Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8106 by Nimrod (Saturday Prize Puzzle 6 Oct 2012)

Posted by mc_rapper67 on October 13th, 2012


Nurse! My medication, please! This fiendishly clever and involved Saturday Prize puzzle from Nimrod almost reduced me to a gibbering wreck…or rather to more of one…

Where to start? Several linked clues; some symmetrically placed splits of 6-letter answers into 3-plus-3; layers upon layers and depths within depths of surface readings. 

This crossword and I danced around the edge of the ring, like a pair of old-fashioned heavyweights, eyeing each other up, looking for an opening…jab…15A DIDCOT…left hook…16A INDIANA…this looks easy…shouldn’t take too long…and then BAM – I was lying on the floor dazed and confused like Frank Bruno after a Mike Tyson haymaker…

It was Tuesday afternoon before I finally put this to bed – or rather in an envelope to post my entry in (how quaintly old-fashioned, now that the Grauniad takes faxed entries, the Times does them online and the Hello-graph takes scanned and e-mailed copies!)

So the theme/nina behind those linked clues is the use of the possessive apostrophe – whether it is before the ‘s’ in the singular, or after the ‘s’ in the plural. 12A can have either – MOTHER’S RUIN or MOTHERS’ RUIN are both given in Chambers as slang for ‘gin’, hence that ‘perhaps’ in the clue. The singular possessives (7A APOSTROPHE S) are 24A PETER’S PENCE and 1D MACH’S PRINCIPLE. The plurals (28A S APOSTROPHE) are 13A POETS’ CORNER, 22A WITCHES’ BREW and 10D NINE DAYS’ WONDER.

As if that wasn’t enough, apart from the two hidden words and a few ‘quick gets’ (for me anyway), like 15A/20A DID/COT, 3D ITEM, 22D TATTOO and 25D EARN, the rest of the ‘normal’ clues were of the usual Nimrod-ian standard – i.e. downright difficult, but also challenging and, ultimately, satisfying. Too many to mention individually, but just re-visiting them to complete the blog has given me palpitations!

Last in was 6D IN QUOD (INK WAD) which produced a face palm moment – as did the use of the Homer-(Simpson)-ian D’OH in 2D.

Now, don’t get me started on the use of apostrophes by greengrocers, by my kids, by my kids’ teachers in their skool reports…! I’ll just have to go and lie down again, and be grateful I shouldn’t have another Nimrod to blog for at least a month or two… 

Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
7A APOSTROPHE S In seated position, reject left hospital opening as the possessor of 12, perhaps, 24 and 1 (10,1) ‘s – (singular) possessive indicator in said entries /
AS around POSE (seated position) around TROP (rejected PORT, left) + H (hospital)
9A NON (EGO) /27. At a single fell swoop, your setter’s left unconscious (3-3) (the) unconscious (self) /
(I)N ONE GO (a single fell swoop) without I (your setter)
11A HAS (TEN) /26. A dog is in possession of 18 toes: as for the human race? (6) race (hurry) /
A dog has eighteen toes, whereas a human HAS TEN (!). Not sure if this is an &lit or a CD…?
12A MOTHER’S RUIN, or MOTHERS’ RUIN Gordon’s thermos? (7,4) Gordon’s (gin) /
self-indicating anagram – THERMOS = MOTHERS ‘ruined’ – and the apostrophe can be either singular or plural, according to Chambers: mother’s ruin or mothers’ ruin = (slang) gin.
13A POETS’ CORNER Old acquaintance of Elliott attracts contempt in a restful literary area (5,6) restful literary area /
PER (a, as in each) around O (old) + ET (alien, friend of Elliot in the film ‘ET’) + SCORN (contempt)
15A DID (COT) /20. Oxon community executed business on time (6) Oxon (Oxford) community /
DID (executed) + CO (company, business) + T (time)
16A INDIANA State of mind I analyse (7) (US) state /
hidden word in mIND I ANAlyse
18A THROATY Like Hacker, maybe, wearing Tory hat? (7) Like Hacker (with a hacking cough) /
anag (i.e. wearing) of TORY HAT
20A COT See 15 (3) see 15 /
see 15
22A WITCHES’ BREW In the company of shipmates, getting hazy quaffing strong Fuller’s ale, a heady concoction (7,4) a heady concoction /
WITH CREW (in the company of shipmates) becomes ‘hazy’/mixed together WIT(C)H(REW), then around ESB (strong Fuller’s ale)
24A PETER’S PENCE Writer – in respect of a sort – appended tab, not payment for 17 (6,5) not payment for 17 (Antipope), i.e. it IS payment to a Pope /
anag (of a sort) of RESPECT around PEN (writer), plus E (tab, as in Ecstasy tablet)
26A TEN See 11 (3) see 11 /
see 11
27A EGO See 9 (3) see 9 /
see 9
28A S APOSTROPHE As the possessor of 12, perhaps, 13, 22 and 10, sort out spare photos (1,10) s’ – (plural) possessive indicator in said entries /
anag (sort out) of SPARE PHOTOS
Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1D MACH’S PRINCIPLE Possible reason for mass reduction of penny pincher’s claim for reparation (5,9) Possible reason for mass reduction (Einsteinian hypothesis) /
anag (reparation) of P (penny) + PINCHER’S CLAIM
2D HOGSHEAD Has German Earl, breaking and entering of course, over a barrel (8) a barrel /
anag (i.e breaking) of HAS + G (German) + E (Earl), inside HOD (D’OH, ‘of course’, face palm a la Homer Simpson, turned over)
3D ITEM Boyfriend and girlfriend want sex with perverted writer (4) boyfriend and girlfriend /
IT (sex) + EM (ME, the setter, perverted – either a 2-letter anagram or just turned over?)
4D TOO TOO Exquisite result from Talk Sport? (3,3) Exquisite /
homophonic double defn – ‘too too’ as in ‘lovely’ = Exquisite; on a radio sports report a result might be ‘2-2′.
5D WHEEL NUT Part of cycle cut short rehabilitation of the unwell (5,3) Part of cycle /
anag (rehabilitation) of THE UNWEL(L) – cut short of last L
6D IN QUOD Marker of papers has bundle of notes reportedly put away (2,4) put away (in prison, or quod) /
homophone – IN QUOD sounds like INK (marker of papers) + WAD (bundle of notes)
8D SASARARAS More than one blow for radio’s “Coxy” after punching namesakes (9) more than one blow /
SARA – Sara Cox (radio DJ) – inside (punching) SARAS (her namesakes!)
10D NINE DAYS’ WONDER Indy, as renowned fleetingly? (4,4,6) Fleetingly (something ephemeral, temporary) /
anag (indicated by that ‘?’) of INDY AS RENOWNED
14D STALWARTS They are true facts about League battles (9) They are true /
STATS (statistics, facts) around L (league) + WAR (battles)
17D ANTIPOPE Opposition bishop’s stake covers East London rap (8) Opposition bishop /
ANTE (stake, in betting) around IPOP (dropping the aitches of (H)IP (H)OP, or rap, as an East Ender might do)
19D AIRSTOPS Where Budgie put down songs aimed for Number One (8) Where Budgie (the helicopter, in Thomas the Tank Engine) put down (landed) /
AIRS (songs) + TOPS (excellent, No 1)
21D TATTOO Pointedly design some military entertainment (6) double defn /
to TATTOO can be to ‘pointedly’ design; and a TATTOO is a military entertainment
23D HONEST Underneath one’s table, concealed upright (6) upright /
hidden word in ‘underneatH ONE’S Table’
25D EARN Make long year short (4) make (money) /
(Y)EARN – long for – short of Y (year)

13 Responses to “Independent 8106 by Nimrod (Saturday Prize Puzzle 6 Oct 2012)”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Yes, this was a very imaginative idea. It was a real struggle until I saw it – after that then it became less difficult (‘easier’ does not sound right here) and I managed to finish it. There were quite a few wordplays I did not fully understand but you have explained them in the blog – many thanks for that and to Nimrod of course. My favourite clue was NON EGO.

  2. flashling says:

    Dear Lord, hard luck MCR having been been on the receiving end of a Nimrod like this or 2 on a weekday I can sympathise. Just glad that I missed it.

  3. Querulous says:

    Thanks Nimrod and mc_rapper67. Unfortunately the first 4 words of 1D immediately made me write in HIGGS MECHANISM without even considering the wordplay, and it was a struggle to recover from there.

  4. ewwo says:

    Always enjoy the blogs but have never felt moved to post a comment before. Sometimes when you real aficionados think clues are great, I just wonder if the setter has gone too far, and this Nimrod was the prime example. I guess this only shows my ignorance, having never heard of sasararas or “quod”, so putting them in only when no other combinations of letters made sense.

    Hasten – does it really mean race?
    Airstops – is that a word?

    Ok, don’t answer me, but this week I was particularly grateful to your blogger for explaining the word play in some of the clues. Hope for something easier this week.

  5. Dormouse says:

    Q@3 :-) I considered some variant of “Higgs” for a while but fortunately didn’t put it in. (And I’ve just seen a reference to a “Higgs bosun” in a magazine.)

    Can’t remember now how long it took me to twig the theme, but I got most of the grid filled in by Saturday night. 2 & 6dn held me up. Got the former with a word search late in the week when all else had failed. I can’t remember if “in quod” turned up in a word search, but I wasn’t familiar with the phrase and couldn’t make the connection to the clue, so thanks for explaining that.

    I did like 12ac. And once I got that I think that helped me get the rest of the theme. (I mean the answer helped, not the gin itself.)

  6. crypticsue says:

    I thought it was a great theme – my mother would have loved it – she was a great one for altering signs outside greengrocers shops and the like when the apostrophe was wrongly used. As usual with a Nimrod a certain amount of muttering was required, but that is only to be expected with one of his puzzles. D’oh moments have to be the ‘ink wad’ and the NON EGO. Lovely puzzle thank you Nimrod and very well done to Mc_Rapper – at least you didn’t have to produce an ‘on the day’ blog for this one which always adds an extra layer of terror to solving one of John’s puzzles :).

  7. sidey says:

    Thank you mc_r. Definitely one to be attempted on paper. Some very clever stuff. Micro point, Budgie is by alleged plagiarist Fergie, the helicopter in Thomas is Harold.

  8. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks for all the comments/feedback – looks like this was a generally tough puzzle for everybody!

    ewwo at #4 – glad you appreciated the blog – makes it all the more worthwhile if this has been some help.

    – Chambers has ‘race’ as to run, or go, swiftly – as well as the connotation of vying with others in a race, usually of speed, so I think it is probably a suitable indicator for ‘hasten’

    – Chambers also has ‘airstop’ as a ‘stopping place for helicopters’ – like a bus-stop for buses? Bit obscure, and I’d never heard of it, but I was certain of ‘airs….’ for songs, so it was a matter of thumbing through the entry for ‘air’. Even if I did get my helicopter reference wrong!

    – similarly, much scrabbling around to find SASARARAS and QUOD.

    As you say – hopefully something easier this week, but good to get a tough workout occasionally…

  9. Trebor says:

    Marvellous puzzle. The D’Oh in 2D very apt for a Nimrod/Enigmatist solver. He might be the best.

  10. yvains says:

    Left this one till late in the day, and rather wished I hadn’t. Some clues I loved – MOTHER’S RUIN, THROATY, ITEM, ANTIPOPE, (and HOGSHEAD once I read the parsing here) – but I limped over the finish-line, needing your explanation of WITCHES’ BREW, POETS’ CORNER and HOGSHEAD, mc_rapper67, never having heard of ESB, or seen ET. I’d probably have been a lot more enthusiastic, and felt more of a sense of achievement, if I’d tackled it fresher. Thanks to setter and blogger. A real tough one.

  11. allan_c says:

    Would never have completed this without extensive use of a word finder – at least it did turn up the obscure words like SASARARAS and (obscure to me anyway) AIRSTOPS. Definitely a facepalm moment when I twigged the theme. And thanks, mc_rapper67, for the blog; I needed several explanations.

  12. JollySwagman says:

    It all made sense in the end.

    Thank’s Nimrod and mc_r.

  13. redddevil says:

    Had no problem with IN QUOD but never heard of Sara Cox nor the word deriving from her and would never have associated Elliott with the brat in the boring film (but at least that clue was gettable without).
    I can’t see that “as for the human” works to make you put “Has ten” in 11/26. “Whereas the human” seems both to work and read better to me…
    Much enjoyment nonetheless so thanks to both Nimrod and mc_rapper

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