i Cryptic Crossword 3240 Phi

June 26, 2021

Whilst not exactly ENTRY-LEVEL, Phi has pitched this crossword at the more accessible end of his range, and I suspect there was little here to hold up the more experienced solver. Your blogger completed it in a little less than his typical time, and had no question marks in his margin about any definitions or parsing – although he had no smiley faces either, nothing really standing out as being especially witty, or amusing or particularly well constructed. Although far from corruscating, my nominition for Clue of the Day goes to 7ac: “Hotelier who’d generate special quality in right zone (4)”.

Perhaps the only candidate for being an obscurity was RILKE, although since he seems to crop up in crosswords every now and then, perhaps he is more well-known in Crosswordland then in the world beyond, rather like the two daggers.

There’s a gimmick which was, I thought, easily spotted, and having got it, it helped a little. I wondered if and how Phi would incorporate the letters I to R, but having already spotted that this was no pangram, with at least J and Q absent, I decided they were not there. But over on Fifteensquared Phi comments that the letters I to R were covered by 5d and 19d. So there you are.

Here’s the link to the blog at Fifteensquared, should you need further explication:

Independent 9,440 by Phi

19 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3240 Phi”

  1. dtw42 said

    Yus, all swift here. Late out of bed because it’s Saturday, but still all finished by 8.50am. Last one in was 27ac, and I suppose we can be glad that today’s young lady was merely a GAL and not a BABE. The American spelling was clearly flagged as such. 30ac was a bit of a rubbish word, though.

  2. Topsy said

    DNF for me but enjoyed the ones I managed. Agree about 30ac, pretty silly word imho. Totally confused by 9ac…… how is a billet a job?

  3. Denzo said

    Like Saboteur said, not much standing out either way, but I enjoyed MURPHY SLAW, until I realised it has probably been done before. I had to look up SENESCHAL tio confirm what the crossers seem to suggest. RILKE was a set book for German A-level >50 years ago – one never forgets these things, but I’ve seen him twice in crosswords recently.
    Unusually for me, I spotted the alphabetic gimmick, which definitely sped up the half I had not solved, especially with 10a where I could hitherto only think of NON-FIBRE. I’ll give Phi a brownie point for the American indication in 26d, but take it back for THROTTLERS – though I suppose such a word does actually exist! Yes, Topsy, 9A pretty naff clue, too!

  4. batarde said

    Billet: familiar enough, surely? Probably army slang originally, now in general use as in “the minister secured a cushy billet for his mistress”, say. 26d gets a black mark from me as usual, even though that corner would be tricky to resolve, but everything else was unobjectionable. Decent gimmick, although Cornick has something more comprehensive in his back catalogue.

    The Inquisitor looks tractable today at first glance, by the way.

    • Topsy said

      Batarde, in army slang a “cushy billet” is a comfortable place to sleep or lodge. I have never heard it in relation to a job.

      • Denzo said

        Though, in the case Batarde is thinking of, the minister has offered her a cushy job also. I wonder what Oliver makes of it!

      • batarde said

        It’s a transference from the military to the colloquial, obviously. I can assure you that it’s common parlance in my experience, and supported by every dictionary I own (nine of them, don’t ask me why) from the Little Oxford upwards.

  5. jonofwales said

    An about average solve in terms of time here, Spotting the gimmick about three quarters of the way through helped of course. Apart from that this was a good, solid offering I thought.

  6. Veronica said

    Didn’t have much time today … and did not get very far. It didn’t seem accessible 😞, but maybe I just didn’t ever get far enough for things to fall into place.
    At least I did get ENTRY LEVEL, but failed on all advanced levels. I didn’t get 9 or 30 across, and tend to agree with Topsy 🙂.

  7. Willow said

    An enjoyable solve – thank you. The Nina was inventive and helped, although I didn’t see I TO R in the middle.

  8. Cornick said

    I would be interested to know if anyone at all twigged the I TO R conceit. In a sense it was the key to the whole puzzle and also the best gag in the puzzle, yet the setter seems to have created it for his own amusement only.
    Other than that the crossword was fine.

    • Denzo said

      Yes. I wondered about it after twigging the two ends, then eventually found it – (twice!!!!!!!) after I noted the Big Man said it was there. I suspect my reaction was similar to yours!

  9. Brock said

    An enjoyable solve mostly: I spotted the gimmick down the left and right edges, which helped me with a few clues, but didn’t see the “I to R” thing at all. Didn’t know the word at 6d and struggled with 30a. Favourite clue was probably 15a.

    I would like to question the “circular reference” in 13a and 24a, though. Each clue referenced the other for the definition, but no actual defintion was given in either clue. Is this strictly kosher?

    • Saboteur said

      Clues with no discrete definition are not unheard of. I thought these constructions were ok, with fairly clear word-play and helpful crossing letters, including the gimmick-lights, if the solver spotted them. As I suggested in the original blog, these two daggers seem to crop up more often in crosswords that they do in ordinary life, so are moreover better known by the generality of solvers, although not all, of course.

      • Cornick said

        Agree with Saboteur but it’s a rotten trick in my opinion. Anything aimed at experienced solvers only is a no-no in my view.

  10. thebargee said

    A Sunday DNF for me. I was always struggling with this one, just never really got going. Surprisingly, my first 2 in were DIRK and SKEAN-DHU, my excuse is that figuring those 2 out drained all available mental energy for the rest of the day!

    In the end I was left with a couple of empty entries in the NE and a few in the SW. Oh, I didn’t get BILLET either; common parlance it may be, but I’ve led a sheltered life.

  11. Saboteur said

    I’m with Batarde on BILLET. I can’t say it’s common parlance, exactly, but it is certainly used and understood, and almost invariably with the adjective Batarde mentioned, “cushy”, preceeding it. It implies a certain disdain.

    When Topsy questioned it, I did wonder whether it was some obscure idiomatic usage, or highly localised. But when I checked Chambers, there it was without further annotation.

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