i Cryptic Crossword 3373 Hoskins

November 29, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟

Is it fair to use references in a crossword that only those with a little insider knowledge will know? I suppose all sorts of human activities have their in-jokes and sly personal references, and why would one expect Crosswordland to be any different? The clue for ALIGNED requires new and inexperienced solvers to have some knowledge of the names of i crossword setters. When combined with the crossword’s only (I think) obscurity, “ned” referring to a Scots hooligan, this clue, I think becomes unfair. In defence, the crossing letters and clear definition can have left few in doubt of the entry.

Otherwise, this was an accessible and pleasing solve, if over rather too quickly for my taste. My first in was 1ac, and then they all went in fairly readily, more or less anticlockwise, until my last in, 9d. Apart from the aforementioned ALIGNED, I don’t think there are any obscurities, and only one bit of parsing had me puzzled: the clue for NURSE. I eventually took it as a straightforward definition (“tend”) plus a whimsical, but not not particularly cryptic, definition (“to hold on to a pint but not neck it”).

This puzzle was one I could have solved with my late maiden aunts without either of them blushing, which is a surprise, given this setter’s reputation under this pseudonym. I think there were only a couple of references to a certain sub-culture – and a couple of opportunities not taken. Even so, the setter’s creativity was on display in such clues as TRAVELLER, PASSING ON and ON THE SLY. I was amused by the surface reading of SIDEROADS, and the misdirection which both drew on and shamed my prejudice in GENERAL. Clue of the Day, though, goes to the clever 20d: “Let down recently (after making love, Ed turned over) (7)”.

This setter seems to read the comments in Fifteensquared and to reflect upon them, which is good. He seems to take a genuine interest in what solvers think. Here’s the link, with all the answers and explanations: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/10/15/independent-on-sunday-1442-by-hoskins/

9 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3373 Hoskins”

  1. jonofwales said

    As per the above, really, with agreement on ALIGNED, although the answer was fairly obvious. All over in a flash, though, and thoroughly enjoyed. Light on the smut front this time?

  2. Willow said

    I enjoyed this very much – thank you. Although perhaps TRES was a little left-field.

    I have a confession to make:

    Two years ago I would have been almost fulminating with rage that Hoskins would expect us to know GILA is an i setter. These days, with regular experience of i puzzles, I don’t think it is unreasonable for solvers to be fairly familiar with those who provide our much valued daily entertainment, and who (generally) help us to remain sane. I also have to confess that I had no problem with NED, so that particular clue went in very easily, although I accept others might have found it more demanding.

    I read Hoskins’s comments on Fifteensquared with interest. If he isn’t a stand-up comic, he certainly should be.

  3. thebargee said

    There’s a bit of a problem with the app clue for 2dn today which, together with the reference to GILA, made it my LOI. It begins:

    isetter upset…

    A fairly obvious misprint I suppose so I did my best to ignore it. Overall a fairly pleasant solve, but not one of Hoskins’ best to my mind. I don’t know if I’m relieved or disappointed at the lack of innuendo!

  4. Cornick said

    No need to be ashamed at your reaction to GENERAL. Entirely forgivable in this country given the fact that we have never yet had a female general in the British armed services.
    Lots to like again today from Hoskins, although I did wince at the Gila reference. He did that with Maize once and I was completely mortified.

  5. Cornick said

    Great top line on the concise 😆

  6. dtw42 said

    All as discussed above really. The quick solve gave me time to also enjoy the quite Cyclopean puzzle by Eimi in today’s Indy, and, er, Steerpike in the FT.

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