Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,568 / Tyrus – You’re fired!

Posted by RatkojaRiku on January 18th, 2011


This was my first attempt a blogging at puzzle set by Tyrus and it proved a real teaser. Is it just me or do others find that when they have to blog a puzzle, suddenly the fear of not completing it at all sets in and their solving times go through the roof?

Anyway, it was only when I was on the home straight in terms of the number of clues solved that “our hero” was unmasked, even though his age (answer at 32) had revealed itself to me early on. The task was not made any easier by the fact that the grid contained a large number of short entries: two 3-letter words and as many as ten 4-letter words. 11 and 16 were new words for me, and my favourite clue, not at all related to the theme of the puzzle, was 23.

In Indy grids that have no complete entries around their perimeter, I have learnt to keep my eyes peeled for hidden messages. Eventually, I spotted BAGGS down the right hand side of the grid and then realised that the reference was to the latest series of The Apprentice (answer at 8) on BBC1, where self-made millionaire Alan Sugar sets out to find an apprentice to help run his business empire. The full message around the perimeter reads STUART BAGGS AKA THE BRAND. The reference is to an unsuccessful 21-year old hopeful in this series, who dubbed himself “the brand” and whose annoyingly outrageous claims (no doubt what Tyrus had in mind in clueing 7 and 1) ultimately led Alan Sugar to utter the immortal words: “You’re FIRED!” Some of Stuart’s more memorable quotes are hinted at in the clues at 14 and 28.

Despite not living in the UK, I had been able to follow the series on TV. However, spotting the hidden message merely offered an additional layer of entertainment to a puzzle that could have been completed, if not fully understood or enjoyed, by a solver who had not seen the programme. Indeed, the unsuspecting solver is not even invited to look for any hidden message or formally asked to unmask “our hero”.

Entitling the puzzle “A tribute” and talking about “our hero” is a tad naughty on the setter’s part and surely somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I wonder if anyone else so young has ever been the focus of a crossword in the Indy or any other quality daily – I certainly hope that news of this honour filters through to “our hero”!

In any case, having negotiated their way through to a completed grid, the Lord Sugars of the crossword world would doubtless exclaim: “Tyrus, you’re HIRED!”

*(…) indicates an anagram


7 ALIENATES A + LIE (= an exaggeration) + NATES (=bottom, i.e. the buttocks); the clue doubtless alludes to the exaggerated claims that led an antagonised Lord Sugar to fire Stuart Baggs.
9 ARAB A + BAR (=boozer; “backed” indicates reversal)
11 INDABA I + *(A BAND); “arranged” is the anagram indicator; an indaba is a Zulu word defined by Chambers as “an important tribal conference” or “an international Scout conference”.
12 NUTS STUN (=shock; “reactionary” indicates reversal); the definition is “very keen”, as in “to be nuts/crazy about something”.
14 FOPPISH FOP (=“Field Of Poppies? To start with”, i.e. first letters only) + PISH (=that’s silly, i.e. the exclamation); the clue alludes to one of Stuart Baggs’ infamous claims on The Apprentice: “I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m not a 10-trick pony, I have a whole field of ponies – and they’re literally all running towards this job”.
16 MEU Hidden in caME Up; “carrying” indicates the hidden answer; Chambers defines meu as “the plant baldmoney or spignel”.
18 AREA ARE (=live, i.e. exist) + A (=“close to GranadA”, i.e. last letter only)
19 LARGE L (=Leader’s first, i.e. first letter only) + ARG(u)E (=row; not United means that the letter “u” is not used)
21 OLEG O (=nothing) + LEG (=on, i.e. the onside of a cricket field)
22 DOT DO (=perform) + T (=time)
23 TRAINEE AINTREE (=course, i.e. racecourse); “right put back to start” means that the letters “rt” (=right) are to be moved to the front of the word and reversed (“put back”); the definition is 8, i.e. (the) apprentice.
25 SLOG GO(a)LS (=ends; “without a” means the letter “a” is not used); “return” indicates a reversal.
27 ROMMEL *(MEMOR(ia)L); “without a current” means that the letters “a” and I (=current, in physics) are not used; “engineer” is the anagram indicator; the reference is to the famous German Field Marshal of World War II, nicknamed the Desert Fox.
29 INTONERS *(OR TENNIS); “squash” is the anagram indicator; to intone is to chant in musical tones.
31 BUST S (=“Smiling initially”, i.e. the first letter only) in BUT (=yet)
32 TWENTY-ONE WEN (=an enormous congested city, as in “the great wen” to describe London) in *(NOT YET); “working” is the anagram indicator. Stuart Baggs (=“our hero”) was the youngest ever contestant on The Apprentice at the age of 21.



1 SAFEGUARD *(SUGAR FED A); “spurious” is the anagram indicator; the clue doubtless alludes to the exaggerated claims that led Lord Sugar to fire Stuart Baggs.
2 TIRO *(RIOT); “could cause” is the anagram indicator; the definition is 8, i.e. (the) apprentice; perhaps the “a” is superfluous in the clue, although it helps the surface reading.
3 UNLAWFUL UN (=“at St Tropez – one”, i.e. the French for “one”) + L (=large) + AWFUL (=pants, as in the colloquial expression “That’s pants!” to indicate that something is considered worthless)
4 ASSISI AS (=when) + ISIS (=river, i.e. the River Thames at Oxford; “rises” indicates a reversal)
5 RAID RA(b)ID (=like mad dog); “that’s heartless” means the middle letter “b” is to be dropped.
6 TABBY TAB (=bill, as in “to put something on the tab”) + BY (=close to)
8 THE APPRENTICE Cryptic definition: “show” is to be read as “programme”; see introduction to the blog above.
13 SMART S (=succeeded) + MART (=market)
15 HOOTS (s)HOOTS (=films); “S—– going” means the letter “s” is to be dropped.
17 SEBORRHEA *(HEAR ROBES); “disguised” is the anagram indicator; the reference is to “American’s skin condition” since the British spelling would be seborrhoea.
20 EDENTATA EDEN (=garden) + TA-TA (=vale, i.e. the Latin for farewell); edentata are an order of mammals having no front teeth, or teeth at all, such as sloths and anteaters.
24 ARLOTT Homophone of “(h)arlot” (=pro, i.e. prostitute); “Cockney” indicates that the “h” will not be pronounced; “in conversation” is the homophone indicator; the reference is to the late cricket commentator John Arlott.
26 TOQUE *(QUOTE); “fanciful” is the anagram indicator; Chambers defines toque as “a 16c form of cap or turban”, hence “old hat”.
28 MYTH M(asculinit)Y (=“extreme MasculinitY”, i.e. the first and last letters only are to be used) + TH(at) (=“THat’s not half”; i.e. only half the letters are to be used); the clue alludes to another of Stuart Baggs’ infamous claims on The Apprentice: “I have to rein in my own extreme masculinity in this task”.
30 NOOK NO (=lack of) + OK (=support)

18 Responses to “Independent 7,568 / Tyrus – You’re fired!”

  1. Wanderer says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for an excellent blog on a wonderfully inventive and humorous puzzle. The theme was a delight, but apart from this it contained several words unknown to me (SEBORRHEA, INDABA, EDENTATA, MEU) which were so clearly clued that they all fell into place without any trouble once a few crossing letters were there. This one had everything I most enjoy in a crossword. Hats off to Tyrus.

  2. flashling says:

    Yes as a fellow blogger I always fear getting a killer puzzle – it happened to me early on with a Nimrod. I would have hated to do this one, I never watched the apprentice and some very unusual words too. So well done! after a good start I really went nowhere with this.

  3. Lenny says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku. I have never seen The Apprentice. I agree with you on two counts: this puzzle can be completed but not enjoyed by someone who has never seen the programme. I found it tedious in the extreme. I have not been so annoyed since I did a Paul crossword themed on Spongebob Squarepants. The message round the periphery did help me to finish though. It gave me the initial R that enabled me to engineer Rommel.

  4. Richard says:

    I managed to get there in the end, after a great deal of head-scratching, but I didn’t find the Nina much help as I’d never heard of him.

  5. Stella says:

    Brilliant blog, RatkojaRiku. I haven’t seen the programme – I wouldn’t even if I lived in the UK – so the introduction ‘a tribute’ at least warned me to look for something specific. As you say, the loose letters round the edge indicated that the theme was there, and I didn’t take long to find Stuart.

    It took me longer, and several crossing letters, to get 8d, which I’d heard of only vaguely, but the two and Google led me to Mr. Baggs. He sounds like an obnoxious young gentleman, though I think such excessive self-confidence may be due to his age, and that life, up to now, has offered him few setbacks.

    This was a great puzzle, the many unknown words clearly clued, and your explanations are clear and pertinent.

    Just one thing: at 23ac it’s ‘rt’ that’s put back to the beginning, reversed, not just ‘r’

  6. Eileen says:

    Congratulations, RatkojaRiku, on an excellent blog!

    I’m with flashling in his thoughts about blogging this one.

    I’ve always enjoyed Tyrus’ puzzles and, initially, was very disappointed with this one, partly because I got 8dn early on and so realised that the theme had no interest for me and then, when I got as far as finding the Nina [yes, me!] and googled ‘our hero’, that Tyrus had bothered to expend time and ingenuity to give yet more publicity to this young man. [Stella’s ‘obnoxious’ was the epithet that sprang to my mind, too.]

    When your excellent blog highlighted more details that made it clear that Tyrus was having a real go at him and that the ‘tribute’ [which I had half-hoped might be to Martin Luther King, a day late] and ‘our hero’ were ironic, I was somewhat mollified. Unfortunately, though, people who are so full of themselves as this hero appears to be seldom realise when they’re being satirised.

    Many thanks for the puzzle, Tyrus. I won’t say I ‘enjoyed’ it, in the usual sense, while solving, but I admired the ingenuity of the cluing and, now all is explained, I appreciate the wit. I suspect you had great fun compiling this one! :-)

  7. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks, Stella, for the clarification – trust me to fluff blogging my favourite clue! The explanation is clear now for later readers. One final read-through before posting would have helped, but my lunch break was drawing to a close …

    I haven’t heard the expression Nina before, although I can infer what it means from the comments: any idea where the term comes from?

    Yes, Eileen – I too wondered if Martin Luther King was to be our hero, albeit a day late!

  8. flashling says:

    RatkojaRiku, you’re an Indy blogger who’s not come across Nina before?? They are probably too common here. It comes from a cartoonist who used to hide his daughter’s name – Nina – in his drawings.

    Still, thanks for the effort required for this, much appreciated and to Tyrus too – even if I was less than impressed by the theme.

  9. nmsindy says:

    I’d heard of the programme and and of Alan Sugar, mentioned in a clue, but was not familiar with the particular contestant (if that is the right word). The name STUART emerging helped me to finish the puzzle despite this lack of knowledge. I then Googled to confirm and later tested it out on someone else who I found knew all about it. There were some very good clues in this and also as someone else remarked straightforward clues for the unfamiliar words.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, RatkojaRiku, for your blog.

    Tyrus has kindly offered to join us in ten or so days’ time at our Derby get-together and I’m really looking forward to meeting him; if he does beer I will buy him one.

    But I’m still going to have a chunter and give him (and the Editor) a hard time over this puzzle: what the chuff was this all about? Maybe this is the Indy’s attempt to appeal to a younger audience?

    The theme was bad enough, but then to have clues related to stuff that some unknown parvenu (hero?) has uttered on supposedly ‘primetime’ television is beyond the pale. I found this hard but stuck at it because I thought it might provide a pleasing dénouement. It didn’t.

    Bah, humbug.

    On a positive note, I liked ARLOTT.

  11. jetdoc says:

    I didn’t find this too difficult to solve, despite never having heard of this bloke and therefore missing all the thematic allusions. I spotted STUART and sort of assumed it must be about a footballer. No complaints, but also no pleasing penny-drop moment.

  12. pennes says:

    Shouldn’t 28 ac be “extremes of Masculinity” so as to use both the M and The Y; The surface reading is not as good, but surely an extreme is either M or Y?

  13. Paul B says:

    Al Hirschfeld is the cartoonist in question.

  14. flashling says:

    Thanks PB couldn’t remember the name. Whilst impressed at the setter’s skills I just didn’t really enjoy this.

  15. Jack Aubrey says:

    This excellent blog has shown me how clever a lot of this was. But I’m afraid I’m in the GOM camp on this one. Most of it succumbed with the post-run coffee but the theme and the references mostly went over my head and it all felt a bit of a 23 ac.

    Apropos of absolutely nothing, on the return leg of the run through Leith Docks I passed an oil support vessel with the impenetrable name of “Mermaid Endurer”. The temptation to ask “how many letters?” was quite strong……..

  16. Tyrus says:

    Thanks to RatkojaRiku for the excellent blog and explanations of the thematic references; to everyone who took the trouble to comment; and above all to ‘our hero’ for all the entertainment he provided.

  17. Scarpia says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku.
    Great puzzle,awful theme.Saying which I managed to solve(and enjoy) it despite having absolutely no knowledge(or interest) in the theme.Apart from 32,which was easily gettable from wordplay,other references were to the meaning of apprentice rather than the programme itself,so no complaints there.
    I guessed there would be a Nina,but didn’t bother looking for it until the grid was complete as I knew it would be meaningless to me.
    16 and 17 were new words for me,COD 3 down.

    Jack@15 – Airmen murdered?

  18. RatkojaRiku says:

    @ pennes: I take your point about “masculinity”, but I would imagine that Tyrus was keen to make sure we recognised Stuart’s quote, hence a little bit of poetic licence in the clueing.

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