Well, I started at a sprint to the north of the puzzle, slowed down in the SW, and then finished at an absolute crawl in the SE corner. Eventually getting 27d proved to be the key there, because I would never have got 26ac otherwise, or the rest for that matter. Enjoyable, though by the close in a masochistic sort of way.

COD? Well, it’s got to be 14d – “Old actor in The Lighthouse? (4,6)”.

To March 2013:



I made steady if not particularly rapid progress with today’s offering, perhaps because I’m still feeling the effects of baking out in the sun all afternoon at Sports Day. Oh, and cutting back a precariously high hedge immediately afterwards. The consensus on the other side seems to have been that this was on the easy side. I had to check 5ac, and there were one or two others where I didn’t bother with the wordplay (always a dangerous ploy), but I seem to have got away with it. Last in 2d, where I was overly hung up on using IN for a long time.

COD? 17d – “Middle East envoy dispatched to Libya to install new regime’s leader (4,5)”, even if I don’t think he is anymore, is he?

To April 2013:


Welcome to an over-tired, slightly strung out Saturday. Friday night? Only if you count sitting up half the night with an asthmatic, over-anxious child. Gah. A bit of much needed relief then from Shark – misprints in the definitions, unclued entries, lots of characters to find, an author. Oh, and a bit of jiggery-pokery with a couple of the downs.

That afternoon, a handful of clues to the south of the grid. And nothing else. Really, nothing, zilch, for a long long time. Until that evening, in fact. Shark’s living up to his name this time. A few letters in one of the unclued downs, what’s beginning to look like a really odd name. Something foreign? Fantasy? Perhaps that’s the author’s name in the top row. Who might fit with the letters we’ve got? Pratchett doesn’t. Rowling? Joanne Rowling, let’s try that. The first down unclued beneath that starts with a Q, a few more letters and it looks like we’ve got something from this book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. About which I know absolutely nothing. Luckily Google does.

The rest of the grid becomes a matter then of scouring through the big red book, and using the list of beasties found here to fill the unclued entries.

We’re supposed to amend the name across the top “appropriately”. Newt Scamander fits, and all the resulting downs are real words. Those missing letters in the two down answers? ASTIC and FANT, not necessarily in that order. Phew. My brain hurts now… Tell me why I put myself through this again. Until next time, and a magical mystery tour from Triton.

This is Jambazi’s second appearance in the i as far as I know, and just like last time he presents a decent challenge with scope for a spot of grumbling. There’s a Quentin Tarantino theme which requires no special knowledge, but it didn’t start out that way according to the setter’s comment at Fifteensquared. I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle and am therefore happy to overlook a few peculiarities of syntax, vocabulary and some odd definitions. 7d delighted me, but there will be complaints, methinks.

Candidates for clue of the day include the aforementioned 7d, as well as 20/14, 16ac and I suppose 18ac – described delicately by Eileen as “audacious” on the other side, which is one way of putting it. My choice is 27ac:

“Game is off top inventor and poet (8)”

Back to the night after the Oscars in February 2013.

An enjoyable, fairly straightforward IoS reprint to start the week. That said, I struggled badly at the close on 10ac, 16d and 22ac, though looking back I can’t see why. It’s been a long weekend…

COD? Lots to enjoy, with my vote going to 18d – ‘A suspicious Moor useless when in love (7)’.

To April 2013:


Saturday 8th July 2017

One of the quickest solves for a Phi puzzle that I can remember.

In a room full of verbose people, some might call me ‘the verbose one’, but I’ve really very little to say about it.  Just a nice mix of clue devices and lateral thinking but generally – and despite the ‘1,1’ grid – these were 24 pretty accessible clues.

COD, which was also the trickiest to parse:

19a Arrogant personal quality, boarding boat and tucking into trifle (5-5)

Fortunately the problems in earlier weeks with linking to Fifteensquared blogs for prize puzzles seem to have been ironed out.  Here’s the one you might be after.

I’m not sure that we have had the pleasure of solving a puzzle by Hob before but this is his or her second offering to be published in the Independent and I found it extremely good for the most part unlike B&J in the original blog who seemed a little underwhelmed. The African theme among the clues was obvious but the Nina wasn’t to me but then I rarely look for them. After the first pass I’d got most of the eastern side but the western was a bit sparse and it wasn’t until I cracked the excellent 8ac that it opened up a bit. Unlike B&J I didn’t like 24ac and found the parsing of 16d equally baffling only surpassed in obscurity by 19d which I completely failed on. The other real obscurity was 5d but I was pleased to get this from the wordplay. Lots to like though as mentioned before 8ac got ticks and the clueing of MP with referring to politician in 9ac brought a smile however

COD 17ac   Following storm, upset about a little crack in these? (7)

All the solutions and a bit of discussion are Here


I made pretty rapid progress through three quarters of today’s puzzle, but the rest took an absolute age. The far NW and NE corners, together with an inability to spot 3d were the prime culprits. The latter I’d not heard of before, and desperately wanted to cram in “continental quilt”, despite it having too many letters, and not fitting what was there already. 🙂 10ac I wasn’t particularly fond of, because, well, it could be RUSTY or LUSTY, and if you were struggling with 6d, as I was, it didn’t really help.

COD? Lots of like as ever with Morph, with my vote going to 15ac – “Ashes perhaps provide spur for one who’s handy with the willow? (4,7)”, which was never going to be TEST MATCHES…

To March 2013 once more:


A little trickier than usual on a Wednesday, or perhaps it was just the pressure of solving with an audience? 🙂 The NW corner in particular caused me some problems, mostly because I wanted 1d to contain an anagram of ‘cough’, and because, well, my French geography as even worse than my British. Last in 16d, where the definition sent me on a wild goose chase. The 5d feels like a long time ago now… As well constructed and enjoyable as ever.

COD? 26ac – “Twin boys penning name at end of lengthy letter (8)”.

To March 2013:


I thoroughly enjoyed Chalicea’s last Inquisitor and EV. Both were on the easy side, so I’m hopeful the little time I’ve got to solve this will be enough. Summer’s great, but I seem to spend more time working in the garden than enjoying it. Fun with hedge trimmers. Today we’ve got clashes, and an unclued phrase telling us what to do about them. To the clues, and 1ac falls at the first. Huzzah. A few clashes, but only two letters per cell this time, so I can just about decipher my scribblings. Steady progress, a few crossing letters, and I’m ready to make a stab at that phrase across the centre of the grid: ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL. Guess what we’ve got to do for the endgame? Now working out where the clashes might be is more science and less guesswork.

Of course there’s a hitch – 9d in the NE that I can’t parse, and have guessed (incorrectly as it turns out) as ANYDAY, which makes a bit of a mess of 6ac, and 11ac which according to the preamble is confirmed in the SOED. And I’m still a few clashes short of the twenty we’re looking for. 6ac is NEPETA (catmint), and if we’re looking for another clash, ONEDAY at 9d? One of those occasions where the parsing is obvious in retrospect. Bones is apparently a synonym for dice, a cuboid a foot bone, root = foot. FOOTBONE, another clash, and another ‘one’. The SOED costs how much? That can go without checking…

Swap all for one and one for all in ten solutions, and… I think we have a completed grid. That was fun, and on the easyish side again. Thanks to Chalicea for a much needed bit of light relief. That grid really isn’t that light in the centre, BTW, that’s just the effect of the iPhone flash. The power of technology.

Until next time, and something a bit tougher to chew on from Shark, perhaps.