i Cryptic Crossword 3246 by Phi

July 3, 2021

With all this talk of restrictions on normal life being lifted, I wonder if we’ll be returning to Prize Puzzles by the end of the month? Well, not yet evidently, but what we do have is a remarkably good example of what we’ve come to expect from Phi. The clues were in the middle of his difficulty range and there was a Nina that it seems nobody back in 2017 could get without entering into a dialogue directly with the setter. But perhaps you did see what eluded me? CLARI/NET, FLU/TE, H/ORN, GUI/TAR, VIOL/IN, and BE/LL form the start and finish of rows 1, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 15. Ah. ‘Very satisfying’ according to some on Fifteensquared, and I suppose to look at after the event it is, but I’m left feeling like one of those rats in experiments who, I recently learned, refuse to playfight with a bigger rat if they lose more than 70% of the time.

I enjoyed the clues with good surface readings in particular. Foremost among those were 15a and 17a. The latter was a simple, short anagram – ‘Appearances – I guess – may be deceptive’ so my nomination for COD goes to the former:

15a Cut short person you want to avoid in pub? Perfectly natural (6)

There were a few obscure-ish entries – BLEAR, STOOLIE and CLARISSA if you didn’t already know them perhaps, then I had a slight question over ‘bronzed’ = TAN in 5d and there was a fairly chewy knot of clues in the SW I thought, with VIOLENCE taking me an age to unpick, so I suspect plenty of newer solvers might have struggled here and there, even if regulars were familiar with most of Phi’s tricks… although maybe not that Nina!

All the answers and parsing can be found by clicking on this link:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/01/20/independent-9445-phi/

10 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3246 by Phi”

  1. batarde said

    Apparently Alexei Sayle always writes “very nice” in the comments sections of visitors’ books: never anything else no matter what. Must save a lot of effort trying to think of something new to say. This crossword was very nice, and very much par for the Phi course I thought. Having some experience of the novel in question, 1ac amused me with its perfect description of a work chiefly remarkable for the inches of shelf space it takes up; other than that 19ac and 21 rather stood out but the Nina did not. Of course. A peculiar consort, and an odd conceit to boot.

  2. Brock said

    No problems with this one, although I wouldn’t have spotted the gimmick in a month of Sundays! 17a was first in, and highly commended for the surface reading. Favourite had to be 27a for the clever double reading, along with the slightly cheeky 23d (single letters in enumerations always get me wondering what the setter’s up to).

    I was a little surprised that 9a was permitted; the COED calls it “archaic” as both an adjective and a verb. Still, it was easy to guess from the wordplay and “bleary”. 10a was also unfamiliar (“N. Amer. informal” in the COED), but again easy to guess from the wordplay and “stool pigeon”. So no real complaints.

  3. Saboteur said

    I think I would rate this at the harder end of the medium range fro a Phi – perhaps a 7 on the 1 -10 scale…

    Some bits of parsing were a struggle; for example, I could see there was an anagram of sorts leading to FILM STAR, but I couldn’t quite unravel it. I didn’t know either BLEAR or STOOLIE, and needed to check in the dictionary (level 2 cheating?) that both guesses were correct.

    Didn’t bother much with looking for a theme or nina. Thought thee might be something musical going on, but was way off mark. Glad I didn’t trouble myself further.

    Otherwise, a pleasing enough puzzle. A bit better than “very nice”, I’d say. 🙂

  4. jonofwales said

    A good, medium level puzzle I thought very much in the Phi vein. Any Nina was of course duly missed.

    Your reference to restrictions being lifted has reminded me to ask if anyone else is getting irritated by the i’s evident editorial stance on the lifting of restrictions? In the past couple of days we’ve had several factually untrue shots at undermining the school bubble system, and questioning its desirability (which have reflected similar headlines in other papers owned by the i’s new lords and masters). Today poor Prue Leith is feeling institutionalised, which is mentioned in the editorial below comments regarding working from home (which most poor workers do actually like), and comments elsewhere regarding “learning to live” with what is now an “endemic disease” and the benefits of ending reporting of infection levels. Or is it just me with another bee in my bonnet?

    • Saboteur said

      Well, I’m glad to read that from you, Jonofwales. I can’t say I could have listed the examples you gave, but I have had a niggling thought that the i was going in a bit of a DM direction. I hope that doesn’t continue. Mind you, I do get the paper for the crossword and any news is somewhat incidental…

    • Cornick said

      I love following the news on the pandemic and take a delight in all the statistics. However, for someone with an opinion on practically everything, I have decided to leave it to others on this. Happy-go-lucky types like me (and dare I say a certain blonde-haired gentleman) should keep out of it!

    • batarde said

      No. I don’t think it’s just you, Jon, but I’m inclined to follow Cornick’s lead and sit it out. Besides, more often than not I don’t even glance at any of the pages before the cartoon.

  5. Denzo said

    Regarding the blond gentleman, my son went to a parents’ evening recently and was informed that my grandson, then 5, was causing concern. Apparently he had stood up in class and announced: “I am B### J######. I shake hands with everyone.”

    I seldom read editorials, but regarding the pandemic generally, I believe the I is doing little more than to try to reflect the public mood, which is how all newspapers keep their circulation numbers. I, too have been concerned that the public mood appears to begun to tire of HMG’s management of the pandemic, especially on lockdown, but even on vaccinations, as witnessed by the recent physical assault of Prof Whitty. Could part of the reason be that Joe Public is tiring of being subject to greater restrictions than some of said Blond Gentleman’s appointees and certain prestigious sporting events, which appear to be superspreaders? Perhaps it is time for Mr Summers to write another Letter to The Editor, taking care not to be moderated, of course!

    I was amused by Cornick’s comment that it was necessary to enter into dialogue with Phi to spot the Nina. Was it not always thus (apart from the “alphabetical” exception last Saturday, which even I spotted??

    On the puzzle itself, I tend to agree with Saboteur that this was very much at the difficult end of Phi’s range. Apart from the obscurities already mentioned, the SW corner took me ages to even start, partly because, in addition to those mentioned that others found chewy, it took me too long to spot the (now) obvious anagrams at 14d and 17a, and having spotted (W)INNINGS, I didn’t like its definition of “bit of sporting endeavour”. FOI would have been BERLIN, except that it took a while to see what I could do with the lone B in 23d, my favourite clue when the penny eventually dropped. In spite of grumbles, nothing was unfair, and much of the joy of crosswords could be lost if setters’ and solvers’ minds were always on the same wavelength.

    BTW, how long is Clarissa? The longest novel I have is Les Misérables, over 1700 pages.

    • Cornick said

      But I don’t think anybody spotted the I TO R part of last weekend’s alphabetical Nina, which was the key to it.
      It’s a persistent irritation to me unfortunately.

    • batarde said

      Regarding Clarissa: it’s notorious for its length, the first edition running to seven volumes and the familiar Everyman imprint to four. The latter provides a useful benchmark, because there are very few novels in the Everyman series which weren’t published in a single volume. Dent used something close to Bible paper when necessary and managed to cram books like David Copperfield, Middlemarch and Vanity Fair into just-about-pocketable single bindings. Anna Karenina, Don Quixote and Les Mis were in two; War and Peace in three, but Clarissa appears to be on its own as far as fiction goes. The Decline and Fall is in six volumes, mind you. Anyway, this is simply to say that it’s quite a chunk. The book is conventionally regarded as significant without being especially good, and my advice, for what it’s worth, is to grab Tom Jones (two volumes) instead.

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