Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8003 / Phi

Posted by duncanshiell on June 8th, 2012


It’s Friday – it’s Phi – so all’s well with the Independent crossword world.




Another good sound puzzle with only a couple entries that were unfamiliar to me.  I think I have come across LYSIS before but UT INFRA was completely new to me.  I didn’t do Latin at school, nor can I remember having I seen the phrase in any document that crossed my desk in my working life.

I can’t see any obvious theme, but I did notice that the phrase ‘fruit and nuts’ was used twice in the Across clues at 15 and 17.  There were also two uses of C for college at 10 Across and 23 Down.  

The last three Down clues employed the same technique of removing letters from longer words, but I doubt if I would have commented if those clues had been evenly spread throughout the puzzle.

For pangram spotters, we are short of Q, X and Z.

My favourite clue was the one for BOBBING; it took me longer than it should have to realise that the clue was referring to Mr Hope and Mr Crosby.  I also liked the surfaces of the clues for STAMMERING, TOUCH JUDGE and ALICE.

The entry that gave me a bit of trouble with parsing was LACONIC.  I will be interested in others’ views. Afternote: Comment 1 below by Dorothy S solves my problem – Thanks.

Current location – Gallivare – Northern Sweden – Land of the Midnight Sun (if the sun ever gets round to appearing from behind the clouds)

Clue Wordplay Entry
1 / 6 March with ally at sea, happy to involve navy? It’ll lead to tears (9,5)

Anagram of (at sea) MARCH ALLY + (GLAD [happy] containing [to involve] N [navy])


LACHRYMAL GLAND (a gland at the outer angle of the eye that secretes tears)

9 Shock: Government’s conned (5) STUN (shock) + G (government) STUNG (robbed; cheated; conned)
10 The French college getting computer pioneer giving tuition? (9) LE (‘the’ in French) + C (college) + TURING (reference Alan TURING, considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence theory in Britain.  Earlier he played a leading role in the development of computational theory and practicalities for the deciphering of codes and ciphers during the Second World War) LECTURING (giving tuition)
11 Looking to include silent actor, not one struggling with words (10)

STARING (looking) containing (to include) (MIME [silent actor, in Chambers as a variant of MIME ARTIST] excluding [not] I [one])


STAMMERING (speaking with involuntary hesitations; struggling with words)
12 Geographical feature that’s identical with halves switched (4) SAME (identical) with second two letters placed before the first two (with halves switched) MESA (flat topped hill with steep sides; geographical feature.  It would be nice if a MESA remained the shape if the sides were switched. I think a classic MESA is symmetrical, but that’s probably not the same as saying it is the same feature if you switch the sides)
14 Fruit and nuts, not first helping of dessert as below (2,5) Anagram of (nuts) FRUIT AND excluding (not) D (first letter of [first helping of] DESSERT) UT INFRA (as below, from Latin)
15 Conservative blustered, making you pleased (7) C (Conservative) + HUFFED (blustered) CHUFFED (very pleased)
17 Anger after unknown tucks into fruit and nuts (7)

(Y [unknown, in mathematics] contained in (tucks into) HAW [fruit of the hawthorn]) + IRE (anger)


HAYWIRE (crazy; nuts)
19 Comedy film duo going up and down (7) BOB (reference BOB Hope) + BING (reference BING Crosby) – BOB Hope and BING Crosby co-starred in a series of seven ‘Road to …..’ comedy films between 1940 and 1962.  Dorothy Lamour also played a leading role) BOBBING (going up and down)
20 Who’ll be somewhat vocal tonight (4) Hidden word in (somewhat) VOCAL TONIGHT ALTO (male voice; one who is vocal)
22 Sporting official to offer successful plea in mitigation? (5,5) TOUCH JUDGE (achieve a successful plea of mitigation by giving an emotional oration that TOUCHes the heart of the JUDGE) TOUCH JUDGE (official in a rugby union or rugby league game) double definition
25 Policeman, say, working badly?  Time to replace force (9) DEFECTIVE (faulty; not working) with T (time) replacing F (force) DETECTIVE (policeman)
26 Damp, red? One should clear out (5) MAOIST (supporter of Chairman MAO; communist; red) excluding (should clear out) A (one) MOIST (damp)
27 / 28 Magical helper – right day for me with first appearance of one, possibly (5,9) Anagram of (possibly) RIGHT DAY FOR ME and (with) O (first letter of [first appearance of] ONE) FAIRY GODMOTHER (unexpected benefactress; magical helper)
Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Decline evident in holy sisterhood (5) Hidden word in (evident in) HOLY SISTERHOOD LYSIS (gradual abatement of a disease; decline)
2 America landed in island in sequence of events (9)

(USA [United States of America] + LIT [landed]) contained in (in) CAY (island)


CAUSALITY (mechanics of the cause of something;  sequence of events)
3 Disreputable type, second of drunks, once more swallowing drop (10)

R (second letter of [second of] DRUNKS) + (AGAIN [once more] containing [swallowing] MUFF [act clumsily especially when letting a ball slip out of one’s hands; drop])


RAGAMUFFIN (disreputable [child])
4 Broadcast warning picked up though ignoring river disease (7)

(AIR [broadcast] + ALARM [warning] excluding [ignoring] R [river]) all reversed (picked up)


MALARIA (disease)
5 Liberal Bill suspended cut without verbosity (7)

L (Liberal) + AC (account) excluding the final letter  (suspended?) C  + CONIC (a cut through a cone – a CONIC section is a curve made by the intersection of a cone by a plane)  I’m not 100% sure of the parsing of this.  I don’t think it is ACT suspended to AC + ONIC for a couple of reasons.  A Bill is not the same as an ACT – a Bill becomes an ACT when it is signed into legislation, and ONIC doesn’t seem to mean anything. Thanks to Dorothy S at comment 1 below for explaining that ONIC is a shortened (cut) form of ON ICE (suspended) so it is L + AC + ON IC

LACONIC (expressing or expressed in few words; without verbosity)

6 Blue lake? Stick around (4)

GUM (stick) containing (around) L (lake)

G (L) UM

GLUM (sad; blue)
7 Girl seen in a story about chess, primarily (5) A + (LIE [story] containing (about) C [first letter of [primarily] CHESS) ALICE (girl’s name, but also a reference to the theme of chess in ALICE through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll)
8 Worry when dressed in tails, becoming aggressive (3-3-3)

EAT (worry) contained in (dressed in) (DOG [tail] + DOG [tail] – giving dressed in tails)


DOG-EAT-DOG  (ruthless pursuit of one’s interest; becoming aggressive)
13 Mysterious speech from American guy aboard silent plane (5,5)

BO (American familiar term of address for a man; American guy) contained in (aboard) (MUM [silent] + JUMBO [reference JUMBO jet; plane])


MUMBO JUMBO (professional gobbledegook; baffling jargon; mysterious speech)
14 Start to use forehand smashes?  Very unusual (7-2)

U (first letter of [start to] USE) + anagram of (smashes) FOREHAND


UNHEARD-OF (very unusual)
16 Portion of Chinese food, mostly hot, for artist (9) FRIED RICE (Chinese food) excluding the last letter (mostly) E + H (hot)

FRIEDRICH (reference Caspar David FRIEDRICH [1774 – 1840], German Romantic landscape artist)

18 Running off electronic security number held in record (7)

E (electronic) + (PIN [personal identification number; security number] contained in [held in] LOG [record])


ELOPING (running off)
19 Bad neck, twisted in the last few months? (4,3) Anagram of (twisted) BAD NECK BACK END (reference the phrase – BACK END of the year [last few months of the year])
21 No good shunning critical comments when everyone plays (5) TUTTING (exclamations of rebuke; critical comments) excluding (shunning) NG (no good) TUTTI (musical term indicating ‘with all performers’)
23 Go into the heart of America spurning college (5) CENTER (American spelling for the centre [heart]) excluding (spurning) C (college) ENTER (go into)
24 Very good to abandon exercises, being in pain (4) PEACHY (very good) excluding (abandon) PE (physical education; exercise) ACHY (feeling pain)

10 Responses to “Independent 8003 / Phi”

  1. DorothyS says:

    Hi, Duncan. Great blog, as always. Thanks for explaining ACHY — I was trying to add VG somewhere to come up with a word meaning ‘exercises’.

    On LACONIC, I think it’s L + AC + ON IC(E).

    Very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks, Phi.

  2. duncanshiell says:

    DorothyS @ 1

    Your explanation of LACONIC is much better than my feeble atempts – thanks.

  3. Allan_C says:

    Nice one from Phi as usual, and thanks, Duncan, for the blog.

    BOBBING took me a little while before the penny dropped, too. Oddly enough it stirred a memory from many years ago (in pre-Indy days) of a puzzle in either the Torygraph or the Grauniad where it was clued similarly, except that the reference was spelt out as “Mr Hope and Mr Crosby”.

    BACK END is an expression I’ve only come across in the Midlands. Often as an adjective, “back-endish”, referring to a late summer day when an early nip in the air reminds one that autumn is almost here. Not exactly transferrable to Phi’s current antipodean domicile.

  4. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Phi, and Duncan. Very enjoyable and on the easy side. Rather surprised you’d not seen UT INFRA, Duncan. Esp liked BOBBING when the penny dropped – did not realise there were only seven of those films during the making of which, I believe, the duo never left Hollywood. TOUCH-JUDGE was pleasing too but all good, precise, and fair.

  5. Paul B says:

    An excellent puzzle, this was my second after Araucaria in The Guardian.

    I don’t know if anyone’s bothered, but clues from each offer an interesting comparison:

    Geographical feature that’s identical with halves switched (MESA)

    Nothing but inversion of French city (ONLY).

    As you may have guessed I’m on the hunt for an indicator (or two) that will provide the elusive switching operation, and today along they come like buses.

  6. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for an enjoyable puzzle and Duncan for your excellent blog. Favourite clue 19ac.

    Minor quibble with 4dn: From the construction we have to join AIR to ALARM for the reversal before removing the R from ALARM. This means that “ignoring R” has to be used to remove one of two Rs. I see this as a small, and readily forgiveable, imperfection in the clue.

    Minor quibble with the blog at 20ac: While I can accept that originally the word ALTO was restricted to a male voice, this is no longer the case. Chambers 2008 gives “contralto, the lowest female voice” among the meanings of alto¹.

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan. This one fairly flew in this morning although there were a couple I couldn’t parse. BOBBING was clever, and I also liked TOUCH JUDGE. Thanks to Phi too.

  8. Dormouse says:

    Got a bit stuck on the bottom right corner until I got 19ac, which made me smile. Even then, I couldn’t get 22ac – knew it was something “judge” but not a rugby fan and I needed some help.

    I knew the word “lysis” but only in the first meaning in Chambers, breaking down of a cell, and had to look it up to find its other meanings.

    I agree with PB @ 6 that “alto” is more usually used for a female voice these days, and the term “male alto” is used to specify otherwise. The make-up of a choir is usually described on a music score as SATB for sopranos, altos, tenors and basses, with the first two usually the female part of the choir.

  9. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    Enjoyable puzzle: nice to solve an Indy puzzle in the week !

  10. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Duncan for the blog and Phi for another enjoyable Phiday puzzle.
    We’re trying to find a theme, but no sign. Phi has been very crafty with hidden themes over the past few weeks – if there is one, it’s even more elusive than ever!
    We needed your help with parsing 24d, but all-in-all a very fair clue.
    We hope you are enjoying Sweden – you’re not missing any sun here!

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