Just what we have come to expect from this setter – challenging, witty and in places infuriating. Bit of a slow start – I could see some of the parts of 1ac, but the clue wasn’t  much help with the synonym and as I know nothing of drugs this was left until plenty of checking letters were in. 9ac impressed with its misdirection and again needed crossers before the lightbulb came on. So 12ac – a nice normal anagram – was my first followed by the clever anagram at 18ac. With the grid starting to fill others went in even if I couldn’t fully parse them. 2dn and the Bucks bit 7dn and a German word that got a harrumph but it was 24ac that got a large? The Fifteensquared blog explains it as Vera Gel whatever that is. LOI was 26ac – whilst I have a vague memory of seeing it before but I couldn’t bring it to mind and the Homophone part didn’t help so it was a word search to fill in the blanks.

Lots of clever clues – 14ac, 21ac (but the word itself is awful) and 17dn all worthy – but the one that I prefer is the succinct 13ac:

Get down (on it) (4)



This Saturday prize puzzle reprint will either impress you with its brilliance or leave you confounded by its complexity. I am in the latter group finding clues like 9ac far too complex and the definition somewhat vague.  My first in was 10ac, but that was only entered by the definition and enumeration – the cryptic was a mystery. Fortunately there were some that were solved as intended which gave some checking letters to have a stab at the rest. Only two answers were marked as obscure – 14dn I hadn’t heard of and 26ac which is so obscure that this is the only puzzle that it appears in according to the Fifteensquared database  where Twencelas does an excellent job of unraveling this puzzle.

So to COD. Well  4dn, 20ac and 22ac were candidates but 27ac gets it

Film with variable cuts, shifting afterthought to prologue? (6)

We end the working week with a Donk which I found harder to parse than to solve. Starting was fairly straightforward with 6ac, 6dn and 9ac going straight in but it also produced the first ?’s for 1dn and 2dn fortunately we have the excellent Fifteensquared blog to turn to where Bertandjoyce do an admirable job of explaining it all especially 24/15 which I like others it seems happily bunged in the answer whilst missing the point of what Donk intended, it is all very clever but if B&J hadn’t spotted it it would have gone right over my head. The word play at 7dn had me completely bewildered as did 25 and 26dn I also didn’t know 11dn was paid in tips however the only one I really disliked was 5dn Champers = Orally.

Having finished it with so many question marks leaves me a little dissatisfied, no doubt its all very clever but for me perhaps a bit too clever.

COD well I’m tempted by 6dn because its one of my favourite words but 12dn just takes it.

Too much bottom’s covered briefly  (4 – 3 – 3)

Its Wednesday and its Dac and as per usual there is not a lot to say its all so well clued even if you can’t quite fully parse the solution its all apparent once its written down or you go to the Fifteensquared blog where you end up giving yourself a slap, in my case it was primarily the Louse in 4ac and the Stalk in 10ac, I also didn’t know Sake was a beer but whilst the Ton = Fashion wasn’t a problem my personal blind spot of W = With was which is why 20dn and 27ac were my LO’sI. 14ac got a grimace, not that there was anything wrong with the clue just the whole thing is best avoided.

COD well 13ac, 20dn and 15dn are all worthy my pick is 5dn

It’s tough travelling without information (12)

An IOS reprint to start the week and whilst not terrible difficult there were a few that provided me with a bit of a tussle either because of the wordplay or the definition didn’t seem to match the clue, 21ac was one, an anagram which gave Generates or Teenagers defined by Awkward evidently the setter thinks Teenagers are awkward. Quite a few anagrams here with a nice long one at 3dn which didn’t really need working out but if you did use the apparent anagram fodder it doesn’t work, this it seems isn’t an error as the setter explains over on the Fifteensquared blog.

