Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,768/Anax

Posted by Ali on September 8th, 2011


It’s been ages since I landed an Anax, no doubt because his tough puzzles usually guarantee a Saturday slot! This was no exception. You can be pretty sure that you’re in for a rough ride when the first answer you get is TURBELLARIAN!

The odd-looking grid and some fairly obscure answers early on suggested there would be something hidden, but it wasn’t until very late on that I clocked DAMON HILL in the top row and then MATT DAMON emerging in the bottom row. And it wasn’t until I’d had to cheat to finish off that I then spotted RACER in the third row and ACTOR in the corresponding row at the bottom.

As ever with Anax, there was some very clever stuff in here. I particularly liked ‘forces woman’ for WREN in 7D and the devious use of HOW for the definition in 6A. Some of it was too clever for me as you’ll see, so I’m hoping others can explain. And also hoping that the man himself might drop by to explain exactly what random thought process led to the creation of the grid!

6 HILL – [-catc]H + ILL
8 ALTRINCHAM – INCH covered by TRAM with A L(ine) to the west
9 MOWN – Not sure on this one – ‘Cut of beef taken from mouth’
11 DIXIE – I X (cross) in DIE (pass)
13 TOTALLING – TO (for) TALL (large) I.N.G (insurance company)
19 GOT WIND OF – I think this must be GOT (shot) and F (loud), but not sure how we’d get WINDO for ‘dodo’?
22 SOLID – L (pound) 1 in SOD (ground)
24 SCENESHIFTER – Cryptic def.
26 ISLE – No idea on this one – ‘What can you get for 20p? Oddly, silver key’
28 MATT – Hidden in rooM AT The..
1 DARTED – R(iver) in DATED (old)
2 ATARAXIA – AR(kansas) in A TAXI + A(rea)
3 MICE – M(ass) + ICE (murder)
4 OCELOT – O[-n]CE + LOT
5 NARRATES – ARR(ival) in NATES (behind)
6 HYMNAL – H(otel) + (MANY)* + L(ost)
7 LAWRENCE – L.A + WREN + C(of)E
12 ELEMI – ‘EM in ELI
14 LUPUS – Hidden in swell UP USually
17 ORDINAND – R(un) in ODIN + AND
18 WELL TO DO – WELL (my) + TO-DO (performance)
21 FASCIA – Aside from CIA as spies, not sure on this one – ‘Dash, almost like mad spies’
23 DARREN – RE (soldiers) in DARN
25 ITEM – MET (Police) + I[-nterrogate] rev.

23 Responses to “Independent 7,768/Anax”

  1. Paul A says:

    Halfway there on 26ac – It’s 1 + sle (odds in silver), but why 1?

  2. crypticsue says:

    I can’t help on 19a or 26a but I think 9a is a homophone of ‘moan’ – beef in the sense of complaint. Very Tough Anax was definitely back to full strength today but I think I enjoyed the struggle so thank you to him and to Ali too.

  3. Paul A says:

    19ac – GO is shot.. TWIN DO = dodo + F

    Plenty of new words here, thought I’d seen most crossword bison/antelopes etc, but no wisent. Grunt / brake horsepower ? One for Mr Clarkson

  4. Wanderer says:

    I think 21 is: Like mad = FAST (as in run like mad), so almost like mad = FAS + CIA gives us dash(board) of a car.

    No idea on ISLE.

    Difficult but as excellent as ever.

    Thanks Ali and Anax.

  5. Wanderer says:

    forgot to add: I’m bamboozled by DARREN. I got it from the wordplay, seeing RE in DARN as Ali did, but He sees? Does the solution refer to a person? If so, who, and what does he see? Any help gratefully received!

  6. Quixote says:

    I didn’t get the paper today (they’d run out), but I would suggest that you can buy the i newspaper for 20p. Araucaria in The Guardian was a nice half-a-cup-of-coffee job!

  7. flashling says:

    20p for the i + odd letters of SiLvEr = ISLE

  8. flashling says:

    Key as in Floriday Keys

  9. Paul B says:

    I’m too late to get in here with the explanations, so just in to say great puzz.

    Flash: were you on holiday in Floriday?

  10. MikeC says:

    Thanks Ali and Anax. Very tough. I got most of it but needed help with understanding some of the answers. Wanderer@5, I think “sees” is part of the inclusion indicator, so the definition is simply “He” – a bit vague, if so.

  11. caretman says:

    Thanks, Ali, you certainly drew a tough assignment this time out.

    It looks as though the other responders have explained the ones you found questioned. I loved the ‘dodo’ = TWINDO trick, but this puzzle was filled with original ideas. After going through all of the clues the first time around I think I had only three or four solutions. This definitely required sticking to it but it was all the more satisfying to reach the end.

    Great puzzle, Anax!

  12. Arachne says:

    Especially loved 8ac: the Metro really does have a westerly branch to Altrincham! *And* it’s my birthplace (Altrincham, not the Metro). Great puzzle, very clever. Thanks, Anax

  13. anax says:

    Hello friends – thanks to Ali for a very fine blog and to all for your comments. Relieved to see the trickier stuff unravelled.

    The slightly odd grid was just a quirk of my wish to keep the DAMON bits in line with the associated first/last names. This sort of design inevitably results in double unches, which I don’t particularly like even with the pay-off of more generous lights (in this case 6 & 20 down) but I hoped that spotting the hidden stuff would offer some recompense in NW/SE corners.

    To Arachne; can’t tell you how pleased I was to find something so appropriate for 8a, especially after my “Ugh – that looks nasty” reaction to the grid entry. Few of you may know much of Altrincham the place, but you may have seen its name crop up in that bar room “Guess the place name” joke involving coins. You know the one – put the coins under your hand for Bury, in the palm of your hand for Oldham etc etc. Altrincham is the one where you shuffle them around on the table.

  14. scchua says:

    Thanks Ali and Anax.

    Wonderful puzzle. Last one in was HILL and only because I saw the DAMONs. But I confess to a blind spot: How does “how” define “hill”? Grateful if someone sheds light on this.

    The other half that got away was ISLE. I got the SLE bit and the “key” bit, and I was sure that “I” = 1, number one, which is what you pay 20p to get into a public toilet to do. What the i newspaper costs I didn’t know.

  15. Gaufrid says:

    Hi scchua
    Under ‘how’ Chambers gives “a low hill; a tumulus or barrow (dialect)”.

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, I had a go and got about half of it, but a bit over my horizon today. I laughed at ISLE when I realised the self-referential bit of the Independent i. It has a good cryptic most days with a selection of the regular team on parade.

  17. ele says:

    This wasn’t my breakthrough Anax, but I did get a lot of it after some struggle and there were some great clues. Liked Sceneshifter. Failed on 1d, 5d and 6ac, and doubt I’d have seen Damon, but it would have been a help. Thanks Ali for the explanations. turbellarian was my first one in too and without that I’d have probably given up and gone home.

  18. flashling says:

    Aye (i) K’sD bought the i on tuesday for way home and was treated to a nice virgilius about Hemingway. Nice 20p worth. Thanks Anax and Ali. 19 seems to be GO (shot) + 2* (TWIN) DO + F (loud) and 13a TOTAL (sum) + L(arge) + I.N.G. totalling being a total write off something that petrolheads would know all about.

    I found this easier than some Anax’s but realising the Nina(s?) helped a lot. Cheers all and Tees I’d never ever holiday in florida(y), a few hours at Miama airport was quite enough – don’t intend to return

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    A puzzle like this makes me realise that I am still very much in a learning process. It was hard, wasn’t it?

    In the end the only thing I didn’t like was the hidden indicator (‘keep’) in 28ac, but at least I got the answer rightaway.
    Oh, and just like Wanderer I am still waiting for who or what DARREN is.

    Damon Hill – racer, actor – Matt Damon.
    It’s a nice challenge for the setter to get them in an (appropriate) grid, but why?
    Is it just for the sake of having Ninas?
    To be quite honest, I find a thing like this pointless. The two have nothing to do with anything else in the crossword.
    Maybe it is a welcome extra for some of you, unfortunately I cannot be bothered – nor about their appearance here neither about their appearance in real life.

    But, all in all, a very good crossword.
    Not completely on my wavelength (because of the lack of lightness, and the focus on cleverness), but certainly several levels up compared to what we normally see in the dailies.

    Thanks A1 and A2.

  20. anax says:

    Hi there Sil.
    Yes, to a degree it was an odd choice of ‘theme’, but the truth is it was plucked out of the air. All that happened was I was skimming through a TV listings mag looking for a film to watch, and there was one that featured Matt Damon. My mind working the way it does, I just decided that Damon was a slightly unusual name – perhaps more so because it immediately made me think of it as the first name of an ex-racing driver… followed by the realisation that Matt/Hill both had 4 letters and each could be clued as a non-name. And that was it really. Racer/Actor were just bonuses that fitted in with the number of letters in Damon.
    Since these two, er, celebrities have nothing else in common that I could think of there wasn’t really anything I could do to develop things further, so it was just a case of placing these bits symmetrically in the grid in the hope they might be spotted to help out with unchecked letters.

  21. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, anax, that’s fair enough then.
    But … who or what is DARREN?

  22. anax says:

    Darren, I’m afraid, is just ‘he’. ‘Sees’ is a pointer to the wordplay; the answer A sees B inside C.

  23. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Ali and thanks Anax.

    Too tough for me, the first crossword I have been unable to finish in a long time. Very good though, I just need to think harder next time.

    Like Arachne I was born in Altrincham, so any easy first in for me.

    Is the Indie really only 20p? Gosh

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