Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7791/Dac

Posted by John on October 5th, 2011


As usual a near-perfect crossword from Dac. Week after week he goes on producing these masterpieces. There is hardly anything here — so far as I can see — which calls for much comment that is not praise.

1 SAFEST — a S.A. fest could be regarded as a celebration in Johannesburg
4 JOB LOT — Job and Lot are OT characters
8 A R(A B 1’S)M
10 HIGH T EA — if you are high you are on a trip
11 IN CI DENTS — Jersey and Guernsey are Channel Islands — but they’re only examples of Channel Islands, so perhaps the clue might have been sounder (but not necessarily better) if it had read ‘In Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, minor …’, but even that might not be enough since I have a suspicion there is another Channel Island (yes, I see after Googling that there are various uninhabited ones, but it seems that all but Jersey are in the Bailiwick of Guernsey; maybe the clue is fine)
12 LEEDS — “leads”
15 STRETCH ONE’S LEGS — stretch = time, eg in (lesson)*
19 A {l}UGER
20 MAELSTROM — (St Malo mer)*, &lit.
22 BIT PART — (apt)rev. in Birt — ref Sir John Birt (now Baron Birt), who was BBC Director-General
23 KNEADED — “needed”
25 STORE Y{ou} — I notice that ‘on’ is being used in two different ways in the last two clues: A on B = AB in 24, BA in 25. I have no problem with that, but some people do.
1 SHAPIRO — (is Oprah)* — Helen Shapiro, well-known to those of a certain age
2 F(RAN)C — Orient refers to Leyton Orient, a football club
3 SH IN DIG{s}
4 JOHN STEINBECK — (Ibsen then)* in Jock — it has been said that ‘Jock’ is an offensive term for a Scotsman; is it?
6 ON THE MAKE — (at home Ken)*
7 {c}LASSI{fi}E{d}
9 MAN OF THE MATCH — 2 defs
14 A (BRO) GATOR — gator = alligator — Chambers says that it is informal and short for alligator, without quite committing itself on whether or not it is an abbreviation: it seems it is a word in its own right
15 S{corsese} CABBY — excellent clue, because Martin Scorsese directed Taxi Driver
17 SU(S)PE{r} CT — a clue I found tricky because of the misdirection of s in up
18 SOMEDAY — (Does May)*
21 steeRED IRresponsibly — hidden rev.

20 Responses to “Independent 7791/Dac”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks John, and Dac as always with an immaculate offering.

    Besides many others, liked 5D BIGGLES, 15D SCABBY and 3D SHINDIG, with its intertwining of definition and wordplay. And the reference in 18D is found here:
    and a cover version here:

  2. crypticsue says:

    A super Wednesday puzzle thank you Dac and John too.

  3. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Dac for a very enjoyable puzzle and John for the blog.

    On the minor niggles:

    11ac: For me, the question mark in this clue is enough to cover the possible definition by example, although your explanation in terms of Bailiwicks may make it unnecessary.

    24ac: It can be argued that “A on B” on its own only means AB in a down clue. However, “A’s taken on B” can be interpreted as “A has taken on B”, which I think is good enough for this clue.

  4. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, John, for the excellent blog. Delighted to see you sailed thru the three football references. And thanks, Dac, for another excellent puzzle, my favourites today being HIGH TEA, STRETCH ONES LEGS, SHINDIG, MAN OF THE MATCH. BTW, GATOR is pretty much established as a word, originally from across the pond, I think.

  5. Bamberger says:

    At last I’ve done it -an unaided Indie solve.

    Last one in was 7d where I could only think of lassie. Having said that I regret I don’t understand how “cuts made here and there” equates to knowing to remove the lead c, the fi and the final d.
    I’d be grateful for an explanation.

  6. Norman L in France says:

    Thanks, John.
    I’m one of those who don’t like “on” as in 25a, whether across or down.

  7. nmsindy says:

    Congrats on that, Bamberger, at #5 – I’m sure it will be the first of many. Re your query on LASSIE, I think the solver has to work out where the letters are removed, knowing that it must be four letters, and helped, I guess, by crossing letters (and by thinking of LASSIE!). That’s how I got it anyway.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well done Bamberger! And thanks to John for the blog.

    Super puzzle, smooth as a baby’s bottom. I’ve said it before, it’s really hard to choose the best clues with a Dac, because they’re pretty much all good.

    I’m not sure if JOCK is offensive; you’d have to ask a Scotsman, I guess. My next door neighbour comes from North of the border and has ‘jock’ as part of his e-mail name. Makes a change from IAN though.

