Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8136 by Tyrus (Saturday Prize Puzzle 10 November 2012)

Posted by mc_rapper67 on November 17th, 2012


It took me a while to get through the layers (strata?) of this puzzle, not helped by a school-boy error on 6D and a couple of holes in my 1970s TV-watching CV…

Given that the first three across entries were all linked to elsewhere, it made sense to abandon the traditionalist linear solving approach (which I don’t always adhere to anyway) and follow those links. The anagram at 24A/1A/4A yielded fairly early on – ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS. And 24A – ROCK – was a lead-in to several other clues/entries, in a variety of interesting ways.

17A 8A proved more difficult – until I had a few more crossing entries and I guessed at GERARD BUTLER – an actor I had never heard of, but Wiki-oogling soon confirmed.

Sofa, so good – except that I had lazily seen the word ‘convertible’ in 6D and put SOFT TOP to fill S?F? ??? – which halted progress in the top right sector for a while. The four short words – LAM, RAS, OIL and SUP helped to move things along, by being fairly quick gets.

But enough waffle – the linkages all dropped out – ROCK leading to HUDSON, CLENCHED FIST, LURCH and half of BAS(ALT), as well as a choice between itself and A HARD PLACE.

BUTLER led to LURCH again, this time from ‘The Addams Family’ – and who also gets an oblique but unrelated reference in 15D – and HUDSON, again, this time as the butler from ‘Upstairs Downstairs’. I managed to miss both of these series due to a peripatetic/nomadic childhood in the 70s and 80s, which also meant that programmes like Thunderbirds, Bagpuss and Grange Hill mean virtually nothing to me, although I do have some pleasant memories of the Clangers…and Mr Benn.

I found myself a bit disturbed by 1D on both the clue front and the entry. Using ‘die’ as a homophone for Di (Princess Diana) seemed a bit distasteful, to say the least. And giving Paul Burrell the distinction of a mention in an (ex-)broadsheet crossword like the Indy seems unnecessary, when rather than being Diana’s ‘rock’, as he claimed, he was really just a money-grubbing weasel (in my opinion, and not necessarily that of the 15×15 website!) who has traded on and cashed in on his association with her in a way that no true friend, or ‘rock’ would ever do. I’m no royalist, or Diana sympathist – I just feel he should be left to lie under whichever ‘rock’ he has crawled. Indeed one of the attractions of the Independent when it started was its refusal to cover anything royal, unless absolutely necessary. Whereas nowadays it seems to cover any bit of royal tittle-tattle as closely as the Daily Mail or the Hello-graph. Andreas Whittam-Smith must be turning in his highly-paid executive directorships and consultant-editorships.

But enough sermonising – 1D apart, this was an interesting puzzle from Tyrus, with hidden depths and wonderful clueing – lots of interaction between clues, even if a bit distracting at times – which is the whole point, I know! I particularly liked the use of ‘retroussé’ (turned up, of a nose) as an indicator for a reversed word, when the word being reversed, or turned up, was clued by ‘noses’.

Last in was DARYL at 23D – once I realised that ‘ladyboy’ had to be ‘split’ to give part of the anagram, as well as the definition.


Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1A PAPER See 24 (5) See 24 /
See 24
4A SCISSORS See 24 (8) See 24 /
See 24
8A BUTLER See 17 (6) See 17 /
See 17
9A LAM Hit post after Italy dropped back (3) Hit /
LAM = MA(I)L (post) backwards, without I (Italy)
10A FIST See 28 (4) See 28 /
See 28
11A ABSTENTION Hostile nation best showing forbearance (10) forebearance /
anag (i.e. hostile) of NATION BEST
12A BASE 24 losing half a point, being bottom… (4) bottom /
BAS (half of BASALT, a rock, 24) + E (East, a compass point)
14A PRESUMES … supposes chance of winning over – to go on is wearing (8) supposes /
PS (reverse of SP, starting price, chance of winning) around RESUME (to go on)
16A HUDSON 8 and 24 a banker (6) triple defn /
Hudson was the butler (8) in ‘Upstairs, Downstairs'; Rock (24) Hudson was an actor; the Hudson River is a ‘banker’
17A GERARD /8 Actor and dog deter burglar (6 & 6) Actor /
anag (i.e. dog) of DETER BURGLAR
19A CAMPAIGN A ‘caring’ PM renouncing right – amazing what he’ll do for votes! (8) what he (PM, politician) will do for votes /
anag (i.e. amazing) of A CA(R)ING PM without R (right)
21A FLEA Told to take off jumper (4) jumper (jumping insect) /
homophone (i.e. told) – FLEA (jumping insect) sounds like FLEE (take off, escape)
22A A HARD PLACE Yes! Record drive recalled golfer’s one alternative to a 24 (1,4,5) alternative to a 24 (‘between a rock and …’) /
AHA (yes!, interjection) + RD (DR, drive, recalled) + PL (record, LP, recalled) + ACE (golfer’s hole-in-one)
24A ROCK /1A/4A Playing poker or crap’s (sic) – extremely serious game (4,5,8) game /
anag (i.e. playing) of POKER OR CRAPS SIC + SS (extreme letters of SeriouS)
26A SUN Son has finished drink (3) drink /
S (son) + UP (finished)
27A RATION Lack of sex? One Romeo recalled an adequate amount (6) an adequate amount /
reverse of NO IT (lack of sex!) + A (one) + R (Romeo, phonetic alphabet)
28A CLENCHED /10 Sign of determination from 24 in game (8,4) sign of determination /
In the thematic game of ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS, the ‘rock’ is represented by a clenched fist
29A LURCH 8 and 24’s reduced control over church (5) 8 and 24 (butler and rock) /
LUR (RULe, or control, reduced in length and turned over) + CH (church) – Lurch being the butler (8) in the Addams family; or to lurch can be to to rock (8) from side to side
Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1D PAUL BURRELL 8 and 24 to die if caught (he claimed) (4,7) 8 and 24 (butler and rock) /
(&lit-ish, or CD?) Paul Burrell claimed he was Diana’s (Di, or ‘die’, if heard, or caught) ‘rock’ (24), as well as her butler (8)
2D PILATES Exercise one gets between sheets (7) Exercise /
PLATES (sheets) around I (one)
3D RERAN Period in service repeated (5) repeated /
RN (Royal Navy, service) around ERA (period)
4D SALLIES School friends fighting charges (7) charges (forth) /
S (school) + ALLIES (friends)
5D IMMINGHAM Port in east China home, spiritual leader claims (9) Port in East (East coast of England, not China!) /
IMAM (spiritual leader) around (claiming) MING (China, porcelain) + H (home)
6D SOFA BED Does magical tours like the Beatles (in convertible) (4,3) convertible (piece of furniture) /
SO ED, anag (i.e. tours) of DOES, around FAB (the Beatles, a popular beat combo, were known as the Fab Four, m’lud)
7D RAS Prince somewhat brash (3) Prince /
hidden word in bRASh
13D SPONGE CLOTH Cleaner does for gent (head of private school) (6, 5) Cleaner /
anag (i.e. does for) of GENT + P (head of private) + SCHOOL
15D MADRASSAH Weird! Addams 8 finally has one day off in college (religious one) (9) College (religious one) /
anag (i.e. weird) of AD(D)AMS + R (last letter of butler, 8) + HAS – less D (one day off)
18D ALASKAN Like retroussé noses? Take out American (7) American /
A LA (like, in the manner of) + SKAN (NA(R)KS, or noses, without R – recipe, Latin, take) retroussé, of a nose, ‘turned up’)
19D CRAMPED Short of space, he ran deputy over (7) Short of space /
CRAM (former runner, Steve Cram) + PED (DEP, or deputy, over)
20D ALL-STAR Elite table includes Lowry (3-4) Elite /
ALTAR (table) around LS (initials of LS Lowry, painter)
23D DARYL Run into post-op ladyboy – split! (5) boy (split from ‘lady-boy’/
anag (i.e. post-op) of LADY (split from lady-boy) plus R (run)
25D OIL Olivia impressed by cast in Grease (3) Grease /
anag (i.e. impressed) of OLI(VIA) – via, or by (way of) being ‘cast’ off

12 Responses to “Independent 8136 by Tyrus (Saturday Prize Puzzle 10 November 2012)”

  1. Polly says:

    DARYL at 23D was the last one in for me too. It’s not the usual spelling of the name, and Wikipedia turned up the 1985 sci-fi film D.A.R.Y.L., about a cyborg – hence perhaps ‘boy – split’ (between human and artificially created form?).

    After failing to make use of Lurch in 15D I was delighted that he did eventually find his place.

  2. ewwo says:

    Can you explain 18D a little more. Why does take give you an r?

    Some good clues but 23D doesn’t work for me (perhaps just sour grapes because unusually this was a clue we didn’t even manage to guess at).

  3. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks, Polly at #1.

    To ewwo at #2, ‘r’ can be used as an abbreviation for the Latin recipe, imperative form of recipere meaning ‘to take, or receive’. I assume that is where the English word ‘recipe’ comes from: ‘take two eggs, some flour, milk, etc.’?

    Looks like 23D caused a few problems, glad I wasn’t the only one!…

  4. Ian SW3 says:

    The only Daryl I’ve ever heard of is Hannah, who is not a boy. The SE corner was pretty hopeless for me, but thanks to blooger and setter.

  5. sidey says:

    Daryl can be a boy or girl according to Wiki

    Despite the internet I still have no idea who Mr Butler is, at least his obscurity isn’t associated with soccer, which is nice.

  6. Rorschach says:

    “I’m no royalist, or Diana sympathist – I just feel he should be left to lie under whichever ‘rock’ he has crawled.”

    Blimey… Pontificate much?

  7. Rorschach says:

    Great crossword I thought. Thanks Tyrus!

  8. Polly says:

    Sidey at 5: true, but wikipedia distinguishes between the normal spelling with two Rs (as you have it) and the film D.A.R.Y.L. (abbreviated form of Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform), in which the central character happens to be a boy. See

  9. kloot says:

    Found this hard, hard and with dollop of hard. In the end I gave up-something I don’t like doing. I had numerous gaps which I had guesses for which were all right. Maybe I should have trusted my instincts more.

  10. ewwo says:

    Thanks mcrapper at #3. seen recipe for r many times but this use of take is new for me. Shouldn’t the setter give us some hint he’s using a translation? Oh well, never mind.

  11. Tyrus says:

    Thanks to mc for the blog and to others for the comments. Sorry to those who found it too difficult.

    Not quite sure how the Princess Di clue – which makes no reference to her ‘accident’ – is distasteful. And PB’s appearance in no way suggests approval or otherwise – he merely fits the theme.

    mc’s parsing of 23d was correct – never heard of the Data-Analysing Robot thingy.

    ewwo: think ‘take’ for ‘r’ is a pretty common crossword usage.

  12. OzBron says:

    Thanks for all the mental workout! (Solution 26A should be SUP, not SUN.)

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