Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7775 by Phi

Posted by flashling on September 16th, 2011


It seems the epidemic of pangrams at the Independent seems to be calming down.

No obvious theme here, ok Winter and Sum(m)er  songs appear. Not entirely convinced about  12d though.


1 CREATURE COMFORT Creature (puppet according to Chambers) + CO + M(ake) + FORT (castle)
9 RAG WEEK RAG (tabloid newspaper) + homonym of WEAK
10 DISPUTE DI + no MAN in SPU(man)TE (sparkling wine)
11 NEE Previous letters of the alphabet for OFF so O->N, F->E F->E
12 WINTERREISE Franz Schubert Lied cycle. WIN (success) + ERR in (IT SEE)*
15 ACTOR A + T(ense) in COR
16 SOBER SO (very good) + (on)E removed from BE(e)R
22 SEA SEA(t)
26 SUMER IS ICUMEN IN (I RESUME MUSIC) + NIN(e) Traditional English song
2 EL GRECO No A in ELG(a)R + E.C.O.
3 TIE TIE(r)
5 CADGE (EG + DAC) rev. While regular solvers will know Dac this seems a bit off for anyone else
7 OCULIST O (round) + CU + LIST
12 WATER BEARER AQUARIUS. Does WATER mean quality? Watermarks are a good indication. WATER + AR(e) in BEER is my best shot here.
19 HAS-BEEN S(econd) + BEE in HAN(d)
21 SAMOS MA rev in S.O.S.
25 GUM Double definintion


20 Responses to “Independent 7775 by Phi”

  1. Wanderer says:

    I have come across the expression “of the first water” usually in a negative sense, for example “that would be a disaster of the first water” so I can see WATER = QUALITY.

    Agree with your reservation about the use of DAC. This would be more-or-less impossible for someone picking up the paper for the first time.

    Otherwise much to enjoy as always, especially liked WINTERREISE and BLOSSOM.

    Thanks flashling and Phi.

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi flashling

    I couldn’t see 12dn either, then your, ‘Does water mean quality?’ made me think of ‘of the first water’ [never knew what it meant!] and, sure enough, it’s in Chambers: ‘class, quality, excellence, esp in the phrase ‘of the first or purest water’.

    Thanks for the blog.

  3. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Wanderer! :-(

  4. Wanderer says:

    Please don’t apologise Eileen! If two of us have the same thought then we’re probably on the right lines….

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, flashling. Like last week, I found this a tougher Friday puzzle than usual. Some unusual long answers like CORONA AUSTRALIS (okay, it’s an anagram, and a good one) and SUMER IS ICUMEN IN; and some tricky bits of wordplay. But good fun.

    I agree with you about the use of DAC. C?D?E can’t be much else, but it just gives the impression of being a bit cliquey, I think.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, flashling and Phi. Esp for explaining NEE which I got from the definition but did not see the rest tho it seems obvious now. Not the first appearance of that song in a Phi puzzle – I blogged a puzzle with it in on this site in its v early days. While I technically take the point about Dac’s inclusion, Phi and Dac are the most frequent Indy setters and I’d be v surprised if many of those solving Phi today would not have heard of Dac as another Indy setter. Did have to check dicts too for water = quality but it was confirmed there. Quite a hard puzzle by Phi standards and I was pleased to be able to work CORONA AUSTRALIS out from the wordplay tho I’d never heard of it.

  7. sidey says:

    Water is a measure of the clarity of diamonds I think. Drop one ‘of the first water’ in a glass of water and you can’t see it. Could be utter rot though.

  8. Bamberger says:

    I tend to skim clues when I start and I got off to a flier with 9a, 2d,3d, 5d & 15a going in just like that.
    With a bit more effort I got 4d but then spent 45mins getting no further-not a sausage. Not entirely surprised when I see 12a, 13a 23a 25a 1d 7d & 21d.
    Re 5d, the same device was used in FT13783 when you had to know mudd was another FT setter not good imo.

    I can solve the FT xwords about 25% of the time unaided now but still haven’t cracked a single Indie unaided. I don’t know if it is psychological or if all the Indies are just hard.

  9. Nick says:

    In 26 there is a sort of two-step part to ‘most of nonet’. You have to have ‘nine’ for ‘nonet’ and then take most of it. Mostly I thought wordplay of that kind was with the letters already given in the clue. I guess the Indy has different rules. Does anyone else think that’s unusual?

