Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,163 / Radian

Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 12th, 2012


First things first: my thanks to Duncan for stepping in and producing what should have been my blog. I am taking steps to reduce the potential for any such oversights in the future.

Moving to today’s puzzle, I had to do a double-take when I saw that neither Dac nor even Crosophile had compiled today’s offering. However, we had uncharacteristically been treated to a Dac puzzle yesterday, so there were unlikely to be two in a row by him. I rather suspected that there had to be a good reason for such anomalous scheduling, and a quick scan of the clues revealed a healthy crop of 12s. Having spotted this unusual date quite by chance in my diary recently, I realised that the puzzle had been compiled to mark today’s date, 12 December 2012 or 12/12/12. This theory is confirmed by 1D.

Despite twigging what the theme was before solving a single clue, I found this puzzle quite a challenge, not least to finish, since 4 and 21 refused to reveal themselves to me, and I needed me to resort to solving aids to find them. 1A and 9 were also new to me. Most of the clues around the theme of 12 fell into place quite quickly. Overall, a quite unique puzzle, for today and today alone, with lots of flair in the exploration of the theme, especially at 14. I particularly appreciate the fact that the theme is one which is accessible to all, requiring no specific general knowledge.

My favourite clues today are 26 for its subtraction device and 21 for its definition, which I would have loved to have cracked unaided. I wonder how many others saw the splitting device for themselves.

I went away from the puzzle thinking about when next such a date would appear on our calendars, and I suppose it will be 1 January 2101 or 01/01/01. I won’t need to concern myself with writing a blog for that one, but I certainly hope that the crosswords that we know and love, and that will be one hundred years old next year, will still exist by then, not to mention the newspapers that are their natural home; and that they will still be entertaining educating, and occasionally infuriating, a future generation of solvers and bloggers alike.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   THIRD RAIL HIRD (=stage dame, i.e. British actress Dame Thora Hird) in TRAIL (=drag); a third rail is a rail carrying electricity to an electrically-powered train, hence “train conductor”
6   FILM F1 (=Formula One) + L<e> M<ans> (“leaders in” means first letters only)
8   PROTOZOA PRO (=spin doctor, i.e. Public Relations Officer) + *(AT ZOO); “abroad” is anagram indicator; protozoa, such as flagellates, are unicellular forms, the lowest and simplest of animals
9   ONE-TWO *(WENT) in <r>OO<m> (“middle of” means central letters only); “flying” is anagram indicator; a one-two is a series   of punches in e.g. boxing
10   SEXTON SEX (=it, as in to do it) + TON (“NOT about”, i.e. reversed)
11   AYRSHIRE *(HARRY IS) + E (=English); “going off” is anagram indicator; an Ayrshire is a breed of reddish-brown and white dairy cattle, hence “milk supplier”
12/15   TWELVE ANGRY MEN *(NERVY LAWMEN GET); “converted” is anagram indicator; & lit., since Twelve Angry Men is a 1957 film (=entry at 6A) in which jury members are gradually converted
16   MIDNIGHT *(HIDING) in MT (=Montana); “could be” is anagram indicator; the definition is “12”
19   TROIKA [ROI (=French ruler, i.e. the French word for king) + K (=king, in chess and cards)] in TA (=reserve, i.e. Territorial Army); a troika is traditionally drawn by three horses, hence “3 hp vehicle”
21   BEAUFORT UFO (=strange thing flying over) in [BEA (=old airline, i.e. British European Airways, from 1946-74) + RT (=right)]; the definition is “wind scale”, with “in bits” indicating that the word should be split
22   MIDDAY *(DID) in MAY (=spring); “manoeuvres” is anagram indicator; the definition is “12”, cf. 16
24   TAURUS UR (=original, as a prefix) in [TA (=thanks) + US (=Uncle Sam)]
25   APOSTLES Second “p” (=quietly) in Ap-p-les (=PCs) is replaced by “ost” (=East German, i.e. the German word for east); the definition is “group of 12”
26   CLAN CL<e>AN (=pure); “non-additive” means the “e” (for E number) is deleted
27   SHEPHERDS Cryptic definition: “crooks” is to be understood as staff, walking stick
1   THREE RE (=on) in THE; there are three 12s in today’s date, 12/12/12
2   IN TOTAL TO in *(LATIN); “translation” is anagram indicator
3   DOZEN DO (=perform) + ZEN (=meditation); the definition is “12”
4   AGA SAGA An Aga saga is a popular novel in a semi-rural middle-class setting; hence “classy drama”; the term is palindromic, hence “however you read it”
5   LOOK RIGHT LOOK (=appear) + RIGHT (=correct); cryptic definition: “UK crossers (of roads) should do it”
6   FRESHLY [*(SHE) + L (=left)] in FRY (=cook); “stupidly” is anagram indicator
7   LOWER DECK Cryptic definition: “put (=lower) their cards (=deck) on the table”; non-cryptic definition: “petty officers and crew”, of   a ship, as opposed to senior officer
13   WHITEHALL *(WITH) + E-HALL (HALL-É=orchestra; “back to front” means last letter moves to front to word)
14   ENGROSSES GROSS (=twelve dozen, i.e. entries at 12 3) in *(SEEN); “spreading” is anagram indicator
17   NEUTRON [T (=time) in EURO (=currency)] in N N (=poles)
18   TITRATE *(TREAT IT); “in order” is anagram indicator
20   OLDSTER Hidden (“setting”) in “CotswOLDS(?) TERrific”
22   MOOCH MOO (=low, i.e. of cows) + CH (=church)
23   ABETS <h>E<a>T (“evenly” means alternate letters only) in ABS (=muscles, i.e. abdominals)

16 Responses to “Independent 8,163 / Radian”

  1. flashling says:

    Thanks RR, the UR = Original slipped my mind, so thanks for that, fairly sure AGA SAGA was clued similarly recently, once the 12/12/12 link was seen, this fell pretty quick, 9d might be another 12 – One-Two = 12.

    1d cheers to Radian.

  2. allan_c says:

    I guess Dac being bumped to Tuesday made many people suspect a puzzle today themed around todays’s date – and we weren’t disappointed. And some superb clues as well; I particularly liked TROIKA, BEAUFORT, NEUTRON and TITRATE.

    And BEAUFORT could count as another 12; the original scale ran from 0 to 12 and even the extended scale (to 17) is only used in special circumstances – see

    Thanks, Radian and RR.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks RR. I thought this was a terrific puzzle. I sometimes get a bit themed out with the Indy dailies, but this was an excellent decision to publish this crossword today. Strangely, it wasn’t my diary that alerted me to 12/12/12, but the fact that I wrote a cheque yesterday (my first of the year, I think) and putting the date in made me realise.

    Well done to Radian for not letting the theme get in the way of the puzzle being an accessible one. Once TWELVE ANGRY MEN went in, I was on the lookout for other stuff. Ticks for science-based clues in PROTOZOA, TITRATE and NEUTRON; and I also liked the intersecting clues for DOZEN and SEXTON.

    I’m still lost with UR for ‘original’, if someone doesn’t mind explaining it as if they were talking to a four-year-old.

  4. Eileen says:

    And 13dn another: police notices on the radio, immediately before the News, used to ask listeners to call Scotland Yard’s telephone number: WHITEHALL 1212.

    This is brilliant stuff! So many different layers, so smoothly put together.

    Favourite clues: 10, 12/15 and 21.

    Huge thanks for the enjoyment, Radian, and to RR for the blog/

  5. Eileen says:

    Hi K’s D

    I’ve learned from crosswords that UR [although it's much more often 'old city'] is a German prefix meaning ‘original’.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Das kann ich nicht glauben … maybe an abbreviation better left for a weekend puzzle. Thank you anyway, Eileen.

  7. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks to blogger and setter.

    25a would raise the eyebrows of some I know, to whom Apples are to PCs as … um … apples are to oranges.

  8. crypticsue says:

    Lovely themed puzzle thank you Radian and RR too.

  9. flashling says:

    For completeness this blog really should have 12 replies :-)

  10. Polly says:

    Here’s a tenth to be going on with: 13 down may have reminded others of similar age to me of the old Scotland Yard phone number, Whitehall 1212.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Polly, Eileen already said that at comment no 4 (don’t worry, I’ve done the same thing myself). Which opens the field up for fifteen minutes of fame and comment number twelve …

  12. Pelham Barton says:

    I genuinely have only just solved this puzzle and read the blog and comments. I agree this was good use of the theme to produce an accessible puzzle, so thanks Radian and RR for the blog.

  13. Wil Ransome says:

    Sorry to spoil it all with the 13th comment. Very nice crossword, with only a few very minor quibbles — spring is not just May (22ac), Apples certainly aren’t PCs unless you’re talking about them in a wider sense, in which case surely they’re pcs, and E-numbers aren’t necessarily additives (at least I think so). Lots of references to 12 — Taurus is one of the 12 Signs of the Zodiac and I was expecting more of this.

  14. Bertandjoyce says:

    As far as the next date is concerned, how about 20/12/2012?

    Thanks RR for the blog, we needed you to parse 24ac.

    Sorry flashling there are now 13 replies. Does 13 count as a dozen as far as bakers are concerned?

    Thanks Radian for the puzzle.

  15. Polly says:

    I reckon 13 replies does count as a dozen, especially since mine duplicated Eileen’s. (How on earth did I miss that? I could have sworn I’d read them all.) Sorry, folks!

  16. Rorschach says:

    Fun puzzle!

    Just a few anagrams though?

    Thanks both!

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