i Cryptic Crossword 3390 by Phi

December 18, 2021

Difficulty rating (out of five):  🌟🌟🌟

In which Phi gave us another of his well-hidden ghost themes. Among the answers we had the titles of Hieronymous Bosch works: The GARDEN of EARTHLY DELIGHTS, the LAST JUDGMENT, the DEATH of the MISER, and an Allegory of LUST and GLUTTONY. Well done to anyone who spotted that – it probably was just about detectable for the artistically inclined, but went right over my head as per usual.

Possible points for discussion in the clues today might include:

An unusually low number of anagrams for Phi at just two; some characteristic tricky deletions including the excellent one at 7d for [an]AESTHETIC; a controversial definition at 28a for HIGH CLASS; some rather vague wordplay for 2d LIVID which was nonetheless quite fun I thought; a strange definition of ‘a lot of force’ for ARM in 21d; a super definition of ‘Hardy location’ for 22d SPARTA;  and finally the overall high quality surface readings this time from Phi, including this neat little biographical story in my nomination for Clue of the Day:

6d Puritan, no good in religious group, becomes criminal (7)

A very early post today as I’m now collecting the Cornick offspring who are back for Christmas, before heading off to a grotto at Heligan Gardens to go ‘Ho, ho, ho’ a lot. Well, someone’s got to.

Happy Christmas solvers.

And here’s the 2017 blog from Duncan with all the answers:

Fifteensquared/ Independent9727/ Phi

6 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3390 by Phi”

  1. dtw42 said

    Another one of those puzzles where it’s hard to give an overall difficulty rating because I sailed happily through 85% and then got stuck on the last five or so (5, 7, 12, 17, 20) for quite a while. Got them in the end with some electronic assistance. Couldn’t parse 12a – still seems a bit vague to me even seeing the 15² explanation … and then 5d was LOI. 24a I liked.

    Theme … passed me by, though if I had thought to look for it, I *might*/should have at least put together GARDEN + EARTHLY + DELIGHTS. Hey ho.

  2. Willow said

    A very enjoyable solve for me – many thanks. I spotted GARDEN of EARTHLY DELIGHTS, and assumed words such as LUST, GLUTTONY, JUDGMENT and DEATH must have some relevance, but I don’t know enough about Bosch to have got the full meaning. He was well ahead of his time. I remember first seeing prints of his works when I was 8 or so and experiencing a mixture of fascination and alarm.

    Cornick: I think “A lot of force” means you take the last letter off ARMY.

    ADVENT in 9 would only work at this time of the year. Congratulations to the crossword editor for spotting that.

    • Cornick said

      Thanks Willow. It seems gwep in the comments in 2017 is your kindred spirit; I now see (s)he pointed out the same thing to Duncan, who misparsed exactly as I did!

  3. thebargee said

    Yep, 3* seems about right, but like dtw42 I got bogged down towards the end, in the SE corner in my case. Needless to say, the theme remained well-hidden.

    My last 2 in were OVERARM and MISER, neither of which I understood when writing them in. I’ve never come across that meaning of ‘near fellow’, but I think Willow has got it spot on with the parsing of 21.

  4. jonofwales said

    About 3* here too, and the theme duly missed. A bit rushed today for the same reason as Cornick. 🙂

  5. Saboteur said

    A late Sunday evening solve for me after a busy (in a good way) pre-Christmas weekend. Enjoyable, as Phi usually is, and three-star was roughly my experience too. Didn’t spot the theme, but didn’t really look, fir fear of spoiling an otherwise pleasing solve.

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