Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7652/Anax

Posted by John on April 26th, 2011


Poor old Anax keeps on getting me at the moment. This wasn’t nearly so hard as his offering last week; the theme, which became clear when the long clue at 16ac was solved, was more to my liking (many of the down answers are thematic) but there are still two words that I can’t find in Chambers or the lists of the thematic things in Chambers Crossword Dictionary. Anax has kindly used thematic words that usually have other meanings, so it is possible to do this crossword without knowledge of the theme.

A very nice grid fill with many thematic entries and not too weird a set of words, although one of the reasons why Anax is so hard is that he — perfectly fairly — likes to use words that are at the very limit of one’s knowledge. Mine, at any rate.

7 PEONISM — (p in some)*
9 PROVE R{efute} B{ible} — surely evidence is a noun, and prove is a verb, was my initial thought; but no, Anax is using the transitive verb sense of evidence
10 ICE NI — to ice is US criminal slang for to kill — iceni is one of those words that must be the bane of setters: it’s always coming up and how do you find a fresh way of clueing it? Anax has done pretty well here.
11 LATCHKEYS — (they lack)* s, with ‘screws’ as the anagram indicator
12 TRANSOMS — (sm(OS n)art)rev. — just about OK as a definition of windows — Chambers has, after the main meaning, ‘a small window over the lintel of a door or window’
13 RU’S SKI{n} — def ‘a national’ — derogatory slang for Russian
16 RA(INC AT SAND DO)GS — a good clue so long as you can accept that ‘dresses’ is an inclusion indicator — I can’t think of a sense in which it is
19 B{atsman} 1 NARY
20 TRIC{k} Y(CL)E
23 SNAKEBIRD — (b{ut} k{now} sardine)*
25 LIM{e} IT — a pale as in a paling — excellent clue
27 REISSUE — (is sure)* around e, jockey the anagram indicator — another excellent clue
1 POMERANIAN — (one in a pram)* — a toy dog
2 SIRIUS — (iris)rev. US — thematic again since Sirius is the Dogstar
3 S{hip} POTS
5 PE({paddoc}K)E — to go = to pee, the pekinese dog was an imperial favourite
6 UBASTI — (it’s a b u)rev. — Ubasti, as I discover from Google, was a cat-headed goddess (not in Chambers), and is another word for 19dn
7 P(O)INTER — and a pointer is a type of dog
8 M(A LAM)UTE — silence a verb
15 LAB(RAD)OR — rad means excellent as well as radical, something I had to look up
17 CERBERUS — (sure B(RE)C)rev. — Cerberus was the monster who guarded Hades and is also a three-headed dog
18 SHELTIE — (The Isle{s})*
19 BA STET — in ancient Egyptian religion the ba is the soul — this, which was new to me
22 TI(G)ER — golf is g in International Radio Communications — whether this refers to Tiger Woods or to the golfer whose handicap is low and has turned professional I’m not sure, but it doesn’t matter
24 A(C)ID — nice &lit. referring to the illegal drugs that may be handed out outside clubs

26 Responses to “Independent 7652/Anax”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks John
    As you say, easier than the last one. I think you will find that all the down answers are thematic. If they are not cats or dogs they are types of rain.

  2. Eileen says:

    Well ‘spotted’, Gaufrid – I missed the rain!

    Thank you for the blog, John. I’ve no problem at all with ‘dresses’ as an inclusion indicator [dress = clothe = cover] and I’ve seen it a number of times before.

    As usual, so many good clues but, in addition to those mentioned, I liked 1dn and 3dn – super surface and wordplay in both.

    18dn is &lit, as a sheltie is a Shetland sheepdog.

    Many thanks, as ever, Anax

  3. John says:

    Yes of course, the rain, silly to miss that. But tiger rain? Or rain tiger? Or something?

  4. Gaufrid says:

    A tiger is a big cat, isn’t it?

  5. John says:

    Of course it is. Completely losing it.

  6. Wanderer says:

    This was hilarious! Unlike John and Gaufrid I found it very difficult (took me ages to spot the theme) but it was a really enjoyable solve.

    Can I be allowed an irrelevant anecdote? Back in the days when Brezhnev still occupied the Soviet throne, I spent some time as a student of Russian in Moscow and Leningrad. Many of my teachers spoke excellent English, learned entirely from antiquated textbooks (they had never travelled abroad, of course) and their language was punctuated with charming anachronisms. I lost count of the number of people who, on learning that I was English, said something along the lines of “Ah, so how is the weather in foggy Albion? Is it still raining cats and dogs?” They thought they were speaking perfect contemporary English, and I have never been able to read/hear the expression since then without thinking of Russia.

    Then I come to Anax’s crossword and find RAIN CATS AND DOGS directly below RUSSKI… which is, of course, simply the Russian adjective for Russian. This put the biggest smile of the day on my face. Sorry if this is off topic, but thanks Anax for a laugh you can never have expected to give!

  7. walruss says:

    And that’s how we identified all their spies, I suppose! An interesting crossword, though very hard, with the characteristic Indy add-ons.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I know we’re not meant to just leave a comment without explaining ourselves, but this was just tough, tough, tough …

  9. caretman says:

    An excellent puzzle from Anax; thanks John for the blog and explanations of a couple of clues I just couldn’t parse. I needed to go through a list of Egyptian god(desse)s to get Bastet and Ubasti, both entirely new to me but I knew Bastet was right when I saw it when it described her as having the aspect of a cat. I didn’t catch the rain meaning association for several of the down answers and so wondered what sort of dog (or cat) an acid is, for example. My favorite clue was 19 ac, and I also appreciated the use of ‘evidence’ as a verb in 9 ac.

  10. Joe says:

    Hah, my fave setter is back again! I found this quite tough, but had quite a few penny-drop moments. However, I have a doubt on the usage of intransitive verbal anagrinds – a point I happened to raise the last time Anax was here.

    The use of ‘screw’ and ‘jockey’ is very innovative, but do they really qualify as anagrinds? We need a “jockey for” to mean ‘manipulate’, and we need “screw in/up” to mean “to wind”. Is it fine to ignore the accompaniments when using them as anagrinds?

    Would love to hear from the experts!

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Chambers has ‘to manipulate’ as a definition for ‘to jockey’ so I think ‘jockey/manipulate is sure’ is fine.

    Similarly, ‘to screw’ is defined as ‘to twist’ so ‘they lack screws/twists’ is also fine by me and I don’t see any need for your suggested ‘for’ and ‘in/up’.

  12. Joe says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    Given Anax uses them as intransitive verbs in the construction, the corresponding entries in the Chambers are:

    screw: intransitive verb 2) To wind (with in, up, etc)
    jockey: intransitive verb (often with for) to seek advantage by manoeuvring

    As you say, had the transitive versions been used, Anax would have had the anagrinds preceding the fodder.

  13. Gaufrid says:

    I take your point but ‘jockey’ is in front of the fodder. I’ll let Anax defend the ‘screws’. 😉

  14. Joe says:

    Oops! A mistake on my part. Actually I had this clue of Anax in my mind which appeared in the FT a week back.

    Giraffe arrived, old jockeys mean to feed (10) – CAME + (OLD)* around PAR

  15. bamberger says:

    Gave up after half an hour with only 26a solved unaided and 1d solved with an anagram solver. I think I’d still be trying now to make pomeranain out of “one in a pram” as I’d never heard of it.
    I’d also never heard of peonism,iceni, ubasti, malamute , sheltie and bastet.
    I might have got a couple more out on a going day but this was the equivalent of me putting a green slope skier on a Chamonix black.
    Well blogged and well done to those solving it.

  16. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Anax, for what I found was an extremely challenging, tough, and ultimately very satisfying, puzzle with great clues all through. Thanks also, John, for the blog.

  17. flashling says:

    Not as bad as some Anax crosswords but beaten by the Egyptian cats which I’ve not come across before, still a fine puzzle for my commute home this afternoon with the usual unusual angrinds and definitions we’ve come to expect of him, thanks Anax and John.

  18. Thomas99 says:

    I found this incredibly difficult. My reaction to all dogs, in reality or in print, is to look away and try to imagine they’re not there, so I suppose it’s not surprising I only spotted that part of the theme while I was putting in the last two answers. And yes I realise nearly everyone else loves dogs and I’m the weirdo. (The other themes I’m afraid I only spotted by coming here.) To me this is the hardest of all recent Anaxes, but very satisfying (and slightly surprising) to finish it at last. The clues all seem very fair (perhaps I can be forgiven for not knowing “Ba” though?) but still managed to be maddening at the time!

  19. theminx says:

    Hi all…I really enjoyed this as i love dogs ( some of you might have seen me on the one show tonight?

    I know Anax is in Italy this week with his daughter and taking a well deserved break…so may be a while before he replies…but reply he will!

    He is not into dogs himself….but found it strange he did not take the opportunity to use Setter..or did I miss something?….Probably as phones have ben ringing all night.

    Or I have not managed yet to complete it?

    But be warned…when he comes back with a refreshed mind…they will get harder to solve!

    First time I have posted on this site…but in his absence had to explain why.

  20. Rishi says:

    @Wanderer #6

    “Raining cats and dogs” is an expression that is used commonly in India even today.

    Even people who have had only moderate education can be heard saying it.

    As you said of the Russians, Indians in the early decades of the past century may not have travelled abroad frequently and all their education was from textbooks.

    It was a requirement to read grammar books (e.g., Wren and Martin). Incidentally, modern-day schoolboys may ask “Grammar, what’s that?” as all their concentration is on the sciences so they may have better job opportunities. These books, especially the one I mentioned above, had many quaint expressions, literary tags and Latin phrases in the exercises and thus even those who had had only school education were conversant with them and dropped them in their conversations.

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi Minx @19

    Thanks for dropping in.

    I didn’t see the show last night but have just watched it on iPlayer. Great to see you and – what a coincidence with Anax’s dogs! [I hadn’t thought about the missing setter but perhaps that’s quite appropriate. :-)]

  22. BertandJoyce says:

    We didn’t start this until late last night and hadn’t cracked the theme before we decided to ‘sleep on it’!

    A difficult solve this morning but very enjoyable. Really annoyed that we didn’t spot the ‘rain’.

    Thanks Anax for another great puzzle and also to John for explaining 19D.

  23. Allan_C says:

    Yes, really tough. Needed lots of help from wordfinder, Google, etc. Eventually had to come to the blog for an outright cheat on 20a, and only then did I realise there was a theme – but then I was able to finish.
    Got CERBERUS straight away from the definition but took ages to work out the wordplay. And in 15d ‘rad’ for excellent was new to me as well.

  24. Kathryn's Dad says:

    This is either really spooky or planned … bought the Indy i today and having a crack at the cryptic my eye was drawn to the solution for the i cryptic yesterday (Tuesday). The fifteen letter solution across the middle is RAIN CATS AND DOGS, and the majority of the down answers are exactly that. FOXHOUND, SHELTIE, LABRADOR and TIGER all make an appearance. I didn’t buy the paper yesterday so I can’t say who the setter was. Perhaps eimi was giving the Indy audience a BOGOF day; if it serendipity it’s scary.

  25. redddevil says:

    Don’t know that I’ve ever done a crossword where I’ve guessed so many of the answers but dismissed them ’cause they appeared not to fit the clues. Too many obscure words for me I’m afraid as well.
    Enjoyed the 60% or so I completed though.

  26. anax says:

    A very late thank you to all for your comments. Sorry I’ve not dropped by earlier – as Minx mentioned above I was on holiday for a week in Italy; internet connection was OK (apart from when the house got struck by lightning!) but we just weren’t around often enough for me to use it apart from replying to urgent emails.

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