  9. flashling says:

    I wasn’t overly happy with the clue to LASSIE – just drop unspecfied letters seems a bit weak to me, still congratulations to Bamberger, took me a few years to crack my first Indy, you’ll be blogging yourself soon… thanks John for the blog effort and Dac for a pleasant solve.

    Re Jock I made a similar query about Mick for Irishman and NMS (who should know) didn’t consider it offensive.

  10. Jack Aubrey says:

    Re Jock and Mick as possibly offensive terms, try searching for Tim Minchin Prejudice on You Tube. (Sorry, can’t post the link from this platform.)

  11. Pelham Barton says:

    Bamberger @5: It is always a nice feeling the first time you complete a particular type of crossword. Well done.

    7dn: I quite liked this clue type, which we might call a “pruning”. The requirement to drop a number of non-consecutive letters from a word in the clue was clearly signalled, and the free choice of letters to drop may be compared with the free choice of rearrangement of the letters in an anagram.

    I do regard it as an essential feature of this clue type that the “pruning fodder” is a word (or phrase) actually contained in the clue. I would regard an “indirect pruning” as equally objectionable to an indirect anagram, for much the same reasons.

    For the mathematically minded, I reckon there are 203 ways of removing four letters from ten, reducing to 131 when proper account is made of the double S and the two Is. This might compare with 118 possible anagrams of a five-letter word, or 362,878 of a nine-letter word of phrase (20ac or 6dn), reducing to 181,438 allowing for the one duplicated letter in each case.


    1. I am not counting an exact reversal as an anagram.

    2. If suitably provoked, I will show my working for the above calculations.

  12. Pelham Barton says:

    Correction to 11:

    “203 ways of removing four non-consecutive letters from ten” and “word or phrase” (not “of”).

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’ll take your word for it, Pelham!

  14. ele says:

    Congratulations Bamberger @5. You beat me on this one as I fell at the last post and failed to see Arabism. Spoiled the three in a row I was aiming at this week. Could only think of atavism which was obviously wrong. Thanks to Dac as usual for a lovely puzzle and thanks to John for the blog

  15. nmsindy says:

    Re Pelham’s point, I don’t think the clue confines the reduction to non-consecutive letters, and, depending on which ‘I’ you left in, it could be 4 non-consecutive letters, or using the ‘fi’ as John did in the blog. An unusual construction but quite fair for the reasons Pelham gives.

    Re flashling at #9, I must admit I do not recall saying that to be honest. It would really not be for me to say if it would offend some people or not. The query would have to be more generally put. I suspect it might upset some people however which I guess is something to seek to avoid where possible.

    Also not sure if it’s quite on the same level as ‘Jock’ but I’d even less authority to comment on that. I hope tho that K’s D is not communicating with his Scottish neighbour by email only…

  16. Pelham Barton says:

    nmsindy@15: Really I meant that the letters removed could not all be consecutive, rather than that no two of them could be consecutive. I think the use of “here and there” in the clue precludes removal of a single set of consecutive letters.

    My calculations were based on the interpretation as I have (I hope) clarified here.

  17. flashling says:

    Can’t find the link to NMS, do the English get upset at being called Ros Bifs, Poms, Limeys or Sassenachs – I don’t. I think “thick Mick” is another matter and would a setter use Paki?

    @Pelham you’re also assuming the setter meant the word classified and not a word meaning that… (I’ve thrown the paper away and the on-line doesn’t work on my computer for some reason so I can’t double check the clue)

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Bravo Bamberger!
    And Flashling, I am not on your side re 7d. Actually, I liked the device very much.
    As ever, a lot of praise for the Great Setter known by the name of Dac. Rightly so.
    Among many fine clues, I particularly liked ORANGE FREE STATE (13ac).
    Only letdown for me: LEEDS (12ac). I am not happy with the definition (Football team). Just not clean enough – the team’s called Leeds United. ‘Leeds’ as such is a bit meagre.

    But it couldn’t spoil another one of Dac’s “Light Masterpieces”.

  19. sidey says:

    Belated congratulations Bamberger, it seems a very short time ago that you started any crossword.

    and would a setter use Paki? Azed has more than once.

  20. Allan_C says:

    Nice one, Dac. Finished in just two passes; last in was ARABISM. Too many appealing answers to nominate a favourite.
    Re 7d, it could quite easily have been ‘Cassie’ – except no-one’s made a biopic of her yet.
    And well done, Bamberger!

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