Saturday 13th December 2014

Dac is sometimes called the best clue for clue setter in the dailies; I find him the most consistent of all the setters at the i and, as all regulars will know, he has superb surface readings.

Last Saturday’s offering was well up to par.  A range of clues from pretty easy in the NW corner to pretty hard in the middle east, if you follow me – Kreutzer at 12 across being the hardest.

COD?   16d. A character of Wilde’s goes about the house making pithy comment (8)

March 2010 blog here:

I was about to say that this was a nice gentle end to the week, but then looked on Fifteensquared to find that they thought it quite hard. Perhaps I was just on the setter’s wavelength today.

Anyway, thought this was excellent, with lots of ticks by the clues. My COD nomination goes to the combination of 21ac and 26ac – ‘Alternative group of 12 crossed with 9? (8)’ / ‘Alternative group of 9 crossed with 12? (9)’.

This will be my last blog of the year, with Cornick kindly covering the next two weeks, so may I wish you all a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. See you all in 2015!

All the answers, analysis and discussion here:

A reasonably challenging puzzle today, that defeated me at the end on 7d, 24ac and 19d.

COD? Lots to like, but I’m nominating 6d – ‘Re all-new desert breaks – a holiday for an oilman? (4-6,4)’.

Here’s the 2009 blog:

i Cryptic Crossword 1203 Dac

December 17, 2014

A mixture of the very easy, and the very hard. I had to cheat on 25ac, and Google the source of sherry in 22d.

COD? 7d – ‘British Labour leader heading a meeting with Irish? (5)’.

Here’s the blog from 2009:

I made good time with most of this, then got badly stuck in the NE and SW corners. If I hadn’t spotted the Nina then I’m not sure how quickly I’d have finished. Similar questions to the original blogger regarding some of the clues.

COD? 5d – ‘One that’s a Russian at heart (4)’.

Here’s the 2010 blog:

A few bits of unfamiliar vocabulary held me up for a while today, making this a little slower than par.

COD? 24ac – ‘Lots will find thoroughly modern woman almost ‘eartless (8)’.

Here’s the blog from 2010, though I think they have 18d wrong – surely it’s TIPPED?

Saturday 6th December 2014

As with the week before: Good crossword, lots of long anagrams, pretty easy. Blog done.

So, with a bit of space to write something interesting, let me invite you to consider whether Niue is a ‘country’ or not.  They call themselves one, in free association with New Zealand, but they’re not one of the United Nations 193 ‘nation states’, although they are members of UNESCO.   The trick is in what you mean by ‘country’ as opposed to ‘nation’, ‘state’ or ‘nation state’.  I maintain Niue is a country;  Phi stayed on safe ground and called it a territory!

Oh yes, COD… Rivals where the last page of Leviticus is seen? (8,7)

2010 Blog here:

A game of two halves – very slow to start, and very quick to finish, about par time for the i overall. Some of that may be due to the fact that I haven’t woken up yet.

COD? 12ac – ‘Certainly a misrepresentation of Thomas’s position? (2,5)’.

Here’s the 2009 blog:

There’s an interesting discussion on the 2010 blog about crossword difficulty, though specifically for a Saturday, when this was first published. This was certainly very difficult, and I failed on one or two at the end. For what it’s worth, I think there is a danger of driving solvers, and newspaper purchasers, away, if the difficulty level is too high. I’m reminded of a friend, who can do the concise in minutes, whose one and only shot at a cryptic was a Thursday Nimrod in the Indie. If it’s too difficult for an ex-Times crossword champion to solve unaided, it’s probably too difficult for a weekday cryptic.

COD? 26ac – ‘Circuits have lines within bounds (7)’.

Answers and analysis here:

i Cryptic Crossword 1197 Phi

December 10, 2014

As noted back in 2010, very tough for Phi. 10ac defeated me at the end.

COD? 8ac – ‘Man involved with dunes? Not exactly (8)’.

All the answers and analysis here:


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