Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8002/Mordred

Posted by John on June 7th, 2012


A very pleasant crossword from Mordred, with a


theatrical connection — several of the answers are of this type, but I’ll leave you to find them. The less than perfect checking can, in many people’s eyes anyway, be justified on account of the need to get so many thematic words to fit.

5 C A UDA L — caudal means relating to the tail or tail end
7 LEE B{ring} O{n} A{nticipated} R{educed} D{rift} — &lit — General Lee — a leeboard is a board lowered on the lee side of a vessel, to lessen drift to leeward — hyphenated in Chambers but no doubt not so somewhere else
9 FREE-RANGE — (green fare)*, with ‘organic’ the anagram indicator, nice &lit but it may raise eyebrows, for does ‘organic’ indicate any sort of dishevelment?
10 PROPS — 2 defs, forwards in rugby and the things that are on a stage set
12 RAG S{yncopated}
14 INTERESTED — this = concerned, and if you interest ed you hold the editor’s attention
15 MIDRIB — mi (bird)rev.
17 susPECT INgredient
20 COMPO’S IT 0 R — ref Compo in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’
23 speECH On
24 SCOUT — (cubs to)* minus b{oy} — ‘supply’ the anagram indicator — almost very nice I think, but I’m not convinced that it actually means much: how does a cub or a graduating cub supply a scout? He supplies him in the sense that he adds to the number of scouts, but then why is he only beginning to quit the cubs?
25 IN A C{ulture} L INCH — def ‘Embracing’, ‘in’ = ‘popular’, pity that ‘in a’ is also in the clue
28 AD VISORS — I don’t quite understand this one: ‘plug eyeshades’ = ‘ad visors’, but how do advisors offer pupil advice rather than just offering advice? — and, as with the previous clue, pity that the answer is so similar to a word in the clue
29 TESTER — (setter)*
1 HAIR — I think that this is (rah)rev. around i, although ‘reverberated’ as a reversal indicator seems a bit odd; but Chambers says that it is to reflect, so that makes it OK I suppose
3/11 KEY GRIP — K{ubrick} (gripe)* about y — the chief grip in a film crew, so appearing in the credits at the end of the film — a term I never knew but do now
4 H(0)ARD S
6 DRESSER — 2 defs
7 LIGHTS — lights = understanding (?), light = simple, {math}s
8 REPLENISH — rep (lines)* h
13 AMINO ACID — am I acid around no.
16/27 BEST BOY — (bob’s yet)* — another of those people who appear on the credits — I always wondered what a best boy was, sounded rather odd, but he’s the chief assistant to the head lighting electrician
18 CREDITS — (directs)*
19 STUNTS — (S{achin} T{endulkar} nuts)rev.
21 PLUG-IN — plug = promote, in = trendy
22 R(E{cumenical} C{ongregation})ITE
26 CREW{e}

22 Responses to “Independent 8002/Mordred”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John, for an early blog – just right for larks like me.

    I did enjoy this Mordred offering. Is there a verb in English ‘to garden path’? No, but if there were, I have been well and truly garden pathed by Mordred this morning. There were some delightful misdirections here (STUNTS especially) and I also liked AMINO ACID and HAIR. I thought FREE-RANGE was a good clue and just about worked with the anagrind (‘resulting from physical and metabolic disorder’ says the SOED).

    But I did have some niggles. ADVISORS seemed strange, with the same word in the clue and answer, although pupils do have things like CAREER ADVISORS. In HOARD, the cryptic grammar doesn’t quite seem right if we have to equate ‘with difficulty’ and ‘hard’. And in 2dn, if the definition is ‘bases’ then shouldn’t the answer be ALKALIS?

    Overall, though, a pleasing puzzle.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog and to Mordred for what I found a pretty testing cryptic.

    K’s D – You don’t have to equate “with difficulty” with hard in 4d: With “difficulty carting no” (HOARD), we find “small” (S). The cryptic reading works very well. I was a bit perplexed by the pupil in 28a at the time, but The Free Dictionary is clear enough: “2. An educator who advises students in academic and personal matters.” An American usage, maybe? Like you I don’t see how alkali can mean “bases” in 2d. Perhaps a chemist can help?

  3. Allan_C says:

    As a chemist (retired) I too have difficulty equating alkali (singular) with bases (plural).

    Btw yesterday we had Dac in both Indy and i, today it’s Mordred in both. Co-incidence or what? And I found Dac in the i more challenging than in the Indy. I’d have said that they’d got transposed except for the topical reference in the Indy offering.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Morning Thomas.

    No doubt I’m being a bit dim, but with your way of parsing it, how does ‘difficulty’ equate to ‘hard’? One’s a noun and the other’s an adjective or adverb, no?

  5. Thomas99 says:

    K’s D – Your parsing’s right (I suppose I must have been thinking of “hard” as a level of difficulty but I can’t actually remember). So what’s wrong with it? If something is hard it involves difficulty, doesn’t it?

  6. lizard says:

    A pity the five-year old “i”crossword inevitably has rather dated references. XTC? Is this the new norm, or will we return to paralleling the Indy?

  7. eimi says:

    XTC would have been a dated reference in 2007 too, but there are plenty more dated references than that in many a current crossword. And yes, this is then new norm. At least for now.

  8. Wanderer says:

    Thanks John and Mordred, for a puzzle which I mostly enjoyed. Favourites were FREE RANGE and LIGHTS when I finally got it. (I think ‘according to my lights’ = ‘according to my understanding’)

    But I thought RAGS was a little weak (although I would say that, wouldn’t I, because I got it wrong…) I entered BARS, with BAR as a more obvious bit of music (to me) than RAG. My thinking was BARS = VETOES = (more or less) SCRAPS — perhaps they’re not a perfect match, but maybe there is a usage where they are synonymous? At any rate, when I failed to get the congratulations message, I couldn’t work out where I’d gone wrong.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I still can’t make HOARDS work. For it to do so, then ‘hard’ would have to equate exactly to ‘difficulty’ or ‘with difficulty’, and I can’t think of a sentence where these would be interchangeable. I struggled with RAGS too.

  10. gasmanjack says:

    Is there a blog anywhere on the subject of Mordred’s effort in to-day’s “I”? I thought they usually ran the same one as in the Independent but not to-day.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    gasmanjack (and others who may be interested), as eimi has mentioned at comment no 7, the Indy and the Indy i are now, once again, two different puzzles. For about a month the same puzzle appeared in both papers, but some i readers complained that the themed puzzles (which are certainly a regular feature of the weekly Indys) were too hard, so the i has now gone back to using recycled Indy puzzles. As someone mentioned on this blog the other day, if you Google fifteensquared, the setter, and a solution, you will often be directed to a blog which explains the original puzzle, which will answer any queries you might have.

    Personally I’m happy that the variety and inventiveness of the Indy crosswords has been preserved, although the reaction from i readers seems to have been mixed.

  12. duncanshiell says:

    Considering ‘hard’ as an adverb, one of Chambers definitions is ‘with difficulty’, so we have (HARD [with difficulty] containing [carting] O [zero; no]) + S (small). Technically, that seems to me to fit the clue OK, but whether I can think of a sentence where ‘hard’ can replace ‘with difficulty’ is another matter.

  13. Glueball says:

    Quite a lot of i readers, it would appear, are re-educated Torygraphers. Good for these new converts, but their daily crosswording needs were not apparently being met, as perhaps you could expect if you have ever solved a non-Toughie DT puzzle, by complex themed offerings such as the one by moi seen the other day. Hence audience fury, letters, and the decision to return to publishing older, and for now only non-themed Indy puzzles.

    Whether or not it will ever be feasible to provide newly-created entry-level puzzles for the i readers will depend on economic factors inter alia, especially since very few Indy compilers habitually submit easier work, but I’m certainly sorry for any problems the ultra-feisty 7982 might have caused our newer, and very welcome readers.

  14. Thomas99 says:

    K’s D (11) –
    duncanshiell/Chambers seems to have saved HOARDS, but I do sympathize. In particular I can’t for the life of me see why I went for hard=difficulty, although it seemed perfectly logical at the time. It seems dotty now. In my second post I was seeing “exam with difficulty” as equivalent to “burger with fries”, I think, but it’s comforting to hear that Chambers has it too. I still can’t think of a proper example where they’re equivalent, but then as evidenced above I’m fairly dopey today.

  15. flashling says:

    @Glueball yesterday’s i was by Virgilius most of whose have seemed pretty well themed to me…

  16. Jon says:

    If the i are concentrating on 5 year old puzzles, is it an admission that we had more entry level crosswords 5 years ago than we do now? For three days out of six we had Virgilius, Dac and Phi, who I’ve always found v accessible. I don’t solve the Indy puzzles regularly now, but do recall some pretty tough weeks of late?

  17. togo says:

    Thanks Mordred and John.

    Re: supply. I think it’s often used as an anagrind in the sense of flexibly? In a supple way…?

  18. Dormouse says:

    Needed to e-search a couple – 7ac and 24ac. I was expecting Lee in 7 somewhere, but was fooled by the word “in” and thought it was going to contain some other letters. (We had a reference to General Grant in Sunday’s puzzle, so this evens up the score, I guess.)

    I really should pay more attention to who the setter is. By the time I was solving 13dn, I’d forgotten and thought there was an Arthurian reference in there, so when I finally got the answer, I couldn’t see why it was so.

    Didn’t know “dresser” as a tool.

  19. Paul B says:

    Maybe, Jon, although the paper retained until very recently all three compilers you mention. But I think that Indy puzzles have moved on in a good way since those days, as indeed have other titles such as The Times (among whose compilers many now set for The Indy). Even sedate DT has introduced the Toughie (among whose compilers many now set for The Indy and/or The Times) to mix things up a bit, and that to me speaks loud and clear. Compilers are in general now doing it rather differently, and that’s a good thing.

    Re Flash, as I’m sure my good friend Anax would agree, there are many ways to skin a themed cat, and the Higg’s puzzle (mine, in case anyone is confused) used a gateway clue, which can make things harder than for example a ghost theme, or a Nina’d nudge in a certain direction. Good call re Virgilius though – he’s a really great compiler.

  20. lizard says:

    As an “i” reader, I’m really disappointed to find myself “Behind the Times” to quote an old Indy reference. (And, horrors, we may find ourselves recognising old crosswords, but perhaps our memories are not that good!)

  21. Lenny says:

    If we can get back to today’s crossword: this is an ugly grid with, as John so politely puts it, less than perfect checking. It is very similar to the one used by Raich a couple of days ago. That was justified by an ingenious hidden theme. I can’t see any similar justification today.

  22. Bertandjoyce says:

    It’s good to see so many comments, even if some of them are not about this crossword. We enjoyed Mordred’s offering today but would agree with some of the slightly dubious parsing of a number of clues. We wouldn’t normally expect that from Mordred. Really liked 9ac though.
    Are the crosswords harder than they used to be? We think they are, mainly because the setters are becoming more ingenious. Maybe the feedback from blogging sites are giving them more insight on us solvers! Also perhaps the availibility of googling, searching on-line dictionaries etc encourages them to be even more devious.
    Thanks to John and Mordred.

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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

+ 5 = twelve