Independent 7835

This puzzle appeared on 25 November 2011, some months after it had been used to test subjects in an experiment to analyse the solving process.  When it appeared in The Independent it did so with a paragraph encouraging solvers to get in touch with Buckingham University, and the fifteensquared blog (look at this after solving) on the puzzle also alluded to the experiment.  Since that time, the researchers (Kathryn Friedlander and Philip Fine) have delivered a number of papers at conferences, and have often generated some news stories.  There’s just been a little flurry of interest again, so it seemed a good time to put the puzzle up.  My thanks to Kathryn and Philip, and to The Independent for permission to do so.

Part of the process involved me writing a commentary on why and how I’d chosen the different clue types to use.  I don’t usually think much about this at the top level, so I found it quite instructive.  I’ll put the commentary up as a pdf with the solution.  What it doesn’t do is go back one stage further to the choice of grid.  I picked this grid when first I was asked to set the puzzle.  When The Independent allowed setters the freedom to design their own grids (rather than be restricted to a preordained set) this was the first I submitted.  I’d constructed it with the express aim of including entries of a wide range of lengths: it has two each of 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11 and 13 letters, plus one of 15 and four each of 6, 7 and 8.  It just seemed the right grid to promise a variety of treatments.

The solution will also have a commentary about the clues – a slightly different sort of setter’s blog than usual.




1          Working cops in it a lot around start of evening? (6,7)

8          Understand women will participate in children’s game (4)

9          Track crime on radio – outcome of murder involving foremost of radio personalities (6-4)

10        Girl’s surprised cry about revolver (6)

12        Attempt to follow in gloaming, mostly hard work (8)

13        One expert catching fellow in leg in jump? (8)

15        Mum suppressing discussion without difficulty (6)

16        Tests, for example, interrupting fool (6)

18        Rail service’s various routes are curtailed (8)

20        Justification for dining apparently not substantial in Paris (8)

21        Compiler not right to include symbol for student – agree? (6)

23        Cut off dress initially is fashionable: girl’s with it (10)

24        Cunning curved shape (4)

26        Prime gatherer, possibly – of souls? (3,4,6)


1          Expression of relief, not getting hard seat (3)

2          Escape, shaking off force, being not overburdened (5)

3          Fellow leader, bloke removing last locks (2-5)

4          Message contained in a series of notes (7,8)

5          Stop cracking things used in cookery programmes (7)

6          One TV detective mostly apprehending mail cheats (9)

7          Lunar attire inappropriate for walk on earth? (6,5)

11        Essence of theatrical life: good run leading to pleasant times then agony with its closing (11)

14        One’s in cuddle” I’m beginning to enjoy post-conflict period (9)

17        Quietly advance that woman in pursuit of opening (7)

19        Award perhaps fixed in memory (7)

22        Traveller’s market lifting prices initially (5)

25        Vehicle giving a lot of concern (3)

PDF of puzzle



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