Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,865 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 30th, 2011


Like many readers, I have been pigging out on crosswords as well as on turkey and mince pies over the past week, with so many Christmas specials to get my teeth into. Why is it that we just don’t know when to stop eating, drinking or solving? As such, my
thanks go to Phi for a more doable than average puzzle today, which served as a kind of cruciverbal hair of the dog for me this morning.

I worked through this at a fairly constant pace, perhaps with the exception of the SE corner, where the intersecting clues at 24 and 30, as well as at 25 and 26, held me up for a while. The muscle reference in the wordplay at 25 was new to me, as was the meaning of “duds” in the wordplay of 1, which I struggled for quite a while to parse. My clue of the day has to be the & lit. at 29, for its smooth surface. Incidentally, I was intrigued to learn that the entry at 23 was also a kind of light, brittle biscuit, since my only previous encounter with the word had been when delving into large tins of sweets at Christmas!

And now it’s time for a day of crosswording abstinence for me ahead of tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve treats!


*(…) indicates an anagram

1   KING LEAR KIN (=family) + [L (=sovereign, i.e. a pound sterling) in GEAR (=duds, i.e. slang for clothes); the definition, however, is “sovereign” in the sense of monarch, not coin
5   STAPLE Double definition: STAPLE is “basic”, as in staple food in diet AND office item, i.e. stationery requisite
10   EVOLUTION EVOLU (U=universal + LOVE (=affection); “recalled” indicates reversal) + [I (=one) in TON (=fashion)]
11   MEANS ME (=the writer, i.e. Phi) + ANS (=answer)
12   LAIRD R (=king, i.e. rex) in LAID (=set, as in set/laid the table)
13   NEWCASTLE NEW (=replacement, as an attributive adjective) + CAST (=performers, i.e. set of actors) + LE<t (=allowed; “not entirely” means last letter is dropped)
14   NOVA SCOTIA OVA (=eggs) in *(ACTIONS); “various” is anagram indicator
17   ICON CO-i-N (=a bit, as in a threepenny bit); “one (=I) moves” means that the letter “i” changes position
18   DOLT DO (=to assault, in slang) + LT (=officer, i.e. lieutenant)
19   CEREBELLAR *(BEER) in CELLAR (=wine collection); the definition is “brainy, to some extent” since cerebellar refers only to the lower posterior part of the brain, known as the cerebellum
23   CRACKNELS CRACK (=first-rate) + NEL<l>S (=woman’s; “left (=L) out” means a letter “l” is omitted)
25   TALON NO LAT (=absence of muscle); “twisting” indicates a reversal; lat is a short form of latissimus dorsi, a muscle in the lower back
27   ELIOT I (=one) in [E (=English) + LOT (=fate)]; the reference is to the American-born British poet T S Eliot (1888-1965)
28   TRAFALGAR [RAF (=airmen, i.e. Royal Air Force) + AL<l> (=entirely; “almost” means last letter is dropped) + G (=good)] in TAR (=seaman); the reference is to the Battle of Trafalgar of 1805
29   SCYTHE S<harp> (“primarily” means first letter only is used) + C<urv>Y (“edges” means first and last letter only are used) + THE (=article); & lit.
30   HEATHROW HE (=man) + A + THROW (=way to get airborne); & lit.
1   KREMLIN <Alnwic>(“finale in” means last letter only) + R.E.M. (rock group recently disbanded) + LIN<e> (=row; “endless” means last letter is dropped); the definition is simply “castle”
2   NAOMI A in [I’M ON (=I’m ready); “to turn up” indicates vertical reversal]
3   LOURDES UR (=Biblical city) in LODES (=rich sources, i.e. of metal ore)
4   ALIEN A (=first-rate) + LIEN (LIN-E=letter, as in to drop someone a line; “with second half turning” means that the two letters that make up the second half of this four-letter word change places)
6   TAM-TAM 2 x TAM<e>(=quiet; “not entirely” means last letter is dropped); a tam-tam is a gong, especially one used in an orchestra
7   PRACTICAL C (=cape, i.e. in cartography) in P<i>RATICAL (=like Blackbeard; “letting one (=I) escape” means a letter “i” is dropped)
8   EASTERN EA (=A and E turned, i.e. the letters “a” and “e” are reversed) + STERN (=rigorous); the definition is “towards daybreak”, since the sun rises in the east
9   SNOW LINE S + [OWL (=bird) in NINE)
15   VULGARITY V (=very) + *(GUY + TRIAL); “strange” is anagram indicator
16   OPERETTA *(TO REPEAT); “after revisions” is anagram indicator
18   DICKENS D (=daughter) + <s>ICKENS (=disgusts; “though not at first” means first letter is dropped); the reference is to English novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
20   EXTRACT EXTRA (=additional) + C<redi>T (“limits to” means first and last letter only are used)
21   RENFREW FR (=father) in RENEW (=to begin again); the reference is to the small town of Renfrew in central Scotland, to the west of Glasgow
22   SKETCH [K (=king, in chess) + ETC (=and others)] in SH (=quiet, as an order)
24   SPACE S (=special) + PACE (=excitement)
26   LIGER LI<n>GER (=to tarry; “seeing off number (=N)” means the letter “n” is dropped); a liger is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger


7 Responses to “Independent 7,865 / Phi”

  1. flashling says:

    A nice gentle way to end our weekday puzzles for 2011. Thanks RR and Phi – and Eimi for the year’s fun.

  2. Hi of hihoba says:

    Relatively straightforward for a Phi puzzle. Thanks for the explanations of 17A and 4D, which I completed but hadn’t understood the wordplay. It turns out that they are very similar – I must have a blind spot for letter transposition!

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    A straightforward one indeed to end the year, but nonetheless enjoyable for that. The daily Indy puzzles have been consistently good in 2011, so I’ll add my thanks to eimi and the setters to go with those of flashling.

  4. Allan_C says:

    I’ll endorse flashling’s comment, too!

    A few gentle misdirections here and there to add to the enjoyment. At 14a it was nice to find that ‘province’ did not refer to NI, a common 5a of setters. While the USA has states, Canada has provinces.

  5. Bamberger says:

    I thought this was really hard and I needed the superb explanations above to understand the answers. If this is gentle Phi, I doubt I’d ever start a hard one.
    As it was I got 5a,11a,7d, 10a with an anagram solver and guesed tom tom for 6d and that was that.
    I thought I’d had a biscuit or two in my time but never heard of cracknel and even on googling it, I had ot to put cracknel biscuit to get an answer.
    Only one real gripe – is it supposed to be common knowledge that REM have disbanded? If someone had told me, I’d have given thanks -can’t imagine a producer of more dreary records that them.

  6. Bertandjoyce says:

    We’d also like to add our thanks, not just for today’s gentle offering from Phi but to all of the Indy compilers. We regularly overdose on crosswords from other ‘suorces’ but always leave the best until last! Thanks Eimi for having built up such a good team.

    Thanks also to RatkojaRaku and all the 225 bloggers for a great year. Thanks finally to Kathryn’s Dad and Eileen for ‘unlurking’ us. Mind you, I’m not sure if anyone will be reading this at this time of day!

  7. MikeC says:

    Well, B&J, someone is! I’m with you on thanks to RR, Phi and all the 225 crew – especially K’s D for organising the Derby get-togethers. HNY all.

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