Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,739/Phi

Posted by Ali on August 5th, 2011


Apologies for the lateness and brevity. This was great stuff as ever from Phi, and given how busy I’ve been today, mercifully low on clues. I think it might be a pangram too, but really haven’t got time to go checking I’m afraid!

7 HOOVER – O(ld) in HOVER
8 MAVERICK – MICK going round AVER
10 MIRTHFUL – I think this is TRIM rev. + FU[-n] in HL
12 TROUPE – [-r]EPORT rev. about U(niversity)
15 LEOTARD – O[-ffcu]T in LEAR + D(aughter)
20 FINE-TOOTHED COMB – FINE TOO (also excellent) + D.C + O(ld) M.B
22 SANDWICH – SAD W[-h]ICH about N(ame)
23 CESSNA – CE (church) SS (vessel) = AN rev.
3 DRUG – RUG (wig) put under D(uke)
4 OVERSTRESS – OVERS (ref. ‘test’ cricket) + TRESS (lock)
5 WRITEOUT – W(elsh) + RITE (liturgy) + O(xford) U(unversity) [-pos]T
8 MINGLE – N(o) G(ood) in MILE
11 FUZZY LOGIC – FUZZ (police) + (POLICY)* with G(overnment) for P(ower)
16 GLITCH – G(ood) L(ength) + ITCH (long)
21 ETCH – C(arbon) in (THE)*

21 Responses to “Independent 7,739/Phi”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Ali, I don’t think it’s a pangram, no Q, I think, I’ve not checked beyond that. My favourite clue was FUZZY LOGIC. I agree with you about MIRTHFUL. I always suspect a subtle theme/Nina with Phi but, if it’s there, it’s proved too subtle for me so far! Thanks, Phi, for the puzzle, all v good as always.

  2. flashling says:

    Quite gentle today for me althogh I didn’t help myself by writing in AVOCET not AVOSET.

    Only real theme I see is a bit of a political one.

    TThanks Phi and Ali – I know what it’s like to be suddenly very busy on blog writing day…

  3. Wanderer says:

    Thanks Ali and Phi, this was good fun as always.

    I can’t make 1d work — I tried the same explanation as you give, but that doesn’t have enough letters and leads us to POLITICAL ANIM. Where does the missing AL come from? It’s immediately followed by ALmost entirely, but I can’t see an instruction to use that…

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi Wanderer

    It’s POLITICAL ANIM, as you say, + almost AL[l][entirely]

    I have never seen AVOSET spelt that way – it looks very odd, but it’s in Chambers, I see.

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

  5. Wanderer says:

    Doh! Thanks Eileen, so obvious when you point it out…. a blind spot for me.

  6. ele says:

    Found this more difficult to get into than yesterday’s oddly. I liked MIRTHFUL (among lots of others) but I saw it as the MIRTH bit being an allusion to the book The House of Mirth, with Lords being L. But that must have been just a lucky word association and Ali’s explanation is the right one. After the discussion yesterday, the unusual spelling of AVOSET made me look for a Nina too, but I couldn’t see one. Thanks Phi, and Ali for the blog.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Ali, for the blog. We all appreciate that life gets in the way of blogging sometimes, and the former is more important than the latter.

    I too was amazed to find that AVOSET existed as an alternative, but a quick flirt on a wordsearch tells me why Phi chose it, because naff all else fits.

    This was the usual good Phi stuff, and in particular I liked MAVERICK and GATSBY. Must admit I slapped in POLITICAL ANIMAL without really fully parsing it. But at 5dn, is WRITEOUT really one word, or should it have been (5,3)? And at 14dn, I put in UNSTAYED, because that worked, and seemed a better definition of ‘abandoned'; or am I missing something?

    That fouled me up with FINE-TOOTHED COMB, which I also had a query about: ‘detailed scrutiny’ is not really the definition of the answer, is it? You might use a fine-toothed comb to carry out a detailed scrutiny, but it’s not the scrutiny itself.

    But a ‘well done’ sticker to Phi for being one of the few people left in the English-speaking world (apart from everyone who blogs here, natch) who knows that the singular form of the organism is BACTERIUM. If the BBC Science Correspondent uses BACTERIA as a singular once more, I will throw something at the telly, so help me.

    Good weekend to all.

  8. superkiwigirl says:

    Thanks for your blog, Ali, especially given the pressure that you were under.

    I found this easier going than Mordred’s puzzle yesterday, and having made the effort to try and spot a Nina after all the discussion that ensued I was optimistic of a theme developing with POLITICAL ANIMAL and ACT OF PARLIAMENT (both super clues I thought) but it soon seemed to peter out ( HOOVER and (possibly?) SANDWICH notwithstanding).

    I didn’t have a real problem with UNSTEADY= “abandoned” as Kathryn’s Dad did (though admittedly it’s not a perfect synonym for, say, uninhibited or impulsive) but I entirely agree with his remarks about FINE-TOOTHED COMB and WRITEOUT/WRITE OUT. I’d also never encountered the present spelling of AVOSET, so I guess that qualifies as my new(ish) word of the day.

    All in all I found this a highly enjoyable solve, so thanks for another fine puzzle, Phi.

  9. Cumbrian says:

    This was one that left me floundering after the first pass, and which I had to gradually nibble away at. I suspect the main problem for me was that I fell into every trap that Phi devised, and probably created a few more of my own, but got there in the end.

    I’d never come across AVOSET as a spelling, and I bet it would cause some head scratching at the RSPB too, but it couldn’t be anything else. I liked FUZZY LOGIC, but perhaps my favourite was OVERSTRESS for the head-smacking moment when I finally realised that “test components” had nothing to do with checking or trying bits or parts or anything else, and everything to do with cricket.

    I did notice a few people that have become household names – Jacuzzi, Leotard, Cessna, all with their products named after them, Hoover, who didn’t invent the hoover but did bring it to market, and Maverick, a genuine character who gave us the term. Then there’s Sandwich and Lister(ia). Any more….?

  10. nmsindy says:

    That looks like it, Cumbrian, I just felt there had to be something. Re K’s D at #7, I think we may have to accept those distinctions are blurred now as language evolves esp with influence from across the pond. Just look at ‘criteria’ in a guide to how to use Excel computers or elsewhere.

  11. Tees says:

    Well it’s a Q lipogram. So that’s ‘something’ NMS! Blimey geezer, what d’ye want? There’s also PADOWA in the top line (a place in Papua New Guinea). And MAGiC TIE!

    I suppose if we look thru something with a fine-toothed comb, we do so with (a) detailed scrutiny. I found no Q.

  12. Phi says:

    Puzzle set after I was reading a book on eponyms, so Cumbrian is right. Six of them are symmetrically placed (Lister was a bonus, and doesn’t quite fit the pattern, anyway) and I was pleasantly surpised to fit the long ones around them so readily. AVOSET I have seen used, but it is less common.

  13. superkiwigirl says:

    Good Evening All, and especially Tees @ 11:

    I bet that Lewis Carroll had a clever way of saying this (and maybe an appropriate quote from Alice will occur to me in the early hours tomorrow) but having just got my head around the idea that I should be searching for Ninas and other, less sophisticated, themes in addition to the apparent job in hand – solving cryptic clues – it seems that I ought to be looking not just for “pangrams” (agreed, Ali, the U, V, X, Y and Z seemed to indicate this) but also ” lipograms” and even “pangrammatic lipograms or lipogrammatic pangrams” as Wikipedia suggests?

    For my part, I was thrilled to be introduced to the “inner circle” of Ninas etc. on discovering 15/2, these do after all add such a further dimension to the puzzles and in consequence to one’s enjoyment of them. But “pangrammatic lipograms or lipogrammatic pangrams” – did Phi intend such an exercise today (or, try as he might, did the letter “Q” simply prove to be ultimately elusive)? Perhaps these devices are all to be considered as just another weapon in the setters’ armoury and something which we should always be considering when engaged upon a “solve”? I’d be grateful if Phi (or any other of our setters) would care to comment.

  14. superkiwigirl says:

    Sorry, Phi – I came back to this after dinner without refreshing the page, and didn’t realise that you had posted a comment in the meanwhile.

  15. Cumbrian says:

    I’ve just had another look at the grid and smack down the middle is MINGLE GLITCH. AFAIK, this isn’t a term in common use, but it deserves to be. A possible example of a mingle glitch: the host at a party unknowingly introducing you to your ex who dumped you the previous week for your best friend.

  16. redddevil says:

    Nice one Cumbrian – I shall try and use mingle glitch!
    I still don’t understand how almost entirely becomes AL despite Eileeen’s explanation (I can see it’s almost ALI entirely but what’s that to do with the clue?) so must be the time of night.

  17. nmsindy says:

    I think it’s that entirely = ALL so almost entirely is AL ie take off the final letter.

  18. Tees says:

    Well, yes Superkiwigirl, if you solve cryptic puzzles in The Indy, and/or in other esteemed journals, it is worth keeping an eye out for such thingies. Setters like doing thingies whenever they can, otherwise their lives would become too simple. Complexity, yum yum. That’s why I like prog, for example. Now, before I move on, I’m just going to write ‘Bungle’s Twanger': please don’t be alarmed, or we’ll have to check your batteries once a year (this sentence is not relevant to any discussion I know about).

    To my way of thinking, a ‘pangrammatic lipopgram’ is a contradiction in terms: crosswording pangrams have all the letters of the alphabet, while crosswording lipograms omit a letter (or group of letters) cos that’s what the ‘lip’ bit (stem of Greek leipein, to omit) means. Away from Gridland, several books have been written lipogrammatically. Ernest Vincent Wright wrote something called Gadsby, which has 50,000 words in it … none among them contains the letter E.

    Let’s wind him up: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! There.

  19. Allan_C says:

    K’s D and superkiwigirl @ 7 &8: For 14d I (eventually) read ‘dodgy’ as the definition and ‘abandoned’ as the anagrind. At least a plausible explanation.

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi redddevil

    I realised my ‘explanation’ was ambiguous when I wrote it: it’s the convention to write omitted letters in lower case – and, unfortunately, lower case L looks rather like upper case I. Thanks, NMS – that’s what I meant! :-)

  21. Graham Pellen says:

    Allan_C@19 is undoubtedly correct.

    K’sD@7 et al I have just completed this in Adelaide on 26 August (we get the Indy crossword daily but three weeks behind its UK publication) and 5D was indeed enumerated as 5,3 in our local paper, The Advertiser.

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