Saturday 12th March  2016

I’m probably a bit biased towards Klingsor because he put my first ever puzzle on his website, ‘Free Crosswords Online!’ but nevertheless I thought this was a brilliant puzzle – full of invention and cleverness.  If you found it challenging, rest assured that this is one setter who is always rigorously fair with his crossword grammar – look hard enough and the clues will yield their secrets.

Just one tiny gripe – I didn’t like Leoncalvallo being clued with Fellow = Leon; this is ‘etymological crossover’, from wordplay to answer, and with a name too – but Klingsor is a classical music buff (as his name implies) so maybe he thought ‘L_ O_CALVALLO’ was more obvious than I did.

Loads of great surfaces and it’s really hard to pick a favourite – 4, 24, 26, 28 across all deserve a mention as do 6, 7, 13, 16 and 25 down, however my favourite by a whisker was probably:

12a Line providing opening for comedian performing across the country? (7)

And the 2011 blog with all the answers here is also of a very high standard.

Sprouthater is still on his hols, but hope he had a chance to solve this, because it was a good one. Lively, with a fair bit of Punk’s trademark smut, and inventive at that. On the easier side for this setter. 2d was new to me, I’m a little worried now what online advertising might come my way having googled the answer post solve. Should have known better… I suspect Punk might feel a little short-changed if he only found the one tomato in his tin (6d), but a minor quibble in a good puzzle.

COD? Amongst many groans, 22ac – ‘For example, Monroe nobbled, nudge nudge, wink wink! (3,2,4)’.

The warmer days of August 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/08/01/independent-7735punk/

I don’t remember seeing Poins in the i before. If so, welcome, otherwise welcome back. This is an IoS reprint, which we’re going to run out of in a few years, should the i and the current crossword policy still be around then, as the final issue of the IoS is due out this week, though missing the barred grid puzzle I understand, which doesn’t bode well for its continued life online.

To the puzzle, which was largely enjoyable, with a mix of quite easy and quite hard clues, especially as far as I was concerned in the SE corner. Nothing controversial I thought.

COD? In part because it took me far too long to spot exactly where the definition was, 25ac – ‘Soldier on exercises runs hard (9)’.

Back to August 2011…

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/08/21/independent-on-sunday-1122-poins/

With apologies, no time for chit chat today, as my sister Citronella arrives on 14.00 train. I shall have to get a move on if I’m to catch the 13.30 outbound. Wish me luck!

What? Oh yes, the crossword. Well, at first I thought this might turn out to be one of Dac’s trickier puzzles, but it was probably just the thought of dear Citronella distracting me. No great difficulty encountered in the end, but the bottom half was done before I made any headway to speak of at the top. A few of the longer entries tickled my fancy at 14ac, 6d and 13d, but my clue of the day is an amusing tiddler:

22d: “Stacked up boxes of documents left by i writer (4)”

See the August 2011 Fifteensquared blog for lots of appreciative comments and some clarification of what’s going on with 21ac (I’ve learned something today).

A theme based round 9d today, then, that I found a bit of a struggle. I never really got stuck anywhere, but progress was slow throughout. Apart from 4d there weren’t really any obscurities, and that to be fair was very clearly clued, though I kept expecting to find some, so I suspect Radian just managed to psych me out. 😉

COD? 24ac – ‘Asian settlers’ right to waste water in States (6)’.

August 2011 once more. Is it really that long since the London riots?

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/08/09/independent-no-7742-by-radian/

Well, that was a lot tougher than I expected when I saw Quixote’s name at the top. I was feeling quite smug when I got straight off the poet at 18ac, and then the OT character at 20ac, but swiftly felt less so when I began to struggle all over the grid with loads of unknowns. Got there in the end, but only after a lot more thought than is usually called for on a Monday.

COD? 4d – ‘Country bumpkin taken in by the commercial, idiot! (9)’.

August 2011 today:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/08/08/independent-7741-by-quixote/

Saturday 5th March  2016

In the 2011 blog with all the answers which you can find here, several commenters are surprised there’s nothing going on by way of a theme or Nina – which is to miss the point of how Phi approaches his setting, I think. This puzzle did have something going on – there were four intersecting pairs of clues – ‘Three-speed Gear’, ‘Good Neighbours’, ‘Anglepoise Lamp’ and ‘Cape Gooseberry’.  With those in place on an otherwise empty grid, the setter has already got quite enough of a challenge just to fill in the rest of the lights!

I have lots of single ticks but no doubles – which I find is often the case with Phi. So pretty much chosen at random, here’s my COD:

19d Navigational aid follows sailor (3,4)

Sprouthater is away on his holidays, so it’s left to me to blog this lovely puzzle. This was a replacement for Dac on a Wednesday back in the day. Big shoes to fill, but Crosophile more than manages it. I took a little longer than I would for Dac, but that was under perhaps less than ideal solving conditions. ie. An empty stomach, and too little sleep.

Lots of possible picks for COD, but I’ll go with 24ac – ‘Skilled worker – one in oil company at inception of two parties (10)’.

Back to May 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/05/25/independent7677crosophile/

A very enjoyable puzzle, with lots of ticks by the clues by the end. That said, it was quite difficult, so I’ll have to be quick getting the blog out. 😉 Last in 25 / 18 / 21.

COD? 19ac – ‘Objective might be having upper lip shaved (8)’.

Back to the heady days of June 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/06/04/independent-7680-nestor-prize-puzzle-sat-28th-may/

The little story next to the crossword today struck a chord with me, since hardly a week goes by without me having to send Onions off to Mr Trubshaw for a replacement malacca. I’d put it down to absent mindedness, but it now appears that there are disciples of Proudhon going around pinching brollies. Bad form, I say. When I mentioned this to Ms Mgurure, she produced her electronic thingummy and drew my attention to an Ebay trader by the name of AlliumUmbrellas who is selling the genuine Trubshaw’s item at very reasonable prices.

I must have been a bit distracted by all that, because the puzzle took longer than usual this morning. Dac doesn’t generally go in for obscurities, but I was brought up sharp by two unfamiliar solutions at 1ac and 8d – both susceptible to deduction from the unimpeachable wordplay, of course. 12ac kept me wondering for quite a while until the penny dropped too, so all in all I’m not feeling particularly clever today. Plenty of elegantly turned goodies to enjoy, of course: how about 7ac, 13 or 21d, for example? My favourite and therefore Clue of the Day is 2d:

“Why most of city is blocked in two directions (9)”

This crossword prompted some rather diverting discussions over at Fifteensquared, back in July 2011. Worth a look.