i Prize Cryptic Crossword 2726 by Monk

November 9, 2019

Saturday 2nd November 2019

After what seems like years of uninterrupted Phi crosswords for the Saturday Prize Puzzle, the editor has been mixing it up a bit recently with Vigo, Punk, and now Monk appearing on alternate weekends. Is he trying to give people a taste for the weekday puzzles perhaps?

I thought this was a fine example of a solid British daily cryptic, which apart from the slightly racy 1d, might almost have been lifted off the back page of The Times, say, for which Monk also sets. For me it was a very evenly paced solve, perhaps a little easier than typical for Monk, about average for the i and mercifully free of question marks or dodgy glyphs in my margin at the end.

I suppose you could think of the 5 classic clue types as being anagrams, charades, reversals, homophones and container clues. Although homophones can give the biggest laughs (or groans), I have a fondness for the last of those, and Monk gave us fully 9; happy with that here. What he also included were a smattering of innovative devices – here we had an interesting pair of deletions at 15a Mephisto and 7d specified, the former of which then required the first letter moving ‘beginning to shift’ to get the answer. Complicates, yes, but also made perfectly clear.

However my COD goes to the following:

18d Clangers are so modern to reflect about repeated old lines (7)

Back in the original blog from 2015 sometime commenter at idoithei allan_c raises some legitimate criticisms, but they certainly didn’t spoil the puzzle for me.

Oh yes, and it turns out there does exist the tiniest of Ninas: points of the compass near the centre of the grid. Definitely not one anybody could be expected to find unaided.

7 Responses to “i Prize Cryptic Crossword 2726 by Monk”

  1. dtw42 said

    Yes – looking back at my copy, I hadn’t made any !! or ?? or **** annotations in the margins of this one so it must’ve all been smooth enough. Last in were 20dn (I much more familiar with the alternative ‘octavo’) and then 23ac.

  2. batarde said

    Being aware that Monk is another setter who often likes to build his crosswords around a Nina I did have a look, and still drew a blank. It’s rather good – as was the whole puzzle judging by the tick count. Not desperately keen 20d: “cardinal” for any number from one to nine is almost as annoying as “note” for any letter from a to g plus all the sol-fa possibilities, and besides the correct spelling is “8vo” and it’s pronounced “octavo” in the real world, surely? That’s my only gripe, though.

    It’s no secret that this new policy of ringing the changes on a Saturday goes down well with me, but Dac does seem like a funny choice for the prize slot. Haven’t tackled it yet – perhaps there’s a surprise in store.

  3. jonofwales said

    Nice to see things mixed up a little on a Saturday. A good, tough puzzle that took a while to crack. Needless to say I missed the Nina.

    If you glance at today’s i editorial, btw, I get a fleeting mention. 😀

    • dtw42 said

      …thieves understood to be sitting on the evidence! [snork] O.o

    • michaelatcobblerscottage said

      As usual I remember very little about the solving process of this one, so it all went very smoothly, I surmise. Didn’t spot the Nina, of course.

      My only quibble was the octavo/eightvo/8vo thing already covered.

      Much as I enjoy Phi, I think a little variety is welcome.

      All good with today’s Dac. A couple of bits of word-play have yet to yield, but this being Dac I am sure they will when I take another look later.

    • michaelatcobblerscottage said

      Nice mention, Jon. ☺

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