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)


So a more gentle crossword than we’re perhaps used to to end the week – Crosophile, who back in 2013 had the last Wednesday of the month slot, that happens to be an anagram of several of the answers which I’m sure you all spotted. Most of today’s puzzle I found to be fairly straightforward, but struggled at the close with 14d and 28ac, neither of which I could parse, and 13ac which is quite a tricky little clue, really, if nicely done. 15ac was a bit of a write in for a Doctor Who fan, as were several of the pretty easy anagrams. Talking of which, I was convinced 21d was going to be another one, and needed most of the checking letters to work out that it was, in fact, a hidden word. Doh!

COD? Let’s go with 3d – “Consternation when doctrine is adopted in time of revolution (6)”.

To November 2013:

So Thursday, and as expected a Saturday Prize Puzzle reprint, and one by Monk at that. So it’s going to be on the tough side… Thankfully the puzzle is more accessible than perhaps might have been expected, as solving conditions today are far from ideal – sitting in a car park in the middle of Cardiff. Thankfully I have the WordPress App and a Bluetooth keyboard to hand to blog with. 🙂

The puzzle? A nice long anagram at 8ac to start filling the grid, and a few easier clues dotted here and there – 4ac particularly handy up in the NE corner, and 2d opposite it. The AC/DC references will have screamed BI to seasoned solvers over in the NW corner, and see, well, think dioceses… Some nice cryptic definitions elsewhere elicited suitable groans, and I kicked myself when I eventually spotted what bread and wine we needed to remove a T from for 13ac.

All in all then an enjoyable, challenging solve.

COD? For the definition alone, 14d – “Distraught UN left eastern beach on which Castro may have stood? (5,4)”.

To November / December 2013 for all the answers and analysis, and an explanation from Monk himself:


Now to find somewhere I can get a decent coffee…

A fairly gentle offering from our Wednesday wizard that took half the time my laptop needed to install and configure what admittedly appeared to be quite a mammoth set of updates. Never casually announce “I’ll just quickly get this blog posted…”

18ac was new to me but perfectly gettable from the wordplay, though I did know the “movie pioneer” mentioned so the second half at least was a write-in. Ironically 3d and 21ac which weren’t at all difficult caused me more issues, probably because I suspect my mind isn’t fully in gear until after lunch. 17d I’d vaguely heard of which helped with the slightly tricky wordplay.

COD? Lots to like as always, but I’ll go with the aforementioned 17d – “Astronomer: he’s invited into girls’ class (8)”. I notice there’s some debate over on the other side about this clue, but I still like it. 🙂

To December 2013:

The long bank holiday weekend looms, and with it a bumper issue of the i Weekend, and… Schadenfreude, who can tend to be a little difficult, so does this mean we have a bumper Inquisitor to boot? The preamble… Seven… somethings to appear in the perimeter, another three to be gleaned from the initial letters of words removed from each clue before solving. Oh, ten answers are to be “treated” before entry, and we’ve got to highlight something at the close. But first I’ve got some painting to do so hang on a minute. Yes, time off work and that list of jobs I’ve been saving for a rainy day, and being a bank holiday it’s most definitely rainy.

Those clues, and as expected this is looking to be reasonably tough. Mind you there’s a generous anagram at 24d, a city I hadn’t heard of though Google has, and we’re off, if slowly, making progress first in the SE and then the NE corners. An equally generous anagram at 36 gives WAR NEUROSIS which isn’t going to fit, so must be one that needs to be treated, though I don’t know how. Ditto DEEP FRY further north, because what else are you going to do in a chippy?

Let’s have a look at that perimeter with the RHS fairly full and the rest, well, not at all complete. I’m going to bet that reads BOWLED, RUN OUT, CAUGHT… Which are all methods of getting out in a game I’m not overly familiar with. Luckily Google has got a handy list of what might go in the perimeter. And of course the first letters of those words we have to remove. We can get the remainder now which is going to make solving the rest of the grid a bit of a doddle. Ha ha. OBSTRUCTING THE FIELD, TIMED OUT, HIT BALL TWICE. Nope, not heard of any of those, and the second sounds more like something to send shivers down the spine of any IT Administrator. But cricket… Those treated answers… I might not know much about the noble game, but I do know that WARNE is (was?) a cricketer, which means we can enter UROSIS for 36ac. There were loads of players called FRY as well.

Well, let’s get going with the rest of the grid. Those treated answers. Are they supposed to always give real words for grid entries? Well mine don’t. TSKIN anyone? Maybe I’ve just got this horribly wrong, but I can’t think of any other way they’re going to work, though it does leave me with a little doubt about some of those cricketers I’ve got out, as some seem to be more than a little obscure.

25ac. We don’t talk about 25ac. Twenty four hours that one held out for. It’s evidently one that needs to be treated. As it turns out I had heard of Professor Challenger, giving HALL as our last cricketer, though which one who can tell, and CENGES as the grid entry.

So who’s our “survivor”? Another cricketer no doubt. AMES is up there in the NW corner, but why’s he a survivor? I don’t know. He was supposed to have been pretty handy with a bat and ball, but, no, that doesn’t feel like a particularly satisfactory answer to me. Just because he’s still in the grid? Maybe I’ve got it all horribly wrong. Perhaps I’ll read and weep over the Fifteensquared blog when it appears. What to do? Wait with bated breath, and gaze at the falling rain.