475 Nestor

August 17, 2012

A top-notch (re-run) puzzle from Nestor today: difficult but rewarding and full of invention. ‘Crowd coming between scold and shot? (5)’ at 17ac is a joyfully groanful number worthy of Araucaria – of course all such devices are legitimate if the groan is sufficiently heart-felt. ‘Best’s evident, selecting these? (3,4)’ defeated me at 6dn – once I had the checking letters only one answer was possible but I couldn’t see the reason, but it is another memorably excellent clue – as a hint for those still solving it, it may be worth mentioning that it is one of those clues. And the easy ‘Left with rotten teeth, perhaps hamburger buns are an option! (3,4,3,4)’ at 8dn shows that Nestor was on form with more straightforward cryptic clues, too.

The puzzle was blogged back in July 2007 here. One problem with re-running old puzzles is that one will never get very up-to-the-minute references. Writing today, Nestor would surely have written ‘Menace possibly loses head for Jessica?’ for 23dn; 1ac would have had been lent added piquancy, too.

474 Mordred

August 16, 2012

Not the most difficult we’ve had on a Thursday, but too many where the wordplay was obscure and where Google was required. Not having heard of a Peach Melba, or the opera singer in question, I would have been stymied without online help. See also 20d. 27ac also struck me as a little weak (Capital of Afghanistan (7)). On a more positive note, I did like 24ac (Bank finally advanced one-third of Bulgarian capital (5)), even if I do have a congenital dislike of some of the more obscure abbreviations. 🙂


473 Dac

August 15, 2012

A much harder Dac than usual today, which I struggled to finish, cheating in the end to get 18d, after resorting to Google to lookup French regions for 21ac. I knew it ended in ACE, but couldn’t get SAMBA for dance out of my head. The old Fifteensquared blogger seems to have had similar difficulties:


472 Virgilius

August 14, 2012

A Virgilius with no theme? Surely not? They couldn’t find one back in the Fifteensquared days either. All very straightforward, apart from 9ac and 4d which held me up for a while.


471 Phi

August 13, 2012

Phi on a Monday? I wonder if Quixote’s complaints at the re-use of his puzzles have finally been heeded? As ever, here’s the old Fifteensquared blog.


i Prize no. 464 by Phi

August 10, 2012

This is an old Indy Phi from 2007 but due to the 15 Squared style of the time the old blog has a much sparser entry, I’ll enclose a link at the the end for you to see the difference in how the styles have changed.

Definitions underlined where approriate, * indicates anagram.

1 Two expected economies have a reciprocal effect (3,4,4) CUT BOTH WAYS Cryptic definition.
7 Some chap hidden here? (3) PHI Hidden in chaP Hidden – See link
9 Take tortuous route around tor – effect of the breeze (9) WINDCHILL WIND(turn) + C(around) + HILL (tor)
10 Ready to blow up? Worry about end of fuse (5) MINED (fus)E in MIND
11 Whisper “Cartoons upset form of religion” (8,7) ANCESTOR WORSHIP [WHISPER CARTOONS]*
12 Judge, devoted but not initially possessive (7) JEALOUS J(udge) + (z)EALOUS
14 Is US lawyer engaged in racket displaying aloofness (7) DISDAIN (IS + D.A.) in DIN
15 Make bad recording at music party after start of dance (7) DEPRAVE D(ance) + E.P. + RAVE
17 Copper throttled by a male misbehaving in these spots (7) MACULAE CU in [A MALE]*
18 Excited mate, with four correct, aspiring to luxury item (7,8) CREATURE COMFORT [MATE FOUR CORRECT]*
20 Beat a combination of throw and lob (5) THROB THR(ow) + (l)OB
21 Conservative indications in government: removing the scum (9) CLEANSING C(onservative) + LEANS + IN G(overnment)
23 Port very exciting? Only somewhat (3) RYE Hidden in veRY Exciting. Initially I thought this would be RIO(t)
24 Substantial energy in the plane when flying (11) ELEPHANTINE E(nergy) + [IN THE PLANE]*
1 Cover insufficient – keep down (3) COW COW(l)
2 Time kept in reserve not entirely a booster (5) TONIC T + ON IC(e)
3 Report not often heard about British item of furniture (10,5) OCCASIONAL TABLE B(ritish) in OCCASIONAL TALE
4 In-house working may be bad (7) HEINOUS [IN HOUSE]*
5 Granted nothing’s paid off (7) ALLOWED  ALL OWED
6 Ensure mini music broadcast displays old song (5,2,6,2) SUMER IS ICUMEN IN [Ensure mini music]*. Not the first time I’ve done a Phi blog containing this answer…
7 Booze, dancing – and what one feels like if groggy (9) PUNCHBALL PUNCH + BALL
8 Newspaper to start new paragraph about writer of French (11) INDEPENDENT (PEN + DE) in INDENT, not the i then.
11 “A  music provider abused court aid” – Judge (11) ADJUDICATOR A + DJ + [COURT AID]*
13 Computer program about horticulture finally providing something for orchard (5,4) APPLE TREE (horticulture)E in [APPLET + RE(about)]
16 Raised concern about a fellow’s pain (7) EARACHE A in CARE reversed + HE
17 Play’s live in broadcast of match MACBETH BE (live) in MATCH*
19 One pen’s set up for animal (5) ORIBI (1 + BIRO) reversed.
22 Climbing in tree – Grandpa? Crikey (3) GEE Hidden reversed in trEE Grandpa
The original blog is here    


469 Punk

August 10, 2012

Alas! It seems the i has run out of new puzzles and now carries re-runs on all six days. This puzzle from 2007 was last seen here.

I didn’t like it as much as the original blogger: too many clues not quite taking flight, and too many poor e.d.’s. A problem with setters addicted to elusive definitions is that they tend to become satisfied with clues that are either not elusive, or not definitions. Punk (by whom I have done far better puzzles) takes the latter route with, for example, ‘Figure disappearing over the horizon?’ at 15a to mean simply ‘a large number’, which it doesn’t.

High point, though not too hard, at 18d: “Art’s seldom shoddy with these (3,7)”.

i 468 by Mass

August 9, 2012

Another old Independent from 2007, the late Mass setting this one, the original blog by NeilDubya is here however as was the custom at the time it’s not complete. Lots of cryptic definitions which I don’t find easy.  * Indicate anagram.


5 ALSACE S IN A + LACE (doctor)
8 KIDNAPPER Cryptic def.
9 ORLOP OR (gold) + LOP
11 NILE NIL + (ous)E
12 GOLD BEATER Cryptic def.
13 HARDSHIP S(ciatica) in HARD + HIP
15 OCTAD Unusual word, O.C. + TAD (a bit, a dash)
17 AMBER Double def.
19 BORDEAUX Homophone for BORE DOUGH
25 DRAIN D(ead) + RAIN
26 CARTWHEEL C(loudy) + WEATHER* + L
28 MONKEY As in Monkey on one’s back and colloquially £500
3 EDAM E + MAD rev
4 EUPHORIC UP (riding) in HEROIC*
10 PARADOXICAL X(vote) in RADIO* all in PA + CAL (2 US states)
14 SCRIVENER CR(edit) in [IS NEVER]*
16 MONOGRAM Iffy Cryptic def.
18 BALLADE (A + L(iberal)) in BLADE
20 ATHLETE Even iffier cryptic def.
21 PSYCHE PSYCH (as in psych up get oneself ready) + E
24 SWAN S(aint) + WAN, there’s a swan Shakespeare theatre amongst other references.


467 Dac

August 8, 2012

A bit of light relief after what has been a challenging week (for me) in the i so far. More like this please! (If the past couple of weeks are any guide, I anticipate another Dac this Friday.) Here’s the old Fifteensquared blog:


466 Bannsider

August 7, 2012

Whatever happened to that nice Virgilius we usually get on a Tuesday? After the initial – this is going to be hard, it’s Bannsider – fright, I actually made good progress with this until I got stuck with 10 clues to go. Struggled onwards, but ran out of time with 12ac / d, 5ac and 10ac still blank. One for the evening, then, and in the meantime I’ll resist the urge to take more than a peek at:


There is a theme…