Saturday 23rd August 2014

Beautifully crafted Phi last Saturday.  No themes or Ninas, but a grid pattern with lots of overlapping long clues (hard to compose, by the way) all achieved with a really good balance of vocabulary in the answers.  Arguably the hardest of these – ‘Simon Boccanegra’ across the top – did ring a distant bell, so was gettable from its anagram – even for a non-opera goer like me!

COD 26ac    Sweet spirit leading to merriment with cap dislodged (10,5)

Original blog here:

Phi on a Friday?  I wonder what’s in store for tomorrow then…

The 2009 blog is here:

 After seeing ‘palindromist’ along the top, did anyone else expect we’d get some palindromes?
Well there was only one, 3 down, so (and even if there are better clues) I’d like to make it my COD:
  Concept I ignored as unfeasible (3, 2)

Steady progress until the last two, ‘glory’ and ‘sigh’ intersecting in the SW corner. Each had a tenuous component: My = glory and sight = a great many. Oka-ay, got ’em, but even after parsing them correctly I still didn’t feel sure

Nestor is only an occasional setter for the Independent, but a regular setter for the Times and co-editor of the Listener, Britain’s hardest series of crosswords featured in the Times on Saturdays.  I get the impression that our visiting setters adjust their styles somewhat when they set for the Indy, allowing themselves a bit more freedom to innovate and be, well, witty.

Something for everyone here, with several lovely ‘cryptic’ clues and definitions (26ac, 5d) and some clever innovation (14ac, 22ac, 4d) but my COD nomination, just pipping the saucy 10ac was the following:

8ac:     Whiter than white mutant obvious in space (5, 9)

The complete 2009 blog with all the answers is here.

Dac always provides lovely smooth surface readings, and this week they featured some particularly fine misdirections.  The original blog, which you may find here, has comments drooling over one such in 11d, but for me the best example was 5 across:

High-flier, one at college wanting a career shortly (6)

Btw, surely ‘be’ for ‘are’ in 20ac requires a Westcountry dialect “You be right, my luvver” kind of thing?  I seem to remember this being railed against in the past, but here the much-loved and respected Dac got away with it!

Seeing that Eimi had unches along the top and bottom I was expecting to spot a Nina at some point, only to be disappointed when SPLEODARATNENAGH emerged.  Random letters, surely… Not a bit of it!  This was Eimi having a joke with his Nina spotters – the Spleodar at Nenagh (pronounced ‘Nina’) is, according to the original blog here, a festival in Ireland. Ha!

Some very enjoyable clues in here – just right for a Tuesday.  My favourite was one of the five excellent fifteen-letterers, 11 across:

Of great consequence – could be heart-breaking (15)

A speedy and enjoyable solve today until I hit the last two in the SW corner – must brush up on my Hindu castes and East European currencies… So whilst several were pretty easy and there were several brilliant ‘& Lit’ anagrams, there were also some that required a very broad general knowledge.

COD?   Has to be 7d:   Brain-dead men to play machine in pub? (3-5, 6)

Original blog here.


Saturday 16th August 2014

Phi loves including musical references, so it was no surprise to see last Saturday’s grid peppered with different musical notes.  To fit them in the grid, he had to use some obscure words like ‘manumits’ and ‘eirenicon’ for example.  Unfortunately, these were all clued with anagrams, which made them pretty unfathomable – for me at least.

COD 1d    One office worker heading off around noon (4)

Original blog  here.

I only had a little while to solve today, and only got some of this done. Hope you fared better, or had more time. 🙂

Here’s the 2009 blog:


A fairly stiff challenge from Tees today. I’m not sure when I’ll have a chance to finish, so here’s the 2009 blog for you all to be going on with:

I found this more difficult than usual, especially in the NW corner, not helped by jotting in ‘down’ for ‘town’ in 5d. Doh.

COD? 14d – ‘To certain people eating hot stew is appetising (9)’.

Here’s the 2009 blog: