i Cryptic Crossword 3132 by Phi

February 20, 2021

When this puzzle first came out in October 2016, Bert&Joyce – usually two of Phi’s greatest supporters – found little good to say about it and their review (click here) prompted a slew of comments which were all positive – well, four of them at least. I’m expecting a similar story today, because without any ticks at all by the clues, I’m struggling to even come up with a Clue Of the Day for this one.

Having said that, and now that Fifteensquared have explained it to me, I do think 7d is rather brilliant. Here it is again:

7d Cross lines, failing to engage with dancing dog (9)

My mistake was thinking that ‘cross lines’ meant CHI rather than just ‘cross’. It would have had to have been ‘crossed lines’ of course.

Anyhow the answer was clear enough, and apart from that everything was all solved and parsed successfully. As Virgilius once answered when asked what makes a good crossword: ‘One you can finish!’

No theme from Phi for once, and no comment from him at Fifteensquared, which is even rarer.

22 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3132 by Phi”

  1. jonofwales said

    The muted reaction on the other side surprises me, as I thought this was a perfectly good puzzle. I made a mess of LOLZ at the close, and had to check one or two answers, but it passed the time nicely.

    Solvers thinking of dipping their toes into the weird and wonderful world of the Inquisitor would be advised that today’s setter is usually considered to be entry level. 😀

  2. Saboteur said

    I thought CHIHUAHUA was rather good – in an otherwise unexceptional, but perfectly all right crossword. I quite enjoyed it, but wouldn’t go much further than that.

    Like BertandJoyce I did wonder why the slightly odd LOLZ was there, given there were plenty of other options available, but I wasn’t prepared to invest more than a nano-second in looking for a Phi-theme. Just as well, really.

  3. dtw42 said

    I too bunged in the CHIHUAHUA without understanding the parsing (and the INFLICT and the TREATMENT too, if I’m honest), but agree with JoW’s first comment. All else made sense and I finished in decent time.

  4. thebargee said

    Couldn’t parse CHIHUAHUA or TREATMENT, but understood everything else, even LOLZ (yuk!). I haven’t come across the ‘last one’ device in a clue before, it strikes me as overly obscure, but once seen…

    Passably enjoyable overall.

  5. batarde said

    I’ve long since lost my objectivity about this setter, and found the puzzle – which I’ve done several hundred times before or so it feels – wearisome. 7d is a very clear COD to me, nothing else making any positive impression at all. Inquisitor it is, then.

  6. tonnelier said

    I doubt today’s Inquisitor will make much of a positive impression either, batarde.
    Phi and Chalicea both match today’s weather, I fear

  7. Willow said

    I enjoyed this overall, although I found some clues quite tricky and tenuous. CHIHUAHUA took some working out! Two further observations:

    It’s nearly a pangram. I think only five letters are missing. Was this an abandoned attempt at creating one?

    The way I parsed TREATMENT was like this:

    LAST ONE = E. MILLION = M. If you invest AT (= IN) in E and M you get EATM, and if you put that into TRENT you get TREATMENT. To work properly, however, really requires another IN somewhere, I suppose.

    • Saboteur said

      I took it as TR(EAT+M)ENT. “EAT” coming from “last one”, meaning the last clue in I’ve puzzle, i.e. 25d. Thi was after I had toyed for a moment or two with some version of Z or Zed or Zee, even. I can’t say I thought this was a scintillating clue, rather like the puzzle as a whole

    • Cornick said

      Hi Willow – On the subject of pangrams, with over 150 letter squares in the average crossword, letter counts go over 20 more often than not, I’d say, and it’s easy for that number to creep towards all 26 quite inadvertently. For example Monday’s Kairos was just a Q and a J short of being a pangram.

  8. Denzo said

    If it is true that there are 20 letters which will always appear and one of the other 6 (which isn’t exactly true, of course), the chances of there being 2 short of a pangram, (eg Monday’s Kairos) are about 1 in 1,300, and the chances of an unintentional pangram about 1 in 47,000, which is more than most of us will do in a lifetime. In fact, if you ever find a 15×15 puzzle that’s just one short of a pangram it would be a good bet to assume the setter4 started off intending to do a pangram but gave up.

    Got the i today and tend to agree with th 225 blog. CoD went in unparsed – a dog of a clue.

    • Cornick said

      Well Denzo, I can assure you that compiling a grid fill that’s a pangram is ridiculously easy.
      My assertion is that most crosswords have over 20 different letters, if you forced me to guess I’d say that the highest frequencies would be for 21, 20, 22, 23, 19, 24, and 18 letters in something like that order. So, if randomly generated, Kairos’ puzzle would have the sixth most likely number of letters. I really don’t think it’s deliberate.

      • Cornick said

        Okay, I just ran a little experiment on Crossword Compiler, Denzo, and with 20 randomly selected 15×15 grids, each autofilled by the program, the mode was 22, the median also and the mean 21.6.

      • Cornick said

        And my last puzzle in the Indy was inadvertently only a Q and an X short!

      • Denzo said

        I’ll take your word for it, Cornick not having ever tried to compile a crossword. But I suspect to do a pangram whilst maintaining the main objective of filling the grid with words which lend themselves to good clues is a tad less easy. (Likewise filling a grid with four pangrams and scarcely even one naff clue must be quite a challenge, but it is rumoured that such an amaizing feat has indeed been achieved!)

        I would agree that a puzzle two short of a pangram (which is about six times less rare than one that is only one short) could easily be random and that 24 could rank about 6 on your list of most likely number of letters. But that still makes it very unusual because if you exclude pangrams where a special effort is made, the puzzles ranked 1 to 5 on your list probably comprise over 90% of the total with those ranked 6 to 25 comprising less than 10%.

      • Cornick said

        Sure. I’ve got an ‘A’ level in Statistics, so I have some understanding. Furthermore, if a setter – for whatever reason – decides to put in a word or two like ‘quiz’ or ‘jinx’ say, the odds come tumbling down,

      • Denzo said

        I posted my last message at 1812 before I saw your experiment. Assuming you excluded pangrams, I understand that your sample had as many puzzles with >22 letters as with <22. I find that a bit surprising, but if you take into account (as I had not) that settters even when not aiming for a pangram are particularly partial to words like skew and jinx, it does indeed skew the odds somewhat.

        As a matter of interest, how many 25 letter crosswords were in your sample?

      • dtw42 said

        FWIW, I’ve just checked the letter counts in the 22 main 15×15 puzzles on my Crossword Compiler page plus the two guest puzzles I’ve had hosted here. I was not trying for a pangram in any of them (in most cases I had themes or ninas to worry about instead) and my average comes out at 22.3. None of them were under 20 letters, and two of them came to 25 letters.

      • batarde said

        “I’ll take your word for it, Cornick not having ever tried to compile a crossword”.

        Really Denzo, it’s most unfortunate that you should cross swords with a very widely admired crossword compiler who just happens to have a relevant qualification in statistics. Never mind old chap, there’s a flagon of wallop behind the bar for you, in appreciation of the entertainment.

    • Denzo said

      Sorry, Batarde, it was not my intention to cause anybody any offence, and I apologise if indeed I did so. However, I appreciate that you found today’s puzzle “wearisome” and have “lost your objectivity”

  9. Veronica said

    A bit of a mix for me. I had some quibbles: Like fifteensquared, I also thought some surfaces were a bit rough, and there were a few clues I didn’t like that much. LOLZ in particular, but mostly because I’ve never heard it, not in the plural.
    On the other hand, there were several clues I did like. I rather liked KICKS THE BUCKET, despite the grim reference and despite the comments on fifteensquared: I liked the idea of changing the indoor toilet from a bucket!

    I didn’t quite finish it. With sympathy to dtw – I did finally parse TREATMENT and INFLICT, but it took me simply ages. Didn’t solve LOLZ. Didn’t parse CHIHUAHUA ( which I think is pretty hard).

  10. Willow said

    Thank you for all the enlightening remarks about pangrams. My eyes have been opened.

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