Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,745 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on August 12th, 2011


I feel as though I have been put through my paces this morning, by a set of Phi’s typically ultra-sound clues.

As for how the solving went, it was a puzzle of two halves, since the NE and SW corners revealed themselves to me fairly quickly, but then I needed to chip away at the NE corner and, last and most of all, at the SE corner.

My general knowledge let me down on this one, as I didn’t know the composer at 13 and only vaguely remembered the children’s book hero at 12. My favourite clue was 20, while the trickiest for me was 17, in both cases on account of their definitions, which proved elusive for quite some time.

*(…) indicates an anagram


1 SOCRATES CRATE (=ancient plane) in SOS (=alarm)
5 SCRAWL S- + CRAWL (=stroke, i.e. in swimming)
9 LONGSHIP NG (=no good) in *(POLISH); “wrecked” is anagram indicator.
10 ANIMUS I’M in [AN + US (=American, i.e. used attributively, as in US Army)]
12 ARTEMIS FOWL *(MORALIST FEW); “disputed” is anagram indicator; Artemis Fowl is the hero of a series of fantasy novels for teenagers by Irish writer Eoin Colfer, hence “children’s book hero”.
15 EXAMS M (=money) in <t>EXAS (=US state; “without capital” means first letter is dropped)
17 RANDOMISE RAN (=organised) + [I’S (=one’s) in DOME (=circular building); the definition is “disorder”, as a verb.
18 DENTISTRY DENT (=evidence of damage) + IS + TRY (=attempt)
19 TOTAL TOT (=drink) + AL<l> (=entirely; “almost” means last letter is dropped); the definition is “wreck”, as a verb, as “total” in North American slang means “to kill or destroy completely”.
20 TAG QUESTION *(GOT ANTIQUES); “sorted out” is anagram indicator; “say, haven’t you” is the definition, since it is an example of a tag question.
24 ROOTLE OT (=holy books, i.e. Old Testament) in ROLE (=part, e.g. in play)
25 STILETTO TIL<l> (=farm, as a verb; “reduction in” means last letter is dropped) in SET-TO (=argument)
26 PARIAH HAIR (=locks, as a noun) + AP. (=apparently); “repelled” indicates a reversal.
27 DROP LEAF *(PLEAD FOR); “changes” is anagram indicator.
1 SALSA VERDE [SAVER (=economiser) + ’D (=had, as in he’d left)] in SALE (=bargain event); salsa verde is an Italian green sauce made from anchovies, garlic, capers, oil and herbs, hence “relish”.
2 CONSTRAINT CON (=study) + [TRAIN (=tutor) in ST (=way, i.e. abbreviation of street)]
3 ASSAM A + SSAM (MASS=lot of people; “turning up” indicates vertical reversal)
4 EXIT STRATEGY X (=unknown, i.e. in algebra) in *(TARGET IS YET); “to be affected” is anagram indicator.
6 CANAL BOAT [ANAL (=obsessive) + BO (=US guy)] in CAT (=pet); “current home” is a cryptic definition, with “current” alluding to water.
7/8 ARMY LIST *(M<i>LITARY’S); “arranged” is anagram indicator; “to issue one (=I)” means a letter “i” is dropped); & lit.
11 BOUNTY HUNTER *(YOUTH + N (=note)) in BUNTER (=fat schoolboy, i.e. Billy Bunter from the Greyfriars School stories); “grotesque” is anagram indicator.
13 BIRTWISTLE [R<idiculous> (“introduction of” means first letter only is used) + TWIST (=pop dance)] in BILE (=ill-temper); Sir Harrison Birtwistle (1934-) is a contemporary British composer.
14 TELLING-OFF TEL (LET=allowed; “rising” indicates vertical reversal”) + LINGO (=language) + FF (=very loud, i.e. fortissimo)
16 SCINTILLA Homophone (“we hear”) of SIN (=wrong) + TILLER (=means of steering)
21 SALOP <h>AL<l> (“centrally” means middle letters only are used) in SOP (=concession); the definition is “old county”, since it is an old-fashioned way of referring to Shropshire.
22/23 TRAP DOOR ROOD (=cross) + PART (=character, i.e. in a play); “climbing up” indicates vertical reversal; & lit.

