A pleasing and largely accessible puzzle by Crosophile, with just a couple of bits of Crosswordese (LAM at 27a seems to crop up an awful lot these days) to deter the uninitiated. The = OUR at 1d was new to me and in 21d I think the parsing is learning = lore which sounds like LAW; with the definition being just ‘principle’…  I think.

Amongst the half dozen or so clues I particularly liked, and just pipping 4a, I’ll pick out 16d as my nomination for COD. Here it is again:

Tenor confirms soprano’s missing lots of valuables (9)

And if you click here you won’t just get the full answers & parsing, you’ll also get a poem by Tennyson which has several of its words in the grid; can you guess which one?

Quixote’s long tenure in the Monday slot appears to be over; Jon of Wales is taking a well-earned break this week. So it’s all change. Eimi is admirably qualified to step into the breach of course … not so sure about the blogger, mind.

Today’s puzzle was a little cracker if you ask me, nicely pitched at a gentle Mondayish level, but with some extra sparkle and a pangram for those who like such things. Mostly read-and-write fare with just the one mild obscurity at 14d, readily deducible from the wordplay by non-mycologists. I confess to “solving” the long anagrams at 23/9 and 25ac by letter count and ticking them off afterwards – always a danger with long phrases like that. Favourites? 8, 19 and 20 were pleasing; COD for me is the admirably concise 22d:

“Club, not clubs (6)”

The crossword dates back to November 2011, a time when civil disobedience was in the news and a large encampment had appeared outside St Paul’s cathedral, so there’s a mini-theme along those lines which could well go unnoticed nowadays. It’s mentioned in passing at Fifteensquared.

Saturday 16th July 2016

Having praised Phi for his anagrams in my last blog, last Saturday’s puzzle was noteworthy for containing only two tiny partial anagrams (‘wood’ in ‘Goodfellow’ at 3d and ‘the’ in ‘Ethiopia’ at 22a). I have yet to meet a puzzle in the i with none at all, though there is a setter at the Telegraph who does them, I’m told.

Very nice puzzle, all went in pretty smoothly until the last few on the left, like 26a, which needed some crossers to help. The beauty of crosswords, of course, is that you can get such help through a little perseverance, so all highly satisfactory.

Oh, and there was a Nina – Ligeti etudes – in the top and bottom rows apparently – highly inconsequential, but after 10,000 puzzles, it must give Phi a foothold when staring at an empty grid.

COD? I rather liked 14d:

Phi’s very thoughtful about first item in this cryptic (10)

And the full answers, parsing and comments can be found with a click here.

Its  a puzzle from Monk today, we seem to get one a month from this setter, who can set some extremely difficult puzzles. This one however seemed, with the exception of 16a which I had never come across before, fairly accessible. There was a lot of devious wordplay involved but thanks to the inclusion of a couple of the more straightforward sorts of clue like 1d and 2d the checking letters helped me solve even if I didn’t fully understand (25a) the rest. Like the original blogger I could see no way of solving the 1a/27a duo without the checking letters for at least one of them. Generally though I found this a really enjoyable puzzle with COD going to

4d   City block on which pet is decapitated (9)

All the solutions and comment are here http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/12/01/independent-7840monk/

Apologies for the lateness of the blog, it has turned into one of those days.:-) Luckily for you this is my last for a week as I head off to sunnier climes. Well, West Wales.

I sometimes struggle with Tees, but found this for the most part pretty straightforward. I say for the most part, because I found the SE corner a little tricky, especially 17d and 27ac. No nina today it would appear, though I thought we were onto Welsh place names for a while when both 18ac and 19d appeared in close proximity.

COD? 14ac – ‘Obsession for woman astride Arab (9)’.

Back to November 2011 once more:


Last Wednesday’s puzzle was a bit heavy on general (or not-so-general) knowledge, but this one is more in Dac’s usual line with the emphasis firmly on scintillating wordplay. One of the best of recent weeks, in my opinion – provided you can recall a football manager of yore and conjugate French irregular verbs, that is. Had you asked me beforehand whether I thought either was within my capabilities I’d have expressed doubts … but as it turned out both were familiar.

Lots of good stuff today and a rather difficult choice when it comes to the COD. 4d and 17ac are both crackers, but not everyone appreciates being tested on foreign languages so I shall rule those out, with a measure of regret. 4, 20 and 26 across were all good enough to be winners, but it will surprise nobody to find that my choice is the cheeky little &lit at 8d:

“With these ultimately lovemaking’s over (4)”

Analysis, appreciative comments and discussion of divers matters (including biblical eschatology and heavy metal bands of the 1980s) may be found by clicking here, which will whisk you back to the Fifteensquared blog from December 2011.

Another straightforward offering today, with a theme I totally failed to spot. Apparently it’s the 5ac’s, and their songs, of which I must admit to knowing only the one, 23d.

COD? 17d – ‘He turns out as a winner on the net? (7)’.

Our first reprint from 2012:


A pretty straightforward puzzle to start the week that shouldn’t have held most solvers up for too long. 25ac was a little tricky at the end, but the rest was pretty plain sailing.

COD? 26ac – ‘Audacious items of underwear, sexy but without padding (6)’.

Back to November 2011 on Fifteensquared:


Saturday 9th July 2016

At my wedding the best man listed some of my qualities – mostly defamatory of course, but amongst them he descibed me thusly: “…deviser of anagrams – or should that be ‘fond marriage saves’…”. Yup, I’ve always loved ‘em.

On the other hand the process of devising them has changed somewhat in the last 21 years. Put away the Scrabble tiles, you can now bung a word into an anagram engine and generate a few hundred possibilities at the click of a button.  Equally, once the solver has identified the fodder, the process of solving them can become a little mundane.

So my attitude towards them might best be described as ambivalent, and my instinct would normally be to avoid choosing them as COD candidates.

Except, that is, when they get the Phi treatment.  For me, he’s the ne plus ultra of anagrammatical clue writing, as demonstrated once more in last Saturday’s Prize crossword.

And here, arguably, was the best of them:

26a         Prime gatherer, possibly – of souls? (3,4,6)

The full answers, parsing and comments can be found with a click here.

A good puzzle from the crossword editor, though perhaps a little tougher than I’ve found his offerings to be in the past. The long answers fell quickly enough though, and the rest steadily from thereon in. 14d I couldn’t find in my electronic copy of the big red book. Though I was solving hovering by the side of a hospital bed at the time, so butter fingers may be to blame. LOI 5d.

COD? 1d – ‘Lord Chancellor has written terribly drily on case law (8,6)’.

December 2011 today:



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