It’s not often that Eimi descends from the editor’s office to show us his skills as a compiler, but when he does it tends to be on a Tuesday – so lucky me. My knowledge of today’s ghost theme is patchy going on non-existent so it passed me by, leaving me scratching my head until Fifteensquared’s Bertandjoyce helped me out. Isn’t that good? At the time of original publication in May 2014 the subject was topical.

Leaving aside thematic considerations we have quite a mixture today, including a Russian car favoured by Politburo members back in Soviet days (I was pleased to know that one), a streamlined dog, a not-so-well-known president as well as a notorious one, a surprising name for a letter, and a nasty medical condition. The latter seemed a bit obscure to me, and it appears that this is the only crossword in which it’s appeared according to 15², so it probably is. I’m inclined to be indulgent though, this being a thoroughly entertaining puzzle with plenty of excellent clues and some notably clever surfaces. Re the COD I find myself impaled on the horns of a dilemma. 12ac is a miniature masterpiece of misdirection, whilst 23ac is straightforward but lapidary. Since quite often I favour complexity I’ll go the other way today and nominate 23:

“Condition discommoding the orators (4,6)”


As mentioned before I’m starting to derive a certain grim pleasure from battling the implacable Monk – but it’s more fun when it isn’t a blog day. To be fair, this wasn’t his toughest by a long chalk, but it certainly put me on my mettle. This setter sometimes includes bizarre Ninas (remember that harmonica puzzle last year?), and sure enough there’s one for our entertainment today related to 17ac. I think he must be a musical Monk.

There really isn’t a great deal to be said about a crossword like this. Things which might be objectionable otherwise are par for the course with this setter, so you just have to like it, lump it, or give it a miss. There are strange definitions (12ac, 6d), words seldom seen in the real world (10ac, 23d), Byzantine constructions (13 and 24ac), and, surprisingly, a dash of Carry On humour (1d). I’ll save Sprouthater the bother of complaining about 3d, because it annoyed me too in more ways than one. All told though, the standard is high and the challenge is a good one; it’s also worth noting that Monk was rather generous with the two long down entries, which provide plenty of toe holds. I particularly liked the comparatively straightforward 22ac but it got pipped at the post towards the end by 11d, my COD:

“Away on account of attraction, returning after this (12)”

John was the unfortunate soul who copped for this puzzle first time round at Fifteensquared in May 2014, and a cracking job he made of the analysis too. I am standing on the shoulders of giants, and pretty darn pleased with that arrangement today, too. It’s worth a visit to see what Monk has to say for himself at comment no. 10.

Wasn’t that good? A bit of everything today, with the usual wide variety of clue constructions all presented with exemplary surfaces; a spot of up-to-the-minute topicality at 26d, and it’s also one of Dac’s occasional pangrams. Pretty superfluous to say that I can’t find anything whatsoever to complain about, since that’s almost always the case with this setter. There are some striking coincidences suggestive of some sort of mini theme going on, but I haven’t been able to put my finger on it so suggestions from eagle-eyed solvers are invited.

On to the plaudits, then. A couple of funnies (13 and 22); some immaculately turned out complex assemblies (1ac, 2 and 27), and 18d is something rather out of the ordinary. The latter is my choice for COD on grounds of novelty, but given the cornucopia of good ‘uns … take your pick.

18d: “At least four teams going north round extremely twisty US route (5-3)”

For the Fifteensquared analysis and commentary it’s back to May 2014.

I’ve never entirely hit it off with with Crosophile, and generally find his puzzles a mixed bag. Without doubt he’s a very capable setter, but there always seems to be something to bring out the grumpy Batarde in me – today it’s the grid. There’s a nice solid chunk diagonally across the middle but with NW and SE corners flimsily attached, which is bad practice but needn’t be a problem so long as there isn’t a truly lousy cryptic definition forming one of the connections. Yes, 2d, I’m talking about you. Adding insult to injury, 26ac may be in Chambers but it’s a rotten word, and whilst the clue is cleverly constructed the definition is wide open to debate.

It’s Tuesday so there has to be a theme, but this time it escaped my notice. I’m in good company though because it slipped under Duncan’s radar too when he blogged the crossword back in April 2014 at Fifteensquared. Hmmm … okay, you got me, Crosophile, but I’m not all that taken with it – sorry. Nothing much jumps out as especially worthy of comment, but I do have one tick by 17ac so that can be the COD:

“Blow up a stomach almost full of wind (9)”

Today’s puzzle is a reprint from the Independent on Sunday, and it seems to me a bit more 6ac than is usual for a Monday, or indeed for the IoS. Ordinarily I’d expect to have a good four-fifths of the solutions filled in after a first quick run through, but this time it was more of a stately anti-clockwise progress from the NW to the NE, finishing on 8d. Some of the clues are really quite devious, with surprising definitions and complex wordplay which reminded me more of setters like Phi or even Klingsor rather than Quixote. Mostly good stuff, although there are a few questionable ones (4 or 19, anybody?), and 16 seems distinctly wilful to me.

A decent selection of COD candidates today, of which it’s 15ac for me:

“A follower gets into car in an uncertain state (5)”

For exhaustive analytical bloggery by scchua and a typically disappointing number of comments, click here and you’ll be whisked back to a Sunday in May 2014.

