i Cryptic Crossword 3166 Donk

April 1, 2021

Today’s Independent reprint isn’t from 4 years ago as have our recent ones, but all the way back in 2014, which leads me to suspect that Eimi picked this especially to mark April Fool’s Day, and what a puzzle to mark it. Because, no, those aren’t misprints in the across clues, and no, this wasn’t as scary as it first looked. To be honest, my first thought was – oh, how clever, swiftly followed by – I’m going to hate this. But, well, I didn’t, in fact quite the opposite. This was a delight to solve throughout, with lots of smiles, the odd cheeky bit here and there, and clues where the words imaginative (perhaps necessitated by the format) and lively sprang to mind. At the close I had a full grid, but also a load of question marks beside several clues too, but looking at Fifteensquared I can see that any problems lay entirely in my court.

I did wonder if there was a Nina, with THIS CROSSWORD followed by ME and SET to the SE corner, but if there is anything it’s either something abandoned, something everybody to date has missed, or a phantom of my imagination.

First in 24d, having started with the last down as I usually do, last in a lucky guess with HARE, finish time about par for the i. Puzzle of the week so far?

COD? I’m afraid that for me it had to be 2d – “Problem downstairs? Right commotion (4)”.

So all the way back to January 2014 for the answers and parsing of the clues:


27 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3166 Donk”

  1. Topsy said

    I stand with The Tortoise 😦

  2. tonnelier said

    Wow! A real tour de force. I thought 15 and 17a were pushing it a bit, but it would be churlish to complain when there is so much ingenuity and cleverness to enjoy. 2d probably the best of a very good bunch

  3. batarde said

    Q: What goes Ha Ha Donk?
    A: A man laughing his head off.

    That’s all I wanted to say at the moment … might chime in later once everyone’s had a go. Happy April Fool’s Day, folks. 🙂

  4. Wanderlust said

    Haven’t commented much recently, but felt this offering was worth the effort as it was so enjoyable. Many crosswords offer the occasional clue that delights but the joy of this was in it’s totality – the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts as it were. A rare thing of beauty IMO.

  5. Denzo said

    This was indeed a clever puzzle, and I certainly accept Donk’s excuse on 225 for the unconventional asymmetric grid. I enjoyed it but finished little over half. Obviously clues doing double duty, makes the setter’s work much harder, and whilst, as a solver, one cannot but admire its ingenuity, some solvers will have mixed feelings, as, after solving one of a pair, one has to come back, forget and enter a different mindset for the second of the pair. Seeing this point made on 225, I looked back and discovered that I had solved both halves of THIS CROSSWORD and indeed only one of all of the other pairs. I now see that it would not have been that difficult for me to finish, but the fact that I was not motivated to do so, in spite of having little else to do, suggests that the setter’s clever device compromised the quality of the clues.

  6. Saboteur said

    Great fun. Cognizant of the date, I was expecting something – but not this!

    One or two clues were a little strained, but entirely forgivable for the overall effect. Bravo, Donk!

  7. Veronica said

    I thought this was fun. I also looked at it in trepidation to start with, expecting to loathe it. Only to find it was do-able (starting with down clues, as Donk says). And then warming to it.

    I found it hard to complete! It took ages to get the two Cromwell answers – and another age to understand why on earth they were right. Ditto for HARE. But parsing was part of the fun.
    Admiration from me for setting this!

    My favourites were CROSSWORD (I like the self reference and clever definition) and SIDING for misdirection, where you needed i not o for the “One”.

  8. Cornick said

    Absolutely brilliant. My crossword of the year so far. 23a had me laughing out loud but 1a with its quadruple reading was my COD.

    • Saboteur said

      Quadruple? Please enlighten me, as I can’t see that many…

      • Cornick said

        If you’ll grant me some latitude: The first is the surface reading it might be interpreted out of context by a non-crossword person. The second refers to the way all the across clues have echoes in today’s puzzle. The third is the cryptic reading for 7a, the fourth is an acknowledgement that the clue can have a different cryptic reading if it’s got a 6-letter answer, as in 9a.

      • Saboteur said

        Ah! I see what you mean. Thanks 🙂

  9. Willow said

    I’m in two minds. On the one hand, an astonishing feat accomplished by the setter. On the other, this was at the expense of quite a lot of profanity and general poor taste. “Harry has wood” might seem innocent, but it isn’t. And does 14 suggest that if a woman chooses to dress in a particular way then she is giving consent, or “asking for it” even? This may be from 2014 but contemporary events are heavy in my mind. I don’t object to the occasional bit of innuendo, but we need a sea change in male attitude.

    • Cornick said

      Hi Willow, I think Donk’s implication is that all seductresses possess outrageously cut dresses, rather than that all possessors of outrageously cut dresses are seductresses.

    • jonofwales said

      Issues with 14 didn’t cross my mind on solving, but on repeated readings it does seem unfortunate, though Cornick’s reading is no doubt correct. I’d be interested to know how many editorial hoops the puzzle had to jump through now to get published, and whether questions were asked.

  10. dtw42 said

    Oh well, looks like I’m the only DNF here.

  11. batarde said

    Funny, I was expecting feathers to fly about this one. Anyway, it was without doubt a tour de force, to the extent that it barely seems possible that it could be done. Also a good challenge for the solver, nicely judged with the comparatively mild down clues to provide footholds – and for what it’s worth all was present and correct at close of play with no need for looking up or other assistance.

    Sad to say, then, that I did wind up wondering whether the game was worth the candle, the across clues being perforce pretty uneven. It’s still a mighty technical achievement which deserves a “bravo”! – but Donk has made puzzles that I’ve enjoyed more.

  12. Denzo said

    Willow asks a valid question on 14d, which would have been equally valid in 2014. I agree with Cornick’s comment, although it assumes that what was in Donk’s mind is more relevant than how what Donk writes is likely to be interpreted. It could be asked whether Donk could have found a different word or phrase to fit the across clues, perhaps even by amending one of the latter. The answer is probably not without considerable difficulty, which highlights the problem which will always accompany being cleverer.

    DTW, you’re not only DNF – I was another, and therefore agree 110% with Batarde.

    • Cornick said

      Are we to exclude using a word like ‘Seductress’ altogether? That would surely be as ridiculous as banning the word ‘Seducer’. I must be missing something!

      • Denzo said

        I meant to suggest, as Jon now has, that a different clue could avoid the controversy. How about: Perhaps she lured crazed Duce into tight situation?(10)
        Or is that worse?😜

      • Cornick said

        That’s a very good clue Denzo.
        However, in common with the original bloggers Bert & Joyce, the 45 comments on Fifteensquared which included several esteemed setters, the editor, and some women amongst them, I had no problem with the original.

      • jonofwales said

        It’s surprising how much has changed in 7 years. We’re much more sensitive now to any hint of a link beween what a woman might be wearing and any inferred intentions. I’d be really interested to know if this clue would pass muster now.

      • Cornick said

        Hmm. I’m all for rooting out everyday sexism wherever it appears. But only when it’s there. Donk should not be accused when he’s wholly innocent. The topic for the clue was ‘Seductress’ and therefore to clue the word as he did was entirely appropriate. Let’s root out chauvinism in all areas of life, but if aspersions are cast in the wrong direction it weakens the cause.

    • jonofwales said

      SEDUCTRESS itself I think is fine, but personally on reflection I would have rewritten the clue leading to it.

  13. Willow said

    Thank you for your wise and helpful comments. Denzo hits the mark by suggesting that I am most concerned about the mindset of the setter, and I should have expressed that more clearly. Of course, we should not ban words such as Seductress.

    • Cornick said

      Er – if you read his comment again Willow, surely Denzo implied that the mindset of the setter was fine, but the problem was in the potential for misinterpretation?
      I’m glad we agree that Denzo’s further suggestion that the setter could have used a different word altogether is ridiculous.

  14. Willow said

    Thanks – noted!

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