Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,540 / Dac

Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 15th, 2010


In my view, a typical Dac puzzle: medium degree of difficulty, with sound clues that keep one guessing just long enough before resolving themselves in a perfectly satisfactory manner. I even learnt a thing or two, which is always the icing on the cake with a daily cryptic – the cricketer in 10a was unknown to me. Some deceptive wordplay, e.g. ‘doctor’ used as a verb in 24a, rather than as an anagram indicator or abbreviation. My personal favourite is 16d, both for the wordplay and for the Europhile sentiment of the surface reading.

*(…) indicates an anagram


1          JESUIT – JE (=in Lourdes I, i.e. the French word for I) + SUIT (=become)

4          PHYSICAL – homonym of “fizzy” (=sparkling) + CAL(m) (=composed, i.e. as an adjective,  “largely” indicates word is to be shortened)

9          HANGAR – *(NAG) in HAR(d) (=cold, “mostly” indicates word is to be shortened)

10        ENGINEER – double definition; the reference is to Farokh Engineer, the Indian Test cricketer of the 1960s and 1970s

12        DEBUS – sub-ed(itor) (=newspaper employee; “briefly” indicates abbreviation); reversed (“turns”); the definition is to alight, i.e. to get off a bus.

13        IRON CROSS – *(RO + I SCORN) + S (=small); anagram indicator is “ridiculously”; RO = Retired Officers

14        ROOM AT THE TOP – ROO (=bounder, abbreviation of kangaroo) + MATTHE(w) (=gospel writer, “abridged” indicates word is to be shortened) + TOP (=finest); the reference is to the 1957 novel by John Braine about social climbing in post-war Britain.

18        TURN OF PHRASE – *(SHERPA); one of those clever clues whose answer is a cryptic definition of a word in the clue.

21        THE STATES – T (=time) + HES(i)TATES (=delays; “one leaves” indicates the letter I is to be dropped)

22        DIEGO – i.e. (=id est, “that is” is Latin) in *(DOG); wild is anagram indicator

23        FLAMINGO – FLAMING (=burning) + O (=love, i.e. zero in tennis)

24        GIRLIE – RIG (=doctor); reversed (“turning back”) + LIE (=romance, i.e. untruth, fabrication)

25        ANALECTS – AN + C (=hundred) in *(TALES); analects are collected literary fragments

26        GLANCE – LAN(d) (=country, “most of” indicates word is to be shortened) in GCE (=A level); the reference is to the exams typically taken by UK students at the age of 18; the expression “look here” tells us that the entry will be a word meaning “look”.


1          JOHN DORY – JOHN (=can, slang word for toilet) + O (tiny bit of oil, i.e. just one letter) in DRY (=baked)

2          SONGBOOK – cryptic definition: number is to be understood as song as in “to perform a number”

3          IMAMS – first letters (“leaders”) of Islam Meeting At Mosques Sometimes; & Lit

5          HAND OVER FIST – HAND OVER (=surrender) + FIs + T (end of, i.e. last letter of, conflicT); an F1 is a fighter plane, the 1 being substituted for an I in the grid entry

6          SAILCLOTH – *(THIS + LOCAL); “manufactured” is the anagram indicator

7          CREDOS – RED (=socialist) in COS (a Greek island)

8          LYRIST – Y (=unknown, in algebra) + R (=right) in LIST (=catalogue of names)

11        SITTING TIGHT – SITTING (=session) + TIGHT (=drunk)

15        AQUITAINE – QUIT (=leave) in A, A (A=adult, x 2) + IN + E; the word “east” is part of the wordplay, since the region of Aquitaine is actually in south-west France.

16        GAME PLAN – MEP (= European politician, i.e. Member of European Parliament) in GALA (occasion for celebrating) + N (=new)

17        VERONESE – ONE in VERSE (=poetry); Veronese refers to the Italian city of Verona.

19        STAFFA – MAN (=(to)staff, as a verb) + A; the island of Staffa is part of the Inner Hebrides off the coast of Scotland

20        NEVADA – hidden in CanADA VENturing; reversed (“northwards”, used in down clues to indicate a vertical reversal)

22        DRILL – D (=initially Drug, i.e. first letter) + RILL (=running water); a drill is a furrow for the planting of seeds

16 Responses to “Independent 7,540 / Dac”

  1. Richard says:

    This was indeed a real pleasure to solve, although I did find it a little on the hard side for a Dac puzzle. I particularly liked “debus”, which held me back for ages until the penny suddenly dropped. [I wonder if anyone else made the error of initially entering “drain” for 22 down?]

  2. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for this excellent (début?) blog. It is very rarely I fail to solve a Dac puzzle but I did this time, no complaints, all is clear as you have explained it. Was stuck in the SE corner, not helped by pencilling in DRAIN for 22D.

