My solving experience was spookily similar to the original blogger’s – a quick start, then a gradual slowdown until the end, and then 4/7/10 holding out until the last. We don’t get many by Mordred, but if they’re all like this, then more please. Not too easy, not too hard, and a fun theme. Lots I needed to check at the end over on the other side, but always fair and solvable.

COD? 6ac – ‘No time for a chortle when suffering this (7)’.

To the Autumn of 2011:

A pleasant, fairly straightforward solve. That said, I got stuck for a while at the end on 5/7/8, but not for too long. No excuse now not to get on with that gardening…

COD? 11ac – ‘Undaunted, Rose played on a very old instrument (8)’.

Here’s the Fifteensquared blog:


Saturday 21st May 2016

Four long lights around the edge, three of which went in readily enough but the fourth, Sumer is icumen in, along with Winterreise and a few other obscurantisms made this a toughie for me.  I have a fair knowledge of classical music, Grade 5 on the ‘cello sort of thing, but sometimes  Phi expects his solvers to share his passion for Radio 3, which is probably a little unreasonable.

Unfortunately I can’t lay my hands on last Saturday’s paper for love nor money, so am unable to nominate a Clue Of the Day; please feel free!

Just click here, though, for the link to the Fifteensquared blog from 2011.



Another IoS reprint today, but unlike yesterdays I shouldn’t think this one gave most solvers too much trouble, though it did provide a pleasant diversion for a Friday morning.  Only 12a and 15d were unknowns to me but both solvable from the wordplay and entered after a dictionary check. Seems to be the week for Native American references with both Geronimo and Iroquois mentioned again today. Couple of things I didn’t really get ,the KG in 5d and 22a Old Greek settler? both are explained in the original blog but both still seem to me a bit iffy to me. There is a Nina across the top and bottom but as the setter explains it is meaningless to most people. Nothing really stands out as an exceptional clue but I quite liked 23d so COD is

Yarn from African Country that’s changed sides (6)

The 2011 blog is found here

A pretty difficult IoS reprint today, made harder by what were, in effect, four pretty standalone quarters. 13ac didn’t really work for me, or 22d either for that matter, though it was a nice try at something different. An obscure island at 5ac and an even more obscure tennis player at 11ac meant that corner held out the longest. Pleased to get 24ac correct from the wordplay.

COD? Got to be said that none really inspired me today, but I’ll go with 8d – ‘ME native and submissive chaps lacking sun on island (6)’.

Back to October 2011:

“Down by the old 20ac
There’ll be a storm before the calm”.

I’ll be whistling that all day. Anyway, after yesterday’s tussle with Punk, we’re back to the more serene style of Dac, and as with Monday’s Quixote this seems a particularly good example of the setter’s personal approach. Here we get the smooth surfaces, a variety of elegant wordplay and a dash of invention: the usual Wednesday package, in fact. A couple of observations: some may say that 7d is a bit rich. I am just fine with it, but as Professor Mgurure pointed out there are quite a few possibilities (see Pelham Barton’s comments on the October 2011 Fifteensquared blog). Also, one wonders how well remembered the BBC bod in 22ac will be nowadays. Not nearly as easy to call to mind as 1d, in my opinion. And if you want to be picky, 12ac is a bit of a throwaway.

Thumbs up for … goodness me: all of them, pretty much. 4 and 19ac; 2,3,4 and 17d were especially appreciated, but there must be a winner, so the medal for Clue of the Day goes to 5d:

“Very strong winds putting off a pilot (7)”

Mmm, I’m afraid this is one that I didn’t enjoy at all. I dislike the sort of interlinked clue thing we had today, where you need to solve a few gateway clues to make head or tail of what’s going on. Pretty tough as well, I got bored three quarters of the way through and didn’t bother finishing, which I think is a first with the i.

Anyway, lots more comment here:

A fairly well known poet, and if you didn’t know him, you’d probably have heard of his son. One clue that I found a little tricky to parse at 10d, but the answer was faily self-evident. One unknown at 15d, but lots of friendly checking letters. All in all a fairly straightforwad solve then, good for new and improving solvers, and for those of us feeling a little sluggish on a Monday morning.

COD? 25ac – ‘Lady excited about what has been provided by her lover proposing audaciously (8)’.

Back to October 2011:

Saturday 14th May  2016

In which Cornelian and Greywacke were familiar enough, but Upspeak and Lobar weren’t, though both (of course, this is Phi) were perfectly gettable from the wordplay and seemed like reasonable enough words in any case.

So not quite as hard as some over at the Fifteensquared blog found it (click here for their comments and full parsing) but still a good test with a sprinkling of fun here and there.

No hidden themes for once; I guess Phi just used the split lights of ‘Terracotta Army’ and ‘Beef Wellington’ at top and bottom as the seeds to get him going.

By the way, using the same anagram indicator – ‘working’ – twice in the same crossword is generally frowned upon, I can only think it was an oversight. And there seems to be an awful lot of Raita recently, as regulars will doubtless have noticed.

My COD goes to 9d, by which I see in my old copy I have written the word ‘nifty’. Here it is again:

Part of leg contained shell after explosion (8,6)

The last puzzle we had from this setter drew a few negative comments. Todays puzzle seems to me to be a more enjoyable and accessible offering with a lot of good clues. After mentioning yesterday that I don’t like the use of Trat = Restaurant the device crops up again today, ho hum. Like others I couldn’t see where the Bar in 11a came from but this is explained quite satisfactorily later in the blog, 22a with the qua=capacity didn’t seem right but having Googled it I see it is perfectly correct. Plenty of good clues to choose from today I particularly liked 13a ,20a and 25a but

COD is 2d    Reincarcerate on purpose ?  (10)


The July 2011 blog is here