Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8218 / Phi

Posted by duncanshiell on February 15th, 2013


This didn’t strike me as a standard Phi puzzle today.




There seemed to me to be more obscure words today than one would normally find in a Phi puzzle.  My initial reaction was that there must be something going on in the grid to force Phi down the road of more unusual words.  However, other than the fact that the puzzle is a pangram (6 letters short of a double pangram) I can’t see any hidden messages or themes.  That, of course, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.

I wondered at one point if there was an attempt to begin each entry with a different letter of the alphabet given that there were only 26 entries.  However, there are as many as 9 letters not used to begin an entry.

All the long entries were fairly colloquial in nature. I thought the clue to BELOW THE SALT (16 across) was excellent and that to LIKE IT OR LUMP IT was good, but I was less thrilled by the clues to the other two, PUT A SOCK IN IT (13 across) and LEFT IN THE LURCH (4 down)

The word ‘mostly’ was used twice to indicate the loss of the last letter of a constituent part.  The word ‘possibly’ was used twice to indicate an anagarm.


No. Clue Wordplay Entry



Sources of some causes of error?  I defy order (8)


SC (first letters of  [sources of] SOME and CAUSES) + OF + FLAW (defect; error)


SCOFFLAW (a person who is contemptuous of, or flouts, the law; I defy order)




Prepared venison, say (4)

(The definition could equally well be ‘game’)

GAME (having the necessary spirit and willingness for some act; prepared)


GAME (the flesh of wild animals hunted for sport; e.g. venison)  double definition




Old woman to beg for fabric (6)


DAM (variant spelling of DAME an obsolete [old] word for mother [woman].  Also defined as ‘matron’ who may well be old, or as slang for ‘woman’ but I am not sure why ‘old’ would apply with that definition) + ASK (beg)


DAMASK (material, originally of silk, now usually of linen, also of cotton or wool, woven with a pattern; fabric)




Last character to sustain brio in part of the Netherlands (7)

ZED (the letter Z; last character [of the alphabet], our American friends may well be looking at the ZEE part of the answer) containing (to sustain) ÉLAN (vigour and style; brio)


ZEELAND (westernmost province of The Netherlands)




Arranged reunion around start of term?  There’s almost nothing to it! (8)


Anagram of (arranged) REUNION containing (around) T (first letter of [start of] TERM)


NEUTRINO (an uncharged particle of about the same mass as the proton; something exceptionally small; there’s almost nothing to it)




Cry of pain mostly suppressed by brown bird (6)


(OUCH [cry of pain] excluding the last letter [mostly] H) contained in (suppressed by) TAN (lightish brown)


TOUCAN (bird)




How to silence a brogue? (3,1,4,2,2)


PUT A SOCK IN IT (a ‘brogue’ is a stout shoe, usually with a decorative pattern of holes, so it is something you can PUT A SOCK IN)


PUT A SOCK IN IT (stop talking; be silent)  cryptic definition




Not upper-class?  Possibly let table show this! (5,3,4)


Anagram of (possibly) LET TABLE SHOW


BELOW THE SALT (among those of high (or low) social class, the saltcellar formerly marking the boundary at table when all dined together. The lower classes sat BELOW THE SALT)




Low fog endlessly swirling in wind (6)


(MOO (low, as a verb) + [MIST {fog} excluding the final letter {endlessly} T]) all reversed (swirling)


SIMOOM (a hot suffocating desert wind in Arabia and North Africa.)




Homes of wise creatures may produce wise lore (8)


Anagram of (may produce) WISE LORE


OWLERIES (places inhabited or frequented by owls [traditionally known as wise birds])




Bitter stuff mostly left by baseball team? (7)


(QUIT [left] excluding the last letter [mostly] T) + NINE (there are 9 players in a baseball team)


QUININE (a colourless, odourless, very bitter alkaloid)




Damage held back black engine (6)


(MAR [damage] reversed [held back]) + JET (black)


RAMJET (a simple form of aero-engine)




Lethal moorland (4)

(The definition could equally well be ‘lethal’)

FELL (deadly [Chambers and Collins definition 3]; lethal)


FELL (moorland) double definition




Article amongst articles about one Greek? (8)


(THE [definite article] contained in [amongst] (AN + AN [two indefinite articles] to give ‘article amongst articles’]) containing (about) I (one)

A (THE) N  [I] AN

ATHENIAN (a Greek person)





Drink in two forms provided by wife in vineyard estates (8)


CHA (tea; drink) + TEA (drink, to give ‘drink in two forms’) + UX (wife)


CHÂTEAUX (vineyard estates around castles)




Stuck hosting English celebration (5)


FAST (firm; fixed; stuck) containing (hosting) E (English)


FEAST (celebration)




Turmoil – kit pile toppled?  You’re stuck with that (4,2,2,4,2)


Anagram of (toppled) TURMOIL KIT PILE


LIKE IT OR LUMP IT (enjoy it or put up with it, you’re stuck with it whatever happens)




Fool with a puzzle’s centre satisfactory penning first of clues (7)


W (with) + A + ZZ (middle letters of [centre] PUZZLE) + (OK [satisfactory] containing [penning] C (first letter of [first of] CLUES)

W A ZZ O (C) K

WAZZOCK (fool)




Former students notice university filling cages (9)

(AD [advertisement; notice] + [university]) contained in (filling) GRATES (cages)


GRADUATES (former [university] students)




Twelve days succeeding one in spring month (6)


(I [one] + D [day] + D [day, to give days]) contained in (in) MAY (spring month)

M (I D D) AY

MIDDAY (twelve [noon])




Stranded?  Observe fence and hut with thrill, possibly (4,2,3,5)


Anagram of (possibly) FENCE, HUT and THRILL


LEFT IN THE LURCH (left in a difficult situation without help; stranded)  I’m not sure what the word OBSERVE is doing in this clue, other than to help the surface of the clue.




Brother brought in chopped salami – delicious (9)


BRO (brother) contained in (brought in) an anagram of (chopped) SALAMI


AMBROSIAL (delicious)




A paramour retaining energy with a cosmetic juice (4,4)


A + (LOVER [paramour] containing [retaining] E [energy]) + A


ALOE VERA (the juice of the leaves of the ALOE plant, thought to have healing and other qualities, used in cosmetics, etc; cosmetic juice)




Try to win me artist’s spear-launcher (7)

WOO (try to win [the affection of]) + ME + RA (Royal Academician; artist)


WOOMERA (stick for launching a spear with greater force)




Club is questioning restricting golf handicap (6)


BISQUE (hidden word in [restricting] CLUB IS QUESTIONING)


BISQUE (a term in some sports for the handicap whereby a player allows a weaker opponent [at the latter’s choice of time] to score a point in a set, deduct a stroke at a hole, take an extra turn in croquet, etc; golf handicap, although not a term I’ve come across whenever I have played golf)




Novel, though not translated into Italian? (5)


ROMAN (an Italian, so presumably somet text termed ROMAN would not need to be translated into Italian)


ROMAN (novel)



17 Responses to “Independent 8218 / Phi”

  1. Raich says:

    In 13A I think a second meaning of ‘brogue’ may also be referred to ie an accent.

  2. Rowland says:

    Pretty good, but there were a lot of obscure words for a daily, for me! Clues as ever very well done, but I do agree with your take on the long clues — two okay, two duff.


  3. eimi says:

    13A was my COD – chacun à son goût

  4. NealH says:

    Duncan, for the record, I think you’re getting confused between a neutron and a neutrino. A neutron has similar mass to a proton, but a neutrino is substantially smaller, having virtually no mass.

  5. Dormouse says:

    I actually didn’t find this too difficult – easiest puzzle this week for me – except that I foolishly entered “batask” at 9ac; obviously I was thinking of “batik”.

