Saturday 24th December 2016

A pleasing nativity scene filled the grid on Christmas Eve, complete with Mary, Joseph, Manger, Kings, Shepherds, Cattle, Sheep, Starfish and Elf. Those last two made me think of the nativity play scene in ‘Love Actually’  – compulsory Christmas viewing in the Cornick household.

So all nicely topical of course with only EP for electroplated in 7d, Mano a mano at 9a, and the eminently solvable Vlachs at 22d being new to me. Another thumbs up for Phi then.

Several ticks in the margin, but my COD goes to 3d. Here it is again:

Insolence between two Greek characters provokes classical battle (8)

And the full Christmas 2011 blog is here.

Happy New Year to all bloggers, commenters – whether regular or occasional – and lurkers.

Here’s to another year of engrossing, frustrating brilliant and hopefully successful puzzle solving  in 2017.

i Cryptic Crossword 1839 Phi

December 30, 2016

Phi on Friday, how strange. I don’t mean the puzzle, that’s not strange, its the usual well crafted affair that we expect from this setter with only one unknown but easily solvable from the cryptic part of the clue at 21d. Of the few that had question marks only 19d gives me any cause for concern with cream = elect, I have no doubt that in a dictionary or thesaurus somewhere it can be verified but it seems a bit vague to me. Like others who commented on Fifteensquared my LOI was 25a, I’m not familiar with this sort of organ. Of the rest lots of ticks 6a being quite appropriate for today as we have a lot of damp weather but :-

COD 22d       Good salesman heading off transfixed onlooker. (6)

Whilst there is no theme Phi has hidden body parts in the grid the most obvious to me is in row 10. Bertandjoyce claim to have found 7 but Phi says only 5 !


Quite a challenging debut from Rorschach that left me scratching my head more than once. The key for me proved to be getting 12ac, and then delving about in the depths of my memory for films that might fit the long anagram. I’m not sure I would have got the name of the playwright otherwise, the tennis player having long faded into obscurity as far as I’m concerned. 😉 Lots of question marks at the end, but looking at the original blog everything seems to be explained there.

COD? Well, it’s the season for bad cracker jokes, so I’ll go with 17d – ‘Where Father Christmas goes on holiday, reportedly? (5,4)’.

To the unseasonably warm days of the summer of 2012:

i Cryptic Crossword 1837 Anax

December 28, 2016

We’re all going out this morning – not to worry, I told my wife, I want to get the paper, do the cryptic, and get a blog out quickly beforehand, but that’s OK, it won’t take long. Because it’s a Wednesday and a Wednesday means Dac, of course. Thank you, editor… Cue a rushed solve and some relentless cheating to fill the grid and have a look at what the good folk on Fifteensquared thought of this. A confident S(COLD) for 7ac wasn’t the best start, but the fairly obvious anagram at 1d put me right on this quickly enough. Needless to say it’s a toughie, and there’s a clever pangram thing going on where each answer starts with a different letter of the alphabet. But it’s a bit more than I’m looking for in a daily cryptic, that I’m hoping to complete usually during a hurried lunch. Perhaps Eimi figures we’ve got time on our hands now we’re edging towards the new year. 🙂

COD? 11d – ‘It’s getting away (5,7)’.

We seem to have given up on festive reprints, and are back to the summer of 2012:

With a theme, a Nina, some recondite vocabulary and convoluted wordplay, all topped off with a generous sprinkling of smart-aleckry, it’s far too tempting to resist calling this a high-cholesterol puzzle. I think it’s all fair and above board, just about, but solvers may easily be forgiven for deeming it rather indigestible.

There’s some very good stuff in there, mind you, Crosophile being a skilled and often original clue writer. So I shall gloss over the bits which seem de trop for a weekday puzzle, and instead point to some 1acs, like 10 and 20ac, and 6 and 15d. My clue of the day, which caused the penny to drop re the theme, by the way, is 14d:

“Perhaps Black Lace sing badly? (9)”

For learned commentary and exegesis, as usual one can do no better than to visit the good burghers of Fifteensquared, who seemed to enjoy this one way back in September 2011. My thanks in particular to Gaufrid for explaining why 20ac is rather brilliant (I had a question mark next to that one before reading the blog).

Bleary eyed as I was this morning, I was pleased to find a Quixote in the i rather than something more taxing. As it was, I still made very heavy weather of this, partly I suspect because I struggled to get 3d even though it was a clearly flagged anagram. Perhaps I should have waited until after lunch?

Anyway, hope you all had a good Christmas Day! A train set is demanding my attention here next…

COD? Lots to like, but I’ll nominate 10ac – ‘Emergency action – start to confer with everyone back in the pavillion (4-3)’.

To a Boxing Day long ago…

Saturday 17th December 2016

For any Nina spotters out there, when there are 15-letter words in both row 2 and 14, it’s highly unlikely that the grid could then be contrived to have a hidden message in the unches of rows 1 and 15, especially if there are two more long entries running down the columns, as last week.

No, this was just a good, pretty straightforward crossword with a sprinkling of exotica to keep things interesting. Amongst which AVIFAUNAL  was familiar enough, BETATRON was clear from the wordplay, but my last one in was the cleverly constructed 7d ANIMADVERSION,  which took me an age before the penny finally dropped.

So all good and no complaints – just another fine puzzle from Phi. I wonder if he’s given us something seasonal for today?  Merry Christmas one and all.

2012 blog with all the answers here.

COD: 11a Entirely definite, removing animal depicted in fable (11)


At last the festive themed puzzle we have all been looking forward to!?  This was a prize puzzle and it originally appeared on Christmas Eve 2011. I didn’t think it was too difficult and for me the one really obscure answer was at 25d. Not many oddities in the clues although I hadn’t come across Balt describing someone from Latvia before or the Latin reference in 20a, those aside I have lots of ticks, too many to mention so I’ll go straight to the  COD-

23a      Boxer, say, can’t initially bear ropes (5)

Back  2011 for the Fifteensquared blog and not much comment.

Happy Christmas .


When I saw Crosophile’s name I thought this must be an IoS reprint, but became less sure when I struggled, and struggled, and eventually limped home with a time that was totally off the scale. That I persevered shows that I found this to be engaging, if infuriating, but still, this is a big jump in difficulty from what we were used to from Quixote.

The definition at 9ac left me slightly baffled, but I suppose it just about works. The rest seemed fair, if convoluted in places.

COD? Well, it is the festive season, so I’ll got with 19d – ‘Xmas tree will, done up in a bow say? (8)’.

We’re back to January 2012 today:

This will be my last post before the big day, so a Merry Christmas to one and all. 🙂

Raich steps ably into Dac’s usual Wednesday spot with a fairly straightforward, enjoyable solve. I got myself into a bit of a pickle with 16ac and 17d, but the rest went in smoothly enough.

Lots to like, with COD going to 18d – ‘It’s fabulous in centre of Irwell river, travelling North (8)’.

Our IoS reprint comes from August 2012: