Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7964/Anax

Posted by John on April 24th, 2012


A quite excellent crossword from Anax. He seems to be a frequent contributor to the Independent (or perhaps it’s just that he always seems to get me) and although his crosswords are on the hard side, something a blogger is not always all that enthusiastic about, they are unfailingly high-quality and always enjoyable.

Anax has in this crossword managed to base many of the clues and answers on the Sherlock Holmes stories.

1 H A R(DEN)ED — def ‘Set’
6 DetectivES PROCeed — hidden rev., and very good: not immediately obvious
9 SA(DIS)M — the book is Samuel
10 WHEELMAN — (male)* in when — I couldn’t parse this for a long time because it seemed that ‘criminal’ was ‘heel’, and I couldn’t see how ‘wan’ was equivalent to ‘as’ — the wheelman drives the getaway car in a heist
11 WESTERN HEMLOCK — (r Holmes etc knew) — had never heard of this but the anagram is easy enough and now I look I see that it’s in Chambers (a large evergreen conifer of Western America) which although it doesn’t say so is presumably not poisonous, and Google suggests this to be the case
12 MoriarTY PErhaps — the hidden indicated by ‘of’, which always seems to me to be a bit weak but is quite often used and is no doubt OK
14 CH(AND ELI)ER — nice def: ‘lights up’
18 W{atson} A{nd} S{herlock} H{olmes} — wash as in ‘this doesn’t wash with me’
20 PLANNED ECONOMY — p (men Conan Doyle)*
23 LE(STRAD)E — Inspector Lestrade frequently appeared in the Sherlock Holmes stories — Strad is a common abbreviation for Stradivarius
24 VIOLIN — 0 in VI-lin{e} — knowing Anax’s tastes I was sure before solving this that it was going to be some sort of rare six-stringed instrument played in a rock band
25 OSIRIS — (so)rev. iris — the significance of the definition (presumably ‘mild stimulant’) is lost on me, but I think an iris is a dead judge in that it is examined to see whether or not someone is dead
26 S(ER V)INGS — the ‘good for’ has to be there for the surface and is merely a link to the definition
2 A CADE M{oriart}Y — Jack Cade was the leader of the 1450 Kentish revolt (I discover fron Google; but a common name in crosswords)
3 D RIFT — def ‘Bank’ I think — but I’m not quite sure about the equivalence of ‘bank’ and ‘drift’ — when an aircraft banks (ie tilts in turning) it may drift in the wind, but they’re not the same thing — or is something quite different going on? — in any case a marvellous surface
5 DOWNHEARTEDNESS — (He needs Dr Watson)* — the black dog of depression
6 CR(E)AM — def ‘Pick’ as a noun
7 RU (LEO) FLAW — a lovely surface (something with which I heartily agree) and clued nicely in that as usual with Anax the answer is broken up into unexpected constituent parts
13 EXTRACTOR — ‘Extra’ and ‘actor’ are conjoined by sharing the ‘a’
15 DUST COVER — (cuts)* in do ver{y}
17 ORPHEUS — (sue h pro)rev. — a professional is someone who is paid
19 SUMMING — (m minus g)* with ‘perhaps’ (‘hmm’ from certain people) the anagram indicator
21 keroseNE ARSonist
22 NAOMI — (moan)rev. 1 — she was the m-in-l of Ruth

15 Responses to “Independent 7964/Anax”

  1. Thomas99 says:

    I’m delighted to report that SIRI (25a) is another word for betel (Chambers), which is indeed a mild stimulant – making the puzzle just about perfect, as far as I can see. (It wouldn’t quite work if IRIS was the stimulant.) Many thanks for the blog.

    Re 3a – I think the connection is snow drifting or “banking” up. See “drift” in the Free Dictionary online.

  2. crypticsue says:

    I am not usually a fan of a themed cryptic but the themed solutions in this one were very gettable from the wordplay. Thanks to Anax for an excellent crossword and to John for the blog.

  3. Thomas99 says:

    PS. Sorry – didn’t notice you were calling Iris the judge. OSIRIS is the dead judge (the god who judges the dead) and the wordplay is SIRI + SO (thus) reversed.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, John.

    Like Mordred’s puzzle yesterday, this was a nice ghost theme, and the Sherlock Holmes stories have had quite an outing on TV and in the cinema of late, so it’s likely to be familiar even if you’re not a big fan.

    As is usual with Anax, there were a few where I got the answer but couldn’t understand why. This setter is devious, but invariably fair, and I’m always pleased when I’m able to finish one of his offerings. Favourites today were SADISM, NUMERICAL (I knew ERICA had to be in there somewhere) and RULE OF LAW.

    Good crossword, thank you to Anax.

  5. Donk says:

    Lovely puzzle – thanks to John for the blog, certainly needed a bit of help with a couple. Favourites were 1A, 14A, 16A, 24A, 8D (Had this exact idea last week!) and 13D. I think the number of “favourites” highlights the quality of this one!

  6. nmsindy says:

    Yes, this was excellent – not sure, K’s D, that I’d call it a ghost theme. As someone remarked you could work all the clues out from the wordplay even if one is not at all familiar with the works – I’m not. The only exception was perhaps LESTRADE but I’d heard of him, possibly from a SH themed crossword somewhere. Quite hard, as Anax usually is, but totally fair and some great misdirection. My favourites were WHEELMAN, DUST COVER, and EXTRACTOR. Many thanks, Anax, and John for the excellent blog.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Maybe I’ve always misunderstood what a ghost theme is, then. Thought it was one like this where the subject matter came and went in the clueing/answers but where it wasn’t entirely central to solving the puzzle (ie, no gateway clue and references to it)?

  8. nmsindy says:

    I thought of it as a theme you did not need to find to solve the puzzle eg some answers were connected to each other (but only someone familiar with the theme would know this).

    Whereas here pretty much everything is giving to the solver from the start in the clues. But it’s fairly new terminology perhaps and I’m certainly not saying I’m right about it all for sure.

  9. anax says:

    Thanks to John for a great blog and to all for your comments. Just a quick note on the subject of theme types:

    THEMATIC – Think Listener, Inquisitor, EV etc. The theme of the puzzle generally needs to be discovered and can be cryptically defined in (or cryptically affect) clues as well as answers.
    THEMED – This is where a number of answers have something in common. Their link often appears as an answer in itself, and definitions point to the numerical position of that answer rather than give a dictionary definition. Otherwise you may find that some/all clues contain a specific form of wording that points to the theme (in)directly.
    GHOST THEME – A number of answers have something in common but this is not indicated anywhere in clues, and knowledge of the subject (while potentially helpful) is by no means necessary. Last year I set a tribute puzzle featuring a number of one-word titles of songs by Level 42, but there was no mention of this fact anywhere, either as preamble or within clues. That’s a ghost theme.
    PSEUDO-THEME – This puzzle has a pseudo-theme and, for ‘pseudo-theme’, read ‘no theme at all’. The solver is led to believe there is a theme because of repeated references in clues, but those are restricted entirely to wordplay. There is in fact no theme! Even the clue for LESTRADE is non-thematic; the clue offers a straightforward definition requiring a small amount of GK, but it only appears to link to a theme because other clues are worded to make the solver create that thematic link.

    PS: ‘Pseudo-theme’ is my own invention. I’m sure there’s a better way of describing a theme that isn’t.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, anax. I think I’ll just carry on enjoying the solving bit and not worry too much about getting spooked by themes …

  11. Bertandjoyce says:

    Started it at lunchtime but then had to break before finishing it later! Really enjoyable and enjoyed puzzling out why certain answers were correct!
    COD was perhaps 4d but there were a number running a close second.
    Not sure whether in the present circumstances you could describe ‘administration of Government’ as 20a but …… all good fun!
    Thanks Anax and John.

  12. Dormouse says:

    I found this exceedingly hard, couldn’t solve it without doing anagram searches online for the long answers, and a lot of answers I pencilled in lightly because I just wasn’t sure I’d got the right answer – such as 7d. Although I’m surprised I didn’t see the hidden reverse in 6d even after I guessed the answer.

  13. flashling says:

    Enjoyed this and finished it quite quickly last night on line after it appeared on the Indy website, perhaps I’m just getting used to Anax’s style and his rather ingenious anagrinds and definitions. A thematic puzzle that has no theme, hmmm. I found Mordred harder yesterday, horses for courses I suppose.

    Thanks John and Anax for keeping the grey cells working.

  14. Mick H says:

    And then there’s a Nina-type theme, where a hidden message appears that may or may not be hinted at in other clues/answers. I enjoy solving fully thematic puzzles in the Listener etc, but I think in the dailies it’s better when the theme’s an added extra, and the puzzle can be solved without it, or at least without requiring detailed knowledge or research – thought clues will sometimes fall more easily if you get the references!
    Great puzzle anyway, I loved the ‘Black Dog’ anagram.

  15. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    Still tough to solve your crosswords Anax, but I’m getting closer !

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