Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7807/Punk

Posted by Pierre on October 24th, 2011


Possibly the weirdest solving experience I’ve ever had.  I blogged a Punk a couple of months ago, and really enjoyed it.  That one was pretty straightforward, but this one … well, tell me what you think.

First look through … not much.  Second look through, let’s have a look at the gateway clues.  PLAYING pretty obvious; the enumeration for AT SIXES AND SEVENS is a help, so off we go.  Not.  What’s all that about?  An anagram of PLAYING?  Something to do with rugby or football?  Probably not, so let’s crack on with the non-themed stuff.  Bit of progress.  Then get KIT CARSON.  Who he?  Then get GERONIMO.  Okay, know him a bit.  Then get the idea that it’s something to do with the Wild West or Native Americans, and work out then Google a few of the other themed answers.  Getting there.  And what do you think my last two answers were?  COWBOY and INDIAN.  If there’s ever a way of solving a cryptic backwards, this was it.

So the PLAYING AT SIXES AND SEVENS is a reference to 6dn and 7dn with an S on the end; and the themed clues are indeed famous members of both communities from the so-called Wild West.  If it’s the mark of a good puzzle that the setter keeps you guessing right till the end, then this was a good puzzle.  It’s also an extremely clever one.

cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed


Two-thirds of the planet in recession including posh little nation
One of the reasons I found this hard is that there’s a bit going on in many of the clues.  Here Punk’s asking you to choose a planet, and put U for ‘posh’ in a reversal of URAN for two-thirds of URANUS, the seventh rock from the Sun.  The answer is the tiny South Pacific nation which early British visitors called Pleasant Island.

10  Someone unable to speak, one runs, seeing killer at sea
Ditto.  HARPO is the member of the Marx Brothers who never spoke; add ONE and R for runs in cricket, and you’ve got someone who’s not a whale’s best friend.

11 Such histrionics died in recollection of part secured by papa’s partner
Punk’s often tricky, but very seldom inaccurate in his cluing.  This is an insertion of D for ‘died’ in a reversal of ROLE for ‘part’ in MAMA, who’s papa’s partner.

12  Unknown character behind individual in snack attack
Less keen on this one.  Z is the ‘unknown’; before that you have I for ‘individual’ in BLT for ‘snack’.  Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich, since you ask.  Is that a good definition of ‘snack’?  Your call.

13  No-nonsense tarot card’s acceptance
Take the ROT for ‘nonsense’ out of TAROT and add KING for ‘card’.

15  Phosphorous spreading on the field
The first of the gateway clues.  P for the chemical element and LAYING for ‘spreading’.

18  Termed a sort of iron-rich item
(TERMED A)*  RED MEAT is rich in iron and ‘sort’ is the anagrind.

20/2dn  One 15 24 33, one charging by the session
A charade of SITTING for ‘session’ and BULL for ‘one charging’.  The ‘by’ doesn’t really indicate which order they’re in, so you needed some crossing letters.

24/33  Sadness with it, a drunk stealing kiss, a fair chance disorderly
Our second gateway clue.  (SADNESS IT A)* with X for ‘kiss’ included, EVENS for ‘fair chance’, and ‘drunk’ as the anagrind.

27  Riddle – it may be black or white
A dd.

31  Tick off an offence for one 15 24 33
This was the first of my sixes and sevens to go in.  Clear cluing, although I had no idea who he was.

34  Surrey town, say, served with 18
A charade of EG for ‘say’ and HAM for a type of red (?) meat, the answer to 18ac.


Park, perhaps, where bird stands on a rock
A charade of ANIM for a reversal of MINA bird, plus A TOR for ‘a rock’.  MINA is an alternative spelling for MYNAH.  It’s referring to Nick Park, the animator and creator of Wallace and Gromit.  If you’re a fan, you’ll be thinking ‘Fancy some Wensleydale, Gromit lad?’  If you’re not, you’ll be most likely thinking ‘What?’

3/14  Setter managed to bite neck, a painful one 15 24 33
Another cowboy, partner of Butch Cassidy.  In my opinion, this is one where (unlike me) you’d need to know what the theme was, see the answer, and parse it afterwards.  It’s (I think) SUN for ‘setter’ and DID for ‘managed’ to include (‘bite’) (NECK A)*, with ‘painful’ as the anagrind.

