Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7618/Anax

Posted by John on March 17th, 2011


A breathtaking achievement from Anax. The vast majority of the clues have a surface that refers to the same thing, yet there is no strain and they all work quite naturally. This kind of thing must be far more of an effort for the setter than for the solver, because lack of knowledge of the theme will make no difference to whether or not one can solve a clue.

In one or two cases I make criticisms: they are rather tentative and arise more likely from my misunderstanding than from a mistake by Anax. In any case he is entitled to be a tiny bit loose at times, when he has so much to fit in.

Most of the clues refer in some way to pubs and the drink that is served in them.

1 {w}HA{t} IT I{nn}
9 LET ONE’S HAIR DOWN — (as the Red Lion)* own
10 T ANGEL O — a tangelo, as all Countdown-watchers will know, is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit, although Chambers says it’s not a grapefruit but a pomelo, which is only grapefruit-like
11 FISHEYE — (if he’s)* ye — I’m not entirely comfortable here: is fisheye distorted vision? Not according to the dictionaries I have consulted: in Chambers it’s a slang word for an unfriendly, suspicious stare; I know that a fisheye lens distorts, but is that enough? Various definitions here, one or two of which may make it OK
12 D(1’S APP)EAR
13 HO B BS — the B is Black, the BS is bullshit, referring to Jack Hobbs, one of the five cricketers of the 20th century, according to Wisden
14 AMBER — (Ma)rev. be{e}r
16 ROCK GRO(W) UP — when something rocks it is great
18 {R}OVER’S AW — the definition is ‘was the manager’ and ‘aw!’ = ‘how disappointing’
20 OIL WELL — not quite sure here: to oil well is to get very drunk, oil = crude, well = very, so it seems that ‘get very’ is doing double duty, both as part of the wordplay and as part of the definition
22 UNKNOWN QUANTITY — (now n Quant it) in (UK, NY)*, referring to Mary Quant
24 S(CRU)TABLE — but although it’s an obvious back-formation from ‘inscrutable’, I can’t find the word in ‘the dictionaries’, although it does appear in several others
25 SUGAR — (rag us)rev.
1 HO(L{andlord})ST
2 {p}INT ENDS — again I’m not quite comfortable: surely it should really begin ‘This means means …’ or ‘This is means …’ but of course it can’t; simply ‘This means’ to indicate a word that means ‘means’ seems inadequate
3 IN N{ag} KEEPER — a keeper is something that saves
4 NO-SCORE DRAW — (Rose and Crow{n})*
5 TEA{m} I think — a stable is a team in one sense
6 doPORTSag — hidden rev.
7 PROVE R B — a gnome is in one sense a proverb, and B = Bravo in international radio communication
8 RUNNER SUP — if they were runners-up they were placed, so simply placed, and to do a bunk is to do a runner
11 FOR (E(C)LO) SURE — ELO is Electric Light Orchestra, a 16
12 DIALOGUES — dial (goes)* around {p}u{b} — the anagram cleverly indicated by ‘freak’
13 HIGHLANDS — not quite sure here: high (= intoxicated) and lands (= area), but the def is ‘area round Inverness’, so ‘area’ seems to be doing double duty: I’m sure Anax hasn’t made this mistake and I’m wrong, but I can’t see it.
15 B(R)EAKER — white horses at sea are breakers
17 OPENING — 2 defs — opening time is a time some drinkers want
19 SHO(R)T — very nice &lit.
21 (p{ub}}LAYER
23 NIB — (bin)rev.

12 Responses to “Independent 7618/Anax”

  1. Rishi says:


    ‘Scrutable’ is under ‘scrutiny’ in The Chambers Dictionary.

  2. Paul B says:

    I’m inscrutable. But the operation hurts a bit.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank goodness for 225 bloggers – needed your help today, John, to understand probably half a dozen of the clues. I found it hard, but managed it, so was pleased.

