i Cryptic Crossword 3210 by Phi

May 22, 2021

Those hanging chads in the NE and SW corners will have alerted regular solvers to the presence of one of Phi’s ghost themes. For once I thought I’d give it a good deal of time – quiet, calm, deliberate time you might say – scanning the completed grid to see if I could pick up on something from my general knowledge and my high degree of familiarity with Phi’s proclivities.

No chance.

What I had been failing to find was a quote from The Gondeliers: QUIET CALM DELIBERATION DISENTANGLES EVERY KNOT. Really? Well it didn’t disentangle that one!

Heigh-ho. Let’s move on.

I enjoyed the clues which were pretty consistently comfortable and for the most part not overly challenging to experienced solvers I suspect, even if there were a few curved balls thrown as Phi is prone to do. CHIPOTLE rang only the most distant of tinkles, though the wordplay was clear, and at 11a the shocking truth is that not everyone has heard of Carl Maria von Weber, let alone his operas – for my part I certainly I hadn’t ever met EURYANTHE. It was obviously an anagram but crossing letters were needed to be sure. Without any connecting isthmus to the NE corner, that effectively became like a Five-clue cryptic flown in from page 11, and was consequently my last piece of the puzzle. Elsewhere the only question mark in my margin was for EVERY in 26ac. Bert & Joyce explain that perfectly in their 2017 blog (see below).

A new device today was the wordplay in 13a: Rather than putting ‘on the contrary’ at the end of the clue, Phi used ‘Contrary view of’. Nice idea, I thought. However my favourite clues were 5d SURREPTITIOUSLY, 10d GO PUBLIC, 12a SHOT-PUTTER, 24a DUBLINERS and this one, which gets my CoD nomination:

25a Slender drawing ultimately the hand of Addams? (5)

As promised, here’s the link to Fifteensquared with all the answers & parsings:


14 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3210 by Phi”

  1. dtw42 said

    Yes … no theme spotting here either. I liked 25ac too, but my COD nomination would be the one before it – 24ac. Unsurprisingly, 11ac was my LOI: not only had I never heard of it, but it’s also not listed under ‘operas’ in either Bradford’s Crossword Solvers Dictionary or Chambers Crossword Dictionary. (Though it is hidden away under ‘Works of literature and music’ in Bradford’s Crossword Lists.)

    • Cornick said

      24a was CoD until I changed my mind at the last minute!

      • Brock said

        12a was my COD, although really my favourite today came from the Five-Clue Cryptic: “Some hard men reformed in these?” (6,5).

        I echo your comments about the design; if you didn’t know 11a (which I certainly didn’t, even though I’d heard of Weber), the NE corner effectively became a separate puzzle, which strikes me as a minor flaw. Fortunately I got 6a quickly and the rest followed fairly easily.

  2. Veronica said

    Theme? What theme? As you say, move on …
    Very enjoyable. I have THING as my stand-out CoD as well – for bringing back amusing memories with a good clue.
    My other favourites were VONNEGUT and – yep – EURYANTHUS. I’d never heard of either of them, but got them anyway due to brilliant clueing. The former was gettable from the word play; the latter required crossers but then seemed the most likely possibility. To me, that’s a mark of a very good setter.
    ALSATIAN got a bit of a question mark from me. German Shepherd Dog is the correct name now, as I understand it, so this seemed out of date.

  3. Saboteur said

    I enjoy opera, and consider myself more than a little knowledgeable of it, but, really, EURYANTHE must be the most obscure opera by the most obscure composer in the western hemisphere. I needed to Google it for confirmation.

    I also know The Gondoliers, but again, that particular phrase has hardly become part of common culture, unlike some others from certain G&S works. Not that I looked for it.

    Otherwise, a pleasant solve of average challenge. No quibbles, and any queries were easily resolved.

  4. batarde said

    Hmm. Well, that didn’t cost me much effort, and I suspect the same goes for Phi. Prior to solving this crossword I could in fact name one opera by Weber and fondly supposed that was more than enough, but apparently not. At least the musical encyclopedia has been dusted now. As usual, it was all right.

    I still can’t claim to understand entirely Alchemi’s comment yesterday, but he has a puzzle in the Indy today, and for what it’s worth it is indeed Fine By Me. Recommended.

  5. Grodnik said

    Having appeared as Luiz in “The Gondoliers” many moons ago the theme sprung out almost immediately, leading to a new personal best Phi solve. My COD definitely 12ac. The opera rang a bell from GCE ‘O’ level music, ca 1957, when knowing composers’ oeuvres could get you a few marks. I hope things have changed.

  6. jonofwales said

    The theme as expected was missed, but a reasonably straightforward solve enjoyed, if with a few trips to Google required to check the obscurities. There’s a handy list of operas online that according to my search stats I’ve consulted on a number of occasions…

  7. Willow said

    An enjoyable solve – thank you. I have some knowledge of G and S, although not The Gondoliers, and also know Weber’s Der Freischutz, but not Euryanthe. Grodnik: things have changed quite significantly over the years in O Level and GCSE Music, often on something like a five-yearly basis, and not necessarily for the better. But you wouldn’t recognise it as being the same qualification now. A significant and welcome difference (since 1987) is that all students now have to compose their own music, thanks to the insistence of Mike Batt, of Wombles fame, who was on the GCSE working party.

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