Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7883 / Phi

Posted by duncanshiell on January 20th, 2012


From today, I have transferred from blogging weekday Guardian crosswords on a 3-week cycle to blogging Independent weekday crosswords on a weekly cycle.

I have blogged Phi crosswords in the Independent once or twice before as a stand-in blogger and I regularly come across Phi as a setter for the Inquisitor series of barred crosswords in the Magazine with the Saturday Independent.

Phi’s clues are usually very fair and understandable.  Today’s puzzle was in similar vein although I do have a slight query about the tense of HAM in 1 across.  

Once I see a Z and a Q in a crossword, I start to think of pangrams, but I think we are a J and an X short of a pangram in this case.

To solve this puzzle, solvers needed a basic knowledge of geography, marine biology [or seafood], physics, military terms, weapons, literature, films, games, music, French, animals, simple mathematics and history.  Crosswords are certainly educational.

There was plenty of misdirection as one would expect in cryptic crossword clues.

I look forward to blogging the full range of Independent setters over the coming months and years.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
6 Overdone food recalled in German city (7) HAM (overdone – is this the right tense?, doesn’t HAM mean ‘to overdo’?) + GRUB (food) reversed (recalled) HAMBURG (German city)
8 Crustaceans, namely, linked to indications of current (6) SC (abbreviation for Latin scilicet; namely) + AMP (short for AMPERE [unit of electric current]) + I (symbol in physics for electric current).  AMP and I form [two] indications of current. ‘ SCAMPI (crustaceans)
9 Quantity of electricity or power brought into Channel Island (5) P (power) contained in (brought into) SARK (one of the smaller Channel Islands) SPARK (an electric discharge across a gap; quantity of electricity)
10 The current mood, I say, turning to follow it in enthusiasm (9)

(IT + [I + EG {for example; say}] reversed ([turning]) contained in (in) ZEST (enthusiasm)


ZEITGEIST (the spirit of the age; the current mood)
12 Expedition in urban style? That’s about right (8) (À LA [in the syle of] + CITY [urban] – in urban style) containing (around) R (right) ALACRITY (briskness, promptness; expedition)
13 Weapon more than half of common soldiers backed (5) REGULARS (soldiers of the regular army; common soldiers. ‘common’ may mean a colloquial reference to soldiers) taking REGUL the first five letters of the eight [more than half] and reversing them (backed) LUGER (type of pistol; weapon)
15 Some minor character – in Tolkien? (3) Hidden word in (some) MINOR CHARACTERS ORC (there are many ORCs in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy)
17 Priest to stop working in Northern town (7) P (priest) + REST (stop working) + ON (Bradford’s tells me that ON is a synonym for ‘in’) PRESTON (Northern town – [in England]; I have to drive 145 miles South  to get to PRESTON)
18 Eggs over easy? Not very (3) Anagram of (easy) OVER excluding (not) V (very) ROE (eggs)
19 Picture that is providing cover for publication (5) IE (id est; that is) containing (providing cover for) MAG (magazine; publication) IMAGE (picture). This was clued in the Financial Times yesterday by Orense as Picture that’s found outside periodical. I guess the wordplay used by Phi and Orense is the most obvious way of clueing IMAGE, but I am sure there are readers up to the challenge of finding many other ways.

20 The Devil, represented in this poem (8) Anagram of (represented in) THIS POEM MEPHISTO (short form of Mephistopheles, the Devil in Faust)
24 Problem with male film director (9) HITCH (problem) + COCK (male [bird]) HITCHCOCK (reference Alfred Hitchcock, film director)
25 One enthusiast recalled going round a military institution (5) (I [one] + FAN [enthusiast]) reversed (recalled) containing (going round) A NAAFI (an organization for providing canteens for servicemen and servicewomen; one of the canteens – originally an acronym formed from the first letters of National Army and Air Force Institute, but now just known as NAAFI)
26 What judge does about introduction of this suit (6) HEARS (a judge ‘hears’ a trial) containing (about) T the first letter of [introduction of] THIS HEARTS (suit [in cards])
27 Face unending contempt from audience about line on juggling performance? (7) DIAL (face) excluding L the last letter (unending) + (BOO [an expression of contempt from the audience] containing [about] L [line]) DIABOLO (a game in which a two-headed top is spun, tossed, and caught on a string attached to two sticks, held one in each hand; a juggling performance)
1 Many people enthralled by shock via broadcast from composer (12) HOST (many people) contained in (enthralled by) anagram of (broadcast) SHOCK VIA SHOSTAKOVICH (reference Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975), composer)
2 French friend upset about English friend, the beast (6) AMI (French word for ‘friend’) reversed (upset) containing (about) PAL (English word for ‘friend’) IMPALA (African antelope; beast)
3 Friend runs after natural disaster (6) QUAKE (earthquake; natural disaster) + R (runs) QUAKER (member of the Religious Society of Friends)
4 Anteater to stick around African country mostly (8) PIN (stick) containing (around) ANGOLA (African country) excluding the last letter A (mostly) PANGOLIN (the scaly anteater)
5 Chorister carrying priest’s dog (8) SINGER (chorister) containing (carrying) PR (priest) SPRINGER (reference Springer Spaniel, a breed of dog)
7 Newspapers look ready to rise after brief time (8) GAZE (look) + T (time) + (SET [ready] reversed [to rise - down clue]) GAZETTES (newspapers)
8 Greasy substance, mostly without much body (4) SLIME (greasy substance) excluding the final letter E (mostly) SLIM (slight; slender; without much body)
11 Nothing turned up in abandoned storeroom in Spanish resort (12) NIL (nothing) reversed (turned up – down clue) contained in (in) an anagram of (abandoned) STOREROOM TORREMOLINOS (Spanish resort)
14 Made claim about ore not initially in veins? (8) STAKED (made claim) containing (about) ORE excluding the first letter O (not initially) STREAKED (in veins)
16 Cleaner gets bored after disposing of one cathedral location (8) CHAR (cleaner) + TIRES (gets bored) excluding (disposing of) I (one) CHARTRES (reference the French cathedral town of CHARTRES)
17 Display of information – mine’s within reach, possibly? On the contrary (3,5) Anagram of (possibly) REACH contained in (within) PIT (mine) – so instead of having ‘mine within reach possibly” we have the opposite (on the contrary) ‘reach possibly within mine’) PIE CHART (a diagram displaying information)
21 Way of working with Arab storage location (6) HANG (knack of using; way of working) + AR (Arab) HANGAR (storage location)
22 Darker part was required in broadcast (6) HAD (was required, as in ‘had to’ = ‘was required to’) contained in (in) SOW (broadcast) SHADOW (darker part)
23 Battle field – cries of pain sending one away (4) MOANS (cries of pain) excluding (sending … away) A (one) MONS (reference First World War battlefield at MONS)

11 Responses to “Independent 7883 / Phi”

  1. sidey says:

    Impeccably blogged as usual Duncan. Thanks to Phi too.

    I think HAM works, just.

  2. flashling says:

    No problem for me with ham acting being overdone, welcome to our merry band but you make make the more time imperiled of us look bad! Thanks Duncan and Phi as ever.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you and welcome, Duncan. Don’t go changing … (and that’s not a criticism of other bloggers, but I always appreciate full explanations if the blogger has time to provide them.)

    Usual excellent Friday fare from Phi. I liked ZEITGEIST and SHOSTAKOVICH best. I too am not that keen on the definition of HAM, but I guess it just about works.

  4. MikeC says:

    Thanks Duncan and Phi. Good stuff – some quite intricate, but very precise, word play. I also think the adjectival sense of ham, equalling overdone, is fine.

  5. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for a pleasant crossword and Duncan for the blog.

    6ac: I agree with MikeC @4 – the clue works with HAM as an adjective.

    17ac: I took this as “stop” = REST and “working” = ON.

  6. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for that super blog, Duncan, tho I’m afraid that, like flashling, I won’t be able to even nearly match it! A slightly easier than usual puzzle from Phi, I thought, enjoyable as always. HAM can be used as adjective (modifier) so that is quite OK, I’d say. I also agree with PB at #5 re PRESTON, tho I did take me a while to see why. I think this was because of the (purely coincidental) appearance of a lot of the letters of Preston in ‘priest’. Also I hope the inhabitants of that ‘proud’ city do not protest too much at seeing it described as a ‘town’!

    Phi often has v subtle themes/Ninas in his puzzles. If there is one here, maybe he will advise us in due course.

  7. Allan_C says:

    Good stuff as usual from Phi, and thanks to Duncan for the blog.

    One minor grouse in that ‘priest’ turned up in two clues (17a and 5d) although in one case it indicated ‘p’ and in the other ‘pr’.

    Useless trivia department: We sometimes get complaints here about the number of football references in indy cryptics. Did you know that Shostakovich was very keen on football and, I believe, was a qualified referee?

  8. mrs t says:

    Brilliant blog, Duncan. I learned lots. Thank you.

  9. Bertandjoyce says:

    A good crossword to finish off the week. A bit easier than usual for Phi perhaps.

    Thanks also to Duncan for a really comprehensive blog.

  10. Phi says:

    No, nothing subtle in this one. Just a grid for a General Knowledge puzzle that never got published, rejigged to take out some proper nouns (but still quite a high number left, you’ll note).

    The best apocryphal Shostakovich football story is, I think, the one where the Leningrad newspaper lost its reporter’s contribution, so the editor rang up Shostakovich, confident he would have attended the match and have noted events. Shostakovich, it’s said, dictated a usable report, on the spot, over the phone.

    Elgar, I believe, supported Wolves.

    I see that Preston is a city of a full ten years’ standing (the puzzle grid is older than that…). Well, it’s the same size (give or take a few thousand souls) as my home town, and certainly didn’t impress city-ness upon me on the odd times I’ve passed through it!

  11. nmsindy says:

    Many thanks for commenting, Phi. There is a fairly recently created city (1992) – Sunderland – not too far North of your home town…

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