i Cryptic Crossword 3061 by Math

November 28, 2020

Math used to be a key fixture in the early days of the i, but then had a 4 or 5 year holiday before his recent and very welcome re-emergence. This was a very fine crossword indeed – perfectly judged with plenty of accessible clues to give relative beginners some hope (I got half the across clues before even looking at the downs) then a few to make the solver move up a gear, and finally a sprinkling that will have doubtless stretched even seasoned regulars like us lot! But more importantly it was a lot of fun to do.

I did go looking for a theme about half way through, and wondered if it might be something to do with computers, but my knowledge is far from comprehensive in such areas, so I’ll leave it to Myelbow in the first of the comments at Fifteensquared to give the full list. Very impressive that.

No quibbles from me, but I was surprised to see ‘alternatives’ used as an alternate letter indicator in 6d NEON because I always thought that wasn’t allowable – and I was also surprised that Joe for coffee, which I think is American slang, wasn’t indicated as being such. Oh well, them’s evidently the rules.

Hands up if 7d OPOPANAX was your last one in? I’m supposed to know plants, but confess to going to the dictionary to see if there were any words that started ‘opopa…’ – more in desperation than expectation, and there it was. ‘My colleague’ was a less obvious pointer for Anax than ‘Crossword setter’ had been for Phi in 10a PHILOLOGY; I think it’s that plus the obscurity of the answer that held me up, rather than Anax’s relatively fewer appearances in the i.

As for the COD, I was torn between the elegant and the chortlesome, with 11a UNMANNERED (elegant) getting pipped by the following:

13d Admiring our boatload from Newcastle (10)

31 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3061 by Math”

  1. jonofwales said

    To my shame I failed miserably to spot the theme, it being my area of expertise. Oh well. A fun puzzle, pretty straightforward. I didn’t like the references to other setters, especially at 7d, being a little cliquey in what was otherwise an accessible puzzle. Loved the rest though.

  2. Denzo said

    Another enjoyable puzzle, but, sadly a DNF, which it would not have been had I spotted the theme before I had finished. I think the list of computer references to which Cornick refers is complete, though google suggests there could be a computer game called ARCADIA.

    Many of us could have failed to spot the theme because there is a jumble of operating systems, browsers and other software with hardware. What we also (and 225) also failed to notice is that most of the computer references were symmetrical. CD-ROM opposite FLASH, both storage media, SAFARI opposite CHROME, both browsers. This doesn’t apply absolutely because WINDOWS (my COD), an operating system, is opposite ACROBAT, an application program and I believe PERCENTAGES is nothing to do with computers, but is opposite SNOW LEOPARD, an operating system. JAVA is a programming language (and so is ICON, so google now tells me), and had I spotted the theme earlier on, would not have been my DNF. Even after reading 225, I do not understand how either the parsing or definition fit the clue; is JAVA a girl’s name?

    I found the NW corner quite easy, but then it became more difficult.
    The computer link might have helped me subconsciously with FLASH, but the SE corner seemed otherwise best left until last. With three crossing letters, OPOPANAX was not a problem, being the only word in my dictionary starting with OPOP! Obvious though it is in retrospect, OPERA was my LOI, my excuse being that I don’t expect two hidden clues in a puzzle and already had CD-ROM .

    • Cornick said

      Hi Denzo. Dac has often given us two hiddens, but that does seem to be the limit usually. The girl in JAVA is ‘Ava’, which follows J given by ‘Jonas’s first’. The definition ‘Joe’ is American slang for coffee, apparently.

      • Denzo said

        Thanks, Cornick. I get it now, though it’s still a stretch as most coffee is not JAVA. I was put off by the reference on 225 of Joe Jonas (of whom I had not heard) having brothers, which I discovered on Google, but was irrelevant. As you say. a pity there’s no warning about the US slang, which spoils an otherwise excellent puzzle.

        I thought the opposite positionong of the similar programs etc was very clever and must haver taken some time – pity no-one else spotted it!

  3. Guy Barry said

    Jon says: “I didn’t like the references to other setters, especially at 7d, being a little cliquey in what was otherwise an accessible puzzle.”

