Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8166 by Anax (Saturday Prize Puzzle 15 December 2012)

Posted by mc_rapper67 on December 22nd, 2012


The first thing that struck me about this puzzle was the amount of white space amongst the clues – combined with the identity of the setter, Anax, this was enough to strike fear into the heart of the blogger: it is going to be one of those fiercely difficult prize crosswords – with short, succinct and hard to fathom clues…

On closer inspection, part of the reason for the brevity was the number of longer and combined entries – and it turned out not to be that fierce after all, although it took me a while to get going. After popping in 1 across it took an entire run through the rest of the clues – and some cherry-picking – before things started dropping in to place.

There were quite a few long/compound anagrams – TASMANIAN DEVILS, TURN A BLIND EYE TO, OPTICAL SPECTRA, (GOO)DNESS GRACIOUS ME – which were nicely clued and which, once solved, gave plenty of crossing letters to help with other entries.

The two 4-word clues at 5/6D and 12A  were particularly enjoyable. I’d fitted the answer to 5/6D in from the Shakespeare reference and the enumeration well before I realised the significance of ‘play on’ – but the laugh-out-loud moment was 12A, where it took even longer to twig the double use (double entendre?!) of ‘the other’…

I couldn’t see any ninas or themes – I’m sure there’ll be plenty enough of those over the coming festive period anyway – but this was just a very enjoyable mental workout. A masterclass in clueing brevity – six clues of only 4 words, four more of just 5 – and anagrammatical fecundity…

Thanks, Anax, and a Merry Xmas/Happy New Year to you all.

(Update: There was a gremlin/Ralph at work in the paper version, I believe, as there were two clues numbered 20A…but the grid numbering seemed correct – thanks to flashling below for reminding me.)

Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
1A LOOM John and Mike are menacing (4) are menacing /
LOO (toilet, ‘john”) + M (Mike, phonetic alphabet)
4A THIMBLEFUL Amount of liquid retained in sewer cover (10) &lit? / amount of liquid /
a thimble, cover for a sewer (one who sews, not an underground pipe), can hold a (small) amount of liquid
9A HAIL FROM Semi-gypsy rings one, making call home (4,4) call (somewhere) home /
HALF (semi-) plus ROM (half of Romany, gypsy), around I (one)
10A TOGGLE Exchange goods left in part of golf club (6) exchange /
TOE (part of a golf club) around GG (good, plural) + L (left)
11A OPTICAL SPECTRA To accept April showers, firstly fashion rainbows (7,7) rainbows /
anag (i.e. fashion) or TO ACCEPT APRIL + S (first of Showers)
12A YOUR PLACE OR MINE Where’s the other venue? (4,5,2,4) &lit/CD? /
(dated?) chat-up line – which venue shall we use for a bit of ‘the other’?
14A TASMANIAN DEVILS They may display lividness at a circling bloke? (9,6) &lit? / they may display lividness /
TAS—IAN DEVILS – anag (i.e. circling, or display?) of LIVIDNESS AT A – around (circling, again?) MAN (bloke)
18A BOX JELLYFISHES Boyfriend keeping cattle stock reduced – is he beginning to stock sea creatures? (3,11) sea creatures /
BF (boyfriend, txt spk?) around OX (cattle) + JELL (stock, or jell-y, reduced), plus IS + HE + S (beginning to stock)
20A STABLE Bishop wearing old uniform (6) uniform /
STALE (old) around B (bishop)
20A 21A GOODNESS /22 Song based on grunge, and in some cases drug abuse? (8 & 8,2) song /
GOO (grunge) + anag (i.e. abuse) of IN SOME CASES DRUG
21A 22A GRACIOUS ME See 21 (8,2) see 21 /
see 21
23A NOCK Score from innings, say (4) score (as in notch) /
homophone – NOCK (score, notch) sounds like KNOCK (innings, in cricket)
Clue No Solution Clue Definition (with occasional embellishments) /
2D ON APPRO Old card game for … for testing? (2,5) for testing (on approval) /
O (old) NAP (card game) + PRO (for)
3D MILLIGRAM Fighter boxing poorly, hit offering not much weight (9) not much weight /
MIG (fighter plane) around (boxing) ILL (poorly) + RAM (hit)
4D TURN A BLIND EYE TO In trouble, and yet disposed to overlook (4,1,5,3,2) overlook /
anag (i.e. disposed) of IN TROUBLE AND YET
5D IF MUSIC /6 Orsino’s play on words (2,5 & 2,3,4,2,4) &lit/CD? /
Shakespeare – quote from Orsino, followed by the words ‘…play on’
6D BE THE FOOD OF LOVE See 5 (2,3,4,2,4) See 5 /
7D EIGHT Leaderless authority? What’s next? (5) what’s next (after 7, i.e. this clue) /
(W)EIGHT (authority, without leading letter)
8D UNLEARN Forget about Holland’s university merit (7) forget /
U (university) + NL (Holland, Netherlands) + EARN (merit)
13D MOVES IN ON Idle nurses have wrong approaches (5,2,2) approaches /
MOON (idle, laze around) around (nursing) VE (contraction of have) + SIN (wrong)
15D ARBITER Judge arrives, without effect (7) judge /
ARR (arrives) around (without) BITE (effect)
16D ALLEGES Holds drinks while keeping upright (7) holds (or claims, accuses) /
ALES (drinkg) holding LEG (support, upright)
17D LOESSIC Veins of ore without copper, thus made of clay (7) made of clay /
LO(D)ES (veins of ore, without D  – penny, or copper) + SIC (thus)
19D XEBEC Pirate ship wants location of treasure on map to lie in city (5) pirate ship /
X (marks the spot!) + EC (city) around BE (to lie)

7 Responses to “Independent 8166 by Anax (Saturday Prize Puzzle 15 December 2012)”

  1. flashling says:

    I did wonder a little about 20 and 20/21 and no 22. Just a setting error or something more going on?

  2. mc_rapper67 says:

    Ah yes – I did notice that, but I just assumed it was a typo/glitch and wrote 21/22 on my working copy…then forgot to transcribe it to the blog…

  3. Jim T says:

    I really enjoyed this. Agree about 12ac and 5/6dn and loved the anagram in 4dn. Think these are probably the definitive clues to those particular answers.

  4. Donk says:

    Superb puzzle. 1a went straight in and I thought I was finally onto Anax’s wavelength… no chance! 4d and 8d were particular favourites and I hope others enjoyed it as much as I did. Took me ages, but certainly well worth the time and effort! Bravo!

  5. anax says:

    Many thanks for the great blog mc, and to all for your comments.

    Hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year.

  6. Bertandjoyce says:

    We completed this on the train journey back from London last Saturday. No electronic help required thank goodness!

    Thanks Anax – another splendid puzzle.

    Thanks mc_rapper67 for the blog!

    Merry Christmas to one and all.

  7. JollySwagman says:

    Nice – thanks both.

    In 9a ROM alone is OK for gypsy – otherwise “semi” would be doing double duty.

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