Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,545 / Morph

Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 21st, 2010


A taxing puzzle by Morph which teased and entertained in equal measure. It is rare for a daily cryptic to put me through my paces quite as much as this one did, and I doubt that I am alone. I stumbled across some answers based mainly on the letters that were already in the grid and on the definitions, while their wordplay took me some time to unpick, e.g. at 21a. The entries at 1d, 25 and 28 were all new words for me, but I arrived at the answers thanks to the wordplay. My favourite clues were 17 for an inspired cryptic definition and 28 for its topicality. The trickiest part for me was the NE corner, the last clue solved being 8, where I didn’t spot the anagram for ages and was misled by the surface tense of the definition.
Incidentally, if anyone can explain the definition in 9, I would be grateful. My online version of the clue reads “Oddly absent campers on plots unlike”.


1 COMPROMISED OM (= sacred word) in [C (= “Clegg initially”, i.e. first letter) + PROMISED (=gave undertaking)]Om is a sacred syllable intoned as part of Hindu devotion.
7 PAD Double definition: (bachelor) pad = flat AND pad (of paper) = writer’s block
9 APROPOS cAmPeRs On PlOtS (“oddly absent”, i.e. odd letters are dropped)I am not clear as to the definition in this clue.
10 REMORSE RE (=about) + MORSE (=long and short of communication)Ruth= remorse, pity (archaic)

The reference is to Morse code, with its system of long and short dots and dashes.

11 OCARINA CAR (=motor) in *(ON AI); “shot up” is the anagram indicatorOcarina is a fluty-toned wind (i.e. holed) instrument.
12 WASSAIL W (=Welsh) + ASSAIL (=attack)
13 BESIDE THE POINT Definition: irrelevant; a lighthouse may be located beside the point, i.e. headland
17 ADVENT CALENDAR AD (=commercial) + VENT (=opening) + *(CLEAR AND); “transformed” is the anagram indicator.Cryptic definition is “seasonal Windows application”.
21 MONOSKI Definition: “a singular way to go downhill”, with “singular” reflecting the fact that there is just one ski used.KIMONOS = robes, with “cycling” suggesting that the  letters should change position, with the first going to the end, then the second to the end, etc.
23 MOUNTIE MO (=woman, i.e. diminutive form of Maureen) + UNTIE (=to loose)The reference is to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the popular belief that a Mountie always gets his man (“100% success rate).
25 TIMBALE *(LAMB) in T(r)I(p)E (“oddly”, i.e. odd letters only are to be used)A timbale is a dish of meat or fish cooked in a cup-shaped mould.
26 SCOOTER CO (=company) in *(STORE)
27 RID Definition: to free, i.e. deliver fromRID(E) (=passage, “most of the way” meaning the word has to be shortened)
28 MANUMISSION Definition: “Terminating restrictive contract”, i.e. release from slaveryA topical cryptic definition: MAN(chester) U(nited’s)  MISSION is to keep Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford following recent speculation that he would leave the football club.



1 CHADOR CHA (=tea) + DO (party) + R (=Republican)A chador is a large veil worn by Muslim and Hindu women.
2 MARIA M (=SondheiM’s last, i.e. last letter) + ARIA (=song); & Lit.The reference is to the song “Maria” by Stephen Sondheim from the musical West Side Story; published in 1956, this was far from Sondheim’s last song.
4 MASSAGE MASS (=service, in religion) + AGE (=period)
5 STREWTH STREW (trews=trousers;”with the end at the top” means that last letter becomes the first letter) + (fa)TH(er) (=”faTHer’s middle”, i.e. central letters)
6 DUMPS DUM(b) (=unintelligent, “largely” meaning the word has to be shortened) + PS (=epilogue, i.e. postscript)
7 PER CAPITA Homonym of PERK (=special benefit) + A (=one piece of) + PITA (=bread); “announced” is the homonym indicator; “pita” is an alternative spelling of the more usual “pitta”Definition: each
8 DREW LOTS *(LORD WEST); anagram indicator is “sacked”Definition: “let fate decide”; “let” is to be read as past tense, i.e. allowed
14 ENVENOMED EN (=Enrolled Nurse) + [EN (=Enrolled Norse, i.e. “another” nurse) in *(MOVED)]; “sneakily” is anagram indicator
15 PENDULOUS OU (=Oxford University) in PEN (=write) + DUL(l) (=tedious, “largely” meaning word is to be shortened) + S (= “Stuff principally”, i.e. first letter of word)Definition: swinging, as of pendulum
16 GAS METER Hidden in orGASM ETERnal; “record” is to be read as meaning “log, keep track of”
18 CHILEAN CH (=church) + I LEAN (=setter’s inclined)
19 LUMP SUM MPs (=politicians) in L (=left) + U + U (Union leaders, i.e. first letter of Union, x 2) + M (=money)
20 TEHRAN *(THE) + RAN (=controlled); “unhinged” is anagram indicator
22 SMARM M (=male) + RAMS (=sheep); reversed (“coming up”)Definition: fawn, i.e. to be obsequious, smarmy
24 TUTTI *( TTT + U + I); T (=tenor, x3), U (=you); anagram indicator is “performing”;Definition: “a piece for everyone”, i.e. in musical notation a section played by all musicians

14 Responses to “Independent 7,545 / Morph”

  1. scrunge says:

    Thanks for the blog RkR.

    I’m not surprised you couldn’t understand the definition for 9a because the online version missed out a crucial ’13′ at the end of the clue, ‘apropos’ being an antonym of ‘beside the point’.

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for a fine blog.

    There were some superb clues here. My top favourite was 1ac, a stunning &lit, closely followed by 17, 23 and 28ac and 5dn, with its ‘lift and separate’ Gor Blimey trousers, made famous by Lonnie Donegan.

    Thanks to Scrunge, too, for clearing up what threatened to spoil an excellent puzzle.

    And many thanks, as always, to Morph, for a thoroughly entertaining puzzle.

  3. NealH says:

    This was very entertaining with some adventurous and witty clues. I managed to get through it over lunch (just), so it wasn’t the hardest puzzle I’ve ever tackled but fairly demanding all the same. There were lots of nice cryptic definitions. I liked Middle Eastern coverage for chador, even though the unfamiliarity of the word meant it was the last answer I got. Seasonal Windows application for advent calendar was also brilliant.

  4. flashling says:

    Was quite surprised at your problem with 9 but Scrunge has cleared that up. Horses for courses, I got through this quickly and easily. Thanks RatkojaRiku. Think it was Ronaldo rather than Rooney ho said he was a slave!

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for the blog – first time I’ve come across your blog, and you’re to be complimented for its comprehensiveness. And thanks to Morph for an entertaining puzzle.

    I was going the ask the same question about 9A APROPOS, with that “unlike” suspended in mid-sentence, and thanks to Scrunge for clearing it up.

    Favourites were 23A MOUNTIE, with its indirect definition and its slightly spicy surface reading, 28A MANUMISSION, conjuring images of Rooney being freed from his (lucrative) slavery, and 7D PER CAPITA.

  6. Mordred says:

    Fortunately I still use pen and paper, so I had the advantage of the full clue at 9Ac. This led me straight to 13 which was then an easy solve. Nevertheless there was much to entertain and tax in a wonderful, beautifully clued, puzzle. 13, 17 & 18 were my favourites; I am speculating that nmsindy probably liked 28.

  7. Mordred says:

    Whoops! I meant 28 not 18 as a favourite.

  8. Jack Aubrey says:

    Must be subconsciously worried about my drains freezing….. I was convinced that 27ac was ROD (ie “clear passage” using rods) and “most of the way” – ro(a)d. Perhaps I’d best just go and check the outflow……

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for an excellent blog, RatkojaRiku, I needed your explanations for one or two parsings.

    Just a small quibble: a homonym is a word which has two different meanings, like ‘lie’, while a homophone is a word which sounds the same as another, but is spelt differently, like ‘flower’/’flour’.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the so comprehensive blog, RatkojaRiku, and to Morph for an excellent puzzle, a little on the easy side of average Indy difficulty for me. A lot of clues to admire, I particularly liked CHADOR, MASSAGE, PER CAPITA and CHILEAN. Yes, Mordred (comment 6), MANUMISSION was good too, but one of WR’s quieter outings will be hoped for in his next game – at Old Trafford on 26 Dec, weather permitting of course.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for another very comprehensive and interesting blog.

    I usually like Morph’s puzzles, and I liked this one. It fell into place steadily with some wit and inventiveness along the way. I smiled at COMPROMISED: seems like the Lib Dems have taken a bit of a beating in the Indy crossword recently … no political agenda here, obviously. I also enjoyed solving ADVENT CALENDAR, BESIDE THE POINT, and – from the wordplay – CHADOR, which I didn’t know.

    Robes for Kimonos? ‘Japanese robes’ might have been a help, but probably too obvious. ‘Ruth’ for ‘remorse’ I have come across before, but couldn’t remember it.

    Like Jack @ no 8, I too had ROD, and I think it works too: RODDING is what you do to clear a drain, which is a passage for water.

    Fine puzzle, fine blog. Mr Rooney will be 13ac on Sunday afternoon. We hope.

  12. Allan_C says:

    Surprised that no-one has commented that had the clue for 1ac read “Cable” instead of “Clegg” it would (serendipitously) have been spot-on for topicality!

  13. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks “Stella Heath” for the feedback on homophone versus homonym – I’ll bear that in mind for future blogs.

    I don’t know what Morph would say, but, technically speaking, ROD would appear to work for 27 as well as RID, although the latter is surely the more obvious answer.

    I was interested to read that fellow solvers had found this puzzle easier than I had, which just goes to show, once again, than crossword-solving is a highly individual affair.

  14. Graham Pellen says:

    A slightly pedantic point. 22D is RAMS< + M – male sheep coming up against male – rather than M + RAMS<.

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