Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7666/Phi

Posted by John on May 12th, 2011


Phi seems to crop up all over the place at the moment. There was a time when you could be pretty sure that he would appear on a Friday, but no longer.

This was the usual very pleasing offering. There were a few words that were new to me and one or two that were only very vaguely familiar, but when solving online I tend to say to hell with it, it looks like such-and-such, so I reckon that’s it and let’s just press Reveal and hope it really is. With this happy-go-lucky policy I was successful in every case except the rather unusual word at 13ac. I had coined the word ‘ers’ for ‘time’.

Oh yes, the Nina. Can’t see anything, which proves nothing.

1 J(U M)P — as in jump start I assume
4 COME ACROSS — 2 defs
9 MAPPA MUNDI — (Pam)rev. (in a dump)* — a Mappa mundi was an early map of the world
10 HO A X — X = by as in multiplied by
12 HO(BAR)T — the capital of the state of Tasmania
13 VIP ERA — what I thought was what Chambers calls Viperidae, but no doubt it’s in dictionary-land somewhere
15 B({operato}R)US QUER{y}
17 BACK FIRE — the football back and fire of the type friendly fire
18 O(V)ATES — referring to Captain Oates of Scott’s expedition
19 P(OZ N{ewsman})AN — not a town with which I was familiar, although in retrospect I should have been, but it seemed pretty likely and there it is
21 SEWER RAT — (r{o}se-water)*
23 JAGS — 2 defs, one of them referring to the Jaguar car
24 ODONTALGIA — (tail on a dog)* — obviously something beginning ‘odont’
25 KODIAK BEAR — (aid OK)rev. (break)*
26 EMMY — (me)rev. my!
2 capsicUM A MIld — an umami is ‘a savoury, satisfying taste, like that of monosodium glutamate’
5 MONE{y} T
6 A FISH OUT OF WATER — I’m not quite sure what’s going on here — it seems a straightforward 2 defs, but I’m not totally comfortable with the ‘potentially’
7 impuRE HABit
8 SEA BREEZE — I think this is (bears)* {wh}eeze, but I’m not quite sure that wheeze is the hissing sound
14 INAMORATO — (motion a R)* round a [changed: thanks, Caretman]
15 BYE — 2 defs, presumably a bye in cricket and bye-bye
16 QUADRILLE — ‘quite’ with ‘a drill’ replacing ‘it’
20 fiNE SKIll — never heard of it, but there it is: it’s Arabic cursive handwriting, believe it or not
21 S(W)ORE
22 A X IOM — an X at the end of a letter is a kiss or a symbol of love, and it’s Isle of Man

20 Responses to “Independent 7666/Phi”

  1. caretman says:

    Quite a challenging puzzle from Phi, but enjoyable. I saw no Nina as well, although I did note that the puzzle’s solutions used all of the letters of the alphabet. With 1a, I saw start = JUMP in the sense of reacting in surprise. In your solution you misspelled 14d which was INAMORATO; I had not seen before–’inamorata’ is fairly common and I had not realized that word was specifically for a female but it makes sense. I too figured there had to be more to 6d, somehow utilizing the fact that a flounder is a fish, but I couldn’t see it (although the solution was obvious). Several words new to me: MAPPA MUNDI, VIPERA, and NESKI; I don’t see how I’ll drop them into the next conversation I have. Thanks, John, for the solutions, and thanks, Phi, for a brain-stretching puzzle.

  2. beermagnet says:

    Failed on JAGS, a term with which I am strangely unfamiliar, which is a shame because I now see it is a double pangram with all letters of the alphabet used at least twice. That would’ve helped if I realised that there needed to be another J in there somewhere.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John.

    Yes, Phi does seem to be relinquishing his Friday slot recently. At least there’s not a royal wedding tomorrow.

    I enjoyed this as always with this setter, though I too failed on JAGS. I saw there was a pangram, but didn’t realise it was a double, which is a tribute to Phi, because the previous ones I’ve come across tend to jump out at you because of the number of unfamiliar words. There were a couple here, sure, but very cleverly done.

    My favourite today was ODONTALGIA for its clever misdirection. I took that canine for a long walk up the garden path before the penny dropped.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, John.

    Like beermagnet and K’s D, I failed on JAGS and, like Caretman, didn’t know NESKI, which sounded rather improbable.

    However, I have actually used MAPPA MUNDI several times in conversation this week, as I visited the Hereford one last Saturday.

    Like K’s D, I liked ODONTALGIA, for the surface, and also BRUSQUELY and QUADRILLE.

    [For Indy solvers missing Virgilius, there's a Brendan in the Guardian.]

  5. Richard Palmer says:

    Jags was the last word I put in. I only got it after solving the second answer with a Q in it then realising there seemed to be 2 of every letter. A simple count revealed J and G as the required letters.

    There were a lot of unusual words but the only ones I was not familiar with were umami and Neski and these had very easy wordplay.

    Very good stuff from Phi as usual.

  6. flashling says:

    Another double pangram, very impressive Phi, last in Jags as didn’t really make the drinking connection. Some unusual words for sure but most of wordplay fell quite easily for me.

    Thanks John.

  7. scchua says:

    Thanks John for the blog, and Phi for a well constructed and enjoyable puzzle.

    Managed to complete all, the last two were NESKI, which took quite a bit of research to confirm, and JAGS, which required a thesaurus to confirm. Favourites were 25A KODIAK BEAR, 4D COMBINATION LOCK and 6D A FISH OUT OF WATER. I think that “potentially” in the clue for the latter merely refers to the fact that any fish at some future time could be caught and find itself out of the water.

  8. nmsindy says:

    My solving experience was rather similar to some here. Though it had unfamiliar words as needed for the double pangram, the clues to these were deliberately, I’d say, made much easier and I had little doubt about them, verifying in dicts afterwards. My biggest difficulty, like others, was JAGS ie ?A?S with S just indicating plural so it was really ?A?. I said it could not be cars, surely. Then I looked again at the pangram which I had suspected with the Qs, and checked if there might be a double one. Everything was there except J and G so that had to be it (particular praise due for avoiding a third G if my counting is right). So looked in dict and found a new meaning of JAG. The puzzle was so precisely clued that I found it not much harder than usual for Phi. Maybe it’s implicit in comments above but just in case not, A FISH OUT OF WATER relies, I think, on flounder being a type of fish.

    Favourite clue, PIPSQUEAK.

    Many thanks, John, and Phi.

  9. Mustyx says:

    I found this the easiest puzzle this week, having just returned to the Independent after several years doing The Times. Neski was the only problem – it had to be this, and eventually found it in Chambers as an alternative spelling to Neskhi, but it doesn’t feature at all in any of my other dictionaries, nor, surprisingly, Wikipedia. An enjoyable lunch hour with time to spare.

  10. Wanderer says:

    Many thanks to John and Phi. I am sufficiently new to this game that I have never come across a double pangram before, and I marvel at the ingenuity of using every letter twice, in a space as limited as a standard crossword grid, without recourse to obscurities. Only UMAMI, NESKI and ODONTALGIA were unkown to me, and all were very gettable.

    It did get me wondering how long it must take to set a crossword when under the additional constraint of a double pangram. In fact I have no idea how long it takes a regular setter to complete a normal grid, let alone one like this. Perhaps some of you who attend Sloggers and Betters meetings have discussed this? And is it likely that a setter starts out by saying “today I’m going to create a double pangram,” or is it likely that during composition, he/she sees that this is a possibility, and changes course accordingly? I would love to know!

    Thanks again for a really enjoyable solve.

  11. caretman says:

    I’m surprised at the number of people who seemed unfamiliar with the word ‘jag’. Maybe it’s a pondian thing, since that word is common here in the states. It is also used with the meaning of an uncontrollable bout, such as a jag of laughter or of crying.

    This puzzle was the first time I had encountered ‘inamorato’, although I have seen ‘inamorata’ in the wild many times (where ‘many’ = ‘more than a couple’). Is that the experience of the people here as well. And if so, any speculation on why the female form would appear more frequently?

  12. lenny says:

    I had Jars, as in “have a few jars” and rhyming slang for cars. After I finished I thought what a pity, if Phi had just managed to fit in another G he would have had a double pangram. Ho-hum.

  13. Allan_C says:

    Phi bumped from Friday yet again! Suggests there’s something nasty lined up for Friday 13th!

    And pangrams on two successive days – the second a double – wow!

  14. Allan_C says:

    “…something nasty lined up for Friday 13th!”

    Uh-oh – it’s a Nimrod!

  15. redddevil says:

    I too hadn’t heard that use of jags despite many years of ‘spreeing’. Didn’t spot the double pangram either so failed on that one.

  16. Phi says:

    Do setters sit down intending to do a double pangram? Not sure I can remember clearly, but I think I did in this case – easier than thinking up a perimeter message or a set of linked answers.

    I do try to make clues to the rarer words easier – usually hiddens if at all possible, and both UMAMI and NESKI fitted that bill. There was a flurry of interest in UMAMI a few years ago as it was deemed an addition to salt, sweet, sour and bitter as one of the set of distinct tastes. I thought than that ‘salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami’ was unlikely to catch on.

    JAGS was unfortunate, but I was familiar with both meanings, and thought others would be too.

  17. Wanderer says:

    Thank you Phi for answering my question on double pangrams @10. If a double pangram is easier than a perimeter message or a set of linked answers, then I marvel even more than before I posted my earlier question!

  18. Mark says:

    Can someone post the clue for 3D, PIPSQUEAK, please?

  19. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Mark
    This is a rather old puzzle, but fortunately I still have it. The clue for 3dn was:

    “Minor character’s defeat, just by a narrow margin (9)”

  20. Mark says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid! I’m one of a group in my office who try to come up with clues for a word that one of us has chosen — then we each vote for the clue we like best. This week’s word is “pipsqueak”. Of course, I won’t try to pass off this brilliancy as my own!

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