The snow is busy being washed away outside by the torrential rain which has followed, so the kids are back in school and normal service is resumed. Well, sort of, because Dac is AWOL and we have an IoS reprint from Commoner in its place. Not that I’m complaining because this was thoroughly enjoyable, perhaps a little easier than Wednesdays often are. A couple of unknowns in the answers at 15d and 20ac, but all perfectly gettable from the wordplay. A good puzzle to show to any aspiring solvers out there.

First in was the NW corner in a flash, last the SW corner at something approaching a crawl. This was partly because I lobbed in 13d from two letters and the definition alone, and then couldn’t find anything immediately to cross it, panicked a little and spent too long parsing the (as it turns out) relatively straightforward cryptic.

I always look for a Nina when I see a row of unchecked letters at the top and bottom of the grid, but well, there wasn’t.

COD? The aforementioned 15d, which is nicely done, and very satisfying to solve – “Zeus can perform lines (4,4)”.

To August 2013 once more:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/08/25/independent-on-sunday-1226commoner/

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It might be December, but I’ve resisted the demands to put up the decorations for one week at least, so instead of crawling round in the attic hunting for a load of dusty bags, I’m settled with the weekend’s i, a newly sharpened pencil, and a copy of the big red book. So what do we have? A cryptic comment regarding one corner that should be filled in, clashes that “must be resolved” to form a three-word phrase, one unclued entry, handily shaded so we won’t miss it.

Once more into the fray. 8ac is the first clue and it’s an obvious one – SLASH. So this is going to be a doddle, isn’t it? Not quite – clashes always leave me feeling unsettled, because you can’t trust any of those entries, can you? But today’s clues are quite forgiving of my solving abilities throughout, though by mid-afternoon I’ve run out of steam. Fast forward to the evening, and the suspicion that those clashes are going to be in a diagonal from NW to SE. Now that makes things easier. The unclued 1ac? It’s got to be GOOSEBERRY, which is a pretty heavy hint as to why we’ve got those three barred off corners. Last in today 14ac, and a pretty tricky definition – veg (out), UNWIND presumably, though it’s ages before I’ve got anything close to the parsing.

To those clashes. Obvious, innit? Including the blank NW corner, TWO IS COMPANY. Except that the preamble is pretty clear that we’re supposed to be left with real words at the close, and VEOTING and TOILEC are certainly not, in the BRB or via a fairly desperate Google search. And I’m pretty sure it’s suppose to be “TWO’S COMPANY”.

So, has there been an almighty cock-up somewhere? Or are we supposed to do something else with those clashes? “Resolved” is a pretty ambiguous term to be using, after all. What other words will fit if we put other letters in place of those clashes? There we go, now we have THREE’S A CROWD across that diagonal. Hurrah. And wasn’t that neat? Very nicely done, and probably a complete nightmare to sort out when trying to put that grid together. Thanks to Shark for a thoroughly enjoyable solve, that for the first time in ages I’ve managed to polish off in just the one day. Azed, anyone?

Well, we’re still well and truly snowed in here, with the added entertainment value of icy roads and pavements, but at least the sun is shining which means the heating is off for the first time since Thursday. All of which makes for a much more pleasant atmosphere in which to solve the Don’s fortnightly Monday offering.

Today’s puzzle was definitely on the easy side, though no less enjoyable. There weren’t any unusual terms on show, which probably explains the rapid progress this morning. I didn’t need to / didn’t bother parsing a lot of clues, so there might be something I’ve missed, but I don’t think most experienced solvers will have been held up for long. There’s some debate over on the other side about CID as hero, but it’s so common in crosswords that I didn’t even give it a second thought.

COD? 3ac – “A point to be made in fast trading opportunity (4,6)”.

To the warmer days of August 2013:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/08/12/independent-8370-by-quixote/

A Thursday Independent reprint today, which usually means something decidedly tricky, but I found this to be a fairly gentle offering, though I must admit to not bothering to parse some of the more complicated cryptic parts, including 24ac which stumped quite a few solvers back in the day. Enjoyable throughout, as Nestor always is. First in 1ac, last in 10ac. 🙂 There’s a bit of a theme going on today…

COD? The aforementioned 10ac – “Internet giant (giant without borders) associated with large-scale streaming? (9)”.

To July 2013:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/07/25/independent-8355-nestor/

In which I made rapid progress at the start, and indeed in the middle, but swiftly ground to a halt near the end. The offending clues were 4ac, 8d (very well hidden indeed!) and my LOI, 3d. I suspect poetic justice, after feeling quite smug at managing to get 6d from the anagram and a couple of checking letters, despite it being new to me. Down in the SE corner actually living in Wales when you’re trying to think of a “Welsh girl” proved to be more of a hindrance than a help, as I could simply think of too many, some more obscure than others.

Anyway, as enjoyable and immaculately clued as ever from Dac.

COD? There was a little discussion about this clue on the other side, but I thought it mildly amusing rather than offensive, but then again I’m not one. 16d – “One showing resentment about couple in partnership? Right (8)”.

To August 2013:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/08/14/independent-8372-dac/

A suspiciously short preamble this week. Normal clues, though don’t expect them to fit the cell lengths, complete the grid at the close to show five thematic names. The title isn’t giving anything away, so there’s nothing to do but leap in feet first.

First in is 13ac, which handily fits the cell length. DOGE, that old crossword favourite. Nothing else falls in that corner, though, with more progress down to the far SE. Answers that are too short (which takes a bit of getting used to when looking for potential entries), chuck them in and hope for the best. Move them when it looks like they’re in the wrong place. Or rub them out altogether when they obviously won’t fit – I won’t reveal how many goes I had at 15d, all of which made a complete and utter hash of the entries around them.

An almost full grid, no names leaping out of the grid, and 1ac refusing to yield. The suspicion that it’s the key to finishing this. The suspicion also based on past puzzles like this that the answer will be very short, and the longer, amended version totally thematic. Scribble above the grid the possible letters from the (to be expanded) entries below. Stare a bit more, frustration levels rising.

Ah, it’s FAWLTY TOWERS (from TOES presumably), and now we can work out what those expanded entries were meant to be – BLURB, not bluer, and so on. The other names (is 1ac really a name)? No prizes for guessing Basil, Sybil, Polly and Manuel. There we are. A slightly frustrating solve, with everything hinging on that first, particularly unyielding across entry. Perhaps if I’d got luckier with my guesses with the expanded grid entries elsewhere I wouldn’t have felt so disgruntled at the close, but well, I didn’t. Or perhaps I was just feeling particularly grumpy this weekend, you decide. Blame the impending festive season…

When I saw the setter’s name I thought – it’s an IoS reprint. Well, it was on the easy side, but it’s from a Monday, and perhaps a little tougher than the Sunday puzzles tend to be. Over on the other side Pierre commented that “Raich isn’t half flexing his cryptic muscles this morning”, which about sums things up. On the gentle side, certainly, but there were one or two where the cryptic parts were a little tricky, even if the answer was often staring you in the face. My last one in would have been 25ac, but I must to admit to failing to get it. Overall as enjoyable as Raich’s puzzles always are.

COD? 4d – “Liking Dad’s treacle? (7,7)”.

To August 2013:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/08/05/independent-8364raich/

A fairly straightforward, enjoyable IoS reprint to ease us towards the end of the week. The SW corner needed a little more thought than the rest, though my LOI was 25ac elsewhere in the grid. Not because I couldn’t work out the cryptic bit, but because I was convinced it must be wrong based on the definition. The consensus over on the other side was that this was tough for a Sunday, so your mileage may vary.

COD? 16d – “Healthy drink about to be consumed by chap close to poolside area (5,3)”.

To August 2013:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/08/04/independent-on-sunday-1223-by-hypnos/

i Cryptic Crossword 2125 Dac

November 29, 2017

Well, even by Dac’s high standards that was good, with a rare (first even?) mini-theme in a couple of the clues. A few entries that were new to me, but the always fair, clear cryptic parts left no doubt as to the correct answer. Another how-to guide for would-be setters. On the easy side for a Wednesday, but no less enjoyable for it.

COD? 20ac – “Woman asking for opposite of 11?”.

We’re still in the summer of 2013 over on the other side:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/07/24/independent-8354-dac/

Which I’m presuming won’t have anything to do with computers, which is a pity because that’s a speciality of mine. As are Jigsaw puzzles, it appears. Ok, this is only half a jigsaw, but the setter has still neglected to put any numbers by the across clues. So I did so myself, because, well, it turned out to be a right pain trying to do otherwise, especially with that great big unclued entry in the middle of the grid that I kept forgetting to take into account. But anyway, the preamble. Across clues are normal, in conventional order. Hurrah. Down clues are alphabetical, 12 of them need a letter removed that we lob in the centre row in the appropriate column. Remaining down answers to be entered where they will fit. We’ve been at this kind of thing for weeks now, so it should be a doddle, shouldn’t it? At the close we’re to complete the centre row, and find a poem that describes how those down clues were entered.

Head ready to explode, onwards. So this shouldn’t be an issue. Get a load of those across answers in. Check. Get some of the downs, and see where they’ll fit. Except that they don’t. And I mean, really don’t. At least one clue that is too long for any of the barred entries, and one that is too short. Help. And that, really, was the whole of Saturday afternoon. Staring at a grid, at the answers, and trying to work out what we were supposed to do with those downs. Take out a common letter? There don’t appear to be any. Something else? I don’t have any ideas about something elses. Help, again.

To Saturday evening. A lot more staring. A couple of clues solved. The realisation that if we ignore those bars, ECO and TYPESET will fit into column 5, forming ECOTYPE and SET with the bar splitting them. And that seems to be working out with the answers I’ve got. In the centre row a sort of name forming, TEN??S??. Yes, I should have spotted who that was sooner. But by close of play Saturday I’m good for nothing.

Fast forward to Sunday evening. The fact that the down clues are in alphabetical order comes to the rescue with the big blank spaces I’ve got to the left and the right of the grid. Scrub out some answers that must be wrong. Rethink some others. What have we got?

TOLIP TENNYSON

That well known poet.

Ok, reverse that first word, Google it, and there’s the name of our poem: CROSSING THE BAR, which indeed we have been. Huzzah. Wasn’t that a struggle? No doubt you all ripped through this in a single sitting, but, well, the last thing I was expecting was that the grid would be, basically, lying. So anyway, I’m off to lick my wounds, in the hope of an easier ride next time with… Schadenfreude. Oh…