i Cryptic Crossword 3037 by Vigo

October 31, 2020

Vigo has always been a meticulous setter who gives us clues with the smoothest of surface readings, but have you noticed her racking up the difficulty level? We’ve gone by gradations from the easy-end of things through moderately challenging to this, her 11th I think and her toughest so far – and what a treat it was!

I was aware she’d done a double pangram (have we already had that one in the i?) but hadn’t realised she’d created this triple, which snuck up on me towards the end of the solve – “Can it be?… Surely not?… I thought I’d gone looking for that!” FWIW, Tees had done a triple before this in the Indy, Monk a double and your Saturday blogger was having a go at a triple with an average word length of greater than 7 over on Big Dave’s website at about this time, prompted by Tees’ appearance in the i, and a question from Monk in its comments section.

The trick when filling any fancy grid is to try and pass it off as if it’s just a normal puzzle, hopefully making the moment of realisation all the better. Obviously achieving the feat by dint of a bunch of obscurities would spoil the solve somewhat,but no such fears today – none of the vocabulary was even remotely obscure – even though HOICKS and SCHMALTZ took a while to bring to mind, they’re definitely everyday words. So bravo to Vigo.

The clues were excellent too – no complaints to speak of. I’ve been told that an astrological house is in fact a different type of thing to a star sign (it’s purely coincidental that there are also 12 of them), but the answer for 12 ARIES was plain enough; also zero = Z in 1d was new for me. Again and again Vigo makes it look easy, which it certainly isn’t.

My pick today and nomination for COD was the following:

15d Parallel to a hypotenuse? (9)

And all the answers from John’s blog in 2016 can be found by clicking here.

12 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3037 by Vigo”

  1. saboteur said

    Superb puzzle. I agree wholeheartedly with Cornick, especially the third paragraph. My dawning realisation that this was a pangram, no a double pangram, what? a triple pangram? was combined with an admiration for the smoothness of it all.

    No quibbles, no queries, only ticks and smiles in my margins.

    Brava, Vigo.

  2. Guy Barry said

    Yes, this was a great puzzle with some very ingenious clues. My favourite was 10ac, but I also had ticks for 12ac and 13ac. The one bit of wordplay I didn’t get was “play”=SPACE in 17dn, but I can just about see it now after reading the explanation. Was held up on 2dn as I’d entered STREAM for 1ac, but got there eventually.

    I thought ESPOUSAL = “union” in 27ac was stretching it a bit, though, as I only know the word in the sense of “adopting (a belief)”; the COED marks it as “archaic” in the sense of “a marriage or engagement”, so borderline for a daily cryptic I’d have thought.

    15dn escaped me for a long time, because I didn’t have 24ac either, and A_O___I_E wasn’t too helpful. I was initially underwhelmed by the solution because I thought it was a simple cryptic definition (“parallel to” = ALONG, “hypotenuse” = SIDE); however, having read the explanation, I see it’s a very clever double definition!

    Last one in was 9dn, which I couldn’t parse and entered as FORCES (= “yanks”). Then, for the first time ever, noticed there was something odd about the distribution of letters in the grid and counted them up. There were at least three of everything except K. Well, FORCES had to be wrong, didn’t it? Didn’t take long to get HOICKS after that, though O = “Ohio” seemed wrong (isn’t it “OH”?).

    So well done to the setter, not least for getting me to actually notice one of these pangram thingies!

  3. Guy Barry said

    Cornick: you say “I’ve been told that an astrological house is in fact a different type of thing to a star sign (it’s purely coincidental that there are also 12 of them)”. Each of the twelve houses corresponds to one of the signs and shares its name, so Aries is the name of a house as well as a sign:


    Not being an astrologer, I couldn’t tell you whether the figure 12 is coincidental or not.

    • Cornick said

      Hob, the setter, is something of an expert on astrology and begs to differ!
      Apparently a star sign may well align with a house, but only stands a 1 in 12 chance of doing so. I tried getting house = Virgo into a puzzle in the Indy some time after Vigo got house = Aries but it wasn’t allowed owing to Hob’s advice, which must have come in the interim.

  4. batarde said

    Hah, capital! Looks like you have a spot of competition in the multi-pangram field, Cornick. Definitely deserving of a “Brava!” from me too. Quite aside from the alphabetical jiggery-pokery, there are some super words in there – the sort which put a smile on the face for no good reason, like Schmaltz, Chipolata and Squeegee.

    Regarding Ohio, well that’s an odd one. Officially it is OH nowadays, but it used to be O and that’s still recognised. For a long time there was a famous business college in Columbus known as the Zanerian, and there are many envelopes extant addressed in ornate script to “C. P. Zaner, Columbus, O”. Short address: plenty of room to show off. How’s that for trivia? 🙂

    • Guy Barry said

      According to the US Postal Service, “O.” hasn’t been the abbreviation for Ohio since 1874! “Ohio” was used in full until the current two-letter state abbreviations were introduced in 1963.

      Click to access state-abbreviations.pdf

      Clearly old habits die hard in the world of crosswords 🙂

  5. Denzo said

    DNF, mainly because I had exceeded the time I allotted myself. I think I would have got all with the possible exception of ARIES and WORST. Still I completed the whole of the E side and half of the W. Smelt the possibility of at least one pangram, which definitely helped to be confident of SCHMALTZ (because of the iffy zero=z), as by this time I had 3Qs and at least 2Xs. Slight niggle also about the O=Ohio, but got it, helped by the K. So the pangrams helped with otherwise iffy clues – please take note, Monk!

    First one in was HOPE, so the eccentric artist had to be Van Goch, surely? 3 letters of angle were there but the reasons why it had to be something else mounted up. Was I the only one to be fooled by this?

    A fine crossword, and Cornick’s CoD was my CoW, but, unfortunately, not one of the 75% I got. I did wonder if the Tom Lehrer song might help, but soon abandoned that idea as Punk was not the setter.

  6. jonofwales said

    Pangram duly spotted. I had suspicions there might be more than one but didn’t count. I’d assumed that my grinding to a halt was due to diminished brain power this morning given Vigo’s past form, so was pleased to discover that all the brain cells are, in fact, intact. Only 10ac caused any really difficulty as it turned out, the rest falling with patience and a little concentration.

    • Guy Barry said

      10ac was great, although it was some time before the penny dropped. I had H___Y ___Y and at first thought it must be HANDY ANDY!

  7. dtw42 said

    Needed a little bit of help towards the end (mostly in the SE corner – 17dn was my LOI, helped at that point by the knowledge that it was going to need to have a K in it!)
    Spotted the likely double pangram at about 2/3 through, and the triple at about 3/4 through: made inevitable when 24ac was solved!
    Yes, very clever stuff.

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