He’s the bloke who came up with the ink blot test and some of this puzzle was just as perplexing to me as the test would be. Many of the answers are names of people both real and fictional and therein lies the theme which of course I failed to spot. But I was in good company as duncanshiell who wrote the original Fifteensquared blog missed it too. 10ac also gives a hint…

I made a quick start with 1ac going straight in, and the rest of that corner soon followed although 9ac seemed a bit tenuous to me, as did 15ac. 5ac was one of my last in as it was an obscurity clued by another obscurity, with only the “in” being apparent from the wordplay.  Anyone who didn’t like yesterdays Eiffel = Eyeful hom probably won’t like 12dn, but the last three letters were a bit of a give away. 14dn is for me one of the most difficult clues I’ve come across recently, and only went in once all the checking letters were in, and even then I needed electronic help and still couldn’t parse it! Which was a shame as that answer was required before you could solve 18dn down which was an excellent clue. Plenty of ticks – 4dn, 27ac and 25dn were worthy – but I think the aforementioned 18dn is

COD What’s rendered 14 less mobile in May?  (8)

I have just noticed that I failed with 6dn something else that was new for me.

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A reprint from the IOS today, enjoyable enough, nothing very contentious or indeed too challenging. My overall impression is that there are a lot of anagrams or part anagrams, twelve I think. Nothing really obscure either, although 13ac, 15dn and 20ac aren’t words that you might use daily. They are all adequately clued providing in 13ac’s case that you are familiar with a certain Swedish shop.  There seem to be a lot of clues and the grid looks pretty full, probably due to the Nina, No, I didn’t spot it either, but the clever people over on Fifteensquared did so I will leave it to them to explain.

COD 20ac  Crops area shortly beginning to grow – I hope so anyway  (9)

The end of the working week and we get what I found to be a real tough nut with this Thursday reprint from Klingsor. I made a hesitant start at 10ac – I’ve being doing these things for long enough to know Ton = Fashion, but couldn’t see It’s=Sex😴. Next in was 18ac – how I knew that magazine is a mystery. The down clues proved more fruitful with the first four going straight in although I did have to check Genoa in a dictionary. This burst soon came to halt in the NE corner – an unknown Indian meal and an obscure vehicle with a ghastly football related clue through the middle held me up for ages,  although not as long as my LOI, 20dn. Lots of ticks along the way – I particularly liked 4 and 16dn and 13 and 25ac, but COD because I like the surface is

1dn     I’m in Spain, broke quietly going ape (6)

All the solutions and parsing can be found in the excellent blog by Bertandjoyce   on Fifteensquared

A fairly straightforward IOS reprint that won’t give experienced solvers too much trouble, the only obscurity for me being 17dn which was gettable from the wordplay. 22dn might have given younger solvers cause for thought – was he that famous? The main points of discussion over on Fifteensquared were the uses of a (to me) unknown German poet in 2dn and the use of “recur” to indicate a reversal in 10ac. In both cases the solutions were apparent once a few crossers were in, much like 6dn where the usual Red or even Ivan for Russian is replaced by Vitaly hmm. My LOI was the long and convoluted 11dn which I failed to parse.

I found this a reasonable puzzle, but nothing was particularly outstanding, ticks for 1ac, 19dn, 27ac and COD

16dn  Giant creature hard to detect among two small ones? Yes and no!

After a week of what I thought to be quite challenging puzzles it comes as no surprise that we should finish with a reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle by Tyrus, a setter usually associated with tough puzzles but, fortunately for me, this seems to be a more user friendly experience. The original blog over on Fifteensquared describes it as “A good, honest cryptic work-out ” and that is exactly how I found it. Easy to get into, a good variety of clue types, and difficult to finish with 2dn needing all the checking letters, and 8dn which went in without fully understanding why being my final two. Plenty of ticks – 20dn got one (it was an answer in yesterdays puzzle), but this was a much better clue, and I really liked the anagram at 11/13. But for COD

21ac    Faint Welsh emblem? (4,4)

A reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle and on the tougher side I thought. Not that there were any obscurities or definitions that required checking in the big red book, just a setter with a gift for devious misdirection and wordplay, anagrams with well concealed anagrinds and others like 9ac where the redundant “movie” had me looking for an anagram. I started slowly with only 5ac and 26ac going in but the down clues proved more productive and speeded things up slightly until most were solved, although quite a few not fully parsed. Which is where we turn to Fifteensquared where Bertandjoyce do an admirable job of explaining it all. My LOI’s in were 28ac, another that the wordplay had me convinced it was an anagram, and the clever 24dn. No real complaints with any of this puzzle although the A = acting in 2dn got a slight tut, but that was overwhelmed by all the ticks. While 4dn and 11ac deserve mention, COD is 22ac:

In sports, nobody has a beard? Be carefull what you say! (5,4,4)

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.

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.