Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7994 / Monk

Posted by duncanshiell on May 29th, 2012


As a straight crossword puzzle this was a fairly standard Independent offering.  




One or two of the entries were words not in everyday use, but generally it was populated with well known words. However, I wonder how many people knew that the Christian names of Mr Kellogg were Will Keith before today?

Looking at the puzzle from another angle it seemed to want to do something but never quite got there.  The entries from 1 to 15 (across and down) begin with the consecutive letters of the alphabet from A to O.  After that, for clues 16 to 27, the initial letters – RHRECDAJSUEL – don’t seem to follow any pattern.  Also, the puzzle is a pangram and well on the way to being a double pangram, but there is only one of F, P, Q, V, W and X.  Clues 1 to 15 across seem, to me, to have more complex word play than the rest of the across clues and many of the down clues.

I can’t work out the parsing of 13 across – MIASMA – entirely to my satisfaction.  The first A seems to be doing double duty in AIM and AS.  I will be grateful for other people’s thoughts.

There were a number of clues that I liked – those for CADENZA, EMOTICON, LUGGAGE, and REPUBLIC for example.  On the other hand, there were also one or two clichés – ELI for priest and OTT for too much, even though I liked the definition of ‘wasted’ for BLOTTO.

Current location – Leksand, Southern Central Sweden

Clue Wordplay Entry
6 Noted work of a high priest being chewed by a dog (7)

ELI (the crossword world’s favourite [high] priest) contained in (being chewed by) FIDO (generic name for a pet dog)


FIDELIO (Beethoven’s only opera; noted work)
7 Horse finding his prancing rather dull? (7)

GREY (a grey, or greyish animal, especially a horse) + an anagram of (prancing) HIS


GREYISH (rather dull)
9 Still, one runs into trap (5)

I (one) + (R [runs, in cricket] contained in [into] NET [trap])

I NE (R) T

INERT (passive; without power of movement; still)
10 Carried into a king’s parties (9)

BORE (carried) contained in (into) JAMES (There were a number of Kings of Scotland and England called JAMES)


JAMBOREES (parties)
11 Will Keith possibly pound large piece of wood to split cask (7)

(L [large] + LOG [piece of wood]) contained in (to split) KEG (cask)


KELLOGG (the Christian names of the founder of that well known brand of cornflakes, and other cereals, were Will Keith)
13 Bad atmosphere as mum goes on purpose following setback (6)

AIM (purpose) reversed (setback) + S (is the S representing ‘as’?  I can’t find an online dictionary to support it.  Is the A of AIM being clued again as part of  AS?) + MA (mum)  Alternatively is AIM built up from letters 1, 2 and 6 of the entry, which leaves us with AS and M in the middle.  This solves the ‘as’ problem, but I can’t find M in any online dictionary as an abbreviation for ‘mum’.  This second option also seems to lack a containment indicator.

MIA< S MA or MI (AS M) A<

MIASMA (foul vapours; bad atmosphere)
15 Taken too far in public, honked outside back of Harrods? (13)

(OVERT [in public] + RETCHED [vomited; honked]) containing (outside) S (final letter of [back of] HARROD’S)


OVERSTRETCHED (exaggerated; taken too far)
19 International currency needed each year to build a satellite (6) EURO (international currency – at the time of writing) + P.A. (per annum; each year) EUROPA (fourth largest of Jupiter’s satellites)
20 One’s passage given by emperor yet to finish securing a port (7)

(CZAR [title of the emperors of Russia] excluding the final letter [yet to finish] R) containing (securing) ADEN (port of Yemen)


CADENZA (outstanding virtuoso passage or flourish)
23 More than one music maker blows on Jack’s first instrument (9) J (first letter of [first of] JACK) + UKE (ukulele; musical instrument) + BOXES (blows [on the head]) JUKEBOXES (device that selects and plays music – plural, so more than one music maker)
24 Fat bishop follows brief hunch (5)  SQUAT (to hunch) excluding the final letter (brief) T + B (bishop) SQUAB (fat)
26 Anger, perhaps, resulting from Charlie not being :-( (7)

EMOTICON (a combination of characters used to express a personal feeling [such as pleasure or anger] in e-mail, etc; the characters  at the end of clue form an emoticon expressing unhappiness or even anger) excluding (not being) C (Charlie, code word for the letter C in international radio communications). I note that fifteensquared has converted the printed characters at the end of the clue into a bright shiny coloured emoticon – that came as a surprise to me and probably makes the clue easier to those who know about emoticons.

EMOTION (anger is an emotion)
27 Silencer found in sawn-off pistol cases (7) GAG (something put into the mouth or over it to enforce silence; silencer) contained in (found in) (LUGER [a type of pistol] excluding the last letter [sawn-off] R) LUGGAGE ([suit]cases)
Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Reportedly puts together a tool (4) ADZE (sounds like [reportedly] ADDS [puts together]) ADZE (cutting tool)
2 Wasted too much in web activity that’s no good (6)

OTT (over the top; too much) contained in (in) (BLOG [shortened from of web log {a document containing personal observations, often in the form of a journal that is published on the web – like this commentary on a crossword}] excluding [that’s no] G [good])


BLOTTO (helplessly drunk; wasted)
3 Joined criminal at once outside prison (9)

Anagram of (criminal) AT ONCE containing (outside) JUG (prison)


CONJUGATE (unite; join)
4 Awful comedian, one that’s potentially evil (8) Anagram of (awful) COMEDIAN

DEMONIAC (a person possessed by a demon or evil spirit; one that’s potentially evil)

5 Top scientist covering origins of Schrödinger’s Equation for movie maker (10)

EINSTEIN (reference Albert EINSTEIN, German physicist who developed theories of relativity; top scientist) containing (covering) S and E (first letters [origins of] SCHRÖDINGER and EQUATION)


EISENSTEIN (reference Sergie EISENSTEIN, Russian film maker who pioneered the use of montage)

6 Playful female that’s dangerous (6) F (female) + RISKY (dangerous) FRISKY (playful)
7 Courageous brag, maybe (4) GAME (brag is a card game like poker) GAME (courageous) double definition
8 Hasty to retreat having captured American soldier (6)

RASH (hasty) reversed (to retreat) containing (having captured) US (United States; American)


HUSSAR (a soldier of a light cavalry regiment)
12 Very stern look spoilt gesture of affection? (6,4) Anagram of (spoilt) V (very) and STERN LOOK LOVERSKNOT (an intricate knot used as a token of affection)
14 Exchange on board south of unfamiliar port (9)

NEW (unfamiliar) + CASTLE (in chess, to move the king two squares along the row towards a rook and then place the rook on the square the king has passed over. exchange on board)  The use of south in a down clue implies that the south part is placed under the other part(s)

NEWCASTLE (port city in the north east of England – I think the port facilities nowadays are more downstream at North Shields. Alternatively, and more likely, the clue is referring to the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia)
16 Commonwealth souvenir embracing The Queen’s Head, perhaps (8)

RELIC (souvenir) containing (embracing) PUB (The Queen’s Head is a common name for a public house in England)


REPUBLIC (a form of government without a monarch, in which the supreme power is vested in the people and their elected representatives; commonwealth is defined similarly as a form of government in which the power rests with the people)

17 Regularly cheeky young child’s endless rock song (3,3) Letters 1, 3 and 5 (regularly) of CHEEKY + JOEY (young kangaroo; young child?) excluding the final letter (endless) Y HEY JOE (1960s rock song performed by many artists. Wikipedia tells me that the best known version is by the Jimi Hendrix Experience [1966])
18 Go on a walk (6) RAMBLE (to wander in mind or discourse; to go on) RAMBLE (walk for recreation or pleasure)  double definition
21 Condescend to accept ultimately hopeless plan (6)

DEIGN (condescend) containing (accept) the last letter S of (ultimately) HOPELESS


DESIGN (plan)
22 Put German in the guillotine? That takes some nerve (4)

SAXON (a member of a North German people that conquered most of Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries) excluding the first letter (guillotine [behead]) S

AXON (an extension of a nerve cell or neuron which transmits impulses away from the cell)

25 State reached when going along Autobahn? (4) Take some letters in order, 2, 3, 6 and 7 (when going along) from AUTOBAHN UTAH (State of America)

16 Responses to “Independent 7994 / Monk”

  1. eimi says:

    Those accessing the online version before today (as Duncan obviously did) may have got an unedited version of 13, unlucky for some.

    And there’s almost always something going on in a Monk crossword.

  2. Paul B says:

    ‘As medium breaks’ equals A(M)S, then object AIM all reversed.

  3. Paul B says:

    … except that it wasn’t, for you! Sorry.

  4. MikeC says:

    Thanks duncanshiell and Monk. Needed your help with parsing AXON. 24 seems a bit fiddly/loose, and I’m not keen on the wordplay in 25 – but there was lots of other stuff I liked very much.

  5. anax says:

    Triffic! Typically Monk invention and, as Eimi points out, always something going on. I may not have all of it, but the alphabetical run uses the first 15 numbered cells (1=A, 2=B etc) at which point – I’m guessing – Monk tells us he’s OVERSTRETCHED himself at 15=O and can go no further.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Monk, and Duncan. I thought this was going to be fiendishly difficult when I did not solve a single across clue on first run through. However the downs were a little easier and I was on my way and in the end it was not too difficult a puzzle at all. The big breakthrough was seeing the possibility of ABCDE in the top row – this gave me the two missing answers that started with those letters. It was only when finishing the puzzle that I saw the 15 successive letters as Duncan mentioned – pangram as well of course.

    I wouldn’t have much argument with Newcastle(upon Tyne) being described as a port and my guess is that this was what was intended.

  7. crypticsue says:

    It is not often, after all these years of cryptic solving, that I am defeated but when I am it is usually by Monk. A very enjoyable fight was had however, so thank you to Monk and to Duncan for helping me out with those on which I was stuck.

  8. duncanshiell says:

    Sorry about blogging the wrong clue at 13 across, but when I am not sure how good internet connections are going to I tend to grab the puzzle at the first opportunity. I got the crossword on a good connection, but posted on an iffy connection and have only just got a good connection again.

    Thanks also to Anax for pointing out that O was for OVERSTRETCHED and may have been a suggestion that Monk couldn’t go further with PQR… etc.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    This was a step too far for me, but I don’t mind that. When I started doing the Indy puzzles a few years ago, I remember that Monk was one of the setters that I could never manage, and then he went off the scene for a bit if I recall well; but I still remember being pleased to solve his ‘ethane molecule’ crossword a while back.

    I got about two-thirds of this one today, and enjoyed the bits that I did manage. North Shields fish market is the best spot on the planet for fishophiles, by the way.

    Thanks to Duncan and Monk.

  10. Trebor says:

    I’m with the consensus re: the nina. Great puzzle.

  11. flashling says:

    Didn’t start this till late but found it quite tough as I often do with Monk puzzles, nice blog makes my monochrome offering today look dull, thanks Duncan/Monk, saw the Nina as such but was slightly bemused by its petering out.

  12. Lenny says:

    I enjoyed this, mainly because I managed to finish it. This, to me was Monk-lite compared with his offering last week in the FT. The difference here was that all the answers were more-or-less everyday words compared with last week where I could not get Nuoc Mam or Shavuot even with the anagram fodder. I also have to admit to a touch of schadenfreude, since CrypticSue very often finishes puzzles that I struggle with.

    All the wordplay today was clear and fair but I was tempted by Ax ‘un, rather than ‘Axon for the guillotined German.

  13. Monk says:

    Many thanks to solvers for +ve comments and to Duncan for an amazing blog that contains more details than a house survey. Last but certainly not least, huge thanks to eimi@1 for 11th-hour manoeuvring to ensure that both dead-tree and online editions contained the correct(ed) clue at 13ac.

    Although anax@5’s idea is charming, OVERSTRETCHED cannot be claimed as a deliberate inclusion; however, once it arose as a possible entry, it was snapped up. I was amazed to get as far as O=15, so accepted defeat gracefully at P … which helped to avoid really obscure entries in the lower half of the grid. The pangram was an afterthought.

    Interesting that Paul B@2 suggests an alternative parsing from the one intended, which was [ as + M ] in [ aim, rev. ] . I wonder how often this arises; multiple parsings of the same clue that give the same answer …

    Finally, sorry to be such a bugbear to crypticsue@7: your time will come!

  14. Dormouse says:

    Got 10ac very quickly, and then nothing for about an hour. Then managed to complete the bottom left corner then got stuck again. One final push with electronic help completed all but most of the top left corner and also couldn’t get 24ac. Quite a contrast to yesterday.

  15. Bertandjoyce says:

    This is what the Indy puzzles are all about!
    We ran out of time last night so finished it this morning. Now that we are more awake we realize what a tour de force it is. We spotted the sequence of letters and the near double pangram which may have missed if we’d tried to finish it last night.
    We always look forward to Monk’s offerings and this was no disappointment. We are pleased to see that he dropped by last night.
    Thanks Duncan for the blog – we realised this morning that we had entered AXON last night without really knowing why!

  16. Wil Ransome says:

    I attempted this late last night and found it very hard, probably just the result of my state of mind at the time. Not helped by having DAEMONIC for 4dn, blithely thinking that ‘one that’ was padding and this would do. So I entered GRAYISH rather doubtfully and got stuck of course.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

9 − = five