Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8095/Rorschach

Posted by Pierre on September 24th, 2012


I think this is the second crossword from Rorschach for the Independent.  His first was well-received, and this too was in my opinion a very good puzzle: there was plenty of inventive cluing with some lovely light touches.  If he can continue to produce this standard of puzzle, he will be a most welcome addition to the Indy team.  There is – comme d’habitude – one clue I can’t explain.

When I stared into the inkblots today, I saw Europeans, philosophers and crossword setters.  Plus a bunch of other well-constructed clues, of which 26ac was my favourite.


cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)* anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed


Of Mice and Men novel gripping spoon-bender
Well, if you’re going to learn a new word, it might as well be 1 Across.  In the same way that URSINE is descriptive of bears and LUPINE is of wolves, MURINE is the mousey equivalent.  An insertion (‘gripping’) of URI (Geller) in (MEN)*  ‘Novel’ is the anagrind.

One’s captivated by a desire for the taste of Pernod, perhaps?
An insertion (‘captivated’) of I’S for ‘one’s) in A NEED.  Just the smell of Pernod makes me want to chunder.

In the beginning they reposed indivisibly one as the father, spirit and son
First letters of They Reposed Indivisibly One.  In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, and all that.

10  TimeWarner panic to fix copyright infringement
TimeWarner is the media and entertainment giant (and its name is so spelled on its own website).  The whimsical definition is ‘Time Warner’, and it’s an insertion of C for ‘copyright’ in ALARM for ‘panic’ and LOCK for ‘fix’.  ‘Infringement’ just about works as the insertion indicator, I think.

11  An automotive service is established in the old part of Europe
An insertion of RAC in THE.  The ancient Balkan region.

12  Ostentatious ayatollah did a Hajj, setting off late and finishing early
Hidden in ayatolLAH DID A Hajj.

13  Standards have been raised here somewhere in Arizona
A dd, referencing FLAGSTAFF Arizona, population 65,914.

15  Englishman in Australia gets around a run a ball
An insertion of R for ‘run’ in POM for the slightly derogatory Aussie word for Englishmen.  Usually prefixed by ‘whinging’.

16  Gathered to restore the site of Achilles’ downfall?
Clearly Achilles’ downfall was his heel, but I can’t see how this works, I’m afraid.

Sidey has explained this at comment no 1 – thanks.

17  One filling prescription for future Princess of Wales after Charlie left for first of suitors
The Princess that the Daily Mail and Daily Express are still grieving over was DI(ana) SPENCER.  Rorschach is asking you to replace the C (Charlie) in the phonetic alphabet with S for the first letter of ‘suitors’.

21 More problematic than Gordius, perhaps?
Bit of an in-joke, but you didn’t have to know that Gordius is a regular setter in The Guardian.  He has his fans; I’m not one of them.  Referring to the Gordian knot.

22  The Prime Minister doesn’t take on a media producer
CAMER[ON] plus A.

24  Lines of speech?
A cd cum dd, I suppose, with CORDS and ‘lines’ being synonymous.

25  Infusion of turmeric enhances this?
Clever clue, and semi &lit, I guess.  Hidden in turmeRIC Enhances.  ‘Infusion’ is the hidden indicator.  A bit of Star Anise and a few cloves also do the business, despite what I said at 4ac.

26  A German encrypted a number?
This was my favourite today; I thought it was really inventive.  It’s ‘number’ in the anaesthetic sense, and is EIN (‘a’ in German) in CODE.  And if EIN is ‘in code’, it’s encrypted.

27  Almost all the French in disarray
The setter’s being very precise with his cluing and with his French grammar: TOUSLE[S].  TOUS LES is one option for ‘all the’ in French: tous les enfants sont méchants.  And if you use TOUS, it has to be followed by LES and not LE, because it’s plural.


Hit back and lash out at an officer
A reversal of RAM followed by (LASH)*

European agreement to support port wine region
Since it’s a down clue, it’s JA for the German word for ‘yes’ below RIO, the setters’ fave port.

Next store finally discovered in adjacent street
An insertion of E for the last letter of ‘store’ in NEAR ST.

River people in the finale of The Mission with Jeremy Irons ultimately gather in speed …
A charade of N for last letter of ‘missioN’, and an insertion of MPH for ‘speed’ in YS for the last letters of the actor’s name.  And he did indeed star in the 1986 film The Mission.

… to bear up De Niro, suffering under the Spanish sun
French, German, Spanish … we’re getting a bit multilingual this morning.  A charade of (DE NIRO)* under SOL for the Spanish word for ‘sun’.

Old seafood sandwiches?  I say!
Another one I especially liked.  EX for ‘old’ with an insertion of I in CLAM.  ‘Sandwiches’ is the insertion indicator.

Rocky Horror film’s winning the French over in the silver screens of Versailles
France 2-1 Spain.  An insertion of AL (LA for ‘the’ French) reversed in (HORROR FILMS)* with ‘rocky’ as the anagrind.  HALL OF MIRRORS is La Galerie des Glaces in the Palace of Versailles.

14  A best friend of Kierkegaard, perhaps?
Now the Danish make an appearance: Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a nineteenth century Danish philosopher and theologian, and could rightly be described as a GREAT DANE.  History doesn’t record whether he had a dog, but if he had, it could easily have been one of these.

16  Harrison Ford’s character makes an appearance in the opening of Home Alone
A further insertion: of AN in H SOLO.  HAN SOLO is Harrison’s character in Star Wars.  I’m more of the NAPOLEON SOLO generation myself.

18  Citroën model in photos taken around a well
It’s another cleverly misleading surface.  Citroën’s model is another insertion of A in PICS and SO for ‘well?’

19  Anarche mistakenly omits noun at conclusion of puzzle resulting in a complaint to The Listener
For crossword obsessives who know the names of all their setters, this would appeal; but for the majority who don’t know or don’t care about who’s produced the puzzle, it might have been a bit strange, with them thinking that it was a misprint for ‘Arachne’.  It’s clear enough, though: (A[N]ARCHE)* and E for the last letter of ‘puzzlE’.  ‘Mistakenly’ is the anagrind.

20  Source of climate change drastically cut down raincoat production
As far as I can see, this is (RAINCO[AT])* with ‘production’ as the anagrind.  But I’m not mad about clues like this: how ‘drastically’ do you want me to cut down ‘raincoat’?  One letter, two letters …   But AIR-CON is certainly a contributing factor to climate change.  I was reading the other day that the US uses more energy keeping cool in the summer than keeping warm in the winter.

23  Communist broadcast!?
The horrible double punctuation marks at the end of the clue are the key to this one: they are an exclamation mark and a question mark, and MARKS is a homophone (‘broadcast’) of Karl MARX, the German-born philosopher who is buried in Highgate cemetery.

This was a fine puzzle from Rorschach, which I very much enjoyed.

30 Responses to “Independent 8095/Rorschach”

  1. sidey says:

    HEEL is a homophone of (gathered) of heal, to restore.

    Good stuff over all, ta both.

  2. aztobesed says:

    Thanks Pierre and Rorschach.

    Like sidey #1 I had it as ‘heal’ – and wondered if it went further, as in ‘to heal the sight’, which took it into biblical miracle territory.

  3. crypticsue says:

    Isn’t it great to know that there are some young setters coming along which means that the future of the cryptic is safe (not that I ever doubted it).

    The perfect level of difficulty for a Monday morning, thank you to Rorschach and Pierre too.

  4. Donk says:

    Really fun puzzle. Thanks to Rorschach and Pierre.

    21a and 19d my favourites today, and enjoyable cluing throughout – perfect for a Monday!

  5. allan_c says:

    Nice one, Rorschach. A couple of references to other setters, but no-one could complain because one didn’t need to know that’s what they are.

    26a had me puzzled for a bit trying to use an anagram of either ‘a German’ (‘manager’) or ‘a number’ (‘uberman’) till the penny dropped. It has to be my CoD now.

    15a of course refers to the American meaning of PROM

    Thanks, Pierre, for the blog.

  6. Eileen says:

    I totally agree with all of crypticsue’s comment @3.

    Many thanks, Rorschach – great stuff, again! – and Pierre.

    allan_c @15

    “15a of course refers to the American meaning of PROM” – catching on at more and more schools here, too. My granddaughter went to hers this year, :-(

  7. Pierre says:

    Absolutely, Eileen. To my dismay they have become ubiquitous; our local primary school even had one at the end of year 7 …

    Agree with crypticsue about the young setters coming through as well.

  8. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Rorschach and Pierre. My favourite clue was 23dn for the way of including the definition.

    26ac: I got this in the end, but am not a fan of this type of device, without a clearer signal than the question mark on the end of the clue. I am clearly in a minority here, and happy to agree to differ.

    27ac: Thanks Pierre for clarifying the excellence of this clue.

    20dn: I took the definition more simply as air conditioning making an immediate change to the surrounding conditions, I think this is consistent with the definition of climate in Chambers 2008 as “the condition of a country or place with regard to temperature, moisture, etc” (emphasis added).

  9. yvains says:

    In 5, I don’t really buy ‘nymphs’ = ‘river people’, when ‘people’ is surely just what they aren’t – in the same sort of way that I didn’t really buy ‘did some training’ = ‘ran course’ in Phi’s 8,093 the other day; but I share your enthusiasm for 26, a great clue, and 23 is also very clever. Thanks to setter and blogger :)

  10. yvains says:

    The penny has at long last dropped, re ‘ran course’, and I apologise abjectly to Phi :)

  11. Tramp says:

    I loved this. My favourite clues were 10a (v clever), 17a, 22a (great surface), 7d and 20d. Good stuff Rorschach.

  12. Rorschach says:

    What a lovely response guys – many thanks! Wonderfully lucid blog too Pierre with everything perfectly parsed.

    In 16a it was meant to be just a homophone (gathered) of ‘to restore’ – defintion = “the site of Achilles’ downfall?” – unfortunately not as intricately cryptic aztobesed put it. You flatter me!

    With 20d I’m probably more lax than the Xims (Whoever they are? Generally defined as “someone stricter than me”) and I think “drastically” tells you enough to get thinking. It is a cryptic crossword after all! The definition also was cryptic – i.e. something that leads to a change in the climate.

    River people = nymphs. Of course this is a surface issue (I’m a little piqued that no one has commented on my precis of the denouement of The Mission btw!) but I think it just about works. Nymphs always appear as maidens as far as I’m aware – although you are correct, they are technically divine (but let’s remember that in some religions (e.g. Christianity) divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive! Here endeth the lesson).

    Many thanks again!

  13. Rorschach says:

    Oh and of course thanks to crypticsue (and Eileen by extension) for touting me as the saviour of the cryptic world ;) I hope I can take the pressure!

    In seriousness though, a lot of fantastic young setters champing at the bit – it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be appearing across the various dailies keeping us all on our toes.

    Vive les mots croisés!

  14. Dormouse says:

    Agree with all said so far. Seemed from the clues a bit of a film theme, not carried over into the answers.

    23dn and 27ac were last in. took me ages to see why 23dn was that and that gave me all the letters for 27ac so the answer was obvious even if I couldn’t work out why.

  15. Sil van den Hoek says:

    When Rorschach’s first puzzle appeared in the Indy and also when I recently met him (at Anax’s birthday party), I didn’t tell him.
    Tell him what?
    That I found that first crossword a bit underwhelming.
    And all (how patronising!) because I think we have to treasure New Kids on the Block (oh no, please, not that band!) – especially when they are so gifted as Rorschach is.
    But now I told you.
    And I can easily do so, because this was, in my opinion, a fabulous puzzle which deserves all the credits it got so far.

    Jambazian surfaces having that Now-feeling in close harmony with inventive clueing.

    For me, 23d (MARKS) is a Guardianesque winner.
    Unlike Pelham Bonham I do like the device in 26ac (CODEINE) which was even more devious because of possible anagrams.
    9ac (TRIO) raised a smile, as did 12ac (LAH-DI-DAH).
    Two clues clues just as easy as 22ac (CAMERA), one which showed sheer elegance.
    I have a lot more pluses – some of them are for the Klingsor-like use of ‘names’ (like in 1ac, 10ac and 8d).

    Being an average solver (yes, believe it or not), I found this puzzle very accessible. Monday fare? I don’t know. Just very good clueing.

