i Cryptic Crossword 3375 Hob

December 1, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of 5): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Three stars represents the overall level of difficulty, as most clues were easier than that, or at that level, but several were considerably more demanding.

Around a dozen clues were what I would regard as beautifully crafted, and good, solid fare for the solver. They included 8, 13, 18, 23A, 27, 3, 14, 17, 19, 20 and 22, and getting their answers gave me a firm base from which I was able to branch out and solve the rest.

Other clues needed greater analysis, sometimes because their definitions were somewhat abstract, as in 5; sometimes because the wordplay was intricate, as in 23D; and sometimes because it was unclear how to interpret an Arabic number given in the clue: for example โ€œ10โ€ in 6 is to be taken as IO, but โ€œ9โ€ in 5 refers to the answer in 9 across.

Having completed about a third of the grid I was able to guess the Nina hidden in the left and right sides of the perimeter, although at that stage I had no idea why that particular person was mentioned. However, it did greatly assist me with getting answers which crossed with those letters. At the end I also noted the Ninas in the top and bottom rows, but it was only when I read the comments on Fifteensquared that it all made sense. And then I saw the relevance of the italicised words in 3 and 4, and of the clue for 2.

Some brief notes about certain things which stood out for me: A being the leader of ANTS rather than of THEIR in 6; AMAH in 12 โ€“ I only got this by guessing AYAH and then trying to turn the YAH bit round, getting HAY, and then seeing it might refer to HAM; POOL in 26A โ€“ having got the P and also the L (from the Nina), I was thinking PEAL meaning RING, before the real answer came to me.

However, I have to say that I was greatly frustrated by the unnecessarily complex wordplay in 11 and by the abstruse nature of 28, in which ORD is not the centre of OFORD โ€“ OXFORD without the X. Linked with this, I found the wordplay in 1 โ€“ COLORADO โ€“ unsatisfying as well. Fifteensquared has a slightly different clue for 28, so maybe the setter was trying to improve it here. In the end I had to enter these answers without fully understanding how they were parsed. Having said all that, I did enjoy solving much of this puzzle.

The Clue of the Day Iโ€™ve chosen is 7: โ€œAsian from East China, UK resident (6)โ€ Not the most straightforward of clues, but very neat, and indeed witty, once you understand it.

Hereโ€™s the link for all the answers and explanations:

Independent 9,671 / Hob

10 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3375 Hob”

  1. jonofwales said

    I spotted the band name in the bottom row and partial name in the left hand column first, and guessed most of the rest in the border from that. Finished just into 4* for time, but without the Nina that would have been considerably longer as this felt quite tough throughout. It looks like we’re making up for the 1* Monday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cornick said

      Although I was alive at the time, I have no recall of the incident that forms theme and Nina. Is it very well known today? If not, youโ€™d presumably have to be around 65+ now to fully appreciate whatโ€™s going on. Hence 11a seemed both puzzling and unwieldy at the time of solving.
      And 28a still is puzzling!
      Otherwise good stuff. Mostly pretty gentle by Hobโ€™s own standards.

      • jonofwales said

        I knew the band, but not the incident. I did though have enough letters from the PM to hazard a lucky guess.

  2. tonnelier said

    I gave up on 4, 7 and 11, so I suppose this was five *s for me. The clue for 11 is just too abstruse; I did find Harold Wilson and indeed remember him well, but the libel case referred to must have passed me by, which made both 4 and 7 extremely difficult. As for 7, I can’t accept it as COD – the UK resident bit just doesn’t work for me.

    I enjoyed the Hoskinsesque 23s however.

    Having relished the struggle with Scorpio on Friday, I found this equally tough puzzle much less satisfying

  3. Saboteur said

    Spotted the nina, but it meant nothing to me – although one of the pleasures of a crossword is the mind-expansion you get from looking up things that crop up. So now I am better informed. And able to understand the clue for LIBEL, which was otherwise rather opaque.

    Tough, but fair, and I think three-star is about right. I got a bit stuck with the crossing and self-referential PENCE and OPULENCE. I couldn’t parse my last one in, RING ROAD. I could sort of see what was going on, but it seemed too complicated…

    Enjoyable and satisfying.

  4. dtw42 said

    ****ยผ for me.
    At least I finished it; normally I’m happy with a 7.35 finish, but normally that means a.m., and not p.m.!
    Saw the left/right parts of the nina about halfway through, which helped solve 12 and 15. The bottom was already in by that time but it didn’t mean anything to me, and the top – well I could see what word it was going to become but couldn’t make a connection as to why.
    My COD was the DD at 22d – which garnered a marginal note of “nice”; conversely, 25a got “lordy”.

  5. Cornick said

    Ah, just seen that 28a has a slightly less awful clue in the dead tree version than in the app (which is as Fifteensquared). I take that to be a tacit acknowledgment that the original clue was a stinker. O FORD could be taken as Ring Road because a Ford is a kind of road I guess; the word โ€˜Centreโ€™ is maybe there as part of the Semi&Lit whole clue definition.

  6. Borodin said

    I’d have given this at least 4 stars if not 5 as I struggled with it. I spotted the ‘sidesman’ but it wasn’t till I googled him and ‘libel’ that everything became clear and I was able to complete the nina and hence the puzzle.
    I thought 23dn was clever if a bit cheeky, but favourites were PENTATEUCH and AMPHORAE.

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