Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7907 / Phi

Posted by duncanshiell on February 17th, 2012


Friday in The Independent usuallly brings a crossword from Phi, so today’s offering comes as no surprise.




There seemed be a lot of use of the word ‘one’ plus ‘opening’ and ‘single’ within the clues, but I can’t detect any specific theme.  There are also a lot of Is in the entries, but not in everyone.

There is no pangram either despite there being three Zs very close together in the grid.  There is no Q or X.

As you will see from the table below there are a couple of clues where I am slightly unure of the parsing – 12 across CANINE and 6 down CAMERA.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
7 Devilish performer, seemingly irreligious in Italy (8) PAGAN (heathen; someone who has no religion; irreligious) + IN + I (International Vehicle Registration for Italy) PAGANINI (reference Niccolo PAGANINI [1782-1840], Italian violinist, guitarist and composer).  PAGANINI seems to have had a life that could be considered slightly debauched or ‘devilish’.  Wikipedia mentions a satirical comedy by Don Nigro that portrays PAGANINI as having sold his soul to The Devil
9 One fly covering black line on chart (6)

I + (SOAR [fly] containing [covering] B [black, when considering the softness of lead pencils])


ISOBAR (line through points of equal pressure on a weather chart)
10/2 Clothing store to support servant (8) H AND M (reference H&M, Hennes & Mauritz AB, a Swedish clothing store well known on Western European High Streets for some time, and more recently established in Asia and Eastern Europe) + AID (support) HANDMAID (servant)
11 Floors the writer with unknown eccentricity,mostly (10) ME (the writer) + Z (a letter frequently used for indicating an unknown value in mathematics) + ZANINESS (eccentricity) excluding the final letter (mostly) S MEZZANINES (a MEZZANINE floor is a low storey between two main storeys of a building, generally between the ground and first floors [in UK terminology])
12 Muses on chasing Manx cat? (6) CAT (excluding the last letter [tail] – a Manx cat has no tail) + NINE (the number of Muses) CANINE  (there is usually at least one clue in a crossword that I struggle with.  This seems to be one for today.  I just can’t see a definition in this clue.  I am working off the puzzle available through Crossword Solver, which si the same as the one on The Independent website.  Is there a different clue in the paper or am I missing something very obvious? It is usually the latter.  The best I can come up with is after finding some suggestion on the Internet that some people call a Manx cat the ‘dog cat’ becuase of its strong desire to be with people.  A dog, of course, is a CANINE)
14 Act of revenge on leaving jail?  True about that (8)

REAL (true) containing (about) (PRISON excluding [leaving] ON)


REPRISAL (act of retaliation; act of revenge)
15 Flute part?  Current issue with oboe (ignoring odd bits) (6) THIS (the thing just mentioned; the current issue) + BE  (first and third [odd] letters of OBOE) THISBE (the part played by Flute in the play within Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’)
17 Exaggeratedly canny carrying one blue dye (6)

Anagram of (exaggeratedly) CANNY containing (carrying) I (one)  For a long time I misread this clue as ‘Extremely canny ….’ and I was stuck with CY as the extreme letters of CANNY and I couldn’t make ANIN fit the rest of the clue.  Eventually I read the clue again and the penny dropped.


CYANIN (blue pigment; blue dye)
20 Lot of dalliance getting boost, but not sexual (8) PLAY (dalliance) excluding the final letter (lot of) Y + TONIC (boost) PLATONIC (relating to an affectionate friendship without a sexual relationship)
22 Fading threat runs out (6) WARNING (threat) excluding (out) R (runs) WANING (fading)
23 Son’s piano involving first of recorders – these? (10)

Anagram of (I’m not really sure what the anagram indicator is here.  It might be ‘involving’, but that looks more like a containment indicator) SON’S PIANO containing (involving) R (the first letter of [first of]) RECORDERS


SOPRANINOS (instruments with a range of sounds higher than those correspondng to the range of a soprano)
24/24d ‘Large’ encompasses one novel unduly protracted (8)

LG (large) containing (encompasses) an anagram of (unduly) (I [one] and NOVEL)


LIVELONG (protracted)
25 Upset aficionado turned tail, initially (6) LOVER (someone with a keen interest in; aficionado) reversed (turned) + T (first letter of [initially] TAIL) REVOLT (upset)
26 Wiping opening for criminal tendency (8) C (first letter of [opening for] CRIMINAL) + LEANING (tendency) CLEANING (wiping)
1 Drop suitable for eye complaint? (8) CATARACT (waterfall; drop)

CATARACT (an opaque condition of the lens of the eye which is surgically removable; eye complaint)

3 Judge one, one such as Bovary, embracing one man (6)

J (judge) + I (one) + (MME [Madame; reference Madame Bovary, novel by Gustave Flaubert] containing [embracing] I [one])

J I MM (I) E

JIMMIE (man’s name)
4 Wrongly use surprised comment about one’s lot of fruit (8)

MY (interjection expressing surprise) containing (about) (I’S [one’s] + APPLE [apple; fruit] excluding the final letter [lot of] E)


MISAPPLY (wrongly use)
5 State resident – oil in USA excited one (10)

Anagram of (excited) OIL IN USA + AN (one)


LOUISIANAN (resident of the the US state of Louisiana)
6 What tourist carries round about America (6) CA (round [?]) containing (about) AMER (America)  I’m not 100% sure of this parsing.  CA [circa] can mean around or about, but can it just mean ’round’?  Probably it can as Chambers tells me that ‘around’ can mean ’round or round about” CAMERA (what tourist carries)
8 Comedian missing couple of openings in atrocious weather (6) BLIZZARD (atrocious weather) excluding the first two letters (missing couple of openings) BL IZZARD (reference Eddie IZZARD [comedian])
13 I’d one with top rebuilt, a top supposedly unbreakable (5-5)

I’D + I (one) + an anagram of (rebuilt) TOP + ROOF (top)


IDIOT PROOF (of a tool, device, machine, method of working, etc, so simple that even an idiot cannot make a mistake; supposedly unbreakable)

16 Monetary quantity a blight with complication intervening (8)

KNOT (complication) contained in (intervening) BANE (source or cause of evil; blight)


BANKNOTE (monetary quantity)
18 New single opening is an insignifciant happening (3-5) N (new) + ONE (single) + VENT (opening) NON-EVENT (insignificant happening)
19 Attractive and faithfully reproduced, capturing church, note (6)

SIC (so, thus, often printed within brackets in quoted matter to show that the original is being faithfully reproduced even though incorrect or apparently so) containing (capturing) (CE [Church {of England}] + N [note])


SCENIC (attractive)
21 Guy, single, left clutching Independent (6)

(LONE [single] + L [left]) containing (clutching) I  (independent)


LIONEL (man’s name; guy)
22 Ne’er-do-well was the end?  Not entirely (6) WAS + TERM (end) excluding the final letter (not entirely) M WASTER (good-for-nothing; ne’er do well)

22 Responses to “Independent 7907 / Phi”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan for your usual fine blog.

    First Phi I haven’t been able to finish for ages. I guessed that the two corner clues, with their division, would lead to some kind of theme, but I couldn’t solve either of them. I think they are a tad unfair if they’re not there for some special reason, because effectively you’ve only got two crossing letters in an eight-letter word. LIVELONG is pretty obscure; it’s marked in my Collins as ‘poetic’. I only go clothes shopping about once every two years, so H&M in HANDMAID wasn’t up my street either. Chunter over.

    There’ll be summat going on, though …

  2. duncanshiell says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @ 2

    Like you, I think there’s something going on, but I can’t find it!. There are a lot of entries with double letters, either side by side or throughout the entry. On the other hand there are quite a few without any double letters. Louisiana became a State of the United States exactly 200 years ago, but the accession date was in April not in February.

    However, as Phi suggested I was looking for too much in a clue recently, perhaps we are both looking for too much in this crossword.

  3. eimi says:

    Keep looking – there’s definitely something going on here

  4. Querulous says:

    Thanks to Phi for the puzzle and Duncan for the blog.

    1a One of Paganini’s nicknames was “the Devil’s son”.
    12a I think this is supposed to be an &lit.

  5. sidey says:

    CAMERA is CA (circa) round AMERica I think.

    Other than that, I have no ideas.

  6. sidey says:

    Sorry, just repeated your explanation Duncan.

