Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,635 / Dac

Posted by RatkojaRiku on April 6th, 2011


This was a more manageable puzzle to solve and to blog than one or two that have fallen to me in recent weeks.

Unsurprisingly, it is up to Dac’s usual high standard, with sound, tightly worded clues and a few flashes of brilliance, such as the economy of language in 24, where every last word in the clue has a part to play in it. I hadn’t encountered 19d in its masculine form until today. The intersecting, thematically-related clues at 16 and 24 were a nice touch, although I am not familiar with F being used as an abbreviation of “favourite”.

Incidentally, I struggled for a long time with 8, which I had wrongly solved as GANNET. Knowing how meticulously Dac words his clues, I knew that while I was definitely looking for a bird with the letters GAN-E-, it just could not be GANNET, since TEN couldn’t possibly be made to mean “angry-looking”. Had this not been a Dac puzzle, I might have just written in GANNET and assumed that the wordplay was simply beyond my grasp.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1 CASH C<r>ASH (=big hit; “not right” means the “r” is dropped); the reference is to Johnny Cash, the American country singer (1932-2003).
2 SCRATCHING SCRATCH (=to pull out, i.e. of a contest) + IN (=during) + G<ame> (=first part of game, i.e. initial letter only)
9 INCA IN CA (=where San Francisco’s now located, i.e. in California); I take it that the “now” alludes to the fact that San Francisco used to be part of Mexico.
10 BADEN-BADEN [AD (=bill, i.e. poster) in BEN (=”accommodated by his potty friend”; the reference is to the two Flower Pot Men in the BBC children’s programme Bill and Ben, first broadcast in 1952)]; “doubling up” means the letters are used twice; Baden-Baden is a spa town in southern Germany.
12 COMPILATION TAPE *(TIP TO A POLICEMAN); “unusual” is the anagram indicator; the definition is “tracks”, used in the sense of “(musical) items recorded on a disc or tape”.
13 ABRIDGE A + BRIDGE (=crossing)
14 EGRESS “…riotouS SERGEants…”; “blocked by” indicates a hidden answer; “reeling” indicates a reversal.
17 ASCEND A + SCEND (homophone of “send” = post, as a verb); “say” is the homophone indicator.
19 IMITATE I + MI (=note, i.e. in music) + TATE (=gallery)
21 CAPITAL OFFENCES CAP (=top) + IT (=Italian) + AL (=gangster, i.e. Al Capone) + OF + FENCES (=villains)
23 ATTACHMENT Double definition: attachment = extra bit, i.e. appendage, annex AND = devotion
24 FINN F (=favourite) + INN (=accommodation); the definition is “native of Helsinki” (=solution at 16)
25 REINSTATED REIN (=control) + STATE (=say) + <perio>D (=end of period)
26 ANTI “…militANT Insurgents…”; “captured by” indicates a hidden answer.
1 CHITCHAT C (=about, abbreviation of circa) + HITCH (=problem) + A + <psychologis>T (=psychologist at last, i.e. final letter only)
2 SYCAMORES Homophone of SICKER (=less healthy) + MOORS (=hilly areas); “we’re told” indicates a homophone.
4 CHARADE CHAR (=daily, i.e. cleaner) + AD (=publicity) + E (=English)
5 AVELINE AVE (=boulevard, i.e. abbreviation of avenue) + LINE (=queue)
6 CABIN CRUISER [CRU (=source of good wine) + IS] in *(NICE BAR)
7 INDIA IN + DIA (aid=charity; “set up” indicates a vertical reversal)
8 GANDER RED (=angry-looking) + NAG (=horse); “upset” indicates a vertical reversal.
11 FIDDLESTICKS Definition: nonsense; in the cryptic definition “bows” is to be read not in the sense of bending over as a show of respect, but as “bows” used to play stringed instruments, hence used by “only some members of the orchestra”.
15 STANCHION CH (=Switzerland, in IVR) in *(NATIONS); “various” is the anagram indicator; a stanchion is an upright beam, bar, rod, shaft, etc acting as a support:
16 HELSINKI HE (=ambassador, i.e. His Excellency) + *(LINKS) + I; “forged” is the anagram indicator.
18 DILEMMA L (=lover‘s first, i.e. initial letter only) in [DI + EMMA (=between two women, i.e. two women’s names)]
19 INFANTE IN (=trendy) + N (=new) in FATE (=lot, as in one’s lot in life); an infante is a prince in the royal family of Spain or Portugal, a princess being referred to as infanta.
20 ECLAIR Excellent Cream Left (“topping of” means initial letters only) + AIR (=cool, as a verb)
22 PETRI *(TRIPE); the anagram indicator is “cooked”; in a science, a petri dish is a shallow glass dish with an overlapping cover used for cultures of bacteria.

8 Responses to “Independent 7,635 / Dac”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, RatkojaRiku, for a very comprehensive blog which I’m sure will be appreciated by less experienced solvers. Don’t go changing.

    Super Wednesday stuff as always from Dac. If you were going to be hyper-critical, you could say that INDIA, FIDDLESTICKS and DILEMMA have been round the block a bit, but when a setter consistently produces such good stuff that would be churlish. Especially since there was so much else to enjoy here.

    I don’t want to start a 5,000 word debate about homophones (oh, hang on, this isn’t Another Place) but if there are people that pronounce MORES and MOORS the same way, I’m not one of them …

    And since you only get proper moors oop north, I rest my case about cissy southern pronunciation. Or do they say EXMORE and DARTMORE in the far south-west?

    Top puzzle.

  2. walruss says:

    Yes but that IS the trouble. Setters need to be very careful. Otherwise good stuff from Dac.

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for the blog, and Dac for an enjoyable puzzle.

    Favourites were 2D SYCAMORES notwithstanding the clue doesn’t work with the other accepted (cf. OED) pronounciation of “hilly areas”, 6D CABIN CRUISER and 21A CAPITAL OFFENCES, liked “Italian gangster” = IT AL.

  4. NealH says:

    I found this easier than last week’s. I didn’t think it was DAC at his very best – there were quite a lot of fairly workmanlike clues and a few rather obvious ones like “abridge”. Infante held me up a little – I’d never heard of the word and kept thinking it should be infanta.

  5. flashling says:

    Thanks for the comprehensive blog, must have taken a while, I know mine do and I don’t usually put in that much explanation. Tend to agree about this not being one a candidate for the Indy crossword of the year, but still nicely done with Dac’s well written clues. Like NealH I was held up by the lesser seen infante rather than infanta which I couldn’t make work from the clue.

  6. ele says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for explanation of 5d. I put Adeline but could see it didn’t really work. Liked 2d sycamore and as I’m one of the ones who pronounce them like more, it didn’t worry me (and I don’t come from the cissy home counties).

  7. flashling says:

    Hey ele! I’m from the midlands, well rural Leics but I got it fine, unlike K’sD who is just up the road. I don’t have a problem with nearish homophones. I’m told I’ve got a posh accent, god knows why as a comprehensive schoolboy, but the folks from the south have a go at my pronunciation as being northern and vice versa. I just think of all possible pronunciations when doing crosswords.

  8. ele says:

    Thanks flashling – I come from Wales, but from the far SW bit that doesn’t speak Welsh and the accent there possibly has a twang of west country. Hubby who comes from Devon says it’s Exmurr and Dartmurr down there anyway, so what hope for the poor crossword compiler.

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