Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6854/Phi

Posted by neildubya on October 3rd, 2008


I found this much tougher than most Phi puzzles and two clues (18 and 22) had me completely stumped as the wordplay in each of them led to an answer that didn’t really seem connected to the definition. Thanks to nmsindy for explaining both of these to me.

9 COL(OP,H)ON – Great clue, with a very good surface reading. I knew the word, but not the precise meaning, which is either a publisher’s emblem or imprint, or an inscription at the end of a book which gives the name of the writer, printer, etc.
11 ESC,HE,WED – ESC is the escape key on your keyboard
12 RENO,N,W< – filled this in wondering why RENO would be “divorce centre”. Turns out that Reno used to have very liberal divorce laws so people often visited the city for that purpose alone.
14 AB,SOLUTION – I’m a bit puzzled about this one. “Being cleared of responsibility” could be “absolved” but surely not ABSOLUTION so I guess the definition must be “say, being cleared of responsibility”. So then how can “the briny” be “solution”?
18 RATTLE,PART< – the most common meaning of this is an old or decrepit vehicle (which is the meaning I knew) but apparently Chambers has a definition along the lines of a contemptuous name for finery so I guess that fits with “showy stuff”.
22 ENG,I(O)S – SOIGNE. In the dictionaries I have access to this means “smart or well-groomed” but apparently it can also mean “elegantly simple”.
24/26 (TITLE LORD)*,R,IT – LITTLE DORRIT, a novel by Charles Dickens.
25 WA(G,ON,L)IT – a sleeping car in a continental train.
27 STOCK CAR[-e] – very good &lit clue.
1/2 SECRET POLICE – a cryptic def but I don’t really understand it: “A force whose powers lie in betraying their description?”
4 (BOTHER WASH)* – SHOWER BATH. Another good &lit.
6 (BU[-t]SQUARE)* – ARQUEBUS. Add this to my list of words I only know about because of other crosswords.
7 ROTE< in (RICH)* – annoyingly it took me ages to get beyond RAM or ROM for “memory” even though I knew it couldn’t be either of them.
8 W(A KEN)ING – deceptive use of “out”.
17 L,LANE,ILL< – the only Welsh town I know that begins with L so this was pretty easy.
19 H,ER(O)IC

8 Responses to “Independent 6854/Phi”

  1. Eileen says:

    14ac: brine is a solution of salt and water, I suppose

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    I too am baffled by 1/2. The clue implies that their power is in not being secret but I must be missing something. I solve online and so I wasn’t convinced that this one was by Phi until you posted the blog.

    LLANELLI is the only Welsh town you know beginning with L? The double el, Ll, is a very common letter in Welsh. In fact Ll is the most common initial letter for Welsh place names by far. You must have heard of Llandudno at least? Llangollen maybe?

  3. neildubya says:

    Now you mention it, I have heard of Llandudno but I doubt I would have remembered it without your prompting. Never heard of Llangollen.

  4. Paul B says:

    I don’t get 1/2 either – and is it grammatically correct?

    It certainly is a representation of ‘Leicester cop’, which is a total secret unless you have an anagram generator …

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    Erectile cops?

  6. petero says:

    Not to mention LLanfair PG, which I won’t because I can’t

  7. Wil Ransome says:

    I didn’t think this was quite up to Phi’s usual standard:
    a) 1/2 dn seems unsatisfactory, or at any rate I, like Colin, am baffled by it.
    b) 14dn seems wrong, in that ‘being cleared of responsibility’ or just ‘cleared of responsibility’ doesn’t quite equate to ‘absolution’ (I think the ‘say’ goes with ‘briny’). Wrong part of speech, apparently.
    c) the worst thing is the grid, which is one of those old ones you used to find in the FT and which I thought had been superseded. You end up doing four separate crosswords, in all of which the clues are of six or eight letters. linked by four longer answers (and the fact that two of them were very hard didn’t help).

    But 4dn is so good that it almost makes up for these failings.

  8. Al Streatfield says:

    Help, someone! I think 1/2 is the first time as far as I can remember that I have been totally unable to understand a clue. Can somebody explain?

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