Donk has established a reputation as one of the tougher setters but at the same time providing inventive and amusing crosswords and this puzzle certainly enhances that reputation. It took a while to get into this, after reading through all the clues the grid was looking pretty sparse but just a few checking letters helped although some like 2dn/13ac 21ac and 24ac need all the crossers before I could see the answer. 2dn got a large TUT of displeasure being a mixture of Latin and something else I know nothing about. Dutch isn’t something I’m familiar with but 28ac was a fairly obvious anagram. Donk had me fooled for quite some time with 12ac and 20dn  where the answers were there in the clue but the indicators “Boring” and “Frequently” didn’t seem to er indicate. LOI was 6dn and only because it was all I could see that would fit, apparently its a golfing term according to some correspondents on Fifteensquared where you will find much praise and discussion and the revelation of a theme,  its not about  10ac and 27ac but 2dn/13ac

So COD I’m tempted by 24dn but I think

30ac Knocking shop’s doorbell for a change (8)



This is the second puzzle we have had in the i from this setter, the first was a fairly straightforward affair that was enjoyed by all, this time he seems to have his Inquisitor setters hat on and some of this required a bit of thinking outside the box. Thankfully he did provide a few anagrams and a couple of clues that were reasonably normal but I wouldn’t have finished without a lot of outside assistance and I must thank Beermagnet for his Fifteensquared blog where he provides all the solutions and parsing because I gave this to my wife so that she could check the answers that I couldn’t parse. Yes I found this tough. Did I enjoy it? in parts yes but some like 1dn Exposition = Act1, 17dn mosi = tick and 2dn Jelly = KY?  took the edge of it for me although I’m sure others will have found it all much more to their liking.

COD 13ac Demanding to guard border is extremely charitable  (12)

I found this reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle very difficult and a couple were left unanswered. 1ac was a complete unknown, the wordplay of 7dn succeed in being so misleading that I couldn’t fathom what I was looking for and 10ac, well I can just about associate the answer with Handle but find it a bit tenuous. Both 6dn and 20ac were solved but I needed the Blog at Fifteensquared to explain. It was the NE corner that proved the most difficult to fathom even though 5ac was perhaps one of the easier to solve the starting letters it provided didn’t seem to help that much.  I can only assume its me and the excitement of Black Friday that has caused my brain to cease functioning normally 🙂

While I’m not really a fan of homonyms I think this one to be excellent so

COD  15dn  In conversation, raised problem that’s ghastly  (8)

Morph and I don’t always get along but with this reprint of a Thursday puzzle we are more or less on the same wavelength. A fairly slow start with nothing going in until 13ac, although I was pretty sure of 8ac I just couldn’t parse it we don’t have Interstates in this country was my excuse. It was getting the two 15 letter solutions down the edges that really helped trying to decipher some of Morphs excellent cryptic wordplay, once the were in it all went far too quickly. Over on Fifteensquared the blogger RatkojaRiku picked both 3 and 4dn as his favourites, two which received little more than a tut from me, these two along with 24ac and my LOI 25dn I found less than pleasing although not as bad as the crime against the English language that is 11ac.  So many ticks today  10a, 21a, 27a, 8d and 18dn all deserving but

COD 1dn        Internal mechanism for egg timer?  (10,5)

A fairly gentle puzzle from Crosophile to end the working week, one that I think would be suitable for both beginners and the more experienced solver. Four fifteen letter entries around the perimeter certainly helped and it was only 26ac that couldn’t really be solved from the synonym part of the clue but once a few checking letters were in it was nicely solvable as with many today all the components of the answer were there in the clue and just needed sorting like a construction kit 1ac, 3dn and 15dn being excellent examples of this. It was only the NW corner that gave me any problem. 20ac held me up , it was the “old” that threw me, is Nigh now considered old? and 21dn eluded me for a while but the only one I couldn’t really see was 24ac where Liner = Coat seems a bit of a stretch.

