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:


It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The plan for Saturday was that I would sit quietly with the newspaper, the Inquisitor, a copy of Chambers, and a cup of tea. So exactly how did I end up spending the afternoon in a cinema watching My Little Pony: The Movie? I now know more about the world of Equestria than I think I need to, but that doesn’t exactly help with this week’s puzzle. Fast forward to Saturday evening, with the attendant background din of first Strictly and then the X Factor. I bet Mark Goodliffe never has to put up with this.

To that preamble. Ten clues with checked letters that will need to be changed to reveal elements of a set, so clashes presumably. Single letter misprints in ten others, which scrambled may or may not help. Yellow squares scrambled give another element of the aforementioned set. Write it under the grid. Seems to be a lot going on there, but what about the clues? Well, at first glance they don’t seem to be too bad, with a fair few going in before that cinema trip. An easy anagram of SEAT, a pretty well flagged item of swimwear, this is going to be a doddle, isn’t it?

Well, not quite. Three quarters filled and I grind to a halt. Lots left are clashes, and misprints, so I suspect that’s where I’m going wrong. Let’s have a look at the yellow squares, see what we can make of those. A likely looking suspect from the letters we’ve got is TEMPERANCE. First thought is the virtues – temperance, prudence, fortitude, etc. No matter how hard I stare at the grid, though, none of those clashes are going to resolve themselves into anything like that. Let’s use TEMPERANCE though as potential checking letters, and see where that gets us. And be a bit more suspicious of some of the definitions. Because they might be misprints. As the preamble was at great pains to tell us, and which I keep forgetting.

Lo and behold, enough misprints to be able to make a stab at what they might spell out. Cards? TAROT CARDS? Yes, apparently Temperance is one, and if we look at those clashes, Death is another, and Hermit, and Moon. Huzzah. Which leaves a little work to finish the grid, with Wikipedia’s handy entry on the Major Arcana, scribble Temperance under the grid, and we’re there. And all without recourse to Brewer’s, which funnily enough I don’t happen to have a copy of.

A late Halloween contender from Kruger then, and thoroughly enjoyable it was too, bringing back memories of holidays down in Tintagel and Boscastle looking through all the New Age type shops that are still fashionable down in that neck of the woods. Nonsense? Well, of course it is, but harmless enough… Until next week then, and belated fireworks from eXtent?

This puzzle is largely concerned with 9ac, which really isn’t my beaker of oolong. Nevertheless, no special knowledge is required over and above an Irish river, this bit of gung-ho doggerel and the Welsh rugby team which seems to be popping up every other day just lately. Radian can be relied upon to play with a straight bat so no complaints on my part, although there was another outbreak of mild unpleasantness at Fifteensquared concerning 6d. Nothing compared to the squaring-up we saw yesterday, but uncalled for all the same. Yes, the clue is a bit dubious, but we all got the idea, didn’t we? A tip of the hat to Eileen for responding to that with aplomb.

Lots of linked clues today, and plenty of phrases which made for a rather unusual solving experience which I enjoyed. Two outstanding contenders for COD this time, both involving confectionery: 25 and 10ac. The latter wins on points.

“Lily trained in a bar? Lily? (9)”

This crossword first appeared in July 2013, around the time of The Open – which appears to be something to do with golf.

The Don’s back with a crossword that I found to be three quarters pretty straightforward – albeit with a big unknown at 8d – before I ground to a halt in the SE corner. I was pretty sure about 23ac, but couldn’t see 21d / 27ac / 24d. The answer? Ignore it for a good while, go back, and promptly get all three instantly. If I had to offer one solving tip, that would be it, as the number of times it has worked. All in all an enjoyable start to the week.

At the risk of revealing that I “don’t know a bad clue from a good one” (see the fairly heated discussion over on the other side”, I’m nominating 22ac for COD – “Originator of dreadful wickedness? (5)”.

Here’s the original blog from 2013, in case you’re stuck, can’t parse anything, or curious about the aforementioned discussion:


Saturday 4th November 2017

Which was a largely solid and eminently solvable puzzle.

I’ve long suspected Phi must use Chambers dictionary quite heavily to define wordplay components. Both ‘mere’ (27a) and ‘rear’ (6d) were defined in obscure ways (‘pure’ and ‘to hold up’ respectively), just as they’re defined somewhere near the end of the entries for those words in the Big Red Book. That makes them legitimate I suppose, even if it doesn’t make me like ‘em!

I’m embarrassed to admit that I was ‘held up’ by initially misspelling overweening as overweaning, but otherwise made steady progress. A sprinkling of ticks in the margins with my COD going to one of two fine matryoshka-style clues:

13d Shop isn’t involving son in tedious work (5,5)

2013 blog here.