i Cryptic Crossword 3170 Hob

April 6, 2021

There is something missing, isn’t there? Well, never fear: here you go. Is it just me, or has Hob changed drastically since his first appearances in the i, from a rowdy rapscallion with a penchant for lewdness and letting off stink bombs, to a virtuoso setter who manages to keep his baser instincts in check, mostly? Gone are the whoopee cushions and naughty postcards, although there are some Class A drugs in evidence (25ac). This bit of narcotic slang strikes me as a period piece, something you might find in Hammett or Chandler – perhaps that makes it less offensive? Discuss.

Duncan was on duty at Fifteensquared back in March 2017, which is both good and bad for me. Obviously his blog is top notch as usual, but he’s said everything I was going to, theme-wise. The gateway clue was a cracker, wasn’t it? Fortunately I’m the sort of person who sees “librarian” and thinks of 5/24, which gave the game away, enabling me to “solve” 20d answer first. I thought all the people in the crossword were especially nicely clued (10d might not feel well-served, though), not that there’s anything letting the side down. The molecular structure was new to me, but easily deduced, so no looking up required. I rather gave up on awarding ticks, there being so many worthy recipients, so please feel free to single out your favourites. Two clues – well, solutions really – tickled my fancy in particular today: 1ac, and my COD, 8d:

“Naïve optimist giving parrot stuffed naan (9)”

No sign of Topsy on the letters page. :-/

20 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3170 Hob”

  1. Denzo said

    Quite a challenge, which I am sure Batarde therefore enjoyed, but Rod WAS there, in 1d, albeit without Emu. I’d never heard of any Calums but SCOTT is the first one listed in Wikipedia, (which also mentions he was born in Hull). Sir Walter, not, I suspect, born in Hull, was within my limited sphere of knowledge, so, since 1d quite possibly began with P, the former amateur boxer was a write-in, as, therefore was the gateway clue, being his parliamentary costituency. Incidentally, I found the blogger’s question about the two Scotts rather weird: I would have put it the other way round.

    I suspect others will have referred widely to Wikipedia or other help, as I did for several; though I was aware that PHILIP LARKIN had been a librarian, and his connection with HULL rang a bell.

    I did not finish; I don’t think I would ever have got the complicated 19a, though I have used Venn diagrams, and did not know that SNOW was usd in drug slang. In fact I feel as strongly about the use of drug slang in Crosswords as others do about smut. However, my visit to 225 made me realise how clever Hob had been to include so many references to the place I well remember as Britain’s 2017 City of Culture.

  2. Cornick said

    Yes, it’s a slight shame that we had this now rather than in 2017, but nevertheless I thought it a terrific puzzle.
    Would have liked to have seen John Goldberg get a mention because for me Hull Truck is synonymous with culture when I think of that city, and the gateway clue was my favourite today by a margin.

  3. Saboteur said

    More or less what Batarde said.

    Like Batarde, seeing “librarian” and “(6,6)” made that entry and the gateway clue quite straightforward. The crossword as a whole I found a little chewier than normal, but in a good way – nice to have something to get one’s teeth into.

    No idea who Calum Scott is or was – Walter was enough – and I didn’t know that Venn was from Hull. The definition for MALTHUS was a little bizarre, but it was clear what the answer was, and there it was when I looked him up.

    Enjoyable and satisfying.

  4. jonofwales said

    A pretty laboured solve here, with too many guessed and too little known about Hull to make it truly enjoyable. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow!

  5. Veronica said

    Goodness! I cannot believe that I actually finished it (with some spousal help). Maybe a little hazy on some parsing, but had pretty well understood everything after the odd check – Calum and Walter in particular.

    At the start, I really thought I would have to give up on this one. Rather satisfying to have got there, albeit not my favourite puzzle, because I found the theme a mild irritant rather than fun. However, I do think the puzzle was well constructed: I’m not good at famous people, but the wordplay always got me there in the end, which I think means the setter was fair and rather clever.
    Much though I liked bartarde’s CoD, and 20 down itself, my CoD had to be ANDREW MARVELL, because this was one where the wordplay gave me the answer – eventually!

  6. Topsy said

    This should have been an absolute doddle for me, being a born and bred Hullensian, but the renovations have recommended at last and I couldn’t fully concentrate. 2017 was a fantastic year for Hull, and I made many new friends. We have a fine history of poets, Stevie Smith of “Not Waving But Drowning” fame must also be included. Hull is a great City, do pop to visit after all the nonsense subsides 🙂
    And no, my letter wasn’t published.

  7. thebargee said

    This was my first crossword for a week or so, various other issues having taken precedence, and oh dear, not a good one for me. Although I got the gateway clue (albeit only after solving BOAT and SHANGHAI) it was abundantly clear to me that if I were to have any chance of completing this one I would need plenty of electronic help, which rather spoilt it. So I gave up.

    As Jon said, there’s always tomorrow.

  8. Denzo said

    As I wrote above I did not finish the puzzle, but I will now come clean. In fact having, in my first trawl, cracked only LIE IN WAIT and OPEN CHAIN, I set about the gateway clue, convinced it had been inspired by Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction:

    ANTIGONUS: …Well may I get aboard! This is the chase;
    I am gone for ever! [exit, pursued by a bear.

    I don’t know if it was Hob’s intention to misdirect; if so he succeeded so well as to achieve the same, according to PHILIP LARKIN, as my parents:


    By the time I eventually realised I had been done, I had exhausted well over half the time I was prepared to spend on the puzzle, so used the rest to make my contribution to the blog and to search for Topsy’s letter, which, as I expected had not been printed. However, I sincerely hope it will be passed to and taken on board by the crossword editor, as indeed I hope will my own comments on this, though I’m not holkding my breath on either count.

    I imagine that some people will recall that Hull was “City of Culture” four years ago, but really this has now as much relevance as a puzzle themed on, say, Swindon. Had I been motivated to continue, I would probably have got 20d either as I suggested above or via PHILIP LARKIN, but not enjoyed the rest as it really would have been a laboured solve, to quote Jon.

    Whilst in house arrest, I enjoy the variety of the I Puzzles, but this was extreme with an out-of-date theme, and complicated wordplays, far more suitable for the Inquisitor. I believe I enjoyed the previous Hob puzzle, and hope the next will be better. Here’s to tomorrow!

    • batarde said

      Really Denzo, it’s nothing remotely like an Inquisitor: if this is the toughest puzzle of the week I shall be disappointed. Which is frequently the case, by the way.

    • Cornick said

      Working ‘exit pursued by bear’ into a clue was enough to make it a COD candidate, having that bear being Baloo was, for me, sublime.

    • Saboteur said

      I don’t think it mattered that Hull’s turn as City of Culture was four years ago (notwithstanding the clue for COME ON. I don’t see why a crossword can’t be themed on Hull – or Swindon – if there is sufficient thematic material that’s accessible, and this shows that there is. I agree its less topical, but I don’t think that diminishes the value (much) of this nicely done puzzle

    • Denzo said

      Perhaps I found it tough because I spent so long barking up the wrong tree. I might otherwise have got 20d, though I think the wordplay should be “…exit, pursued by bear” otherwise the adult in the woordplay is redundant – a minor point perhaps.

      Misdirections are the lifeblood of puzzles, but are they fair in a gateway clue?

      But toughness, like beauty and smut is subjective; I recall a puzzle a few months ago where synecdoche (used in this puzzle) appeared to bamboozle some, though I found it OK.

    • Veronica said

      I was nearly in the same place. My husband said “isn’t there a Shakespeare character pursued off stage by a bear?” Fortunately that rang only a distant bell for me – and, if that was the answer, no hope. My knowledge of characters in plays is abysmal. So I ignored it and hoped for an actual city …

  9. dtw42 said

    Well, I did all but four of this over the breakfast table (couldn’t cold-solve 20; had to wait until I’d solved 5/24 then look at his Wikipedia page to see what cities he might have been associated with). Then nos. 1a, 1d, 3d and 4d took me about as long as the whole of the rest of it.
    Must admit my only marginal annotation was a ‘tsk’ next to ‘Coke’ (– oh and a ‘boo’ next to where the ‘font’ in 12 turned out to refer to church furniture and not typefaces, but that’s only because I would have enjoyed the latter, and nothing Hob’s fault).

  10. Topsy said

    My musical tastes cover a huge spectrum, listening to radio this evening and heard a song with no idea who it was but I liked it. Turns out to be the Hull chappie Callum Scott. What an amazing coincidence!! 🙂

  11. Willow said

    I thought I was not going to enjoy or complete this, what with all the interconnected clues, but in fact I did both once I got into it. BOAT was, surprisingly, the clue that got me started. Thank you!

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