Something today I suspect will have pleased most of the regulars. It’s a Thursday reprint so a little trickier than the past couple of days, but being Klingsor it’s scrupulously fair throughout. That said I lobbed in a fair few not fully understood, in particular the Spoonerism and 1ac where I was somewhat flummoxed on not finding anywhere to put UNI or C. Thoroughly enjoyable too, and finished a little about par though in dribs and drabs on what has been yet another busy day. With a clear run I suspect I might have got into a rhythm and finished in a better time. Last in the cocktail that I needed to check in the BRB.

COD? So many to pick from, my nomination going to 5d – “Bit of old spirit returning after fellow’s put in prison (7)”.

To May 2016 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

The Don is back with a very straightforward, enjoyable offering. Just the one unknown surprisingly for one of his puzzles, at 25ac, but when I eventually spotted that it was a hidden word (a clue type I seem to have a blind spot for), it duly fell at the very close. Elsewhere I briefly considered OF FRANCE for 3d, should there have been such a person, and needed to consult the anagram fodder to resolve. Finish time considerably under par for the i.

COD? 12ac – “Instrument renders a number with very good introduction (5)”.

To May 2015:

In which the lady thankfully vanishes given her proclivity to be in the altogether. GODIVA herself plus a NAKED LADY which is one entry I’d recommend checking in the BRB rather than via Google which it’s safe to say returns results NSFW. These, together with BONER at 2d and CHLAMYDIAL at 10ac left me wondering if The Ace of Hearts had a very different theme in mind at one point, but we’ll never know.

Other things learnt are that the IQ isn’t a puzzle to tackle on the hottest day of the year after packing the car, driving a hundred odd miles home and then unpacking. Whoosh, that’s my solving skills sailing out the window. Not only did I struggle with the entries with clashes, but those without for good measure.

Thankfully superfluous letters I’m an old hand at so I’M ABOUT AS POPULAR AS A DOSE OF STRYCHNINE was a bit of a shoo-in, Google knows which film it comes from, and thus the instruction to make the ladies vanish. The ones in the clashes, you see. CHATTERLEY, MACBETH, HAMILTON and IRON in addition to those already given honourable mentions above.

Naked being what we’ll all be getting unless this heatwave buggers off soon, I’m off for a cold one and, well… Last week’s IQ, these blogs being written in reverse order.

Before the lady vanished (and you’ll have to take my word for it regarding the clashes):

And after:

Had you asked me yesterday whether my knowledge of 1ac was sufficient to the task of finishing a themed crossword on the subject, I’d have said “probably not”. However, perhaps in part thanks to an Inquisitor along the same lines a couple of years ago, all the necessary knowledge turned out to be in place after all. This time the clicky-linky-hint takes the form of audio rather than a picture, and if you don’t follow it up you’ll be missing out.

Lohengrin doesn’t show up very often in the i, and going by this puzzle that’s a pity. Although this sort of theme requiring external knowledge runs the risk of causing annoyance, it certainly entertained me, and the tick tally was well above average. I didn’t really understand 20ac properly, but my answer seemed solid enough and the May 2016 Fifteensquared blog confirmed it. No other queries, and plenty of good ‘uns to applaud, especially 13ac and 2, 5 and 21d. My clue of the day is 15ac, despite the zoological inexactitude, chiefly because here, at last, is an ass that we can all get behind:

“Working in jumping event following horse show (2,4,2,2)”

I’ve enjoyed puzzles by Daedalus in the past, but found that today’s ranged between the very easy – much of the LHS here, the willfully obscure (for which we could hold up 17d and 19d as good examples), and the absolutely bonkers (18ac). I’m in a bit of a hurry today so perhaps just didn’t have enough patience to do this justice, but still, I must admit to this being very much not my cup of tea. Oh well. Finish time considerably above par for the i, with question marks against over half of the clues at the close, summing up my solving experience in a nutshell.

COD? I’ll go with 22d – “Mate being bloody stupid (3,3)”.

To May 2016:

Thoroughly enjoyable from Phi today, there were plenty of easier clues balanced with a good smattering of very satisfying bits of inventiveness. Outstanding examples included: the Harry Potter clue for OPTOMETRIST where Harry meant ‘make an anagram of’ – which might have been done before, but surely never better; 1a GRAPHITE, which was very neat; 19a SHOWER PROOF; and then ITERATE at 23a with all those timeses and 15d with multiple ‘wrongs’. I can see now that 7d ACTON was also very neat, although I had no idea that MIA stood for ‘missing in action’ whilst solving, so the cleverness was lost on me at the time.

However, I’m in the Highlands of Scotland still, so my COD goes to this bit of reverse wordplay:

8d Former copper heads for Scotland – Edinburgh mon! – making comment on language (6,2,6)

Phi has iterated the answers to the first and last across clues – Graphite and Tangents – as hidden Ninas in rows 5 and 11. Well done if you spotted that; I sort of did, but didn’t really think of it as a deliberate thing, which thanks to Bert & Joyce’s excellent blog (link below) with all the answers now seems obvious.

A new setter? S.park, on the evidence of this offering, will be a welcome addition to the i team of setters. Welcomed more by the experienced solvers, I venture, as this was set at the tougher end of the spectrum – I for one found this to be very challenging. Partly this was because of the grid, with its high proportion of words without a crossing initial letter. Partly, no doubt, because it took a while to acclimatise to an unfamiliar setter’s style. But also because the setter has used some very imaginitive definitions, such as “flight attendant”, “underworld figure” and “on radio set”.

I was expecting a nina, what with all those unchecked letters in the perimeter, and knew there was some sort of ghost-theme, the setter having warned us of one in the clue for 24d. No nina, but a double ghost-theme of “archers” and “The Archers”. Now, if the solver is familiar with the latter, it would have been a great help – but, with the probable exception of the aforementioned “on radio set”, all clues were answerable without any arcane knowledge. It was a help in getting CARTER, to be sure, but the cryptic-definition clue did not require one to know the chacterers of the world’s longest radio drama series.

I needed to consult Crosswordsolver to get BOWMANSHIP, with its clever misdirection. And my last one in was GOLD; for a long time I was misdirected into focusing on “The Archers” when I should just have been thinking about “archers”.

I was tempted to nominate LAST SUPPER as the clue of the day, but instead I suggest 19d, if only because of the mental image it conjured up for me: “Bald Simpsons men carrying lard (7)”.

To May 2016 for the answers and explanations:

My head being somewhere else due to A Level results day and the unnecessary amount of chaos surrounding it this year (passed with honours and university place 17d  in this household, though with AS Level results in the bag we knew that already 😉 ), I was pleased to find an entertaining, pretty breezy puzzle from Vigo. I’d go so far as to say that it’s been a while since I enjoyed a crossword this much. Ticks throughout, in particular at 9ac, 10ac and 16ac, with a smile raised on finally getting 2d (my LOI). Lots of fun contemporary references, and a reminder at 28ac that the female as well as the male personal pronoun is permitted. The latter I took to be a CD and was somewhat bemused to see debate over on the other side. Finish time easily under par for the i, and if the editor’s reading – more like this one please. 🙂

COD? While I was tempted by the Chuckle Brothers reference, and 9ac which is pretty neatly done, I’m going to go with 2d just for that definition – “Nuts put TV upside down (6)”.

To May 2016 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

A bit of a Gallic flavour to today’s puzzle which didn’t cause me any issues until I reached the resort in the SW corner. Yes, the wordplay was clear enough, but Googling the thing involved getting past repeated warnings that the area is most definitely out of bounds during the current pandemic. Such are the times we live in. In the same corner the name and more importantly associated Chinese city gave me issues, my ignorance regarding things geographic once again coming to the fore. Everything else went in apace, finishing easily under par for the i, for a puzzle that was much more to my taste.

COD? I’ll go with 13ac – “Requirement for endorsement on passport not revealing a blood group (7)”.

To May 2016 and lots of complaints about the Independent’s website:

I’m usually a fan of Eimi’s puzzles, and equally usually find them to be on the easy side, but today find that I struggled pretty badly, and can’t much say that I enjoyed the solve either. Oh well!

Spotting the theme pretty early did little to help as beyond a few of the big hits and albums I know little about the purple one, though I suspect if you did the song title hidden in the top and bottom rows would have helped no end. We had obscurities throughout in both wordplay and answer, 11ac and 30ac being the biggest culprits – both being pretty difficult to get if you weren’t au fait with either little known trees, spears, crosses and football players I’m guessing only fans of the game are familiar with. Elsewhere ROVER is surely as good an answer as LOVER at 18ac, and I’m not sure what “rated” is doing in 19ac except to help the wordplay. As I solved I could almost hear Topsy tutting at some of the content, and was inclined to agree.

Not my day then, though there’s always tomorrow, and I’m sure this will have been a hit elsewhere.

First in an encouraging 28d (that’s where I started), last in 19ac, finish time considerably over par with help needed here and there.

COD? I’ll go with 17d – “A rolled-up piece of paper in spliff leading to censure (8)”.

To May 2016: