i Cryptic Crossword 3180 by Phi

April 17, 2021

Rather enjoyable from Phi this week, with a well-judged puzzle of medium difficulty for the i, I thought, stiffening up in the South West. But judging from some of the comments over at Fifteensquared where you can find the answers, you won’t be alone if you found it tough going. We were required to have a fair bit of general knowledge today – A PANE of stamps was fine but 17a UNICAMERAL was my last one in and I felt compelled to check it really was a word, although now I feel like I’ve always known it (usually a good sign, that). Then there was RED-EYE as a kind of flight which I only learned recently (from a crossword) and the potentially confusing ‘writer of entertainments’ to describe Graham Greene – something else I recently learned from a crossword solve – it’s jolly educational this crosswording malarkey.

I also liked some of the innovative clueing: 4d had an indirect deletion, 3d referenced the following clue, and 18d referenced itself as ‘clue’ – why not – I can’t recall seeing it before. Indeed I had a sprinkling of ticks by the end, so hats off to Phi for entertainment. Runner-up for favourite clue was for the aforementioned 17a, but my pick of the bunch was the following for its excellent surface reading:

14d Confused fellow had carnal thoughts about the Queen (9)

At which I realise I’m probably encouraging the writing of yet more lewd and irreverent clues. If you’re reading this setters, just don’t cross the line or you’ll have Topsy and Willow to answer to!

And what about Phi’s famous (or infamous) ghost themes or Ninas? Once again nobody spotted anything until Phi hinted in the Fifteensquared comments that it’s something to do with the month of March – so apart from WEDDING March and FROG March there are another six you could go hunting for if you feel the urge. For the completists among us this leaves a slight harrumphing feeling at the end of an otherwise pleasant experience. And that’s probably why I’ll grumpily point out a difference between Phi and myself: He calls it a Nina, I would call it a ghost theme. But this is old ground, I just have to accept that it’s what he does.

26 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3180 by Phi”

  1. Topsy said

    This was not so much a DNF for me today, more a BS (barely started) my heart just wasn’t in it. A combo of no heating and then two heating engineers milling around put me right off. I didn’t bother going back to it because I am no fan of Phi’s puzzles….. and, yes, 14a did irritate me!!

  2. Denzo said

    Tough by Phi’s standards, and I stared for several minutes before eventually getting going with TERRACOTTA, swiftly followed by UNICAMERAL. After finishing the SE corner, I was insufficiently certain of my answers to ink in none of the top half until it was all solveed, as is often the case with Phi. As it was, I DNF, having lazily entered SLATE at 10a – I did not notice that SAVE = BAR, and in a bar I often visit, my purchases are usually unpaid on a slate until I leave.

    An interesting comment by Phi about Graham Greene, but the words “of entertainment” add nothing but confusion to the 8d clue. This is one reason why I pencil so many Phi answers. The answer is clear enough and the unnecessary words make me wonder what I have missed. I read somewhere that a good crossword clue contains definition and wordplay necessary to solve the clue, and nothing else. If Phi observed this he could save some of his precious time by writing shorter clues

    I agree that the SW corner was toughest, but thought there were at least three better clues than our blogger’s COD. THIRTEEN was cleverest, FROG got a laugh and INANEST a guffaw whereas FLUSTERED was worth only a groan. Although I am neither monarchist nor stranger to lewdity, I also agree with Cornick’s implication that setters should not be encouraged to write such clues by ennobling them as COD.

    • Denzo said

      Sorry – meant anti-monarchist

      • Cornick said

        Well yes, I am fully aware of having contradicted myself! Thing is, I’m a sucker for a surface reading that reads like a proper sentence.

      • Denzo said

        A nice surface is always a bonus, especially with Phi, who doesn’t specialise in surfaces. Analysing the clue, it would have worked just as well with an indefinite article or (better still) no article at all. By choosing the definite article, Phi was choosing to make the clue offensive (to some readers) as well as lewd.

      • batarde said

        Ahem … that would be out of the frying pan and into the fire in fine style, wouldn’t it?

      • Denzo said

        (in reply to Batarde) I thought of that, but I don’t see why, necessarily. To my mind the word “queen” can apply to all sorts of people, not all of them royal, but “the Queen” (sic) can only be one person, so the clue is bound to offend some people. I accept that to some people a wider use could make the clue even lewder, but my mind doesn’t work that way!

      • batarde said

        Right, so “Confused fellow had carnal thoughts about [male homosexual, esp. if effeminate]”. Dated homophobic slang … not a clue I’d care to venture, frankly. Also, you wind up with ER again, so HM the Q is still embroiled. Keep the smut, ditch the monarch? …

        “Confused fellow had carnal thoughts about naked Vera (9)”

      • Cornick said

        Well they’re all fine, but I liked Phi’s gentle nod towards Michael Fagan.

