Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8018 / Nimrod

Posted by duncanshiell on June 26th, 2012


Nimrod always keeps you on your toes, even if the theme becomes obvious fairly early on.




I solved the puzzle without too much difficulty given that twelve of the entries related to parts/roles/characters in Shakespeare’s KING [1 down] LEAR [25 down] and the crossing letters gave me plenty of help to solve the non-themed clues.  Shakespeare is definitely not one of my strong points, but I was aware of the names of the King’s daughters and the wordplay was fairly clear for some of the other characters such as GLOUCESTER, EDMUND and OSWALD.  

My problems with this puzzle relate to parsing a number of the other clues.

You will see below that I am struggling with the wordplay for five clues – MID-OFF, FOOL, EDGAR, CONK, and TENNYSON – although I put forward some ideas for all of them.  I am fairly confident of my parsing of TENNYSON and possibly that of CONK also, but for the other three I am looking forward to reading better suggestions from people who comment.

Afternote: Not surprisingly Sidey @ 1 and Jetdoc @ 3 below have pointed out the obvious and have given sensible parsing of MID-OFF, FOOL, EDGAR and CONK. Thanks to both

There were a couple of words that I haven’t come across in everyday speech – GRAINER and KNEVELL – but both had clear wordplay.  The crossing letters helped here.

My favourite clue was NO-NONSENSE and I also liked ELIJAH, REGAN and CORDELIA.

Clue Wordplay Entry

Some resentment having to treat man in field (3-3)


I’m not entirely sure how this parses.  OFF is part of (some of) OFFENCE (resentment), but I can’t get the MID part of the entry or the ‘treat’ part of the clue to fit in with this interpretation.  

Does MID mean ‘some’? – if so I can’t find it in Chambers.

Does ‘treat’ mean take some part of OFFENCE?

Is the clue using OFF as a definition of ‘resentment’ as in "He was a bit OFF about the situation"? with MID meaning just a little bit or some?  If so where does ‘treat’ fit in?

I look forward to being told what obvious interpretation I have missed. Afternote: See comment from Jetdoc at 3 below MI (DO) IF


MID-OFF (position of a fielder in cricket; man in field)



It’s just degree that’s hurting reject (8)


[D [degree] IS ALL [degree is all; it’s just degree]) + OW (expressive of pain; that’s hurting)


DISALLOW (reject)



I will distend unnatural longer part of 1 25 (7)


I contained in (will distend [expand; inflate]) an anagram of (unnatural) LONGER


GONERIL (character in King Lear [1 25], one of the King’s daughters)



Origin of Queen hardly dressed as one ? (6)

A RAG ON (describing one’s attire,  Having A RAG ON does not sound like a description of someone wearing the clothes of a Queen; hardly dressed as one)


ARAGON (reference [Queen] Catherine of [origin of] ARAGON, first wife of Henry the Eighth)



Fashionable earring applicator (7)


Anagram of (fashionable) EARRING


GRAINER (a paintbrush for graining; an applicator)



Struggling to stay on wagon, most of whiskey still in vessel? (6)


(RYE [reference RYE whisky, an American term for whisky where the more common spelling is whiskey] excluding the final letter [most of] E) contained in (still in) DISH (vessel)


DRYISH (nearly but not quite abstaining from alcohol [on the wagon]; struggling to stay on the wagon)



Part of 1 25 the result of unstoppable force meeting immovable object in France League? (4)


Another one that that I am struggling with.  I can get the F (France) and L (league) bits OK and I can get contained in (in), but I can’t see how O and O or OO can be interpreted as unstoppable force meeting immovable object.  Obviously the two Os meet inside FL, but that’s as far as I get.

Is it simply that the two Os together within the constraints of FL just can’t go anywhere?

Google tells me that the concept of an unstoopable force meeting an immovable object is an example of the omnipotence paradox.  Logically you can’t have both.  

Again I look forward to an unambiguous interpretation

Afternote: Jetdoc @ 3 below has suggested that OO can be interpreted as nil-nil, a score that can may well occur when an immovable football team meets an irresistible team (until the penalty shoot out of course)

F (O O) L

FOOL (character in King Lear [1 25])



Part of 1 25, thank God, receiving verbal rebuke? (5)


… and another one.  D is a symbol for God and ‘to RAGE‘ is to speak (verbal) with passion.  If you put D inside (receiving [on the outside]) RAGE reversed (rebuke?) you get EDGAR, but I’m not entirely happy with that explanation because I can’t quite make the wording of the clue fit the container and contents model.  Also I haven’t used ‘thank’ in this interpretation.

E (D) GAR<

Then Latin for ‘thank God’ is DEO GRATIAS which has the letters of EDGAR in it, along with OTIAS.   None of the anagrams of OTIAS seem to relate to the clue.  

