i Cryptic Crossword 3515 by Phi

May 14, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): šŸŒŸšŸŒŸšŸŒŸ

In his 1564 book ‘The Scholemaster’ Roger Ascham, tutor to both Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I, wrote “TheĀ ENGLISHMAN ITALIANATEĀ is theĀ DevilĀ Incarnate” (quite right of course, we’re British Godammit) and hence our ghost theme today of synonyms for Beelzebub, and also the symmetrical positioning of those two 10-letter words – irresistible to Phi it seems. We also had DICKENS, DEUCE, HARRY, and SCRATCH. As usual all of that soared over my head while solving, but I have heard of Ascham, and I imagine it was in the above mentioned book that he wrote one of my favourite aphorisms about education: how there are two kinds of learners – ‘quick wits’ and ‘strong wits’, and that he preferred the latter.

Anyhow, back to the puzzle. A typical offering from Phi I thought. A pretty obvious long entry down the middle – assuming you knew the phrase – opened things up, and I found the lower half easier than the upper – 2* and 3* respectively. Then that theme looked like it was going to be a literary one, didn’t it? but not so in the end. There were a few where I struggled – like knowing neither of the double definitions for 8d SCRATCH or the parsing of 13a CROSSBOW – but overall it was an enjoyable offering, with some very well worked clues along the way, like 18a NOONTIDE, 22a DUCT, 24a LEISURED, 6d PARSI,14d SAVILE ROW, 15d GROUNDING, and 19d DICKENS. My favourite was:

20a Some European he maligns misguidedly? Little new in that (10)

Here are all the answers from 4 years back:


4 Responses to “i Cryptic Crossword 3515 by Phi”

  1. thebargee said

    I found this easier than Cornick’s 3* rating, only just into 2* territory (I seem to have been in the zone the last couple of days – long may it last!). The only clue that held me up briefly at the end was ROSY, yet another of those 4-letter jobs with no initial letter.

    As well as those mentioned in the blog, I rather liked OVERFULL with the use of ‘VE’ to signify end of war rather than the more obvious letter ‘R’.

  2. Saboteur said


    Despite my policy of not looking too hard for a Phi-theme, the appearance of DICKENS and GOETHE did make me wonder, but naturally I completely missed the actual theme. Just like everyone else, I dare say.

    Otherwise all good and nicely enjoyable, as an ignore-the-theme Phi puzzle reliably is.

  3. jonofwales said

    Solved in about 1* for time here, with a little bit of thought required for ABU SIMBEL at the close. Enjoyed while it lasted, with no searching carried out for a theme which I probably wouldn’t have spotted.

  4. imsewell said

    The problem with Phi puzzles for me, is that by the time I have scratched around with lists and hopeful searches, to complete the dour technical clues and obscurities, i.e. Monday or Tuesday, I have forgotten the clever, intuitive and pleasing clueing of the majority of the puzzle and do not wish to start another puzzle for days.

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