Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7984 / Klingsor

Posted by duncanshiell on May 17th, 2012


Klingsor appears in The Independent every 5 to 6 weeks at the moment.  Based on comments on this site and others, I assume his name is derived from the magician in Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal.  




This was an entertaining puzzle with a mix of complex and simple wordplay.  At the complex end of the spectrum we had the build for FATHER CHRISTMAS  and DEFINITE ARTICLE, whilst at the simpler end there was HALITE and TORMENTOR.  In between there was a good range of clue devices, a number of which required some lateral thinking.  I liked the clues for CELLINI, MALTA,  WEBSITE and SQUARED.  Having said that, there were also one or two clues, including one I for an entry I have already listed above where I struggled with the parsing or the definition.  Examples given in the detailed table below are ELECT, DEFINITE ARTICLE and TRAGEDIAN.  In each case it was clear what the entry had to be, so perhaps I am nitpicking.

Like many puzzles these days, there was a message in the grid.  Columns 1 and 15 reveal the message  FIFTEENSQUARED SUPREME WEBSITE.  I toyed with including the top and bottom rows in the theme as well with images of FATHER CHRISTMAS delivering us a super WEBSITE, and describing the WEBSITE as the DEFINITE ARTICLE, but I think that is trying to stretch the theme too far.  If DEFINITE had been DEFINITIVE there might have been a stronger case.  

While the contributors to this site will no doubt endorse the sentiments expressed in this final grid, I will be fascinated to how well the wording of the last column will be received by contributors to a national daily crossword website where the debate often moves on to The Independent puzzles once the puzzle at the centre of that site has been thoroughly analysed, digested and on some days, spat out.  A number of the contributors there are not fans of the decorum of FIFTEENSQUARED even though one or two of them admit to coming here sometimes to understand specific parsing.

As is common with good crossword puzzles the clue material today covered an eclectic mix of general knowledge.  We needed to know about or be aware of a bit of heavy metal, cookery, crockery, sports, chemistry, art and music in a number of guises, trucking. travel, geography, roman numerals and current affairs

I look forward to blogging another Klingsor puzzle some time.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Rotund, he crams odd stocking this December, at the end merry? (6,9)

FAT (rotund) + (an anagram of [odd] HE CRAMS containing [stocking] [an anagram of {merry} THIS and R {final letter of (at the end of) DECEMBER}])


FATHER CHRISTMAS (the whole clue defines FATHER CHRISTMAS filling stockings towards the end of December in a merry fashion)
9 Metal band Iron Maiden leaving obstinate sort outside car (7)

(FE [Chemical symbol for iron] + MULE [obstinate sort] excluding [leaving] M [a maiden over in cricket scoring]) containing (outside) RR (Rolls Royce; car). I spent some time on this clue trying to make FERRARI (car) fit the wordplay.


FERRULE (metal band, ring or cap on the tip of a stick for reinforcing it)
10 Dish will turn heads, touring California (7)

POLLS (heads) reversed (will turn) containing (touring) CA (California)


SCALLOP (a shallow dish in which oysters, etc are cooked, baked, and browned)

11 Make a choice, wanting leader? (5) SELECT (make a choice) excluding (wanting) the first letter [leader] S ELECT (make a choice, but also chosen for office but not yet in post)  I think I have got this right as a play on the similarity in meaning [hence the '?'] between SELECT and ELECT with the leading letter of the first being removed to give the second.
12 Special beer in a tin mostly gets you drunk (9) Anagram of (special) BEER IN A TIN excluding the final (mostly) N INEBRIATE (a drunk person)
13 Swimming race takes a short time (8)

NATION (race) containing (takes) (A + T [time])


NATATION (swimming)
15 Salt is healthy when limiting it (6)

HALE (healthy) containing (limiting) IT


HALITE (rock salt)
18 Riot could possibly result in heartless massacre (6) Anagram of (could possibly result in) MASSACRE excluding the central two letters (heartless) S and A SCREAM (riot in the sense of a hilarious person)
19 One has fine teeth, the judges observed (5,3) PANEL (a jury; a set of competition judges) + SAW (observed)

PANEL SAW (a fine saw for cutting very thin wood at right angles to the grain)

22 Where ensign may be in a predicament? (2,3,4) UP THE POLE (an ensign can be a flag.  A flag is frequently seen UP THE POLE) UP THE POLE (in a predicament. Sometime a specific flag/ensign is flown to indicate that a ship is in a predicament and needs assistance)  double definition, one cryptic
24 Disband extremely disruptive crowd (5) DE (first and last letters of [extreme letters of; extremely] DISRUPTIVE) + MOB (crowd)) DEMOB (demobilise; discharge from the Army)
25 Using abusive language gets band into trouble?  The opposite (7)

AIL (trouble) contained in (into) RING (band)  Instead of band into trouble, we have trouble into band, i.e. the opposite.


RAILING (using vigorously or mockingly reproachful language; using abusive language)

26 Sculptor and composer given mimimum initial advance (7) BELLINI (reference Vincenzo BELLINI [1801 - 1835] an Italian opera composer ) with the leading (initial) B advanced one letter (the minimum possible advance in the alphabet) to C

CELLINI (reference Benvenuto CELLINI (1500 – 1571), an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, painter, soldier and musician)

27 Maybe the truckie finally can reverse his vehicle stuck in narrow pass (8,7)

([E {last letter of (finally) TRUCKIE} + TIN {can}] reversed [can reverse] + ARTIC [articulated lorry, the trucker's vehicle; his vehicle]) contained in DEFILE (long narrow pass)


DEFINITE ARTICLE (the) I’m not sure why ‘Maybe’ is included in the clue. In English ‘the’ is the only definiite article.
1 Fellow provided The Beano regularly for rugby team? (7) F (fellow) + IF (provided) + the odd letters (1, 3, 5 and 7; regularly) of THE BEANO FIFTEEN (the number of players in a Rugby Union team.  There are only thirteen in a Rugby League team, hence the ‘?’)
2 One causes distress to teacher?  That’s about right (9)

TO MENTOR (to teacher) containing (that’s about) R (right)


TORMENTOR (one who causes distress)
3 Treat ham making comeback to prime part of Toby Belch? (5)

CURE (to preserve meat by drying, salting etc; to treat ham) reversed (making comeback) + T (first letter [prime part] of TOBY)


ERUCT (belch out)
4 He should be paid honour by soldiers (8) CREDIT (esteem, reputation or honour) + OR (other ranks; soldiers) CREDITOR (a person or business to whom a debt is due; he/she/it should be paid)
5 A bit of bacon for a sheriff’s sandwiches (6) Hidden word in (sandwiches) FOR A SHERIFF’S RASHER (a thin slice [bit] of bacon)
6 Celebrity’s carrying one luggage item for flight (9) (STAR [celebrity] containing [carrying] I [one]) + CASE (item of luggage) STAIRCASE (flight [of stairs])
7 One island or another rejecting new court authority? (5) MAN (reference Isle of MAN; one island) excluding (rejecting) N (new) + LTA (Lawn Tennis Association; governing body for British tennis; court authority) MALTA ([another] island, in the Mediterranean)
8 Crowning ascendant English monarch’s matter involving millions (7)

(E [English) + ER [Elizabeth Regina; monarch] + PUS [matter]) all reversed (ascendant) containing (involving) M (millions)


SUPREME ([adjective] most excellent; [noun] highest authority; [adjective or noun] crowning)
14 Actor, initially no great shakes, gathering rising support (9)

(N [first letter {initially} of NO + anagram of [shakes] GREAT) containing (gathering) AID (support).  I am not sure how the ‘rising’ works here.  As the clue is written it implies that only AID is to be reversed (rising), but it seems to me that (N and the anagram of GREAT) also has to rise to get the N in the right place. Thanks to Thomas99 at comment 3 for pointing out that I am overcomplicating this by separating N and the anagram of GREAT. Together they form the anagram (shakes) NGREAT so there is no need to worry about those letters rising


TRAGEDIAN (actor [of tragedy])
16 One con man is busted – he won’t get off easily (9) Anagram of (busted) I [one] and CON MAN IS INSOMNIAC (one who finds it difficult to get off [to sleep])
17 Chap spies Virginia first of all in European city (8) VA ([American State of] Virginia) + LEN (man’s name) + CIA (Central Intelligence Agency; spies) VALENCIA (European [Spanish] city)
18 Engaging engineers, band made CD from score? (7) SQUAD (band [of people]) containing (engaging) RE (Royal Engineers) SQUARED (In Roman Numerals CD is 400.  A score is 20. 400 is 20 SQUARED)
20 Wikileaks maybe has leak about British model (7)

WEE (urinate; leak) containing (about) (B [British] + SIT [model])


WEBSITE (Wikileaks is an example of a WEBSITE)
21 Overlook counterfeit tenners at first (6) FORGE (counterfeit, as a verb) + T (first letter of [at first] TENNER) FORGET (overlook)
23 One’s nicked maybe?  One’s nicked certainly (5) THIEF (a THIEF may or may not be nicked [arrested] depending on the skill of the police) THIEF (a THIEF certainly has nicked [stolen] things)  Double definition based on two different slang meanings of  ’nicked’
24 Derek excavated fort to discover pottery (5) DEL (contraction of DEREK, e.g. DEL TROTTER in ‘Only Fools and Horses’) + FT (first and last letters of [excavated] FORT) DELFT (a kind of earthenware [pottery] originally made in DELFT, Holland)

16 Responses to “Independent 7984 / Klingsor”

  1. Richard Heald says:

    Entertaining puzzle. Loved the FATHER CHRISTMAS & lit. and (especially) the brilliant definition of SQUARED.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I had exactly the same solving experience as you, Duncan – it was either easy or hard, with not much in between. But it was a fine puzzle, with WEBSITE and SQUARED as stand out clues. I would have been looking at the parsing of MALTA, CELLINI and DEFINITE ARTICLE for the rest of the day without understanding them, so thanks specially for those explanations.

