i Cryptic Crossword 3412 Daedalus

January 14, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I completed this in about two- or three-star time. I’ve bumped the rating up to four stars on account of some pretty ingenious word-play – and because of one obscure word.

First the obscurity. VAPOURWARE was completely unknown to me. I’m reasonably techno-competent (for a man of my age and education) but I’d never heard of this. Nor had the Younger Person I spoke to. It didn’t show up in the electronic word-finder I resorted to. It is buried deep within my Chambers dictionary, but was only discovered by a laborious process of working through the alphabet once all the crossing letters were in. When an obscure word has no initial crossing letter and very common crossing letters, finding it can be a trial. But in the dictionary it is, and the definition and word-play are precise, so there we are.

Other than that, this was a coruscating crossword: a delight to solve, and provoking great admiration for the setter’s skill and creativity in devising word-play. Particularly noteworthy are the well-constructed anagrams, which are impressive and not at the expense of the surface readings. The ingenuity of, for example, MIDDLE OF THE ROAD is brilliant.

Not so much a theme, there is a gateway clue which was necessary to make sense of about a quarter of the clues. I guessed what the word meant fairly early, but the actual entry RETROSPECT was one of my last ones in, as I needed all the crossing letters to get it.

My clue of the day is 3d. I got the answer from the definition, enumeration and initial L, and then I got the word-play, which was both clever and funny. “If so, Ely is black capital of Europe! (6)”.

Independent 9,695 / Daedalus

5 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3412 Daedalus”

  1. thebargee said

    Great fun, but annoyingly I fell at the last by not getting VAPOURWARE. Somewhat embarrassing as in the past I’ve been personally involved with such items during my long career in IT!

    This was a curious solve for me in that the gateway clue was my LOI before giving up on 14a. It was obviously something to do with reversal, but it took for ever to guess it. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever bunged in so many answers unparsed before, although on a second reading many of them became clear. Not so LISBON, I completely failed to parse that one, devilishly clever as it was.

  2. Cornick said

    Very much agreed. Coruscating indeed.
    MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, LISBON, RETROSPECT, were outstanding but so many others were truly delightful.

    Slightly spoilt by VAPOURWARE at the end where the wordplay ‘See man perhaps about’ to give VAP — E was way beyond me, and even after doing a wordsearch then getting the yellow tick I assumed it must be some kind of crockery!

  3. dtw42 said

    Done in about 40 to 45 mins here, but agreed this was the puzzle of the week for inventiveness. I sussed pretty sharpish that 12d was some sort of reversal indicator, guessed soon after that it had to be RETROSPECT but only twigged as to *why* quite late on.
    VAPOURWARE was, as with most of you, last one in. I *had* heard of it, but was put off by the “I’ll” bit, on the grounds that that ought to indicate a person, not a thing. At any rate,once everything else was in, I bunged it in understanding only the OUR WAR bit. The penny did eventually drop that V=see and APE=man, perhaps … but that was certainly the most torturous part.
    Agree with LISBON being a cracker.

  4. jonofwales said

    About 3* for difficulty here, with no real problems encountered. That said, loads of the clues made no sense at all as the “gateway clue” was my LOI, so it felt like a very odd solve indeed. VAPOURWARE I assumed was common parlance, but I do work in the industry. 🙂

  5. Willow said

    Too clever.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: