Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7931 / Phi

Posted by duncanshiell on March 16th, 2012


The Independent crossword that I blogged last week – the one by Hypnos with the whistleblower theme – generated a good deal of comment and controversy.  I feel sure that this one will attract less controversy, but I hope it generates plenty of comment as it is the kind of puzzle that should be solvable or nearly solvable by many during the daily commute.




There were a couple of phrases/words that I didn’t know – MAKE A LONG ARM and LINACRE but both were very clearly deducable from the wordplay.

Some of the definitions were not lifted straight from the dictionary.  I have no problems with that.  I enjoy it when there is a bit of lateral thinking required.  However, one definiiton did seem to stray quite far towards the off-the-wall extreme.  Having watched the final of Masterchef last night, I doubt if any of the contestants would have been happy if they had made a BEARNAISE SAUCE and the judges had described it as a ‘light yellow liquid’!  If I had a concise crossword with a clue saying ‘light yellow liquid’, a number of other words or phrases would have come to mind sooner. I recognise though that (8,5) would probably have eliminated all of them.

The entries parsed without difficulty and there was a good mix of clue types.  I liked the use of both Turkish and Ankara in the clue to PASHA  and I also liked the use of ‘rising and falling aboard ship’ to indicate HILLY contained within SS

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 An easy putt chap apparently missed in a crisis? (2,1,5) A TAP IN (an easy putt) + CHAP excluding (missing) AP (apparently) AT A PINCH (in a case of necessity or emergency; in a crisis)
6 Chap’s error, with loss of station (4) MISTAKE (error) excluding (with loss of) STA (station) MIKE (man’s name; chap)
9 Party and group retaining King’s part of England (6)

(DO [party] + SET [group]) containing (retaining) R (Rex; king)


DORSET (county in England; part of England)
10 Number encountered in science lesson, initially in outline (7)

TEN (number) contained in (encountered in) (SCI [science] + L [first letter of {initially}  LESSON])


STENCIL (a plate perforated with a design, lettering, etc from which copies are made by applying paint, etc through it onto paper or other material; outline)  I can’t find a dictionary or thesaurus that gives a 1:1 relationship between ‘stencil’ and ‘outline’ but a stencil can obviously be used to draw an outline.

11 Dissent to lose vigour in dreadful conclusion to conference (8)

(SAG [lose vigour] contained in (in) DIRE [dreadful]) + E (last letter of [conclusion to] CONFERENCE)


DISAGREE (dissent)
12 Showing more colour, shifting one steering device (6) RUDDIER (showing more colour [through healthy skin]) excluding (shifting) I (one) RUDDER (steering device)
13 Redirected magma leak? No, run! Grab everything you can! (4,1,4,3) Anagram of (redirected) MAGMA LEAK NO R (run) MAKE A LONG ARM (to help oneself freely at table; grab everything you can) Not a phrase I have come across before, but with all the crossing letters, it was the only phrase that I could make.
16 Rising and falling aboard ship, Henry and friend appear uncertain (12)

HILLY [rising and falling] contained in (aboard) SS (steamship; ship) + H [henry, the SI unit of inductance] + ALLY [friend])


SHILLY-SHALLY (be indecisive; appear uncertain)
19 Animal, second available in market (6)

MO (moment; second) contained in (available in) MART (market)


MARMOT (a burrowing rodent; animal)
20 Part of aircraft one cracked? Bring in most of a further one (4,4)

Anagram of (cracked) ONE containing (bring in) SECOND (a further one) excluding the final letter (most of) D


NOSE CONE (part of aircraft)
22 Fellow chasing information of no specific type (7) GEN (information) + ERIC (man’s name; fellow)

GENERIC (general, applicable to any member of a group or class; of no specific type)

23 University degree securing job as secretary – presumably not this! (6)

(UNI [university) + D [degree]) containing (securing) PA (personal assistant; job as a secretary)


UNPAID (one would hope that a job after graduation would not be UNPAID, but this is a topical issue in a very harsh employment and benefit policy arena …..)
24 Bank definitely missing a pound (4) REALLY (in reality; genuinely; definitely) excluding (missing) A and L (pound [sterling]) RELY (bank)
25 Still batting?  Great scores for openers when night watchmen appear (8) EVEN (still) + IN (batting) + (G and S, the first letters of [openers] GREAT and SCORES) EVENINGS (the time when night watchmen appear)
2 Hot current in river?  On the contrary (8) R (river) contained in (in) TOPICAL (current) so that we have ‘river in current’ rather than ‘current in river’ (on the contrary) TROPICAL (hot)
3 Turkish official remains in power – Ankara’s foremost (5)

ASH (remains) contained in (in) (P [power] + A [first letter of [foremost] ANKARA [capital of Turkey])


PASHA (Turkish official)
4 Study of plants and animals that could make authority snarl (7,7) Anagram of (that could make) AUTHORITY SNARL

NATURAL HISTORY (the sciences that deal with the earth and its productions, ie botany, zoology and mineralogy, esp field zoology; study of plants and animals)

5 Hectare observed to contain black dinosaur? (3-4)

(HA [hectare] + SEEN [observed]) containing (to contain) B (black [in pencil leads])


HAS-BEEN (a person or thing no longer as popular, influential, useful, etc as before; dinosaur)

6 Nut, excellent, turning up under pavement (9) MACADAM (material for covering a road or pavement with small broken stones to form a smooth surface) + AI (A one; excellent) reversed (turning up [down clue]) MACADAMIA (an edible nut of a genus of Australian evergreen trees)
7 Fool around, keeping lieutenant (English) dressed for the Black Watch? (6)

