Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7977 / Dac

Posted by Bertandjoyce on May 9th, 2012


Excellent surface readings as usual in this enjoyable puzzle from Dac. As avid filmgoers, we thought 15d read extremely well (even though we are not fans of the Rocky films!) as there really was a Director’s cut of Rocky V that was released online. Our COD is perhaps 4d which brought a smile to our faces but there was a fair amount of competition!


At one point we had ????O? for 23ac and thought…… “Surely not THAT sort of French letter!” before we gave up trying to parse it!

We’d not come across 3d or 14d before, but they were entirely gettable from the wordplay and a few crossing letters

1 HORNPIPE HORNE(r) (‘Little Jack’ briefly – without the last letter) around (‘hugs’) PIP (Philip) = dance
5 PASCAL SAP (fool) reversed or ‘sent back’ + CL (class) around or ‘accommodating’ A = clever thinker – Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher
9 MAILSHOT Sounds like (‘announcing’) MALE (fellow) SHOT (fired), or perhaps MALE’S HOT? = communication
10 SATNAV S(t)A(r)T(s) N(e)A(r) (‘regularly’ – alternate letters of ‘starts near’) + V (front of Victoria) = ‘Routemaster’ –  a slightly free interpretation of what a Satnav does, especially when you hear stories of lorry-drivers being led up narrow country lanes. We’d been hoping to include a link to this but unfortunately the clue led us elsewhere (as does the answer!)
11 RANGELAND ANGEL (backer, as in financier) within or ‘invested in’ RAND (South African currency or ‘capital’) = sort of territory in which safaris might be undertaken
13 SNEER S + N (bridge partners, south and north) + E’ER (poetic form of ever or always) = sound scornful
14 SALAD DRESSING SA (two letters from NASA) + L (left) + ADDRESSING (turning attention to) = what goes on rocket (the vegetable)
16 NERVES OF STEEL Anagram of FEELS TENSE OR and V (initially very) (anagrind is ‘shaky’) = cryptic definition – if you have nerves of steel, you are unlikely to feel tense or shaky
20 TRIPE First letters or ‘starters’ of T(hat) R(eally) I(s) P(retty) E(xotic) = food, though not our description of it!
21 STRAGGLER STRA(n)GLER (killer) with the middle letter or ‘heart’ changed to a G = someone who is in no hurry
23 BRETON BR(it) (renouncing or omitting ‘it’ or sex) + NOTE (letter) reversed or ‘rejected’ = French – well, ‘of a part of France’, but the clue wouldn’t work without the French connection
24 DISARRAY ARRAS (‘hanging’, as in tapestry) reversed (‘around’) in (‘during’) DIY (‘housework’) = chaos
25 ELEVEN Hidden in (hot)EL EVEN(tually) = late, as in 11pm – when we usually finish the crossword when we’re not blogging! At least it’s not a reference to football or cricket teams!
26 ASTEROID Anagram of RADIO SET (anagrind is ‘adapted’) = space traveller
1 HOMBRE H (hard) + OMBRE (card game) = Spanish for ‘man’
2 REIGN Anagram of NIGER (anagrind is ‘after revolution’) = govern
3 PAS SEUL PASSE (old-fashioned) + U(ngratefu)L (first and last letter, or ‘extremes’) = dance movement. We’d heard of ‘pas de deux’, and are aware that it does not mean ‘father of two’, so presumably this doesn’t mean ‘single father”!!
4 PROS AND CONS PROS (prostitutes) AND CONS (convicts) – ‘groups of dubious characters’ = arguments
6 AMASSES AM (American) + ASSES (nerds) = gathers together
7 CONGENIAL CONGEAL (set, as in ‘solidify’) around (‘touring’) N (northern) I (island) = friendly
8 LEVERAGE L (large) + (b)EVERAGE (drink such as beer, with no head, or first letter) = purchase
12 DIRE STRAITS Anagram of ARTISTS with DIRE as the anagrind (‘as it were’) = group – in our opinion, one of the best British rock bands of the late 70s and 80s
14 SORTILEGE GEL (‘girl’ when said in a ‘posh’ accent) reversed or ‘upset’ in (‘during’) SORTIE (short trip) = kind of sorcery – a new word to us
15 UNSTABLE (d)UNSTABLE (Bedfordshire town without D – director) = rocky
17 EYESORE YES (certainly) in E (eastern) ORE (Oregon – US state) = ugly building
18 ENGRAVE ENG (English) + RAVE (party) = impress deeply
19 PRAYED P (penny or ‘very little money’) + RAY + ED (two men) = begged
22 LARGO Admira(L) (last letter) + ARGO (old ship, as in Jason and the Argonauts) = musical term for a movement that is to be played slowly

8 Responses to “Independent 7977 / Dac”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Nice blog, thanks both.

    Put in DIRE STRAITS after a bit, but couldn’t quite understand the cryptic bit so thanks for that. I’m partial to a bit of Dire Straits myself as it goes; my favourite track is the hauntingly melancholic ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

    Enjoyed SALAD DRESSING and also BRETON, which I think just about works, although many Bretons would consider themselves Breton first and French second. On the French theme, I thought PASCAL (my last one in) clued as ‘clever thinker’ was a bit random, and the French letter reference made me think of a number of cases where what we do in French, the French do in English. Filer à l’anglaise is to take French leave, for example. French letter for condom is une capote anglaise (literally an English cloak); and while we (rather old-fashionedly now) call syphilis the French disease, for them it’s la maladie anglaise. Although of course judicious use of the former might prevent you contracting the latter.

    That’s enough random stuff. Thank you to Dac for the usual excellent puzzle.

  2. crypticsue says:

    Nice puzzle, nice blog, thanks to all.

    Do tell B&J, do you each have a grid and then compare notes when you are stuck or solve one crosword between you?

  3. Jean says:

    Got stuck on sortilege – never heard of it. We don’t do it in Shropshire anyway.

  4. nmsindy says:

    Great puzzle and blog, thanks, Dac and B&J. Favourites PROS AND CONS, PASCAL, BRETON. Was slowed a bit by first guessing PAST MASTERS for 12D…

  5. Bertandjoyce says:

    Crypticsue@2 We have always done the crossword together and often find that one of us gets the answer whilst the other one works out why! We just fight over who gets the pen!

  6. Bamberger says:

    I decided to print out one xword for the journey to work. On the Grauniad site the comments suggested it was tough and I’m afraid Lorenso in the FT is too hard for me -so the Indie it was. I have solved a Dac unaided but gosh I found this tough and only solved 6 clues. Of course if I’d solved more I might have got more simply because I would have had more checking letters.
    Only unknowns were rangeland, sortilege and pas seul but I thought 12d was fiendish, 5a was very tough and 24a tough.
    The only one I was really kicking myself about was 26a -knew it was an anagram but no matter how I wrote the letters out, it just wouldn’t reveal itself.
    Thanks for the blog.

  7. Dormouse says:

    Well, better than yesterday, nearly completed it. Managed to put in BEVERAGE for 8d, which stymied me for 5ac.

    14ac definitely my favourite.

    No trouble with 14d as there is a Ravel opera called L’enfant et les sortilèges, to a libretto by Colette.

  8. NealH says:

    It dawns on me that if you can clue an asteroid can be clued as a “space traveller”, then so could planet Earth and anything on it, but I’m probably being a bit over-literal.

    I found this a bit tougher than the usual DAC and made a very slow start. In the end the only one I had to resort to help with was sortilege – annoyingly I thought of sortie but was so fixated by the idea it was a word for trip shortened by one letter that I failed to notice you could put the full word around gel< to get the answer.

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