With JonofWales back at the helm of idothei and Dac in his usual Wednesday slot, normal service has been well and truly restored. That today’s puzzle was a good one hardly needs saying, therefore, with a rather impressive complement of ticks in the margin.

A couple of question marks, too, just for once. I’m not bowled to find words like 4d in a crossword (the clue is fine though); and as any pedant worth their salt will point out the job of a 26ac is to pick up as little as possible. Never mind. 9, 8 and 11d were all nicely assembled, whilst both the 14s were worthy of a quiet chuckle. My COD is the modest but exemplary 10ac:

“Dishes cooked in the south-west (5)”

For a thorough post mortem, see the Fifteensquared blog from back in February 2012.

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8d was my first answer in when I realised we were looking for examples of it, but it still took a while to fill the grid, with some quite tricky clues along the way. A bit of text speak in 24ac will raise one or two eyebrows, but the definition was a pretty straightforward one so I’ll forgive Radian for that. LOI 13/22 – the EDEN bit was pretty apparent, but the rest together with an obscure, to me at least, answer, had me stumped for an age. 17d I’m guessing would have sprung to mind more readily back in the day than they do now. The perils of reprinted crosswords… I’m not sure how quickly I would have got 18d either if it wasn’t for our Saturday blogger’s alter-ego Maize. 🙂

Quite a few question marks by the clues at the end, that Fifteensquared ably explained, but also many ticks. COD goes to 20d – ‘Concentrate, otherwise children lose heart (6)’.

Back to February 2012 once more:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/02/10/independent-7901radian/

Well, the SW corner held out for a little longer than the rest, but this was still a very fast, breezy solve. Just right for a sort-of-sunny bank holiday when there are perhaps better things we could be doing. 😉 Oh, the car needs cleaning, and there’s gardening to be done…

COD? 6d – ‘What’s strange to a shopper (when greengrocer abuses it!) (10)’.

And back to February 2012:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/02/20/independent-7909-by-quixote/

Many thanks, BTW, to everyone who covered the blog for me last week, much appreciated!

Saturday 20th August 2012

Over on Fifteensquared (click here) Phi tells us that Salmonella Dub, Midnight Youth, Pitch Black and Circadian Rhythm(s) are all NZ pop groups.  He also says he’d be astonished if anyone got that, which goes to prove that ghost themes are sometimes there for the setter’s amusement (Phi lives in New Zealand) rather than the solvers’.

The blogger back in 2012 was echoed by several commenters all agreeing that this was more difficult than usual for a Phi.  (I didn’t notice that either!)   Apparently the vocabulary was especially abstruse or something.  Was it?  Baryonic took a few crossing letters but the only really fiendish clue I thought was 24d, for which the answer was ‘fish’!

And for my COD I’ll go for 26a:

Hell, what should we do when politicians won’t say yes? (7)

I found this extremely hard, in fact I gave up, just too many words and expressions that I had not come across before and quite a few answered without fully understanding why.

I can’t remember having come across the on vacation device as used in 22 and 24ac before but found this very pleasing so-

COD 22a  In Truro, on vacation, returned books. (3,9)

Apparently there is a Nina.

A full explanation and a comment from the setter can be found here http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/01/05/independent-7870-monk/

It could be that I’m uncommonly dense – not a possibility to be lightly dismissed – but my considered opinion is that this puzzle is the toughest we’ve had in a long time. Tyrus seems to have been testing the boundaries in this Saturday prize puzzle from February 2012, and it took a good deal of lateral thinking to finish. No need for the dictionary, however – always a good thing.

Lots of smooth surfaces today, some of which displayed the sort of of cheerful sauciness which always goes down well chez Batarde. 6, for instance, as well as the two admirable long anagrams across the middle. The little ‘uns were notably devious too: I particularly liked 7, 13 and 15 – the latter being remarkably sneaky. Too many ticks to discuss, so on to the COD. No, not 21 (nearly, though), but 16:

“Fellow in court forgetting lines? Very Improbable (3,6)”

For exegesis and discussion, here’s the Fifteensquared blog. Top drawer stuff, Tyrus: bravo.

It’s been many a moon since the Wednesday slot was occupied by a setter other than Dac, and since Raich only makes occasional appearances I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. Initial impressions were unpromising – three anagrams in a row – but as it turned out the puzzle was a diverting one: scrupulously fair with a sprinkling of very pleasing clues.

The crossword is from the Independent on Sunday back in February 2012, and if you consult Fifteensquared you’ll find that the original blog was written by a gentleman who had been savaged by a squirrel. Strange but true. Whilst there was a lot of appreciation for 18ac, I cottoned on to that one rather quickly, and must now make my choice of COD from either 28ac or 14d. Let’s go with the latter:

“Mounted attempt and managed to get into journey in the water? (3,6)”

Well I thought that was terrific.

I have no fewer than four candidates for Clue of the Day, plus another 10 clues with ticks in the margin.  Mind you I also have ROAD with a question mark for 5d, having been defeated by the unfamiliar mobile=M abbreviation.

The sprinkling of techie related clues plus my first answer of Applets alerted me to the theme, but it took a trip to Fifteensquared and the original blog  – click here – to give me all the themed answers: Blackberry, Ice cream sandwich, Applets, Roam, Nexus, Wapping and Android. You may have noticed some others…

Obviously the current Chinese leader  isn’t Hu at all but Li Keqiang, (so the answer to 29a isn’t LIGE). Spotting such anachronisms is a sport which only the i can offer, of course. 

As for those four double-tickers, I had 12a, 28a, 1d and 9d. The winner by a nose is the following:

28a Theseus at first leaves threads tied – way of getting help in labyrinth (7)

Jonofwales is off doing something important today so I am filling in.

Todays puzzle is a reprint from the I.O.S. and provoked a couple of comments on Fifteensquared  regarding the obscurity of 29a which whilst being a new word to me was solved partly by the wordplay and partly by luck and only entered after checking with a dictionary. It was 23a that I found really hard to parse, yes the answer was obvious once the checking letters were in but I think the wordplay relied on too many obscure references. There are though plenty of good clues on offer, I liked 6d a lot although that was only solved once the checking letters were in , I don’t automatically think of Edith when I see “girl” I was pleased to solve 27a from the wordplay but it is not a word that I would associate with revolution. Others that had ticks were 13a,19a, 21a and 18d but for COD I think that goes to my LOI

11d    Norm gets upset after the first gin (4)

Back to January 2012  here   http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/01/08/independent-on-sunday-1141-by-poins/

Saturday 13th August 2016

Either this was an especially good puzzle from Phi or else I just happened to be in a particularly good mood last Saturday, but I do seem to have a generous sprinkling of ticks in the margin of 1720 – in a paper which has the GB men’s coxless fours emblazoned across the front page atop the word ‘Invincible’.  Were they?  I can barely remember…

But I do remember liking 7d, which gets my accolade of Clue of the Day.

7d Sensible, like Blackbeard letting one escape around Cape (9)

Now when I first visited idothei some years ago, JonofWales would have patiently listed the answers and parsing for those clues (generally about a third) which hadn’t been explained over at Fifteensquared. Nowadays however, we can safely expect that all 32 will have been detailed in full.  To find out for sure, you’ll have to click here.

Oh, and yes I know – REM haven’t ‘recently’ disbanded, so 1d is hopelessly out of date.