i Cryptic Crossword 1830 Punk

December 20, 2016

Punk, and his Guardian alter ego Paul, is a firm favourite of mine: inventive, quite challenging and invariably witty. Today’s themed puzzle is a good example of his workmanship. The subject is something which used to be close to my heart, but hasn’t received much attention from me for quite a while, but no matter. The thematic entries are likely to be familiar to most I should think.

No complaints here: Punk’s style is towards the “libertarian” end of the spectrum and some lateral thinking is required, along with the odd mental jump. Highlights, of which there are many, include both 1s, 5, 20, 21 29, 30 … and so forth. It’s one of those puzzles which will most likely produce a diversity of opinions as to the COD. My choice is the cheery 25d:

“Opener skies pull before tea (6)”

Speaking of which, there’s quite a bit of thematic cleverness going on beyond the 34-related solutions, but it would be tiresome to rehearse all that here – especially when the carcase has already been so thoroughly picked over in the original July 2012 Fifteensquared blog entry. Further to Saturday’s discussion here, you’ll find just a spot of quantum mechanics (or The Physics of the Absurd, as I think of it), which addressed a niggling doubt about 17 – but left me none the wiser, of course.

A bit of a tricky start to the week. About a third went in quickly enough, but the rest put up a real battle, with lots of inventive wordplay to untangle. Quite a few I didn’t fully understand, but they’re all explained in the original blog and comments. I didn’t like ‘D’ for ‘would’ in 27ac, but the rest seemed fair enough.

COD? 18ac – ‘Like a participant in murder going straight? (2,3,4,5)’.

I was expecting something festive today when I saw Morph’s name, but we’re still in the summer of 2012:


Saturday 10th December 2016

On the easy side for Phi, but with a couple of tricksy ones thrown in here and there.

Four long lights formed the skeleton of the grid – two were anagrams and two were readily solvable straight cryptics, and the whole thing was an altogether more straightforward offering than we’ve had over the last two days, for example.

I learn from t’internet that ‘American Gothic’ is said to be the art world’s ‘most parodied painting’ whilst ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ is Baudelaire’s most famous work, so both worth learning if you didn’t know them already.

COD? 19d Consider concrete base for line if investing in railway (5)

The full 2012 blog is here, which includes a couple of discussions of interest.  One was on the (for me) perfectly innocuous clue for ‘Ticket Collector’, the other was on the kind of folk who make good crossworders and whether scientifically or artistically inclined.  Thoughts?


Another Saturday prize puzzle and another real toughie, in my opinion anyone finishing this deserves a prize. I don’t think that the original solvers had the benefit of the Nina alert that the Editor so kindly gave to us.  I was in danger of not being able to solve any of this until 17a fell, an hour or so later I had all but completed the bottom half, 23d which whilst the required letters can be deduced from the clue the actual answer is a nonsense unless your familiar with it, that got a grimace from me. I now had the “dancing” across the bottom so with a bit trial and error got country across the top, of course in cryptic land dancing is an anagrid so the eight clues linked by “like” became anagrams of countries hence 17a, all very clever eh? Then there were the obscurities of 1d,4d,26a which were solved with outside assistance but worst of all to me 15a. I knew what it was about but as I had never watched it refused to take any further part:)

So to COD, well despite ticks for most of the anagrams and a schoolboy titter for 5d my preference is for-

11a  Most stupid in Hollywood at any rate (9)

The original blog and a comment from the setter is here- http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/07/21/independent-8034-by-tyrus/


It’s Nestor, and a Saturday prize puzzle reprint, so I was expecting a bit of a challenge, and that’s what I got. For a while I thought there might have been some sort of theme, with 1ac, and ONE appearing a couple of times in the grid (not to say an unusual looking grid), but it appears that there wasn’t. It is a pangram, apparently, though I completely failed to notice. The 2012 blogger said that this was “a relatively straightforward puzzle for a Saturday”, so perhaps I’m just being slow.

COD? Lots and lots to like, but I’ll go with 11ac – ‘Old Manchester group including Liberal anti-nationalist (3-7)’.

The tail end of July 2012 once more:


i Cryptic Crossword 1825 Dac

December 14, 2016

A couple of new words (for me at least) today – 4ac and 21d – plus an obscure politician at 20ac (I’m afraid I’m too young to remember his disappearance) – but with Dac, as ever, everything’s clearly and fairly clued, so no complaints.

COD? Lots to like as ever, but I’ll go with 5d – ‘The way things go during court case is pitiful (5-7)’.

We’re still in the summer of 2012 over on the other side:


Thirty clues, of which fourteen relate back to 7ac. Quite a thorough theme, then, and just the sort of thing at which Scorpion excels. This didn’t seem especially thorny to me, but it was certainly entertaining.

14 was familiar but it would be understandable if other solvers pulled a face, and it’s not as if the solution was likely to leap out from the wordplay. A strange-looking word, it has to be said. Conversely I hadn’t heard of 2d, but the clue led me straight there. There are a few other quibbles which didn’t go unnoticed either here or at Fifteensquared back in July 2012, but I’m inclined to cut Scorpion a bit of slack considering that this is quite an exotic puzzle. Otherwise, plenty of witty and inventive workmanship to enjoy.

And so to the clue of the day. 14, 22 and 24ac, plus 21 and 22d are worth mentioning, but it’s between 26 and 5. There are valid objections to the former, and besides the latter made me chuckle, so 5d it is:

“Footnote? (6)”

An IoS reprint that I found a lot easier to start than finish. At the end I was left with first 13/23/19, which fell quickly when I finally got 13d (and then kicked myself for having gone through all of Paul’s associates apart from the one I needed), and then 6/12. For 6d I spent too long trying to shoehorn AC into the answer. An unfriendly grid with four isolated corners added to the slight difficulty. All in all an enjoyable Monday morning wake up call.

COD? 3d – ‘Sudden burp let loose by amateur tenor (6)’.

I suspect we’ll soon be moving towards December, but for the moment we’re still in July 2012 over on the other side:


Saturday 3rd December 2016

I suppose when you compose a themed puzzle there’s a high chance that you’re going to alienate anyone who doesn’t like the theme. So maybe I should just quote ‘Conrad Cork’ from the Fifteensquared blog in 2013 who declared last Saturday’s puzzle to be ‘outstanding’ and leave well alone.

But that would be disingenuous because for me, and having enjoyed literally hundreds of Phi puzzles over the years, this one was, alas, my least favourite of his many creations.

I got the gateway clue straight away, but my heart sank at the theme (sorry dog lovers) and I encountered way, way too many obscurities thereafter. One puzzle’s quota of the abstruse was used up on the dog breeds (very few of which I knew of course – did I mention that dogs aren’t my thing?) but another couple of puzzles’ worth was used to accommodate them in the crossers.  Anagrams for which the answer could be just about anything abounded and with the puzzle only three-quarters done I just lost the will to carry on.

So I offer my humble apologies; your Saturday blogger has clearly failed in his duty to inspire, and will say no more but pass you straight on to the 2012 blog here.

COD? 12a Source of hug right for American? (4,4)

I’m always pleased when I answer the first clue straight off the bat, the second followed likewise but after that  quite a few obscurities arose to slow my progress, notably 20a which a search on Fifteensquared shows this puzzle as the only time its been used, as it was an anagram it didn’t prove to difficult and only needed checking in a dictionary to confirm, unlike 1d and 8d which both needed help from the internet. Other grimaces from me were for 29a gettable but I thought pretty flimsy, 5d print = trail  really? that’s a bit of a stretch but not as much as my LOI 13a,  probably the worst clue and definition I’ve seen in a long while and spoiled the whole thing for me.

There were quite a few ticks though 1,7 and 24a and 17d particularly but for

COD 2d  Needing a lift back at around one, inebriate finally gets to do this (4,1,3)

Click here for the Fifteensquared blog.