Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7612 / Morph

Posted by Gaufrid on March 10th, 2011


What a good day for puzzles, Loroso, Araucaria and Morph!

We have a fairy tale theme from Morph today with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs featuring in the clues and Heigh Ho Heigh Ho appearing in the top and bottom rows of the grid.

Having completed the lower half of the puzzle I noticed the Nina in the bottom row and as I already had HEI…O in the top row it was a reasonable assumption that the same would appear there which helped with 4, 5 and 6dn.

There were a lot of clever and very entertaining clues, and I have quite a few ticks on my printout, so it is difficult to decide on my clue of the day. It is a toss-up between 6dn and 20dn (8ac would also have been in the running if I did not have a serious dislike for what some call ‘the beautiful game’).

On reflection, I think it has to be 6dn for its smooth surface, the allusion to the ‘revealing’ nature of a miniskirt and the use of ‘material wealth’. It has been suggested that, historically, as people became more affluent the lady of the house could afford to buy more material and so hemlines became lower. Conversely, Taylor’s Hemline Theory states that when the economy is strong skirts are shorter, for the reason given in the link below.

8 ACCESSORISE A[rsenal] *(SOCCER IS) SE[e] (behold endlessly)
9 URN UR (how text shows solver’s {your}) N (name)
11 FAT FARM F (another {note}) FA (note) R (right) in ATM (cash machine)
12 TALIBAN NAB (take) [e]ILAT (topless resort in 3 {Israel}) reversed
13 VITALNESS *(ANTS LIVES) &lit? – I have been unable to find this word in any of the dictionaries at my disposal (Chambers, Collins, COED, Websters, Oxford Online, Chambers 21st Century) but it is given as a related form under ‘vital’ at
14 NUDGE NU (new-sounding) G (government) in [i]DE[a]
15 RICIN homophone of RICE IN (paella’s made)
17 SUB double def.
19 SUSHI hidden in ‘giveS US HIccups’
22 QUOTA *(OUT) in Q A
26 AEROSOL A (America) EROS (love-god) O (nothing) L (left)
27 SNOW PEA SNOW (Miss White) PEA[r] (bitten off end of fruit) – another name for mangetout.
28 KO’S ‘S OK (it’s all right) reversed
29 DEMONETISES hidden reversal in ‘caSE SITE NO MEDiation’
1 HAY FEVER [dwar]F in *(HEAVY) ER (queen)
2 ECSTATIC C[ottag]E reversed STATIC (stable)
3 ISRAEL LEAR’S (tragic hero’s) I (one) reversed
4 GORMLESS GO (say) RM (Jolly {Royal Marine}) LESS (not so)
5 HIATUS SHIA (Muslim) TU (trade union) with S moved from beginning to end (top-down)
6 HEMLINES cryptic def. – a reference to George Taylor’s Hemline Theory and the Hemline Index.
7 OUTBID *(I DOUBT) – googling ‘Manchester City outbid’ brings up references to a number of football players that the club wished to sign-up during the past twelve months, and were not prepared to be outbid, so a lot depends on when this puzzle was compiled but I suspect it is a reference to Fernando Torres.
16 NEARSIDE N (northern) EARS (listeners) IDE homophone of ‘eyed’ (viewed)
18 BEMUSING EMUS (birds from far away) in BING (Crosby)
20 SHEEPISH SHE (the girl) [wok]E [u]P ISH (his head down)
22 QUACK CAU[ght] reversed in Q (queen) K (king)
24 SALAMI I’M (setter’s) ALAS (unfortunately) reversed
25 ON OATH ON OAT (having taken grass) H (heroin)

16 Responses to “Independent 7612 / Morph”

  1. Richard Palmer says:

    Nice puzzle. I needed the Nina to finish the NE corner.

    My favourite clue was 26 with the misleading definition “Mister”.

    At 7 down, I read it as Man City’s enormous wealth enabling them to outbid anyone else, rather than a reference to any specific player, in which case you have to take the whole clue as the definition rather than just the last 7 words.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Gaufrid. I was pleased to complete this one because I found it tough. The theme was fun, but when it’s in the clues rather than the answers it’s less of a help. (Did I spot the Nina? Don’t be silly.)

    Some of the wordplay was pretty tricky, but it was all fair. I think given the Church of Rome’s recent history with abuse, NONCE was a pretty brave clue, but I won’t explore that one further because I don’t want a knock on the door late at night from some albino monk.

    I think you like the beautiful game more than you’re letting on, Gaufrid. However, probably not as much as me, so I’ll choose 6dn as my fish today.

    On the football theme, I am frankly amazed that the blasphemous word in the clue to 8ac – indeed the whole surface – survived eimi’s blue pencil. He must be mellowing in his old age (although I’m guessing he was pretty mellow late last night …)

    A fine and fun puzzle, thank you Morph. You’re not a Gunner by any chance, are you?

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sorry, I meant 7d of course as my cod.

  4. anax says:

    Hear hear for 26a – absolutely cracking definition.

