Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,205 / Nestor

Posted by RatkojaRiku on January 31st, 2013


I know that when my blog falls on a Thursday there is a good chance that I will cross swords with Nestor, a challenge that I relish.

This one, however, almost proved beyond me and, even though I have filled the grid, I need fellow solvers to explain the wordplay at 11 – done, thanks! I’d be interested to find out whether others found this a stiffer challenge than the “average” Nestor, or was it just me having an off day?

There were a few new words here for me too, at 10, 18 and 26, but it was the wordplay in this puzzle that was particularly fiendish in my view. It took a long time for the wordplay at 5 to make sense to me, even though I had the answer as soon as I got the first letter from 1. That said, I have no complaints about the fairness of the cluing – only about my own inability to see through it more quickly!

My clue of the day has to be 14, where it took me a long time to understand the mechanics of the clue and to identify the definition.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   POTTERER   POTTER (=wizard, i.e. from J K Rowling novels) + ER (=Church’s head, i.e. the Queen)
6   CLAUDE   Reversed (“over”) and hidden (“partially”) in “thE DUAL Carriageway”; the reference is to English-born American actor, Claude Rains (1889-1967)
9   LEER   LE<ad>ER (=guide); “disheartened” means middle letters are dropped
10   CONTRARIAN   CONTRA (=funded in 1980s scandal) + RI-AN (IRAN=where the money came from; “initially switched” means first two letters change places); the reference is to the Iran-Contra affair, a political scandal surrounding arms sales to Iran and the funding of Nicaraguan contras under President Reagan in 1985-7
11   UNDERBELLY   Definition is “hidden side”, e.g. of society; <so>UNDER (=more reliable) + BELLY (=more resonant, like a bell)
13   YETI   I<n>T<h>E<r>Y<e>; “regularly” means alternate letters only; “reviewed” indicates a reversal; the yeti has never had “a successful catcher”, i.e. has never been caught
14   NESTOR   *(T<h>RONE’S): “in contention” is anagram indication; “after loss of Henry (=H)” means letter “h” is dropped from anagram; the definition is simply, “I”, referring to the setter of this crossword!!
15   OWN-LABEL   [N (=new) in OWL (=night hunter)] + ABEL (=murder victim)
17   GAINSAYS   GAINS (=gets more) + AYS (=positive responses); the definition is “what contrarian (=entry at 10) does”
19   SHRIEK   *(HIKER’S); “going walkabout” is anagram indicator; the definition would appear to be the “!” at the end, indicating an exclamation such as a shriek
20   ICON   I (=one) + CON (=drawback, as in pros and cons)
22   CANONISTIC   *(ICON + IS CANT); “oddly” is anagram indicator; “that” refers back to previously clue, indicating that “icon” is part of anagram
23   MONTMARTRE   MON (=in Paris my, i.e. the French for my) + T (=time) + M (=marks) + ART (=creative works) + RE (=on)
25   VEIL   LIE (=fairy story) + V (=verse); “recalled” indicates (here full) reversal
26   SYZYGY   S<hin>Y Z<inck>Y G<re>Y; “skins of” means first and last letters only; a syzygy is a straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies, from the Greek for “yoked together”
27   SWAN SONG   SWANSON (=actress Gloria) + G<loria> (“her first” means first letter only)
2   ODE ON MELANCHOLY   ODEON (=cinemq) + [ANCHO<r> (=steadier, i.e. object that steadies; “mostly” means last letter dropped] in MELLY (=jazz singer, i.e. George)]; the definition is “blue (=down, depressed) lines”, referring to the poem by John Keats
3   TURKESTAN   KES-TA (“takes” cycles, i.e. first letters go to end) in TURN (=rotation)
4   REC   Homophone (“reported”) of “wreck” (=destruction); a rec is a recreation ground, hence a “sporting venue”
5   RONALDO   R-ON (-working) for E (=European) -AL (=true) + DO (=function, i.e. party); the reference is to Real Madrid and Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo
6   CARRYINGS-ON   RY (=tracks, i.e. railway) in [CARING (=kind-hearted) + SON (=child)]
7   ARRAY   A (=area) + <lase>R (“end of” means last letter only) + RAY (=beam)
8   DEAD TREE EDITION   *(TO READ IT I NEEDED); “formatted” is anagram indicator
12   BUREAUCRACY   UC (=capital, i.e. upper-case) in [B (=black) + UREA (=form of waste) + RACY (=dirty)]
16   ABRASIVES   I’VE (=I have) in [A + BRASS (=alloy)]
18   SANCTUS   *(CUT) in SANS (=without); “out” is anagram indicator; Sanctus is music for the hymn Holy, holy, holy from Isaiah 6, hence “music for (religious) masses”
21   NUTTY   NUT (=teachers’ group, i.e. National Union of Teachers) + T<emporaril>Y (“evacuated” means all but first and last letters are dropped)
24   ERA   ARE (=happen); “to get up” indicates vertical reversal

12 Responses to “Independent 8,205 / Nestor”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku. I think you have to reattach “So” to make “Sounder”.

  2. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks, NeilW – I’ll amend the blog accordingly. Quite a tricky one in terms of construction, I would say.

  3. NeilW says:

    Yes, a device I don’t think I’ve seen before.

  4. crypticsue says:

    Definitely challenging as one would expect from Nestor but very enjoyable. The penny drop moment at 14a was quite something. Never heard of 26a but the wordplay was so clear that all I had to do was check in the BRB that I wasn’t making it up.

    Thanks to RR and Nestor too.

  5. Thomas99 says:

    This was as tough as expected and enjoyable. Thanks for the blog.

    Chambers confirms that “shriek” is slang for exclamation mark. I didn’t know that and was trying to make 19a work as an &lit. Now I think about it it does seem very vaguely familiar.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, RR. I’ve got a lot on today, so if I may be forgiven for not sticking to the rules of the blog and explaining myself: too hard for a daily cryptic.

  7. MikeC says:

    Thanks RR and Nestor. Enjoyed this, mostly, but found it unusually hard. Only failed on one (I had “eta” instead of ERA) but there were quite a few where I couldn’t really explain how/why the answer was correct.

  8. NealH says:

    This rather fell apart for me when I put stoner for 14, thinking the I referred to 1 across and the pot referred to drugs. It didn’t quite make sense, but unfortunately there was just enough there to make me think it might be right. My usual lack of classical knowledge meant I had no chance with 1 down, even after getting the “ode on” – unfortunately I took “blue” in its pornography sense and thought the answer must be some sort of rude limerick. 17 just looked too much like a DD for me to consider that it might be anything else.

  9. Flashling says:

    Feel a bit bruised by this. Well done RR this was beyond me.

  10. Raich says:

    NealH at #8 – my guess is that the setter did intend in 1D to suggest ‘blue’ = ‘pornographic’ in the surface reading of the clue.

  11. Dormouse says:

    Failed on 14 & 17ac, but I see now that’s because I managed to spell 12dn as “beaurocracy” which looks odd now that I’ve typed it, but not when looking at it in the grid.

    Certainly in computing in the seventies we used to refer to an exclamation mark as a shriek. This took me back.

    27ac was such a nice clue, I’m surprised I’ve never seen it before. (Or maybe I have. Memory and spelling going.)

    I’m sure there’s a joke about not being able to see 6ac. :-)

  12. Bertandjoyce says:

    After a late start last night we had to leave this one until this morning – rather too many electronic searches were needed we’re afraid to admit. We should have checked SHRIEK in the dictionary as we did consider it being the exclamation mark. We couldn’t sort out SANCTUS – we saw it as a possibility but it was the last clue and we gave up without bothering to check the definition and checked 225 instead!

    We would agree that it was tougher than usual – some very clever clues but also some really tricky ones which may have made it more suitable for a Saturday prize.

    Still, more brain cells kept alive a bit longer so thanks Nestor. Well done RR for the blog. We’re glad it wasn’t our turn!

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