Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7642/Anax

Posted by John on April 14th, 2011


Solving time : Absolutely ages. There was a time when I went eagerly to Anax’s crosswords but recently they seem to have been becoming so impossibly difficult that I tend not to do them except when blogging. Of course this might simply be the result of increasing feebleness of mind on my part.

Anax has cleverly included the names of many films in the grid, something that hardly qualifies as a Nina since so many clues end with the word ‘film’. It didn’t help that I had never heard of about half of them. I think that’s all there is, although there may well be something else that I have failed to see. And of course the clues are pretty good: just hard.

The links go to just one of the films. Often there are several.

1 SVENGALI — Sven-Goran Eriksson, the ex-England football manager (or as he seems to be called nowadays, coach) who was known widely as Sven; g (= good); Ali; this film
5 RAN SOM{e} — How is ran = was shown?; this film, which I knew because I remember when it came out, its name being so similar to my own surname
10 DR E'(SS)ER — Dr as in Dr No
11 HACKERS — hawkers with w{estern} replaced by c{omedy}; this film
12 OUT OF THE BLUE — I’m not absolutely sure how this works: I think it’s that the film is “Out of The Blue”, a phrase which can fancifully mean that you can’t produce an erotic (= blue) film
15 EL ({pol}E) MENTAL
16 S HO J 1 — a nice &lit. because a shoji is a type of screen from Japan
17 RAD I O — presumably it’s rad(ical) = extreme, ego = I, O = Oscar (International Radio Alphabet); this film
19 EMERGENCE — (green)* in emce{e}
21 PRIZE FIGHTER — “pries” f(re)ighter; this film
24 {F}LAGGING — F as in the Fahrenheit scale
25 DR(O(SH)K)Y — a rather obscure type of carriage
26 S TRIKE — this film
27 MY OLDMAN — Well, well = my, Gary Oldman — this film
1 SODA — (as do)*
2 EXES — {gav}e (sex)rev. — sex = it
3 GESTURE — (eg)rev. s({fi}t)ure
4 LORD OF THE RINGS — (girl on set H Ford)*; this film
6 ARCHERS — (crash)* around ER, The Archers is on the radio (17), but what is the 4 doing?
7 SPELL BOUND — this film
8 MESMERIZED — (immerse)* zed (= character to end); this film
9 THAT’LL BE THE DAY — (bald athlete)* in thy; this film
13 METROPOLIS — me (silo port)rev.; this film
14 DE(AD RING)ER — this film
18 OBELISK — (bloke is)*
20 GR(E{ver}Y)OWL — this film
22 THEM{e} — this film
23 HYMN — (my h)rev. {heave}n

31 Responses to “Independent 7642/Anax”

  1. caretman says:

    For 5 across, for “ran” = “was shown”, think of “the film ran at the corner cinema” and “the film was shown at the corner cinema”. I agree this was hard, and like you I had never heard of many of the films, but at least the titles were generally common words so it made it a bit easier to pull out the answers with enough crossing letters.

  2. caretman says:

    Oh, and for 6 down, I believe the ‘4’ is because The Archers are specifically on Radio 4 (since I’m posting from the west coast of the US, that’s based entirely on hearing adverts for The Archers while catching up on the News Quiz or the Now Show podcasts).

  3. Joe says:

    I have a doubt in the construction of 25A.

    Good to keep mum in rainproofed carriage

    When I do a substitution, I find the reading not very grammatical.

    OK to keep SH in DRY does not quite give me the intended answer. I rather find

    Good keeping mum in rainproofed carriage, leading me to the answer better.

    Could others please confirm if my way of looking at it justified?

  4. Joe says:

    Also in 1D, I find a verbal anagrind ‘bubbles’ following the fodder – something I do not usually see Anax doing!

  5. anax says:

    Hello all, and thank you John for the thorough blog.
    Well, I must say I was expecting a few adverse comments on this one. As a matter of course I d/l my published puzzles and file them in my big blue ring binder, and while online do a test solve to refresh my memory of how each puzzle came together. This felt tougher than I remembered.
    Clue-writing is an odd mental process. Some clues take an hour or so of weighing up approaches or, often, just trying to find something to exploit. For these troublesome clues, it’s often the case that an initially tricky-looking device becomes familiar to the point of looking much easier as time passes. The head starts by saying “That’s a bit tough” and ends up saying “Well, no, it’s pretty obvious really”.
    For me it’s a bit like driving somewhere for the first time. I have to really concentrate to make sure I don’t get lost. The second time I do the journey – even if that’s years later – I find I don’t even have to think about it; all of the sign-posts and landmarks feel instantly familiar. Not everyone is the same. My girlfriend when I lived in the Midlands was born and raised there but needed my map-reading input to get home from Lichfield to Aldridge – about 10 miles, nearly all of it on the A461!
    In terms of difficulty it isn’t true that I’m in the process of writing harder puzzles; in fact comments on recent puzzles suggest the opposite. The truth is that Eimi has quite a big stock representing about 6 months of setting, and they aren’t used in the same order as I supply them. The next one may be much easier, or about the same as this – it just depends on which one sits best in the week’s series.

