i Cryptic Crossword 3009 Scorpion

September 29, 2020

Bit of a bish today: there is a theme and rather an amusing one at that, but it’s utterly opaque owing to the omission of an essential part of six across clues. Specifically, 8, 9/24, 10, 21, 25 and 28ac should all end in “(about the size of 17)“. Fortunately Bertandjoyce’s June 2016 Fifteensquared write-up includes the original text, so you can work back from that, but really this crossword is unnecessarily baffling as printed.

However, it’s a Scorpion, and therefore a high quality production which can be enjoyed without having the foggiest what’s going on beyond a vague intuition that there’s something geographical afoot. Well, I thought so anyway. Pretty tricky, even by this setter’s standards, and my mind is still a little boggled by 28ac – “drawing” as a reversal indicator? It would have been nice if Scorpion had dropped in to explain his thinking on that one. And how about those bends in 22d? Obvious enough once the penny dropped … eventually. Of the many excellent clues I particularly liked 3, 13 and 27, but my COD is the gateway, 17ac:

“Cardigan’s found in this school, as reported (5)”

10 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3009 Scorpion”

  1. jonofwales said

    Pretty tricky I thought, and beyond any vague Geographical thing I indeed had no idea what was going on. Quite a few went in without fully understanding the wordplay, so the fact that 28ac was a little odd didn’t faze me at all. 🙂

  2. Denzo said

    Scorpion’s puzzles usually sting, but I understand from batarde’s blog that, although the setter himself alluded to the theme, this was missed from our reprint, making a difficult puzzle virtually impossible. I soved only seven clues, (including three of the themed ones, though not WALES itself), before I decided not to waste time. I had penciied in SQUADRON, APULIA (despite its dodgy wordplay), TROPICAL avd WATER MUSIC, but was not confident about the parsing and had too few crossing letters.

    I did not think EKE OUT was a synonym of “add to”, and dislike too many clues which are merely clues to clues (eg sex in Latin > six > VI).

    Having said this, I might have finished given the original direction on the missing four themed and two more hours, but am left feeling cheated, not by the setter but by the reprint. Though I dislike Murdoch, I might switch to The Times.

    • batarde said

      Jon and I are both reasonably enthusiastic about The Times Big Book series. Your money still goes to Times Books of course, and thence to the Dirty Digger, but the puzzles work out at fourpence each, making it not too difficult to square with the conscience.

      The thing about The Times is that it’s undeniably the most consistent daily crossword, largely on account of the setters’ guidelines, but that often means that it’s a bit undemanding and samey. Which isn’t to say that you won’t get a real fire breathing monster of a puzzle once in a while, generally on a Saturday (when there’s also an excellent jumbo). I like the variety in the i, which generally means there’s something to everybody’s taste in the course of the week.

    • saboteur said

      I don’t think I could bring myself to buy the Times (any more than I could subscribe to Sky) and give money to the Murdoch empire. However, when visiting my mother who still takes the Times, I will do their crossword and I’m inclined to agree about its rather samey quality. Nice enough once in a while, but I do like the variety that the i gives. Not knowing who the setter is also detracts, I find, from the idea of a mental struggle between setter and solver.

      (I do, however, buy the books for when I go abroad on holiday, and I am unsure about access to either newsagents or wi-fi.)

      • Denzo said

        We’ve probably all unwittingly bought stuff which ends up with people even dirtier than The Digger, and as an octogenarian I think my conscience will allow me to make a decision on what paper works best for me. (This would not be the case if I detected interference into the journalism as in some papers.)

        I agree entirely with both of the comments above, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of consistency in today’s crazy world. What you get with most clues in the Times (and in the i when set by Phi or Dac, among others) is a warm feeling of satisfaction when you hit on the answer and know that it must be right. Today’s had some such clues, for example LAKE ONTARIO, WALES and KRUGER. But take a clue where TOPICAL = LOCAL, or ADD TO + EKE OUT where meanings are stretched, in some cases, unbelievably. Or APULIA which even the connoisseurs on 15^2 couldn’t parse. Sometimes I avoid frustration by giving up. Sometimes I pencil them in (as I did today with TROPICAL and APULIA) and wait for crossers. Occasionally I get them quickly, but even then I get less pleasure than I wouid from a “Times” type clue where I think the setter has taken the time to provide a firm but fair challenge.

        But each to his/her own! If we all liked the same crosswords the world would be as dull as if we all fancied the same women.I expect someone at the I has done some market research on whether the extra issues they sell by mixing wacky crosswords inconsistently with “Times” types outweighs the numbers they lose for the same reason.

  3. saboteur said

    Well, now it makes sense… It being a Tuesday I was expecting a theme and it would be pretty difficult to miss the geographical answers, if you’re looking for one – but I couldn’t for the life of me see any connection.

    I enjoyed this one although it was quite challenging in places. The parsing of APULIA was indeed strange. No problem with the bends in SULTAN; having once – and once only – attempted some entry-level home plumbing, I thought that was fairly clear.

  4. Guy Barry said

    Very frustrating. Got about a third of the clues and couldn’t progress any further. Came here and discovered the theme of “about the size of…”, so instantly filled in WALES for 17a. Unfortunately this didn’t help me as much as I’d hoped because I’d already done four of the six clues that referred to it! Worked out EL SALVADOR but had similar struggles to others with APULIA.

    Never heard of a GLORY PEA, and assumed that 22d must be SPLINE (a mathematical function that approximates a curve), so failed to get 29a. Missed 19a as well. Not one of my favourites!

  5. dtw42 said

    DNF here.
    (Guy – SPLINE was all I could think of, too, but I didn’t put it in because I wasn’t at all convinced!)

  6. Cornick said

    Quite a few where you have to work backwards from the answer and search your mind for a context where ‘running’ means ‘on’ or deduce that ‘surgeon’ must mean ‘DS’.
    Nevertheless I liked it a lot, and thought the theme was a great idea. I wonder why the parenthetical bit in those clues was dropped? Too many words? Perhaps it could have been flagged in the grid somehow – not sure…
    I tried Geebs’ link to places the size of Wales on 15^2 and got a Korean newsletter! Would be interested to see the list somehow.

    On the i vs The Times, I like The Times when I do it, but several setters at the i are Times-esque plus then you get the high jinks like this from Scorpion to keep things fresh.

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