Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟

A bit of a Shakespearean theme this Tuesday thanks to Radian, and also thanks to the comments on the other side for expanding on what it’s all about. I must admit that it’s still a bit of a mystery to me, but no doubt Cornick can expand further. We have a few oddities in the grid today, including the hidden word at 16ac, 8ac which I was sure must have been wrong, and the unexpected use of 24ac, but on the whole this was a fairly easy going puzzle that came as a relief, and a re-realisation of how enjoyable crosswords can be, following yesterday’s toils. The definition at 13d floored me a little, but everything else was understood on solving and confidently entered. What a difference a day makes!

COD? Loads and loads to appreciate, as expected with Radian, with my nomination going to 11ac – “Roast, singe and carve beef and grouse, say (10)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from June 2018:


Do you know how many pieces of verse have been written about butterflies? I must admit to having been previously unaware, but have now read a great deal on the subject. We were looking for a male author, which ruled out many of the thousands on offer, and Wordsworth thanks to the hint in the preamble ruling out a further two, but that still left Pavel Friedman, Robert Frost, Thomas Higginson, William Lisle Bowles, and even Lewis Carroll amongst others, the latter thanks to a scan of the ODQ and a likely looking ditty regarding butterflies and mutton-pie.

I would add that a good twenty-four hours were spent agonising about which particular bit of verse we should be applying. Because while the butterfly was evidently the common factor in the extra words in the across clues, how to cryptically represent it was a different matter. My serious consideration for a long time was synonyms for butter and flies. Ifor, the wag, had anticipated this with SHEA, two RAMs, a GOAT, and TSETSES dotted about the grid, together with others no doubt I thankfully haven’t found.

So it would be, rather battered and bruised, accompanied by feelings of general despair and self-loathing, that I would chance on a poem by Alexander Pope that mentioned a butterfly, being from the Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot – “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”

The word WHO in the grid indeed breaking up BUTTERFLY.

I’m presuming we need to turn the wheel, creating new words, which I’ve done, perhaps correctly, perhaps not, and it feels even more of a stretch than that required to find the correct verse and apply it.

Which is to say that this weekend’s puzzle falls foul of my bΓͺte noire – the reasonably straightforward grid fill (which was most enjoyable), followed by substantially more effort required to unpick an end-game that seemed to involve a lot of guess-work. Perhaps the Abbot Ale consumed the night before won’t have helped. Or the illness sweeping through the household. You’ll probably tell me you sailed through this. But never mind, there’s always next week, and I will admit that the anagram of the author’s name in the right hand column is pretty neat. It’s just a pity I didn’t spot it until after completion. Perhaps it was the beer…


Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟

Today’s puzzle can be found online here, available for free, though you do need to register first:

Hairstyles of various descriptions this Sunday, which I must admit passed me by completely, perhaps because I was preoccupied with the references to bees, and the somewhat odd word at 17ac. This was all solved in a jiffy, nonetheless, with a question mark against the parsing for 15d, and several false starts with the I at 5ac. Having hive in both the clue and answer at 1ac struck me as being a little odd, but the rest was I think sound and without controversy. An enjoyable Sunday diversion should you be looking for one.

COD? I’ll go with 17d – “Crack cocaine’s related to immorality (7)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from May 2018:


Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟

An enjoyable offering from Alchemi eases us towards the end of the working week. Nothing too difficult today I thought, though I will admit that – on reaching the NW corner – a few clues were lobbed in based on checking letters and likely looking definitions, in particular 2d which was quite delightfully fiendish. The singer took far too long to spot, partly because I became convinced that I had 1d wrong and that I was looking for the actor with the same surname, despite having listened to several of her albums. 15ac felt more rude than it actually is (perhaps I’m a little delicate this time of the morning), and I note that in addition we have both flatulence and leaking in two clues which also garnered ticks because, well, I particularly enjoyed them.

COD? With the aforementioned and also 6ac also worthy of mention, my nomination goes to 11ac – “Chelsea worry about dropping each player (6,4)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from May 2018:


Yikes was the operative word on looking at this week’s preamble – lots of stuff about encoding, entries to be changed, etc. It’s enough to make the poor solver want to throw in the towel at the outset. Except that a closer look confirmed two things – that the grid fill required entry of only two encoded items, and that the finished version contains real words / names. That’s more than a fighting chance to you and me.

The two encoded entries would turn out to be to the NW and SE, and both be countries. I didn’t spot it at first, but what’s actually entered in the grid are horses. The only debate regarding the first being whether it was PIEBALD or PYEBALD. That pesky unchecked letter. As it was, the end game would sort out that ambiguity, as it often does.

First though would be the sort of steady, rigorous solve that typifies many an Inquisitor solve when the clues are normal ones. There seemed to be more than the average number I couldn’t parse, in particular the S&M one. By Saturday morning I’m often not up to this sort of thing, in particular when it has been One Of Those Weeks, so this should come as no surprise to the regular reader.

A highlight would have to be PING for “check on PC”, perhaps due to a working career doing exactly that on a tiresomely regular basis which meant that it leapt to mind with surprising alacrity.