    Great fun as ever from Morph. Seeing the top/bottom rows of unchecked letters made me suspect a theme but it took me surprisingly long to cotton on to more than the first of the dwarves. Not too many tricky moments although HIATUS held me up; and I was helped a lot by FAT FARM – it was one of the last clues I’d written for a puzzle sent to Eimi yesterday and Morph’s treatment was similar to one I’d considered before (thankfully) trying something else. This entry opened up the NW corner very quickly and from then on it was just a case of savouring the ways the rest of the dwarves were namechecked in the clues.

    Another supremely entertaining effort from the Al Jazeera chap.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks for the blog, Gaufrid, and Morph for an easier-than-your-usual puzzle.

    Spotted the “theme” quite early in the clues, and then the Nina in the first and last rows on completion. Favourites were 26A AEROSOL, 22D QUACK, liked the defns. in these, and 10D NONCE, liked the wordplay. 23D OGRISH, I thought the equivalence to “grumpy” was quite a stretch.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Gaufrid.

    I reckon to enjoy Morph’s puzzles and this was no exception – lots of fun and a novel use of the theme, which I’ve seen more than once before.

    Favourite clue? It’s a close call between 8ac [and I’m not a soccer fan!] and 26ac, with the misleading ‘Mr’ nicely balanced by the ‘Miss’ in the next clue [another good one].

  7. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Richard @1
    Your explanation of 7dn makes sense. As I indicated in the preamble, I have no interest whatsoever in football (wrong shaped ball and not 15v15) and so was unaware of the financial strength of the club in question.

    Hi K’s D @2
    “I think you like the beautiful game more than you’re letting on, …”.

    Sorry but I don’t!

    Hi scchua @5
    One of the definitions for ‘ogre’ in Chambers is “a bad-tempered person” so I don’t have any problem with grumpy=ogrish.

  8. NealH says:

    I was glad of the NINA in this one or I don’t think I’d have got 6 down. The rest of the puzzle wasn’t too bad, but I was completely stumped on that one until I remembered to look for the NINA and realized it must start with an H. I hadn’t come across “hemline theory” before, so maybe that would have helped me get it sooner. I’d have to concur with everyone that 26 was a brilliant clue.

  9. nmsindy says:

    I found this very tough, with a lot of thought, I’d say, having gone into the clue construction. Seeing the possibility of the two HEIGH-HOs was the major breakthrough, tho I’d seen the dwarf theme from the start. In 27, I guess ‘you can eat all of it’ refers to ‘mangetout’ from the French. Clues I esp marked, many already mentioned above, SUB, AEROSOL (best of all), ISRAEL, OUTBID, NEARSIDE, ON OATH.

    Hey, Anax at #4, should you be talking about answers in future puzzles?…

    Thanks, Morph, and Gaufrid.

  10. Wil Ransome says:

    Although scchua@4 says the puzzle is easier than usual, I thought it was extremely hard. Not helped by various things: ‘central idea’ for de at 14ac just seemed wrong to me (the centre of idea, or idea centrally, but surely not central idea; although perhaps it’s OK: central London is the centre of London); great difficulty with justification of 20dn and 25dn. And in 3dn does ‘in mounting’ = ‘mounting’?

    And I never noticed those unches, which didn’t help.

  11. flashling says:

    Personally found this harder than of late and needed the return journey to finish it, as remarked the def at 26 was worthy of Anax himself. Getting the Nina certainly helped to finish the top half for me.

    Thanks G for the blog for confirming my thought on nonce and Morph for a very pleasant solve

    Off to do battle with Anax’s evil twin…

  12. Ian says:

    Superb puzzle from beginning to end.

    A marvellously constructed and themed grid.

    This, the Araucaria in the Guardian and the Obtrox in the i made for a trio of top class puzzles.

  13. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    As you say a very good day for puzzles.
    I was another that got help for the NE corner from spotting the Nina.
    I also share your dislike of ‘the beautiful(???)game’so wasn’t too keen on 7 down and had my doubts over VITALNESS.It is given on WordWeb and as an alternative form in the American Heritage Dictionary.
    Top clue for me,the wonderful 26 across.

  14. Allan_C says:

    I’m with those who found this quite easy – a little bit slow at times but I finished it in one session – the first time for quite a while. As others have said, spotting the nina helped; one could say that after getting ‘heigh ho heigh ho’ it was off to work on the rest of the grid!
    Didn’t like ‘vitalness’, it not being in Chambers, Collins, etc. Perhaps that was the reason for the ? in the clue.

  15. Morph says:

    Thanks for the blog, Gaufrid, and all your comments. Sorry about VITALNESS, an ugly word I agree. But it is in my Collins, or I wouldn’t have included it. Perhaps it’s been dropped from more recent editions.
    Kathryn’s dad correctly divines my footballing allegiance (and yes, it has been a rough couple of weeks). Our esteemed editor let my 8ac through, but sneakily scheduled the puzzle so that it appeared (in the paper at least) alongside reports of the wrong team’s victory in Europe. Grr!

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I think you have a case there under the Human Rights Act, Morph. Cruel and unusual punishment and all that.

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