Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7519 (Sat 20-Nov) Anax

Posted by beermagnet on November 27th, 2010


A Leo Tolstoy themed puzzle because 20-Nov-2010 was exactly 100 years since the great man’s death.

I started the puzzle early on the day and didn’t know this till listening to the Today program later that morning where there was his great, great, great granddaughter (I may have lost track of the greats) talking very eloquently about the commemoration.
Knowing this helped get going on the restart – I hadn’t suspected that theme even after getting War and Peace (after all that is a common enough answer in many a puzzle).
And, though I was on the lookout for a Nina in the unchecked letters of the top and bottom rows, it wasn’t till I’d finished that I spotted the TOLSTOY Nina down the central column. If I’d seen that coming it would’ve helped with several of those across answers.

When I saw it was an Anax puzzle I thought I might fail as I have for most of his recent puzzles, indeed I wouldn’t have got very far on a normal weekday lunchtime down the pub. But as it was a Saturday (and more particularly I was down to do this blog!) I didn’t feel too bad about using the internet. Armed with references to Tolstoy’s works I got there in the end and learnt a fair bit on the way.

6 CHIMNEY-TOP CH[urch] I (one) (ON EMPTY)* AInd: running. I got this from the wordplay helped greatly by crossing letters but here I find: An organ-pipe having a small open tube in the middle of the top plate, the effect of which is to sharpen the note. The same effect is sometimes produced in stopped wooden pipes by boring a little hole through the tompion. So now we know – well we do after looking up tompion .
7 HASP HAS (is the one with) P[ower]
9 MIGRATION MIG (Fighter jet) RATION (control) Def: Flight
11 SHIRAZ (HAIR)* AInd: fluffy, inside [erogenou]S Z[one] Def: Red, as in wine named after the grape variety (aka Syrah) that itself is named after the city in southwestern Iran near ancient Persepolis.
12 LOUIS D’OR I S (one shilling) inside LOUD OR (for – as F OR – F musical loud) the “apparently” in parentheses indicating all is not what it may seem – a little more helpful than just sticking a question-mark at the end.
14 THE COSSACKS Another of Tolstoy’s novels. (SKETCH)* AInd: Comic, around CO[mpany] ASS< (behind rejected)
Comic sketch about company behind rejected book (3,8)
18 HEAVIEST VIES (is competitor) inside HEAT (race)
Last in, after a struggle. Not sure why now – I just couldn’t think of anything to fit the “tongue in cheek” definition:
Is competitor entering race least likely to succeed as jockey? (8)
20 TROWEL [a]R[m] inside TOWEL (wrapped in cloth)
22 QUENA Hidden in uniQUE NAme. It’s an Andean flute. With one crossing letter I guessed the correct string of letters – to look up (thus clue solving satisfaction – low)
23 GOING DOWN (N[o] G[ood] GOOD WIN)* AInd: Spectacularly.
25 LAY HANDS ON (ONLY HAS)* AInd: Doctor, around AND (as well as)
1 JINGOIST IN (home) G[uard] inside JOIST (support) Def: Flag-waver. (Wordplay understood – finally think of the correct synonym for “support” – fitting answer appears – thus clue solving satisfaction: High)
2 ANNA KARENINA I didn’t twig this till I saw “Vronsky in 2″ in 19’s clue which made it a bit of a giveaway, but I had trouble decoding the wordplay. I think it is: AN AKA (an alias) containing N[itrogen] (gas), RE (enginneers – Royal Engineers), NINA (IN AN)* AInd: awful. But I’m not sure about “assumed” as a containment indicator:
An alias assumed by gas engineers in an awful book (4,8)
3 KYLIE K[ink]Y LIE (be – has to be, hasn’t it?)
4 TOWN HOUSE OWN (private) H[ospital] inside TO USE (to exploit) Def: Urban property
5/10 WAR AND PEACE (P[rince] ANDREW A)* AInd: Novel. then ACE (Great)
6 CAMISE IS Inside CAME[l] (stunted desert traveller) I had to check camise later to be sure but it was the first answer tentatively in.
8 PIERRE PIER (mole – as in a sea defence) RE (about). Pierre Bezukhov is a character in (5/10) War and Peace.
10 PRINCE REGENT C[aught] ERE (before) GEN (information) all inside PRINT, i.e. in print – published, and George IV was the Prince Regent for some time.
George IV caught before information’s published? (6,6)
13 FOG SIGNAL (FLAG IS NO G[ood])* AInd: waving
15 SAWHORSE AS< (while climbing), [roger]S (Rogers bottom) inside WHORE (prostitute). Def: Buck. I wondered about the definition till I looked up sawhorse and also found sawbuck.
16 CHEQUE Homophone “check” One of those “why didn’t I see it earlier” clues – I find homophones are often like that
17 OLENIN Ref Dmitriy Olenin, main character in “The Cossacks” (Ref answer 14). One of the last I put in and I would never have got this without having a shufti through Tolstoy’s works after discovering the theme. Wordplay OLÉ (cry of delight) NIN (erotic writer – ref Anaïs Nin )
19 ALEXEI A (first character) (EXILE)* AInd: forced. Ref Alexei Vronsky, Anna’s lover in AK.

12 Responses to “Independent 7519 (Sat 20-Nov) Anax”

  1. Duggie says:

    A superb Anax as usual with every surface smooth and clever devices galore. Pity I put in CHIMNEY POT without looking it up, otherwise I might have spotted the central Nina, though I doubt it. Perfect Saturday fodder.

  2. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, Anax, for the puzzle, and beermagnet, for the blog. Like you, bm, I had recourse to the internet for characters in W&P and The Cossacks but guessed AK. Must confess to not having read any of the three works named, though I did read Resurrection back in the 60s. Guessed the theme from the feature in the Indy magazine that day, but didn’t spot the nina.

    But how many solvers, like me, put CHIMNEY POT for 6a (having read the enumeration as 7,3 not 7-3), and wondered how it could be an organ pipe? Should have asked the organist about it on Sunday!

  3. Allan_C says:

    So that’s why I didn’t spot the nina!

  4. Polly says:

    I did exactly what Duggie did, and wondered whether the resulting POL was going to be part of Yasnaya Polyana. Good to have a Saturday Anax to work on after a long break (and a pangram to boot); a text from my brother said ‘Anax is on typically lubricious form today’. All I need now to complete my satisfaction is a Bannsider.

  5. Eileen says:

    This was a real treat, as to be expected from Anax.

    Just as I think I’m beginning to get used to his tricks, he pulls another one – 12ac was fiendish!

    Last in was 11ac, which made me laugh out loud – [and also say, ‘Why didn’t I see it earlier?’ – the construction was impeccable but I just didn’t see the definition for ages].

    Many thanks, Anax, for a lot of fun and beermagnet for a great blog.

  6. flashling says:

    Another victim of pot rather than top here. Failed to finish despite Anax telling me there was a Nina & pangram, got close but no cigar. I try to do crosswords without aids, but this was beyond me, I’ve not read any Tolstoy books which didn’t help.

    Polly, looks like you got your wish…

  7. Polly says:

    Yyyyyyyes! Haven’t ventured out yet, but will get skates on now.

    Eileen, I too was flummoxed by the wordplay for 12 ac. I’ve realized that, with Anax especially, one has to separate mentally the pairs of words that form a unit – Home Guard, erogenous zones – but splitting a short word into its component letters is something else entirely!

  8. nmsindy says:

    An absolutely wonderful puzzle, got the theme from the start, having read two of the books, tho had never heard of the third (The Cossacks). Did not know about the anniversary nor did I spot the Nina – I was another CHIMNEY-POT, I did look it up and of course did not find the ‘organ’ definition, should have pursued it further. Excellent clues esp HASP, MIGRATION, HEAVIEST, EVER, PRINCE REGENT.

    Thanks for the blog, beermagnet. Esp for a weekend puzzle research may be needed, even having read the books I’d not have remembered all the characters’ names, esp as they are Russian names that would not be familiar.

  9. scchua says:

    Thanks beermagnet for a detailed blog, and Anax for a well composed puzzle.

    Liked this puzzle: besides the literary figures there were Kylie, Prince Andrew, George IV, Buck Rogers (a motley crowd) and a bit of risqueness – 11A, 3D, 15D and 17D.

    I was another chimney-potter, and I (wishful thinking) thought I had actually found an organ pipe connection. 19D ALEXEI, obtained from the word play led to 2D ANNA KARENINA and the rest of the Tolstoy lights. But was finally stumped by 1D and 11A. Re SHIRAZ, I was looking for (hair s e)* since I interpreted “closer to” as (erogenou)S and (zon)E…usual problem I have with things like Z=zone (I would have got, eg. Z=zulu)

    There were many good clues, favourites being 12A LOUIS D’OR, liked “for”=”f-or”=LOUD OR, 10D PRINCE REGENT, a pleasure to parse,and 13D FOG SIGNAL, a great surface reading.

  10. jmac says:

    Thanks to Anax for a fun crossword, and to Beermagnet for the blog. Nothing to add to the above comments except to say that I also put POT until I spotted “Polstoy” and corrected it; and that the clever misdirection of SHIRAZ completely took me in.

  11. anax says:

    Oops – I feel awful for leaving it so long to reply; crazy couple of days I’m afraid.

    As ever I’m hugely grateful for all of your kind comments and beermagnet’s brilliantly detailed blog. If it’s worth anything, bm, the ‘clue-writing satisfaction level’ for 22a was also pretty low but, with it being an obscure word cross-checking a themed answer, I kept well away from doing anything tricky with it – indeed I hoped it would be achingly simple to solve.

    The CHIMNEY-POT/CHIMNEY-TOP confusion was something I hadn’t noticed until after the grid fill, but it was a delicious and unexpected bonus to see that the uncertainty could be removed if the likely Nina was spotted.

  12. Gai says:

    I just loved this puzzle. The clues are cryptic in the very best sense: not just a witless and clumsy subsubsub dividing up into single—

    (beginner L and french ET disturbed sleep REST)—letters!

    They are also very clever, humorous and are written so that each clue actually seems to mean something but never means what it says

    O Yes and I learned lots

    and now I’m off to find a copy of Tolstoy’s ‘The Cossacks”

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