Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7900/Monk

Posted by John on February 9th, 2012


When I saw the rather strange grid, with six 15-letter words and only 22 answers, it immediately seemed that something was afoot, but I can’t see anything. Perhaps there is indeed something there, or perhaps it was just a big achievement to fill such a grid.

In any case it was all extraordinarily difficult, which came as no surprise. One or two that I eventually gave up on I really should have been able to do, but there were also several (to my mind too many) cryptic definitions to some of which the answer was not immediately apparent. Apart from this, the standard of the clues was consistently high and I have no grounds for complaint.

8 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH — Queen [Rock group] oft (shout)* around he
9 JOGGLE — jog [= run] (leg)*, and a joggle is a type of joint, new to me
10 TRA(MP){w}LED
12 DRE(S{quirrel}S)Y — a squirrel’s nest is a drey
13 QUICK OFF THE MARK — quick = soon, off the mark = missing the target
16 S(TAN)Z A — s = square, z is the unknown (a rather strange convention since z is typically a complex number and not met by all that many people)
18 IN STANCE — if you’re in you’re batting
20 M(A CUL(A)T)E
21 {h}ARBOUR — I think, harbour = bear in mind
1 AURORA AUSTRALIS — CD referring to Sydney in Australia, a southern hemisphere equivalent of the Northern Lights
2 BERGERAC — ({s}care greb{e})rev. — I didn’t know the town but the word is no doubt familiar because of the TV series
3 VOWELS — CD using the fact that this word (also ‘abstemiously’ and no doubt many others) uses all five vowels; the fact that they occur in order is not used, but I suppose if the words ‘in order’ were added to the end of the clue it would have become a bit easy
4 STATUE OF LIBERTY — (obituary left est{ate})*
5 V(ER)AND A H — ref the Victoria and Albert Museum, and ER [King Edward] is the king
6 TOUPEE — another CD where the trick was seen early, but I spent a long time on hats and decided on ‘bobble’ when I had _ O _ _ _ E, since a bobble hat has something at the very top. Perfectly good (if rather lame) answer: that’s one of the reasons why I so dislike CDs.
7 STRESS FRACTURES — I find this a bit hard to parse: so far as I can see it’s stress [= experience anxiety, a rare adjectival use in this sense] then curs appearing at stages in (after)* — is a cur a mad (rather than a rough or worthless) dog?
14 OXALATES — (o E x Atlas)*, where x = multiplied by = times
15 MEATBALL — meal round (tabl{e})* — a meatball is N American slang for a dull-witted person — another thing I didn’t know
17 NEURAL — Lauren with the middle two letters turned round then the whole thing reversed, and the double reversal is indicated by the two words ‘turning’ and ’round’
19 SWATHE — Essentially ‘whitewashing’ is (but is this what ‘essentially’ means?) the six middle letters ‘tewash’ and you make an anagram of this

16 Responses to “Independent 7900/Monk”

  1. Paul B says:

    Wrong: AFTER is ‘mad’ (anagrammed) with the CURS appearing intermittently.

  2. Paul B says:

    … and pangram.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John. I too found this hard, but was pleased to finish it in the end, although with the help of on-line gadgetry. I certainly wouldn’t have managed this a couple of years ago. Of the harder ones, I was happy to get SWATHE (which I parsed like you) and MACULATE, which I got from the wordplay and then verified. But there were several where I needed your explanations.

    STRESS FRACTURE was one of those – I think it’s a verbal meaning of stress, though, as in ‘he’s stressing out.’

    On which point, Paul B, I’m sure no blogger minds having an alternative parsing suggested to them, but I think you could probably find a more polite way of putting it that you just have.

    Thanks to Monk also. Good to see that you’re back as an Indy regular.

  4. crypticsue says:

    Definitely on the hard side – the Tippex and overwriting confirms that. Enjoyable thank you Monk and John too.

  5. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, John, and Monk. This was v tough and v fair, as one expects from Monk, if not quite as difficult as some from him in the past.
    Seeing the pangram possibility was crucial to me because it enabled me to get JOGGLE (with the J) from the wordplay, having never heard of the word. Some inventive wordplay eg STRESS FRACTURES as explained above, DRESSY, and NEURAL. Re the Z in STANZA, I thought it might just be a third variable after x and y without going near the complex numbers with which I guess few solvers would be familiar.

  6. flashling says:

    @K’S D & PB quite, get out of the wrong side of bed this morning Paul? Bleeding hard as we expect from Monk, Often he puts in Ninas but other than a rather unfortunate 4 letter word in the top right diagonally I can’t see one.

    Joggle was a new one on me, but saw the pangram coming a mile off, (actually I suspected double for a while) and knew there had to be a J fitting somewhere.

    Ta John, Thursday toughie living up to it’s name.

  7. Monk says:

    Thanks to all for blog and comments.

    To Flashling @ 6: crude Ninas are simply not my style, so profuse apologies for any offence caused by the entirely accidental configuration. To clarify, my note to Eimi for this puzzle was “Pangram using unobscure vocabulary and only 22 lights (average word length of 9.18)”, so John‘s (sorry about the cryp defs!) first para. is spot-on.

  8. flashling says:

    @Monk I know you didn’t intend that and didn’t mean to imply you did, quite a few grids have been know to accidentally contain unintended entries like that, it’s just unfortunate. Bah, I should stop making light hearted comments.

  9. Paul B says:

    So should I.

  10. Simon Harris says:

    Belatedly checking in, but great stuff – thanks John and Monk.

    I found this very hard, but persisted (fortified by my local’s own home brew) and got there in the end, much to my satisfaction.

    To my mind, a classic Thursday Indy.

  11. Bertandjoyce says:

    We came to this late after preparing the blog for tomorrow. Typical toughie for a Thursday. 7d had us beat but got it from the definition so thanks to everyone. We really didn’t like 22a. The clue seemed over contrived, a cigarette holder is outside not inside the snout! However, it didn’t spoil a good puzzle from Monk.
    Thanks John and Monk.

  12. Paul B says:

    Yes, that’s what it looks like, but there’s a subtle ellipsis. Work along the lines of ‘inside IS the snout, and you’re there.

  13. nmsindy says:

    I thought ‘inside’ might have referred to snout as prison slang for a cigarette.

  14. Paul B says:

    Indeed NMS, but a cigarette holder, while it may be widely used in the Barlinnie, can also be used for non-porridge snout. I can’t remember what the clue is now though, having bunged the crossword after solving!

  15. nmsindy says:

    Re Paul B at #14, the puzzles can still be seen on Crossword Solver, once one knows what day to enter (09 Feb for this). The clue was “Apparatus for gripping inside snout?”

  16. Paul B says:

    Thanks NMS. So yay, I would push for the ellipsis, per #12 & #14.

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