Saturday 15th April 2017

Just for a change Phi called himself Noz (think either Boz or ‘No Z’) when this puzzle appeared in the Independent back in 2012, the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth, but for the i we were given his more familiar nom de plume.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that the only character I recognised was David Copperfield’s friend Steerforth. Alas I couldn’t conjure up any of the reverends, not even Reverend Stiggins, despite Pickwick Papers being one of the few Dickens novels I have read.

Coming though as it did after a week of easier end crosswords though, I relished the challenge of deciphering unknown names from a combination of wordplay, crossers and guesswork, finishing off with Reverend Chadband (Bleak House) and the SW corner.

And for completists, the other reverends to make an appearance were Crispinkle (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Milvey (Our Mutual Friend) and Howler (Dombey & Son

COD: 9,29  Author lacked richness? That’s entirely wrong! (7,7)

And all the answers are here.

I think this is the first puzzle from this setter to appear in The i, however from the comments on the other side he is quite prolific. I must say I found this a bit mundane, it started out well with 1a being a clever piece of wordplay and I enjoyed sorting out the component parts of 10a even though the answer was a bit obvious after that though the  whole thing seemed to lack any sort of challenge.

COD the aforementioned       1a  Renouncing what oaths can be?  (11)

For the original blog with very few comments but some nice pictures click Here


An enjoyable puzzle from Crosophile, with a bit of a sting in the tail, for me at least, struggling at the end on 26ac (MEAL was my random guess, until it became clear MEA didn’t mean much at all as far as the clue was concerned), 31ac (TILTED, anyone?) and 15ac – where the answer was clear enough, but the wordplay anything but. Finish time above average for the i, perhaps because I’ve yet to wake up.

Lots of inventive clues, and lots of ticks too, with COD going to the quite unusual 10ac – ‘I got drunk with this rum in Tangiers (7)’.

To Halloween 2012, which may or may not explain some of the answers:

Well, that was good, even by Dac’s own high standards. CE for Civil Engineer was new to me, as was the French word utilised in 3d, but the answers were clear as day so no complaints from this quarter. Lots and lots of ticks by the clues as well, with COD going to 17ac, even if the very thought sends shivers down my spine at the moment – ‘What might give very big health centre all-round sparkle? (5,5)’.

To November 2012:

Ah, Schadenfreude… Because my last shot at one of his puzzles was such a raging success… But the sun is shining, and there’s always the hope that this time will be different. The preamble looks straightforward enough – extra words in the across clues we need to remove, find a letter in common with the answer, remove it, put them all together to get a quotation that’s going to point us in the direction of what we need to do with the downs. I’m never particular happy if I can’t start filling the grid properly straight away, because it’s difficult to get much traction, but onwards anyway. Schadenfreude has a reputation for being hard, and lots of these clues certainly are, with the obvious added complications. But a couple of acrosses, and a few down clues solved, even if we don’t know what we’re going to do with them. It’s going to be a very long haul if we’re going to have to solve all the across clues in effect cold, so make a guess at what to do with the downs. Anagram? Backwards? No, it looks like we have to split the answers in half, put the bottom half to the top, or vice versa. And that works, across a fair few of the solved clues. That grid’s beginning to look a bit healthier. The phrase wading through mud describes further progress though, and halfway through the afternoon I literally nodded off. Blame the sunshine, not the puzzle.

To the evening, and slightly better progress, and… Let’s cheat. We’ve got enough of those letters from the acrosses to make a stab at the quotation: HALF TO RISE AND HALF TO FALL, which confirms what I’ve been doing with the down clues. It’s from An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope, so now we know what to put into the unclued 6d as well. Fill the grid with the extra bit of help we’ve now got, and… A win, even if perhaps not as Schadenfreude intended. Huzzah!

Until next time, then, and a man, with a plan.

The Tuesday theme is difficult to miss this time, even for me, so no prizes for spotting the various things lurking in the undergrowth. Radian invariably gives good value: I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle and hope everybody else was similarly entertained.

There’s a quibble about 15d, which was bound to get a good airing at Fifteensquared back in November 2012. Without doubt this clue is a no ball, but I wonder if it caused anyone significant problems? The same goes for the discussion of Ulster in relation to 7d, which is fine by me. Apart from those two there was nothing but well-deserved praise for a crossword peppered with excellent clues. This makes singling just one out for CoD more than usually difficult, so this is a rather random pick from the many which received ticks:

1d: “Stock control girl acted strangely with tin-opener (6,4)”

A gentle start to the week from 4d’s alter-ego, giving us all lots of time to do something potentially more constructive with the bank holiday. Nice to see that I’m not as ancient as I feared, as ET is no longer an ‘old movie’, as it was the last time the Don used it in a clue. 🙂

COD? 18ac – ‘Homework’s managed – then one’s laid around before meal (11)’.

To October 2012:

Saturday 8th April 2017

In which Phi gave us one of his themes with a (to me) obscure author plus some of his book titles. I spotted ‘Oliver’ and thought that might be his ruse, but with ‘Sacks’ not being an obvious surname, I didn’t take it any further. Had I Googled though, I might have encountered Migraine, Awakening(s), A Leg To Stand On, and Uncle Tungsten. Bravo to you if you spotted all that!

Lots of praise for Phi’s clues at the 2012 Fifteensquared blog here, especially 2d, which must surely be the current frontrunner for the Barbara Windsor clue of the month award. However my COD goes to the following:

5d Unknown scoundrel brought in bloody traffic system (8)

An enjoyable puzzle from Raich that I found of about average difficulty, perhaps because I struggled to get the long answers round the border very quickly. To my shame, 13d was my last in, as I pondered for ages what could possibly fit C?M?U. Maybe after the long weekend my brain will have started working again.

COD? Lots of ticks as ever with Raich, but I’ll go with 14ac – ‘”Strange pleasure, beginning to end, with foreign friend?” Don’t believe him! (10)’.

Back to November 2012 for our IoS reprint:

A fun, fairly straightforward puzzle from the crossword editor. Painters galore, some well known, some less so, but all were gettable from the wordplay. I did check 11ac and 14d on Google just to make sure I wasn’t making them up, but knew most of the rest, with 15ac a bit of a gimme. Last in 27ac which I’m guessing a lot of solvers would have struggled with. I didn’t notice, but all the painters included have apparently painted The Last Supper, this being of course Maundy Thursday. All of which leaves me time to go and paint some more fences…

COD? 9ac – ‘Fancy getting flesh out? (9)’.

To Maundy Thursday 2013: