i Cryptic Crossword 2820 Punk

February 21, 2020

A relatively gentle puzzle from Punk, today, solved by me in well under my typical time, and with no need to resort to aids – except to check on two or three of the answers.

A relatively tame one too; I hope Topsy, if she has done this one and is reading this, will have been able to ignore, or at least indulge, the one reference to drugs and the one double-entendre – if indeed it is one.

On completion I had no queries left about the word-play. I needed to go to the internet in order to check that YAOUNDE was an African capital, and that STYLET was a surgical instrument. I also checked on LENTIGO, but that was a word I was sort of sure I had come across before. I was not familiar with the phrase WHO’S YOUR DADDY[?] but it was nicely clued and once a couple of crossing letters were in it seemed obvious.

The one other phrase I had not come across before is my nomination for Clue of the Day as it made me laugh out loud, which was 13ac: “Negotiation of deals OK where working lunch is taken?” (2,5).

Back to October 2015 for its first outing: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/10/29/independent-9061-punk/

I felt panic rising when I had read through all of the across clues and most of the downs without seeing an easy-ish point-of-entry into this crossword. So it was back to the beginning to work batarde-fashion systematically through the clues, starting with the anagram at 1ac. To my surprise, it yielded fairly readily, after a false start involving “shivers” rather than “jitters”. A little while later, having noted a V and a J in 1ac, and the X in 4d, I was excitedly expecting a pangram.

In that, I was disappointed – but not in the crossword as a whole, which was both a challenge and a pleasure to solve. Yes, it was difficult (at least for me) and I had to work hard on some parsings, even after I had got the answers from definitions and crossing letters, particularly PRAGUE, CALCITE and ENTREPRENEUR. But by the end I had absolutely no queries left, with everything being neatly and often impressively clued. It resulted in a rewarding and pleasurable solve.

In particular, the surface readings of the clues was a delight. Cornick noted yesterday that that day’s early Hoskins suffered from a lack of the patina that only develops with time and repeated use. Today, Klingsor made such polish seem effortless, and this added so much to the joy of solving.

Clue of the day, not least for it’s nice surface reading, has to be 1A: “Flying jet that’s extremely huge – I’ve right to be nervous (4,3,7)”.

A Saturday prize puzzle from November 2015: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/11/28/independent-9081-by-klingsor/

One of the signs of advancing mortality, surely, must be a greater luxuiance in the growth of hair in one’s ears. It is several years since the barber first asked me if I wanted him to deal with mine, and it was a moment when I looked into the mirror and realised I was turning into my grandfather… But I never knew there was a word for them. However, like the other obscure-ish words that I had to check up on, it was fairly clued and with helpful crossing letters. Other words which were unknown to me were: COLLOCATE; AFTERMATH, to mean the grass growing after it is mown; IMPROMPTU as a noun for a speech, rather than as an adjective meaning unrehearsed.

This was a relatively straightforward crossword from Tees, which I solved in about my typical one hour, without help, other than to check up on the above-mentioned answers. Everything was fairly clued and gettable. A little more general knowledge than is usual was called for; the Earl of Rochester I vaguely recall from history lessons years ago, and I suppose most people know about Robert the Bruce and Bannockburn. “Green Man” was an amusing definition for TRAINEE, as was “knight” for horse. My only very minor quibble was to wonder whether COALPIT should be two words, rather than one.

My nomination for Clue of the Day goes to the nicely allusive 8d: “Anything but public transport for spooks” (6,7)”.

Back to August 2015 for its first outing: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/08/27/independent-9007-by-tees/

My mind usually goes blank when a crossword clue involves footballers, resulting, I dare say, from some unresolved trauma or feelings of inadequacy in male company when called upon to say anything sensible about football. However, even I managed to see LIONEL MESSI straightaway.

