Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8262 by Alchemi

Posted by NealH on April 8th, 2013


I’ve not come across Alchemi before, but this seemed to be very much in the tradition of reasonably gentle Quixote Monday puzzles. There were a few where the wordplay took a bit of working out e.g. 13, 22.

1. Parent (male) replaces second ring in engine (6)
Mother He replacing second O in Motor.
4. Shop around for announced light source (8)
Phosphor Shop* + hom of for.
10. Tool ejected to bend metal back (7)
Spatula Spat(=ejected) + u(=bend) + Al< (Al=chemical symbol for Aluminium).
11. Brutes slam in a backhand (7)
Animals. (Slam in a)<.
12. One-time order for type of bomb (4)
Atom A + t(ime) + OM (Order of Merit).
13. Aligned anew, put off about … about … about … about … about … about the onset of influenza (10)
Reoriented. Deter< (about number 1) around (about no 2) on around re (abouts 3-5) around i[nfluenza] (about 6).
15. Surrounded by idiots, guru at last becomes opaque (6)
Clouds Clods around [gur]u.
16. After a short time, even arsenic starts to seem horribly addictive (7)
Moreish. Mo + even letters of aRsEnIc + initial letters of s[eem] h[orribly].
20. Confidential data showing ship passing island back to front (7)
Secrets SS around Crete with the final E moved to the front.
21. Stun no-good, holding opponents at bay to start with (6)
Benumb. Bum(=no good) around E + N (Bridge opponents) + b[ay].
24. Public display of old site (10)
Exposition. Ex + position.
26. The elite return without a business-class car (4)
Merc. Cre[a]m<.
28. Over-embarrassed about irrational running back and forth being comparatively silly (7)
Dippier. Red< around Pi forwards and backwards. Pi is an irrational number in that it can't be expressed as a proper fraction.
29. Harder to replace one with a permanent employee (7)
Staffer. Stiffer with a instead of I.
30. Infuriating US gun enthusiasts with drink, say, all around (8)
Enraging. NRA (Nat Rifle Assoc) + gin with e.g. around the whole thing.
31. Cornered film director doesn’t finish day (6)
Angled. Ang Le[e] (film director best known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) + d(ay).
1. Foul vapours over Chad hiding a massively uneven contest (8)
Mismatch. Mi[a]sma over TCH (car registration for Chad which comes from the French Tchad).
2. Solitary order to free on a motion (3,3,3)
Tea for One. (To free on a)*. Motion is the anagram indicator.
3. Point to rising total of birds (4)
Emus. E + sum<.
5. Clearance boss pulling up dock (8)
Headroom. Head + moor<.
6. Iron held by parliamentary district at no time bringing complaint (5,5)
Swine fever. SW1 + never around fe. SW1 contains most major parliamentary institutions such as the House of Commons, Downing Street etc.
7. Player for Scottish team gets a red card (5)
Heart. DD referring to Hearts football club and playing cards. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a Hearts player referred to as a Heart, but I’m hardly an expert on football.
8. Live to be partial again? (6)
Reside. DD/CD. Re-side would be to side with something again.
9. Georgia put up billionaire (5)
Gates. Ga + set<.
14. Speaking to a theologian, scripture seems in the end to be musical (10)
Addressing. A DD + RE + [seem]s + sing.
17. Maybe cat’s milk could make us careful (9)
Saucerful. (Us careful)*.
18. Government-administered students get up to eat spud (5-3)
State-run. NUS< around tater.
19. Hid that old surgeon smoked perhaps (8)
Obscured. O + BS (Bachelor of Surgery) + cured (as in cured meat).
22. Interfere in brawl about monkeys, the last being lost (6)
Meddle. Mele[e] around DD (monkey is slang for £500 and D is 500 in Roman numerals – possibly a somewhat questionable association).
23. Very American composer (5)
Sousa. So + USA.
25. Musician has piano in support (5)
Piper. P in pier.
27. Daughter with beard in the early morning (4)
Dawn. D(aughter) + awn.

18 Responses to “Independent 8262 by Alchemi”

  1. flashling says:

    Thanks Neal, spent too long on 4a trying to find a sauce i.e. hom of “source”, did wonder how you’d write out 13a, as I did that one, I was just glad I’m not blogging today.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for blogging, Neal. I found it a bit less gentle than you did, I fancy, although perhaps more with the parsing than the solving. I liked SWINE FEVER, ANGLED and DIPPIER in particular. REORIENTED I didn’t even attempt to parse, so well done for explaining that one.

    BENUMB struck me as an ‘I’ve painted myself into a corner here’ clue. Not exactly a common word, and the wordplay was a bit convoluted as well. (You need to add the B for ‘bay to start with’ to your parsing, btw.)

    Enjoyable puzzle from Alchemi.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, NealH.

    Isn’t ANIMALS a complete reversal with “backhand” meaning “writing in reverse” rather than being an anagram indicator?

    You’ve a couple of typos, by the way: should be “seem horribly” rather than “horribly addictive” in MOREISH and you’ve left the B off the end of BENUMB.

  4. NealH says:

    Good point – I think you’re right, although I’m not sure exactly how you justify backhand to mean reversed (handwriting backwards, maybe). Anyway, I’ve updated the blog with all the problems mentioned. Thanks for pointing them out.

  5. Rorschach says:

    Floyd theme anyone?

  6. Rorschach says:

    BENUMB then becomes a reference to Comfortably Numb rather than running out of ideas if we’re being fair to the setter – far be it from me to defend a setter from the jaws of the baying mob ;)

  7. Rorschach says:

    Number of album titles:

    Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    Atom Heart Mother
    Saucerful of Secrets

    Probably missed some more off

  8. Alchemi says:

    Thank you, NealH for the blog.

    “backhand” is not generally valid as a reversal indicator, but in the context of “slam in a backhand” (a phrase a tennis commentator might use), it seemed to me that it would work because it seemed satisfyingly neat. Feel free to disagree.

    Thanks also to K’s D – I’m glad someone likes SWINE FEVER, because I don’t. At least, not any more – I obviously liked it enough at some point to put it there. The more I look at it, though, the less sense “Iron” makes. What I think I should have done is try and indicate FE (Smith), but I actually have no idea how to do an indication for initials like that (eg DW Griffith, AP Herbert, EL Doctorow, WG Grace).

    And thanks to Rorschach for being the first to spot the ghost theme (thanks Tees!)

    This puzzle could be subtitled “Alchemi’s Guide to Worthwhile Pink Floyd Albums”, incorporating as it does:
    PIPER at the GATES of DAWN

    (Dark Side was engineered into blandness by Alan Parsons, Wish You Were Here is flawed by breaking Shine On into pieces, and the disc of solo stuff on Ummagumma is virtually unlistenable – although there is probably a puzzle to be made around Roger Waters’s piece “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict”. The Wall was a great live show but is devoid of musical merit beyond “Comfortably Numb”. And then the band split.)

    But while it’s charitable of you to suggest that BENUMB is an allusion, K’s D was actually on the money.

  9. allan_c says:

    Knowing nothing about Pink Floyd (apart from the name) the theme passed me by – but as with many a good crossword that didn’t detract from the solving experience. Lovely ‘aha’ moment when I parsed 28ac.

    Thanks, Alchemi and Neal

  10. PJ says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable; I found it hard enough to be satisfied when I’d finished it, and 13A was lovely.

    Thanks, Alchemi, and to NeilH for the blog.

  11. Tees says:

    No need to thank me old bean – top puzzle.

  12. Alchemi says:


    Thanks for the compliment, but you are to blame for this. If it hadn’t been for the exchange we had a few weeks ago, the penny wouldn’t have dropped that it’s perfectly possible to have a puzzle with a themed collection of answers but to ignore the theme entirely in the clues so that it’s still fun for those to whom the theme means nothing. This was my first go at one, and I’m quite pleased with it. Admittedly, the second one I tried – “Great Captain Beefheart Albums Which Are More Fun Than ‘Trout Mask Replica'” – turned out a bit meh, so I won’t be submitting that one.

  13. muffin says:

    Hi alchemi
    I saw a reference to this crossword on the Guardian site, so thought I would take a look. While I agree with most of your evaluations of Floyd’s albums (especially Dark Side of the Moon, which is my least favourite), I think you dismiss “Wish you were here” a little unfairly. Also I have a very guilty secret – my favourite is “The division bell” (shock horror!).

    Tramp in the Guardian set a crossword last year based on track titles from “Dark side of the moon”

  14. Alchemi says:


    It is slightly unfair on WYWH, but I regard the Tour 74 bootleg version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond as definitive, and anyway it wouldn’t fit into the grid.

  15. pennes says:

    A couple of wrong answers did for me. I first put in rerepeated for 13ac (which i thought was rather good) and when it didn’t fit I changed it to re-iterated. Also with 8 dn I put in be(live)side and the again meaning if you are beside them you are again siding with them. Dippier was my favourite for today

  16. Wil Ransome says:

    My experience was more that of K’s D than that of NealH. It seemed pretty difficult and I’m afraid I gave up in the end and used electronic help.

    Some very clever and inventive clues, like 13ac. Of course it’s great that good young new setters emerge, but I wonder sometimes if we’re a bit too indulgent: it isn’t good enough to say that ‘even arsenic’ means ‘the even letters of arsenic’, and the grid leaves something to be desired, with two answers having only 2 of 5 letters checked. This has been said before by people who know what they are talking about and now it seems that there is a group of solvers who want to throw these conventions out of the window. Crosswords have developed over the years and it seems to me that there is a good reason for celebrating this development, not being all anarchist about it.

  17. Alchemi says:

    @Wil Ransome

    As someone who’s been solving cryptic crosswords for over 40 years (which means I’d be interested in your definition of “young”), I too celebrate the fact that crosswords develop. If, when I’ve solved the clue, I know it’s right because the clue tells me it is, it’s a fair clue. Using words like “indulgent” is equivalent to those who get snooty about Kevin Pietersen playing a switch hit because it’s not in the MCC Coaching Manual – despite the fact that MCC itself went out of its way to applaud the switch hit when it was unveiled. It is blindingly obvious in the context of the clue that “even arsenic” means the even letters of arsenic. (No, I’m not suggesting that it’s the most elegant development in the history of crossword clueing, merely that it’s not unfair.)

  18. Bertandjoyce says:

    We tried to leave a comment last night to thank Alchemi for a very ingenious puzzle. How you managed to include so many of the hidden themed words into the puzzle was very clever. We missed the theme completely though but that may be because it was late at night and we really needed some sleep. We have no concerns about any of your clueing although we beg to differ about the quality of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here! We really like hidden themes so please try again and we’ll concentrate more next time!

    We need to thank NealH in particular! We finished the puzzle so late and couldn’t parse 1ac – can’t understand why when we saw your blog – it was so obvious from the clueing. Sorry for the late posting but we are away at the moment and lost the internet connection.

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