According to Sir Mark Rylance on the radio this morning, Shakespeare was a committee. Be that as it may, solvers wishing to confirm today’s theme are encouraged to have a gander at As You Like It II vii, where they’ll find something with a familiar ring to it. (Cornick may very well be able to reel it off). Once again Radian has supplied a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, and although all those 22 20s might look daunting it’s actually eminently accessible.

Well, mostly. 17 and 24 were both familiar, but I suspect only from barred puzzles and they seem a bit recondite for a daily crossword. Ditto the Russian river and perhaps the cargo plane, although the clue for the latter could hardly have been more straightforward. Leaving those aside there are plenty of gentle clues to get one off to a start whilst pondering what 22 20 is about. Back in January 2014 some of the commenters at Fifteensquared had a spot of bother with that Herts town (not a phrase which filled my heart with joy, admittedly), but it’s eminently gettable once 13d is in. Favourites today included 16 and 23ac, and 3d; my choice for COD is 8ac – just let’s not argue about whether it’s an &lit or not, please.

“Time, say, covering 5 to 9 (it varies) (7)”


A nice straightforward puzzle to start the working week from the Don. Two new words / phrases for me today – at 1ac, which I’m guessing will be the case for most solvers, and 18d, though both were clearly clued, and the latter was close enough to “shindig” to leave little doubt. I wasn’t aware either that 21ac is a “short novel”, but there you go, something else learnt this morning. An enjoyable way to start the week, as Quixote’s offerings always are.

COD? Nothing really jumps out TBH, but I’ll go with 6d because it is, after all, a nice cryptic def – “An announcement that court action will proceed no further (4,3,3,5)”.

To December 2013 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

Saturday April 14th 2018

Phi went easy on us last weekend – by his standards that is; although I concede that anyone uninitiated into the cryptic world who chanced upon page 42 and read a sentence like ‘Puritan flattens fish’ could be forgiven for saying ‘Eh? You what?’ or some such.

Lots of anagrams, some long, and no real obscurities in the answers, even if there were a couple of question marks in my margin: I didn’t twig that the American comedy star in 11a was Steve Carell, and I still wonder if ‘Gone for a Burton really means ‘drowned’. Mind you it was all done and dusted in pretty short measure.

For the COD, I’ll concur with one of the commenters over at Fifteensquared (click here) that 8a was pretty neat: Transmits Hardy novel… or someone else’s? (8,6)

When I swapped Dac on Wednesday for the Friday slot I guessed that Sprouthater would probably have drawn the more straightforward of the two puzzles, but as it turns out today’s offering is my fastest i solve in some time. Perhaps I just got a little lucky in places – I knew 23ac’s name, even if I had no idea how to pronounce it and was therefore left suitably mystified by the wordplay. On the other hand I had no idea who 20d might be and had to trust that I’d got the wordplay right. The cryptic for 1ac I didn’t follow, probably because I was convinced I was looking for the name of some Cambridge college I wouldn’t know, and that “blatant” was part of the definition, but with that definition and given the first letter, what else could it be? First in 7d (yes, I was working on the 1d / 1ac corner, and all three together were very generously supplied by Klingsor), last in 20d. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable, unexpectedly breezy solve.

Why did it take so long to get the blog out? Yes, more Windows updates.

COD? I’ll go with 27ac, if only for the very smooth surface reading – “Detective goes from vague gut feeling (8)”.

Back to November 2013 again for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

Today we have an IoS reprint that I found to be a little on the tricky side. We had a number of fairly obscure bits of knowledge in the wordplay – the waterside accommodation and the Arab capital, for example – that left me fairly sure I must have the right answer but with little certainty as to why. A number of others I couldn’t parse, or parsed incorrectly – notably 4d where I was convinced that the “source of music” was Django Reinhardt and then couldn’t work out why the rest wouldn’t work. So perhaps, in retrospect, any problems were of my own making. Last in was 25ac, cryptic definitions never being my strong point, especially when I appear to be on a completely different wavelength to the setter.

COD? Not a great deal leapt out TBH, but I’ll go with 16d which was a quite nicely deceptive cryptic definition that I did see fairly quickly – “A manipulator of blades etc? (9)”.

Back to November 2013 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from Dac today, although that’s probably stating the obvious as his puzzles are rarely anything else. 3dn was the only new word for me but the clue made it fairly straightforward, the only other obscurity was the author at 16dn which was nicely hidden in the clue. 11ac went in with a question mark the clue had both “in” and “house” in it but I couldn’t see what the “fellow” was doing, this is all explained over on Fifteensquared where there are a few tetchy comments regarding 18dn strangely as it seems fine to me.

Lots of candidates for COD, 4ac ,12ac,6dn and 10dn all worthy but I really enjoyed

14dn  Boss has little time at work: out to lunch for the most part (3,6)

So Shark’s first puzzle in what feels like ages but probably isn’t, and first thoughts are… Isn’t that an odd looking grid? Little bits nibbled from the corners, that blank square in the centre. Second thoughts are… Isn’t it odd to be solving the Inquisitor on a Tuesday? We’ve been away for a couple of days and, while I had the paper, the combined delights of sun, sea, sand, pool and bar (not necessarily in that order) proved more tempting.

Suitably unpacked and somewhat relaxed – or as relaxed as you get after a weekend away with the kids in tow and an infeasible amount of luggage to deal with – to Shark. The preamble looks straightforward enough – four clashes that will be resolved with the aid of an unclued 13d and a clued 34ac. Should be a doddle then? Well, I did have a quick look at the clues over the weekend, and thought, no, that’s not going to be a five minute job. Let’s look at 1ac. “Take” invariably means R, so as long as we can find an appropriate fish to wrap round it we’ll have a definition of “chip”, but none spring to mind and there are lots of fish to choose from. What about the next one. P evidently, and examine could be PROBE? ROBE for a piece of furniture? Sounds good to me. An easy anagram at 6d, curtains = ENDING (ha ha) at 8d, so this isn’t going to be too bad? Perhaps not, with a little help from the Big Red Book. What about that 1ac? With 2d as HEH, and 1d evidently SEA something, it’s going to be SHARD. Easy peasy.

Clashes? Well, they’re becoming evident, no worries there. The unclued 13d? I’m going to hazard a guess that’s CABARET which is a horribly famous musical I’ve never seen. 34ac we have as NICKEL. Last ones in? That would be 35ac where it’s a toss-up between YOND and YONT, taking an age to decide on the latter. And 27d, which I can’t get.

What next? As the grid stands we can’t resolve those clashes satisfactorily, so… We have a musical, and a coin. What would fit that? Money, which as everyone knows makes the world go round. And if you rotate the letters round the centre of the grid you certainly get terms for money, and real words everywhere. DOUGH, WONGA, etc. And 27d? That would give us RHINO, and if the first letter was T the answer would have been THING, which certainly fits the wordplay and is obvious in retrospect, as these things often are.

I’m going to say that’s good. A satisfactory end to an enjoyable, pretty solid puzzle I wasn’t really sure I’d have the time to solve.

It’s Tuesday, and Scorpion too which all but guarantees there’s going to be a theme. A quick glance through the clues makes it clear we’re looking for men/women “of note”. Is it just because they’re famous, because after the bard, a novelist and a noted scientist fall into place it becomes clear that they all are? Or is it in fact because they are all literally people of note? Yep… A little challenging throughout as expected with this setter, and there were a few I was unclear on at the close, but the theme made this pretty accessible, and enjoyable throughout. I believe we’re close to a pangram too for good measure, but perhaps a letter or two off.

COD? 29ac – “Necessary arithmetic say, Isaac Newton initially brought in house (5)”. Newton who, as chance would have it, is another person of note.

To November 2013:

Raich takes the Monday slot with an enjoyable, fairly straightforward puzzle. A few long anagrams, the second at 24ac perhaps easier to untangle than the first at 8ac, allowing in-roads into the grid, clear, well constructed clues throughout. And then there’s the NE corner while still being fair, was several notches higher on the difficulty scale compared to the rest. We have two place names, and Geography as long-time readers will know isn’t my strong spot. And a – yes, that really is the answer – at 5ac. Cracking the latter was the key to getting the rest, once I’d settled on an appropriate synonym for “pinch”, though 6d I must admit I’d never heard of until today.

Now to continue watching armed response police practising with – hopefully – blank ammunition over the way. The joys of working next to a police training college.

COD? I’ll go with 1d – “Absurd supermarket features, it’s said, in tourist location (6,5)”.

To February 2014:

With this sort of grid – known as a (1,1) grid because that’s where the first black square appears (as opposed to (2,2), (1,2), (2,1) or combinations of those) – you could lay good money on Phi having secreted a secret message or theme in the puzzle. Maybe a Nina around the perimeter or an abstruse theme of New Zealand crime fiction?  But nothing was there.  No pangram, hidden message in the clues, repeated double letters in the answers, no lipograms or hidden words spanning the gaps in the grid.  Nada, zilch, zip.

And that’s pretty much all I have to say about a puzzle which, as I write this, has slipped quietly from memory already.  I notice, upon retrieving my i from the fire-lighting pile, that ‘Banditti’ at 10a is a new word, and now I come to think of it 25a ‘Crystal Set’ caused me to pause, but otherwise everything was presumably satisfactory.  Four clues have ticks by them, one of which coincides with a favourite of RatkojaRiku’s blog of the puzzle from 2013 (click here to see it), so that can be the COD:

9d Explain how lighter citizens of ancient city will have to conserve energy (5,3,5)