Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,577 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on January 28th, 2011


After spending a week struggling with crosswords of all descriptions and from numerous sources, and having difficulty unpicking wordplay even when I had the solution before me, Phi’s puzzle felt like a breath of fresh air this morning: standard fare, in other words, the standard in question being Phi’s unfailingly high standard.

A rather modern crossword in terms of the vocabulary: the entries at 9, 16 and 19 would probably not have been found in a crossword published ten years ago.

I hope I have parsed 9 correctly – the (good) at the end foxed me, put Phi will doubtless shed light on this later. The entry at 15 was new to me. As an amateur ornithologist myself, 11 has to be my favourite clue, not least for the way the definition is hidden in the smoothest of surface readings.


1 INFAMY IN FAM(il)Y (=”where you’ll find relations”; “not one left” means I + L are dropped)
4 PHYSIQUE PHYSI(c) (=medicine; “mostly” means last letter is dropped) + QU(it)E (“eradicating “it” means IT is dropped)
10 TOXIC DEBT TO (=to, as in “the door is to”) + [X (=unknown quantity, in algebra) + *(BID ETC)]; “dodgy” is anagram indicator; & lit.
11 STASH (twitcher)S (exi)T (“last of” means final letters only) + A + SH (=quiet, as an exclamation); definition: to stash (away) = to hide (away)
12 EAR LOBE EARL(y) (=premature; “mostly” means last letter is dropped) + OBE (=award, i.e. Order of the British Empire);
13 FULCRUM FUL(l) (=complete; “not entirely” means last letter is dropped) + CRUM(b) (=a bit; “reduced” means last letter is dropped)
14 INTRO R (=rule) in INTO (=keen, as in “to be into music”)
15 GATEFOLD [ATE (=worried) + F (=fellow)] in GOLD (=metallic); according to Chambers, a “gatefold”, like a foldout, is “a large page folded to fit into a book and to be unfolded for reading”.
20 ERODE E (=eastern) + RODE(o) (=Western show; “almost completely” means last letter is dropped)
23 KEYNOTE OT (=sacred texts, i.e. the Old Testament) in KEYNE(s) (=economist, i.e. the British economist John Maynard Keynes; “not entirely” means the last letter is dropped); a keynote speech would set the tone for a whole conference, hence “most significant”.
25 ROTATOR ROT (=nonsense) + AT + OR (=men, i.e. Other Ranks)
26 LEAVE A (=one) in LEVE(l) (=plane; “fifty (=L, in Roman numerals) will disembark” means one “l” is dropped); “boarded” means that “a” must be slotted in.
27 INSHALLAH IN (=elected member) + *(HAS) + LLAH (hall=chamber; “taken aback” indicates reversal); “switched” is anagram indicator; Chambers defines “in” as “a member of the party in office”.
28 BEL ETAGE BE (=live, i.e. as a verb) + LET (=leased) + AGE (=time); Chambers defines “bel étage” as “the best storey, the first floor”.
29 DROWSE Hidden backwards in “lectrE’S WORDs”; “some” indicates hidden answer; “reverberating” indicates word is hidden backwards.



1 INTREPID EP (=old record) in [I + N (=note) + TRID (dirt=gossip, as in “to dish the dirt”; “rise in” indicates reversal) ]
2 FOXTROT FOX (=US broadcaster, i.e. Fox Broadcasting Company) + TROT (=left-winger, i.e. abbreviation of Trotskyite)
3 MICROCOSM MI (=I’m; “upset” indicates reversal) + C (=about, abbreviation of circa) + [C(lutter) (=”onset of clutter” means first letter only) in *(ROOMS)]; “untidy” is anagram indicator.
5 HOT OFF THE PRESS Definition: “most recent”Whimsical definition: “description of oil-worker told to cool down”
6 SISAL I (=one) in SSAL (lass=girl; “upset” indicates reversal)
7 QUARREL R (=road) in [(s)QUARE (=plaza) + L (=left)]; “not Second” means “s” is dropped
8 EXHUME HUM (=stink) in EXE (=river, i.e. the River Exe in south-west England)
9 GEOENGINEERING *(GOING GREEN I NEE[d]); “reduced” implies shortening, hence “d” dropped from anagram; & lit; “geoengineering” is the deliberate manipulation of the Earth’s climate to counter the effects of global warming.
16 FREE-TO-AIR [*(TREE) + O (=ring)] in FAIR (=acceptable); “broadcast of” is anagram indicator; free-to-air TV programmes can be viewed without subscription.
17 SEARCH ME Definition: “I don’t know”Whimsical definition: “what security men may want to do”
19 PAYWALL *(WAY) in PALL (=gloom, i.e. cloud or damper); modelled on the IT term “firewall”, a “paywall” is a screen demanding payment for an online service which disappears, thus allowing access to the content, once the payment has been made.
21 OUTFLOW *(TO FOUL) + W(ater) (“at first” means first letter only); “swirling” is anagram indicator
22 SKYLAB KY (=Kentucky) in SLAB (=block); Skylab was the first US space station, launched in 1973.
24 OVERT OVER (=finished) + T (=time)

10 Responses to “Independent 7,577 / Phi”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku. Excellent, detailed, blog – please keep going with these types of explanations.

    Dumb question first, please. I still don’t understand HOT OFF THE PRESS. Is it a cryptic definition?

    You’re right, a number of unusual words today, but I was pleased to get PAYWALL and GATEFOLD from the clueing and then confirm afterwards.

    Couldn’t get GEOENGINEERING for the life of me until everything else had gone in, and even then the first three letters were a guess. And I doubt I would have managed BEL ÉTAGE without having a good knowledge of French. Never heard of it, and I couldn’t find it in the SOED.

    But a well-constructed and enjoyable puzzle as always from Phi. PHYSIQUE and KEYNOTE were the ones I liked best this morning.

  2. sidey says:

    A press is used to produce oils of the vegetable variety.

    I think the (good) in 9 is simply to distinguish between the possible beneficial effects of it rather than the harmful effects of eg carbon emissions.

    Really nice puzzle.

  3. NealH says:

    I found this quite hard-going and I wouldn’t call it a standard Phi. A couple of the clues seemed to be trying to make themselves more difficult through rather bizarre definitions, the main culprit being 9 where the definition has to be “impact on climate(good)”. Like K’s D, I also struggle to make a lot of sense of 5 down and I only really worked it out from the crossing letters (was expecting something more like drill than press at the end). I struggled with gatefold, which I’d never heard of, and inshallah, where the presence of the word member caused me great problems.

  4. scchua says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for the blog and Phi for a quite enjoyable puzzle.

    An opportunity to get acquainted with some contemporary terms: TOXIC DEBT, PAYWALL, GEOENGINEERING and FREE TO AIR. My favourites were 13A FULCRUM, 3D MICROCOSM and 9D GEOENGINEERING, where I think “actively going green” is part of the definition.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, sidey, for your explanation of HOT OFF THE PRESS. I kind of get it but am still not a big fan of the clue.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog, RatkojaRiku, and Phi for another excellent puzzle which I did not find too difficult, clueing as always v precise, and nice to be able to work out a completely new word to me (GATEFOLD) just from the wordplay. I agree with Scchua that ‘actively going green’ in the anagram indicator and fodder for GEOENGINEERING gives this an &lit touch to make it a very good clue indeed. Once I’d some crossing letters it did begin to look as if ‘engineering’ would be part of it.

    Those of the Listener persuasion might like to note that Phi appears in that puzzle series, available behind the Times crossword 19 down from 4 PM today (Friday 28th) and in the paper tomorrow (Sat 29th).

  7. flashling says:

    Thanks Phi, found most of this pretty easy, didn’t quite understand 5d so thanks Sidey and RatkojaRiku for the blog. I thought Phi had said he intended to keep on with the themes but I can’t see anything here.

  8. RatkojaRiku says:

    @NealH: yes, I think you are right on 9, although without the first part of the clue the definition is weak to say the least.

    @sidey/Kathryn’s Dad: what sprang to mind was an olive oil press (over which the worker had been toiling in this clue). I realise now that further explanation of that clue in the blog would have been helpful.

    @scchua – yes, I’d overlooked the most contemporary term of them all in my own list – toxic debt!

    @nmsindy – thanks for the news of Phi’s Listener crossword – something lovely to wake up to in the morning!

  9. Scarpia says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku.
    Found the top half of this pretty easy and was suspecting a pangram,but the bottom half proved much harder – and no pangram!
    Plenty of good stuff here,as usual,from Phi.I quite liked 27 across,the addition of the word member to the clue adding to the difficulty.Other favourites were KEYNOTE and PAYWALL.
    Like others not too impressed with 5 down.

  10. Phi says:

    Well, actually there is a sort of theme going on here, which is the appearance of modern terms. I keep an eye out for ‘Words of the Year’ and that sort of thing, so early in the succeeding year there’ll generally be a puzzle with a selection of them (though they may turn up at any time).

    The ‘(good)’ at the end of 9d is meant to imply the use of GEO-E… to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change that we are otherwise responsible for. It’s certainly conceivable that one could geoengineer things to have a bad effect on the climate but a quick scunner at the literature does rather tend to suggest that the term is only used for improvements.

    Oil presses are probably commoner here than in the UK (though our olive tree is refusing to produce enough to cause us to purchase one).

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