Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7983/Dac

Posted by John on May 16th, 2012


Rather harder than the usual Dac I thought, with one or two words that were less than familiar. But, as always, the sort of thing he serves up week after week, with never apparently any diminution of standard and some first-class clues.

1 HE’S TON{y} — ref Charlton Heston, although if half-crowns are old coins then surely Charlton Heston, whose films were mainly before the half-crown was withdrawn, is an old actor
4 PUSSYCAT — (s{uffer} pay cuts)*
9 LERNER — “learner” — ref Alan Jay Lerner
10 FIG URINE — fig = dress, the first of some rather rare words in this crossword
12 CLIMATOLOGIST — (c [= about] to log) around Lima, i{mpending} s{torms} t{hreatening} — very cleverly-constructed semi-&lit.
17 NE(ARE)ST — one’s nearest and dearest are probably those at home — for no good reason this took me ages, since I saw it as ear in nest and couldn’t think why ear = live
19 TONIGHT — (Got thin)*
21 DRILL SERGEANT — I think this is Drill = the first material, then ant with serge [the second material] before it — but if this is so then why ‘possibly’? It seems that soldier = ant is a pretty standard equation,but perhaps Dac is being ultra-precise
24 MAN N(A)ASH — John Nash is the architect but I’d never heard of the manna ash (Manna-ash in Chambers)
25 SIN TAX — (isn’t)* ax ["axe"], def. ‘duty on alcohol maybe’, with ‘fixed’ the anagram indicator
26 GRANDADS — graduates are grads, and what it takes to become grads is ‘gr’ and ‘ads’
27 DERRIS — (riders)* — Quite apart from the fact that I’d never heard of this woody plant, I can’t see how this works: how is ‘trampled by’ an indication that what follows it is trampled? — this type of thing is occasionally seen, but not from Dac, surely: either Dac is having an off moment here or I’m missing something
2 SERVICE — r{equiem} in ((Ives)rev. CE)
3 0 MEGA
7 CHITTER — CH (trite)* — a nice use of a word (tweet) as the definition of both a rarely-used (?) North American one and a modern one
8 T(I {judg}E)R
11 HOSPITALISED — it in (posh ladies)*
15 T HE(LIZ)ARD — t = town? Not in Chambers but no doubt somewhere
18 A DD END A — and the surface is very apposite, since the last ever Extras was really good
20 {installin}G RAFTER
22 GUIDE — “guyed”
23 S MOG — 4 being PUSSYCAT

13 Responses to “Independent 7983/Dac”

  1. crypticsue says:

    Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to find this harder than usual. As enjoyable as ever though.

    Thanks for the blog John – I think the ‘perhaps’ in 21a is because DRILL can be either a form of exercise undertaken by soldiers or a type of material. As for trampling the derris, I wasn’t sure about the ‘trampled’ either.

  2. PeterO says:

    Thanks John for the blog; I found the puzzle hard going as well. I think that the ‘perhaps’ is required in 21A because ‘soldier’ is an example of an ant, not a definition.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Dac, and John. I think T = Town is from names of football etc teams. Concise OED has it. Funnily enough, I did not find this more difficult than usual for Dac and was pleased to work out some answers I’d never heard of (or forgotten) just from the wordplay eg MANNA ASH, DERRIS, PHOTOTAXIS. Guess the difference between Heston and the half-crowns may be that you’d still see the former (on TV, satellite stations etc) but not the latter. Favourite clue OVERTIP.

  4. Jean says:

    Good one. Not too easy but far more accessible than yesterday’s!

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’m definitely in the ‘harder than usual’ camp, and only just managed to get over the line. NEAREST is fair, but perhaps not Dac’s best ever clue, and I still don’t understand PHOTOTAXIS, since the definition is clearly ‘movement in the light’; but how do we get PHOTO from ‘take picture of’? Dac’s invariably precise with his clueing, (although I wasn’t mad keen on DERRIS either) so I’m missing something, no doubt.

    A letter in the Indy i today critical of the crossword! (And no, it wasn’t me under a pseudonym.) I blame Glueball.

    Thanks for blogging, John.

  6. Paul B says:

    Glueball getting it in the neck from Jean twice in as many days. Note to self: stay off the themes for a while.

    Re 27 (Woody plant trampled by riders) this is not a construction entirely strange to me I must say, with its inverted logic ‘answer is bashed version of something else’ thingy. It would have worked with ‘Riders trampled woody plant’ just as well, but in The Independent we are dealing with artistes, it should be remembered, who are used to a free mode of expression and poetic licence. And entitlement to ‘gateway’ clues.

  7. Bertandjoyce says:

    Please don’t blame Glueball K’sD! Yesterday’s was a fantastic crossword, we want more like it!
    As far as Dac’s puzzle is concerned, we weren’t that convinced at first by 27ac as Chambers only listed ‘derry’ as a plant related to peas and beans. When we checked on-line we found that it was a woody plant and we were then happy about the anagrind ‘trampled by’.
    No real quibbles really, a few obscure words but the cryptic parts were clear so you couldn’t really complain. After yesterday’s tour de force though it just made today’s offering a little less challenging.
    Thanks Dac and John!

  8. Dormouse says:

    Definitely a bit hard but I did complete it with some e-help. Knew 27ac was an anagram, but I couldn’t see it so I did an anagram search. And curiously I needed a word search for 22d, which was obvious once I saw it. A word search on 24ac failed to find an answer, and then I saw it. Not a tree I’d heard of, but I guessed it ended in “ash” and was able to work it out from there.

    Is “figurine” a rare word? I knew it, which is more than I can say for “phototaxis” and “derris”.

  9. flashling says:

    @Dormouse Figurine rare no, but FIG=DRESS I’d suggest is a tad unusual…

    @PB please don’t give up the themes, not all of us want typhoo Tees;-)

  10. Dormouse says:

    Not rare in the sense “in full fig”. Well, I use it all the time. :-)

  11. eimi says:

    Those who enjoy a variety of crosswords should perhaps let the people at the i know that the letter-writer doesn’t speak for everyone – otherwise we may have vanilla puzzles imposed.

  12. John says:

    What are ‘gateway’ clues, Paul B?

  13. Allan_C says:

    If I may answer John’s question @12, a gateway clue is the one, in a crossword with several linked clues, which when solved provides a starting point for solving the rest of the linked clues. Incidentally it may not be the same one for all solvers; for instance in Tuesday’s crossword the gateway clue was said to be ‘elementary’ but for me it was ‘large Hadron collider’ which I somehow spotted from a few crossing letters.

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