Interesting the reverse of EDGAR is RAGDE which is in Chambers and defined as "a Shakespearean forms of ‘ragged’, in the sense of shaggy, jagged; perh unruly; possibly also for raged, irritated", but again I just can’t make the use of RAGDE fit the clue.

Afternote: See comment from Jetdoc @ 3 below – E (DG) AR

EDGAR (son of GLOUCESTER, character in King Lear [1 25])



Pushed back, not half banging nose! (4)


… and yet another one.  KNOCK can be defined as ‘to push back’, so pushed back is KNOCKED but I hit a brick wall with ‘not half banging’

I am drawn to a far coarser interpretation of ‘banging’ as KNOCK-OFF, both words being colloquial terms for ‘to have sexual intercourse with’.  In this case we have KNOCK-OFF reversed (pushed back) excluding (not) K-OFF (four of the eight letters; half)


Afternote: See comments from Sidey @ 1 and Jetdoc @ 3 below – KNOCKING

CONK (nose)



Hoot! Grabbing tab, run for it! (6)


SCRAM (go away!; run for it!) containing (grabbing) E (ecstasy tablet [tab])


SCREAM (anything or anyone supposed to make one SCREAM with laughter; ‘hoot’ is similarly described as a hysterical performance)



Make a mistake taking a vehicle over part of Spain (7)


(ERR [make a mistake] + A + VAN [vehicle]) reversed (over)


NAVARRE (an autonomous community in northern Spain.  It borders ARAGON of which there is mention elsewhere in the grid)



One’s right to have a few locked in similar compound (6)


(I [one] + R [right]) containing (to have locked in) SOME (a few)


ISOMER (a substance, radical, or ion isomeric with another; an atomic nucleus having the same atomic number and mass as another or others but a different energy state; similar compound)



Pound it’s very English to invest in ring (7)


(V [very] + E [English]) contained in (to invest in) KNELL (to toll; to cause a bell to sound; to ring)


KNEVELL (variant spelling of NEVEL [to pound with the nieves of fists – NEVEL is a Scottish word and NIEVES is used in Shakespeare, perhaps even in King Lear.  Unfortunately research indicates that it isn’t)



Poet’s alternately negative and positive in projection (8)


(Alternate letters [alternately] of NO YES [negative {and} positive]) contained in (in) TENON (a projection at the end of a piece of wood, inserted into a socket or mortise of another to form a joint)

Using the phrase NO YES is the only way I can think of to get the S


TENNYSON (reference Alfred, Lord TENNYSON [poet])



Biblical prophet and teacher of same leading pilgrimage back (6)


ELI (priest; one who teaches the words of the bible) + (HAJ [Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca] reversed [back])


ELIJAH (biblical prophet)


Clue Wordplay Entry
1 / 3

Part of 1 25 tortured on effing rack (4,2,6)


Anagram of (tortured) ON EFFING RACK


KING OF FRANCE (character in King Lear [1 25])



Part of 1 25, tired head demoted during term (8)


(WORN [tired] with the initial letter [head] W moved down [demoted] to form ORNW) contained in (during) CALL (term)


CORNWALL (character in King Lear [1 25])



Current party leader initially someone admirable (4)


I (electric current) + DO (party) + L (first letter of [initially] LEADER)


IDOL (an object of admiration; someone admirable)



Lift statutes in the same part of 1 25 (6)

(LAWS [statutes] contained in DO [ditto; the same thing]) all reversed (lift; down clue)

(O (SWAL) D)<

OSWALD (steward to GONERIL, character in King Lear [1 25])



Lab teased apart one unspecified part of 1 25 (6)


Anagram of (teased apart) LAB + ANY (one unspecified)


ALBANY (character in King Lear [1 25])



Simple non-smoker, one doubly irritated? (2-8)


Anagram of (irritated) (NS [non-smoker] and ONE) and (NS [non-smoker] and ONE) – i.e. NS and ONE are each used twice (doubly) in the anagram.


NO-NONSENSE (sensible, tolerating no nonsense; simple)



Good clue set, or anagramming part of 1 25 (10)


Anagram of (anagramming) G [good] and CLUE SET OR


GLOUCESTER (character in King Lear [1 25])



Win back ex-President, either missing one part of 1 25 (5)

REGAIN (win back) excluding (missing) I [one]

or [either]

REAGAN (reference Ronald REAGAN ex-President of the United States) excluding [missing] A [one]

REGAN (character in King Lear [1 25], one of the King’s daughters)



Optical critic? (8)


RE VIEWER (with reference to a lens[optical])


REVIEWER (critic)



Imrie/Smith option for part 1 25? (8)


(C OR [option] D) + ELIA) (reference CELIA Imrie [actress] or DELIA Smith [cook / chef])


CORDELIA (character in King Lear [1 25], one of the King’s daughters)



Part of 1 25 some considered mundane (6)


Hidden word in (some) CONSIDERED MUNDANE


EDMUND (illegitimate son of GLOUCESTER, character in King Lear [1 25])



Glum old solver of crime cases (6)


MORSE (reference Inspector MORSE, crime solver in novels by Colin Dexter) containing (cases) O (old)


MOROSE (gloomy, sullen; glum)



Part of 1 25 and 1 10’s seen around with (4)


K (king [1 down] + an anagram of (seen around) TEN (10)


KENT (character in King Lear [1 25])



French composer’s not against climbing – hardly the 7 type! (4)


RAVEL (reference Maurice RAVEL [1875 – 1937], French composer possibly best known for Bolero) excluding (not) V (versus; against) reversed (rising)

LEAR (reference Edward LEAR famous for nonsense verse – opposite to [hardly the type to] NO-NONSENSE [7 down])


12 Responses to “Independent 8018 / Nimrod”

  1. sidey says:

    18 is KNOCking reversed.

  2. duncanshiell says:

    Sidey @ 1

    Thanks – I’m sure you are right and I missed the obvious by focusing on the past tense of ‘pushed back’ rather than the present participle of ‘banging’ as the definition. I still quite like my interpretation though.

  3. jetdoc says:

    1a: Chambers defines MIFF as ‘a slight feeling or fit of resentment; a minor quarrel, a tiff’; with DO = treat.

    15a: I took OO to mean ‘nil-nil’, a no-score draw, the likely result in such circumstances.

    16a: DG = ‘deo gratias’; in EAR, as in ‘flea in one’s ear’. I have slight problems with this, too.

    18a: KNOCking (=banging) minus half of it and reversed.

    26a: That’s pretty much how I read it.

  4. crypticsue says:

    A partly straightforward Nimrod once you saw the theme, and then some of the other clues were typical ‘what’s he on about now’ clues. The whole was very enjoyable so thank you to him and to Duncan too.

  5. duncanshiell says:

    Jetdoc @ 3

    Thanks – this hasn’t been one of my better attempts at parsing crossword clues!

    I thought I had looked at just about every possible combination of letters in MID-OFF but missed MIFF, a word I know very well. Your explanation of nil-nil makes a lot of sense.

    I was stretching my Latin to get Deo Gratias and never thought of DG as an abbreviation.

    As a pathetic attempt at excusing myself I can only say that I was trying to understand the wordplay on a ferry that was going up and down a bit in the North Sea and wasn’t concentrating as well as I should have been.

  6. MaleficOpus says:

    DG for Dei Gratia is on all British coins.

    Like Duncan, I was familiar with the daughters, but couldn’t have named another character, so the easy(ish) clues were welcome.

    Of the more obscure words, at least grainer is a simple extension of a known word; knevell is an obscure alternative spelling of an obscure word with an obscure etymology, but gettable from the clue.

    Many thanks to Nimrod and Duncan.

  7. Wanderer says:

    Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle and exemplary blog.

    In 16, I wondered if ‘receiving verbal rebuke’=’getting an earful’, which in turn has to be read as ‘filling an ear’? Perhaps this is a stretch too far, but DG does indeed fill EAR.

  8. Jan says:

    Duncan, I think you did an excellent job with the blog.

    I sometimes circle one or two clue numbers where I don’t quite get the parsing. This puzzle has eleven numbers circled! And I didn’t solve ARAGON.

    I didn’t enjoy it. I just became bloody-minded in my determination not to be beaten. I don’t like obscure words in weekday crosswords (grainer and knevell). Yet I only had to turn to page 1026 of W.S’s complete works for several of the answers.

    Well done, Nimrod, for fitting in so many characters, but must your clues be so long and convoluted? :-)

  9. Dormouse says:

    Took me a very long time to get started on this. After about quarter of an hour, all I’d got was 4dn and in desperation did electronic anagram searches on some of the themed answers. This gave me GLOUCESTER, which made me wonder if we were looking at counties in an area of Britain, but then I got GONERIL for the next anagram which gave me the theme, and King Lear is a play I’ve seen many times and quite like. Still needed to look at a list of characters to remind myself of who was in it. I’d been struggling to think of French composers for 25dn and for some reason Ravel did not come to mind even though he’s another favourite.

    Even then, there were an awful lot of answers I pencilled in lightly because I couldn’t parse the clue.

  10. flashling says:

    Ugh, will admit to giving up half way through, never having read or seen KL was at a disadvantage from the off. Definitely not one of my better days doing the Indy, cheers Duncan hope the crossing wasn’t too rough.

  11. JollySwagman says:

    Very enjoyable and thanks DS for the blog.

    Despite my poor knowledge of the play I soldiered through it all remembering Edgar as the last man standing and also that most of the aristos are named after their counties. Guessed 24a but the construction was clear enough.

    Nice feeling to finish what seemed impossible at the outset. I wonder if setters are conscious of setting puzzles whose solving flows like that.

  12. Bazza says:

    Maybe ear is verbally like ‘ere! Which could be a rebuke. Then maybe not.

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