I found this reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle very difficult and a couple were left unanswered. 1ac was a complete unknown, the wordplay of 7dn succeed in being so misleading that I couldn’t fathom what I was looking for and 10ac, well I can just about associate the answer with Handle but find it a bit tenuous. Both 6dn and 20ac were solved but I needed the Blog at Fifteensquared to explain. It was the NE corner that proved the most difficult to fathom even though 5ac was perhaps one of the easier to solve the starting letters it provided didn’t seem to help that much.  I can only assume its me and the excitement of Black Friday that has caused my brain to cease functioning normally 🙂

While I’m not really a fan of homonyms I think this one to be excellent so

COD  15dn  In conversation, raised problem that’s ghastly  (8)


i Cryptic Crossword 2120 Tees

November 23, 2017

I often find Tees to be on the tricky side, and today’s puzzle was certainly that. I made swift progress at the start with a few of the longer clues going straight in. Finishing, though, was another matter, with a couple of unknowns dotted round the grid (and crossed perhaps a little unfairly at 18d and 25ac), and some tricky wordplay. Martial Arts instructors, anyone? It’s been a while since I watched the Karate Kid. This was a Thursday Independent reprint, however, and not quite as unyielding as they can sometimes be.

Enjoyment value overall pretty high, though with a little frustration at the close.

COD? With lots of invention on show, and much to admire, 6ac – “Constant smoker worried about gas inhaled (4)”.

To the summer of 2013:


i Cryptic Crossword 2119 Dac

November 22, 2017

Another good puzzle from Dac, what more can you say? Give me a puzzle like this every day. 🙂

I made hard work of today’s offering, lobbing in ONE MAN for 1d, which meant I was looking for a particularly obscure monk at 11ac. And, oh, NEEDLESS anyone at 4ac? Oh well, I got there in the end, and still in a pretty fast time for the i. Solving on a computer you can get away with this sort of thing, on paper it all begins to get rather messy.

There’s some debate about one or two clues over on the other side, but TBH I didn’t spot anything difficult / controversial while solving. Perhaps I just wasn’t paying enough attention.

COD? With lots to like as always, I’m nominating 10d – “Points put by Conservative fearing further presentation of bill (6,7)”.

To August 2013:


Perhaps Nimrod thought we’d got off lightly the other week, because today look it’s another jigsaw, with not one but two grids to contend with. Such fun. A few unclued entries, eight thematic clues without definitions. No doubt it will all become clear at the close.

So to the clues, and thankfully with all that cold solving they’re fairly forgiving of my solving abilities. Especially Saturday afternoon when I’m not usually on top form. Just a pity that we don’t know what to do with any of them. I’ve noted where the 9 and 8 length clues go in both grids, in the hope they might provide a definite answer. With what I’ve got they don’t of course. Let’s chuck ALLEVIATE in the left hand grid, with ALOPECIA crossing it, and see how we get on. That gives what may or may not be crossing letters, but doesn’t help that much. The clues are in alphabetical order of the answers, which does, a little.

Those clues without definitions then. I’ve got one – IVOR. A list of setters then? No, that’s Ifor. Doh. But what about “People with common ancestor, German saint”, CLAN GER S. Surely not the Clangers? And Ivor the Engine? Oliver Postgate, the co-creator of both (yes, I had to Google that), will fit in those unclued entries in the right hand grid. Let’s chuck him in. And that side rapidly begins to fill, partly based on the certainty that BAGPUSS is going to be in there somewhere, and look there’s NOGGIN the Nog, which I vaguely remember.

So the obvious answer is that the left hand grid will have something to do with Peter Firmin, except his name won’t fit into the unclued entries. So I’ve got no idea. But I do have a much smaller list of clues to work with, so let’s go. And look, there’s another thematic clue. BEDKNOBS. And broomsticks? There’s another one, MURDER She Wrote. Got to be Angela Lansbury then. Chuck her name in the unclued entries. Two more thematic entries – BEAUTY and the BEAST.

The last unclued entry linking the grids? There’s not a lot that will match COU?INS, and lo and behold they were. Who knew? eXtent of course. Thanks then for a fun outing that wasn’t as scary as it first looked, with something new learnt along the way. Jigsaws? Pah, no problem.

When this first appeared in August 2013 the consensus of opinion at Fifteensquared was that it’s a real toughie. Certainly not ideal for beginners, but hardly the most headache inducing puzzle we’ve seen in my opinion. As noted before, Jambazi is an innovative setter who doesn’t usually content himself with hackneyed formulations, so a bit of lateral thinking is required. It might be said that he over-reaches occasionally, and 14ac prompted some sucking of the teeth here. It’s good, mind you. I anticipate some grumbles about the rather obscure 16d; also 18 and 26ac which will not please those who are unfamiliar with or disapproving of that sort of argot.

That out of the way, what a splendid puzzle! The Wizard of Oz references are just there for fun as far as I can see, but it’s definitely not my specialist subject. Plenty of excellent clues to enjoy: my favourites included the much discussed 5ac, plus 9, 11, 15, 8d … and quite a few more. My clue of the day on grounds of sheer impudence is 4d:

“Boat landing spot seen in dark (6)”

A gentle IoS reprint to start the working week. I suspect we may have some complaints regarding the French required for 28ac, but it comes up regularly enough that it’s been seared into my memory. I groaned a little when I saw 21ac – aren’t crossword setters aware of any other poets? He seems to pop up every other week. Well, this was a Sunday reprint I suppose… I was expecting to see a pangram when 15ac and 19ac appeared in close succession, but it appears not.

COD? Lots to enjoy, with my vote going to 4ac – “Set out late (8)”, which many will have seen before, but is still a lovely, succinct clue.

To July 2013:


Saturday 11th November 2017

Phi worked a ghost theme into his grid last weekend. I didn’t see it, but now I’ve read the Fifteensquared blog from 2013, I can appreciate  its cleverness. 1ac is ‘Wasteland’, and T S Eliot’s seminal work ‘The Waste Land’ features throughout the lights. If you have a look you’ll see 10 key words taken from the titles of the poem’s five sections: The Burial of the Dead, A Game of Chess, The Fire Sermon, Death by Water, and What the Thunder Said.

My solving experience was simply that of a regular Phi solve with the solid clues we’ve come to expect. 12a was new, but it had to be really, and my COD goes to the four words of 13d:

Bankrupt’s mischievous about deliveries (10)

And now I think I might read the actual poem…

Morph and I don’t always get along but with this reprint of a Thursday puzzle we are more or less on the same wavelength. A fairly slow start with nothing going in until 13ac, although I was pretty sure of 8ac I just couldn’t parse it we don’t have Interstates in this country was my excuse. It was getting the two 15 letter solutions down the edges that really helped trying to decipher some of Morphs excellent cryptic wordplay, once the were in it all went far too quickly. Over on Fifteensquared the blogger RatkojaRiku picked both 3 and 4dn as his favourites, two which received little more than a tut from me, these two along with 24ac and my LOI 25dn I found less than pleasing although not as bad as the crime against the English language that is 11ac.  So many ticks today  10a, 21a, 27a, 8d and 18dn all deserving but

COD 1dn        Internal mechanism for egg timer?  (10,5)

An enjoyable, fairly straightforward puzzle that I thought must be an IoS reprint, but was in fact originally published on a Monday. One or two I couldn’t parse while solving, however, it must be said – for the list see the ones Pierre struggled with over on Fifteensquared. All present and correct at the close, though, last in 25ac followed by 14d.

There’s a ghost theme that I would never have spotted, should you care to try and find it.

COD? 6d – “Desists on behalf of Yogi and Boo-Boo (8)”.

To June 2013:


i Cryptic Crossword 2113 Dac

November 15, 2017

Dac on fine form as ever, with an easyish mid-week challenge. Even after making a hash of several clues, and misreading others… Yes, it’s been that sort of day. 2d gave me pause for thought at the close, as did 6d which I wanted to end with PAGE, but clearly wouldn’t. Was I the only person to spend an age trying to shoe-horn in odd / even letters from “crooner” into 4ac? R for rare was a new one on me, but could be little else, and was confirmed by 19d, so no complaints.

COD? 24ac – “Walk miles, getting fit all round (5)”.

To July 2013: