Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,937 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on March 23rd, 2012


Plenty to get one’s teeth into this morning, since this grid, new to me, accommodates a large number of words, including a noticeably high proportion of short entries of 3-5 letters.

There were various new words for me today, at 14, 15 and 16, while the SE quadrant held me up longest. My favourite clues today have to be 6 and 23A for their cheeky humour!

*(…) indicates an anagram

1   RASP S (=son) in RAP (=charge, as in to take the rap); the definition is “file”, i.e. the craftsman’s tool
4   ADD UP A + DDUP (PUDD<ings>=desserts; “half of” means half the letters only are used; “returned” indicates reversal)
7   CAGE C (=century) + AGE (=a long time)
9   VALENCIA VALE (=farewell) + N (=new) + CIA (=spies)
10   NAPLES N A (=North American) + P<i>LES (=buildings; “not one (=I)” means the letter “i” is dropped); “here” is the definition, indicating a place name
11   ROT ROT<a> (=list; “one (=a) omitted” means the letter “a” is dropped)
12   GARISHLY *(HAS GIRLY); “curves” is anagram indicator
14   YAMMER REM (=activity in sleep, i.e. Rapid Eye Movement) + MAY; “recalling” indicates reversal; yammer is to lament, wail, whine (in dialect and informally)
16   SCOTER SC<o>OTER (=lightweight bike); “one duck (=O) avoiding” means that one letter “o” is dropped; the definition is “here’s another”, meaning a duck; a scoter (duck) is one of several northern sea ducks of the genus Melanitta
17   ALIGHTED <siest>A (“end of” means last letter only) + LIGHTED (=burning, i.e. of a fire, cigarette)
19   PEER GYNT PE (=exercises) + *(GENTRY); “unduly” is anagram indicator; the reference is to Peer Gynt, a play by Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, first performed in 1876
20   DIADEM MED AID (=cryptically, support for the sea, i.e. aid for the Mediterranean); “backing” indicates reversal
21   STUCCO STUC<k> (=held in place) + CO<t> (=bed); “mostly” used twice indicates that the last letter of each word is dropped
23   SPECULUM PECU<liar> (=bizarre; “not half” means half the letters of the word are dropped) in SLUM (=unpleasant place); a speculum is a “medical device” used to hold open a body cavity for inspection
24   TON TO<w>N (=urban area); “spurning women (=W) means the letter “w” is dropped; ton means “fashionable folk” as well as simply fashion
25   LOCKET LOCKE<r> (=cupboard; “not closed” means last letter is dropped) + T<heft> (“opening for” means first letter only)
26   AIRSTRIP AIRS (=affected attitude, i.e. airs and graces) + TRIP (=journey)
29   STAG STAG<e> (=boards); “abandoning Spain (=E)” means the letter “e” is dropped
30   REEDY <g>REEDY (=acquisitive) “not initially” means first letter is   dropped
31   RING R<is>ING (=rebellion); “is   avoiding” means the letters “is” are dropped; besiegers encircle, i.e. form a ring around, a city before attack
2   AVALANCHE [AN (=one) + CH (=Switzerland, i.e. in International Vehicle Registration)] in [A + VALE (=valley)]; & lit.
3   PREHISTORIC *(PRIEST + CHOIR); “involved” is anagram indicator
4   ARC ARC<ane> (=obscure); “half of” means only half of letters are used
5   DIARY [I (=one) + A (=article)] in DRY (=uninteresting)
6   PANTY GIRDLE *(TRY PLEADING); “cast off” is anagram indicator
7   CUP C (=college) + UP (=promoted)
8   GREBE E (=English) + BERG (=composer, i.e. the Austrian composer Alban Berg); “picked up” indicates vertical reversal
13   HARRY POTTER HARRY (=to annoy) + POTTER (=craftsman); the reference is to the bespectacled boy hero of the novels by J K Rowling
15   MAHUA BUTTER [A in {A + HUB (=core section)}] in MUTTER (=grumble); mahua butter is a fat obtained from the seeds of the mahua butter-tree, used in skincare products
17   ACT <p>ACT (=treaty); “no little power (=P)” means the letter “p” is dropped
18   EXECUTION Cryptic definition: “nobody’s has ever seen an encore!”, i.e. no one has ever been executed, e.g. beheaded, twice!
22   TROUT R (=runs, i.e. in cricket) in TOUT (=shady dealer)
23   SNAKE S<earch> (“start of” means first letter only) + NAKE<d> (=uncovered; “without tail” means last letter dropped)
26   KEG K (=King) + E.G. (=say)
28   RAY RA<in>Y (=like wet weather); “not showing in” means the letters “in” are dropped


15 Responses to “Independent 7,937 / Phi”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks RatkojaRiku and Phi.

    One of the more difficult Phis. The left half was okay, but the right half held me up for a long time with MAHUA BUTTER – trying to find M-H–, while trying to fit MOAN (grumble in)!.

    But the right half also provided my favourite clue, I think for year to date, viz. PANTY GIRDLE, a lovely surface and &lit (semi- or full; it doesn’t matter, it was clever).

  2. crypticsue says:

    Thanks to RatkojaRiku and Phi. I found this one of the more user-friendly Phis. Like scchua, I did like 6d – long term since I had heard that undergarment mentioned.

  3. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for a pleasant crossword and RR for the blog. My favourite clue was also 6dn.

    I see that the last four unchecked letters across the middle row of the grid spell CRUX. Could this be that well-known phenomenon, a coincidence?

  4. Wanderer says:

    Thanks to RR and Phi, a fine puzzle in which the YAMMER/MAHUA BUTTER combination held me up the longest.

    Thanks also to PB for pointing out CRUX, which I missed. In fact, the whole row spells out HORCRUX, which I learn from wikipedia is a piece of wizardry used by… HARRY POTTER at 13d. So I doubt it’s a coincidence!

  5. Pelham Barton says:

    Wanderer @4: Thanks for that bit of extra detail, which indeed makes it look deliberate. I was thinking of the FT crossword setter.

  6. Ben Sandford Smith says:

    In fact I think the theme’s a bit more widespread than that. Having diligently read the Harry Potter books to my eldest I know that diadem, locket, cup, snake, ring, diary (and harry potter himself) are the seven horcruxes created and all appear in the grid! Unfortunately I completely failed to notice this until I saw the blog and looked for more!

  7. Wanderer says:

    Thank you Ben S S @6. This certainly enhances my appreciation of the crossword. I would never have spotted that!

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Well done Ben S for spotting all the Horcruxes! I missed them all, despite seeing the last film recently. Let’s hope this puzzle will convert some Potter fans to doing crosswords, and away from the sordid world of literature addiction…

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, RatkojaRiku, for the usual fine blog.

    That’s a great spot by Ben, and no doubt there are some other Potter fans out there who are congratulating themselves on finding all seven. But that’s the art of creating a ghost theme – don’t make the puzzle unnecessarily complicated because of it, so that if you can’t see what’s going on, then it doesn’t matter.

    I thought the three-letter clues were cleverly put together today.

    I shall show the completed grid to Kathryn’s siblings when they get in from school later, because they are big fans, and it might just make them a tiny bit interested in the world of cryptics. Or more likely:

    Me: ‘Look, there’s a Harry Potter theme in my crossword today.’
    Them: ‘Whatever.’

    That’s green teas (anag) for you …

    Thanks to Phi for a nice end to the cryptic week.

  10. Allan_C says:

    To return to the muggle world, was anyone else tempted to put ‘Napier’ (not that it could be made to fit the clue) at 10a, knowing Phi’s country of residence?

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Meant to add to my previous comment that I had never come across YAMMER as ‘lament’. For me it’s a north-eastern English dialect word for ‘complaining’ or ‘whining’: ‘he’s yammering on about how badly Newcastle are doing this year’.

    To answer Allan’s question at no 10: no.

  12. RatkojaRiku says:

    And I seem to remember blogging an earlier Phi puzzle that contained a clue to Harry Potter. I certainly hadn’t spotted the theme in this one, since the word “horcrux” rings no bells with me. Perhaps it’s time for this crossworder to become a Potter fan?

    In any case, I wholeheartedly agree with Kathryn’s Dad’s comment about ghost themes.

  13. Wil Ransome says:

    Yes Allan_C @10 I put Napier in at first. It works I think, but rather feebly: you could just about say that ‘buildings?’ indicates ‘pier’, since there are buildings of a sort on some piers.

    I thought 18dn was a bit odd and it looks as if it contains a misprint, although perhaps I am missing something: the paper version certainly says ‘Nobody’s has’ when it should surely be ‘Nobody has’. It looks like one of those mistakes people make nowadays (since word processors arrived) when they are changing something and forget to delete a word, in this case ‘has’.

  14. pennes says:

    Yes me too allan @10ac, though I was trying to obscurely contrive Napier and his log tables; after all log cabins are common in remote parts of USA. Logarithmic tables must seem nowadays so primitive as to belong to prehistory.
    Pity I put in pocket instead of locket at 26ac, which spoilt my finish of a pretty tricky Phi . I just thought of pick- pockets and a cryptic definition of “opening for theft” without checking it further

  15. Pelham Barton says:

    Wil@13 re 18dn: “Nobody’s has” is correct: read it as “Nobody’s execution has ever been repeated”.

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