Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8060/Nimrod

Posted by John on August 14th, 2012


As I’ve come to expect from Nimrod, some very clever clues, but several whose explanation defeats me, something that I trust will be remedied. He has done very well to get in so many thematic answers.

This type of crossword always gives problems, because it takes so long to get started: to begin with, only half the clues are solvable, but once the gateway clue is solved they tend to come in a comparative rush. The problem here was that the gateway clue was one of the last I managed and I still don’t understand it properly. The first word had to be O_E and since ‘one’ was hardly a word that went a number of times with ‘subject of’ it was likely that it would be ‘ode’. Then I found 24ac and all was well; or sort of well.

1 SKYLARK — I don’t really understand this: the Australian singer is presumably Kylie (Minogue) which stripped to the waist (?) is Kyl; the island looks like Sark. But it says ‘Across island’, so you’d think that Sark would be outside Kyl. Anyway, this refers to Shelley’s Ode to a Skylark [Across island, Aussie singer’s stripped to the waist, a subject of 11]
5 PSYCHE — another I don’t understand — good start this — it refers to Keats’s Ode to Psyche but the rest of it is a complete mystery [Subject of 11 abandoning national agreement in Games]
11/12 ODE ON BLINDNESS — yet another I don’t understand properly — my goodness me what a start — the Classic work is (although not apparently in this form) Milton’s Ode on His Blindness and the cinema is the Odeon, which comes from the first five letters, but … [Classic work experience (summer, probably temporary) in off-street cinema?]
13 FOG{g}Y — at last something straightforward — I think it’s usually fogEy, but this is an alternative spelling
14 MELANCHOLY — an in (Mel C) [sporty Spice] holy — referring to Keats’s Ode on Melancholy
16 TIARA — (it)rev. a ra{nd} — def ‘a crown’
17 SUBTRIBES — (US)rev. {inducemen}t in bribes
20 INDOLENCE — not really sure here, but I think ‘on divorces’ is a way of saying that the letters of ‘on’ are included separately in (decline)* — ref Keats’s Ode on Indolence
23 SALSA — 2 defs
24 GRECIAN URN — (in race)* in gurn — ref Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn — I’ll leave the drachma jokes to anyone who posts
28 {K}NIGHTING ALE{X} — referring to Sir Alex Ferguson and Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale
29 JO{E}Y — a joey is a young kangaroo, so a pouched young — ref Schiller’s Ode to Joy, famously used in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
30 iN MUTUAl — hidden reversed — ref Keats’s Ode to Autumn
31 CHUTNEY — U in (The NYC)*
2 KEEP GUARD — K (geared up)*
3 LOO T{homas}
6 SEDUCTRESS (cut dresses)*, &lit. with ‘sexily’ as an arguably slightly doubtful anagram indicator
7 saCRED Ordinance
8 ESSAY —”SA”, sex appeal, it
9 CONFETTI — is this simply a CD, where those at a wedding are on their way to have a meal, or am I missing something?
10 B(I C{ure})ARB — although I can’t satisfactorily explain the word ‘sting’, which seems to be being used as an inclusion indicator [Antacid I applied to start of cure sting wound]
18 BILLIE JOE — ref the Bobbie Gentry song, but no idea what’s going on here [Subject of 11 — Jacko hit an unattached van on old crossing]
19 STANDBYS — (Sunday Best – U, E)*
21 NO(N A)NE — I’m pretty sure
22 EARBASH — (brae)rev. ash
24 GANJA — n in (a Jag)rev. — referring to the supposed fact that John Prescott drives ‘two Jags’ — blow is slang for cannabis
25 ERGO T — one of whose meanings is the horny protruberance on a horse’s fetlocks
27/26 WEST (W)IND{Ian’s} — pounding = impounding — ref Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind

20 Responses to “Independent 8060/Nimrod”

  1. crypticsue says:

    I am a fan of Nimrod but as he is well aware, I am not entirely a fan of any (not just his) crossword which requires you to have to do a great deal of searching outside the brain as well as testing the cryptic grey matter to the utmost limits. I did persevere with this one and enjoyed most of it, so thank you to him.

    thank you and well done John too.

