Crosophile’s crosswords haven’t always been to my taste, but I’m more than happy to give him credit for being a very clever setter. Just how sneaky he’s been is not readily apparent today, but keep looking. There’s a mini theme and some other things to be found – but if you draw a blank the man himself hints at it in his comment on the October 2013 Fifteensquared blog, to a chorus of groans from the others.

There’s nothing particularly controversial in the clues, although some basic knowledge of Eastern spiritual practices will come in handy. As regards the clue of the day it’s not such an easy choice, none of them having really jumped out at me, but 17ac and 14d are both especially pleasing. 24d gets the nod:

“Pan’s support maybe placed on lower parts of pantry floor (5)”

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i Cryptic Crossword 2189 Phi

February 13, 2018

One of Phi’s disorientating weekday appearances this time. 1ac was a gimme, and I fleetingly wondered whether we had an Updike themed puzzle on our hands. That might have ensured some lively comments, but as it turned out it’s something far more nebulous.

This crossword seemed very gentle by the setter’s standards, and there isn’t anything to hold the experienced solver up unduly. I’m not altogether happy with the definition of 3d, but that’s nitpicky – and like several people at Fifteensquared I was unsure of the parsing of 16d. In both cases the solutions were plain as a pikestaff, so the quibbles are rather moot. 1d and 13d struck me as particularly good, as did 27ac even though it’s a bit tortuous. My Clue of the Day is a chestnut, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good ‘un, and some solvers won’t have seen it before. With apologies, 11ac:

“(1,6,1,4)”

Back to October 2013.

Tees can generally be relied upon to put up a bit of a fight, and today’s crossword could well be wearisome for solvers without the requisite knowledge to appreciate the theme. The nicely done 12/10 cleared that up for me straight away, and all the other food groups were familiar, so my ride was an easy one. There may be a spot of grumbling though, I suspect.

No shortage of nice clues, so it’s a shame about 16ac. One can well understand Tees wanting to avoid the medical procedure which fits that gap, but it could hardly be worse than the ghastly combination he settled on. That aside, no complaints worth speaking of. Runner up for the COD trophy is 14ac, but of course the winner is 3d:

“Fool with butter and what that says about food group? (10)”

Solutions, analysis and a whole slew of comments can be found at Fifteensquared as usual. We’re back to November 2013 this time.

The first truly testing Tuesday puzzle of 2018 in my opinion – the more so if you only saw the TV programme around which it is themed a couple of times, back in 1980-something. Furious ransacking of dim and distant memories was the order of the day here, and it’s only with the help of RatkojaRiku’s excellent September 2013 Fifteensquared blog entry that I now realise the significance of 19/21. A super puzzle completed without recourse to references (always a good sign … mind you I did check that pigeon in Chambers afterwards), but definitely a stiff challenge.

Reading through the comments on the other side, one gets the feeling that some of the mighty were feeling ever-so-slightly humbled … or should have been. There was a certain grumpiness in the air. I have no complaints anyway, and far too many ticks to try the readers’ patience with a run through of my favourites. My Clue Of The Day, 4d, contains a device described as “outrageous”, which is why I’ve chosen it. “Amusingly cheeky” will do for me.

“Clean break by woman originally reported married (6)”.

Scorpion: lucky me. Always a pleasure to find out what he’s come up with, so let’s see: no sign of interlinked clues but there are plenty of peripheral unches, so it’s going to be Nina, right? Wrong. As will become apparent, a certain word just keeps on cropping up throughout the puzzle. I don’t recall seeing this particular sort of gimmick before, but it’s an entertaining one and nicely done too.

Back in October 2013 opinion was divided at Fifteensquared – is this a difficult puzzle or an easy one? Both I’d say, since the top half felt surprisingly mild, but the bottom was distinctly bracing. No shortage of ticks today, and for a while my inclination was to hand the coveted Clue of the Day trophy to 17ac. Yes, football, believe it or not. Then there’s the matter of 9ac, which pleased me mightily. The winner, however, is a particularly thorny clue, but no apologies since it’s an object lesson in the art of misdirection. A round of applause, please, for 21ac:

“Fixed amount nurses prescribe finally turning red (3,3-4)”

By the by, it’s worth a glance at the comments on the other side because there was a brief outbreak of hilarity. Nothing tasteful you understand, but amusing nonetheless.

Something different this Tuesday, a novel sort of pangram, cleverly described by Muffyword at Fifteensquared as “… a kind of doubled-up Noah’s Ark for rare letters, indicated by the answer to 1 Across”. In fact it’s a single pangram, but with four each of J, X, Q and Z. With the exception of 18d, which will be familiar to neurobiologists and readers of Henry Miller, the grid is gratifyingly free of obscurities – so jolly well done, Raich.

That’s not to say that some of the solutions aren’t funny looking words, of course, which led to an unusual amount of exercise for the eyebrows. All rather entertaining, with plenty of ticks. My favourite today was 14ac, a bit cumbersome maybe, but amusing too:

“Like an Orange monarch, when knight’s ignored nasty blaze, small at first (10)”

I’d like to direct Cornick’s attention to comment no. 13 on the original September 2013 blog, which may well provoke a smile.

Alchemi appears to have been rather pleased with this crossword, judging by his comment (no. 16) on duncanshiell’s typically thorough Fifteensquared blog post back in September 2013. As well he might be: I thought this was something of a masterclass in how to put together an extensively themed puzzle with a few bits of recondite vocabulary whilst still keeping it brisk and entertaining.

