i Cryptic Crossword 1490 Dac

November 18, 2015

Surprise! Mr Battered has gone off on his yearly visit to his Aunt Azalea, and he’s taken Mr Onions with him.  (I hope his aunt is a better hostess than mine).  Mr B. was all bothered about missing the blog, so I told him not to worry, I’ll do it.  How hard can it be, anyway?  Mr O. seemed a bit dubious and muttered something about someone called Eliza Doolittle, but Mr B. just looked relieved and handed me a £50 note.  He’s a real gentleman!

It turned out to be harder than I expected – not the puzzle but the clue of the day thing.  Not 5d: too colloquial, innit? 15ac,22ac, 8d and 16d were all good, and 7ac is quite funny, but my Awesome Clue of the Day is 2d:

“Robber oddly snaffles telephone (4-6)”

Mr B. usually swears a lot when he’s trying to find the Fifteensquared blog, but I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Silly sausage!  Here it is:


Normal service will be resumed next week.  Byeeee!


i Cryptic Crossword 1489 Tees

November 17, 2015

Wasn’t that good? I’m usually not that keen on long anagrams, but the ones here yielded easily enough, and led quickly to our theme of the day. And a pangram, too, apparently, though I haven’t checked. 14ac and 16d went in without understanding the wordplay, but the checking and definitions were generous enough to leave little doubt.

COD? 11/9 – ‘First to antagonise unionist with it, Treasury seems bent on making 21 (9,8)’.

January 2011 today:


A very easy offering from Quixote this week that was his last in the IoS, so it will be interesting to see what happens next week in the i. Close to a personal best for me, with only 2 minutes spent on 25ac at the end preventing it from being so. As good as ever, though, from the Don, so hoping he won’t disappear from our pages altogether.

COD? 4d – ‘Pet insect gets into musical instrument – pet lost! (7)’.

Here’s the 2011 blog:


Saturday 7th November  2015

We have entered that hazardous time of year in the Cornick household when fires get lit.  It fell to distaff of the household to do the honours last night and maybe it was she who committed last weekend’s crossword to the fiery furnace.  What. Moi?  Surely not!

I shall do my best to remember:

A few obscurities and a Christian name – Iain – led me easily enough to realise there were going to be a bundle of Iain Banks novels dotted around the grid; Phi likes doing that sort of thing, doesn’t he?  But I needed Mr Google to enlighten me as to their names.  We had Inversions, Matter, Surface Detail and Algebraist, plus Menzies (middle name) and Banks, of course.

I seem to remember finding this one a bit trickier than the Fifteensquared bunch did, and I really didn’t have a clue with 13d Penderecki.  Well I did, clearly, but you know what I mean.  And am I the only one to find it astonishing that there are bloggers over there who think Penderecki no less obscure than Elbow?  Walk down the street and ask 100 people, Pointless style, why don’t you!

Alas I have no COD nomination, due to the aforementioned conflagration, but for the link to the 2011 blog (when Iain Banks was still with us) click here.

Not too much 1a here most clues were fair enough with a smattering of very easy solves to help with the more difficult. Some grated a bit with the pedant in me, Trail bikes aren’t used in scrambling and I thought Ned Kelly was a criminal not a rebel fighting for a cause, but I’m probably being a bit persnickety. Quite a few good clues to choose from today 8d was particularly good but for my COD I think 27a

For cloth, there’s no time at all to send away (5)

Fifteensquared Blog is here


I’ve got so used to seeing Crosophile’s name over on the other side that it came as a bit of surprise to find that this was his debut in the Independent, and indeed the i. I found his style took a little getting used to, but didn’t find this puzzle as hard as some did back in the day, with a time about par for the i. 1ac I suppose was the only real struggle. If this is representative of his work, then more please. 🙂

Lots to like, but my COD goes to 15d – ‘I sat in car with map out – it should see you home (9)’.

January 2011 today:


i Cryptic Crossword 1484 Dac

November 11, 2015

Nb. This week’s post is a particularly bad one. You have been warned.

The best that can be said of the Hon. Hugo Waxington is that he is an infrequent visitor. Yesterday afternoon my luck was out, and it was my turn to play host to the loud-mouthed blister. Lately it seems that he has taken to wearing purple dungarees, styles himself “Whacko” and has affected an excruciating Mockney accent. After an unsuccesful attempt to persuade me to invest in his latest venture (an eatery in Shoreditch which specialises in the bowl of Angel Delight with a Curly Wurly stuck in it at a tenner a serving – a potential goldmine, he says), conversation turned to some of my forebears. It’s not widely known, but my clan has produced a handful of reputable scientists and mathematicians. “Crikey Alan” he said (I have no idea why he calls me Alan), “I’d always assumed that your lot were all frightful thickos like you, but it sounds like there ain’t ‘alf been some clever Batardes”. “There’s no need to add insult to Ian Dury” I replied, coldly.

Ahem. Writing the Wednesday blog may seem like a plum job, but it’s not so easy to find anything new to say when confronted with Dac’s consistently excellent puzzles, believe you me. Never a cause for complaint, and the only problem is choosing a clue of the day from an appetising selection. The North East corner remained obscure for a while today (a touch of fog on the Tyne, perhaps? Sorry, this is supposed to be the serious bit). 6d is strictly speaking obsolete now, good as it is, but the hold up was more to do with 14ac, a sneaky little number. 9ac got a particularly emphatic tick. My COD is the elegant 20ac:

“Airline company worked during state occasion in France (8,3)”

The Fifteensquared blog from February 2011 is similarly appreciative:


i Cryptic Crossword 1483 Punk

November 10, 2015

Count me in as one whose knowledge of NI wasn’t up to this. 🙂 I knew 26ac and a handful of others, but the rest may as well have been in Outer Mongolia for all my geography was going to help me. This left a fairly tough, but enjoyable solve. Fairly rigorously clued throughout, however I’m not sure if ‘the state’ for NY in 19ac is really fair, as surely it’s ‘a state’?

Lots to appreciate, but my COD goes to 20d – ‘Tedium doctor, what proved a prime ministerial blessing for Gordon? (8)’.

Answers, analysis and lots more here:


A reasonably straightforward start to the working week. Only the anagrams at 12ac and 4d caused any real issues, though that said 26ac was my last in. I had ticks by lots of clues, but my COD goes to 14ac, with 15d close behind – ‘Maybe knock the wind out of artist (5)’.

Back to February 2011 today, so perhaps we have Quixote on a Monday for a little longer.


Saturday 31st October  2015

It is surely self-evident that, if a puzzle has a theme, a) the more themed words the better, and b) the fewer iffy words the better. It seems Phi sometimes eschews all that and just uses a sprinkling of themed words to get his juices going, but when the theme is classical symphonies – ah, well then he pulls out all the stops.  To get fully 9 symphonies plus the key word itself into the across lights was a fine achievement, even if it did require the slightly iffy words ‘celiac’ (American spelling) and ‘norths’ (?) in the downs.

The clues were all to the usual high standard, although I suspect that for all but classical music buffs the theme will have made this on the trickier side. At least that’s what the comments at Fifteensquared say, but  for once I think I found it a bit easier than they did for some reason – even though I only recognised a couple of the symphony names myself.

COD:  27a  Recalled my second fake orchestral piece (8)

For full answers from 2011 click here.