Saturday 21st March 2015
One of the harder Phi’s last week, including one I just gave up on, 18ac: Stock of money after doctor’s bill (6) ?O?K?T. There was also an indirect anagram (just) at 20ac with ‘various weather conditions’ meaning to make an anagram of ‘climates’. And that pushes the boundaries of crosswording rules – nothing wrong with that, though!
Sometimes I find myself eulogising about our ‘occasional’ setters, as with Scorpion yesterday, and I forget how hard it must be to keep coming up with 30 ideas a week as Phi does. So full credit and thanks to all the regular setters!
COD, 10ac: Twitter conflict ran short (6)

2010 blog is here: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/03/19/independent-7308phi/

Pretty tough, as you expect from Scorpion. Finish time though was only about par and a quarter for the i, even if none of that felt particularly straightforward. Was I the only person to read ‘IAMS’ in 29ac as ‘LAMS’?

Lots of ash dotted round the grid, because the top and bottom rows reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_eruptions_of_Eyjafjallaj%C3%B6kull

COD? 1d – ‘Case thrown out – relief for fugitive (7)’.

The blog for our second reprinted prize puzzle of the week can be found here:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/05/27/independent-7363-by-scorpion/

This took me a while longer than the usual Quixote, though as the original bloggers found it about par, I suspect that’s just me. 6d was quite tricky, I thought. Last in 16ac and 15d.

COD? 5ac – ‘Disorder created by madame bumping into celebrity (7)’.

Here’s the 2010 blog:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/05/27/independent-on-sunday-1058-by-quixote-23rd-may-2010/

A fairly straightforward offering, but good as ever. A few new words at 5ac, 13ac and 24ac, but all were impeccably clued. Last in 2d.

COD? 14d – ‘Never go out with Sunday school teacher (9)’.

Back to April 2010:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/04/14/independent-7330-by-dac/

I enjoyed this a lot more than I did our previous Anax, intrigued as I was as to the link between 5D, which I guessed, and the clues referenced. I’m not sure I would have completed if I hadn’t worked backwards to some of them, and wouldn’t want puzzles this difficult too often, but a far more positive experience than last week’s.

COD? 1ac – ‘Get rid of the wrong dragon (3-5)’.

Here’s the 2010 blog:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/04/23/saturday-prize-crossword-independent-7333-by-anax/

Some problems at the end over 13d/16ac, and a little head scratching over 8ac, but otherwise our usual gentle introduction to the week.

COD? 10ac – ‘Six in test but out for fifty? Such things don’t matter (6)’.

Here’s the 2010 blog:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/04/22/independent-on-sunday-1053-by-quixote-18th-april-2010/

Saturday 14th March 2015

If ever I talk to people about setting crosswords, they usually say what puts them off is filling in the grid in the first place.  Phi also confesses to finding this somewhat onerous, apparently, but he also finds a terrific variety of ways of achieving it.   Here he had four two-word phrases, each split over two consecutive rows, and intersecting with two long lights in columns 7 and 9.  It made for a very user friendly crossword indeed.

Enjoyable as ever, with a lot of ‘easier’ clues but a few that took a lot of head scratching towards the end.

My COD goes to 15ac: Renegade thanks senior officer, obeying instruction? (8)

The 2010 blog is here: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/05/14/independent-7356phi/

I’m afraid I thought that this was just taking the so and so. Incredibly difficult to get into. There’s a theme, but I suspect most solvers would have given up long before they realised. After two monsters last week, and today’s effort, you sometimes wonder if the crossword editor is trying to drive solvers away to alternative outlets.

Here’s the 2010 blog:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/03/16/independent-7305-by-anax/

This was completed reasonably quickly, but often without full understanding of the wordplay, which meant that it wasn’t a particularly comfortable solve. 27ac was the last to fall, despite me thinking Vincent for Price within seconds.

COD? 16d – ‘Site offering neat curtains? (8)’.

Back to March 2010:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/03/15/independent-7304-by-hypnos/

It took a while to get started – 21ac was my first answer in – but after that the grid fell rapidly, from the SE corner moving anticlockwise.

Loads of clues I liked, but my COD goes to 4a – ‘Comedian who’s French pin-up, nothing less (8)’.

Here’s the 2010 blog:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/03/18/independent-7307dac/

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