Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,552/Anax

Posted by Ali on December 30th, 2010


This was something of a tour de force from Anax. It was also incredibly difficult!

On an initial read-through of all the clues – which was something of a necessity as I wasn’t solving any – I spotted the various references to The 12 Days Of Christmas. I took a better look at the clues and noticed that the only missing element seemed to be the partridge. The grid was crying out for a perimeter message though, and once I’d seen AND A… in the top row, I filled in PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE immediately. This was a definite help, but I still found the rest of the puzzle head-scratchingly tricky. ALLODIAL, INARABLE and AERODYNE are 3 words I’d never come across before, and the clues for SIGN-ON, OXLIP and RAISE caused me all sorts of bother. All the clues are perfectly fair though and there are some belters in here (STEFFI, RED RUM and AUSSIE to name but three).

All in all, a cracker of a puzzle. Many thanks to Anax for a tough work-out on a slow work day ;-)

7 EUROPA – (UP OR)* in E(urope) + A
10 OCELOT – Alternate letters of pOaChEr + LOT
11 RECOIL – 1 in RE: COL
13 UTTERLY – [-g]UTTER + LY[-nchings]
15 TITLARK – I think this is TITL[-e] + ‘ARK (as in Hark The Herald Angels….)
18 ADMIRER – (MAID)* + E (Spain) in R(olls) R(oyce
20 AMPOULE – MA rev. by POULE
21 STEFFI – ST(umped) + EFF 1
23 RAFFIA – RAF (Pilots possibly) + *FAI[-r])*
25 CAGEBIRD – C(old) + 1 in (BADGER)*
28 OILING – I think this is [-b]OILING
1 AUSSIE – AUSSI + E(uropean)
2 NO-GO – ON rev. + GO[-a]
3 DAMSEL – Odd letters of MiStEr in LAD rev.
4 ALLOTTED – DETTOL _ LA[-d] rev.
5 POKE – Double def.
6 AERODYNE – DO + RE (notes) in ENYA, all rev.
8 RED RUM – Hidden in wheRE DRUMmer
12 OXLIP – O(ver) X (by) LIP (border)
14 RAISE – [-p]RAISE
16 INARABLE – I think this is ARAB in (LINE)*, with ‘for training’ as the anagrind
19 PENCIL – PEN + initial letters of Colour In Lake
21 SIGN ON – NON-GIS rev.
22 FOR ONE – F(ine) + OR (gold) + O (ring) + N[-ic]E
24 FLOP – FLO (girl) before (not following) P[-iper’s]
26 BALI – B(ritish) + ALI (boxer)

22 Responses to “Independent 7,552/Anax”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Ali
    As you say, a tricky (read damn difficult) puzzle. I think 27ac is more likely to be ALLO[w] rather than ALLO[t] and I am of two minds regarding 28ac. I can justify both [b]OILING and [r]OILING.

    Like you I found the Nina very helpful, particularly as I got it fairly early on from RIDG. I doubt that I would have been able to finish the puzzle without it.

    I parsed 15ac as TITL[e] [h]ARK but wasn’t very happy with it and wondered if there was another explanation. No doubt Anax will drop by later to confirm or otherwise.

  2. Tokyo Colin says:

    Well I am glad you two found this difficult. I would have said impossible without the check and cheat buttons. I missed the theme and nina which would certainly have been some help. I was pleased that I was able to finish off the last 6 or 7 unaided but would never have got to that point without help. Some of the leaps required were too far for me, e.g. Crack up to Praise and Sensationalist to Gutter. Thank goodness there was a safety net!

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks Ali for the blog, and Anax for another challenging nina-tic puzzle.

    Saw the references in the clues to “The 12 days….” early on, and guessed there would be a theme/nina somehow, not knowing what until later. Got the SE corner easily enough, then got stuck until I saw TRIDG in the eastern border, and that helped with the other corners, the last being the SW corner. But real satisfaction after one puts the last one in.

    I think you’re both (Ali/Gaufrid) right about 15A TITLARK. Favourites were 13A UTTERLY, liked “sensationalist” = “gutter” as in the “gutter press”, 21A STEFFI and 6D AERODYNE.

  4. Cosafina says:

    Um… Goa isn’t an island (2d). Maybe Anax meant Gozo?

  5. anax says:


    Oops. 2d was edited and the new version was a demonstration of me getting my facts straight. Unfortunately the unedited clue has slipped through – apologies for that.

    I was going to drop in later but am now toggling between this and watching my daughter blast every opponent in sight on the Warhawk online game. She handles heavy artillery very well for a 10-y-o. Anyway, for TITLARK my intention (after TITL[e]) was a homophone of ARC (electrically, a sort of short).

    Extra tease time: Will anyone spot 2 other significant ‘partridge’ elements to this puzzle?

  6. Ali says:

    Ah yes, given that I went to Goa on holiday in April, I really should have picked up on that error in 2D…!

    And thanks to Anax for correctly parsing the rather tricksy TITLARK clue!

    Looking at Chambers, I think 28ac has to be a deletion of ROILING. I’d never heard of the word before!

  7. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the blog, Ali, and Anax for the puzzle. I too found this extremely challenging and like others got a big breakthrough at seeing the possibility of the perimeter message. It still took quite a long time more to finish. My favourites were UTTERLY (I think the phrase ‘gutter press’ is pretty well known), RED RUM, and SIGN ON. ‘Tour de force’ is exactly right for this, Ali. BTW, I think the E in 1 across may be E = earth, rather than Europe.

  8. flashling says:

    Got the nina but got nowhere near completing this. Can’t yet see what Anax’s other partidges are yet, but NINA appears in the unchecked 13th row… Thanks Ali glad I missed this. Very tricky Anax but thanks

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Ali. Goodness, I can step back and admire this now, but I couldn’t get anywhere near solving it this morning. Managed about half, which didn’t give me enough options to spot the Twelve Days theme. Clever stuff, though, and one for those that like it tough (the puzzle, that is, and not the partridge).

  10. anax says:

    Oh, I can’t resist – and it’s only because of a couple of observations from Ali and Gaufrid; there’s a reason why the interpretations ALLO(t) at 27a and (r)OILING at 28a are right.

  11. 4across says:

    ouch !

  12. Gaufrid says:

    OK, I’m going to go out on a limb here as no one else has responded to Anax’s teaser.

    Anax, is it something to do with the letters dropped in the wordplay for various clues? I can almost rearrange them to give ‘partridge’ twice but have an extra ‘h’ (from 10ac) and am missing ‘ide’.

  13. anax says:

    Oh dear. Now I really am depressed.

    OK friends, look – it matters not a jot to the solving of the puzzle, but the clue at 9a was edited before publication. The original version had a wordplay device whereby an initial ‘I’ was removed from a word, but it was a bit dodgy so it was re-written. Somehow (being a silly unobservant git may have played its part) I replaced it with the same idea but requiring the removal of a G. This was NOT a mistake by the ed – it was entirely of my doing.

    The good news, however, is that yesterday I spent about £70 stocking up on festive booze. I am now going to console myself recklessly.

  14. flashling says:

    So partridge in pear-tree then. A very merry new year then Anax.

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I still have no idea what’s going on/gone on with the puzzle and its dropped letters, but spending two tranches of Indy crossword fees on festive booze is in itself reckless, Anax. I’ve enjoyed your crosswords this year and look forward to more in 2011, and of course to meeting you at the Derby get-together. We now have more than 30 coming! Never realised that Derby was so popular …

  16. anax says:

    Thanks Flashling, from a setter to can now sit at the base of said tree as the ‘never gets it quite right’ Alan.

  17. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Anax
    Is this why this puzzle has not been publicised on your website as others have been? ;)

    Please put us out of our misery regarding the other two ‘partridges’. Perhaps the original/replaced clues to 9ac and 2dn would help?

  18. Allan_C says:

    What a contrast to yesterday! Finished Dac in under 20 minutes with no assistance whatever, but today….
    I doubt I’d have managed it witout spotting the nina fairly early on and even then I was struggling; electronic help was not much good – it didn’t have ‘inarable’ or ‘allodial’ in its word list so a bit of hunting in Chambers and Collins was needed. Didn’t help that I was looking for something with ‘nag’ in it for 16dn. And having finished it I then needed the blog to understand some of the wordplay.
    With respect, this would have been more appropriate as a Saturday puzzle.

  19. eimi says:

    I’m afraid that wasn’t really an option this year, with Christmas Day falling on a Saturday, hence no Christmas Saturday, and the next is New Year’s Day.

  20. BertandJoyce says:

    We had to resort to a bit of cheating at the end but enjoyed the challenge. As soon as we saw the grid we were on the lookout for a nina but didn’t spot the references to the theme throughout the clues until later. An excellent puzzle – thanks to Anax and also to Ali and the rest of the bloggers for the explanations!

    Anax – are we still looking for the other references to partridges or were they lost in translation?!

  21. dram says:

    Well I must admit I gave up after getting just 8 or 10 answers but have thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog and seeing the solution. And had I had my wits about me, I did have enough letters to spot the Nina. After al it’s the stinging sensation in the forehead that’s so addictive.

    Many thanks for the blog Ali and to Anax for a superbly crafted crossword (if rather too hard in my book!)

  22. John H says:

    re #15 above….

    Thirty!!! I will have to do 29 more copies of the PRIZE puzzle I’m bringing, with an appropriate prize….

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