Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8,009 / Phi

Posted by RatkojaRiku on June 15th, 2012


It is Friday today so, in the absence of any special occasion calling for a commemorative puzzle, it must be a Phi-day!

I took longer over this one than I do over the average Phi, not least on account of the higher than usual proportion of more unusual words, e.g. 9, 14, 16, 17, 24 and 25. These were either wholly new words for me or simply cultural references “wasted” on me, but they could all be confirmed thanks to the wordplay. We live and learn, as they say!

The last few clues to hold out on me were 21A and 21D, although I recalled having seen the same device as in 21D on a previous occasion, once the penny dropped; and also the intersecting entries at 5, 6 and 8. I resorted to my dictionary’s search facility to track down 8 and have to admit to having forgotten that particular derivation of the word.

My favourite clues are 23, for its smooth and deceptive surface, and 5, for its & lit. element, the topicality of which may, it seems, be under threat.

*(…) indicates an anagram


7   EAGLES   Cryptic definition: the reference is to the 1970s American rock band The Eagles; an eagle is a score of two strokes below par in golf, hence “below-par”
8   SHANGHAI   [HANG (=to stop working, of a computer) in SH (=mum, as in to keep mum)] + A + I (=current force, in physics); to shanghai is to force someone to go to sea, hence “force onboard ship”
9   HALLOUMI   ALLO<w> (=permit; “cut” means last letter dropped) in HUMI<d> (=moist; “most of” means last letter dropped); halloumi is a mild Cypriot cheese, often served fried or grilled
10   POPGUN   [OP (=work) + G (=good)] in PUN (=joke)
11   PITY   PIT (TIP=suggestion; “rebuffed” indicates reversal) + <traged>Y (“ending in” means last letter only)
12   COMESTIBLE   COMES (=approaches) + T-I (for A)-BLE (=dining area); “one (=I)’s swapped for a different one (=A)” means the letter “i” is replaced by letter “a”
14   GIMLET   GI (=soldier) + [L (=length) + MET (=satisfied)]; a gimlet is a cocktail of vodka or gin mixed with lime-juice
16   CARNAC   CAN (=is it possible) + RAC (=motorists’ group, i.e. Royal Automobile Club); “to back” indicates reversal; Carnac in Brittany is the site of a large collection of Neolithic menhirs
19   INDIAN FILE   Double definition, one of which cryptic: INDIAN (=in Chennai?) + FILE (=as documented)
21   NIPS   SPIN (=a trip); “back” indicates reversal; the definition is “takes”, i.e. steals
22   RIFLED   RI (=US state, i.e. Rhode Island) + FLED (=scarpered)
24   NONUPLET   NON (=French veto, i.e. the French for “non”) + UP (=lifted) + LET (=to permit)
25   EUONYMUS   *(YOU MEN) + US (=American, i.e. used adjectivally); “transplanted” is anagram indicator; euonymus is a plant of the spindle-tree or burning bush genus
26   OPEN UP   PEN (=writer) in OUP (=University publishers, i.e. Oxford University Press)
1   RAVAGING   [A + V (=volume) + AG (=silver)] in RING (=item of jewellery)
2   ILKLEY   LI-K-EL-Y (=very probably); “undergoing a couple of minor changes” means letters 1 and 2 change places, as do letters 4 and 5
3   ESCUTCHEON   CUT (=wound) in *(SHE ONCE); “manipulated” is anagram indicator
4   CAMP   M (=money) in CAP (=better, i.e. outdo)
5   EGYPTIAN   G (=government) in *(A TYPE IN); “riots” is anagram indicator; & lit.
6   CASUAL   ASU (USA=America; “upset” indicates vertical reversal) in CAL (=one of its – America’s – states); the definition is “irregular”, e.g. of employment, i.e. occasional
8   STIGMA   A + M (=mark) + GIT’S (=fool’s); “upheld” indicates vertical reversal
13   SHAME ON YOU   *(MONEY HAS) + OU (=University, i.e. Open University); “corrupted” is anagram indicator
15   MAINLINE   MA (=old lady) + IN LINE (=queuing); to mainline is to take drugs intravenously
17   COPHETUA   *(THE COUP) + A; “toppled” is anagram indicator; the reference is to King Cophetua in the medieval romance The King and the Beggar-maid
18   WIDNES   N (=new) in WIDES (=poor deliveries, i.e. in cricket)
20   NAIL UP   *(PAUL IN); “wandering” is anagram indicator; the definition is “close” as a verb
21   NAPLES   NAP-LES<s> (=never sleeping, i.e. whimsically, hence question mark); “not entirely” means last letter dropped
23   DAMN   DAM (MAD=bats, i.e. crazy, nuts; “upside-down” indicates vertical reversal) + <bar>N (“end of” means last letter only); the definition is “hang”, a euphemism for “damn”

20 Responses to “Independent 8,009 / Phi”

  1. anax says:

    Took me a while to get going on this too, but I began to suspect a perimeter Nina with the pattern of letters emerging on the west of the grid. It didn’t help me a great deal as I didn’t have good enough familiarity with the phrase to confidently fill in the remainder, but (as can happen) it did allow me to eliminate enough possible candidates for the more difficult clues to fall.
    5d was COD for me but, as ever, a full set of solid clues from Phi.

  2. anax says:

    ‘Candidate letters’, I mean.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Thanks RR and Phi. Not too hard, I found, but a couple of unusual words suggested maybe there is some Nina as often with Phi. All I can see tho is PEN USA in the bottom row. Not sure of course if that means anything.

  4. anax says:

    It’s in French, mon ami.

  5. crypticsue says:

    I took quite a while to sort this one out, the NE corner holding out for ages, not helped by my having the wrong solution for 12a. I never spot a Nina – perhaps one day I will remember to look! Thanks to Phil and RR too.

  6. crypticsue says:

    Sorry Phi – my finges aren’t typing what my brain wants them too this week. I mean thanks to Phi – and Phil too (whoever he might be).

  7. Allan_C says:

    Nothing too difficult here. SHANGHAI dropped in fairly easily; it occurred in another place a few days ago, neatly clued by Rufus as “city to impress sailors”. WIDNES took a little longer; it may have been in Cheshire for nearly 40 years but I still think of it (and Warrington for that matter) as being in Lancashire.

    I wondered about a Nina but apart from ‘pen’ and ‘USA’ in the unches at the bottom couldn’t see anything significant so I guess they were just coincidental.

    Thanks, Phi and RatkojaRiku

  8. Allan_C says:

    Re the Nina: Doh! Thanks, Anax, you got in there while I was still typing.

  9. Wanderer says:

    Thanks Phi for a splendid puzzle with a cracking joke in the Nina, to RR for the blog, and to anax for explaining the Nina to me. I confess to getting misled by PEN USA along the bottom; and immediately above USA we have OPEN UP — a bit of research showed that the US OPEN is currently underway, and I was gulled into looking for golfing references. EAGLES is given a golfing clue, and I wondered if obscurities like EUONYMUS and CARNAC could be the names of holes on some (unknown to me…) US golf course. Doh indeed.

    In fact I should have seen it without needing it pointed out, because it cropped up quite recently. Check out the blog for Qaos in the Guardian, 25,632 for more on The Treachery of Images.

  10. nmsindy says:

    Thanks for pointing the Nina out – the PEN USA was pure coincidence. Also the puzzle did not become very much more difficult though COPHETUA was new to me for sure but clued in vary accessible way – ditto for EUONYMUS.

  11. John says:

    So where is the nina (for those of us not fluent in french)?

  12. Allan_C says:

    John @11. The nina runs clockwise round the edge starting at 4. It’s a variant on the name of the famous painting by Magritte. See

  13. John says:


  14. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    Factual error in 18 down: Widnes is in Lancashire not Cheshire.

  15. Wil Ransome says:

    In case anyone thinks that John@11 and 13 is me, it isn’t. I’m quite fluent in French — well actually I’m not at all. Having taken French O Level perfectly successfully and done a bit more French afterwards, I was completely tongue-tied when I first went to France. People are surely taught to speak much more fluently nowadays.

    Had never heard of Cophetua, so put in COPHETUK and never saw the Nina.

  16. Allan_C says:

    Lancastrian Bluenose @14. Widnes, along with Warrington, Abingdon, Peterborough, Slough and a host of others, was one of those places which found themeselves in different counties as a result of local government reorganisation in the 1970s, so it “moved” from Lancashire to Cheshire, officially at any rate. Now, I gather, it’s part of a unitary authority with the uninsipred and uninspiring name of Halton, tho’ geographically still in Cheshire and no doubt culturally still in Lancashire.

  17. Phi says:

    Yes, I thought Widnes was in Lancashire too, but it was also one of those things worth checking.

    I tried for ages to get MAGRITTE in, but he turned into MAINLINE, a surreal alteration that probably wouldn’t have displeased him.

    It does look as if 5d may be heading back even deeper into topicality.

  18. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    Allan_C The 1974 boundary changes were for administrative purposes only. They had no bearing on the cultural or social identity of the counties and people were not obligated to make changes to their addresses. No Act of Parliament has ever changed the boundaries so Widnes remains in Lancashire, Bournemouth in Hampshire among others and the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland still exist. It is only the muddled use of administrative areas with traditional counties that has confused the issue for most people.

  19. Dormouse says:

    Defeated me. Got maybe three-quarters of it. As for a Nina, I failed O-level French in 1968.

  20. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks to all for pointing out the Nina, which I perhaps ought to have spotted as blogger. A good example of how one as a solver can successfully finish and enjoy a puzzle while remaining totally oblivious to such things.

    I am notoriously bad at spotting Ninas, although I do tend to look when the perimeter lends itself to one, as is the case with this particular grid. This one was harder to spot in that it is in French, with no obvious French connection in the puzzle, and it starts at 4 rather than in the top left-hand corner.

    I was very interested to read that Phi had tried and failed to squeeze Magritte into the puzzle, which would have placed the Nina in context, of course.

    Greetings from Magritte-land, incidentally!

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