Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7896 by Nimrod (Saturday Prize Puzzle 4 February 2012)

Posted by mc_rapper67 on February 11th, 2012


What the Hell?! I know it is a Nimrod, but I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition!… A veritable tour-de-force from a master of the dark arts of cruciverbalism…a multi-layered thematic (and anniversarial?) puzzle to fry the mind, and sort the saints from the sinners…

It took me a while to get going, not helped by the fact that, looking back, there are probably only four or five clues* that don’t lead to thematic answers (or contain thematic elements themselves). I think I managed 19A: PENPAL first, then 22D: MOLE, and also the anagram at 20D: PRINCE OF DARKNESS…then stared into the abyss, following the various interlinked clues back and forth for a while, before the delightfully self-referential 22A: MEPHISTOPHELES opened up the road 21A: TO HELL**, and the generally demonic/devilish/impious theme.

22A also hints at an anniversary – this puzzle coming around the date of the recent Charles Dickens bicentennial. ‘What the Dickens’ coming from an old nickname for the devil: ‘Dickon Richard’. (See also 1A in Independent 6748, also by Nimrod, back in 2008.)

I couldn’t parse/justify 1D: ?ZERO POINT? at all – assuming it is ZERO POINT, otherwise I have wasted a stamp on this one! And not sure why 12D: THE SERPENT is a ‘bad ‘un, so I’ve heard‘. Or any further thematic ninas etc. Any suggestions/pointers welcomed.

UPDATE: Please see comments below – equally plausible parsings of 1D from Pandean and dialrib @ #1 and #2, and Phi’s homophone of Abaddon, in 12D, for ‘a bad ‘un’ @ #3.

And, thanks, Nimrod – I have had Chris Rea’s ‘The Road to Hell’ pottering along in the back of my head all week…

* 19A: PEN PAL, 1D: ?ZERO POINT?, 2D: USED, 4D: HINTED, 5D: LABOUR WITH (although this has ‘devils’ as an indicator)… and 17D: UTTAPAMS

** Other theosophical concepts of systems of reward and punishment are also available

Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
7A LESS PIT See 11A (7, or 4,3) See 11A /
See 11A
8A DILATES Enlarges 18 – appropriately so herein? (7) Enlarges /
DIS (18, Pluto/Dis, also a noun for the Underworld) around LATE (dead, i.e. appropriate state to be in the underworld)
10A GOOD INTENTIONS Signed in not too crazy paving for Road to 21 (4, 10) Paving for the Road to Hell /
anag (i.e. crazy) of SIGNED IN NOT TOO
11A BOTTOM/LESS PIT /7A. Crateful, say, to violently eject, having order to fill nether regions (10,3 – 6 here) Nether regions (of the earth, not the human body!) /
BOTTLES (crateful) around OM (Order of Merit) + SPIT (eject, violently)
13A OF DARK See 20D (6, or 2, 4) See 20D /
See 20D
15A INFERNO Fire? Assume not a … (7) Fire /
INFER (assume) + NO (not a)
16A LUCIFER Match for the adversary (7) double defn /
LUCIFER is a type of match, as well as the devil/our adversary
19A PEN PAL Power wielded by punishing juvenile writer (3, 3) (Juvenile) writer – although grown-ups can have pen-pals too…/
PENAL (punishing) around P (power)
21A TO HELL Completely bound down? (2, 4) &lit /
&lit Going (bound) down as far as one can go, i.e. to Hell
22A MEPHISTOPHELES Nimrod and Phi prevent man expurgating the cleaner Charles Dickens (14) dickens (deuce, the devil) /
ME (Nimrod, the setter) + PHI (another setter!) + STOP (prevent) + HE (man) + LES (Charles, without CHAR – cleaner)
25A IMPIOUS 9 promises to be irreverent (7) irreverent /
IMP (9 – demon) + IOUS (promises, IOUs)
Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1D ?ZERO POINT? Origin of catcall from one drinking beer with top in O2 (4, 5) ?origin? (absolute zero, O degrees Kelvin? Hell freezing over?) /
I can see O (top in O2) in PINT (beer), or POINT as an anagram of TOP IN, but can’t explain ‘catcall’…

Update: ZER (one drinking – BOOZER – without BOO – catcall) + O P O INT (beer – PINT – with top letter P in OO – O2) 

2D USED In house dealing with a previous owner (4) with a previous owner /
hidden word in hoUSE Dealing
3D CINNAMON One reportedly destined to go 21 having written marks on tree (8) tree /
CINNA (homophone of ‘sinner’, one destined to go 21A) with (having written) M (marks) + ON
4D HINTED Gave clue in the anagrams: “Fiery 9 discharging 23″ (6) gave clue /
anag (i.e. anagrams!) of IN THE plus D (DEVIL, 9, demon, without 23 EVIL)
5D LABOUR WITH Take pains to convince devils I hurt landing a blow in scrap (6, 4) take pains to convince /
anags (i.e. ‘devils’ and ‘in scrap’, or fight) of I HURT and A BLOW
6D NESS See 20D (4) See 20D /
See 20D
9D DEMON 23 one requiring MD for treatment (5) 23D – evil /
anag (i.e. treatment) of ONE + MD – DEMON, also used as an adjective meaning ‘evil’ – 23D?
12D THE SERPENT Local people [Resistance] locked up in a bad ‘un, so I’ve heard (3, 7) a bad ‘un (?so I’ve heard?) /
THESE (local people) + R (resistance) + PENT (locked up) – not sure what ‘so I’ve heard’, implies, unless Nimrod is giving the serpent the benefit of the doubt (;+>) - or it may be a reference to the fact that the story of the serpent and the apple may just be an allegory, rather than an actual historical event…(surely not? Hope I don’t get cast down in 21A for this heresy!) 

