Oh, it’s Donk was my first thought as he generally sets tough puzzle. While this one had its moments it probably isn’t as tough as some of his previous offerings. I found quite a few write-ins – even if I couldn’t completely parse them – and the grid had a generous number of crossers which made life easier. There were a few grimaces along the way – I don’t think “leaves” is a good synonym for “tourism”, and the replacement of TH with F isn’t confined to cockneys. 19ac has been amended from the original – the name has changed and the word “ready” has been inserted which is an improvement as without it I wouldn’t have a clue what it was about (football I assume). Despite these little grumbles I enjoyed this and again find it difficult to pick just one, as I have quite a few ticked. I did like the anagram at 11/10 and the wordplay at 14dn and 23ac, but because it made me smile:

22dn  Prepare for bed in warehouse

For the solutions, parsing and comments go to Fifteensquared where I see that 1ac is falling out of fashion, as according to their database it’s only been used once since this 2014 puzzle.

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I find this setter’s puzzles a bit on the tough side, the sort of puzzles where a bit of lateral thinking isn’t enough. The fact that three of the answers are actually in the dictionary comes as a bit of a surprise, but that this is the only crossword they have ever been used in doesn’t. 1ac was obviously one of the three and the clue shouted anagram so we were off. The four long answers around the edges certainly helped to fill the grid. It was only 27ac that was only solved because of the “K” that caused too much of a problem among these. Along with solving I was acquiring question marks, most of which are resolved by RatkojaRiku in his excellent Fifteensquared blog although there are a few that I find a bit too convoluted, 18dn and 26ac particularly. 6dn is cryptically sound but I’m not sure what the answer has to do with the clue. It’s at this point that I have to admit that 15dn defeated me – it is solvable from the cryptic but I hadn’t a clue that the word even existed.

And so to the hard part of selecting just one for COD. I have a lot of ticks – 7, 8 and 9dn  12 and 14ac among them – but it has to be:

1ac  Attractively curvaceous Scot you oil, bi-curious (12)

It’s Wednesday and it’s Dac and it’s as good as usual. The only obscurity for me being 1ac whom I’d forgotten all about, but with a couple of checking letters in the cryptic part making it gettable. Similarly 7dn which I eat frequently but was unaware of its origins. This was an excellent example of a cryptic clue. There were a couple that went in on definition alone, 2dn I can just about see but it was 14dn that I needed the Fifteensquared blog for enlightenment.  18dn caused a bit of a delay as “initially” had me looking for an actress starting with C. LOI was 6ac  – couldn’t see that at all – otherwise apart from the lip curling word at 25dn it was smooth progress.

Lots of ticks – 7dn, 8dn and 15dn were all well constructed and 17ac deserves mention for its surface – but for COD the devious anagram at 10/11:

One out of twenty-nine couples resettled outside a northern city  (9,4,4)

After yesterdays Flowers in the rain moment I’m off to dig out Manfred Manns Demolition Man.

If you are new to cryptic crosswords this will be ideal for you as it has a examples of most of the devices used by setters, there are homophones that work, anagrams, double definitions, a bit of geography and even a cricketing term and it’s all done in a user friendly way although I did slip up with 9ac where I confidently entered Sweep but that error was soon resolved when I got to 6dn.  Only 16ac could perhaps be described as obscure but experienced solvers will have seen it a few times and it was easily solvable from the cryptic. The only one that I needed help parsing was 1ac and so I’ll make that my

COD  Panic of feeder? What you’ll see here in these short times of refreshment!  (6,6)

The original blog from May 2014 with solutions and comments can be found by clicking here.

After a week of what I thought to be reasonably difficult puzzles this IOS reprint by Hypnos comes as a bit of a relief, it didn’t start well though with only two of the across clues being solved on the first pass and I’m still not sure where the “wild” part of 11ac comes from. The down clues proved more accessible with another part synonym part anagram at 2dn and the long cryptic definition at 7dn giving plenty of checking letters. The part anagram part synonym device gets another outing at 14dn where the solvers favourite port is called into use again. I don’t think there is anything contentious or too obscure here although 26ac doesn’t figure in my list of well known U.S. cities and I had to check who Sassoon V was in the amusing 19dn, so I would class this as a straightforward  enjoyable puzzle with a lot of good clues but nothing outstanding so COD because it had me stymied for a while

5ac      Lead journalist behind river in outdoor resting place? (4,3)

Back to May 2014 where Fifteensquared provides all the solutions and parsing but almost no comments regarding this puzzle.

I read through this with a growing sense of unease – was this the puzzle that I was supposed to blog that I couldn’t solve any of? Well, not quite… A few went in even if I was not completely sure why, and of course once a few are entered it opens up possibilities for others. I was relieved to find that I wasn’t alone – the original Fifteensquared blogger Simon Harding had much the same experience and like me resorted to outside assistance. By clicking the above link you will find all of the correct answers and parsing some of which I am still having difficulty getting my head around, especially 12ac, 13dn and 16dn. Other gripes include 1ac – something to indicate an anagram would have been appreciated, and 18dn where the setter expects us to know the name of an actor’s daughter. Pah.   Of course there were some very good clues – 1dn, 2dn and 5dn all got ticks, but COD goes to the anagram at

25ac   Bum and arse, ma’am? It’s pretty much the same thing (2,4,2,6)

I thought this very tough. Even though it is practically devoid of obscurities in both the answers and clues, the word play employed was nearly headache inducing. It started well enough – the first five across and three downs going straight in, but then it seemed to move up or down (depending on your personal preference) a notch. The linking of 6dn and 16ac was very clever but took a bit of time since 6dn was new to me, as was 22ac which couldn’t have been anything else once a few checkers were in. 26ac caused me a lot of problems – throughout my childhood pumps were never shoes. In fact it is only recently that I have been exposed to this term, so needed all the checking letters and a light bulb moment to get this.

The answer at 10ac can only point to the presence of a 10ac, but I couldn’t see it. Luckily the good folk over on Fifteensquared could. You will also find a bit of discussion mainly about the homophone at 28ac – and no I didn’t like shouting as an indicator either.

As for COD… Well, I did consider 27dn for its hair-loss inducing parsing, but instead:

24dn  Lost a cycling saddle perhaps (2,3)

If you were expecting something a bit tougher after the succession of fairly straightforward puzzles that we  have had this week you were probably a bit disappointed. Nestor – who usually gives me quite a challenge – has set a much more accessible, but nonetheless enjoyable puzzle. An easy start – experienced solvers usually think of Eli when they see “old priest” and with Hospital at the rear 8ac couldn’t be anything else. The two fifteen letter answers hardly needed a cryptic part to their clues,  which was quite fortunate where 20ac was concerned as I didn’t know the Boner = Gaffe part. I thought it meant something completely different😃. It wasn’t all plain sailing though – the wordplay of 5dn had me completely fooled, which along with the place I had only vaguely heard of at 6dn, and 12ac – a cryptic definition + anagram – made the north east corner a bit of a struggle. A dictionary check was needed for the double definition at 26dn, but my LOI was 16ac where Git = Tool got a bit of a tut.

Some nice anagrams, a lot of very well constructed clues and apparently a pangram too.

COD    5dn it’s a relief map’s final cut (4)

The original blog and all the parsing can be found here http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/04/03/independent-8570-nestor/

A fairly straightforward puzzle with lots going in on the first pass, so there were plenty of checking letters to help with the few unknowns that were left, 9dn and 22ac in particular for me. Like others I spent quite a while trying to make an anagram from Acid and Pile for 28ac where I – like John in his Fifteensquared blog – wondered why “Noteworthy”.  The main discussion though is about 6dn. There is some thought that it is a mass noun which it may be as there is no “S” in the anagram fodder in the paper edition. This omission  is explained by the setter in the comments. Nina spotters will probably have noticed the two words across the top which when added to 18ac provide a bit of a theme which again is explained by the setter in his comments.

There were a few clues that I thought displayed some clever wordplay but the one that held me up the longest was

12ac  Distances at sea represented with line?  (9)

 

We end the working week with a puzzle from Donk who has a bit of a reputation for setting tough puzzles with inventive and sometimes risqué content. Well, he doesn’t  disappoint with this offering because it has all of the above. I started slowly, failing with the first few across clues so I broke from my norm and tried the down clues solving 1dn immediately, although the “on vacation” part didn’t win any plaudits from me. But at least I had made a start. 1ac went in although it was only when I saw it written that I understood the parsing and gave it a well deserved tick. I was pleased to solve 6ac from the wordplay as my French is almost on par with my knowledge of television programmes which made 28ac impossible to parse. It wasn’t all plain sailing as my original answer for 2dn was “Blame” and 5dn, well I did think of Roger originally but thought it might be a bit too smutty. Obviously not. In the end it was just 6dn, 19ac and 22ac that were left – all solved by way of the checking letters and needing Fifteensquared to parse.  So we come to nominating just one for COD. Well, the one that amused me the most was –

8dn.   Woman’s fat bottom pinched (3)