Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7915/Eimi

Posted by Pierre on February 27th, 2012


The boss has given himself the Monday slot, and given us a fine crossword with a wide range of reference material and some clever cluing.

The Monday Indy is generally an accessible puzzle (which is why I volunteered to blog it) and this was certainly that, although there were quite a few towards the end where the solving was easier than the parsing.  There is a theme here: there are at least six answers which are films from 2011.  There may be more: movies are not my strong point so it’s entirely possible that I’ve missed some.  And of course it was the Oscars last night, so that might just have something to do with it.  Movie buffs among you can no doubt elaborate.

As usual, there’s one where I need help with parsing.

cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed


One formerly known as Prince’s courage is shown in motorcycle races?
An insertion of HEART IS in TT for the Isle of Man races.  The singer Prince changed his name to THE ARTIST.  Our first film – it was a silent one.

Boy to embrace with love
A charade of HUG and O, and another 2011 release.

10  Dim thing difficult to find when it’s dark
(DIM THING)*  ‘Difficult to find’ is the anagrind.  Midnight in Paris was another 2011 film, but I’m not sure if that’s what the setter intended.

11 Republican with money problems?  Not exactly!
(R MONEY)*  ‘Problems’ is the anagrind.  Referring to Mitt Romney, the allegedly French-speaking Republican Presidential candidate, who’s not short of a few bob.

12  In this Meryl’s heart’s not always in playing of hardline Tory?
Clever.  (HA[R]DLINE TORY)*  ‘Playing’ is the anagrind and Eimi’s inviting you to take R for the heart of MeRyl out of the anagram fodder.  Another of last year’s films, which starred Meryl Streep as the ageing Margaret Thatcher and outraged some hardline Tories.  I haven’t seen it, so I couldn’t possibly comment.  Let’s just say that when the day arrives, I won’t be voting for a state funeral …

16  Closed before closing time in drinks fiascos
I was hoping this would come to me when writing up the blog and it has (I think).  It’s an insertion of SHU[T] for ‘closed’ without the closing T for ‘time’ in LAPS for ‘drinks’.  LASH-UPS are ‘fiascos’.

17  Traveller in Italian capital going over Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in E-flat major
A reversal (‘going over’) of REP in ROME for the Emperor Piano Concerto, Beethoven’s last.

18  Car held by driving school helps attendants
An insertion of RIDE in BSM, British School of Motoring, then AIDS.  Another film.  Is the BSM still going?

22  Senior citizen cooking almond

24  Veteran soldier’s not so good without a right hand
An insertion of A and RH in WORSE gives us our next film.

25  Nail the source of “Let the train take the strain”
A BRAD is a ‘thin, flat, small-headed nail’ (SOED) and although I personally can’t remember it, I am guessing that ‘Let the train take the strain’  was a promotional phrase for British Railways in the heady days when the railways were nationalised and you could buy a ticket cheaply and easily rather than having to spend a fortune and a fortnight online trying to find the best price.  Anyway, it would have been a BR AD(vertisement).  Brad Pitt, of course, but I don’t know if that’s part of the film theme.

26  Thirst for beers and Tango contained here in the Middle East
An insertion of ALES and T for Tango from the phonetic alphabet in PINE for ‘thirst for’.


Stumped by simple-minded person’s landing
A charade of ST for the cricketing abbreviation and AIRHEAD to give you another word for the landing on a flight of stairs.

Source of illumination in the long run
(IN THE LONG)* with ‘run’ as the anagrind.  Good spot.

Bug French painter about old painting’s finish
This little fellow is an insertion of O for ‘old’ and G for the last letter of ‘painting’ between FR and HOPPER for the American painter Edward Hopper (1882-1967).

Supporter of unusual intelligence
Hidden in unusuaL INTELligence.

Celebrity set fair to appear regularly
The odd letters of SeT fAiR.

One character in Western having a setback – what a pity!
I can tell you that it’s another 2011 film, but how the clue works, I haven’t the foggiest.

Thanks to Querulous for explaining this at comment no 1.  I wouldn’t have got that in a million years.

Woman Frayn finally cast in Donkeys’ Years
An insertion of N for the last letter of Frayn in AGES.  Donkeys’ Years is indeed a play written by Michael Frayn.

