Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,191 / Donk

Posted by RatkojaRiku on January 15th, 2013


This is my first encounter with Donk as a blogger and only my second or third with him as a solver, although I may well have caught sight of him recently on the fringes of a crossword event.

As no more than an armchair sportsman, and no fan of football, I fear that I may well not have done justice to Donk today, since there are doubtless references to the great game that have simply escaped my notice here, either in the clues or in the grid.

I know enough, however, to be able to identify this puzzle as one of those reverse theme puzzles, where the clues are themed, in that most of them include some reference to football (or rugby, at least at 16A), but where the grid entries are of a general nature. I imagine that this took quite a lot of time to compose, since some of the devices used in the wordplay – e.g. at 13, 14/22 – are fairly sophisticated, but I suppose that Donk is a football fan and relished every moment of setting this puzzle and squeezing a sporting reference into every clue.

Once I had completed the grid, I spotted the word GOAL along each of the top and bottom rows, as if reproducing the layout of a football pitch; the position of (the) HALFWAY (line) across the middle of the puzzle, with CENTRE CIRCLE around it, reinforces that image. Perhaps there is more to the image that I have spotted?

18 was new to me but I think I have tracked it down via Google. My favourite clues were 2 and 16D for their surfaces. I am not sure about my parsing of 21, as the reversal indicator was unfamiliar.

Many thanks to Donk for creating a puzzle to stretch and entertain even someone for whom the great game has always been something of a mystery!

(…) indicates an anagram

9   LOCAL CA (AC=club from Milan, i.e. football club; “over” indicates reversal) in LOL (=funny, i.e. Laugh Out Loud, in SMS speak)
10   VOLTE-FACE *(LEFT) in [V (=very) + O (=old) + ACE (=great)]; “out” is anagram indicator
11   BLUBBER [BB (=books) in BLUE (=adult, i.e. of movie)] + <strike>R (“at the death” means last letter only)
12   ON THE GO <m>ONTH (=part of season; “start off” means first letter is dropped) + EGO (=self-confidence)
13   LOIN O (=O) in LIN (NIL=O; “backed” indicates reversal); the definition is “cut” (of meat, e.g. pork loin)
14/22   CENTRE CIRCLE MID (=centre) + O (=circle, i.e. pictorially)
15   PSI Hidden (“entertaining”) in “toP SIdes”; definition is “one employed by Socrates”, i.e. letter of Greek alphabet
16   FLY HALF FLY (=rise) + HALF (=50%)
18   WAY TO GO WAY (=tactic) + TOGO (=African side, i.e. African country with football team); “way to go” means “well done”, “that’s great doing” in US slang, hence “amazing”
20   IMP <madejsk>I <stadiu>M (“they close” means last letters only) + P (=parking)
24   AGUE U (=United, as in Man U) in AGE (=time)
26   FIREDOG FIRED (=shot) + OG (=own goal); the definition is “(wooden) logs supporter”, i.e. fireside receptacle for wood
27   ALFONSO ALF (=manager Ramsey, of England football team in 1963-74) + ON (=working) + SO<t> (=drunk; “mostly” means last letter dropped); I suppose the definition is merely “man”, i.e. a man’s name
29   ANTENATAL *(NEAT) + NATAL<z> (<z>LATAN; “header missing” means first letter dropped; “over” indicates reversal); “play”   indicates an anagram
30   WISPY W (=with) + I-SPY (=game requiring initial suggestion, i.e. I-spy with my little eye something beginning with “a”)
1   GLOBAL LOB (=pitch, i.e. throw) in GAL<l> (=to get to, i.e. irk, annoy; “short” means last letter dropped)
2   SCRUTINY S<toke> (“wanting draw =toke, puff on a cigarette” means letters “toke” are dropped) + *(CITY RUN); “complicated” indicates an anagram
3   GLIB G<ao>L (“gutted” means middle letters dropped) + <h>IB<s> (“wingers taken off” means first and last letters are dropped)
4   OVERLEAF *(LEAVE FOR); “Bent” is anagram indicator; the definition is “on the other side (of the page)”
5   ALL-OUT <f>ALLOUT (=unfavourable results, e.g. of nuclear explosion); “last six” means final six letters only are needed
6   LEATHERY Footballs used to be made of leather, hence “as old balls”
7   LACE-UP LA (=in France the; i.e. the French word for the) + [<gold>E<n> (“5th place” means fifth letter only) in CUP (=tournament)]; the definition is “(e.g. football) boot”
8   GERONIMO O (=ball, i.e. pictorially) + MINOR (=under-18) + E.G. (=say); “turning” indicates (here total) reversal
16   FLIMFLAM F<ootbal>L (“heart ripped out” means only   first and last letters remain) + IMF (=financial organisation, i.e.   International Monetary Fund) + LAM (=clout, i.e. hit, strike); the definition   is “rot”, i.e. rubbish, nonsense
17   ACCEDING *(C<arling> C<up> + GAINED); “originally” means first letters only; “in surprising way” is anagram indicator
18   WALHALLA W (=won, on a scorecard) + A + L (=large) + HALL (=room) + A
19   ORGANISE [I (one) in ORGANS (=hearts, i.e. body parts)] + E (=European)
21   PIRATE ETA (=when one’s expected, i.e. Expected Time of Arrival) + RIP (=burst); “on the counter” appears to indicate a (here total) vertical reversal; the definition is “(to) appropriate stuff”, i.e. take as one’s own
23   RIGHTO RIG (=kit) + *(HOT); “laundered” is anagram indicator
25   EPONYM P<ele> (“first” means first letter only) in *(MONEY); “spent” is anagram indicator
28   FOWL Homophone (“being announced”) of “foul” (=ref’s decision, e.g. in football)

16 Responses to “Independent 8,191 / Donk”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, this was a puzzle of four quarters, rather than a game of two halves, but now the nina’s been pointed out, I can see why. Clever. And actually, a crossword that wouldn’t really exclude those solvers who don’t feel lurve for the beautiful game, since it was only CENTRE CIRCLE where you’d need to have particular knowledge (this was my favourite today, since MIDO is indeed a footballer).

    I was unfamiliar with WALHALLA as an alternative spelling of VALHALLA, but that didn’t hold me up too long. I think you’re right with ‘on the counter’ as an anagram indicator in PIRATE, RR: if a team attacks ‘on the counter’ (ie a counter-attack) there’s a sudden change in the direction of play. And the only other footie reference is to Darren BENT in 4dn, who left high-flying Sunderland to sign for relegation favourites Aston Villa. Silly boy.

    Fine puzzle, thanks to Donk. He’ll be telling us who he supports next. Not another Gooner, please …

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, for the blog, RR – and well done, especially for spotting the Nina!

    I nearly gave up on this, after a quick skim through the clues, as my reaction to the apparent theme was the same as yours, but thought, since it was Donk, it was worth persevering.

    And so it turned out – brilliant stuff, again, from one of our newest young setters. I enjoyed it so much more than I expected – without, needless to say, seeing the clever Nina.

    Too many excellent clues to mention, really, but I was particularly tickled by WISPY.

    Huge thanks, Donk, for all the unexpected fun!

  3. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This is Donk’s third puzzle for the Independent and I must say that, for me, his first two were perhaps only just a build-up to this marvellous crossword.
    I found it very hard to get into, which is usually a good sign (unless one’s name is Nimrod :)).
    Using so many football related things is just incredible – a real tour de force.
    But one doesn’t have to know anything about this sport to solve this puzzle, which is good.

    For once, I saw both GOALS (on the top and bottom row) instantly – very nice.

    Mido = Centre Circle, what a find!
    Before he came to the UK, Mido played for Ajax (2001/02) where he had to leave because of throwing a pair of scissors to Zlatan’s head in the dressing room who was luckily unharmed. Yes, the almighty Ibrahimovic was once an “Ajacied” – those were the days.

    Another one I liked very much was 13ac (LOIN).
    Well, there was so much right here anyway – like for example 19d’s ORGANISE.

    I couldn’t fully parse 1d, 5d and 21d, but I couldn’t be bothered at all.

    This is my first contender for the Crossword of the Year.
    Like Anax (see his website) I am reluctant to single out setters, crosswords, clues.
    But this was just fabulous!
    [well, I thought, it was]

  4. Thomas99 says:

    I’m trying to cut down on commenting for the new year, but have to say well done Donk! I don’t really follow football but still thoroughly enjoyed it – or as I believe the phrase has it, the boy done magic.

  5. Rowland says:

    Interesting idea, but the theme has caused the grid to be a bit weird, and some of the entries to be a bit stragne. There was a cricket one a long time ago with fielding positiona where you might expect them to be, that managed to avoid any problems, and that was (also) good fun to solve.


  6. Raich says:

    “Unexpected fun” in an Indy crossword. Now, now, Eileen at #2.

  7. andy says:

    Great stuff from Donk, and as Sil #3 says you don’t need a knowledge of the game to solve. Cheers

  8. Rorschach says:

    What a total belter of a crossword. Brilliant fun, ingenious nina, some fabulous clues (will a better clue than the Mido one be written this year?) – I’m with Sil – a crossword of the month already!

    Thanks old bean and good call RatkojaRiku on the parsing of a tricky little bugger!

  9. Jim T says:

    Super puzzle – some great clues and the pitch markings were excellent.

  10. Donk says:

    Many thanks to RR for the excellent blog and to everyone who’s left such great comments so far! I certainly am a footie fan, but tried to keep knowledge of the theme to a minimum so the puzzle was accessible for all solvers – apologies if I scared anyone off!

    Hopefully, when Eileen says ‘I enjoyed it so much more than I expected’, she’s referring to footie puzzles rather than Donk ones!

    Again, many thanks to all!
    Donk (not a Gooner)

  11. Eileen says:

    Hi Donk [and Raich @6]

    I thought the answer to that was implicit in my second paragraph! 😉

    Many thanks again.

  12. rabet says:

    I too enjoyed this puzzle immensely. But please tell me; what is a “nina”?

  13. nmsindy says:

    rabet at #12, this is explained in the FAQ section of this site.

  14. rabet says:

    Many thanks, nmsindy.

  15. Wil Ransome says:

    My heart sank a bit when I saw that it was an orgy of football, but Donk has been very clever here, because hardly any of the clues require any special knowledge and the whole thing can be done straightforwardly. And he has managed some sort of a football reference in every clue without straining.

    Some really good clues and nothing I couldn’t understand eventually, although I was defeated by GLOBAL/LOIN, and never saw the two goals and halfway.

  16. Bertandjoyce says:

    It must be the fresh air up here in the Lake District as we had to leave the puzzle and finish it the next morning for the second day running!

    Joyce’s heart fell when she started to read the clues but as others have said she need not have feared. She couldn’t remember Alf but thankfully Bert has not suffered the same memory loss as her.

    Thanks Donk – a lovely puzzle. We have to admit that we missed the nina. We thought about it last night, given the grid shape but then as we filled in the final clues this morning we completely forgot until we checked here. Perhaps we were just too keen to get up and enjoy the snowy walks up here.

    Thanks RR – we needed you to help parse PIRATE.

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