Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,822 / Nestor

Posted by RatkojaRiku on November 10th, 2011


I am rather bleary-eyed after a long journey, so apologies in advance if my blog does not do justice to Nestor’s beautifully crafted and, in my view, highly enjoyable puzzle.

The four 14-letter entries are probably the key to solving this puzzle. Nestor very kindly handed 28 to us on a plate by adding “and contestants humiliated”. However, the other three didn’t immediately reveal themselves to me, even though I figured that 1 would be an ism, that 8 was an anagram, etc. I needed quite a few checking letters before there three solutions slotted into place.

The puzzle is generously peppered with cultural references, some more high-brow than others, offering something for all tastes. The person referred to at 19 was not familiar to me, nor was the film mentioned in the wordplay at 15.

My clues of the day are 28 for its & lit. component, 7 for its economy of language and 11 for its misleading use of “couches”. I used a thesaurus to help me understand the wordplay at 5 and please let me know if my parsing at 3 is wide of the mark. I enjoyed seeing 1 and 15 cross on a “q”.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   EGALITARIANISM [SINAI (=Egyptian peninsula) + RAT (=desert, as a verb) + I (=island) + LAG (=trail) + E (=European); “retraced” indicates a reversal] + M (=mass)
10   ENIAC CANI<n>E (=tooth); “to output any number (=n)” means a letter “n” is dropped; an eniac (electronic numerical integrator and calculator) is an early American electronic computer, hence “old calculator”
11   REPHRASES *(SHARP + <chai>R + SEE); “back of” means last letter only is used; “adjust” is anagram indicator; the definition is
“couches (i.e. as a verb, expresses) differently”
12   IN SPADES IN (=wearing) + SPADES (=black suit, i.e. in cards)
13   SARNIE S<chwarzenegger> (“debut” means first letter only is used) + ARNIE (=his, i.e. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, familiar name); the definition is “no classy fare”, i.e. unsophisticated food
15   QUARANTINE QUA (=as, i.e. in the capacity of) + RAN (=Kurosawa film, from 1985) + TINE (=projection, i.e. spike, prong)
17   FELT Hidden (“in”) and reversed (“retreating”) in batTLEField
19   IVOR IVOR<y> (=material for knife handles, etc;  “cut” means last letter is dropped); the reference is to eccentric Scottish
poet, songwriter and humourist Ivor Cutler (1923-2006), whose repertoire did actually include a ditty entitled “A Kitchen Knife” on the album “A Wet Handle”.
20   ANNE BOLEYN *(ONLY <o>NE BEAN); “nothing (=0) less means that a letter “o” is dropped”; “to deal with” is anagram indicator; “bean” is to be understood as “head”, whereupon the reference is to Anne Boleyn (1507-36), the second wife of Henry VIII, who was beheaded.
22   HOOKAH HOOK (=something catchy) + AH (=that’s satisfying, as an exclamation); the reference is to the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar that appears is Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
23   SPELL OUT Straight definition is (to) “detail”, set out in detail; mildly cryptic definition is “a temporary release from prison”, i.e. a spell out of prison
26   EPICUREAN EPIC (=grand) +[EA (=each) in URN (=vessel)]
27   AGGRO GR (=King George, i.e. George Rex) in AGO (=since, as in three years ago/since)
28   THE WEAKEST LINK *(WE SEE TALK) in THINK (=thought, as in to have a think about); “foolishly” is anagram indicator; & lit. ; the reference is to the BBC game show The Weakest Link, hosted by the sharp-tongued Anne Robinson, and where chatty interludes between rounds that serve to embarrass the contestants interrupt the flow of the quiz
2   GRITS G<odber> (“initiation” indicates first letter only) + RITS (STIR=prison; “sent up” indicates vertical reversal); grits is a boiled dish of coarsely ground grain in the US, hence “US version of porridge”, which is misleadingly italicised and capitalised in the clue.
3   LACKADAY LACK A DAY (=to be 24 hours short); lackaday is an archaic (“for the fogeys”) word meaning listless, languid, sentimental (“sad”)
4   TURPENTINE [PE (=exercises) in TURN (=rotation)] + TIN (=can, as a noun) + <guarante>E (“ultimately” means last letter only); the definition is “thinner” as a noun, e.g. of paint
5   ROPE <p>ROPE<l> (=to drive; “away from outer place (=Pl) means that the letters “p” and “l” on the outside of the word are dropped); the definition is “guy, possibly”
6   AIR BAG Cryptic definition: “inflation” is to be understood as filling with air, not as rise in prices, and “crash” as a car accident, not a stock market crash
7   INSINCERE [N (=name) + SINCE (=as, i.e. because)] in IRE (=resentment)
8   MASS EXTINCTION *(SIMIAN CONTEXTS); “revised” is anagram indicator
9   RELINQUISHMENT [INQUIS<itions> (=interrogations; “half of” means only half the letters are used) + HM (=headmaster)] in RELENT (=ease off)
14   UNDERPANTS Straight definition: “intimate clothing”; cryptic definition “doesn’t breathe quickly enough”, i.e. under-pants!
16   APOLOGISE LOG (=journal, as in captain’s log) in [A (=a(n)] + POISE (=assurance)
18   ROLL CALL L L (=lines, i.e. 2 x L) in [ROC (=jumbo flyer, i.e. large bird of Arabian mythology) + ALL (=completely)]
21   MANURE MAN<ic>URE (=perhaps nail treatment; “removing middle part” means the middle letters are dropped)
24   ORGAN <m>ORGAN (=Caribbean pirate; “heading taken from” means the first letter is dropped); the reference is to admiral and pirate Henry Morgan (1635-88), who made a name for himself raiding Spanish settlements in the Caribbean
25   BERK B<rittl>E R<oc>K (“surfaces” means first and last letters only are used) 

9 Responses to “Independent 7,822 / Nestor”

  1. Richard Palmer says:

    Excellent stuff as always from Nestor.

    On my first pass I thought 19 had to be ADGE but couldn’t make it fit the wordplay!

  2. Allan_C says:

    One of those crosswords where complicated wordplay in some clues is at first off-putting but can later be virtually ignored when a few checking letters suggest the answer. In this case the four perimeter clues fell into that category for me, so thanks, RatkojaRiku, for explaining them.

    On the other hand there were some that really appealed – e.g. ANNE BOLEYN, HOOKAH and GRITS.

  3. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Nestor for a nice puzzle and RatkojaRiku for the blog. I started with 13ac while eating an appropriate item, and the puzzle unfolded nicely from there.

    I did not get the parsing of either 7dn or 18dn, so thanks for those.

    Following Paul B’s comment yesterday, I should like to 16dn formally for raising the subject of pangrammatic clue sets without realising just how unremarkable they are. This is the third one in four days, and none of them looks to have been intentional. I shall now drop this subject until we get one that really does seem worthy of comment.

  4. Richard says:

    This is the third day running that I’ve sat at the bar of the pub next door to the office with a colleague and attempted to do the Indie cryptic whilst having a pint and some lunch for 35 mins or so. The last do days we got within two or three clues of completing it. Today we only solved ten clues.
    The only good part of it was 14, which made me laugh out loud.
    Now that I’ve seen the blog, please can somebody explain why ROC = ‘jumbo flier’ and what the word ‘site’ is doing in 6 dn?

  5. Paul B says:

    ROC = huge bird (of Arabian myth); SITE needs to be there to complete the (cryptic) definition.

  6. Richard says:

    Paul B @5. Thanks for the ROC explanation. I still don’t see how an air bag is a “SITE of sudden inflation”. The word ‘site’ seems rather inappropriate in this context. I suppose the more obvious “Designed for sudden inflation” would have made the clue too easy, though.

  7. Paul B says:

    No, that would have resulted in an adjectival phrase defining the noun. Naughty! The wise one has been most diligent here, as in all his mighty works.

  8. Lenny says:

    Thanks RR. I found this a very entertaining and not too difficult effort from Nestor. Like others, I sometimes ignored the convoluted wordplay and went straight for the definition. Rope is a case in point, which I guessed might be an anagram of the external letters of outer place although I am sure RR’s explanation is the correct one. I thought Eniac and Ivor were a bit obscure for a daily crossword. I loved Ivor Cutler’s contributions to the John Peel programme but, unfortunately, I don’t think that he was ever a household name.

  9. RatkojaRiku says:

    @ Lenny: I would agree with you about Ivor Cutler not (no longer?) being a household name, but I suppose Nestor compensates for that by setting a simpler clue.

    @ Richard: what a lovely way to spend a lunch break! I really am quite envious.

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