    And a nice nod to 225, which of course I completely missed, as did probably the majority of Indy solvers who haven’t discovered this wonderful site yet. I’m sure that there was a puzzle a couple of years back where the compiler managed to include or hide the names of many of the bloggers on 225, but I can’t for the life of me remember who set it. Anax, I fancy, but I could be wrong.

    Any road up, thanks to Klingsor for this morning’s crossword.

  3. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the lovely full blog – particularly welcome to have the clues for an Independent crossword as they disappear from the paper’s site. Another enjoyable one from Klingsor, not at his most devious or dastardly, I’d say. He’ll lose that spear if he’s not careful…

    I think you have a slight slip in 14d – it’s AID reversed in an anagram of N GREAT, no need to reverse NGREAT as it’s mixed up anyway.

    I’m not familiar with “up the pole” (22a) but online it seems to mean drunk or a bit mad. Presumably it also or by extension means “in a predicament” (does that mean “drunk” too?)? I assumed that definition was not directly related to the naval one about the ensign.

  4. Thomas99 says:

    PS. I agree with the admiration of 18d (SQUARED) – it seems there isn’t even scope for the objection that comes up about “IC” for 99. A great clue.

  5. duncanshiell says:

    Thomas99 @ 3 and 4

    Thanks for improving the parsing of TRAGEDIAN – I have updated the blog.

    As far as UP THE POLE is concerned, Chambers defines the phrase as ‘in a predicament; drunk; crazed; pregnant; in favour [military use]‘

  6. Polly says:

    Kathryn’s Dad: are you thinking of Anax’s prize puzzle 7674 of 21 May 2011, where the clues included references to 17 Indy setters? Anorak that I am, I’ve saved it as one of the wittiest examples of my favourite setter’s work.

    ‘Up the pole’, meaning daft, was in everyday use at my primary school in the 1950s.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Polly, and thank you. No, it wasn’t that one, but the Anax puzzle you mention has a link to the one I was thinking about, which is here:

    And don’t self-deprecate, by the way. Anorak is good (sometimes).

  8. Conrad Cork says:

    Up the Pole was a 40′s radio comedy starring Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss, along with Claude Dampier. I suppose everyone here is too young to remember. :-(

  9. Polly says:

    Many thanks, KD: I missed that one, as the prize puzzle normally keeps me occupied on and off for several days. I really am trying to fit in Anax’s Tuesday ones round the weekday puzzle page; it’s a losing battle, and I live in perpetual hope that we’ll eventually see him once again on a Saturday. (Incidentally, it was the word wheel that recently introduced me to ‘gluon’.)

    Make no mistake, I’m not ashamed to be something of an anorak. It was practically a job requirement in my working life…

  10. Paul B says:

    UP THE POLE was frequently used in our household, referring in the main to the activities of yours truly. Maybe Simeon Stylites has something to do with it, but I really don’t know. 37 years is one hell of a long time, and I have wondered as to whether or not he would have been comparatively younger, on descending, due to relativistic effects.

    As to the Nina, are GU people really that ruffled about 15^2′s decorum? If so I should have thought that to be something of a red rag to a bull! But then it can, of course, be something of a trial here if you want to talk about technique for example, or grammar, on a Guardian thread. No connection though, I’m almost sure.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Dulce et decorum est, pro duo centum et viginti quinque mori …

    Sorry, my medication kicks in soon, so I will leave you alone for the afternoon.

  12. crypticsue says:

    Nice neat handwriting which always signifies a fairly straightforward solve – you can tell when I have struggled as Tippex can be very much in evidence. I did enjoy this one, particularly the splendid 1a. Thanks to setter and blogger

  13. nmsindy says:

    This was an excellent puzzle, which I found about normal in terms of Indy difficulty – favourites SQUARED (my last answer), INSOMNIAC, FORGET. Thomas99 at#3, the Indy puzzles are available not just on the day – but can be accessed using Crossword Solver and the Indy link using the date of the puzzle – I think it’s been explained on this site a few times how to do that so a search might get it if you were not familiar with it – if that does not work I’d be happy to set it out. Thanks Klingsor and Duncan.

  14. Dormouse says:

    As usual, I totally missed the Nina, which would have helped, as I thought about “squared” for 18d and couldn’t see why. Couldn’t get 18ac either. Never heard of a panel saw, either, and at first guessed it might be “bench saw” but then I got 17dn. No idea if there is such a thing, but it sounded plausible. Did like the complexity of 1ac and the surface of 3dn.

  15. Bertandjoyce says:

    Oh dear – all is forgiven Klingsor! For the first time for ages we have not managed to complete the Indy cryptic and really needed 225 for help. Thanks Duncan we really needed your detailed blog tonight.
    If only we had been more awake tonight – it is after 11pm – we might have noticed the nina which would have helped with our last two answers 18d and 18ac!!
    Yes, 225 is definitely the nina!

  16. Narbiebell says:

    Lovely puzzle, especially the lorry-driving theme to 27a. I’ve only ever understood ‘up the pole’ as pregnant. Perhaps that’s a regional thing. Chemistry let me down with ‘halite’ and biology with ‘eruct’ but ‘erupt’ sounded much more plausible. Thanks for the explanations.

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