Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8271 / Tyrus

Posted by duncanshiell on April 18th, 2013


Tyrus is a setter more frequently seen in the Independent at weekends than during the week.  When he appears in the week, bloggers tend to say they found his puzzles difficult.  I’m going to keep up that tradiiton.




I have come up with wordplay that I am happy with for 22 of the 24 clues today.  I continue to struggle with the wordplay for 7 across (OPTS) and am only 50% happy with my suggestions for FOOL AROUND (9 across). Thanks to NeilW at comment 1 for pointing out the rather clear wordplay that I didn’t spot in both of these clues – I could come up with excuses, but no no-one would believe them, so I won’t even try. I have updated the blog below.

There were some unusual anagram indicators in the clues today (punk, groom, on the warpath and guide) but I think they all convey the right instruction to the solver.

My French was just good enough to cope with À BIENTÔT (12 across) and DROIT DE SEIGNEUR (14 across) Chambers tells me that the latter is an equivalent of a Latin phrase.  

There was a fair bit of colloquial and down to earth English involved in today’s clues, but there’s noting wrong with that when the wordplay is clear.

Although I struggled with a number of clues, I did like the ones for SPACE BAR (1 down) and NOTWITHSTANDING (3 down)

No. Clue Wordplay Entry



Decides that’s pointless (4)


I am completely defeated by the wordplay here.  I look forward to having the blindingly obvious pointed out to me by readers of the blog.  I don’t even have a contrived idea of the wordplay. Blindingly obvious follows O (zero) + PTS (points) – zero points; pointless


OPTS (decides)




Have casual sex as gigolo often demonstrates (4,6)


A second one where I’m not too sure about the wordplay.  I think this is simply reflecting the fact that a GIGOLO is considered by some to be one who shows himself as a FOOL AROUND an older woman. … and the second clear wordplay I missed – FOOL is hidden (demonstrates) reversed (around) in GIGOLO OFTEN


FOOL AROUND (have sex, or indulge in sexual frolicking as a gigolo may do especially in regard to an older woman at whose expense he lives)




Spades no good – dynamite ultimately used making hole (6)


S (spades) + CRAP (rubbish; no good) + E (last letter of [ultimately] DYNAMITE)


SCRAPE (difficulty, sometimes colloquially expressed as ‘digging oneself into a hole’)




Accept consuming passion for bird (8)


WEAR (tolerate, accept or believe in) containing (consuming) HEAT (passion)


WHEATEAR (any of various songbirds of the genus Oenanthe)





See you shortly at Cannes? No, beat it, punk! (1,7)


Anagram of (punk) NO BEAT IT


À BIENTÔT (French [Cannes] for see you again soon)




Checks talking books are sold here (6)


FOYLES (sounds like (talking) FOILS [checks])


FOYLES (famous bookshop with a number of branches in London, and one in Bristol)




Groom used to rue riding under this rule (5,2,8)


Anagram of (groom) USED TO RUE RIDING


DROIT DE SEIGNEUR (the formerly alleged right [rule] of a feudal superior to take the virginity of a vassal’s bride.)  Given the additional meaning of ‘groom’ this is probably an &Lit clue




Run around – why following like sheep? (6)


FLEE (run) + C (circa; around) + Y (why) I’m not really sure why Y replaces ‘why’ in the wordplay.  Does ‘followin’g imply that we should take the last letter of WHY?  It seems a bit of stretch if we are supposed to do that.  I can’t find WHY defined as the letter Y.  Possibly Y is textspeak for WHY. I haven’t got any children at home any more to ask.


FLEECY (sheep have FLEECES so presumably they can be described as FLEECY)




Bottom you once pinched in cinema (3,5)

ARSE (bottom) containing (pinched) (THOU [an old form of {once} you])


ART HOUSE (a cinema that shows films regarded as artistic as distinct from popular, including cult and foreign, subtitled films)




Prisoners now fitting in better (8)


APT (fitting) contained in (in) CURED ([made] better)


CAPTURED (prisoners now)




A quarter weren’t particularly well secured (6)


N (north; point of the compass; quarter) + AILED (wasn’t particularly well)


NAILED (secured)




Really want special effects (10)


BE LONGING (really want) + S (special)


BELONGINGS (personal effects)


23 Country’s leaders wanting for nothing (4)

CANADA (country) excluding (wanting) the first two letters (leaders) CA

If you want to exclude more leaders you could try GRENADA

NADA (nothing)



Box contains one b—– big key (5,3)


SPAR (box) containing (contains) (ACE [one] + B)


SPACE BAR (the largest single key on a computer [or typewriter] keyboard; big key)




Coffee drunk with lady.. time for love (so it’s assumed) (10)


Anagram of (drunk) COFFEE and LADY with the (O [love] replaced by T [time]) (time for love)


AFFECTEDLY (assumed)




Although quite sensible, Henry’s rampant (15)


NO TWIT (not an idiot,; quite sensible) + H (henry, unit of inductance) + STANDING (rampant in heraldry)






