On the weekend the heatwave broke in the most spectacular style. Thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain. The day following the company announcement that the normal dress code would be relaxed in light of the extreme temperatures, and the same day we’d decided a trip to Barry Island might be in order. Oh well, there’s always chips, and the Inquisitor. Lato this week who’s not giving much away with that title. Never mind, there’s more than enough detail in the preamble, the main point to remember being misprints in the definitions of 11 clues. Let’s worry about the rest later. Something to do with all those unclued entries, apparently.

I would begin at the beginning, but that’s unclued so I can’t. 7ac was another matter of – no idea. But join is evidently MARRY, and we’re off. First misprint spotted at 20ac – “rice”, not “rich”, of course. The veil at 44ac’s a favourite with crossword setters so I can even spell it. Poor Engels is implicated in a bit of money making at 34d. All of which is to say that the grid fill was a bit of a walk in the park, as they say in some circles.

The unclued entries. I’m pretty certain of CONTINUE to the NW, and LINDBERGH and RED BARON (hello again!) in the SE (despite an initial moment of panic on them not appearing to be proper words). First guess at the one above? Well, BAKER. Now, we’ve got three pilots there (yes, if you google “Baker” you’ll find lots of pilots with that surname). And we’re looking for groupings of the unclued entries, so I’m guessing that’s one. In retrospect a wise man would change BAKER to BADER, a much more famous pilot… Grid duly amended, though I would argue there’s a good case for an alternative solution.

What else? ULTRA down the centre. Is that HOUSE under it, and ROYAL? I think that’s BE LEFT in the NE (yes, the preamble does warn us that two of the entries will contain two words). What about the one to the SW? I’ve got no idea.

OK, backtracking slightly. The 11 misprints are supposed to supply the name of a co-star. Oh dear, it’s SEAN CONNERY. Oh dear because he’s made about a million and one films. Let’s look at some of the more famous ones and see if we can find a star whose name is also 11 letters long, and who happens to be in the grid. The Untouchables was my first guess, but no. One of the Bond films? Nope, I don’t think so. Thankfully Connery’s Wikipedia entry is quite emphatic that Marnie is one of his more important films, because I’ve not seen it. Tippi Hedren starred, and there she is in the grid. Highlighted in a gorgeous shade of orange – it makes a change from green.

Back to the unclued entries. Three groups, each suggesting a word, work out the relationship to the film. Hopefully it’ll help with some of them, because I still can’t see the one to the SW, and the rest are a little iffy.

Three pilots. Tick. CONTINUE and BE LEFT could be carry on, outlast, something like that. But how does ULTRA fit? And HOUSE, ROYAL. Lancaster? Is the SW one STAR, are we looking at something to do with planes, pilots again? And how does that fit with the film?

Hang on. Pilots could be AIRMEN, which is an anagram of MARNIE. REMAIN is another anagram, which fits in with CONTINUE, BE LEFT and, yes, STAY down in the SW corner. MARINE is the only other anagram I can find. ROYAL MARINE, yes. ULTRA MARINE. Let’s look at the dictionary, because HOUSE is evidently wrong. Ah, HORSE MARINE, not heard of that, but it’s in the big red book.

Now that was very satisfying to finish and work out what was going on with the different groups. So thanks Lato, thoroughly enjoyed! By the time you read this I’ll be off in the wilds of Wales (no, I don’t tend to venture too far) where hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a copy of the Weekend i and find time to solve the Inquisitor. Whether I’ll also find time to blog it is another matter, so should next week’s blog not appear, or appear late, fear not, I’ll be holed up in a pub somewhere not worrying overly about the lack of a mobile signal or Wi-Fi.

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Our second IoS reprint of the week, and another tricky one. Was I only person to assume this was a Thursday reprint? Nevertheless this was as good as expected from eXternal, with ticks beside many of the clues, 6d, 15ac and 1ac among them. I struggled to parse both 13ac and 7d in common with the original blogger, but all is explained in the comments over on the other side. Of the rest, some of those longer answers looked a bit intimidating at first, but with a little patience and examination of the wordplay each fell. I was confident throughout I would finish given sufficient thought and application, which for me is always a sign of a well constructed puzzle.

COD? 11d, just because it made me smile – “Scientist ogles zit on my nuts (12)”.

To April 2014, and a record number of comments surely for an IoS puzzle:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/04/13/independent-on-sunday-1259-by-external/

Another enjoyable mid-week offering from Dac, probably at the easier end of the spectrum. I was left with only a couple of queries at the close, the slang term used at 10ac having defeated me even if the answer was clear enough, and also a question mark beside the definition for 7d, though it appears to be correct. Elsewhere there were lots of smiles – 14ac and 15d in particular standing out, and lots of watertight cluing. In other words, as is usual for a Wednesday, what’s not to like? First in 1ac, last in 18d followed by 23ac.

COD? The surface reading isn’t perhaps as smooth as some by Dac, but I did like the wordplay at 18d – “Spotted Gregory being transported in winter? (8)”.

To April 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/04/02/independent-8569-dac/

Or “loors”, the printing goblins having been at work again. A glance to the right of the grid confirms the suspicion that my solution to Eclogue’s Ivy was, indeed, the working of my fevered imaginings, and swiftly moving on to eXtent’s latest offering. eXtent being, of course, eXternal and Serpent in union. Misprints this week, incorrect and correct letters (remember that order), resulting in a verse with one missing word we’ve got to highlight. A preamble I can understand. Worrying.

Onto a not so glorious start. The plural of love feasts starting AG is AGAPES, isn’t it? No idea about the misprint but let’s ignore that and look at the crossing answers. 1d – so far so good. ABDUCT is indeed to take away with an anagram of sorts once the misprint’s sorted. 2d – yep, GRIS. Still on course. 3d ditto. But no, 4d’s not going to be anything other than EQUAL no matter how hard I squint. Check the dictionary, confirm we should have entered AGAPAE for 1ac with a misprint that suddenly make sense. That brief stumble done with the grid entry is one that is occasioned without too much ado. Yes, I know, I’m a right 35ac.

What do the misprints amount to? They start EYE HAVE A SPELLING IT CAME WITH MY PEA SEA which is part of the first two lines of Candidate for a Pullet Surprise, of which there seem to be loads of versions online, none of which quite agree and none of which quite match eXtent’s version. Oh well, the seven letter word missing is evidently CHEQUER, and there it is near the bottom of the grid all ready to highlight. Hurrah.

Wasn’t that good? Not too tricky, always engaging, and that verse – new to me – was indeed quite amusing. And, you never know, perhaps I haven’t made such a dog’s dinner of things this time.

An enjoyable, fairly gentle start to the week from Quixote. The usual mix of fair clues with a sprinkling of unknown terms to add a bit of spice. I didn’t know the answer or the game referenced in 1ac so had to seek help there, which proved to be the only real issue, progress elsewhere being steady if not particularly rapid. There were a couple I couldn’t parse – notably 7d – but in each case it didn’t really make any difference to the outcome. Finish time under par for the i.

COD? I’ll go with 19d – “Little house with B&B – thing to suit fictional adventurer? (8)”.

To March 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/03/31/independent-8567-by-quixote/

A bit of a stiff challenge from Anax today where I must admit to seeking a little help, in particular on 16ac and 18ac. The latter it turns out I had vaguely heard of, but the former could have been about any possible combination of the anagram fodder as far as I was concerned. 🙂 There were a few gimmes along the way to be fair, in particular 24ac, 25d and 2d, so it wasn’t as if we were left staring at a blank grid for ages, but for me at least this was a little trickier than I like them on a weekday.

COD? 12ac – “Religious festival in Colon? (8)”.

To March 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/03/18/independent-8556-anax/

Another enjoyable Wednesday outing, though one I found to be a little chewier than usual for Dac. Perhaps it was the smattering of unfamiliar terms – with 18ac in particular being initially resistant to a Google search. Or maybe the parsing of 1ac which eluded me for an age, or being more familiar with AT… than IN… for 4d. I’d also managed to forget the name of Shakespeare’s shrew, which made solving 16ac a little more interesting than was strictly necessary. 17d I was pleased to get from the wordplay, even if I should have guessed it sooner because of this book and film. Finish time about par for the i.

COD? I’ll go with 25ac – “Tale-teller finding teacher in playground at break? (7-6)”.

To May 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/05/07/independent-8599-dac/

Or rather, ‘ou will have according to my paper, there evidently having been a debacle at the printers.

Isn’t that a long preamble? Half the (possibly jumbled) definitions have got an extra letter spelling out an instruction as these things are wont to do. One unclued entry, two “contributors” to be highlighted hint at the theme. And, oh, answers don’t necessarily fill the space available. Such fun. Onward, with the infernal buzzing and rattling and clanking of the fridge freezer in the background. Yes, defrosting the thing after it began to leak water has indeed fixed the leaking water problem, but brought with it a whole world of hurt.

And my head’s not up to that level of hurt on a Saturday afternoon. Thankfully the grid isn’t similarly injurious. Though it did take an unnecessarily long time to get beyond “It’s a pity heroin isn’t one letter longer, otherwise it would have fitted nicely with the wordplay for 1ac” to, oh, that’s one of the ones that doesn’t fill the space available. HERO, you dolt. Something GREENISH isn’t ish anything but most definitely coloured. And GROCK, what a marvellous word. HARK at 43ac appears to be the only other answer too short for the space available. Look, they’re symmetrically placed. Does that mean anything?

The unclued entry? We’re missing but the one letter, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that it’s GUESTHOST. The extra letters? Once I’d got over my assumption that 1d couldn’t possibly be plural – it can, it’s third down the list in Chambers – I discovered to my surprise that I’d got them right first time. AMEND GRID TO BE AFFIRMATIVE. Eh?

Let’s look for those contributors… With a niggling suspicion based on the unclued entry… Yes, there’s MERTON, making his second appearance in a month, and HISLOP, regulars on Have I Got News for You. Even if they’re on the wrong side of the guest host, Kruger!

But how do we make the grid affirmative? There are some suspicious looking YOUs at the top and bottom of the grid. NEWS for YOU? Yep, that works, giving us HERON and SHARK, and lo and behold the other amended answers fit too. Huzzah. All good fun, and not too tricky – so thanks Kruger, that suited me just fine. All of which leaves time enough at last for other things like. Well, a bit of Mortimer and Whitehouse. Well worth a look if you haven’t already.

An IoS reprint to start the week, and a pretty straightforward one it was too. I think it was only 18d that gave me any problems right at the close, for reasons that elude me now. Lots went in on definition alone, and 21ac I’d argue was a little too clearly flagged, but there you go. Enjoyable while it lasted, and a good Monday puzzle.

COD? Let’s go with 22d – “Partial to unethical veal? Bring forth a baby cow! (5)”.

To May 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/05/11/independent-on-sunday-1263-by-commoner/

An IoS reprint this Thursday, so as expected it was on the easy side. I made a mess of things at first by entering 9ac at 5ac, and then couldn’t work out why the equally obvious answer for 8d wouldn’t fit. Doh. A swift recovery later led to steady progress through the grid, though perhaps not as lightning fast as might be expected with some of the Sunday reprints. Or perhaps it was just too early in the day for that sort of thing.

I vaguely knew 9ac, but failed to parse 5ac and 28ac (my knowledge of all things Oz not being quite as extensive as Fifteensquared’s blogger). The only other real point of interest was 19ac, which I was convinced couldn’t be a word, but it appears to be, so there you go.

There’s a Nina, which helped a little in the far NE corner.

Whoops of the day? 13ac still hasn’t been corrected, though I must admit to not noticing.

All in all pretty enjoyable, and unexpected following a set of pretty straightforward offerings.

COD? I’ll go with 22ac – “Actress who could make Bogart rage (5,5)”.

To March 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/03/16/independent-on-sunday-1255-by-kairos/