This was a nicely accessible puzzle, which I completed in well under my typical time. Enjoyable and satisfying – although it did rely over-heavily on anagrams for my taste. At the end of my solving session, I had no question marks against any clues; everything was fairly clued and gettable. I did resort to e-help for my last two in, which were the crossing JUVENILE and JOPLIN, but I think that was simply a touch of laziness on my part, rather than some difficulty with the clues. Had I not been blogging, I would most likely have work a little harder on !a and all would have been revealed.

It was one of my least favoured grids. This kind often feels like solving four mini-crosswords rather then one grown-up one.

No really spectacular clues, although UMBRIA made me smile, as did my nomination fro Clue of the Day, 24a: “Croatian is dressed in a waterproof” (8).

An IoS reprint from November 2015: https://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/11/08/independent-on-sunday-1341-hypnos/

Pangrams two days running!

A thoroughly enjoyable crossword with a nice mix of straightforward clues and a few demanding a bit more imagination from the solver. A good work-out, solved in a little under my average time.

SQUEAKS eluded me for a while, until I realised we had a pangram, and COOPERATE also had me scratching my head; speaking for myself, I think I would have hyphenated this.

Lots to enjoy. I don’t usually warm to Spoonerisms, but RATIONAL NUMBERS did make me smile, and I did wonder at one point whether a spoonerised “Rumbers” would be crossing with a straightforward “rumba”. But no.

Clue of the day has to go to the very imaginative 26a; a clue where the arithmetic was nicely central to the parsing. “County worked out 98% reduction in the end. (6).”

August 2015 for its first appearance: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/08/24/independent-9004-by-alchemi/

Strictly speaking, I failed to solve this properly. At 23d I entered “Edina”, which to my mind answers the clue just as well as ERICA. It’s a girl’s name (seemingly favoured disproportionately by Hungarians, if the wikipedia page is anything to go by) and “port upset” could just as easily be an instruction for an (indirect) anagram of “Aden” as an instruction to reverse “Acre”. The two main ports in Crosswordland, according to my atlas, are Rio and Aden. If Acre features on the map it is as some kind of old castle in the eastern Mediterranean.

Otherwise, this was a straightforward puzzle, solved in well under my average time, and I made no marginalia indictating quibbles or queries, although I did have to check that BALMORALS were boots. It was my last one in, and the crossing letters made the potential answer seem obvious. Crossing as it did with WINDSOR, I did retrospectively look to see if there was a castle theme, but apparently not.

Clue of the Day for me was the aforementioned 20d, for it’s nice misdirection: “Section in party meeting resistance after triumph in House (7).” I wonder if the answer would have come to me quite so readily if it weren’t for a certain item of news filling the airwaves over the last couple of weeks.

An IoS reprint from November 2015: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/11/01/independent-1340-by-poins/

“Seals bark, they don’t sing” I thought to myself as I completed SEASONAL, my Last One In, with an ominous awareness that yet again my knowledge of Popular Music would be unequal to the moment. Mind you, so too was my knowledge of C19th Swedish opera singers. These two needed googling just to confirm that each was what I inferred it to be.

Otherwise this was a smooth and swift solve, with little to cause any trouble. SERENA WILLIAMS and KATHRYN BIGELOW are, I think, sufficiently well-known to have been unproblematic once the crossers started to go in, likewise the marine unicorn and the relative of the giraffe. CEDILLA I suppose might be unfamiliar (although I remembered it from French lessons at school). Hypnos followed the rule of easy word-play for unfamiliar words, which, combined with the crossing letters, should have made it nicely accessible.

Like Dac, and Vigo yesterday, Hypnos has shown us that a puzzle set at the easy end of the spectrum need not be dull and unentertaining. This was thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying, and all over far too soon.

Three clues really entertained me: COCOON and PROVERB, but my nomination for Clue of the Day goes to the almost paradoxical and very neat 19a; “Decrease, perhaps, to become equal (4,3).”

A Sunday Prize Crossword from the Summer of 2015: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/08/16/independent-on-sunday-1329-hypnos/

Not one for beginners, I don’t think, or even intermediates, I dare say.

I found this to be very tough, and it took me much longer than average – using Jon’s formula comparing particular time taken to overall average time taken, I would put this down as a 1.666.

Quite a tour de force, with so much to admire in terms of┬ásubtle cluing and innovation. But quite a few answers stretched one’s vocabulary – NGAIOS and OCCIPITAL for example, a Russian author and an obscure (to me, at least) Chinese city.

I made a bit of a mess at the top, by entering “fair”instead of NAFF at 4d (it seemed to work at the time) and “agonis” instead of NGAIOS. To be fair to myself, “agonis” is an anagram of Saigon, with the crossing N in the right place and is an Australian shrub (although perhaps not a tree). This meant that I could not get 12a in, until I realised there was something, possibly even two somethings, wrong.

Had I spotted the nina earlier that might have helped. I am familiar with the phrase, but unsure of any relevance.

Lots to admire, but my nomination for Clue of the Day goes to 10d: ” Hands-free devices jerk constantly, leaving last two in dumps.” (7,7).

Back to January 2016 – which doesn’t seem like four years ago – for all the answers: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2016/01/09/independent-saturday-prize-puzzle-9116-nestor/

A gentle and accessible puzzle, I thought, just right for the first normalish day after the festivities. Certainly more so than yesterday’s offering which I really struggled with (although I admit that doing a crossword in the morning may be more productive than late on Boxing Day evening after some over-indulgence – for which I am unapologetic ­čÖé).

My first ones in were the two long across clues which were perhaps not the most well-known of carols, but they were very obviously clued and were straightforward anagrams so they opened up the grid nicely. Nearly everything else seemed uncontroversial. I struggled to parse CENTRE FORWARD although it was pretty clear what it ought to be when a few crossing letters were in. I know from recent comments that footballing terminology can be divisive in crosswordland, but surely this term is sufficiently well-known to provoke little objection. The parsing of STORM DRAIN also withheld its favours for a while, as I was fixated on “doctor” implying DR rather than MD, and “soldiers” accordingly being the Royal Marines. This left me wondering what “sto…ain” could possibly be. Fortunately a family member looking over my shoulder showed me the error of my ways…

The clues had good surfaces, but only one made me laugh: “Show more ingenuity than fool in adult place of learning (6).”.

Back to this time of year in 2014 for all the answers: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/12/28/independent-on-sunday-1296-by-hypnos/

A few days ago we had Iodine clued using the letter I as the definition. Had that not been so recently in my mind I might have struggled with EINSTEINIUM, as I usually miss those element symbols, cunningly and mischievously passing themselves off as pronouns, or, as in this case, mind-changing substances.

I thought this was a tough one, although it rewarded the effort with lots to admire, and was ultimately a very satisfying solve. SPLINTER GROUPS was good, once I had given up trying to get “needles” into it somehow. But in particular the shorter entries, which I often find challenging, were very pleasing: the unusually-clued TOE, ADA, which was very neat (after I had recovered from being misled into looking for French notes…) and the delightfully clued ROO.

I struggled with some. The parsing of ECTOMORPHIC, which I got through definition and crossing letters, held out until I wrote it backwards, when it fell into place. And did anyone at all work out how SELF-DESTRUCTED works? I didn’t.

GO TO ANY LENGTHS was weakly clued, I thought. And I put a question mark next to UNDERFOOT, which I likewise thought strained. (I had written in “underdogs” early on before JESTER showed me the error of my ways.

TURKEY was an early entry, and I wondered about a seasonal theme, but it was not to be.

Clue of the Day has to go to the aforementioned ROO: “A developer in another’s pocket becomes such a bounder. (3).”

December 2014: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2015/01/03/independent-8794-by-nestor-saturday-prize-puzzle-20-december-2014/