Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,750 / Nimrod

Posted by RatkojaRiku on August 18th, 2011


When you have a Nimrod puzzle to solve or to blog, you know you are in for a challenge, and true to form, he has not disappointed today. For me, more so with Nimrod than with any other compiler that I can think of, I often solve nothing on my first read-through, and then grind away at the puzzle slowly and patiently. Invariably, I solve shorter entries first, moving on to longer entries – with the help of 8, of course! Perhaps because I am on holiday and not in my usual state of fatigue, I cracked this one more quickly than the average Nimrod teaser, although I am not sure that I have parsed all the solutions wholly correctly – any improvements would be gratefully accepted!

This was something of a self-referential puzzle, a crossword about crosswords and crossworders, judging by the entries at 2, 5 and 8 (all three of the 15-letter downs) and in part at 24; less seasoned solvers were probably mystified by the “hidden feature” in 24, while it is standard fodder for Indy regulars.

26 was a highlight for me: clues offering four ways of arriving at the solution are a rare treat; alas, I could work out only two of them unaided and needed the dictionary to confirm the other two. There was also new vocabulary for me at 7, although it could be deduced easily from the wordplay, and a new meaning of a most familiar word at 24: I use this word in its general architectural sense a dozen times a day as I have one in my home, but I was totally unaware of its theatrical usage. Oh, the joy of crosswords!

*(…) indicates an anagram

1 EPIC EPI<demi>C (=widespread, i.e. of disease); “not half” means only half the letters are used means that the letters demi (=half) are not used.
4 BACKSTITCH BACKS (=is behind, i.e. supports) + TITCH (=little chap); “rear entrance to sewer (=one who sews, does sewing)” is the cryptic definition.
9 UNDERSTOOD *(DETOURS + DON); “alarmingly” and “out” are anagram indicators; the definition is simply “Roger” as in radio communication, as in Roger, over and out.
10 A FEW Hidden in (“in”) “SantA FEWith”
11 EYOT TO + YE (=the old, i.e. old word for “the”); “return” indicates reversal
12 DOSTOEVSKY [DOS (=swindles, as noun) + TO] + [V (=Victor, i.e. the letter “v” in radio telecommunication) in ESKY (=cooler, i.e. an Australian word for a portable insulated container for keeping drinks, etc cool)]
14 BROADSWORD ROADS (=such as the M1) in B-WORD (=bloody, as an expletive, cf the F-word); the definition is simply “arm”, as in weapon.
16 CANT Double definition: CAN’T is “unable to” AND “a common language”, jargon, lingo.
17 OPAL Definition is “(precious) stone”; cryptic definition is “appeal toChina(=mate)”, i.e. “O, pal!”
18 OBDURATELY *(DURABLE TOY); “suffering damage” is anagram indicator; & lit; the definition is “hardly” in the sense of in a hard, severe, harsh manner.
19 MOONSTRUCK MOONS (=reveals bum) + TRUCK (=dealings, as in trade, bartering); Moonstruck is a 1987 romantic comedy starringCher and Nicolas Cage.
21 OATH Hidden (“in”) in “alsO AT Home”; “I’m sworn” is definition.
22 DEAR Double definition: DEAR means “pricy” AND “letter-opener”, i.e. a form of words used to open a letter.
24 MEZZANINES ANIN (NINA=hidden feature, i.e. of a crossword puzzle, often a message appearing around the perimeter of the grid; “moving around” indicates reversal) in MEZZES (=Greek courses, i.e. food); in North American English, the mezzanine is the first balcony in the theatre, the circle.
25 ATMOSPHERE AT MOS<t> (=maximally; “de-tailed” means last letter is dropped) + P (=President) + HERE (=present, i.e. not absent)
26 TOSH Incredibly, there are FOUR ways of arriving at the answer here: a triple definition AND wordplay. TOSH means “intimate”, friendly in Scots AND “twaddle” AND “chum”, friend; TO (=addressing) + SH (=mum, as in to keep mum)
2 PENNY-DROP MOMENT [NY (=Giants, i.e the American football team New York Giants) + DROP (=omit) + <tea>M (“back from” means last letter only) + OMEN (=not a good sign)] in PENT (=restrained, as in pent-up emotion)
3 CRESTFALLEN *(LANCERS FELT); “hard done by”, i.e. mistreated is anagram indicator.
4 BASED B<i>ASED (=out of prejudice; “ignoring one” means letter “i” is omitted)
5 CROSSWORD PUZZLE CROSS (=adverse) + WORD (=rumour, as in word has it that …) + PUZZLE (=complication); the cryptic definition is “blocked headache”, with “blocked” referring to the style of grid of e.g. this crossword, i.e. not barred.
6 SIDE ORDER *(RIDER DOES); “with dexterity” is anagram indicator; the definition is “one accompanying main (course, dish)”.
7 ITA <v>ITA<l> (=extremely important; “in essence” means only the inner letters are used); the ita is the miriti palm.
8 CHECKING LETTERS A kind of double definition: CHECKING LETTERS is “a task for a personal secretary” AND help to crossword solvers where grid entries intersect on checking letters, hence “your (=the solver’s) assistance”.
13 VACATIONIST *(TO VATICAN IS); “rather excited” is anagram indicator; “one tripping (on a trip) in from the States” is the definition, i.e.USword for holidaymaker.
15 SHOOT-’EM-UP SHOOT (=film) + EM UP (=ME, i.e. a vertical reversal of EM); shoot-’em-up is an originallyUSslang term for a film, programme, game involving violent scenes.
20 KNAVE K<etch> (“head” means first letter only) + NAVE (=body, i.e. of church); the definition is “jack”, as in cards.
23 RIO R (=take, abbreviation of the Latin recipe) + IO (=ten); the reference is to the 1982 single Rio by British pop group Duran Duran, which contains the lyric “Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand”.


13 Responses to “Independent 7,750 / Nimrod”

  1. hounddog says:

    Challenge is putting it mildly. Sometimes you get a couple of clues that causes the dam to burst (or I do, anyway) but this was a case of one step at a time. Rather amusingly I started at ‘Penny-drop moment’ for ages before it did.

    A couple of quibbles on the blog: you’ve mis-typed Dostoevsky (your explanation is fine) and ‘Over & out’ is only heard in films. ‘Over’ means ‘end of message, please reply’ and ‘out’ means ‘end of message, no reply needed, I’m signing off’

  2. crypticsue says:

    I agree. Definitely one of those Nimrod’s where you stare for ages before enlightenment strikes. The d’oh when I realised what 2d was all about was quite something. The other two related clues were good too, I thought. Thanks to Nimrod and RatkojaRiku – if they’d been waiting for me to blog this one, they’d have been waiting some time!

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    To put it less mildly, this was chuffing hard. But I feel slightly chuffed, because I did eventually manage it. This is pretty much at the outer edges of my solving ability: it’s all gettable, but factor in the obscure words and the cleverly disguised word play and cds, and it’s going to be a tough nut to crack.

    There were half a dozen that I got, but couldn’t understand why, so thank you for your explanations, RatkojaRiku. But it was a 5dn that I got a lot of pleasure from.

    I have to say 23d is a pretty arcane reference (I know, you’ve only got one letter to guess when you’ve got your 8d). Just a bit surprised because I’d always put Nimrod down as being too young to remember early 1980s’ stuff …

  4. Paul A says:

    1ac – I think it’s more than just missing half the lettters. It’s missing ‘demi’, i.e. half. Too clever by half?

  5. Lenny says:

    This was very entertaining. Fortunately, I got Penny-Drop Moment quite quickly so I guessed the self-referential theme. The only obscurities for me were the two three-letter words. The sand-dancer had to be Rio but faced with I?A for the palm-tree I started checking for a pangram and considered Ija, Iqa and Ixa before I concluded that Nimrod had given up on the attempted pangram and I guessed at Ita without understanding the wordplay.Thanks for the explanation RR.

    I don’t see Obdurately as an &Lit. I think the definition is just Hardly.

  6. nmsindy says:

    I too found this pretty tough but you expect Nimrod to be tough but I got there in the end, understanding everything except RIO, tho it was the first answer I pencilled in cos of the friendly wordplay so I had no real doubts. I also agree with Paul A at #4 re demi = half which was clever. Many thanks, Nimrod and RatkojaRiku. I too was not aware of that meaning of MEZZANINE till verifying after, nor indeed had I heard of MEZZES.

  7. Richard says:

    I think there’s another crossword reference in the clue for 9 across, two prolific setters being Roger Squires and Don Manley.

  8. Quixote says:

    I didn’t take the Don to be personal. I often solve this colleague’s puzzles by intuition, looking at definitions, rather than by deduction — as I did here. Not one of his harder ones while I watched the limited highlights of the cricket!

  9. redddevil says:

    When you get to the stage of needing Duran Duran lyrics to parse a clue correctly that’s a step too far for me. Only a week or so ago many people on here hadn’t even heard of Sam Cooke!
    As usual with Nimrod puzzles I got lotsof the answeres quite quickly and then and spent more time trying to work out why they fitted the clues.
    Bit too intricate for me really though I got all but the two 3-letter ones (albeit many unparsed).

  10. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks to one and all for shedding additional light on today’s puzzle – I have adjusted the blog accordingly.

  11. flashling says:

    Thanks RR tried to do this in car home, failed. Bed time to sleep for a few days. Over to Eileen for her first step into the dark side tomorrow. JH ty but got half way – too tough for me err yesterday.

  12. Allan_C says:

    My experience of this 5d seems to be typical. Started with 10a of the easier clues, then got some of the others by intuition until the 2d when I got 8d from its 8d.

    I think Richard @7 is probably right as there are then two crossword references symmetically placed at 9a and 24a.

    Thought 19a was a bit cheeky!

  13. amulk says:

    I am a recent convert to the Independent crossword from the Times as a protest against their reptilian ownership (how long I remain happy with the owners of this journal remains a moot point, but let us wait and see). Anyway, as regards the crosswords, I find the standard of cluing in the Independent to be dodgy to say the least. Example: how can it be deemed reasonable to clue “NY” (in 2 dn) with “giants”? Would it be OK to clue “man” with “united”? Would it OK to clue “Wed” with “steel city”? No, I thought not. And “rio” = “sand dancer”? A lyric from a second rate Duran Duran song? What had the setter been smoking? And could someone provide me with a context in which one could reasonably replace “influence” by “atmosphere”? My thesaurus does not list the two as synonyms.

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