Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,802/Anax

Posted by Ali on October 18th, 2011


The good thing about regular crossword solving is that, given any puzzle at random by a non-cruciverbalist, you would expect to be able to prove your worth by casually solving one or two clues at a first glance. Every now and again though, a puzzle comes along which makes you wonder if all the years of solving have taught you anything. This was one of those puzzles!

I read every clue at least 3 times before I managed to pick out the anagram at 15A and get going. I plugged away at it and got most of the left hand side in, but eventually had to resort to help. Clever swine that he is, Anax has managed to give us a grid with the top and bottom 2 rows made up of repeated letter 12341234-type words (is there a term for them!?). This would I’m sure put a huge constraint on the rest of the grid, which is why we end up with words like KHEDIVIAL and APAREJO. If you knew those before today, I’m impressed.

All that aside, this was Anax at his tricksy best, with some trademark cheekiness and a lot of lovely wordplay. Incredibly hard – especially for a school day – but all perfectly fair.

1 POOH-POOH – POOH x 2 (dumps)
5 BERBER – ER (monarch) + BE in BR(itain)
9 GRIS-GRIS – ReInS in GG + R(uns) + IS
10 POMPOM – POMP (top decoration)+ OM (award)
13 ISSUE – IS SU[-r]E
15 COHEIRESS – (SOME RICHES)* less M(ale)
17 KHEDIVIAL – H(ome) in (LIKE DIVA)*
19 EXALT – L(ieutenan)T after AXE rev.
23 ONE-ONE – O(ld) + NEON + [-fir]E
24 BERIBERI – RIB (chop) in BEER (half perhaps) + I
25 TESTES – E(arth) + S[-meared] on TEST
26 HOTSHOTS – (STO[-p] TH[-e] SHO[-w])*
1 POGO STICK – GO rev. + OST in PICK
2 ORIOLES – RIO + L[-ur]E in OS
3 PAGER – A G(ood) in PER
7 BAPTIZE – P(oin)T in BAIZE
8 ROMAN – “Woman”, as Wossy would have it!
18 EYELESS – YEL[-low] in (SEES)*
20 APAREJO – A PARE (trim) JO
21 SHOOT – H(ot) in SOOT
22 AMISS – AMIS + S[-how]

13 Responses to “Independent 7,802/Anax”

  1. Conrad Cork says:

    Marvellous. And an excellent blog. Thanks both.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    I can’t believe I didn’t notice the double-word pattern! That might have saved some time! I spent so long soving Aparejo, Beri-beri and Hotshots that I’d almost forgotten how enjoyable the rest of it was. That said, some of the best clues were in that cruel SE corner. I liked Michelangelo too – I put it in early, then couldn’t parse it and scrubbed it and only realised how it worked much later. But there were countless great touches. He just won’t write a boring clue, will he!

  3. crypticsue says:

    Definitely Anax at his tricky best – from laughing out loud as I looked at 1a while walking away from the printer to needing to put it down for a while and allow my subconscious to work on the puzzle while I did something else less interesting.

    THanks to Anax and Ali too

  4. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Anax for an excellent crossword and Ali for the blog.

    Like others, it took me a long time to get going, but I spotted the device from 1/9/10ac. Then 5/23/25ac were easy from the checking letters – 24/26ac slightly less so.

  5. Wanderer says:

    One of the best I can remember doing, and certainly one of the hardest. Among the many misdirections, I thought this was going to be a pangram — in fact all letters are here except Q, and towards the end I was sure it was going to be used. Nope, wrong again! I noticed the double-word device, but not its symmetry, so it didn’t help me as much as it should have done.

    I thought the clue for OLIGARCHICAL was outstanding. I don’t know exactly what constitutes an &lit clue, but is this one not an example of the whole clue defining the solution?

    Many thanks to Anax and Ali.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Just about managed it, but it was a long struggle. Very good puzzle though, with POOH POOH and TESTES both priceless. I didn’t see the word patterns either: I think you just get so focused on solving the next clue that you don’t step back to take a look at the big picture – which in this case would no doubt have helped.

    I can usually now do an Anax more often than not if I can get a start – then perseverance is the key, since it’s all there to get if you can see how it works.

    If I have a nanoniggle, it’s that the O sounds in WOMAN and ROMAN are different, so Wossy wouldn’t actually pronounce it that way; but the clue was funny and setters get away with much worse, so well done to Anax for an excellent crossword and thank you to Ali for a very helpful blog.

  7. nmsindy says:

    I too found this very tough. Thought I was going to be unable to solve any clue on first run through, but then got EYELESS, one of the last of the downs. I eventually saw the pattern on the LHS and I was able to finish at a quicker pace after that, getting the words on the RHS which followed the same pattern. Many thanks, Anax and Ali.

  8. Thomas99 says:

    K’s Dad – but you’re reading it out wrong! It’s a woman like Cicewo, not a woman like Sophia Lowen or Gina Lollobwigida!

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Thomas. I see it now. As Pontius Pilate says in Life of Brian: Welease Wodger! Welease Woderick!

  10. Richard Palmer says:

    Like the others I found this very hard going but rewarding. The clue to OLIGARCHICAL was outstanding. It was only after discovering the repeating pattern that I managed to finish the bottom part except for 26 across. I was convinced it was going to be COUSCOUS but couldn’t reconcile that with either a definition or wordplay.

  11. flashling says:

    Good grief (charlie brown) that was tough and failed on 17ac – never heard of it. The double word plays certainly helped but whilst I got 5 on first read through after that it was the usual struggle to see definitions let alone wordplay that’s typical of Anax, much tougher than his Sunday Times recently.

    Tough one to blog, thanks for that Ali, and a begrudging thank you to the setter :-)

  12. anax says:

    Greetings all – many thanks to Ali for an excellent blog and to all for your kind comments.
    This 1234/1234 pattern (I don’t have a name for it either) is by no means new. I saw it used in (I think) a Times puzzle a couple of years ago but it was restricted, if I remember correctly, to four 8-letter answers at 90 degrees symmetrical rotation. This was by no means a weakness – just a limitation of the grid. The only reason I dared to attempt more in this puzzle was the Indy’s policy of setter-designed grids, so I had the freedom to adapt it if things got sticky.

  13. Allan_C says:

    Just about got there when after long consideration I spotted the pattern having looked up ‘charm’ in a thesaurus and found grisgris, a new word to me (and, btw, hyphenated). But stuck on 26a; all I could think of to fit _O_S_O_S was ‘couscous’ and no way (of course) could I make it fit the clue.

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