Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7997/Phi

Posted by John on June 1st, 2012


Rather a harder Phi than usual I thought today. It took me quite a while to get going properly, although all the answers are as usual very precisely clued. As you would expect one has defeated me but no doubt I shall soon be kicking myself.

The unchecked letters round the outside cry out that there is something going on, but nothing is apparent. To me, anyway. All I can admire is the way Phi uses a grid like this but still has ‘proper’ checking everywhere.

7 FONDUE — (no f)rev. due
8 SH(RAP N)EL{l} — an &lit., the whole clue (although the word ‘note’ seems to have no use in the surface) acting as the definition
9 PARAMEDICO — (camera iPod)* — a new word to me and one I only got once I had all the checkers, when it became fairly obvious
10 {f}EW OK — lovers of Star Wars will be familiar with these
11 FREEHOLD — (here)* in fold
12 {p}UNS NAP
13 LATCHKEY CHILD — (ch key ch) in (it all)* d
17 OPENER — this looks perfectly easy to parse, but I’m completely lost (apart from seeing that an opener is an opening batsman, and run = r), so please help me: [Cricketer favoured cut that’s brought in single run]
20 HA(N{aughty} D{aughter} F{riend})ULS
22 LAV A
23 TENDERLOIN — tender 0 in (nil)rev.
24 FUNERALS — fun (laser)*
25 PHONED — one in Ph.D
1 MONAURAL — (a no)rev. in mural
4 {fl}OR{al} {ki}MO{no} {b}LU{e}
5 {S}A(PRESS)KI — and I imagine the British writer is H.H.Munro, who used the name Saki — highly recommended
8 SPINDLESHANKS — spin (sled)* Hanks
14 TINT A GEL — as seen by Mendelssohn, this place
15 CON TEMPT — draw = tempt presumably
16 DULCINEA — d{epicted} (in a clue)*, with ‘cryptic’ the anagram indicator — this character
18 PEANUT — (un)rev. in peat — I hadn’t realised that a peanut was a seed
19 {spi}RITUAL
21 FAL{l} CON — to be taken in = fall, as in fall guy

26 Responses to “Independent 7997/Phi”

  1. flashling says:

    Hi John 17 is PE(t) in ONE + R

  2. aztobesed says:

    16d – Claudine was a ‘literary heroine’ in books by Colette. Mischievous little maid…

    17 was beautifully constructed.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Many thanks, John, and Phi. I agree that this was very tough by Phi’s normal standards. For me the SW quadrant was the most difficult. Everything clear in the end – even getting EWOK (of which I’d never heard) from the clear wordplay. Favourite clues SHRAPNEL (in which, for me, the ‘note’ fit quite well in the surface eg as someone pointing something out) and LAVA.

  4. Wanderer says:

    Agree that this was a toughie. Failed on EWOK and made a strange error at LAVA. For some reason I didn’t think of the obvious LAV and couldn’t get past CAN for John. For the clue to work, there had to be a dangerous fluid called CANA, and sure enough wiki gives:

    CANA, United States military acronym for “Convulsive Antidote, Nerve Agent”, the drug diazepam in injectable form

    Sounds dangerous to me. Ho hum.

    V enjoyable, thanks to John and Phi.

  5. crypticsue says:

    I too thought this was tough for a Phi and I didn’t get EWOK either. As enjoyable a solving process as usualeven if I had to fight.

  6. Jaq says:

    Opener; favoured= pe(t) cut ,single= one and then R for run

  7. Lenny says:

    Yes this was tough, although I’m still shellshocked after attempting today’s Times crossword. I’m pleased to see that I am not the only person here today who knows nothing about Star Wars. I did manage to get Ewok from the wordplay though, after a long time trying to justify Eton.

    Incidentally, I was a latchkey child. I never thought of myself as neglected. I felt privileged to have a front door key at the age of 11 and all my friends were jealous. It’s probably a criminal offence these days.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I think eimi must have got out of bed the wrong side on Monday, because he’s given us some tough puzzles this week. They’ve all been fair enough, but I have really struggled, and I certainly struggled with this one – definitely the hardest Friday Phi I’ve attempted in a long while.

    Ah well, four days of wall-to-wall coverage of Brenda’s Jubilee over the weekend to look forward to, together with the Indy themed crossword on the subject on either Monday or Tuesday …

  9. anax says:

    Monday or Tuesday, eh, K’sD? Maybe, but a part of me is wistfully imaging a royal conversation tomorrow morning:
    Prince Phil: “You’ve gorn quiet, dearest. What are you up to?”
    Brenda: One is doing the crossword on the bog. Now sod orf”.
    Or something like that.

  10. flashling says:

    @Anax #9 with the Indy’s reputation do you really think Brenda’s likely to be doing tomorrow’s Indy??

  11. anax says:

    Good point. It’ll be the Daily Like Spending 20 Minutes in a Mental Home Mail, won’t it?

  12. John says:

    I was right — OPENER is very easy to explain, but that doesn’t stop it from being an excellent clue. And re Tintagel I think I’m getting mixed up with Bax. Not sure that Mendelssohn ever went there.

  13. Dormouse says:

    Managed to get all but 19 and 21dn without too much trouble, but after coming back to them throughout the evening. couldn’t get them without e-help.

    All these people who’ve not heard of Ewoks. Don’t they teach the classics anymore?

    And yes John, Tintagel is a tone poem by Bax. Mendelssohn wrote Fingal’s Cave (aka The Hebrides Overture).

  14. linxit says:

    This looked like it was going to be a breeze when I started it, and I had all but three (10 and 23ac, 19dn) after about 12 minutes. I spent far too long trying to get ET into 10ac before actually trying to parse the clue, but that was the next one to fall after getting on for 25 minutes, then another wrong assumption that 19dn had to start with REL meant it was another 15 mins before I got the last two. I’d never heard of a PARAMEDICO before either.

    @Lenny #7 – yes, the Times was a monster today. I got a couple wrong in the top left corner, glad it wasn’t one I had to blog!

  15. Phi says:

    I’d just like to make it clear that I’ve never seen Star Wars either. But I read Saki from an early age, and can also recommend him.

  16. Bertandjoyce says:

    We were too tired last night to even look at the crossword and we are glad we decided to leave it to this morning. Very pleased to see that others found this hard!
    As usual though, all the clueing was fair. We hadn’t heard of spindleshanks and were both looking at an anagram of sled at the end. We needed a search for this one to open up the NE corner.

    Thanks Phi and John for the blog- we needed you to tell us who the British writer was!

  17. Phi says:

    Forgot to add that there is a Nina in this one – if anyone’s still reading this far down!

  18. flashling says:

    OK Phi I looked at a lot then and have just done so now, a subtle hint?

  19. Phi says:

    You may want to consider the combined letters of several rows.

  20. Bertandjoyce says:

    Yes, Phi we are still reading. We looked for a Nina as we have missed at least one of yours before when we have been blogging. We have hunted again this morning so please …….. can we have a second hint?

  21. Pelham Barton says:

    I did not attempt this crossword, but could not resist the challenge when I saw Phi’s comment @17. I could not see anything at all before reading the comment @19, but now I can see a strong pattern in the vowels used in the rows with two across answers.

  22. Dormouse says:

    Hmm, I was thinking more along the lines that we have DUN, DUE and VAT.

  23. Bertandjoyce says:

    Phi – we hope you drop in again and give us some more clues. We are still lost.

  24. Phi says:


    And I hope you excuse the self-indulgence.

  25. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Phi – sorry you had to give us so many clues. Doesn’t seem like self-indulgence on your behalf, more like masochism! We wouldn’t know where to start in compiling a crossword with this sort of Nina.

  26. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi@24. The pattern I had spotted (which is presumably partly coincidental, but has something in common with the “real” Nina) was that each of the six rows with two answers had at least one each of A, E, and O, and exactly one of I or U, the last vowels forming the pattern UIU-UIU. The “real” Nina is of course more restrictive but easier to explain.

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