Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7970 / Raich

Posted by duncanshiell on May 1st, 2012


Raich is a regular contributor to puzzles in the Independent, Inquisitor and Listener series.  I think also that I have seen him once in the Guardian.  His clues are generally clear and not too difficult to solve once you have got a start into the grid.  Today’s puzzle was no exception.




I felt that a few of today’s clues were almost at the extreme ‘easy’ end of the spectrum – ACTON, RECIPE and SOFT for example.  There were though a couple where I had to think laterally – HALVE and THIRTY.  The surfaces of the clues in many cases were excellent – e.g. the clues for CLAIMANT, HUMORIST and RIOJA

Grids with just a line of unches in the outer rows and columns tend to shout ‘theme’ or Nina at solvers, so I watched the letters filling the top row with interest.  I have often said that Literature is not my strong point, but I do know about the Bronte sisters who feature throughout this puzzle in a couple of guises.  I understand that there were five sisters and a brother.  The three most famous sisters are CHARLOTTE, EMILY and ANNE.  These three sisters are best known under their own names but they also issued a joint collection of poetry under the title ‘Poems by CURRER, ELLIS and ACTON BELL where the initial letters of their pen Christian names match the initials of their given Christian names.  Five of the six Christian names (given and assumed) all appear as entries in the grid, as does BELL.   BRONTES appears in the unchecked letters in Row 1 and CURRER appears in the unchecked letters in column 1.  I can’t find any reference to the PARSONAGE in HAWORTH where the BRONTES lived, nor can I find a reference to BRANWELL, the wayward brother.  There is reference to Mr Rochester, hero of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, who appears in the clue to 27d.  As I have now exhausted my knowledge of the BRONTES, I will be interested to learn if there are any more subtle allusions hiddden in the clues or the grid.  I’m not sure why this puzzle appears today as I can’t see any obvious anniversary.  Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone corrected me.

The grid showing the all the thematic material is shown below:

















No. Clue Wordplay Entry
8 First to leave tents to get weapons (5) TEPEES (Native American tents) excluding the first letter (first to leave) T

ÉPÉES (sharp-pointed, narrow-bladed swords without a cutting edge, used for duelling and, with a button on the point, for fencing; weapons)

9 Slogan supporting Reagan? There’s not much to it (8) ELECT RON (vote for Ron[ald Reagan])

ELECTRON (a minute particle, normally forming part of an atom; there’s not much to it)

10 I assert in court "Wild animal must be restrained"? (8)

CT (court) containing (must be restrained) an anagram of (wild) ANIMAL


CLAIMANT (a person who asserts, maybe in a court of law, but more widely as a person who can make an assertion in any environment)
11 Both RU teams needing beer, not shorts, at the outset? (6) THIRSTY (needing fluid, e.g. beer) excluding (not) S (first letter of [at the outset] SHORTS) THIRTY (there are 15 players in  Rugby Union team, so both teams comprise 30 players)
12 Yearnings evident when some cheese (Gruyère) is seen on return journey (5) Reversed (seen on return journey) hidden word in (some) CHEESE GRUYÈRE URGES (yearnings)
14 Romp ceased unexpectedly interrupted by Dad (8)

Anagram of (unexpectedly) CEASED containing (interrupted by) PA (dad)


ESCAPADE (mischevious adventure; romp)
17 People travelling from capital (not the last) (4) ROMAN (from Rome,  capital of Italy) excluding the final letter (not the last) N ROMA (the travelling people)
19 Prince opposed to Spain to make 10 5 say? (5) HAL (reference Prince HAL,  Henry, Prince of Wales in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 1)  + V (versus; opposed to) + E (Espana; International Vehicle Registration for Spain) HALVE (5 is half of 10, so to make 10 into 5, you HALVE it)
20 Girl showing old sixpence frayed at the edges (4) TANNER (old name for a pre-decimal sixpenny piece in British curency) excluding the first and last letters (frayed at the edges) T and R ANNE (girl’s name – one of the Bronte sisters)
21 Painter erupts excitedly in ecstatic joy (8)

RA (Royal Academician; artist; painter) + an anagram of (excitedly) ERUPTS


RAPTURES (ecstatic joy)
22 Continue to perform in London district (5) ACT ON (continue to perform) ACTON (district of London in the borough of Ealing)
25 It’s potential to grow, English doctor reasons firstly, cutting you short (6) E(English) + MB (Medicinea Baccalaureus; doctor) + R (first letter of [firstly] REASONS) + YOU excluding the final letter (short) U

EMBRYO (a young animal or plant in its earliest stages of development; the beginning of anything; potential to grow)

27 Perhaps Thurber’s comic truism, ho-ho? Not half! (8) Anagram of (comic) TRUISM and HO (HO-HO excluding (not) one of [half] the HOs ) HUMORIST (James Thurber [1894 – 1961], American author and humorist)
29 He gives details about Liverpool maybe to Queen (8) RE (with reference to; about) + PORT (Liverpool is a port city) + ER (Elizabeth Regina; Queen) REPORTER (one who gives details about an event, study or incident)
30 Far from podgy Yank exercising with lecturer (5) Anagram of (exercising) YANK and [with] L (lecturer) LANKY (long and thin; the opposite of [far from] podgy)
1 Inventor’s pen name (4) BELL (reference Currer, Ellis and Acton BELL, pen names of the three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne) BELL (reference Alexander Graham BELL, inventor of the first practical telephone)
2 Ingredient list containing mixed rice and half portion of peas (6) Anagram of (mixed) RICE + PE (first two letter [half portion] of PEAS) RECIPE (ingredient list)
3 Love to mark Academy Award (5) O (zero; love [in tennis scoring]) + SCAR (mark)

OSCAR (a gold-plated statuette awarded by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to a film writer, actor, director, etc, for the year’s best performance in his or her particular line; Academy Award)

4 Cosy part of Sloane Street (4) Hidden word in (part of) SLOANE STREET NEST ([as a verb] to make a comfortable residence; cosy [also as a verb])
5 "Graspers" network’s first to feature in sensational telecast (9)

N (first letter of [first] NETWORK) contained in (to feature in) an anagram of (sensational) TELECAST


TENTACLES (slender flexible organs for grasping; graspers)
6 Country poet unusually accepting greeting – I answer (8)

(Anagram of [unusually] POET containing (accepting) HI [greeting]) + I + A (answer)


ETHIOPIA (country in Africa)
7 Son frequently lenient (4) S (son) + OFT (frequently) SOFT (lenient)
13 Wine in port getting nod from Germans? (5) RIO (reference RIO de Janiero, port city of Brazil) + JA (German for yes; [get the] nod from Germans) RIOJA (Spanish red [or white] wine)
14 Island for immigrants once hellish centre? (5) ELLIS (central letters of [centre] HELLISH) ELLIS (reference ELLIS Island, the United States immigration station for sea going steerage class arrivals through New York Harbour from 1892.  It was primarily a detention and deportation facility from 1924 and closed in 1954.   It opened after conditions became intolerable at the previous location of Castle Garden.  Wikipedia says that immigrants were fairly well treated on Ellis Island)
15 Creature in undending outback? (5) Hidden word in (in) UNENDING OUTBACK DINGO (tawny-coloured wild dog of Australia, often found in the ‘undending outback’ of Australia)
16 Cold, that role is adapted for her (9)

C (cold) + anagram of (is adapted) THAT ROLE

CHARLOTTE (girl’s name; her – one of the Bronte sisters)
18 Wait here as 17 has note rewritten? (8) Anagram of (rewritten) ROMA (answer / entry at 17 across) and NOTE ANTEROOM (waiting room)
23 Circle uses choir (Bosnian) regularly (6) Odd letters of (regularly) CHOIR BOSNIAN

CORONA (a coloured ring round the sun or moon, distinguished from a halo by having a red outerpart; circle)