  3. NealH says:

    I entered drain, although it didn’t hold me up much because I was kept in mind that there were probably other options. I found this more difficult than the last 2 or 3 Dac puzzles. I’d never head of analects and since I couldn’t work out whether it was supposed to be an + tales* around c or a + tales* around a c, I had to resort to the dictionary to check it. I also found girlie quite difficult, probably because it wasn’t the sort of word I was expecting.

    In 13, I interpreted both the soldiers and I as being retired. Soldiers is OR (ordinary ranks), so you get OR + I retired = IRO.

  4. Handel says:

    Also put in drain, and also didn’t finish – about half a dozen left. Great stuff as always though, 18ac was particularly smart.

  5. flashling says:

    @Richard/NMS yes same mistake on 22d which made the SE impossible. I think Engineer for cricketer rather harsh, he’s not exactly well known anymore. Anyway welcome to our bloggers club RatkojaRiku. At least you didn’t get a Nimrod first up!

  6. Stella says:

    Just a word of welcome, and congratulations on a very complete first blog RatkojaRiku, though I’m afraid I’ll never remember that name 😀

    Funnily enough, Engineer is one of the few cricketers’ names the did ring a bell – he was probably still around at the time I left England.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    First things first: RatkojaRiku, thank you for a comprehensive, well written and much-needed blog, and if this is your début on the Indy, welcome.

    Second things second: this certainly wasn’t your average Wednesday Dac, as I think is apparent from the comments so far. TURN OF PHRASE, THE STATES, HAND OVER FIST and ROOM AT THE TOP are classic clues from Mister Smoothie. However … I’m mad keen on cricket, but Farokh ENGINEER wasn’t exactly that well known (he retired from Test cricket 35 years ago). And DEBUS, GIRLIE and ANALECTS?

    The first of these reminds me of when I used to fly a lot in the USA. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, at this time we are ready for you to deplane.’ Translation: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please disembark now.’

    Third things third: I still love Dac and his puzzles in a special way.

    And yes, I also ballsed up the SE corner by putting in DRAIN.

  8. RatkojaRiku says:

    Many thanks for the encouraging feedback on my first Indy blog.

    @ NealH on 13: yes, I’m sure you have parsed the clue correctly. It’s amazing how easy it seems when someone else explains it, which is what these blogs are all about, I suppose – we all learn from each other.

    I was troubled by the position of the I, which made me try to explain soldiers as RO rather than the widely used, and doubtless intended, OR, which, incidentally, Chambers lists as standing for Other Ranks (military). When I googled the abbreviation RO, Retired Officer was listed as one of numerous alternatives, but Chambers does not list it. If only I’d seen that retired (=reversed) applied equally to soldiers AND I!

  9. anax says:

    A very warm welcome to the world of cryptic blogging Ratkoja, and thanks for such a comprehensive review.

    Time constraints mean I don’t solve puzzles on a daily basis but the Minx and myself were out Xmas shopping today and tackled this over lunch, solving time between us around 20 minutes. Excellent clueing as always, but the NW and SE corners took a long time to crack, not least because they were so isolated from the rest of the grid. I’d have welcomed easier clues here and much tougher ones elsewhere. Minx made the first breakthrough by spotting GAME PLAN, so the SE fell soon after that, and came to the rescue again in the opposite corner by adding JOHN to the DORY bit I’d settled for at 1d – of course, that all-important J allowed the corner to fill in soon after.

    I can claim to have not fallen for DRAIN but spent a long time with D in place and a puzzled expression.

  10. sidey says:

    Translation: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please disembark now.’

    Um, disembark, or even debark involves boats and strictly speaking a particular type of boat at that.

    Sorry, a bit tetchy 😉

  11. flashling says:

    Seems a lot of us went down the drain today, here’s to our lads against the Aussies. Did anyone really work out the Oz TU = green yesterday?

  12. BertandJoyce says:

    flashling @11 I am pleased to say that we did! Check out yesterday’s blog. Thank you google!

  13. flashling says:

    Sorry I remember that now, please forgive a poor little flashling who is battling with the flu. And don’t be surprised if I’m late on parade tomorrow. Could really do with a sub, but will try to do my duty.

  14. anax says:

    Oh ‘eck Flashling. You’re on anax duty too. Get a good night’s rest, eh?

  15. Simon Harris says:

    Another DRAIN here. Which prevented me finishing an otherwise satisfying puzzle.

    Still, welcome new Indy correspondent! I think you’ve inherited my slot, so a particularly warm welcome to you, and thanks for clearing up the two that I missed.

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi sidey. Don’t want to get into a tetchiness contest with you (I’d come second, clearly) but Collins gives:

    Disembark: ‘to land from a ship, aircraft, etc’. The SOED supports this.

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