Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7661/Raich

Posted by John on May 6th, 2011


The usual good puzzle from Raich. I found it a bit harder than usual, but no doubt that was because of my failure to recognise the theme, and the long answer in the middle eluded me for some time. I suspected it was about football because of some of the other answers, but at one stage I wondered if Raich had departed from his beloved game to tease us with something like twenty20.

It’s all about Tottenham Hotspur winning the double in 1961. No doubt today is 50 years after they did something. Presumably 1ac, 4ac and 11ac are thematic; I’m sure there are several more references but I leave it to you to find them.

1 SPURS — my last in together with 26. I should have realised that this answer was likely: I remembered Spurs achieving the double in 1961 but was unaware that this was the first of the 20th Century.
4 LEICESTER — (re-elects i{ncumbent})*
9 OVERLARGE — over (glare)*
10 CHI {l}EF{t}
11 TWO-NIL — (win lot)*
12 TRAPEZE — “ease” with trap at the start
14/16/18/20 FIRST TWENTIETH CENTURY DOUBLE — (L{an}e contributed, fresh, witty, tune)*
18 NOMINATED — (N{icholson} team doin{g})*
20 POSER — 2 defs, one referring to a fashion model
27 L(E)ASH — I didn’t know that a leash was a set of three of anything, especially of animals
28 CO OPERA T{heatr}E
29 RESISTANT — tan in (sister)*
30 S{c}E{n}E D{irt}Y
2 MatURE DOwager — not a common word but easy from the wordplay, so long as one sees that the ‘s indicates the fact that it’s hidden, something just within the bounds of acceptability I think
3 SO LO(I{ntro})ST
4 LARK — I’m not sure about this — I think it’s just a reference to ‘up with the lark’ and the ellipsis takes you to the ‘singer’ in the previous clue
7 TRITENESS — (resents)* around IT — I was a little unsure about the part of speech, but I suppose that ‘triteness’ = ‘being dull’
8 REFRESHER — 2 defs — I was unaware of the legal one
13 STET — (test)*
14 FUNICULAR — fun ({c}rucial)*
17 EDDY — 2 defs
19 N OUGHT S{tudy}
20 PROWESS — I couldn’t understand this (Showing bravery, one supports German who’s lost footing), for two reasons: I hadn’t realised that prowess was amongst other things bravery, having thought that it was more as in Flanders and Swann’s Madeira (although I notice that in the YouTube version, which is a live performance but not the one on the record, ‘prowess’ is changed to ‘finesse’), and also I failed to parse it satisfactorily: a pro is one who supports, so that takes care of the ‘one supports’, but then the German who’s lost footing looks like Wess{e} or something like that. No doubt it’s a German footballer of whom I’m unaware.
22 YUCCA — (a c{a}c{t}u{s} y)rev.
24 BLADE — a in (Bled)*
25 ScENE MYthical — time is the enemy
26 BOOT{h}

12 Responses to “Independent 7661/Raich”

  1. Conrad Cork says:

    Re 20d. A Wessie is the opposite of an Ossie, ie someone from West as opposed to East Germany.

    Got the long answer without understanding it at all. Even Googled it to no avail.

    Football is something they talk about at my local Get-a-Life club.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thank you for the blog, John.

    I’m with you in not connecting prowess with bravery and I wasn’t able to parse the answer, either, so thanks to Conrad.

    I did manage to google the long answer and was chagrined to find that it referred to 1ac’s Cup Final win over 4ac [and I’d been so thrilled to enter my home town as my first answer!] by 11ac! [One Nina I’d rather not have seen.]

  3. malc95 says:

    Thanks John, and thanks Raich for memories of 50 years ago today.

    Sorry Eileen, but as an exiled Londoner living in rural Leicestershire I have to wallow in such nostalgia.

    Two further references to today’s theme in the clues to 14a etc (White Hart Lane) and 18a (Billy Nicholson).

  4. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Raich, I forgot to thank you for the puzzle: no hard feelings really – it’s a long time ago! :-)

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, I quite enjoyed this, but not as much as with previous offerings from Raich.

    The crossword editor is a mad hot Spurs fan; the setter’s also keen on the beautiful game; it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Spurs league and cup double. Is this self-indulgent? Discuss.

    Even though I’m keen on footie myself, when I’d finished (after a lot of effort, because I found it hard) my reaction was ‘Oh, is that what it’s all about?’ The only saving grace was the brilliant &lit at 6dn (which you won’t understand if you’re not a Sunderland fan).

    Right, in an effort not to bitch too much about two Friday Indys running, I’m off now to search online for Conrad’s Get-a-Life Club. They sound like my kind of people.

  6. Thomas99 says:

    The theme was more or less meaningless to me but still I found the puzzle enjoyable, partly because of the gradual realisation that this all meant a lot more to other people – a bit like deciphering an ancient manuscript, I imagine. It’s just a pity my Spurs-mad colleague isn’t into crosswords.

  7. flashling says:

    As an exiled rural leicestershire lad now living in London (ref malc95 #3) I don’t have much nostalgia to wallow in! Despite the theme I quite enjoyed the puzzle itself but needed the blog/comments to understand prowess fully.

    Thanks to Raich and John

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Re PROWESS(20d) – I didn’t think of it as “bravery” either but apparently it’s the original (now obsolete/obsolescent?) meaning. The single-volume Oxford Dictionary of English has this:

    “1. skill or expertise in a particular activity or field: his prowess as a fisherman | her culinary prowess.
    2. bravery in battle.

    – ORIGIN Middle English (in sense 2): from Old French proesce, from prou ‘valiant’. Sense 1 dates from the early 20th cent.”

  9. caretman says:

    I felt just like Thomas99 @6, that I was gradually understanding some arcane document as pieces of the puzzle came together. That was the bonus at the end for me–using the clues I’d gleaned from the crossword to do the right searches in wikipedia to find out that today was the 50th anniversary of the feat, between the teams I thought by the score I thought. And I marveled a bit that it took so long into the 20th century for the double to occur. So thanks, Raich, for the extra work and a challenging puzzle, and thanks John for the explanations of a couple of clues I didn’t understand.

  10. scchua says:

    Thanks John for the blog, and Raich for the thematic puzzle.

    This was quite enjoyable for me, though after an easy start, I started to slow down until I saw SPURS, LEICESTER and TWO-NIL in the top half; and the xxxBxE feat could only be a DOUBLE (or a TREBLE). A little searching gave the rest of 14A. And the rest followed quite smoothly. Favourites were 29A RESISTANT, 19D NOUGHTS, and 14D FUNICULAR.

  11. Raich says:

    Many thanks, John, for the blog and to everyone who has commented on this puzzle. The comments on PROWESS as being difficult are extremely interesting, and, on reflection, it might have been better to have introduced the ‘bravery in battle’ concept in the definition. Using WESSI, which is perhaps not all that well known, in the build-up might have made it extra tricky too tho I guess that from crossing letters the answer would have been fairly gettable.

    Raich has to admit he is of the certain age to have been around when that feat occurred and remembers all the excitement associated with it. In the days before European competition had fully developed and the League Cup existed (1960-61 was the very first season of that competition and some of the leading clubs did not enter), the League and the FA Cup were everything. While two doubles had been achieved (by Preston and Aston Villa) late in 19th century, many thought it would not be possible in the 20th century. In that season, Spurs won their first 11 league games and were destined for the league title and the ‘first twentieth century double’ possibility seemed on as they approached the FA Cup with no league pressures.

    Not sure if K’s D is aware, but the only team to take Spurs to a replay in that FA Cup run was a team from the North East in a game that is still spoken about today, a quarter-final (6th round) game played on 4 March 1961 at Roker which ended 1-1. When Sunderland equalised thro Willie McPheat, there was one of the earliest recorded pitch invasions (by schoolboys). Danny Blanchflower (of Spurs) said in his autobiography that the resulting pause (after his team had been unnerved by the ‘Roker Roar’) helped them to see out the game – they won the replay 5-0.

  12. Allan_C says:

    Conrad @1: But if you google “first twentieth century double” now it will lead you here!

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