“Oh dear”, I thought, glancing at 1ac. “Hope it gets better”. And it did. Poins isn’t really your go-to guy for wild flights of fancy, but he does provide plenty of variety in his clues and it’s good to see what he can do with a themed puzzle – his first since I’ve been doing Tuesdays.

Our theme today is perhaps a bit nebulous, but there’s a scattering of 6s and a couple of characters from the 26, so it helps if you had the relevant information drummed into you at an early age so you don’t have to look it up in a good book. All the same, the penny took a long time to drop with 23. Lots of decent stuff to enjoy, including a perfectly acceptable Spoonerism – which I think we can all agree is a rare beast. Nothing jumps out in particular, although I did enjoy the tortuousness of 5 and the sneakiness of 19. 11ac is elegantly done with a classy surface, and is my COD:

“A carrier employing Poles and Danes flying tea to Iran (5,5)”

This is an IoS reprint from April 2014, which explains the disappointing number of comments on PeeDee’s Fifteensquared write-up.

Bless my symmetrical soul, that was neat, wasn’t it? Full marks to the setter for integrating his theme so tidily, and disposing the elements in regular fashion around the grid. As remarked before, Radian has this themed crossword business down to a T, and it’s good to see that there was plenty of well-earned praise from one and all at Fifteensquared back in April 2014 when the puzzle first appeared. Of course there are a few gripes, none of which occurred to me. There will be those who are pleased to see that there are no intersections between gateway entry and thematic material; conversely others will get in a tizzy about the two instances of 2/5 checking. Me … not bovvered.

I was fully expecting an Anax or a Monk today since a real three pipe problem is overdue, but this is a puzzle one can cruise through in a relaxed manner, enjoying the deft little touches along the way. All very congenial. One grumpy observation: the plural of shiitake is shiitake, something worth checking before passing adverse comment, you’d think. Anyway … lots of apt surfaces today and general cleverness. Stand-outs for me were 4, 17 and 20, and we’re back with the mushrooms for the COD, 8d. Arguably chestnut mushrooms, but it’s still a good ‘un:

“A bit of bacon, egg and mushroom (7)”

A blogger-friendly crossword today, very much on the easy side for a Tuesday but a pleasure to solve all the same. Raich has spelt out the theme for us in a Nina, and I think it would have been fairly hard to miss even without that bonus – says he whose ability to overlook such things is well known. But what about that peculiar bottom row? Turns out it was just a coincidence, according to the setter.

Nothing too adventurous in the way of clue construction today, with a fair few anagrams and a surprising number of hiddens. Everything seems to me entirely fair and above board without so much as a suggestion of a quibble to be raised, and nothing in the way of unfamiliar vocabulary. Raich clearly isn’t in the business of setting boundary stretching mindbenders and plays with the straightest of bats: I think that’s rather admirable, but it does mean that nothing leaps out as an obvious clue of the day. 7d and 10ac were nice, and 19d pleased me too; my COD is 13d:

“Pleasing sound character from Athens reproduced accurately (5)”

For solutions, minimal discussion and another happy blogger, please see John’s April 2014 Fifteensquared write-up.

Morph: that makes a change. It’s his first Tuesday this year and I freely admit that this is one setter I’d rather tackle without a time limit, but as it turned out there was no need to worry since this is a fairly gentle puzzle – and it certainly helps that 4d serves up the theme on a plate, as it were. The only real sticking point was 26ac, which comes in for a good deal of discussion in the comments on Beermagnet’s April 2014 Fifteensquared blog.

Lots to like today, including the two entries related to the theme in the NE and SW corners: a nice touch that. Plaudits for 17, 18 and 28, all elegantly constructed clues; my choice for COD is 12ac, which has been edited and pre-dates by a couple of years the gentleman in question’s remarkable achievements in the terpischorean arts, for which he is now chiefly remembered:

“After dalliance, former shadow minister getting end away was cooperative (6,4)”

Very much looking forward to the fly past later on (see p.13): anybody else lucky enough to be under the flight path?

Hob again: last Thursday I suggested that perhaps he was trying just a wee bit too hard, and the same might be said to apply to this puzzle in places. Nonetheless, it was a hoot, so no moaning here this time. Our theme today is 17ac/21ac/27, which really isn’t my specialist subject at all, but Hob obligingly stuck to thematic material I’d heard of with the exception of 27d. Quite a brisk solving experience all told with few hold-ups, even though some of the clues were exotic enough to require a bit of squinting at to work out what on earth was going on.  There’s a Nina too: my congratulations to anyone who spotted that.

The ever-reliable Duncan Shiell supplied the Fifteensquared blog entry for this puzzle on April Fools’ Day 2014 which generally guarantees that every t is crossed and i dotted, but on this occasion he struggled to justify his correct parsing of the excellent 25ac, and was mystified by 15d. Comforting to know that even the mighty can be perplexed once in a while. (I just wrote the latter in with a shrug). Features of interest: some risqué wordplay suggestive of John Halpern’s influence (and not entirely inappropriate to the theme); a pretty audacious entry at 12/23 which made me chuckle, and some notable goodies: 1, 5, 21 and 26d, amongst others. All the same, 25ac has to be the COD, really:

“After split, go to find source of 30/24 (8,4)”