Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8276 / Dac

Posted by duncanshiell on April 24th, 2013


Dac puzzles are always a joy for a blogger.  The clues are excellent and the wordplay is 99% crystal clear.




This puzzle seemed to me to be perhaps on easier side of the midpoint of the easy/difficult spectrum.  I got off to a fairly speedy start in the bottom half of the grid and made steady progress after that.  The last two in were MITCHUM (1 down) and HEELERS (11 across).

The misdirection or the smoothness of surfaces in Dac’s clues are among the best in the crossword world.  Today’s favourites for me were the clues for GRAF (4 across), GRANDFATHER (18 across), CLAPTON (23 across), ASCOT (5 down) and KINSHASA (6 down).

As usual there was a good mix of clue types, althout there were slightly more homophones than I expected.

I usually have a quick look for themes, hidden messages, pangrams etc in puzzles that I blog, but rarely expect to find one in a Dac puzzle.  This was another excellent and fair puzzle to delight commuters and afficionados alike.


No. Clue Wordplay Entry



Request for help servant uttered? That’s correct (6)


MAYD (sounds like [uttered] MAID [servant]) + AY (yes; that’s correct)


MAYDAY (the international radiotelephonic distress signal for ships and aircraft; request for help)




Tennis player‘s hard slog knocking out finalist (4)


GRAFT (hard work; hard slog) excluding (knocking out) the last letter [finalist] T


GRAF (reference Steffi GRAF, tennis player, who had her greatest success in the 1990s)




To crack regiment, they’re doggedly tough fighters (5)


TO + SAS (Special Air Service; crack regiment)


TOSAS (heavily built, smooth-haired dogs, the adult of which weighs approx 7 stone, bred for fighting; doggedley tough fighters).




Details ultimately unknown about sort of therapy one’s given for viral illness (9)


(INFO [information; details] + N [last letter of {ultimately} UNKNOWN]) containing (about) (ECT [electroconvulsive therapy] + I [one])


INFECTION (viral illness)




As you say, they make better herding dogs (7)


HEELERS (sounds like [as you say] HEALERS [people or medicines who/that make you better)


HEELERS (dogs that herds livestock by following and barking at their heels)




English detachment returning initially on train (7)


RE + ([E {English} + UNIT {detachment}] reversed [returning])  ‘initially’ indicates that RE comes first


RETINUE (train)




Singer very keen to appear with fiddle before top celebrities (11)


MAD (very keen) + RIG (manipulate; fiddle) + A-LIST (the most important or famous group [of celebrities])






Feasts taken regularly could make you so (3)


FAT (odd letters of [regularly] FEASTS)


FAT (what eating and  FEASTing may make you)




Without piano introduction perform song (3)

PLAY (perform) excluding (without) P (the first letter [introduction])


LAY (song)




Old man has South African currency and francs among hoard (11)


(RAND [South African currency] + F [francs]) contained in (among) GATHER (hoard)






Powerful tool was misused by group of people (7)


BAND (group of people) + an anagram of (misused) WAS


BANDSAW (toothed steel belt; powerful tool)




Guitarist applauded in auditorium, appearing at last (7)

CLAPT (sounds like [in auditorium] CLAPPED [applauded]) + ON (appearing)


CLAPTON (reference Eric CLAPTON [rock guitarist])




In time, towns developed in southern Florida? (9)


Anagram of (developed) TOWNS contained in (in) DATE (time)


DOWNSTATE (American term for ‘in or to a southerly or rural part of a state [e.g. Florida]).




Film that’s no talkie, love (5)


DUMB (silent; no talking) + O (love [score in tennis])


DUMBO (Disney film)




Trick used by employers (4)


PLOY (hidden word in [used by] EMPLOYERS)


PLOY (trick)




Concert interval? (6)


Bradfords gives UNISON as a definition for ‘interval’ but I have to admit that the connection eludes me unless it is something to do with musical terminology


UNISON (complete agreement; concert) double definition





Mother keeps longing for actor, so called… (7)


MUM (mother) containing (keeps) ITCH (longing)


MITCHUM (reference Robert MITCHUM, film actor who played Duke Halliday in The Big Steal)




… ‘Duke’ in the old westerns, say?  Surprisingly he’s no longer of interest (10,4)


Anagram of (surprisingly) (D [duke] and YE [old for of ‘the'; the old] and WESTERNS SAY)


YESTERDAY’S NEWS (old news, something no longer of interest)




Picking up receiver when we phone about noon (9)


(AS [when] + WE + RING [phone]) containing N (noon)


ANSWERING (picking up the receiver to ANSWER the phone)




After fog’s lifted, soldiers attack (2,3)


FOG reversed (lifted; down clue) + OR (other ranks; soldiers)


GO FOR (attack)




A college servant at Oxford dismissed university course (5)

