i Cryptic Crossword 3031 by Phi

October 24, 2020

After quite an eventful crosswording week in the i, it was something of a relief to see Phi’s name and be treated to a series of clues which were neither too hard nor too easy, neither too boring nor too tricksy, and that managed to be entertaining, challenging and varied. Nice one Phi.

Some of the surface readings were top drawer stuff – consider ‘Thrust of half my cryptic clues’ or this, my COD nomination:

8d Man finally entering competition after back problem (9)

I also admired the way that 16d IMITATION was put together, the clever way that MARSHALSEA had short wordplay and a long definition – well, too many to list here really. Only 18a was a word to make the nostrils twitch somewhat.

In common with many solvers probably, my FOI was LEMON SQUASH, but whereas I finished on 21a SURVEY, I wonder if the intersection of the aforementioned London prison and 23a LAPUTANS held people up? Pretty clear wordplay I thought, to balance it being one of the lesser known coinages from Gulliver’s Travels.

It’s a slight shame to read over on Fifteensquared here that there’s a ghost theme of words which can be appended to ‘cross’. It seems no-one realised without a heavy hint being given by the setter in the comments section of Fifteenquared itself, so this was yet again a case of Phi keeping the last laugh for himself. Or maybe I’m wrong – perhaps you spotted the link between FIRE, SECTION, EXAMINE, COUNTRY, TALK, ROAD, KICKS, QUESTION, and BREEDING?

12 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3031 by Phi”

  1. batarde said

    That was okay, perhaps even a little above par for Phi. No use pretending that I’m a fan though, and it all felt rather humdrum especially at the end of an unusually varied week.

  2. Denzo said

    I’m absolutely with Cornick here – fairly and logically clued and great surfaces. Typically, Phi enjoys playing with us:
    Firstly, I did the top half in about five minutes, and couldn’t believe how easy iit seemed, but of course it didn’t last as the rest took well over an hour.
    Secondly he always puts in one or two where you have to give up or look up – here it was MARSHALSEA and LAPUTANS. I fell for Phi’s misdirection in the first and wasted ages looking for an anagram of “main prison”. Eventually remembered Little Dorrit. I read Gulliver’s travels far to long ago to remember the second.
    Thirdly he turns up in 225 to reveal the theme they all missed, which was, of course irrelevant, though the solve would have been slightly quicker had we known..
    What fun!

  3. jonofwales said

    Yes, much gentler than the preceding days, though I did find the SW corner to be somewhat knotty. 15ac was a bit of a write-in as it’s famous in these parts because there are loads of Welsh speakers out there (Welsh colonists, apparently, many moons ago).

    No question marks at the close, and on a better day I would have solved this in a jiffy. Phi’s themes? I invariably don’t spot them, and suspect we’re not meant to – if he uses them to keep him amused when he fills the grid, all well and good, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have it pointed out in retrospect.

  4. saboteur said

    Agreed, a gentle end to an odd sort of crosswording week. No quibbles or queries on completion. I dredged up LAPUTANS from the depths of my memories, helped by very clear wordplay, and I did need to check exactly what a CHEVRON had to do with rank. Last in was TALK, which I kept missing; a bit of four–letter-word-panic setting in, as ever.

    I no longer look for or care about Phi-themes…

  5. Guy Barry said

    I didn’t buy the paper until this morning, and I’d already glimpsed MARSHALSEA and LAPUTANS so had a head start. It didn’t make the rest of the puzzle much easier!

    Quite a fun puzzle nonetheless. I initially had CATNAP for 1/29, which held me up a bit. Couldn’t work out the parsing for 24d and still don’t like it much after seeing the solution (I presume another “reverse cryptic” – there don’t seem to be any standard conventions for indicating these). Wasn’t entirely sure whether 18ac was an actual word, as “most abstruse” would be the usual formation. And on a related point, is it strictly OK to use a non-standard form like “littler” in the wordplay for 3d?

    Clever theme, which I didn’t spot – although as I was trying to solve my last one (17d), I remembered that I’d seen some discussion about it here, which helped slightly with the answer. I don’t suppose I’d have guessed it otherwise.

    • Guy Barry said

      Oh by the way, did anyone solve the other puzzle in yesterday’s paper – the ordering of the pages? They seem to go 50, 53, 52, 51, 54, so that the puzzle section is split in two. I’d hate to think that anyone was still hunting for the Inquisitor 🙂

      • jonofwales said

        No fear, I found the Inquisitor, though I must admit to not noticing until it was pointed out to me. 😉

    • Cornick said

      On reflection, 24d should have had more brickbats – the DIY nature of the clue was not indicated anything like sufficiently in either your view or mine!

  6. Dave said

    Didn’t do well, couldn’t see question as dispute 😦 Never heard of marshalsea or laputans. Sunup didnt make enough sense to enter. Thought 7d was replacing a quarter not a third and Assumed 16d would say copy not copying so didn’t put in imitation. Think that last couple on phi not me unless missed something.

    • Guy Barry said

      The 6d definition works with “question” as a verb, e.g. “he questioned the result” = “he disputed the result”.
      In 7d I took “third” to mean “the third letter” rather than “one-third” (as you note below).
      In 16d, I think the definition works if you take “imitation” to mean “the action of imitating”, e.g. “imitation of someone’s style” = “copying someone’s style”. But it’s a bit weak.

  7. Dave said

    7d 3rd letter not one third of! CopyING = imitation?

    • Cornick said

      As in ‘The copying of your answers is forbidden’.
      If I remember rightly most verbs can be nouned. Or was that all nouns can be verbed?

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