i Cryptic Crossword 3098 Math / Sherlock

January 12, 2021

Math, a relative newcomer to the i, had yet to make a strong impression on me, up until now, that is. However, it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a crossword as much as this one, so he’s now a Person of Interest. No doubt there’s a technical term for this sort of theme, where the subject is explicitly stated in the clues but hardly figures in the solutions (except for the sallow, rat-faced fellow at 25ac, the landlady at 8d, and the very arch oblique reference at 1d). At any rate, I can lay claim to some genuine expertise when it comes to the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, but beyond knowing the name of Scotland Yard’s finest the puzzle requires none. Humph.

Solving was a pleasure from start to finish, and whilst not quite a stroll in the park the terrain was pretty easy going. Strictly speaking, 20ac probably has no business appearing in a daily crossword, but it’s literally spelt out and therefore forgiveable. I disliked the computer in 10ac because trade names which have not become generic (Hoover, Xerox etc) always feel a bit iffy – good clue for all that, though. The same goes for 17ac, but it made me laugh so that’s just fine. Lots of ticks today, so this is where I abdicate responsibility and request nominations for the Clue of the Day. Honourable mentions go to 5,7 and 8d amongst others, but my selection is 4ac on grounds of rarity and polish.

“Extremists in sect resolve nothing through power (8)”

We’re now on to 2017: New Year’s Day in fact, which was a Sunday and it’s probably fair to say that this puzzle was a little tougher than usual for the IoS. On first publication there was an extra mystery, because Eimi attributed it to one Sherlock. For the Fifteensquared write-up and some chat, please click here.

19 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3098 Math / Sherlock”

  1. Denzo said

    My own thoughts precisely, Batarde – I can’t remember enjoying a crossword as much as this, albeit after a slow start. Good enough to excuse the advert for Dell, though I agree with you on this, too.

    I believe a crossword setter normally woks by starting with the grid, then fitting the answers, finally devising the clues. 21A here must have been done in reverse order, and what a surface! I think I was vaguely aware that there is such a tree, but such was the quality of this puzzle that I googled to check only after writing the answer in. 4A was indeed a super clue, but, for me 21A was even better.

    Much clever but fair misdirection also; just over half-way through, convinced that the Holmes theme applied only to the clues, up pops the wooden Inspector in 25A, the only answer for which one needed to remember Doyle’s work. And delightful penny-drop moments in realising that shingles is not only a disease, and having pencilled in SLIP ROAD at 23A, realising it’s not a F1 racetrack but a golf course that’s needed.

    One could moan about obscurities, especially ANTRA, but they were all fairly easily gettable from crossers and friendly parsing.
    LOI was GEODESIC, simply because I spent a fascinating 30 minutes learning about these domes, a remarkable engineering discovery which had somehow passed me by.

    • Denzo said

      I wanted to edit a minor mistake, thinking it might be possible from some recent posts.

      Unable to get access or change any password (which I don’t think I set) and reading:
      “Confirm you have a WordPress.com account and not WordPress.org.”,
      I gave up.

      Is the ability to edit available only to those who sometimes write the initial blog, rather than also to us lesser mortals who merely add comments?

      • batarde said

        As far as I know, you need to have a WordPress account associated with the blog, with editing permissions authorised by Jon.

      • Denzo said

        That sounds likely. It’s possibly tricky for such permissions to be granted in a way that I can edit what I’ve written and nothing else.

    • Saboteur said

      I take it you haven’t visited the Eden Project, Denzo, which has geodesic domes. I dare say another blogger can confirm this.

      • Cornick said

        Indeed. Buckminster Fuller was the first to come up with the idea I believe – at Expo 67 in Montréal, and the shape is wonderfully adaptable to building onto an irregular land surface as at the Eden Project, like soap bubbles in your hands, if you will.

      • Denzo said

        Yes, Saboteur, I have, many years ago. I remember the domes but I didn’t know this:

        I’m sure you will find it interesting, too!

        According to Wikipedia the engineering principle was discovered in Germany about 20 years before it was patented in…………the USA!

  2. jonofwales said

    Yes, that was fun, though I was surprised to not have to draw on my knowledge of the theme more too. Too many good clues to mention, but I particularly liked the well hidden definition at 10d – well, it fooled me until the last, anyway.

  3. thebargee said

    I really felt that Math and I are on the same wavelength today. Thoroughly enjoyable and steady progress from start to finish.

    I agree about DELL/MAGNET, but it’s only a minor quibble. Tough choice, but I think my favourite today was 7dn, probably because I felt chuffed at remembering a VP with G in his name.

    My LOI was 26ac, shortly preceded by 16dn.

  4. dtw42 said

    Yes, that was fun. My last ones in were 23ac and then 18dn.
    I had “nice” written against 16dn so perhaps that’s my COD (though I did also like how “shows” in 13ac was a verb in the surface but a plural noun in the def.)

  5. Veronica said

    Agreeing with everyone so far. Enjoyable 😊.
    I thought it was going to be one I couldn’t finish, but no … it took me a long time, but just as I was about to give up, another one yielded an answer each time.
    Minor grumble, very minor: I thought GEODESIC was too obscure and included too much guess work rather than working it out, so less keen on that one. I knew neither geodesic nor geode.
    Lots of very good clues. I loved all of 4, 10 across, 11, 7, 8, 10 down. COD finally awarded to 10 down for a lovely surface creating a good image, and a nicely obscure definition. I got it fairly early on, but still loved it.
    I’m ok with the brand references. Dell was sufficiently well known and I agree about 17 across being excused on the grounds it makes you smile.

    • batarde said

      I wondered about the geodesic dome – perhaps Buckminster Fuller’s stock has fallen since his heyday, but there was a time when no VW Beetle was safe from having its bonnet swiped by some hippie, to be hammered into a panel for a psychedelic cupola of some sort. Geodesic greenhouses were big in the seventies. So I suppose it’s one of those words where the likelihood of you knowing it depends on your vintage, interest in novel structures … and whether you’re a bloke, like as not. As for geode, yes it’s definitely on the specialised side – interesting, though.

  6. dtw42 said

    Oh, by the way, is everyone else enjoying the recently enlarged grid for the 5-clue-crossword? The bigger format is giving the setters a little bit more scope for invention (especially as it means each one now must include at least one phrasal answer).
    I assume the 5-clue is genuinely newly set, and not a reprint like the main puzzle?

    • Saboteur said

      Yes, definitely enjoy the new format. Although it seems to have got harder. That’s not a complai t, but one of my challenges to myself is to do this one in my head, and it’s much harder…

    • jonofwales said

      I always solve the 5-clue cryptic. The new grid’s a big improvement, though it’s always been a good puzzle. It’s by Eimi, and yes is newly set.

  7. Saboteur said

    Great fun. I agree with the general thrust of the comments so far. Dell/Magnet caused an eyebrow to rise – but only a little. Some really good stuff. More please.

  8. Cornick said

    Super puzzle from start to finish. Loved the clue for Gravelled, though I did wonder how it might go down in Batarde Towers. Very happy indeed with the choice for COD.

  9. Willow said

    A most ingenious and enjoyable puzzle. Thank you.

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