An enjoyable puzzle with some good clues but nothing that really stood out so for COD I will nominate 1ac because the wordplay had me scratching my head for a while

Getting tips from speakers after function gives comfortable feeling (8)


Puzzles from this setter seem to appear mostly in the IOS and are generally pretty straightforward and this is exactly what we have here. I surprised myself by answering the first five across clues which made 5dn and subsequently 11dn write-ins, this unfortunately made the setters clever clues rather Pointless (Another quiz show presented by S.T.) 17dn was solved from the cryptic with no idea why it should refer to a uniformed schoolboy and 20dn my LOI went in with a shrug. Over on The Fifteensquared blog the main point of discussion is 15dn and what the “Hands” has to do with it, I thought that at first but The BRB gives Attrition as “Decreasing by rubbing” so that seems to make some sense.

Only two needed any checking, 23ac an unknown artist and an equally unknown footballer that got a grimace and 3dn which purely on the basis that it was solved from the cryptic will be the COD

Fish produced by a cricket club I love as a starter (9)

A Tees puzzle and you know you’re in for a bit of a tussle. This one though lulled me into a sense of false security as the top half went in quite quickly with only 1dn needing any sort of checking – and no I don’t like Jolly = RM. 13ac proved a bit problematic as I tried to equate first wife with Eve, Tees’ use of Ex here comes in for a bit of discussion over on the Fifteensquared blog. where mc_rapper67 provides all the explanations and the setter himself makes a couple of appearances. And so onto the bottom half where it was 18, 24 and 25 that caused the most brow furrowing. The misdirection of calling a Pattern maker a Casting agent was only resolved when all the checking letters were in and that’s all that would fit. I had to Google NKVD and 25 an unknown word that needed a bit of Latin for the answer – well that needed a word search.

Lots of clues got ticks today – 1ac, 3dn and 11dn I thought admirable but by a whisker COD goes to 16dn:

Very good religious females cut grass (8)

A nice puzzle from Alchemi to lighten the mood on this gloomy day. While nothing definite went in until 11ac, there were enough fairly straightforward clues to ensure a reasonably rapid grid fill. The only unknown for me was 20dn. Although 10ac doesn’t crop up in the news now as often as he probably did back in 2015, the clues plus a few crossers were enough to provide the solutions. Parsing in some cases proved a bit harder – 10ac, 26ac, 3dn and 7dn stood out here but they are all explained by RatkojaRiku over on the Fifteensquared blog which is where I found out that there is a Nina!

Plenty of good clues but my pick for COD is 9ac:

Provencal 1D papers reaching difficult conclusion not thought of before  (8)


I am never sure what to expect from this setter as in the past we have had some that have been quite tough and others fairly middling. This I found fell into the latter category with enough on the easy side to get letters in the grid to assist with the few that were a bit harder to unravel. These were 1ac where “to patrol” was used to indicate an anagram that had me fooled until I had written the answer in, 11ac – surely the Aussie for toilet is Dunny, well that’s what I thought but it is also Toot it seems. 3dn is the only one that went in unparsed and is the main topic over on Fifteensquared. It seems some had a different clue for 22dn which I would have preferred as the one we have is too close to home for my liking 🙂 My last one in was 15dn which is cryptically a fine clue but the answer a complete unknown to me and this is the only puzzle in the Fifteensquared database that it can be found.

COD. Lots of good clues but not anything exceptional but 18dn got a couple of ticks

New bags – they were originally made for consumers in Asia (7)

Today we have a puzzle from Kairos and for me it is the puzzle of the week. Nothing really obscure – we all know that Suriname is abbreviated to SME don’t we? And that Galileo was the first to see sunspots? Well, it didn’t really matter if you didn’t because the user friendly grid gave us plenty of checking letters.  Only 10ac and 16dn went in without parsing but that was my fault for not paying attention, and 1dn took far too long – I was convinced it was two words (wrong again) and the alternative definition of Truck had slipped my mind. No real quibbles – the use of Rent for an anagrid in 6dn was perhaps unusual, and if you don’t watch Countdown 8dn might have raised an eyebrow, also as pointed out over on the Fifteensquared blog  his name is Hewer not Hewers.

With so much to like picking one for COD is perhaps the hardest part, but the surface and wordplay at 22dn make it my pick.

Boots replacing foremost of chemists with very big retail outlets  (6)