i Cryptic Crossword 3021 Scorpion

October 13, 2020

Your blogger is feeling distinctly second hand this morning, and not having the sort of revitalising beaker on offer at the White House on tap, made rather heavy weather of the crossword. Nonetheless, at least I didn’t think that the theme was about cycling: one has to assume that Fifteensquared was gripped by Tour de France fever back in July 2016. Lots of Terpsichorean stuff, which made me wonder why Scorpion passed on “flamenco” for 5d. He does tend to keep thematic material to one set of clues or the other, so perhaps that’s it.

4d and 25ac are a bit surprising, the latter being well known enough to those of a certain age I suppose, but the former surely has to be the most glaring obscurity we’ve had for quite a while. And there’s the Bublé chap, who has appeared in a crossword before but is otherwise a complete mystery to me. Is he famous? Do tell. Anyway, I have no particular complaints and managed to finish the puzzle in a not completely unreasonable sort of time having enjoyed myself en route. There was much praise on the other side for 16d, probably from the people who were thinking Lance Armstrong, and 10, 16 and 23 among others seemed notably strong, but my favourite was the rather daft 13d:

“Vocal support for magician who performs in church hall? (9)”

11 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3021 Scorpion”

  1. thebargee said

    Phew! Managed to complete a little more than half the grid before needing to lie down and recover. Not on the right wavelength for this at all, so a poor DNF for me.

    Would never have got BORO in 10ac, I so wanted the answer to be TOBAGO (G for Geordie, TOO(N) for location, yes I know that’s more Tyneside than Teesside). Blissfully unaware of the theme as usual, but it’s so obvious once you know.

    • Denzo said

      Sorry, I wasn’t the first, you were, for the same reason. I managed to get BORNEO, but thought it another horribly contrived clue. I disliked NE from Geordie, but I suppose its’s OK, and know BORO only as a journalists’ abbreviation for Middlesborough FC, unlikely to be known by those who don’t follow football.

  2. Denzo said

    First to comment again, probably because I gave up on the SE corner. Far too élitist for me! Never heard of MADISON (in that context) or Buble, only vaguely aware of James LAST and the great John ARLOTT died a quarter of a century before this puzzle first appeared.

    Before then there were some nice clues. In 13d I thought first of Robert Armstrong who was “economical with the truth”, then Lance who cheated at cycling, but couldn’t see a word play, but returned later and with the help of two crossers remeberd Neil. I also liked MASHED POTATO, SALSA and OWN LABEL, and many of the short clues.

    Before the SE corner, KWACHA was the only obscurity, but the word play was helpful. But some of the wordplay was clumsy. I put in FLAMINGO, relying solely on GO, and didn’t see why SCHOOL was so contrived. A better surtface would be “Some fish caught in move off line”, and still a more challenging clue than some others.

  3. saboteur said

    I didn’t particularly warm to this crossword. It was ok, I suppose. Didn’t like “fin” for “hand” in FLAMINGO. and the Zambian currency was a bit too obscure for a daily, I thought. Otherwise all solved and parsed, but not with any great sense of satisfaction. It’s a Tuesday so I looked for a theme, and there it was, and quite a lot of it, too Why we didn’t have “flamenco” seems like an opportunity missed.

  4. Guy Barry said

    Not bad, though I missed the theme of course.

    I had a slight problem with 4d as I didn’t know the word, and it was impossible to guess from the crossing letters and the wordplay alone – MWACHA and GWACHA would both have worked as well. A small flaw in the clue, I thought.

    Put 5d in without a clue about the parsing apart from GO = “journey”. Neither FIN = “hand” nor LAM = “belt” means a thing to me. As for 16d, the Armstrong I got distracted by was Louis… but eventually got there from the crossers, though MOON = “idle” escaped me.

    Other than that it generally seemed fair. I completely missed the hidden reversal in 3d but got it anyway, thinking the “model” must be Elle Macpherson! Was a bit surprised by the answer to 25a, though I remember him well – wouldn’t “former sports broadcaster” have been preferable?

  5. Cornick said

    I might be alone in having really enjoyed this one. Spotting the theme early with just Charles, Barn, Clog and Excuse Me must have helped. Kwacha was entered with some confidence because of the word play, and it did ring a vague sort of bell from somewhere. Joe Last and John Arlott are hardly likely to appeal to younger solvers, but then again Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk (a dance in a down clue, so Flamingo/ Flamenco must have left Scorpion kicking himself) were both equally unfamiliar to some older solvers, I dare say.
    My only QM in margin was for idle > moon, as Guy mentioned, but I can see it sort of makes sense now.

  6. Guy Barry said

    There are a lot more dances (or Dances) there than I realized. I’ve now got CHARLES, WAGGLE, EXCUSE ME, CLOG, SALSA, SAND, MASHED POTATO, POLE, BREAK, FLORAL, MADISON, SCHOOL, BARN, MOONWALK, BUBBLE, MATING and LAST. Any more?

  7. jonofwales said

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling under the weather.

    Cornick isn’t alone in having enjoyed today’s puzzle – I thought this was pretty good, with clues as rigorous as you expect. That said I lobbed in lodes half understood, and felt sympathy on solving for the poor blogger over on the other side who had to explain everything. A finish time quicker than yesterday’s, which is a reversal of the expected if I ever saw one.

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