Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7934 / Scorpion

Posted by Bertandjoyce on March 20th, 2012


A good Tuesday work-out – all fairly and cleverly clued with good surface readings and an unusual theme. We also have another ‘trade name’ appearing which caused some debate recently on 225. Are the setters trying to find common words that don’t appear in on-line word-searches?

We think that the ‘grammatical rule’ theme may elicit some comments from people who are more knowledgeable about the amazing vagaries of the English language than us. (Thanks to KD for pointing out the error – it is a spelling rule NOT a grammatical rule!) Without detailed academic knowledge of the subject, we always understood the rule identified in 7A/24D/27A to have an extension – ‘if the sound is ‘ee’’. This would exclude some of the contradictions in the puzzle, but would ruin the literal interpretation, so let’s not get too uptight about it!

We’ve also noticed that there are a number of different ways of clueing the first and last letters of a word within the puzzle! It’s also a pangram.

7/24D/27A I  BEFORE E EXCEPT AFTER C Anagram of B (second grade) + CAREFREE PIECE OF TEXT (anagrind is ‘breaking’) = grammatical rule, which forms the theme of the puzzle – 8 examples of words which contradict the rule are included at 10A, 25A, 4D, 5D, 6D, 13D, 18D & 21D.
9 OCULAR CUL (mid-section of ‘scull’) in (‘stabs’) OAR (rower) = in the eye
10 RUNCIE RUN (manage) + I (one) in (‘to enter’) CE (church) = churchman (archbishop Robert Runcie) – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
11 ROSSINI Hidden in (Chop)IN IS SOR(e), reversed (‘when retiring’) = composer
12 MENU MEN (staff) + U (uniform) = dishes
13 ENNUI  U (everyone accepted, as in ‘U’ category films) in an anagram of NINE (anagrind is ‘novel’) = tedium. Inclusion of ‘no.’ seems somewhat superfluous
14 NENE N(il)E (‘banks’ – first and last letters – of ‘Nile’) repeated or ‘duplicated’ = flower (river – something that flows)
15 SKI-LIFT SKIL(l) (endless facility) + I (one) + F (force) + (summi)T (‘back’ to summit) = cryptic definition – a ski-lift has a continuous cable to take skiers up a mountain
17 ANAGRAM AGRA (Indian place) in (‘blocks’) an anagram of MAN (anagrind is ‘drunken’) = reordering
20 SCAR RAC’S (motor company) reversed (‘revolutionary’) = brand. We think RAC is the Royal Armoured Corps – an army company responsible for armoured vehicles, hence a ‘motor company’
22 CRAVE CRAV(at) (‘scarf’ missing ‘at’) + E (last letter of ‘campfire’) = long for
23 ANEW WANE (weaken) with the first letter moved to the end (‘first to last’) = once again
25 SOCIETY I (individual) in an anagram of TESCO (anagrind is ‘shuffling’) + Y (last letter, or ‘close’ to ‘trolley’) = organised group – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
26 QUINCE QUIN (one of five) + C(onsum)E (‘outside’ or first and last letters of ‘consume’ = fruit
27 See 7A
28 EPIGRAPH EH (what) ‘written’ around PIG (hog) + RAP (roast – in the sense of criticise) = an inscription
1 OBTUSE Anagram of SU(m) TO BE (with ‘m’ – master – absent) –anagrind is ‘cooked’ = dim
2 CREE C (contralto) + EER (‘always’) reversed or ‘elevated’ (in a down clue) = language (of the native American Indian tribe)
3 TERRINE Last letters (‘tail-enders’) of buffeT & availablE around (‘outside’) ERR (slip) + IN = food
4 CONSCIENCE COE (Lord Sebastian Coe – Olympics organiser) around (‘welcomes’) N (new) + an anagram of SCENIC (anagrind is ‘ground’) = moral principles – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
5 LUCIEN Anagram of NUCLEI (anagrind is ‘irregular’) = Frenchman perhaps – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
6 HACIENDA HA (cry of triumph) + CIA (spies) around (‘obtaining’) END (result) = large estate – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
8 FACTUAL FA (nothing – say no more!) + an anagram of A CULT (anagrind is ‘unsettled’) = like a TV documentary
13 EFFICIENCY Anagram of FIFE with NICE (anagrind is ‘evolved’) + C(ommunit)Y (‘outskirts’ – first and last letters – of ‘community’) = competence – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
16 KICKS OFF K (king) + an anagram of SICK (anagrind is ‘awfully’) + OFF (cancelled) = launches
18 GLACIER C(org)I (‘bored’ – middle letters removed) in an anagram of LARGE (anagrind is ‘building’) = ice mass – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
19 EASYJET Anagram of (d)EEJAYS (‘topless’ – first letter removed) – anagrind is ‘striking’ + T (central letter of ‘promoTional’) = fliers
21 RACIER RACER (speed merchant) around (‘holds’) I (first letter or ‘tip’ of ‘Injection’) = more indecent – contains C-I-E in that order, breaking the rule at 7A
24 See 7A
26 QUIZ Z (zero – new abbreviation to us!) + U (‘United’s leader’) in IQ, all reversed or ‘upset’ in a down clue) = test

