A brisk, enjoyable crossword from Raich with a theme so blatant that even I spotted it. Not until near the end, mind you, and it seems that a couple of the Fifteensquared commenters managed to overlook it completely. Anyway, just in case anyone isn’t stuck with a tune which they can’t get out of their head, clicking here should sort that out.

Lots of anagrams and hidden words today which made for a speedily filled grid. I do not much care for 6d, simply because it is an ugly word, but it seems to me that there is nothing whatever to complain about in the clues, and quite a bit to praise. 10, 18 and 23 struck me as particularly nifty, which leaves 17 and 30/28 to choose between for clue of the day. Let’s go for the latter:

“At end of film I am trebly affected in Rome – that’s surprising (5,3)

A game of two halves for me – the top half in double quick time, at which point I started eying up a personal best, before I swiftly ground to a halt to the south and staggered over the finish line at a time just under par for the i. I suspect the long anagram at 21ac and the new (to me) 18ac had something to do with this.

Lots to enjoy as ever from the Don, COD going to 25ac – ‘Refuse van’s rear blocking entrance to Lincoln’.

To October 2012, and an extended discussion on the merits, or otherwise, of setters also blogging puzzles. My own view, for what it’s worth, is that I don’t have a problem with it, as long as the relationship doesn’t become overly incestuous. ie. That there’s room for (gentle) criticism as well as praise.


Saturday 18th March 2017

Another Saturday, another puzzle by Phi, and another Nina – this time TOPAND across the top and BOTTOM, well, across the bottom. Pretty trivial maybe, but it does provide a flurry of excitement when spotted, and a little rush of solutions afterwards aided by the checkers.

Quite a few unfamiliar elements in the wordplay – particular =pet, person = pers, apparently = ap, library = lib, Latin bird = avis and triangular area = gore. Yes they’re all obvious once you’ve got them, but it did slow things up solving wise.

No complaints though, just a regular enjoyable Phi.

COD? I was visiting my son at Uni last weekend, so will go for this one:

16d More skilful student dismissed with tirade? That’s not normal (8)

The Fifteensquared blog from 2012 with all the answers is here.

The second puzzle from Donk and just its as good as the first that we had at the beginning of the month. Some very inventive clues and ingenious misdirection’s produced quite a few smiles and very few question marks. 17a was one query, I spell it eyeing although it appears either is fine and “Just for Men” I had forgotten about that and thought I was looking for the sort of magazines only found on the top shelf. 21a was another query until finding out what “tackle” was actually referring to then that question mark was replaced with a smile. Only one that I didn’t really like was 3d  but that’s just a personal dislike of “Gob” and  it seems a strange synonym for teeth. None of that though spoilt an excellent puzzle.

COD   20d    Butcher red with anger discovering someone in bed (8)

The original blog and a word from the setter is here  http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/11/11/independent-on-sunday-1185-donk/

A bit of a challenge today, as expected from a prize puzzle reprint. The top half more than the bottom, I found. The better educated will have spotted the anagram at 17ac quicker than I did, and may have struggled less in that area. Quite a few I needed Fifteensquared to clear up some bits with, but all seems fair and above board at the close.

COD? 2d – ‘One demands Guinness? (7)’.

To November 2012:


The LHS of this puzzle felt much like our usual Wednesday Dac, but the RHS was a different matter altogether, and took an absolute age. 20ac is one my pet hates – an obscurity in both wordplay and definition – and 13d is extremely difficult if, like me, you had no idea that Jonathan is a type of apple. 10ac could have been either TOE IN or TIE ON as far as my knowledge of mechanics goes… I note that 23ac has been changed from the original clue, to rectify an error by both setter and editor back in the day. 🙂

Lots of ticks by the clues too, COD going to 19ac – ‘Area you shouldn’t enter, love, after a drink (2-2).

To October 2012:


The sight of Nimrod’s name at the top of a daily cryptic is a sure sign
that you’re in for a bit of a challenge, so let’s just say I was a bit
nervous when I saw who we had this week, given my abject failure the last time
I tried one of his puzzles, Inquisitor or not, the now legendary Life After Death?

The good news at the start is that it’s not a carte blance this time,
so we should have some idea where we’re putting the answers. The
second bit of good news is that the clues appear to be sort of normal –
some answers are too short for the space available, but we can worry about
that when we come to it. Some thematic entries to be highlighted, which
no doubt will leap out towards the end. Or not. The title and a couple of clues
reference the annual Listener dinner that was happening the weekend
this was published, but I’m guessing that’s just to mislead us.

To the clues, which, for Nimrod, seem to be on the gentle side. The first
of the too short clues appears at 15ac, where we have HAZEL, which I’m
going to guess will probably be expanded to HAZELNUT, so in it goes, in
pencil, as I always do for these. Much to my surprise the grid is filling,
though with some going in on a bit of a wing and a prayer (yes, I’m
looking at you 16ac – nice clear wordplay, but I’m still not sure where
the definition is). This is much my usual experience with Nimrod, but
isn’t particularly helpful with an Inquisitor where we can do without having
to guess. A fair bit of hunting through Chambers, and a few where nothing
else will fit but I’ve only got some of the wordplay sorted out. This
doesn’t bode well for the end-game.

At the close we have a sort of finished grid, albeit with five blank cells
in the bottom row, where we have a bunch of answers that are shorter than
the cells allotted. My first thought was to guess what should go there –
sorts of synonyms for the answers? This seemed to work elsewhere –
but this is probably wrong, indeed didn’t seem to get me anywhere, so I
rubbed them out again. So what to fill them with? Well, we have EAVES
across the centre of the top row, and this is the ‘Listener Crossword’, so
EAVES-DROP? EAVES in those blank cells at the bottom too.

To the thematic entries we have to highlight. It looks like we’re onto
some sort of listening-in, bugging theme. I can see TAP in the penultimate
row, so literally BUG? There’s a definite synonym further up – VEX – again
in the same column. So let’s go with six entries that are synonyms of BUG,
with BUG itself as the seventh item we have to write under the grid.

Barring mistakes, or me having got it totally wrong, I’m going to say
that’s OK. Not as scary as it first appeared. Perhaps the thought of his
extended 3d of Gateshead made Nimrod wonder if other solvers might be on
less than top form too.


Until next time, then, when we have Lato, with changes afoot.

Started at a gallop; finished at a stroll – the bottom half being considerably more thorny than the top if my experience is anything to go by. It being Tuesday there’s a theme, based around 2d/7ac and it’s a good deal more extensive than I appreciated at first. Bertandjoyce’s Fifteensquared blog entry from October 2012 explains all.

Radian is a wily compiler who gives plenty of entertainment, and there are rather too many noteworthy clues to acknowledge individually. Some may consider 4d a little de trop on account of those Amazonians who were certainly new to me, but the puzzle is otherwise free of obscurities. I particularly enjoyed 11, 22 and 23; 14 looked like being my COD but was pipped at the post by 19d:

“Mozart’s pieces help tourist attraction in the Med (7)”

Congratulations to Cornick on the publication of another excellent Maize crossword in today’s Independent.

The ever reliable Don gives us an enjoyable, accessible puzzle to start the week. The LHS fell before the RHS, perhaps because it took me a while to spot 7d, but the time at the end was still way under par for the i. 22ac which I completely failed to understand is explained down in the comments over on the other side.

COD? 18d – ‘A game requiring pack of cards to be cut (7)’.

To October 2012:


Saturday 11th March 2017

Not as easy as the Fifteensquared set might have you believe in the 2012 blog here, because there was actually quite a bit of complex wordplay to unpick, I thought. But not too hard either – in fact I found it right up my street, in a personal kind of Goldilocks zone.

Just a couple of obscurities – the archaic ‘limn’ at 17d and the vaguely familiar ‘gamp’ at 12a.

The puzzle did feature a pair of linked clues – the two Marx Bros. films at 6d and 9d My guess is that, having spotted the build your own anagram possibilities of ‘Animal Crackers’, Phi noticed that ‘A Day at the Races’ was the same length and used those two as the seeds for his grid fill.

Clue of the Day? Phi is right to point out the interesting capitalisation in 13a, which at a stroke makes it an &Lit, but I rather liked the naval fiction surface of this one:

8d   Ocean rising under ship, engulfing Duke’s fighting groups (8)

And for what it’s worth I agree with Pelham Barton’s comment @2 on the other channel.