i Cryptic Crossword 3054 Morph

November 20, 2020

What makes a crossword great?

1. It starts with the grid; nicely interconnecting (I dislike it when I seem to do two half-crosswords, or worse, four mini-crosswords), suitably dense with a good proportion of crossing letters, and a good mix of longer and shorter entries.

2. Clues should have good surface readings, and be plausible English sentences. A bit of humour never goes amiss.

3. There should be the right level of challenge. This will naturally vary from solver to solver, according to experience, but no-one wants thirty impenetrable clues, and neither would anyone want them all to be read-the-clue-and-write-the-answer exercises.

4. Solving should include a number of penny-drop moments, when bewilderment gives way to a glimpse of a possibility, which in turn yields to a moment of enlightenment when you come to admire the ingenuity of the clue.

5. Completion should result in a sense of satisfaction, not merely a feeling that “I’m glad that’s over”.

6. It’s a bonus if I am caused to extend my knowledge by having to look something up – perhaps a Byzantine official’s head-dress or a rare South American plant.

This crossword was almost perfect. I didn’t have to look anything up, but apart from that it would be hard to beat. It is an exemplar of the art of the cryptic crossword at its best. I have so many ticks in my margin that it really is hard to pick a clue of the day. From among at least ten contenders I offer 7d: “Take care of section wherein lies bottomless, bottomless pit (7)”.

All the answers and explanations can be found here: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2016/09/01/independent-9324-morph/

13 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3054 Morph”

  1. Denzo said

    Tees is quite a 15A! This, 17A, 8D and15D all caused an appreciative chuckle.

    It looked really difficult at first but the answers started to flow steadily, but not too quickly. I spent a long time trying in vain to crack the apparent anagram of 1D, then after getting 2D and 10A, realised that it was not a pure anagram but it was also unclear what it was. I thought this a little below the belt, so resorted to electronic help, which sped up the left hand side.

    The right side was also tricky, and, as usual, I needed all the crossing letters for a Spoonerism. With just letter O, OSMOSIS somehow emerged from my subconscious, but I needed to look up the meaning (Saboteur, please note!), and realised that I would probably now finish the puzzle. Usually, I think, Tees has defeated me.

    Having finished, I needed 225 to fully understand 10A (“IT” was unknown to me), and 23A, and thought the stretch at 6D was OTT. However, since I got them all, I cannot complain that they were unfair, and found the puzzle thoroughly enjoyable.

    • Saboteur said

      Duly noted, Denzo!

      It was only the absence of something to look up that kept this from being perfect, imho.

      Mind you, when grappling with the anagram in 1d I did wonder momentarily whether there was such a word as “automasochism”. However, I hesitated to google that…

  2. batarde said

    Yes, I’d go along with all that, Saboteur – a bit of surreptitious gimmickry can be nice if it’s done well, but those are the essentials. This one fits the bill pretty well, and I for one have no complaints worth airing. My favourite this week, and it’s been a good run.

  3. Cornick said

    Great stuff from Morph yet again – one of the names I most look forward to seeing in the i.
    I admired the ‘or so’ and ‘as is’ in 19a and 24a, IN DEPTH was very nicely done, a good Spoonerism, UND/ERGO – well loads of them really. Like Denzo I fell for the misdirection on the anagram fodder of the excellent 1d, but I did keep going until the Suffering/ SAD penny finally dropped.
    All very satisfying in the end, and a nice resume of what we do from Saboteur to boot.

  4. Cornick said

    To return to a theme of earlier in the week, what a splendid ‘homophone’ in the Concise today. Pity we’re denied the like.

    • jonofwales said

      I suppose you could argue that it’s easier to guess the groan-worthy “homophone” when you’ve got the words in front of you than working back from synonyms in wordplay. But it was wonderful, wasn’t it. 🙂

  5. jonofwales said

    As everybody else has said, a fantastic puzzle to end the working week. Finished here about as quickly as I manage them, so I was surprised to find that this was a Thursday reprint. On the other hand I do tend to find myself on Morph’s wavelength.

  6. tonnelier said

    I had lots of !! marked – all good – especially 10, 15, 17, 18 and 26. I agree this was the best of the week, with just a little reservation about 2 down which didn’t quite work for me.

  7. thebargee said

    Absolutely loved it, and I was 25ac’ed to finish it, as I have sometimes found Morph to be impenetrable. Not so today, and I got off to a great start by writing in 1ac and 1dn, although I admit I thought 1dn was a straightforward anagram because the answer just seemed to jump out at me from the words ‘so a comic hits’. Best not dwell on why the answer came so easily.

    The only one I couldn’t parse was 23 ac.

  8. allan_c said

    Nothing really to add to what I said back in 2016. But I’d completely forgotten it so it was a case of starting again from scratch. And I was held up for a while by entering PUFFIN[g] for 26ac till crossing letters ruled it out – did anyone else fall into that trap?

    • Saboteur said

      Ha ha! No, I didn’t, although as a longtime coastal resident myself in Cornwall, I have never seen a chough, supposedly the bird symbolic of Cornwall. Mind you, I haven’t seen a puffin outside a zoo, or heard a steam train chuff for ages, either. Not sure which is rarest.

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