Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6288/Phi – ???

Posted by rightback on January 5th, 2007


Solving time: 9:52

I don’t think this was one of Phi’s more inspired offerings; unless there is a theme I have missed, I suspect the construction started with the interlinking 11ac, 7dn and 21dn, which are three of the more original clues, but lots of the others were very standard fare with simple word breakdowns. There are also three question marks I don’t like (1ac, 28ac, 5dn).

Beginners’ tips of the day: ‘fashion’ = TON, ‘behold’ = LA (or LO), ‘lecturer’ = L.

* = anagram.

1 HARE + M – but why the question mark?
4 POST + CODES – held up by ‘postmarks’ here which doesn’t work at all.
10 LA + UGH
11 MUL(TINA TI(O)NA)L – curiously I spotted this by trying ‘Scottish Island’ = Iona, which is just a coincidence.
14 DOGE; DO + rev. of EG – a doge was formerly the chief magistrate in Venice or Genoa. The wordplay is fairly obvious but ‘Duce’ is a red herring if unfamiliar with the word ‘doge’.
15 KING ARTHUR – just a cryptic definition, I think.
18 WELL IN + G + TON (= fashion) – I stupidly entered Washington here, which not only doesn’t fit the wordplay but isn’t a capital either.
19 G(L)UM – apparently ‘size’ can mean ‘a weak glue or gluey material used for stiffening’. I guessed that might be the case but wasn’t sure, so I spent a minute or two at the end going through the alphabet to check for other possibilities. I’m pleased that ‘s(l)um’ didn’t occur to me first or it would probably have gone in without a second thought, even though ‘sum’ and ‘size’ aren’t quite the same and nor is a ‘slum’ really a ‘depression’ (plus this would render ‘Showing’ and the question mark superfluous).
21 EMERGENCY EXIT – another cryptic definition which I was very slow on, especially having got the crossing ‘X’.
28 PUPPY; rev. of UP + PP (= pages) + Y (= yard) – but what is the question mark doing at the end of this clue? The only justification for it here would be if this were a ‘semi-&lit’, with the wordplay elaborating on the definition (‘Youngster’), but I don’t think that’s the case in this clue.
1 HAND-ME-DOWN (double definition) – has to be read as an adjective for the first definition (‘Overused’).
3 MORBID; MO + (BIRD)* – I’m not keen on ‘migrating’ as an anagram indicator; ‘migrate’ means ‘to move from one place to another’ which has no ‘mixing’ or ‘changing’ connotations that I can see.
4 PACK + AGING – a very similar clue appeared in The Times recently, but I still didn’t twig that ‘getting on’ = AGING. Luckily I got crossing letters quickly and solved this from the definition.
5 SOL + TI – again, I can’t see why this clue requires a question mark. Georg Solti was a famous conductor, fairly helpfully clued although the wordplay could also have given ‘Solmi’. This is a very useful filler word.
6 C(U + L + IN)ARY – refers to Cary Grant, the second greatest male film star ever according to this list.
7 DOUBLE HELIX (cryptic definition)
8 SO + HO[t]
12 LEGAL + TENDER – this clue suffers from ‘legal’ having essentially the same meaning in the definition and the wordplay. A ‘tender’ is ‘a carriage attached to a locomotive to carry fuel and water’.
13 DRAMATURGY; (DRUG RAT MAY)* – ‘the art of writing and producing plays’. Not a word I knew but I wrote it in confidently by analogy with… er… ‘metallurgy’, I guess.
16 GOOD NIGHT; GO + rev. of DO + NIGH + T
17 FI(NEAR)TS – excellent clue.
20 H[ardy]Y + S[hrub]S + OP – this plant.

5 Responses to “Independent 6288/Phi – ???”

  1. says:

    About average in difficulty for me for Phi: 18 mins. Also found GLUM from the definition but could not quite fit it in from dictionary entries – only accepted it when no alternatives fitted and on looking in Bradford’s. Size is there under the entry for GUM.

    Favourite clue of the year so far for me is 7 dn in this puzzle. Re 12 dn, I’m old enough to remember when tenders were universal (mainly to carry coal) i.e before diesel locomotives – maybe that helped.

  2. says:

    Re migrate as an anagram indicator: I think this is ok it’s possible to look at solving an anagram as moving letters from one place in a word to another.

  3. says:

    True, but it isn’t ‘bird’ that’s migrating, it’s part of ‘bird’ – actually just the ‘r’ in this case (BIRD -> RBID). So something like ‘bird with migrating rook’ might be ok to indicate this, but I still can’t see how ‘migrating bird’ can be interpreted in this way.

  4. says:

    It was only when MORBID “had to” be the answer that I realised that “migrate” was being used as an anagram indicator. Don’t recall seeing it used in that way before.

    I do not remember too many themed puzzles by Phi in the Indy cryptic series so I wouldn’t normally look out for them there.

  5. says:

    [...] half-hour struggle with Scorpion yesterday: I much preferred this to the last Phi puzzle I blogged (6288). The antipodean flavour to the top left (OTAGO and HAKA) was rather less welcome, given [...]

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