A clever and enjoyable puzzle today, with a positively pluvious meteorological theme. Morph is to be congratulated on the five 15 letter entries which form the skeleton of this grid, although it has to be said that without the three vertical ones the connections between the four corners are rather skimpy. Getting those in early is therefore a big help.

Two clues caused a bit of a kerfuffle over at Fifteensquared back in August 2012: the debatable homophone at 13ac and the remarkably abstruse 22d, which I was unable to parse despite the solution being clear enough. Clever … maybe too clever by half. Otherwise it’s entertaining, inventive stuff, with a few smiles to be had along the way. I liked 10, 15 and the snortworthy 19 in particular, but not quite as much as 12ac which is my COD:

“Phone inquiry to personnel department in Dortmund area? (4)”

A pretty tough offering to start the week. I needed a few checking letters to get the long anagram, mostly because the THINE bit threw me somewhat. That well known psychoanalyst in 25ac didn’t help matters… I finished in the NE corner, stumped somewhat by ‘online’ for L which I don’t like, and another obscurity in 6d. Both answers where we had obscurities in the wordplay were fairly gettable with a little thought and a few crossing letters, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much. 26ac didn’t worry me, on the other hand, it’s fairly common parlance in this neck of the woods.

COD? 5d – ‘Uttered after Dutch girl is overwhelmed with grief (10)’.

August 2012 once more:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/26/independent-on-sunday-1174poins/

Saturday 21st January 2017

Described over on the 2012 Fifteensquared blog as ‘good solid national daily crossword fare’, last Saturday’s prize puzzle didn’t really have the bells and whistles we so often get with Phi – although the paired clues in the SW and NE corners were both noteworthy.

The former, which defeated me, was ‘Expert’s one appearing in report? There you go!’ for which the answer was ‘BADA BING’….Really?

The latter by contrast was a cracker, and for me gets the uncontested award as Clue of the Day.  So here it is again:

7/8 Demand from nationalist poet leads to unusual literary event (4,4)

This seemed as if it was going to be on the gentle side with a reasonable amount of clues solved after the first read through, however it had a bit of a sting in the tail with some tough ones that needed a bit more thought, trying to decide exactly what the anagram fodder was in 8d, the misdirection of 7 in 1a, 9d and 14d also caused some head scratching. It was all good though, I have plenty of ticks and no tuts or grimaces. Like the weather its a bit milder than the previous two days.

COD   7d  Bottom doesn’t start at base of back bone (7)

The Blog from August 2012 is here http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/29/independent-8073-crosophile/

Quite a tough offering today. For a long time I had about a quarter of the grid filled and could make no further progress. After that everything fell into place steadily enough, if not particularly quickly, so perhaps my brain had just given up the ghost. There’s some discussion over on Fifteensquared about the less than ideal checking, but I’m not sure if that’s what made it tough. In my case, I think it was the number of longer answers split across different entries, that I’m never particularly fond of. If you’re struggling with one or two clues, it leaves you with whole areas of the grid that are blank with no other way of making progress.

Lots to like, with some inventive and witty clues too. COD for me goes to 22/28/26 – ‘Pen DM for book? (5,2,3,9)’.

August 2012 once more over on the other side:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/07/independent-8054-punk/

Dac on good form today, perhaps a little more taxing to the south? 23ac and especially 19ac were quite difficult, the latter with some tricky wordplay and a most obscure answer. Time still the quickest so far this week, though. Lots to like too as ever on a Wednesday, with COD going to 5d – ‘Double-crossing in competitive activity (9,6)’. Am I the only person who would happily solve Dac every day of the week?

To the summer of 2012 once more:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/15/independent-8061-dac/

Ordinarily I’d expect to have my work cut out with Mordred, but this was done and dusted in pretty short order. The clever gimmick in this puzzle is of the sort which provides the solver with a lot of help, always assuming that one spots it. Rather difficult to miss on this occasion.

The constraints imposed by Mordred’s chosen format led to the inclusion of some unusual vocabulary, which may cause mutterings. 17ac got a tut from me, and in more normal circumstances I’d be sniffy about 16 and 28 too. Given the effort expended by the compiler, however, one wouldn’t wish to be a churl. What did irritate me was the “mate” in 15 which strikes me as rather infra dig. Favourites included 1, 18 and 22, but in common with many of the contributors to the original August 2012 Fifteensquared blog entry I shall point to 9ac as my COD:

“Mess regulation concerning privates (10)”

Not quite the walk in the park I was expecting when I saw Quixote’s name. Quite the opposite, in fact. This took as much time as many of the harder offerings we get towards the end of the week. All solvable with a bit of thought, though with more than the usual quota of new words learnt, and a few – is that really the answer? – question marks too.

It appears that Quixote’s comment @4 over on Fifteensquared has been heeded by the editor, at least as far as 6d goes, if not as regards being paid for the i reprints. Oh, and there’s mention in the last few comments of a new crossword blog on the block. Has it really been five years?

COD? 11d – ‘What I’m enjoying is maybe taking hours and hours (4-9)’.

To the summer of 2012:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/08/06/independent-8053-by-quixote/

Saturday 14th January 2017

I wonder if anyone else starts crosswords by going in search of anagrams?  There were five last weekend which got me off to a quick start, after which progress was steady until the last few in the SE corner.

It’s often the case that I’ll get held up on unknown vocabulary rather than complicated wordplay – and so it proved with GROSGRAIN and GALBA – although with the latter I’m a bit embarrassed about not having known an emperor of Rome… But I do now!

For COD, I think I’ll go with my FOI (first one in):

14a A panorama, with sight bewitched? (14)

And the full answers from 2012 can be found at the Fifteensquared blog site here.

The original bloggers found this reasonably easy, I found it quite difficult due to a few answers that were new to me 23a,26a and 7d primarily. 26a was particularly hard due to never having heard of the person referred to in the clue, this drew a loud harrumph. Whilst there doesn’t appear be a particular theme to this puzzle there are a few related to music, 14a proving the most obscure as I hadn’t come across kitchen being used to describe the percussion section of an orchestra before.

As Bertandjoyce point out in their Blog there are some very good clues and a couple of excellent misdirection’s, 3d being worthy of note but for COD :-

27a    Stormy petrel’s tail is grabbed by dude unknown (8)