Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7967 / Phi

Posted by Bertandjoyce on April 27th, 2012


We were pleased to see that it was Phi again in his regular Friday slot. As usual, smooth surface readings and some tricky misdirections, especially in 8a and 25a. A really enjoyable puzzle and the more that we looked at it, the more we admired the compilation of the crossword. We felt that last Friday’s Phi wasn’t quite up to his usual high standards, but this is definitely back on form! Thanks Phi!

‘Joyce’ used to teach mathematics O Level and then GCSE in a Further Education College so it was interesting to discover why the philosopher in 11a was deemed to be unhappy. Most of the students in her class would have said that they felt suicidal learning maths rather than the other way around. This was NOT due to her teaching we hasten to point out!

10a amused us in particular and brought back memories of black tongues from eating liquorice as a child. One of Joyce’s favourite sweets was a sherbet fountain – a cardboard tube filled with fizzy sherbet and a straw of liquorice to suck it up!

We were really pleased to have the opportunity to include the link to 14a. It is an absolute MUST!

8 HEART OF DARKNESS Bert guessed it from the crossing letters but it took us a while to parse. An anagram or ‘massacre’ of E (English) +  RANKS gives you the middle or ‘heart’ of (d)arknes(s)! = classic 1902 novel by Joseph Conrad set in Africa, which was used as the source for the 1979 Francis Ford Coppola film ‘Apocalypse Now’, the story being moved from the Congo to Vietnam and Cambodia
9 HEAD-ON HE (Ambassador as in His Excellency) next to or ‘colliding with’ A DON (a lecturer) = if you collide with someone you would meet them head-on
10 LICORICE CO (company) inside or ‘beset by’ IR (taxmen as in Inland Revenue) inside or ‘amongst’ LICE (‘other’ vermin) = US (spelling of) confectionery. We really liked the inclusion of the word ‘other’ in the clue! It’s not necessary to the clue but added to the enjoyment.
11 BERTRAND Bert filled this one in before I had a chance to look at the grid. I didn’t notice the ‘R’ and was looking elsewhere for ‘Joyce’! Anagram of BRAT and NERD (anagrind is ‘unhappy combination’) = this philosopher. The ‘unhappy’ is no doubt included because as an adolescent, Russell often contemplated suicide. In his autobiography, he commented that it was only his wish to learn more mathematics that kept him alive.
13 BODKIN KIN (family) after or ‘chasing’ BOD (man) = dagger
14 PERIODIC TABLE P(r)EDICTABLE (‘readily surmised’ without r (river)) around RIO (foreign river) = ‘elementary information’ – relating to the elements. Click here, sit back and ENJOY!
17 COMMIT C (start to chill) + OMIT (forget) about M (money) = do. We wondered first of all whether ‘do’ was a synonym for ‘commit’ but it comes up as the first entry in Chambers Thesaurus.
19 NOONTIDE Anagram of INTO (anagrind is ‘moving’) inside or ‘blocking’ NODE (point) = 12 as in 12 o’clock. We looked for anagrams of 12d first of all until the penny dropped – a good misdirection!
22 OPEN-PLAN PEN (writer) inside OP (work) + LAN (computer network) = describes a type of office layout
24 FRESCO (t)RESCO (one of the Isles of Scilly) with F (fine) instead of t for the first letter (opening)  = painting
25 NEWCASTLE UNITED Again, we surmised the answer when we had enough checking letters having worked out from 23d that the two words started with N and U. It took a while to work out that it is an anagram of TAINTED CLUES with NEW acting as the anagrind as well as the beginning of the answer = sports team
1 SERENE Hidden within (‘component of’) la(SER ENE)rgy = impassive
2 CREDITOR COR (exclamation) about RED (a debtor would be in the red) + IT = recipient of money
3 CORNEA CORE (heart) around or ‘receiving’ N + A (one) = body part
4 IDOL Again, we needed the checking letters for this one. LIDO (swimming-pool) with L (length) moved or ‘in a different part’ = admired figure
5 BRICKBAT B (British) + BAT (cricketer) around or ‘receiving’ RICK (stack, as in haystack) = criticism
6 INBRED I + NB (nota bene or note well) + RED (description of radical) = deep-seated
7 ISOCLINE Anagram of SILICONE (anagrind is ‘composed’) =  a particular type of rock formation
12 DEIGN DE(s)IGN (plan) lacking the initial letter (‘a bit’) of ‘something’ = think. Appropriate doesn’t seem to be necessary apart for the smooth reading of the clue.
14 PROMPTER PROM (concert) + P (piano) + TE(a)R (one removed from tear or ‘opening’) = someone who suggests things could be a prompter
15 OUTCLASS (b)OUT (‘fight’ with B(baron) ‘quitting’) + C (about) + LASS (girl) = do better than
16 BATHETIC I inside or ‘invested in’ BATH (UK city) + ETC (and so on) = sentimental
18 MENACE MEN (blokes) + ACE (crack as in crack-shot) = ominous atmosphere
20 OFFCUT OF + FC (‘Soccer team’ or Football club) + (b)UT (initial letter removed or ‘not starting’) = end
21 DOCKET DOCK (harbour) + (s)ET (prepared without initial letter) = delivery note
23 NULL NU (Openers in 25a – Newcastle United) + LL (50s in Roman numerals) = invalidated

