i Cryptic Crossword 3312 by Phi

September 18, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five):  🌟🌟

Very much a graded crossword I thought; some very easy ones, a majority that were perfectly tractable with thought, and a few which were more challenging at the end. I dare say these will have varied from solver to solver, but for me putting ‘olio’ into 8d NEROLI OIL was tricky, as was the neighbouring 4a ABSIT OMEN; sometimes things seem very straightforward in retrospect, but during the solve you need all the crossing letters to believe such an unlikely sequence of letters could be right. It also took me a while to remember what a vigneron is at 13d, with my LOIs being 16a NUANCE then 20a SELFIE. So some 1*, some 2*, some 3* = average difficulty as above – feel free to disagree!

The clues I enjoyed most were 11a NOD, 12a OPERATIONAL, 18a THANKFUL, 21a MIDDLE-EARTH, and 2d SLANDER. But I’m contractually obliged to pick one out as a favourite, so let’s go with this one:

5d 24 hours for one to grasp German conjunction (6)

My only very minor quibble was the repetition of the same anagram indicator ‘at sea’ in 4a and 8d. My guess is that Phi might have changed one of them if he’d noticed, but does it really matter? Surely not.

For all the answers, parsings, and a comment from the setter (which I shall respectfully ignore), please click the following link:

Independent 9,577 by Phi

8 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3312 by Phi”

  1. dtw42 said

    Funnily, my September crossword suffered from two “at sea”s, which my test solver pointed out and I subsequently fixed.

    I rattled through most of this (yes, ABSIT OMEN and NEROLI OIL were both a bit recondite), but it was just 15, 20, and 25 that held me up at the end and forced me to fire up a word list for assistance.

  2. Saboteur said

    I’m so glad that my personal policy of not spending more than three nanoseconds looking for a Phi-theme meant that no time was wasted on that today.

    I got ABSIT OMEN from the crossers and anagram-fodder. I thought the phrase sounded very vaguely familiar, and wondered if it was a phrase I had come across from Latin at school, all those decades ago. While muttering about it, a Younger Person said it was also something to do with Harry Potter, which sort of makes sense.

    I had heard of NEROLI OIL, although I have no idea why. The olio / miscellany thing puzzled me a bit, but then I recalled having had some sort of casserole on holiday somewhere called an olio, so I could see how it might mean some sort of mixture. Lo and behold, it’s in the dictionary.

    Otherwise, all very enjoyable, as Phi reliably is.

  3. Willow said

    I concur almost completely with Cornick, including the bit about the setter’s comments …

    Many thanks for the analysis, and many thanks also to Phi for the puzzle, which I found very enjoyable in nearly every respect.

    Loads of excellent clues, but I wonder how many solvers use SHOUT for ROUND on these shores, as in; “It’s my shout/it’s my round.” And, being pernickety, shouldn’t we really have another AND in 6a? Minor, trivial points – the answers were clear – but – as Cornick suggests – I did need crossing letters.

    Perhaps unusually, AKIMBO is a word that I use frequently. I used to think it had a Malaysian origin, but it seems it actually comes from Chaucer. My personal highlight of the day was guessing ABSIT OMEN simply from knowing a bit of Latin.

    • Cornick said

      Yeah, it’s an interesting one regarding Latin. If you know it, you get to feel good (and maybe a bit nostalgic for your schooldays?) but if you don’t it can feel alienating.
      It’s curious how general knowledge grows throughout ones life in most areas, but for those of us who didn’t do it at school, Latin tends to remain stubbornly stuck at a small cluster of words like anno domini or et cetera!

  4. jonofwales said

    Agreed on the rating, for what was an enjoyable offering. The two that caused everyone else grief no surprises also gave me more than a little pause for thought. AKIMBO came easily to mind courtesy of the League of Gentlemen’s Legz Akimbo.

  5. dtw42 said

    There might be more omens in next week’s Off-Grid podcast 😉

  6. John E said

    I see that there was a comment on the original 15 squared blog questioning All Souls’ educational credentials on the grounds that it is not a teaching college. However, there is a way for undergraduates to use the college library if they have a letter of introduction from their tutor/supervisor. Here’s an interesting piece on recent goings on the college:

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