Tablets taken orally for relief (4)


EASE (sounds like [taken orally] Es [ecstasy tablets)


EASE (freedom from pain or disturbance; rest from work; relief)




Stirring words from Duffy? (6,2,6)


POETRY IN MOTION (words that move; stirring words)


POETRY IN MOTION (reference Carol Ann DUFFY, Poet Laureate)




Natural rower’s position sometimes attracting comment (6)

INNATE (sounds like [attracting comment] IN EIGHT [reference rowing eight, an eight oar boat])


INNATE (natural)




Seeing dictator on the warpath, make exit as one (5,9)


Anagram of (on the warpath) SEEING DICTATOR


STAGE DIRECTION (‘make exit’ is an example of a  STAGE DIRECTION)




Spirit guide, if seen, is way in (10)


Anagram of (guide) IF SEEN IS containing (in) ST (street; way)






Rocky northerly island not initially accessible (8)


UNST (reference the island of UNST in the Shetland Isles, the northernmost group of islands in the Unied Kingdom) + READY (accessible) excluding the first letter (not initially) R

UNSTEADY (rocky)




Magazine entertaining old boys (6)


(LAD [boy] + ED [boy’s name] giving boys) containing (entertaining) O (old)


LOADED (lads magazine which may well also entertain old boys)




Right time for storm (4)


R (right) + AGE (time)


RAGE (storm)



29 Responses to “Independent 8271 / Tyrus”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    OPTS is zero points.

    FOOL is hidden in reverse in gigolo often.

  2. duncanshiell says:


    Thanks – I haven’t done very well on those have I!. Both very obvious – I’ll update the blog

  3. michelle says:

    I took a lot longer on this puzzle than I had hoped, but it was a good challenge and I’m glad I persevered.

    My favourites were ‘art house’, ‘fool around’, ‘opts’, ‘notwithstanding’ & ‘fleecy’.

    New word for me was ‘wheatear’.

    I solved but could not parse 23a, 17d (I had only thought of a loaded gun magazine), 2d & 15d (I’m not much good at naming UK islands).

    I parsed 7a & 9a in the same way as NeilW.

    Thanks for the blog, Duncan. I agree that ‘y’ is text-speak for ‘why’.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan. I agree with your ‘difficult’ assessment. I managed it, but only with a lot of gadgetry and even then failing to understand the parsing of quite a few. It’s all fair (except maybe CAPTURED = ‘prisoners now’?) but much of the wordplay and definitions were a bit fiendish. One for those who like them tough, I think.

    Does the inclusion of CRAP and ARSE merit a ghost theme?

    When I was young, FOOLING AROUND in its sexual sense meant top half only, but perhaps the younger generation has moved on a bit.

    Y for text-speak always reminds me of YYURYYUBICURYY4ME.

    Thank you to Tyrus for the brainache this morning.

  5. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog – this was just about as tough a daily cryptic as I can remember. Well done Tyrus!

    Re Droit du Seigneur (NB du not de) I think the somewhat metaphorical – almost poetic – &lit works. It reminded me of the play/opera The Marriage of Figaro, which is all about the groom, Figaro, resisting the Seigneur’s attempt to reinstate the d du s. The “riding” metaphor is the sort of thing that comes up in the opera too. Da Ponte’s libretto is full of elaborate, loaded images like that.

  6. Andy B says:

    I thought this was a beast of a puzzle with some very well hidden definitions, and I was very glad to finish it without recourse to aids. Just like Duncan seems to have done, I originally entered “droit de seigneur” before I looked at the anagram fodder again and realised it contained two “u”s so changed it to the correct “droit du seigneur”. A few years ago when I started doing cryptics on a regular basis I don’t think I would have been able to finish this one, even with the use of aids, so well done to Michelle, as a novice, for being able to solve it.

  7. Muffyword says:

    This took me ages – the whole of Doctor Who – from which I was somewhat distracted – plus another 20 minutes after. I put loader instead of LOADED, but otherwise managed it in the end. I initially had a ruder answer pencilled in for FOOL AROUND, until I saw the hidden reversal. I also toyed with the idea that there might be a bookshop in Britain called Raynes, before I thought of FOYLES.

    ART HOUSE was cool.

    I’m afraid I thought that POETRY IN MOTION was probably a song by that Duffy girl.

  8. duncanshiell says:

    Andy B

    Well spotted – I do actually have DROIT DU SEIGNEUR in my final hand completed puzzle for the very reason you mention [the extra U] – just didn’t copy it properly into the blog.

  9. Rowland says:

    14 NOT &lit as it requires the extra ‘under this rule’. So it is the painful ‘semi-&lit’, if such things exist, that yesterday’s blogger for The Gee was at pains to describe.


  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’ll make you feel better, Muffyword, by fessing up to the fact that in 5dn, given this setter’s predilection for popular culture, I was looking for some phrase from Duffy the Vampire Slayer. Shows how much I know about popular culture.

  11. michelle says:

    thanks for your kind words, but of course I did not finish this puzzle unaided. I used dictionary, thesaurus, wikipedia, and every other device known to man or beast apart from the “reveal” button online. Nor have I admitted how long it actually took me to finish it (a lot longer than one hour, I assure you). The long answers @ 3d, 13d, 5d, 2d, 8d & 14a were a great help.

  12. michelle says:

    I also thought that 5d must have something to do with the Welsh singer Duffy, and as I do not know her music, I spent way too long on wikipedia reading about her.

  13. Alchemi says:

    I don’t really understand why “attracting comment” in 6d = “sounds like”. It seems to me that a homophone indicator has to imply that the words actually are audible, and I don’t see why something which is *attracting* comment is having it’s description spoken out loud. To me, “attracting comment” means someone saying “Ooh look!” or some such, which isn’t really very helpful.

  14. Tramp says:

    I did find this hard and failed to get 12 and 14. However, there are some fantastic clues here. My favourites are 10 (for the surface), 18, 21, 2 (brilliant surface) and 17. Super stuff that I feel would have been better suited as a Prize puzzle.

  15. allan_c says:

    Muffyword @7: “Poetry in Motion” is a song, but not by Duffy. According to it was a No 1 it single in 1961 and has been recorded by various artists.

    But I too was initially looking for the title of a Duffy song till a quick google failed to show any which would fit the enumeration. A facepalm moment when I finally got the answer.

  16. Trebor says:

    Bloody hell, this was tough! I usually manage to solve 80+% of daily puzzles during my commute, but today I scarcely managed a quarter. As such I didn’t really appreciate it at the time (although I did enjoy FOOL AROUND). Looking over the answers I don’t see much to complain about and like the suitable misdirection in 17.

    Many thanks.

  17. Trebor says:

    *subtle misdirection

  18. Tyrus says:

    Thanks to Duncan for the blog and to all others for their comments. To those who found it difficult (ie everybody) thanks for sticking with it.

    Alchemi @13. Know what you mean but I think a lot of traditional homophone indicators can also apply to the written word, eg ‘say’.

  19. flashling says:

    Well Tyrus, first time in a month of Sundays I’ve given up half way through a puzzle on the commute, but you had me beat all over the shop, glad I wasn’t blogging this. Having seen the great blog (except for OPTS, odd miss that Duncan) I’m still little shell shocked.

    But great puzzle by a master, thanks all.

  20. Dormouse says:

    OK, almost completely defeated me – less than a third filled in, even with electronic searches.

    But a question about 5dn. Now, I’d never heard of a singer called Duffy and I’m a huge Buffy fan so no confusion there; first Duffy I thought of was the poet and I toyed with POETRY IN MOTION as the answer but didn’t convince myself enough to fill it in. Seemed that the definition in itself was not sufficient for. I did wonder if it was a reference to Duffy replacing Andrew Motion as poet laureate, but no one else has suggested that. Am I missing something obvious?

  21. Bertandjoyce says:


    Finished this one this morning having given up last night with about two-thirds complete. We hasten to add that we didn’t start until after 10pm.

    We searched for Duffy songs as well on wiki. When we eventually used electronic assistance, we kicked ourselves as we knew the 1961 song very well. We really should have thought of the poet. DOH!

    With assistance (no reveal button as we were doing the dead tree version) we eventually completed it but could not parse about three clues. We thought it had to be captured after an electronic search but only because it was the only word that had any link with prison. So thanks Duncan for the blog. We really needed you for this one.

    Thanks Tyrus – a very intensive work-out!

  22. Ian SW3 says:

    Sorry, but I still can’t parse POETRY IN MOTION. The answer emerged from a few checking letters and the Poet Laureate connection, but I still don’t get it.

  23. nmsindy says:

    Ian SW3 at #22, I think this is a case which may be simpler than it might seem. A cryptic definition referring to the poet leading to a well-known phrase. That’s how I saw it anyway, as I think the blogger also did.

  24. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks. I suppose the clue works that way, but I can’t help thinking it might have been better with “Andrew” instead of “Duffy”.

  25. eimi says:

    It’s one way to keep up with the Guardian comments, I suppose. Thinking about it now I think the problem may have been that the two long answers were cryptic definitions with no subsidiary indications. It could have run as a prize puzzle, but may have set a record for a low number of entries – at least in the daily slot at least people could go online to check the hints. But I thought there were some great clues in here, particularly the neatness of 19 Across.

  26. Flashling says:

    Well eimi don did once get none correct before the cut off. Don’t think this would but for a week day puzzle this was tough wiv a capital T. No complaints just well beat.

  27. George Clements says:

    Memo to self: don’t be complacent. Entered ‘DROIT DE SEIGNEUR’ without working out the anagram fully, so ‘nil points’ for me, or should I say ‘opts’ ?

  28. nmsindy says:

    Or should it be ‘nul points’ with another u having been omitted…

  29. George Clements says:


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