Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,769 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on September 9th, 2011


Phi gave me a tougher than usual workout this morning, with some teasing wordplay and some more unusual items of vocabulary.

There were new words for me as entries at 1, 5 and 14D, as well as in the wordplay of 10, 11 and 21.

The clue at 7 kept me guessing longest, as the plural of the eventual answer is not a form I have often encountered and I was thus caught off guard by it.

My favourite clue today was probably 5, for its cheeky surface reading and for teaching me a new word.

*(…) indicates an anagram

9   ICE PICK   <n>ICE (=discriminating; “not initially” means first letter dropped) + PICK<y> (=selective; “not ultimately” means last letter dropped)
10   RELEASE   LEAS (=meadows) in REE (=bird, i.e. alternative spelling of reeve); the definition is “free” as a verb
11   EMOLLIENT   EMO (=emotional, as in music) + [L (=line) in LIE (=story)] + NT (=National Trust)
12   MONEY   ONE (=individual) in MY (=exclamation of surprise); the definition is “ready” as a noun, e.g. ready money,
the readies
13   TIMES   I’M (=I am) in TES (SET=group; “backing” indicates reversal)
14   HAPPINESS   [P (=soft, i.e. piano in music) + PINES (=aches)] in HAS
  *(PARADING + A RACIER); “around” is anagram indicator; the definition is “rig”, i.e. a team of horses and carriage (N Am)
19   PELVIFORM   *(P<anic> + OVER FILM); “start of” means first letter only; “rudely” is anagram indicator
21   ARROW   <m>ARROW (=friend, in N Eng; “no marks (=m)” means letter “m” is dropped)
22   HENNA   H (=husband) + ENNA (ANNE = woman; “returned” indicates reversal)
23   AMPHIBIAN   [PHI (=setter, i.e. of this crossword) + BIA<s> (=inclination; “curtailed” means last letter dropped)] in *(MAN); “drunken” is anagram indicator
25   PROPOSE   OS (=Ordnance Survey) in [P (=power) + ROPE (=line)]
26   SUCCESS   SUC<k> (=look bad, as in That sucks! ; “losing king (=k)” means letter “k” is dropped) + C<h>ESS (=game; “missing hearts (=h)” means letter “h” is dropped
1   LIBERTY CAP   *(BY PARTICLE); “stoned” is anagram indicator; a liberty cap is a yellowish-brown conical-capped mushroom producing the drug psilocybin
2   REFORMER   RE (=soldiers, i.e. Royal Engineers) + FORMER (=historic)
3   FIELDS   Double definition:  FIELDS is DEALS WITH (e.g. a question) and OLD COMEDIAN; the reference is to American comedian W C Fields (1880-1946)
4   SKYE   SKY<p>E (=Internet service; “losing power” means letter “p” is dropped)
5   PROTOPLASM   [TOP (=head) + LAS<s> (=girl; “going bottomless” means last letter is dropped)] in PROM (=school dance); protoplasm is living material within a cell divided into discrete structures, hence “the stuff of life”
6   OLYMPIAD   *(PLAY I’M) in OD (DO=festivity; “set up” indicates vertical reversal); “reworking” is anagram indicator
7   FAUNAE   F (=following) + A (=one) + UNA<war>E (=not knowing; “to shun conflict (=war)” means the letters “war” are not used)
8   SEXY   X (=rating of movie, as in X-rated film) in SEY (YES=certainly; “upset” indicates vertical reversal); & lit.
14   HAGIOLATER   *(GOALI<e>) in HATER (=non-fan); “mostly” means last letter is dropped; “shaken” is anagram indicator; a hagiolater is a worshipper of saints
15   SHREWDNESS   SHREW (=troublesome woman) + DNE (END=finish; “up” indicates vertical reversal) + SS (=ship, i.e. steamship)
17   IMITATOR   *(ART I’M + IT + O (=nothing)); “working” is anagram indicator; the definition is “impressionist” as a noun
18   AIRLINER   AIR (=song) + LINE (=lyric) + <songwrite>R (“ultimate in” means last letter only)
20   LONDON   [L<and> + ON (=working)] + [<lan>D + ON (=working)]; “both extremes of” means first and last letters are used
21   APIECE   PIE (=pastry) in ACE (=one); the definition is “each”
22   HYPE   Reversed (“rejected”) and hidden (“some”) in “sleEPYHead”
24   POSH   PO<li>SH (=veneer; “heartless” means central letters are not used)


