Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,072 / Scorpion

Posted by RatkojaRiku on August 28th, 2012


It’s my turn to blog the crossword this Tuesday, one of those days when you can never quite be sure whose work you will be pitting your wits against.

It hadn’t fallen to me to blog a Scorpion for a while, so I was quite excited at the prospect, knowing that there would probably be a theme to this puzzle, which I would probably crack, but that I might struggle to sort out the wordplay of one or two of the entries.

A quick glance at the grid revealed a large number of double entries, and a closer look indicated that I would be looking for the names of various famous people born in the same place.

If I could have remembered that the new BBC premises were located at MediaCityUK, I would have been able to reveal the shared place of origin immediately, but alas, I did not, and indeed 3 was one of the last clues to be solved, and from its wordplay. I was able to identify the famous faces from a combination of their professions, the wordplay and the letters already entered in the grid. I have to admit to not knowing 27/14, and as for the others, 1/5 was the only one that I could associate with Salford. I also seem to remember that the artist Lowry hailed from Salford and was looking out for him in the grid, but he doesn’t seem to feature in the puzzle at all. I found myself wondering if Scorpion had a personal connection with Salford: is he another such famous face?

My favourite clues today were 4 for its concision, 17 for its deceptive surface and 1/5 for its wordplay (especially “Events Guide”). 20 was new to me but was eminently gettable from the wordplay.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1/5   RUSSELL   WATSON <Feb>RU<ary> (“mid-” means middle letters only) + S (=special) + SELL (=merchandise, i.e. as a verb) + W<h>AT’S ON (=Events Guide; “hard (=H) to miss” means letter “h” is dropped); tenor Russell Watson was born in Salford (entry at 3) in 1966
9   HAIL Double definition: HAIL is “applaud”, salute (as verb) AND volley, e.g. of shots (as noun)
10   SHEAR Homophone (“picked up”) of “sheer” (=plain, i.e. utter)
12/8    HALF NELSON HALF (=50% of) + NELSON (=column heading, i.e. statue of Nelson at top of column on Trafalgar Square); a half nelson is a “hold” in wrestling
13   POLO NECK LONE (=only) in POCK (=mark)
15   FEUD F<r>EUD (=psychoanalyst); “working out Reason primarily (=first letter only)” means the letter “r” is dropped
16   A LEVELS ALE (=boost) + V (=fifth, as in George V) + ELS (=golfer, i.e. South African Ernie Els)
19   SWEAR IN WEAR (=don, as a verb) in SIN (=vice)
20/7   PAUL SCHOLES *(CLA<m>S UP) + HOLES (=golf); “with mobile (=M) off” means letter “m” is dropped from anagram, indicated by “playing”; footballer Paul Scholes was born in Salford (entry at 3) in 1974
24   OVERRIPE OVER (=six deliveries, i.e. in cricket) + RIP (=tear apart) + <s>E<amers> (“second of” means second letter only)
25   FETA F (=fine) + ETA (=Greek character, i.e. letter of Greek alphabet); the definition is “food there”, i.e. in Greece
26   MASAI MAs (=graduates) + A1 (=excellent)
27/14   TONY WILSON Y (=unknown) in *(NOT SLOW IN); “raving” is anagram indicator; music impresario Tony Wilson was born in Salford (entry at 3) in 1950
28   TAHITI TAH (HAT=headwear; “turned” indicates reversal) + <p>I<g>T<a>I<l> (“regularly showing” means alternate letters only)
2   UNAVOWED AV (=type of Bible, i.e. Authorised Version) in [UNO (=Italian one, i.e. the Italian word for “one”) + WED (=married)
3   SALFORD DR (=doctor) + OF LA<w>S; “without wife (=W)” means letter “w” is dropped; “back” indicates reversal; MediaCityUK, located in Salford, is a recently developed site housing media organisations, including various BBC and ITV divisions
4   LESSER APE LESS (=not as much) + ERA (=time) + PE (=training, i.e. Physical Education)
6   ARROW *(<f>ORWAR<d>); “removing extremities” means first and letters are dropped; “thrown” is anagram indicator
11   ELKIE BROOKS ELK (=ruminating type) + I.E. (=that is) + [OK (=allowed) in BROS (=boy band, i.e. from late 1980s)]; songstress Elkie Brooks was born in Salford (entry at 3) in 1945
17   ERNIE WISE [I (=writer, i.e. the compiler of the puzzle) in ERNE (=eagle)] + WISE (=well-informed); the reference is to English comedian Ernie Wise of Morecambe and Wise fame, hence “comic”
18   SUSPENSE US in SPENSE<r> (=Elizabethan poet, i.e. Edmund Spenser; “mostly” means last letter dropped)
19/29   SHELAGH   DELANEY [H (=hour) in SELAG (GALES=winds; “adverse” indicates reversal)] + *(DAY + HELEN); “rearranged” is anagram indicator; dramatist Shelagh Delaney was born in Salford (entry at 3) in 1938
20   PARATHA AT in [PAR (=usual) + HA<wks> (“pair of” means first two letters only)]; paratha is unleavened bread from India
21/22   ROBERT   POWELL *(PORT) in [ROBE (=gown) + WELL (=completely)]; “spilt” is anagram indicator; actor Robert Powell was born in Salford (entry at 3) in 1944
23   LUMET [U (=upper-class) + M (=male)] in LET (=grant); the reference is to American film-maker Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

14 Responses to “Independent 8,072 / Scorpion”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks for the blog, RatkojaRiku.

    I would say 99% of the time I’m positive about the Indy daily puzzles: there’s a good range of difficulty and some interesting themes. But I have to say that this was the one that I have least enjoyed in the three or so years since I restarted solving. Unlike you, I got the gateway clue straightaway; but then it was just a slog looking for half a dozen proper names, which as I said last week about the Olympic Cyclists puzzle, is not my idea of fun. Why? Because as a solver, unless you know of the person (and Scholesy was just about the only one I knew of, my ignorance perhaps) you are pretty much stuck looking at the subsidiary indication; and most of those didn’t lead me to the answer today, so I gave up in the end.

    I’m sure there’s a good reason why Scorpion chose to highlight famous people from Salford, but this didn’t float my boat today, I’m afraid.

  2. crypticsue says:

    It took me a while to get 3d too. I am not a fan of crosswords where you have to make use of search engines and I certainly had to with this one, people from Salford not being one of my specialist subjects, and not having enough checking letters from some of other more difficult clues in order to work out people and then check where they came from.

    Sorry Scorpion, but not my favourite of your crosswords. Thanks to RR too.

  3. Conrad Cork says:

    Oddly enough the only Salford native I had actually heard of was Robert Powell, and he was last in. All the others fell out from the word play and they looked like names so I put them in.

    Bit of a stretch this one, but pace K’s D and crypticsue, I had a really good time. Ta Scorpion.

    Another great blog (when do we get anything else?)RatkojaRiku.

  4. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. I found this an entertaining challenge.

    I agree with Conrad Cork. The fun of a crossword like this is that you almost certainly won’t know exactly where these people were born and you have to use the clues and common sense to get to them. crypticsue says she isn’t a fan of crosswords where you have to make use of search engines but this is a case where using one would ruin it! (And in her case it sounds like it did.)

  5. aztobesed says:

    Very, very tough. Having mutually checking letters was an extra bit of cruelty. I was annoyed to miss out on three — I actually used that exact Watson gag myself once in a pub-quiz, along with Holmes. But he would never have sprung to mind. Would never have got Brooks either (boy band? Yep, suppose so…) and Wilson was impossible for me. I enjoyed the tussle for a while but the steam just ran out.

    Thanks for the break-downs.

  6. rowland says:

    Didn’t think this one, with pretty obscure theme and tough clues, was really right for general solving.

    Cheers all,

  7. pennes says:

    well I sort of lost the desire almost from the start: I didn’t know mediacity uk and being on a train had no references. Saw a footballer and a golfer in there and couldn’t get the dramatist either. So I read my book “Universe of Stone- Chartres Cathedral and the triumph of the Medieval mind” by Philip Ball. A must read for anyone interested in Gothic cathedrals. A much more profitable use of time for me

  8. allan_c says:

    I was one of those who got the gateway clue straightaway. Having studied and lived in Salford a few decades ago I knew of some of its famous sons and daughters. The rest were mostly gettable from the wordplay, with a quick look at to confirm. So probably my quickest solve ever of a Scorpion puzzle.

    Thanks, Scorpion and RR.

  9. flashling says:

    Well and truly beaten here, thinking clap for applause, well done Radian and RR

  10. nmsindy says:

    Tho I’d only heard of three of the people and would not have known they were born in Salford, I did get most of it before having to go for help for the last two not being familiar with the actor or the tenor (though I did get the first name of the latter) and not being able to get them via the wordplay (which was totally fair in both cases but hard).

    Re the inspiration for the puzzle, I do not know but I think, without checking back, I remember a similar Scorpion puzzle based on people from Stockport. Not particularly familiar with that part of the world myself but think they are fairly near each other. Thanks Scorpion and RR. Favourite clue: ERNIE WISE.

  11. MikeC says:

    Thanks RR and Scorpion. I thought I would have to go to google for the sons/daughters of Salford but the word play was very precise. Hence I was able to put in correct answers, even though I had not heard of (some of) the people and did not know that they came from Salford (with the possible exception of Shelagh Delaney – maybe a dim memory there). So, sorry to differ from other contributors, but I thought this was quite an enjoyable, fair puzzle. Perhaps I was just inspired, for once ;-)

  12. Lenny says:

    I liked this and found it more enjoyable than Scorpion’s previous exploration of famous people from Stockport. This sort of puzzle only works if you find that you can do it without resorting to reference books and today I found that I could. The only name that did not readily come to mind was Tony Wilson and that was my fault because I have seen the biopic 24 Hour Party People.

    It’s useful to remember 21/22s name. If you open your door to a bible-basher who says “Jesus is the answer, now what is the question?” you should reply “What part did Robert Powell play in the 1977 New Testament mini-series?”

  13. Dormouse says:

    Got 19/29 from crossing letters and looked her up to see where she was born. Then found a list of people born in Salford on Wikipedia, which helped. Only Salford-born person I’d heard of was Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, which was no use. Not the easiest of puzzles. Completed it only by cheating.

  14. RatkojaRiku says:

    I rather suspected that this puzzle would arouse mixed feelings amongst contributors. Having read the above, the following thought sprang to mind: had this been a quick crossword, I would simply have given up, as I would have been pretty sure that I would not know all of the people mentioned and, having no other way of arriving at the correct answers without “cheating”, I would have known that I would be unlikely to finish the puzzle. As it was a cryptic, with sound albeit challenging wordplay, I was willing to persevere and was glad that I did.

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