    That said, I wasn’t very happy with 3d (NEAREST). ‘Next’ and ‘adjacent’ are too much in the same category, but I see why Rorschach did it (for the surface).
    And 15ac was also not my favourite. When a clue gives us ‘around a run’ one usually expects the insertion of AR (and not just R).

    All in all, magnificent stuff.
    I am a bit positive, ain’t I?
    Yes I am …. :)

  16. Wil Ransome says:

    Sorry, I seem to be in a minority of one. Much of it seemed a bit loose (TimeWarner = time warner, infringement as an insertion indicator, a run = r, an Achilles heel as a site, n as the finale of The Mission rather than just Mission, makes an appearance = insert ‘an’, drastically cut-down for removing the last two letters), and some clues were less than pithy I thought (15 words is too much for me). But having said that I also have to say that much of it was very good.

    Must be very dim, as I simply can’t see how the answer is defined in 23dn. OK marks is a homophone of Marx, but surely there is more to it than that? Perhaps Sil’s referring to it as a Guardianesque winner explains.

  17. flashling says:

    Think you’re still in the minority Wil, Marks defn eluded me for ages, but quite a pdm, seen similar devices with most punctuation over the years and am often misled by it, drastically was dificult to work out what bits to drop, but hey it’s the setter’s job to make folks think. I thought this was great.

  18. Rorschach says:

    Haha Sil – it’s nice to know how you really think! Drop me a message and I can repay you with that beer I owe you sometime in Cambridge (other Cambridge crucivati welcome!) Thanks for your kind words – and it is true – there is always room for improvement and I still see much space for development in my own work – but it’s nice to be appreciated when it goes well.

    Sorry to be so loose Wil Ransome – I started out as a setter for my university student paper and so much of my style involves trying to make clues fun for people of my generation. So I try to throw things in to appeal to my friends and in that sense I probably slightly prioritise the surface of a clue over the strictu sensu standards. Is it for everyone? Probably not – but reading through some of the historical development of crosswords, I’m struck with how much looseness there was until Ximenes came along. That’s not to say that clues shouldn’t be fair (for example, definitions at beginning or end) but there is some stuff in, say, Torquemada or Afrit that wouldn’t pass by the Xim standards (primarily because there is a looseness is even speaking of a “Ximenea standard”) and I see that as a detriment to the art of the cruciverbalist. The beauty of Torquemada was a playfulness which pushed the limits of possibility.

    So much of what I try to do is reinterpretation within the rules and hey, if it sticks, then it could become a standard in itself someday? I know some people will have problems with this but language changes and surely crosswords must be malleable enough to reflect this. I’d be interested on other people’s thoughts here but this is probably not the right forum!

  19. Rorschach says:

    i.e. If we start using ‘drastically’ with a shortner (cut down) then maybe it’ll become an acceptable indicator for two-letter removal? Just a thought.

  20. Bertandjoyce says:

    You are stil in the minority Wil as we really enjoyed this. Once again, we had to finish it off this morning.

    Had a smile at 10ac and agree with all the other positive comments above.

    A great start to the week.

    Merci Pierre pour le blog and Thanks to Rorschach!

  21. yvains says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Rorschach (and apologies for the misspelling previously). I was probably being picky about ‘river people’, and your explanation is reasonable.

    In terms of crossword ‘standards’, I feel that rigidity in rules can only reinforce the already slightly cliquey reputation of cryptics. Do crosswords exist in order to test the mind, or in order to reassure an exclusive set of people that they know all of a finite set of rules? For me, without innovation and daring, there can only be sterility. Just sayin’.

  22. eimi says:

    Well said, yvains @21. My (the) mission has been to make crosswords more attractive to younger solvers. There’s no future for any of us without fresh blood coming through among the setters as well, and Rorschach won’t be the last bright young thing to grace the pages of The Independent. Nina-spotters will note that there are a few of us around the age of 50 or older but with, I’d like to think, a young outlook.

    Although I despair at a lot of popular culture, I do think it has a place in crosswords, more so than references to classical mythology or the Bible, which are no longer taught in depth at most schools.

    As for rules, I think we do need to have some conventions, but crosswords are supposed to be cryptic and it’s an editor’s job to ensure that clues are reasonable, but to encourage innovation.

  23. yvains says:

    Thank you, eimi @22, very kind. I think I’m probably to the ‘left’ of you, though: For me, the only valid rule is expressed in the test, “Can this light be solved, by an agile mind, on the basis of the information provided in the clue (or, in the case of ‘linked’ clues, with the help of information obtained from another answer)?” Everything else, e.g., “The definition must appear the same way in Chambers”, or, “Neologisms are bad”, or “Compound anagrams shouldn’t be allowed”, is simply, imo, an attempt to make the genre conform to personal prejudice.

  24. Rorschach says:

    I’m with you both here (although with caveats on yvains position).

    Half of the things we cite as “fair” and “Ximenean” are simply conventions which have arisen without any recourse to Derrick Macnutt or without a real concept of what “fairness” might even look like. How did half of the standard indicators become standard in the first place? Not because of any rules per se but because someone pushed the boat out and people went with it.

  25. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Rorschach for your contributions to this thread. I think your final sentence in comment 24 actually gives the clue to the (really quite unimportant) difference between our positions.

    My problem with inexact indicators is that someone uses one in a clue where the answer is obvious, and then someone else uses it where the answer is slightly less obvious, and so on. Then the indicator becomes regarded as standard, but this means that for any newcomer to crosswords it is a convention that has to be learned.

    My dislike of certain constructions, such as the unsignalled requirement to split a clue word and the two stage process required in 26ac of this crossword, is that in my view they tend to make crosswords cliquey.

    One thing on which I am sure we can agree is that we should choose what we allow or disallow in terms of current preferences, not in the name (or, rather, pseudonym) of an excellent crossword compiler who has now been dead for about 40 years.

    As always, I have no quarrel with people whose preferences are different from mine.

  26. yvains says:

    @24 I’d seriously love to learn about the caveats, some day :)

  27. nmsindy says:

    Re PB’s point at #25, I think Ximenean is used as a shorthand description of one approach to setting rather than suggesting nothing has changed in 40 years.

    There are no agreed rules, but conventions have grown up over time. FWIW, my views would be that the main purpose of a puzzle is to entertain, it should be fair (ie the solver should understand why he got the answer), for daily 15X15 cryptics the vocab should be familiar ie the puzzle should be (after a good deal of practice) usually solvable “on the train” without having to consult anything, and, finally, the definitions used should be verifiable in a dict.

  28. Rorschach says:

    Fairness is tricky because it often comes down to how easy or difficult a clue is to solve – one person’s ‘fair’ is another person’s ‘impossible’

    PB – I agree in some senses but cliquey-ness is not simply reducible to difficult or ambiguous aspects of clueing – one of the things I find that my uni friends struggle with the most is the almost unending possibilities which could be abbreviated. Sure you can say something like “refer to Chambers” but that is no less cliquey than compound anagrams et al. as far as the new solver is concern. “R = recipe” for me is no more ‘fair’ than expecting someone to mentally divide TimeWarner IMHO.

    NMS – again, for me, I would think I never solve a Thursday puzzle without making recourse to (via dictionary or from the fodder) words I don’t know – that’s because I’m naiver than the average solver no doubt but re-inforces my point re. fairness being relative (I refer you to Brendan’s CSARDAS in yesterday’s Graun for precedence – is that fair? or not?).

    Thanks all – I’m not often encouraged in my desire to discuss ‘style’.

  29. Pelham Barton says:

    I realised some time ago that fairness is not definable, which is why I now try to avoid the word in my postings and again try to make it clear in all my statements whether they are factual or statements of opinion or preference. If I ever fail in that, I will try to acknowledge this and correct any such error at the first opportunity.

    nms@27: Your description of how things “should be” for a daily cryptic corresponds fairly well to the type of crossword I most enjoy solving in my lunch break. I make no claim that these are in any way better or worse than any other type of crossword.

  30. flashling says:

    @Pelham, although I regard maths as an art, I feel that a mathematical bent helps to solve some cryptics and crosswords do require a literate mind, as to what is fair? I feel personally that if solvers can get it, even with a grumble that’s fine. About the old days… did folks moan when ximenean practices became the norm? I bet they did. Bring on some anarchy or is it Anarche, just feel cryptics need to be shaken and have 40 odd years of lack of development thrown away.

    Sorry end rant

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