Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,640 / Scorpion – never a dull moment!

Posted by RatkojaRiku on April 12th, 2011


This was my first attempt at blogging a Scorpion puzzle, and as soon as I noticed there was a theme, I wondered if I’d make my blogging deadline: I tend to relish thematic puzzles as a solver and live in fear of them as a blogger, purely for reasons of time.

As thematic puzzles go, this was quite an accessible one for me – perfect for a working day rather than a weekend! I didn’t solve 17 immediately: indeed, it is good when the keystone to a thematic puzzle is not too easy to solve. However, solving 4/24 made me go straight to 17 to see if the wordplay would give “colour”, which it did.

I liked the way that, while many of the colours were actually entered in the grid as solutions, others figured only in the wordplay, as in 1/7, 21 and 29. My favourite clues were 19, for its cheeky anagram indicator, and 13, for the deceptiveness of the wordplay. The intersecting four-letter entries at each corner held me up more than anything, especially 26 and 29. Incidentally, this was the first time I had come across “tweet” in the social media sense in a crossword, although it has no doubt already put in an appearance or two by now. The musical reference at 12/19 was unknown to me.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, colourful and anything but dull crossword, for which I am grateful to Scorpion.

*(…) indicates an anagram

8 SUSAN SA (=sex appeal) in SUN (=tabloid, i.e. the UK tabloid newspaper The Sun)
10 LIES Double definition: lies = “extends”, is located AND = “harmless stories when white” (=entry at 16), i.e. white lies
11 ETHEREAL <thos>E (=back-side in thosE, i.e. last latter only) + *(LEATHER); “pants” would appear to be the (rather unusual) anagram indicator.
12/19 GREEN ONIONS GREEN (=no.17, i.e. colour, the entry at 17) + [I (=one) in ON ON (=playing repeatedly, i.e. the letters are used twice) + S (=school)]; Green Onions is a hit soul instrumental recorded by Booker T. and the M.G.s in 1962.
13 HERB ER (re=on, i.e. concerning, on the subject of; “turned” indicates a reversal) in HB (=pencil, i.e. Hard Black); “skirts” cleverly indicates a container-and-contents clue.
15 TWEET-TWEET TWEET (=on-screen message, i.e. one sent via the social media phenomenon Twitter; 2 means that the letters are used twice)
17 COLOUR *(LOO) in CUR (=wretch); the definition is “wash” in the sense of “a broad but thin layer of colour put on with a long sweep of the brush”. Solving this clue provides the key to the whole puzzle.
21 REINFORCED *(CONIFER) in RED (=colour, i.e. entry at 17)
23 EXPO X (=””that’s wrong”, i.e. cross used to indicate an incorrect answer, the opposite being a tick) in EPO (=performance-enhancing drug, i.e. erythropoietin)
27 ELONGATE *(LEG ON) + <p>A<r>T<n>E<r> (=partner alternately, i.e. every other letter is used); “other” is the anagram indicator.
29 SCAR SCAR<let> (=colour, i.e. entry at 17; “let off” means the letters “let” are dropped)
30/28 AGNES GREY AG (=silver, i.e. chemical symbol) + <sto>NES (“half-obscured” means that only half the letters are used) + GREY (=colour, i.e. “no.17″, the entry at 17); Agnes Grey was the debut novel of English author Anne Brontë, first published in 1847)
31 EARL The definition is toff; “that joins 28 (=grey, i.e. the entry at 28) to make tea”, i.e. if run together, the entries give Earl Grey, the fragrant tea.
1 SKYE SKY (= “with blue (entry at 4) colour (entry at 17)”; if run together, the two entries make sky blue, a colour) + E<xplore> (=start to Explore, i.e. first letter only is used); Skye is an island off the west coast of Scotland, the largest of the Inner Hebrides.
2 ASSENTER <m>ASS> (=religious assembly; “off with principal” means the first letter is dropped) + ENTER (=register, i.e. to record); “one nods” (in agreement) is the definition.
4/24 BLUE PETER BLUE (=colour, i.e. the entry at 17) + PET (=favourite) + ER (=queen); Blue Peter, the world’s longest running children’s TV programme, was first aired by the BBC in 1958.
5 SEAN PENN SEAN (homophone of “shorn” = fleeced, of sheep) + P<ragu>E (=extremists in PraguE, i.e. first and last letters only are used) + N N (=news, i.e. N = new in plural); Sean Penn is an American actor and director, 1960-.
7/6 IN THE PINK <abs>INTHE (=alcohol; “sailors (=ABs, i.e. able-bodied seamen) avoid” means the letters “abs” are dropped) + PINK (=colour, i.e. the entry at 17)
9/20 SILVER SCREEN SILVER (=colour, i.e. the entry at 17) + [CREE (=foreign language) in S N (=poles, i.e. South and North Poles)]
14/25 BROWN BREAD BROWN (=colour, i.e. the entry at 17) + BREAD (=nan, i.e. a slightly leavened bread from Asia); “brown bread” is Cockney rhyming slang for “dead”, hence “it’s dead in London East”.
16/3 WHITE KNIGHT WHITE (=colour, i.e. the entry at 17) + K (=grand, i.e. a thousand) + NIGHT (=dark); the White Knight rescues Alice from the Red Knight in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871).
18 OPEN-BACK [PEN (=stall, i.e. for keeping animals) + BAC (cab=taxi; "coming up" indicates a reversal)] in OK (=right)
19 OLD NORSE *(DR<ink> + LOOSEN); “couple starting DRink” means the first two letters only are used); “frisky” is the anagram indicator.
22 OLDHAM OLD (=experienced) + HAM (=player); Oldham Athletic is an English team playing in the Football League One.
26 ECRU E<ccentri>C (“opposing sides of” means the first and last letters only are used) + RU (=sport, i.e. Rugby Union); the definition is “colour”, i.e. the entry at 17, that of unbleached linen.

7 Responses to “Independent 7,640 / Scorpion – never a dull moment!”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the blog, RatkojaRiku, and Scorpion for the puzzle. Agree this was a nicely accessible themed crossword, with WHITE KNIGHT giving me the idea and BLUE PETER confirming it. Nice too to be reminded of GREEN ONIONS tho I appreciate some may not have heard of it but the wordplay was easy enough. It was used as a jingle in some ad campaign much later if memory serves tho when I did ask people could you name that tune they generally couldn’t.

  2. Lenny says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku. This was a very satisfying effort from Scorpion. I found it quite Ximinean but with tricky wordplay, notably quite a few subtraction charades such as (abs)inthe. The only bit of knowledge I lacked was the abbreviation for erythropoietin but the answer to 23 had to be expo.
    I don’t know if we are starting a week-long forename theme. After yesterday’s Fanny, Stan and Cathy, today we have Susan, Herb, Agnes, Earl, Sean and Peter.
    Slight amendment to the blog: it was Booker T and the MGs who made the famous recording of Green Onions.

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks for the blog, RatkojaRiku and Scorpion for a manageable puzzle.

    16 3 WHITE KNIGHT led me to 17, the key to the theme. Quite plain sailing after that. Favourites were 21 REINFORCED, 14 25 BROWN BREAD and 17D OLD NORSE. And “Green Onions” by Booker T and the M.G.s was also a favourite of mine at that time.

  4. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thank you for the correction, Lenny – I have amended the blog accordingly.

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    Excellent puzzle; excellent blog. My route in to the theme was also WHITE KNIGHT. I spotted SUSAN, SEAN and AGNES but missed the other three names, interesting to have a Nina (possibly unintentional) in addition to an explicit theme.

  6. flashling says:

    Thanks R for the blog, another white knight to the rescue followed by blue peter giving the game away. I may be late on the blog tomorrow as it’s a busy day but it’s coming. (unlike sunday’s sorry for that!)

  7. davey b says:

    Why were the shaded squares brown and blue? Was it just my copy of the Guardian or was it to fit in with the the theme, “colour”?

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