Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7989 / Dac

Posted by duncanshiell on May 23rd, 2012


I think all the entries for this puzzle are words familiar to Independent readers.  

The clues were clear and not too difficult to solve in the majority of cases.  However, you will see from the detailed parsing below that I am completely defeated by the word play for 2 down, the Surrey town.  



Sometimes as a solver I can’t see the wood for the trees.  I am sure that will be shown to be the case in 2 down.  Also, when solving 9a, I got hung up on MA being the qualification and I spent some trying to understand how DIPLO meant paper, before the penny finally dropped on DIPLOMA.

There were no complex word plays.  I felt the two long down clues were fairly obvious anagrams, with an added containment in one.

The last in, for me, was TIMEPIECE at 4 down.

I was slightly surprised the see ‘first of’ and ‘first in’ appear as first letter indicators in successive clues at 5 and 9 across, but I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the clues had been separated more.

Overall, a pleasant but not too taxing puzzle (apart from the wordplay in the clue at 2 down).  No doubt I will kick myself when I am told how it works. Afternote: I don’t think I’ll kick myself too hard as it seems a bit of stretch in the interpretation of ‘wry’, although I accept that Chambers confirms it. Thanks to all who pointed out the correct interpretation.

Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Before match top player returns (6) PRO (professional; top player) + FIT (be in agreement or correspond with; match) PROFIT (gains; return)
5 Trial started off with first of offenders brought in (4,4)

Anagram of (off) STARTED containing O (first letter of [first of] OFFENDERS)


ROAD TEST (trial)
9 Envoy’s paper qualification: first in theology (8) DIPLOMA (a document conferring some honour or privilege; paper qualification) + T (first letter of [first of] THEOLOGY) DIPLOMAT (envoy)
10 People with talent like keeping grip on office (6)

AS (like) containing (gripping) DEPT (department; office)


ADEPTS (experts; people with talent)
11 Something cooked in oven crackles intermittently (4) Letters 1, 3, 5 and 7 (intermittently) of CRACKLES CAKE (something cooked in oven)
12 Hope a store can fix child’s toy (10) Anagram of (can fix) HOPE A STORE PEASHOOTER (child’s toy)
13 Try carrying long box exported from India? (3,5)

TEST (try) containing (carrying) ACHE (long [for])


TEA CHEST (India is one of the countries that exports tea, originally in chests)
14 Farmer’s tool in poor condition, loose at the edges (6) SICK (in poor condition) + LE (first and last letters of [at the edges of] LOOSE)

SICKLE (an implement with a curved blade and a short handle, for cutting crops; farmer’s tool)

15 Be source of inspiration for puzzle (6) BE + MUSE (any of the nine godesses of the liberal arts; source of inspiration) BEMUSE (puzzle)
17 Heir to throne shortened snazzy blue garment (8)

CHAS (shortened form of CHARLES; reference Prince CHARLES, heir to the British throne) + an anagram of (snazzy) BLUE


CHASUBLE (sleeveless vestment; garment)
19 Military unit’s indifference (10) DETACHMENT (a unit of troops away from the main body; military unit) DETACHMENT (state of  being aloof or separate; indifference) double definition
21 Girl seen entering Emirates stadium (4) Hidden word in (seen entering) EMIRATES STADIUM TESS (girl’s name)
22 Film about origins of an old Marxist supporter (6)

MIST (film) containing (about) A and O (first letters of [origins of] AN and OLD)


MAOIST (an adherent of the style of communism advocated by Mao Zedong; marxist supporter.  My knowledge of the variants of communist theory is not good enough whether Mao was an adherent of Marx, but for the clue to work I shall assume he was)
23 Crimes not well received by men in charge (8)

ILL (not well) contained in (received by) KINGS (rulers; men in charge)


KILLINGS (crimes)
24 Child at home twice given toast (4-4) CH (child) + IN (at home) repeated (twice)

CHIN-CHIN (good health, as a toast)

25 Hit on head, officer dropped (6) CO (commanding officer) + SHED (dropped) COSHED (hit with a truncheon or equivalent)  I think you can be coshed on parts of the body other than just the head.
Clue Wordplay Entry
2 Speaker’s turned in wrong direction, walking in Surrey town (7)

The wordplay for this defeats me.  My random thoughts are,

speaker’s = sounds like, but I can’t make REIGATE sound like anything else in the clue.  Alternatively speaker = I.

turned – something reversed, but I can’t see anything obvious related to the clue that can be turned; turned in – gone to bed, again nothing obvious.

in – RE

wrong – ERR?, but we have only got ER

direction – there are couple of Es (East?)

walking – GATE is a variant spelling of GAIT (a way of walking) and we have an anagram of GAIT contained in REE but I can’relate REE to the rest of the clue.  Also, using GAIT would involve using an indirect anagram.

No doubt there is something mindbogglingly simple with this clue that I have missed – I look forward to comments telling me what it is.

Afternote: Thanks to commenters @ 1, 2 and 3 – I see that my first idea of ‘Speakers = sounds like’ was nearest the mark. I note also that Chambers defines ‘wry’ as twisted or turned to one side or in the wrong direction. I thought that was a definition of ‘awry’ but crosswords continue to be an educational toll’.

REIGATE (town in Surrey)
3 Son faces actual trouble, admitting one trumped-up charge? (5,10)

Anagram of (trouble) SON FACES ACTUAL containing (admitting) I (one)


FALSE ACCUSATION (trumped-up charge)
4 Facing the wrong way, discharge weapon, causing alarm, perhaps (9) EMIT (discharge) reversed (facing the wrong way) + PIECE (gun; weapon) TIMEPIECE (a TIMEPIECE may also act as an alarm)
5 Take back plot of land – under half an acre (7) RE (final two letters of [half of] ACRE) + TRACT (plot of land)  This being a down clue TRACT is under RE RETRACT (take back)
6 Embarrass adult at party (5) A (adult) + BASH (party) ABASH (embarrass)
7 With ten euros, colonel briefly tours parts of Europe (3,3,9) Anagram of (tours) WITH TEN EUROS and COL (brief form of COLONEL) THE LOW COUNTRIES (historical lands around the low lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt and Meuase rivers including modern countries of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg together with some parts of Northern France and Western Germany)
8 Be good model for writer (7) SIT WELL (be a good model) SITWELL (reference SITWELL siblings Dame Edith SITWELL [1887 – 1964], Sir Sachervell SITWELL [1897 – 1988] and Sir Francis Osbert SITWELL [1892 – 1969] .  All could be termed writers; Dame Edith focused most on poetry)
14 Clever sort swots up absorbing piece of literature? (5,4)

CRAMS (learns hastily; swots) reversed (up; down clue) containing (absorbing) TALE (story; piece of literature)


SMART ALEC (would be clever person)
16 Rot even beginning to appear on two kinds of timber (7) E (first letter of [beginning] EVEN) + YEW (tree; timber) + ASH (tree; timber) EYEWASH (nonsense; rot)
17 Reception area in Prague hotel, you say? (5-2) CHECK IN (sounds like [you say] CZECH [reference CZECH Republic, capital city Prague) + INN (hotel) CHECK-IN (area to register arrival; reception area)
18 In a way, chopped herb will do for Italian dish (7)

SAGE (herb) excluding the final letter (chopped) E contained in (in) LANE (narrow road or street; way)


LASAGNE (Italian dish – both the pasta alone and the combination of meat, tomato and pasta as a dish)
20 Husband’s restless desire creating problem (5) H (husband) + ITCH (restless desire) HITCH (small or passing difficulty; problem)

11 Responses to “Independent 7989 / Dac”

  1. sidey says:

    What about wry gait?

  2. Rorschach says:

    Wry gate? But don’t feel bad… it’s pretty ridiculous cluing…

  3. Rorschach says:


  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for your blog. Only got held up at the end with ADEPTS and the intersecting SITWELL; otherwise some elegant surfaces mixed in with some old chestnuts. It’s only once in two blue moons that Dac comes up with a duff clue, but I think 2dn is one today. I’d still be choosing a book of his puzzles to take on my Desert Island, though.

  5. duncanshiell says:

    Thanks to all at 1, 2 and 3 for pointing out the correct interpretation of 2 down.

    Sorry for the slight delay in responding, but I’m currently meandering my way through Sweden heading for the Arctic Circle and northern Norway, and will be dependent on campsite internet connections for the next few weeks. Generally the connection in Scandinavian campsites are excellent.

  6. Jon says:

    Enjoyed thoroughly! More my type of crossword than the ones the preceded it this week..

  7. Paul B says:

    Really great stuff throughout, including, for me, the nicely-worked REIGATE clue. I thought that one well-disguised, but gettable.

  8. Wil Ransome says:

    I thought 2dn was a very good clue. What’s wrong with it?

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Wil, I put in REIGATE more or less as soon as I’d got the beginning R, cos there ain’t many Surrey towns with seven letters beginning with R. I guess my problem with the clue is that the two definitions are correct, but difficult to pin down. I’d only use ‘wry’ in something like ‘a wry smile’, which is not really ‘twisted’ in that sense. And ‘gait’ for walking works too, but the two together were just a step too far. And when Duncan can’t parse the clue, then maybe I’ll stick with my original comment that this one wasn’t one of Dac’s best, because when you get one of his clues, you almost always know straight away that ‘that’s it’. And on this occasion I didn’t.

    Anyway, something and nothing.

  10. togo says:


    Thank you. I’m lost for words at your multitasking and remembering us all at home as you head out into the wilderness!

  11. Dormouse says:

    Well, this one defeated me, and now I see why. 5dn I had “reclaim”. One definition of “claim” in Chambers is a plot of land, so this was obviously correct. But it did leave me unable to compete the top left corner of the puzzle. (But I did work out 2dn, eventually.)

    And Duncan is in Sweden, and I’m currently listening to Kurt Atterberg’s 1st Symphony, written by a Swede.

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