Skin cold – then what one might apply?
A charade of C for ‘cold’ and HEAT.  It’s ‘skin’ in the sense of cheating or doing someone.

Lacking any vision, outrageous male appearing as drag queen?
I was hoping this would come to me when writing up the blog, and it has.  It’s (MALE)* in DRESS.  ‘Outrageous’ is the anagrind and if a man were ‘in dress’, he might be a drag queen.

Amateurish, reluctant to be punched by body of fighters
Here’s our six.  ‘Amateurish’ is the definition.  ‘Reluctant’ is COY; ‘to be punched by’ indicates an insertion (I think); and WBO is the World Boxing Organisation, which represents pugilists.

National support raised through drinks supplier
Here’s our seven.  Not a giveaway either.  It’s a reversal of AID for ‘support’ in INN for ‘drinks supplier’.

8/30ac  One 15 24 33, or he’s 24 33?
My first one in.  Another 7dn is an anagram (AT SIXES AND SEVENS) of ‘or he’s’.  CRAZY is the anagrind and it’s one of those reverse anagram thingummybobs.

16  Wildebeest’s twisted tail – or arm
This was in fact my first one in.  GNU is a wildebeest; twist its last two letters and you’ve got GUN for ‘arm’.

17  One going downhill describing fluctuating rate that’s less consistent
An insertion of (RATE)* in SKIER.  ‘Fluctuating’ is the anagrind.

19  She’s reigned for nearly 60 years, a long period
A charade of ER for Elizabeth Regina and A.  There’s some celebration coming up soon, apparently.  Get the bunting out.

21  Item for the range, perhaps, range perhaps for 14, perhaps
Perhaps this is TEE (an item for the golf range) plus (RANGE)* and is a definition of 14dn, KID.  At least it’s not (GREEN TEA)* or (GENERATE)*

22  Monkey cuddled by chimpanzee
I entered PAN intially, because PAN is the genus to which chimpanzees belong: Pan troglodytes is the common chimpanzee, and I thought I was being clever.  I wasn’t.  It’s hidden in chIMPanzee.

23  One 15 44 33, he’s called for the high jump?
A 7dn, and it’s what’s said when people go to jump off something.  Its origin is available on the Internet if you wish to go and search for it.  But don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

25  Flag carries promotion for lecture
An insertion (‘carries’) of AD in TIRE for ‘flag’.

26  Nice summer in Africa getting half cut – it’s the cold drink
An insertion of ÉTÉ for the French word for ‘summer’ (which they’d say in Nice) in ICA, which is ‘Africa’ getting cut in half.  I did say this was a hard one.

28  Low profile ultimately kept by him
The definition is ‘low’, as in ‘that was a cheap blow’.  The last letter of profilE needs to go in CHAP.

29  Spin bowlers possibly with a pinch of soil to pocket, hide
The surface took me straight to a memory of this, where the saintly Michael Atherton doctored the ball with dirt from his pocket and was reprimanded afterwards.  But it’s got five-eighths of nothing to do with cricket: ‘spin bowlers possibly’ is asking you to reverse HATS; put a pinch (the first letter) of ‘Soil’ into that and you’ve got a synonym for ‘hide’.

32  Endlessly drunk and endlessly sexy part of London
SO[T] plus HO[T].

I enjoyed my second Punk too, although my brain is hurting.  Hard, but well-clued, so thank you to the compiler.

21 Responses to “Independent 7807/Punk”

  1. Rishi says:

    Re 32dn: Am I alone in being a little uncomfortable with the surface reading of the clue? I can understand an ‘endlessly sexy part of London’, but an ‘endlessly drunk part’? Or should we take both ‘sexy’ and ‘drunk’ as instances of the transferred epithet and conclude that it is the people thereabouts who are endlessly drunk and sexy (if that is possible)?

  2. Thomas99 says:

    I think this is the hardest Punk puzzle I’ve ever done. I also got Kit Carson first and had no idea who he was, then finally got Cowboy and Indian after seeing Sundance Kid… I think all the clues are solid and clever though, even if I took an amazingly long time to get “pepper” at the end. I particularly liked Harpooning. Paul/Punk may be moving up a gear…

    (None of the clues were ultimately as bamboozling as Rishi’s comment above though. Really don’t get it at all.)

  3. Wanderer says:

    Thank you Pierre for your explanations, and I’m glad I’m not alone in finding it a weird solving experience! Even after getting the idea of playing at cowboys and Indians, I managed to make things far too complicated. On solving Kit Carson, of whom I had only vaguely heard, I foolishly assumed he was an actor who had, well, played at cowboys and Indians. Then Sundance Kid went in, and, having seen the movie but not realising he was a real person, I carried on thinking it was about Hollywood, actors etc. Looking out for Yul Brynner, Clint Eastwood and so on, to no avail.

    Also made things hard for myself by trying to justify SHODDY instead of cowboy, by parsing reluctant as SHY. (Well, shoddy could just about mean amateurish…) Then spent far too long trying to find a body of fighters with the initials ODD. Idiotic, I know, but sometimes an idea can be hard to dislodge.

    Excellent puzzle, as ingenious as it was tough.

  4. crypticsue says:

    I am with Thomas99 as I too found this a very hard Punk-solving experience. I got there in the end – my last two in were also 6d and 7d!

  5. flashling says:

    I too got caught out by 6d going for shabby thinking that ABB were amateur boxers, oh well

  6. Pierre says:

    Interesting comments, thank you. Glad I’m not the only one …

    Rishi at no 1, I think you’re maybe trying to make the clue more complicated than it is. The SO[T] bit is for ‘drunk’ as a noun: ‘a habitual drunkard’ (SOED). And the definition is simply ‘part of London’, without any aspersions on the nature of Soho these days. I haven’t been there for about thirty years (and then in a professional capacity, I hasten to add), so I couldn’t say.

  7. Lenny says:

    This was a lucky, quick solve for me. Like Pierre, I got At Sixes and Sevens from the enumeration. I then quickly realised that the themed clues made no sense unless I substituted the answers to 6 and 7. After that the cowboys and Indians came easily. Still some outrageous clueing though, including those for Dreamless and Blitz. It’s the first time I have seen Sun for setter, one to remember.

    I was puzzled by Park at 1. The only Park I knew was Mungo, which I tried to fit into the last five characters until I realised that the answer had to be Animator.

  8. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Pierre.

    I’m with the camp who found this a tricky one. Although I solved 15 and 24/33 relatively quickly, it was a long time before the penny dropped about the doubly cryptic reference to 6s and 7s, after which the puzzle fell out fairly easily.

    26d is wonderful – it took me ages to parse this one.

    I haven’t tackled many Punk puzzles before, being more familiar with the setter as Paul in the Guardian, where he is much ruder but generally less tortuous!

  9. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Pierre, and Punk. Yes, I too found this much harder than Punk sometimes is, but got there in the end, with everything being pretty clear. I too only got the COWBOYS and INDIANS v near the end so found them well hidden. Some v good misdirection all through with SITTING BULL my favourite.

  10. PeterO says:

    Whichever weird way happens to work for you … for me, I got the 15 & 24/33 fairly early, and the final n led me to 7D, but like flashling I was sidetracked by SHABBY for 6D. My first reaction to 15 24 33 was that it ranked among the least helpful of key answers. SUNDANCE KID came first among its applications, guessed from crossing letters, and then teased out from the wordplay. The other Wild West answers followed, and only then did I return to 6D for a real d’oh moment. All in all, a top-notch Punk.
    Rishi @1 says that it is the surface of 32D which troubles him; I take it that he is treating it as an &lit. I would say that there is an &lit-ishness about the clue, but I don’t think it can, or needs, to be pressed too far.

  11. PeterO says:

    Incidentally, the Park/animator connection came up in last month’s Genius. Much as I like Wallace and Grommet, 1D would have taken me much longer otherwise.

  12. duncanshiell says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle very much as I slowly worked my way through it. Many of the clues were very clever with a great deal of lateral thinking required. The first two theme answers I got were SITTING BULL and CRAZY HORSE so I thought we were just looking for Indian Chiefs. Eventually I got AT SIXES AND SEVENS, sometime after I got PLAYING. Then I tried to fit INDIAN into 6d before I realised that it went at 7d. I thought 34a must be EGHAM before I got RED MEAT which confirmed it.

    At 21d, although 14d is KID, I thought the 14 referred simply to the age fourteen to give TEENAGER. I think a KID these days is possibly considered to be younger than a TEENAGER or at least cover the under 13s as well as TEENAGERS.

  13. stumped says:

    Didn’t even attempt this after seeing the brief preamble by Pierre on the Home Page.

    Pierre: I worked for a while in Soho Square (computer company) around the time you last visited there in your “professional capacity”. We spent many a lunchtime in local pubs. Let’s just say “Lola” by The Kinks doesn’t even begin to describe some of the off-duty professionals one encountered ;)

  14. Allan_C says:

    My experience seems to have been much as everybody else’s, only getting the gateway clues near the end. Thank goodness there were a few fairly straightforward ones to get started with. It might be time though to retire Surrey town/Egham; it’s been on the crossword scene for what seems a very long time.

  15. Pierre says:

    Hi stumped.

    If my first sentence put you off, apologies – it wasn’t meant to! And I realised almost as soon as I posted no 6 that it was open to misinterpretation. To be clear, it was an on expenses business lunch …

    Funny how others have had the back-to-front solving experience that I had. But most seem to have enjoyed it, which is the main thing.

  16. stumped says:

    No worries Pierre.

    I recently restarted cryptics after a very long time away from them. At present Guardian’s easier daily ones (Rufus and some Araucaria) are par for course. Besides I dislike Indy’s rather clunky presentation.

    Just kidding about Soho. It’s (was, late 70′s/early 80′s) a very interesting place during the day.

  17. flashling says:

    @16 stumped Araucaria easy?? – umm ok maybe we have rather different mindsets. I think Dac and Phi here are generally easier to get into but they can set some real killers when you aren’t expecting it.

  18. stumped says:

    flashling: Much to my surprise I finished Araucaria’s recent prize and his midweek. Went back to another of his prizes and did very well on that too. On the other hand, I did say “some”. I’ve seen comments on his tougher puzzles. Have almost finished Bonxie’s prize from Saturday.

    I’ve only been back into the fray about a fortnight now. Recalling much of the old tricks, but must say daily puzzles were easier back when the earth was young…

    Thanks for the guidance on retrieving archived puzzles from Indy. Ironically enough, their IT dept replied today to an old email claiming there’s no way to access older puzzles. Amazing, innit!

  19. Wil Ransome says:

    This took me absolutely ages, and although I have to admit that it is all very clever I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy it very much. These clues that cross-reference other clues are irritating, particularly near the beginning when it’s all a mystery. I didn’t help myself by taking a very long time to get 6dn and 7dn, so the theme didn’t become clear and by the time I got these I was so fed up that I failed to grasp that ‘at sixes and sevens’ meant ‘at cowboys and Indians’. My fault.

    Allan_C@14, I rather enjoy the Surrey town because it reminds me of Frank Muir and the Egham Literary Institute.

    One or two rather unsatisfactory definitions I thought: ‘such histrionics’ for ‘melodrama’, ‘iron-rich item’ for ‘red meat’, ‘lacking any vision’ for ‘dreamless’, ‘cowboy’ for ‘amateurish’. But that’s just sour grapes.

  20. flashling says:

    @Pierre 20 replies!! A real blogger now :-) Better than me.@ Stumped glad to help, and think back to the future, I’ll say no more. @Will apart from getting the amateurish wrong they seemed fair enough. My only real let down was the lack of saucy sexy clues we expect from punk/paul

  21. Quixote says:

    I rather enjoyed this. Overcoming the fear factor was the main thing. It took me from Oxford Coach Station to the Ridgeway cutting on the M40, so not quick! Mind you I’m not dreadfully happy about five-letter words with only second and fourth letters checked, but let’s not pursue that one.

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