i Cryptic Crossword 3095 Eccles

January 8, 2021

I’ve got used to Friday bringing me a fairly tough crossword to blog, so today’s offering from Eccles came as rather a surprise, and a pleasant and enjoyable one, too. Eccles is a newish, and very welcome addition to the stable.

I don’t think there is anything here to hold up the experienced solver. Indeed, this was accessible enough for most solvers to complete without too much trouble. There are no obscure words. All of the word-play is transparent. There are no hidden traps to fall into. There is a little bit of an American flavour to the puzzle: “mom” from “mother”, a position in baseball (or so I believe), and the unusual HIGH-STRUNG, overtly labelled as an Americanism, rather than “highly strung”, which I think is more usual this side of the Atlantic.

Only one clue had me puzzling over the word-play, which was DESPOT. It made me laugh when I spotted it, and so did the mental image evoked by the surface reading of GO BANANAS. My nomination for Clue of the Day, however, goes to 5d, with something that I’m surprised not to have seen before: “Choice at election time that gives a chance to experiment (10)”.

Click here for a link to the answers and explanations.

18 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3095 Eccles”

  1. dtw42 said

    8ac I couldn’t see the parsing, so that was my LOI, but otherwise it was smooth and entertaining. I had amused “ha” annotations against 22ac, 7dn, and 21dn, and a tick against 5dn. Some fun wordplay.

  2. Denzo said

    By and large agree with Saboteur, and though there was indeed little to delay the experienced solver, I was somewhat delayed and annoyed at the American “flavour”. I do not use American English, and this puzzle had four examples, HIGH-STRUNG, SHORTSTOP, MOM and OLIVE DRAB, of which only the first was flagged as such.

    I’m sorry to be pedantic, but if setters are allowed to get away with obscure Americanisms, they might start using French, German, Chinese etc. Do I not recall objections raised here or on 225 about little-used Latin expressions (which are still in most dictionaries) foxing solvers? By all means let us avoid the Latin anachronisms, but not replace them with other obscure foreign words. Rant over, I would not normally object to MOM, which is well enough known, any more than MER which occurred twice yesterday, and, apart from the Americanisms, I enjoyed the puzzle.

    • jonofwales said

      Both Mom and High-strung are fairly common usage in the UK (my Mother-in-Law calls her mother Mom), and shortstop is probably fairly common knowledge too. Only the latter I would suggest would cause difficulties.

    • Cornick said

      Too much American English might be a problem or not, depending on your taste, but unlike several foreign European words which regularly crop up in cryptics, they do at least appear in all the dictionaries that matter, so are generally regarded as fair game.
      As for the not-any-kind-of-English words, I would be interested to know where you draw the line. ‘La’ from French? ‘Da’ from Russian? ‘Once’ from Spanish?

      • Cornick said

        Also Denzo, I think you maybe misread the thrust of the recent discussion on the Latin/ modern vocabulary subject last weekend. There was substantial defence of Gila’s efforts at using modern references, but no criticism of other setters using Classical or ‘high-brow’ references was implied by that – at least by me!
        The joy of the i/ Indy puzzles for me is in good measure down to their variety.

      • Saboteur said

        Quite. Its the variety that does it.

  3. Topsy said

    I didn’t enjoy this for the simple reason that I am finding crosswords are no longer a pleasant diversion. There’s too much ugliness happening around us, I don’t want to see unpleasant words in my puzzles. And I certainly don’t want Americanisms thank you very much!! Now where’s my knitting?

  4. thebargee said

    Pretty much what Saboteur and dtw42 said, enjoyable and a quick solve for a Friday.

    I was familiar with OLIVE DRAB as a paint colour, and SHORTSTOP was fairly clued. My only minor quibble was with MOM, I did think that ‘mother in US’ or similar might have been fairer.

    LOI was DESPOT which made me laugh, as did BEAT IT and GO BANANAS.

  5. Veronica said

    Happy enough. All done by end of lunch. Not terribly exciting, but pleasant.
    I don’t mind Americanisms; especially if the commoner ones, like “mom,” are not flagged, while the less common ones are flagged. But I can see why some might not like them.

  6. jonofwales said

    This felt more like our usual Wednesday solve. Lots of fun, over pretty quickly (the NE corner taking a little more time than the rest), no questions at the close. A welcome end to a long week!

  7. Willow said

    I very much enjoyed this. Americanisms are ok with me – they are, after all, quite commonly used in GB.

    I empathise with Topsy – life is indeed difficult on all fronts at the moment, but try not to despair! We must keep following the same old daily routines, and to me crosswords are a very welcome and diverting part of that. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Trump will go. Covid will pass – eventually. Not that it will all be plain sailing afterwards, of course, but things will gradually improve!

  8. Cornick said

    Lots of lovely jokey-style clues from Eccles – he really does see a setter’s job as to entertain, and that’s what we’ve got to look forward to as he has a lot of puzzles in the pipeline. So the emphasis today was on enjoyment rather than complexity, although the NE corner did take me a while – especially 15a where ‘initially’ threw me off the scent for longer than I care to admit.
    Favourites were 1a, 12a, 19a, 17a and the COD, which received a double tick in my paper. Plus some funny surface readings elsewhere.

  9. batarde said

    Two and a half cheers for The Famous Eccles. There were a few things to bug me, but nothing I’d wish to call out specifically. On the whole it was a peppy puzzle with good helpings of novelty and humour.

    In my opinion US vocabulary is fair game. Often it turns out to be a hangover from the English of Shakespeare’s time, anyway. Besides, they do have a talent for pungent expressions which can add a bit of spice if used sparingly. However the use of an American spelling in a solution is almost always the act of a scoundrel (although there have been rare exceptions) – at any rate the excuse needs to be phenomenally good and “I painted myself into a corner” is not going to cut any ice with me. I’d be equally outraged should a setter chuse to adopt Jane Austen’s ideas about spelling too. Regarding “mom”, didn’t this come up in the letters not long ago? If memory serves it’s a standard usage in the Black Country.

    • Denzo said

      My comment on obscure Latin expressions was about something that featured about a month ago – I didn’t know the expression (nor did anyone else) and I’ve now forgotten it.

      Where do I draw the line? It depends on 1 how familiar the word is, 2 whether there is an indication that there is a foreign word (*eg “in Paris”), 3 how helpful the parsing is otherwise and 4 how many instances in the crossword.

      A single instance of el, der, mom or mer would be unlikely to incur my wrath; Today’s passed the test on 3 but failed mostly on 2 and 4.

      However, I prefer not to draw lines, and I don’t expect anyone else to exercise their judgment similarly.

      This really was quite a good puzzle, with many witty surfaces and well clued, and I would probably not have been moved to comment
      without the annoying SHORTSTOP – the others were minor irritations.

      • batarde said

        Shortstop didn’t fill me with delight either, but it’s a word I know well enough. Judgments based on familiarity are inevitably subjective, and it all depends on your cultural hinterland – not for the first time being tolerably well versed in the Peanuts cartoon strips served me well. 🙂

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