i Cryptic Crossword 3527 by Phi

May 28, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s been a challenging week in the i for most solvers, and this one won’t have provided any let-up I suspect, being as hard as any I can remember from Phi.

It seems as if, rather than going for theme or Nina, Phi has opted to include some of what he calls ‘interesting’ words in the grid. Hence perhaps STEGANOGRAPHY, NATATORIA, possibly ABSIT OMEN (where I entered ‘abset omni’, ho-hum), then there are some lovely words like MURMURATION, MIASMA (despite the meaning), GNOMIC, and possibly EUCALYPTI. Don’t know; perhaps it’s nothing.

There are six longish anagrams; as usual Phi reserved his best surface readings for those clues. Elsewhere the emphasis is rather on solid cryptic grammar with occasional flashes of innovation. I appreciated the device ‘missing out on repeat’ to indicate changing ‘tasty’ to ‘tasy’ in 7d FANTASY, plus a lovely bit of repetition of ‘rope’ in 8d RECORD. However my runner-up for CoD goes to 11a READY and my winner (largely for avoiding any reference to starlings) is this one:

13d Greek character engaged in lifting drink supply leads to sotto voce comments (11)

Here are the answers from John’s blog in 2018:

www.fifteensquared.net/2018/03/30/independent-9816-by-phi

7 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3527 by Phi”

  1. thebargee said

    I found this very tough for Phi (I seem to recall there was another tough Phi puzzle a few weeks back) and had to resort to wordlists for NATATORIA and ABSIT OMEN. Elsewhere I struggled to parse RELEASE, I don’t think I’ve come across REL for relative before, but that’s just my inexperience I guess.

    I think READY has to be my favourite, made me smile when the penny dropped.

    • Cornick said

      I can’t remember having seen REL before either – but seldom seen abbreviations do crop up with Phi from time to time.

  2. Grodnik said

    A toughish end to a week that gave us our moneys’ worth. If only I’d have done the Greek as well as the Latin (our state grammar didn’t offer it) then 14ac, totally new to me, might have revealed itself from the anagram earlier. Meanwhile i wrestled with the definition of 13d, surely the collective noun for the starlings currently nesting in my roof space, and anything but sotto voice. As usual with Phi everything absolutely fair. Almost embarrassed myself laughing at the Concise top line homophone! NDY

  3. Saboteur said

    Yes, another tough one. But enjoyable none the less. Help needed for checking (e.g. NATATORIA) but pleasingly not for inspiration.

    I’m surprised there wasn’t a theme (I didn’t particularly bother looking, as usual) given the high incidence of unusual words.

    Last in was STEGANOGRAPHY where I needed all the crossing letters to unpick the anagram.

  4. jonofwales said

    Well, today it’s my turn to find a puzzle to be on the easy side. πŸ™‚ 2* for time, though I do find that I get on with Phi’s puzzles. A few oddities about the grid slowed things down a little, but were fairly clued.

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