Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,894 / Nestor

Posted by RatkojaRiku on February 2nd, 2012


We have vintage Nestor on display this morning in a puzzle that truly showcases his brilliance as a compiler – and my lack of brilliance as a solver, alas.

After slotting in a handful of entries on first perusal (2, 5, 9, 19, 22, 24), this was a puzzle that I really had to plug away at and which I would have loved to have been able to say that I had managed to solve completely unaided: in the end, I searched Chambers for 8, 15 and 27, all of which were excellent clues and perfectly gettable. I could use having to write the blog as an excuse for needing to solve quickly, but to be honest, I think Nestor genuinely outfoxed me today. Basically, you know you have a real tour de force on your hands when the clue to a 3-letter entry is inspired, as at 26.

My favourite clues today are the & lit. at 28, with its in-built suggestion of a French term; 20 for its silky smooth surface reading and economy of language; and 27 for its completely deceptive surface – how I wish I had seen that the split between wordplay and definition came between “egg” and “shells”!

Thank you, Nestor, for a hugely entertaining, albeit humbling, solving experience. I can’t wait to
cross swords (pencils?) with you again.

*(…) is anagram indicator

1   GOOSE PIMPLES [(E (=energy) + P (=power)] in [GOO (=gunk) + SIMPLES (=traditional herbs)]
9   BIKO K<nown> (“originally” means first letter only) in BIO (=life); the reference is to South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (1946-77)
10   LONE RANGER Cryptic definition: the reference is to the ex-Texas ranger of impeccable character (“flawless”) in American popular culture, who rode a white stallion called Silver (“Silver-mounted”)
11   UNCLOTHE *(HOT) in UNCLE (=kinsman); “bothered” is anagram indicator
12   SUGARY SU (US=American; “backing” indicates reversal) + GARY (=X Factor judge, i.e. Gary Barlow of Take That fame)
14   DEFILE ELI (=old priest, i.e. from Old Testament) + FED (=gratified); “after being returned” indicates reversal
16   ANIMATED [I (=international) + MATE (=match, i.e. partner, as noun or verb)] in AND (=what’s more)
18   FORENSIC FORE (=warning re driver, i.e. in golf) + N (=name) + SIC (=thus in Latin)
20   SHAKEN HAKE (=fish) in SN (=tinned, i.e. in Sn, where Sn is the chemical formula for tin)
21   TURNIP URN (=vase) in TIP (=end, e.g. of finger)
23   NUISANCE Homophone of “new since” (=not existing before) in not very articulate (“rough”) English
25   SERPENTINE [ER (=queen) + P (=page)] in SENTINE<l> (=guard; “mostly” means last letter dropped)
27   AMMO <g>AMMO<n> (=ham); “without the last of <baco>N or <eg>G” means that the letters “n” and “g” are dropped; the definition is “shells, etc” referring to ammunition
28   TOUR DE FRANCE *(RACE OFTEN DUR); “circuitous” indicates anagram; the use of “dur” helpfully suggests to the solver that the entry may have a French connection; & lit.
2   ONION I (=current, i.e. in physics) in ON ON (=two instances of functioning, i.e. 2 x on)
3   STOOL PIGEON [TOOL (=person exploited) + PIG (=brute)] in *(NOSE); “working” is anagram indicator; partially & lit. since stool pigeon and nose (=snout) both mean police informer
4   PILOTLESS PI (=religious) + LOT (=group) + LESS (=not so much); the definition is “as a drone”, i.e. an aircraft piloted by remote control
5   MANDELA Initial letters (“the foremost among”) of M<odern> A<frican> N<ation’s> D<emocratically> E<lected> L<eaders> A<ssuredly>; & lit.; the reference is to human rights activist and former South African President Nelson Mandela (1918-)
6   LARKS Double definition: LARKS means “cavorting”, capers, frolics AND “early risers”, as in to be up with the lark
7   SIN S (=society) + IN (=gripped by, as in the country is gripped by recession)
8   DERRIERE ERR (=sin, i.e. the entry at 7) in [DIE (=cash in one’s chips) + RE (=about)]; the definition is simply “behind”, as in bottom, rump
13   GUADALAJARA A (=an) + RAJA (=Indian royal) + LAD (=youth) + AUG (=month); “up” indicates vertical reversal; the definition is “Mexico City” in the sense of city (with lower-case “c”) in Mexico rather than the capital
15   EXODUSES EX (=without) + OD (=taking too much, i.e. overdose) + USES (=spends); the definition is “outgoings” in the sense of acts of going out, exiting
17   IN SPITE OF FOE (=opponent) + TIPS (=lists, i.e. leans, as a verb) + NI (=National Insurance); “upped” indicates vertical reversal; the definition is “for all” as in For all my effort, I couldn’t finish this crossword
19   CANDIED <id>E<as> (“core of” means middle letter only) in CANDID (=not evasive)
22   PINGU Hidden (“has some”) in “droPIN GUests”; the definition is “bird that’s animated (=the entry at 16)”, referring to the children’s cartoon about a penguin named Pingu
24   COMIC CO (=company) + MIC (=what he might use, i.e. microphone)
26   PIT Double definition: (cryptically) PIT is “Portland stone”, i.e. a fruit-stone in American English, referring to the city in Oregon rather than the peninsula in Dorset  AND “quarry”, mine


