I seem to remember struggling the last time Commoner graced the pages of the i, so when my first answers in were way down in the SE corner I began to worry that this was going to be similarly intractable. As it turns out today’s offering was closer to the expected IoS solving experience, if on the difficult side as far as Sunday reprints go. I made a right hash of the NW corner with multiple crossing outs and changes across 2d / 8ac / 17ac – the latter which doesn’t really work for me, I’m afraid. Never mind, this was an enjoyable solve nevertheless that I should perhaps have taken a little more time over. Blame the combined distractions of work, an impending MOT, broken radiator valve, and perhaps the unsettling effects of the weekend’s earthquake. Did the earth move for you?

COD? 12ac – “More than one hoarding banknotes, getting fed up I hear (10)”.

To October 2013:


Saturday 10th February 2018

Ondine, Le Gibet and Scarbo are the three movements of Ravel’s ‘Gaspard de la Nuit’ – based on Bertrands poems of the same name. And looky looky there they all are, in rows 1, 5 and 15, with the composer in the middle of the grid…  I’m expecting the girls from Little Mix this week.

All that explains why Phi chose the decidedly obscure Iseabail to fill the grid for 4d – not my cup of tea that – but otherwise I liked this puzzle very much indeed – lots of ticks and even a couple of doubles.

The theatrical ‘lawyer’ and ‘waiter’ will have divided opinions, but get a thumbs up from me, however my pick of the bunch was the following:

11a Feet on pitches holding rugby back – incomplete team? (8)

Saturday morning and the Fifteensquared link has re-appeared – I pass on Gaufrid’s apologies that the comments have mysteriously vanished into the ether somehow. Apart from one posted just now by me, that is.


The end of the working week and we get a puzzle that is on the easier side, it did originally appear in a Monday edition of the Independent so providing you don’t mind a bit of geography this shouldn’t take too long. A reasonable selection of clue types with seven anagrams which certainly helped fill the grid. Over on Fifteensquared the blogger’s only query is with the anagram indicators in 6 and 7 down and the parsing of 14a none of which I found problematic in fact my only real problem came with (you’ve probably guessed) 19dn.

COD 14ac       Rung by rebel, it’ll free? (7,4)

A Happy New Year to any Chinese readers 🙂

i Cryptic Crossword 2191 Monk

February 15, 2018

So you’re in work and have got a fairly short lunchtime in which to solve and blog the day’s cryptic. What’s in store? Maybe Dac pushed a day later in the week? No, it’s Monk, a setter I’ve got a bit of a patchy record with. As expected progress was pretty slow, though not impossibly so, until halfway through I grew steadily more suspicious about the possibility of a Nina – which was always likely with that grid – and RAINS across the top. Claude Rains? No. PLAIN made itself, well, plain on the LHS. Rhymes? A few more letters and the penny finally dropped, at which point I quickly filled in the remainder of SPAIN and MAINLY, and sorted out a few of the trickier entries on the RHS – I’m looking at you, 13ac and 20ac.

A few names in the grid some solvers will be unhappy about, especially I suspect Michael to clue CAINE in the NE corner. Luckily I vaguely knew the name of the computer, and with the C at the close quickly filled it in.

At 23ac I wonder if I was the only person to momentarily fail to consider P before H when jotting down possibilities? Never mind…

In common with the original blogger I couldn’t parse 27ac, but the rest went in pretty much without any question marks.

Anyway, all in all an enjoyable and fairly challenging solve, perhaps more accessible than some of Monk’s previous offerings.

COD? I’m going with 6ac – “He could transport van of Hugh Laurie after a crash (7)”.

To October 2013:


It’s Wednesday, and it’s not Dac. So we’ve got something to mark either Valentine’s Day or Ash Wednesday? No, it seems, just an IoS reprint to fill one of Dac’s occasional weeks off. It’s never a chore to solve a puzzle by eXternal so no complaints here, though today’s offering was most definitely on the tricky side. I’m guessing this would have come as a bit of a shock to IoS solvers who’d until recently been used to Quixote on a Sunday.

I ended up solving in two sittings – the first of about the normal length for a Dac solve, at which point I was beginning to get stuck and thankfully got sidelined by a phone call. Thankfullly when I came back everything fell into place with few problems, so perhaps I just ran out of steam.

One or two not understood on solving, I must admit, as often seems to be the case. The chief suspect today being 13ac where, given enough checking letters and a likely definition I decided the wordplay really wasn’t worth the trouble and went for it.

Much to like today as ever with eXternal, with the surface reading for 16ac one that was indeed worthy of one of Dac’s puzzles. My COD though goes to my LOI, 2d – “Men, hot rampant horny beasts (6)”, a clue that looked like it might be an anagram, but wasn’t, and also looked likely to contain an H, but didn’t either. Nicely done.

Back once more to the latter part of 2013 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:


Forewarned is forearmed in the form of a cryptic tweet about scissors being of use this week. Are we doing a crossword or origami? Time will tell. Instructions. One, complete the grid. Two, carefully cut out the shapes and arrange them to reveal an identity. Three, move seven letters to other cells to reveal a phrase. Glances at a blunt pencil, an even blunter pair of scissors. Ok…

The grid fill? Suspiciously easy. A faster solve in fact than the same day’s Phi. Here’s the end result in glorious monochrome:

Hagbut. Cue sniggers from the back of the class.

Step two, cut out the shapes. The first goes exactly as badly as expected. What do we need? Something good and sharp. When do we need it? Any time now would be good. I knew I’d find a use for that Stanley knife one day. A much easier if ill-advised way of cutting out those shapes. Don’t try this at home. And if you do, make sure you’ve read the paper already because you’re going to lose more than one or two pages.

Step three – arranging them? Nope, that’s not going at all well. Move onto step four.

A phrase, for which we need seven letters moved from elsewhere to share other cells. Well, there appears to be the start of one along the SW to NE diagonal – ON THE… Presumably we’re looking for unique letters to move, so L? No, that doesn’t help. There are seven S’s in the grid too? Taking the SW to NE diagonals and the NW to SE gives us:

She sells sea shells on the sea shore

Try saying that after a couple of whiskies. Back to step three, and a quick bit of Googling gives us Mary Anning who was apparently the inspiration for that particular tongue twister. Turn a couple of the pieces upside down, and there we have it:

Palaeontologist Mary Anning

Scribble it under the grid, and hey presto, that’s our lot. And wasn’t that fun? Something a little bit different. The paper’s even more of a hash than it usually is, and not with copious scribbling this week, but never mind. More like this please.

PS 1ac now appears to read SHAGBUT. A coincidence? Surely not.

i Cryptic Crossword 2189 Phi

February 13, 2018

One of Phi’s disorientating weekday appearances this time. 1ac was a gimme, and I fleetingly wondered whether we had an Updike themed puzzle on our hands. That might have ensured some lively comments, but as it turned out it’s something far more nebulous.

This crossword seemed very gentle by the setter’s standards, and there isn’t anything to hold the experienced solver up unduly. I’m not altogether happy with the definition of 3d, but that’s nitpicky – and like several people at Fifteensquared I was unsure of the parsing of 16d. In both cases the solutions were plain as a pikestaff, so the quibbles are rather moot. 1d and 13d struck me as particularly good, as did 27ac even though it’s a bit tortuous. My Clue of the Day is a chestnut, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good ‘un, and some solvers won’t have seen it before. With apologies, 11ac:


Back to October 2013.

A slightly trickier offering from the Don this week, with one I was unable to parse, which almost never happens with his puzzles. Yes, 19d, which I dredged up from the depths of my memory somewhere and lobbed in on a bit of a wing and a prayer. Perhaps not knowing how it should be pronounced may have contributed to this confusion. My last one in though was 15d, where I was flummoxed for no good reason I can see now by the need to find a bird that matched the letters I had, including a dastardly H in second place, despite it being pretty obvious, and the cryptic being pretty clear too for that matter. Well, it is Monday, which was the excuse I gave myself when I was extremely slow to get started, not getting anything until 10ac.

COD? Lots I enjoyed today, with the nice spot at 8ac getting my nomination – “Laborious patch in puzzle engenders feeling of being badly stuck in a corner? (14)”.

To October 2013:


Saturday 3rd February 2018

Back onto Nina + theme territory last with Phi last Saturday.

[Tom] Stoppard in the top unches and five of his plays: Arcadia, Jumpers, Travesties, Dirty Linen, and [The Coast of] Utopia dotted around the grid. Well, theatre is one of my interests and I spotted 4 out of 5 of those – pretty late mind you, so no real help was provided for the last few tricky clues. My last one in took me an age – ‘I Puritani’ clued by a girl who might have been Lisa, Gina, Mira, Nina, Tina or, as it happened, Rita.

Plenty of good clues, and for the Clue of the Day it would be churlish not to concur with the one Phi himself says was his favourite in the comments over at Fifteensquared:

11a Accountant backed funding to secure right rural paradise (7)

I used to think that the puzzles in the dead tree version of the IOS were on the easy side but this one had for me anyway a bit of a sting in its tail. Started off briskly with both 1 and 6ac but I was soon reaching for the dictionary to check if “L” was a unit of induction and how 11ac fitted with money , all good so far but the dictionary wasn’t any help with 12ac where the answer is obvious once the crossers are in but why Jamaican? Regular readers will know of my dislike of setters using  French words in crosswords and Kairos must be congratulated on being the first this week to not use this tiresome ploy but hold those plaudits he expects us to know Hebrew in order to solve 20ac, this was a complete unknown to me and only solved by consulting Google. The lower quarter of this puzzle proved very tricky for me with 25ac clued as kitchen equipment, I can only presume that kettledrum is involved somewhere and the note Ti being the American version of our Te this only went in because it was all that fitted. It was back to the dictionary for the obscure definitions at 24dn, 26ac,and 28ac. As a whole an enjoyable puzzle with plenty that were nicely done and solvable from the wordplay my favourite even if did cause a bit of a grimace was

COD   21dn Express lift (5)

All the solutions but not much in the way of parsing  can be found in the blog from October 2013.