Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8269 / Punk

Posted by Bertandjoyce on April 16th, 2013



It’s Joyce’s turn this week. We’ve been blogging for over a year now but this is only the second Punk puzzle that we have crossed swords (let alone footballs) with. We always enjoy his puzzles as Paul in Another Place as they normally bring a smile to our faces or a groan of appreciation for his audacity.

Bert solved the gateway clue to the theme that we loved and is probably our COD.  Then our hearts sank, especially Joyce’s when the theme of the puzzle unfolded. OMG –  we are going to have to blog this puzzle – are we really the best people to do this?

We do like themed puzzles but tend to prefer the hidden themes that give you something to ponder over when the puzzle is complete. Joyce’s brother when he was alive was a great fan of 16D and had season tickets each year but if you asked us to name a current player in the team we’d only be able to name two, and one of those doesn’t appear in the grid!

As it turned out there were only two of the themed clues that we had to check. The clue at 15d had Joyce searching for this poem that she used to read to classes when she taught in Primary Schools at the beginning of her career (rather too many years ago to mention!)

Despite the fact that the theme was an anethema to both of us we still completed the puzzle and there was much to enjoy. We can’t help but compare our experience to the reaction after this recent Inquisitor puzzle – Divisions which featured a mathematical (actually more precisely a geometrical theme) which prompted some very adverse comments from people who don’t like maths and in particular, puzzles based on mathematical ideas!

We will not be able to access the blog for most of the day so if there are any errors please accept our apologies.

1   Mouth open, past caring in the end
AGOG AGO (past) + G (last letter of caring or ‘in the end’)
4   The most talented at 16d?
BEST Double definition referring to this Manchester United player
6   Independent newspaper yarn
WEFT WE (Independent) + FT (newspaper)
9   Things chewed and sticky joined club
CUDGEL CUD (thing chewed) + GEL (thing sticky)
10   Doctor sure into standard procedures
ROUTINES Anagram of SURE INTO (anagrind is ‘doctor’)
11   Manage computer socket inside manual operating device
HUSBAND USB (computer socket) inside HAND (manual operating device!)
12   Fish about right for deep channel
TRENCH TENCH (fish) about R (right). This word featured last week in the Phi puzzle!
13   Train a number of swimmers
SCHOOL Double definition
16   First nation unmarked after a month abroad
MAIDEN DENmark (nation without ‘MARK or ‘unmarked’) after MAI (French word for May)
18   Host offers raunchy opening in revealing strip
THRONG R (first letter or ‘opening’ of Raunchy) in THONG (revealing strip). We do like the stories behind Punk’s clues! Given the theme, a lovely topical clue.
19   Footballer having success, many leaving the country
WINGER WIN (having success) + GERmany (country without MANY)
21   More than one criminal at 16d
CROOKS Double definition and relates to this footballer
23   Australian adopting foreign land at 16d
RONALDO ROO (Australian) around or ‘adopting’ an anagram of LAND (anagrind is ‘foreign’). Needless to say the clue refers to this footballer.
25   Car hasn’t crashed at 16d
STRACHAN Anagram of CAR HASN’T (anagrind is ‘crashed’). Joyce guessed the footballer from the anagram but hadn’t heard of this player but did recognise the face when she searched on the internet for the link.
26   Old secretary finding Asian under the table, so to speak?
TYPIST Sounds like or ‘so to speak’ THAI (Asian) + PISSED (under the table)
27   Subsequently missing header at 16d
INCE sINCE (subsequently) with first letter or ‘header’ missing. The clue relates to this footballer.
28   Old scorer – 19, we hear
BYRD Nothing to do with players in terms of footballers – sounds like or ‘we hear’ BIRD (winger) but relates to this English composer.
29   Characters involved in shenanigans at 16d
NANI Hidden within the clue or ‘involved with’ sheNANIgans. The player this time is Luis Carlos Almeida de Cunha  of whom we have never heard. Luckily we had the crossing letters!
2   Cantona’s left being careless
GAUCHE GAUCHE is French for left (Eric Cantona is French and also played for Man United)
3   Musical performances on the radio at 16 down
GIGGS Sounds like or ‘on the radio’ GIGS (musical performances). Even Joyce knew this footballer.
4   Australian channel putting Hollywood into the Hobbit, no good
BILLABONG LA (Hollywood – not quite but acceptable as far as we are concerned!) inside or ‘putting into’ BILBO (Hobbit) + NG (no good)
5   Game up, it’s a fiddle!
STRAD DARTS (game) reversed or ‘up’
6   Yorkshire rose team at 16 down
WHITESIDE WHITE (the colour of the Yorkshire Rose) + SIDE (team). Another good guess for this footballer.
7   Christian at 16 down
FLETCHER It’s a good thing that Bert remembered Fletcher Christian from the Mutiny on the Bounty otherwise Joyce would still be puzzling because she had no knowledge either of this footballer. In fact she knew so little that she searched for ‘Christian Fletcher Bounty’ when she typed up the blog!
8   End at 16 down
BUTT Our last one in. Bert said that all he could think of was BUTT and he was right – the player this time was Nicky Butt.
14   Brown drink, Steaming cups found in church
CHOCOLATE This one took a little while to solve. COLA (drink) inside or being ‘cupped by’ HOT (steaming) inside or ‘in’ CE (church)
15   Rule at 16 down
LAW Double definition. As mentioned in the preamble, Joyce remembered Denis Law from the poem she read to children when she taught in Primary Schools many years ago.
16   11 11?
MAN UNITED A husband (11ac) would be a MAN who had been UNITED in marriage! Probably the COD.
17   Athletic team found at 16 down
CHARLTON Double definition relating to CHARLTON Athletic team and also Sir Bobby CHARLTON. This was the only player that Bert searched for in the clues once the theme was known. Joyce had obviously heard of him but didn’t know he played for Man United!
20   Continues stealing at 16 down
ROBSON A play on ROBS ON (continues stealing) and the player is Bryan Robson.
22   Hearts of crusader and Mohawk at 16 down
SAHA The middle letters or ‘hearts of’ cruSAder and MoHAwk. A good guess here, confirmed when we had the crossing letters and a search found this player.
23   Hot drink skimmed
RANDY bRANDY (drink) with first letter missing or ‘skimmed’
24   French right – 19 one Pele catches up
LE PEN Hidden or ‘caught’ and reversed or ‘up’ within the clue oNE PELe. A good bit of misdirection here from Punk as the answer has nothing to do with football! We’ve included lots of hyperlinks to characters within the grid but we really object to giving this person any more recognition.


22 Responses to “Independent 8269 / Punk”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, first things first: well done for blogging this one so meticulously if it wasn’t up your street (and it’s so sweet that you take turns to blog …)

    Here’s my experience: slight raising of the eyebrows on seeing a Punk theme; look at the gateway clue and think what the chuff; get HUSBAND; put in MAN UNITED and then it’s a procession of write-ins for the 14 players involved. That could be an XI and three subs, but they haven’t got a goalkeeper, so they might be a bit stymied if they did take the to the field.

    And that’s the problem with themed puzzles like this: if you know it, you know it; if you don’t, then you’re struggling with 14 proper names.

    I’ll shut up now and go back to basking in the glory of the events at St James’ Park on Sunday …

  2. Alan Connor says:

    I couldn’t know less about the subject matter but the wordplay helped me to all of them – my only question mark was over BUTT since I figured Punk might have chosen different wordplay…

  3. michelle says:

    I didn’t finish this puzzle which isn’t surprising as I know absolutely nothing about football. Nor do I wish to learn! But I do hope it was very enjoyable for football fans in general and Man United fans in particular.

    My favourites were BILLABONG & TYPIST.

    Thanks for the blog, bertandjoyce.

  4. Conrad Cork says:

    Theme anathema to me too. Not so much irked as bereft, in that I feel done out of a puzzle.