17 Responses to “Independent 7934 / Scorpion”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, both.

    Well, I had a bit of a chunter about last Tuesday’s Hypnos puzzle, and I don’t want to set the tone for the blog just because I’m First Responder, but …

    First of all, I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘grammatical’ rule but as a spelling rule: grammar isn’t spelling. Secondly, I couldn’t finish it, despite writing in the gateway clue after about two seconds, and realising pretty soon that the themed clues would all have CIE in them. At first, I was looking for words that really do break this so-called ‘rule’, like WEIR, WEIRD or PROTEIN, but with the exception of RUNCIE, which is a proper noun so doesn’t really count, all the other examples do not follow the ‘ee’ rule: either the I and the E are pronounced separately (five examples) or there’s no ‘ee’ sound (one example). Does that all matter much? Perhaps not.

    The ones I couldn’t manage were TERRINE and EASYJET. Again, both of these had less than 50% checking letters and I know that’s not written in stone, but it does make life hard for the solver when your crossing letters aren’t helpful ones. And clueing TERRINE as ‘food’ and having a tradename in EASYJET is, I think, a bit solver-unfriendly, but since this solver couldn’t get them, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

    There was some good clueing elsewhere, and I liked KICKS OFF and OBTUSE specially. So while appreciating the Indy’s desire to be a bit creative with the Tuesday puzzle, this one didn’t quite hit the spot for me: a curious mixture of write-ins and ‘what the hell is that?’

  2. Wanderer says:

    I found this hilarious — taking a ‘rule’ that we’ve all grown up with, and then deliberately misapplying it to words like RUNCIE and HACIENDA, to which it was clearly never meant to apply, seemed to me an excellent joke. At any rate it tickled my sense of humour. Enjoyed all the contradiction clues, and also had ticks for OCULAR and EASYJET.

    Thanks BertandJoyce for the blog, and to Scorpion for a good chuckle.

  3. Barbara says:

    We learned the spelling rule as:
    I before E, except after C, whenever the sound is like E in me, or
    sounds like an A, as in neighbor and weigh.
    Either, neither, leisure and seize are the exceptions, if you please.

  4. NealH says:

    I too got the theme quite quickly but wasn’t able to finish in the time I’d allotted myself. I didn’t get cree or terrine – cree because I’m not great a spotting single letter abbreviations that I haven’t come across before and terrine because it’s just not a word I’d think of very easily. Apart from that, it was fairly easy with the knowledge that there was going to be CIE in the themed answers helping to speed up the solving.

  5. Pandean says:

    Barbara @ 3

    I only ever knew the spelling rule as ‘I before E, except after C’. The rest of your rule is new to me. Three of your exceptions also don’t apply for me as I pronounce the words, since I would have a long ‘i’ sound in ‘either’ and ‘neither’ (you say ‘tomayto’, I say ‘tomahto’ etc) and a short ‘e’ sound rather than a long one in ‘leisure’ (Chambers gives your version with the long ‘e’ sound as either ‘US or old’). ‘Seize’ is the example we were always given as an exception to the rule, particularly in comparison with ‘siege’.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Scorpion and B&J. This rule was new to me so I did not think much about it and it helped to solve the puzzle where there had to be CIEs in several answers. Despite this, I found it quite a tough puzzle, and EASYJET and TERRINE were my final answers. BTW, I thought the RAC in SCAR might refer to the RAC (Royal Automobile Club – to give it its full title).

  7. Bertandjoyce says:

    We’ve up-dated the blog thanks to KD@1. In the clue it mentions grammatical which is why we used it but hadn’t really noticed that it should say ‘spelling rule’ as we were too involved with sorting out everything else!
    One of us used to teach and wished we’d heard of Barbara’s rhyme @3 – it would have been very helpful!
    nmsindy – We also thought that RAC referred to the Royal Automobile Club but were not sure whether you’d describe that as a company.

  8. flashling says:

    Saw the I before E light straight away although I remember a recent edition of QI which debunked it claiming more words broke the rule than followed it.

    Having recently flown on EasyJet I got that quite quickly, but can see the S in the anagram wouldn’t help with plural definition. Terrine was last for me as well, and I thought the same as NMS about the RAC.

    Thanks B&J and Scorpion for the diversion.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi B&J – my remark was a comment on the clue, which does indeed have the definition ‘grammatical rule’, and not on your pre-amble!

  10. Bertandjoyce says:

    Hi KD – didn’t perceive it as a comment on our preamble, we just hadn’t noticed ‘our’ error in not noticing the ‘error’ in the clue – if you see what we mean!

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    To further muddy the waters, there are in fact seven letter combinations that produce the long ‘e’ sound, as in the following (nonsense) sentence:

    Did he believe that Caesar could see the people seize the seas?


    If anyone can write spelling ‘rules’ for that lot, I’ll buy them a pint. English spelling is a ‘mare …

  12. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, B&J, for the blog. I guessed the gateway clue from the enumeration almost immediately, before I’d even thought about identifying the anagram fodder. But like K’s D I was expecting some of the answers that referenced 7/24/27 to have ‘ei’ without a preceding ‘c’. Otherwise nothing too difficult even if I was a bit slow to see some simple ones such as MENU, ANEW and QUIZ.
    Thanks too to Scorpion for an amusing puzzle.

  13. Dormouse says:

    Solved this fairly quickly (for me). Getting 13d as one o my first answers helped. Once I knew I needed a six-word phrase, final word “c”, the theme was obvious. Never heard any of these extensions involving the ee sound. The only variant I’ve heard is “I before E, except where it isn’t”.

  14. Bertandjoyce says:

    Dormouse@13 – that seems the most appropriate spelling rule given all the comments! Really brought a smile to our faces. Thanks.

  15. 4across says:

    I think ‘i before e …’ is perfectly acceptable, and a very doable clue, though I don’t think is.

  16. pennes says:

    I liked this and no real grumbles ; what matters more to me is being able to solve the clues on the basis of general, and not specialised knowledge, so I am happier with Easyjet than football referees.
    Easyjet did hold me up but I got there, but ended up with herring for 3 dn as I coldn’t get anthing else to fit, and it does have “err” and “in” in it. Others seem to have got held up by these clues so maybe, as clues with less than 50% checking letters they should have been more straightforward solves

  17. MikeC says:

    If it’s any comfort, I’m with pennes@16 and others: missed easyjet and had herring instead of TERRINE. Not a bad puzzle, nevertheless.

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