This is a reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle and I feel the winner certainly deserved his or her prize. I found it extremely hard to get into with only a few entries after the first pass , however with a bit of perseverance and some help from a crossword completer I nearly finished it 22dn defeated me. The only real oddity for me was “encloses modern” in 14ac, whilst the solution is obvious enough from the clue and checking letters the cryptic part leaves me a bit confused. The blogger on Fifteensquared thought 13ac worthy of mention but it elicited a groan from me whilst 3dn, 5dn and 12ac all produced smiles of approval but –

COD 26ac   To avoid both committing and sharing one is far from spineless  (8)

Another excellent offering from Klingsor which for me was quite easy to get into but difficult to complete. My LOI was 4d, I’m not keen on this sort of clue where the synonym is also part of the cryptic but that’s just me, 5ac was a similar ploy but the solution seemed a bit more obvious. Both 19ac and 27ac provoked a lot of head scratching but it was only 22 and 24d that I had trouble parsing both of which are expertly dissected on Fifteensquared.  Too many candidates to choose just one from but as its customary to do so.

COD 12ac Get a bit lost in New Orleans on the way back (6)

An enjoyable enough puzzle from Crosophile in which he gives us an insight into his musical taste , spot the Nina, I missed it and the setter himself seems confused about whether its Somewhere or Something in his comments on Fifteensquared however none of this helped or hindered the solving process. Some were entered without complete understanding of why, principally 11ac which struck me as a bit too clever, 27ac as I have no idea who the person is and 18d which the clue just doesn’t seem to read correctly. Both 16d and 20d were groan worthy but both 28 and 29ac made me smile. 15ac and 4d garnered a couple of ticks each but for

COD  2d  The lead up to fast runs in sporting diagrams  (5,4)

 

Another puzzle that wasn’t too difficult but provided a thoroughly satisfying diversion for this sunny Friday morning. Seven anagrams may be considered a bit over the top by some but I enjoyed them all and with only a couple of obscurities, 21a and 23d, which were clearly clued so as not to hinder my progress it was all over a bit too quickly. Plenty of ticks though 21a was very good and 19d made me smile but

COD 11a    Contentiously relocate learner in such a college  (9)

All the solutions for this IOS reprint from December 2012 are here

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/12/30/independent-on-sunday-1192-raich/

Well I certainly found this hard going, a few reasonably easy ones to get started with but then I ground to halt and started  lightly penciling in some that were guesses unfortunately one in particular 26a was incorrect and I thought Mark to be an excellent answer ark = vessel with end of ram =m. Oh well.  Lots of ingenious clueing some of which a little too convoluted for my taste especially 6d and 23d along with the obscure French river at 5a left me a tad discontent, however there were some fine clues on offer and to pick just one is difficult but

COD     21d Figure involved with start of blaze?  (7)

Still in January 2013

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/01/03/independent-8181-nestor/

 

This IOS reprint marks the debut for this setter who is a worker priest, a term I’ve not come across before, and a lawyer. The former of these two occupations is in evidence as there is a sort of religious theme running through both the clues and the answers though nothing that will impede the secular solver.   15a was my first entry and the grid remained pretty empty for quite a while not helped by entering America for 1d ,well It has AC and I in it as does the correct answer which I still can’t parse. Three others I have trouble with are 3d Monastic Office = Lords, 17d Plants = Sets and 13d which I don’t understand at all. The  five anagrams in the across clues were all good and provided a starting point for solving the rest. In all I found this enjoyable and, apart from the three mentioned, eminently solvable puzzle.

While nothing stood out as spectacular I did like 5d and 14d but

COD 14a Soldiers invade Times Square (5)

The January 2013 Blog is here

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2013/01/27/independent-on-sunday-1196-kairos-placeholder/

I found this difficult but with perseverance a solvable and extremely enjoyable puzzle. I needed all of the blank space generously donated by Hyundia for my anagram solving and parsing which was mostly successful only failing partially on 28a and 17d. 20d gave a little concern as Collins gives it as “Easily digestible” which didn’t seem to fit at all but Chambers has “cheerful” at the very end of its definition. This wasn’t a quick solve by any means and at the end I was left with 18d and was on the verge of giving up when I spotted it hidden away in the clue. It would be easier to pick out the clues I didn’t like (7d and 18d) than to select just one as exceptional, but if I must

COD 8d  Inclination to convert Islamic converts under raised stage area in church.(14)

The original blog by the estimable Duncanshiell from December 2012 is here http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/12/06/independent-8158-nestor/

Well I stared at an almost blank grid for quite a while. In my defence we have visitors for the weekend and they want to chat, can’t they see I’m busy!. I eventually completed this by adjourning to a smaller more private room. I found this quite difficult with quite a few (to me) obscurities in both the wordplay and the answers. In 9ac associating slander with mud seemed a bit tenuous , yes I know about dragging someone through the mud but it still didn’t quite work. 14ac was an unknown to me but I was pleased to be able to solve it from the cryptic part and then confirm with a dictionary.

As with lots of puzzles that seem difficult out the outset ,when the are eventually completed I wonder why I found them so difficult and realise that I really did enjoy it and the clues in the majority were excellent which leaves me to select just one hmm 26ac or?

COD   8d  Mount production of Rienzi, palpably not 2 (10)

The original blog where the blogger suggests that this is an ideal puzzle for beginners, which it probably is but only if they have access to his explanations that can be found here

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/11/29/independent-8152-klingsor/

 

I think this is the first puzzle from this setter to appear in The i, however from the comments on the other side he is quite prolific. I must say I found this a bit mundane, it started out well with 1a being a clever piece of wordplay and I enjoyed sorting out the component parts of 10a even though the answer was a bit obvious after that though the  whole thing seemed to lack any sort of challenge.

COD the aforementioned       1a  Renouncing what oaths can be?  (11)

For the original blog with very few comments but some nice pictures click Here

 

The second puzzle from Donk and just its as good as the first that we had at the beginning of the month. Some very inventive clues and ingenious misdirection’s produced quite a few smiles and very few question marks. 17a was one query, I spell it eyeing although it appears either is fine and “Just for Men” I had forgotten about that and thought I was looking for the sort of magazines only found on the top shelf. 21a was another query until finding out what “tackle” was actually referring to then that question mark was replaced with a smile. Only one that I didn’t really like was 3d  but that’s just a personal dislike of “Gob” and  it seems a strange synonym for teeth. None of that though spoilt an excellent puzzle.

COD   20d    Butcher red with anger discovering someone in bed (8)

The original blog and a word from the setter is here  http://www.fifteensquared.net/2012/11/11/independent-on-sunday-1185-donk/