Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,990 / Nestor

Posted by RatkojaRiku on May 24th, 2012


I always know there’s a good chance of a puzzle by Nestor when I have the Thursday blogging slot, and so it was today.

I really plodded through what was an excellent puzzle today, solving virtually nothing on first perusal and needing to crack this one literally one clue at a time. At the end, I struggled to explain the wordplay of my last two entries, 1 and 21, although I had to admit both were scrupulously fair when I finally figured them out.

I happen to know that this compiler also sets under the pseudonym Kea, and wondered if it was fair to include this as part of the wordplay in 11, since solvers cannot be expected to know such things. However, I should have known that Nestor would be his usual fair self, and when I looked up Nestor in Chambers, one of its derivations was “the kea parrot genus”: who would ever  have guessed it?

My favourite clues today were 2, for its & lit. component, and 5, for the deceptiveness of the cryptic definition.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   NIGHT TERRORS NIGH (=at hand) + T<hough>T (“vacant” means word is “emptied”, leaving only first and last letter) + ERRORS (=lapses); night terrors describe the process of suddenly awakening from sleep in fright
9   ASPIRANT PI (=pharisaical) in [AS (=when) + RANT (=storm)]
10   SORROW SOR<t> ROW (=put part of spreadsheet in sequence; “without time (=T)” means letter “t” is dropped)
11   TAKE AS READ [KEA’S (=Nestor’s, i.e. genus of parrot) in AREA (=space)] in T<abloi>D (“margins” means first and last letter only are used)
13   GALA <bul>G<ing> (“in the middle” means middle letter only is used) + A LA (=after, i.e. in the style of)
14   UTMOST *(TOT SUM); “forced” is anagram indicator
16   DRAW LOTS Double definition: DRAW LOTS means “to randomly decide” (=main definition) AND “to make many sketches”
17   REATTACH TAC (CAT=catamaran; “turning” indicates reversal) in <b>REATH (=slight wind; “after front’s come off” means first letter dropped)
19   ARRANT <w>ARRANT (=document that authorises, e.g. arrest, search); “leaving wife (=W)” means the letter “w” is   dropped
20   ALEC LA-CE (=fastening cord, i.e. for shoe); “twisted at each end” means that the first two letters change places, as do the last two, to give ALEC
21   PUTTANESCA PUT (=place, i.e. as a verb) + TAN (=bronze, as a verb) + ESCA<ping> (=getting away; “with 50% loss” means that half of letters are dropped); puttanesca is a kind of Italian pasta sauce
23   LYRICS SC (=scene,   i.e. in play) + I (=one) + RY (=lines, i.e. railway) + L<earn> (“start to” means first letter only); “recall” indicates reversal
25   PUNCHBAG *(H + CUP BANG); “out of order” is anagram indicator; H=hard
26   CONGRATULATE *(ANGELOU TRACT); “harrowing” is anagram indicator
2   INSTANT REPLAYS *(TENNIS, AS PARTLY); “reviewed” is anagram indicator; & lit.
3   HEINE Hidden (“contribution to”) in “tHE INEffable”; the reference is to German poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
4   TRANSIT CAMP [A + N (=new) + SIT (=roost) + C (=roughly, i.e. circa)] in TRAMP (=itinerant); & lit.
5   RETREAD Cryptic definition in which “baldness” refers to worn tyres
6   OPS SPO<t> (=blemish; “reduced” means last letter dropped); “upsetting” indicates vertical reversal
7   STRAGGLER L and R (=both hands, i.e. left and right) to be included (“holding”) in separate places in STAGGER (=to keep out of alignment)
8   WOLLSTONECRAFT [LL (=lines) in *(SWOT)] + ONE (=a certain) + CRAFT (=dexterity); “crushed” is anagram indicator; the reference is to British feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
12   DEAD AGAINST [DA (=prosecutor, i.e. District Attorney) + GAINS (=wins)] in DEAT<h> (=the end; “almost” means last letter dropped); “quite” in the definition is to be understood to mean whollyutterly
15   OPTIC DISC *(IT CID COP’S); “confound” is anagram indicator; the optic disc is the blind spot of the eye
18   HOTSPUR TSP (=teaspoonful, i.e. abbreviation used in recipes) in HOUR (=time)
22   ETHEL THE (=article, i.e. in grammar) in EL (=its Spanish translation, i.e. of the); the reference is to American actress Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959), sister of actors John and Lionel
24   SUN SUN<k> (=collapsed; “nearly” means last letter dropped)

20 Responses to “Independent 7,990 / Nestor”

  1. anax says:

    The full name of the bird ‘kea’ is ‘nestor notabilis’ – thus this setter also appears as Notabilis in the Telegraph Toughie series.

    Excellent crossword as ever, and the left/right columns nina helped me out with a few tricky clues.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku. I was pretty much out of my depth with this one, although I did ‘finish’ it, with the help of the check key and online help. One for those that like them hard, I think. And it goes without saying that I didn’t see NATURAL WASTAGE and that I’m still struggling to understand what that’s all about …

    Thanks to setter too.

  3. Tilsit says:

    And Notabilis appears in Today’s Telegraph Toughie with an utterly sublime puzzle.

  4. crypticsue says:

    I made very heavy weather of parts of this one but got there in the end. Thanks to Nestor and RatkojaRIku too. Agree with Tilsit about the Toughie.

  5. Paul B says:

    Fantastic stuff as always, with many lovely clues. ‘Natural wastage’ continues to mystify, but doing such things in those margins can make for a frustrating set, as I discovered.

  6. MikeC says:

    Thanks RR and Nestor. Tough going, this one, but satisfying in the end. After a pretty unproductive first pass, I changed to the FT Gaff (also good). Once that had yielded, my confidence returned and I was able to get going here. Some fine clues – the sort where, once they’re solved, you think, why ever did I find that hard?

  7. nmsindy says:

    My experience was similar tho I was lucky enough, when I’d about eight or nine of the letters in the outside columns, to spot the NATURAL WASTAGE possibility. After that the puzzle became much easier. Favourite clue for me by far was TRANSIT CAMP. Also esp liked NIGHT TERRORS and DRAW LOTS. Imaginative, innovative, clueing, totally fair but very hard for sure (for me anyway). Thanks RR and Nestor.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Okay, since this thread normally withers on the vine by teatime, I am happy today to be – as another regular commenter often says in Another Place – the class dummy. Can someone please tell me what NATURAL WASTAGE is about?

  9. Wanderer says:

    I’m another who spotted natural wastage very late — in time to help me fill in ALEC and SORROW but too late for the rest — and I also can’t see any further significance to it. Like K’s D, would welcome enlightenment.

    Interesting fact learned while checking PUTTANESCA, thanks to

    Italian, from puttana ‘prostitute’ (the sauce is said to have been devised by prostitutes as one which could be cooked quickly between clients’ visits)

    I found this extremely hard and a really excellent challenge.

    Many thanks RR and Nestor.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Happy to be corrected if wrong but don’t think the phrase NATURAL WASTAGE has to have a connection with the rest of the puzzle in any way.
    It’s maybe more familiar to some than others as a concept ie not sacking staff but not replacing those who leave.

  11. Jean says:

    Can’t see ‘natural wastage’ – are we all talking about Nestor’s 402?

  12. postrophe says:

    To see the NATURAL WASTAGE, take a good look at your completed grid ;)

  13. nmsindy says:

    Re postrophe at #12, not sure if you are referring just to the outer columns (which have already been commented on) or to something more than that to be found in the completed grid.

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Er, ok, in case we are all talking at cross purposes, I will spell this out in words of one syllabub: I see that NATURAL WASTAGE appears in the left and right hand columns of the puzzle, I understand its meaning, but I am still completely unaware of why the setter has put it there, and cannot for one minute believe that it has nothing to do with the rest of the puzzle.

    My bedtime is coming up shortly, and I shan’t sleep well tonight if this mystery is not solved …

  15. flashling says:

    I just wondered if this was Nestor’s farewell and it was a cryptic hint that a new setter would be coming along or it was something he’d got about redunancies from his proper job… hope I’m wrong, but good lord this was tricky, certainly would have affected NMS’s ratings :-)

  16. RatkojaRiku says:

    Despite blogging the puzzle, I hadn’t spotted the Nina either, since looking for Ninas when not instructed to by a preamble is just not part of my solver’s DNA.

    In this case, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t have anything to do with the puzzle; however, more generally, if you happen to spot that a grid spells out a phrase around its perimeter, wholly or partially, then the Nina can provide letters to help the solver crack any remaining clues. And more often than not, there is some sort of connection with (the theme of) the puzzle.

    In any case, I rather hope this particular Nina doesn’t spell anything sinister along the lines suggested by flashling, and that Nestor’s job is as safe as houses.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Indeed, I too hope it’s nothing too sinister …

  18. Nestor says:

    Sorry if my Nina worried anyone. It was just a convenient (7,7) phrase, nothing to do with anyone leaving the workforce. I had a vague idea in my mind about crossword solving being a natural way to waste time, nothing more.

  19. Dormouse says:

    Well, this one totally defeated me. OK, I was out this evening, but even so I must have spent a couple of hours on it and got only about a third of the answers, and now I’ve run out of time and am going to bed.

  20. Bertandjoyce says:

    Phew! Started this last night and had to leave it with only about a third of the grid completed. We needed a bit of electronic help this morning to finish it off. Thank goodness for 225 for 8d and 10ac. We’d never heard of the writer and we only did a quick search for feminist writers concentrating on more recent ones! So, thanks RR for your blog.
    Thanks Nestor for dropping by and letting us know that all is well!

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