Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7987/i 399 Tyrus

Posted by Pierre on May 21st, 2012

Pierre.

Quixote is twelfth man today, so Tyrus is running up to the crease this morning to bowl us some googlies and doosras.  I was slightly concerned when I saw his name on the team sheet, because when he’s in full-on bouncer and yorker mode I do find his puzzles somewhere between tough and impossible and usually retire hurt.  But he’s given us enough straight-up-and-down deliveries this morning, I think, and while I played and missed a few times, I was in the end able to raise my bat modestly to the sparse crowd.  And in case you’re concerned that that’s a spoiler, worry not …

No cricket (sadly) but a bit of deviance going on.  There’s a theme running through the crossword, with both clues and answers including CRIMINALS, CRIMES, INSIDER DEALING, ROBBERS, CROOKS, BANDITS, VILLAINS, TERRORISTS, THE MOB, THIEVES, GANGS, MURDERS, SWINDLERS, BRIBES and MISCREANTS.  There is also mention of the leaders of the three main political parties, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence.  Or, actually, maybe not …

I think it’s just one of those themes that wanders across the clues and answers to give the solver an extra bit of pleasure.  There were some fine surfaces here as well.

Abbreviations
cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed

Across

Caught swindler on staff
CROOK
I lied.  There is a cricket reference.  A charade of C for ‘caught’ and ROOK.  ‘A greedy or grasping person’ (SOED).

9/17dn  Evil chief a topline criminal?  He could be
VILLAIN OF THE PIECE
(EVIL CHIEF A TOPLINE)*  Here’s where you had to sort out that ‘criminal’ is an anagrind.  An &littish clue, and a good one.

10  Yes, reportedly they shoot terrorists
IRA
The abbreviation for the Irish Republican Army is a homophone of AYE for ‘yes’, and RA for the Royal Artillery.

11  English fit in somewhere in Surrey
EWELL
A charade of E and WELL.  Might have seen this a few times before, but the setter’s reasoning will be that there’s naff all else that fits E?E?L, so we’ll forgive him.

12  ‘Jerk!’ said Liberal briefly to fan of Nick
DIABOLIST
Don’t get me started about Clegg and tuition fees or we’ll be here till next Monday.  My son at university is incapable of saying the two words ‘Nick Clegg’ without putting in front what I think grammarians call ‘an intensifier’.  Anyway, it’s (SAID LIB TO)* with ‘jerk’ as the anagrind.

13  Studied for a degree after employment
PERUSED
A charade of PER (‘for a’) USE and D for ‘degree’.

14  Maybe heartless and misguided
OFF-BEAM
‘Not on the right track; mistaken’, says the SOED; so a dd.  I think.

Edit: I was undone by the reverse swing here; hounddog has a much better explanation at comment no 2, for which thanks.

16  International record accepted as rubbish
INEPT
An insertion of EP for ‘record’ in INT.  As in ‘I am so rubbish at spotting ninas’.

17/24  Criminals (not us) steal without resistance
THE MOB
A charade of THEM (who are not us) and [R]OB.

18  Lots of laws passed – occasionally some rejected
CODES
Hidden reversed in pasSED OCcasionally.

19  Welcome competition with European doctor
EMBRACE
The definition is ‘welcome’ and it’s a charade of E, MB for ‘doctor’ and RACE, but I’m not convinced the clue unequivocally tells you to put the EMB before the RACE.

21  Amusements here not just provided by female
FUNFAIR
A charade of F and UNFAIR.

22  Craftsman’s role doing repairs
GONDOLIER
(ROLE DOING)* with a pun on ‘craftsman’.

23  Tania attacked her
ANITA
(TANIA)*

25  That man as indicated breaking law on return – odd
WHIMSICAL
An insertion of HIM (‘that man’) and SIC (‘as indicated’, used – especially in newspapers – to indicate that there’s a misspelling in the original text that is reproduced) in LAW reversed.

26  Talk of thieves taking money from girl
ARGOT
[M]ARGOT
I’d always understood this to be the jargon or slang of any social group, but the SOED says ‘originally criminals’ slang’, so fair enough.

Down

Gang murder’s within one’s capabilities
SKILL SET
An insertion of KILLS in SET.

Didn’t meet party leaders – one’s upset
EVADED
Can’t say Tyrus is not being politically correct here: we’ve had Nick, now we’ve got caring sharing Dave, and red Ed.  It’s a reversal (‘upset’) of DAVE and then ED.

Unaided, catches international criminal
AL CAPONE
An insertion of CAP in ALONE for the Chicago gangster.  CAP in the sense of sporting cap: ‘He’s an England cap/he’s an England international’.

Going to witter on about bribe
PAY OFF
Well, the nearest I can get to explaining this is that ‘bribe’ is the definition; ‘going’ is OFF (‘I’m off/I’m going’) and PAY is a reversal of YAP for ‘witter’.  But how the clue tells me to put PAY before OFF I can’t see.  So help with the parsing of this one appreciated.

Daring sideline fighting crime
INSIDER DEALING
(DARING SIDELINE)* with ‘fighting’ as the anagrind.  There are some very clever anagrams in this puzzle.

6  Way to identify criminal in suit (not British)
E-FIT
[B]EFIT for the modern way of producing a mugshot of a suspected criminal.  Used to be called PHOTO-FIT, I fancy.

Activist – one spied round street by St Paul’s
CHEAPSIDE
The street behind St Paul’s Cathedral (where the Underground station is) is a charade of CHE (Guevara), A, and (SPIED)* with ’round’ as the anagrind.

Inhuman robber baron demanded endless kinky sex
ONE-ARMED BANDIT
Please … it’s Monday breakfast and this will have those i solvers converted from the Telegraph crossword spluttering into their coffee and writing further letters to the editor.  It’s (BARON DEMANDE[D])* plus IT for ‘sex’ with ‘kinky’ as the anagrind.  I’m not head over heels in love with ‘inhuman robber’ as the definition, but the enumeration is a big help, and the surface made me smile.

15  Crimes solved by one-time criminal
MISCREANT
Great surface.  ‘Criminal’ here is the definition: Tyrus is asking you to make an anagram (‘solved’) of (CRIMES)* and then add AN for ‘one’ and T for ‘time’.

18  Mineral on counter offender picked up
CINNABAR
The mercuric ore is a homophone – ‘picked up’ – of ‘sinner’ for ‘offender’ on BAR for ‘counter’.

20  Drinking party not about to wake up
AROUSE
[C]AROUSE
I thought CAROUSE was only a verb, but it’s a noun as well.  Take C for ‘about’ off the front of it and you’ve got your answer.

21  Criminal gang emptied lorry fast
FIRMLY
A charade of FIRM and LY for LorrY ‘emptied’ of its middle three letters.

22  Got bigger?  Take out dress
GOWN
Deviously clued, I thought, and it took me a while to see.  It’s G[R]OWN, and the ‘take out’ instruction is inviting you to remove R for ‘recipe’, the Latin imperative for ‘take’, used (at least in days gone by) on prescriptions.

Fine puzzle from Tyrus, and my first chance to blog this setter.  Thank you to him.

16 Responses to “Independent 7987/i 399 Tyrus”

  1. Paul B says:

    SEAPIE appears across the top of the grid, but since most of the down clues sprung from it are thematic, I would say this is an ‘accidental’. Anyway, it’s a dish of seafood, oddly enough, and was a horse.

  2. hounddog says:

    ‘Offbeam’ is one of those ‘reverse’ clues: ‘ma(y)be’ being an anagram of ‘beam’

  3. Pierre says:

    Merci, hounddog, that makes much more sense.

  4. Tramp says:

    A lovely puzzle with Tyrus’ customary elegant surfaces and precise clueing. My favourites were 2d and 12a.

  5. UncleAda says:

    4d. Yes, OFF for GOING, with YAP ‘on’ (on top since this is a down clue), and YAP reversed ‘about’.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Pierre and Tyrus. V pleasing themed puzzle with some tip-top clues. I found this quite a bit easier than Tyrus can sometimes be in the Indy so quite appropriate for a weekday, I thought.

  7. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Tyrus for a lot of fun and Pierre for the blog.

    14ac: I am sure that hounddog @2 has the intended explanation, and I like the idea, but the clue as it stands is not quite satisfactory for me. The wordplay in the clue is a valid indication not of the answer but of the letter sequence MABE, for which the answer is also a valid indication. To my mind there should be something in the clue to tell us that the wordplay does not lead directly to the answer. As usual, I have no quarrel with those whose tastes differ from mine.

    4dn: This time thanks go to UncleAda @5 for the explanation, which again is convincing for what was intended, but once more I am not quite satisfied. The word order “to witter on about” does not quite match the process required which is to find a word meaning “witter”, then reverse it, and then put it on top of the word meaning “going”. As usual, …

  8. Dormouse says:

    Quite fun. Got “evaded” for 2dn, but couldn’t see why – thought it might be something about (r)ave reversed. And I couldn’t see the answer to 12ac without a word search.

    25ac was the first in, one of those clues I could assemble in my mind as I read it.

    If I may be pedantic, St. Paul’s tube station is in Newgate Street, not Cheapside; I used to work next to the cathedral.

  9. Pierre says:

    You certainly may be pedantic, Dormouse. I’m not an expert on the streets of The Great Wen, visiting the capital only when I have to, but it looked like Cheapside when I got Google maps up on the screen (which tells you how I finally solved the clue). Funnily enough, though, I had the same assemble-this-in-your-mind-as-you-read-the-clue experience with DIABOLIST. Good job we’re all different.

  10. Paul B says:

    Hi other PB.

    In 4dn’s context ‘to witter on about’ can equal ‘yap being on top when reversed’, so while the word order is as it is, I think the operations are described correctly. But as you say …

    I enjoyed this puzzle immensely by the way, an excellent outing from AFC Tyrus.

  11. NealH says:

    I thought “one armed bandit” for inhuman robber was reasonable – even if you charitably say the things don’t exist just to rob people, the fact remains that they still have bandit in the name.

    I didn’t tackle this until the evening, so was quite relieved that it wasn’t a themed Tyrus puzzle with loads of interlinked answers (or are they banned now after some of the recent letters?) Not being that familiar with the geography of London, Cheapside was the last I got.

  12. Paul B says:

    Re interlinked answers, 23 6 5 22? 7 16 11!

  13. Tyrus says:

    Thanks to KD for an entertaining blog and to all others for the comments.

    The construction for 4dn was meant to suggest ‘Going (off) to (in contact with) witter on (yap) about (reversed) bribe.

  14. Allan_C says:

    I saw the accidental nina but failed to spot the theme. Thought 12a was a great clue with ‘jerk’ as the anagrind (once I’d solved it, that is).

    Pace PaulB @1, sea pie is “a sailor’s dish made of salt meat, vegetables and dumplings baked”. It’s also a name for the oystercatcher (a black and white, hence pied, seabird). Both definitions from Chambers.

  15. Tyrus says:

    Meant to say thanks to Pierre rather than KD. Apologies.

  16. Pelham Barton says:

    Tyrus @13: Thanks for dropping in and clarifying 4dn. I am now completely happy with this clue.

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