    5a I think is PE (in games) with SYCH inserted (SYNCH without the N for national)
    11/12 I think the BLINDNESS is what you get when going from sunshine (? summer) into a dark cinema (odeon)
    20a I agree with you
    10d Bicarb is what you apply to a bee sting to take away the pain. (Just in case you are stung by a wasp, note that you should use vinegar :) )
    28d – I was hoping you were going to explain that one!
    21d It is apparently a diesel ingredient – NONE (love) with N (knight) and A (from the clue) inserted.

    I am going for a lie down in a darkened room now and hope when I get back someone has explained 28d.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Phew! Thanks for the blog. Tough, but it was great to do. I can contribute a few thoughts:

    5a – “Abandoning national agreement in games” is SY(n)CH in PE – agree with crypticsue
    10d – “I applied to start of cure sting wound” – I think it’s IC in BARB (sting/barb is wound around IC)
    18d – “Jacko hit an unattached” is BILLIE JE(an); van (front) on old is O, which “crosses” it.

    re 11/12a, I have a feeling I’ve forgotten something here, but I think it’s ODEON BLINDNESS, temporary blindness on coming into a cinema off the street. Same as crypticsue, I think?

  3. rowland says:

    I was defeated, you won the war Minrod! I managed a few, but came here all too soon. After explanation, I found some delight in the clues, with what you can call VERY inventive devices, but I wonder how hard a daily puzzle has to be before it’s impossible.


    The Soundly Beaten Rowly.

  4. andrew says:

    Oh dear. Rowland, I’d say about this hard.

  5. allan_c says:

    Well, I got there in the end with some occasional help from the check button. But I was hard put to it to parse some of the clues and of those I did parse I thought the construction was, shall we say, a little odd. And INDOLENCE was the one Keats ode I didn’t know.

    As a (retired) chemist I’m not sure about NONANE (21d) being a diesel ingredient; I think diesel generally consists of heavier hydrocarbons than nonane. Although some nonane may be present in diesel it is more likely to be found in petrol (gasoline). But I’m open to correction from anyone with direct experience in the oil industry.

    Thanks, Nimrod, for the challenge, and John, for the blog.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Way beyond me today, but glad that others have enjoyed it. Probably the hardest daily cryptic I’ve tried for some time. Thanks to the two Johns.

  7. Dormouse says:

    What everyone else said, and I’m glad it wasn’t just me having trouble today. Took me ages, with lots of guesses and lots of e-searches. Didn’t so much enjoy doing it, rather kept at it to abate my frustration.

  8. Dormouse says:

    And after completing this, I was intending to do something different, but as I was away this weekend, the Sunday Beelzebub was sitting untouched next to me and I gave in to temptation. And did about two thirds of it without much effort at all, and hope to complete it tomorrow.

    So, to add to the discussion about how hard a daily crossword should be, should a daily blocked crossword be about an order of magnitude harder than a prize weekly barred crossword? Certainly enjoying doing the latter more.

  9. John says:

    Now that I’ve read people’s comments and thought a bit about this crossword, there are one or two things that I’m really not very impressed by:
    In 12ac how on earth is this temporary blindness, which could surely have been clued quite straightforwardly, to do with an off-street cinema? Indeed, what is an off-street cinema?
    I really do think this idea in 1ac of Kylie stripping to the waist and revealing just more than half of herself is pretty tenuous. And I’m still very uncomfortable with what seems to be inclusion the wrong way round in this clue.
    In 20ac ‘on divorces’ as a way of splitting up the letters of ‘on’ is to my mind quite hopeless.
    How are ‘Billie-Jean’ and ‘Jacko hit an unattached’ connected in 18dn? I suspect it is something to do with the lyrics of some song (no doubt I am at fault here, as I was with my failure to see that sting = barb not wound).

  10. John H says:

    Clearly the way things work round here is….

    1. Only write a message (under an assumed name) if you didn’t like something.
    2. (1,2,5,6 excepted) Never offer anything constructive to the guy who took ages writing and honing clues to amuse and entertain.
    3. When you see enough support from other contributors, do the Fawlty Towers thing (i.e. speak with a louder voice because obviously you are now right).

    I used to think reading blogs would make me a better compiler. I shan’t be reading this blogger’s rubbish again. Just because you can’t be bothered to try and parse a clue doesn’t mean it’s a bad clue, it just means you can’t be bothered to try and parse a clue. The chaps on the Guardian comments list were fabulously constructive, and I’ve learned a lot from them today, including Thomas99 @ #2 above – cheers T99. I will try to respond.

    12ac When you walk from bright light into darkness, there is temporary blindness. As from a sunlit street into a cinema. How, pray, would you have clued it, John? I’m dying to know. Quite straightforwardly, mind.

    1ac “Kylie’s” is stripped to the waist, hence KYL – i.e. (sorry to spell it out, readers), that’s half, not “just more than half”. If you cross from A to B (er, like sides of an island) you use the distance in between to get there.

    20ac If “on” divorces, the two sides separate. O and N…but that is QUITE HOPELESS!!!! Your clue, master?

    18dn Perfectly explained above. Not lyrics. A song by Michael Jackson that no-one’s ever heard of…hmmmmm…No doubt you are at fault there.

    Sorry everyone, but sometimes a compiler’s got to fight back. I wish more would. It hurts.

  11. JollySwagman says:

    Phew – got there in the end.

    20a – actually I quite like that device
    1a – 50-50 – but at least it’s obvious what to do – so fair if not elegant.
    12a – lets the whole puzzle down

    Is “On his blindness” an ode in any sense of the word?

    I’ve never heard it called that and I’d rather think it’s not. Not all poems are odes.

    Like the ODEON part but that could have been used on many of the real odes.

    Otherwise lots of fun to be had – particularly liked 28a.

  12. JollySwagman says:

    Oops – crossed with an angry setter.

    Actually, in addition to comments 1,2,5,6:

    #3 – “… I found some delight in the clues, with what you can call VERY inventive devices…”
    #4 – just saying it was too hard for him – so neutral.
    #7, #8 neutral
    #9 finally a specific criticism.

    You got off lightly compared with certain other setters who are regularly trolled on here by other setters .

    OTOH maybe you don’t want to hear the message (which I agree with) that, fine as your puzzles are, they are usually too hard for a daily cryptic. They need a slot like the G Saturday prizer used to be.

  13. Bertandjoyce says:

    We started too late on this one and had to finish it this morning. Quite a bit of electronic assistance – not that familiar with odes generally.

    We expect Nimrod to be a challenge and this lived up to expectations. Some of the clues were very inventive and kept us guessing but actually when we checked here and read all the comments we realised that the it was us that was the problem! We really like the challenge of trying to parse the craftily constructed clues as they seem to wake up more grey cells.

    Please Nimrod keep going! Each day more of our grey cells need stimulation to keep them alive.

    John – thanks for the blog. We also would have needed the support of other solvers on this one if we had been blogging it! Blogging it to meet a deadline is not easy.

  14. MikeC says:

    Just to say that I enjoyed this puzzle. As usual with Nimrod/Enigmatist/Io, it took time and a fair bit of searching – I’m not an expert on odes or Michael Jackson songs. One or two clues I failed to parse exactly but I was confident that there would be a logical explanation somewhere.

    Contrary to what some others have said, I think it’s good that there is a range of difficulty in the daily cryptics. What’s important is the quality of the clueing, and JohnH is one of the best, imho.

  15. Wil Ransome says:

    I feel I should reply to John H @10: under this name, so that should satisfy him, although it’s easy enough for anyone to see the list of bloggers at the top of the page. I posted under the name John because that seemed appropriate since I had written the blog, not because of any wish to be anonymous.

    John H. refers to ‘this blogger’s rubbish’ (not a way of talking about the setter that I would have used) and is unhappy that the blogger does not encourage the setter more. I would like to point out that the blogger does it for nothing and of course doesn’t expect to be paid. The setter is paid (not a lot, I know, but he is paid) and so one feels that he is doing a job at a price and if there is any criticism to be made then it is necessary to make this.

    Because the setter is a professional as opposed to the blogger, it is hardly the blogger’s task to provide what he or she thinks are better versions of the clues. If this were possible, the blogger would be a setter.

    “Just because you can’t be bothered to try and parse a clue …” well that’s not true, of course. I try very hard to parse the clues. It’s just that sometimes, for whatever reasons, I fail. And if I do fail then I say so.

    As to the actual criticisms I made, we still haven’t heard what an off-street cinema is, nor have we heard what the answer is about that apparent inclusion the wrong way round. If I was wrong, then fine, point out how and I’ll hold my hand up and say so (as I did over ‘barb’). I still don’t really like Kylie’s stripping to the waist but it can be justified I suppose, so perhaps I was a bit extreme to call this ‘tenuous’. I haven’t now got the clue to hand but it seemed to me that ‘on divorces’ as a way of splitting up ‘on’ and then using the letters, was ungrammatical and that a slight improvement would have been ‘on divorced’, although so far as I remember that didn’t fit with the surface. Perhaps John H would like to explain how the clue can be justified. Obviously ‘on divorces’ gives o and n, but my problem is that I can’t see how o and n are then inserted.

    John H suggests that the blogger ‘Never offer(s) anything constructive …” but apparently hasn’t read the preamble to the blog.

  16. rowland says:

    All: it seems my post comes under John H’s list of offenders, so let me point out that in writing @ number three I was very aware of my own inadequacies, as opposed to any failure on the part of the setter!


  17. Sil van den Hoek says:

    First, I have to say that I didn’t do this crossword yesterday.
    The reason for it is that I temporarily stopped doing Nimrods.
    Because my recent efforts to tackle his puzzles (a) were very very unsuccessful (which is a bit off-putting), and (b) took too much of my precious time (compared to how much time I want to spend on average on a crossword).
    This doesn’t mean I do not like or, even worse, reject his style of writing.
    Nimrod is, in my opinion, by far the hardest setter I have come across since entering Crosswordland. But his puzzles are also extremely clever (in a positive way, even though they often defeat me) and showing signs of a thoughtful mind.

    I have read all the comments here, and deep inside I can understand why Nimrod may infuriate solvers. I once called one of his puzzles “a setter’s crossword”, causing a stir that I won’t forget as long as I live – Flash (who blogged) was almost driven to tears, even the always reasonable Eileen thought that something wasn’t right.
    It has all to do with the fact that, very often, Nimrod’s puzzles are hard to get into.

    As I said, I didn’t do this crossword yesterday.
    But after reading the blog, I thought: let’s see what this is all about.
    I printed off the puzzle and, with the solution at hand, started reading the puzzle.
    So, I cannot say anything about the process the solver’s gone through, I can only say something about the fairness and/or quality of the cluing as such.

    Just like others, I wasn’t very taken by 11/12ac, but I accept Nimrod’s view on that clue.
    I can see the setter sitting behind his desk spotting Odeon Blindness, wanting to do something with it. And he did. And for many it didn’t work. What else would have worked then? I don’t know either, although for the second part something with Eliot Ness sprang to mind.
    In 1ac (SKYLARK) I wasn’t very happy with “Across”, but it can be justified (see Jolly Swagman’s comments).
    And in 16ac I was wondering about the second “it”, but again, it can be justified.

    And nothing!
    The rest of the puzzle is immaculately clued.
    There is no reason whatsoever to have doubt about the quality of cluing.
    I know, looking at clues the way I did (not really solving) makes a huge difference, but it also made clear that there was nothing unfair going on here.

    John’s outrageous post is – at least for me – fully understandable.
    It can hurt indeed.

    I wrote this post because it did hurt me too.

  18. Jim T says:

    Just done puzzle today so there’s probably no-one reading this but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Re Wil @15 can’t see how 20A is in any way ungrammatical.

    Nothing wrong with the occasional difficult puzzle when they’re as inventive as this. Thanks, Nimrod.

  19. flashling says:

    Cor, I go away for a few days and verbal warfare breaks out here, tried to do this and gave up after 6 hours travelling back from Plymouth, had a look at the blog… having been on the receiving end of a Nimrod or two to blog (@Sil :-)) I can understand a little John/Wil’s complaints and indeed Nimrod’s reply, very rare for a setter to get irate here at a blog of his puzzles.

    Anyway after a very wet and windy firework week away I’m back, sorry about that!

    For those that like to see these things I do here’s a few of the Plymouth entries

  20. Paul B says:

    You could have done your ‘fireworks’ pun there.

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