Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7963 by Mordred

Posted by nmsindy on April 23rd, 2012


A puzzle which I enjoyed, solving time 32 mins.   I found the top half very easy but the bottom half far more difficult.


Mordred often has themes/Ninas, sometimes quite subtle ones.  After completing solving, I noticed that there are quite a lot of food items in the grid including 18 and 25 taken together.  Also 8, 15, 2, 9, 14D,17, 19, 23.


I notice AMEOBI appears in row 3.     I think the appearance of this footballer who seems to score goal(s) for Newcastle every time they meet Sunderland in Tyne-Wear derbies, but rarely scores (or even gets a start in the team) otherwise is probably just a coincidence.

* anagram


8   BREAD AND BUTTER       Fare = food        The phrase means ordinary, practical.      Sticking just one little further bit with the football context, I seem to remember, during an FA Cup Final commentary way back when that was just about the only game shown live on TV, Pat Rice, a no-nonsense Arsenal defender (nowadays  coaching with the club at Arsene Wenger’s side), trapped a ball in a very skilful way and passed it to another player to defuse a difficult situation.      This led David Coleman, the BBC commentator, to remark  “and they say Rice is a bread and butter player”.

10 LOOKS ON     “look  son!” (issue = child)

11 ANTIOCH   Early centre of Christianity – in modern-day Turkey    (to China)*

12 NUTCASE      cuckoo = nutcase = insane or foolish person.    I think the rest is just saying that a bird would have to crack the case of a nut to get at the nut, but happy to be advised if I’ve missed something

14 SCHLEPP    A  clumsy person    sch = school    1st letters of the last 4 words in the clue

15 A FISH SUPPER    (pup fears his)*    a takeaway meal

20 UP-TRAIN    (put)*  rain = shower.      Trains going to London are known as up-trains and Victoria is a London railway station.     In the same way, down-trains are those going out of London, I think.

22 EFFACER    (r)EF  FACER (problem)

24 HARELIP   defn;  congenital split    Took me quite a while to see the wordplay here, being distracted by the possibility of hip = cheer.   Think I’ve got it now.   ‘cheer about’ = RAH reversed  ‘a great deal over’ = PILE reversed all giving har elip

26 TRANSIT   defn: change    coaches moving one means, I think, move i (= one) in trains (= coaches vb).    This gives transi   Then front eventually = last letter of front t.    I think that’s it.

27 NATURAL IMPULSE     defn:  instinctive inclination        natural = ordinary     p (quietly) in (mule is)*


1  ABALONE     b = beginning to burp (1st letter)  AL = Al Pacino  (film star)  in A ONE =A1 = excellent.

2 LEMON TEA    My favourite clue today –  (ale not me)* with a magnificent surface.    Defn is just ‘drink’  with ‘brewed’ the anagram indicator

3 ODESSA   SS (Hitler’s guards) in ODEA (ancient buildings) = plural of odeum (or odeon) – from ancient Greece.    Tho UK cinemagoers will be familiar with them too

4 ANON    anon = soon   Nona (coming up – reversed in a down clue).   Girl’s name.    Derived from ‘ninth’ so maybe not too many families with them now.   No problem tho as definition and crossing answers gave it straightaway.

5 ABBA    This clue uses the cake ‘rum baba’.    In the cryptic reading ‘rum’ indicates the anagram of baba giving ABBA = father (used of God in New Testament)

6 STITCH UP   defn: cheat    The German tennis player is  Michael Stich (Wimbledon singles winner, 1991).    “taking up time” means to insert a ‘t’   up = in court    pun on tennis courts and legal courts

7 DECODE    cod (nonsense) in dee (the letter D)

9  CHIPS    slang for a carpenter    C = 100 (Roman numerals)   hips = joints

13 ETHAN    Joel and Ethan Coen, brothers, US film-makers.    ET = film   Han = Chinese  (in contrast to Manchus, Mongols etc)

14 SAUCE      defn: relish   “source” = spring (homophone)

16 IN A CLOUD    getting this after struggling for ages was the key to finishing the puzzle.     Clever misdirection in use of ‘could scatty’ in the context of the whole surface reading of the clue.    Cryptically ‘scatty’ indicates an anagram of ‘could’ ie cloud   and the girl on top is Ina.

17 ROCK SALT    rocks (shakes)  Alt (key – on computer keyboard)

18 MUSHY   mu(m)  = not all quiet ie drop the last letter   shy = timid

19 FRITTER    TT (dry)  in FRIER

21 TARTAR    Cryptic definition, punning on ‘crust’   tartar (dentistry) being a crust

23 FRAPPÉ   f = beginning of festival    Eminem possibly hasn’t finished = rappe(r)

25 PEAS    defn:  pulse  PE (exercise)   A = beginning to accelerate    S = son

28 TRIP    trip(e)


11 Responses to “Independent 7963 by Mordred”

  1. crypticsue says:

    I enjoyed this and got on quite well with it until the SW corner held me up for ages and ages – the one that took the longest for the penny to drop being 21d. Thanks to Mordred for straining the grey matter and to nmsindy for the explanations.

  2. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Mordred for a puzzle of which I enjoyed quite a lot and nms for the blog. I too found the top half easy and came unstuck in the lower half. Favourite clues 1dn and 2dn.

    22ac: Nice surface, but the word “is” does not really work as a link with this structure.

    26ac: I think your explanation must be correct. I can readily accept “moving one up” to mean move the I later in the word in an across clue, but do not think “front eventually” is a satisfactory indication for “last letter of the word front”, however many times compilers may have used it in the past.

    21dn: I am coming firmly to the view that cryptic definitions are best kept for long answers. Mordred did not give me enough information to solve this clue.

  3. scchua says:

    Thanks nmsindy, and Mordred for quite an enjoyable puzzle, though I thought this was not as difficult as the Mordreds I’ve come across.

    Only saw the theme of food items after finishing, but that didn’t matter. The SW corner was last to be completed, but I did get hung up for a bit with 26A TRANSIT: It couldn’t be anything else, and I got the I in TRAINS being moved, and the last letter of “front”, but couldn’t quite understand what the significance of “up” was.

  4. sidey says:

    Aren’t all the food items possible ingredients of a fish supper? Depending where you come from of course.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, nms. I’m glad others found this a puzzle of two halves: the top fairly flew in, but the bottom took a lot longer. Needed you to explain TRANSIT and ODESSA today; and ABBA was new to me. ROCK SALT and LOOK, SON! were my favourites today.

    A fish supper with chips, a sprinkle of rock salt, accompanied by mushy peas and tartar(e) sauce? I’m salivating already.

    Fine puzzle from Mordred, who used to comment fairly regularly on the Indy daily puzzles, but whom we haven’t heard from for a while. If he’s listening in, I hope all is well with him.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Yes, sidey, I forgot to add BREAD AND BUTTER. LEMON TEA would be a bit posh around here though …

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    … although of course LEMON and TEA separately would be ideal accompaniments. I am so crap at themes.

  8. Mordred says:

    Thanks for kind words KD. Had a succession of viruses which dragged me down a bit. but fine now. There is one ingredient of a fish supper which forms only part of an answer – in Newark, where I lived for 20 years, you had to order it in the chippie as you went in the door – not so in London. No need to worry about themes – for me they are there to add a bit of seasoning and as an additional help, not necessary for solving the puzzles

  9. Chris says:

    That would be “cod” then?

  10. Mordred says:


  11. Bertandjoyce says:

    Didn’t notice the theme initially but when we read the preamble we picked out the theme entries fairly quickly. When we saw Mordred, we thought ‘theme’ but then forgot about it! It’s an age thing we feel!

    One or two slightly tenuous clues but otherwise a good start to the week.

    Thanks Mordred – glad to see you dropping in – and nmsindy for the blog.

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