i Cryptic Crossword 3336 by Phi

October 16, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five):  πŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

There’s something going on theme-wise to do with Peter Grimes in the crossword today – don’t ask me what though; when it comes to total ignorance, my two specialist subjects are operas and soap operas. True, I’ve heard of Peter Grimes, but then I’ve heard of Emmerdale too.

A mostly gentle solve – by chance I encountered most of those pretty straightforward anagrams early doors which got me off to a good start – but I did have to pause for a bit at the end when I encountered the crossing 22a NIHILISTIC and 19d MATLOCK – the former being probably the most complicated clue in the puzzle.

As ever Phi’s clues are put together following all the rules of cryptic grammar immaculately. This makes him a popular setter with the solvers on Fifteensquared, although I find myself repeatedly disappointed by the surface readings, which often read like the sort of gobbledygook that non-crossword people poke fun at. If you look back at them and unpick them, they can invariably be made to make sense, but the surface reading generally springs off the page less readily than does the cryptic reading, which for my money is the wrong way round. My sister (on the other side of the breakfast table) is a speedy and expert solver who says she never reads the surfaces anyhow, but just goes for the cryptic reading every time. So perhaps not many solvers care about or even notice such things.

Happily some of the clues have surface readings that do read like normal sentences, and so (because I do care!) one of those gets my nomination for Clue of the Day:

2d Holiday rental for three? (7)

And here’s the link to the Fifteensquared blog with answers and parsings:

Fifteensquared Independent 9565 Phi

6 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3336 by Phi”

  1. thebargee said

    I’m with your sister, Cornick, I almost invariably go for the cryptic reading of clues – surface readings have to be pretty spectacular for them to register with me. Different strokes and all that…

    I rattled this one off in no time at all, with several answers springing to mind almost before I’d finished reading the clues. Having said that, I found the NE corner a little bit chewy, with 4dn and 4ac eluding me for a while. Elsewhere, I had to think hard how to spell PLEIADES.

    All very enjoyable, LOI was DUCK.

  2. Willow said

    Very enjoyable – many thanks. I got PETER PEARS but, even though I know the opera, I don’t know enough about it to have been able to spot the names of certain arias. Almost thought there might be a subsidiary theme to do with Peter and the Wolf, as DUCK appears, and ALIVE AND KICKING, as the duck was inside the wolf, even though swallowed. But not Cat, Bird, Hunters, or anything else for that matter. The clue for NIHILISTIC was indeed very complex.

    Just as an aside, the answer for 6 might also conceivably be WALK or HACK.

    • Cornick said

      At least the definition β€˜of anarchists’ had a QM after it; I have considerable sympathy for the doctrine of anarchism, and its adherents would see it as anything but nihilistic!

    • thebargee said

      Ref NIHILISTIC, it was indeed complex, I wrote it in unparsed and needed the assistance of 225 to untangle it.

  3. jonofwales said

    Pretty gentle stuff, but as enjoyable as always from Phi. Nihilistic went in on a bit of a wing and a prayer, and I did check the opera, but the rest went in with little ado.

  4. Saboteur said

    Very much as our blogger said. I do like to see good surface readings. To my mind, part of the art is disguising the cryptic word-play within plausible English sentences. If the word-play is too obvious, and the surface reading correspondingly transparent, then part of the joy of solving is denied to the solver.

    I knew enough to see that PEARS was connected to PETER GRIMES andI expected to see at least “Britten”, somewhere, only to be disappointed.

    Last two in were the crossing MATLOCK and NIHILISTIC both of which required a bit of list-checking.

    Much enjoyed, and agreed on the two stars.

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