i Cryptic Crossword 3265 Eccles

July 26, 2021

It was a struggle choosing a clue of the day from this delightful crossword from Eccles. I had nine contenders, each in their way illustrating Eccles’ wit, erudition and creativity.

The elliptical definition for ICECAPS, combined with a neat surface reading (which suggests the more recent television programme, rather than Orwell’s original concept) is an exemplar of the creativity on display today. Likewise the amusing and apt surface reading for MARDI GRAS. We had subtle misdirection in the deceptively simple DEER. And EPITOME made me laugh out loud when I parsed it, another clue where the surface reading harmonised nicely with the definition and word-play.

Even so, my nomination today goes to my last one in, and the only one where I needed recourse to electronic help: “He’s bound to miss (6)”. The economy of the clue is a delight in itself.

I don’t think there are any obscurities today. I might have struggled to come up with Nigel Short if you had asked me to list some chess champions, but the name was sufficiently familiar once I had the answer. CONFABBED, in the verb form seemed odd, but there it is, and the noun “confab” as “discussion” is certainly familiar enough.

Here’s the link for the answers and explanations: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/05/10/independent-9539-by-eccles/

16 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3265 Eccles”

  1. dtw42 said

    That was fun. 18dn is a bit of an old chestnut perhaps.I had “ha” in the margin against the EPITOME clue, and … perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I did genuinely laugh out loud when the penny dropped for 1ac; megatarts, indeed!

  2. Veronica said

    The crossword suggests that promiscuous women are tarts (generally deemed an offensive term), and that old women are crones (generally deemed to imply ugly/sinister). This type of cross referencing over and over again creeps into the consciousness, creating a society which devalues promiscuous and older women. And, yes, even crosswords play a part – indeed particularly insidious part, which is dangerous.
    That’s all I will say.

  3. Brock said

    An extremely amusing puzzle which made me smile on several occasions. I wish there were more like this!

    My Clue of the Day was 27a, which I didn’t get until second-last; was expecting an Orwellian reference to “rats”, and then realized it was nothing of the sort, but a play on the Roman numerals for “101”, with an ingenious surface link to the eponymous TV programme. Very cleverly done! Other commendable clues were 18d, 21d, 26d and 22a – my last in, partly because I wasn’t sure whether 9d ended in -ION or -ING. (A slight flaw in the construction, maybe?)

    My only real quibble was with 10a, which I had to guess from the crossers because I didn’t know “cannula”. “Annular” means “ring-shaped” rather than “circular”, so the definition was a little misleading.

    I got 25a from the definition and then had to “back-parse” the wordplay – as Eccles himself says on Fifteensquared, there’s no other way of solving it. One of those clues that appear clever in retrospect but are in fact not much help in getting the answer.

    Finally, regarding the sexist language, perhaps a warning could be printed saying that some of the clues may not be to everyone’s taste?

    • Grodnik said

      How about instead insisting on two sets of clues, one set for those easily offended and the other for those of a more robust outlook? The choice could then be your own (personally I won’t watch a TV drama unless there is a warning at the beginning that it “contains scenes that may offend some viewers”). At my advanced age I’d opt for the risqué set every time. NDY

  4. thebargee said

    Yes, my brow furrowed somewhat at 1a, but I did enjoy the puzzle. I thought MARDI GRAS and EPITOME particularly good. Also CONFABBED reminded me of one of my pet hates – when people say CONFLAB instead of CONFAB. But I am a bit of a grumpy old so-and-so.

    Unfortunately this was a DNF because I bunged in IRRITATING for 9d, which meant I was never going to get 22a. Which was a real 9d!!

  5. Willow said

    I was only going to say: “Some really nice clues – thank you – but I personally would have chosen different wordplay for several others.” However, I will also now add that my thinking chimes exactly with that of Veronica; but – additionally – that I would actually hate to see any health warning/alternatives as mooted by Brock and Grodnik, even though they are thoughtful suggestions. Take it or leave it, I suppose. I chose to take it on this occasion. But when I am compiling crosswords myself I always have a family audience in mind; and, if Eccles is reading this, it wouldn’t have been too hard to rejig some clues to achieve a similar result.

  6. Cornick said

    Absolutely brilliant clueing from Eccles I thought.
    Is ‘crone’ an offensive word? Is ‘tart’? Well according to Chambers – which like it or not is the setter’s Bible on such matters, crone IS derogatory but tart isn’t. Personally I would have had them the other way round, because I think of crone as being one of the Jungian archetypes, like virgin, mother, wise woman etc. Anyhow, rest assured that the editor DOES consider these things – he once forbade my use of ‘squaw’ because it’s apparently derogatory.

    • Brock said

      The Concise OED agrees with you, labelling “tart” as derogatory but not “crone”. So do I.

  7. Saboteur said

    I think the question about sexist language, or indeed any derogatory language is a perfectly legitimate one. After all, we don’t hesitate to say when a clue makes us smile or laugh, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say something if a clue disobliges, for whatever reason. And this is my opinion only, not some sort of final judgement just because I wrote the blog – just one opinion, alongside other opinions.

    I think that the cluing of “crones” by “old ladies” is indeed unpleasant. “Crone” is derogatory, certainly according to my Chambers. While it is a perfectly valid word to use in either clue or answer, I do agree that it is wrong to clue it by “old ladies” in general. It ought to be clued more precisely. Old age is something that awaits us all, if we are so lucky, and so ought not to be something to ridicule.

    The STRATAGEM clue is more problematic. Promiscuity, whether among women or among men, may or may not be something one approves of, on religious, moral, social or some other grounds. One may take a stance on it one way or another. The consensus of western European tradition has been against it, even if humans have rarely lived up to the posited ideals. Enlightened liberal society is less hypocritical and more permissive. And unlike other times and other places, there is no agreed consensus in our culture today. And for many, “promiscuous” is as much a term of disapprobation as “tart”, although certainly not for all. There is nothing definitive about it.

    Other factors come in to play, as well. A clue can be deployed with humour, perhaps in a self-mocking or ironic way, although I don’t think that is the case here. This sometimes makes a more contentious clue worthwhile.

    Much depends, I suppose, on whether one views crosswords, like the creative arts more generally, as more like a mirror or more like a lamp. Do crosswords simply reflect the ordinary use of language back to us, or should we use them to see our way along the path to a chosen future? If the latter, then it is a big burden to put on the shoulders of setters, who are human, with frailties, like the rest of us.

  8. Eccles said

    While the point is taken, and one clue in a future crossword where I did definitely make a mistake in this regard will (hopefully) be changed from the Indy version, I disagree slightly with the statements about definitions – the clues aren’t saying that promiscuous women are tarts, or that old women are crones, they are saying that tarts are promiscuous women, and that crones are old women, which is exactly what the dictionary says. (how could crones have been more precisely clued?)

    • Cornick said

      FWIW my drama-teacher-Green-voting wife laughed out loud when I read her the mega-tarts clue.

      • Grodnik said

        So did long-retired-Green-voting-ex-maths-teacher Mrs G.
        Btw, forgot to say that I loved the Concise top line homophone today. Charlie Chaplin might be a bit more difficult.

    • Saboteur said

      Hi, Eccles, thanks for taking the time and trouble to read and respond.

      You are absolutely right that Chambers gives old women for crones. But it does mark it as derogatory. Old *ladies* is respectful, rather than derogatory, so on an over-close inspection, it isn’t quite accurate. I did not consider this a problem when solving myself, or when I wrote up the blog; only as the conversation in the comments developed did I give it thought.

      Thanks for a great crossword, which I enjoyed solving and blogging. I genuinely struggled to pick one stand-out clue among so many good ones.

  9. Willow said

    Many thanks to Saboteur for his insightful remarks, which I found very helpful; and to Eccles as well, for joining the discussion in such a self-effacing manner. Much appreciated.

    • Cornick said

      The English language may not be quite so anti-women as some people imagine. I note that under Roger’s entry for ‘bad person’ (938) male terms outnumber female terms roughly 10 to 1.

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