Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7770 – Saturday Prize Puzzle 10 September 2011 by Mordred

Posted by duncanshiell on September 17th, 2011


I think this the first Mordred puzzle that I have blogged.

I didn’t find it too difficult to solve but I am not sure that I have got all the parsing absolutely right.  For instance, the final TAL of ABETTAL still puzzles me.  I have suggested an idea below, but I don’t feel confident about it.  Also, I am not entirely sure of the wordplay for INSULT although I think it is simply a double definition.

There seem to me to a number of &Lit clues (probably more than I have indicated) or clues that are nearly &Lit with some words in the clues doing double duty – company (3 Down), urban (7 Down)

I know the Saturday Independent often has a Nina (hidden message) contained in the grid.  This time I think we have a physical Nina with the musical entry MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME being taken from a song sung by Nina Simone and we also have SIMONE as an entry in its own right.

This puzzle is one of a number I am blogging whilst touring Italy on holiday reliant on campsite wi-fi services which can be hideously expensive.  I can’t therefore guarantee reading or responding to any comments on the day of publication of the blog. There may also be a few typos for which I apologise.

Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Toccata’s abnormal musical direction (8) Anagram of (abnormal) TOCCATA’S STACCATO (musical direction to play with each note disconnected)
5 Issue of Chanel’s No. 5 blend (6) E (fifth letter of [No 5]] CHANEL) + MERGE (blend) EMERGE (issue)
10 A state backing tea (5) A + MASS (Massachusetts; state of USA) ASSAM (variety of tea)
11 Right, stupid, bruise me, and you’ll have to pay compensation (9)

R (right) + anagram of (stupid) BRUISE ME

REIMBURSE (pay an equivalent amount for loss or expense; pay  compensation)
12 Film director shows the right way for Chinese to screen endless bombast (9) TAO (in Confucianism [the doctrines of the Chinese philosopher Confucius], the way to be followed) containing RANTING (bombast) excluding the final letter (almost) G TARANTINO (reference Quentin Tarantino, film director)
13 Raft made from turning a chunk of wood? (5) A + SLAB (an outer plank sawn from a log; a chunk of wood) BALSA (raft)
14 Entry panel of certain sports? (6) IN (entry) + DOOR (a solid sheet of wood; panel) or more simply a reference to the IN DOOR (a means of entry) INDOOR (reference INDOOR sports, as opposed to OUTDOOR sports)
15 Girl in need anyhow used with satisfaction (7) JOY (girl’s name) contained in an anagram of (anyhow) NEED ENJOYED (used with satisfaction)
18 Incitement to a gamble practically difficult to bring off (7) A + BET (gamble) + TAL (I think there is some link to TALL ORDER [practically difficult] but I can’t relate ‘to bring off’ to exclude LORDER) ABETTAL (incitement)
20 Slight touch of the verbals (6) INSULT (‘touch’ means to hit, wound or injure and an insult is generally a verbal wound, although I suppose it is possible to write an insult as well) INSULT (slight) double definition
22 A hit, Beano’s ultimate comic character (5) BIFF (a hit) + last letter (ultimate) O of BEANO BIFFO ( a comic character, a dog I think)
24 On backing Christian fellowship Rod articulated skeleton support (9) ON reversed (backing) + TOC H (a society formed after World War II to promote Christian Fellowship) + an anagram of (articulated) ROD NOTOCHORD (a skeletal rod, foreshadowing the spinal column)
25 Policymaker ultimately following tough course (9) HARD (tough) + LINE (course) + last letter (utimately) R of POLICYMAKER HARDLINER (one who sets or follows a definitive and unyielding policy) &Lit clue
26 One sporting frightful horn? (5) I (one) contained in (sporting) an anagram of (frightful) HORN RHINO ( a large ungulate of several species in Africa and Southern Asia sporting one or two horns)  &Lit clue
27 Radical group performing Help enthrals New York(6) Anagram of (performing) HELP containing (enthrals) NY (New York) PHENYL (an organic radical)
28 TV series in remake of this very successful film? (5,3) MASH (TV series set in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War) contained in an anagram of (remake of) THIS

SMASH HIT (anything very successful in media, TV, music or film these days is described as a SMASH HIT)

Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Stubborn refusal over variable song (6) SHAN’T (shall not, stubborn refusal often voiced by a toddler) + Y (variable [in mathematics])

SHANTY (a rythmical song)

2 Pledge confidence in Word (9) ASSURANCE (pledge) ASSURANCE (confidence) I’m not entirely sure what ‘Word’ [Microsoft Word?] is doing here, other than perhaps to signify we are looking for one word meaning both pledge and assurance)
3 Child’s offering of company to young pal with endless time free? (6,3,2,4) CO (company) + an anagram of (free) TO YOUNG PAL and TIME excluding the final letter (endless) E COMING OUT TO PLAY (child’s offering of company)
4 Jack Russell possibly setting slip in order (7) ERR (slip) contained in (in) TIER (row, level, rank; order) TERRIER (a Jack Russell is one of many breeds of terrier)
6,23 Lyrical admission of role reversal by Mum – carer’s safety job’s been switched (2,4,4,5,3,2) Anagram of (been switched) BY MUM CARER’S SAFETY JOB MY BABY JUST CARES [FOR ME] (lyrics contained in a song written by Gus Kahn in 1928 and most famously sung by Nina Simone)
7 Some spectacular urban description? On the contrary, quite the opposite (5) Hidden word in (some) SPECTACULAR URBAN reversed (on the contrary) RURAL (the opposite of urban)
8 Look at John, for example, a very attractive person (3,5) EYE (look at) + CANDY (reference John Candy) EYE CANDY(someone who is very attractive)
9 A woman in some jazzy version (6) Anagram of (jazzy) IN SOME SIMONE (lady’s name)
16 Like yolk from chicken to some extent (9) YELLOWISH (cowardly to some degree; chicken) YELLOWISH (like the colour of a yolk) double definition
17 Lewis after musical beginnings, carried her on Play-Along first of all (4,4) First letters of (first of all) LEWIS AFTER MUSICAL BEGINNINGS CARRIED HER ON PLAY-ALONG LAMB CHOP (reference the ventriloquist Shari Lewis and her dummy, a ewe known as LAMB CHOP. No doubt the first television programme they were seen on was Play-Along, sometime in the 1950s I think)
19 Head dropping, maybe Titchmarsh needs to invest in water cooling (2,4) ALAN (Titchmarsh, one example of an Alan) with the first letter (head) A moving to the end (dropping) to give LANA containing (needs to invest) IN

LA NIÑA (a meteorological phenomenon in which unusually cold ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific cause extreme weather conditions)

20 Bury that man in Tower ‘Amlets in the meantime (7) INTER (bury) + HIM (that man) with the leading H dropped as is the style of Cockney (East End; Tower Hamlets is in the East End of London. ‘Amlets accentuates the point about dropping the H) INTERIM (in the meantime)
21 Skilful run out leading to appeal by Bill (6) AD (advertisement; bill) + RO (run out [in cricket]) + IT (sex appeal) ADROIT (skilful)

14 Responses to “Independent 7770 – Saturday Prize Puzzle 10 September 2011 by Mordred”

  1. Allan_C says:

    BIFFO the Bear is from the Beano – so a nice &lit in 22a.

    I couldn’t quite figure out ABETTAL either.

  2. anax says:

    18a – saw it as TAL[l] meaning “difficult to bring off” (as in a tall order) with ‘practically’ meaning ‘almost’ to indicate last letter deletion.

    Haven’t done a weekend Mordred before but enjoyed this a lot. As you say, Nina Simone seems to offer a mini theme, but more noticeable for me was the number of clues containing capitalised words; thought there might be something thematic along those lines but didn’t find anything. Didn’t spoil the fun though!

  3. anax says:

    PS: Jack Russell also a wicket keeper, making the ‘slip’ reference in 4d very clever.

  4. Lenny says:

    Thanks for your sterling effort from the Italian campsite, Duncan, and thanks to Mordred for an entertaining and amusing puzzle that managed to tease some quite obscure popular cultural references out of my memory. I liked the idea of making the hidden theme a Nina and I enjoyed the many semi-&lits. My last two were La Nina and Notochord. I got La Nina because I was looking for a Nina and that opened the door to Notochord, a new word to me.

    My memory of Shari Lewis is from BBC television but her Wiki biography seems to indicate that she was American and her entire career was in The States. Apparently Lamb Chop made her first appearance in 1956, as Duncan suggests, in Captain Kangaroo. Play-Along did not appear until 1992 so the semi-&lit does not quite work there.

    Thanks for the Jack Russell comment, Anax. I wondered why Mordred had chosen that particular DBE.

  5. nmsindy says:

    Tough puzzle from Mordred, ideal for a Saturday. My favourite clue was SHANTY, also esp liked the use of ‘jazzy’ in 9D given the theme. Would not have been familiar with some of the references but it was perfectly possible to solve the puzzle without knowing them. Thanks, Mordred and Duncan.

  6. PeterO says:

    Thank you, Mordred and Duncan – to continue blogging on holiday is, I feel, above and beyond. I agree with Anax’ interpretation of TAL in 18A. I’m not sure why you single out the word ‘company’ for double duty in 3D; it seems to me that the answer ‘Coming out to play?’ (as a question) is an ingenious semi &lit; to separate the definition, ‘childs offering’ would be adequate. I did not look up 6/23D, and so missed the Nina altogether (which happens all too frequently). Very clever.
    In 24A, Toc H was founded after the first World War, not the second.

  7. Derek Lazenby says:

    As the Grauniad prize was not do-able online I thought I’d look at the Indy instead. I’m confused. The puzzle I’ve just done is this one dated 10th, but today is 17th. Are the Indy prize puzzles usually a week late on-line? Or is this just a glitch?

    There were a few I only got from the definitions and crossings, so thanks for the blog, it was needed. Enjoy the holiday!

  8. nmsindy says:

    Derek @7. The Indy practice is to put the Sat (and Sun) puzzles up on the website a week late ie on the day the solution appears.

  9. Gaufrid says:

    The Indy prize puzzles (Saturday and IoS) always appear on-line one week after they are in the paper. This is because it is not possible to disable the ‘cheat’ facility in the software that the Indy uses (unlike the Guardian website). Being able to reveal the answers before the closing date for entries would make something of a mockery of a prize puzzle.

  10. Derek Lazenby says:

    I think I hit a filter cos I tried twice already and I can see no evidence of either reply! But anyway, I was trying to say I evaluated Crossword Compiler a while back and there were a range of buttons all of which could be enabled or disabled. The Indy, for example, already has some disabled.

    This time no sample crossword links, so see if this works!

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Derek

    I don’t know what happened to your two comments. They weren’t intercepted as spam otherwise I would be able to see them in the appropriate folder.

  12. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan (I salute your dedication!) and Modred; an initial feeling of dread soon passed after I got the mini-theme.

    The one I tripped upon was 22A. I had BUFFO from BUFF(hit) O – an (operatic) comic(al) character. With the Beano a distant memory, I could only surmise that its inclusion was to add to the surface in conjunction with “comic”. Of course BIFFO is superior.

  13. flashling says:

    Feel a little bit silly having got my baby just cares and Simone, went looking for the Nina and missed the fact it was smacking me over the head. Thanks all.

  14. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    I happened to think that this was one of the very finest puzzles I’ve ever tackled. Clue after clue impressed me, and I thought LAMB CHOP was phenomenal. Great work, Mordred.

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