  6. Eileen says:

    Well done, John! – and thanks for the blog.

    I hadn’t heard of all the films, either, but, as you say, the clues were [very!] good – and the other new thing I learned was that an obelisk can be another word for an obelus [and I loved the BLOKE IS waving anagram].

    Great surfaces in 11, 21, 24, 25ac and 1, 2, and 23 dn.

    I agree with caretman re ran = was shown, as in, ‘the film ran for weeks’, and certainly ‘The Archers’ is on Radio 4! :-)

    Re OUT OF ‘THE BLUE’ [erotica], I took it in the sense that a shopkeeper might say, ” We’re out of [yes, we have no] bananas”.

    [Sven is now coach of my local team.]

    Many thanks, Anax, for a tough and enjoyable challenge.

    Hi Joe

    I’m sorry, I don’t really understand your problem with either 25ac or 1dn, which I thought wasa great anagrind

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi Anax

    I spent so long typing I didn’t see you’d commented!

    Thanks for dropping in again and giving us more insights into the setting process – and, again, for the puzzle.

  8. crypticsue says:

    Sorry Anax, this was a theme too far for me, but I did enjoy the clues I got!

  9. Richard Palmer says:

    Like many others, I really struggled with this and was 3 answers short in the NW corner. It didn’t help that I had only heard of three of the films. I enjoyed the challenge though and thought I should have got the other 3 after reading this blog.

    Regarding 12 across, I think it’s “out of” (Unable to produce) and “blue” (erotic) with the definite article to be tagged along somewhere.

  10. Joe says:

    Hi Eileen

    To elaborate on 25A, I meant that “OK keeping SH goes into DRY” reads much more correctly than “OK to keep SH in DRY”. In the latter case, the grammar is correct in parts, i.e., you first get OSHK and then put it in DRY. But the entire wordplay considered as an entity doesn’t sound grammatical, at least to me, as of now!

    Reg 1D, yeah, no doubt, it is a fantastic choice of anagrind. But usually, verbal anagrinds that are transitive precede the fodder and the intransitive ones succeed the fodder. That way, they act as proper directives to the solver to shuffle the letters.

    Not sure if I am fussing a lot, but these are basic Ximenean stuff that Anax usually adheres to.

  11. Quixote says:

    In defence of my colleague : bubbles is an intransitive verb. ASDO bubbles to give SODA. A clever clue (like many others in this tough puzzle!) that held me up.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi again Joe

    Re 25ac: I think I read it as a newspaper headline. I’ve searched this week’s papers for a current example and can only come up with ‘Government to ‘spin out’ civil service pensions’ from Tuesday’s Guardian.

    Re 1dn: I did read ‘bubbles’ as intransitive. Collins: [intr. often followed by ‘over': to overflow [with excitement, anger, etc]’, which, I think, equates to the pretty common anagrind ‘[be] agitated’.

    As I said, both clues worked for me – I didn’t think twice about either.

  13. Eileen says:

    For the second time today, I’ve been overtaken while researching / typing! Thanks, Quixote. :-)

  14. anax says:

    Hi Eileen/Joe
    Re “to keep” / “keeping”. While both are acceptable, “keeping” is arguably smoother. The trouble with cryptic clues, though, is that they tend create a large number of “-ing” suffixes and it’s likely I originally used that and changed it because there lots of “-ing” hooks elsewhere/nearby.

  15. anax says:

    I’m sorry – it now appears that my previous message is full of disguised swear words!

  16. Mordred says:

    I thought this a fantastic grid-fill and struggled to get going. Fortunately METROPOLIS got me started, but I didn’t know many of the others and guessed them from the wordplay. Screwed up a bit with MY OLD MAN. I had MY NEW MAN first, but then GREY USE at 20D. didn’t look much like a film title and anyway GROUSE has an O in it!

    Well done, John. And thanx to ANAX.

  17. Joe says:

    Thanks Quixote, Eileen, Anax! As I said, these are minor quibbles and I raised them only with the intention to learn the setter’s way of looking at things. As for the solving, I gave up after an hour with half the grid filled.

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Like Joe, I couldn’t get very far with this one today. Not being a big film fan probably didn’t help. But as I’ve said before, better a well-clued hard puzzle than a poorly-clued easy one. And from memory I have actually finished a couple of Anax crosswords in the last few months, so they’re not all impenetrable.

