Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7956 by Monk (Saturday Prize Puzzle 14 April 2012)

Posted by mc_rapper67 on April 21st, 2012


A nice ‘straightforward’ puzzle here from Monk, with no obvious thematic links or complications, but some lovely surface readings, especially the two long across clues. I originally found myself wondering if this was ‘difficult’ enough to be a Saturday prize puzzle. However, on working through it more fully I suspect the presence of a nina which might make those two long answers more significant?

In pure head-down solving mode, with the blinkers on and zoning out my fellow commuters, I found this a fairly quick solve – maybe 15 minutes – with some relatively easy gets among the 3 and 5 letter entries to give enough foundation to attack the longer ones. I enjoyed the cricket-themed reading of 11A, and the use of ‘antipodean’ in 25A, which had me racking my brains for islands on the other side of the world, before coming closer to home in the Balearics. Light on anagrams, heavy on double definitions and &lits – a lot of which have given even more enjoyment on second reading and typing out for the blog.

And the nina? Unless I am barking up an erroneous tree, down the central ‘column’ of the grid I have spotted ‘RIP SANDY’ – which I am guessing means that this is some sort of tribute puzzle? I then wondered if this was referring to Sandy Balfour – as maybe the most famous ‘Sandy’ in the cross-world – although I had not heard of anything untoward happening to Mr B, and I hope he will issue a Mark Twain-esque rebuttal to any such suggestion, if he reads this…

In which case, maybe a beloved 4-legged friend of Monk’s? There are a few canine references here – ‘A MAN’S BEST FRIEND’, ‘POINTER’ – and references to an ending – ‘GAME, SET AND MATCH’, (exit) ‘STAGE LEFT’.

Or this could all be the product of an overactive imagination and a few beers on a Friday night while rushing to meet a 15×15 deadline?

Either way, this was an enjoyable puzzle, thank-you Monk, and a fitting tribute to ‘Sandy’, if that was the case.

A minor quibble on hyphenation, in 23D, ‘ex boxer’ should probably be ‘ex-boxer’? I was also confused by the enumeration of (2-7) for 5D, which I assumed was ‘ST QUENTIN’ (2, 7). However, the full name of the location is SAINT-QUENTIN, and Collins does say it is often abbreviated to ST-QUENTIN. 50,000+ Google hits suggest ST QUENTIN, without the hyphen – but I’ll go with Collins, and Monk’s (or the editor’s) diligence on that!

Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1A CLOTH-EARS One not attending to Charles somehow (5-4) one not attending (listening) /
anag (i.e. somehow) of TO CHARLES
6A PESTO Quickly losing recipe for sauce (5) sauce /
PESTO = PRESTO (quickly, musical instruction) minus R (recipe, Latin abbreviation, ‘take’)
9A TENON Sizeable group returned projection (5) sizeable group (of musicians) /
NONET (group of 9) = TENON (projecting end of a piece of wood) reversed
10A LIQUIDATE Waste water, for example, having strirred tea (9) waste (as in eliminate, kill) /
LIQUID (water, for example) + ATE (anag, i.e. stirred, of TEA)
11A CIRCUMSPECT Cautious umpires blessed with triple-century by end of test (11) cautious /
anag (i.e. blessed) of UMPIRES + CCC (triple century), followed by T (last letter of test)
12A ELF Insect about to miss a tiny little chap (3) tiny little chap /
FLEA (insect) without A then turned about = ELF
13A A MANS BEST FRIEND Mr Ben fantasised about setter, perhaps some might say (1, 4, 4, 6) setter (type of dog, not Monk!) /
anag (i.e. about) of MR BEN FANTASISED
16A GAME SET AND MATCH Summing up after a long court battle (4, 3, 3, 5) &lit (tennis court, not law court) /
statement by umpire at conclusion of tennis match
20A ANN Sacha Baron Cohen finally gets her (3) her (girl’s name) /
last letters of SachA BaroN CoheN
21A BRENNER PASS Geek almost filling in gun permit somewhere in the Alps (7, 4) somewhere in the Alps /
BREN (gun) + NER (most of nerd, geek) + PASS (permit)
24A ON THE SIDE Secret lover bit this without authority (2, 3, 4) double defn (of sorts) /
sort of double defn(?). ‘on the side’ = without authority, with ‘bit’ preceding, = secret lover
25A IBIZA Brief affairs occupying one chief of antipodean island (5) island /
I (one) + BIZ (short for business, affairs) + A (first letter – chief – of Antipodean)
26A TORSO Trunk’s approximately on time (5) trunk (of the body) /
T (time) + OR SO (approximately)
27A MYSTIFIED Hoaxed or stymied if confused (9) &lit? /
anag (i.e. confused) of STYMIED IF; whole clue reads as definition? Mystified could be hoaxed, stymied or confused?
Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1D CETACEA Volunteers in churches answer an order (7) an order (of aquatic placental mammals) /
CE (Church of England) + TA (Territorial Army, volunteers) + CE (again) + A (answer)
2D OWNER One having sedative after losing head (5) one having (something) /
OWNER = DOWNER (sedative) without first letter (head)
3D HONOURS Respects bad doctor who needs a long time to provide cover (7) respects /
HOURS (long time) around NO (evil Dr No from Bond film(s))
4D ATLAS Castellans regularly censored maps (5) maps /
alternate letters (regularly censored) of cAsTeLlAnS
5D ST-QUENTIN WWI battle books discovered in fresh inquest (2-7) WWI battle /
anag (i.e. fresh) of INQUEST, around NT (books, of the Bible, New Testament)
6D POINTER Dog’s stick used for instruction? (7) double defn /
POINTER = type of dog; and something used by a teacher/lecturer
7D STAGE LEFT Cast to one side? (5, 4) &lit /
Theatrical instruction – tells actors (cast) to go to one side of stage
8D OVERFED Where an agent’s boss would be stuffed (7) stuffed (as in eaten too much)/
If a FED is an agent (American Federal agent) then his or her boss would be OVER them
14D AXMINSTER Semi-dismissed before church finds something underfoot? (9) something underfoot (carpet) /
AX (half of AXED, dismissed) + MINSTER (church building)
15D EXTREMISM Immoderate view merits broadcast under former leader of men (9) immoderate views /
EX (former) + anag (i.e. broadcast) of MERITS + M (first letter – leader – of Men)
16D GO ABOUT Approach turn at sea (2, 5) double defn. /
GO ABOUT can be to turn at sea; or to approach a task
17D SUBZERO Certainly negative and very cold (7) double defn. /
SUBZERO can certainly be negative (of a number); or very cold (of temperature)
18D MARTINI Kind of swallow one drink (7) drink (shaken, not stirred!) /
MARTIN (kind of swallow, bird) + I (one)
19D HUSBAND Economically use repaired bus under control? (7) economically use (as in manage resources thriftily) /
USB – anag (i.e. repaired) of BUS – in HAND (‘in hand’ = ‘under control’)
22D NEEDS With more of these, you’ll want more (5) &lit /
the more needs one has, the more (of something) one will want?
23D ALIBI British going after ex boxer, one making a plea? (5) a plea (excuse offered in court) /
ALI (former boxer, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Muhammad Ali) + B (British) + I (one)

7 Responses to “Independent 7956 by Monk (Saturday Prize Puzzle 14 April 2012)”

  1. MaleficOpus says:

    Thanks mc_rapper67 and Monk.

    I never see ninas until they’re pointed out, but given RIP SANDY, I saw EMBERS down the previous ‘unlit’ column. I hope that is a coincidence, otherwise it’s a bit morbid.

  2. Speo says:

    Things could have looked really grim if 24 across had read ON THE OTHER SIDE
    especially with TORSO at 26 across.

  3. Jan says:

    Thank you for the blog, mc_rapper67, with its insight into the possible nina.

    I have only just done the puzzle (courtesy of Crossword Solver. Chuntering through quite quickly, I enjoyed the clues with their smooth surfaces and then you made me look again.

    Oh, dear! RIP Sandy. I now have visions of a man’s best friend; a pointer with cloth ears who was overfed in a circumspect manner. After his Martini, Ann’s husband, his owner, took him out in the extremism of subzero temperatures to go about his business and answer his needs on the side of the road.

    There are other words which I don’t want to include but if, in truth, this was a tribute crossword it was well done, albeit mournful.

  4. Speo says:

    Thanks to Jan for raising a smile on what was an otherwise mournful day.
    The POINTER [spike] above the MARTINI was a bit ominous as was the TORSO lying underneath the AXMINSTER.
    Now we know that the MARTINI has been imbibed there are some empty cells in which we can detain any suspects.
    Of course there is always an ALIBI @23d to be used.

    Let me try to remember. Now just where was I on the day in ………

  5. Monk says:

    Many thanks for the very thorough blog, mc_rapper67. The Nina was small but heartfelt; “Sandy” was very old and 13ac to our dearest friends, for whom this was set. Other than 13ac and the central column, nothing else was intended to be Ninoid (Ninaic?).

  6. Allan_C says:

    Just coming in on this very late (having had a very busy weekend) to comment on the nice surface of 13a: “Mr Ben fantasised……”. Mr Benn (with two n’s) was the character in the children’s TV series who had fantasy adventures in a magic costume shop, in which he always managed to solve a tricky problem. Pretty harmless stuff you might think but incredibly the Beeb suspended one of the re-runs of the series when a certain real-life Mr Benn was standing in a parliamentary by-election!

  7. Speo says:

    Thanks to Allan_C for bringing back some wonderful memories with the Mr Benn comment.
    Ah, they were the days!

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