Ordinarily I’d expect to have my work cut out with Mordred, but this was done and dusted in pretty short order. The clever gimmick in this puzzle is of the sort which provides the solver with a lot of help, always assuming that one spots it. Rather difficult to miss on this occasion.

The constraints imposed by Mordred’s chosen format led to the inclusion of some unusual vocabulary, which may cause mutterings. 17ac got a tut from me, and in more normal circumstances I’d be sniffy about 16 and 28 too. Given the effort expended by the compiler, however, one wouldn’t wish to be a churl. What did irritate me was the “mate” in 15 which strikes me as rather infra dig. Favourites included 1, 18 and 22, but in common with many of the contributors to the original August 2012 Fifteensquared blog entry I shall point to 9ac as my COD:

“Mess regulation concerning privates (10)”

Not quite the walk in the park I was expecting when I saw Quixote’s name. Quite the opposite, in fact. This took as much time as many of the harder offerings we get towards the end of the week. All solvable with a bit of thought, though with more than the usual quota of new words learnt, and a few – is that really the answer? – question marks too.

It appears that Quixote’s comment @4 over on Fifteensquared has been heeded by the editor, at least as far as 6d goes, if not as regards being paid for the i reprints. Oh, and there’s mention in the last few comments of a new crossword blog on the block. Has it really been five years?

COD? 11d – ‘What I’m enjoying is maybe taking hours and hours (4-9)’.

To the summer of 2012:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/06/independent-8053-by-quixote/

Saturday 14th January 2017

I wonder if anyone else starts crosswords by going in search of anagrams?  There were five last weekend which got me off to a quick start, after which progress was steady until the last few in the SE corner.

It’s often the case that I’ll get held up on unknown vocabulary rather than complicated wordplay – and so it proved with GROSGRAIN and GALBA – although with the latter I’m a bit embarrassed about not having known an emperor of Rome… But I do now!

For COD, I think I’ll go with my FOI (first one in):

14a A panorama, with sight bewitched? (14)

And the full answers from 2012 can be found at the Fifteensquared blog site here.

The original bloggers found this reasonably easy, I found it quite difficult due to a few answers that were new to me 23a,26a and 7d primarily. 26a was particularly hard due to never having heard of the person referred to in the clue, this drew a loud harrumph. Whilst there doesn’t appear be a particular theme to this puzzle there are a few related to music, 14a proving the most obscure as I hadn’t come across kitchen being used to describe the percussion section of an orchestra before.

As Bertandjoyce point out in their Blog there are some very good clues and a couple of excellent misdirection’s, 3d being worthy of note but for COD :-

27a    Stormy petrel’s tail is grabbed by dude unknown (8)

Hands up who spotted the symmetrically placed answers? No, I didn’t either. It might have helped a little with the three clues that took me an age at the end (8d, 21ac and 17d), but only a little. An enjoyable puzzle, nevertheless, solved slowly but steadily.

COD? 14d – ‘Fail to stop where flower may be? (9)’.

Back to August 2012:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/02/independent-8050monk/

If you’re hungry for more, our Saturday blogger, as his alter-ego Maize, has a puzzle in today’s Independent. Enjoy! Maize In The Independent

Dac’s back with a fairly straightforward puzzle, and the usual finely crafted clues. The doubly whammy of 9ac and 11ac gave me more than a little pause for thought at the close, but the rest was an enjoyable R&W.

COD? 6d – ‘Promise of marriage between Elizabeth and Henry? Rubbish! (9)’.

August 2012 once more:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/01/independent-8049-dac/

Rock ‘n’ roll. I’m probably on my own in thinking that the film Spinal Tap, rather than being a comic masterpiece is obvious and largely unfunny, but never mind that. It makes for a good crossword theme, and no knowledge of it is required (although it will help in the case of my COD). The clues are littered with musical references, but there are fewer than one might expect amongst the solutions.

Apparently this was Jambazi’s first puzzle for the Indy back in July 2014: quite a debut. It turned out to be a surprisingly quick solve for me, but a highly entertaining one. The only thing I didn’t like was 4ac, which is an ignoble sort of noun-turned-into-a-verb … good clue though. Otherwise plenty to enjoy, with a wide variety of cryptic ploys to disentangle. 2,8,9 and 24 all stand out, but 18ac is the clue of the day. Quite apart from the mental image it conjures for anyone who has seen the film, it’s a fine example of the setter’s craft:

“Ruin good man – single female say coming back (10)”

The Fifteensquared blog entry for this puzzle is highly recommended. duncanshiell’s analysis will surely answer all conceivable questions, but you’ll also find an explanation of Jambazi’s nom de plume and in comment 3 a link to a photograph of a number of crossword setters, including some of our more formidable adversaries. Nice to be able to put faces to the aliases. In view of this I am inviting suggestions for an appropriate collective noun for crossword compilers.

Nothing too difficult today, just an enjoyable, pretty uncontroversial start to the week. I wonder if I was the only person to assume an out of date reference at 24ac before spotting the ‘was’?

COD? 15ac, which I’m sure is an old one, but I still enjoyed it – ‘Take issue (6)’.

A very detailed blog from 2012 for our IoS reprint can be found here:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/19/independent-on-sunday-1173-nitsy/

Saturday 7th January 2017

You may well have noticed Flanders and Swann lurking in the grid last Saturday – who wrote and performed a number of comic songs in the 50s and early 60s, of course.

‘Slow Train’, ‘Sounding Brass’ and ‘Misalliance’ featured as well as the only two I knew, ‘Mud’ (Mud, mud, glorious mud) and ‘Gnu’. They were slightly before my time, alas, and it seems hard to believe their old-style entertainment overlapped with the Beatles, but there you have it.

So not quite enough for me to spot the theme, alas, but after his impressive contribution yesterday, hopes are high that dtw42 might have!

For COD I’ll plump for the following:

12a Fresh cycle race in sports pages and much else (9)

And the full answers from 2012 can be found at the Fifteensquared blog site here.

And finally a shameless plug for my second puzzle for the Independent, which is due to appear on their website this coming Thursday, I’m told.

I can only recall seeing one other puzzle from Math in The i and my memory of him from The Independent is that he was among the more difficult of setters this however is a reprint from the IOS and some discussion has occurred back in 2012 as to the level of difficulty found in the Sunday puzzles since the (I presume) departure of Quixote. This for the most part proved pleasingly accessible with only the last five or six causing me a problem . This was largely self inflicted as I had convinced myself that 18d was Cracking and 24d was Crown. It was only when I dragged 19a from the memory, thanks largely to the television sitcom Upstart Crow that I got to the finish. The only other really tricky one for me was 29a and this only went in once all the checking letters were in place, the cryptic is I think quite obscure and I’m not sure why its succulent but I’m sure it is.

Lots of good clues, I liked the dd’s at 15 and 18d  but for

COD 20d  European, say, chewed a piece of cake. (4)

Back to the Fifteensquared blog from  July 2012 when it was almost certainly a lot warmer.