24 Girl starts to effuse movingly "I love you" (5) First letters of (starts to) EFFUSE MOVINGLY I LOVE YOU EMILY (girl’s name – one of the Bronte sisters)
26 Fitting assembly at hunt (4) MEET (be suitable or satisfy; fitting [in a formal; or archaic use]) MEET (a meeting of participant in a hunt)
27 That lady with nothing – Rochester maybe required? (4) HER (that lady) + O (nothing) HERO (Mr Rochester is the HERO of the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
28 Island (heaven on earth?) (4) SKY (heaven) + E (earth) SKYE (reference Isle of SKYE.  Many locals and tourists would probably describe it as ‘heaven on earth’)

19 Responses to “Independent 7970 / Raich”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for a comprehensive blog of an enjoyable puzzle.

    Even a theme-blind solver like me couldn’t fail to spot the BRONTES theme, and in fact my first seven in were the down clues to reveal it. I saw the three sisters’ names, but the other references were beyond me. That said, it’s an achievement to get that much thematic material in while still producing a reasonably straightforward puzzle.

    I only got stuck in the NW corner, before I realised that I’d entered a wrong answer. I had confidently stuck in BIRO for 1dn, and I think that’s a valid answer too; when I realised it must be BELL, I didn’t know why until your explanation.

    Haven’t seen Raich for a bit in the Indy, so thanks to him for the puzzle this morning.

    (PS you have a typo in 27dn: the answer is of course HERO and not ROCHESTER. Having produced such a thorough blog I think you can be forgiven for a bit of brain-fade towards the end …)

  2. duncanshiell says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @ 1

    Thank for pointing out the HERO / ROCHESTER mix-up. The blog is corrected now.

    I also started off with BIRO at 1 down until the crossers showed it must be wrong.

  3. Ian SW3 says:

    Oh dear. The theme may be clever, but the clues didn’t provide much to sink one’s teeth into. Fortunately, the Guardian required two cups of coffee to solve today or I would have been especially disappointed with this two-sip affair. Thanks for the thorough blog, though.

  4. Miche says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    I was at least halfway through before I twigged the theme, and didn’t spot the Ninas until I’d finished. My first thought for 1d was also BIRO, and my second was SWAN. I didn’t make the Bell/Brontë connection until arriving at ACTON.

    I liked THIRTY and HALVE vey much, and “nod from Germans”. I’m not convinced that an ingredient list is, on it’s own, a RECIPE.

  5. Miche says:

    Ahem. “On its own.” Pesky autocorrect.

  6. Paul B says:

    Nice work. From Raich, and, as ever, Duncan. Who is shurely the worldsh finesht blog-geek – that grid!!

    Anyway, what a good puzzle. I like ghost themes, and I was glad to find that Raich has only very subtly revealed his hand with the Rochester reference at 27. All clues constructed with dexterity and elegance, with the difficulty pitched at just the right level. I’d also draw attention to the fact that the thematic stuff helps with the grid, which might otherwise have seemed a bit four-cornered.

    Contrary to SW3, I would say that for me Mr Two Sips has the edge over Mr Twenty Cups – in today’s competition, at least.

  7. Wanderer says:

    Thank you Duncan for the magnificent blog. What an enjoyable puzzle.

    I’m another BIRO man, and even though I couldn’t make CLAIMANT or EPEE work as a result, I refused to change it because it starts with a B for BRONTES. By that stage I had spotted both Brontes and Currer in the perimeters, and was even wondering why BELL was nowhere to be seen… D’oh.

    Of the non-thematic stuff, ELECTRON was my favourite. Wondered if (not the last) was necessary in the clue for ROMA, since without it we get the city’s name in Italian anyhow.

    Anton Chekhov read a biography of the Brontes. He later wrote a play called Three Sisters about three intelligent, educated, ambitious sisters living in rural isolation with a dark, brooding brother, who preoccupy themselves with issues of work, education, the role of women, town vs country, etc etc. It seems that the possible link has only been put forward relatively recently.

    Sorry for digressing, and thanks to Raich for the excellent solve.

  8. NealH says:

    Nice puzzle, but I raced through it a bit too quickly and forgot to look for NINAs. That’s despite knowing that Bell was the pen name for the Brontes. Biro did go through my mind for 1 down, but it didn’t seem like a good answer – the pen is only called a biro because Biro invented it, so it’s hardly very cryptic.

  9. crypticsue says:

    THank goodness for Raich. I wasn’t in the zone at all for three of today’s other six cryptics but this very nice themed puzzle restored my faith in the old cryptic grey matter. I knew 1d couldn’t be BIRO but I did spent a long time trying to work out what the solution had to be. Thanks to Duncan too for the splendid blog.

  10. Dormouse says:

    Well, I totally failed to spot the theme, even though I knew about the Brontes’ pen names being Bell. In fact, although I was sure of the answer to 1d, I couldn’t see how the clue worked. (Bell has turned up as an inventor in a number of puzzles recently, it seems.)

    For a millisecond, I thought 5d might be TESTICLES. And EPEES took me a while to see. Apart from that, little difficulty.

    Did like the mathematical word play in 11ac and 19ac.

    Curiously, yesterday, INNING turned up whilst I was watching a baseball game. Today I was watching a TV programme whilst doing the puzzle that had a character called CHARLOTTE in it.

  11. Jean says:

    I went wrong with ‘Biro’ too. Then no way to get to epees! Roma was a little obscure!

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Dormouse, if you get three in a row tomorrow with Dac, you should buy a lottery ticket …

    I did mean to say earlier that I too really liked HALVE.

  13. Quixote says:

    I am very happy to reciprocate nice comments given that my oft=blogger has produced a pleasing puzzle that I was grateful to reel off after a busy day producing my Indy puzzles for September. ( I wouldn’t have had the energy for certain other setters today!)

  14. Raich says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for the superb blog and to all for their comments.

    Because of the requirements of the theme, in six answers less than half of the letters of the answer were crossed by other answers. In all six cases, these were either thematic words or included one of the thematic perimeter letters. Nonetheless, to be fair to the solver, I tried to make those six clues just a little bit easier – this may have led to the puzzle overall turning out to be on the easy side.

    I’ll also admit the alternative of BIRO never crossed my mind at any point. I think tho, as someone commented above, it would not be really have been a cryptic clue to BIRO in the normal sense.

  15. Paul B says:

    Ah TESTICLES, PERICLES, SOPHOCLES: where would we be without them?

  16. Cumbrian says:

    I completely missed the theme (I blame it on the 13d imbibed whilst solving), was another Biro victim, finally decided on Bell, but didn’t know why (and wouldn’t have known even if I’d spotted the Brontes) until I read Duncan’s wonderful blog. I didn’t know of Roma as travelling people, believing it must have something to do with Romany with the last being NY rather than just N, so a bit of useful education there. Difficult to choose a favourite clue, but 9a made me groan so that’s my prime contender.
    Very enjoyable – many thanks to Raich, and again to Duncan

  17. Wil Ransome says:

    Thorougly enjoyable. As with apparently all of Raich’s crosswords in the Indy, there is a ghost (?) theme and one can perfectly well solve the puzzle without needing to see it. I find this much more satisfactory than those puzzles where you have to know certain facts and often can’t make progress without resort to Google.

    I was slow to see the theme because I can’t read my own writing: the T of TENTACLES looked just like a Y.

  18. flashling says:

    Thanks Duncan, great blog again, how will you up the ante now? Even though I lightly put in Biro, the Bronte nina was very soon apparent and I was looking for the names/pseudonyms right away which rather broke this guessing correctly that LHS would be Currer, but a pleasant diversion Raich, shame it was over so quickly.

    (I’m not well read as you may remember me saying but I was aged 14 forced to visit Haworth and the parsonage on a school trip, the scars however were finally healed today)

  19. Rorschach says:

    Given that this took me about 20 mins as opposed to the usual hour or two I’d say this was on the easy side…

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