Update: ‘a bad ‘un’ = homophone for Abaddon – the Devil (Revelation 9:11)

14D BEELZEBUB Auntie tethers large ox to give Satan (9) Satan /
BEEB (Auntie, the BBC) around L (large) + ZEBU (domesticated Asian/African ox)
17D UTTAPAMS As Latin meat , it’s not to consume in Spanish snack pancakes (8) (South Indian) pancakes /
UT (as, in Latin) + TAPAS (Spanish snack) around M (meat, without EAT – consume)
18D PLUTO Dis parking restriction applied to airport? (5) Dis (Roman god of the underworld, a.k.a. Pluto) /
P (parking) + LUTO (Luton Airport, restricted)
20D PRINCE (/OF DARK/NESS) /13A/6D. Harry forced spinnakers out of skew (6, 2, 8 – 6 here) (Old) Harry (aka the Devil) /
anag (i.e. out of skew) of FORCED SPINNAKERS
22D MOLE Spot one in the Underworld? (4) double defn /
MOLE can be a spot (on the skin), or a creature living under the earth
23D EVIL Are up to no good in this puzzle (4) &lit/up to no good /
EVIL = LIVE (are) upwards, and is also associated with many ‘up to no good’ elements of this puzzle

10 Responses to “Independent 7896 by Nimrod (Saturday Prize Puzzle 4 February 2012)”

  1. Pandean says:

    Thanks for the blog, mc_rapper67.

    For 1dn, after many wrong turns I eventually parsed ZERO POINT as [boo]zer + (top in O)*. I reckon ‘origin’ is the definition, ‘catcall’=boo, and ‘used’ is the anagrind (with the ’2′ at the end of the clue referring to 2dn).

    I couldn’t work out the relevance of ‘so I’ve heard’ at 12dn. though.

  2. dialrib says:

    Thanks mc_rapper67.

    1d (boo)ZER followed by PINT, with the top of pint (P) in OO (O2) – ZER + O + P + O + INT.

    12d I wondered if this ([a] bud ‘un) might be a homophone of some obscure snake but couldn’t find one.

  3. Phi says:

    I took 12d to be referencing Abaddon, which can mean either the Devil or Hell. (‘Juan in Hell?’ – i.e. A BAD DON – is a clue I remember from somewhere.)

  4. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, mc_rapper67, for the blog, and Pandean and dialrib for the explanations of 1d. That was the only one I didn’t get. All I could think of was “zero round”, not that I’d ever heard the expression. If you scored zero in a round of a game/copetition it might precipitate a catcall, and O2 = 00 = zero and a circle(round). But of course that didn’t explain the rest of the clue.

  5. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks for all the feedback – equally plausible parsings of 1D from Pandean and dialrib @ #1 and #2, and Phi’s homophone of Abaddon for ‘a bad ‘un’ @ #3.

    I will update accordingly.

  6. Querulous says:

    Thanks for the blog, mc_rapper67. Re 21a, I parsed it more like a double definition – completely (e.g. “shot to hell”), and bound down (as in your interpretation).

  7. crypticsue says:

    You won’t believe the time it took for the penny to drop at this one, and I was at a Cruciverbalists Convention the week before at which young Nimrod said, more than once, my next Indy is going to be fiendish/devilish. I spent on and off all last weekend muttering variations of devilry to myself before I got to the end. Thanks to Nimrod and well done to the blogger – I wouldn’t have wanted to have sorted out that one.

  8. Lenny says:

    I got all the way through to Beelzebub before I could find one that I could solve. Fortunately, as with many thematics, once I got this most of the rest dropped out. There was a long pause at the end while I derived Zero Point and Uttapams from the wordplay. It is probably inevitable, with such a clever theme that the grid is going to be completed with one or two rarities. Still, it was all good clean fun. Thanks to Nimrod and to mcrapper.

  9. MikeC says:

    Thanks mc_rapper67 and Nimrod. Challenging but enjoyable. I missed the Abaddon reference but otherwise more or less “got there”.

    Btw, is Nimrod another alias for Satan – this puzzle was fiendish in more ways than one?!

  10. Bertandjoyce says:

    Didn’t start this one until last night due to holidays. So glad this wasn’t down to us to blog. 17d had us beat. It didn’t come up on our search in Chambers and we’d got stuck with the idea that the definition was a Spanish pancake. We were also rather tired with befuddled brains after a hectic weekend! Not a good time to tackle a fiendish Nimrod…..very challenging!
    Thanks mc_rapper67 and Nimrod.

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