Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7748/Monk

Posted by John on August 16th, 2011


There was a time when Monk’s crosswords were the ones I anticipated most eagerly of all. Which suggests that I am lukewarm about this one: not the case; it was easier than his devilish constructions of the past, but the clues were of a uniformly high standard and the whole thing was very enjoyable.

My impression is that there is no Nina, but I’m only saying that because I can’t see one. Which is nothing to go on.

1 STOPGAPS — (spats surrounding GPO)rev. — the GPO was the General Post Office, a forerunner of the Royal Mail
5 ENTOMB — Ben and Tom are the two chaps, with B moved to the east
10 NITRE — (inert)*, and nitre is rather explosive so not usually inert — a nice &lit., one which Monk decides merits an exclam
11 ROAST BEEF — this is scoff as a noun, and roast = criticise, beef = complaint
12 PILOT LAMP — lam = hit, pilot = guide, p = page
13 Interview Russian Asking Questions In — usually these first letters clues stand out a mile, but Monk has disguised this one well
14 ANNEXE — année around ×
15 KING KONG — King = Elvis, kg around on
17 GRIDIRON — you’re looking at this grid, iron is the metal, and a gridiron is a frame (news to me, who had only been aware of the American Football meaning)
19 T(IS SO)T — James Tissot
24 ANAGLYPTA — an a {wron}g (aptly)* — Anaglypta is a type of wallpaper
25 AMPL(IF 1)E R
26 AZ URE — the State abbreviation and the river in North Yorkshire
27 ETH(A N)E{r} — ethane, being a colourless gas, can’t be seen in the lab, and ether = number is an old one that always tends to catch me out
28 MOLECULE — mole with clue, the inner two letters of which are reversed
1 SINOPIA — (in soap I)* — sinopia is a reddish-brown pigment of which I’d never heard, although once the checkers were in the answer had to be this (or possibly sonipia or even sinipoa)
2 doOR TO LANding
3 GREAT EXHIBITION — great = Chief, exhibition = fair, and the Great Exhibition was held in 1851
4 PARIAH — PA with (hair)rev., hair = shock
6 NOTTING HILL GATE — (to{o} late lightning)*
7 OREGANO — (gar{d}en)* in OO
8 BOFFI(n} NG —a new word to me, but according to Chambers it’s (sl. esp US) and as a verb means amongst other things to hit; the scientist could hardly have been Biffin or someone like that
9 SAPPHIC — sic around (happ{y})*
16 COHABIT — (chao{s})* bit, def ‘shack up’
17 GARBAGE — (E (gab) rag) — Refuse a noun
18 IN DEPTH — I = current (not in, as I thought at first) dept. h{ead} all around n — dept. = deputy was new to me, but it’s in Chambers
20 SEPPUKU — (s puke up)* [stupidly incorrect at first, thanks Wanderer] — another word that was new to me (it’s the same as hara-kiri, apparently), but it’s a fairly obvious anagram
21 TRAPEZE — rap in “tease”

17 Responses to “Independent 7748/Monk”

  1. Wanderer says:

    I think 20 is (S PUKE UP)*, which accounts for the up.

    Thanks John and Monk, difficult but good fun.

  2. Scarpia says:

    Thanks John,
    I’m a big fan of Monk’s puzzles and this one was no disappointment.Maybe not the most difficult,but still very inventively clued . and a pangram!
    thanks Monk.

  3. Jacinth says:

    Thanks John and Monk.

    There’s a subtle Listener-style nina.

  4. caretman says:

    Thanks John and Monk.

    Re: Scarpia @2, I don’t think there were a J, V, or W in the solutions, so not quite a pangram. And I agree with Wanderer @1 on the parsing of 20d.

    I found this challenging, perhaps more than the other responders here so far. ANAGLYPTA and SINOPIA were new to me (and the former was one I was sure couldn’t be a word), and PILOT LAMP was an unusual combination of common words I hadn’t previously met. And even after having 5a solved it took me several minutes to figure out how it worked.

    With 8d, when I have encountered BOFFING it has been in the sense of having a rather more intimate (and friendly) interaction with another than hitting. So it wasn’t until I got the crossing ‘F’ that I could solve that clue–there are a surprisingly large number of words related to hitting that fit a B…ING pattern and I have rarely come across ‘boffin’ (although I recognized that word when I figured it out).

