Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,625 – Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on March 25th, 2011


Despite the fact that I seem to have blogged a lot of Phi puzzles recently, he can still really put me through my paces, and that he did this very morning.

It took me a while to crack the theme at 18, since not one of the relevant paired clues would reveal itself to me. Indeed, not even with 18 solved was I able to unmask any of the fraternal pairings other than that given at 1 + 23 without resorting to other sources. Having said that, I was able to solve all the clues myself and only needed to “cheat” to confirm entries.

I think it is fair to say that Phi may not have chosen the most obvious sets of brothers to pepper his grid with: no Marx, no Grimm, no Miliband, etc. However, what was lacking here was my general knowledge rather than Phi’s puzzle, and it certainly was an interesting take on brotherhood: how many of us already knew about 18 + 20? I didn’t until today, but I’m glad that I do now – thanks, Phi!

The wordplay at 5, 19 and 23 had me scratching my head for a long time, while my favourite clue was 22, for its anagram indicator and, alas, topicality (& lit). The use of mic in 15 as shorthand for microphone, rather than mike, was new to me.

*(…) indicates an anagram

9 IDAHO O (=love) + HAD (=possessed) + I (=one); “to return” means all is reversed.
10 ALLERGIST <t>ALLER (=more incredible, as in “a tall story”; “no time” means “t” is dropped) + GIST (=point)
11 OENOPHILE [ENO (ONE; “backing” indicates reversal) + PHI (=setter, i.e. the compiler of this very puzzle)] in OLÉ (=exclamation, from bullfighting); an oenophile is a connoisseur of wine.
12 CHANG CHAN<gin>G (=reforming; “shunning liquor” means the letters of “gin” are not used); Chang and Eng Bunker (see 20) were conjoined twin brothers born in what was then Siam in 1811, whose condition and birthplace were the inspiration for the term “Siamese twins”.
13 PANETTONI *(PATIENT + NO); “mistreated” is the anagram indicator; panettone (panettoni in plural, as here) is a kind of spiced cake, usually with sultanas, traditionally eaten at Christmas in Italy.
14 MARIO [AR (=Arabian) + I (=one)] in MO (=jiffy, as in “in a mo”, an abbreviation of moment); Mario and Luigi (see 29) are superhero brothers in a series of Nintendo video games, such as Super Mario Bros.
16 TAB Tattle About Ben; “starts to” means initial letters only are used; the definition is bill, as in “to pick up the tab”.
18 BROTHER R (=right) in BOTHER (=concern); the whimsical definition is “element in order”, referring to monks in religious orders. This entry is the keystone to the whole puzzle, thus revealing the theme.
20 ENG N (=name) in EG (=say, i.e. e.g. exempli gratia); see 12.
21 RINSE N (=new) in RISE (=path to fame)
22 EL ALAMEIN E (=English) + *(ALL) + A + *(MINE); the anagram indicators are “in disarray” and “exploding”; & lit.; the allied victory at El Alamein in 1942 in Egypt represented a turning point in the North African Campaign of the Second World War.
25 MULCH L (=left) in MUCH (=to a great extent)
27 HEDGEROWS EDGE (=advantage, as in “to have the edge on someone”, “competitive edge2, etc) in [H (=hard) + ROWS (=arguments)]
28 MOTORCADE *(TO CAR MODE); “switching” is the anagram indicator.
29 LUIGI [I (=one) in LUG (=drag)] + I (=one); see 14.
1 SIMON PETER *(PERSON + TIME); “confused” is the anagram indicator; Simon Peter and Andrew (see 23) were fishermen and brothers who were chosen by Jesus to be two of the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament.
2 CANNON N (=note) in CANON (=musical form); “extra” implies an additional “n” is added to the existing ones; the definition is “one may be let off”, referring to a cannon as a large gun, often mounted on wheels.
3 COMPATIBLE T (=time) in *(CAP MOBILE); “roaming” is the anagram indicator.
4 CASINO CASIN<g> (=looking for criminal opportunities, as in “to case the joint”; “mostly” means the last letter is dropped) + O (=nothing)
5 ALBERICH ALBE<it> (=though; “losing it” means the letters “it” are dropped) + RICH (=wealthy); Alberich and Mime (see 25) are brothers in the opera Siegfried by Richard Wagner, the third opera in his 4-opera cycle The Ring.
6 CROC CROC<k> (=one somewhat disabled; “losing tail” means the last letter is dropped); according to Chambers, a crock is “a broken down or decrepit person or thing” in slang.
7 DISAGREE SAG (=collapse) in [DIRE (=dreadful) + E<urope> (“leader in Europe” means initial letter only is used)]; the definition is “dissent” as a verb rather than as a noun, as in the clue.
8 STAG STAG<e> (=theatre; “more than enough” indicates that the word is too long, hence last letter is dropped)
14 MORTADELLA [DEL<i> (=food store, abbreviation of delicatessen; “ignoring one” means the “i” is dropped) in MORTAL (=person, as in “we mere mortals”)]+ A (=one)
15 ORGANISMIC ORGAN (=instrument, i.e. in music) + IS + MIC (=broadcasting aid, i.e. a microphone)
17 BANALITY [N (=number) + ALIT (=landed)] in BAY (=coastal area)
19 OVERHEAD OVERHEA<r>D (=picked up by chance, i.e. eavesdropped; “hitch-hikeR finally leaving” means the last letter, an “r”, is dropped)
23 ANDREW AND (=also) + GRE<w> (=developed; “without Government” means the “g” is dropped); see 1.
24 EROTIC IT (=sex, as in “Have you done/had it?”) in CORE (=inner group); “held up” indicates a vertical reversal; & lit.
25 MIME I’M (=I am, abbreviation) in ME (=illness, abbreviation of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis); see 5.
26 HURL HUR<t> (=pain; “a lot of” means not all letters are used) + L (=left); the definition is “cast” as a verb, meaning to throw, fling, etc.

11 Responses to “Independent 7,625 – Phi”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for the blog, and Phi for yet another enjoyable puzzle.

    Getting the reference clue 18A, about a quarter of the way was a big help. Favourites were 11A OENOPHILE – speaking of which, some of my favourite whites come from where Phi is, 10A ALLERGIST, and 14A MORTADELLA, the latter 2 with pleasing wordplays.

    Btw, if you meddle around with electronic equipment, amplifiers and such, the jack/socket for the microphone is usually (always?) marked “mic”.

  2. nmsindy says:

    I thought this was one of Phi’s finest puzzles in the Indy, theme put together extremely well, and in particular I found I was able to work out the words that were new to me from the clear wordplay. Clues I esp liked IDAHO, RINSE, COMPATIBLE, STAG and OVERHEAD. Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for the blog and Phi for the puzzle.

  3. ele says:

    11A OENOPHILE was the first in for me, and unusually, I found this excellent puzzle comparatively easy and finished it off in one go – which doesn’t happen very often. Had to look up the brother to Luigi – with Alberich and Mime in there I was thinking opera at first, but managed to do all the others. Chang and Eng rang a bell, although couldn’t remember why until I Googled them afterwards. Found 27ac HEDGEROWS most difficult, and liked 9ac IDAHO. MIC for microphone does indeed seem to come up mostly now, probably because it’s a more useful combination of letters than MIKE. Many thanks to Phi and to RatkojaRiku.

  4. walruss says:

    Yes good stuff. I liked 16 best actually, with its clevr Bill & Ben reference, very like yesterday’s Hinge & Bracket. Sooper week in The Independent.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’m going to dissent, I’m afraid. I didn’t really like this one, although with a lot of online help I did finally solve it. ‘Whimsical’ is one way to describe the definition for the gateway clue; mine would be ‘obscure’. ‘Member’ of order, perhaps, but ‘element’? I was in periodic table land for a long time. In addition, one of my pet niggles is when one of the crossing letters for the gateway clue comes from a clue where the answer to the gateway clue is needed, which happened today. And yes, I know there are three other crossing letters to help as well.

    The theme is fine, but the pairs are so disparate that getting to 18ac from solving any of them cold proved difficult, for me anyway.

    Getting Super Mario and Alberich into the same theme is praiseworthy, in a slightly left-field kind of way.

    I’m a big fan of this setter, but this was just a bit of an online slog for me today. However, others have obviously enjoyed it, so I shall be happy to remain in a minority of one.

    Thank you for the blog, RatkojaRiku.

  6. Lenny says:

    I enjoyed this immensely and managed to solve it without aids since I knew all the disparate pairs of brothers. It took me a long time to get started, until I got Andrew, followed by Simon Peter and this gave me the gateway clue. I think I am in agreement with RR and KD about the whimsical nature of the clue. Presumably Phi did not want to give the game away too easily. He need not have worried: it was still very difficult to find the pairs of brothers even when you knew the theme.

  7. Jude says:

    I’m new to the Independent puzzle and to this section of the blog; although am quite familiar with others of the blogs and bloggers. I’d like to thank RatkojaRiku for clear, sensible explanations which don’t assume an in depth knowledge of the vagaries of crossword setters and clues.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Welcome Jude at no 7. Hope you’ll continue to contribute here. I’m not always as grumpy as I have been today, and as walruss suggests, the standard of the puzzles here is invariably very good (and the bloggers aren’t bad either …)

  9. flashling says:

    I found this a struggle to get going, got andrew/simon peter then went down the wrong road looking for apostles… @K’sD I’m sure some of us bloggers can be very bad if we want to!

  10. Phi says:

    I’m always happy to see people generally enjoying my puzzles, while realising you can’t please everyone all the time. Lenny notes the additional point that these were all notable pairs of brothers (even if there may have been other siblings), so the Marxes were never going to feature, though Miliband and Grimm would have remained contenders (had I thought of them, but Ed wouldn’t have been much use in an Independent grid, I guess, and I can’t, off the top of my head, recall the Grimms’ forenames).

    The seed pair was Alberich and Mime, from watching the surtitles on the latest Metropolitan Opera Rheingold that went round the cinemas last year – I’d forgotten they were brothers. Perhaps worryingly, my mental process went rapidly through: ‘Brothers? Good theme – BROTHER across the middle – means 3-letter words either side – ah, CHANG and ENG’ before the end of the opera. I’ve also developed a habit of assessing the lengths of potential theme words to see if they’ll fit symmetrically…

  11. RatkojaRiku says:

    Many thanks, Phi, for the insight into the inner workings of the compiler’s mind – it really does seem to be a full-time job, one from which it is almost impossible to switch off!

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