Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7663/Nitsy

Posted by Pierre on May 9th, 2011


I was pleased when I saw Nitsy’s name on today’s puzzle.  He’s a comparatively recent addition to the Indy stable, although I believe he also sets for the FT under the name of Flimsy.  I’ve enjoyed (although struggled to complete) his previous offerings.  There was plenty to appreciate here: with a couple of exceptions, most of the cluing seemed pretty sound to me and there were two or three clues that I particularly enjoyed.

However, I found this hard.  Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was hard.  I’ve tried to provide fullish
explanations as far as my understanding of the puzzle will allow, but I do need help with decoding a couple.

cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
[x]  indicates a letter is removed


An insertion of L for Lake in HAT, of which boater is an example (which is why Nitsy has included ‘maybe’ in the clue).

Hands up those who had to search online or elsewhere for the collective noun for nightingales?  Yes, thought so.  It’s that term, WATCH, followed by MAN and the definition is of course ‘guard’.  MAN for ‘dog’ I couldn’t really see, apart from perhaps the phrase ‘There’s life in the old dog yet’, which is normally applied to men not dogs.  Others will put me right, no doubt.

My favourite collective nouns for animals are ‘a murmuration of starlings’ and ‘an improbability of puffins’.

The clue is ‘Old-fashioned drinking places?’   This seems like a straight or pretty weak (I would say ‘flimsy’ but the setter’s probably fed up with that rubbish pun) double definition to me, but I’m very likely missing something.  I am: sidey at no 6 has the explanation for us, for which thanks.

A charade of SOLE, M for male, SIN (ill) reversed and E for end of lifE.  I think this is why I struggled a bit with the puzzle: there were a number of clues where there were plenty of elements to take into account.

12  TYPE
Hidden (involved) in KaTY PErry.  Never heard of her, but she’s probably some cleb.  Edit: this is cleverer than I thought; see Peter’s comment at no 2.

Again, tough but just about fair.  You have to know (or discover, in my case) that HEL is the Norse goddess of the underworld and then make an anagram of ONCE to surround it.  ‘Position’ is okay for the definition, I suppose (it’s in my Thesaurus).  A quick look on the internet suggests that the goddess and our word HELL are cognate, which is how I’ll try to remember it next time it comes up.

A charade of TEA[K] and a reversal of TOP.  Nice surface.

A word for someone who’s drunk is a charade of S for soprano, PONG and E for last letter in ‘piecE’.

Another charade: ‘unfinished dish’ is ENTRE[E] plus A, and T for a ‘bit’ of ‘Trifle’.

20  LAMB
A charade of LAM for hit and B for book.  Referring no doubt to Charles Lamb.

A fine clue.  ‘Heartlessly’ means that Nitsy’s asking you to remove the ‘heart’ (N) from ‘planned'; if you then make an
anagram of what’s left with ‘sea’, you get the answer.


(DIES)* plus KICK

26  IDLE
The famous (in Crosswordland, anyway) fish IDE with L included.


‘A pedlar, a hawker’ (SOED).  It’s (STUCK HER)* and the clue works; but the surface jarred a bit for me because of course you pedal, not peddle, a bike.

A and L after a reversal of COL.

I liked this one specially too.  ‘Armour’ is MAIL; take the ‘head’ M to the ‘toe’ and you have AILM; add (TEN)* and you’re
home and dry.

(ROLE IN COMBAT D)*  The D is for Deutschland. The ‘American’ bit is there because this relies on the rule in American
English that the letter ‘l’ is not doubled in, for example, past or present participles: on our side of the pond we have travelled and are travelling; on theirs they have traveled and have the Traveling Wilburys.  They’ll be telling us that color and theater are more logical spellings next (only joking, guys).  Edit: as Conrad has kindly pointed out at comment no 4, I’ve carelessly put the wrong anagram fodder: of course, it’s (TRAUMATIC ROLE D)*

Probably my clue of the day for its funny surface with the inclusion of ‘wee’ and ‘tinkle’.  It’s a charade of MEGA for
‘huge’ and PHONE for ‘tinkle’, as in ‘Give me a tinkle tomorrow’.  Which, thinking about it, is what your GP might say if he
needed a sample of wee, I suppose.


A charade of S, TUMBLING and BLOCK.

An insertion (‘hugged’) of I’M in SIAN. I’m not hugely fond of this kind of clue, where ‘female’ is suggesting any random
girl’s name, but I’d better get used to it, because setters employ it all the time.  Any road up, that’s what crossing letters
are for.  SIAN is of Welsh origin (I think).

I did get this eventually, but for an average solver like me there’s a lot happening.  The definition is ‘random’ and it’s an
insertion of PHA in HAZARD for (a golfing) bunker.  The PHA comes from an anagram of the starting letters to Annoy Henry Plugged; the anagrind is ‘shot’.

Again, a three-part clue: it’s TEND in ATE for ‘worried’ and E for ‘beginning to eye’.

I’m usually pretty good with spelling, but I stupidly entered ELEGAIC here at first, which was not a great help in getting
the anagram at 24 ac.  I’d never have parsed this without online help: the ’20’ is referring to 20ac, Charles Lamb, whose
alias was ELIA, which surrounds EG and then is followed by C for cents.  I thought this was pretty obscure, but if you’re a Charles Lamb aficionado, then obviously it wouldn’t have been.

An insertion of POS for chamber pots in the oft-referenced River Exe.  ‘PO, A chamber pot (origin French).’   And no Italian river in sight.

A for America plus VOID.

23  TAPS
TAP[E]S.  Tape in its verbal rather than nounal form.

Just realised when finishing the blog that unless 10ac falls into one of these two categories [it does], I needn’t have put the cd and dd abbreviations at the top, since there were none.  Thanks to Nitsy for the puzzle.

19 Responses to “Independent 7663/Nitsy”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    I found it pretty tricky too. Apparently Nitsy’s a primary school teacher – hope he’s easier on the kids! I was also perplexed by man=dog, also had to look up “watch” of nightingales, also don’t quite see the point of “cocktail lounges” and was also impressed by “ailment”, although it was my last in and I found it very hard. I liked the Lamb – Elia connection, as it’s sort of my area, but it may bewilder others (if you know anything about Lamb you’ll probably know it, but sadly, who does these days?) I’m getting a bit bored of finding “Esplanade” in crosswords!

  2. Peter Chambers says:

    Katy Perry is married to Russell Brand! Great clue

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks for an entertaining blog, Pierre.

    I’m as puzzled as you are by COCKTAIL LOUNGES – but I don’t see how it’s a double definition.

    It’s a while now since I’ve seen the Lamb / Elia thing but it used to be pretty common in crosswords, like Tree/ actor. I remember reading ‘Essays of Elia’ at school.

    I do agree with Thomas99 re ESPLANADE – its most recent outing was only last Friday!

  4. Conrad Cork says:

    5down (ROLE IN COMBAT D)*? Don’t think so. No B in the answer and no U in the fodder. Combat is the anagram indicator isn’t it. (TRAUMATIC ROLE D)* covers it.

  5. Pierre says:

    Thanks, Conrad. Got my anagrinds in a twist. I’ll correct the blog.

    And thanks to Peter @ no 2 for the explanation of Katy Perry and Russell Brand, which makes the clue a very clever one.

  6. sidey says:

    Old Fashioneds are cocktails Cocktail lounges are old fashioned drinking places. Great clue.

  7. Pierre says:

    Thank you, sidey. Another one that went over my head. In my defence, I don’t move in the sort of social circles where cocktails are served, dahling. Once more unto the blog …

  8. flashling says:

    I found this rather easy except for watchman, I did this off line with no way to look up nightingales or anything else, so thanks Pierre. You sure you don’t fancy a swap for a Thursday Nimrod??

  9. caretman says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle, so thanks Nitsy, and thanks Pierre for the blog. Since I particularly like clues with multiple elements (I guess that’s just the way my mind works) I particularly appreciated those clues. The LAMB-ELIA relationship is very commonly known to those of us on the other side of the Atlantic that do American crosswords, and I solved those in reverse (worked out ELEGIAC and thus got LAMB). I did have to look up the collective noun for nightingales and, like you, am puzzled how dog = MAN; even as verbs I don’t see a relationship. I loved seeing the word HUCKSTER, and my favorite clue was 4d once I figured out what was going on.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Collins gives dog as an informal word for chap, fellow, giving the example “you lucky dog”.

  11. Pierre says:

    flashling, that’s a kind offer, but no. I’m just about managing to keep my head above water on Mondays.

    nms, thanks for that clarification. So it was indeed just my not seeing a few things, and the puzzle was in fact all sound. So well done again to Nitsy.

  12. sidey says:

    For dog = man think ‘let slip the dogs of war’ etc.

  13. sidey says:

    …or what nmsindy said.

  14. bamberger says:

    Thank you for the very clear blog. It summed up why I couldn’t get some of the clues e.g 11 & 13a.
    I also had elegaic.
    Hadn’t come across the lamb/elia thing before. Another one to remember.

  15. Thomas99 says:

    Re dog – I’ve also seen it used as a substitute for “man” in the phrase “hey dog!” (i.e. “hey man!”) It was in the film School of Rock – it’s what the very laid-back replacement guitarist in No Vacancy says to Jack Black instead of hello. (The same character later hits on Joan Cusack, the uptight headmistress, with inevitably hilarious results.) I have no idea how many real people use the phrase, of course.

  16. flashling says:

    Pierre believe me, I feel like I’m drowning on some blogs. I saw man=dog from “you sly old dog” or suchlike. Great blog btw for newcomers (not being patronising honest) and your 6dn entry made me laugh!

  17. redddevil says:

    Not come across idle meaning vain myself or am I missing something?

  18. Allan_C says:

    ‘Dog’ for ‘man’ is a fairly old usage, possibly Scots in origin. Sir Walter Scott gives the words “He’s but a dumb dog” to a character in ‘Guy Mannering’ (published 1815, set in late 18th century).

    Took me a while to get going on this puzzle, but once completed I wondered where the difficulty had been!

  19. Pierre says:

    Morning redddevil

    I think it’s in the sense of ‘idle curiosity’ or ‘idle gossip’.

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