A glance at the grid and the name of the setter were enough to make my blood run cold this morning, but as it turned out this must surely be the gentlest Mordred ever to appear in the i. All done and dusted in good time, and would you believe it? – I even spotted the theme.

When the puzzle first appeared back in September 2012, some of the commenters on the Fifteensquared blog entry were perplexed by 10ac. I assume that they do not have a knitter in the household. The only obscurity, easily resolved by a quick web search, is the cat in 28ac. And here is a picture of the beastie in question, in case anyone is interested. Otherwise not a great deal to say except that it’s a nicely put together crossword with plenty of well crafted clues. My favourite is the faultlessly smooth 27ac:

“Enticing performance of singers on rocks (5,4)”

An enjoyable, fairly straightforward puzzle to get us started this week. I got myself into a bit of a pickle with 19ac, 21ac and 21d especially at the end, otherwise this might have been close to a personal best for the i. The latter is my own fault – a hasty, not to mention rash BLUE EYED left a lot of rethinking and a little scribbling out before the rest fell. Just the one unknown for me today, the underground river referenced in 15ac, but there was no doubt as to the answer. We haven’t seen Nitsy on these shores for a while, but based on this I’d welcome more.

We seem to have an extra large box today for notes under the crossword, I’m guessing that Monday is possibly a slow news day for the i, not to mention a slow advertising day?

COD? 9d – ‘Army kills without error, regularly (6)’.

Our IoS reprint is from September 2012 once more:


Edited to add: Apparently tomorrow’s episode of the always excellent Inside No. 9 has a bit of a crossword theme going on.

Saturday 18th February 2017

A fine example of a British daily cryptic crossword from Phi last Saturday, with four of the clues jostling for my nomination as Clue of the Day. There was something rather wonderful about 4 down though, which gets to be repeated here:

Stop selecting one letter from tab? (5)

Also noteworthy for me was the discovery on the Fifteensquared blog here that, according to Chambers, some people find the term ‘Celtic Fringe’ in 11d offensive. Really?  Offensive?  Oh please!


I think tough is a fair description this puzzle which seemed to contain a lot of clues that required letters to be moved or changed and these were indicated by some quite intricate wordplay, my LOI 26a being an example of this made doubly harder by the need to know of the word “varmint”, yes I had heard it before but that was probably about 50 years ago in a black and white cowboy film and long forgotten. The saving graces here though are the four long answers around the edges, all of them excellent. Solving these gave a starting point to make some entries even if I couldn’t completely parse them like 11, 15 and 22a or in the case of 4d  parse at all. A few weeks back I would have struggled with 18d but it seems a bit old hat now the same as 17a both of these getting a bit of a tut.  Quite a few ticks today among them 12a ,23a ,1a 8d and 9d but  for just constructing all of it in reverse

COD 28a  Regressive police force is corrupt: jail place after 20 is a rarity? (10,4)

The blog from Thursday September 13th 2012 is here


Well, I got all but four clues in pretty sharpish time, but those last four took an absolute age to get. The offenders? 11d, 10ac, 18ac and 16d. I note that the original blogger couldn’t make head or tail of 18ac, and I think it’s more than a little tenuous, but I’m not sure whether it’s just me with the rest, or whether they were genuinely tricky. Let me know how you got on.

COD? 15ac – ‘Expression shown by sherpa possibly? (4,2,6)’.

Our first IoS reprint of the week comes from the end of September, 2012:


i Cryptic Crossword 1885 Dac

February 22, 2017

On the more difficult side for Dac, with lots of clues dotted in here and there, and no real momentum built up. That said I never really got stuck, but always felt that I needed to be on top of my game. A couple of unknowns – that well known king at 3d, and 22d – but both were reasonably straightforward to solve.

COD? 1ac – ‘Departing president leaving country in mess (8)’, if only because I was thinking of the wrong country for too long. 🙂 Nice also to see this has been edited to bring it up to date. He didn’t last long, did he?

Back to September 2012 once more:


Glow-worm’s appearances in the i being rather infrequent, I’m never really sure what to expect. This reprinted IOS prize puzzle from September 2012 turned out to be an entertaining novelty, with a mini theme and a wide variety of devices to enjoy.

Regarding that theme, the three similarly constructed double-barrelled clues are distinctly impressive … but something is passing me by. Judging by the excellent Fifteensquared blog by scchua, there’s a connection to The Scaffold, but the links are broken, alas, and I’ve failed dismally to track it down. If anybody cares to explain, that would a very public-spirited gesture.

4 (ignoble little word), 18 (only a count noun for the linguistically indolent) and 13 (for obvious reasons) didn’t go down all that well with me, but otherwise all good. 7, 14 and 24 all raised a smile, but it should surprise no-one that my somewhat louche clue of the day is 3d:

“Rising bare-breasted on Sunday is plumb … (4-2)”

A good Monday puzzle – on the easier side, but with a few clues here and there to get the old brain cells ticking over. A few new things learnt as ever from the Don – in my case the additional meaning of 11ac, and the Canadian city.

COD? 2d – ‘Appropriate message for one trying to be religious? (6)’.

To the beginning of September 2012:


Saturday 11th February 2017

There was a tremendous puzzle from Phi last Saturday – my favourite from him for quite a while. For the benefit of the uninitiated, the mathematician at 2d is most famous for the sequence of numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 etc. (just add the last two numbers to generate the next) all of which appeared in order in the across lights. Brilliant.

Numbers are notoriously difficult to clue, and yet the clues were all crackers – maybe a bit harder than usual for Phi, but no real obscurities – apart from Ullage, I suppose, which rang only a distant bell but was clear enough anyway from the wordplay.  (Mind you, the blogger over at Fifteensquared  thought Oolitic, Acai and Barquentine were obscure, so maybe I got lucky).

As for spotting the ghost theme, that came pretty late for me – and maybe only even then because I see it every day in my place of work where the building (The Core at the Eden Project) is designed around the Fibonacci sequence itself.

Thanks also to Kathryn’s Dad over in the comments on the other side, who pointed out that the golden ratio (an essential aspect of for Fibonacci enthusiasts because neighbouring numbers in the sequence tend ever more closely to it) is expressed by the Greek letter Phi.

For Clue of the Day I did like 25a a lot, but will have to agree with nmsindy in plumping for 1a.  Here it is again:

Article for working out configuration of locks (4)


A generally pleasing puzzle from Klingsor with some inventive and some slightly over inventive clueing. 18d for instance, all that stuff about structures and gas was completely wasted when the answer was so obvious from just the first four words. 14d creates a bit of discussion over on Fifteensquared for using Tony to define “in”. Like most solvers I know ton can define fashionable so I suppose it just about works, perhaps it would have been better if it hadn’t been capitalised?  The other slightly contentious clue was 13a which I think Is really clever but I admit to being unable to satisfactorily parse, a comment is made about Dastard not being an everyday word  I however am far more familiar with it than with my LOI 20d which I had to check really existed. Quite a few ticks, 5a and as an ex printer who still has a Typescale 22a but for COD –

15a    Farmer gets more sexy – sounds like you and I missed out (7)