Plenty of nice clues today even the alluded to bad language at 11ac and 16ac got a “I didn’t know that smile” but

COD 1dn  “All dreams come true ” (wink) – Henry’s insightful that’s false (7,8)

Click here for the Fifteensquared blog.

A reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle where Nestor gives us plenty of good fairly straightforward clues to help with the solving on the more obscure answers. I needed Chambers for 12ac, it was obviously going to start with Nan and I could only think of Obite but that doesn’t exist similarly 25ac and 7dn were unknowns that were mostly deduced by the wordplay but I needed all the crossers to actually solve. It was the NE corner that held out the longest but once the excellent 8dn fell and 6ac went in as a what else could it be? (I did parse it correctly but cant say I liked it) finally 9dn, lovely wordplay but I couldn’t see how it translated to Rating? As with things I cant see, in the original blog on Fifteensquared  Bertandjoyce mention a Nina in the first and last columns.

There are some excellent candidates for COD but my pick is

10ac  Barrel parts dropping hard? it was an accident (4)



Made a brisk start with 8 and 9 across going straight in but that was it until 21ac, spent a few minutes trying to recall what a Teddy boy’s hairstyle was called and wonder how younger setters might get on with this. Its at this point that the first of the themed single letter clues are encountered and where I started to dislike this puzzle, a situation that continued for quite some time. 24/2dn was the first to fall but I wasn’t sure until 20dn and then it became obvious how the theme was working, happiness restored , well nearly 11ac I couldn’t parse and I have asked for the tab in US bars quite often and 14ac even with new glasses I missed the alternative spelling of course. So what seemed at one time a bit of a chore ended a very pleasing puzzle with lots to enjoy 19dn got a grin but

COD 7dn       In a book, Hemingway’s initial inscribed (2,4)

The original blog is here at Fifteensquared

This reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle from Monk is much like his other offerings, a few excellent clues a few easy and some downright obscurities all wrapped up in a pretty meaningless Nina but at least we get to learn something about cows stomachs, at least these were confirmed by consulting Chambers as was the obscure pheasants nest but  I can’t say the same for Joking = Rotting which isn’t in the editions I have, then we have 21d another oddity, confirmed by Chambers though. After all this it seemed that that what started off with a few brisk entries finished as a trudge. I do have two that I awarded more than just a tick to 1dn and

COD 11ac  Bizarre old aunt thrashed his bum (10)

All this is unpicked and parsed by mc_rapper67  over on Fifteensquared

Todays puzzle is a reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle from June 2013 and I for one found it very difficult although in hindsight there is only 27ac that was new to me as both a definition and as a cheese and 9ac was only solved once all the crossing letters were in as “Wagner Lover” meant nothing to me. After reading all the across clues I had only solved with any certainty 15 and 25 with a few others penciled in lightly as I couldn’t fully parse them, luckily the first few of the down clues were all quite gettable even if I did have to look up Medick. It was the NW corner that was last to fall with 23ac only going in after taking a punt at 23dn , “vital structure” being a bit vague I thought, then resorting to a wordfinder for 27ac. On completion I had plenty of ticks among them were 5ac, 24ac, 5dn and 16dn but for its clever misdirection

COD      18ac   A head’s no time to take class (4)

The original blog and all the parsing can be found  here at Fifteensquared

Oh no not Monk again, his last puzzle went down like the proverbial lead balloon with some correspondents here. There seemed to me quite a few on the easier side to get started with but there are also quite a few that only went in once I had all the crossers and they seemed the best fit, chiefly amongst these was 1dn closely followed by 11ac and 8dn. 4dn wins the most obscure answer prize, at least a normal anagrid “about” is used compared to “high” and “totty”.

I don’t usually spot themes and apart from noticing “Me” being used a couple of times nothing was apparent, however being Monk there is something just as obscure as some of his wordplay. Its all revealed over on Fifteensquared but it took two months!

Overall I quite enjoyed this and had quite a few ticks including 17ac, 25ac, 6dn and 7dn but I think COD must go to

1ac  A beastly pair paralyse bait for one (7)