Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,610/Punk

Posted by Ali on March 8th, 2011


I rarely get round to tackling the Guardian or FT puzzle these days (or The Times for that matter), so it’s always good to get a bowlful of Halpern in The Indy every now and then.

This was as entertaining a solve as ever, but very tricky in places, and even having got 26A early on, it took me a good while to finish as my Northern Irish geography is far from great and some of the non-thematic answers were very well disguised (19A being the best example). All the clues are perfectly fair though. Extra plaudits for the hidden answer at 5A and the crafty definition of ‘behind product’ at 29A!

5 ALB – Hidden in speciAL Branch
10 APRON – APR(il) + ON – ‘Chef’s insurance cover’ is a very crafty definition here
11 AVENGER – A V(ery) (GREEN)*
12 ALL OVER – [-g]AL + LOVER
13 OUSE – Cryptic def. OUSE = NO USE = PURPOSELESS
16 MADAM – Cryptic def,a MAD A.M would require a relaxing lunch!
19 SYNONYM – NY (state) rev. in SONY (record people) + M (thousand)
22/15 PORTRUSH – PORT (left) + RUSH (hurry)
23 LEAN – Double def.
26 BELFAST – Odd letters of LiFe in BEAST
28 AGAIN – AGA (foreign leader) + IN (elected)
29 DUNGANNON – DUNG (behind product!) + N(ame) in ANON
30 EGO – GO (try) following [-cod]E
3 OMAGH – MAG (issue) in OH!
5 ARMAGH – M in A RAG + H(ard)
8 ANTRIM – AN + TRIM (orderly)
14 SQUARE MEAL – Spoonerism of “MARE SQUEAL”
17 COLERAINE – COLE (Porter) + RAIN + [-fin]E
19 STRABANE – BARTS rev. + AN E(nglish)
20 MONOTONY – M.O (doctor) + NO TONY!
21 LARIAT – A R[-ope] in TAIL rev.
22 PSEUDO – (USED)* in P.O
24 GLOAT – [-quai]L in GOAT
27 ANNE – Hidden reversal in mainEN NAmes

15 Responses to “Independent 7,610/Punk”

  1. NealH says:

    I found this one of the easier Punks I’ve tackled. The presence of the Irish towns, most of which I’d heard of even if I couldn’t pinpoint them on a map, helped a lot. I liked 9 across, although the definition was pushing the boundaries of CDs. I also liked 20 and 10.

    I thought 19 was a bit convoluted and “similar unit” for a definition seemed a bit weak. I also wasn’t keen on 23 – one of those clues where you’re never totally sure there might not be some other word that fits.

  2. nmsindy says:

    Guess a puzzle like this will depend to some extent on how familiar solvers are with the names which might depend on where they live, but the wordplay was pretty straightforward in all cases. I got LARNE v quickly and that opened the door to the rest so it turned out to be quite an easy puzzle. Some very good clueing as always from Punk, my favourites today were MADAM and MONOTONY. Thanks, Punk, and Ali for the blog.

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks Ali for the blog, and Punk for a fairly easy puzzle, once the theme was cracked.

    3A OMAGH led to the reference clue, but after the more well known Belfast, Armagh, Antrim, I required references to confirm the wordplay for the others. Favourites were 19A SYNONYM, involving a commercial name, 14D SQUARE MEAL, and 20D MONOTONY, an amusing surface. I thought 9A URSA MINOR’s definition was alright – the “bear up” cryptically but fairly indicating the constellation up in the sky.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Ali.

    When I saw the first two clues with ‘town north of 26′, on the first scan, I suspected we were in for a North / South crossword, with 26 being Watford.

    However, I quickly got LARNE and the rest fell in without really needing the clues, although I did like the wordplay, especially for Dungannon! Having lived in Northern Ireland years ago, I did know the locations of all the towns.

    Re your last point, NealH, I initially entered IDLE for 23ac: Chambers has ‘vt to be idle or unoccupied’ and ‘adj useless, vain’, which makes perfect sense to me – more sense, in fact, than ‘painting’ as an insertion indicator in 18ac.

  5. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks, Ali – enjoyed this one a lot. Despite the thematic ones sitting squarely in a geographical blind spot of mine, was able to get there with some perseverance. Some good, fun clues in there as is often the case with Punk.

  6. Lostboy says:

    I couldn’t agree more about 23- I had “Lent”, as in a period of rest from something and no profit for something lent to someone….. , which meant I couldn’t get “Monotony”

  7. walruss says:

    Some dodgy ones, but also some quite good ones. I like the DUNG, which sort of gag is expected from this compiler. An okay puzzle.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I didn’t find this too difficult, although I only got BELFAST after solving a couple of the other towns. I was pleased not to have to resort to the atlas or the internet: I’ve only visited NI a couple of times, but most of the names were familiar to me.

    I too liked the ‘DUNG’ reference in DUNGANNON, and MONOTONY also raised a smile.

    Thanks Ali for the blog.

  9. flashling says:

    A lot easier than feared when I saw Punk and the geography based clues, monotony and synonym were fine lean as others have noted a bit weak. Somehow got all the towns and completed this on the train. A fine puzzle, thanks Ali/PunK

  10. Jake says:

    Good puzzle.

    I did need an atlas of NI to finish.

    Good xwd. But, still not understand the wordplay of 13A (n) O use ? Still managed it though with no indicator?

  11. nmsindy says:

    I think it’s probably meant to be read, Jake, as zero use.

  12. flashling says:

    Never been to the north, Eire yes but knew all the towns, maybe just my memory of troubles in these places, am I the only one to have trouble telling the audible difference between omagh and armagh? I know several of our setters/commenters are from Ireland but only NMS seems to have come here so far.

  13. ele says:

    Didn’t have too much trouble with the NI towns – Antrim was the first in and then it was reasonably plain sailing – but took ages to get the last couple of non-thematics like 2d and 23ac. Had to resort to the word finder when I got home for 2d in exasperation! Liked synonym and square meal in particular. Thanks to Punk and to Ali for the blog – especially for explaining Ouse, which I got but couldn’t see why.

  14. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Ali.
    Very enjoyable puzzle.I was surprised that I knew all the towns mentioned,probably,as flashling says,due to mentions in the news.
    Favourite clues for me 14 and 20 down and 29 across – very ‘Pauline’!

  15. Allan_C says:

    Interesting to see which of the NI towns different solvers got first before 26a. In my case it was Dungannon (nice clueing there, could one call it cheeky?). And how many little Englanders were misled into looking for somewhere on the European mainland, I wonder?
    And thanks, Ali, for the explanation of 19a.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

− 2 = six