13  Sweet-scented flower originated around Slovakia, below embankment
A charade of DAM for ’embankment’ and an insertion of SK for the internet domain code for Slovakia in AROSE.  I only discovered recently (through a crossword, natch) that the material DAMASK is so-called because of its links with Damascus, the Syrian capital, and it seems that the DAMASK ROSE may have similar origins.  What is happening in Syria at the moment is, sadly, anything but ‘sweet-scented’.

14  Hormone replacement treatment of ailment’s working internally
An insertion of ON for ‘working’ in (AILMENT)* with ‘replacement treatment’ as the anagrind.  MELATONIN is the hormone implicated in mammalian circadian rhythms.

15  Reformed sea dog now in perfect condition

19  One regulation I’d overturned for festival
A reversal of I LAW I’D to give you one version of the Hindu festival of light.  DEWALI, DIVALI and DEEPAVALI are your other options.  From the Sanskrit dipavali, ‘row of lights’, if you’re remotely interested.

20  Liberal involved in distasteful widespread praise
An insertion of L in GORY.

21  To be found in MDMA compound
‘Compound’ is the definition: it’s a charade of AMID for ‘to be found in’ and E for Ecstasy, which is the street name for MDMA, or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine.  AMIDES are compounds which contain a CONH2 group.

23  Gym cancelled?  I’m afraid not
A cd.  If gym were cancelled, there’d be NO PE.

Thanks to Eimi for a well-crafted puzzle which I enjoyed solving and blogging.  I was going to complain that there wasn’t the usual football-related clue, but after events in North London yesterday afternoon we’ll perhaps leave that till next time …

20 Responses to “Independent 7915/Eimi”

  1. Querulous says:

    Thanks Eimi and Pierre.

    Re 6d, I think it’s referring to the Western movie “Shane” starring Alan Ladd, with “having a setback” indicating the n should be changed to m.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Pierre and Eimi for the puzzle.

    I wouldn’t have known [all of ] this without looking it up but the films [including ‘Midnight in Paris’] were all nominated for Best Picture Oscars and BRAD Pitt and Gary OLDMAN for Best Actor.

  3. Eileen says:

    Correction; not ‘The Iron Lady’ for Best Picture but Meryl Streep for Best Actress in it.

  4. Pierre says:

    Thanks, both, for the explanations. I did say movies weren’t my strong point. I guess it’s one of those ‘if you see the theme it’s a bonus but you can solve it without’ puzzles. Being interested in language development, I always smile inwardly when female movie 5 downs who insist on being called ‘actors’ walk up the steps to accept the ‘Best Actress’ award.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks Pierre and Eimi for a super puzzle.

    Favourites were THE IRON LADY, clever as you say, and with the anagram fodder “hardline Tory” as an additional definition; and SHAME, after figuring which Western was required.

    At least 2 other Oscar-related entries: GLORY and AGNES of God.

  6. Wanderer says:

    Worth mentioning that THE ARTIST and HUGO were by far the biggest winners last night, picking up five oscars each. So to get them both in the top row of the grid shows amazing powers of prediction.

    I thought THE IRON LADY was a wonderful clue.

    Many thanks to Pierre and Eimi.

  7. crypticsue says:

    A lovely topical crossword thanks Eimi. thanks to Pierre too for the blog.

  8. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Pierre for the blog and Eimi for some enjoyable clues, but I am not a fan of crosswords with less than 50% cross-checking, seriously isolated corners and grids that nearly split in half.

    2dn: Nice spot for the anagram, but how do you make “in the long run” interpret as “anagram of IN THE LONG”?

    6dn: Thanks to Querulous for explaining it. I still feel this is unsatisfactory: it is really one character in the name of one character in a Western that has a setback.

    Having got all that off my chest, let us savour some of the many good points in this crossword:

    12ac: Superb clue. Apart form the topicality and highly suitable anagram fodder, “not always in” gives a very nice way of indicating the removal of one of two Rs.

    26ac: Thank you eimi for putting “here” in this clue.

    21dn: Last one in for me, but a wonderful penny-dropping moment. My favourite clue in the puzzle now I have solved it.

  9. Pelham Barton says:

    Correction to 8 re 6dn: Having re-read the comments above, I see that Shane is actually the name of the film, which makes the clue work.

  10. Pierre says:

    Afternoon Pelham. AMIDE was my last in too, and as you say, two out of five crossing letters wasn’t a help. But with less forgiving grids I suppose the setter can be more generous with the cluing, and I didn’t really notice the less than 50% till you pointed it out.

    For NEON LIGHT I took ‘run’ to be the anagrind in the sense of colours running in the wash, when they get mixed up and your best white shirt comes out pink.

  11. Paul B says:

    Pelham makes what seems a reasonable point about the grid I think, but there are extenuating circumstances in that this is a themed puzzle: sooner or later, and probably sooner in this case, solvers are going to know what sort of answers they are looking for.

    Plus the themed solutions are spread across the various ‘sectors’ in the grid, with The Artist and Midnight (if you believe it is a ref to same in Paris) in the upper left, Hugo and Shame in the upper right, Brad and Oldman in the lower left, Warhorse in the lower right, and The Iron Lady and Bridesmaids transecting the upper left and lower right quadrants.

    That’s probably why no-one (perhaps even including the argus-eyed Pelham) has been having a problem. MELATONIN and AMIDE (brilliantly clued) were perhaps slightly out there in terms of difficulty, but again, it’s a themed puzzle with the vast majority of entries being fairly straightforward.

    Excellent stuff I think, and true to The Indy’s knack of themed punctuality.

  12. Pelham Barton says:

    Apart from the topicality of 12ac I did not spot the theme at all (not even 8ac), but then films are not an interest of mine. I managed to solve the puzzle correctly and unaided, but it took longer than I like to spend in my lunch break on a working day – that raises the question of who is the intended audience for these puzzles.

    I take Pierre’s point about a trade off between ease of cluing and extent of cross-checking. My preference is for fuller cross-checking even at the cost of tougher clues. As usual, I have no quarrel with those whose opinions and tastes differ from mine.

    Re 2dn I can accept Pierre’s suggestion for “run” as an intransitive verb, but the form given only fits as third person plural and I am not happy with “in the long” as the subject of a plural verb. As usual, I have no quarrel …

  13. Allan_C says:

    Can’t say I’m a movie buff, but having heard extensive coverage of the Oscars on the news this morning one couldn’t help but guess the theme, which helped quite a lot of entries to go in without fully understanding the clue.

    Some pretty astute guesswork on eimi’s part, no doubt, forecasting which films would do well at the Oscars.

  14. flashling says:

    Despite spotting the theme, still found this tricky in places, still, Eimi really should be a betting man, he’d have made a fortune. Cheers Ed. and Pierre.

  15. pennes says:

    As well as liking “the Iron lady” I think my two favoured were 25 ac Brad, and 21 dn amide was really ingenious.
    I could only think of “haSh UPS” which has sups for drinks in it; don’t think I’ve heard of lash ups.
    Re 18ac bridesmaids though, I can’t get “ride” to equate to “car”

  16. Chris says:

    Think “Pimp my Ride”

  17. Wil Ransome says:

    Some really good clues here — The Iron Lady in particular — but the usual tradeoff between the appalling grid and the theme. Unfortunately I’m no expert on films and had only heard of two of them, so the difficulty with the low checking wasn’t compensated for and I found this quite hard.

  18. eimi says:

    Thanks to Pierre for the very detailed blog and to all for the comments – I needed a bit of a lift after yesterday’s horror show.

    For 2 Down to work, ‘in the long’ must be treated as three words and therefore a plural.

    I wasn’t expecting all the thematic material to be picked up, so well done to scchua for picking up GLORY and AGNES.

    I was a bit relieved when I woke up to find I hadn’t missed the big winners. They weren’t great surprises, but who expected The Hurt Locker to edge out Avatar last year?

  19. Pelham Barton says:

    Eimi @18: Thanks for popping in. I see what you are getting at in 2dn, but it still does not really work for me. You would not say “John Paul George sing”: you would have to say “John, Paul and George sing”. I cannot see how you can justify the plural verb without the “and”, but am ready to be persuaded otherwise.

  20. pennes says:

    Chris thanks for pimp my ride as explanation tho’ I never realised pimp my ride meant doing something to my car.

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