A + SCOUT (college servant at Oxford) excluding (dismissed) U (university)


ASCOT (racecourse)




Capital family has invested in South Africa (8)


KIN (family) + (HAS contained in (invested in) SA [South Africa])


KINSHASA (capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo)




Prodigal gets home, fits in: that shows how things are today (4,2,3,5)


Anagram of (prodigal) GETS HOME FITS IN


SIGN OF THE TIMES (indication of how things are today)




Plan adopted by Stalin tentatively (6)


INTENT (hidden word in [adopted by] STALIN TENTATIVELY)


INTENT (plan)




Suggested adult should be hauled out and charged (8)


INDICATED (suggested) excluding (hauled out) A (adult)


INDICTED (charged)




Open-air restaurant with rickety gate leading to forest (3,6)


Anagram of (rickety) GATE + ARDEN (reference the old Forest of ARDEN in North-West Warwickshire)


TEA GARDEN (outdoor restaurant)




Strong urge one has to enrol in Liberal party (6)


I (one) contained in (enrol in) (LIB  [Liberal] + DO {party])


LIBIDO (vital urge)




Hit by car’s exhaust ? (3,4)


RUN DOWN (hit by a car)


RUN DOWN (exhaust) double definition




Fibre used for making sails (5)


Anagram of (making) SAILS


SISAL (type of fibre)




Spent year south of the river (5)


WEAR (reference River WEAR in the North East of England) + Y (year)


WEARY (tired; spent)



13 Responses to “Independent 8276 / Dac”

  1. michelle says:

    This excellent puzzle was a lot of fun. I really enjoy the way that Dac writes clues. There were so many that I liked, including (but not limited to): 4a, 10a, 11a, 12a, 13a, 18a, 23a, 24a, 1d, 3d.

    New word for me today was TOSA, and I was unable to parse 19d.

    Re 27a, Collins defines ‘unison’ (noun, music) as ‘the interval between two sounds of identical pitch’.

    Thanks for the puzzle, Dac and the blog, Duncan.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan, excellent blog as always.

    I’m an aficionado rather than a commuter, but this was another fine puzzle from Dac. We run out of stuff to say about his crosswords, don’t we?

    UNISON is indeed in Collins, as Michelle says, so Dac’s clue is sound; but that’s daft. How can there be an interval between two sounds of identical pitch? Thirds, fifths, minor sevenths and so on … Still, if it’s in the dictionary, it’s fair game.

    Especially liked MADRIGALIST today.

  3. chris&helen says:

    27A Chambers says Unison can be a pitch differing by one or more octaves. We think that would be an interval, (but not long enough to get an ice cream).

  4. sidey says:

    The OED has:

    Identity in pitch of two or more sounds or notes; the agreement or consonance of the sounds of two or more bodies vibrating at equal rates; the relation of two notes of the same pitch reckoned as one of the musical ‘intervals’.

    Which is no clearer really. I suspect the musos are ‘aving a larf.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    It was only a muse, sidey, and I’m only a part-time muso, so it’ll do for me.

  6. Dormouse says:

    I’m not a musician, but I do know enough about music theory that “unison” being an interval sounds right to me.

  7. Bertandjoyce says:

    Given the fact that UNISON was the last one in and it did take quite a long interval before we inserted it – can we have an ice cream please?

    All good stuff for a Wednesday, actually any day really.

    Thanks to Dac and Duncan.

  8. Flashling says:

    beautifully constructed as we expect from dac. Just too easy alas. I don’t buy the paper to read it!

  9. Andy B says:

    Enjoyable offering. The bottom half went in much quicker than the top half. I didn’t know HEELER but it was clear enough from the wordplay.

  10. pennes says:

    First class stuff, I thought madrigalist very nicely done.
    Hey though it’s the last Wednesday of the month when Dac has recently been taking a breather

  11. Wil Ransome says:

    Yes I’d been expecting Crosophile today, since there are only 30 days in April. I wonder if he’ll appear next week, or is he himself taking a break?

    Unison seemed the only possibility, so I chucked it in and confirmed it electronically. Had never heard of heelers, but the wordplay made it pretty likely.

    Excellent as always. Yes we do run out of things to say about Dac; I tend to save them for when I have to blog him.

  12. allan_c says:

    I could conribute some erudite remarks on unison being an interval but enough’s been said already, so I’ll turn my attention elsewhere.

    No-one seems to have realised that 1ac is an &lit. MAYDAY is a homophone of “m’aider” – French for “help me” (actually a contraction of “venez m’aider” – “come to help me”).

    I too was surprised to find Dac on the last Wednesday of the month. Pleasantly surprised – not that that implies anything detrimental about other setters.

    So thanks, Dac – and, of course, Duncan.

  13. PJ says:

    Most enjoyable puzzle, and a beautifully written blog which helped me fully understand how 12a worked.

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