Anax Demo Puzzle – Discussion – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Anax Demo Puzzle – Discussion

Anax Demo Puzzle – Discussion

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Spoiler alert – this post is to facilitate discussion of Anax’s Demo Puzzle and may contain hints and/or answers.
If you want to solve the puzzle first, don’t select “read more” below.

If you want to discuss the puzzle, then post your comments here and join in the fun!

Feel free to post whatever you want – this is not a prize puzzle.

46 comments on “Anax Demo Puzzle – Discussion

  1. An excellent puzzle. Although I managed to finish it, I think some of it was more by luck than judgement!

    Loved 3a, 21a, 5d, 14d and 23d

  2. Looked at this puzzle on and off for a couple of hours yesterday and got one answer so far! (Not even certian about this answer it either). Will take another look today, but really struggling with this!

  3. I’ve been a lurker on Big Dave’s site for about a year now. I normally just do the Telegraph Saturday crossword and usually finish it with the occasional peek here.

    However this one has got me completely flummoxed. I won’t ask for help because the only one that I haven’t solved yet, after several hours, is well….all of them actually apart from 6 down.

    I think I’ve got 9 down now, it’s DOUBLET AND SONS, although I’m fairly certain that the Elizabethans didn’t wear sons. Anax must have got this wrong. could he have meant Dombey and sons?

    My guess for 26 across is T-BONE STEAK but I’ve no idea why, apart from the fact that it contains TEAK which is a tree and a wood.

    My favourite is 6 down, can you guess why?


    1. Welcome to the blog 33

      We’ve only been going since 29th January!!

      9d – try changing the other word to an old-fashioned covering for the legs or feet, old-fashioned tights for men.

      26a – look up the Bo tree! Nothing to do with Bo Derek.

      1. Thanks Big Dave

        So now I know about the Bo tree, but for this to make any sense NEST has to be equivalent to LODGE which would also be news to me. Are you sure this Anax knows what he’s doing?

        As for 9 down I was only teasing, I guessed it’s HOSE but guess is the operative word, I still can’t see how you get it from the clue, NOSE would be easier.

        By the way, in my earlier post I meant to thank you for your efforts on this website , I suppose it only seems like a year, that’s a compliment, not a complement.

        Presumably the reason it’s so quiet here is that most people are trying to finish it before posting whereas I’m still trying to start it.

        STOP-PRESS I’ve got three now, 13 across succumbs, another new word for me.


  4. Didn’t really want to jump in here early – rather allow solvers to, er, “enjoy” the battle for while…

    BUT, for those not knowing quite what to expect, it should be pointed out that this puzzle was set with a high level of difficulty. Please don’t go into it thinking it’s of typical Toughie standard. The clueing style is similar to puzzles of mine that have appeared as prize puzzles in the Independent on Saturdays. It’s probably useful, too, to bear in mind that because it appeared on a website of my own it was not subject to review by a crossword editor. I haven’t found any errors in it but an editor might have asked for a couple of changes which may have had the effect of bringing the difficulty level down a bit.

    Number33 – “Sons” is wrong. The word you want there is an item of clothing ;o)

  5. Have been struggling on the train journey home.
    Have got about 35 % ish.
    Loved 15a – spot the indicator in a heap of indicators!
    Not sure why I think 10a is correct though.
    I’m quite prepared to wait for a few days.

    1. 10a uses the slightly contentious usage of “to” as a synonym of “for”. Although the definition is given in Chambers, it would probably not be allowed in a daily cryptic.

  6. As it’s so quiet here I thought I’d post a progress report.

    I’ve now managed to solve about half of the puzzle. Curiously it’s the top half which seems to be easier than the bottom half. I’ve done all bar one of the top half but only one from the bottom half and that’s 26 across (lodge=nest).

    There is a bit of guesswork involved, eg. for 10 across I’ve got an answer which might equally apply to Malvern but I’ve absolutely no idea what it has to do with “Produce fences”, any suggestions out there?

    I still don’t understand 9 down. If anyone’s wondering, I didn’t pluck SONS out of the air. After you take the letters for “DOUBLET AND” from “PANTS, BLOUSE NO DAD” without the “PA” you are left with the letters “SSNO” which can only spell “SONS”. I’ve no idea where the “HOSE” comes from.

    Incidentally, I grew up in Malvern, 50 odd years ago, which is a stone’s throw (if you’re very strong) from Hanley Swan and will be retiring to there soon. Malvern that is, not Hanley Swan.