  19. nmsindy says:

    It was v impressive to fill the grid with 16 different films (if my counting is correct). This might have forced some of the other words to be a little unfamiliar eg SHOJI, DROSHKY. As nmsindy has noted before when blogging, he is v weak on films and knew only one of these (4 down) and that probably because it would have begun its life as a book I think. So despite trying pretty hard, had to give up on it, but thought from solving previous Anax puzzles that when I came here to check, I would find that the clues would be very tough but totally fair. And so it has proved. Thanks, John, for the blog and Anax for the puzzle.

  20. flashling says:

    Another one flummoxed by films he’d not heard of. Well done to John on blogging this – can’t have been easy and Anax for producing it.

  21. walruss says:

    Damn hard actually. Not sure it’s one of Anax’s best really.

  22. NealH says:

    Having not even attempted the last few Anax puzzles, I thought I’d give this one a real go since the film theme seemed a reasonable subject for me. Sadly, the theme barely helped since most of the films were either extremely old or so obscure I’d never heard of them. My progress was similar to that of a character in a Dan Brown novel – about one clue solved for every hour’s worth of reading. In the end I finished it with the exception of 5 across, where I would never have equated “was shown” with ran. In future, I suggest putting a “frustration warning” on Anax puzzles similar to the health warnings on packets of cigarettes. I did like the soda clue, however.

  23. flashling says:

    Anax needing a health warning? Not sure what a nervous breakdown/frustration symbol would be. I failed on this, several films I didn’t know but as a theme it’s fair enough and Anax’s style is bleeding obscure defs and very clever wordplay. As for soda, well it has bubbles, a double hint and I thought a brilliant clue. Just hope I don’t have to blog another of his ever again!

  24. BertandJoyce says:

    A devilish good solve! We needed the internet to check a few of the film titles but the clues were sufficiently clear to be reasonably confident. 16ac and 25ac were new to us and required some electronic assistance!

    We were very impressed with how many film titles were included in the grid and yet only these two unusual words. Thursday always appears to be a tough solve and this was no exception but very satisfying.

    Thanks to Anax for his comments and for another excellent puzzle. We wouldn’t have liked to be in John’s shoes today though!!

  25. dram says:

    Although I did not get anywhere near finishing (no surprise for me)I really enjoyed the write-up – thanks for the blog John and to Anax for a very cleverly worked grid fill and some really entertaining clues. SODA and HACKERS my faves. Still do not understand the reference to Lord of the Rings for the Archers.

  26. Allan_C says:

    Just about totally beyond me. Never heard of most of the films, and even the non-film clues were too abstruse. ‘Droshky’ and ‘hymn’ were about all I could manage.

  27. Bannsider says:

    Thanks, belatedly, to Anax, for this. My main problem was working out what on earth could fit at 9 down, and not seeing, for ages, the brilliance of the EMERGENCE clue, despite registering that EMCE(E) might feature in the answer!
    I think a lot of the difficulty from this puzzle arises from the fact that there are so many film titles which are really just ordinary words or phrases (HACKERS, THEM, STRIKE, OUT OF THE BLUE etc etc) and are all just defined as “film”, so effectively have no definition.
    I got them all bar “RANSOM”, which I should have stuck with, inventing the unlikely “SAWSOM” instead.
    Top quality clueing though and therefore highly satisfying to (almost)solve.

  28. Quixote says:

    If Bannsider (a setter of pretty hard puzzles, himself) couldn’t quite finish it (and I needed ‘aids’ for the last three clues) what hope for the average cryptic crossword solver, I wonder? Maybe this should have been a Saturday puzzle?

  29. eimi says:

    Dram @25, I fell into the same trap: the 4 in 6 Down isn’t a reference to clue 4, but to Radio 4, home of the Archers. I was also trying to find some connection with archery rings, until Anax pointed it out.

    Obviously, this was at the top end of the scale in terms of difficulty and Bannsider makes a good point about the less well-known films effectively lacking a definition. I’m a little surprised to see Quixote suggesting this as a Saturday puzzle, as I’m sure I remember him arguing elsewhere that prize puzzles shouldn’t necessarily be the hardest. I sometimes schedule fairly benign offerings on Saturday to give the lesser mortals a chance of winning a prize, but the Thursday slot is pretty well established now as home of the more difficult puzzles. They’re not all as hard as this, and there’s light and shade with Dac and Phi either side and a Quixote to look forward to on Monday.

  30. Quixote says:

    I do agree with eimi that Saturday puzzles shouldn’t necessarily be hard, but if there are real stinkers to be solved my view would be that they belong to the weekend, so there’s no inconsistency in my view. That said, I respect the decision of the crossword editor who will obviously have a much wider view of his particular solvership.

  31. Jim T says:

    Tough but thoroughly enjoyable despite my not knowing some of the films. Clues were superb – loved 27A,2D,23D especially. Can’t see anything wrong with construction of 1D – very good clue.

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