i Cryptic Crossword 3036 Monk

October 30, 2020

A grid like this one positively shouts “nina” at the solver, and so it was. And one with an unexpected twist to it, as well. STATION along the top revealed itself fairly readily, and was helpful in confirming OARING, which was reasonably accessible, but just didn’t seem quite right as an actual word to me. However, getting D A T V… down the left-hand side made no sense to me, and it was only when I had completed the grid and googled the great artist that I got what Monk had cleverly done. Not an album I was familiar with, but easily spotted thanks to the Internet. And enjoyment of the crossword was not at all dependent on seeing or understanding the nina.

I think this was quite tough. Some clues were difficult to unravel, and I for one needed a fair bit of help from Google, particularly with the central three crossing SMELT, ENIAC and BECKS. How did PIRANHA work? (Just a cryptic definition, I concluded, after puzzling over word-play). But it was very rewarding with lots of pennies dropping to add to one’s sense of satisfaction. Throughout, the surface readings were impeccable, each clue being a plausible English sentence.

In addition to the aforementioned OARING, I think a question mark can be placed against IAMBUSES. And I do worry more and more about Our Younger Solver: has she heard of RED KEN? Of the SALT talks?

But so many good clues to choose from. From a short-list of six or seven I nominate 12ac as Clue of the Day: “Pioneering cosmonaut cutting out drink in scientific culture (6)”.

All the answers and explanations can be found here: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2016/05/28/independent-9242-by-monk-saturday-puzzle-28-may-2016/

17 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3036 Monk”

  1. Denzo said

    For me this was another HES* rather than a DNF. I entered five, including the long anagram and ENIAC, which is a few years younger than I, but thought it could be obscure for many younger solvers. I thought of SCARAB and VAIN, but couldn’t see the parsing so left them. On a good day I could have got the latter.

    Looking at 225, I thought PIRANHA was unfair. I am sure some who contribute to this website will disagree, and say the puzzle was fairly and cleverly clued, as indeed, mostly, it was. But ENIAC, BECKS, BABUSHKA, TALC, SCARAB, OARING among others all had obscurities which required the solver to make a double or triple leap. (Eg, a BECK flows, but is not a flower, and the individual described by nickname, not name, is now a model rather than a footballer).

    A couple of such clues will add to the enjoyment for most of us, but when there are so many, a health warning that the puzzle is beyond tough would be appreciated by those of us who like to complete a crossword and have time left to do something else in the day.

    (*=Hardly even started)

  2. Topsy said

    My first one in was the grandmother, not parsed but because I know the word (now I have an earworm to contend with). 2nd in the fish. Apparently there is a footballer called Bunch….. can you see where this is going? So Epson went in because I am rubbish at parsing.A stupid misspelling at 20ac didn’t help. I positively disliked 6d. I have never yet managed to spot a NINA so no chance of finishing. Never mind, a sleepless night meant I wasn’t firing on all cylinders so I am not grumpy with Monk, for a change!

  3. Cornick said

    Well the editorial policy on puzzle difficulty seems clear – this was the toughest of the week without a doubt – a few write-ins notwithstanding.
    That fish proved problematic – in our family we call ratatouille ‘rat’ and put cheese on it, so I stupidly imagined that to be ‘a thing’, so and entered ‘sprat’ instead of SMELT. Which meant I couldn’t think of a Michael to fit the bill in 14d. All got resolved eventually though – including the Nina where I went down another cul-de-sac for a bit imagining that we had to ‘turn a blind eye to’ the T and O appearing in Mr Bowie’s name.
    But as with everything else in a Monk puzzle, there’s a valid and better explanation when you think about it. Very good indeed.

  4. batarde said

    Hmm. Well, this was the crossword I’ve been waiting for: not so elegant as yesterday’s Klingsor, but more of a challenge and therefore more satisfying to solve. No quibbles; no references required and no, it didn’t take all day. Almost as if it was pitched just about right for my preferences, in fact, which makes a change. I do sympathise, up to a point, with those who struggle to get a foothold with this sort of puzzle, but it’ll come with practice. In the meantime you could cheer yourself up with the thought that that miserable Batarde is a happy bunny for once.

    COD for me was probably the Kate Bush gag; crossword of the week is this one, by a nose.

  5. Denzo said

    Forgot to say, Saboteur’s CoD was indeed an excellent clue. Not knowing which end was fhe definition, I spent ages playing with Glenn, Aldrin and Armstrong, completely forgettingthat the Russians got there first!

  6. jonofwales said

    Pretty tough it’s fair to say, more a slow burn than a speed solve. I spotted the Nina about half-way through, but still struggled with loads unparsed (8ac and 18d in particular saw me somewhat bemused as to what the clue was getting at). Rewarding to finish mind you, and a worthy Friday offering.

  7. Guy Barry said

    Didn’t buy the paper today, but had to respond to this:

    “And I do worry more and more about Our Younger Solver: has she heard of RED KEN?”

    Ken Livingstone is in the news at this very moment! He was one of the two politicians found guilty of harassment by the EHRC inquiry into the Labour party. A clue that accidentally became topical.

    • saboteur said

      Yes, that is indeed serendipitous. But I think most younger people would just ask “who?”.

      • Guy Barry said

        I think if you’re from London you’re likely to know who Ken Livingstone is. Not only did he serve as mayor for eight years, he was the Labour candidate in both 2008 and 2012. He was also in the news in 2016 when he was suspended from the party for claiming that Hitler was a Zionist. I think it’s more a matter of how closely you follow left-wing politics than how old you are.

      • batarde said

        One would hope that Our Younger Solver would at least be aware that he is the country’s second most famous newt fancier, after Gussie Fink-nottle.

      • saboteur said


      • Denzo said

        KL did not exactly claim that, but chose his words carefully so that listeners could be forgiven for interpreting his words as saying that. This was the incident to which yesterday’s EHRC report referred; KL probably referred (accurately) to the Haavara Agreement (see Wikipedia), but the context in which he made the comment and the way he presented it could have been calculated to offend Jewish people. He was suspended from the Labour Party and, if I remember correctly, pre-empted a likely expulsion by resigning.

        Now to cook my SOCKEYE!

      • jonofwales said

        Who can forget this old Kate Bush gem? 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Opl8t-Wahc

  8. Denzo said

    Are there themes no one has spotted? A connection between Kate and Ken? Two David Bs…

  9. Brakewynde said

    A worthy challenge from Monk, which we have to expect and respect. Too much verbosity and off-topic comments here recently. I’ll miss Batarde and Cornick, but I think I’ll grab my coat.

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