A Saturday prize puzzle reprint from Klingsor which proved a fairly rapid solve even if quite a few went in without fully understanding why, the two main culprits being 7dn and 10ac which figure largely in the posts over on Fifteensquared,  although personally I found the cryptic part of 26ac far more vague than those two even though the answer was obvious once the checkers were in. Similarly 24ac where the solver is expected to dredge up an actress, all I could think of was mint cake which was of no help. The rest of it was fine – a couple of old chestnuts with the treaty at 13 dn and the princess at 19ac, a dubious homophone at 8dn, and a face palm moment at 2dn all adding up to a fairly satisfying puzzle.

COD?  17ac – “After opening of Savoy Hotel stops for a drink (8)”


A good challenge from Morph today. A swift entry at 9ac raised hopes of a quick win, with further entries dotted throughout the grid raising hopes further, but well, it wasn’t to be. The only obscurity was at 3d – in both the answer and wordplay – but the rest of the puzzle took a little teasing out with some attention required to the wordplay. At the close I had a number of question marks, all ably explained over on the other side. Enjoyable, even if my finish time was well over par for the i.

COD? 20d – “Costume of Hun finally toned down? (6)”, even if I did need the Fifteensquared blog to explain it.

Talking of which, here it is:


i Cryptic Crossword 2436 Dac

November 28, 2018

Wednesday comes round again and with it another enjoyable offering from Dac. Maybe it’s just me but I thought this is a little trickier than par, particularly in the NW corner where both 1ac and 3d were new to me, as was the tomato sauce used in the wordplay for 2d. Elsewhere I forgot the plural for 17d and failed to parse more than one or two. Well, it was still rather 14ac. Is to hum to sing? It’s probably in the dictionary but it foiled me for ages. Good fun nevertheless.

COD? He’s in the news rather less these days, apart from this slightly bizarre story, but for me it’s got to be 7d – “Mr Doherty is about, concealin’ drug (9)”.

To August 2014:


An unfamiliar name, so welcome Penumbra if you’re a new setter, or welcome back if you’re an old one in disguise. A bit of a rush job this time round because I’m acting as a taxi service between various doctors and A&E departments, and holding the fort so to speak in the meantime. The joys of winter.

Extra letters spelling something this week, a couple of unclued entries, shading, bish bash bosh. Oh, and some downs to be treated. Penumbra shares an inadequacy. Don’t we all.

So to start at the beginning. Or close to it. A cure for poison’s an anti-something, one partial anagram giving ANTIVENIN, and we’re away. Step back, to a DADO rail. And forward UNDINTED. A pretty easy grid fill. OK, I haven’t got all the extra letters, but what did you expect? The treated downs? A pretty fair guess after a few crossing letters is that they’re to be written upside down. Confirmed by a very long anagram for INGRATITUDE, which I struggle to read upside down.

Two unclued entries in the grid – BUDDY (Holly) and (Holly) GOLIGHTLY – pretty obviously. The bottom long unclued entry? IDENTICAL TWIN. And, oh, the top is too. Let’s sort the extra letters. THE HOLLIES I CAN’T TELL THE BOTTOM FROM THE TOP. A song I’ve never heard of. Does this tell us anything about any inadequacy that might be shared by Penumbra? Nope? Do the upside down entries provide further evidence of anything? Nope. And the two hollies? Are we looking for identical twins? A pretty thorough search through Wikipedia says no.

So how long did you spend staring at the grid, looking for something to shade in an appropriate colour? Too long. Even resorting to online word search solvers. Which yielded little. But there is ILEX in the centre. It’s a holly. Does it fit with anything else in that preamble? I don’t think so. Did I shade it green? Yes I did, because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. Did I wish we’d been given more of a clue, perhaps an enumeration, to help with the shading? Yep. Oh well… Back to waiting on a phone call, and nagging recalcitrant children to get ready for bed. Is there any whisky left?

Last time I blogged an Alchemi we had a visit from the setter, so Michael, if you’re passing – well done. I have a palm print on my forehead, no doubt as intended. Yes, 3d was my last one in, finally explaining what the theme was about.

This puzzle was pretty much as expected: not too difficult with a gratifying variety of clue types and a generally jaunty feel. (Not to say racy, in the case of 10/29). Everything works like clockwork, although solvers who spotted the connection between the thematic items early may well have skipped the parsing of the longer entries. The consensus at Fifteensquared in September 2014 was that this was a particularly enjoyable crossword, and I certainly concur.

Now then, clue of the day time. Plenty to choose from but two stand out, and it’s a coin toss. Nope, not 10/29 – step forward 14ac:

“Ha! Without current the race is off (8)”

A thoroughly enjoyable start to the week from Raich, as expected, and fortunately a pretty straightforward one too. Who booked a 4:30 start this morning? A nippy solve nevertheless, awake or not, with only a little pause at the close on 3d (am I the only person to discount “with” from anagram fodder almost on reflex, correct or not), and 9ac before I remembered the eponymous hall. Nothing to scare 8d solvers, just a pleasant start to the week.

COD? With lots to appreciate, I especially liked 22d – “Find the answer, the one and only – very impressed! (5)”.

To August 2014:


Posted on behalf of Cornick who’s otherwise engaged this morning:

Last Saturday’s was a curious puzzle in some ways, but also very much in Phi’s distinctive style – it fell into three parts:

I started by cracking some of those 15-letter anagrams (a bit tedious that, but I’ll spare you my usual lecture this time); Next came the pretty nifty mini-theme based around 14 18, ‘Tempo Indicator’ – it’s a shame there wasn’t more of that really, I liked it. Then to finish with there were a collection of obscurities and bits of trickiness in the corners for which I required both dictionary and word finder. Nelumbos, Mutatis Mutandis, Maestoso, Ampulla… hmm, well, if you must Phi, if you must.

I have a slight quibble about 12a, which doesn’t seem like a full &Lit to me, so presumably ‘at sea’ is doing double duty, and it took me a while to parse 6d OP(tim)AL – further evidence that subtractive clues are often the hardest.

With no outstanding candidates for COD, I’ll go for the following, which is quite neat, involves a bit of misdirection, and has a surface that reads well:
21d Danger not fully lifted (4)

For the 2014 blog with all the answers please click here.

i Cryptic Crossword 2432 Anax

November 23, 2018

A typical Anax as far as obscurities and complicated wordplay, but it probably wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be after reading 1ac. Fortunately Anax has given some clues that are on the easier side – notably 6ac, 1dn and 8dn – because for me 1ac, 10ac and 4dn were unknowns, and I didn’t think the clue for 4dn was in any way helpful.  2dn was gettable but the Writer’ = I’m seems a bit dubious. I am getting used to Hoy for cyclist but had to stare at the rest of 7dn long and hard before I got what was going on unlike 14ac and 17dn which I couldn’t parse at all and had to consult the Fifteensquared blog for some enlightenment. I am still unconvinced by 17dn and the Admits in 21ac also seems a bit rum. Of the clues that were more to my taste 12ac – no I didn’t fall into the trap and think we were looking for a song – 25ac made me smile and 19dn got a tick but COD:

13ac  Saw ‘bass’ rejected for’base’  (6)

i Cryptic Crossword 2431 Punk

November 22, 2018

Flashling back in the day was of the opinion that this was a fairly gentle puzzle. I on the other hand struggled throughout, and needed to cheat to finish, so take your pick. Perhaps as a result this was never going to be one I found to be particularly enjoyable. By the close I felt like I’d been through the mill, through and through. Taking an age to spot the composer probably didn’t help, or confidently entering WASTED for 25ac. At this point perhaps I should just lie down and retire from crossword solving. How did you get on?

COD? 10ac elicited quite a loud groan, so I’ll go with that – “Did you say two canines drink before eating? (8)”

To August 2014:


i Cryptic Crossword 2430 Dac

November 21, 2018

A fairly gentle, thoroughly enjoyable offering from Dac to brighten our Wednesday. Unusually for him there’s a pretty obscure answer at 16ac, though one perfectly gettable from the anagram fodder and a few checking letters. 25ac is a crossword regular, otherwise I’d count that one as being obscure too. 🙂 11ac is quite poignant in retrospect, and it’s hard not to wonder how long Dac had been ill looking at 20ac in the bottom half of the grid. As ever nothing to nit-pick, always smooth surfaces, they don’t get much better.

COD? 20ac – “Royal Mail employee after work in theatre (4-9)”.

To April 2014: