Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,707 / Crosophile

Posted by RatkojaRiku on June 29th, 2011


Tackling a puzzle by a compiler/pseudonym that is new to one is always an exciting and somewhat daunting prospect, and especially daunting on a day when one has been scheduled to produce a blog: will this be the day when I will have to throw in the towel and send in only a partial blog, one wonders?

Indeed, as I crossed swords with Crosophile (perhaps also a cinephile, judging by the clues at 2 and 19?) for the first time, such thoughts did begin to creep into my mind, as an initial perusal of the grid gave me only one answer, 24. The bottom half of the grid revealed itself to me more easily than the top, although I had to chip away at this one from start to finish, at no point solving a string of clues in quick succession. At the end, the intersecting entries at 5 and 6 kept me guessing for quite a while.

Having parsed the clues to my satisfaction and concluded that all are fair and that all the vocabulary was familiar to me, I wonder quite why this kept me busy for so long: no doubt I’ll speed up when I am a bit more on Crosophile’s wavelength and less “intimidated” by him.

As for my favourite clues, I can’t resist 21 for its sauciness and 1 for its unexpected, laugh-out-loud use of TV, although I appreciated the clues (of similar style) at 6 and 12.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1 DRESSER <cross->DRESSER (=TV, i.e. transvestite); “cross off” means “cross” is deleted.
5 SULPHUR SULP (PLUS=extra; “backsliding” indicates a reversal) + H<o>UR (=period; “not over (=o, in cricket)” means “o” is not used)
9 SCRUB Double definition: SCRUB = axe, abolish AND bush, vegetation
10 EPAULETTE E<very> (“initially” means first letter only) + PAULETTE (=girl, i.e. a female forename)
11 SUNGLASSES SUNG (=celebrated) + LASSES (=girls)
12 ZEAL New ZEALand (=Maori country); “in the heart of” means central letters only are used.
14 NEWS BULLETIN N E W S (=bridge players, i.e. North, East, West and South) + BULLET (=shot, as a noun) + IN (=at home)
18 APPENDECTOMY *(COPED + PAYMENT); “organising” is anagram indicator.
21 NOOK NOOK <ie> (=relations, i.e. sex); “that is (=i.e.) cut off” means that the letters “ie” are not used.
22 TRAMPOLINE [P (=parking) + O (=ball)] in TRAMLINE (=edge of tennis court)
25 LEASEHOLD *(HE SOLD ALE); “at sea” is anagram indicator; “letter” in the definition is to be understood as “landlord, one letting out a property to a tenant”.
26 AGENT GEN (=information) in AT (=engaged in activity of, as in “to be at something”); & lit.
27 ALERTED *(RELATED); “at work” is anagram indicator.
28 ESTUARY Cryptic definition: “flower” is to be read as  “river”.
1 DESIST S<cepticism> (“touch of” means first letter only) in DEIST (=one believing in God)
2 ERRAND [RR (=cleric, i.e. Right Reverend) + <Mendoz>A] in END (=ruin); the definition is “mission”; the misleading Mendoza reference is to a leading character in the 1986 film The Mission.
3 SUBALTERNS SUB (BUS = coach; “reversing” indicates reversal) + ALTER (=shift) + N (=neutral) + S (=second)
4 REEDS S (=sun) + DEER (does maybe, i.e. as noun); “rising” indicates vertical reversal.
5 SPACESUIT PACES (=steps) in SUIT (=clubs, for instance, as in cards); the clever definition is “what to wear if no atmosphere” (i.e. no gravity).
6 LILY LI<ve>LY (=spirited); “heartless” means middle letters are not used.
7 HITHERTO HIT (=knocked) + [T (=Troy, as in system of weight) in HERO (Achilles, say)]
8 RIESLING *(LIES) in RING (=circle); “spilt” is anagram indicator.
13 FLAMBOYANT [BOY (=son) in MAN (=husband)] in FLAT (=apartment)
15 SWEARWORD WEAR (=display) in SWORD (=military force, i.e. metonymic use)
16 MAGNOLIA [LONG (=stretched out) + A (=amateur)] in AIM (=intention); “returning” indicates reversal.
17 UP-TO-DATE Definition is “hip”, as in fashionable, trendy; whimsical definition is “like a palm tree climber”, i.e (going) up to (pick) date.
19 CINEMA IN (at home) in [CE = (church) + MA (=mother); Rebecca (1940) and Arthur (1981) are both titles of films.
20 GENTRY GEN (=the lowdown, i.e. info) + TRY (=to have a go at)
23 MIDGE E.G. (=as, i.e. for instance) + DIM (=cloud, as a verb); “rises” indicates vertical reversal.
24 PELT Double definition: PELT is hide, skin AND downpour, heavy rain.

10 Responses to “Independent 7,707 / Crosophile”

  1. Pat says:

    I enjoyed this, too. But two weaknesses for me were, 1) the use of GEN as information in intersecting clues 26ac and 20dn, and 2) use of “envelopes” as a verb in 2dn “Ruin envelopes cleric and Mendoza finally in The Mission”. It has to be a verb for the surface, but if so surely “envelops”? Perhaps it’s a misprint.

    Good fun, for all that.

  2. NealH says:

    I think envelopes in 2 down must be a misprint because the clue works just as well with envelop as envelope. I also found this tricky to start with, but managed to complete it in reasonable time (for me). There were a few like 5, 6 and 23 where I wasn’t completely sure I’d parsed the solution correctly, but RatkojaRiku has come up with the same thing. There were lots of inventive clues – I liked 1 across and the use of the film titles in 19 down was very clever.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog, RatkojaRiku. I too enjoyed this puzzle which I found quite hard, esp the NE quarter in which as it happened my favourite two clues today were, SPACESUIT and HITHERTO. As weak on films did not understand 19 down completely but the wordplay left no doubt about the answer. Hardest clue and my last entry, MAGNOLIA. Many thanks, Crosophile.

  4. RatkojaRiku says:

    @Pat – thanks for spotting what must be a misprint in the online version at least, where the plural noun is used instead of the verb! I certainly hadn’t noticed it when either solving or blogging the puzzle. Nor had I picked up on the use of GEN – I’m sure purists would share you view.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Your usual fine blog, RatkojaRiku, for which thanks. First hurdle cleared by Crosophile: this made me smile. NOOK, REEDS and DRESSER hit the spot in that department. Beyond that, some intelligent clueing elsewhere and just the right degree of difficulty for me today.

    But Crosophile has committed a bit of a faux pas with 16dn, I’m afraid. MAGNOLIA is just so passé, dahling – it’s bamboo white these days, please …

  6. flashling says:

    Cor I struggled with this one especially NE and dresser where I spent a while looking at delists for cross off.

    So thanks RatkojaRiku for explaining some stuff and Crosophile for the crossword

  7. Charybdis says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for your excellent blog – hope I wasn’t too scary! – and thanks for all other comments too. Pat, you’re right of course with your spelling of envelops. At least it wasn’t a misspelling (mispelling? :-) ) in the grid – every setter’s worst nightmare. Hope I didn’t offend too many fashionistas (or is that fascinistas?) with the appearance of the dreaded magnolia…

  8. Bamberger says:

    Hoped that a new setter would see me getting an elusive Indie unaided completed solve but nowhere near with this. At least it wasn’t me who found this hard.

  9. E. Keith Owens says:

    One part of the clue is a definition which usually exactly matches the tense and number of the answer. The other part the subsidiary indication or wordplay provides an alternative route to the answer this part would be a second definition in the case of double definition clues. One of the tasks of the solver is to find the boundary between definition and wordplay and insert a mental pause there when reading the clue cryptically. American cryptics usually require all words in a clue to be used in service of the wordplay or definition whereas British ones allow for more extraneous or supporting words.

  10. eimi says:

    I should have spotted the envelopes/envelops thing, although it’s not completely wrong. As Brian Greer told me, from his experience of living in the US, “there isn’t a noun that can’t be verbed.” Also, the OED has envelope as a colloquial verb.

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