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Independent Prize Puzzle 7860 – 24 December 2011 / Radian

Posted by duncanshiell on December 31st, 2011


There were a few mini themes running through this enjoyable puzzle which was two letters short of a  pangram.  I can’t see a W or a Q.




Turning to the three themes I detected, the first related to the names of four of Santa’s reindeer, flagged in the clues as hauliers – RUDOLPH, DONNER, BLITZEN and DASHER

Secondly there were some general Christmas references – JINGLE BELLS, BALTHAZAR, GOOSE and CRACKERS definitely.  With a bit of leeway, we could include CHOIR (who sing carols) and THE BOX (which many people watch interminably over Christmas) as well.

Finally, there were a lot of conifers (Christmas trees) about – PINE, FIRS, NOBLE [a type of fir tree], LARCH and SPRUCE

The clues also had a number of Christmas references – Carol, Magus, seasonal fare, tree, Christmas tree, nuts and tree [again].

There was a good mixture of clue  types – with some simple additions and reversals, as well as some complex containers in containers.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Carol and Jill’s new church land fenced (6,5)

(N [new] + GLEBE [the land attached to a parish church; church land]) contained in (fenced) JILL’S


JINGLE BELLS (commonly regarded now as a Christmas song [carol], a number fo websites state that the song was originally written for Thanksgiving)
7 Spot retreating fox (3) DOT (spot) reversed (retreating) TOD (fox)
9 They sing about 24 pages on air (5) CHOIR (sounds like [on air] QUIRE [24 sheets of paper [now often 25 sheets], hence ‘about 24 pages’) CHOIR (they sing)
10 POWs bury joints, say (9) INTER (bury) + NEES (sounds like [say] KNEES [joints]) INTERNEES (Prisoners of War [POWs] – often used for confinement of opposition members even when there is no official declaration of war)
11 Magus, one from Latvia perhaps, risks losing last pair (9) BALT (one from the Baltic area which includes Latvia) + HAZARDS (risks) excluding the last two letters (losing last pair), DS BALTHAZAR (traditionally considered to be one of the three wise men in the Biblical; stories about the birth of Jesus; alone, BALTHAZAR would be a magus
12 Seasonal fare goes off with stuffed duck (5)

Anagram of (off) GOES containing (stuffed with) O (duck [no score in cricket])


GOOSE (seasonal fare)
13 Monkey in tree with no tail … (7)

TAMARIND (a large tropical caesalpiniaceous tree (Tamarindus indica) that bears yellow flowers and long brown seed pods) excluding D, the final letter (with no tail)

TAMARIN (any small Central and S American monkey of the genera Saguinus and Leontopithecus, related to the marmosets.)

15 … exercises, sheltering in another one … (4)

PE (physical education; exercise) containing (sheltering) IN


PINE ([another] tree)
16 … more of the same familty, top trimmed (4) FIRST (top) excluding T, the last letter(trimmed) FIRS ([another {more}] trees, of the same family as PINEs)
20 Deliveryman’s affair with potter? (7) RES (Latin for ‘affair’) + CUER (snooker player; billiard player; Pool player; one who pots ball; potter) RESCUER (one who delivers you from danger; deliveryman)
23 Boxer, say, can’t initially bear ropes (5)

POOH (reference Winnie the POOH [bear]) containing (ropes) C the first letter of [initially] CAN’T


POOCH (dog; a boxer is an example of a dog)
24 Sort of brake that had Cyril wobbling round bend (9)

Anagram of (wobbling) HAD CYRIL containing (round) U (U-bend)


HYDRAULIC (a HYDRAULIC brake transmits force by means of a compressed fluid.)

26 Annual rut’s perverted? Yes (9) Anagram of (perverted) ANNUAL RUT UNNATURAL (perverted – with ‘yes’ implying perverted can apply to both the wordplay and the definition)  
27 Maybe count number at joint spinning endlessly (5)

N (number) + ELBOW (joint) excluding W the last letter (endlessly) reversed (spinning)


NOBLE (A Count is an example of a nobleman)
28 Regularly repair organ (3) 2nd, 4th and 6th letters (regularly) of REPAIR EAR ([body] organ of hearing)
29 I’m surprised Gove’s had one educated (4,7) Anagram of (educated) GOVE’S HAD ONE GOOD HEAVENS (expression of surprise; Michael Gove [at the time of the crossword’s publication] is Secretary of State for Education)
1 Derek, the disheartened supporter of James (5) JACOBI (reference Derek JACOBI, actor) + TE (THE without its middle letter H [disheartened]) JACOBITE (supporter of James II of England [James VII] of Scotland] and his descendants, aiming to restore the Stuarts to the throne)  When I first solved this, I tried to parse it using the BO, as my first thought for Derek was Bo Derek [actress])
2 Light No. 1 works at 50A (4,4)

N (number) + anagram of (working) ONE + L (Roman numeral for 50) + AMP (A is an abbreviation for ampere, the SI unit of electric current)


NEON LAMP (light, some of which may operate on a 50 amp current)
3 Popular Christmas tree stocked here (5) Hidden word in (stocked here) POPULAR CHRISTMAS

LARCH (any tree of the coniferous genus Larix, which could be used as Christmas tree)

4 Haulier’s regular bold appeal to school in Japan (7)

1st and 3rd letters (regular) of BOLD + IT ([sex] appeal) + ZEN (Japanese branch [school] of Buddhism)


BLITZEN (one of Santa’s reindeer [haulier] who pull the sleigh)
5 Novice priest angrily puts his foot down (4,3)

L (learner; novice) + an anagram of (angrily) PRIEST


LETS RIP (expresses oneself violently or without restraint; put ones foot down)
6 Old cuts of such boiled ganders (5,4) 1st and 3rd letters (cuts) of SUCH + an anagram of (boiled) GANDERS SCRAG ENDS (cuts of meat from the neck of a lamb or sheep.  It is one of the cheaper cuts of meat, and, I think more likely to be mutton [old] than lamb)
7 TV base acquired by HBO in Texas (originally outside it) (3,3)

(E [base of natural logarithms] contained in [acquired by] HBO [a United States premium cable television network]) all contained in (in) TX (Texas)  Or it may be that ‘outside it’ is indicating that TX is containing H E BO and ‘in’ is just a link word.


THE BOX (television)
8 Haulier reversed as he removed contents (6) Hidden word in (contents) REVERSED AS HE REMOVED DASHER (another of Santa’s reindeer [hauliers])
14 Fatty energy-packed venision diet … (9)

RICH (containing a high proportion of fat, sugar, fruit or seasoning; fatty) containing (packed) E (energy) + STAG (the flesh of a deer / stag is venison)


REICHSTAG (the lower House of Parliament in Germany during the Second Reich; one of the meanings of ‘diet’ is ‘a national, federal or provincial assembly’)
16 … taken in readily, like sap (8) GULLIBLE (easily deceived or tricked; taken in readily) GULLIBLE (one of the meanings of ‘gull’ is a ‘dupe or fool'; sap [plodding student], so GULLIBLE describes a sap)
17 Yanks open these nuts (8) CRACKERS (In the UK we ‘pull crackers’ at Christmas; in the United States, I think people ‘open crackers’) CRACKERS (crazy; nuts)
19 Sonny’s leader and partner (Australian) lifted piece (7) S, first letter of (leader of) SONNY + CHER (reference the singing duo SONNY and CHER) + OZ (Australian; Chambers just gives Australia but says it can also be used as an adjective) reversed (lifted) SCHERZO (a piece [of music])
20 Haulier restricted by shambolic hold-up (7) R (restricted – in the context of a film certificate) + an anagram of (shambolic) HOLD-UP RUDOLPH (the most famous of Santa’s hauliers [reindeer])
21 Odds on revolutionary cure for tree (6) SP (starting price; odds) + an anagram of (revolutionary) CURE SPRUCE (tree [another one related to the PINE and the FIRS])
22 Haulier runs after poet (6) DONNE (reference John Donne [1572 – 1631], English poet) + R (runs [in cricket]) DONNER (the fourth of Santa’s hauliers to appear in the puzzle)
25 First bodyguards have no way of working in gas (5) AMMONIA (gas) excluding (have no) MO (modus operandi [way of working])

AMNIA (the innermost membranes enveloping the embryo of reptiles, birds and mammal; first layer of protection; first bodyguards)

8 Responses to “Independent Prize Puzzle 7860 – 24 December 2011 / Radian”

  1. Allan_C says:

    A nice seasonal offering from Radian; not too difficult, although I didn’t get 25d, so thanks, Duncan, for the explanation. All I could think of was ‘apnea’ (alternative spelling of ‘apnoea’) – a cessation of breathing hence ‘no way of working in gas’ – but of course I couldn’t fathom the rest of the clue.

  2. Klingsor says:

    Anyone else having problems getting the online version? Crossword Solver produces my puzzle from last week and the direct link also does but with several errors. The same puzzle from me two weeks running is something I’m sure nobody needs!

  3. Allan_C says:

    Klingsor @2 (or anyone else) – if you’d like to e-mail allanathr[at]aol[dot]com I’ll e-mail you a pdf of the puzzle.

  4. sidey says:

    Anyone know if this is available online?

  5. sidey says:

    Sorry for (apparently) ignoring previous posts.

  6. duncanshiell says:

    Sidey @4 and 5

    My understanding is that the Saturday Independent Prize Puzzle usually appears on-line a week after publication in the paper.

    This seems to have been the pattern both on The Independent website and through Crossword Solver until the last two Saturdays when the on-line Saturday puzzles seem to have gone a bit strange. Last week’s was 2 years old and today’s is 2 weeks old. Daily puzzles have been OK in each of the last two weeks.

    Also last week’s Sunday puzzle was out of synch, and my guess is tomorrow’s will be as well.

    I can’t track down last Saturday’s Prize Puzzle on-line at all at the moment.

  7. nmsindy says:

    IoS puzzle 1141 (due to appear tomorrow Sun 1/1/12, I guess) is available on Crossword Solver using the date of 080112 in the link (ie a week ahead).

  8. eimi says:

    It would have been a bit odd to have a Christmas puzzle on New Year’s Eve or not have a Christmas puzzle on Christmas Eve, hence change of schedule.

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