A good puzzle from Klingsor, pitched just right as far as difficulty goes at this end of the week – not too easy, but perfectly solvable, with a couple at the end (in my case 6d and 8d) that needed a little more thought. The former I guessed correctly, the latter I lobbed in and went to look at the blog to see what was going on. Still not convinced by ‘CUT’ for ‘give up’, mind.

COD? Among lots of nice clues, in particularly 19d, I’m nominating 11d – ‘How to get techie to overcome awkwardness? (5,3,3)’.

Back to September 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/09/01/independent-7762klingsor/

I am in danger of being driven to distraction by Citronella’s constant harping on, and have therefore followed Onions’ advice and invested in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. A snip at four hundred guineas. They’re frightfully good: nary a scale nor an arpeggio to be heard, leaving me free to bestow my undivided attention on the crossword.

About par for the Wednesday course today, possibly a little on the trickier side for Dac. Must say that I have my doubts about that “against” in 1ac, but otherwise all perfectly fair and above board. Highlights for me included 2, 19 and 25, but nobody will be surprised by my choice of COD, I dare say:

4ac: “Judaism’s equivalent to Irish priest wouldn’t stop talking (8)”

Solutions and discussion from November 2011 may be found at Fifteensquared.

Well, my time was completely off the scale for this puzzle, that I found extremely difficult. For a long time I didn’t have any answers, and it was only when some of the longer ones went in that the grid began to fill. Quite a few where I didn’t understand the cryptic. Typically, I’m unable to find a Fifteensquared blog, so you’ll have to make do with my efforts below. A bit of a rush job, I’ll admit. Any help with the clues I still have question marks beside would be much appreciated.

COD? 11ac – ‘Clothe yourself in gold, angel (5)’.

Across

1/9 AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO – (POPE GO U US IN FAITH)*
6 AMATI – Reverse hidden in maladroIT AMAteurs
10 GEORGIC – Sounds like JAW + GI + C
11 DON OR
12 S QUEEn GEED
13 ROAST BEEF – (Baste for + e)*
15 sExLiFeIsNt
16 S POOR
18 H(ALF C)ASTE – Thanks, Andy, for spotting what I’d missed!
20 ROTAVIRUS – ROTA + VIR (Latin: man or husband) + US
23 LYING – Double Def.
25 ITALICS – IT = Desirable Quality + Sounds like ALEX… (See comments, thanks again Dave!)
26/28 POINT OF DEPARTURE – (D + European port if t)*
27 T(HEM)E

Down

1 ALOUD – DUO plus LA for lane, presumably, reversed.
2 GEHENNA – GE(HEN = Orpington Chicken)N + A (Absolute) – Many thanks to Dave in the comments…
3 SUP ER(STA)R
4 IDOLS – Sounds like IDLES.
5 EG G CUP FULl – It feels like there should be a hypen there though.
6 A ROSE
7/8 ANGLE OF INCIDENCE – (DANCING ON ICE + FEELs)*
13/17 RESTRAIN T OF TRADE – REST RAIN + (DO AFTER T)*
14 ETHERISED – (THE)* + DESIRE reversed.
15 EXCELSIOR – Sounds like XL + SI(O)R where the O is an O Grade, a pass, in a Scottish exam. (Thanks again Dave for the help…)
19 SHIATSU – (THIS A)* + US<-
21 VOILE – Reverse hidden in DisraELI OVerview
22 SO(P) UP
24 GAFFEr

A, for the most part, fairly straightforward and very enjoyable puzzle, with a number of ticks by the clues. 1ac, though, I guess would have been a guess for most solvers, and is probably stretching things a little. See also the definition at 13ac, and the use of ’round’ in 21ac.

COD? Amongst many good clues, 1d – ‘Where you might find a flat fish caught and almost abandoned (4,4).’

Here’s the IoS blog from September 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/09/25/independent-on-sunday-1127-18-september-2011nitsy/

Saturday 7th May 2016

Many at Fifteensquared found this a tougher than usual Phi, but I thought it was about average and, as so often happens with this setter, there’s a theme and also a Nina, both missed by me; AMIS appears hidden in the row below CARRIAGE AND PAIR, and some of his novels — TIME’S ARROW, LONDON FIELDS, SUCCESS, and MONEY make an appearance.

I’ve not too much to say about it, really (for once!) so here’s my COD:

5d  Head girl going bottomless in school dance – the stuff of life! (10)

And the 2011 blog can be found by clicking here.

Now for the nerdy bit: after Monk’s question yesterday in the Fifteensquared comments asking if it was possible to come up with a triple pangram on a standard grid with no obscurities and an average word length of over 7, I had a go myself and did so after an hour or two of pottering on Crossword Compiler with my weirdest word being SPIV.  Actually that’s a lie, it was an a.w.l. of exactly 7 – to get over that you would need at least a couple of rows where the lights couldn’t be split (7/7 or whatever) which would, I suspect, become problematic.

Like the original blogger my first pass was quite productive. I did notice the X’s, Q’s and Y’s and wondered if we had another pangram, but didn’t pursue it, well I was wrong because as you all probably spotted it was a double pangram. Irrespective of that I found the rest of the puzzle really tough with too many (for me) obscurities the worst of which I thought was 1a. Maria being a sea on the Moon. Is this really common knowledge?  A bit of a curate’s egg puzzle for me then.

My COD is 3d   Waiters will be irritated by this going forward  (5-7)

Back to Beermagnet’s excellent dissection and explanation

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/10/08/independent-7788-by-monk-sat-01-oct-2011/

This was described in the comments on the original blog as being “one of the very hardest puzzles of the year”, and I have to agree. Always fair and perfectly constructed, as always with Nestor, but for the most part this took some unpicking. The SW corner and a few of the longer answers gave a bit of a foothold, so no complaints. A good example of a tough, but accessible crossword.

COD? The Star Trek reference raised a smile, but I’m nominating 13ac – ‘University that is excluded from regular feature on Telly Addicts? (5)’.

Back to September 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/09/15/independent-7774-nestor/

Many thanks to Citronella for filling in so surprisingly ably last week. She is putting in some intensive harp practice this week, so the ambience here is decidedly celestial.

Today’s puzzle was rather outstanding I thought, full of apt anagrams and finely honed wordplay. I’m positive I remember Ronnie Corbett telling a joke along similar lines to 13ac concerning Sonia Lannaman, so that must have been in the distant, unreconstructed past. 22ac was unfamiliar but readily deduced from the wordplay : no complaints there, and the same goes for 2d. My favourites today include 4, 10 and 25 across, along with 1 and 10 down; however the last one in was sufficiently groan-worthy to take Clue of the Day:

8d – “Pen more than one hymn (4,4)”

The Fifteensquared blog from September 2011 contains a few complaints in the comments about that one, but for my money the use of the verbal form was entirely legitimate and added another level of cleverness, so well done Dac.

At first I found this very difficult, with answers dotted around the grid. Then 16/17/4 fell into place (I was convinced for too long that drinks had to be involved somewhere), and that was more or less that. 20d I guessed without fully getting the wordplay. 21ac similarly, because we play tag in this neck of the woods, not tig.

COD? 1ac – ‘Ex-supporter of Diana to pray adopting popular deity (7,5)’.

Back to August 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/08/31/independent-7761-by-crosophile/

A fairly gentle start to the week from Quixote. In his comment on the original blog he said that he was aiming for an Everyman level of difficulty to some degree, and this is what it felt like. The anagrams at 24ac and 27ac caused me a little difficulty, as they were both unknowns, but I was pleased to get them correct, albeit with most of the checking letters.

COD? 8d – ‘Exceptional Christian? Correct, one held to be unswerving (8)’.

Back to September 2011:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2011/09/12/independent-7771quixote/