i Cryptic Crossword 3418 Serpent

January 21, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟

In a different week this fine puzzle might have stood out as reasonably challenging; given the two toughies were were treated to on Monday and Wednesday, its accessibility seems more to the fore. Serpent is an accomplished setter, and I think this crossword balances accessibility with challenge rather well.

In particular, consider the anagrams. There are seven of them, a full quarter of the total. These, in my experience at least, help to open up a puzzle somewhat. But how impressive they are! ALPHANUMERIC and SHIVER MY TIMBERS are superb. And never at the cost of plausible surface readings, so important in making a clue satisfying.

In fairness, I ought to admit that I wasn’t overly happy with EASY CHAIR. I could see what was going on, just about, but it didn’t quite work for me. Neither could I get the word-play in HEAD. On the other hand, the triple definition CASE and the reverse-anagram of CRIED OUT were worthy contenders for the prize for Clue of the Day, but they were beaten by 24ac: “One rivalling Greek character spelt out for the audience afterwards (8)”.

It being from Serpent, I was expecting some gimmick or other. I thought there might be a theme on faries in the lights, having got FAIRY LIGHT very early on, and having read 1ac. I was wrong and failed to spot the actual gimmick of there being an H in all the Downs (complemented by the four big Hs in the grid). Bravo, Serpent!

Here’s the link for the answers and explanations: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/09/14/independent-9648-by-serpent/

6 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3418 Serpent”

  1. thebargee said

    I think this is possibly only the first or second Serpent puzzle I’ve managed to complete, so very much enjoyed for that reason alone! Having said that, quite a few entries went in unparsed, which tempered my satisfaction somewhat (talking of temper, ref 26ac, it’s one of those interesting words that can have two opposite meanings). I also nearly managed to snooker myself early on by carelessly bunging in MAHARINA instead of MAHARANI, but spotted my mistake before too long.

    I didn’t quite get the MUSTERED/MUSTARD thing in 14ac, the link between MUSTARD and seeds seems a bit tenuous. Other than that there were loads of excellent clues. My favourite today was CRIED OUT.

  2. jonofwales said

    A pretty rapid solve here, 2* sort of time, perhaps duly prepped by all the toughies earlier in the week. Only 13ac and 18ac at the close caused any real difficulty. Good as Serpent always is, favourite was CRIED OUT too.

  3. dtw42 said

    For me, it was 17a and 16d (the latter bunged in without parsing) that held me up in the end; but most of the rest of it had gone in fine before that. I too didn’t think much of 15d. While I personally am fine with the SORE/SAW homophone, I can imagine it’d have some spluttering into their tea.
    Wondered about the H-heavy grid, but didn’t spot the H-heavy down answers. Hey-ho!

  4. Cornick said

    Agreed on 3*, which for me makes it the easiest one of the week. A Serpent being the easiest of the week! Incredible! If any new solvers started doing cryptics in the i just now, I do hope they won’t have been put off for good!
    Very pleased to have spotted the H theme near the end of my solve, which helped with HORNIEST, the only one I couldn’t parse (although I did have to look up and check HOB for fairy). Another vote here for CRIED OUT – we see reverse anagrams quite a bit, but the ‘recipe’ idea was brilliant.

    • Cornick said

      Oh, looking at the other side, I
      now see that I parsed STATUTES wrongly. It’s STATU (T.E.) S.
      I also wish to firmly bat away Grant Bayham’s suggestion that ‘Jack’ has the most meanings of any English word; no, that’ll be ‘Set’ with 194.

  5. Willow said

    I liked the clue for SWEETHEART best. There were some other good clues as well.

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