i Cryptic Crossword 3339 by Punk

October 20, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟

Punk is well known to Guardian solvers as Paul, but his appearances in the Indy and hence the i are less frequent. An editorial oversight, though, meant that this puzzle appeared twice in the Indy. On its first appearance in 2017 RatkojaRiku found it ‘not that difficult to get into’ but then increasing in difficulty; John, in 2018, went straight for the jugular, declaring ‘what a difficult puzzle this was.’ Certainly, Punk’s puzzles can be tricky and I was prepared for a struggle with this. So I was pleasantly surprised to zip through it in around half an hour apart from 10dn which I eventually had to resort to a wordfinder for.

This was, though, one of those puzzles with several long entries, some of which split over more than one light; if you can crack those that’s a lot of the grid filled and you’ve got plenty of crossing letters for the rest. In this case I saw 7, 18 and 22 straight away which gave me a good start. 12/15 and 4/25 took a bit longer but by then crossing letters had made the answers, if not the parsing, obvious.

I had several candidates for CoD including the self-referential 11ac as well as MASTODONS and PETER PAN. However, since ‘pi’ is often used for ‘good’ but has been used differently here I’ll go for 13dn – ‘Those known by experts to hold sanctimonious views (8)’.

As for the difficulty level I would personally rate it as 2*, but since other solvers struggled on both the puzzle’s previous appearances I’ve given it three stars and wonder if it ought to have four.

For the fifteensquared blog we’re spoilt for choice. A couple of clues were changed in 2018 but what we got today was the original 2017 version for which the blog can be found at https://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/08/16/independent-9623-punk/ . The comments on the later version, to be found at https://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/03/14/independent-9802-by-punk/ include an apology and explanation from eimi (the crossword editor) for the duplication.

5 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3339 by Punk”

  1. Cornick said

    Very good blog Borodin – agreed on all points.

    A crossword which shows how very creative Mr Halpern can be – you really do see his consummate crafting ability, sense of fun and swashbuckling confidence in those clues.

  2. jonofwales said

    It’s lucky I wasn’t blogging, as I found this to be extremely difficult – easily 5*. The longer answers it took an age to get, and there were quite a few I struggled to parse, notably the anagram indicator, such as it is, at 7ac. A bit of a slog for me, tbh, but perhaps I’m just having an off-day!

  3. Grodnik said

    A very satisfying solve of an excellent *** puzzle imho. The use of a question mark as the anagrind in 7ac is (almost) genius. There are so many beautifully crafted clues that choosing a CoD is beyond me. Thanks, Punk (I trust that the cheque is in the post). NDY.

  4. Saboteur said

    A brilliant and indeed awe-inspiring puzzle. So many ticks and double-ticks in my margin, and so much creativity and inventiveness to admire.

    I did find it tough, though. More five-star than three, for me. Some of the parsing took me a while, but it was well worth the not inconsiderable effort.

  5. Willow said

    This was very difficult – five star for me – and, I regret to say, not very enjoyable. 12/15 is drivel. 1 pushes definitions pretty much to the limit. Most other clues and answers are complex and verbose, although logical. I think CHANGE in 22 is perhaps superfluous? I did originally consider XMAS for 24, (NOEL), so was on the right lines. I eventually got it when I realised FOCUS means the middle letter of NOVEL. And, although I do know AGADOO, who would want to be reminded of it?

    It is always good to have a certain percentage of challenging clues in a puzzle, but in this case I personally found it was nearly all of them. I almost gave up with only three or four clues solved after half an hour. I did like 16 – EROSION – though. Solving that one helped me to get the rest.

    Having said all that, I can appreciate Punk’s overall skill, and this might be a great puzzle in a different context, But we tend to expect something bright and breezy on Wednesdays!

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