KID (hoax; fool) containing (around) (LT [lieutenant] + E [English])


KILTED (wearing a kilt, as members of the Black Watch regiment [Royal Highland Regiment] are when in dress uniform)
8 Tolerate nausea with ices dished up in light yellow liquid (9,5) BEAR (tolerate) + an anagram of (dished up) of NAUSEA and ICES

BEARNAISE SAUCE (a sauce made from egg yolks, butter, shallots, tarragon, chervil and wine vinegar; a light yellow liquid)  

14 Quick buck?  Many eyes excitedly gathering round (4,5)

Anagram of (excitedly) MANY EYES containing (gathering) O (round)


EASY MONEY (money made without much exertion or difficulty; money that can be borrowed at a low rate of interest; qucik buck [dollar])

15 Plot of substantial size providing lots of wood (8) PLAN (plot) + KING (reference king-size [of larger than standard size]; of substantial size) PLANKING (a series of planks; lots of wood)
17 Oxford college lecturer in the area? (7) L (lecturer) + IN + ACRE (a unit of area)

LINACRE (reference LINACRE College Oxford; The College is named after Thomas LINACRE  [1460–1524], founder of the Royal College of Physicians and a distinguished Oxford humanist)

18 Judge’s point of view leading to contention (6) J (judge) + ANGLE (point of view) JANGLE (contention)
21 Better run to island – this one? (5) CAP (surpass; better) + R (run) + I (island)

CAPRI (reference Isle of CAPRI,  an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off
the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in
the Campania region of Italy)

11 Responses to “Independent 7931 / Phi”

  1. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thankfully Duncan we have forgotten what a daily commute is! However we always enjoy Phi’s puzzles and this was no exception. Last one is was 2D which had us puzzled for a while but in the end was cleverly disguised, or is that just because it took us longer than the others?
    Hadn’t heard of ‘make a long arm’ or LInacre College before but easy to work out from the rest of the clues when you had a few cross checking letters.

    Thanks Duncan and Phi. A fitting end to the week!

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog. I don’t understand the objection to “light yellow liquid” in 8d. It seems to me a perfectly good definition, albeit not suited either to Masterchef or concise crosswords. But why on earth should it be?

  3. nmsindy says:

    Thanks Duncan and Phi. I agree with what’s been said – v accessible wordplay for the unfamiliar answers and everything clear in the end. Not too difficult.

  4. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for an enjoyable crossword and Duncan for your usual detailed blog. Favourite clues 1ac and 16ac.

    12ac: I had an alternative parsing. I took it as REDDER (showing more colour) changing E to U (shifting one = changing one letter). I much prefer the way Duncan has parsed it.

    13ac: I needed five of the checked letters to get this. I can understand that compilers sometimes need to include obscure words or phrases to complete grids, but I would expect answers as long as this one to be entered early before such constructional difficulties arise. I wonder why Phi chose this phrase. Please note that the length of this comment is out of all proportion to my extremely tiny feeling of discontent.

    16ac: Already noted as one of my favourite clues. I particularly like the way that Phi has used “aboard ship” in full as an indicator for “in SS”. Minor point: should not the enumeration have been (6-6)?

    Another thing I like about this crossword generally is the way that the multi-word and hyphenated answers are all clued as a whole, avoiding the mundane device of giving definitions for the whole word and then for each word separately. Thanks once more for that, Phi.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Plenty to enjoy here as usual from Phi, with another fine Friday puzzle.

    I too took the REDDER to RUDDER route, but Pelham’s right that Duncan’s explanation is much better. And I think I would normally write SHILLY-SHALLY with a hyphen as well.

    We’ve had some good anagrams this week in the Indy, and NATURAL HISTORY was a clever one today. In fact we’ve had five very enjoyable Indy crosswords this week.

  6. Meic says:

    If I remember correctly,wasn’t Linacre College Phi’s own alma mater?

    Fine puzzle, fine blog

  7. nmsindy says:

    SHILLYSHALLY is given as one word in Collins. When there is a doubt like this, I think it’s good to give the letter-count that does not give too much away.

  8. Allan_C says:

    A little bit more difficult than some from Phi, but none the worse for that. Like others I’d never heard the expression MAKE A LONG ARM, tho’ Linacre College was tucked away somewhere in my subconscious.
    7d seems to me to have a superfluous word in the clue; both ‘around’ and ‘keeping’ can be indicators for ‘containing’ and ‘around’ obviously doesn’t indicate a reversal. (Although ‘dick’ can mean a fool and if reversed gives ‘kcid’ but then there’s no indication that ‘c’ has to be dropped.)

  9. Phi says:

    From a conversation with an Oxford townie thirty years ago:

    “Which college are you at?”
    “That’s one of the new ones, isn’t lt? Where is it again?”
    “You’re stood beside it”

    Not even well-known in Oxford.

    MAKE A LONG ARM was a phrase my mother used to use, and when I encountered it again recently I popped it in a puzzle, only to find Chambers defined it differently. In our household it was a request for you to pass something out of the requester’s reach: “Could you make a long arm for the salt, please?”

  10. Pelham Barton says:

    Allan_C@8: In 7dn I took “Fool around” as the indicator for KID (as an intransitive verb).

    Phi@9: Thanks for popping in and satisfying my curiosity re 13ac.

  11. pennes says:

    I thought it was a bit harder than Phi’s usual, but as ever it was entertaining, well constructed and no real grouses although I also found “light yellow liquid” slightly strange , particularly as the nausea in the clue could have y allowed a more culinary cluing. With just the final “e” I was inclining towards”urine”!

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