9 Responses to “Independent 7,769 / Phi”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Many thanks, RatkojaRiku, for this excellent and so comprehensive blog. Like you I found this quite a bit tougher than usual from Phi with quite a few answers that were new to me. The wordplay as always from Phi is so precise that I was able to work them all out, verifying after. The only item I had to look up was the comedian at 3 down. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen MARROW (in 21A wordplay) referred to in a crossword. The answer was clear and I doubt if anyone was held up for too long. As familiar with that part of England (the NE) I knew it, and Phi hails originally from around there too. Marked quite a few clues as esp good, HAPPINESS, AMPHIBIAN, PROTOPLASM, IMITATOR, APIECE. Many thanks, Phi, for the puzzle. The unusual vocab made me wonder if there was a theme/Nina as quite often with Phi. If there is, I’ve not spotted it so far!

  2. MikeC says:

    Thanks to both setter and blogger: a tough, but fair and entertaining, one that I was very pleased to finish. I especially liked the economy of 20.

  3. eimi says:

    Keep looking

  4. Wanderer says:

    Thanks for the tip, Eimi — would never have spotted it without your nudge.

    AMIS appears hidden in the row below CARRIAGE AND PAIR, and several of his novels — TIME’S ARROW, LONDON FIELDS, SUCCESS, MONEY and possible others make an appearance.

    Lovely stuff.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I was thinking as I struggled through this that Phi must have had a dose of magic mushrooms before he set this one – miles harder than his normal Friday puzzle. No law against that, of course. Didn’t spot the theme, although I have read a number of Amis novels.

    Pleased to finish it really, after failing with Anax yesterday; but needed you for several explanations, RatkojaRiku.

    As nms said, ARROW wouldn’t have held many people up once you’d got the crossing letters, but I’ve only ever heard it as a NE dialect word and have always pronounced it (and seen it written) as MARRA. And I never knew that MARROW was the derivation, although a bit of dictionary research suggests it comes from Old Norse. There’s a surprise for a NE dialect word …

    Thanks to Phi for an enjoyable toughie.

  6. flashling says:

    Took me rather longer than usual to finish the Phi today, missed the theme/nina as I’ve not read any of his works. Thanks RR for getting some wordplay sorted for me e.g. REE in release.

  7. caretman says:

    Thanks, RatkojaRiku, for the blog and explaining ARROW to me.

    For me, this was a puzzle in three halves. I fairly quickly filled in the solutions running from the NE to SW corner, but the NW and SE were frustratingly empty. I finally got into the SE corner with AIRLINER, which led to AMPHIBIAN and SHREWDNESS. But with that corner solved, it looked to me as though this was going to be Zeno’s Crossword–I would always end up solving half of what is left (and, as mathematicians know, that means I would never solve it completely).

    But I finally got into the NW corner with LIBERTY CAP followed by ICE PICK, and to my relief I was able to complete the puzzle.

    My favorite clues were ICE PICK and SUCCESS. A definitely challenging but solvable puzzle from Phi.

    Oh, and I didn’t see the nina, but I’m not familiar with the author and Time’s Arrow is the only title provided by Wanderer @4 that I recognize.

  8. ele says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku for the blog. I was puzzled by ARROW too. Never knew before that pelviform meant basin-shaped. When will that come up again in a x-word I wonder. Thanks to Phi for a great puzzle – and no, I didn’t spot the Nina either.

  9. RatkojaRiku says:

    Well done to those of you who spotted the theme that most of us probably didn’t even realise was there to be spotted 😉 I am not sufficiently familiar with the author and his work for this particular theme to leap off the page at me, alas.

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