I expected to find someone other than Quixote today, but it just goes to show that you can’t second guess the editor. This was a welcome start to the week anyway, on the easier side, though 4ac contained both an obscure answer and obscure author in the wordplay, for me at least. 12ac has evidently been edited to change the name of the painter to one less unfortunate now. I must admit this was one where the cryptic totally baffled me, and I settled for – well, he’s a painter, isn’t he? And got away with it.

Lots of nice clues, COD goes to 19d – ‘Busiest afternoon? This will get squeezed (6)’.

We’re at the tail end of January 2012 over on the other side:


Saturday 10th September 2016

So my system when blogging is that I put a tick if the clue is excellent, a double tick means (obviously enough) that it’s doubly so.  An unsmiley face means a clue which either I dislike because if my peculiar set of prejudices or else because it’s a bit dodgy (according to my judgement, flawed though it might be).  Other comments may or may not be chucked in around the margin – question marks or ‘Too hard!’ and the occasional ‘Wow!’

The good people over at Fifteensquared thought this a little harder than usual, and also that it came amidst a period of high Phi productivity.  No theme or Nina – unless you think ‘The Cat’s Whiskers’ across the middle links to ‘PJS’ (Pyjamas) and ‘EYE’ in the unchecked squares in top and bottom row.

Worst offender amongst the unsmiley faces was ‘famous actors’ = ‘starry’ in 8d; and my favourite amongst those single ticks (no doubles on this occasion) was the simple but neat 7d:

Dance perceived to present a puzzle (6)

A real tour de force from Nestor today. I really think this should have been a Saturday prize puzzle so that I could have had the whole weekend to tussle with and enjoy properly. I couldn’t finish this without some electronic assistance as there were quite a few references to things I didn’t know like Gary and 13d. There are too many good clues to mention but I think for

COD 8d    Cash in one’s chips about to keep 7 behind (8)

The Blog and full explanation from February 2012 is here



i Cryptic Crossword 1748 Anax

September 15, 2016

A step up in difficulty today from the easy puzzles that started the week, but perhaps on the easier side for Anax despite being a Saturday prize puzzle reprint. A few obscurities – ORT, NARY, and the first definition in 6ac spring to mind – but the only obscure answer was a hidden one, and there were enough easy clues dotted around the grid to get us started. Seeing Anax’s name above a puzzle always fills me with trepidation, but the last few we’ve had in the i have been pretty accessible.

COD? 3d – ‘Power corrupt, you’ll claim it as refuge? (9,6)’.

March 2012 once more:


i Cryptic Crossword 1747 Dac

September 14, 2016

Are we to assume that Dac’s appearances in the i are now on a fortnightly basis? All the more reason to savour them. Today’s puzzle took me a little longer than usual, but that’s easily explained by the unseasonable heat and the return of Hedgetrimmer Man.

If one consults the relevant Fifteensquared blog from March 2012, one will find a comment from Dac himself, which is unusual. It’s to the effect that the appearance of both 1d and 13ac in the same crossword is a coincidence, to which my reaction was “huh”? Anyway, although the inclusion of living people is frowned upon by some, I hope we can all agree that the couple were treated to a pair of excellent clues? Other favourites included 12 and 20ac, and 19d, but I find myself impaled on the horns of a dilemma re the COD. Ordinarily I reject anagrams for consideration, however apt, but 18ac really is a gem; and then there’s 27ac, which wins on a coin toss:

“Sherry is in short supply, my boy (6)”

i Cryptic Crossword 1746 Raich

September 13, 2016

An enjoyable, straightforward puzzle from Raich. The theme revealed itself pretty early on when I solved 24ac, jotted in 9/28/31 then based on the enumeration, and looked with suspicion at the outside of the grid. I must admit to never having seen any of the films referenced, but I can’t imagine many solvers weren’t familiar with the titles at least. 7ac I think I might have struggled with a little if I didn’t know the title.

One or two obscurities in the wordplay – all of 10ac, and TR for translated in 8d, but the definitions were forthcoming enough so no complaints.

COD? 6ac – ‘Ambitious wife ordered double (5-2)’.

Back to March 2012:


The ever reliable Quixote starts the week with a fairly gentle, enjoyable puzzle. As sound and well clued as ever, this originally marked 25 years of his crosswords in the Indy.

COD? 1d – ‘Birds flow possibly? (8)’.

And we’re into March 2012 already:


Saturday 3rd September 2016

In the comments section at Fifteensquared here, Phi tells us that he once constructed a puzzle with ‘NINA’ hidden in a number of the answers (God alone knows how, I can’t think of a single word with nina in it).  At some point it must have occurred to him that words with ‘ANIN’ in are much more abundant, and so here they were – one in each of the across rows.  It’s a good wheeze and I like the idea a lot.

Unfortunately the resulting puzzle was, for my money, a bit below par by Phi’s high standards.   I completed it all right but there some things I didn’t much like (those crossing words in the corners, H&M stores, stretched definitions, exaggeratedly as an anagram indicator, ‘suitable’ in 1d…).

Nevertheless it did also have some cracking good clues, amongst which my favourite has to be the wonderful example of misdirection which is 16a:

Flute part? Current issue with oboe (missing odd bits) (6)

NB. In case you didn’t know already, a ‘Nina’ is the term used for any hidden words in a crossword’s final grid. Something to do with a cartoonist at the New York Times and his daughter’s name, apparently.

I always start with 1a and then read all the other across clues before doing the same with the down it gives me a sense of the difficulty of the puzzle. Today, 1a was a write in, more like this I thought and we will be done in half an hour but not much else was. For me It turned into a challenging and enjoyable couple of hours. Lots of good clues with only a couple of obscurities that needed a dictionary or Google for conformation. I had  plenty of ticks 18, 25 and 28a  2, 6 and 14d were among them but

COD 16d     Poorly rate one abandoning Taming of the Shrew (9)

Back to March 2012  http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/03/08/independent-7924-klingsor/

An enjoyable puzzle from Morph of perhaps average difficulty. The answers were often more forthcoming than the wordplay, especially with some of the longer answers, so in they went without worrying to much about it. 1ac doesn’t work since the old pope retired, but I doubt many solvers will have struggled much with the definition. For a while I thought there might have been a theme around sayings, but it appears not.

COD? 5d – ‘… coming from neighbouring country, infiltrating while arsing around (7)’.

January 2012 once more: