Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,512 by Phi

Posted by Simon Harris on November 12th, 2010

Simon Harris.

I don’t know about you guys, but I found this remarkably hard, and I struggled to get anywhere today. This is not least due to the quantity of unfamiliar vocabulary in there.

This is no doubt forced by the Nina, which I actually spotted for once, though it didn’t help a great deal. Anyway, in unchecked squares across the grid we have most of the alphabet, in order. I suspect I’m missing something deviously clever that represents the remaining letters.

Finally, many thanks to Flashling for stepping in for me at short notice yesterday.

*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition.

Across
1 BREWSKIBR + EW (East and West are partners in bridge) + SKI. I only know this term from American TV shows.
5 SCARABS – SCAR + ABS.
9 TORTURE – TUR[n] in TORE.
10 TAFFETA – FAT< + FETA.
11 NEEDLE GUN – NEED + LE GU[i]N. I can find an author named Ursula K. Le Guin, but she doesn’t seem to be particularly sci-fi. Perhaps readers may be able to clarify.
12 CLONE – CL + ONE, so “class one”.
13 DRY UP – DR + YUP.
15 AMUSINGLY – A[ll] + M[others] + U[pset] + SINGLY.
17 PRECESSED – P + RECESSED.
19 NO END – EN in NOD.
22 CAPUT – UP< in CAT.
23 STRAPPING – dd.
25 SYSTOLEI’m stumped by the wordplay here. Thanks to Testy at #3 for the explanation.
26 OROPESA – [tw]O ROPES A[las]. A new term for me, but fairly easy to spot it hidden there.
27 OVERSEE – OVERS + [w]EE[k].
28 STYRENE – [blu]E in SENTRY*.
Down
1 BATONED – TONE in BAD.
2 EBRIETY – BRIE in YET*.
3 SCULLS + CULL.
4 IDEOGRAMS – R in (IMAGES DO)*.
5 SET ON – NOTES<.
6 AFFECTION – (FF + E) in ACTION.
7 AGELONG – (NO LEG in GA[me])<.
8 SHAPELY – (APE + L) in SHY.
14 PLENTEOUS – (OPULENT S[cen]E)*.
16 UNDERTOWS – (ROUND WEST)*.
17 PICASSO – (A in PICS) + SO.
18 EN POSTE – (POT SEEN)*.
20 EVIL EYE – (I + LEY) in EVE.
21 DEGLAZE – [ol]D [softwar]E + (L[inux] in GAZE).
23 SIEVE – (EVE + IS)<.
24 PROXY – [docto]R in POXY.

23 Responses to “Independent 7,512 by Phi”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Goodness, Simon, I bet you’re wishing you hadn’t swapped with flashling … this was tough. Phi produced a pretty easy Saturday Indy prize crossword a couple of weeks ago and I think that this one has got mixed up with that one. I can’t see further than you with the nina (now you’ve mentioned it), but you’re no doubt right that it’s the reason for the obscurities.

    BREWSKI, OROPESA, EBRIETY – got them all, but can’t say any of them is in my active vocabulary. But I couldn’t finish the NE corner, where I failed on SCARABS, despite it being pretty obviously clued, and AGE-LONG, because I couldn’t bring myself to put the same word in the answer that was in the clue.

    Of course, there was some good stuff as well as usual from Phi, which I enjoyed, but more of a Saturday puzzle for me than a Friday morning outing.

  2. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the blog, Simon. I too found this hard with the unfamiliar vocab, but, thanks to Phi, the wordplays were fairly clear and I was able to work out some words I’d never heard of, eg BREWSKI, OROPESA.

    There’s symmetry in the Nina, I think, with the first 8 and the last 8 letters in the 2nd and 2nd last rows respectively, with the middle four letters of the alphabet in the middle row. Favourite clues, UNDERTOW and EVIL EYE.

  3. Testy says:

    I think SYSTOLE = OL[-D] in SYSTE[-M]

  4. NealH says:

    Given the amount of bizarre vocabulary in this, I was quite pleased to get through it. I followed everything apart from systole where I saw the ol[d] bit but couldn’t equate organism with system. I had to wait until I’d got 3 letters before I put orapesa in because I found it difficult to believe such a word existed. The SW corner was the most difficult for me.

  5. NealH says:

    Oropesa, even – I’m still struggling with it.

  6. walruss says:

    Yes there is probably a limit to the strictures a Nina places on a compiler, and this puzzle demonstrates it!! I don’t like to speak ill of the Indy, but this one stands out as pretty contrived! No more of these for me thank you, Phi!

  7. Lenny says:

    I seem to be making some progress after several weeks of trying the Indy crossword. I got halfway through this and was about to give up, cursing the obscure vocabulary, when I remembered to look for a nina. All then became clear, particularly in the SE when I wrote in the WXYZ. I finished with Age-long because, like KD, I could not believe that long was in the clue and the answer. Presumably an oversight. The wordplay in this clue, and elsewhere was scrupulously fair. I enjoyed this. Thanks to Phi for an ingenious puzzle and an entertaining solve.

  8. redddevil says:

    I wouldn’t want to accuse Phi of plagiarism but I seem to remember alomst exactly the same clue for undertow(s) some weeks ago except that it was in the singular and thus the anagram was ‘around wet’ rather than ‘around West’. Surely not a coincidence?
    Of course that may have been Phi too :-)

  9. flashling says:

    No problem Simon. Actually this was quite a problem and I struggled to get through this. Couldn’t see the working for systole or the Author in 11. For one didn’t see the Nina but had pangram on my mind toward the end.

    All in fairly glad I got yesterday’s instead.

    Thanks for the blog Simon & testy for explaining systole.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for the blog, Simon. As usual, I missed the Nina, and I have doubts about a few of the answers: I thought a scarab was a beetle, (or Beatle ;)), not a stone; and I only know of Oropesa as a Spanish coastal village.

    I’d never heard of ‘brewski’, and I think your explanation for 21d. is missing something – unless I am :)

  11. Simon Harris says:

    Well spotted, Stella. I seemed to have lost interest halfway through typing the explanation! That’s all fixed now.

  12. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks, Simon. I liked the surface of that clue, but couldn’t (be bothered to) parse it.

  13. walruss says:

    At least it was a pangram.

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    So I guess we’re going with Ursula at 11ac? In which case I’ll add this to my list of obscurities.

    Normally (actually, always) Phi is very precise with his clueing and, consequently, his ninas when he decides to tease us with them. So I can’t really see what we’re missing here – if you’re going to do the alphabet thing, then what’s happened to the missing letters?

    Anyway, the weekend beckons, so a good one to all.

  15. Gaufrid says:

    Simon & K’s D
    Extract from Wikipedia (my emphasis):

    “Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (pronounced /??rs?l? ?kro?b?r l???w?n/; born October 21, 1929) is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children’s books, essays, and short stories, most notably in the genres of fantasy and science fiction.”

  16. Gaufrid says:

    PS
    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hainish_Cycle

  17. beermagnet says:

    Ursula K Le Guin’s work is certainly Science Fiction – at least enough for the people who hand out the Hugo Awards and similar – and by the same token – not obscure.
    Wiki
    Her childrens’ stories (Earthsea) are more fantasy, but the main novels typically explore political and psychological themes, while being set among alien peoples on alien worlds.
    I put her in the same category and esteem as Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing and Iain M Banks.
    I would particularly recommend /Left Hand of Darkness/ and /The Dispossessed/

    11A was one of the first I got – well I would wouldn’t I.

    Didn’t finish it – despite spotting the alpha-Nina which helped me along a bit, it was just too hard for a Friday lunchtime.

    Don’t think it’s a pangram – no J (at least).

  18. Phi says:

    The Nina this time was a bit of a tease, and I should apologise, I guess! I put in most of the alphabet and noted that the omitted few were some of the trickiest, and just thought ‘Let ‘em worry’. (I could make some sort of complicated assertion that gaming your expectations in this way is also part of the trickery, but I won’t.)

    BREWSKI I have come across a number of times in my reading (US literature, I think). OROPESA is a word I first encountered in crossword magazines where it came in terribly useful for those definition-only puzzles that combine blocks and substantial checking. But EBRIETY was a bit naughty (though it fascinated me because somehow you feel it shouldn’t mean the same as INEBRIETY – on which point I’d direct you to Chambers definition of EMBOGUE). Ursula Le Guin is something of a classic in her genres (the Earthsea trilogy is the usual item mentioned), and I guess it goes to reinforce my view that popular culture, being increasingly fragmented, isn’t actually quite as popular as people think it is.

  19. pennes says:

    In view of difficulty noted in posts I was pleased to get as far as only 6 clues left.
    Still not sure about strapping (23 ac) which I have only heard in the context of a person’s build: large and tall.
    Also what is the “printing unit” (shortened to “en”) in 19 ac?

  20. flashling says:

    Ems and ens are the size of the letter in prining parlance so refers to the width of the letter.

  21. scarpia says:

    Thanks Simon.
    Very enjoyable puzzle from Phi – I like “obscurities” in a puzzle.
    pennes @ 19. An en is half an em http://www.thefreedictionary.com/en

  22. Quixote says:

    Funny! I found this only a shade harder than any other Phi puzzle. The hard vocabulary (some unknown to me) was clued accurately and fairly, as I would expect. The Nina passed me by completely!

  23. Richard says:

    Very enjoyable, and the Nina helped a lot – many thanks, Phi.

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