I have been doing my homework, and can tell you that this is Radian’s eighth Tuesday appearance this year. His lead over Jambazi (five puzzles) is now unassailable – hardly surprising given his obvious aptitude and liking for themed crosswords.

Not one but two themes this time, and plenty of interlinked clues to gladden the heart of … well me, mostly. I understand that many solvers sigh heavily when they see lots of cross references, but honestly, it’s all fair and above board today and rather adds to the fun. In my opinion. The gateway clues are on the gentle side, and once you have a couple it’ll be obvious where all this is going. Possible bones of contention are the need to know (or be able to guess) a spot of French, and an antiquated sporting term which really ought to be in every experienced solver’s vocabulary. Useless for any other purpose, mind you.

Alas, there was another outbreak of hostilities at Fifteensquared when the puzzle first appeared back in August 2013 – why some people get so aerated about something so innocent and inconsequential as a crossword defeats me. Surely 6d is sufficiently amusing to warrant an indulgent smile rather than huffing and puffing? Tempting as it is to pick that as my COD, let’s have a look at a few other options: 11, 19 and 25 all got the thumbs up, but my favourite was 16d:

“Traffic scene where garda ordered some to be had up (4,4)


This is Kairos’ first Tuesday appearance in the i on my watch, and if it’s typical of his non-IoS output I hope it won’t be the last. Quite a decent challenge with some sly clue writing, and there are nine 4ds lurking in the grid. So beware.

This was a slow starter for me, with very modest progress until the theme became obvious thanks to 22d. Thereafter the pace picked up considerably. A couple of unusual definitions and a variant spelling caused a measure of confusion: 11ac is a bit rich, strictly speaking, but given a couple of checking letters it ought to be obvious where to look for it in the dictionary. Two clues stood out for me: 1d and my first one in, 10ac. The latter is easy – but it made me chuckle, and therefore takes the COD prize:

“Question one’s sexuality in North American country (7)”

Duncanshiell’s Fifteensquared blog entry comes highly recommended today: it’s exemplary and he has provided illustrations. As for the comments, there’s some understandable pooh-poohing about a glaring omission; much back and forth about 11 and 26ac, and a one-liner by Dormouse which made me splutter.

i Cryptic Crossword 2124 Punk

November 28, 2017

There may have been some glum faces in crosswordland this morning on account of all those interlinked clues, but I do hope nobody was too badly put off. Punk is just about the best in the business when it comes to this particular kind of gimmick (honourable mention for Scorpion, mind you), and this puzzle is right out of his top drawer. All the usual ingredients are there: wit, playfulness, bathos, and a smidgeon of mild ribaldry to keep the primly disapproving sorts happy.

The theme concerns various 26/4s, and the gateway clue is quite a gentle one: the real fun and games are to be found elsewhere. It’s quite a tricky crossword in my opinion, but all fair and above board. The only thematic entry which might seem a little obscure is 6d, but the clue is pitched accordingly. I’m not going to reel off a list of admirable clues today because they’re all good – but I can’t resist pointing to 24/2 which is so very Punkish. My COD is 15d:

“Extraordinary game half finished, sailor turned over first (3-7)”.

Nearly all sweetness and light in the comments on RatkojaRiku’s excellent blog at Fifteensquared when the puzzle first appeared in July 2013. The curious enumeration of 24/2 remains despite Eimi’s comment: I am still scratching my head about that so if anybody has an explanation please don’t be backward in coming forward.

When this first appeared in August 2013 the consensus of opinion at Fifteensquared was that it’s a real toughie. Certainly not ideal for beginners, but hardly the most headache inducing puzzle we’ve seen in my opinion. As noted before, Jambazi is an innovative setter who doesn’t usually content himself with hackneyed formulations, so a bit of lateral thinking is required. It might be said that he over-reaches occasionally, and 14ac prompted some sucking of the teeth here. It’s good, mind you. I anticipate some grumbles about the rather obscure 16d; also 18 and 26ac which will not please those who are unfamiliar with or disapproving of that sort of argot.

That out of the way, what a splendid puzzle! The Wizard of Oz references are just there for fun as far as I can see, but it’s definitely not my specialist subject. Plenty of excellent clues to enjoy: my favourites included the much discussed 5ac, plus 9, 11, 15, 8d … and quite a few more. My clue of the day on grounds of sheer impudence is 4d:

“Boat landing spot seen in dark (6)”

This puzzle is largely concerned with 9ac, which really isn’t my beaker of oolong. Nevertheless, no special knowledge is required over and above an Irish river, this bit of gung-ho doggerel and the Welsh rugby team which seems to be popping up every other day just lately. Radian can be relied upon to play with a straight bat so no complaints on my part, although there was another outbreak of mild unpleasantness at Fifteensquared concerning 6d. Nothing compared to the squaring-up we saw yesterday, but uncalled for all the same. Yes, the clue is a bit dubious, but we all got the idea, didn’t we? A tip of the hat to Eileen for responding to that with aplomb.

Lots of linked clues today, and plenty of phrases which made for a rather unusual solving experience which I enjoyed. Two outstanding contenders for COD this time, both involving confectionery: 25 and 10ac. The latter wins on points.

“Lily trained in a bar? Lily? (9)”

This crossword first appeared in July 2013, around the time of The Open – which appears to be something to do with golf.

It feels like I’m trespassing on friend Cornick’s territory today. Appearances by Phi are always welcome, of course; perhaps this means that another compiler will be taking the Saturday spot this weekend? Unsurprisingly we have a puzzle with a theme this time, telegraphed as much by 12ac as the pair of entries across the bottom.

Taking a leaf out of Mark Goodliffe’s book I decided to write my solutions in straight away and check later, the opposite of my usual practice – and there were a couple of iffy (but correct) ones. Be warned: 21d is not to be found in Chambers under the expected head, but solvers will obtain confirmation if they have a look at “orange”. My thanks to Bertandjoyce for pointing that out in their June 2013 Fifteensquared blog – I just went to the OED.

Features of note: some may object to 10ac on the grounds that the required word ain’t a train. Fair comment. There’s also that “disconcerted” in 18ac, which struck me as rather rum at first but on reflection is okay. 19ac was an eyebrow raiser too. Stand-outs for me included 10, 14 and 23ac, and 4 and 16d. COD by a short head is the very Phi-ish 15d:

“Sculpture, when right, captures religious stance? On the contrary (3-6)”

Hob is a relative newcomer to the i and a very welcome addition to the cast, having provided a handful of puzzles all of which have been conspicuously witty and inventive. More of the same today, and I for one enjoyed myself immensely despite the theme being based on one of my worst blind spots. The consensus over at Fifteensquared back in June 2013 was that it’s a pretty difficult crossword, and it probably is a touch trickier than the Tuesday average. All fair and above board however, with the exception of 24ac which caused a near riot amongst the Francophone contingent on the other side. I’m glad Eimi saw fit to leave it in: it’s not as if there’s any ambiguity in the clue vis-à-vis the required answer after all, even though it would doubtless provoke a derisive sneer from across La Manche.

An impressive tally of ticks today, many of them representing smiles and the occasional chuckle. Appreciative thumbs up go to 10, 16, 21 and 30ac; also 8, 18/11 and 19d. 20ac is a strong COD candidate but the definition was just a shade too cheeky for me, so I’m falling back on the very crosswordy 14d:

“Made a lot of trouble for Sid? (6,4)

Another interesting crossword from Jambazi, rather tougher than the Tuesday average in my estimation. As before there’s plenty of variety on offer and some clever clue constructions which took a bit of unpicking. There is a mini-theme which means nothing to me, so I’ll simply refer the curious to comment no.5 on the June 2013 Fifteensquared blog entry in which Jambazi explains what’s going on. I did wonder if there was something concerning Harry 22d tucked away in there, what with 5ac and the curious fact that 17ac is his headmaster’s middle name – but apparently not.

What to do about the clue of the day? It’s not as if there’s any shortage of candidates; on the contrary. Honourable mentions for 10, 13 and 19ac, plus 6/16, and the rather impressive write-in at 15d. However, as discussed before I’m a fan of the Uxbridge English Dictionary, so let’s have the shortest clue in the puzzle, 29ac:

“Love like singer? (7)”

This felt like two puzzles in one to me, being entirely straightforward at the top and distinctly thorny at the bottom. There is a musical theme which I really ought to have spotted or at least suspected, but it doesn’t get in the way and needn’t trouble the solver who takes no interest in such things. All was explained back in April 2013 at Fifteensquared.

A couple of gripes this time. 14d does not convince, and I take issue with Alchemii’s contention that all Hollywood Hitchcocks are created equal and can be clued simply as a “film”. Some are more canonical than others, surely, and 25ac therefore seems a bit rich. Otherwise a nicely varied mixture today with a few clues which stood out, of which my favourite is 27ac on grounds of sneakiness and a fine surface:

“Figure on the right in America is a fool (5)”

This is a first: a Scorpion puzzle which left me underwhelmed. There’s an obvious Nina and the theme concerns a long running TV programme of which I have had no experience since the early 1980s when 3d and 15d were the leading lights. The solutions include seven surnames (one non-thematic), and although it didn’t bother me at all a number of Fifteensquared blog comments criticise the grid – and they’re right. I suppose we can at least be grateful that the infuriating blister in a novelty jumper didn’t feature.

The clues aren’t a problem though, and there are flashes of the brilliance we’ve come to expect from this setter. 4, 10 and 21 all went down well, with 27ac winning the coveted clue of the day prize by a short head:

“Equine mate threatening to abandon us (8)”

This crossword dates back to June 2013; Scorpion fans who fancy more will be interested to hear that he has another in today’s Independent.