Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6406/Phi

Posted by neildubya on May 5th, 2007


This seemed like a harder-than-usual effort from Phi, although no less entertaining for that. It got me wondering about the Saturday slot of the Indie puzzle though: does a setter who usually sets easy puzzles occasionally submit a deliberately harder one to see if they can get the Saturday slot or does the editor notice that the puzzle is, for some reason, harder than usual and decide to put it in? It’s not really an important question of course, but when you’re awake at 4AM feeding a 5 week old baby it’s the sort of thing you tend to dwell on at length.

1 LA,UNDER,S – “in 19th section” had me going for a while. S is the 19th letter of the alphabet – so if something’s in the 19th section it’s “under s”.
5 PH(i),ONE
14 LAND,IS in (y)OUTH – the surface reading doesn’t really convince I think. Which is unusual for Phi.
21 UNSNARLED – “retracted gruff commment” is a sort of cryptic definition (I guess).
26 U,D,AI,PUR(e) – an excellent illustration of how to clue a tough-ish word. I’d never heard of this place before but the wordplay was straightforward and UDAIPUR just looked right to me. Can’t really explain why but it just did.
27 L(out) in PANE – again, I think the surface strains a bit here.
1 (f)LAME
2 A in (NOT DUPED)*
3 LEND in DEA(l) – another new word to me and the last answer I filled in, probably because I was slow to see agreement=DEAL.
6 MAG in OH – nice clue. I especially like “Hello” for OH.
20 GAUCHE – took a while, and a dictionary, to work this one out. GAUCHE is the French word for “left” and in English we use it to mean “socially awkward” or “unsophisticated”. I’m not sure if this is exactly how I would describe Inspector Clouseau but I get the idea.”Sinister”, in heraldry, means “the left side of a shield from the bearer’s point on view”, which I think I sort of knew, as I was familiar with the phrase “bend sinister” from the Nabokov novel and an album by the Fall.
24 GRI(n)D

5 Responses to “Independent 6406/Phi”

  1. says:

    Without giving away too many secrets, I can leave Neil to ponder further mysteries of the universe in the wee small hours by confirming that the editor does aim to move the harder puzzles to the Saturday slot, reasoning that, firstly, a prize puzzle should be more of a challenge and, secondly, solvers may have more access to books and computers at the weekend, if they’re fortunate enough not to be commuting then, and more time to solve the puzzle.

    Whether setters deliberately submit puzzles with difficult vocabulary to secure the Saturday slot is open to conjecture, but I believe that the prize puzzle is not as coveted as it once was and blogs, and this blogsite in particular, have had a part to play in that.

    Before Fifteensquared existed, Peter Biddlecombe posted brief comments on the Independent Saturday puzzle along with the other weekend puzzles on his Times for the Times site.

    Some time last year Peter discovered that the Independent puzzles were, in his words, “a class act” and he decided to switch from The Guardian to The Independent and post daily reviews alongside his Times blogs. With the advent of Fifteensquared, many setters prefer the more immediate feedback offered for daily puzzles. Obviously, the Saturday puzzle can’t be blogged before competition entries have closed, and there is a general feeling that Saturday puzzles receive fewer comments, although I haven’t done any statistical analysis to ascertain if this is true.

  2. says:

    I found this a good deal harder than Phi normally is. As the regular blogger for the Independent on Sunday prize puzzle, I can confirm there are very few comments on it compared to the daily ones.

  3. says:

    Thanks for the explanation eimi. It’s true that Saturday puzzles tend to receive less comments than weekday ones but it’s also the case that our visitor numbers dip at the weekend – which might explain the lack of comments. During the week we average something like 700 visits a day; at the weekend this drops to around 300.

  4. says:

    Also found this tough for Phi. The comment drought for Saturday puzzles happens on the other blog too. I think it’s just that because of the competition aspect, the blogs appear when you’ve probably forgotten most of the puzzle. From this one, I do remember enjoying the penny-drop on ’19th section’. Udaipur: Neil may have just got it by analogy with Jodhpur, Jaipur and other -purs. Udaipur is best known for locations in Octopussy – I believe there’s a bar there where the film gets shown every day.

  5. says:

    It may be worth adding that there’s a fouled-up Nina in this one (well spotted, eimi), which led to both the odd grid and the harder words. Anyone up to finding both the Nina, and the error (and even either of its corrections)?

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