      • Denzo said

        Well, Batarde, I assume your wife isn’t named Vera! In which case, your clue is fine.

        I think I have heard queen used in the way you first suggest just once in the last fifty years, which was when somebody made the unlikely suggestion that a band was so called because its lead singer was gay. I would think sooner of a female cat, the “Queen of jazz” (Ella), the Queen of Sheba or Tonga, queens in chess or playing cards. ……. Of course, to solve the clue you’re still stuck with ER, but it is not in your face on the printed page, so threefore (IMO) less offensive

  3. dtw42 said

    Funny how we’re all different isn’t it?

    I had a slow start but did fine once I got going. Didn’t notice the SW as being particularly tricky (apart from 13d) – in fact I finished up in the NW corner (had 1d only lightly pencilled in for a long time because I’ve never heard JAR to be a ‘clash of opinions’). And, in contrast to Cornick, I knew unicameral happily enough but had to look in the dictionary to learn that a PANE was a sheet of stamps.

  4. Veronica said

    I was irritated by 14 down as well. Very irritated – because it referenced a particular person. If I were the queen reading it (not just today), I would be upset. Therefore I didn’t like it, no matter how seemingly clever.
    Otherwise, fun to solve. I didn’t find the clues that smooth to read, but no other complaints. A couple I had to check after solving. In particular, UNICAMERAL was easy enough to “make up” as a potential answer, and then look up.
    Rather liked INANEST.

    • Veronica said

      And I failed to parse LOADED. Which I think was a very clever clue. My CoD, despite meaning I didn’t finish today.

    • Denzo said

      On what authority was your solve a DNF because you failed to completely parse one clue? If I accepted that, all mine would be DNFs, as I very seldom parse every clue 100%.

      This was a DNF for me because I put in SLATE which sort of works but accept that SLAVE works better. I parsed only the LO of LOADED, and also googled PANE to confirm my hunch that it could mean a page of stamps.

      If anyone reading this is interested in the other puzzles, |I recommend the second “Mensa” brain teaser in today’s i. I found it clever, original and not too difficult. It looks like a catch question, but I promise you it isn’t.

      • Cornick said

        What the ‘F’ of DNF means is surely allowed to vary from person to person Denzo. No need for authority to be sought or granted 🙂

      • Denzo said

        I agree absolutely. But things are sometimes said very athoritatively about crosswords, and I wondered who, if anyone, had pontificated on this matter. (For example, you probably recall Morph’s 0.9 clue a few weeks ago. Another setter said on 225 that this clue was not on. I don’t think many agreed with him)

      • Veronica said

        It’s a DNF for me. Doesn’t make it one for you! I like to parse all the clues. But I reckon we all do puzzles differently. 😊

  5. batarde said

    My experience was closer to dtw42’s, except that I finished in the north east and of course didn’t enjoy it much. Found the showing off about Graham Greene more objectionable than anything else, including 14d. There’s a nice alternative CoD in Nimrod’s column next to the Inquisitor, salvaged from a Listener of all places.

  6. tonnelier said

    I continue to be baffled by disapproving reactions to clues like 14d. It’s just a (rather clever) clue in a crossword, mildly amusing, maybe a bit smutty, but that’s all. It never occurs to me to take crossword clues seriously enough to find them offensive.

    As for the rest of it, I found it quite tough going, having never heard of PANE in this sense nor of Greene as a writer of entertainments, nor yet of red-eye in connection with flying. I have no ticks on my copy, which is unusual; if pushed I’d for for the controversial 14d as COD because of its excellent, and to me quite amusing surface

  7. jonofwales said

    Tough for Phi, but of about average difficulty for the i. Enjoyed out in the sunshine too which was an added bonus. Any ghost theme not sought for and duly missed.

  8. Willow said

    I’m surprised no-one has commented about the reference to fire and Enniskillen: the 1987 Remembrance Day bombing may have been forgotten by many, but for others it must still be painful to recollect. Just for the record, I wasn’t at all worried about 14 D. As dtw42 remarks, funny how we’re all different!

  9. Saboteur said

    A Sunday breakfast solve for me, and pleasant enough. A little harder than usual, I thought, for a Phi, but not too tough. Enjoyment maintained by refusing to give more than a cursory thought to the possibility of a theme.

    I did like JAMBALAYA, which would have been my choice for COD. Partle because its such a fun-sounding word.

    As to 14d, yesterday was precisely the wrong day for such a clue, IMHO, whatever else one may think of it.

    • Topsy said

      Saboteur, that was my main reason for objecting to 14d , extremely poor taste!

      • Cornick said

        I actually hadn’t realised that Saturday was Philip’s funeral day – having reached saturation point, I’d stopped reading those articles! Might have reconsidered if I’d known…

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