Anybody else woefully ignorant of 7d? How very judicious of Alchemi to provide a straightforward hidden, then. Throughout he seems to have had his eye on the solving experience, tailoring the difficulty level of the clues to the familiarity or otherwise of the answers. I particularly enjoyed the use of the thematic phrase in clues unrelated to the subject, as in 29ac and 23d, say. Plenty of COD candidates this time, with the prize going to my LOI, 10ac:

“Comments about someone said to inspire revolutionary leader? (7)”

Dac on Monday; Quixote on Wednesday. I’d a feeling that Eimi would do a straight swap, and it’s certainly never any hardship at all to tackle one of the Don’s meticulously constructed and scrupulously fair puzzles. The only problem being that there isn’t much to get one’s teeth into when it comes to writing a blog post: no quibbles and no outrageous pyrotechnics. Nice to see that fine old Anglo Saxon word at 24ac, which caught a few people out at Fifteensquared, and did anybody else have to think long and hard about the spelling of 14ac?

My clue of the day is not a tough one, but it’s an impeccable example of its type:

16ac: “Ban pesticides for destroying little things (4,3,6)”

This was the antepenultimate Indy crossword of 2013, and the original blogger Pierre was on form: vide his comment on 14ac.

Tuesday Crossword Themes 2017

December 26, 2017

Here is the list of all the Tuesday crossword themes from 2017:

01. Mastermind (TV quiz) Tyrus
02. Tennis Jambazi
03. Spinal Tap Jambazi
04. “L” (peripheral Nina) Mordred
05. Foul weather Morph
06. Shakespeare Tees
07. Valentine’s Day Eimi
08. Food named after counties (Yorkshire pudding etc) Glow-Worm
09. Artists Mordred
10. Sensational journalism Tyrus
11. Battle of Trafalgar Glow-Worm
12. Piltdown Man hoax Radian
13. Abba Raich
14. Holes on a harmonica (Nina) Monk
15. Rebukes (“slap on the wrist” etc) Tyrus
16. Cats and dogs Radian
17. Henry VIII Mordred
18. “The Hobbit” Crosophile
19. Association football (theme and Nina) Donk
20. Airports Rorschach
21. <no theme> (but plenty of malarkey) Punk
22. Punctuation and proof reading Radian
23. “The Hunting of the Snark” (theme and Nina) Crosophile
24. Millers’ tales (eg. Arthur, Glenn, Henry …) Punk
25. “The Canterbury Tales” Scorpion
26. The horsemeat in food scandal Morph
27. Points Radian
28. Breakfast Crosophile
29. Quentin Tarantino Jambazi
30. Inspector Rebus Phi
31. Test cricket Raich
32. “The Silence of the Lambs” Tees
33. Richard Briers Eimi
34. Sheep Hob
35. Joints Morph
36. Roy Orbison Raich
37. Cluedo Scorpion
38. Tom Stoppard Radian
39. Pink Floyd Alchemi
40. Rocks and stones Radian
41. Countdown (TV game show) Scorpion
42. The Clash Alchemi
43. Phoenix Nights Jambazi
44. High finance Hob
45. Fish Phi
46. The Open (golf) Radian
47. “The Wizard of Oz” Jambazi
48. Boxers Punk
49. Fictional bears Kairos
50. Card suits and golf (double theme) Radian
51. “Great Danes” Hob
52. Winter holidays Hypnos

A few observations:

Firstly, a big “hurrah” for all the setters: they don’t have to devise these elaborations after all, and in general the jigery pokery adds to the gaiety of the solvers’ lot. The overwhelming majority of these puzzles had accessible themes, or else permitted of solving without one having a clue that there was any funny business going on. The Tuesday puzzle is rarely the toughest of the week but often provides a lot of entertainment, so I hope we can be indulgent on the handful of occasions when it does get a bit obscure.

A cursory scan of the list shows that “high brow” is the exception rather than the rule. There is, however, a heavy bias towards the arts – and if there are disgruntled scientists and engineers out there feeling under-represented, they have a point. Despite frequent grumbling (and that definitely includes me), football isn’t omni-present after all … it just seems that way. Popular culture seems to finish some time during the early 1990s in Crosswordland. For all that they would probably baffle me, I’m sure younger solvers would be pleased to see some more up to date references.

And that is about all the wit and wisdom I have to offer on the subject. Comments are encouraged!

No doubt everybody is bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning, but just in case anyone’s hand slipped with the port decanter yesterday, Eimi has served up something light and fairly undemanding today. An Independent on Sunday reprint from Twelfth Night in 2013 with a few seasonal references which barely amount to a theme, and nothing to frighten the horses.

Good, tidy workmanship from Hypnos as usual, with some rather natty clues to enjoy. The reference in 26ac might be more familiar to readers of other papers, and it seemed to catch scchua out to start with when he wrote the excellent illustrated Fifteensquared blog entry – a shame all that hard work only drew one comment on a point of information. My favourites today included 1, 5 and 15ac, plus 2 and 16d, with the COD going to 28ac:

“Premier, ex-Labour leader, with a lot of Irish and Scottish celebrants? (5,7)”

A list of all this year’s Tuesday themes will follow shortly.