Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,974 by Monk (Saturday Prize Puzzle, 05/05/12)

Posted by Simon Harris on May 12th, 2012

Simon Harris.

Monk’s puzzles are always challenging and inventive, and this was no exception. I honestly want to be able to enjoy them, as he seems like an awfully nice chap, but for me this felt more like an unrewarding slog than anything else.

There’s sort of a theme, or at least a repeated device, here in that several rows – but frustratingly not all of them – have triple letter combinations. So for example BUSINESS STUDIES at 14ac. This helped a bit, but it would have helped more if it had been all rows rather than just nearly all, so that one didn’t waste so much time looking for the device in rows where it did not apply.

Perhap I’m missing something important, but given that distraction, plus the sheer quantity of unfamiliar material, this was all still terribly hard, and I didn’t get very far under my own steam.

*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition.

1 LEE ENFIELD – (NEEDLE FILE)*. Apparently a manufacturer of firearms, which your blogger has little knowledge of or interest in. Still, I managed a successful “shot” at it from the checking letters. A quick shufty at the internet suggests this term should actually be hyphenated and so enumerated as (3-4) rather than (3,4), but I’m not about to defend the brand integrity of a weapons manufacturer.
6 FAFF – (A + F) in FF, as in the multiple of F.
10 SCHMUTTERSCH + M + UTTER. Another unfamiliar term, which just means “clothes”.
11 LORRE – ERROL<. The Hollywood stars involved are the swashbuckling Errol Flynn and the slightly creepy Peter Lorre.
12 YARDARM – (DAY[d]R[e]AM[e]R)*. The letters forming the name of the River DEE, a favourite of crossword compilers, are removed from the anagrist.
13 OFF FORM – I think this is just OFF + FORM, with OFF being “removed from” and FORM being “ceremony”, I guess in the sense of “the done thing”.
14 BUSINESS STUDIES – BUSINESS (“concern”) + STUDIES (“work areas”) &lit.
23 LOCALESCAL in [b]L[o]O[p]E[r]S.
25 EQUIP – [blu]E + QUIP.
26 POINT DUTY – cd? Not sure. Ballerinas talk of “points” and it’s to do with standing on their toes. Expecting there to be a triple-letter construction in this row, I confidently wrote in PRITT TACK, assuming this was a cryptic reference to it being competition for the manufacturers of Blu-Tack. Not so, so out came another office supply, the Tipp-Ex.
27 SETT – ([villag]E + [idio]T) in ST. Dictionaries tell me this is some sort of paving slab, which could be a “block”.
28 TAKE A DEKKO – dd.
1 LUSTY – L[o]U[t] + STY.
2 EXHORTS – X (the opposite of a tick) in (S + OTHER)*.
5 LARGO – dd. The villain from the Bond film Thunderball, the internet tells me.
9 CLEF – cd.
18 ASSAULT – A + S + (U in SALT).
19 ILL LUCK – [p]ILL + [p]LUCK.
21 SOPH – [philo]SOPH[y], abbreviation of “sophomore”.
22 ALPHA – LP in AHA[b].
24 SAY-SO – I’ve no idea how this works: Perhaps sow a rumour.

11 Responses to “Independent 7,974 by Monk (Saturday Prize Puzzle, 05/05/12)”

  1. Dormouse says:

    24d I think means “sow” which can be pronounced to rhyme with “cow”, when it is what you do with seeds is pronounced “so”.

  2. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this much more than you, Simon! BTW, it’s not just the across answers – there is also ILL-LUCK and SHELL-LIKE in the downs.
    I saw this only at the very end and it helped me to get OFF FORM. That was a nice penny-dropping moment. Yes, it was hard, and some unfamiliar words had to be used for thematic reasons, I guess. There are in fact only a very small number of words/phrases with three letters occurring in succession so it must have been a hard grid to fill. Bramall Lane is another, as it happens.

  3. Conrad Cork says:

    I”m with nmsindy as well, I’m afraid, Simon. There is a special quality to Monk’s puzzles which makes them a particular kind of tussle. I usually feel as though I had gone up Mont Ventoux in the Tour de France with him snapping at my wheel. The (metaphorical) shower afterwards is most invigorating.

  4. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks, chaps. I’m glad others enjoyed this more than I did. It’s one of those things that I’m more than happy to be “wrong!” about! I’ve often noted that it’s the setters that I have this kind of frustrated reaction to that I come to love the most over time. Tees and Anax spring to mind; not quite there with Nimrod yet, but I keep trying.

    Best not remind me of Bramall Lane, NMS. What happens there on Monday will dictate whether I have to fulfill a family promise and make a very expensive and no doubt disappointing trip to Wembley next Saturday (again), when I’d honestly rather be sat at home tackling next Saturday’s Indy cryptic.

  5. nmsindy says:

    That is why I mentioned it of course, based a comment you previously made, Simon. And to add to the fun, Monk is I think based in Leeds.
    If memory serves, when the Sheffield clubs were drawn together in the FA Cup semifinal (1993 I think), the FA fixed it for Leeds (which sounded all very sensible). Then there was a huge revolt and the game went to Wembley. Good luck anyway – at present it looks like another Yorkshire trek to the South.

  6. Dormouse says:

    I was just about to go out when I made my earlier post, so I didn’t have time to note that I don’t recall this giving me too much trouble last week. I completed it, anyway, which isn’t often the case with a Saturday puzzle, and I don’t think there was an answer I didn’t know. Didn’t spot the triple letters, did like 17ac.

  7. anax says:

    Ah – SCHMUTTER defeated me, but spotting the triple letter device early in the solve proved very helpful (amazingly, given Monk’s habit of basing his grid entries on letter patterns in preference to themes, I suspected something as soon as the first – STILL-LIFE – appeared in the grid).
    Have to say I really enjoy Monk’s style. The grid designs and fills are always good, and something about his clueing is truly unique. LOL moments are few compared to some setters, yet there’s still intricacy and inventiveness presented in a very individual style. Themes and verbal fireworks can make puzzles challenging, but I always feel with Monk that completing a puzzle involves rising to a more technical challenge – and I do like it.

  8. Allan_C says:

    If anyone’s still reding this on Monday morning, my take on 2d was that X is the “sign that it’s wrong to stop” – derived from the “no stopping” road sign, so that the construction is (XSOTHER)*

  9. nmsindy says:

    Re comment #8, I think I’d agree with Simon’s take in the blog. I think ‘stop’ is an insertion indicator with X = “sign that it’s wrong” as in a teacher marking a student’s paper.

  10. Polly says:

    Well, I’m still reading this a week after publication, having only just finished the puzzle. (In fairness to self, I should say that I polished off Radian last Sunday.) Although Allan_C’s parsing is pleasingly concise, I’m with nmsindy: the cluing is too convoluted for the simpler parsing, and if that was what Monk had intended he would surely have written something like ‘There’s no stopping son [etc.]’.

    Thanks to Monk – a bracing but by no means painful ride – and Simon.

  11. Graham Pellen says:

    14D is ED in (not +)BANKERS*.

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