Quixote is undoubtedly one of the pillars of the crosswording world, so he probably doesn’t care much what I think, but I’m afraid he’s my least favourite setter of the i team.  I know he deliberately tries to make his Monday offerings easier for people new to cryptics, but I get the impression they’ve been rather tossed off (pardon the expression) in about half an hour.  Sorry.  Also Delhi isn’t the capital of anywhere, that’ll be New Delhi and calling Fidel Castro a dictator is definitely divisive!

Heigh-ho.  COD: 4d. Supporting established area favourable to wildlife? (6)

Original blog complete and here

Saturday 19th July 2014

Phi back to his regular Saturday slot last week, with a mostly straightforward and entertaining challenge.  I made steady progress until my last two, 1 across and 21 across, the second of which required Chambers Word Wizard to solve.  Well I say ‘required’… I really mean I just got bored of looking at A_U_R_L_E without being able to do the wordplay.  Maybe I should persevere a bit more…

COD: 14ac  Film describing odd bits of diet (egg dish) (1,4,2,7)

The 2009 blog with all the answers is here.

JonofWales is away for a week, so I shall be deputising.  Not a particularly useful start by me though, as I shan’t be near a computer till this evening, alas ( I’m running den building in the Lost Gardens of Heligan – definitely off the net!).

Meanwhile my contemporary at the University of Leeds (1978 – 81), Mark Kelmanson, is working partly as a Maths professor and partly as Monk, today’s setter.  Monk has a fairly fearsome reputation, but, half way through, I’ve found this one fairly gentle so far.  No time to finish it now, but here’s a link to the 2009 blog which seems to be complete (although I was looking at it through scrunched-up eyes so that I couldn’t see the answers!):


Finished with less difficulty than some Monks… Didn’t get the word play on 23a or 24a (my fault, was thinking of dugongs not manatees) and, although I spotted the Nina, I didn’t know it came from The Fast Show – mater paneer = cheesy peas, arf!

COD 12ac: Plan possibly used at Mafeking? (6,3)

Presumably making up for the Saturday he missed a few weeks back. :-) Good as ever from Phi, nothing controversial I think. Last in 6d and 18ac.

COD? Quite a few I liked, but I’m nominating 15ac – ‘I’d put stress on press release – one likely to cause upset? (8-5)’.

The 2009 blog is complete:


I found 19/22 and 12d a little tricky, but the rest was as expected on a Wednesday, and as nicely clued as ever.

COD? 21d – ‘Female Egyptian banker’s limited company (6)’.

Here’s the 2009 blog:


Not as easy as 13ac, as far as I was concerned, time about twice the average for Virgilius, even with the theme to help.

COD? 3d – ‘Ice cream, as served in California (7)’.

The 2009 blog is complete:


I made harder work of this than was perhaps necessary, in part because 15d convinced me I should be looking for a z somewhere.

COD? I liked 2d – ‘Waste product has this – get involved (4,2)’.

The 2009 blog is complete.


Saturday 12th July 2014

We solvers at the i had our first taste of Anax a month ago, but for the mothership Independent paper this was his very first puzzle; a significant event because Anax is a significant setter, with experience at the Times, Sunday Times, FT and the Telegraph Toughie. 

In his biog here, he confesses to a process wherein he sometimes writes his clues, rewrites the weakest clue then, through a process of continuous reselection, keeps rewriting until his puzzles inevitably end up being somewhat fiendish.  They are that, but I find Anax somehow very likeable so forgive him entirely, even though this one did take me into Sunday to finish!

The original 2009 blog here makes for excellent reading.

I have selected two clues for COD status – one anagram and one ‘bits & bobs’ type.  Take your pick!

3d     By changing centre “tip” becomes “tap” (9)

21d   One railroad only heads to centre of Santa Fe (4)

Incidentally, Anax has contributed several crosswords to Alberich’s website ‘Free Crosswords Online’; his first one here (as well as being quite a bit easier than last Saturday’s) is a beauty!

While this was no doubt a very good crossword, I thought it was a bit much really for a week day. How about moving Phi from Saturday to a Friday (which I was hoping they’d done, after his absence last week)?

Anyway, COD nomination goes to 14d – ‘Rated as compromise (5-3)’.

Here’s the old Fifteensquared blog:


An unusual puzzle – some incredibly easy clues, including a surfeit of hidden words, and some that were nigh on impossible. I failed on 4 at the end – 19ac, 18d, 18ac and 23ac. 18ac and 19ac I don’t think I would ever have solved, the former in particular striking me as being rather unfair.

Loads I did like, but my COD nomination goes to 1ac – ‘Water-carrying bags? (10)’.

The 2009 blog is complete.



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