Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,798 / Nimrod

Posted by RatkojaRiku on October 13th, 2011

RatkojaRiku.

To be brutally honest, I have to say that Nimrod ran rings around me with today’s puzzle, even more so than usual. Of all the puzzles that I have blogged to date, this is the one that has required the greatest recourse to reference materials to check and even to find solutions, and there are still a number of gaps in my analysis of the clues that I hope that fellow solvers will be able to enlighten me on.

The theme of the puzzle is established at 29/1 and was an easy get by Nimrod’s dizzyingly high standards. Alas, it didn’t take long before I had exhausted the few presenters of the Today programme that I could remember. I unmasked a few others from the wordplay, i.e. 13 and 14, but eventually had to turn to Wikipedia to find a list of presenters and then see what names fitted where and if they matched the wordplay. Even so, I have not been able to parse 15 at all. On reflection, I might have been able to work out from the wordplay had some of the intersecting, non-thematic clues not been quite so fiendish or have been more common words, especially in the NE and SE corners, e.g. 4 and 24.

In addition to the above, 16, 23 and 27 were also new items of vocabulary for me. As well as 15, I may not have parsed 12 and 19 satisfactorily. Once fellow readers have come to my rescue, I shall add to the blog accordingly - done, thank you!

There are two things that I will remember about this puzzle, apart from the feeling of having been well and truly outwitted by Nimrod (which I’ll be trying to forget!): the exquisite surface reading at 17 AND the, to me at least, elusive definition at 10.

*(…) indicates an anagram

Across    
     
6   SUNDRY SUN (=warm, as a verb) + DRY (=rain-free); the definition is “down under, it’s extra”, referring to the Australian way of referring to extras (byes, wides, etc) in cricket
     
8   MONTAGUE U (=that all can see, e.g. of a film classification) in MONTAGE (=artistic composite); the reference is to Sarah Montague, who has been a presenter on the Today programme since 2002
     
9   ON TIME TI (=IT; “taking turn” indicates a reversal) in ON ME (=my treat, as in It’s on me/my treat)
     
10   ADAM’S RIB *(I (=institute) + DRAMAS) + B (=bishop); “replayed” is anagram indicator; the definition is “origin of women”, from the Biblical story of the creation
     
11   REDHEAD EDH (=old letter, i.e. a barred “d” in Old English, representing a voiced “th”) in READ (=studied); the reference is to Brian Redhead, who was a presenter on the Today programme from 1975-93.
     
14   QUOITS O (=nothing) in QUITS (=even, as in We’re even/quits)
     
16   ORACH Hidden in (“to eat”) “fOR A CHild”; orach is an edible plant belonging to the genus Atriplex of the goosefoot family
     
19   VII In Roman numerals, 5-2 could be represented as V(-)II, and 6-1 as VI(-)I; the next logical number in the sequence would be 7-0, and thus VII.
     
20   DUMBO D (=democratic) + UMBO (=boss, i.e. of a shield)
     
22   STUMPS <a>T (“half of” means only one of the two letters is used) in SUMPS (=reservoirs); the definition is “the end of the day”, referring to the moment at which stumps are drawn (from the ground) to signal the end of a day’s cricket
     
23   NUCELLI CELL (=small room) in *(UNI); “new” is anagram indicator; nucelli are tissue masses within the integuments of a plant’s ovule
     
26   NAUGHTIE AUGHT (=anything) in NIE (EIN = a German, i.e. the indefinite article in German; “back” indicates a reversal); the reference is to James Naughtie, who has been a presenter on the Today programme since 1994
     
28   URANUS AN in URUS (=ox, wild, i.e. the aurochs)
     
29/1   TODAY
PROGRAMME
TODAY (=present) + PRO (=for) + GRAMME (=mass); the definition is “broadcast” and refers to the influential current affairs programme that has been broadcast on Radio 4 since 1957; the programme has had numerous rotating presenters over the years, many of whom appear in the grid referred to as “the 29 1 team member”
     
30   NORMAN MA (=mum) in NORN (=fate, i.e. any of the three Fates in Norse mythology); the reference is to Barry Norman, who was a presenter on the Today programme in the mid-1970s
     
Down    
     
2   FORD Hidden (“looked at in”) in “belieF – OR Disbelief”; the reference is to Anna Ford, who was a presenter on the Today programme from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.
     
3   STAMFORD DR OF M (=MD, i.e. in expanded form, D<octo>R of M<edicine>) + AT (=located in) + S (=Southern); “rising” indicates a vertical reversal
     
4   AGERATUM AGER (=any one of us, in that we are all getting older) + A + TUM (=corporation); ageratum is any plant of the tropical American genus Ageratum with clumps of long-lasting purple flowers
     
5   WEBB W (=wife) + EBB (=going back, as a noun); the reference is to Justin Webb, who has been a presenter on the Today programme since 2009
     
6   STOURTON *(ON TUTORS); “rough” is anagram indicator; the reference is to Edward Stourton, who was a presenter on the Today programme from 1999-2009
     
7   NOTED The definition is “famous”; the whimsical definition is “bar and its staff this”, i.e. alluding to musical notation
     
12   HIC Hidden in (“in”) “wHICh”; hic means “this” in Latin; “this” is also the last word in the preceding clue, hence the suspension points
     
13   DAVIS V (=against, i.e. versus) in DAIS (=platform); the reference is Evan Davis, who has been a presenter on the Today programme since 2007
     
14   QUINN QUI (=who’s in French, i.e. the French word for who) + N N (=news, i.e. 2 x N = new)
     
15   ROBINSON R (=run, i.e. in cricket) + O (=over, i.e. in cricket) + BINS ON (=prepared to read the small print, i.e. wearing glasses (from binoculars)); the reference is to Robert Robinson, who was a presenter on the Today programme from 1971-1974
     
17   ASTOUNDS [O (=ball) + U (=University)] in *(STAND)] + S<elwyn> (“opener from” means first letter only is used); “fantastic” is anagram indicator
     
18   HUMPHRYS HR (=little time, i.e. abbreviation of hour) in [HUMPY (=irritable) + <interview>S (“ultimately” means the last letter only is used)]; the reference is to John Humphrys, who has been a presenter on the Today programme since 1987
     
21   UKE U<p>K<e>E<p>; “contributing regularly” means that alternate letters only are used; a uke is a ukulele, hence “instrument”
     
24   CARBOY The definition is bottle, a carboy being a large glass or plastic bottle used to transport dangerous chemicals; whimsically, an “apprentice garage mechanic” could be a “car boy”
     
25   LYNAM MANY (=a fair few) + L (=quid, i.e. pound(s) from LSD); “raising” indicates a vertical reversal; the reference is to Desmond Lynam, who was a presenter on the Today programme from 1974-76
     
26   NUTS NUTS and SODA together form an anagram of ASTOUNDS, the entry at 17; “prepared” is anagram indicator
     
27   INRO IN<t>RO (=beginning; “to dis-heart-en” means the central letter is not used); an inro is a small Japanese container for pills and medicines
     

 

19 Responses to “Independent 7,798 / Nimrod”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for blogging this one.

    Regulars will know that the Thursday puzzle is the ‘hard’ one, and would not have been disappointed by the difficulty level here. I finished it; I won’t say I solved it because there was liberal use of the ‘check’ button and towards the end some online gadgetry.

    The only reason I finished is that I’ve listened to the Today programme for longer than I care to reveal, so once I’d got the gateway clue (thanks to NAUGHTIE) then it was a question of slotting in the presenters. But if you’re not a Today fan, then my sense is that this would have been nigh on impossible to complete. The themed answers are all surnames, and INRO, NORN and URUS aren’t exactly everyday words either. Non-UK solvers would no doubt have been a bit bamboozled: if the presenters weren’t hard enough, they’ve got STUMPS and SUNDRY with their cricketing references to deal with.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad puzzle; in fact I enjoyed finishing it. But perhaps better as a weekend crossword?

  2. Conrad Cork says:

    15 wordplay is ro for run over followed by bins on, namely, wearing glasses so as to read the small print.

  3. Paul B says:

    19 across: thank the gods it is there, even with a V at its beginning and an I at its end (or especially so, since nothing much will fit). But the grid did allow for a high number of themed inclusions, this by way of compensation, I think, if only for those who listen to the show.

    As ever I was interested to see (with the help of my bins) how Nimrod puts his clues together, and there’s plenty to enjoy here.

  4. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for the blog. I don’t envy you!

    I agree with the whole of Kathryn’s Dad’s comment. As another long-standing listener to and fan of the programme, I found it absorbing to be reminded of past presenters, especially the late lamented Brian Redhead, but it’s a tough clue to get [DHE was a new one on me] for those who are newer to the programme. I think some of these could perhaps have been defined as ‘former’ team members.

    Nevertheless, many thanks, Enigmatist, for the tough workout – at least you didn’t take us back to Jack de Manio! ;-)

  5. Eileen says:

    Interesting article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/crosswords/crossword-blog/2011/oct/13/crossword-blog-meet-the-setter-enigmatist ;-)

  6. Eileen says:

    Oops – apologies for the misnaming @4!

  7. crypticsue says:

    I always have a bit of a grump about cryptics where you have to use a search engine to work out whether the solutions you have actually relate to the theme. The theme was gettable and I did know some of the people already so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

    Thanks to Enigmatist and RatkojaRiku too.

  8. Alan Connor says:

    BINS ON took me a while. I think the wordplay and surface reading for HUMPHRYS are worthy of four cheers. And thanks Eileen for the link to my Q&A with this same setter, which contains a fun fact about the future of this crossword!

  9. Tokyo Colin says:

    Well that was an exercise in bewilderment. K’s D – you can remove “nigh on” from your comment. I solved ‘Today Programme’ early on from the wordplay and then “Revealed” all the themed clues and was still bamboozled. But by then I suppose I had lost interest.

    I am used to getting the message “Content not available in your region” when trying to access news and sports videos online. I wish this crossword had been similarly restricted, or perhaps given an NSF rating – Not Suitable for Foreigners.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Your comment, Colin, made me laugh out loud, and without the slightest trace of Schadenfreude, I assure you!

    Alan’s comment and link has cleared it all up – I remember now that Nimrod was on the Today programme with Eric Westbrook a while ago, promoting the 3D crossword event in Cheltenham on behalf of the RNIB (if I’ve got that right – Nimrod or Eric will no doubt say if not). So it’s all in aid of charity, in which case I think we can forgive the setter a bit of parochialism.

  11. MikeC says:

    Thanks Nimrod and RatkojaRiku. This was a really tough one. Though I filled in all the squares (correctly, as it turns out), there were several where the reasoning was quite beyond me. Do I dare to find out more about N/E/E’s thought processes . . . ? Enjoyed the theme.

  12. flashling says:

    @TokyoColin it was not safe for this local either as I don’t listen to the today programme as I’m generally working. It was quite disconcerting to see in the paper that 29/1 was enumerated as 5,9 and the grid entry was 8,6 and whilst I can appreciate the hard work that went into this, I had a snowball’s chance in hell of doing it on my commute in and home.

    Well done RR I don’t if I’d have the blog up even now.

  13. Lenny says:

    I worked out what the theme was and then lost the will to live.

  14. Quixote says:

    I surprised myself by doing this quite quickly, mainly because I spotted the theme and therefore didn’t always bother to get the answers through the somewhat tricky subsidiary indications. Listening to Radio 4 over a lifetime gave me an unfair advantage. I guess if this was intended as a test of cruciverbal unravelling. I am inclined to agree with K’s Dad. Were I not a wholly supportive member of the team of setters with its amazing diversity of styles (outdoing The Guardian even these days!) I might be tempted to say that I am less than happy about the one link between the left and right sides of the puzzle and to express some concern about the TODAYPRO/GRAMME split. But I couldn’t possibly comment, could I? I am sure that lots of Indy folk vastly more experienced and cleverer than I am at crosswords will have sailed through this.

  15. sidey says:

    I haven’t listened to Today for many years. I too much of a curmudgeonly git to start the day with it.

  16. RatkojaRiku says:

    Many thanks to Conrad Cork for shedding light on 15 – I would never have fathomed it out, since I am not really familiar with “bins” as an abbreviation of “binoculars” being used to mean “glasses”.

    Thanks too to Eileen and Kathryn’s Dad for sketching in the background to the puzzle, and, of course, to Alan Connor for interviewing Nimrod.

  17. Paul B says:

    IIRC, we once had GENERA and LABILITY as discrete elements in an Enigmatist grid. Needless to say, the pair was linked, and the clue something like

    Classes ‘tendency to fluctuate’ with ‘intelligence’ (7,7).

    That’s right folks, (7,7): so, the answer didn’t actually appear in the grid! IIRC …

  18. Allan_C says:

    Not being a listener to the programme I needed plenty of help. Fortunately 2, 13 and 14d were fairly obvious and googling the three of them together came up with the rest which it was then just a case of fitting in. Finally defeated, though, by 27.

  19. redddevil says:

    When even a search of the Today website doesn’t reveal all of the required names I’m afraid that’s going too far for me.
    I put this firmly in the ‘LAMIC’ file!

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