A welcome return for Peter today with an IoS reprint that was finished in a pretty sharpish time, but that also felt a little knotty in places. A few synonyms in wordplay that were a little off the beaten track (STIFF for tiring, the less common RAM, FLY for crafty, etc) will have been mostly responsible for any knottiness, I suspect, but most welcome it was too, making the puzzle feel a little different from the run-of-the-mill, and always engaging and lively. 1ac did make me wonder if some sort of theme might be afoot, but that was because I’d got it mixed up with Krampus. No puzzle is complete here without a chronic moment of misapprehension.

COD? With much to appreciate, I’ll go with 3d – “Minor fairy meeting pantheon’s foremost goddess by lake (10)”.

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


Following Dysart and eXtent, in quick succession comes Eclogue, in almost but not quite alphabetical order. Am I just reading too much into what is evidently random? Would I would be better off spending my time trying to work out what the seemingly random Ransomware in the title is referring to?

Because until I glanced at it a moment ago, having neglected to do so until now, I was feeling quietly smug on a puzzle just about fully parsed and understood. Because, you see, that message. Generated from superfluous words. I have it, and without any question marks.


My solving this week could even be considered methodical, because belatedly it occurred to jot down beside each clue the required letters when they popped up. Helping with the solving process, you see?

Not that too much help was required (I hope), as this was Inquisitor-lite territory. Yes, it’s the long awaited “easy one”. I would like to think that a quick reveal of CUESTA right at the start means that I’m getting better at these, but I suspect this was actually just a gentle puzzle. Albeit with some entries we had to anagram on entry, and weird and wonderful entries such as the handily flagged OOSPERMS. Never mind, there was much that was low brow too thanks to the likes of CONAN who’s one of the few barbarians that readily springs to mind.

Endgame time. Presumably we’re being asked to bring to mind moving the goalposts, moving letters being what we’ve been up to a fair bit throughout. Completing the equally well flagged empty squares gives an equally handy anagram of the last two words in the phrase. A nifty spot of highlighting later, and we’re done.

Another good one, that. And one aimed at us mere mortals too, I suspect. More please, more like this.


A fun puzzle today from the ever-entertaining Vigo, which will be all the more amusing to those who are familiar with the theme.  This will probably turn out to be age sensitive, but if you were in the habit of watching children’s TV in the 1970s you’re certainly in with a good chance of spotting it.

There’s nothing difficult here, I think, and certainly no outlandish vocabulary.  I have no complaints, but you’ll find a few in the comments on the original blog – nothing that signifies, though.  The beauty of Vigo’s crosswords lies in the elegant and often witty turn of phrase, and as such there’ll be plenty of candidates for a clue of the day according to taste.  Don’t be backward in coming forward with them.  My choice, 7d came in for the comment “struggles to communicate what’s required”, which sounds like an attempt to patronise the setter to me.  I think it’s just fine, thank you very much.

“Every Monday performing head stand in a modest fashion (6)”


One of eXternal’s rarish Monday outings kicks us off this week. Of about middling difficulty I thought, with what looked certain to be a pangram when the Z surfaced in 1ac turning out not to be so. We had a bit of geography regular readers will be astonished to learn that I did for reasons I can’t fathom know, a gang member it took me far too long to twig despite guessing the source material immediately, a crossword staple at 9ac, and just the two I failed to parse (24ac and 19d). Elsewhere 5d I discovered I can’t spell, and 2d I was pleased to get despite nagging doubts in my mind as to whether USS was actually a real thing or just a fictional starship prefix. Quality stuff and enjoyable as expected.

COD? I’ll go with 8d – “Gents, maybe, cut up when brought in to view new TV show (5,5)”.

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


Whilst not exactly ENTRY-LEVEL, Phi has pitched this crossword at the more accessible end of his range, and I suspect there was little here to hold up the more experienced solver. Your blogger completed it in a little less than his typical time, and had no question marks in his margin about any definitions or parsing – although he had no smiley faces either, nothing really standing out as being especially witty, or amusing or particularly well constructed. Although far from corruscating, my nominition for Clue of the Day goes to 7ac: “Hotelier who’d generate special quality in right zone (4)”.

Perhaps the only candidate for being an obscurity was RILKE, although since he seems to crop up in crosswords every now and then, perhaps he is more well-known in Crosswordland then in the world beyond, rather like the two daggers.

There’s a gimmick which was, I thought, easily spotted, and having got it, it helped a little. I wondered if and how Phi would incorporate the letters I to R, but having already spotted that this was no pangram, with at least J and Q absent, I decided they were not there. But over on Fifteensquared Phi comments that the letters I to R were covered by 5d and 19d. So there you are.

Here’s the link to the blog at Fifteensquared, should you need further explication:

Independent 9,440 by Phi

One of the incidental joys of solving crosswords is the little excursions one makes into regions of knowledge and experience that one might otherwise never have ventured into. Today I read about an Icelandic indie-folk band, and had a fun couple of minutes watching a video of Sponge Bob Square Pants (it was only a couple of minutes, honest). Both as a consequence of googling SEA BEAR.

This was a medium-to-hard puzzle, I would say; one which took me a little over my typical time, and which required a bit of dictionary- and Internet-checking. But all the parsing yielded in the end, leaving me with no unanswered questions. My parsing problems included the “tall” component of ENVIRONMENTALLY, and most of UP THE GARDEN PATH. Both entries seemed clear once a few crossers were in, but did take that bit of unravelling. Other bits of googling were necessitated by THOREAU and DROP FORGE; and likewise with these clues, the crossing letters were sufficiently helpful for me to know what I should be checking. Obscurities? I know its an old film, but surely everyone’s heard of The Odd Couple with Walter MATTHAU and Jack Lemmon.

One clue I thought a tad unfair. Both of the word-play components of ETHICAL were in Latin. Both in common use, I think, but with no indication in the clue, I did think it a little questionable.

There is a ghost-theme; WHITE and HOUSE in the top-left and bottom-right corners, plus TRUMP in the bottom left could not possibly be fortuitous. Check on Fifteensquared, below, for some suggestions on how other clues might fit in.

All in all, an enjoyable and rewarding solve. Lots of great clues. My runner-up today is TAKE THE SHINE OFF, and my Clue of the Day is 1ac: “You and I eating buffet pasty (5)”.

Here’s the link to Fifteensquared for all the answers and explanations:


It’s that cheeky chap Hoskins again with the requisite amount of bodily functions and slightly risque clues. Fun as always, and yet again over in a flash – if this had appeared earlier in the week it would have been a potential personal best, but as it is was just a tad slower than yesterday’s Dac. Loads went in on definition followed by a quick glance back over the wordplay to confirm, with only 28ac at the close giving any problems in the latter department, though not the former. That was one of many I thought where the surface reading was worthy of Dac – the sort of thing that’s so smoothly put together that the wordplay becomes that much harder to spot. Enjoyed, as always, and yet again – more Hoskins please.

COD? Loads to pick from today, from the smile / groan inducing definition at 17d to the “bellish” 27ac, with my pick going to 18d – “Teacher carrying expensive letter opener? (4,3)”.

And so to January 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues for this IoS reprint:


It’s mid-week, the sun’s shining in Wales, and Dac’s on fine form, so all is well with the world. A sprint through the clues here this morning, notching up what I believe is a record time for the i, but enjoyed nevertheless, with all but the one clue (2d) parsed on solving. 20d gave me a little pause for thought at the close (did anybody else get SUM stuck in their head for part of the wordplay?), but the rest went in without too much hard thinking required.

You’ll probably all have your own picks for COD, this being Dac and it being that sort of puzzle, with my nomination going to 24ac – “Separation: it preceded 1981 royal wedding (13)”.

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


Once again it is my pleasure to sing the praises of a fellow blogger.  I refer of course to Duncan Shiell, who picked all the meat off this Maize masterpiece four years ago.  Really, he’s scarily thorough, so readers who require the pukka gen without flannel should scroll down and follow the link.

The crossword is of course the work of our own Cornick, also known as Maize, and I’ve probably solved it before.  Can’t say for sure, since one of the benefits of having the memory of a goldfish is that old puzzles seem entirely fresh to me.  Here we have a diagonal Brompton with an exceptional clue count and a highly visible theme pervading the across lights.  As is always the case with this setter the clue writing is of the highest quality, and thematic knowledge is optional; furthermore there are no obscurities, unless you’re the sort of slack-jawed, low-browed hobbledehoy who thinks Shakespeare and Kurosawa are elitist.  Solving was breezy and quite swift, helped along by a few generous anagrams, and there’s none of that unevenness discussed yesterday which leads to sticky patches.

Favourites?  All those finely honed surfaces make for a lengthy list, so I’ll employ the old “nominate your own” cop out, pausing only to say that 27ac is my runner up.  Since last night I was supposed to be at the theatre to see Sir Ian McKellan as the world’s oldest Hamlet – put back to next month on account of social distancing requirements – let’s have 2d for the clue of the day:

“Initially obsequious Shakespearean received in court.”


Things learnt this weekend:

  • It may be nice to sit out in the sun with the Inquisitor, but too much sun is likely to induce only sleepiness.
  • Birthday celebrations are equally unconducive to the required concentration levels needed, especially when they are not your own.
  • If you’re mysteriously struggling to come up with plausible answers in one bit of the grid, it’s probably because the gimmick hinted at in the preamble is to be found thereabouts.

Not one but two grids, mashed together clues, misprints for good measure. This is the IQ on speed.

Needless to say my solving was less speedy, but with the cooling evening a steady progress could be said to be made, especially when it was spotted that some answers in the left hand grid were to be reversed. Sharper solvers will have got BACKING and done the necessary fairly quickly I suspect, but it took me a while longer. Thankfully the down clues could be in one grid only. Which was the sort of generous hint I appreciate and we don’t always get. 🙂

Misprints. I don’t have them all. I’m not sure if the ones I’ve got are correct. COTRANYM. Perhaps there’s an N in there somewhere. Something about opposites would be my best guess. Google gives contronym, but I’m pretty certain of that A. Oh well.

The chap that faces both ways springs to mind as regarding the highlighting bit, and lo, lob a J in the centre and JANUS certainly does.

That looks right to me.

Job done, though I’m still not sure that we’ve had to long awaited “easy one”. As ever though enjoyed and appreciated.

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