14 Responses to “Independent 7967 / Phi”

  1. Phi says:

    Ooh yes – sherbet fountains… And years ago I found I’d listened to Tom Lehrer enough that I’d memorised his take on the elements.

    Anyone up for a ghost theme hunt?

  2. Thomas99 says:

    I used to take a teaspoon to school to avoid having to eat the 10a part of a sherbet fountain. I don’t remember anything particularly bad about last week’s but this was certainly a classic upper-end cryptic. Many thanks to Phi and Bertandjoyce.

    I’ll look for the ghost theme but without much optimism.

  3. Bertandjoyce says:

    We’ve missed a Phi theme before so we looked pretty carefully and tried a few random google searches when we created the blog. Have had another go and all we can come up with so far is that Bertrand (11a) Russell made comments about 8a but can find no other relevant clues. Tried looking for connections to 14a as well but no luck!

    We’re still looking though! Thanks Phi for dropping by and creating another puzzle for us to solve today.

  4. Bertandjoyce says:

    Got it! We’ll wait for a while before we give any hints apart from the ghost theme relates to 14a.

    Thanks Phi for the extra amusement – brilliant!

  5. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the nudge, Bertandjoyce – I’ve got it now too! Very impressive, order-wise. I saw that Phi was from the North East and feared it would be all about 25a, in which case I was more or less doomed.

  6. Wanderer says:

    Difficult but extremely enjoyable.

    Thank goodness for this site — I would never have spotted the ghost theme but for Phi’s intervention here, and the gentle hints from B&J and T99. It really added to my appreciation of the puzzle.

    Excellent. Many thanks to Phi and B&J.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I managed this, but did find it difficult, getting stuck on more than one occasion. A good few I couldn’t parse either, so thank you for the explanations. But a good puzzle, certainly. Can see a few elements scattered around, but I can’t see the pattern, so I shall have to wait for later to be enlightened.

    nms and I will have to start a petition to get 25ac expunged from the records …

    Thanks to setter and bloggers.

  8. NealH says:

    I’ve been finding Phi puzzles tougher of late and I thought this was no exception. I didn’t get anywhere close to finishing it at lunch time and had to have another go this evening, when it dropped into place reasonably quickly. Unusually, I liked both the football clues. I wasn’t too sure about identifying Bertrand Russell by only his first name, although it’s fairly distinctive – not sure you’d do the same thing with David Hume, for example.

  9. Dormouse says:

    The two long answers didn’t give much trouble – I’ve read the Conrad and I grew up in the north east and my brother is a Newcastle fan – but the bottom right completely defeated me. There came a point where I realised that staring at the three remaining clues wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Either the puzzles have been harder this week or I’ve been dumber than usual.

  10. flashling says:

    Indeed elementary my dear phi, nicely done, must admit I completely missed that during the solve, great stuff, Thanks B&J didn’t need your blog but missed Nina/ghost theme entirely

  11. Dormouse says:

    OK, can someone reveal what the theme was. I’m sure I’m missing something obvious.

  12. Thomas99 says:

    It must be ok to reveal it now:

    The across clues (apart from 14a itself) start with the chemical symbols of the first 10 elements of the Periodic Table (14a), in the correct order (H, He, Li, Be, B, C, N, O, F, Ne). A very clever trick by Phi. I should have got it sooner, as I learnt them at school simply by pronouncing them as sort-of words (the first two being just a sort of laugh – h-he – and the next two rows sounding like “Libbeb c’noffny, namgalsipsclar”. That’s as far as I got. Lehrer is more entertaining.)

  13. Dormouse says:

    See it now. I could be pedantic and say that is the first 10 elements in order of atomic number. The periodic table is two dimensional (three if you consider the lanthanides and actinides) and the vertical groupings are much more important to a chemist. :-) (Grade 2 A-level chemistry, 1970.) That said, I’m not sure I’d have spotted it if he’d given all the elements in a group instead.

  14. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Thomas99 for providing the explanation. We were busy last night and we completely forgot about adding further clues!
    Dormouse- very impressive understanding of the Periodic Table – the only memory I had was of something amusing connected to it!

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