Another straightforward offering today, with a theme I totally failed to spot. Apparently it’s the 5ac’s, and their songs, of which I must admit to knowing only the one, 23d.

COD? 17d – ‘He turns out as a winner on the net? (7)’.

Our first reprint from 2012:

A pretty straightforward puzzle to start the week that shouldn’t have held most solvers up for too long. 25ac was a little tricky at the end, but the rest was pretty plain sailing.

COD? 26ac – ‘Audacious items of underwear, sexy but without padding (6)’.

Back to November 2011 on Fifteensquared:

Saturday 9th July 2016

At my wedding the best man listed some of my qualities – mostly defamatory of course, but amongst them he descibed me thusly: “…deviser of anagrams – or should that be ‘fond marriage saves’…”. Yup, I’ve always loved ‘em.

On the other hand the process of devising them has changed somewhat in the last 21 years. Put away the Scrabble tiles, you can now bung a word into an anagram engine and generate a few hundred possibilities at the click of a button.  Equally, once the solver has identified the fodder, the process of solving them can become a little mundane.

So my attitude towards them might best be described as ambivalent, and my instinct would normally be to avoid choosing them as COD candidates.

Except, that is, when they get the Phi treatment.  For me, he’s the ne plus ultra of anagrammatical clue writing, as demonstrated once more in last Saturday’s Prize crossword.

And here, arguably, was the best of them:

26a         Prime gatherer, possibly – of souls? (3,4,6)

The full answers, parsing and comments can be found with a click here.

A good puzzle from the crossword editor, though perhaps a little tougher than I’ve found his offerings to be in the past. The long answers fell quickly enough though, and the rest steadily from thereon in. 14d I couldn’t find in my electronic copy of the big red book. Though I was solving hovering by the side of a hospital bed at the time, so butter fingers may be to blame. LOI 5d.

COD? 1d – ‘Lord Chancellor has written terribly drily on case law (8,6)’.

December 2011 today:

Well, that was a battle and a half. I got there in the end, but had as many question marks against the clues as the Fifteensquared blogger. The regional accents theme I twigged fairly early on, which helped with one or two, but left me somewhat bemused elsewhere. A few smiles along the way, as expected with Morph, so a happy if somewhat beleaguered solver.

COD? 1d – ‘Vintage 10 puzzle (4)’, if only because it sent me off on a wild goose chase of trying to remember ancient 10’s.

Back to November 2011:

After yesterday’s offering from that Scorpion chappie (which Onions dashed off in ten minutes chuckling smugly to himself all the while, curse him), I assumed that we’d be back on solid, familiar ground today. As it turns out Dac’s puzzle is a bit of an odd one this time.

Some may take the view that there are rather too many proper nouns, and a bit of an undue emphasis on knowledge which may or may not be regarded as general. Nicknames for football clubs, Italian towns and characters from Dickens, for instance. Happily that sort of thing – as well as authors (Russian and English), former statesmen (Egyptian) and Expressionist film directors (Austrian), is very much in my line – although how I knew about Portsmouth is a mystery, admittedly. Anyway, assuming all that didn’t cause too much trouble it was an entertaining, well-crafted crossword, as per. The two long anagrams were nicely put together, and I particularly enjoyed 1 and 2d; my COD however is 26ac:

“Maiden and German bachelor rolling over in bed (6)”

Analysis and discussion from the shortest day of 2011 are on offer at Fifteensquared.

Well, what exactly have the Romans ever done for us?

Wasn’t that good? It took four or five of the themed answers to fall into place before it was clear what was going on, and it was only when I popped over to Fifteensquared that I noticed that the definition referenced so many times was literally staring me in the face all along. A very impressive accomplishment, and fun too. Tough, as you expect from Scorpion, but once you spotted what was going on, and if you were familiar with the film, then everything worked out quite nicely.

COD? 17d – ‘Eyed up fish bones (3)’.

Twas the week before Christmas:

A pretty straightforward start to the week, with a little difficulty, for me, at least, at 1ac and 28ac. A good, solid puzzle for a Monday, though perhaps as Uncle Yap noted in 2011 lacking a little sparkle.

COD? 19ac – ‘Imaginary rock musician (7)’.

Almost Christmas on Fifteensquared:

Saturday 2nd July  2016

In October 2011 Phi’s thousandth puzzle appeared in the Independent. Last Saturday’s i printed the online version, but the original ‘dead tree’ version was un-numbered, you just fitted the 26 solutions in like a jigsaw puzzle wherever they would go.  Each clue started with a different letter of the alphabet; put the initial letters of their solutions in the alphabetical order of their clues and you would have generated the message: PHI’S THOUSANDTH DAILY CRYPTIC.  So belated congratulations to Paul Henderson.

To have deduced all that without the original accompanying rubric would have been rather hard, I think. Personally I felt sure something was going on, but could only see ‘maniac’, ‘drone’, ‘cane’ and ‘easy’ in the unches – all completely insignificant, it turned out.

As to the clues – well good, solid stuff as ever from Phi. I’ve never thought of Prospero as a hero, exactly and the complications of 10a needed to be justified by the conceit, but otherwise no complaints.

My COD , narrowly beating 14a, goes to 2d, which will doubtless have also been appreciated by JonofWales. Here it is again:

2d  Terrible climbing, chasing scoundrel and man up Welsh peak (5,5)

And the original blog with answers, parsing and comments is here .



It’s been a while since we’ve seen Punk in these parts, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect today. What we got, despite this being a reprinted prize puzzle, is on the easier side for him, though with a bit of a sting in the tail in the NW corner. 1ac I guessed was a variation on the more familiar Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, but it took me a while to figure out the middle bit. 2d/5d also caused me a little difficulty. 14ac I’m guessing would have sprung to mind a lot more readily 5 years ago than it did today.

COD? Lots to choose from, but I’ll go with 24ac – ‘A male sleazeball in prison vehicle (6,3)’.

Back to November 2011: