Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8170/Scorpion

Posted by John on December 20th, 2012


A very good crossword from Scorpion today, full of excellent clues, and hardly anything to quibble about. It also has a theme of which I approve — it is possible to solve the crossword straight without having to get some connection before you really start.

The idea is explained in 8ac below. Perhaps there’s more, but I am moderately familiar with this record and I haven’t seen anything else. In any case it’s clever of Scorpion to clue so efficiently — I never would have realised that he was operating under quite severe restrictions.

8 THE BEATLES — (late)* in Thebes — the source of all clues initially is the set of first letters of these clues, which make SGT PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
9 CentraL LUDlow — hidden rev.
11 CRICK{e{xtra} t}
12 BALTI C{ustomer}S EA
13 PRO XY — x and y-coordinates
15 PORCUPINE — (crop)rev. U pine
16 THICKEN — chicken with t replacing c — ‘over’ is used here to mean ‘replacing’ — if you type a character over another one it replaces it, if you are in ‘overwrite’ rather than ‘insert’ mode
18 {mo}B R(ENG)UN
20 TEM(PT FAT)E — the Teme is a tributary of the River Severn — PT = [physical] jerks, fat = greasy
21 TA(P I)R
23 ALDERSHOT — (lad others)*
25 TEN CH — a tench, a fish, is in a school; ten in gymnastics etc is a perfect score
26 {l}APSE
27 CONT(RAVEN)E{h} — John Conteh — dispute = contravene? I thought this was a bit loose, but Chambers says that to contravene is to oppose, and to dispute is to oppose by argument
1 STOCKPOT — stock = line [is born of David's line] (top)rev.
2 DE NIRO — (or in e{yeli}d)rev.
3 WEAK — “week” — and here there can be no argument, as there was the other day over apps/apse, because the homophone indicator is at the end of the clue
4 S({restauran}T)UB
5 DEPLORABLE — (pole)* in drab l{oung}e
6 QUISLING — “quiz” ling{o}
7 PL{ayers} EASE — suit as a verb
14 YAKITORI — yak (rot)rev, in II
15 {s}PENT AT H{il}L ON
17 I(M{ilitary} MO)D EST
19 NORTH SEA — (at shore)* — it seems a bit odd to call the North Sea a feature of Britain, rather than of Norway or The Netherlands etc
20 T(RAJ)A N
24 TOT E{xamine} — is a tote a tote bag? Probably yes in some dictionary
25 TRAP — (part)rev. — speed trap and character in a play

6 Responses to “Independent 8170/Scorpion”

  1. Cumbrian says:

    A couple of clues beyond my ability (as your average Bear of Little Brain) but great stuff, and a pangram to boot. I totally missed the theme – a drawback of how the clues are displayed in the online version – so couldn’t understand THE BEATLES at 8ac – my initial attempt was THE SETTERS until it mucked up 5d. All is now clear, thanks to the blog.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, John. As Cumbrian says, solving online left me completely mystified by the definition in 8ac, although the construction was clear enough.

    I think you’re not being fair about NORTH SEA – the N of Britain is needed to put together the anagram in this excellent &lit – although I suppose you’re right that “Norway’s Westernmost..” would have worked as well.

    The TRAP I took to refer to sand rather than speed.

  3. Querulous says:

    Thanks Scorpion and John.

    In 25D, I had TRAP as meaning a bunker or similar that a (golf) driver might encounter.

  4. Thomas99 says:

    Agree with Querulous and NeilW re TRAP. I don’t really think a speed trap is an obstacle.

  5. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Scorpio for an excellent crossword and John for the blog. I started with PROXY which had me on full pangram alert, reinforced by QUISLING. The last different letter I got was the F in 20ac. Favourite clue the “& lit” at 19dn although I take John’s point.

    3dn: I was going to make the same comment as John – this is the safest way to avoid any possible ambiguity. Also worth noting that it is essential to avoid ambiguity here, as the homophones differ only in an unchecked letter.

    16ac: Here we have two definitions with a modifier in the middle, but “time over start of Christmas” means that the modifier only works one way round, so there is no ambiguity here either.

    25dn: I was another who read this in the golfing sense, but the motoring sense is equally good.

    6dn: I raised an eyebrow when solving at the use of “abrupt”, but Chambers gives “truncated” as one of the meanings, so no complaint there.

  6. Bertandjoyce says:

    Well……. we started off quite well. We noted the possibility of a pangram early on and sorted out the relevance of The Beatles in 8ac. However, the SW corner proved very tricky and some electronic help was required. We’d not come across 14d before.

    Thanks John for the parsing of 17d and 20ac.

    Thanks Scorpion for the head-scratching!

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