Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,734 by Monk (Saturday Prize Puzzle, 30/07/11)

Posted by Simon Harris on August 6th, 2011

Simon Harris.

It’s always exciting, if a little daunting, to see a Monk puzzle pop up, especially on a blogging day. That was particularly true this week.

I must admit I thought I was going to struggle here. Many of the clues contain references to other clues, and all which did so included a reference to 11ac. That seemed a good place to start, but 11ac was simply a reference back to all of the thematic clues!

To make matters even more complicated, several groups of three clues seemed to contain circular dependencies, for example 6ac referring to 12ac, 12ac in turn to 19ac, and 19ac back to 6ac.

The trick was to stay calm and try to pick off some of the “normal” clues. Fortunately, the anagram of KAMPUCHEA at 16dn yielded quickly, giving an in on 15ac and 17ac. A bit of persistence paid off, and after a few more entries dropped in, it looked like there might be a blog post after all!

With a number of checking letters in place, I realised that each corner of the grid contained one of four groups of three co-dependent entries. It further dawned that these, being equal in length, might lead to anagrams of each other, and so it proved. For example, the SE trio of NAMED, AD-MEN and AMEND was the first to go in.

From then on, things became relatively plain sailing, leaving only the matter of the definitionless key clue at 11ac to attend to. It soon became clear that the answer was REORDERED, obviously referring to the anagrams.

Phew. So this one turned out not to be the gruelling ordeal I had feared, and in fact was a very enjoyable and satisfying solve, along with an impressive bit of grid construction. Thanks, Monk!

*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition.

1 ABANDONED – DONE in A BAND. At least I think this is how it works, though I wonder about DONE = “right”. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched, but I’m struggling to think of a sentence where they’re interchangeable.
6 DREAM – DERMA*. Thematic, definition “ideal”.
11 REORDERED – see preamble.
12 DERMA – ARMED*. Thematic, definition “skin”.
13 STEAL – LEAST*. Thematic, definition “steal”
19 ARMED – DREAM*. Thematic, definition “with mine?”
21 LEAST – STALE*. Thematic, definition “cannot get lower than this”.
22 NEURALGIA – NEU[t]RAL + G.I. + A.
25 ETACISM – MISTEAC[h]. Last one in, and my only slight grumble. The word seems obscure, so the non-deterministic wordplay could be deemed a tad tight-fisted. For example, ECATISM would have fitted the clue and the checked squares, so this was the one point where I had to hit the books to finish the puzzle. Of course, it’s perhaps just my own ignorance and everybody else uses the word regularly!
26 HEMLINE – HE + (L in MINE).
27 STALE – STEAL*. Thematic, definition “gone off”.
28 DIAGNOSED – (E + SON + GA[l])< in DID.
1 ADDER – DARED*. Thematic, definition “summer”, as in someone who sums.
2 ABALONE – I’m not certain about this one. My best guess is it’s a whimsical tale of a mermaid who is ALONE and yearns to meet a sailor, being AB. I’ll reproduce the clue though, in case readers can explain it better: Shellfish mermaid yearned for under such conditions?
3 DARED – DREAD*. Thematic, definition “faced”.
4 NUMERATOR – cd., and a good one it is too.
5 DREAD – ADDER*. Thematic, definition “fear”.
7 ENDORSE – D[ialect] in (E + NORSE). A great clue: Adopt dialect, originally part of English language.
8 MUDLARKED – [d]U[n]D[a]L[k] in MARKED.
13 SUPPLIERS – (I in SUPPLE) + R[eport]S.
14 LEASTWISE – LEAST (from 21ac) + WISE.
18 NIAGARA – GAIN< + ARA[b].
22 NAMED – AD-MEN*. Thematic, definition “called”.
23 AD-MEN – AMEND*. Thematic, definition “they commercialise”.
24 AMEND – NAMED*. Thematic, definition “correct”.

12 Responses to “Independent 7,734 by Monk (Saturday Prize Puzzle, 30/07/11)”

  1. Allan_C says:

    My experience was much the same as yours, Simon, apart from a false start being misled by the clue to 22a. I read ‘nervous disorder’ as indicating the answer ended in ‘tic’, and put in ‘apathetic’ as a synonym for ‘indifferent’ – not that I could make the rest of the clue fit. But when 16d was undoubtedly KAMPUCHEA that idea was soon scotched.
    Then with the four groups of three (and 17a, 2d) as yet unsolved I wondered if 11a, referring to their all being five letters long could be ‘pentagram’. But although, according to Chambers, a tetragram can be a word of four letters the same does not apply to a pentagram. And, of course, PENTAGRAM turned up as 17a.
    Thanks, Monk and Simon, for an ingenious puzzle and a comprehensive blog.

  2. Allan_C says:

    Just looked at the clue for 2d again – that was one I couldn’t quite follow. I think it’s the sailor (AB) under such conditions (ALONE) who yearns for the mermaid. A bit convoluted, but there is a question mark at the end of the clue.

  3. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks, Allan. I forgot to mention that I too spent time trying to make –TIC or –ATIC fit at 22ac. I suspect we won’t be the only ones!

  4. nmsindy says:

    My experience was very similar, a very tough puzzle indeed until I saw the idea being used, after that, pretty much plain sailing. Some excellent clues, and, yes, I too had pencilled in TIC. Thanks, Simon and Monk.

  5. superkiwigirl says:

    Many thanks for your excellent blog, Simon, and for a terrific puzzle, Monk – really very enjoyable, and I’m very pleased to have got it completed.

    I took the same approach as you did, Simon, trying to get as many of the “standard” solutions in before beginning on the “specials”, but I have to admit that even once I’d got the 3 in the south eastern corner (AD-MEN was a fairly straight forward lead in) I still struggled for longer than I should have done (at least, that’s how it seemed once the penny dropped). I think my error was in thinking at that stage that all of the “specials” were going to be anagrams of the same 5 letters so that initially I discarded words like DREAM and only came back to them later.

    Like everyone else it seems I initially fell into the “….tic trap” before flirting briefly with “causalgia” until it dawned that the “u”was misplaced and I tried NEURALGIA.

    Lots of excellent clues I agree, though I am also puzzled by “done”=”right” at 1 ac. As for ABALONE, hats off to you Allan_C, your parsing is surely spot on. (A propos of which, you are also probably correct for the parsing of Phi’s UNSTEADY yesterday – unfortunately, though, as an exclusively online solver I can’t now go back to check the wording of the clue!)

  6. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Simon. I’ve not much to add, as my experience was much the same as others’, but re ‘right’=DONE, think of it as the possible answer to an order/request: “Will you put the kettle on?” “Right/done”

  7. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, superkiwigirl, for introducing me to a word I’ve never heard before: causalgia. So in return here is the clue you can’t check from yesterday’s 14d: “Dodgy Sunday tea, unfinished, abandoned (8)”. Hope Gaufrid doesn’t rule it out of order in today’s comments.

  8. superkiwigirl says:

    Thanks, Allan_C.

    Yes, having re-read the clue I agree with you entirely – just goes to show that one shouldn’t snatch unthinkingly at the first apparent word to do service as an anagrind!

  9. anax says:

    After a busy day, finally got round to tackling this one and very rewarding it was too – the cyclical treatment didn’t take too long to spot but the NE corner trio held me up. Terrific fun, and an unusual, quirky puzzle.

    My reading of ‘right’/'done’ was along the lines of ‘the done/right thing’ but I like Stella’s interpretation too.

  10. superkiwigirl says:

    This time it’s thanks to anax and Stella – both of your explanations of ‘right’/'done’ seem plausible (hope you don’t mind though, Stella, but if I had to choose I would go with anax).

  11. Stella Heath says:

    I have to agree, though mine was a good image :D

  12. Monk says:

    I did wonder how many solvers would fall into the “tic” trap at 22ac.

    Anax@9 gives my intended explanation about “right/done”, but I too like Stella’s@6. Interesting to hear that the NE corner caused Anax a delay, because this underwent a reconstruction following Eimi’s observation that MISCASTED, replaced with MUDLARKED, although in Tea’s Edited English dictionary (based on Princeton’s WordNet project), is not confirmed in any of the “standard” dictionaries.

    Many thanks to all for the positive comments and especially to Simon for a super blog.

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