i Cryptic Crossword 2602 Scorpion

June 11, 2019

Scorpion, so that ought to suit me nicely then. Indeed I am a happy customer today for the most part, although this puzzle is a little odd. Anyway, it’s a pangram with a theme, and an impressive example of the compiler’s art all told.

The consensus over at Fifteensquared back in February 2015 was that this was a tough nut to crack. This might have something to do with it being published on a Monday when we traditionally expect to be treated gently, but it seems about par for the Tuesday course to me – and besides when you see Scorpion’s name by the crossword you might as well make yourself comfortable. Steady progress in my case following a generally clockwise course from NE to NW, reflecting the rather disjointed nature of the grid. There’s some rather nasty 3/7 underchecking which doesn’t help much with the four-puzzles-in-one effect.

There are some peculiar entries. 13ac is too downmarket for my taste and 27ac rather recondite, but both are fairly clued; 7 and 16d are, I suppose, the sort of thing you wind up with when filling a grid with a double gimmick. Didn’t much care for those. Otherwise it’s the sort of inventive, puckish blend which makes this setter a firm favourite. Today’s clues of note included 1d and 15 and 20ac: I’m sorely tempted to pick the latter as my COD but it’s pipped at the post by the delightfully baffling forehead-slapper at 26ac:

“Old brass name seen on bog discovered in gorge (7)”

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17 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 2602 Scorpion”

  1. jonofwales said

    Definitely a tough nut to crack, but one that fell with a little patience, albeit with some difficulty on 1d, 12ac and 22d. If you didn’t know 25ac, and hadn’t spotted the pangram, then I suspect it was a matter of resorting to a word finder. 17ac tickled me today.

  2. tonnelier said

    Can someone please explain what makes this a pangram?

  3. tonnelier said

    I did not like this at all.

    The supposed homophone in 10 – blanca and blanker – is false.
    25 is just silly, and pretty well meaningless.
    Wrestler is not the same as gladiator.(14)
    The definition element in 6 is too vague.
    Cor for boy in 12 is a leap too far for me!

    Well below Scorpion’s usual standard, I thought – and of course I missed the films too

  4. Cornick said

    Saw the pangram quite early, but didn’t realise the theme until you pointed it out , Batarde, but I can see it’s blindingly obvious – and they’re all best film winners in particular, which is rather neat.
    Clues seemed a bit hard-for-the-sake-of-it, but all enjoyable enough. Finished with some difficulty in the NW corner.

  5. Michaelatcobblerscottage said

    I found this to be rather a slog. Put it down barely half completed after lunch and picked it up again later – a technique that often works, as it did today. Struggled to parse one or two, and did not really think ASLOPE worked properly.

    Moreover, I failed to get TED HEATH, so a Did Not Finish for me today. 😯

  6. Brakewynde said

    Agreeably tricky! Fagin (in Oliver Twist) refers to handkerchiefs as “wipers”, so 13 also chimes with the theme. In-and-in and exedra were new to me, but fairly clued. Great fun.

  7. sprouthater said

    Sort of agree with Tonnelier regarding 10 and 25 and the CIA part of 1dn struck as rather weak however I did like 12, 17 and the COD.
    The theme and pangram was totally missed.
    13ac was disgusting.

  8. dtw42 said

    All of Michaelatcobblerscottage’s first paragraph applies to me too.

    I did get Ted Heath though, but had to resort to a wordfinder for my final two, which were 13ac (tsk) and 1dn. 6ac was written in in pencil for most of the solve, since I thought it was a bit “bleh”.
    With 18, 23, 25 and 27 I could see it was most likely a pangram, but wasn’t bothered enough to check. I got the general gist of the theme, if not the specific.

  9. tonnelier said

    I can’t see any merit at all in a pangram (now I understand what it is!). Surely a lot of crosswords contain all the letters of the alphabet, and if they do, so what?!

    • batarde said

      Whoa, steady Tonnelier – we have the world champion pangram compiler in our midst, and as I’m sure he’d tell you even single pangrams like this one are highly unlikely to happen by accident. As for the “so what?”, well … fair question, but it’s a bonus and if you don’t notice it there’s nothing lost.

      • Cornick said

        Ha! A single pangram is pretty unremarkable because every grid ever done (probably) is only a few off being one. Certainly with a grid like today’s, one could imagine Scorpion only needing to make a minor tweak here & there – on ‘Zoom’ say – and Bob’s your proverbial.
        Tonnelier might be interested (or most probably not) that Monk set out a general challenge a while back as to whether or not a triple pangram with an average word length of greater than 7 was possible. That started me off on a journey leading ultimately to an unlikely penta-pangram which I obviously like to mention with only the slightest provocation.
        Ultimately though, you’re probably right, as the journey proved (predictably enough) to lead up a cul-de-sac.

  10. Solojo said

    Well, both theme & pangram passed me by. I think I was lost in fierce concentration. Thought this was a right tasty challenge. 6a, 7d & 25a seemed a bit odd so I avoided filling those in for a while, but everything fell into place eventually.
    And so I’m for the land of nod, feeling very self satisfied. Nice one, Scorpion, and thanks all for an entertaining bedtime read. 👍

  11. allan_c said

    DNF as I got tired of it and gave up in the end.

  12. SmileyD said

    If you don’t mind my asking, what is ‘3/7 underchecking’? I also enjoyed 26a but didn’t much care for 7d or 12 & 15a.

    • batarde said

      Sorry, I lapsed into jargon there. It’s when only three out of seven letters are checked, as in the four entries which radiate from the centre of this puzzle. It’s not something I’d have passed comment on ordinarily, but the structure of the grid is somewhat disjointed on account of it. Two out of five checking is a graver offence, especially when you wind up with something like ?I?E? or ?T?E? which could be all manner of things.

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