Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,736 / Raich

Posted by RatkojaRiku on August 2nd, 2011


Raich gave me a good workout this morning, offering me enough easy clues to get started and enough of a challenge to keep me scratching my head for quite a while. Of all the grids used by the Indy, this must be a contender for the one with the highest number of clues, and is one that I often struggle to complete due to the large number of four-letter entries.

There were also new words for me at 11, 22 and (partly) at 27. I am not sure if I have parsed 14a correctly since Chambers does not carry SS for Sunday School, although the number of Google hits suggests that this abbreviation is in common usage.

From past experience of Raich, I was expecting a fairly subtle theme, and he did not disappoint me. I was on the lookout for a Nina and, having already solved 8, I realised how the Nina ought to end and it basically filled itself in; the symmetrically positioned partial & lit.-entries at 14d and 15 (my favourites today!) confirmed the theme, which an unsuspecting solving might have remained unaware of, at least in part. I still feel that it is a shame for a solver to “miss out” on some of the fun in this way, and would thus advocate something of a preamble (which we don’t have in the online version of this puzzle).

Thus, the treatment of the theme manages to encompass the four main characters (Basil, Sibyl, Manuel and Polly) in the sitcom (three as entries and one as part of the Nina), as well as a reference to a quote and its maker from one of the best known episodes from the series – The Germans – in the Nina itself, BUT without actually mentioning the programme’s eponymous Torquay hotel, Fawlty Towers, in the process: if that’s not subtlety, what is?!

*(…) indicates an anagram

7 ORPHISM *(SO PRIM + <s>H<e>); “at heart” means middle letter only is used; “converted” is anagram indicator; Orphism is the name given to a set of religious beliefs in the Ancient Greek world.
9 À DEUX AD<i>EUX (=goodbyes); “lack touch of intimacy, means letter “i” is dropped); the definition is “for French couple”; i.e. the French for “for two”.
10 LEAR Double definition: LEAR is “King”, in Shakespeare’s tragedy AND English poet “Edward” Lear (1812-1888), the writer of nonsense verse.
11 SUN BITTERN BITTER (=alcohol) in *(NUNS); “liberated” is anagram indicator; a sun bittern is a colourful South American wading bird, hence “flyer”.
12 ISN’T <m>I<s>S <a>N<i>T<a>; “on and off” means alternate letters only are to be used; the definition is “ain’t”.
14 PRESS PRE-(=too young for) + SS (=Sunday School)
16 EXIT EXI<s>T (=be; “not wanting scene to start with” means letter “s” is dropped)
17 SPRAWL *(SWAP + L<eft> + R<ight>); “bizarrely” is anagram indicator.
18 BONSAI *(BO<t>ANIS<t>); “losing all traces of time” means both letter “t”s are dropped; “bizarrely” is anagram indicator.
21 AREA Homophone (“we’re told”) of “airier” (=less cluttered)
23 YODEL *(<m>ELODY); “that’s no introduction” means first letter dropped; “new” is anagram indicator.
24 NATO NAT (TAN=brown; “backed” indicates reversal) + <gust>O (“finally” means last letter only)
25 BORED STIFF BO (OB=Old Boy; “is rebuffed” indicates reversal) + REDS (=left-wingers) + TIFF (=quarrel)
28 YARN YAR (RAY=man; “withdrawing” indicates reversal) + <colum>N (“end of” means last letter only)
30 EXTRA Cryptic definition: in cricket, the “bat is not responsible” for the extras added to the batting side’s total, since these are awarded for bowling and fielding errors (no balls, wides, etc)
31 GENESIS Double definition: GENESIS is “book”, i.e. the first of the OT AND “band”, i.e. the English rock band of Phil Collins et al, formed in 1967.
1 DOGE DOG (=pursue) + E (=English); the definition is “legal appointee”, i.e. the chief magistrate of Venice and Genoa.
2 OPERETTA *(TO REPEAT); “arranging” is anagram indicator.
3 NIPS Double definition: NIPS is “pinches”, tweaks AND “drinks” (of spirit)
4 TAXI TA (=thanks) + XI (=cricket side, i.e. with eleven players)
5 METTLE <s>ETTLE (=to make agreement); “starting afresh” means the first letter is changed, here from “s” to “m”.
6 EXORBITANT EX (=old flame) + ORBIT (=circle, as a verb) + <w>ANT<s> (“to exclude outsiders” means first and last letters are dropped)
8 MANUEL MAN U (=team, i.e. Manchester United) + EL (the Spanish, i.e. “the” in Spanish); Manuel is the Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers.
13 SUPERPOWER *(UPPER) in SOWER (=broadcaster)
14 POLLY PO<o>L (=group; “when duck’s off” means the “o” is dropped) + L<iver>Y (“extremely” means first and last letters only are used); & lit., since Polly is a waitress in Fawlty Towers (…)
15 SIBYL (…) *(B<os>SILY); “ignoring oldies on vacation” means that the word is vacated, emptied, leaving the letters “o” and “s”, which are then dropped (“ignoring”) from the anagram; “might be” is anagram indicator; & lit., since Sibyl Fawlty was the bossy landlady in Fawlty Towers.
19 NANNYISH [ANN (=girl) in NY (=US city)] + IS + H<ighly> (“initially” means first letter only)
20 IDLING ID (=supporting documents, as in ID card) + LING (=heather, in botany); the definition is “hard at work. No!”
22 AVESTA A + VESTA (=Roman goddess); the Avesta is the source of the Zoroastrian holy scriptures.
26 SHAW H (=hotel) in SAW (=smart comment, i.e. saying, proverb); the reference is to Irish writer George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
27 FINE Double definition: FINE is “satisfying”, satisfactory AND “drink”, i.e. ordinary French brandy
29 REST Homophone (“reporter’s”) of “wrest” (=seize); the definition is “the balance”, as in “to pay the rest, outstanding amount”.


13 Responses to “Independent 7,736 / Raich”

  1. flashling says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku, re the Nina I think we regulars know the Tuesday crossword will be themed and surely the whole point of a Nina is a surprise hidden 30ac. Thanks to Raich for the pleasant lunchtime diversion.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku, for the blog, and Raich for a fun puzzle.

    There’s a reference [‘duck’s off’] in 14dn to this episode:

  3. Conrad Cork says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for the blog, and Raich for the puzzle. The theme meant nothing to me since I have never seen the programme (hard to do when you don’t have TV) but I relished the usual wide variety of clue types and the subtle humour which permeates almost everything.

    I did have to check Orphism with Chambers though before entering it, since it is a word I associate with Robert Delaunay not religion.

  4. Cumbrian says:

    Thanks Raich and RatkojaRiku. I think I might be starting to get the hang of this lark, and spotted the nina which helped with some of the other clues.

    I may be reading a bit too much into 14d and 15d, but in the Fawlty Towers episode with “duck’s off” as the closing line, “she’s needed” fits very nicely when Polly stepped in to attempt to entertain the diners, and Sybil did have a tendency to ignore the oldies (the two old ladies) in the hotel. The nina also reminds me of the ever-changing anagram of Fawlty Towers that appeared on the sign at the start of each episode; how they got “Flowery Twats” past the Beeb censors is still a mystery to me.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    This was a lot of fun. As RatkojaRiku mentions, there were enough easyish ones to get you going, and then the grid layout suggested a Nina, which was confirmed as the outside letters went in. (For puzzled lurkers, since no-one has explicitly explained the Nina, the outside letters starting with 1dn spell out DON’T MENTION THE WAR, BASIL, a famous quote from Fawlty Towers.)

    I thought BONSAI was a clever clue and also liked PRESS, BORED STIFF and SUN BITTERN. I also spent far too long at 4dn trying to persuade myself that there was a form of transport called a TAON.

    Thanks to R & R.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    And I meant to add that Sybil (Prunella Scales) is apparently a mad-keen cryptic crossword solver. She featured in the BBC4 programme on cryptics that Don Manley fronted.

  7. Quixote says:

    Indeed Prunella did — and I had the pleasure of meeting her at Araucaria’s 90th. I also had the pleasure of meeting Raich on his home territory the other week while on holiday. A happy meeting and an enjoyable puzzle today — for both of which, many thanks!

  8. Scarpia says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku and Raich.
    Found this pretty easy going,and worked out the nina early on,which made completion a lot easier.
    All good fun though,even the ubiquitous soccer reference wasn’t too difficult to work out!(8 down)

    I’m not saying it is wrong,but I had never seen SUNBITTERN written as two words before.

  9. Raich says:

    Many thanks for the blog and comments which are much appreciated. Re one or two points raised, Collins (and indeed Chambers also) gives SUN BITTERN as two words, Collins also has the SS Sunday School abbrev.

  10. Wil Ransome says:

    I solved all this without noticing the Nina. Very nice indeed. It seemed that all the words fitted in nicely, without strain, as you might get when there is such a Nina.

    When the setter so cleverly introduces such a Nina it seems a pity that solvers can be completely oblivious to it. One feels that there should be some way of alerting the solver.

    One quibble, if it is indeed a quibble: is it really ‘Don’t mention the war, Basil’ (in that highly over-rated episode that is in my opinion nothing like as good as the vast majority of the rest)? Surely it’s just ‘Don’t … war’. Rather like the non-quote from Dad’s Army ‘Don’t panic, Captain Mainwaring’. Jones never said that.

  11. Allan_C says:

    No preamble in the dead tree version either, RatkojaRiku.

    An enjoyable solve. Once I got Manuel, (can’t seem to get away from football these days and, groan, the season’s nearly on us) Polly and Sibyl I was on the lookout for other themed references. And surprised not to find Basil until I looked for a nina.

    Taliking of non-quotes (Wil @ 10) the most famous is probably ‘Elementary, my dear Watson!’

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Or of course, ‘Play it again, Sam’.

  13. Graham Pellen says:

    RatkojaRiku, that’s “Sybil”, not “Sibyl”, at 15D.

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