In summary, my solve could be described as being:

  • Nothing entered until 18ac.
  • Followed by a rapid fill of the south of the grid.
  • A bit of a slowdown to the NW.
  • An absolute crawl in the NE corner.

At fault? Me, probably, but also a slightly odd synonym for fire at 5ac, a pretty rare currency and plant crossing, together with 5d which I thought was probably correct but was failing miserably to parse. In my defence it has been one of those weeks.

On clocking a slower than average time I was rather hoping this was a Thursday reprint, but as it turns out it’s from a Monday, but then again I often struggled with the Independent’s Monday offerings back when I used to solve it.

Never mind. It’s eXternal, so there’s lot to enjoy, with my COD going to 15d – “Split before end of drama on Channel 4 (8)”.

To May 2015:

PS. Do remember to tune in this Sunday for the latest Guest Puzzle. 🙂

I did wonder if having half a mind on other things meant that I wasn’t sufficiently focused, but as John back in the day struggled a little too I’m going to say this was on the tricky side for Dac. I still finished under par for the i, so not terribly so. A couple of rarities dotted round the grid – the physicist (for which the spelling given by Dac isn’t Google’s first choice), the “cross” at 7d spring to mind – and a political family that for a long time I thought I wouldn’t get until I eventually remembered the right country – I suspect will have had something to do with this appraisement. I also suspect that memories of this film will have helped more than solver chuck in 12ac with little hesitation.

My FOI was the nice and easy 1ac, LOI 18ac, but only because of a foolish guess at TREE HOUSE for 15d (who needs to bother with the wordplay, anyway?)

Lots to appreciate as ever, and I did like “[s]tale bread” in 23ac, but my COD goes to 24ac – “Russian GP better off here? (5,10)”.

A quick plug – this coming Sunday we’ve got the latest in our sporadic series of Guest Puzzles, it being another Bank Holiday weekend, this time by Panthera. It’s a good one, so do pop by and have a look.

So without further ado, over to the other side for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

Back to earth with a bang after two weeks in the sun, summer having given way to torrential rain and gale force winds. But Ifor to soften the blow… Normal down clues, across entries modified one of two ways, mysterious extra words in the clues too.

Let’s start with the downs, coward that I am, and what an inglorious start it was too. Yep, I assumed “oddly” in 1d was “initially” and couldn’t solve it. Yes, that’s where my mind is at the moment. So my FOI was 5d, and an anagram of CHINTZ. The crossing 15ac is another anagram, LIMBOUS. How to enter it though? A wild stab in the dark says we’re either going to add or remove letters, but there are several options. Leave it.

Not so for 23ac which will be ZAREBA or ZAREEBA in the grid, and the extra word spotted too.. Blimey.

Onward, slowly but surely.

Is the entry for 45ac RET or RES from REST? Ah, the across entries are in pairs. Same letters added or removed from each. That helps.

Second lightbulb(ish) moment. The added letters aren’t just any old ones, but repeated ones. ZAREBA -> ZAREEBA, CARDUS -> CARDUUS.

No idea about ?UIT or ?EYS. Some pretty low unchecked letters there. The top right is a little tricky too, for that matter.

That phrase then. It’s the letters from each row, isn’t it? DOUBLE OR QUITS, presumably.

Those handy letters giving S(Q)UIT and (Q)UEYS.

Job done. Oh yes, those superfluous words from the across entries. The possible amendments are alphabetical from A upwards, aren’t they? Pretty nifty.

The whole thing in fact could be said to be pretty nifty. To the first week back in work then, duly invigorated.

theme after my own heart today. Crosophile is not a fan apparently, but I most certainly am and therefore spotted it early on. Once 19ac was in it was either going to be that or Grange Hill. If it passed you by you’re in good company with Bertandjoyce, but the explanation can be found at comment no. 9 under the Fifteensquared write-up from April 2015.

In the past I have harrumphed at Crosophile for including some very obscure vocabulary, but the only word which might be considered recondite this time is 2d, and the clue is clear enough not to infringe Arachne’s Law. There are some tricky constructions though, so it’s a pretty worthwhile workout. My last one in was 14d, which is rather devilish. Plenty of variety, from the long anagram to the cleverly nested 1ac, and no shortage of ticks either. 5ac, 8, 13d and 14 all seem worthy of an honourable mention, with the aforementioned 1ac winning the COD trophy:

“Little creatures like snuggling mum and love to be back in the heart of it all (7)”

They say that needs must. Well, on a day when I had very little time indeed before a busy day of work, and anticipating an IoS reprint that could be polished off quickly, I indeed raced through today’s offering in a record time for the i. I would have preferred to have taken more time as this was an enjoyable puzzle with much to appreciate, but there you go. A few question marks at the close, but only because I was flying through – nothing on another day I wouldn’t have been able to sort out myself. A good, solid start to the week then.

On which point I must run… So, COD? Let’s go with 1ac, if only because it was something new learnt – “Rebecca’s written in it for Adam (5,6)”.

To May 2015:

Posted on behalf of Cornick, who is currently in foreign climes…

Saturday 10th August 2019

It seems like many months since Phi gave us a straightforward and gimmick-free puzzle – and so I’m nervous to declare this as such, especially since the presence of FIFTEENS and SQUARED does make me wonder if there’s some sort of tribute going on to the Fifteensuared website – where you can see all the answers to this puzzle by clicking here, incidentally. 

Filled at a steady but not spectacular pace, I was helped by remembering Gaudeamus Igitur from the only other time I’ve met it – yes, in a Phi puzzle a couple of years ago; and he used a long anagram that time too.

However I was stuck for a while on the other 15-letterer ‘Escape Mechanism’ – not so much because it was a new bit of vocabulary, but because I’d slightly miswritten the collection of letters for its anagram fodder; I do that sometimes.

An average number of ticks in the Cornickian margin, with a just one QM, which served as a reminder to check out 23d Cape Fichu – somewhere in Japan most probably… But no, it’s a lace collar-like cape worn by C18th gentlewomen. Fancy.  

I enjoyed solving the following clue very much at the time, so it gets to be the winner of the idothei COD award:

11a Soldier in front of people watching, entertaining via prodigious memory? (8)

This Saturday prize puzzle reprint will either impress you with its brilliance or leave you confounded by its complexity. I am in the latter group finding clues like 9ac far too complex and the definition somewhat vague.  My first in was 10ac, but that was only entered by the definition and enumeration – the cryptic was a mystery. Fortunately there were some that were solved as intended which gave some checking letters to have a stab at the rest. Only two answers were marked as obscure – 14dn I hadn’t heard of and 26ac which is so obscure that this is the only puzzle that it appears in according to the Fifteensquared database  where Twencelas does an excellent job of unraveling this puzzle.

So to COD. Well  4dn, 20ac and 22ac were candidates but 27ac gets it

Film with variable cuts, shifting afterthought to prologue? (6)

A Thursday reprint from Klingsor today, but one that was as tricky as such reprints often are? Well, no – at least for the most part. I fairly ripped through most of the puzzle, helped in no small part by checking letters from 5d and gimmes like 6ac, but then struggled at the close with the pilot (the answer was obvious, but who really says ST to gain attention?), the plant in the SE corner (such things being as obscure to me as Geography is), and at the very close – yes, another plant at 1ac which is the very definition of obscure.

Why might Copenhagen be a warhorse? I didn’t know, but in it went. How long did it take to spot the hidden Afghan location? Only on finishing the puzzle, when I was trying to resolve the question marks dotted here and there. Others remained unparsed – the synonym for sleep used in 27ac is one I’ve never heard, and there were quite a few others like 24ac where the answer was patent but the parsing less so.

Enjoyable, thoroughly so, even if I failed to do it justice.

Finish time under par for the i, and in fact identical to yesterday’s.

COD? With lots to choose from, 12ac – “Caterers dressed stuffing with special garnish (10)”.

To April 2015:

As expected, something a little more straightforward today. Precisely clued throughout, little that was obscure (only 16d springs to mind as being so), copious ticks beside the clues. Dac in other words being Dac, as good as he always is.

I started with 1ac and made rapid progress south, slowing a little to the SW and then at the close at 15ac and the aforementioned 16d. I didn’t know the town referenced at 25d, but this was a perfect example of – trust the cryptic and it’ll get you there. Finish time well under par for the i.

COD? With many to pick from as ever, 4d – “Helter-skelter straight on? A different fairground ride (5,5)”.

To April 2015:

Donk last week and now Hob, so that’s the two enfants terrible of the i crossword accounted for in quick succession. There’s some puerile smut and smart alecky clue writing as we’ve come to expect, and a rather nice latent theme. Bertandjoyce’s April 2015 Fifteensquared blog entry and the comments will explain what’s going on if it’s not your thing – just for once I was in my element with this one and spotted what’s going on in the grid as well as in the clues.

All told, solving this puzzle was a lot of fun, and no outside assistance was required which is always a good thing. The folk-jazz band is something you’ll either know or you won’t, but nothing else strikes me as particularly out of the way. Much of the discussion on the other side concerns 8d and 16ac, neither of which bothers me much but it’ll be interesting to see what others think. Honourable mentions for 10, 6, 14, 16 and lil ol’ Rhode Island yet again. I’m tempted to pick 16ac as COD just for the sake of being controversial, but instead my choice is 3d:

“Put fork into fish sample (3,3)”