  10. nmsindy says:

    Re Nick at #9, I don’t think that is unusual tho that particular one was maybe a little tricky. For example 22A, (SEA) uses “location of power, for the most part” ie SEAT with last letter missing.

  11. ele says:

    Thanks flashling for the blog and Phi for another great puzzle. Especially liked 20ac and 26ac is one of my favourite clues in a long time – made me smile. Did anyone else notice that 20ac can also be arranged to give RADON SHIELD – which was my first attempt and had me worried.

  12. nmsindy says:

    PS Re Bamberger’s comments at #8, I think it is fair to say that on average the Indy is a bit harder than the FT. With practice, you will solve more esp if you already solve 25%. I’m not sure if ‘unaided’ means (a) I did not look up the answer eg by pressing ‘reveal’ (or, say, coming to this site) or (b) I did not look at dicts or other reference sources. I think (b) would apply only to those entering speed solving competitions (of whom I’d remain in awe, but I would guess that, compared solvers in general, are very few in number).

    The most important question IMHO is “Did you enjoy the puzzle?”. If you did, the puzzle was surely fair and, if you had to consult something to track down an unfamiliar word, so what?

  13. flashling says:

    @NMS #12, I try and always solve completely unaided, but when it comes to the blog I generally check up up anything I’m uncertain of as I was say, for puppet meaning creature. Couldn’t find water = quality though…

  14. nmsindy says:

    Re flashling at #13, so do I, but I’ll go for help when completely stuck – not always immediately possible. It depends on where one is solving!

  15. Bamberger says:

    Re 12 I assumed that an unaided solve was not using any aids at all ie no anagrams solvers, no crossword solvers (by which I mean you plug in ?a?k? and see what the possibilities are), no dictionaries. Of course if you just have a?????? no crossword solver is going to help you.

    So do most people actually use aids?

  16. ele says:

    to Bamberger@15. I wouldn’t claim I’d solved the daily Indy if I’ve had to use an anagram solver or the reveal button, although sometimes I’ll use them just to give me peace of mind if I get completely stuck and I’m on the point of giving up. :-) It can be helpful in getting you past what seems an insuperable barrier, when looking at it till your head hurts has had no effect. As msindy says, it’s supposed to be enjoyable, and if you just need to ‘cheat’ on one clue to get the rest of the puzzle done so what.

    I think it’s entirely fair to look up a word in the dictionary to check its meaning if you’ve worked it out from the wordplay or made a good guess but aren’t familiar with its meaning. I wouldn’t count that as a failure at all.

  17. flashling says:

    @all for bamberger, the general silence means yes we do (except me, honest guv! do you really think I knew lustrum was 5 years of penitance after a census) @Phi would like the water/quality bit cleared up please – and any other theme I missed.

  18. Phi says:

    Water = quality is in Chambers, specifically in the phrase cited above – not much used otherwise, I’d say, but still just in common parlance. Using Dac – well, I wouldn’t do it regularly, but it seems OK on a blue moon basis – reasonable assumption of the mental baggage of a solver. Fails the ‘but there’s always someone doing a puzzle for the first time’ test, of course, but if we kept that as a key determinant, then I could get away with reusing old chestnuts all the time!

    Bamberger – of course you can use a dictionary. No setter can assume every word they use is in every solver’s vocabulary (not all the ones I stick into a puzzle I can swear hand-on-heart to have used recently, if at all – PELVIFORM comes to mind as a recent example) but the trick then is to write the clue so that the solvers can convince themselves they know it really. And at that point, recourse to the dictionary is not an admission of defeat, more of success. Keep at it – the percentages you’ve been reporting have been steadily increasing, even if you haven’t felt it to be so.

  19. Fyveashe says:

    The quality of diamonds is assessed according to transucence – the nearer to water the better the quality – hence the expression diamond of the first water. I too thought 5d was a bit naughty. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I expect clues and answers to be based on widely available knowledge. The meaning of Lustrum can be found once you’ve worked it out but DAC – I think not!! I was foxed by 1d as I’ve always known it as Corona Austrina and had to resort to Wikipedia. I never use anagram solvers or crossword dictionaries – there seems no point – the fun is in teasing out the answers from the clues on the page – it’s all there if you look for it (not that I can always see it of course!) A good puzzle for all that – thanks Phi!

  20. Rishi says:

    Few educated people in India would know ‘water = quality’, but certainly they would know the expression “of the first water” and would be perfectly understood.

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