A little more of a challenge today, as we expect from Nestor, and a Thursday Independent reprint. The longer answers weren’t as intimidating as they first appeared, once you spotted the definition, and we weren’t short of some easier clues elsewhere, so perhaps not as tricky as it first appeared. 19ac was new to me, but the wordplay was friendly enough.

28ac I’m afraid brings just one thought to mind, the Anne Droid:


COD? 22ac – ‘Something catchy that’s satisfying – to caterpillar, at least (6)’.

Back to November 2011:


An eventful week since my last blog, I’m sure we can all agree. In view of the forces of chaos, confusion and downright incivility loosed upon the country in the last few days, I had half expected to find the crossword replaced by a wordsearch. Happily, in this one respect at least, my worst expectations have not been realised. So, like a shipwrecked mariner clutching onto a plank from a stove lifeboat, I seized upon the Wednesday Dac, and found that it was a good ‘un.

Usual brew today, straight down the middle in terms of difficulty, with plenty of variety and no cause for quibbling that I could see. Unless, of course, you are wondering who on earth 11ac is. (And on a personal note, I must admit to being weary of finding lurking snow leopards. Perliously endangered in the wild, but abundant in cryptic crosswords). Quite an extensive list of COD candidates today, but the final came down to the somewhat un-PC 15ac, and this one:

26d: “No longer fielding? Not a situation team enjoys (2-3)”

The puzzle went down well at Fifteensquared back in November 2011 as usual, although there was some discussion about definitions in 9 and 28 – neither of which struck me as controversial.

A nice breezy solve from Raich today that only held me up a little in the SE corner, 24ac/24d in particular. For once I spotted the theme, which I thought was going to be girl names in general, until the Nina appeared in the left and right hand columns.

COD? It’s quite a simple clue, really, but I thought it was neat. 27ac – ‘She works in sales with added energy (4)’.

Back to 2011 for this IoS reprint:


Morph on a Monday? There’s no real theme or nina, but I’m guessing 5d and the start of a certain tennis tournament might have been contributing factors. Anyway, despite being an old Saturday prize puzzle, this was one of Morph’s easier offerings, so ideally suited to a Monday morning. I did get myself in a bit of a pickle in the NW corner when I lobbed in GAMES UP, but there was no way 2d was going to be .M.F was there?

Lots of ticks by the clues, and a few question marks I probably could have resolved myself but left to Fifteensquared to do so. COD? 18d – ‘Universities are rivals on paper before Hammersmith? (8)’.

All the answers and more can be found here:



Saturday 18th June  2016

Towards the tougher end of things by Phi’s standards, and I agree with the first commenter at the original Fifteensquared blog here that, in the main, we needed to be working out the wordplay rather than guessing than answer from the definition.

There was some discussion on the other channel about VOTRESS at 21a. I know it well enough from ‘The Dream’ which I reckon I’ve seen at least a dozen times (one of the drawbacks of living in Cornwall is that touring companies like the RSC give you the same 3 or 4 plays again and again – what, The Tempest again?!).

For me 3d SUPERMINI was the trickiest clue in the puzzle, and my favourite… hmm, let me see… I’ll nominate my first one in, 14a:

Working as partners? South American sounds incredulous (2,7)

After a couple of extremely difficult offerings this week, and what would have been a late night for many of us watching the car crash that was Brexit, this came as a bit of much needed light relief. The very definition of a read and write, I wish I’d timed myself as I’m sure it would have been a PB. As it was, half was solved waiting in a car park, the rest hurriedly after lunch, in anticipation of something that might have taken longer. Sprouthater, BTW, is off on his hols, so you’ve got me to put up with for a few weeks. 😉

COD? 6d – ‘Pan-American League? (5)’.

Here’s the Fifteensquared blog for this IoS reprint that, I thought, filled Quixote’s shoes amply.


Another stinker today, courtesy of Monk. 🙂 The clues might be fair, as nmsindy noted back in the day, but there were far too many obscurities to make this a comfortable solve. Rhum for island for inch, CinC for supreme commander, etc. Not to mention a few odd anagram indicators. There’s literally a NiNa based on the metals in the left and right columns that I must admit to completely missing. Another old Independent prize puzzle that I don’t think was well served by a weekday slot.

COD? 6d – ‘Bird in a government department working only half a day? (9)’.

Back to Novemeber 2011:


One of Dac’s gentler puzzles today, and I doubt it will have given much trouble. There are a couple of quibbles relating to 4d and 27ac, neither of which bothered me in the slightest but caused some muttering amongst the Fifteensquared brigade back in December 2011. Nothing to occasion a major headache, I’m sure. Some good long ones this time at 8, 9 and 10, but my clue of the day is 13ac: a nice little exercise in misdirection:

“Sunday job not initially available to altar boy (8)”

Simplicity itself really, but it amused me.

Challenging stuff from Radian today that left me feeling more relieved than satisfied by the time I’d finished, I’m afraid. Doubles is our theme of the day, which should in retrospect have helped with some clues I was struggling with, but never quite seemed to. I thought for a while we were on course for a double pangram as well, but we’re a few letters short. A few obscurities I didn’t like, ‘IN’ for ‘Lit’ in 3d chief amongst them.

COD? 29ac – ‘Court battles climax in deliberate obfuscation (11)’.

December 2011 already?


A fairly gentle start to the week from Quixote, though with a little sting in the tail (for me at least) at 2d, where there’s a little obscurity in the wordplay.

COD? 11ac – ‘Puts forward a proposal to get some battalion into action (6,1,6)’.

Back to October 2011:


PS 3ac in today’s five-clue cryptic was, I thought, quite neat.