Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,548/???

Posted by Ali on December 24th, 2010


This was something a little different, with no setter’s name given and 3 clues having one letter omitted from wordplay that we were told would help with a hidden message.

Regular solvers of thematic puzzles will be well versed in letters omitted from wordplay. Regular Indy solvers will be equally well versed in hidden messages (Ninas), though these are rarely signposted in this way and are usually just added by the setters for whatever reason (allegiance to certain football teams being a particular favourite!).

The obvious place to start here was therefore 18D and all the clues below it. Given that it’s Friday and we hadn’t seen him this week yet, my money was on Phi the minute I started this. And so it proved to be, with wordplay in 18D, 19D and 24D omitting the final P,I and H respectively, and the name itself completing the hidden message reading top to bottom in Rows 1,5, 11 and 15. Nicely done.

All that aside, this was perfectly and elegantly clued as we’ve come to expect from Phi, though definitely tough in places. Nowt wrong with that though. The hidden message will have put constraints on available words I’m sure, and tougher puzzles are always good at Christmas when there may be extra time to solve them.

On that subject – and with apologies for the shameless plug – Indy and FT setter Klingsor/Alberich has very kindly just published a debut puzzle of mine on his excellent website. If anybody fancies giving it a go in over the Xmas break in between turkey/mince pies/excessive drinking, it can be found here.

A very happy holidays to one and all.

8 NIJINKSY – 1 + (JINKS) * in NY
9 RE-ECHO – (CHEER)* + 0
10 LEAP – Hidden in projectiLE APparently
11 I-AND-I – (INDIA)*
12 IVAN – NAIV with 1 moving to front
13 PILE – PIL[-at]E
24 PITH – PIT + H(ard)
25 TWIT – TWI[-s]T
26 ILIAD – 1 + DAIL rev.
27 MARK – I think this is a triple definition
28 ANORAK – A N (knight) OR A K(ing)
2 HIPPIE – HIP (joint) + PIE (dessert)
4 CYGNETS – C[-learl]Y + (GENTS)*
5 ORSINO – R (King) + SIN between 00 (loves)
7 PHRASE – [-acto]R in PHASE
16 DRIFTERS – D(eserted) + [-g]RIFTERS
22 ROWENA – ANEW OR rev.
23 STINKO – TIN in SKO[-l]
24 PSMITH – MS rev. in PIT

15 Responses to “Independent 7,548/???”

  1. flashling says:

    Thanks Ali, nice post, found this pretty easy and the nina was shouting right from the off, for the life of me I just could not see the wordplay for twit, so thanks for the blog, mystery man Phi and have a merry Christamas.


  2. sccchua says:

    Thanks Ali for the blog and Phi for the greeting puzzle.

    The online version gave it away by highlighting in red the 3 bottom right corner cells…3 letters, 3 question marks, none from him this week, style of clueing…couldn’t be anyone but Phi. The 1st and 5th rows gave another clue to the message, which made it easier for me in the bottom half.

    Second time in 2 days where the shortest light (13A PILE) gave me the the most difficulty.

    Favourites were 21A BRAINSTORM, 28A ANORAK, a nice definition, and 23D STINKO. I wasn’t so sure about 25A TWIT, with S=”succeeded”, 16D DRIFTERS, with D=”deserted”, and 22D ROWENA, with ANEW=”fresh” rather than “afresh”. But all in all, a nice crossword for Xmas eve.

    Happy Holidays, and Best Wishes for the NEW YEAR to all! especially with crosswords.

  3. anax says:

    Merry Christmas everybody!!!

    Yes, an excellent puzzle from Phi, hugely enjoyable and even more impressive for its 4-line, full-width Nina; incredibly difficult to do without a glut of obscurities. I-AND-I was the only one I wasn’t immediately familiar with but the enumeration and simple wordplay was a huge help.

    Anyway, that aside I really do recommend Ali’s puzzle on Alberich’s website (which I’d already seen and solved before Ali’s post here). It’s hard to believe this is a debut puzzle as there’s some outstanding stuff in there.

  4. nmsindy says:

    A very enjoyable puzzle, I saw the full message only very near the end. Thanks for the blog, Ali, and Phi for the puzzle – I thought 27A was M (money) ARK (chest).

  5. flashling says:

    Thought the same as NMS about Mark, minor tyop btw in 19 you’ve missed a T. Will try your crossword over the break Ali, if Anax recommends it then it ought to be good.

  6. PeterO says:

    Thanks for the blog. For once I saw the nina, which is unusual enough in itself, and more so that I saw it in time to help with the solution. Like you, I hoped that 27A would be a triple definition, but M + ARK seems more like it. Surely 12A splits up in the same way, I + VAN?

  7. PeterO says:

    No: it’s just hit me that 12A is VAIN with the I moved up.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Really enjoyed this one – as you say, for regulars the three squares highlighted in red were a bit of a giveaway, but I went through the grid in the normal order and then confirmed that Phi was the culprit. I did spot the Nina (getting better at this after fifteen months on 225) and this helped with the remainder, where there were one or two less familiar words.

    PHRASE was good; ILIAD was nicely misleading; and TIDELINE was clever also.

    Thanks to Phi for an inventive puzzle and to Ali for a clear blog as always. Will definitely be trying your crossword over the holidays. On which note, a good break to all and thanks to all setters for a very enjoyable year of puzzles in the Indy.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    And seasons greetings to Phi to, as well as all the members of the 225 community.

    I thought this was going to be quite easy having got the E half, and obviously the name of the author, but failed to see the full message until I’d finished, and needed help with a couple in the SW. Thanks for your explanations, Ali – I’ll look up your puzzle some time, but not just now as I have to take dogs for walkies and prepare Christmas dinner, which we have this evening here in Spain.

    Feliz Navidad para todos.

  10. Mordred says:

    Greetings reciprocated, PHI. I look forward to more of your puzzles next year. And season’s greetings to all bloggers, commenters, setters and ed.

  11. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks, Ali. I didn’t quite grasp what was going on here, though I quickly decided that Phi was at large. I’ll probably tackle your puzzle tomorrow, along with a small Caol Ila :)

  12. Phi says:

    Merry Christmas, folks, from NZ where we are safely into Christmas Day now. Hope to keep you interested with a few hidden themes in the New Year.

  13. flashling says:

    Thanks Phi here’s to battling against you next year. I enjoy your style, thanks merry Christmas etc.

  14. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Ali.
    I did this one from the ‘dead tree’ version,so the doctored clues weren’t so obvious.Thought there might have been a ballet theme at first (NIJINSKY/CYGNETS).
    There was another NINA in the fifth row down.
    Just going to give your puzzle a shot now.

  15. Phi says:

    Merciful Heaven, so there was! Wish I’d planned it.

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