Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,751 / Phi

Posted by Eileen on August 19th, 2011


My first blog of an Indy puzzle – as a one-off substitute for flashling, who’s been away setting off spectacular fireworks.

I know to expect a Nina or theme from Phi and the fact that I’ve failed [again] to find one certainly doesn’t mean there is none. Over to you!*

Some nice clues here, with great surfaces, as usual – my favourite, I think, being 9dn.

Many thanks, Phi, for an enjoyable puzzle.  :-)

[* Just before posting, I had one last search for any kind of theme and discovered that this is, in fact, a pangram, which I’m mightily relieved to have found. I must admit, though, that I can’t understand this preoccupation with pangrams. There must be satisfaction for a setter in having used every letter of the alphabet but it seems to happen so regularly these days that I wonder if it’s worth the effort. I can’t remember it ever adding anything for me, as a solver [but then I by no means always spot it!] but I know that some solvers have said that it was seeing the pangram that helped them fill in the final answer, as instanced most recently by Quixote’s puzzle last week. I’d be interested to kow what others think.]


7   KIWI: W[as] [‘was initially’] in KII [K2]. I can’t find any evidence that the famous Kiwi, Sir Edmund Hillary [definition by example]  tackled K2  before his conquest of Everest, with Tenzing Norgay, in 1953, to make this an &lit. His son, Peter, [ a possible alternative] was the only survivor of a group of eight climbers heading for the summit of K2 in 1995 but he also had successfully first climbed Everest, with his father, in 1990. I really liked this clue, anyway!
8   CANIS MAJOR:  IS behind A N[ote] in C MAJOR [common scale]
10  GAZUMP: GAZ[e] [‘look reduced’] + [d]UMP [‘no opening for hovel’]: in the present climate, I think this word  – Chambers: ‘[of a seller] to raise the price of property, etc, after accepting an offer from [a buyer], but before the contract has been signed]’ – might be less familiar but it still strikes unpleasant chords with me, a victim of this wretched practice in the 70s, since I still fairly regularly pass the property in question!
11  WARRANTY: WARY [showing apprehension] around RANT [tirade]
12  BORDELLO: BOO [express displeasure] around R[iver] DELL [valley]: I think I only know this word from crosswords, clued, passim, as anagram of ‘doorbell’, so congratulations, Phi, on the new twist!
14  RUCKUS: reversal of CUR [scoundrel] + reversal of UK [‘European country’ – well, yes, thanks, Kiwi Phi! :-) ] + S[second]
15  A FLY ON THE WALL: double / cryptic [?] definition
18  TOCSIN: reversal of SCOT [Northerner] + IN
20  WHIPLASH: W[eak] +HIP [joint] + L [new driver] + ASH [remains]: I’m pretty sure I hadn’t come across W = weak before but here I show my woeful scientific ignorance. Chambers tells me that ‘in particle physics, a W particle is a hypothetical positively or negatively charged sub-atomic particle of large mass, responsible in theory for weak interaction between particles': definitely one to file away!
22  AFTER ALL: double definition: in Chambers, for instance, ALL appears on page 36 of 1871!
23  HAGGIS: reversal of SIGH [sound of repletion] around [consuming] A G[ood]: it makes a very nice surface but I’m afraid I can’t wholeheartedly concur with the ‘good': having been married to a Scot, I’ve been to enough Burns suppers in my time. :-)
25  OCEAN BASIN: anagram of BAC[k] IN ON SEA
26  AXES: [t]AXES [duties] and the X and Y axes used in plotting graphs.


1   PITA: reversal of A TIP [suggestion]: I still get taken by surprise when I see this spelt with one T
2   LIQUID: L[eft] I [one] QUID [quantity of tobacco]
3   ACAPULCO: A CAUL [a hood] + CO[mpany] around P[arking]
4   USURER: U[niversity] + SUR[f]ER [internet user minus f{ine}]: I’m afraid the word ‘user’ in the clue makes this a rather weak one for me.
5   LA MANCHA: LAMA [priest] + reversal of AN [one] around CH[urch] – a nod to the above-mentioned  fellow Indy setter?
6   PORTCULLIS: PORT [left] + CULL [cut down] + I[nvader]S [‘gutless invaders’]
9   NEW SOUTH WALES: reverse anagram [indicator NEW] of WHOLE AUST[ralia]’S: AUS is the IVR for Australia but Chambers also gives AUST as an abbreviation – a superb &lit!
13  OVAL OFFICE: OVA [eggs] + LICE [insects] around OFF [not functioning]
14  LAS VEGAS: LASS [girl] around VEGA  [star]
17  EPIPHANY: EH [what?] around PIP [Philip] + ANY – a nice surface
19  NEARBY: reversal of BRAE [Scottish bank – as in Burns’ ‘Ye banks and braes o’ bonnie Doon’] in NY [New York] – and another
21  LOG JAM: simple charade: LOG [diary] JAM [preserve]
24  ITEM: I before TE[a]M [players dismissing ‘a’] – I thought this was rather neat: so many times it’s the four letter words that do it!

18 Responses to “Independent 7,751 / Phi”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Phi for an immaculate puzzle as always.

    Last one in was 24D ITEM, spending some time looking for a definition at the wrong end. 9D NEW SOUTH WALES was great, as was 1D PITA and 7A KIWI.

  2. Wanderer says:

    Marvellous stuff. Favourites were NEW SOUTH WALES and EPIPHANY, but there were so many to enjoy here. I was held up for ages by PORTCULLIS, my last in, but I can’t now think why it took so long.

    I also spotted the pangram, but too late for it to be of any help — all the letters were in by the time I noticed.

    I also look for Ninas in the Indy as they crop up so often. I thought there might be something going on with KGB and PLA (People’s Liberation Army) appearing in the perimeter in the NW corner, but if there’s anything else there, I can’t see it…

    Many thanks to Eileen and Phi.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen, and welcome to the dark side …

    Usual Friday elegance from Phi – everything well-clued (although only one anagram, which is unusual). My picks are Antipodean: NEW SOUTH WALES now you’ve explained what the Aust’s about, and the inventive KIWI.

    I agree with you about pangrams: nothing wrong with them, and it’s no doubt a challenge for the setter, but we do see them pretty often these days. Although in fact, it did help me today to get AXES when I realised that I was missing an X.

    I keep meaning to file TOCSIN away every time I see it, but then forget.

    Good puzzle, thank you to Phi.

  4. ele says:

    Thanks Eileen and Phi. Everything went very smoothly except for 1d and 7ac (which were indeed great clues). Must remember that numbers can be written as letters. We had another instance the other day in r ten = rio that I missed. I usually spell pita as pitta too, which didn’t help.

  5. NealH says:

    I thought this was mostly excellent. Pit and Kiwi were the last two I got, although I also held myself up slightly by putting Canis Minor instead of Canis Major. Fly on the wall seemed a little weak since it’s use in documentary film making is obviously just derived from the idea of a fly on the wall being inconspicuous, so it didn’t have the more oblique or accidental double-meaning that you’d like in a really good CD. Other than that, I don’t think there’s much else to complain about. I especially liked 1 down and 22.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, for the great blog and Phi for another excellent puzzle which I found on the easy side. Not sure if it would be right for me to comment on the pangram as you ask because I did not spot it! If blogging I might have checked it out all right. I guess tho it’s all part of the game and can sometimes be useful to the solver esp in a difficult puzzle, it may also help to widen the range of words used. Maybe yr comment on RUCKUS is tongue-in-cheek, but Phi is no Kiwi, I think, tho he is living there now. Could not spot a theme either but did wonder if the inclusion of ACAPULCO and LAS VEGAS might have had some significance.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks for setting me straight, NMS: I had indeed forgotten that Phi was born in Darlington. I was just tickled at that definition of ‘UK’.

    The furthest I’ve got during the day with a ‘theme’ is two stars, CANIS MAJOR and VIGA, and EPIPHANY!

  8. Eileen says:

    I meant VEGA, of course.

  9. Eileen says:

    And of course I know that CANIS MAJOR is lots of stars. I’ll shut up now and stop trying. I don’t really mind, since no one else has seen a theme, either.

  10. nmsindy says:

    The stars are not too unexpected as Phi has a degree in astronomy, the Azed book confirms,…

  11. superkiwigirl says:

    Many thanks for your usual fine blog, Eileen, and for a very entertaining puzzle, Phi.

    I found this to be one of Phi’s easier offerings, but there’s nothing wrong with that, and I knew I was in for a good time when kicking off with 7a! Sorry to say that I can’t help with the question of whether or not Sir Ed climbed K2, though he apparently climbed 10 other peaks in the Himalayas after Everest.

    Are pangrams like buses I wonder – will it now be some time before we encounter another?

  12. Bamberger says:

    My quest for an unaided Indie solve continues with the bar being hit again.

    Failed on
    10a Focussed too much on dupe,rip off , default and didn’t make the connection hovel =dump
    18a -never heard of tocsin and could only think of scouser, geordie -not a native of Scotland.
    1d Thought bread here was going to be money, dosh, wonga , dough and never thought of types of bread.

    So near yet so far…

  13. NealH says:


    You’re not alone in thinking 1 down was money. Until I worked it out from the wordplay, I was convinced it was going to be something like lira. By then, I was so fixated on it being a type of money, I went to look up pita in the dictionary, thinking it must be some obscure currency.

  14. Eileen says:

    Keep at it, Bamberger – your list is much shorter than when you first joined this site!

    As Kathryn’s Dad says, TOCSIN is quite popular in Crosswordland – I remembered blogging it quite recently and found that it was in an Orlando puzzle in May, where it was clued as a homophone of ‘toxin’. That reminded me that I first heard it in the madrigal, ‘Brightly dawns our wedding day’, from ‘The Mikado':
    and couldn’t think why / how a toxin should sound! I looked it up and have always remembered it, as it’s a strange looking word, I think. [It’s French.]

  15. flashling says:

    A mighty thank you to Eileen for the cover, pity we didn’t win. :-(

    Quite liked this puzzle, GAZUMP being last, despite being done myself back in the day and tocsin being a word I’ve only ever met in crossword land.

    Need a week at work now to let my back recover!

  16. Eileen says:

    Hard luck, flashling – sorry about that [wish I could have seen it!] but happy to keep your seat warm. 😉

  17. flashling says:

    When I get a link to the displays on youtube or whatever you will Eileen, thanks for the cover will reciprocate someday, just hope it isn’t Auracaria or Enigmatist!

  18. Wil Ransome says:

    I was like K’s D in that I saw it was probably a pangram and this helped me with AXES (also with EPIPHANY, although I’d missed the y of WARRANTY). But agree with several: pangrams may be a great achievement but how do they really interest the solver? And aren’t they becoming rather common? When the first snooker players got 147s, this was notable, but nowadays they seem to be quite frequent.

    Excellent puzzle as always. Can’t comment on the difficulty as it was done while watching Bell and Pietersen do so well. But the fact that it was completed fairly quickly for me in these circumstances suggests it may have been quite easy.

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