Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8260/Phi

Posted by John on April 5th, 2013


The usual excellent crossword from Phi.  I took a bit longer than usual to get started, but once afloat all was well and the typically sound clueing didn’t hold me back too much.

The presence of a long down clue always suggests that there may be a Nina to do with it, so I thought there might be various words for swords here, but not apparently now that I’ve consulted a list of them. No doubt something rather more cunning is going on.

1 {m}ARCHER — the Archer is Sagittarius
9 CAP R {v}ICIOUS — at least I think this is what it is, although I’m not sure: ‘being’ in the clue seems a little odd, since either it means the same as ‘having (next to it)’ (I think not) or ‘vicious means ‘being cruel’, but surely ‘vicious’ = ‘cruel’ and ‘being vicious’ = ‘being cruel’? [Restrain king, being cruel, deposing leader on a whim]
10 K(1 R)K
12 KOSHER — (OK)rev. Sher, referring to Sir Antony Sher
13 JA NE — ‘ja’ is ‘yes’, or ‘certainly’, in German and ‘ne’ is ‘not’ in French — I knew this from ‘Jane’s Fighting Ships’, but try this:
15 WAYFARER — w (year)* round far
18 PRISONER — poisoner with the first o changed to r
19 BA{sili}SK
21 IS OLDE{n} — I think, although it could be ‘is 0 lde’, where lde is something longer (but goodness knows what) with a letter or two (representing the note) missing [Operatic heroine is no more, missing note]
23 SMOOTHIE — a nice &lit., with moo in (this)* e
25 {b}LAST
27 DE S(PAT)CH — an alternative spelling of dispatch
28 EVENLY — [John] Evelyn with the n put forward, i.e. earlier in the word
4 {d}RE(CE)SS
7 ANKHS — [Tom] Hanks with the h{is} shifted
8 NERVELESS — (eleven)rev. about r s{core} s{eriously} — ‘nerveless’ = ‘feeble’ didn’t occur immediately
14 AEROSPACE — (rose)* in apace
17 IN SECRET — (screen)* in it
20 C/O ARSE — another &lit.
22 LIT UP — ‘lit up’ can be seen as (til{e})rev.
24 I’D E(A)L — local because the el is local to America

12 Responses to “Independent 8260/Phi”

  1. eXternal says:

    The theme is CAPTAINS. Specifically, I think, Star Trek. I confess I am no trekkie, but you have Kirk, Jane Way and Archer. Maybe there are more

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Well spotted, eXternal. I see there’s also Sisko from Deep Space Nine and even Pic(w)ard across the 12th row, if we can count that. I certainly wouldn’t have spotted any of them on my own. Are there any more? Any Trekkies out there?

  3. michelle says:

    Thanks for the blog, John. I was unable to parse 21, 18, 28, & 4 (last in) so I appreciated your explanations.


    New word for me was JANE = military catalogue.

    This was the second time this week that I have seen SMOOTHIE as a solution. The earlier clue was “Drink in Soho, having time to get wasted (8).

  4. flashling says:

    @eXternal there’s also PIC(w)ARD in one of the rows across

  5. eXternal says:

    Upon investigoogling, it seems there was a Trekkie convention in London late last year where all five captains attended – Kirk, Sisko, Picard, Janeway and Archer. Perhaps Phi was also there….

  6. lizard says:

    Help! The archive blog for today’s i puzzle has 9a (out of sorts?) and 4d missing – we’re stuck with 4d

  7. Gaufrid says:

    Visit for the help you require.

  8. lizard says:

    Thank you, Gaufrid! Didn’t know about this – obviously! A revelation! Now safely saved to “favourites”!

  9. Phi says:

    I wasn’t there but the convention was widely reported, and the names seemed a useful set to seed a grid. The PIC (with) ARD arose when I discovered that the bathyscaphe guy had a double C.

    The Guardian editor has just wondered in his column about whether the increased prevalence of themes is a good thing. I think ‘ghost themes’ of this nature are the best – they don’t impinge on the solving process for the majority and they give an added frisson to the minority. Of course, the dividing line between the two isn’t clear-cut, and around that dividing line there now exists a group who worry about whether they’re missing something. To which the answer is both “Yes, you are” and “No, you’re not – you’ve had the same solving experience that you’d had if I’d never included a theme”. Somehow I think that won’t resolve things.

  10. John says:

    Clever of Michelle @3 to say that the blog helped her to solve 28ac, since I’d unwittingly left it out. My apologies. There now.

  11. Paul B says:

    She’s a beginner, apparently, making formulaic posts to keep things simple.

    Gotta get it right though (makes all that stuff more believable).

  12. Bertandjoyce says:

    Very late home last night so the puzzle was solved this morning.

    We agree with everything that Phi says about hidden themes. We really appreciate hidden themes and as soon as we solved CAPTAINS and then KIRK, we thought of Star Trek. However…….. We’d never heard of the rest of them apart from Picard which we missed but as Phi said, this did not interfere with our enjoyment of the puzzle. Thanks Phi!

    Thanks to John as well. We guessed 19ac and searched for BA?SK but needless to say it didn’t come up with anything. Bert had heard of Basilisk but didn’t know it was a mythical serpent. Thank goodness for 225.

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