Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,774 / Nestor

Posted by RatkojaRiku on September 15th, 2011


One of the reasons why I started blogging, and perhaps why my blogs might appear pedantically detailed to some readers, was that I wanted to help a couple of colleagues of mine who are not English-speakers but who are very interested in the English institution that is the cryptic crossword. As you might imagine, when explaining clues to beginners for whom English is not the mother tongue, I err on the side of caution and adopt the approach of explaining more rather than less.

Obviously, to a non-British audience some puzzles are more accessible than others, and I think that this puzzle falls into the latter category, with British cultural references in abundance, in whole or in part, at 8, 9, 10, 15 and 16, although many of these are well-known outside of the UK: the sitcom at 16 was a huge hit in my colleagues’ homeland, for example. As for 18, given the show’s cult following internationally, probably what matters more here is whether or not you are a “trekkie”, rather than whether or not your first language is English. In any case, I rather like the intermingling of cultural references that can, for example, have a Conservative PM appearing in a grid alongside characters from poprime-time TV shows, even if it does put non-UK solvers at a disadvantage.

My favourite clue today has to be 10, for its smooth surface reading and misleading use of “tract”, although the clue in itself was not among the hardest to solve. I also liked the interlinking of clues at 5, 6 and 20.

I struggled to parse quite a few of these entries, especially 29, so please bring any slips to my attention. Furthermore, the wordplay at 23 escapes me completely, so I look forward to being enlightened on that score – now explained, see below!

*(…) indicates an annagram

8   LONDON EYE [DONE (=completed) + Y (=year)] in LONE (=solitary); the definition is “landmark in revolution (=spinning, rotating)”
9   DENCH D<r>ENCH (=completely wet, as a verb; “holding back R” means letter “r” is not used); the reference is to English actress Dame Judi Dench (1934-), who has played M in the James Bond films since 1995.
11   ASTRIDE AS (=when) + [R (=resistance) in TIDE (=surge of feeling)]; definition is “having got one’s leg over”, i.e. straddled.
12   PREMIUM U (=plummy, i.e. upper-class) in [MIME (=actor that doesn’t speak) + RP (=BBC accent); “retiring” indicates a reversal]
13   USERS U (=university) + SER<ie>S (=regular feature on TV; “that is (=i.e.) missing” means letters E are not used); the definition is simply “addicts”.
15   RED ARROWS [D<isplays> (“foremost in” means first letter only is used) in REAR (=tail)] + ROWS (=lines); & lit.; the reference is to the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, famed for their colourful flypasts.
17   ELS ELS<e> (=other, “back away from” means last letter is dropped); the reference is to South African golfer Ernie Els (1969-), hence “clubber, perhaps”.
18   ROMULUS SULU (=Kirk’s helmsman, i.e. in Star Trek, played by George Takei) + MOR<e> (=again; “docked” means last
letter is dropped); the definition is “home planet of Star Trek race”, featuring prominently in the Star Trek series.
20   AXE Hidden (“would be found in”) in XenA XEna (=Xena repeatedly, i.e. written out twice)
21   REDEEMING *(END REGIME); “in corrupt state” is anagram indicator.
23   BREED Definition is “sort of”; B<roken>REED (=weak, unreliable person; “abandoning five characters after the start” means that the initial letter is used but then the next five letters are dropped)
24   ICEBERG IC (=in charge) + [BE (=endure, i.e. last) in ERG (=work unit)]
26   RECEIVE <violenc>E in [REC (=sports ground, i.e. abbreviation of recreation ground) + I’VE (=I have)]; the definition is “to fence”, i.e. receive stolen goods.
28   EXILE XI (=the same number, i.e. eleven) in ELE<ven> (=team; “half of” means only half the letters are used)
29   SCAPEGOAT S (=sons) + CAP (=limit, as in to put a cap on spending) + EGO (=subject, in psychology) + AT (=to)
PLEA (=request) + SURE (=certain) + CRUISE (CREWS=shipboard groups; “to be heard” indicates homophone); “floating holiday” is (slightly cryptic) definition.
2   GNAT Hidden (“slice of”) in boloGNA That’s”
3   ROTISSERIE ROT (=decomposition) + IS + S<poil> (“beginning to” means first letter only) + ERIE (=lake); the definition is simply “spit”.
4   CEREBRUM CE (=church) + RE (=concerned with) + BRUM (=Birmingham)
5   KEYPAD KEYP (KEEP=hold; “speaker’s” indicates homophone) + AD (=plug)
6   ADZE Homophone (“can be picked up”) of “ads” (=of which several, continuing from previous clue, hence …); the definition is “something like 20 (=axe, solution at 20)”
7   INVIGORATE [GO (=work, as a verb) + RA (=artist)] in INVITE (=request)
10   HAMPSTEAD HEATH [MP (=politician) in HAS] + [A in TED HEATH (=prime minister]; the definition is “tract, i.e. land not pamphlet, in London”.
14   EASY DOES IT Cryptic definition: EASY (=Stelio’s budget, cf EasyJet) + DOE-SIT (=whimsically, deer-minding service, cf baby-sit); the reference is to Sir Stelios Haji Ioannou (“Sir Stelios”), the founder of UK budget airline EasyJet; the actual definition is “take care” be careful.
16   RUST BUCKET S (=son) in [RUT (=routine) + BUCKET (=character played by Routledge, i.e. Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket in UK sitcom Keeping Up Appearances)]
19   LEG BREAK The definition is “spinner”, i.e. a spinning delivery in cricket; cryptic definition is “something wished on lucky actor”, referring to the expression of good luck “Break a leg!”
22   INGEST <will>INGEST (=most ready to; “Will leaves” means the letters WILL are dropped)
25   EWER *(WE’RE); “thrown” is anagram indicator
26   iPOD Cryptic definition: 1P  OD (=overdrawn) is “minimal statement in the red”, i.e. only overdrawn by 1 penny; the
straight definition is “streamlined music gadget”

9 Responses to “Independent 7,774 / Nestor”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for your blog. I don’t think your blogs are pedantically detailed at all; I like seeing full explanations. I know not all bloggers have the time to go into so much detail, but then if there is anything people don’t understand, someone will always explain it.

    I found this tough and there were at least half a dozen clues where I needed your explanations. I too liked the 5,6, 20 links, and CEREBRUM raised a smile. So this for me was a most enjoyable challenge, at about the limits of my solving ability.

    Can’t help with BREED, I’m afraid. The D presumably comes from the fifth letter of ‘abandoning’, but I don’t see the rest.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Also meant to add that ROMULUS made me smile too, because we had REMUS yesterday from Dac!

  3. Rishi says:

    I don’t look up the online urban dictionary but it has ‘nightbreed’, which is defined as “An unfortunate looking individual.”

    If we accept that ‘weak, unreliable person’ approximates to this slang word, then if we abandon ‘five characters after start’ we get BREED (sort).

    May not be correct, but I have tried, haven’t I?

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku

    23ac is B[roken] REED

  5. Lenny says:

    Thank RatkojaRiku. This was a toughie, both in terms of wordplay and in references to popular culture. What made things worse is that I have only ever done one Nestor before which was quite straightforward so I was expecting an easy ride.

    Let me start by saying what I did like: the clues to Cerebrum, Ipod and Easy Does It. I was not so keen on the clues to Premium and Scapegoat. Plummy may be a stretch too far for U, likewise subject for ego. Romulus was a guess, since I knew neither the helmsman nor the planet. Last in was Breed, on the grounds that it could not be Blood, Blend or Bread. Thanks to Gaufrid for the explanation.

  6. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid, for slotting in the final piece of the jigsaw: like you, Rishi and I had been looking for a word from which five letters would be deleted near the beginning to arrive at the solution, but I would never have hit upon that particular expression, which is new to me. I’ll amend the blog accordingly.

  7. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for the blog. I’d never have thought your blogs were ‘pedantic’, but, definitely esp now that you have explained what is behind the provision of all the detail, I’d have seen them as ‘didactic’ in the very best sense of that word.

    Nestor’s puzzles are invariably perfectly constructed and perfectly fair and have great originality and variety of approach. While Nestor is among the harder Indy setters, I find the standard of Nestor difficulty can vary quite a bit from puzzle to puzzle. This had quite a few references esp to Star Trek (which I must admit being in virtually total ignorance of). So there came a point that I would have got no further without turning to reference sources. Routledge, I’m afraid, meant nothing either tho when I looked at the Wikipedia entry, I said “Of course”. With them I eventually got there, but I certainly found it one of the very hardest puzzles of the year and your blog gave extra subtleties in the explanations that I did not fully appreciate when solving. I did get the ‘broken reed’ idea thanks to Ms Bradford who has it listed under ‘unreliable’ in her book which I often need to look up esp in the ‘advanced’ themed puzzles like the Inquisitor.

    My favourite clues were USERS and esp RECEIVE. Thanks, Nestor, for the puzzle.

  8. Mordred says:

    Superb blog of quite difficult puzzle

  9. flashling says:

    Likewise didn’t get reasoning for BREED so thanks to Gaufrid for that. A fine blog RR and a tricky but (mostly) solvable puzzle from Nestor.

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