i Cryptic Crossword 3337 Kairos

October 18, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟🌟

If the solver is familiar with matters ecclesiastical and has some knowledge, whether first-hand or more indirect, of Cambridge, then she or he may well have found this crossword somewhat easier than the four-star rating I have given it would suggest.

Using a recondite word like Simony, being the sale of religious privileges and thus an ecclesiastical offence, is relatively routine in Crosswordland. Part of the joy of solving cryptics is the expansion of one’s knowledge as a result of untangling some word-play. So I have no more quibble with the appearance of “simony” than I do with “aboral” or “defile” for “col”, or even “pun(gent)” from “sarcastic”. All par for the course.

I do, however, think that the clue for KEYS is deeply unfair. Lists of Cambridge colleges are easy enough to find online, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking at those to help one solve a clue. But however hard one does look, to get this word-play one has to know that Gonville and Caius college is commonly shortened to Caius, and that it is pronounced as “keys”, rather than “kai-us”. You can’t tell that just by looking at it. Add to that that the entry has no crossing initial letter, and that the two letters that do cross are the very frequently appearing E and S. Granted, the definition “means to enter” is clear enough. But nonetheless, I think it is an unfair clue.

Despite that, I did enjoy this one, and found it rewarding and satisfying to solve. In particular, I thought the surface readings were good. And my nomination for Clue of the Day, 29ac, made me smile: “Cover over Nissan car beginning to stop radiation (6,4)”.

Here’s the link for the answers and explanations: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/08/20/independent-on-sunday-1434-by-kairos/

12 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3337 Kairos”

  1. jonofwales said

    All done in a time here I would associate with a 2* solve, but I will admit that it felt a little chewy in places, with an unfriendly grid. A couple went in not fully understood, in particular 6d where the mere sight of “Schutzstaffel” was enough to alarm me.

  2. tonnelier said

    I found this very hard – at least 4*.

    The Caius/keys thing didn’t bother me, nor did defile/col. However, I took strong exception to the ridiculous homophone at 23. Morning and mourning just do not sound the same – that U makes a difference to anyone aiming to speak correct English.

    Moreover, 8, 17 and 26 all seemed weak to me, so overall I did not enjoy this much!

    • jonofwales said

      To my ear at least “morning” and “mourning” sound identical, I can’t imagine tbh how they wouldn’t. What we speak here would probably not be described as being the Queen’s English, though. 🙂

      • tonnelier said

        That really surprises me. I’ve always pronounced the first syllable of “mourning” the same as the word “moor”, not “more”. Now I notice that Chambers describes my pronunciation as “rare”. I’m rather pleased with that!

      • Cornick said

        Clearly when pronounced in Queen’s English, Oxford English, Standard English or Received Pronunciation (R.P.), ‘Morning’ and ‘Mourning’ sound slightly different. But they sound the same in many dialects including Estuary English, which has pretty much taken over from R.P. as BBC English these days.
        In any case, when it comes to homophones in crosswords, who cares? The homophones are often the very funniest of clues and provided the clue is solvable, I’m sure we’re capable of imagining a word like ‘Mourning’ being uttered in more than one way? In life I often campaign myself for R.P. precision, Tonnelier, but when it comes to homophones in crosswords I campaign for the latitude which gives us jokes (like the top line of the Concise) – even if 26a wasn’t actually funny!

    • imsewell said

      I don’t understand your point at all. I have tried every vowel sound I can imagine, some of which Inspector Clouseau would be proud, but cannot make ‘mourning’ sound unlike ‘morning’ and still be the same word. Please enlighten me!

      • imsewell said

        Is it being suggested ‘mourning should be pronounced ‘ moo-arming?

      • imsewell said

        Is it being suggested ‘mourning’ should be pronounced ‘moo-erning’?

      • Cornick said

        Indeed. That’s the ‘traditional’ way – with a diphthong. Compared with the flatter ‘mawning’ which is more usually used nowadays for both words, it either sounds more correct or hyper-correct, depending on your point of view!

  3. Willow said

    I thought this was pretty difficult, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that several clues had very tenuous definitions in addition to tricky wordplay, for example, that for RELENTS. On the other hand, for some reason, and as someone who has visited Cambridge but once, (we had a pizza there on my honeymoon), I found no problem with CAIUS/KEYS, perhaps because I have heard a little rhyme which goes: “Caius College hot, Caius College cold, Caius College in the pot, nine days old.” On the whole, an enjoyable solve – thank you.

  4. Cornick said

    A DNF for me. 6d is a terrible clue: why put ‘COLOSSI’ in a grid unless it were justified by a wonderful grid fill? And then to clue it with an obscure bit of military jargon?! That will make most solvers grumpy, I’ll wager.
    Then again more than half was so easy as to be boring, So, along with the ones that were too impenetrable, Goldilocks-like, I could find nothing to my taste.
    Lord knows how you rate that experience for difficulty!

  5. Borodin said

    I’m with Jon in rating it only 2*, perhaps because I find it easy to get on Kairos’ wavelength. I completed most of it in one session with only 10ac and 9dn unsolved. Then I managed to tease out LOCKOUT and eventually bunger in WORKER unparsed; the parsing dawned on me about a quarter of an hour later.

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