ doing in23d, or is GEN the whole of ‘Newsnight’ and T the ‘close’ of ‘not’? Either it’s spurious – or its a stretch, and GEN is a dodgy abbreviation. ‘Episodes’ just about works in 14 where it refers to a compound unit, but not 26 for a single letter. And so on.

    With so much unhelpful clueing crossing letters are hard to come by and the difficulty becomes entrenched. I have no problem with difficult crosswords – ‘migrant’ for ‘dotterel’ is fair – but the harder they are, the more the setter has responsibility for ensuring fairness by scrupulously ironing out wrinkles like those I’ve mentioned. Sometimes the labouring of the theme can lead to pretty feeble clues as well – SOLD, for instance. or ALL (what’s ‘Everyman’ doing there anyway – just to make it look more complex than it is?).

    I take your point about wanting to challenge your own capabilities, but by presenting incoherent or unfair clues you don’t do that – quite the opposite, you forgive your own mistakes.

    Not that there weren’t some good clues along the way – 8, 10, 11, 16. More like those please.

  17. Gaufrid says:

    Martin H
    “What is ‘not close’ doing in23d, or is GEN the whole of ‘Newsnight’ and T the ‘close’ of ‘not’? Either it’s spurious – or its a stretch, and GEN is a dodgy abbreviation.”

    Gen is not an abbreviation, dodgy or otherwise. Collins has “NOUN (informal) information give me the gen on your latest project” and Chambers gives it as a slang term for “general information; the low-down or inside information”.

    The ‘not close’ indicates the removal of ‘nigh’ (close or near, as in the end is nigh) from ‘night’ to leave ‘T’.

  18. Gaufrid says:

    Martin H
    Quote: “‘Sites’ is not a fair anagram indicator”

    ‘Sites’ was a containment indicator. The anagram indicator was ‘esoteric’.

    Quote: “(what’s ‘Everyman’ doing there anyway – just to make it look more complex than it is?).”

    ‘Everyman’ is the definition. Without it there would only be the wordplay.

    ‘Area’ was not the definition for ‘deep south’. When you understand the clue the definition becomes ‘Area typified by Louisiana, South Carolina and Alabama’ which is quite explicit.

  19. flashling says:

    Well I’ve left this alone all day to see what folks thought. I don’t mind tough clues – it’s what we do this for, but sometimes the setter has to play fair. Long anagrams with no obvious anchor points and dodgy definitions are very hard. Imagine if you we just starting out and got this, you ask your mate who “does” crosswords how to solve it and find out probably only 5 people in the country know the answer, it’s not going to keep you coming back.

    Eileen, I must admit to thinking about giving up blogging here as I was failing to do this and in the end posted something, thinking that unless you play against the best you won’t get better. Didn’t help that I am suffering from a bad case of man flu at the moment :-)

    Leaves me with the thought, what makes a tough clue? One you can’t solve is the only real answer – the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Having said that, if I see Nimrod again against me, I might have to feign death to Gaufrid.

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I think, anax, what you’re saying in #15 is fair enough.
    We went through this crossword again, after today’s Gordius.
    Indeed, it is an achievement to write clues like these.
    Indeed, there is hardly anything to complain about construction-wise [if that’s a word].
    Indeed, several clues áre really clever in a positive sense.
    And I admit that I value the skills of Mr Henderson a bit more than I did yesterday.
    But yesterday I was a solver, today I was a reader [or, if you prefer, a person analysing].
    That’s a real difference.

    Let me tell you a story.
    A while ago I heard that a boy called Johnny would like to organise a TV party in his house – everybody’s welcome!
    I went there, only to find out that Johnny locked the front door.
    Why? I don’t know – perhaps he didn’t want certain people to be there.
    Anyway, the only way to get in was to smash one of the windows.
    Once I got in, I was stunned by the way Johnny had decorated his house – pictures of Eastenders, Sex and the City, Friends.
    Johnny said: take some nibbles, help yourself.
    Couldn’t find them though – they were apparently all hidden behind chairs, under tables, on the floor.
    Johnny was too busy talking to other people to take care of me.
    It all looked great, but I didn’t feel very welcome at all.
    I did stay for a while, tried the excellent wine [which didn’t taste well, though] and decided to go home.
    And Johnny? He thought it was a shame I left, but alas.
    It just wasn’t fun, even though I genuinely believe Johnny wanted me to have fun. When it doesn’t feel right at a party, I wanna go home – so I did.
    And I couldn’t stop thinking about the front door.
    Why did he lock it?

    Nimrod’s cryptic abilities are beyond doubt, but I still ask myself: for whom did he write this crossword?
    Not for the man in the tube, not for the woman enjoying her lunch break.
    I still find this puzzle a setter’s crossword rather than a solver’s.
    It feels like a contest in which the setter eventually wants to win.
    No hard feelings, though.
    The next Nimrod, Enigmatist, IO – I am going to tackle them all!

  21. Martin H says:

    Hi Gaufrid – thanks for those clarifications.

    23 – all right, but ‘gen’ (which I call an abbreviation of ‘general info’, but no matter) means ‘news’ if it means anything like that at all, and not ‘News’. Are upper/lower case distinctions regarded as irrelevant? If so that’s fine, at least as far as the rather loose connection in sense allows.

    ‘Sites’ as an anagram indicator: again a bit loose; the definition is more in the region of ‘locates’, and would seem to need something more to give containment, but I’ve seen worse. ‘…in esoteric old site’ might have been clearer.

    ‘Everyman’ is of course the definition, so he’ll have to go in the dodgy definitions section. He is explicitly an individual, representative of mankind. ‘All’ would be ‘everybody’, not the same at all.

    14d is interesting. The only cryptic element seems to be the majority lower-case letters (again) and spacing of ‘La Scala’, otherwise it is a simple description. Following the abbreviation and Zip-Code conventions in use in the USA, because we need to mix them, ‘La Scala’ becomes LA SC Ala. Does the ‘?’ cover that rather uneven transformation? Perhaps.

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi flashling [you should be in bed by now – all cases of man flu are bad! :-) ]

    I really did feel for you yesterday. When I was invited to join the blogging team, a couple of years ago, my first thought was, ‘But what if one day I simply can’t do the puzzle?’

    Most of us have days when there are a couple of clues we can’t explain – but then we come clean and admit it and, in no time, help is forthcoming. That’s all part of the fun.

    Yesterday’s puzzle was something else and would have been my worst nightmare. I found large parts of it unfathomable and realised that I would never have got the explanation, even having cheated on the solution. I was most impressed by your blog, especially considering that you’ve only done a handful so far, and by Gaufrid’s explanations of the answers that had flummoxed me. [ I had got the Jerry fighter though – hurrah!]

    “Leaves me with the thought, what makes a tough clue? One you can’t solve is the only real answer.”

    You’re absolutely right, of course. The irony is that I blogged Mr H’s Enigmatist on Wednesday without needing any help – but if I’d drawn yours I would have absolutely panicked!

    I hope you feel better soon. :-)

  23. Martin H says:

    Hi Sil – like you I went over this again today. I’ve read Gaufrid’s contribution, and I agree that structurally most of the clues are sound, indeed admirably constructed, often with great subtlety. What irks me are the many untenable or vague definitions which, as you perhaps meant in your story, shut out the solver, and are just there to make a nice surface or to support the theme. And that is simply bad clueing.

  24. flashling says:

    I’m not trying to knock the setter, just feel that for a daily crossword it was too bloody hard. What’s the target audience? At which point I’m taking nurse Eileen’s advice and off to bed.

  25. Gaufrid says:

    Martin H @21
    The convention in cryptic crosswords is to ignore punctuation, capitalisation etc., which is often only there to add deception, so I don’t understand your objection to this device.

  26. Mike Laws says:

    Apart from now irrelevant detailed quibbles, it seems to me that Nimrod had ignored the target audience, and produced an unacceptably self-indulgent puzzle. Flashing has hit the nail on the head – “for a daily crossword it was too bloody hard.”

  27. redddevil says:

    Actually I think Anax’s explanation about self-challenging seemed pretty fair to me and the point about the pay being the same was well made.
    I did find this very hard but then not every crossword should be targeted at every person. I wouldn’t want one like this every day – or even every week – but I did enjoy the clues I solved and appreciated many of the others.

  28. pat says:

    There’s NOTHING enjoyable in this, I’m afraid. I think I’m a typical member of the target audience – since I am usually able to complete the daily Independent crossword, but this one passed way over my head.

  29. Richard says:

    Sorry to add the adverse comments, as, like Pat above, I am usually able to complete Indy crosswords and derive much pleasure from them. I found this impossible and had to give up after spending several hours on it and before I had reached the halfway point. I fear that there are just too many obscurities here for it to be able to pass the test of being doable by an experienced and well-educated solver without recourse to reference books/the web etc. In my view, weekday puzzles should satisfy that criterion.

  30. Chaz says:

    Reddevil makes a really important point here: without a range of puzzles from beginner to hard things would be pretty boring. I didn’t find this easy either but never expected to and was well rewarded for my efforts by some excellent clues. The nina in this (and many other JH’s) are an additional reward for the solver.

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