An IoS reprint to start the week that was a little trickier than expected. Nothing that couldn’t be resolved with a little attention, and nothing that was unfair, but I’m not used to having to think this early in the week. 🙂 1ac I could parse and enter but couldn’t think of the colours for the life of me. 19ac I probably could have but didn’t bother. Elsewhere progress was steady if slow with some surprise on finally spotting the inventor, and not finding 13ac in my copy of Chambers. Perhaps I didn’t look hard enough. EO in 30ac was a little obscure, but guessable and, well, the answer was obvious, wasn’t it?

COD? Much to enjoy, with my nomination going to 29ac – “Divine office that was something unparalleled (8)”.

To January 2014:


Tees can sometimes be somewhat tricky, but I found today’s puzzle to be accessible and quite enjoyable too, finishing about par for the i. Let’s brush under the carpet an incorrect ODESSA (who needs to bother with the wordplay?) and a number of question marks elsewhere. I thought we might have been in for a Wild West theme for one fleeting moment, but no, it wasn’t to be. A pity, as that’s something I know a little about, while football is something I don’t. First in 11ac, last in the far SE and NW corners.

COD? I’ll go with 13ac – “Harassment in GCHQ? (11)”.

To September 2014:

Another good one from Dac. There, what else is there to say? Well, the NW corner went in pretty sharpish while the SE corner – and 22d and 26ac in particular – took a while longer, IoW geography or any geography in fact not being my strong point. I was pleased to get 4d from the wordplay realising that I did know it only after the fact. Did anyone else panic at the thought of having to dredge up the name of some obscure Conservative chancellor? I did, and breathed a sigh of relief on finding he was rather well known. Perhaps infamous would be a better word. There’s also some obscure slang for money, but I’m guessing most solvers will have chucked in the answer with little more than a shrug. Well, I did.

COD? Lots to like as always, with my nomination going to the aforementioned 4d, just for that construction – “Fellow imbibes a small amount of liquid after party, showing sign of stress (5,6)”.

To September 2014:

Harribobs, a name to send shivers down the spine. No, I still haven’t quite got over that puzzle. I’m short of time too – baking the Christmas cake. It must be a month to go. Cue ensuing panic and feelings of general un-restfulness.

Today’s preamble looks more tractable though. Extra letters. Tick. A few thematically entered answers. OK. Shading. Tick. Don’t like the sound of “a few variations are acceptable” though, sounds suitably vague with room for error.

Today’s Phi was a piece of cake, so there’s a little time in the morning to make a start. And, I think I can solve these. An anagram of “our times” is TOURISM, the crossing demon is also an anagram, and so on. What, you completely forgot about some answers needing to be treated before entry? Sssh, so I did. Which is why mid-afternoon, the cake in the oven, I got stuck. Until I remembered. How do you reckon you’re supposed to treat them? Well, the title says “Go West”, so let’s reverse a couple. Including TOURISM, which helps, in places.

Onward. A tick for 3d, very smooth. A smile at 10d, perhaps because I’m one episode away from the end of a Twin Peaks marathon encompassing all three series and the movie. I don’t have Blu-Ray, so the Missing Pieces will remain forever missing. A few question marks about 45ac – is it SEMITISE or SEMITIZE? And 39d = CHOTT or SHOTT? What, you couldn’t parse them either?

Let’s look at the extra letters. Look again at some of my parsing, bits of which seem decidedly fanciful now.


Which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the title. Are we looking for state abbreviations? Lots of CA’s in there, and so on, so perhaps that explains the preamble? No we’re not, Harribobs has only gone and constructed a grid that’s a map of the Western United States, the states suitably positioned if scrambled. Blimey. And that explains the shaded border too, I think.

Out with the highlighters (though how many different highlighters does Harribobs figure the average solver owns?) This is where it gets a little tricky – different enjoining colours (no American spellings here), and the choice of A’s at times difficult – don’t want to end up one short. SEMITIZE and SHOTT, evidently. That’s one way of confirming the grid fill. Any mistakes, blame trying to highlight late at night in the dim glow of an energy saving light bulb.

And, done. Dusted. You know what, I thoroughly enjoyed that. Harribobs was voted best Inquisitor of 2017, and I reckon this is another worthy contender. Go West, young man, go west.

An IoS reprint to start the week, and one that won’t have caused most solvers too many issues. I had a feeling when I started that Nitsy has sometimes been a little tricky to solve, but if so that wasn’t evident today. 4d was new, but basically a choice between M or D at the start. Last in were 9d, 13ac and 16d which did occasion a little pause for thought, the latter raising an almighty groan. It’s also my COD – “Dead centre (8)”. Overall an enjoyable start to the working week.

Here’s the 2014 Fifteensquared blog, should you need it:

A good challenge from Morph today. A swift entry at 9ac raised hopes of a quick win, with further entries dotted throughout the grid raising hopes further, but well, it wasn’t to be. The only obscurity was at 3d – in both the answer and wordplay – but the rest of the puzzle took a little teasing out with some attention required to the wordplay. At the close I had a number of question marks, all ably explained over on the other side. Enjoyable, even if my finish time was well over par for the i.

COD? 20d – “Costume of Hun finally toned down? (6)”, even if I did need the Fifteensquared blog to explain it.

Talking of which, here it is:

i Cryptic Crossword 2436 Dac

November 28, 2018

Wednesday comes round again and with it another enjoyable offering from Dac. Maybe it’s just me but I thought this is a little trickier than par, particularly in the NW corner where both 1ac and 3d were new to me, as was the tomato sauce used in the wordplay for 2d. Elsewhere I forgot the plural for 17d and failed to parse more than one or two. Well, it was still rather 14ac. Is to hum to sing? It’s probably in the dictionary but it foiled me for ages. Good fun nevertheless.

COD? He’s in the news rather less these days, apart from this slightly bizarre story, but for me it’s got to be 7d – “Mr Doherty is about, concealin’ drug (9)”.

To August 2014:

An unfamiliar name, so welcome Penumbra if you’re a new setter, or welcome back if you’re an old one in disguise. A bit of a rush job this time round because I’m acting as a taxi service between various doctors and A&E departments, and holding the fort so to speak in the meantime. The joys of winter.

Extra letters spelling something this week, a couple of unclued entries, shading, bish bash bosh. Oh, and some downs to be treated. Penumbra shares an inadequacy. Don’t we all.

So to start at the beginning. Or close to it. A cure for poison’s an anti-something, one partial anagram giving ANTIVENIN, and we’re away. Step back, to a DADO rail. And forward UNDINTED. A pretty easy grid fill. OK, I haven’t got all the extra letters, but what did you expect? The treated downs? A pretty fair guess after a few crossing letters is that they’re to be written upside down. Confirmed by a very long anagram for INGRATITUDE, which I struggle to read upside down.

Two unclued entries in the grid – BUDDY (Holly) and (Holly) GOLIGHTLY – pretty obviously. The bottom long unclued entry? IDENTICAL TWIN. And, oh, the top is too. Let’s sort the extra letters. THE HOLLIES I CAN’T TELL THE BOTTOM FROM THE TOP. A song I’ve never heard of. Does this tell us anything about any inadequacy that might be shared by Penumbra? Nope? Do the upside down entries provide further evidence of anything? Nope. And the two hollies? Are we looking for identical twins? A pretty thorough search through Wikipedia says no.

So how long did you spend staring at the grid, looking for something to shade in an appropriate colour? Too long. Even resorting to online word search solvers. Which yielded little. But there is ILEX in the centre. It’s a holly. Does it fit with anything else in that preamble? I don’t think so. Did I shade it green? Yes I did, because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. Did I wish we’d been given more of a clue, perhaps an enumeration, to help with the shading? Yep. Oh well… Back to waiting on a phone call, and nagging recalcitrant children to get ready for bed. Is there any whisky left?

A thoroughly enjoyable start to the week from Raich, as expected, and fortunately a pretty straightforward one too. Who booked a 4:30 start this morning? A nippy solve nevertheless, awake or not, with only a little pause at the close on 3d (am I the only person to discount “with” from anagram fodder almost on reflex, correct or not), and 9ac before I remembered the eponymous hall. Nothing to scare 8d solvers, just a pleasant start to the week.

COD? With lots to appreciate, I especially liked 22d – “Find the answer, the one and only – very impressed! (5)”.

To August 2014:

Posted on behalf of Cornick who’s otherwise engaged this morning:

Last Saturday’s was a curious puzzle in some ways, but also very much in Phi’s distinctive style – it fell into three parts:

I started by cracking some of those 15-letter anagrams (a bit tedious that, but I’ll spare you my usual lecture this time); Next came the pretty nifty mini-theme based around 14 18, ‘Tempo Indicator’ – it’s a shame there wasn’t more of that really, I liked it. Then to finish with there were a collection of obscurities and bits of trickiness in the corners for which I required both dictionary and word finder. Nelumbos, Mutatis Mutandis, Maestoso, Ampulla… hmm, well, if you must Phi, if you must.

I have a slight quibble about 12a, which doesn’t seem like a full &Lit to me, so presumably ‘at sea’ is doing double duty, and it took me a while to parse 6d OP(tim)AL – further evidence that subtractive clues are often the hardest.

With no outstanding candidates for COD, I’ll go for the following, which is quite neat, involves a bit of misdirection, and has a surface that reads well:
21d Danger not fully lifted (4)

For the 2014 blog with all the answers please click here.