Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7836 by Nimrod (Saturday Prize Puzzle 26 November 2011)

Posted by mc_rapper67 on December 3rd, 2011


Six pairs of linked clues, all with a common reference to ’20 in 5’…we’re off into thematic territory – and there is something here that rings a bell…

The logical thing to do would have been to try and solve 20 (PLAYERS) and 5 (LOCAL DERBY) first up, to get a handle on all those links – which turned out to be pairs of nicknames of football clubs from the same city, who play each other in local derbies.

But since when did logic and crossword solving ever go together? (Er, all the time actually, Ed!)…I dived in at the last clue, getting Z-BED at 25D and then the ZEN of CITIZENS, which linked to UNITED and a little light bulb, as somewhere in the recesses I knew Manchester City fans are sometimes called Citizens, whose greatest rivals are Manchester United fans…and then I twigged what 20 in 5 was all about.

The bell ringing in my mind was puzzle 7,686 in this series, which I also had the pleasure of blogging – also by Nimrod and also with a Derby theme – although that was on four-legged Derbies, rather than footballing ones.

All in all, it fell in to place quite quickly and enjoyably once I’d got my head round the theme. I guess it may not have been to everybody’s taste, for anybody not interested in football – but you can’t please all the people all the time with a theme!

Finally, there was another pair of linked clues – with the cross-reference between the three-letter entries at 3 and 28 – a nice little touch to top and tail the puzzle. And I’m guessing that 16A reveals Nimrod’s own footballing allegiance?…

Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
3A BRO In parts, Brando, who may have a 28? (3) may have a 28 – sis(ter) /
Brando = letters B, R and O
6A CHEETAH Beast of a new spell from Hecate hard to follow… (7) beast /
anag (i.e. new spell) of Hecate, plus H (hard)
8A WHOOSH …with running H2O, so rapid a passage thus indicated (6) (indication of) a rapid passage /
W (with) + anag (i.e running) of HOO (H2O) + SO
10A HOUSEFLY Religious hosts employ force to get pest (8) pest /
HOLY (religious) hosting USE (employ) + F (force)
11A SLAP-UP Excellent second – then showing immaturity on turn (4-2) excellent (as in a meal) /
S (second) + LAPUP (PUPAL, or immature, on turn)
12A PIRATES/ROBINS /19A. 20 in 5 cross knight returning with legs astraddle (7/6) thematic – Bristol teams /
PINS (legs) around IRATE (cross) + SROB (Sir Bors, Knight of the Round Table, returning)
14A BLADES/OWLS /4. 20 in 5 – funny bods as well! (6/4) thematic – Sheffield teams /
anag (i.e. funny) of BODS AS WELL
16A THE RAMS Hamster-free county! (3, 4) (Derby) County (yet another football team, for whose fans every game is a derby match!) /
anag (i.e. free) of HAMSTER
17A ITERATE Able to write pounds off – and do it again (7) do it again /
LITERATE (able to write) minus L (pounds)
19A PIRATES/ROBINS See 12 (7/6) thematic – Bristol teams /
see 12
20A PLAYERS On page they put down cast (7) cast (as in actors), but thematically as football players /
P (page) + LAYERS (people who put things down)
22A INDOOR Work at intricate iron frames away from the other elements (6) away from the elements /
anag (i.e. intricate) of IRON, around DO (work at)
24A CITIZENS/UNITED /26. It’s one type of Buddhist star among named 20 in 5 (8/6) thematic – Manchester teams /
CITED (named) around I (one) + ZEN (type of Buddhism) + SUN (star)
26A CITIZENS/UNITED See 24 (8/6) thematic – Manchester teams /
see 24
27A GUNNERS/SPURS /9. They may be firing eggs on 20 in 5 (7/5) thematic – (North) London teams (other London teams are available!)/
GUNNERS (they may be firing) + SPURS (eggs on)
28A SIS Detached “sexists” who may have a 3A? (3) may have a 3A – bro(ther) /
‘sexists’ detached into ‘s’ (S) and ‘exists’ (IS)
Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1D ACROLITH Possibly memorial choral works maintaining attraction (8) wooden statue with stone extremities – possibly as a memorial /
anag (i.e. works) of CHORAL, around IT (attraction, sex appeal)
2D GERS/BHOYS /3. 20 in 5, operatic duo admitting going off by horse (4/5) thematic – Glasgow teams /
G & S (Gilbert & Sullivan, operatic duo) around anag (i.e. going off) of BY HORSE
3D GERS/BHOYS See 2 (4/5) thematic – Glasgow teams /
see 2
4D BLADES/OWLS See 14 Across (6/4) thematic – Sheffield teams /
see 14A
5D LOCAL DERBY Pub classic in which emotions run high (5, 5) the theme itself – where emotions, or maybe Neanderthal tribalism(?), can run high /
LOCAL (pub) + DERBY (Classic horse race)
7D REDS/TOFFEEMEN See 23 (4/9) thematic – Liverpool teams /
see 23
9D GUNNERS/SPURS See 27 Across (7/5) thematic – (North) London teams (other London teams are available!)/
see 27A
13D AEROBIONTS Organisms flourishing on best air, pumped full of oxygen (10) &lit-ish, organisms (dependent on oxygen to live) /
anag (i.e. flourishing) of ON BEST AIR, around O (oxygen)
15D LATE LATIN A little dabbling with an old language (4, 5) old language /
anag (i.e. dabbling) of A LITTLE with AN
18D TARTNESS Tasters subtly masking new pungency (8) pungency /
anag (i.e. subtly) of TASTERS, around N (new)
19D RUN-IN Dispute arrest (3-2) double defn, with and without hyphen /
to ‘run in’ can be to arrest, and a ‘run-in’ is a dispute
21D SCUGS Shelters Heads of State cuddling up, generally safe (5) shelters /
first letters (heads) of State Cuddling Up Generally Safe
23D REDS/TOFFEEMEN /7. 20 in 5 perhaps rue coming in to clear small space (4/9) thematic – Liverpool teams /
REDEEM (clear) + EN (small space, in printing) around ST (rue, French for street) + OFF (coming, as in ‘not far off’)
25D Z-BED Folder for the rest of those staying the night? (1-3) &lit – temporary folding seat/bed /
Z-BED being a temporary folding seat/bed, for the rest (ease/sleep) of those (guests) staying the night

7 Responses to “Independent 7836 by Nimrod (Saturday Prize Puzzle 26 November 2011)”

  1. Allan_C says:

    Rather daunting to start with but once the theme emerged it was (almost) plain sailing. GERS/BHOYS was the last pair in – there aren’t many words beginning BH___ – and I lmost admitted defeat until I thought of a Celtic connection and Google turned up the names.

    Football is sometimes said to be a game of two halves and this was almost a grid of two halves, only linked by the linked(!) pair 3a/28.

    Just wondering if 16a was originally meant to be one half of another local derby with ‘Forest’ (Nottingham) the other half but in the end Nimrod couldn’t fit it in.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I don’t usually do the Saturday Indy, but I had a crack at this one. Couldn’t finish it, despite getting the theme quite early on and having a passing interest in football. From what I know, Nimrod’s football allegiance lies about 100 miles due south of Pride Park in North London. I fancy THE RAMS got a mention, together with the DERBY theme, because this puzzle appeared on the Saturday of our Sloggers and Betters get-together in Derby, at which Nimrod was present.

    Or it could just be coincidence, of course …

  3. Cumbrian says:

    Many thanks for the comprehensive blog which cleared up a number of questions. CHEETAH at 6 was my first one in, followed by Z-BED at 25 and a tentative CITIZENS at 24. When I got 5 and 20 I had a heart-sinking moment; justified, I’m afraid as the final solution required specialised knowledge which I don’t possess (apart from SPURS and GUNNERS). That left 17 clues, of which two (17 and 20) didn’t cross with any of the football nicknames. I particularly liked 17. 1, 13 and 21 were new words to me; I’ll try and keep SCUGS in mind next time I hop over the border!

  4. nmsindy says:

    This was a cracking puzzle construction – many thanks Nimrod and mc_rapper67 for the excellent blog. Blades/Owls was what gave the theme to me with the Bristol pair being the last, having suspected for a while that Wolves and the Baggies might appear. V tough puzzle too. And those who like to do crosswords to learn something new will now know a lot of nicknames of football clubs they may not have known before…

  5. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks for all the comments – nice observation from Allan C on the two halves! – and kathryn’s dad at #2 must be right about the link to the S&B get-together in Derby, which helps to give it some context. I didn’t make that one, but I am hoping to go to my first S&B next time there is one in London.

    (I should also have pointed out that the previous Derby-related Nimrod puzzle (7686) was published to coincide with the week of the big race at Epsom – so some equally impressive forward planning/scheduling there…)

  6. crypticsue says:

    I took over two days to sort this one out and was left with three to get, which considering what I know about football teams nicknames and local derby rivals could be fitted on a small pin with room left over was, I thought, pretty good going. Assuming that Nimrod had prepared this for the Derby gathering did help me get started. Thanks to him for the education and mc_rapper67 for the helpful blog.

  7. flashling says:

    Did this on the way to S&B on the train to Derby, first spot was THE RAMS – Derby Co. and was alerted to the Derby connection, then it was pretty much plain sailing (yeah right!), OK 1d I made up but it was right. Took about an hour which is quick for a Nimrod for me. Thanks JohnH / Nimrod & MC_R &K’sD for the afternoon after.

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