i Cryptic Crossword 3165 Gila

March 31, 2021

Today was almost the day there wasn’t a blog. The paper boy it seemed being a no-show this morning, I thought no problem, I’ll just nip onto the i application and solve online. As if to demonstrate how poor my memory is, it took me three clues to realise that they still had yesterday’s puzzles up. Thankfully, the paper did eventually arrive in time for a “quick” solve and then onto the day’s painting. Such is my Easter break.

As it turns out the solve wasn’t so quick, this being a bit of a monster in places from Gila. In retrospect I’m unclear why that is, which is always a sign of a good puzzle where it’s only the ingenuity of the wordplay that’s held you up. There’s a nice contemporary(ish) feel throughout, from DORA the Explorer through to COLDPLAY and BONG. No outlandish vocabulary where the setter was left stuck in a corner by some ghost theme a poorly designed grid, just one PDM after another when what should have been obvious from the off made itself known through some quite lovely wordplay. Finish time more akin to a Thursday reprint than the Wednesday we’re accustomed to, but a joy to solve throughout.

COD? Lots to like, with my nomination going to 22d just because it was so deceptively simple, and I’m guess I wasn’t the only solver who spent an age trying to fit a word for doctor inside a synonym for blue – “Attractive doctor in blue (6)”.

To March 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:


19 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3165 Gila”

  1. Saboteur said

    Another nice crossword but with one of those dreadful grids. I seemed to solve four mini-crosswords, the SE being particularly recalcitrant. I couldn’t parse PENTAGON, failing to see the “tag on” thing. Otherwise, all good and enjoyed.

  2. tonnelier said

    Yet another of those (to me) non-homophones at 12 – dia and dire just do not sound the same, by a long way – put me in a cantankerous mood, and for the first time this year I failed to finish. Didn’t like FAIR or BONG either.

  3. batarde said

    Yes, the four-way Brompton was monstrous all right, but I found the solving process pretty breezy all the same. 14ac seemed to let the side down somewhat (in fact, none of the four-letter lights did much for me), but otherwise all tickety boo. 6d, of course, was my favourite – a nice bit of impropriety which comfortably passed the Humph test – but I’ll also put in a word for 12ac because someone has to stick up for the grand tradition of dodgy homophones.

  4. Veronica said

    Got there! Eventually. The last two took as long as the rest of the puzzle all together (including parsing them once I’d got the answer).
    I thought this was excellent. Some very sneaky clues! I lost count of the number of times I missed the anagram at first – and, yes, that did include the brilliant 22 down.
    Didn’t know Dora being an explorer, and parsed it as “exploring” meaning adjacent (yep, weak on my part).
    Now, here’s the thing. Are the i crosswords easier or am I learning? Or simply spending much longer on them. I’m not sure how much each is contributing. Anyway, I used to rarely finish. Currently I finish more times than not. I dare say this comment will result in several days of hard puzzles to come ….

    • batarde said

      Good lord, Veronica – it’s you becoming ever more adept, of course. Only the worst sort of cad would suggest otherwise.

      However … the last week and a half has seen a remarkable run of puzzles best characterised as “accessible”, with only Serpent turning the heat up significantly. My guess is that if we are to see anything thorny it’ll be tomorrow or Friday, then back to Phi on Saturday.

      • Saboteur said

        With a bank holiday coming up, it could be interesting…

        One of the things I like about the i is that we get a splendid range of puzzles from the nicely accessible to the tough and chewy. I think this does facilitate and encourage the development of skills in solvers. So, yes, Veronica, I think that by being exposed to the variety in the i you will of course be improving! 🙂

      • Veronica said

        (Though accessible days may be the real answer!? At least they give one confidence)

  5. Veronica said

    Oh and I forgot to say …
    Jon, you gave me another puzzle to work out! I’m not good on abbreviations. But I got there too, with a lovely PDM 😀

  6. Cornick said

    NE and SW corners went in breezily and enjoyably but the other two were decidedly tricky, with constructions like‘University head tackles’ proving hard to unravel and further uncertainty as to whether ‘A’ was to be entered as part of the answer or just there for the surface reading.
    Got there unaided in the end though with PENTAGON the last to fall, and pretty satisfying all told. 6d and 12a my favourite today.

  7. Cornick said

    4.15 and the puzzle’s still not appearing on my i app. Just as well lockdown’s lifting!

  8. Denzo said

    Firstly as others have observed, many excellent surfaces with much clever – and fair – wordplay, but I did not enjoy this, and it was not only the grid that was monstrous. I am coming to the conclusion that Gila is not on my waverlength (or vice versa, if there’s a difference), and at least part of the reason is that I have found him more partial than most to certain types of slang than most setters.

    I knew at least one person whose life was destroyed by illegal drug use, and I find it offensive when the slang associated with drugs is treated humourously in something which I access for entertainment. I accept the odd such clue will come occasionally but there were at least three here. I also found the puzzle quite challenging, and am also still suffereing the side effects of (legal) drug use, so didn’t get very far.

    • Cornick said

      I think a lot of the difficulty was in details that newer setters pay less attention to than the more experienced. We had 10 a’s and 2 an’s today, which can befuddle a solver. Well, it did me 🙂

      • Cornick said

        Sorry, that should be 15 and 3!

      • Denzo said

        I certainly agree with your general point, Cornick, but it was not my problem today, as I’ve looked again at 225, in particular at what I got (or didn’t) and still feel the puzzle was precisely and fairly clued. However it was a tricky puzzle, and If I had been less woozy, I would have done much better; indeed, without the slang, I might even have enjoyed it!

    • Veronica said

      I think that’s a good point, Denzo. If it becomes easy to make light of something, then it becomes easy to act on it too (ie fall into drug taking). Also, if society makes jokes about something, it is a small step to mocking the people concerned. I hadn’t really noticed it today, but if you had, then I must have fallen into this trap of taking it too lightly.

  9. dtw42 said

    I’d concur with a lot of what’s been said above. To wit:
    1) Terrible grid.
    2) A *bit* trickier than the “accessibles” we’ve had a lot of recently, but only slightly (my finish time today was 8.14)
    3) My last-ones-in were 7d and then 10a; conversely to Saboteur, my failure to parse PENTAGON was from the “compound” end rather than the “go behind” end.
    4) Put me down as another who scowls a bit when more than one drug reference crop up.

  10. dtw42 said

    …oh and I *was* familiar with DORA the explorer – but via a route unlikely to be anyone else’s way in: one of the academic journals I used to work on, “Latino Studies”, had a feature on her, one issue.

  11. Willow said

    Good puzzle overall, but I tend to agree about the drug references and the number of superfluous As, etc.

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