  5. flashling says:

    When I got on the train and saw this I imagined a thousand voices screaming out Noooooooo! like Conrad above, 4 strikes – overt theme, crosslinked clues, football AND Man Utd, was this just put in to raise the comment count here in some sort of ratings war :-)

    No real problem for me as I used to live with an avid united supporter and this quickly became a join the dots puzzle. Pity.

    Thanks B&J

    @K’sD there wasn’t much glory really about the scenes after that game.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hear, hear, Conrad!

    I got off to a bad start by putting in TRASHCAN for 25ac, wondering how a theme could be made of that. When a couple of the down clues revealed my error, I called it a day. I could easily have resorted to Google – but couldn’t see any fun in that.

    However, it’s an excuse to quote again Paul’s classic Guardian clue [which I’ve finally tracked down to November 2003!] for ADULTERER: ‘Man United playing away from home’.

    Thanks for the blog, B and J.

  7. NeilW says:

    Thanks, B&J. I suppose it could have been worse: his own team is Brighton and Hove Albion!

    I don’t question your parsing, but why is the key clue not just “11?”?

  8. hounddog says:

    Neil: the second ’11’ is a definition – ‘eleven’ as in ‘football team’

  9. NeilW says:

    Thanks, hounddog! You’re right, of course. When solving, I’d started out with that bit sorted and was looking for a cricket or football team but, some time having elapsed, I’d completely forgotten about it! :(

  10. Rowland says:

    Yeah, one of THOSE themes! And a bit boring once you crack it anyway. Left with the sjkill of the writer for entertainment, and this guy is pretty good, always a larf in The Gee.

    Loveley blofg

  11. cumbrian says:

    Well I surprised myself by finishing it, although with a lot of guesswork around many of the players’ names. Perhaps such a puzzle should be reserved for Rattle, or whatever the football fans’ rag is called, rather than a wider readership?

    However, I’ll forgive all for the delight of 26a.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    @ flashling – you’re right, but there weren’t any red and whites involved, I have to point out.

    Meant to say earlier that for those who didn’t like this one, there’ll always be the Thatcher tribute puzzle tomorrow.

  13. dexter says:

    Well, I love football, so the theme was a delight ( Though I despise the team it’s centered around) :) But it must have been groan inducing to non fans.
    16 down is a brilliant clue!

  14. Rorschach says:

    Garth Crooks on loan for 7 games seems a little tenuous. I obviously enjoyed this one and ripped through it – might even be my fastest solve. Not sure I like UNITED = HUSBAND? Does that work?

    Fun puzzle though – and if we have to trawl through Araucarias for Shakespeares (Graun Genius) and Verdi and Wagner (Easter) then you lot can see what it’s like for the other side – we for whom football is genuinely high culture!

    Thanks both!

    (I’m still eagerly awaiting my first BertandJoyce review on here – fingers crossed)

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I got confused a bit by the UNITED part too, Rorschach, but if I’ve understood the explanations above, a MAN UNITED is a HUSBAND (11 across) and then the second 11 is the definition, of the team, MAN UNITED, who are an eleven (until Rooney gets sent off).

  16. Dormouse says:

    Well, never heard of most of these footballers and ended up finding a list of players on Wikipedia to help finish this. Except, ironically, I couldn’t see 16ac.

  17. nmsindy says:

    Well, at least, K’s D at #12, the Thatcher tribute puzzle will probably be football-free…

  18. allan_c says:

    Well, I completed it but can’t say it was particularly enjoyable; the themed answers came mainly from crossing letters. One or two nice touches, though, e.g. BYRD.

    K’s D @12: If there’s a tribute to you know who I won’t like that either!

  19. flashling says:

    @NMS/K’sD hopefully it will be Thatcher free, bit like Morph’s royal wedding puzzle. Leave that to other papers please.

    On brighter side S&B soon.

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I think you can rest easy, gentlemen …

  21. Bertandjoyce says:

    We are now back home. Thanks for all the comments and sorting out the problems between you!

  22. Graham Pellen says:

    To B&J, political correctness is neither required nor desirable. Failing to put in a link to Le Pen because you don’t like his politics is unsatisfactory. We don’t care about your personal opinions on matters unrelated to the crossword.

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