i Cryptic Crossword 3293 Anax

August 27, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

On completion, preparing to write this blog, I had no parsing queries left. During the course of solving, however, some clues seemed intractable, and there was more than one occasion when I needed inspiration from a list of words. But so accomplished is this setter that despite first appearances, every bit of word-play was precise. Misdirection is of the essence in a cryptic crossword.

That being said, there were fully seven entries which did not follow the usual format of wordplay-plus-definition, but were instead clued allusively. There’s nothing wrong with that, but combined with their including two triple-entry phrases, this did ratchet up the difficulty level somewhat. All of it was brilliantly done, resulting in a challenging puzzle, which was very satisfying to solve.

Obscurities? PONTIAC and “chief” don’t automatically connect in my mind. The month of the Jewish calendar could be a bit unfamiliar to those unversed in that religion, although there were helpful crossing letters. The best selling Fleetwood Mac album is surely well-known, at least to those solvers of a certain age – and younger solvers will not have been troubled too much by the computer game. I’m in the former category; I did know the game, but it took a bit of working out.

In choosing a clue of the day, I was very temped by the two allusively clued three-word answers. But actually, I did rather like the short but neat 23d: “In France you will carry off unfinished food (4)”.

This was a Saturday prize puzzle back in 2017 on its first appearance. Here’s the link: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/06/17/independent-9572-by-anax-saturday-puzzle-17-jun-2017/

9 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3293 Anax”

  1. Cornick said

    I donโ€™t think Iโ€™m going to get much further than the bottom half of this one.
    Might get back to it this evening.

  2. thebargee said

    Had to happen, first DNF for nearly 3 weeks – very much enjoyed what I did get though.

    Couldnโ€™t make any progress above the middle to start with, but the bottom half proved more accessible. Then a flash or two of inspiration and I managed to guess most of the โ€˜allusiveโ€™ entries to which Saboteur refers in his blog, although I wasnโ€™t sure if 6d was going to be SICK or TALL. I also guessed 21a and 12d without being able to parse them, and needed a word list to suggest the answer to 5a.

    After that, most of the rest fell into place, but in the end I was left with 1a, 1d and 2d. I donโ€™t think I would have got PONTIAC in a month of Sundays!

    Needless to say, this was a 5* in my book. Iโ€™m unsure how I feel about the allusive stuff, there is less scope for โ€˜working outโ€™ answers than with the more usual cryptic clues.

  3. jonofwales said

    What a great puzzle!

    The bottom half of the grid fell pretty quickly leading to ideas of a quick solve (helped by knowing both the album and the game), but the top half of the grid was a different matter. Cryptic definitions for the long 9ac and 6/7/8 were perhaps on the less helpful side, and while I guessed 1ac, I didn’t enter it for an age as I couldn’t see how the definition fitted though finally decided that it must (which it did). Last in was the NE corner, with 5ac which was new to me.

    5* most definitely for difficulty here, but top marks too for entertainment value, so you won’t hear me complaining.

  4. Topsy said

    It’s a 10 from me in terms of difficulty. I managed 2 or 3 and possibly would have got more had I wanted to continue but I didn’t. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  5. Cornick said

    Too hard for me. 5 unsolvable lights in the NE were intersecting each other so I gave up. Bravo to all the solvers who finished it though – the toughest of the year maybe?

  6. dtw42 said

    Yeah, I have JUST finished after a day with my new-to-crosswords friend. We struggled to about 3/4 done; I only got inspiration for the rest once alone on the train. Glad the star rating was 4; I’d agree with that.

  7. Henri said

    By far the hardest this year.

  8. Willow said

    Definitely a 5* for me, as I have only just now finished, having had to muse about my LOI after the end of Any Questions last night. But I agree with Saboteur about the precision of the clues and the level of satisfaction eventually achieved. I thought of PONTIAC and SECOND-RATE absolutely ages before I was finally able to parse them, the latter holding me up because the letters of DARN appear within the phrase, as do those of DATE, which might be an equivalent of TAKE OUT. I was pleased I persevered to the end.

  9. Polly said

    A warm welcome back to my favourite setter after far too long a gap. His puzzles are so rewarding to solve that I would happily have kept tinkering with this one even if it had taken weeks to finish (as has been known to happen in the past) rather than two days.

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