Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7965 / Crosophile

Posted by duncanshiell on April 25th, 2012


This looks like a fairly standard crossword from Crosophile.  The clues are not too difficult, the wordplay is not too complex and the vocabulary of the entries comprises words I would expect to find in Independent news articles and features.



The only thing that struck me about the grid was that there didn’t seem to be very many different characters used for the first letters of the entries.  It was the S that caught my attention, as there were 7 answers beginning with S.  In the event, there were more different intitial first letters than I first thought  – they were ABCEILMOPRST – but the interesting thing they can be rearranged to spell PROBLEMATICS.  Is that a coincidence or is it deliberate?  Presumably only Crosophile knows.  The last Crosophile puzzle I blogged on 28th March had a name hidden in the grid together with allusions to a piece of work by his brother, so I would not be surprised if there is something I have missed in this puzzle.

I solved this as a puzzle of two halves.  The top half of the grid fell very quickly.  It took a bit longer to get a toehold in the bottom half but after TISSUE and MORSEL fell, the rest followed very quickly.  Yes, I know, I should have got TISSUE a lot quicker than I did.

I liked the clue for SURREAL as well as the clues for ATMOSPHERE and IMPETUS.  Last one is was SORREL, as I usually struggle with double definitions.  I like to have wordplay to help me and double definitions don’t offer such a helping hand.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Elegant conifer (6) SPRUCE (elegant) SPRUCE (conifer) double definition
4 Fashions Austria rejected abide with the French (6) STAY (dwell; abide) excluding (rejected) A (International Vehicle Registration for Austria) + LES (French for ‘the’) STYLES (fashions)
9 May possibly, leaving North, see one drawn to the bright lights (4) MONTH (May is a month of the year) excluding (leaving) N (north) MOTH (an insect readily dazzled into destruction; one drawn to the bright lights)
10 Static from paper etc say (10) STATIONARY (sounds like [say] STATIONERY [paper and writing materials]) STATIONARY (not moving; static)
11 Supergrass deceived more than half (6) BAMBOOZLED (deceived) excluding the final 4 letters ZLED leaving the first 6 [more than half]

BAMBOO (a gigantic tropical and subtropical grass (genus Bambusa) with hollow-jointed woody stem and edible young shoots; super grass; supergrass)

12 One of the old school has a computer monitor (8)

OB (old boy; one of the old school) + SERVER ([in computer networks] a dedicated computer that stores communal files, processes electronic mail, provides printing facilities)

OBSERVER (monitor, as in, e.g. a United Nations observer or monitor)

13 Daily aims for distribution to provide it (8)

CHAR (charwoman; cleaner; daily) + an anagram of (for distribution) AIMS


CHARISMA (a personal quality or gift that enables an individual to impress and influence others; presumably a CHAR aims to impress his / her employer through personaility as much as ability [?])

15 A wee moose, silly thing returns (6)

(ELK [moose] + NIT [fool; silly thing]) all reversed (returns)


TINKLE (urinate; wee)
16 Time to publish paper (6) T (time) + ISSUE (publish) TISSUE (a type of paper)
19 Coat bottom of boat around trace of rust – that’s fishy (8)

MAC (macintosh; coat) + (KEEL [bottom of boat] containing R [first letter of {trace of} RUST}])


MACKEREL (fish; that’s fishy)
22 Special boat, large before the Queen’s Diamond? (8) SP (special) + ARK (boat) + L (large) + ER’S (Elizabeth Regina’s; Queen’s) SPARKLERS (diamonds [or other gems])
23 Strong and unyielding, then stricken to the core – that’s rich (6) IRON (stern; robust; strong and unyielding) + IC (middle two letters of [the core] RICH)  I am not sure I have got this parsing right.  I would like to use the IC in STRICKEN but those letters don’t fall right at the centre or core, wheeras they do in RICH.

IRONIC (conveyance of meaning [generally satirical] by words whose literal meaning is the opposite, esp words of praise used as a criticism or condemnation, such as the phrase comprising the first 8 words of the clue; outrageous; that’s rich)

25 Dodecanese island – head right back to this place for the ambience (10)

PATMOS (island in the Dodecanese, Greece) with the first letter (head) P moved to the back (right back) + HERE (this place)


ATMOSPHERE (ambience)
26 Instrument essential for tramps (4) HOBOES (tramps) taking only the letters OBOE between the first and last (essential) OBOE ([musical] instrument)
27 Dock in bay (6)

SORREL (any of the acid-tasting species of herbs of the dock genus)

SORREL (reddish brown; bay, especially when describing the colour of a horse) double definition
28 He’s on course to help bounder stop working (6) CAD (bounder) + DIE (stop working) CADDIE (one who assists and advises a golfer [on the course], especially by carrying the clubs)
1 Corporation grants Tom a choice to some extent (7) Hidden word in (to some extent) GRANTS TOM A CHOICE STOMACH (belly; corporation)
2 Graduate woman’s up for help with addiction (5)

(BA [Bachelor of Arts; graduate] + HER [woman’s]) all reversed (up; down clue)


REHAB (rehabilitation; help with addiction)
3 Must society shortly broadcast the state’s duties? (7) Anagram of (broadcast) MUST and SOC (abbreviation for [shortly] SOCIETY) CUSTOMS (state’s duties [taxes on imports and exports])
5 Leader of Tories gains a bit of extra time to cover for one of his supporters? (7) T (first letter of [leader of] TORIES) + WINS (gains) + E (first letter of [a bit of] EXTRA) + T (time)  Surprisingly dictionaries don’t give ET as an abbreviation for extra time.  It seems the common abbreviation in that case is AET (after extra time) TWINSET (a cardigan and jumper more or less made to match, possibly worn by the older generation of Tory supporters).  I’m not sure the Tory party would agree that all their supporters come from the constituency that wears TWINSETS.
6 Like some missiles left by military agent covering for the National Guard? (4-6)

L (left) + (ORANGE [reference Agent Orange, a defoliant containing dioxin, used significantly during the Vietnam War] containing (covering) NG [National Guard])


LONG-RANGE ([of missiles] long in range, designed to reach remote targets)

7 For starters, swans (upright, realistic) reflecting elephants above a lake (7) First letters of (for starters) SWANS UPRIGHT REALISTIC REFLECTING ELEPHANTS ABOVE + L (lake)

SURREAL (SURREALISM is defined by Chambers as a movement in art and literature, begun in France around 1919, that sought to resolve the contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality by various techniques, thus escaping the dominance of reason and conscious control.  Something SURREAL is considered dreamlike or bizarre.  The image portrayed  by the last eight words of the clue is certainly bizarre)

8 For the Father Deity a temple (6) PA (father) + GOD (deity) + A PAGODA (temple)
14 Ice mostly on rising river and lake (9)

RESERVE (aloofness; ice) excluding the final letter (mostly) E + (RIO [Spanish word for river, but there is no indication of Spanish in the clue.  Chambers and Collins don’t give RIO as river) Is there a river simply called RIO anywhere?  There are plenty of RIO somethings, but Wikipedia doesn’t throw up a RIO on its own.


RESERVOIR ([artificial] lake)
17 Force stateside pooch’s declaration of role and nationality (7) I’M (I am) + PET (pooch is a dog; a dog is a pet) + US (United States; stateside)  The whole reads as a statement that ‘I am a United States (American; nationality) pet (role) ‘ IMPETUS (impulse; momentum; force)
18 Astronomical event – on earth not a special sort (7)

Anagram of (sort) SPECIAL excluding (not) A + E (earth)  The anagram is placed on top of E in a down answer.

ECLIPSE (the total or partial disappearance of a heavenly body by the interposition of another between it and the spectator, or by passing into its shadow; astronomical event)  Note the clue is not suggesting that an eclipse can only be seen on Earth.  The word ‘earth’ is being used to generate the final E

19 Dainty detective’s given latitude (6) MORSE (reference Inspector Morse, central charcter in the Detective series by Colin Dexter) + L (latitude) MORSEL (dainty)
20 A fancy sound artist (7) CHIME (sound) + RA (Royal Academician; artist) CHIMERA (idle or wild fancy)
21 Model pie cooked by the book (7)

Anagram of (cooked) PIE + TOME (book)


EPITOME (typical example; model)
24 Like an egg, love? Nothing at all? (5) O (zero; love [in tennis scoring]) + VOID (empty; nothing at all) OVOID ([of a solid or plane figure] egg-shaped; like an egg)

19 Responses to “Independent 7965 / Crosophile”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Duncan. I’ve been enjoying Crosophile’s Wednesday puzzles, and this was another good one, with some nice devices.

    SURREAL and BAMBOO were two of them, but they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. TINKLE I liked too.

    RIO I just took to be ‘river’ in general; it requires a bit of indulgence, but it was okay for me.

    I think CHARISMA is clued by ‘it’ or sex appeal. Is sex appeal the same as charisma? Ish.

    TWINSETS made me smile, because it took me back to the days of the Conservative Party Conferences before they became caring and sharing. Thursdays were normally populated by the TWINSET brigade, usually baying for hanging and flogging to be brought back. And nowadays we’re all in this together …

  2. MaleficOpus says:

    Thanks Duncan.

    SORREL was my last one too; I share your feelings on double definitions.

    SURREAL was clever, using Dalí’s Swans Reflecting Elephants

  3. Paul A says:

    23ac – I took the ‘ic’ to be the core of stricken, 3 letters either side

  4. nmsindy says:

    Some great stuff here – not too difficult a puzzle. SORREL was my final answer also. Favourite clues – the very amusing IMPETUS – also BAMBOO, MOTH, REHAB. Thanks Crosophile and Duncan for another great blog.

  5. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Crosophile for a crossword of which I really enjoyed all but one clue. Favourite clues probably 19ac and 7dn. Thanks also to Duncan for your usual excellent blog.

    11ac: This seems to rely on an unsignalled requirement to split a clue word. I know lots of solvers seem to wear their ability to cope with this sort of thing as a badge of honour, but I will always regard this type of clue as unsatisfactory.

    13ac in response to K’s Dad @1: Chambers 2008 gives “charisma a personal quality or gift that enables an individual to impress or influence others” and “it an indefinable crowning quality, personal magnetism”. That overlaps enough for me.

    23ac: As Paul A (@3) has already noted, IC works as core of “stricken”. Duncan must have miscounted the letters.

    27ac: This is actually the type of double definition that I usually find most satisfying – two words of different origins have converged in spelling, according to the etymologies in Chambers 2008.

    7dn: I think the initial letters stop at E, and then “above” is simply an indication for “preceding” in a down clue, followed by A L(ake).

    18dn: Interestingly (to me, anyway), this would also work as an across clue with the parsing E + anagram instead of anagram + E.

  6. Terino says:

    I liked “surreal”. Swans reflecting elephants was the first Dali picture I ever saw.
    “Tinkle” I can’t pretend to like!

  7. duncanshiell says:

    Ah! – IC at the centre of STRICKEN. As people have pointed out, I clearly can’t count. Looking at it typed on the page the KEN at the end looked far wider than the STR at the beginning. I should also have done some research on Salvadore Dali, as even I, philistine that I am, was aware of Dali and elephants. Thanks to all who pointed out my shortcomings.

  8. Jean says:

    Thanks for the help. I was stuck on ‘reservoir’ because I went for ‘minute’ instead of ’tissue’ as time to publish paper – ugh!

    Tinkle was a bit naff I thought!

  9. Jean says:

    Thanks for the help. I was stuck on ‘reservoir’ Tinkle was a bit naff I thought!

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Looks like I’m in a minority of one with TINKLE, then. It just made me smirk. Meant to mention earlier that I’d normally spell 26ac HOBOS, but dictionaries give Crosophile’s spelling too, so all fair.

  11. Pelham Barton says:

    K’s Dad @10: You are certainly not in a minority of one with TINKLE – I enjoyed it too.

    Duncan @7 re 23ac: When I made my earlier comment I thought about saying that your mistake was understandable given the different letter widths, so I will do so now.

  12. Bertandjoyce says:

    Well there are now four of us who liked ‘tinkle’!

    A good puzzle although we had difficulty with 27a. We had all the crossing letters and in the back of our minds we thought of sorrel. One of us thought of the possibility of ‘dock’ and the other thought of horses but we didn’t communicate our thoughts until we checked on 225!

    Thanks Crosophile and Duncan.

  13. Crosophile says:

    Thanks for all the comments and to Duncan for another amazing blog. How did you write all that [in technicolour too] and post it by 7:30AM? Impressive.
    No Nina this time.
    I think all the queries have now been resolved and I’m relieved too that views on the TINKLE clue are now 2-2 as I quite liked that one.
    I think 22A was written at the time Gove was suggesting we’d all like to chip in for a new Royal yacht for the jubilee.
    Looking at the puzzle today I realised I missed a trick with 17D, where ‘American poodle’ would have done very nicely instead of ‘stateside pooch’. Oh well.

  14. Crosophile says:

    Ooh! Pro-tinkles now in the lead :-)

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    But only AET … final whistle soon to be blown, I imagine.

  16. nmsindy says:

    Or maybe a tinkle of a bell…

  17. crypticsue says:

    Is it too late to say I was a fan of the wee tinkling moose too?

  18. Dormouse says:

    Well, I liked TINKLE, caused me to smile. Also liked SURREAL even though I wasn’t aware of the Dali painting (and googling it, I can’t recall ever having seen it before).

    Got stuck on 27 and 28, and for 12ac I kept on thinking ONSCREEN but couldn’t see how it would work and couldn’t think of anything else.

  19. flashling says:

    A late but plus vote for Tinkle from me as well, I found this tricky but still amazed by Duncan’s blogs, I couldn’t even have bought the paper before his lengthy multi colour blog was posted this morning. I spent a while looking for themes or Ninas as Crosophile has a history of doing so and came here to see what I’d failed to spot. Cheers Crosophile and Duncan.

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