i Cryptic Crossword 2376 Dac

September 19, 2018

A fairly straightforward offering from Dac this Wednesday, the only issue – as it was for so many back in the day – being with my LOI 19d. Is that how a Cockney might pronounce it? Who knew. Lots to enjoy elsewhere nevertheless, and even a nod to our Saturday blogger at 25ac. I wasn’t sure about the spelling of 2d and had to check what looked like the most likely order of the letters, but with the possible exception of 17d the vocabulary elsewhere was pretty much everyday. Good to see that the editor’s on the ball at 18ac.

COD? I’ll go with 26ac – “A home in Cape Town, perhaps, couldn’t be more reasonable (6)”.

To June 2014:


How to begin? The downs would be good, because the across clues have all got misprints in their definitions. That mention of rearranging letters at the close is enough to invoke PTSD in those of us who solved Harribob’s magnus opus earlier this year. But nothing that traumatic it appears this time. Some would even argue that the clues look… approachable… reasonably solvable. A bad tempered woman’s a VIXEN. A handy V in 1 across means the churchman must be A VEN, with IRish…All in all summing up a pretty friendly grid-fill. Though a suspicious person would be particularly so of the pretty odd word for salt down in the SW corner where the more obvious one would have sufficed.

What do the misprints spell? Well, the speaker’s the WHITE KNIGHT which screams Alice, handily confirmed by a quick Google search. The words from the poem? BOILING IT IN WINE. Nope, don’t know that one, but it’s a song by the aforementioned knight from Through the Looking Glass. What’s boiled? The Menai bridge which coincidentally we got some good pictures of recently while on our travels. Which must be the 11 letters to rearrange, there in the 6th and final rows.

What about the cells to highlight in an appropriate colour? Rust? No, can’t find that. A long hard stare later. Well, he did boil it in wine. CHIANTI and SAUTERNE are hidden in the same rows. Thus the odd word for salt… Shade the former a sort of red, the latter a sort of white, and we’re done? Yes, and so as it turns out this was quite straightforward. But was it enjoyable? Oh yes, that too.


i Cryptic Crossword 2375 Morph

September 18, 2018

Expectations well and truly confounded today, as Morph of all people supplies probably the easiest Tuesday crossword of the year so far. Just the thing for 15d in fact, and entertaining enough to keep old hands happy if not for very long.

The theme helped considerably with the downs … well frankly, once 1/18d and 2d are done the rest of the thematic solutions barely need clues. Especially when nearly all the across answers are in place after a first pass. My preference would be for something a bit more demanding, but it’s puzzles like this which will draw new solvers in and that has to be a good thing. A little cluster of acrosses caught my eye – 23, 25 and 26 – and of those it’s 25 which is my choice for COD:

“Part of speech I start to teach in Old English – how advanced top set is! (8)”

For the June 2014 Fifteensquared blog and some appreciative comments, please click here.

i Cryptic Crossword 2374 Poins

September 17, 2018

Poins is back to start the week with the kind of puzzle I was expecting the last time he graced these pages. Fairly straightforward, clear wordplay, common vocabulary, in other words everything an IoS reprint should be. If you didn’t know the hoax or the fairy queen in 7ac you might have had a little trouble, but thankfully I knew both. 🙂  Elsewhere I completely failed to spot that 20ac was a hidden word, and struggled a little with the parsing of 2d, but the rest went in as smoothly as expected. A nice start to the week.

COD? OK, it’s an old one now, but 23ac still raised a fairly childish smile – “A wee cut (5)”.

To May 2014:


Saturday 8th September 2018

Do you remember the bit in Goldilocks and the Three Bears when she stumbles across a crossword puzzle on the kitchen table?  Well one third had too many long anagrams and went in too quickly to be savoured. Another third – big chunks of the NE and SE corners – was so unyielding she lost interest and turned to a wordfinder to help her finish (apparently Luigi intersected Amici and Imhotep was intersected by a fiendish clue for Apostolic. Hrrmph, she growled). But fortunately there were also some clues which were just right – even if they did only come in a baby-sized portion.

Goldilocks thought that her favourite was 14a; the bears came home, had a look, and said ‘No, that’s too blindingly obvious to be anyone’s COD’. ‘But look’, she said, ‘the surface reading is a sequence, which makes us think the real meaning must be a monastic order – but it’s really a double bluff! I’ve never see one of those before!’

So here it is again:

COD: 14a The sort of order in which you’ll find Matins, Vespers and Compline? (13)

Go to Fifteensquared here to find out how the bears reacted to someone else having done their crossword…

A fairly straightforward IOS reprint that won’t give experienced solvers too much trouble, the only obscurity for me being 17dn which was gettable from the wordplay. 22dn might have given younger solvers cause for thought – was he that famous? The main points of discussion over on Fifteensquared were the uses of a (to me) unknown German poet in 2dn and the use of “recur” to indicate a reversal in 10ac. In both cases the solutions were apparent once a few crossers were in, much like 6dn where the usual Red or even Ivan for Russian is replaced by Vitaly hmm. My LOI was the long and convoluted 11dn which I failed to parse.

I found this a reasonable puzzle, but nothing was particularly outstanding, ticks for 1ac, 19dn, 27ac and COD

16dn  Giant creature hard to detect among two small ones? Yes and no!

i Cryptic Crossword 2371 Punk

September 13, 2018

It feels like a while since we’ve seen Punk in these parts, but here he is again in the “tricky” Thursday spot. As it transpires, on a scale of 1 to 10 of difficulty, this was about middling, though with one or two that were a lot easier to solve than parse, 12/16ac and 13ac being the chief suspects. I suspect most solvers will have spotted the answers and just put them in with a shrug. Only the two unknowns – at 19ac and 22ac, but both were pretty clear. Elsewhere there was much to enjoy. The definitions at 7d and 8d passed me by for an age, the latter raising a smile when I spotted it. Ditto 11ac, despite guessing the range on the outside pretty sharpish. Did I twig what the Texas bit was getting at in 1ac? Nope. Was I certain about the spelling of 5d? No, convinced it had two S’s, and needed the wordplay to confirm.

First in, slightly alarmingly, 23ac, last in 25ac. Finish time just over par for the i.

COD? The definition at 24ac raised a smile, and there are lots of very cleverly constructed clues elsewhere, but I did like the nicely succinct 20d (and no, I didn’t spot the hidden word at first either) – “Something essential to bracket? (5)”.

To June 2014:


i Cryptic Crossword 2370 Dac

September 12, 2018

So, another good puzzle from Dac. Which isn’t to damn with faint praise because we get a top notch crossword from him most Wednesdays, invariably without any complaints or queries, and of course with those trademark smooth surfaces. Three new words for me today, unusually for mid-week, at 8d, 24ac and 26ac, but clearly flagged as they were they won’t have scared too many solvers. I started just for a change in the SE corner on spotting 18d which is a bit of a gimme, and ended just below with 24ac. Finish time above par for Dac, but well below for the i.

COD? I didn’t bother with the parsing when solving, which is a pity because it really is very nicely done, but my nomination goes to 5d – “Get upset about suffering right shower during preparation for the classroom (7,8)”.

To June 2014:


The last Saturday of the summer holidays, and time for a dose of nostalgia courtesy of the IQ and Nudd. A classic album, tracks scratched from nine clues. So what classic albums have got nine tracks? Something prog rock perhaps? A bit of Floyd? Let’s do the sensible thing and tackle the puzzle to figure it out. Misprints in twenty clues yield words suggesting the title. All things being equal we’ll get to that bit once we’ve worked everything else out. But, spoilers.

Let’s start with the acid test – 1ac. It sounds like an act of contortion, but it’s actually an anagram of TEA. The misprint? Well, and I can almost hear Nudd chuckling to himself, I went for the wrong one as it turns out, being I to give chai. Oh well. Crossing clues? I knew the one definition of TACHE, but not the other. An easy ARM. First damaged track in? That would be AGRA, though don’t ask what the track name is yet.

First unclued artist? Omar HAKIM who I’ve vaguely heard of. Thus the mental leap, because of Bowie I suspect, though none of his more famous albums seem to fit. Oh well, onward, with coffee and a quiet spot in the garden. The work at 23ac must be a CLASSIC, which means 23d could be CLARK, and the artist below that, surely, Mark KNOPFLER? Game over. The album’s Brothers in Arms, confirm the musicians involved without too much ado and complete the unclued entries.

With a full grid one problem remains. Being suspicious of red herrings… Let’s sort the misprints and work out what’s going on with those twenty clues. How long did it take, I hear you ask? As long as actually completing the puzzle and a bit more, if you really want to know. It turns out there aren’t any words that begin II… The upshot being that the four words are RIFLE, GRIMM, MARIO and KNIFE. Brothers in arms, indeed.

So there we have we have it, a dose of AOR from the sultans of swing themselves. As a much needed antidote here’s Stereolab with We’re Not Adult Orientated.

I am happy today, because a) the crossword was highly enjoyable; b) the grid is printed on the non-staple side, and c) I’ve been waiting patiently for an excuse to use this beauty as a hint. Cornick may well be disgruntled by the absurdly tiny size of the print, but the theme ought to meet with his approval.

The way I see it there is no single gateway clue today, just a few crosslinks, and it’s a little unfortunate that one such (12ac) contains a debatable acronym. According to a comment on Duncan’s typically excellent Fifteensquared blog entry it’s in Collins – wouldn’t know about that but the current Chambers favours the Philological Society. This probably won’t have caused much trouble, but it certainly prompted a session of hair splitting back in June 2014. Not to worry though, eh?

Nothing else to complain of as far as I can see, and plenty to appreciate. The more you look the more pervasive the theme appears. Four clues stood out for me: 13ac and 24; and the structurally similar pair, 9 and 22. Honours pretty much even between that lot, but I’m picking 9ac as the clue of the day just because it’s a nice word:

“Sick owing money to uncle and bank (7)”