Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,841 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 2nd, 2011


I found that I raced through most of this one before grinding to a standstill when just one or two clues from the end.

Bizarrely, 1 kept me guessing till the very end, while 21 was a new word on me that I struggled for a long time to figure out from the wordplay. 11 and 18 were also unfamiliar, although they were more obvious from the wordplay. No particular favourites today, but 4 and 8 made me smile.

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   WORLDS L (=large) in WORDS (=arguments, as in to have words with someone)
5   LICORICE [COR (=crikey) + I (=one)] in LICE (=vermin)
9   MALAGASY [LA (=the French, i.e. the French word for the) + GAS (=gossip)] in MAY (=month); the Malagasy Republic is the former name of the Republic of Madagascar
10   LINEAR NE<w> (=novel; “most of” means the last letter is dropped) in LIAR (=story-teller; i.e. one telling stories, fibs)
11   PORTAMENTO PORT (=left, i.e. not starboard) + AMEN (=last word) + TO; portamento is a continuous glide from one tone to another in music, hence “playing style”
12   OPEN PE (=exercise, i.e. physical exercise) in ON (=feasible)
13   CONCERTO CERT (=a sure thing) in [CO (=company) + NO (=definitely not)]
16   UNITED UNI<nvi>TED (=not expected); “to release No. (=N) 6 (=VI)” means that the letters “nvi” are dropped
17   ABOARD O (=love) in [A + BARD (=poet)]
18   ONTOGENY ON TO (=aware of) + GEN (=information) + Y (=unknown, i.e. in algebra); ontogeny is the history of the development of an organised being
19   KITE KIT (=material for building, e.g. a model) + E (=English); a kite is an aeroplane in RAF slang
20   VEHEMENTLY *(MY ELEVENTH); “is drunk” is anagram indicator
23   DARING DA (=US lawyer) + RING (=call)
24   NOTATION TATI (=French comedian, i.e. Jacques Tati) in NOON (=lunchtime)
25   NOVELLAS [LE (=the French, i.e. the French word for the) + V (=very)] in SALON (=literary gathering); “backed” indicates a reversal
26   MISUSE I’S (=one’s) in MUSE (=think)
2   OTAGO O (=old) + TA (=soldiers, i.e. Territorial Army) + GO (=leave)
3   LEAPT [A + P (=penny)] in LET (=rent, e.g. a property); the definition is “took off”, as in jumped up
4   STAMMERED MME (=Frenchwoman, i.e. abbreviation of Madame) in STARED (=gazed)
5   LAYING ON OF HANDS [ON (=working) + OF] in [LAYING (=betting, making a wager) + HANDS (=staff, i.e. workers)]
6   CELLO CELL O (=location of fifteenth prisoner, i.e. where first prisoner is in Cell A, second in Cell B, etc)
7   RANSOMING *(MINOR SNAG); “sorting out” is anagram indicator
8   CHAMELEON [MÊLÉ<e> (=fight; “endless” means the last letter is dropped) in CHAO<s> (=disorder; “endless” means the last letter is dropped)] + N (=note); the definition is “I’ll blend in”, referring to the well-camouflaged animal
14   OBBLIGATO *(BIBL<e>) in OGATO (=2 upset, i.e. reversal of the entry at 2 = OTAGO)
15   CEASE-FIRE [E (=drug) in CASE (=box)] + FIRE (=sack)
16   ULTIMATUM TIM<e> (=period; “much of” means last letter is dropped) in *(MUTUAL); “wrangling” is anagram indicator; & lit.
20   VIGIL VI<r>GIL (=Roman poet); “ignoring King (=R)” means that the letter “r” is dropped
21   NOTUS NOT US (=them, as in them and us); Notus is the south or south-west wind
22   LOOMS Double definition: LOOMS is “more than one machine” (for weaving) AND “appears indistinctly” (on the horizon)



15 Responses to “Independent 7,841 / Phi”

  1. NealH says:

    Chameleons primarily change colour as a method of communication rather than for purposes of camouflage, although the clue is justified on the grounds that the idea of a chameleon blending in with its background is so well established in popular parlance. The large number of words that were unfamilar to me held me up quite a bit in this one – ontogeney, portamento and notus were all new. The first two were easy enough from the word play, but I struggled with notus.

  2. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for an enjoyable crossword and RR for the blog.

    6dn: I think this clue would benefit from adding a word like “Possibly” or “Presumed” at the beginning.

    21dn: I read this as a cryptic definition and got NATES (buttocks) as the answer. Of course, NOTUS is much better, but I think the alternative is (just about) valid.

  3. flashling says:

    Generally a lost easier that the last 3 days but just didn’t know NOTUS and couldn’t guess from the wordplay – oh well. Thanks RR and Phi.

  4. Cumbrian says:

    Many thanks for the blog; it was interesting to see that my experience of this puzzle mirrored yours, albeit minus the “race” element! 1A also caused me problems; I don’t quite know why, but at least I’m in good company. It may be that after the obscure words littered around the grid I was trying to over-complicate it. I had to cheat with 21D – notus – and had also not come across ontogeny or portamento. They came out from the clues, but I always feel a little unsatisfied when I arrive at a few solutions with that shrug and thought of “I suppose that must be a word, then”.

    There seem to be a few musical references – obbligato, concerto, cello, notation, portamento – but not sure if that’s a theme.

  5. dg211 says:

    Did anyone else think 3D was S(P)LIT? Since it is common to mislead the solver by using a meaning other than the one implied by the surface reading, I was thinking that rent would mean severed rather than lease. I also briefly wondered about C(AP)UT, although I didn’t quite see how that would fit with the definition, before finally arriving at LEAPT. I think SPLIT is also a valid answer though, although the “a” before “penny” in the clue would be redundant in that case.

  6. nmsindy says:

    NOTUS was my last answer too – and a nice moment to see it after I’d tried for quite a bit to think of all the n?t?s possibilities. I’d not heard of (or had forgotten) the word but the wordplay meant I just knew it was right so that was my favourite clue. Cumbrian at #4, musical references are not unknown to Phi – indeed you might struggle to find a Phi puzzle without one…

    Easyish puzzle overall but the last few were tricky with the clear and precise clueing enabling to work out a few words I did not know. Thanks RatkojaRiku and Phi.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for blogging, RatkojaRiku. Pretty much the same experience as others, including not being able to get NOTUS (I too was tempted by buttocks). I did however know ONTOLOGY since it’s mainly a biological term referring to the development of, say, a foetus in the womb. ‘Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’ is a now discredited 19th century theory which proposed that the development of the foetus in utero reflected the evolutionary development of the same species.

    Otherwise plenty of good clueing, with as Cumbrian says a few musical references. I think it’s just that Phi is keen on his classical music rather than any particuar theme.

    Another good week of Indy puzzles with quite a range of solving difficulty.

  8. Allan_C says:

    Seems like I was in good company, struggling with 1a till the very end. Enjoyed the musical references, and good to see the definition part of 14d referred to the correct meaning of OBBLIGATO – an obligatory part – rather than the way it is often taken these days to mean the opposite – an optional extra.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sorry, I meant to type ONTOGENY at no 7. It’s been a long day …

  10. Cumbrian says:

    dg211 @5 – I din’t think 3d was SPLIT, but only because I didn’t think of SLIT. As I was also going down the route of rent=rip, tear etc etc, if I’d happened on slit then I’d have confidently entered SPLIT, thus making 1A even more difficult!

  11. Phi says:

    There is a hidden theme in this one. There’s a reason for choosing NOTUS over NOTES or even NATES (not just deliberate aggravation of solvers…) lurking in the unches on that row. Yes, it is musical, but Cumbrian has only two of the five thematic references in the lights.

    I’d say more but I have to be off to an opera house (built in Spanish Mission style) but not for an opera.

  12. nmsindy says:

    Yes, that says TRIDUUM which I guess I should have spotted, but I can’t get any further than that.

  13. Colin Foster says:

    Good crossword: I’m always grateful to solve one of the Indy’s !

  14. Bertandjoyce says:

    The World’s Ransoming is Part 1 of James MacMillan’s Easter Triptych called Triduum. Part 2 is A cello concerto and 3 is Vigil.

    All found after a difficult search. We thought we’d finished the crossword about 20 minutes ago and just checked in to see what others had said. Enjoyed the crossword! Not sure whether the search on google was worth it – contemporary classical music is not quite our scene. We found a site where you can listen to part of it so may have a listen……. But not tonight!

    Thanks Phi and RatkojaRiku.

  15. flashling says:

    Wow B&J good spot, glad I wasn’t blogging and expected to see that! I would suggest you join us as bloggers but perhaps not when you do the crossword so late at night. Quite how I could have got the theme if I didn’t know, as triduum frankly looks like nonsense to me.

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