I did wonder if having half a mind on other things meant that I wasn’t sufficiently focused, but as John back in the day struggled a little too I’m going to say this was on the tricky side for Dac. I still finished under par for the i, so not terribly so. A couple of rarities dotted round the grid – the physicist (for which the spelling given by Dac isn’t Google’s first choice), the “cross” at 7d spring to mind – and a political family that for a long time I thought I wouldn’t get until I eventually remembered the right country – I suspect will have had something to do with this appraisement. I also suspect that memories of this film will have helped more than solver chuck in 12ac with little hesitation.

My FOI was the nice and easy 1ac, LOI 18ac, but only because of a foolish guess at TREE HOUSE for 15d (who needs to bother with the wordplay, anyway?)

Lots to appreciate as ever, and I did like “[s]tale bread” in 23ac, but my COD goes to 24ac – “Russian GP better off here? (5,10)”.

A quick plug – this coming Sunday we’ve got the latest in our sporadic series of Guest Puzzles, it being another Bank Holiday weekend, this time by Panthera. It’s a good one, so do pop by and have a look.

So without further ado, over to the other side for all the answers and parsing of the clues:



Back to earth with a bang after two weeks in the sun, summer having given way to torrential rain and gale force winds. But Ifor to soften the blow… Normal down clues, across entries modified one of two ways, mysterious extra words in the clues too.

Let’s start with the downs, coward that I am, and what an inglorious start it was too. Yep, I assumed “oddly” in 1d was “initially” and couldn’t solve it. Yes, that’s where my mind is at the moment. So my FOI was 5d, and an anagram of CHINTZ. The crossing 15ac is another anagram, LIMBOUS. How to enter it though? A wild stab in the dark says we’re either going to add or remove letters, but there are several options. Leave it.

Not so for 23ac which will be ZAREBA or ZAREEBA in the grid, and the extra word spotted too.. Blimey.

Onward, slowly but surely.

Is the entry for 45ac RET or RES from REST? Ah, the across entries are in pairs. Same letters added or removed from each. That helps.

Second lightbulb(ish) moment. The added letters aren’t just any old ones, but repeated ones. ZAREBA -> ZAREEBA, CARDUS -> CARDUUS.

No idea about ?UIT or ?EYS. Some pretty low unchecked letters there. The top right is a little tricky too, for that matter.

That phrase then. It’s the letters from each row, isn’t it? DOUBLE OR QUITS, presumably.

Those handy letters giving S(Q)UIT and (Q)UEYS.

Job done. Oh yes, those superfluous words from the across entries. The possible amendments are alphabetical from A upwards, aren’t they? Pretty nifty.

The whole thing in fact could be said to be pretty nifty. To the first week back in work then, duly invigorated.

They say that needs must. Well, on a day when I had very little time indeed before a busy day of work, and anticipating an IoS reprint that could be polished off quickly, I indeed raced through today’s offering in a record time for the i. I would have preferred to have taken more time as this was an enjoyable puzzle with much to appreciate, but there you go. A few question marks at the close, but only because I was flying through – nothing on another day I wouldn’t have been able to sort out myself. A good, solid start to the week then.

On which point I must run… So, COD? Let’s go with 1ac, if only because it was something new learnt – “Rebecca’s written in it for Adam (5,6)”.

To May 2015:


Posted on behalf of Cornick, who is currently in foreign climes…

Saturday 10th August 2019

It seems like many months since Phi gave us a straightforward and gimmick-free puzzle – and so I’m nervous to declare this as such, especially since the presence of FIFTEENS and SQUARED does make me wonder if there’s some sort of tribute going on to the Fifteensuared website – where you can see all the answers to this puzzle by clicking here, incidentally. 

Filled at a steady but not spectacular pace, I was helped by remembering Gaudeamus Igitur from the only other time I’ve met it – yes, in a Phi puzzle a couple of years ago; and he used a long anagram that time too.

However I was stuck for a while on the other 15-letterer ‘Escape Mechanism’ – not so much because it was a new bit of vocabulary, but because I’d slightly miswritten the collection of letters for its anagram fodder; I do that sometimes.

An average number of ticks in the Cornickian margin, with a just one QM, which served as a reminder to check out 23d Cape Fichu – somewhere in Japan most probably… But no, it’s a lace collar-like cape worn by C18th gentlewomen. Fancy.  

I enjoyed solving the following clue very much at the time, so it gets to be the winner of the idothei COD award:

11a Soldier in front of people watching, entertaining via prodigious memory? (8)

A Thursday reprint from Klingsor today, but one that was as tricky as such reprints often are? Well, no – at least for the most part. I fairly ripped through most of the puzzle, helped in no small part by checking letters from 5d and gimmes like 6ac, but then struggled at the close with the pilot (the answer was obvious, but who really says ST to gain attention?), the plant in the SE corner (such things being as obscure to me as Geography is), and at the very close – yes, another plant at 1ac which is the very definition of obscure.

Why might Copenhagen be a warhorse? I didn’t know, but in it went. How long did it take to spot the hidden Afghan location? Only on finishing the puzzle, when I was trying to resolve the question marks dotted here and there. Others remained unparsed – the synonym for sleep used in 27ac is one I’ve never heard, and there were quite a few others like 24ac where the answer was patent but the parsing less so.

Enjoyable, thoroughly so, even if I failed to do it justice.

Finish time under par for the i, and in fact identical to yesterday’s.

COD? With lots to choose from, 12ac – “Caterers dressed stuffing with special garnish (10)”.

To April 2015:


As expected, something a little more straightforward today. Precisely clued throughout, little that was obscure (only 16d springs to mind as being so), copious ticks beside the clues. Dac in other words being Dac, as good as he always is.

I started with 1ac and made rapid progress south, slowing a little to the SW and then at the close at 15ac and the aforementioned 16d. I didn’t know the town referenced at 25d, but this was a perfect example of – trust the cryptic and it’ll get you there. Finish time well under par for the i.

COD? With many to pick from as ever, 4d – “Helter-skelter straight on? A different fairground ride (5,5)”.

To April 2015:


Which was solved while still on holiday, so memories are somewhat vague. The prevailing one though being that this wasn’t half as challenging as the previous week’s Shark.

A small grid, loads of shaded bits that are unclued, and a preamble that makes as little sense as expected after another long drive, bout of packing and unpacking, and a spot of the local beer to unwind. The surprisingly steeply priced local beer, for that matter. We’ll be sticking to the cheap stuff for the most part.

It all boils down to words not needed in a load of the clues, though, doesn’t it?

Grid fill ahoy (memories of Chips Ahoy still fresh in the mind), and one that wasn’t too taxing? Notes are MUSIC, strangely being ODDLY?

A little help with a word search on the grey bits. The bottom row evidently FORTISSISSIMO – my musical knowledge might not be on a par with Phi’s, but I know that much. This chap (improbably named as he is) down the RHS, TOMBSTONE down the left, his epitaph for the rest.


Oh yes, the initial letters of the extra words, not that we need them. EIN MUSIKALISCHER SPASS MOZART, being a musical joke that even I’ve heard of.

Almost forgot – the title, only just got it. Very good. As was the puzzle. Done and dusted in one session rather than copious. Time for sand, surf and beer, not necessarily in that order.

Firstly, many thanks to everyone for covering in my absence, much appreciated! 🙂

So, first day back in work, and I’m about as focused as you’d expect. Luckily as expected we have a fairly straightforward IoS reprint to kick us off, though was I the only person to struggle a little in the NE corner? The inn referenced in 10ac was unfamiliar, and the fruit wasn’t the first to leap to mind. 8d crossing it is a term I’ve heard, though rarely in everyday conversation in these parts. Perhaps rapid progress elsewhere had occasioned a false sense of security.

There were a couple of lesser known bits and bobs about the grid – the hammer and cooking term in particular – but Hieroglyph couldn’t have been more careful about the cluing of each. If you had to recommend a puzzle to a new solver, this one I suggest would be a good candidate.

First in 1ac, last in 8d, finish time under par for the i which today was something of a miracle.

COD? 5d – “Unmissable target on board, right? Wrong! (4,4)”.

To May 2015:


Firstly, many thanks to the other bloggers who are covering in my absence! 😀

This will of necessity be a short post as I’m ensconced in the wilds of West Wales with no data connection and sporadic wi-fi. And, oh, there’s a cold bottle of beer with my name on it waiting.

So points of interest:

Wasn’t this tricky? I only had the odd session here and there between trips to the beach and rounds of crazy golf, but progress let us say was slow.

The unclued entries? Obviously STONES and VENICE, giving The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin as our first work.

The unclued perimeter? POWER and BEAUTY look pretty self-evident. The rest? With a little help from Google, they’re the other Seven Lamps of Architecture by, yep you gussed it, Ruskin again.

The 13 misprints in the definition? Well, this is where it all falls apart. I’ve only got 12, which sort of make sense. MIDDLE FOURS with an O pretty randomly before that S. I’ve evidently slipped up somewhere.

The shading therefore could be the letters from RUSKIN in the middle four columns which are presumably supposed to represent a lamp. Though I’m not 100% convinced mine is right.

So, with fingers suitably crossed…

The front pages of several of the day’s papers are devoted to this being the anniversary of the first moon landing, and there have been several excellent programmes throughout the week to mark the occasion. You’d think then that somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind alarm bells would have been ringing on reading the title and all the clues slipped into the preamble. Two colleagues on a day trip? One left behind? It’s been a long and emotionally tiring week – the youngest two’s last in primary school – and I’m feeling somewhat frayed, which may explain my complete blind spot regarding the matter. That’s my excuse anyway.

As it turns out it wasn’t until I came to work out what the misprints might be spelling out that I spotted Houston, even if it was only NAA that preceded it (“puts” for “puss” being quite sneaky I thought). And even then I had to ponder the name of the landing craft. The Beagle has landed? That would be a different ship altogether.

The penny haven fallen I did indeed change an A to an I, and highlight the appropriate location, crew members, and craft. And without too much ado it must be said, which is saying something given my general lack of mental acuity throughout the duration. Other solvers I’m led to believe finished over breakfast, as if to throw my own general dimness into sharp relief.

Oh yes, the grid fill. Slow but steady would be the best description of proceedings. Lots of suspiciously positioned words that required trips to the BRB given the later highlighting, and one or two that weren’t in it – GHARANA and RUBBRA (luckily Google had heard of him, even if I hadn’t). And what kind of abbreviation is RU for Burundi anyway? Apparently ISABEL is drab because she didn’t change her linen for three years? Shudders.

Anyway, job done, done and dusted. As was the moon landing.

When you read this I’ll be off on holiday, so any glaring errors on my part will go unnoticed. For the same reason next week’s blog may or may not appear on time, so if it doesn’t, fear not. Boldly going…