Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,491/Punk

Posted by Ali on October 19th, 2010


Time was a Tuesday blogger could rest assured that he’d be in for a relatively gentle Virgilius every other week, but with the master of the themed puzzle on a break, the overall level of difficulty of the Indy daily has definitely ramped up if you ask me. It’s good to see that the themes aren’t drying up though. Step forward Punk…

I had no idea what was going on with the Across clues here and so plugged away at the huge number of Downs. Once a few checking letters were in, I finally spotted ATHENS for G(reece) at 1A and the penny dropped. This helped fill in a few blanks, but I’ve never been the guy you’d want in your pub quiz team when the geography/capital city questions come up, so I still found this very tough in places. Hats off to anyone who knew MBABANE (Swaziland) straight off the bat, but this must have been a nightmare grid to construct, so hats off also to Mr. Halpern for pulling this one off. All good clues to boot, so overall a very enjoyable – and educational – puzzle.

8 ATHENS (Greece) – A THEN S
9 GABORONE (Botswana) – BORON in (AGE)*
11 STOCKHOLM (Sweden) – stock + M after HOL(iday)
12 MINSK (Belarus) – S[-hiver] in MINK
13 MOGADISHU (Somalia) – MOG + A DISH + U(niversal)
16 AMMAN (Jordan) – A.M MAN, i.e. the opposite of P.M woman!
18 MBABANE (Swaziland) – M.B.A + BANE
22 NICOSIA (Cyprus) – CO. in [-r]AISIN rev.
25 DAKAR (Senegal) – A.K.A in DR.
26 BUCHAREST (Romania) – C HARES in BUT
30 CAIRO (Egypt) – 1 in CARO[-l]
33 ISLAMABAD (Pakistan) – S(hilling) in A MALI rev. + BAD
35 LILONGWE (Malawi) – LONG + W(ife) in LIE
36 BERLIN (Germany) – Double def., ref. Irving
1 PASS – Double def.
3 SNAKED – S[-pear] + NAKED
4 WARM – WAR + M(ale)
5 LOOM – Double def.
6 DOWN – Double def.
10 MOSS – Initial letters of Migrate Over Some Swamps
13 MUM – Cryptic def./palindrome
14 ALB – Hidden in royAL Blue
15 URN – “Earn”
16 ARC – Hidden in virculAR Course
17 MRS – M[-a]RS
19 ARK – [-d]ARK
20 AIR – Double def.
21 EBB – [-aeroplan]E + 2 x B(ritish)
23 OAR – A in OR
24 ART – [-p]ART[-y]
25 DOCILE – COD rev. + [-n]ILE
27 CALF – Double def.
28 ARMLET – M[-usicians] in (LATER)*
29 EMBOLI – ME rev. + (BOIL)*
31 IDLE – Not sure on this one – ‘Rarely getting out of bed, perhaps, turn over’
32 OINK – i.e. NO INK
33 IOWA – I.O.W + A
34 DINE – ENID rev.

18 Responses to “Independent 7,491/Punk”

  1. nmsindy says:

    I think the turn over might refer to a car engine idling. As you say, quite a feat to construct that grid, thanks for the blog, Ali and Punk for the puzzle.

  2. Andrew says:

    For 31D, to idle is to turn over, as in a car engine.

  3. Simon Harris says:

    Bit of a cracker this one, wasn’t it. I took the same route (as no doubt many did) of picking of some of the down clues first, and trying not to panic about the acrosses. DAKAR was my route in, and I must admit to largely guessing by the end. GABORONE and LILONGWE were successful guesses, but I appear to have invented a city named MOABANE – though I reckon that was equally likely from the clue, if you didn’t know it.

  4. flashling says:

    Capital pun-ishment to be sure. In 7d you’ve got Jerkin + In. Must admit some of the capitals I’d not heard of before. Thanks Ali and the PunK

  5. jmac says:

    This was good fun with loads of easy down clues to give lots of crossing letters. AMMAN was my entry point for the theme. Failed on GABORONE and MBABANE, but was chuffed to get LILONGWE. ATHENS was my favourite clue. Thanks for the blog Ali.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Definitely a good fun puzzle. Same for me: get as many downs first and then once the theme became clear the acrosses went in, apart from GABORONE, which I could neither guess nor work out (dunno why, it’s pretty clearly clued). A very nice world tour, thank you to Punk and to Ali for the blog.

  7. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for the blog Ali. I was pleased to see the amazing number of three-letter answers going in almost one after another, something quite unusual, but very helpful in this case. Then I saw Islamabad, and realised what the P was doing . Eureka!

    Not much help, though, as I am another of those who are useless at Trivial clues involving capital cities, and had never heard of 9, 18 or 35, while with others, I didn’t know where they were capital of, so the initials given didn’t tell me anythingm either. I was tempted to go to Wiki for a list, but resisted, and eventually got all except the three unknowns.

    Thanks for the world tour, Punk. It was fun, despite my ignorance

  8. Joins says:

    if a playground smart-alec tried to trick you with ‘What’s the capital of Finland?’ you could always counter with ‘How do you spell it?’

  9. scchua says:

    Thanks Ali for the blog, and Punk for a cleverly attractive themed puzzle. Most people proabably know it already, but I think it’s worth explicitly mentioning the cleverness of using the CAPITAL letter, so that the definition of the across clues reads as “The capital of ____,” followed by the wordplay.

    Got the theme and the device quite early with 25A DAKAR, confirmed by 26A BERLIN. But that didn’t mean it was then plain sailing. It still required some brainracking for all that, especially the “new”, geography (two of which I needed confirmation after filling in).

    Favourites were 8A ATHENS with the “in that order” = THEN device, 33A ISLAMABAD with “in recession” = reverse indicator, and 32D OINK.

  10. NealH says:

    I did wonder for a while whether I was going to get any of the acrosses. I thought of Amman first, but wasn’t switched on to the theme at that stage, so didn’t put it in. It wasn’t until I got Bucharest that I finally saw what was going on. But it was still a struggle to finish – I didn’t realize there were so many African capitals I’d never heard of.

    On a separate issue, I wonder if the crosswords are going to appear in the Indy’s new 20p edition. As someone who usually only does the crossword and rarely has time to read much of the paper, it would definitely encourage me to buy it more often.

  11. Lenny says:

    I may be missing some nuance here but, if 13D is just a cd/palindrome, surely the answer could also be mom or mam.

  12. Jake says:

    Nice one Punk – Great xwd once the theme dropped!

    Lenny I agree, I thought of mam, mum, nun, nan, etc… But mum it is, spelt our English way.

  13. Lenny says:

    Thanks Jake. I’m surprised that no-one has commented on the implicit sexism of the clue. Answering my own question as to why mum is preferable to mam or mom: it may be an allusion to the wartime slogan “Be like dad, keep mum”.

  14. 4across says:

    13D ‘mum’ as in keeping mum, ssh.

  15. Welsh pete says:

    Kept mum = was quiet

  16. flashling says:

    I did muse for quite a while on the mum/mam/mom but kept mum made me decide that way although with both crossing clues before the theme sunk in I was also looking at sis.

  17. Allan_C says:

    A late response as usual (just to show I’m not a lurker). CAIRO was my route in, quickly followed by MINSK, then the penny dropped. And I did know MBABANE as a friend once went there as a teacher.

  18. Dynamic says:

    Did a day late. Fantastic entertainment and learnt something too. Like many, got numerous down clues then found my way in via Dakar like a couple of you.

    Thank you for the blog and all comments, and especially to Mr Halpern for setting such a fine puzzle and scchua for pointing out that, for example, G is the capital (letter) of Greece, so thus also acts a cryptic definition to accompany the wordplay.

    It almost defies belief how such a grid was constructed, even acknowledging that it’s less fiendishly difficult if you restrict the themed answers to the one direction only. It’s rare to see so many down clues, thanks to the short ones. An astonishing puzzle that I’ll be sure to share with some friends.

    This Punk certainly went ahead and made my day.

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