  7. nmsindy says:

    I think in CANINE that your wordplay explanation is correct, and that the definition refers to the fact that a dog might muse on chasing a cat.

    Thanks, Duncan, and Phi.

  8. nmsindy says:

    Re theme, there’s ANIN in every row – maybe that is it or there is more – I’d not noticed it when solving, but looked after seeing eimi’s comment above.

  9. nmsindy says:

    Ah! NINA reversed!

  10. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for a generally enjoyable crossword, Duncan for the blog, eimi for pointing out that there was something special in the grid, and nms for finding and explaining it.

    17ac: Can anyone justify “Exaggeratedly” as an anagram lead? The nearest I can get from Chambers 2008 is exaggerate to represent too strongly, but to me that is “represent” in a quite different meaning from “re-present”.

    10ac/2dn and 24ac/24dn: I really did not like these. Even if we assume that the half answers are real words, that does not compensate for what is in effect 2/7 cross-checking in each clue.

  11. Pelham Barton says:

    Further to 10 re 10ac/2dn and 24ac/24dn: I should have noted that my comment was in support of the comment by K’s Dad @1. I count the cross-checking as 2/7 rather than 2/8 because there are only seven letters to enter in the grid for each answer.

  12. eimi says:

    Point taken, but I don’t think the mathematical formula is quite 2/7, as surely the knowledge that two letters in each are identical provides some assistance.

  13. Pelham Barton says:

    One more from me re 6dn: When solving I had no problem with the parsing, though on reflection and having read the comments, I think “around” would have been better than “round”. My minor grumble with this clue was that I would have preferred “may carry” to “carries” (or at least a question mark on the end).

  14. Meic says:

    I agree with most of these comments. I was beaten by CANINE and HANDMAID, and guessed LIVELONG without any confidence. Phi would consider a diagram where only 2 letters of an 8 letter word were cross-checked unfair to solvers if it was entered straight. The fact that two of the unchecked letters must be identical doesn’t make up for it. In my view, a non-thematic clue without a definition is as bad as a cryptic definition without any other wordplay – simply not a complete clue, and CANINE fails at this.

  15. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog and to Phi for a challenging but just manageable puzzle. My last in was Handmaid, largely because I was guilty of thinking only of male servants (couldn’t get “page” out of my mind) and also tried to justify “backpack” for a while.

    I agree that 12a is intended as an &lit – “Muses on chasing manx cat?” is hardly a conventional definition, of course, but the image brought to mind was so attractive and amusing I leapt to it pretty fast once I had the a couple of crossers. In my somewhat cartoonish imagination there’s only one thing that could be doing that. The only doubt I had was about that “on chasing” construction (cryptically it would be simpler with one or the other). It can just about be made to work but it’s obviously mainly there for the surface/&lit. It perhaps benefits from the question mark, as does the roundabout &lit definition, as does “muses” (only one ninesome out of several), so I suppose we have punctuation doing double, triple duty there…? But I for one still liked the clue.

  16. Paul B says:

    Meic, are you saying that all CDs are incomplete and thus unfair? That seems a bit sweeoing, in terms of statements!

  17. Paul B says:

    Sorry, SWEEOING is the old Greek spelling: I meant SWEEPING.

  18. sidey says:

    …says the Grand Master of Sweeping Statements.

  19. Kathryn's Dad says:

    So I’m still confused. What is Phi trying to tell us? That it’s a reverse NINA?

  20. Thomas99 says:

    …or an anniversary of Anais Nin?

  21. Phi says:

    Let’s try and clear up a few things.

    Somewhere in one of his slips Azed comments that verbal definitions of nouns are acceptable while adjectival ones are not and offers “Barks and is man’s best friend” vs “Furry and domesticated” for DOG as an example. This is just an echo of that comment.

    Some time ago I put the very few words that contain NINA in a puzzle; this was to demonstrate how many more ANINs there are. In Wordsearch terms they’re still hidden NINAs.

    HANDMAID/LIVELONG: the last time I did this I was taken to task for the top left one (which I think was SIDELINE) being Across then Down while the bottom right one was Down then Across, or vice versa. Nothing about cross-checking, from which I deduce that the clues were harder this time.

  22. Paul B says:

    Re 18 … says old Snidey.

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