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
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x] letter(s) removed
9 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
AT SIXES AND SEVENS
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
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.
1 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.