i Cryptic Crossword 3419 by Phi

January 22, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

In which Phi’s customary ghost theme consisted of these 8 record labels: BRILLIANT, HYPERION, ORFEO, FUGUE, FLARE, Dร‰Jร€-VU, NAXOS, and TESTAMENT. I think that’s it. I’m not entirely sure whether or not GUITARS, TUNE, PART, ALBUM and OOMPAH or indeed the sprinkling of musical references in the clues count as part of the theme; they may have been deliberate embellishment on Phi’s part, they may have arisen subliminally because he was thinking about classical records, but then again he often puts in classical music to his crosswords in any case, so who knows?

In the Fifteensquared comments, ‘crimper’ opines that a ghost theme is the best sort of theme because it ensures no-one feels left out; hmm, that rather depends doesn’t it? If, like me, you guessed that there was probably something musical going on in a classical vein but weren’t sure what, then you may indeed have felt left out! There’s my regular moan again – sorry!

Two stars today because after failing entirely in the NW corner while my brain was waking up, I then managed to solve the whole puzzle ‘in one pass’ sweeping round clockwise a quarter at a time from the NE, starting with 4d AUSTRALIAN and finishing with 1d BRAVE. All understood and as it happened nothing was outside my vocabulary today – although that’s quite a rarity with Phi and me.

Along the way were some neat little tricks which I’m sure will have delighted many solvers: NINE clued by ‘square’, A TO S clued by ‘nineteen letters’, a nice long reverse hidden for LIMESTONE, a rare appearance for the I Ching (it was quite the thing in my student days), the Romanians/ SAN MARINO anagram (familiar to some), and the delightful use of ‘switching directions’ to turn ‘Saxon’ into NAXOS – which was almost my favourite clue; but in the end that honour goes to the excellent 13d:

Second year โ€“ year defined by interaction of sun and moon โ€“ having same meaning (10)

Here are all the answers and parsings, plus Phi’s contribution to the comments vis-ร -vis ODD-JOBMAN with which I thoroughly concur:

Fifteensquared/ Independent/ 9619/ Phi

12 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3419 by Phi”

  1. thebargee said

    NW followed by NE, SW, SE, all 4 quadrants completed in short order with barely a pause. Well, the SW took longer to get into than the rest, but it was all over too quickly. Enjoyed it though.

    Loved LIMESTONE, I had to stare at the clue for a little while to see what was going on.

    • thebargee said

      Meant to say that I solved this on my laptop and for some reason, the ‘?’ button didn’t reveal who today’s setter was, so I had no idea until I’d finished.

      • Cornick said

        Yes, I noticed that too. If you go into the pages of the virtual newspaper, then you can look under โ€˜Games & Puzzlesโ€™ to see who it is.

  2. Saboteur said

    Agreed, a relatively accessible solve, with some nice touches. Getting the word-play for the long reverse hidden of LIMESTONE took me quite a while. Otherwise all very good, all very Phi.

    I spotted some musical references, and I wondered about an opera theme with ORFEO and NAXOS, but I thought (a) there were not enough, and not sufficiently cohesive to really merit being called a theme and (b) it just didn’t seem quite recondite enough to be a Phi-theme. Record labels never occurred to me.

  3. jonofwales said

    Three quarters of this was as easy as they come – not knowing who the setter was, I assumed it was an IoS reprint. The SW corner put up a little more resistance, mostly I suspect due to alarm on spotting two words, one of which it turned out I didn’t know that well, ending in O. The whole was still finished in 1* for time, and enjoyed. Any ghost theme proved to be elusive, not being obvious, and the whole over that quickly that I didn’t look.

  4. Willow said

    What a great puzzle! Many thanks to Phi. I have ticks next to every single clue, but I especially enjoyed those for NIGHT and LAY-PERSON. And I spotted some, but not all, record labels. HYPERION and NAXOS, for example, specialise in Early Music. Expecting solvers to know MUSO for MUSICIAN was perhaps slightly unfair, (but not a problem for me personally – although I dislike the term), and I thought I CHING would not be familiar to everyone. I first came across it in a Douglas Adams Dirk Gently novel, and will always associate it with words: “A suffusion of yellow.”

  5. Oik said

    Another stupid highbrow theme to make oiks like me fell inadequate and uninvited in the crossword world.

    • Cornick said

      I know what you mean Oik.
      I have been known (when wearing my setting hat) to go highbrow occasionally, but am much happier with a theme from pop or sport!

    • jonofwales said

      The crossword world fortunately is a broad one – thankfully, as the theme meant absolutely nothing at all to me either.

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