The “well-known dramatic line”? Well, it was pretty well known. My thoughts leapt Cornick’s way straight away, thinking – this would be right up his street. Kingdoms, horses, and all that jazz. Thus the aforementioned horses in place of countries.

I didn’t know the name of the horse from the story, but Google did, giving the one-letter change to the SW – SURREY. As if to point us in the right direction, Dysart had very generously crossed it with YORKER.

All that was left was to find kingdoms to replace with horses, being ENGLAND -> MUSTANG and REALM to the lesser known TAKHI, and to work out which letters we would need to amend, via the code used at 1ac and 43ac, to give RICHARD III. As there was no Y, but with the requirement for several I’s, the aforementioned ambiguity was thus duly resolved.

Pretty neat, eh? I would like to say that this was solved in the warm sunshine that was, indeed, shining, but it being accompanied by gale force winds, it wasn’t. But that’s the great British summer for you, and this being a non-Jubilee weekend there was something worth watching on the television.


Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟

Some days you can’t spot the theme in a puzzle for looking, others, well, they’re signposted as clearly as they come. How well you got on with today’s offering will depend a lot on how well you know the works of the children’s author referenced in the middle of the grid. Everybody must know the title at the very bottom, surely, but I’m guessing I won’t have been alone in checking others on Google.

This was a little tricky in places – the wordplay for 10ac and 12ac were both quite fiendish, the former requiring a leap of faith to a fairly well known song, the latter a little French. I will freely admit to lobbing in both with a shrug. Elsewhere we had plenty of easy clues to get a toehold in the grid, which for me at least meant that this was a medium level difficulty puzzle, and being Punk of course lively, interesting and enjoyable.

COD? I had a number of ticks beside the clues, 9d in particular being nicely done, with my nomination going to the aforementioned 10ac – “Besides which, I do like to be singing about Tottenham’s first reserve (3,5)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from May 2018:


Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟🌟🌟

A bit of a tour de force from Morph this Thursday in the i, with too many standout clues and smiles along the journey to list. Highlights for me outside of the COD would include the cryptic definition at 14ac, the sound-alike at 26ac, the gender-neutral thriller at 5d, the quite delightful wordplay in both 3d and 15d, and the “Sabbath guitarist” that had nothing to do with Tony Lommi.

In other words, I enjoyed it.

The plate at 21ac gave me a few issues at the close, but elsewhere everything was entered fully understood, with 10ac a standout example of how to clue a pretty rare term.

The aforementioned COD? With many to pick from, I’ll go with 9d – “Heading for beach, I must change to new outfit (7,7)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from May 2018:


10 Today

June 15, 2022

I thought it was worth noting that the blog is 10 today. On this day in June 2012, the first post was published by WritingHawk, which you can find here:


From little acorns…

So thanks to all bloggers past and present for all your hard work, to all who visit the site daily, and to those who comment on the posts. All much appreciated. I think it’s safe to say that, all those years ago, we never believed we’d still be going now.

Difficulty rating (out of five): 🌟

I usually miss Phi’s themes, but it being a Tuesday and therefore knowing there must be one, I was disappointed at the close to really have no idea what was going on, despite spotting the link with 1, 4 and 6 across. Never mind – apart from the distinctly odd 27ac which required a trip to the dictionary, this was a pretty easy going puzzle that could be solved without needing to parse large chunks of it, given some checking letters and lots of generous definitions. I invariably enjoy Phi’s puzzles (it was one of his that first convinced me to start buying the i), and today’s was no exception. A good grid-fill that didn’t leave the solver stranded in any potentially sticky corners, and good, always interesting clues, this was Phi at his most entertaining.

COD? I’ll go with the pretty neat 4ac – “A good deal of connectivity supplied by energy partner (4)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues, together with the 1ac themed entries, can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from June 2018:


So, Phi’s accustomed Saturday cryptic spot was presumably moved to make way for… Phi in the Inquisitor, and not an unwanted J****** themed puzzle as feared.

An alarming looking preamble this week, it must be said. Extra letters yielded from 8 clues, no problem. The other clues being paired a fair bet that we were going to have definitions in one clue, and wordplay in another. Which can often make life somewhat difficult for the poor solver.

A quick skim through the across clues led to that sinking feeling I often get with a puzzle I haven’t even begun to get to grips with. Thankfully, with the downs light dawned when it occurred that the 13 letter 1d might be matched with the symmetrically placed 6d. The latter being a tricky but solvable anagram of a crystalline form I’d unsurprisingly not heard of, the other a more gettable PA(I)NTS TRIPPER, we were in business, picking off the paired clues which once you got the hang of it turned out to be pretty straightforward.

As were the ones with the extra letters, apart from NUB (missing an X) which I needed the endgame to parse.

Not that it needed to be solved, thanks to a Google search for a likely looking CONTRARIA and COMPLEMENTA yielding a physicist I’d also not heard of at the bottom of the grid, and the SUNT to complete the required Motto.

BITTER SWEET and SPEND THRIFT either side of the grid are of course both OXYMORONs. Perhaps we should have been asked to jot the latter under the grid, as you could quite happily finish the puzzle without recourse to sorting out that one final step.

No matter, this was a pretty nippy solve as it turns out, that I enjoyed, with the added bonus of it not being on the dreaded theme.