    I like themes like this, where there’s a fun element to the clueing but it’s not just a tick-box of related people or things. And yes, there were a few liberties, but none of them diabolical (except perhaps 2dn …)

    HOBBS made me laugh, partly because it reminded me of Anax’s definition a few months ago of ‘shit happens’ for THAT’S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES.

    In 3dn, a keeper is of course also someone who saves – it wouldn’t be right to have an Indy crossword without a footie reference, would it?

    On a personal note, it was slightly spooky to have a pub-related theme and the Electric Light Orchestra in the same puzzle. One of the founder members of ELO bought our empty village pub about fifteen years ago and converted it into a private residence. His contribution to village life in that time has been to open the village fete. Once.

    Great puzzle, thank you Anax.

  4. anax says:

    Oh dear. Apologies are in order here.

    2d is a clue which Eimi highlighted as needing amendment, and I honestly thought it had been done (well, I’m correct in that I do remember re-writing it). I’ve just opened the revised Word doc (with amends highlighted) and Crossword Compiler files I submitted and discovered to my horror that 2d was never changed even though I highlighted it as an amended one.

    This is entirely my error. Sorry chaps.

  5. Mick H says:

    13d is ‘gets’= LANDS, ‘intoxicated’= HIGH, ‘seeing’ as a link and ‘area round Inverness’ is the definition. As for 20, I read it as ‘get very drunk’ = punning definition, ‘it’s crude’ (it has crude) as straight one.
    Thirsty work solving this, but rewarding. I liked ‘secret agent’ as a definition for UNKNOWN QUANTITY, and bull for BS was nice. Only one I’m not sure about is the pub in 18, surely it should be the Rover’s Return if we’re talking Corrie?
    Cheers Anax!

  6. Thomas99 says:

    Another brilliant puzzle. I’m exhausted! I particularly enjoyed being tortured by 18a. For a long time I had “sport” for 19d – and I was still seeing it as an &lit! A somewhat 1930s attitude to sport, which I should probably do something about…

  7. Lenny says:

    I think this is only the second Anax that I have ever managed to complete so I am glad that no-one (so far) has said that it is not up to his usual level of difficulty. Thanks John for explaining some of the trickier wordplay: eg Haiti, Rock Group and Oversaw. Anax puzzles often have obscure vocabulary a tricky theme and fiendish wordplay so I found this one more accessible with no obscure words and a straightforward theme. I was able to devote all my energy to disentangling (most of) the wordplay and I enjoyed it immensely.

    I too thought that scrutable was a facetious back-formation like gruntled but, as Rishi points out, it is in Chambers and Collins too, apparently as a word in its own right.

  8. nmsindy says:

    Strange that this puzzle should appear in the week when we heard the sad news about the passing of the setter, Mass. Because he had many puzzles like this in the Indy ie where every clue referred to some similar item. Like everyone else, I found this very hard, as one of course expects from Anax and from the Indy on a Thursday. As you say, John (tks for the blog), every clue has something to offer, quite an achievement. My favourites were DIALOGUES, BREAKER and OPENING. Thanks, Anax, for the puzzle. And the ‘keeper’, John, in 3 down “one saves” is definitely, as K’s D says, a footballer, I would think.

  9. walruss says:

    I agree this was quite hard, but that is Anax. Nice to have a theme close to my heart, and a good Indy puzzle I think. I didn’t like SCRUTABLE and I wouldn’t like GRUNTLED, but there we go.

  10. 4across says:

    John, thanks for the blog to explain a point or two, but finished ok
    and by the way Anax, I thought 2d clue was clear as it was printed…

  11. gnomethang says:

    I thought this was great and thanks to anax for fessing up on 2d – the only head scratching moment I had.

  12. flashling says:

    Well a late reply due to a work do, in a pub naturally. I didn’t have any issue with 2d or the rest of it. Great stuff Anax, not one of your hardest, but still the nice dubious definitions and tricky wordplay we’ve come to expect. Easier than your last one on your home page to me. Thanks for the effort required for such a grand puzzle, you must have spent most of your holiday on it.

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