Guest Puzzle 1 by Skirwingle

March 24, 2019

As promised a few weeks back, here’s the first in a potentially sporadic series of guest puzzles. If you’d like to submit, there are some brief guidelines on our crossword hosting site linked to below.

Talking of which, you can find the first puzzle by Skirwingle here:

Let me know if the site gives you grief. I’ve tested it pretty thoroughly, but, well, you never know. Apparently it should work for 99.9% of browsers, which should be comforting but isn’t. Who knew there were so many?

To Skirwingle then. A good puzzle to begin with as expected on past form. In terms of i difficulty this felt pretty Wednesday-ish with only the one obscure term (most musical terms are obscure to me). Nicely clued, good surface readings throughout, I liked it. But what did you think? There was one I couldn’t parse, of which more below.

COD? I particularly liked 22d. Short, sweet, and to the point.


1 Everyone’s different – How do Maynards Bassetts turn a profit? (2,5,3,5)
A nice cryptic definition to begin with.

9 Where to find pilot? Yes, Russian one in space station (6)
MI(DA)R, which is about the extent of my Russian and presumably yours too.

10 French one beginning to dry tangled layer that’s backing mat (8)
UN + D + an anagram of “layer”.

11 Unbelievable statement from Cockney cartoon character – detailed estimate to start with (5,3)
The answer’s obvious with a few letters in place, but the parsing took a little more figuring out. It’s this character, presumably, “detailed”, with the E from “estimate” at the end.

13 French pupil’s new time for morning snacks (6)
The N’s obvious, but as for the ELEVE bit. Colour me confused.

14 Notice part of your ear (4)
Contained in the first word, and not the last two as I first thought.

16 That person (female) is carrying a bundle (5)

17 Competed to put Ellen’s onset into 6 down (4)
Hands up if you were looking for an insertion of E into the answer for 6d sort of thing? It’s actually VI E D, the D presumably from “down”, though the abbreviation isn’t in Chambers.

18 Small vessel for fish from America (4)
S + CUP, though well done if you’d actually heard of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

20 I rent unusual place in the ground (5)
A nice easy anagram of the first two words in case you were struggling at this point.

21 Box got from supermarket (4)
A double definition. The supermarket’s obvious to anyone in the UK, but box? Apparently “spar” can mean “to shut” as well. Who knew?

23 Stewpot‘s got one from Ultravox in number 10 (6)
That would be Midge URE contained in TEN.

24 Ute customised with nitro’s losing speed (8)
An obscure bit of musical terminology I needed to look up, an anagram of UTE and NITRO.

26 Doctor to peer at Candide, perhaps (8)
Of which Candide is an example. It’s an anagram of “to peer at”.

27 Southern church is heading for major division (6)

28 Plate of fizzy sweets perhaps for those whose skills are rusty? (9,6)
A cryptic definition, referencing yet another sweet. Is this how Skirwingle keeps his sugar levels up?


2 See things high up tor – it may be crumbling (4,3)
An anagram of “up tor it”.

3 Find a defender by surprise (5)

4 Fine art’s embracing listener (3)
Hidden in the first two words…

5 Something on the pier perhaps playing REM etc., ad nauseam (9,6)
An anagram of “REM etc., ad nauseam”.

6 Chivalric comment about toilet cleaning schedule? (6,5)
A slightly whimsical cryptic definition.

7 Confused EU solvers (us) resolve to untangle this (9)
It’s an anagram of both “EU solvers” and “(us) resolve” which is quite neat.

8 Bring in unknown to repeat crazy circus act (7)
Z’s the unknown, in an anagram (crazy) of “repeat”.

12 Tacky items stuck up around the office (4-2,5)
A cryptic definition that is presumably referencing other sorts of tacky items that might be put on the walls in offices.

15 Who serves drinks and ghastly crab puree? (9)
An anagram of “crab puree”.

19 Collapse of Conservative arse when lead’s cut by 50% (7)
C RUMP and half of “lead”.

22 Dire Straits? (7)
Now, I particularly liked this one, a very nicely observed &lit.

25 Statesman brought up by Arthur Hendrix (5)
Reverse hidden in the last two words. A statesman I know from crosswords alone which says more about my own ignorance than anything else.

27 Switch alternate parts thus (3)
Alternate letters from “Switch”.

11 Responses to “Guest Puzzle 1 by Skirwingle”

  1. batarde said

    Many thanks, Skirwingle: I thoroughly enjoyed this lively puzzle. My unshakable Sunday routine begins with solving Saturday’s Times crossword, and frankly this was a lot more fun. One hopes that you are not suffering from anything Nina related, because on this and previous showings there’s absolutely no justification for it whatsoever, and you supplied probably the heartiest guffaw of the week with 28ac. Bravo. ๐Ÿ™‚ Incidentally, I took “spar” to mean “box” as in “sparring partner”.

    No technical glitches at all, Jon. Obviously online solving doesn’t work with prehistoric browsers, but the pdf download does – even with eLinks.

    • jonofwales said

      Ah, Ninas. I never was any good at spotting them. Iโ€™ll have to have another look at that grid later!

  2. sprouthater said

    Nice one Skirwinkle, a setter that knows his bottom from a donkey. Didn’t understand 13ac and thought 15dn would be two words or hyphenated but all testable and enjoyable.

  3. dtw42 said

    Well, thanks all. Yes, I was perhaps pushing my luck with the foreign-language-requirement of 13ac since it goes beyond the usual “numbers, articles, personal pronouns and yes/no” level.
    The French for pupil (as in school student, rather than the eye) is “รฉlรจve”, y’see. Hey ho. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Cornick said

    Much enjoyment here also.
    Great grid fill – and you will never feel as much of an impostor as I do with my feet planted in two camps as they are – unless perhaps you decide to follow the same route, which on this showing seems to be entirely within your powers.
    Apart from the wry and clever Nina, I loved 17a, 27a,28a, 7d and 22d especially, although several others got ticks.
    Oh, and no quibbles ๐Ÿ™‚
    Bravo – looking forward to the next!

  5. allan_c said

    An auspicious and enjoyable start to idothei’s guest puzzles. I had to check SCUP in Chambers and RITENUTO in the Oxford Dictionary of Music but no problems otherwise. Failed to spt the nina, but that’s nothing new here.
    Thanks, Skirwingle – and johnof wales for blogging.

  6. Solojo said

    A bit late to the party here, but wanted to add my thanks & congrats. Excellent start to the spot. Dire Straits was inspired – why have I never seen it before?? And clever yet self-effacing unches… What a treat.

  7. Michaelatcobblerscottage said

    Splendid! I loved the Nina! No need for you to worry about that.

    No quibbles at all from me, and lots of ticks. Last one in were 18A and 19D, SCUP being a new word to me, but entirely gettable and fairly clued. Took a while to get the parsing of CRUMPLE, but again totally fairly clued, just my dimness in trying to adjust the leading part of RUMPLE (and I endorse Sprouthater’s comment on that matter).

    Dire Straits was superb.

    Well done โ˜บ.

  8. Michaelatcobblerscottage said

    P.S. I don’t normally have much time on a Sunday for a crossword but I may have to change my routine if this is anything to go by. Well worth the wait.

  9. dtw42 said

    Looks like commenting on this has now plateaued, so I’ll say a final thanks to everyone who tackled this and gave such friendly feedback. Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚

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