i Cryptic Crossword 3377 Serpent

December 3, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Seeing that this was set by Serpent, and seeing too that it was one of those grids, I was on the look out for a nina. As it happened, I got going in the SW quadrant, so WALLPAPER revealed itself fairly readily. That helped a lot with EROSION and RED SETTER. Unfortunately, I couldnt immediately call to mind anything to do with wallpaper, never mind the Oscar Wilde witticism, so it was quite a while before I got the rest of it. When I did, it helped with GIRDLE and DAL SEGNO.

This last was one of two or three obscurities that required me to check up in the dictionary or online. These contributed a little to the toughness of the puzzle, as did the grid – nineteen out of twenty-eight entries have no crossing initial letter. Mainly, however, it was the deliciously convoluted word-play and mischievous misdirection that made this puzzle both very challenging and at the same time an absolute delight to solve. One of what I call a treacle-toffee crossword: chewy, but good. Consider, to take just one example, the clue for GIRDLE, where “Bird’s beginning to fly…” made me think the entry was a bird, and it had an F in it, whereas I should have removed the beginning of “bird” as part of the word-play.

That one was one of six contenders for Clue of the Day, the one I finally picked being 26 ac: “The result when one’s routed a different way (6)”. I know it doesn’t strictly follow the rules, but it’s still good.

Here’s the link for all the answers and explanations: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/10/14/independent-9674-by-serpent-sat-14-oct-2017/

9 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3377 Serpent”

  1. tonnelier said

    It’s been a tough week, with this the toughest. I put in both red setter and home movie, with no conviction. Having seen the explanations, I’m not surprised – the definition in 12 is surely too all-embracing, while the wordplay in 22 seems to be pushing the boundaries just a bit too far.

    That said, the rest is a delight with my personal favourite being the clue for prune. Ninas almost always elude me; this one would have helped a lot, especially with girdle, which had me completely flummoxed.

  2. jonofwales said

    I spotted the partial Nina this time with WALLPAPER to the SW, but it did little to help a painfully slow solve as I didn’t know the quote, and was struggling to construct words that might fill the border. Far too difficult for a week day, almost willfully so with clues like the aforementioned 22ac but also 6d, I’m afraid this continues the run of Serpent puzzles I’ve found to be more of a chore than anything else. 😦

  3. tonnelier said

    I’m inclined to agree about dal segno. As a musician I am very familiar with the term, but suspect it’s a bit too esoteric for a weekday puzzle.

  4. Willow said

    I completely concur with Saboteur: “Both very challenging and at the same time an absolute delight to solve.” In the end I surprised myself by succeeding in completing the entire grid, parsing everything and getting the Nina, but there were several clues where I thought boundaries were being pushed beyond what is normally encountered, although everything was in fact meticulously clued. Very enjoyable overall – many thanks – but I won’t be showing it to any young solvers …

  5. dtw42 said

    Yes, jolly hard. Only the fact that I had a >2hr train journey with little else to do caused me to pursue this one to its finish. 14d and 21d I liked but yes some of the others were a bit OTT for a weekday puzzle. Finished at 12.50pm with BALSA.

  6. Borodin said

    Perhaps not as difficult as it seemed at first – possibly because I got the nina towards the end, which helped me to get everything unaided. A little musical knowledge helped, too, with DAL SEGNO, my CoD.

  7. Cornick said

    Brilliant again from Serpent, and agreed on the 5* rating; my progress was glacial at times, but I could parse it all and did spot the juicy 28-letter Nina (I wonder if earlier drafts had it starting in the NW corner?).
    Unusually for me and Serpent, I do have a couple of quibbles: The questionable link word ‘when’ in 25a for a word that starts with ‘as’ was unfortunate. The alternative spelling for dhal to clue the obscurity DAL SEGNO seemed unfair, and finally the tenuous synonym for butt in 3d combined with removing the the T in object then putting it back on again. I don’t think Klingsor would have done any of those, so he gets his throne back again as my favourite setter!
    Serpent still second though 🙂

    • Saboteur said

      I do agree about the word-play for OBJECTION, which seemed disappointing from such an accomplished setter. The one ‘frown’ in my margin.

      As to dal / dhal, the flyer from my local take-away spells it ‘dal’, and that, as far as I am concerned, is as authoritative as Chambers! 🙂

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