9 Responses to “Independent 7,894 / Nestor”

  1. Miche Doherty says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku.

    26d puzzled me. I got the double definition of PIT as fruit-stone and quarry, but couldn’t see where Portland came in. I didn’t realise that the former sense was specific to US English. Chambers does flag it as “esp N American.”

    All in all, a very enjoyable puzzle.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for a welcome blog. Pleased to finish this one, because I usually find Nestor hard.

    Enough gettable ones for me to get a start today, and I enjoyed getting it all out in the end. Reference to an X-Factor judge? The Indy will be getting a reputation for using contemporary references soon. SHAKEN is outrageous (but I liked it); NUISANCE is also outrageous (and I didn’t much like it, but let’s not have a homophone debate).

    PINGU is awesome, by the way, mainly for the language he speaks, which I think is called Pinguese. His little sister PINGA is also seriously cute.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, and Nestor. I agree that it was very difficult and very inventive, but I understood everything in the end, apart, I’ll have to admit, from PIT tho my guess was correct based on the clue. As I had never heard of PINGU, I was glad of the very easy clue.

  4. Bertandjoyce says:

    KD you really must get a life! We failed to complete all of this on the train this morning. Completely fooled by derriere but obvious when you know it’s the answer. Thought of all the parts but then decided that it had to mean cash in one’s chips instead. If we’d had wi-fi we may have realised that we were a little bit behind in sorting it out.
    Really liked Shaken – i have a feeling that there was something like it a while ago but Bert disagrees with me.
    Surface reading was good and another great Thursday solve.
    Thanks RR and Nestor.

  5. flashling says:

    Actually B&J I had a nagging suspicion I’ve seen tinned used like this a few years ago but then there’s nothing new under the sun. Had to give myself a break from this and went and got an “i” and was rewarded with a solvable but very pleasant Dac before returning.

    Feel a bit sorry for RR getting another very difficult Nestor so soon after the last. OK I missed the subs bit to PIT and thought AMMO was a good clever ‘un. Thanks RR and Nestor, the Thursday tricky lived up to the name excellently.

  6. NealH says:

    Having been robbed of my chance to have a go at this at lunch time, I didn’t quite manage to finish this evening. I got a bit too tired and resorted to wordsearches to get exoduses and derriere. The problem was that by then I’d got evolutes and retrieve in my head as possible answers and, once I’ve got a different word stuck in my head, it’s very difficult to get rid of it. There were a lot of nice clues, but I do think nuisance was stretching homophones too far – I thought it was meant to be “new sense”, which didn’t quite work. Giving it an “I” sound in the second part would never have occurred to me.

  7. NealH says:

    I think 3 down has to be a full &lit because otherwise there is no definition anywhere.

  8. Quixote says:

    Difficult, enjoyable, and thoroughly Ximenean! Shows it can be done!

  9. Allan_C says:

    K’s D, I’m with you to some extent about 12a – I’m not ashamed to say I have never watched the X-factor.

    Bertandjoyce, your pun re 8d has not gone unnoticed. But maybe “the miserable witticism was very properly ignored” – that’s a quotation; can anyone identify author and work? No prizes, of course. (Hint: the author’s work came out of copyright last year.)

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