Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8212/Phi

Posted by John on February 8th, 2013


There are two ways in which Phi has departed from the norm today: when I first looked at the grid and saw the long across one to begin with and the little bit sticking out on the left, I said to myself “he won’t have a little bit sticking out at the right as well, so that there is less than 50% checking”, and sure enough he didn’t. But then I looked at the four answers which meet the centre block, and to my surprise that is exactly what he did have.

Still, that is arguably justified because of the large number of thematic answers. The other departure for Phi is that he doesn’t usually have so many answers depending on just one other answer, something I don’t enjoy, but fortunately this one was fairly easy and it was just a matter of going to a list of holders of the OM. He has chosen only living people.

7 ORDER OF MERIT — (former editor)* — a nice easy gateway clue, as it should be, so long as you realise that ‘disgraced’ is the anagram indicator
9 HO(WAR)D — Professor Sir Michael Eliot Howard, O.M., C.H., C.B.E., M.C. 28th April, 2005
10 THATCHER — that = so, cher is French for dear — The Right Honourable Margaret Hilda, Lady Thatcher, L.G., O.M., F.R.S. 7th December, 1990
11 PAPANDREOU — (upon parade)* — I’d never have got this since there was no indication of which ‘another’ it was: fortunately the checkers and the fairly easy clue enabled me to get this eventually — the Norwegian government have given him their own version of the OM — in 1999 they gave him the Order of the Polar Star
12 SHED — I’m not quite sure here, but I think it’s cast = shed and also shied = cast, so that if you drop the i from shied you get shed: this seems a bit odd and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone comes up with a much better explanation
13 HOCKNEY — “hock knee” — David Hockney O.M., C.H., R.A. 1st January, 2012
16 PENROSE — pen = writer, rose = became prominent — Professor Sir Roger Penrose, O.M., F.R.S. 9th May, 2000
19 FUN D
24 S(TOP)PAR D — Sir Thomas Stoppard, O.M., C.B.E. 9th May, 2000
25 FO(STE)R — the French holy woman is a sainte, abbreviated to ste — Norman Robert, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, O.M., R.A. 25th November, 1997
26 ATTENBOROUGH — (other gunboat)* — Sir David Frederick Attenborough, O.M., C.H., C.V.O., C.B.E., F.R.S. 28th April, 2005
1 GREAT AUK — “grey talk”
2 HE E{n}DED
3 BOOTLE G{ambling}
4 1 MM A(TU)RE
5 P(REC)IS — the plural of pi — def ‘abstract’ — excellent clue
6 S(THE L)ENS{e} — savvy as a noun
8 SO FA{r}
14 OPUNTIAS — (USA top in)*
15 EXPLAINS — if you are ex-plains, you possibly now live in the mountains
18 RO(A)D HO{le} G
22 I(NFL)OW — National Football League and Isle of Wight
23 LE{tt}ER

10 Responses to “Independent 8212/Phi”

  1. Paul A says:

    12a – I think Shied could be the ‘Shrank’, as in shied away from.
    Doing the DTV on the train made the thematic answers a lottery – just guessing at famous names, and wondered what Papandreou was doing there. OK in the end though

  2. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Phi for an entertaining puzzle and John for the blog.

    I am not a great fan of thematic puzzles, but this one comes across as a very good example of its type. As is so often the case, my favourite clue was a non-thematic one: in this case 15dn, but I am sure Phi must have enjoyed finding the wordply for 10ac, where the surface is so wonderfully ironic.

    14dn: An obscure word no doubt required by the construction, but this is one where an anagram helps. Given the checking letters, there was only one sensible way of filling in the rest.

  3. Rishi says:

    The plural form of OPUNTIA was used in a crosword on Big Dave’s website last year.

    The clue and a picture of the prickly-pear can be seen here:

    PS: To prove that I am not a robot, I had to put two and two together, that’s all!

  4. allan_c says:

    I looked at the grid, with unches round the perimeter and thought, “Aha – nina!”. Quite a surprise, then, to find a themed crossword instead. Fairly simple with access to a list on OM members, but I would have struggled like Paul A otherwise.

    And I agree with Paul A about 12ac.

    Thanks, Phi and John

  5. Conrad Cork says:

    Not really playing the game to access a list of OM members, is it? Phi deserves better than that.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John.

    Not really my favourite Phi ever. Kind of a random theme (okay, I know all themes are random) but when so many answers are surnames it can make life tricky and personally I don’t get much pleasure from solving a clue that results in someone’s name. On the plus side, the gateway clue was easy, so you could get started; and indeed many of the other clues were almost Quiptic in nature. Perhaps Phi was trying to give us plenty of crossing letters for the surnames.

    I managed it without recourse to a list of OM holders: the only one I had to stick into a wordsearch was THATCHER (something subconscious going on there …)

    Not one for me today, but others seemed to have enjoyed it, so fair enough.

  7. Laconic Observer says:

    One wonders why John, with his self-professed dislike of “unfair” grids and themes, still considers the crossword as something he’ll enjoy.

  8. pennes says:

    I look forward to Phi’s puzzles. I always start at the end of the down clues and work “upwards” so was enjoying the solve until the acrosses. I got the gateway clue but decided this just wasn’t for me, the theme just didn’t appeal to me and I’d probably have not been able to finish without use of aids, which I find unsatisfactory.
    Phi hardly ever disappoints so I’ll look forward to next weeks’s puzzle

  9. Bertandjoyce says:

    Not our favourite puzzle but as it’s Phi we’ll forgive him. We tend to agree with K’sD about the rather random choice of OMs but it’s still an achievement to have fitted so many of them in. We didn’t need any electronic support apart from 14d. 10ac was our last one in – as with K’sD – maybe there really is some morphic resonance going on here!

    Thanks Phi and John.

  10. old newbie says:

    I pick up an Indie every so often in my local pub (they throw them away at the end of the day) and have been doing Xwords for a year or so. Usually the Mail cryptic (my wife’s paper).

    So the Indie is quite a challenge and I loved this one. I got all but 12 and 23, and didn’t use any cheats (such as a list of OMs). Thanks Phi

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

5 × = thirty