Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7949/Phi

Posted by John on April 6th, 2012


As usual a good crossword from Phi. It was not the difficult one that some on this site feared when we had some easier ones early in the week, but it was made harder for me because of my lack of geographical knowledge, some of the clues being based around towns etc in the north-east of England; and also by the fact that the test match was on in the background. I had never heard of 24ac, which seems to be so small that it has not found its way into my copy of Pear’s Cyclopaedia.

A most unusual grid: 99.9% of crosswords have the symmetry of the letter S or the letter X, but this one has the symmetry of the letter L when the two bars of the letter are of equal length, in other words it has line symmetry about the diagonal from bottom left to top right.

1 RED CAR{e}
10 OCCASIONAL TABLE — (a cable’s location)*
11 HARTLEPOOL — {mino}r in (the Apollo)*
13 LET — 2 defs, one as in tennis
15 UNI T{ournament} — St Andrews university rather than its golf course, as one is tempted to think with the Masters going on in Augusta, also the word “tournament”
16 DARLINGTON — darling (not)rev.
18 DUN STAN{d{evil}} — I should have thought that Devil’s extremity was l not d, so perhaps I have it wrong
20 RANK{in} {ta}LE — Ian Rankin
22 R(E.G. 1 C)IDE — regicide is a major crime in that it involves the killing of the king, I suppose
24 MARSKE — (makes)* around r — it had to be something like this, although I’d never heard of it
26 {journ}ALIST
27 UP THE POLE — 2 defs, one of them using to the fact that Chopin was Polish — I’d always thought the ‘crazed’ definition (Chambers) was the only one, but this one is there as well
28 DEFINITION — I think this is 2 defs, one of them as in ‘high-definition’ and one of them as in the regular definition of ‘definition’ — but they actually seem rather similar and I suspect Phi has something else in mind
29 LE(V{AT})Y
1 RO(0)M
3 A S{pend} SETS
6 (g}OUT
7 HUBBLE TELESCOPE — (see blue blotche{s})* around P{olaris}
8 EVEN TIN G{rate}
9 ROWENA — (anew OR)rev.
12 LINEN PAPER — (1 a pen pen)* in l{eft} and r{ight} — a perfectly sound clue, but one I found difficult, not really being aware of linen paper
17 STOCK TON{{peopl}e}
19 NO DOUBT — nod 0 (but)*
21 CELER{it}Y
23 G R{E l}IEF
25 {m}OTTO

21 Responses to “Independent 7949/Phi”

  1. crypticsue says:

    It is a pity I wasn’t at work when solving this one, as the boss comes from Sunderland and would have been of great assistance! An enjoyable time was spent matching wordplay to atlas. Thanks to Phi and John too.

  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John.

    Well, I’m going to like this, aren’t I? I’m from the north-east and regulars probably know by now that red-and-white blood runs through my veins, so to see Dac clue SUNDERLAND at 14dn just makes me want to have his babies.

    MARSKE was my first themed clue in, confirming that it really was towns, cities and villages. After that, it was easy for me, but I guess others might have struggled.

    Good stuff elsewhere too; my only quibble is with REGICIDE, which is surely a ‘major crime’ rather than a ‘major criminal’. Or am I missing something?

    Phi is from Darlington, originally, according to his profile, so perhaps there’s a bit of nostalgia in here as well. Thank you to him for the puzzle.

  3. nmsindy says:

    REGICIDE can be the killer too, K’s D so that’s quite OK. Tho I know Sunderland well, I’d never heard of MARSKE, I’ll have to admit.
    Quite a tricky puzzle – thanks John and Phi.

  4. sidey says:

    Excellent stuff.

    Linen paper is fairly common although expensive, often £5 a sheet or more.

    Cromwell is the last English regicide I think.

  5. eimi says:

    The symmetry goes towards the north-east.

  6. Allan_C says:

    I too got MARSKE as the first themed entry. Then having found it in my road atlas it was fairly easy going to identify the others. Actually there are 3 places that 24a might be – plain Marske in N Yorkshire and New Marske and Marske-by-the-Sea in Redcar & Cleveland.

    Thanks, John and eimi, for pointing out that the grid does actually have symmetry. In fact, now I come to look at it the two right-angled blocks of black squares are like arrowheads pointing along the axis of symmetry.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    That’s a good spot, Allan, and thank you for putting me out of my misery. I didn’t want to fail to see something in this one. All roads lead to home and all that …

  8. Cumbrian says:

    Marske was my first of the themed clues, although it was more of a hindrance than a help as the Marske I know is in North Yorkshire near Richmond, and couldn’t possibly be described as near Sunderland! Hence I was scratching my head for places in the Richmondshire and N. Yorks area. (Even Darlington would probably be regarded as a distant land by the good people of Marske.)

    Good stuff. I had to cheat to get 28a, but nonetheless it was my favourite clue.

    Many thanks to Phi and John.

  9. Quixote says:

    Perhaps the setter from Darlington is getting homesick? Nice one from my colleague, stretching me a bit. MARSKE my last one in, correctly guessed.

  10. eimi says:

    Of course, K’s D @7, I’m hoping the points will be heading in an opposite direction tomorrow

  11. Allan_C says:

    I think we have to take ‘near’ as somewhat elastic in meaning. I wouldn’t say Sunderland was particularly near to any of the other places. “When I use a word,” said Humty-Dumpty……

  12. Bertandjoyce says:

    An enjoyable Phi to end the week. Had to check that Chopin was Polish and that Marske was a village near Sunderland but otherwise all OK.

    Thanks Phi and John.

  13. Phi says:

    Not homesick especially but I thought to reuse diagonal symmetry and wanted to add a thematic touch. There are two ‘arrows’ pointing NE in the grid.
    The Marske I had in mind was M-by-the-sea where my great-aunt Jane lived, and which everyone just called Marske. I’d entirely forgotten the one up the dales.
    ‘Near’ is a comparative – even for someone in Cornwall they’re near each other. From over here they’re effectively adjacent, while the astronomer in me…

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Allan, Sunderland is not a million miles from any of these places – the north-east is not the Australian outback! And anyway, all of them are seriously ‘up north’ from N17. Hopefully travel fatigue among the Lilywhites’ starting XI will mean the three points will remain in their rightful place tomorrow, eimi …

  15. Allan_C says:

    Now there’s an interesting point, K’sD and eimi. All of them are undoubtedly ‘up north’ from N17. But not north-east. Sunderland is getting on for one-and-a-half degrees west of Greenwich, whilst N17 is hardly more than a couple of minutes west. But if we carry this too far Gaufrid will be pulling the plug on us.

  16. Rorschach says:

    I read 13ac as LEANT minus AN plus CD?

  17. flashling says:

    @16 so did I on LET, I tend to only look at lights I was unsure of, not check the blogger’s accuracy as I generally have faith in my former bloggers. Had a lucky guess with MARSKE, could easily have been RAMSKE. Did’t spot the NE arrows in the grid, a nice touch.

  18. Rorschach says:

    @17 – so do I – I just wanted to make sure I’d parsed it correctly. Wouldn’t surprise me if I did it wrong!

  19. pennes says:

    Bit late on this as (nearly) did it on the train for a weekend away. I hadn’t heard of Marske but others seem to have got it straightaway so on that basis it is fair. I still haven’t seen how, in 17 dn, the “ton” come from no end of people. Any other latecomer to elucidate?

  20. John says:

    I don’t now remember the clue exactly, pennes, but so far as I remember, and looking at what I wrote in the blog, I think it’s ‘tone’ missing the e, which is the end of ‘people’. In other words it is to be read as (no) (end of people) rather than, as the surface suggests, (no end of) (people).

  21. John says:

    And of course it’s Pears Cyclopaedia, not Pear’s. Dreadful mistake.

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