Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7863/Crosophile

Posted by John on December 28th, 2011


Crosophile has produced a very rare Wednesday crossword because Dac is having a well-earned rest, perhaps. I found this a little harder than the setter with whom I am always happiest, and no doubt the answers I am lost on will be explained, but there are still some very nice clues here.

1 A MARY ‘LL IS — I couldn’t quite explain this and was looking up the strange word ‘llis’, but Chambers gives ‘ll for will
6 OP I U {ter}M — another abbreviation that you don’t often see in daily cryptics: i for i’ (= in)
9 U P RIGHT — &lit. I think, although an upright piano might well not be acceptable to some people — someone playing Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto at The Albert Hall would probably not find an upright piano acceptable
10 EXEMPTS — sorry, lost here: the definition is no doubt ‘grants immunity’ with ‘grants’ a verb, and the politician (= MP) is in there, but the rest of it … [Labour’s right to turn to politician for grants immunity]
11 TONGUES — ‘guest on’ with ton at the front, although I can’t satisfy myself about the equivalence of ‘ton’ and ‘weighty matter’ — can one produce two sentences where they are interchangeable?
13 IDENTICAL — again I’m not sure: it seems to be def ‘Like’ (= ‘alike’), then 1 then i/c in (dental), although ‘dental’ for ‘e.g. canine’ seems a bit tenuous — perhaps somewhere it says that a dental is a tooth, although it doesn’t in Chambers — or is ‘canine’ an adjective from the tooth sense? Not according to Chambers but perhaps somewhere. [Like one in charge of e.g. canine shelters]
15 SWEPT — (pews)rev. {dus}t — I was misled by the space after ‘dust’ into thinking the answer was something like ‘sheet’, for ‘dust sheet’, but I suppose it’s there for the surface, which otherwise wouldn’t mean much
19 SUGAR CANE — I’m not sure what the definition is here: presumably ‘cane’ is ‘supergrass?’ but it’s also a punishment; and what is the sweet? [Sweet punishment for supergrass?]
22 SHAMPOO — 2 defs, of shampoo and sham poo
23 PACKAGE — the age of a pack
25 I M(IT)ATE — ‘it’ is the object, not Italy, which comes at the front
26 RETREAT — ‘re’ = ‘on’ and ‘treat’ = ‘deal’
27 sprinG OR SEptember
28 STEEL-GRAY — (layer gets)*
1 ‘AD ULT — ‘ad is had, as a London cabbie, who for the purposes of this crossword drops his aitches, would say, and ‘ult’ is the outdated formal way of referring to last month in an official letter
2 A{ccounts} R(RANG)E
3 YOGHURT — (hog)* in yurt
4 LOT(U)S — this produced forgetfulness in Greek mythology
5 SWEET FLAG — (left wages)* — not a plant I knew, but fairly obvious from the wordplay
6 ONENESS — (no sense)*
7 IMPROVE — sorry yet again: ‘vamp’ = ‘pro’ I think, and the def. is ‘to pick up’, but … [Vamp is out to pick up]
8 MIST LET {l}O{v}E{r}
13 IN VEST I N G — ‘in vest’ is ‘Not being shirty’, N = ‘noon’, G = ‘golf’
14 CUSTO({ca}MER{as})S — where is the centre of ‘cameras’? In this case it’s the middle three letters, but can it equally well be the middle one or the middle five?
17 C{est}LAVIE{im}R{ated} — a very clever clue where the letters of ‘estimated’ are removed
20 RECITAL — (clari{n}et)*
21 A MAT EUR{ope} — def ‘lay’
23 PUR(S)E — one is meant to read ‘coming in second’ as ‘with ‘second’ coming in'; yes, well; I suppose so, just about.
24 ENTRY — an entry is one that is in a competition, and if ‘entry’ gained ‘g’ then it could be ‘gentry’

19 Responses to “Independent 7863/Crosophile”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog – not easy at all, was it?

    19a – I think “supergrass?” is the definition and sugar=sweet and cane=punishment.

    13a – not vastly different from you I think: Definition=”like one”, in charge=ic, “of e.g. canine” (adjctival indicated by “of”)=dental, which “shelters” ic.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, john.

    In 10ac, the R[ight] of EXERTS [labours] is replaced by MP [politician].

    7dn is IMPROV[is]E

  3. Thomas99 says:

    Oops – one isn’t part of the definition in 13, as alreay pointed out in the blog – it’s “i”.

  4. Tokyo Colin says:

    I type slowly so I am sure all will be resolved before this arrives. But anyway…

    Thanks John, I needed your help to understand 1ac and 1dn.

    At 10ac, labours is exerts and with right (R) turned to politician (MP) we have exempts.
    At 11ac I think ton for weighty is OK but this is a very liberal anagrind IMHO.
    At 19ac I don’t know if any dictionary supports it but sugarcane is a very fast growing and productive plant so “super” grass is a reasonable description.
    Is it OK to spell “Gray” the US way with no indication. I am comfortable with both ( is that bi-spellual?), but would expect some hint here.
    At 7dn vamp is improvise which becomes improve with ‘is’ out.
    Thanks for trying to explain 14dn but how is Custos = The Guardian?

  5. Tokyo Colin says:

    Never mind the question re Custos. I googled it. I had recognised the connection to custody etc. but I find it strange that Latin is not considered a foreign language and so not requiring a qualifier for “guard”.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin

    I did initially think CUSTOS was rather naughty but I see that it’s in Chambers as an ‘English’ word.

    [It was the pseudonym of the eminent compiler Alec Robins, for his crosswords in the Guardian.]

    I didn’t like ‘gray’, I’m afraid, but Chambers says, ‘grey or [esp N Am] gray’, so I suppose that excuses it.

  7. Cumbrian says:

    Thanks for the explanations. I also needed help with understanding 1a and AD in 1d (which would’ve been much easier if the clue had been Londoner, rather than London cabbie), and 14d. I wasn’t keen on the American spelling of GRAY in 28a, but wrote it in with an “oh well, I suppose it must be that” and a shrug, and 17d I only partially understood as for “not estimated” I simply removed “est” from C’est la vie, and couldn’t see how the ending “R” worked; a far more clever clue than I realised! 22a gave me the biggest groan, so makes it into my favourite clues of the day list. (Anyone else remember Ellisdons Mail Order Tricks and Jokes?)

  8. sidey says:

    I’m a bit surprised that no one else thinks the comma in 23d is dodgy. Omit it and it is a rather good clue but as it appears it seems wrong, not simply misdirection.

  9. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, all, for the discussions re 14d. i got the answer from the definition and checking letters but couldn’t parse it. I agree with others, too, about ‘gray'; if, for example, ‘honor’ or ‘liter’ turn up in wordplay or hidden in an answer there’s invariably a hint (not always too obvious) about the American spelling and imho the same should have applied here.

  10. Conrad Cork says:

    Hello Cumbrian @ 7

    “Anyone else remember Ellisdons Mail Order Tricks and Jokes?”

    Sorry to say but I do.

  11. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Crosophile for a crossword with a lot of good clues and John for the blog. Points that have not been settled above:

    9ac: I took this as a straight “three meanings” clue, but the wordplay given by John works, so I would now take it as U + P + RIGHT & lit in three meanings.

    12ac: I wrote in TREFOIL as the only word I could think of that fits, and an anagram of “litre of”. Chambers 2011 gives bacon-and-eggs n birdsfoot trefoil, which gives us the definition. Therefore “Lard” must be intended as the anagram indicator. It does not appear in the seven-and-a-half page list in the new Chambers, and the nearest meaning of lard that I can find is “to mix with anything”, which I do not think is good enough for a satisfactory anagram indicator. I am ready to be persuaded otherwise.

  12. Crosophile says:

    Thanks, John, for the blog and thanks for all the other comments, which I genuinely find of great interest and help in gauging difficulty levels. Perhaps this one was a tad harder than I intended – I’m still struggling to get it right but I am trying, honest!
    I think most queries have been ironed out.
    A couple of points:
    28a. Chambers gives steel grey and steel gray equal prominence with no reference to Americanisms, and even under ‘grey/gray’ it only refers to gray as ‘especially’ rather than exclusively US, so I judged it unnecessary to further clutter up the clue with an America indicator. Since the A/E ambiguity was unchecked it occurred to me that an anagram would neatly avoid any doubt as to the right option.
    There is no anagrind in 11a. It’s simply GUES+T ON swapping to TON+GUES.
    Re 14d, as a solver I’d be happy with ‘cameras from centre’ being variously E or MER or AMERA – each seems equally valid to me – but I might be untypical in this, I don’t know, and I don’t want to set the solver’s teeth on edge.
    Sidey [#8]. I’m not sure I agree about the comma. I think withOUT the comma it would be incorrect, indicating the impossible ‘PURE in S’ rather than the intended ‘PURE, with S coming into it’. Hope that makes sense.
    re 12a and Lard as an anagrind, I’m sure I’ve seen this somewhere but can’t find it in a list of anagrinds. I had in mind the Chambers definition of to lard = to strew [= to scatter loosely] but concede it is arguable. I’d be sorry to find out, though, that there’s a word in the English language that CAN’T be used as an anagrind. :-)
    Thanks again, everyone.

  13. flashling says:

    Apologies late on parade – hey I’m on holiday! would have finished much faster if I hadden’t written 3d in 2d’s place. Re 11ac I thought that it was so clearly that, that I didn’t realise the above felt it confusing. Cheers Crosophile for a nice tricky but enjoyable puzzle.

  14. Bertandjoyce says:

    Just checked in to find out how we should have arrived at some of the answers! I (Joyce), checked lard in Chambers on the ipad as we’d never come across it as an anagrind before. The Shakesperean meaning of lard is ‘to be intimately mixed’! A bit like us really…….. although I think I’d object to being called lardy!
    Anyway, thanks to John and the rest of you for all the explanations and to Crosophile for another evening of head-scratching! What will Thursday bring?

  15. flashling says:

    I saw lard as being like cross-channel swimmers when they are larded, it’s smothered all over the place and as such a fine a anagrind as you get, oh well.

  16. Uncle Yap says:

    One thought crossed my mind at 4Down. According to traditional Chinese herbage legend, gingko not lotus is supposed to improve one’s memory; and I forget what lotus is supposed to be good for :-)

  17. Pelham Barton says:

    Crosophile @12: Thanks for popping in. You have settled my doubts about “lard”. Taking up your challenge for a word that cannot be an anagram indicator, how about “unchanged”?

  18. Cumbrian says:

    Pelham Barton @17 – would Nuclear unchanged be UNCLEAR? It would require someone with far better skills than I have to hammer it into a clue.

  19. Pelham Barton says:

    Cumbrian @18: No it would not, at least in my book. If you accept the legitimacy of splitting a clue word – which I do not – you could argue for “unde unchanged” to give NUDE. Even there, I would say that the anagram indicator is “changed” not “unchanged”.

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