Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟

I’m not sure how fair an assessment I can make of this. I’d forgotten I have to go to a meeting this morning so I had to solve the puzzle in a rush before breakfast and put this blog together in rather a hurry too. So I found it a bit tricky in places but that was probably because, being short of of time, I had recourse to wordfinder and anagram solver for clues which I would have solved unaided given time. However, I’ll go with Pierre back in 2017 who rates Raich’s puzzles ‘accessible’ so it’s a two star rating although I might have given it just one in other circumstances..

I did find some write-ins, though – 1ac, 5ac, 14 and 16 for example. Overall, a nice mix of clue types – anagrams, homophones, cryptic definitions and some fairly involved wordplay. Several candidates for CoD; I liked 1dn and 17 but I’ll go for 26: ‘In from France warning about lake – area surrounded (7)’

Normal service will be resumed next week. Meanwhile for more detailed comment go to:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/07/16/independent-on-sunday-1429raich/

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟

Dutch is an occasional setter for the Indy with only seven appearances in the last five years, so it’s not easy to get on his wavelength. Consequently I found this a bit tricky in places and would agree with the fifteensquared blogger’s rating of medium difficulty.

There were some nice touches such as the penny-drop moment in 1ac when I realised the answer was a PI’s typical attire rather than the name of a detective agency. Another nice touch was the ‘unstable summit’ in 21dn. I also liked the (not too) cryptic definition in 13dn in that it implied a different enumeration from the answer.

One or two entries didn’t quite hit the right spot for me, notably 9ac and 12ac although I can’t put my finger on any specific faults with them. I did wonder about 26ac in that the answer is not one of the definitions of GP in Chambers, but then I realised that G and P had to be treated as separate abbreviations.

What I didn’t like was 18dn with its reference to a US communications director no longer in office – in fact he had already departed by the time the puzzle was originally published in 2017. Whether or not topcal references get updated for the i does seem to be a bit hit-and-miss.

Overall, though, a pleasant enough puzzle for my first idothei blog. CoD? 1ac and 26ac came to mind while I was solving but on reflection I’ll go for 20ac – Utterly perplexed as she may be, he treats wind casually (2,3,4,3).

To July 2017 for all the answers and comments – http://www.fifteensquared.net/2017/07/13/independent-9594-dutch/