    If I may be pedantic about your explanation of 11ac, the neutrino is not an uncharged particle about the same mass as a proton, that’s the neutron. In fact, it was studying beta decay, in which a neutron turns into a proton and an electron that led Pauli to suggest that a small particle must be emitted at the same time so that the figures added up. It was at first thought that the particle had no mass whatsoever, but studies of neutrinos emitted from the sun has suggested they do have some, albeit very small.

    Neutrinos are difficult buggers to catch. They can go right through the Earth without noticing it. The solar neutrino studies involved placing huge tanks of dry-cleaning fluid in deep mines and watching for year to see the odd interaction of one of the millions of neutrinos passing through the tank.

  6. Dormouse says:

    NealH: We crossed!

  7. allan_c says:

    Certainly not your average phi with those obscure words. My word finder didn’t have WAZZOCK but fortunately did have SCOFFLAW. I had encountered SIMOOM before but it didn’t spring immediately to mind. I didn’t know that meaning of BISQUE, either, but realising that the puzzle was likely to be a pangram (and proved to be) enabled me to put in the Q and hence complete the SW corner.

    Another masterly blog from Duncan – thanks.

  8. duncanshiell says:

    Yes – it’s a fair cop by all those who spotted that I have used the definition of NEUTRON rather than NEUTRINO at 11 across.

    I think it’s also a fair cop on my not picking up on the additional definition of ‘brogue’ as an accent at 15 across. With that addition, the clue is obviously much better than I first thought – sorry!

    Thanks to all who pointed out my sins and omissions.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan. This was one where spotting the possiblity of a pangram did help with the final half-dozen or so. BELOW THE SALT, RAMJET and WOOMERA were all new to me but I got them finally with a few crossers and the wordplay. SCOFFLAW I’d also never heard of and was never going to get without a wordsearch, I’m afraid.

    I too liked PUT A SOCK IN IT, once I’d twigged the meaning of ‘brogue’. WAZZOCK I’d never heard before I came to live in Derbyshire, but it’s quite common around here, so not too much trouble with that one.

    I guess the FELL definition is as in the phrase ONE FELL SWOOP?

    And finally, I guess ZEELAND is a nod to Phi’s adopted country, since the original name given to it by the Dutch settlers was NIEUWE ZEELAND, the ‘new land next to the sea’.

    Some interesting words in this one; thank you to Phi (who is probably excited about the cosmic events today …)

  10. Phi says:

    I maintain a list of ‘interesting’ words to fill grids, and this puzzle used four or five off that list. SCOFFLAW wasn’t one of them, and was the only entry I thought verging on the obscure. WAZZOCK went in because of a UK political story on the BBC, though I can’t now recall which wazzock was calling which other wazzock a wazzock. BISQUE as a sporting term I know from Quiller-Couch’s weird and wonderful Famous Ballad of the Jubilee Cup (which I recommend as a fine piece of comic verse; try here:

    And I was quite pleased to find a shoe that was also an accent!

  11. lizard says:

    Anyone done the “i” today? The old blog doesn’t show the answer for 24/10, and “add end” isn’t a phrase I know for “a little bit more”!

  12. NealH says:

    If you give us the exact clue, I’m sure someone can elaborate.

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi lizard. I’m just about to settle down with the i puzzle for today and a glass of red to see how far I get with Nimrod (not very far, if history repeats itself).

    But ADDEND is a verb meaning to add one number to another, so that’s most likely the explanation. Probably the same root as ADDENDUM.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    It’s ‘Play pin the tail on the donkey a little bit more?’ My first one in, cheers to lizard.

  15. flashling says:

    Hi lizard search for IdotheI

  16. Bertandjoyce says:

    We’re not really happy about the explanation for 21d. We wrote it but wondered if it could possibly be linked to ROMANCE as a form of novel but we can’t make the rest of the clue work.

    Anyway, enjoyed the pangram so thanks to Phi. Thanks also to Duncan for the blog.

  17. Raich says:

    Thought that in ROMAN it might be Roman = a novel (in French) so not translated into Italian.

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