i Cryptic Crossword 3268 by Maize

July 29, 2021

A rare instance of an un-themed crossword from me – no Nina or gimmick either this time. When filling the grid I can remember simply looking for a collection of nice, accessible or interesting words to fit around a couple of entries used to seed the puzzle – in this case they were 1/9a COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE and 11d UNFATHOMABLE. If you don’t know the former it’s terrific fun to do – you don a half mask, learn some characteristics of your stock character and improvise around a series of lazzi (situations). The joy is that each of us seems to have one of the stock characters inside us, so simply tap into that and go with the flow. Scaramouche, Harlequin, Punch, the Inamorati, Pierrot, and several other archetypes have been super-important in the development of European theatre.

However my CoD nomination goes to the other seed clue, which made it into the puzzle as something along the lines of Thoma[s] inside ‘Un fable’ but with which I became dissatisfied so changed it into an anagram. When setting I sometimes think of anagrams as being a bit of a cop out, but this one provided some fortuitously misleading deception.

11d An album of The Kinks that’s impossible to get (12)

Here’s the link to the Fifteensquared 2017 blog, and a time when Jeremy Hunt was still the Health Secretary:


8 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3268 by Maize”

  1. Saboteur said

    We don’t get many puzzles from Maize. On that basis, I ought to find it quite difficult to tune into the setter’s thinking. However, I dare say due to regular reading of blogs and comments giving a little insight into the setter’s likes and dislikes, etc, I did find it relatively easy to find my way in to this one.

    But I do mean *relatively* easy, as this was far from a stroll in the park. Lots of ambiguity and misdirection, hidden definitions and neat bits of mischievous word-play made this a rewardingly chewy solve. No parsing queries on completion, and no obscurities requiring the internet or thesaurus.

    UNFATHOMABLE was certainly very good, and I particularly liked AD NAUSEAM. OBLIVION was also an impressively cleverly crafted clue. But COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE was just first class. Surface reading, definition and word-play all in harmony. Bravo!

    I only know COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE from the opera Paliacci. As to your recommendation to perform it, well, they’re deeply odd in the rural parts of South Cornwall, you know, and the winter nights can be very long… 🙂

  2. Willow said

    I really liked this – many thanks. UNFATHOMABLE was certainly my CoD. On the other hand, I thought KERALA was a bit sneaky. I was half expecting a theme based on COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE, an artform that has had widespread influence in Western theatre and music. All clues were pretty outstanding in my opinion. Most enjoyable.

    “Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill …”

  3. Brock said

    What a great puzzle. I needed a bit of light relief after a stressful appointment this morning, and this did the job perfectly.

    14a reminded me of that old joke: “Are you the fish friar? No, I’m the chip monk!” It was thus today’s laugh-out-loud clue, but I think I’m with 11d for Clue of the Day, because the surface was so good and the anagram was so unexpected. Ticks also against 18a (difficult to remember a time before Hancock!), 3d, 4d, 8d (particularly ingenious) and 20d. 12a gets a special commendation for a brilliant surface.

    Only quibble was with 10a, where I wasn’t sure if the device was legitimate – aren’t the letters normally all consecutive in “hidden” indications? I got it right, but it was the only one with a query against it.

    Struggled with the NW corner, and in particular with 1/9 because the enumeration was misleading – as far as I know, DELL’ ARTE are two separate words in Italian, though I don’t know how it’s treated in English dictionaries. I eventually got it from the crossers (without 1d, which made it even harder) but had to back-parse it.

    That led me to think that the “C” of 1d stood for “club”, which of course it didn’t – a trip to Crossword Solver was needed for that one! Only other electronic help was on 27a, a slightly unfamiliar word (“traitor” is probably the commoner synonym).

    Thanks once again to both Maize and his alter ego. Do you know if any other Maize puzzles are in the offing?

    • dtw42 said

      While the parts of a hidden are *usually* consecutive, it’s entirely legit for a setter to split them with a word or phrase that means to put them back together! Just like an anagram where bits of the fodder are separated by “with” or “and” or suchlike. KERALA was still my last one in though.

      Anyway, yes the fish friar/chip monk gag sprang to my mind too 🙂

      I had a “ha” next to 5a, and “nice” alongside both 25a and 11d.

    • Cornick said

      Thanks Brock. It’s maybe worth remembering with abbreviations that they’re only allowed if they can stand alone. So NI can be clued by Northern Ireland or province, but Ireland indicates IR, never I. In this context clubs can indicate C (as in cards) but not club, MCC notwithstanding.

      • Brock said

        In that case, why do I so often see “B” for “British”? That’s not a stand-alone abbreviation, as far as I’m aware. It only means “British” in abbreviations like “BBC”.

      • Cornick said

        British is listed under B in Chambers. The Independent will generally only allow abbreviations which appear in that, Collins or the COED, but there are exceptions – like W/D/L from sports results for example – which are also allowed. I’m pretty confident my point about stand-alone abbreviations is adhered to by all editors though, or else there’d be no end to it!

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