Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8036/Anax

Posted by John on July 17th, 2012


As usual a nice crossword from Anax, with some excellent clues and what one expects in the way of original ideas for wordplay. The fact that four of the answers have less than 50% checking, also the unches at the top and bottom, lead one to expect that there is some sort of a Nina here, but I can’t see it. If indeed there isn’t one then one wonders why Anax departed from the Ximenean norm.

Quite why I become so exercised about less than 50% checking I’m not sure. Ximenes decreed that this was wrong, but his book was written 40 years ago and one wonders if he’d say the same thing today.

7 {p}ODIUM — ‘can’t stand’ I suppose in the sense ‘can’t be here’ or ‘isn’t here’ — maybe a bit loose but needed perhaps for the surface
9 ARABIANS — a (bar)rev. (is an)* — as horses more commonly Arabs but Chambers gives this usage
10 NO MAN IS AN ISLAND — John Donne’s famous quotation and, with a comma after ‘No’, a statement that someone from Douglas (the capital of the Isle of Man) would make
12 EFTSOONS — (soft ones)* — labelled (obs) in Chambers and I never actually knew what the word meant
13 VE(C)TO R
19 RESIZE — 2 defs
21 QUEEN BEE — que [= ‘In France, what’] E n bee [as in spelling bee]
24 SHORT SHARP SHOCK — the ‘Number one cut’ is a haircut and it’s the jelly sort of gel, so 2 defs — I associate this phrase with William Whitelaw and remember him trying to hang tough as Home Secretary
25 HONEY-SAC — (cash)rev. around (one y)
26 W(IDE)N — either ‘sandwich’ is imperative here, something that seems a bit weak: you feel it needs to be ‘sandwiches'; or ‘With new’ is to be treated as a plural entity with ‘sandwich’ a present indicative — neither of them entirely satisfactory
1 COUNTERPARTS — (can sputter or)*
3 JANSENISM — (sinners)* in jam
4 YAWNS — (way)rev. n/s
6 UNFASTEN — u (fans)* ten but I can’t see why ten = goal. The def is ‘tie? No’ so ten must be goal, but is this what the aim of the United fans is (ten goals or ten) or (and this is a long shot) does it refer to a perfect ten in something like gymnastics? Probably something else.
8 MANG(r)O(v)ES
11 DIRTY WEEKEND — 2 defs, one of them ‘It’
14 LIQUORICE — liquor is the hard stuff, black ice, so an &lit.
16 GAS MOTOR — (S [= Sierra] (OM)rev.) in gator, an alligator, a being that is scaled
18 FRET SAW — f (waster)rev. — I’d always thought this was one word and Chambers says the same, but no doubt somewhere …
20 ZITHER — her is second to (i.e. following) zit
23 XHOSA — ho in (x s a)

17 Responses to “Independent 8036/Anax”

  1. Flashling says:

    Well it’s a pangram. You seem to have missed off the last three. 6 ten is net reversed…

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, John.

    Goodness knows where I dredged EFTSOONS from – I don’t think I know it from crosswords.

    Some tricky clues – I still don’t understand 24ac.

    I read 6dn as flashling did.

    14dn: cf 28ac in today’s Guardian Bonxie: ‘Scotch is complex and sweet without ice [4,6]

    Many thanks, Anax – tough going but very satisfying, as ever.

  3. allan_c says:

    Some electronic help and use of the check button needed today, so trying to do the dead tree version on the daily commute will have been a bit difficult, I guess. I was also helped by guessing that it was a pangram, particularly for RESIZE/ZITHER and XHOSA (19a/20d and 23d; as flashling has noted the last few down entries are missing from the blog – probably some electronic gremlin somewhere).

    SHORT SHARP SHOCK for getting tough made a good soundbite at the time; I don’t know if WW realised its origin in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado”. ‘… awaiting the sensation of a short sharp shock, from a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block’ – i.e. getting the chop, literally; rather more than mere correction.

    Thanks, Anax and John

  4. crypticsue says:

    A particularly tough Anax, I thought, but a very enjoyable struggle was had. Thanks to him and John too.

  5. Lenny says:

    This took longer than I care to mention and I only managed to finish by ticking off the pangram to find that I needed an X and a V to give me Xhosa and Vector. I did not know the inspirational meaning of Pegasus and I read Dirty Weekend as a CD rather than a DD.

    Thanks to Anax and to John. I fear that 50% checking has long been a lost cause in the Independent crossword.

  6. MaleficOpus says:

    Thanks Anax and John.

    It was only after I’d given up that I noticed that every entry began with a different letter, so I suppose that’s why there are some underchecked words, although I don’t like them either.

    Also, I wasn’t convinced about ‘evil’ as an anagrind, but very nice overall (despite not finishing).

  7. aztobesed says:

    Eftsoons is Coleridge and his ancient mariner. “He holds him with his glittering eye / Eftsoons his hand drops he..” I knew it would come in handy one day.

  8. nmsindy says:

    Comment #6 I guess points out what the setter aimed for in this crossword. It has exactly 26 answers each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Quite an achievement. While I noticed the emerging pangram – this helped me with VECTOR – I did not spot the starting letter aspect.

    Maybe I was lucky but I did not find this as hard as Anax can be. It did help that I got COUNTERPARTS in the LH column straightaway and knew the Donne quote which went straight in also. Favourite clue: JANSENISM. Re less than 50% checking, there were 4 here as you say, John, but I think 4 in a 9-letter word should not really be a big problem. This left YAWNS and XHOSA (both of which I thought had fairly easy clues – I got them quickly enough) and the theme would have helped also, I’d say. Many thanks, John, and Anax.

  9. JollySwagman says:

    I dunno about unches but I had to back a few ‘unches to get through this one. The long ones yielded easier than the short ones and then it flowed OK.

    Penny only dropped a moment ago on 24a even though it seemed easy enough to enter at the time. The ‘unch that it was a pangram ‘elped too

    Re unches – do setters choose their own grids? I thought in the days of hot-metal and litho that the papers kind of said – Fred – you’re booked in for day X and you’ve to use grid Y. Maybe that’s not necessary with modern print-setting.

    Thanks for the blog John and Anax for another fine puzzle.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I found this easy to get into, but tough to finish. For once, I had been paying attention in class, so twigged the pangram, which helped with VECTOR and XHOSA because I knew I was those letters short. The 26 different starting letters passed me by.

    I thought QUEEN BEE was good and also liked DIRTY WEEKEND.

    Thanks to Anax and John.

  11. Eileen says:

    Would someone please explain 24ac for me? I got the Whitelaw and Mikado refs and the haircut but not the gel. I think I’m being dim today. :-(

  12. nmsindy says:

    I think it’s a type of haircut as John mentions, Eileen = Number One Haircut. I think if you look at it, it might be approximately described as a short, sharp, shock (ie hair) – ie cut v short and using gel perhaps.

  13. Eileen says:

    THanks, nms – as I said, I knew the haircut but I thought I
    must be missing something more.

  14. anax says:

    Evening everyone
    Thanks John for a great blog and to all for your comments. Yes, the pangram using first letters (let’s call it an Alphabetical Jigsaw, then!) was restrictive in terms of the grid but, once the gimmick was spotted, hopefully not too big an obstacle.

  15. Dormouse says:

    One of those days. Got 10ac almost immediately and 23dn after a few minutes. Then nothing for a couple of hours! Finally got a couple more clues in the top right, but decided probably not worth my while staring at it much longer.

    I haven’t worked out if it is certain setters that stymie me so, or if some days my mental processes are just not up to solving crosswords.

  16. John says:

    allan_c @3 kindly suggests the lack of the last three is the result of an electronic gremlin. Not so, I’m afraid, sheer incompetence. I got into a muddle and wrote the answer for FRET SAW in the across answers, then cut and pasted it to the end for me to meet in due course, then I forgot that anything followed it. My apologies.

    Blog corrected now.

  17. Bertandjoyce says:

    We needed a bit of electronic help on this one as we wanted to get some shut-eye after a later than normal start – thanks to 2012 – well that’s all good then!

    Missed the alphabetical bit but saw the pangram which helped us with our last one in – vector. Memories of vector analysis came flooding back – only kidding!

    Anax – we should have seen it was your puzzle today and started earlier. You were on good form today!

    Thanks to John for the blog especially for 24a which we couldn’t parse.

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