10 Responses to “Independent 7,745 / Phi”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Good blog, RatkojaRiku, for which thanks.

    And a good puzzle too, which fell steadily. I liked TAG QUESTION as well. Some learners of English as a second language find these difficult, since you have to remember what form the question took: isn’t it? wasn’t he? wouldn’t you? and so on. French is much easier: ‘n’est-ce pas’ works for everything. I was reading recently that among young people from the British Asian community particularly, ‘innit’ has become an equivalent, so you’ll hear things like ‘We’re going out tonight, innit?’ or ‘He’s a bit of a looker, innit?’

    I think ‘total’ for ‘wreck’ exists in British English as well. ‘He’s totalled his new car.’

  2. NealH says:

    This fitted quite nicely into my lunchtime solving session. The bottom left corner gave me a few problems – the connected clues in 22 and 23 meant you didn’t have a lot of letters to work with in 24 and 26 until you got it. However, I eventually got pariah and the rest fell into place. Tag Question was my favourite clue – it’s not a phrase I’d heard before but it seems obvious now that there should be a name for such a thing.

  3. superkiwigirl says:

    I really look forward to Phi’s puzzles on a Friday – they never fail to please, being full of good clues and smooth surfaces.

    Favorites here included CANAL BOAT, BIRTWISTLE, and TRAP DOOR (like NealH I was held up for a while in the SW corner until the penny dropped with PARIAH).

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for an excellent blog and in particular for the explanation of TAG QUESTION (thanks, too, KD for your amplification). I imagine that quite a few of those adding comments today will have been unfamiliar with this phrase.

  4. Cumbrian says:

    Thanks for the puzzle and the excellent blog. Like others, I was not familiar with TAG QUESTION, although the need for such a phrase is obvious, innit? I couldn’t complete the SW corner; all I had to work with were the crossing letters from 16d. I think PARIAH might have been the breakthrough, but I didn’t get it from the clue. Shame really, as I missed out on ROOTLE, which is such a great word!

  5. nmsindy says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for the so so comprehensive blog. Rather unusual puzzle for me in that I made very good progress and then got completely stuck for quite a while with about 4 clues to go. It turned out that my biggest problem was that my guess of WOLF in 12 across was wrong. When I finally got CANAL BOAT I was able to finish tho had to look up the composer who I’d not heard of or did not remember. Another excellent, brilliantly clued puzzle, thanks, Phi.

  6. caretman says:

    I too had WOLF initially in 12a, among my very last in, but then decided that C.N.F was an unlikely set of letters for the first word in 6d. Changing WOLF to FOWL finally allowed me to put in 6d, my last in.

    As with others here, I had not encountered TAG QUESTION or BIRTWISTLE before but the wordplays were straightforward and I could later confirm them online. In general I made fairly steady progress on this one. My favorite clue was 7/8d.

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku for the blog, and thanks, Phi, for the puzzle.

  7. Richard Palmer says:

    I found this harder than usual for Phi but got there in the end.

    One niggle: regarding the definition of “canal boat” as “current home”, canals unlike rivers do not have a current.

  8. sidey says:

    canals unlike rivers do not have a current

    The Llangollen canal and the Gloucester & Sharpness canal both have measurable slopes. There are others.

  9. superkiwigirl says:

    Hi Richard Palmer,

    Unfortunately I didn’t do geography at school, but I wonder if you are correct? I can see that a canal in the sense of an “inland waterway” wouldn’t be affected by a tidal current, but what about those canals (such as the Suez and Panama) directly affected by not just one but two “seas”?

    I’d be interested to know if these too “don’t have a current”.

  10. Phi says:

    Eimi did query the ‘current home’ definition, and received my experience of being beached in a canal boat during a holiday by the pound’s emptying overnight (it might have been the Llangollen, come to think of it). They do have currents.

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