Saturday 24th October 2015

Well the bloggers over at Fifteensquared were all suitably flattered at seeing their names dotted around Phi’s puzzle five years ago and loved this. When I saw TWO-HUNDRED and TWENTY-FIVE, I managed to put them together, but assumed it was a nod to the humble grid itself, rather than specifically to that site.  I saw ‘Handel’ and ‘Rightback’ but still didn’t make the connection – for the record there were also mentions for Ali, Manehi, mhl & NMS.

With apologies to ‘Some Like It Hot’:  [angry voice] Some people would say that sort of cliquey self-referencing will only serve to put new setters off! [kind voice] but I say we at idothei owe a profound debt to Fifteensquared and celebrate their moment in the spotlight.

COD: 7d.  Square cards in pack appearing in reverse? (6-4)

Answers, parsing and reaction form Fifteensquared here.

P.S. The new ‘Zygolex’ is a fine introduction to cryptics for the uninitiated – I’m working on my 13-year-old.

Another Friday and another strenuous work out for my brain. I needed a little help with some of this as I had not come across 2d retrait before in fact typing it now it is shown as a spelling error and searching for it in Fifteensquared shows it has only been used on one other occasion and  that was a Times crossword. In 10d Tian a dish , not in my dictionary had to Google that, its French of course. I don’t particularly like clues that are just cryptic definitions but of the three here 4a and 6d were write ins for me whilst 13a was clever and required a bit more thought. 19a was my last in using dry as a synonym for ironic and B for Bishop when RR is the norm had me a little confused.

A satisfying solve although I still don’t understand why in 25d Going nowhere indicates Orate

My main complaint with today’s puzzle is the layout. The clues are set in a smaller typeface and squashed in to fit between an advert and the grid. Get rid of that celebrity rubbish and make more room for the important parts of the paper.

COD  22d King remains on edge climbing somewhere in Asia (7)

The original Blog is here

An unusually stiff challenge from Hypnos, with a Nina I spotted, but that was little help with those last few, tricky clues. It refers to this, apparently…,_Gateway_to_the_South. Fair, for the most part I guess, though 1d was far from being so. BIS = Again is pretty specialist vocabulary, and the answer was far from common.

COD? 2d – ‘One found some way up a tree? (8)’.

Back to February 2011:

Scenes from domestic life. Yesterday evening I popped my head around around the pantry door to find Onions taking a lusty swig from a bottle of Chateau D’Yquem, whilst applying a stiffish dose of caviar to a crumpet with a tablespoon. The new chambermaid was perched on his knee. “What’s the meaning of this?”, I demanded: “Looks like N-something-T-something-I-something”. “Nitwit, innit?” chirruped Charmaine, with a giggle. “Oh, capital – thank you so much” I replied, “and by the way Onions, don’t feel you have to see off the funny fish paste and that fearful Yuckum stuff”. “It’s my pleasure, sir” he said, feeding the girl a mouthful of beluga on h.b.c. Truly I am blessed with exceptional staff.

In matters cruciverbal, today’s puzzle was exactly what we’ve come to expect from Dac, possibly just a trifle trickier than average. 9ac was new to me, but clued in exemplary manner and straightforward to deduce. Plenty of nice wordplay and misleading surfaces: 5d, 21 and 26ac stand out, but COD goes to 16d which produced a bit of an aha! moment.

“21 maybe discussed new Asian training centres (8)”

The puzzle first appeared in February 2011; here’s the Fifteensquared blog:

In other business, firstly my thanks to Cornick for another highly entertaining puzzle. I was unaware of the … helpful character in 26d, but the clue was good enough to get me there without having the foggiest idea what it referred to.  Congratulations on producing a really decent Spoonerism, too.  Secondly, the business of staples has now reached the leader column, and I fear that we’re going to be stuck with the pesky blighters for the foreseeable.

A mini theme based around 21ac today. On the gentle side I thought. 1d held me up for an age, as it’s a word I’ve only encountered in crosswords and never heard spoken. I’ve lost track of what Cheryl ?????????????? is called now, or for that matter ever has been, so 19d needed more thought than it perhaps would have in 2011.

COD? 15d – ‘Sad to see West beginning to oppose East? Ask for unity (9)’.

Here’s the Fifteensquared blog:

PS My i was missing staples today. Is this an editorial decision, or mere chance?

A reasonably straightforward start to the week, with only 9ac giving real pause for thought.

COD? 17ac – ‘Huge kiss finally appended to love letters (6)’.

Has it really been five years since the i first appeared? How time flies. Happy birthday! 🙂

Saturday 17th October  2015

What a cracker! Like Virgilius and Punk rolled into one.   Each of the across clues started with the first  10 numbers – in order and written in digit form, but then we had to work out what to do with them…

  • A couple had to be written in as they’re spelt – aTWOod & hEIGHTen
  • 9 combined with ‘conservative’ to make a double definition for ‘square’
  • The answer to 3 down – balderdash – gave us a clue for ‘rot’ in ROTundly while the answer to 5 down clued ‘car’ in CheddAR
  • The answer to 6 down – mean – was part of the anagram fodder for iMpANEl and the same idea was used for 7 down’s answer- Stalin – in mALe chauvINiSTs.
  • FOUR formed part of the anagram fodder in vUlgaR FractiOns & TEN formed part of the fodder for TrintotoluENe

I hope you’ve got all that?

Oh, I’ve missed one out – my pick for COD:

8a           1 + 1 + 1 + 10 a matter, perhaps, for the Queen (5,10)

For full answers and all the parsing click here.

What a convoluted and devious setter Klingsor is, too clever for me. Unlike the correspondents in the original blog I really can’t say that I enjoyed this puzzle, maybe I was not in the right mood? Once I had solved a few the crossing letters enabled the solving of others but I couldn’t see where the leg in legacy (18d) came from and using “case” in 14ac to indicate using only the first and last letters was a device I had not seen before, luckily there were some clues that were of a more conventional nature like 1ac, 1dn, 8dn and 20dn.  For me today was a bit of a struggle. The excellent blog from 2011 can be found here

COD? 12a Shabby female, skinny, imbibes beer endlessly (4-6)

Nestor as always provides good value for money – well honed, fair, and always interesting clues. On the easy side for him I thought.

20ac almost got my COD for mentioning my favourite Doctor’s craft, but was pipped at the post by 12ac – ‘Paltry clothing picks out sycophant (11)’.

Back in 2011…

Onions is an inscrutable fellow by and large.  In the usual run of things his face might as well be carved from marble.  Nonetheless, when I announced my intention to enter the Times Crossword Championship and give Mark Goodliffe a run for his money, there was a definite flicker.  Could it be that my valet was smirking?  At any rate, he recovered his composure quickly enough and said something about calling the fishmonger, which struck me as a rummy sort of reply, on reflection.

I made a slow start on the puzzle today, picking off a few of the straightforward across clues, but it was a sorry looking effort until I got stuck into the downs.  After that it was plain sailing.  This wasn’t Dac’s best in my opinion, but it hardly matters since his general standard is so high.  I’m wary of picking long anagrams for my COD because there’s always the suspicion that it’s just a matter of typing the desired solution into a computer rather than shuffling Kan-U-Go cards these days, but the very elegant 19ac deserves a ripple of applause.  My selection however is the absurdly simple 5ac:

“Frontiersman given reprimand in court (8)”

The answer came to me immediately, but it wasn’t until much later that it occurred to me that I might have been right.  I fear that Mr Goodliffe remains the favourite … but early days, eh?

The Fifteensquared blog from March 2011 is here: