Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8021/Phi

Posted by John on June 29th, 2012


One of those themed crosswords that takes a long time to start if you don’t immediately see the gateway clue (as I have discovered it’s called; in this case 5dn). Then much of the filling can be done with a list of 5dns handy, although I didn’t use such a list. This type of themed crossword always seems inferior to those where the solution is done without any ‘blind’ clues and then you only see the Nina at the end as a sort of add-on.

That said, however, this was as always from Phi an enjoyable workout. I never got the rather difficult 14dn — the word doesn’t seem to be in any of the dictionaries — and I had to Google this.

6 TACOMA — (a mo cat)rev.
9 D(IS SON)ANCE — ref Mozart’s Dissonance Quartet
10 TOSA — (a sot)rev.
12 BEAR ARMS — the arms of a bear are the source of a bear hug, and it is the right of Americans to keep and bear arms
13 IGNATIUS — 1 (in a gust)*
15 POO(D)LE — the one which got everything going, as I had the P, and Poole and Parkstone were the only two places in Dorset I could think of that began with P
16 B(L)EACH — ‘white’ here is a verb as in ‘whited sepulchre’
18 FOX HOUND — fox = baffle, hound = harry
20 (CAL(A)M ARI{d})
22 SA(LUK{e})I{d}
24 PEKE — “peak”
25 SYNCOP(A T)E D{rummer} — a syncope is a fainting fit
26 SHA(R)PE 1
27 (A L(RE)ADY)
4 HIND EMIT H — Paul Hindemith
5 MAN’S BEST FRIEND — def ‘companion’, (bandsmen strife)* — in other words, a dog, so that’s what all the 5s are
6 THE TA — you wouldn’t find a regular in the Territorial Army
7 CAT TALO{ns} — a cross, of which I was unaware, between a bison and a domestic cow
8 MUS(KM)E LON{e} — two words in Chambers, not even in the COD, but no doubt a single word somewhere
14 GILGAMESH — game in (sligh{t})* — evidently an early king
15 PIXY-STOOL — (polytoxi{n}s)* — of which I’d never heard, although the answer was clear enough by analogy with toadstool
17 A(MATE)UR{a} — well it’s in Chambers as a dilettante, although I never thought of them as the same
19 OIL CAKE — (like coa{l})*
21 AI(S)LE — I suppose S = Sunday not Saturday because it’s in Chambers as an abbreviation for Sabbath
23 KNEAD — “need”

13 Responses to “Independent 8021/Phi”

  1. crypticsue says:

    It took me quite a well to get 5d but once I did filling in the themed answers didn’t take long which made this for me anyway a slightly easier Phi than usual. Thanks to him and John too.

  2. Joan MM says:

    14 D. Gilgamesh IS in the Oxford Dictionary, 3rd edition.

  3. Paul B says:

    And in Collins. If you fancy a gander, try this (it’s great stuff):

  4. Conrad Cork says:

    Outstanding I thought.

    FWIW the protagonist in Philip Roth’s ‘The Great American Novel’ is called Gil Gamesh, who says ‘I’m an immortal, whether you like it or not’.

  5. Conrad Cork says:

    OTOH Ganesh is a deity beneath whose image I had my lunch today.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, John.

    I got the gateway clue straight away today, but I do agree with John: puzzles like these can be a bit of an anticlimax since you’re just looking for a list of dogs. And I don’t like dogs, so this was never going to be my favourite Phi. GILGAMESH was beyond me, and I struggled with the last few, by which time I’d lost enthusiasm and gave up.

    I’m also feeling a bit themed out at the minute – seems like we’ve had a very high proportion of ninas and themes these last few weeks.

    Anyway, thanks to Phi for a puzzle that I’m sure others enjoyed.

  7. Dormouse says:

    5dn was the first clue I solved – got it straight away – which helped a bit, but I’m not too familiar with breeds of dog. Got fairly stuck around the bottom left although 4dn gave me a bit of trouble. Kept on seeing “Handelian”, and going through all the composers I could think of beginning with H I came up with Henze, Handel and Humperdinck. Don’t know why I didn’t think of Hindemith.

    And not only is Gilgamesh a book I’ve read – more than once – it’s the subject of an oratorio by Martinu who turned up in Phi’s offering last week. Again, should have got that one earlier.

    I did like 15dn. Never heard of it but once I saw the letters to play with it seemed an obvious word.

  8. John says:

    There was recently a discussion on the Crossword Centre Message Board on whether or not it mattered that grids were symmetrical. Someone pointed out that probably most people don’t notice. I was sceptical, but the fact that nobody has pointed out that this grid is not symmetrical suggests that perhaps I was wrong. I did notice this immediately but only because I always look at the grid for this kind of thing before starting, and I suspect it is a weird and unusual thing to do. Then when it came to writing the blog I quite forgot to mention it.

    5dn, which is equidistant from the LHS and the RHS, doesn’t go from top to bottom. If the block below it were swapped with the square on its left then the grid would have the usual rotational symmetry.

  9. nmsindy says:

    I can hold my hand up and say I did not notice the absence of symmetry which I was unaware of till the comment at #8 above. Enjoyed the puzzle as always from Phi and thanks, John, for the blog.

  10. Dormouse says:

    Well, I never noticed.

  11. Phi says:

    This was the puzzle that prompted the discussion. When I submitted it, I mused that no-one would notice so slight an asymmetry. Or care much if they did.

    For what it’s worth, the asymmetry came about because I wanted five down central, a down only light and singular. Mirror symmetry was too limiting, so I settled on the slight tweak. (I’m not going to abandon symmetry that much.)

    For some reason my tablet won’t let me type digits in this box – odd. Anyway, on long weekend in wine-making country, so no more from me!

  12. redddevil says:

    In 8D is KM really a metric ‘quantity’ or am I missing something?

  13. Wil Ransome says:

    Km = Kilometre

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