    Thanks again, Monk, for a good Monday evening challenge.

  5. Wanderer says:

    Please say more, Jacinth! I can’t see anything (and I’m not familiar with The Listener).

    Also: is it reasonable to define IRAQI as a language? It seems to me rather unfair, like defining Austrian, say, or Afghan as languages (or Inca, for that matter, which crops up here from time to time).

  6. Jacinth says:

    27A and 28A form a clue – I don’t really want to say anything more yet!

  7. ele says:

    Thanks John for the explanations and Monk for a challenging puzzle that I obviously found much more difficult than others here :). I always forget ether = number as well.

    I’d have preferred an ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ in 12ac as ‘on’ seems often to mean it goes on after the preceding elements of wordplay rather than in the middle of them?

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, John. Quite a tough one, but I managed it in the end. I too was convinced that because of the number of unusual words, there must be a theme or Nina, but I couldn’t see it. Liked ETHANE, ANNEXE and the NOTTING HILL GATE anagram.

    Well, since Jacinth is teasing us, all I can contribute is that the formula for ETHANE is C2H6, but where that gets us I don’t know. I’m going to have one more look then pop back here later on to see the mystery revealed.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Got it! The C2H6 structure is displayed with the two Cs in the middle row and the six Hs arranged around it in the pattern you would get if you drew the representation of the ethane molecule. I could explain that a lot better if I could do the diagram here, but I don’t think it will come out properly:

    H H
    H H

    Anyway, you get the idea. Very clever indeed and good to see a real science-based puzzle. Bravo Monk.

  10. Jacinth says:

    That’s it! I don’t recall this being done in the Indy before, and it prompted me to write something here for the first time in a year or so!

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    This is what I was trying to do, which explains it better:

    Can I have the trophy for the longest link ever posted on Fifteensquared, please?

  12. Gaufrid says:

    I wonder if it is pure coincidence that this puzzle has appeared on the anniversary of the death of Elvis (who was used in the wordplay for 15ac).

    I also wonder if there has been a degree of prescience by Monk. The six Hs form an oval around the central square and the letters within the boundary of this Oval can be rearranged to form, amongst other things, ‘non-cricket’. Is this a reflection that the Indian touring team are going to continue as they have done in previous matches when the next Test starts on Thursday? And who will score the double century in the middle of the Oval?

  13. Wanderer says:

    Amazing! Thanks to Jacinth, K’sD and Gaufrid for further illumination.

    And to think when I started this I thought I was just doing a crossword… next time a Monk puzzle turns up, I shall probably spend the whole day trying to decode it.

  14. Monk says:

    Thanks to all for the blog and encouraging comments, several of which elicit a response. [1] Wanderer @ #1: yes, this was the intended parsing. [2] Caretman @ #4: anaglypta wallpaper was a la mode with landlords in the 70s, so I learnt the word as a student in digs. [3] Wanderer @ #5: you have a fair point. [4] Ele @ #7: the construction “A on B C” in 12ac was to be parsed as [ (A on B) + C ] = [ (A after B) + C ] = [ B + A + C ], with “on = after” agreeing with across-clue convention. Your suggestion “A in B C” parses as [ A in (B C) ], which is also [ B + A + C ]. [5] K’s D @ #9: just to add that the only occurrences of Hydrogen and Carbon outside the schematic ethane molecule were in ETHANE and MOLECULE. [6] Jacinth @ #3,6,10: thanks for being a real sport and letting others enjoy the penny-drop. Also, re #10, I used a similar idea many year ago in a blocked advanced puzzle. [7] Gaufrid @ #12: the possible Elvis and cricket connections are most definitely purely coincidental.

  15. Allan_C says:

    Not much one can add, save that I was looking for a suitable name of a scientist in 8d, which held me up for a while. Thought of ‘Bashi[r]’ to give ‘bashing’ but there are no well-known scientists named Bashir – though doubtless some obscure ones.

  16. sidey says:

    Fomous Bashir scientist ;^)

  17. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, sidey, I’ve just beamed him up. (What was that in a blog the other week about famous non-quotes?)

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