    1. 9d PANTS is the, very modern, anagram indicator. It’s not strictly correct, a bit like using rubbish to indicate an anagram, but it usually raises a smile and isn’t that what it’s all about? The construct you have used is even naughtier because you have “NO DAD” as part of the anagram fodder and as a subsidiary indicator. The net result of this is SONS + THE – (PA)NTS = SOHE => HOSE. QED

      Remember to look me up when you return to Malvern.

      1. Thanks Big Dave. I must say that my flabber has never been so ghasted. Pants is an anagram indicator? Whatever next? Actually by then I’d decided that Anax doesn’t bother with anagram indicators. Ah but then there’s ‘rocks’. In fact I was beginning to wonder if he obeys any of the ‘rules’. How about 4 down? Where’s the container indicator?. And as for 7 down, don’t get me started on that, anagramming a word that’s not even in the clue!

          1. OK I’ve got this one now (7d), soldier is always GI (except when it’s TA or RA or RE or…), but I still think that my way is more in keeping with this crossword. MAKING is the anagram indicator, SOLDIER DESERT or (DESERT SOLDIER) is RAT (desert rat) , so you anagram ONE with RAT and get ORNATE which almost means COMPLEX. Baboom!

              1. I’m with Big Dave on this one. Your suggestion requires an indirect anagram which is inelegant to say the least!.
                Take a word for make (start or becoming) and remove I GI to leave a word meaning complex.

          2. There surely ought to be a word for “the ability to get the right answer to a crossword using the wrong method”

    2. I’m now waiting for Anax’s article to see if he writes them from the top down or the bottom up.

    1. OK – if I can justify the B at the start (which I cannot) then I think I owe someone a pint, with sparklers in, and some fruit on top!
      (B)/anger/rac/in/g – get mad = anger, Royal Automobile Club in scrap of Granadas ot Granadas heading – (G)

      1. I guess you had better pay up!

        18. Get mad drivers in scrap Granadas heading for this? (6,6)

        ANGER (get mad) + RAC (drivers) inside BIN (scrap) + G(ranadas heading) – so near and yet so far!

        1. D’OH! Thanks BD – problem is that all my mate kept telling me was that Granadas are very popular in Banger Racing!.

          1. And they’re right gnomethang, but such material is getting rare now. Standard tin is becoming Volvos/Jags as the (preferred) 2.8 Granny stock gets used up.

          2. Like I said, there should be a word for getting the right answer by the wrong method.
            I’ve just spent the last hour trying to convince myself that it was MORTAL DANGER. There probably is a word for getting the wrong answer by the wrong method.
            I’m sorry, I’ll shut up now.

            1. A suggestion for a word meaning ‘getting the right answer by the wrong method’ – LUCKY!

  7. This one has had me 15a! (assuming I’m right of course) I’m certain I don’t fully understand some of the. In particular 27a, any care to enlighten me?

    1. I think that it is Who (that) coming to A.
      I’m unable to solve 23d and am not sure why I think I have the right answer for 16d. The rest I am fairly comfortable with although 8 or so I had help on.

        1. Thanks for that – I couldn’t see my way past Liverish which is OK for the definition but I knew something was wrong!

  8. Well, I’ve finally finished this puzzle and it’s only taken five days. It’s probably the most difficult I’ve ever completed.

    I do feel a certain satisfaction in having completed it with only a couple of hints from this site and no artificial aids, but at the same time there’s’ a sense of irritation at having had to struggle with what seem to be unreasonably sloppy or obscure definitions from the nether regions of Chambers, such as LODGE = NEST, BE = LIE, THAT = WHO, COMPLEX = ORNATE and worst of all, MENTION = SHOUT which doesn’t even appear in the great C. I’m sure none of these would be tolerated on the back page of my Saturday Telegraph.

    Is this typical of this level of puzzle, do I just have to get used to it or are there more rigorous puzzle setters?

    No disrespect intended to Anax, I’m just trying to feel my way around this new (to me) field.

    1. I’ll certainly agree with the sentiments regarding difficulty but the synonyms that you have highlighted aren’t all that obscure (ornate for complex is pretty common IMO.
      Mention/Shout took a while but I wouldn’t disagree with any of them.

      I think that this crossword is pretty tight as far as obeying the rules goes – I just couldn’t see some of them!.

    2. Quote: Is this typical of this level of puzzle, do I just have to get used to it or are there more rigorous puzzle setters?

      Basically, yes. Setters for the Times, Independent & Guardian can use more oblique definitions provided there is dictionary support. It has nothing to do with “rigorous”. The way the difficulty levels of these puzzles can be determined is to view it this way: Setters of easier cryptics are encouraged to use the most familiar definitions for both answer and wordplay elements – in this way, less experienced solvers see these elements repeated and thus become more confident when solving. Once you get to the tougher end of the market, solvers are expecting definitions to require a little more digging, and it’s the unexpected interpretations of definitions which – perversely – often attract the greatest praise, precisely because the setter has spotted something unexpected.

      MENTION / SHOUT, btw, is a modern colloquialism popularised by radio DJs. A shout/mention is the broadcasting of someone’s name by request, typically along the lines of “This shout goes out to Emma and Chloe who are going out to get absolutely hammered and drugged up at some nightclub operated by importers of heroin”.

      1. Thanks for the reply Anax.

        I would agree that the attraction of cryptic puzzles is the need to think laterally and find the unexpected but what I have a problem with is the use of definitions which are completely outside of my experience. Your use of shout/mention is a good example. Not being in the habit of listening to radio DJs I’ve never heard of this use of the word SHOUT and I suspect that no amount of research would have revealed it. As a sexagenarian with no grandchildren I don’t profess to know the modern meaning of PANTS either, but even if you had used the word RUBBISH I wouldn’t have recognised that as an anagram indicator.

        Obviously this is not a valid criticism, everyone’s experience and level of education is different, I don’t go banger racing either. So I have no real complaint, just a slight feeling of discomfort.

        I ‘ve certainly got no objection to puzzles containing a few answers which are new words to me, in fact I welcome them provided that I can derive them from the rest of the clue and look them up. There were only two in this one NEMBUTAL and ALSELM. As these were both anagrams I congratulate you for getting that just right (for me).

        On the whole, a good puzzle (I suppose) so well done.

        I’m slightly surprised that there haven’t been comments from more people.


        1. PANTS

          Funny you should mention (shout) that. A few months ago, someone blogging a Times puzzle remarked on “pants” being used as an anagrind; not to raise any objection, but to point out it had appeared on numerous recent occasions, and hoping it wasn’t heading towards overuse. It happens; certain words/phrases are debuted as wordplay devices and setters – knowing the puzzle they’re working on right now will have a long lead time before publication – will often latch onto and incorporate them, so you tend to get “new” devices being repeated in a flurry.

          As for anagram indicators as a whole, editors ultimately decide what they will/won’t accept. The juvenile-grin-inducing PANTS has been almost universally accepted, while old stalwarts such as ABOUT are starting to lose favour because of that word’s container/reversal/anagrind ambiguity.

          The incorporation of modern colloquialisms doesn’t necessarily reflect – but it certainly encourages – an influx of younger solvers (and setters, for that matter), and dictionary support isn’t always vital, especially if imaginative setters find clever ways of defining both these and “standard” words. An example that stands out for me is one by Bannsider in his Times hat, where he strung together MOO and VIA around NR (near) for MONROVIA. He used (for MOO/VIA) the brilliant “What cows go through”. The strictly non-dictionary interpretation “What cows go” for MOO was pure genius.

      2. Anax
        I would also like to thank you for your puzzle being entirely free form boarding school jargon which is another bugbear of mine.

  9. Thank you a great crossword and a splendid blog. I am unable to see 1 across b?a?. 26a m?n?i?n I am not able to relate clearly to the clue. Observations welcome please.

    1. Welcome to the blog deecdee

      It’s much more friendly here than on AB!

      The small dog is an abbreviation for a very popular kind of dog.

      I think t’s 25a that you have mentioned (pun intended) – put together people and type of can and insert the “nothing” and you get a word that is shout in it’s rather modern usage.

    2. Beginning to B ark with small LAB (rador) gives a word for Let Out (Like Cat from a Bag)!

      Word for People with Word for Can with O in gives a word meaning Shout (as in worth a shout)

      Hope this Helps

  10. Solved weeks after the rest of you as I was away on holiday when the puzzle appeared. It took me longer than I’d expect to take for about 80-90% of Times puzzles, so it’s well up the difficulty scale.

    Anax does know what he’s doing – he’s just making you think much harder than most Telegraph puzzles do. If you look at the grid after solving, you should also see that there are very few of the words that keep on appearing in crossword grids, which helps to make the puzzle harder, but also makes it more interesting.

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