Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8188/Phi

Posted by John on January 11th, 2013


As always on Fridays a good puzzle from Phi.  More than the usual number of words were at least unfamiliar, and in one case I had to cheat and click ‘Reveal’, but the clueing was sound and there was no excuse for failure.

No doubt there is something devious extra going on, but the combination of the facts that I was doing it on screen and that everything failed at one point, with Crossword Compiler locking and not responding to any input, causing me to restart the computer and run a bit late (no doubt my own computer’s, rather than CC’s,  failings) didn’t encourage me to search for anything.

1 MICROSKIRT — (rock is)* in (trim)rev.
6 {fare}S CAB
10 NOMAD — (m on)rev. ad
11 TRAINLOAD — (a darn lot I)*
12 MEH — (hem)rev. — not a word I really knew (it’s not in Chambers) but it could only have been this or mir
13 TRA-LA — tr{i}al a [thanks NeilW]; does this use of ‘on’ contravene the Indy’s rules about ‘on’ and across clues?
14 AU THEN (T) IC{e}
15 BISHOP AUCKLAND — (Backlash pound)* with I ‘invested’
18 CAPTAIN PUGWASH — (caught wasp)* around (pain)*
22 OBSTETRIC — (totes crib)*
24 NAVEL — (levan{t})rev. — navel-gazing
25 {s}EAT
26 FLAGEOLET — flag o in (tele)rev. — I was thinking that a tele, rhyming with seal, was some kind of box, and looked it up and of course it’s telly
27 S POOR — poor = heading downhill — for the second time in this puzzle the Indy’s ‘rules’ about the use of ‘on’ seem to have been contravened — maybe I was wrong all along
28 reduceD IN Time — yes a dint is a force, something I never knew, having used the phrase ‘by dint of’ all my life without knowing what it meant
1 MANITOBA — (bot)rev. in mania — this word appeared in The Times crossword yesterday, where ‘mania’ (but not ‘bot’) was also used
3 OLD MAN OF THE SEA — (a loathsome fiend – I)*
4 KATHAKALI — (I talk)* about haka — quite simple if you know the word, which I didn’t — a classical dance drama of Southern India
5 ROAST — (tsar)rev. about 0
9 INTELLIGENTSIA — (late listening I)*
16 COP ACETIC — another one that’s quite easy if you know the word, which again I didn’t — must brush up on my (US informal)
17 CHILDREN — chil{l} (nerd)rev.
19 ABSTAIN — abs(ta)in{the}
20 ALVEOLI — al{l} (I love)* — again not a common word but for once I did know this one
23 RELAX — rex containing (al{l})rev.

10 Responses to “Independent 8188/Phi”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, John.

    I read TRA-LA as “One failing test” TR(i)AL on A

    Yesterday Anax gave us “my bad” as modern slang for “oops”: today Phi gives us MEH for an “expression of indifference” (or, more often, disdain.) For my sins, I subscribe to a few Twitter accounts and see both all the time.

  2. flashling says:

    Quiet again today, not convinced the Indy has rules as such John, bit tougher for me than Phi usually is.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John.

    Enjoyed this one – a couple of unfamiliar words, but easy enough to have a stab at once you’d got some crossing letters. And cheers, Phi, for Captain Pugwash – I’ve had that bloody hornpipe going through my head all day …

    We’ve had this ‘on’ in across clues debate before, I’m sure. I always remember a comment from Anax (I think) who said to think of it as something like Burton-on-Trent. Doesn’t mean Burton is actually ON the River Trent in the sense of on top of it; just next to it. Anyway, it’s always worked for me since then.

    Good weekend to everyone.

  4. John says:

    I personally have absolutely no objection to A on B for AB in an across clue. It makes perfectly good sense, so far as I can see. It’s just that I thought we were once told that the Indy didn’t do this.

    Yes of course it’s tr{i}al. Thanks NeilW — will amend the blog.

  5. Raich says:

    Brian Greer’s book “How to do the Times Crossword” (2001) says (p 51) that it is a Times convention that “on” in an across clue means following rather than preceding when used to indicate the juxtaposition of parts of the answer, as in “Fastening that comes undone is a problem on undergarment” (SLIPKNOT) Maybe that is what you are thinking of, John.

  6. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Phi, how do you manage to construct puzzles with so few black squares? It did mean that some of the answers ended up being a little obscure but they were all clearly clued. Anyway, one of the reasons for completing crosswords is the fun of learning new words that may crop in later puzzles! As with Eileen yesterday putting us straight with ‘my bad’.

    Thanks John fot the blog.

  7. allan_c says:

    Harder than your average Phi; several unfamiliar or even unknown words, but eventually gettable.

    And as an irrelevant aside to the ‘on’ debate, there’s no such place as Burton-on-Trent (with or without hyphens); it’s Burton upon Trent. Network Rail and others please note.

  8. Paul B says:

    It’s basic stuff according to crosswording convention: in across clues ON means ‘coming afterwards’, whereas in down clues it means ‘going on top of’ (i.e. the reverse). Simples. Ish. But some papers, while aware of such things, do not require their compilers to observe them.

    A good friend of mine thinks that clues, whether across or down, since they are only ever written from right to left, can thus only ever require right-to-left reversal indicators (or, indeed, y ON x = xy positional indication), and he has a point. For myself, at the moment (and for the past few years), I (have) prefer(red) grid-specific clues that acknowledge acrossness and downness.

  9. Paul B says:

    Btw, second para needs ‘since they are only ever written from left to right’. Sorry — too much Guinness this eve.

  10. eimi says:

    There are some rules, but my take on ON is that it can mean either before or after in an Across clue, but can only mean before in a Down.

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