In the original blog for todays puzzle, which is an IOS reprint Pierre comments that these puzzles are usually at the easier end of the scale. Whilst a lot of this puzzle fits that description there are a few which I for one found quite difficult to parse.1d, 14d and 28a were all entered just because they fit and having read the explanations on Fifteensquared I cant say I am much happier. 4a was a groan inducing Spoonerism and 3 clues required a knowledge of French which Pierre might be ok with but I’m 18d against. Both 10a and 20d were solved from the wordplay but I was unfamiliar with there definitions. The rest was fairly standard cryptic fare nothing spectacular but a few ticks for 13a, 23a, 5d and 18d however

COD 17d     Moneypenny dumped in launch as it’s abandoned  (9)


Saturday 22nd October 2016

You may recall that Phi’s North-East England themed puzzle took up the Tuesday berth in last week’s roll call – in what now seems to be the favoured slot for ‘gimmick’ type puzzles.  So on Saturday we had Morph taking his place in a rare weekend appearance and with a relatively straightforward offering.

Plenty to enjoy in a crossword of just 25 clues – which I filled in much more quickly than I usually do  with Morph – although the homophone at 1a was sufficiently audacious (and impressive) to hold me up considerably at the end.

Full blog from 2012 is here.

And favourite clue for me was the pleasingly succinct 10a:

Frank – sex-change dad? (11)



I found this the most difficult puzzle of the week and in parts pretty disagreeable but also in other parts quite clever. Amongst the disagreeable parts, 1a with its drugs reference lost me completely ,the answer only going in because I had the M and N and could only find one composer to fit. 6d also required a knowledge of a (to me) obscure composer to get an equally obscure answer. 2d also got a grimace ” Turn in ” I have always understood to mean Go to bed not Go home. 18a also got a grimace. It wasn’t all bad though I had quite a few ticked , 13,15,22,24a  16,17 and 18d among them. However  I’m torn between 10a, 21a and 20d for my pick so in Call My Bluff style I will plump for

COD 20d       One disappearing from air, involved in going round Earth  (7)

For a thorough explanation of the clues and a word from the setter click here


An enjoyable, pretty straightforward puzzle from Raich. I must admit to failing to spot the very clever wordplay in 1ac and just bunging the answer in, but what else could it be?

Lots of very nice clues, with COD going to 13d – ‘Quaking heart when pert niece misbehaves? (9)’.

Back to April 2012 for this IoS reprint:

To pick up on yesterday’s Sherlockian theme for a moment, today’s puzzle, whilst elementary, is not entirely without features of interest. For a start we have three women’s names, and I’m not altogether sure that isn’t two too many. There’s also a man in the bottom left corner the very mention of whom brings a scowl to my face, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same went for some of you too.

A spot of Hebrew, a dash of German and a soupçon of French were all required, but nothing too challenging. My one real quibble is with 11d, an &lit which does work, but only just. The highlights: 4, 9, 15 and 26 were my favourites, along with the COD, 19ac:

“Almost the opposite to clever Dick in Scottish town (9)”

The Fifteensquared blog from April 2012 will provide solutions and some discussion, including an appearance by Bannsider. I have no idea how he managed to get “Easter” for 1ac!

Not really a theme today, but lots of mentions of Holmes et al. I think there’s only one clue (23ac) where it helped if you knew something about the stories (or films and TV series for that matter); the rest was a good, quite difficult, standard cryptic. A bit of Greek and Egyptian mythology and  that I struggled with in the SW corner, but the rest fell with perseverance and attention to the cryptic.

COD? 13d – ‘Fan of conjoined performers? (9)’.

Back to April 2012:

A nice straightforward puzzle to start the working week. I fell into the trap of entering ‘HEAT UP’ for 18ac, until it became clear 17d wasn’t going to work. A lazy DISINTEGRATING also cost me some time in the SW corner. 22d was new, but what else could it be? I didn’t know the football club referenced in 1ac, but the definition was clear as day.

COD? 5d – ‘Insignificant little enemy? (5-4)’.

The Fifteensquared blog can be found here:

Congratulations to Mark Goodliffe on his 10th (!!!) Times Crossword Championship win. There’s no stopping the man. Tony Sever’s got the results up here, including a few names that are perhaps better known by their pseudonyms on the crossword blogs.

Saturday 15th October 2016

Four long lights formed the main structure of this one; three were anagrams and one was the William Congreve play ‘The Double-Dealer’ – of which I’m ashamed to say (given my repeated calls for more of the dramatic arts in puzzles) I had never heard. The ‘Double’ in the play title intersected with ‘Def’ (part of Deform) and ‘Obiter’ so I was held up at the end of an otherwise steady solve.

I agree with commenters at the Fifteensquared blog here that ‘Marmelise’ should really be spelled ‘Marmalise’ – proof if proof were needed that the i always goes with Chambers’ version of things – right or wrong!

And I liked Wil Ransome’s comment on Fifteensquared, so shall repeat it here:

Did nobody think that 19d was quite outstanding? It seems a pity that such brilliance is apparently taken for granted and will be forgotten tomorrow.

Just for him, I’ll second it as Clue of the Day:

19d Moriarty’s foremost among difficulties for me (6)

P.S.  Big Dave will be publishing one of my puzzles at midday today on his website here(already test solved by JonofWales and AndyT).



Yesterday AndyT wondered if todays offering might be a stinker. Luckily for me it wasn’t but it did offer a bit of a challenge. I found this hard to get into probably because I lay awake for half of the night worrying that it was going to be difficult. After reading all the across clues I’d only answered two or three of them so it was with some relief that the down clues all seemed much easier, like others across the way I entered girl at 8d rather than lass which caused a lot of problems with 17 and 21a . Two weeks ago when we last had a puzzle from this setter I pondered where an R came from and was informed “reading =r” today 1a throws up the same question and it seems its either Latin for recipe or r = round Hmm. Much discussion regarding the pronunciation at 28a which I thought ok but I didn’t like the similar clue at 26d especially as I am unfamiliar with any games console’s, the only other oddity to me was the Rio in 11a. I did however found this in the most part very enjoyable with quite a few ticks being awarded, my favourite though is

COD 15a  Annoying no-no introducing endless article: “Whatever!” (8)

For all the parsing, much discussion and the revelation of a hidden theme the March 2012 blog is here

A pretty straightforward puzzle today from Poins, solved leisurely over lunch without ever feeling that I might struggle to finish. Which isn’t always the case. 🙂 There’s some discussion over on Fifteensquared about the fairness or otherwise of 6d, but TBH I saw little wrong with the clue, though I must add that I solved based on the definition alone and might have felt otherwise if it was one I was stuck on. I’m not particularly struck by the anagram indicator in 17ac, but it doesn’t seem to have bothered anyone else. All in all a nicely diverting puzzle.

COD? With 28ac a close second, I’m going with 2d – ‘Without enough warning (7)’.

The IoS blog with answers and much more can be found here: