i Cryptic Crossword 3406 Serpent

January 7, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

A challenging puzzle today from the ever-impressive Serpent. This one took me a good deal longer than my typical time, but was truly engrossing while my coffee went cold. Twice.

Almost a Did Not Finish for me. I’d got all of the entries in to my satisfaction, with words that were consonant with the definitions in the clues, but several bits of word-play proved resistant to my attempts to untangle them. I almost gave up, but after setting it aside for half an hour and having one final look before starting this blog, everything seemed so obvious and I wondered why I had been struggling. The clues in question were those for COD LIVER OIL (where Oliver Twist eluded me) and the crossing NONSTOP and ADORN.

Great surface readings combined with devious cluing made this a delight to solve. Consider, for example, the hidden inclusion in SURFEIT, or the “&lit” quality of STAMPEDES. (A more accomplished blogger will no doubt correct my description of “&lit” as a clue where the surface reading as a whole provides the definition, with the word-play conveyed in the usual way within it). Clue of the day, however has to go to the incredible 14/19/5d/26d. So sharp of Serpent to spot the four component three-letter words from the full 7,5. “One couldn’t appreciate wife when time at home got hard following gossip (7,5)”.

Here’s the link to the puzzle’s first appearance in January 2018 with all the answers and explanations: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/01/06/independent-9745-serpent/

7 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3406 Serpent”

  1. Cornick said

    So glad with your choice of CoD. I imagine Serpent to be the sort of person who cannot encounter a phrase like that without immediately noticing that it splits up as the 4 words WAS/TIN/GAS/SET and then for the notion of this grid to pop into his head. Terrific.
    As usual with Serpent Iโ€™m on his wavelength, so after an initial impenetrability this one ended up being an average time to solve with some 4* parsing like that at 4d you mentioned.
    Superb clues all over the place, Serpent outsets Hoskins yet again!

  2. jonofwales said

    Having struggled with Serpent in the past, today I found this to be pretty straightforward, finishing in about 2* for time. Granted a few went in unparsed, but we had a couple of phrases that were easily guessable given the generous enumerations, and lots of others that could be backwards engineered with little ado based on likely looking definitions. The on-the-other-hand-unlikely looking CoD was the last but one to fall, and very nicely done it was too. Overall lots of fun and satisfying to unpick.

  3. Willow said

    Some excellent clues – I particularly liked that for STAMPEDES.

    Yesterday we had a puzzle which took the Spoonerism CAT BASKET/BAT CASKET as its starting point, which was quite imaginative. Today the spark seems to have been provided by WAS/TIN/GAS/SET, which I think, in itself, takes the art of setting into another dimension. Normally we get two strands – definition and wordplay. Today a third – an entirely unrelated set of three-letter words. A nice idea.

    I do find it interesting how the same words crop up in different puzzles during any given week. This week we have had FOOTPRINT, references to tap dancing in both an answer and a clue, and OBESE. Coincidence, I am sure.

    • Saboteur said

      Coincidence? I’m not so sure. I often see a link from one day’s crossword to the next. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could trace links throughout whole runs of puzzles. I bet our esteemed editor takes some mischievous delight in his selections.

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