Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,682/Anax

Posted by Ali on May 31st, 2011


As far as I know, Anax appears roughly once per fortnight, but it’s been nearly 6 months since I landed one of his puzzles to blog. You can always guarantee an entertaining – if rigorous – work-out with him though, and this was no exception.

I needed at least 2 runs at this and entered a few without fully understanding the answers. There were some great touches here, in particular ‘tango equivalent’ for FANTA in 18D and the hompohones at 16D and 19D.

There is also a theme, which I didn’t spot until I’d finished. HAMMERHEAD, CROONER, BACHARACH, CHICAGO, BENTLEY and GAMBON are all corners/sections from the Top Gear test track. I think FOLLOW-THROUGH might have something to do with this too, and there may be other references which some petrolheads can confirm!

9 HOUDINI – IN (wearing) + 1 + DUO + H[-andcuffs], all rev.
10 CHATTEL – (THAT)* in CH(urch) + L(ost)
12 CROONER – ROONE[-y] + R(ight) following C(lug)
13 LAMPREY – LAM (to beat) + PREY (target)
14 FOLLOW THROUGH – I think this is a straight double def.
17 AFFORDS – DR OFF rev. in AS
19 SWEETEN – WEE (to slash) in STEN (old shooter)
24 REALISM – (R(ight) + AIMLES[-s])*
25 BENTLEY – BENT (ability) + LEY (straight line)
27 BYE – I think this is a double def, with ‘vale’ as in goodbye
28 CHICAGO – CHIC (elegant) + AGO (past)
29 RACCOON – CO[-at] + ON (available) on RACK[-k]
1 CHUCK – Double def.
2 CUT OFF – CUFF about TO
3 SIGN – G(ood) in SIN
4 VITREOUS – (SOVIET + U[-nion’s] + R(oubles))*
5 OCELOT – Hidden reversal in sTOLE COuld
6 HAMMERHEAD – HAMMER (attack) + HEAD (crisis, as in ‘come to a head’)
7 STARDUST – Not sure on ths one – “Short sunset, cracking dawn, stuff of romance”
16 BACHARACH – “Back a rack”
18 FANTASIA – FANTA (Tango equivalent) + (IS A)*
19 SCHUBERT – “Shoo Burt”
21 GAMBON – G(ooh) + AM(erican) + BON (good French)
22 WILSON – WIN over L(liberal) + SO?
23 HYENA – [an]Y in HE + AN(imal) rev. – &lit
26 NICK – Double def.

19 Responses to “Independent 7,682/Anax”

  1. anax says:

    Many thanks for the blog Ali, and very well done for spotting the theme – I thought it might be a bit obscure for most, which is why I kept it hidden.

    I’m jumping in unusually early just to apologise for something. You’re right to identify FOLLOW-THROUGH as another part of the test track. 22d is too, but sadly this one’s wrong as I fell into the trap of using Wiki’s map and replicated its error. The Top Gear version of the name is WILLSON. Only discovered this yesterday morning, sadly much too late to do anything about it.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    I think I’m confident enough of this one to say it’s DUS(k) (short sunset) in START.

  3. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Ali
    Follow Through is part of the theme, as is 22dn though the correct spelling is Willson.

    I parsed 14 as FOLLOW (see) THROUGH (finished) &lit

    7dn is DUS[k] (short sunset) in START (dawn)

  4. superkiwigirl says:

    Despite my intention to reserve this puzzle as an after dinner treat I couldn’t resist an earlier peek. Inevitably one thing led to another which was just as well really, as I found it challenging in places and needed a good clear head!

    I wasted quite a bit of time with 8d where I was wrong footed into thinking that maybe a word play involving “Babycham” was required (so developing a theme with 18d). The actual Top Gear theme escaped me completely. I was also slow to spot the parsing of 4d (though “comic” was a perfectly fair, even obvious anagrind I now see) and the meaning of “ley” in 25a is a new term for me.

    Favourite clues (among many great ones) were 7d (definition “stuff of romance” = DUS(-K) in START); 9a and the paired 18d/24a.

    Many thanks Ali for your blog and Anax for another really enjoyable puzzle.

  5. crypticsue says:

    As Ali says a rigorous and entertaining workout as usual from Anax. My favourite has to be the groan-out-loud 18d.

  6. lenny says:

    This is the first time that I have finished an Anax in one sitting. I suppose it helps when you are on the setter’s wavelength so that, for example, you immediately know what sort of word you are looking for as a synonym of slash.

    Thanks for explaining the hidden theme Ali. I was quite oblivious to it. I also had not heard of The Hanging Shadow by Robert Wallace but I see that it is available for download from Amazon for 70p. Sometimes setters kindly give you too much information so I spent some time trying to incorporate 1944 into the wordplay before realising I was looking for a straight anagram.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    Well I’m even more confident now that I know Gaufrid agrees!

    Also re 27 – Yes it’s a DD I think, with “pass through” as a nounal phrase, if that’s the right grammatical expression. You’re given a “bye” when you’re allowed to go through a round in a tournament without playing.

  8. Wanderer says:

    This was a great challenge. Anax is right at the top end of my solving ability, and it’s always touch and go whether I will finish or not. I was looking for a theme, after we had the setter-related puzzle at the weekend, and the brilliant raining-cats-and-dogs one of a month or so ago, but sadly failed to spot it. Never seen the show in question.

    Favourites were the two Russia-related anagrams for VITREOUS and LARVICIDAL. “Caviar and dill pickle” is a lovely image!

    Many thanks Ali and Anax.

  9. Gnomethang says:

    Top stuff as ever and took a lot of solving. The wordplay in 9a, 7,8d eluded me but ought not have. ‘Tango equivalent’ had me laughing my head off and as others I found the surface reading at 15d very agreeable.
    Thanks to Anax and reviewer (the name doesn’t show on the iPhone mobile site)

  10. caretman says:

    Thanks for the blog, Ali, and congratulations on finding the theme. And thanks to Anax for dropping by as well.

    I parsed 23d a little differently, with ‘He grabs the tail of any climbing’ meaning to reverse ANY to give YNA, and then to stick the tail of that into HE, giving H(Y)ENA, with the definition then being ‘animal’.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Like Wanderer, I find Anax usually at the top end of (or more often, beyond) my solving ability, but I managed this one today in reasonable time; if I can get a foothold in his puzzles, I can then give myself a reasonable chance of finishing.

    I liked SWEETEN, BACHARACH and WILSON today; the misspelling of the last, and the theme, passed me by completely. In Orwell’s 1984, Winston’s greatest fear – of rats – was exploited in Room 101. My equivalent would be to be forced to watch reruns of Top Gear. Having my face chewed off by starving rodents would be a pleasure in comparison.

    Most enjoyable puzzle, thank you to both setter and blogger.

  12. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this too tho I would not have known the theme in a million years, but the puzzle was fully solvable without it which was good. Maybe it’s just as well WILLSON was not in there because I’d never have believed that! Found it a little less difficult that some Anax puzzles of the past. My favourite clues were CUT OFF, VITREOUS, STARDUST and WILSON. I also read HYENA as Caretman does at #10. Thanks Anax and Ali.

  13. Tokyocolin says:

    Thanks Ali. I am another who is always apprehensive about an Anax puzzle. I managed to complete this one but found it a bit of a slog.

    I don’t know anything about Top Gear so was oblivious to any theme. I am not sure if Tango is a sugary drink or Fanta is a dance.

    I did enjoy the Russian clues and the shoo burt homonym.

    To Gnomethang – I use 2Across on the iPhone for the puzzles and the mobile site for 15sqd. I can see the blogger name but no numbers on the comments. What are you using?

  14. Gaufrid says:

    I have heard from Anax that there is another twist in this puzzle, quote:

    “Given the twisty-turny nature of the TG test track, the grid features TEST and TRACK as unbroken letter chains which can be read from the 2nd T of CHATTEL and the final T of SCHUBERT. Ooh, tortured!”

  15. Gnomethang says:

    @Tokyocolin #13
    You are entirely correct! – It was in such teensy letters that I missed it!. Thanks to you and to Ali for the ‘blog!

  16. flashling says:

    I wonder if anyone saw test + track? Not being a petrolhead – I don’t even drive – I missed the theme + the missing L. Ho hum, thanks to Anax for the puzzle and Ali for the blog pointing out the theme.

  17. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Did three crosswords today (ánd had to work again too … :)) and how different they were. A friendly, clinically good Times puzzle, a terrific punkish Paul effort and a cleverly constructed Anax that was indeed the most challenging of the three (from a cryptic POV).
    I don’t do enough Anax puzzles to know whether this one was hard or not (on the Scale of Anax), but I managed to solve it within a reasonable timespan.

    My favourites today were 12ac (CROONER), the effective 27ac (BYE), the Shepherdish VITREOUS (4d), 7d’s STARDUST and the perfect 8d (PLAYTHING).
    Did I say that these were my favourites?
    Well, let’s add some more.
    The Fanta-stic 18d and the combi 16d/19d.
    Not sure whether Burt Bacharach would like this characterisation though :).

    Quite a lot of good clues, don’t you think so?
    Well, that’s what happens when the crossword is a good one.

  18. Ali says:

    Thanks to all for the pointers and to Anax for the extra titbits of info. I’m not a Top Gear regular, but on the occasions I’ve seen it, Gambon, Chicago and Hammerhead always seem to get a mention, so the words must be lodged together in my brain somewhere. I had to Google to get the rest of them!

  19. dram says:

    Well the crossword beat me hands down but I thoroughly enjoyed the write-up and reading the solution – what a marvellous piece of work, Anax. As well as 18d I really enjoyed 7d and the misdirection in 8d.

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