Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,215 / Morph

Posted by RatkojaRiku on February 12th, 2013


It is a long time since it has fallen to me to blog a puzzle by Morph, so I was quite excited at the prospect of getting to grips with this one, and with good reason.

It some became clear that there were quite a few interconnected clues in this puzzle, with many entries referring back to 21. I solved 14 fairly quickly but still could not see how 21 worked. I needed to solve 9 first, and then 10 with the help of the French connection, whereupon the penny dropped for 21. The final themed clues to fall into place for me were the intersecting entries at 16 and 17.

Overall, the various equestrian references added an extra layer of pleasure to solving this puzzle but without inflicting too much pain, at least not on this solver. Nevertheless, my favourite clue has to be 23 – as a Yorkshireman, I just couldn’t resist it! 25 was a new word for me, which I tracked down in Chambers and confirmed via the (deceptive) wordplay.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   DEVIL’S   ADVOCATE DEVIL (LIVED=was; “being contrary” indicates reversal) + SAD (=unfortunate) + [CA (=accountant) in VOTE(=choice)]
8   AERATED E (=energy) in A-RATED (=like an efficient appliance, e.g. fridge)
9   GARÇON [R (=right) + CO (=company)] in GAN (NAG=one of horses, i.e. entry at 21; “circulated” indicates a reversal); the definition is “one serving hors d’œuvres (=entry at 10)”, i.e. a French waiter
11   ORCHESTRA *(SHORT RACE); “renewed” is anagram indicator
12   BANJO BAN (=don’t accept) + JO (=little woman, i.e. diminutive of Joanne or Josephine OR Jo from the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
13   EPONYM PONY (=one of horses, i.e. entry at 21) in EM (=space, i.e. in printing); the definition is hero, e.g. of book
14   COURSES Double definition
17   FAST ONE RUNNER (=fast one, i.e. one moving fast); a hustler (entry at 20) might pull a fast one
19   CHEAPO HEAP (=pile) in CO (=company)
22   EXERT E (=oriental, i.e. eastern) + XERT (T-REX=dinosaur, i.e. Tyrannosaurus Rex)
24   TROUSSEAU TROUS<er>S (=pants; “queen (=ER)’s abandoned” means letters “er” are dropped) + EAU (UAE=Arab state, i.e. United Arab Emirates; “sent west” indicates reversal)
25   TAHINI TA (=acknowledgement) + HIN<d>I (=speech in Bollywood, i.e. language of India; “director (=D)’s   cut” means letter “d” is dropped); tahini is an oily paste made of crushed sesame seeds
26   SOLDIER OLDIE (=one getting on) in SR (=senior)
27   STARTERS   ORDERS STARTERS (=hors d’œuvres, i.e. entry at 10) + ORDERS (=classes, in biology)
1   DRAG ONE’S   FEET E (=bearing, i.e. east) in DRAGON’S FEET (=monstrous claws); the definition is “slug”, i.e. to move sluggishly
2   VORACIOUS V (=very) + O – for <g>-RACIOUS (=elegant); “good (=G) for nothing (=O)” means letter “g” is replaced by letter “o”
3   LOTTERY OTTER (=mammal) in [L<ight> Y<ellow> (“at first” means initial letters only)]
4   AUDITS <pl>AUDITS (=pats on the back); “no place (=PL)” means letter “pl” are dropped
5   VAGRANCY VAG (GAV<e>; “almost” means last letter dropped; “up” indicates vertical reversal) + [NC (=south-eastern state, i.e. North Carolina) in RAY (a bit of hope)]
6   CARIBOU CAR (=perhaps estate) + I + BOU<ght> (=snapped up; “with 50 per cent off” means half of letters are dropped)
7   THORN Hidden (“concealed”) in “tooTH OR Nail”
10   HORS D’ŒUVRES *(DEVOUR) in HORSES (=trotters); “stewed” is anagram indicator
15   SNAKEBITE [N (=nitrogen) in SAKE (=drink)] + BITE (=corrosive action)
16   BESTRIDE BEST RIDE (=perhaps fast one of horses, i.e. entries at 17 and 21)
18   OUTLIER *(TO RULE I); “revised” is anagram indicator
20   HUSTLER ST<o>LE (=committed theft; “heartlessly” means central letter is dropped) in <a c>HUR<ch> (“middle of” means central letters only are used)
21   HORSES HACKS (=horses); the reference is to the expression horses for courses (=entry at 14), which suit different types of horse
23   ENACT T’CANE (=the rod to Yorkshire, i.e. where definite article is contracted to t’); “from the south” indicates vertical reversal

21 Responses to “Independent 8,215 / Morph”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, RR – and especially for the explanation of 1dn, which I just couldn’t see for looking.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle, which I thought was very clever, particularly the linking of the HORSES and HORS D’OEUVRES in STARTERS ORDERS.

    In 12ac, JO is one of Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’, a book I read umpteen times as a child.

    Many thanks, Morph, for an entertaining ride!

  2. flashling says:

    I thought horses for courses was rather apt considering the recent headlines :-)

  3. Eileen says:

    Yes, flashling, I wondered about that – Morph is well-known for his topical puzzles: his MPs’ expenses one was quite brilliant. But this seemed just a bit too prompt, even for Morph and eimi!

  4. flashling says:

    Eimi could have used the whip to push this to the front of the pack. I did notice that 11ac Orchestra*=Carthorse too.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, RR, for a blog that I very much needed. Normally if I solve a third of an Indy daily puzzle, I’ll back myself to finish it, but this was a real struggle. Some really complicated wordplay (well done, RR, for parsing it all) and some slightly left-field definitions. Slug for DRAG ONE’S FEET? If you must. And EPONYM for ‘hero’ I still don’t get. So imho probably better as a weekend prize puzzle, particularly with all the interlinked clues.

    If it is topical, bravo. The Indy i today has the brilliant headline:

    “Tesco hit by 60% horse ‘Nag Bol’ revelation”

    Their sub-editors need to get out more, I fancy.

    Thank you to Morph for the puzzle.

  6. crypticsue says:

    Lovely stuff as usual for Morph. I did smile at the ‘horses for courses’. Thanks to him for the great fun and RR for the explanations.

  7. MikeC says:

    Thanks both. Good fun.

  8. Rowland says:

    Maybe a bit too complicated, but still fun. I reckon Morph must be responsible for the scandal, or Eimi, if this is topical!!


  9. eimi says:

    Morph is a newsman – he’s always responding to the latest stories. See

  10. Morph says:

    Thanks for the blog, RR, and all your comments – and the plug for my twitter limericks, Mike!
    It was in fact last month’s horseburger scandal that inspired the meat of this puzzle, but I wasn’t sure the story had legs. Fortunately, it looks as if it will run and run!
    Flashling, ORCHESTRA’s inclusion wasn’t deliberate. Having said that, I was sorely tempted by the CARTHORSE anagram, but felt like maybe it would be flogging a dead horse.
    PS: I hope you’ve all seen that FINDUS LASAGNE is an anagram of FEED US SLAIN NAG.

  11. eimi says:

    And does everyone know what cheese Findus use in their lasagne?

  12. hounddog says:

    Yes. But I’m not telling.

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Okay, that’s enough teasing … spit it out.

  14. eimi says:


  15. allan_c says:

    I thought it wouldn’t be long before someone would FIND US a topical puzzle. Ah well, I’m off now to enjoy my lasagne.

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    That is truly awful … I wish I hadn’t nagged you into telling me.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    And just before it goes viral on the internet, it’s actually FED US SLAIN NAG …

  18. Bertandjoyce says:

    Have just completed this – reading the blog was even more fun than the puzzle. At one point we wondered if we’d even get one clue! Actually it was enjoyable once we’d got started.

    Thanks to everyone especially Morph, RR and eimi!

  19. Morph says:

    Messed up the aNAGram again – now you know how I keep Mike busy.

  20. Paul B says:

    An anagram of HORSEMEAT is A REST-HOME. Perhaps that will be the next scandal, a real-life Soylent Green. Ooh, the shivers.

  21. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks for the entertaining comments – how inventive you all are, leaving me standing – it’s time I was put out to seed, alas ;) I was very interested to read that the horsemeat scandal had in fact been the inspiration for the theme. Can you believe that it never even crossed my mind as I either solved or blogged?!

    @Eileen: thanks for the reminder about Little Women – I’ve added it to the blod, although I think my diminutive explanation is also valid.

    @Kathryn’s Dad: I had in mind a phrase such as “the eponymous hero of the novel Jane Eyre”, i.e. Jane Eyre, which I felt was satisfactory.

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