An IoS reprint today, but anyone back in 2013 expecting the usual gentle Sunday puzzle would have been in for a bit of a shock. An enjoyable shock, mind you, but these were clues that needed a little unpicking, and more than the usual bit of lateral thinking. There’s a Nina, that I spotted, which helped no end with my LOI, 6d. Apparently it’s a line from Joni Mitchell’s song Woodstock, which is referenced elsewhere in the puzzle. If only I’d taken more notice when I was doing that Inquisitor the other week…

COD? Too many to choose from today, but I’ll go with 29ac – “Not initially taken by Gay Rabbit? Gone one better (7)”.

Back to a Bank Holiday weekend long ago:


i Cryptic Crossword 2065 Dac

September 20, 2017

First thing’s first, here’s 20d for anyone who’s come here to find that elusive clue.

20d Craftsman installing lift in bank (5)

An added challenge from the i, then, but not an insurmountable one. Overall I found this to be on the easy side for Dac, though the SE corner gave me more than a little pause for thought. 23ac prompted a “who”? 18d I wanted to be something to do with Kansas, and both 17d and 25ac were new to me. 15d I couldn’t parse, but luckily someone over in the comments on the other side could.

COD? With lots to like, the aforementioned 25ac – “Barbecued food cool at the end of the day (5)”.

To a Monday (Dac on a Monday?) back in May 2013:

Hands up who spent the longest staring at an empty grid. One hour to put in one answer, and a wrong one at that. Ifor wins the prize for the most difficult Inquisitor of the year to date, and that’s up against some stiff competition. You know you’re in trouble when there are modifications to be made in both the across and down clues without any indication of what these modifications need to be. An unknown song title and lyrics to tell us what to do. Except we’ll have done it already. Letters modified give us a songwriter’s real name. Ifor playing his cards close to his chest.

That wrong answer? 13ac. The eventual realisation that it’s an anagram of “promise”, IMPOSER. Except that we haven’t got enough letters. What’s another word for deceiver? IMPOSTER, obviously, which fits so chuck it in. Except that a long time later it becomes painfully clear that we aren’t just adding random letters to the acrosses.

Better luck with the downs? The title is a help here. It becomes clear we need to shift one letter in the clue. Another two hours later and I’ve got the grand total of seven clues entered in the grid. Two of those are acrosses it turns out will be wrong. Luckily I’ve got a cluster of answers in the SE corner that… eventually… make it all too clear that the across grid entries don’t have a lot to do with the definitions. Out with a handy word search to look at what will fit into that bit of the grid. Look again at some of the across clues. And a long time later it becomes clear that we need to take one letter from the answer, and replace with the ones either side. So the aforementioned IMPOSER becomes IMPORTER.

But this is still painfully hard work. Perhaps that songwriter will help. What’ve we got?

J?A??NDER?O? with lots of question marks in the bits before that. The magic of Google to the rescue. I’m guessing we’re looking for ANDERSON, ANDERTON, something like that. That bloke from Jethro Tull doesn’t fit. But, heavens be praised, Roberta Joan Anderson, better known as Joni Mitchell, does. I don’t know much about her, but let’s look at some of the songs in her Wikipedia entry.

Both Sides Now has the line “Well something’s lost, but something’s gained”, the latter part of which fits the pattern that Ifor’s generously supplied in the preamble. And which succinctly describes what we’ve been doing to those grid entries. So with a handy guide now to the modifications in the down clues (was I the only person to think at first that the songwriter’s name would be in the acrosses as well?), progress is (a little) quicker.

A little struggle in the NW corner, where I’m still a little unsure about 1ac, but that’ll do. An epic solve. Just one thing left to do – write the “repeated nine-letter word apostrophised in this phrase” under the grid. SOMETHING, presumably. Pass me a strong drink and some headache tablets.

Radian has supplied us with several Tuesday puzzles in recent months, all of which have been satisfying, well-made and fairly tricky. This one is of a different order of difficulty though, or so it seemed to me at least. A rather unhelpful grid with sketchy connections between the four corners and ungenerous checking did nothing to make life easier, and some of the vocabulary is recondite.

It won’t give much away to say that the theme concerns the theatre: it’s extensive and cleverly realised – and since it passed me by I shall simply refer everyone to the erudite, cultured folks of Fifteensquared to pick it apart. Were I better informed on the subject that would’ve helped, a lot. There’s a wide variety of clue types and some fine misdirection to enjoy, providing an appetising smörgåsbord of COD candidates from which to choose: too many to mention individually, in fact. Oh, go on then … I really liked 11, 14 and 18, but there are plenty of others. In a spirit of sheer perversity my choice is 8d, mostly because I was pleased to get it from the wordplay:

Thus spake Zaruthustra – classic Birds (thanks to Nietzsche initially) (7)”

Back to the balmy days of May 2013 for this puzzle’s original appearance.

And at last we get the puzzle that should have been published together with last week’s article on how to solve cryptic crosswords. 🙂 That said, I found this to be a little tricker than usual for Quixote. I got a little stuck in the SW and SE corners. 16d and 24ac went in without full understanding in the end, and 23ac was a new one on me (though the RAVI bit in the middle was as clear as day). I was solving with half a mind on other things, and still managed to finish well under par for the i, so still a good one for beginners, even if it does have a little sting in the tail.

COD? With lots to like, 1d – “Having trees, a river, a lake – what’s uninteresting in that? (8)”.

Back to May 2013 when this puzzle was first published in the Independent, for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

Saturday 9th September 2017

Phi on good form, I thought with a pleasing spread of clue types and difficulties. Just one at the end, 23d, which stayed unsolved until the following day – a clever bit of ‘misdirection-via-punctuation’.

Full answers and clues from 2013 can be found here, where I’m grateful to learn that in 7a the second definition, ‘when we all learn to fly’ is related to the answer by whimsy – I did wonder.

And what of the Latin in 24a? To some it will have been a mystery, some will have known the phrase perfectly (stand up AndyT), my Dad (on the other side of the kitchen table now) just sang the whole thing to me, gave me a translation and is currently giving a linguistic analysis (the things I have to put up with) but all I could muster last Saturday was ‘Gaudethingummy whatsit’ – and that only from an earlier crossword by Phi!

Heigh-ho, at least it’s easy enough to find in Chambers once you’ve got those first 5 letters. And click here for a refreshing version – worth it for the guy in the lab drinking what is presumably a glass of Grappa.

COD: 7d Extended sentence? Prisoners not initially angry (4-9)

i Cryptic Crossword 2061 Monk

September 15, 2017

This reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle from April 2013 is probably on the easier side for Monk but still a stiff challenge compared to some other setters. Monk usually includes a theme or Nina and while missed by me it is there and I’m sure more attentive solvers will spot it.  3dn, 23ac and 13ac were all entered with question marks as I found the parsing pretty obscure. Lots of discussion and explanation from the setter himself over on Fifteensquared mainly about the abbreviation of Over and 13ac which was my LOI and only entered because it vaguely sounds like Scarper . Quite a few ticks today17a,21ac 2dn and 8dn were all good and 17dn gets a nod because I haven’t seen Novel = She for a long while but

COD 12ac   Primarily take time to wrap present needing nothing in addition (7)

i Cryptic Crossword 2060 Hob

September 14, 2017

We’ve had a few puzzles from Hob now, I believe, and I’ve found all to be a little on the tricky side. Thoroughly enjoyable, but there were a few that took a little unpicking, with some definitions that seem obvious now, but when solving much less so. Extremely inventive as I expected when I saw the setter’s name, with lots of smiles along the way. A few I couldn’t parse, in particular 27d which I only got because I’m of a certain age, and so is the children’s show referenced. There’s a theme I guess most solvers will have missed, based around 1/9. Yes, I know…

COD? 22ac – “Former City CEO? (4)”.

All the answers, and analysis of the clues can be found on Fifteensquared’s blog from 2013 when this puzzle was first published in The Independent:

Welcome to any new readers who’ve been tempted by our mention in today’s article in the i on Cryptic Crosswords. We’re a friendly bunch here, and by no means all experts in things cryptic, so feel free to comment and ask questions. Thanks also to John Henderson for the link, much appreciated!


i Cryptic Crossword 2059 Dac

September 13, 2017

An enjoyable outing that I found to be of about middling difficulty. Both 18d and 20d were new to me, but perfectly gettable from the wordplay. 2d was the only one I couldn’t parse, but it’s explained in the comments over on the other side. 17ac I thought was an excellent example of the kind of clue Dac does so well – deceptively simple, with a lovely, smooth surface reading. One amendment from the puzzle’s initial outing in the Independent at 25ac, to adjust for inflation. 🙂

COD? 19ac – “Welsh woman, busy sort who aspires to be different? (8)”.

Back to May 2013:

So a debut this week from Encota, on a day when in theory I’ve got loads of time to be solving, but when in practice I’m sitting in front of a desktop computer that’s given up the ghost, working out how much of a bomb to drop on it. Luckily it appears that the clues are normal this week, and on the easyish side too, even if the rest of the preamble looks like complete gobbledygook. Unclued shaded entries, shading to do elsewhere, and yet more shading. So plunge on in regardless.

11ac is my first in, a word which at any other time would have been a complete unknown, but by chance appeared in last night’s 8 Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown, so is a write-in. Huzzah! Much as the rest of the grid proves to be. A couple of slip-ups (no, nothing is going to match SSE..), but what about those unclued entries? .AGEN and .W.DEN. The title says we’re looking for an anagram of ‘hanged’, but that’s not going to fit either of those properly. The second’s got to be SWEDEN, but the first? Hagen? It turns out the ice-cream is American. A little Googling, and we’ve got DAGEN: Dagen H (H Day):

today mostly called “Högertrafikomläggningen” (“The right-hand traffic diversion”), was the day, 3 September 1967, on which traffic in Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right. The “H” stands for “Högertrafik”, the Swedish word for “right traffic”.

Which must be the anniversary we’re marking. No prizes for guessing that the characters we have to change are L to R (thankfully I’ve written the L’s properly, and not as I’s).

The three letter phrase leaps out next: RIGHT HAND SIDE across the top (OK, so we’re doing this all in the wrong order).

But what about the seven cells? Are they supposed to form a word? They’ve evidently got to form an H, with those 3 H’s in the diagonal across the middle of the grid. Much hunting later… and it appears not – we’re just looking to shade an H based around them. Unless THCHIHC is supposed to mean anything, or I’ve made an almighty cock-up somewhere.

Well, that was fun, a nice bit of light relief. And Dagen H? Who knew? The computer? A reinstall of Windows that seems to be holding up to date, fingers crossed. A result all round.