Prize Cryptic Crossword 2146 by Phi

December 30, 2017

Saturday 24th December 2017

I’ve been led to believe that a crossword is a battle of wits fought between setter and solver which the setter should always aim to lose graciously. I suspect most seasoned solvers will have managed to fill the puzzle in all right (even if a couple defied explanation as to the parsing) What I’m not sure about is whether having secret themes each week which are nigh on impossible to discover counts as losing graciously. What do you think?

Last week – Christmas Eve of course – we had a puzzle from December 2012 in which the name of the English writer of ghost stories, M R James, i.e. Montague Rhodes James (1862-1936) appeared. No I didn’t spot it either.  Various stories by him apparently feature an ash tree, a rose garden and a doll’s house, and apparently ghost stories are topical for Christmas, Phi tells us.  All of that passed me by and frankly I’m a bit disappointed to discover I’ve missed something yet again.

The only two clues I couldn’t parse were 26a, ‘Midstream’ and 24/25d ‘Near East’ but otherwise a steady and enjoyable solve. For what it’s worth I agree with Graham Pellen in the final comment at Fifteensquared here, re the parsing of 10a, which was my last one in.

COD? I liked 9d very much, despite its causing some difficulty on the other side, but here’s my winner:

16d Cross in church having ornate ends (8)

Happy New Year.

Oh, that reminds me – I’ve got a puzzle in the Independent on line coming out on New Year’s Day. Call me a hypocrite if you will, but look for something extra once you’ve finished solving the clues!

2 Responses to “Prize Cryptic Crossword 2146 by Phi”

  1. AndyT said

    Nope, didn’t spot it, although I expect I’ll have read them all at one time. There’s a bit of a cult about MR James which I don’t altogether understand.

    My take on the thematic shenaniggans is that Phi is a special case, and one suspects that they’re often as much for his own amusement as the solvers’ – or perhaps he likes having a bit of structure to the grid filling process. I don’t expect to spot them more than half the time, if that. It’s a nice little easter egg when you do, but if not you’ve still had a good crossword to enjoy.

    Where Phi has overstepped the mark in the past in my opinion is with linked, under-checked solutions – and he’s been quite irascible when anyone had the temerity to call him out on it at 15². That’s not so gracious.

    Very much looking forward to Monday’s cruciverbal event in the Indy.

  2. jonofwales said

    Now, I did spot Montague Rhodes, and it sort of rang a bell. Beardsley immediately below it, though, threw me off the track and I didn’t follow it up any further. I’ve also read a great deal of MR James, but can’t remember much about his stories now. 🙂

    I struggled with this puzzle, probably because my mind was on other things. Never mind.

    Also looking forward to Monday’s appearance!

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