    Nor did I. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it completely ruined the puzzle for me. Cryptic crosswords should be accessible by anyone who knows the conventions, regardless of what paper they read. Solvers shouldn’t be expected to know information that’s only available to readers of that newspaper. I’ve been doing the i for a little while now, and I remembered there was a setter called PHI, but I’d completely forgotten there was one called ANAX and I don’t see why I or anyone else should be expected to. Casual readers of the paper would have found that clue impossible (and I only got it with Crossword Solver).

    Up until then I thought it was a really nice puzzle, with my favourite clue probably being the well-concealed anagram at 14ac. 18ac was even more ingenious than I thought it was; I parsed it (incorrectly) as anagram inside reversal, but the whole thing turned out to be a hidden reversal. I liked 20dn as well, though once again the punctuation seemed redundant; what was the exclamation mark supposed to convey?

    Penultimate one in was 7d, for reasons already given; and after that I didn’t care about the last one (12a), so just bunged in JAVA for no particular reason and it turned out to be right. Didn’t spot the theme, needless to say.

    Sad about that puzzle. Never mind.

  4. Saboteur said

    Good and enjoyable.

    Yes, Cornick, OPOPANAX was my last in, gleaned from the dictionary, after having tried to get “pal” for “colleague” into it somehow. I agree with Guy that this was unfair insofar as it required particularly exclusive knowledge, although I don’t feel quite as strongly about it as Guy seems to, on the grounds that it was easy to find in the dictionary and the internet. JAVA was a bit too recondite, too.

    I spotted the theme, but not every part of it. Impressive.

    • Guy Barry said

      If this has been my first attempt at a crossword in the i, how would I have known I had the correct solution? Even if I’d found OPOPANAX in the dictionary (and it’s in the COED), I’d have had no way of getting ANAX from “my colleague”, beyond looking through a load of back numbers of the i to find out the pseudonyms of their crossword setters.

      A thoroughly unfair device in my opinion. I’m surprised it was allowed in the first place.

      • Cornick said

        Hi Guy? How did you feel about Phi’s appearance in PHILOLOGY?

      • Guy Barry said

        Exactly the same way. I solved PHILOLOGY fairly early on, and immediately scribbled “inside knowledge?” in the margin because it required knowledge that not all solvers would have.

        Believe it or not, not all crossword solvers are obsessed with the pseudonyms of setters, or even notice them. I did the Guardian for years, and was familiar with Araucaria, but I don’t think I could have told you the pseudonyms of any of their other regular setters. I just didn’t pay attention.

      • Cornick said

        I’m not in favour of the device either, and would be happy to see it outlawed.
        I suppose that in Math’s defence, these two examples were at least neatly done – Lord knows how else you could clue those two words so succinctly!

      • jonofwales said

        You have said so several times now Guy, I guess you feel very strongly about it. 😀 Let’s please make our point and move on, and especially not leap on other replies on the same topic, giving others space to air their views.

  5. batarde said

    Didn’t enjoy this one either, for much the same reasons as yesterday. Which I shan’t go into. Absolutely loathed “alternatives”, but as Cornick says those must be the rules, then. Otherwise it all works but not necessarily in ways which please me, but no doubt something more to my taste will be along presently.
    Regarding 12ac, there’s nothing wrong with it. In America “Joe” is slang for coffee, and “Java” is a metonym for coffee in general. Do I like or approve of American slang in my crossword? Need you ask? Is it permissible without warning in the Independent / i? Looks like it.

  6. dtw42 said

    Ha. I liked this quite a lot, chuckling as I spotted each new computer reference. I also didn’t mind the appearances of Phi and Anax. My last one in was DEPOPULATE.
    Funnily, Flash uninstalled itself for me this morning.

  7. Guy Barry said

    Jon, I was asked a question by Cornick and answered it. It would have been rude of me not to reply. I was not “leaping onto” his reply – I was answering his question.

    Would you prefer it if I didn’t answer questions directly addressed to me?

    • jonofwales said

      I was more referring to your reply to Saboteur.

      • Guy Barry said

        Oh, I see. Saboteur did reference me directly in his post, so I spoke up in my defence. No offence was meant to Saboteur or indeed to anyone else who takes that point of view.

        I hope we can disagree in a friendly fashion on this blog! Please can I say that you do an excellent job running it. If there are any “house rules” I may have inadvertently breached, I’m sorry.

      • jonofwales said

        No problem Guy. For the most part debate here is pretty friendly, let’s all live and learn and move on.

  8. Denzo said

    I quite liked the cheeky reference to Phi and Anax when I did the puzzle. But if it had been my first i puzzle, it would also have been my last. I would have been hopping mad. Guy is right. Such faits accomplis should not be allowed!

  9. batarde said

    This isn’t in reply to anyone; more in the nature of a bit of musing. The business of using other setters’ pseudonyms has come up before, but it’s infrequent and that’s just as well. It’s not a trick which will endear itself to irregular Indy / i solvers, and whilst it didn’t cause me problems it was one of the things I disliked.

    That said, there has been so much discussion of what’s right or wrong just lately that I do think it’s worth reminding ourselves that it is the crossword editor and not the solver or even the setter who has the final say. “The rules” are not the same across all newspapers, and they are both less numerous and more flexible than might be supposed. The setters we discuss are a mixed bunch running from strict Ximeneans like Don Manley to enfants terrible like Hob, and they’re not all going to be to our various tastes. However, Eimi has okayed their work, and his word is law. In his absence it’s worth paying attention to what Cornick says, because he’s the one who really knows about this stuff.

    • Cornick said

      Thanks. I know enough of the process to say that an awful lot goes into the process and Eimi is a real stickler for details with very high standards. If in any doubt at all, the chances are he, the setter, Gaufrid and possibly other test solvers to boot might between them have done some thinking around what’s bothering you already!

    • Guy Barry said

      “Eimi has okayed their work, and his word is law”

      Who says that, and where is it printed in the newspaper?.

      • jonofwales said

        Eimi is the crossword editor for the i’s puzzles. What he says goes, as he approves and edits the final product. He can, and does, publish what he wants. If we don’t like that, there are other papers with puzzles to solve. He doesn’t need to make a public statement to that effect, and it doesn’t need to be printed in the paper. But I suspect you know all this already.

      • Guy Barry said

        No, Jon, I don’t know all this already. That’s why I asked the question. I am not in the habit of asking questions I already know the answer to.

        I am not some expert in the arcania of how crosswords are set or edited. I haven’t learned the pseudonyms of all the setters. I had no idea who “Eimi” was until you told me. I just buy the paper and solve the crossword. That’s all.

        Sorry for asking.

      • jonofwales said

        Hi Guy. Please see my comments above regarding the general tone of discussion on this site. I have become increasingly concerned about the tone of your replies, which whether consciously or not sometimes come across as pretty belligerent. Quoting as you did last night another user’s reply and demanding written source for me is another demonstration of this. To this end I am now putting your comments into moderation. If you wish to discuss further, there are contact details available at the top of the page.

  10. imsewell said

    I enjoyed this. I felt it had a lightness of touch. Didn’t spot the theme but totally agree with the delightful ‘Geordie cargo’ as Cod.

  11. PJ said

    A challenging puzzle with much to commend it but you can add me to the list of those who felt referencing Anax as part of the wordplay for an answer like Opopanax was unfair.

    The same device for Philology was less of a problem as the answer was not a hugely obscure word, and Phi frequently appears in the Weekend slot, I guess. But obscure clueing for a quite obscure answer seems a bit much.

    I accept that if I knew the resin I’d have finished it and that’s my shortcoming but having failed and googled to find the answer I was left shaking my head in disappointment rather.

  12. Willow said

    Hi Everyone!

    Some quite intense debate today. I was just going to say that I found the puzzle very enjoyable, apart from the rather cronyish inclusion of Phi and Anax. A bit too chummy for me. However, in relation to crossword ‘rules,’ I will also add that it does no harm to challenge and subvert established rules and conventions in what is, after all, a cryptic puzzle. What we now regard as old chestnuts were, presumably, once regarded as avant-garde, at the cutting edge and unorthodox. Long may it continue.

  13. Denzo said

    I agree 100%. A super puzzle especially with the clever way the computing themed items were positioned, but surely, MH, if you read this, the esoteric “cronyism” could have been edited out?

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