With memories of yesterdays exercise in obscurity and obfuscation still fresh I approached this hopeful that Nestor might be more accessible and to a point I think he was with !ac and 4ac going in straight away. there were of course quite a few that took a lot of disentangling and I must admit a lot of question marks which took a visit to Fifteensquared to resolve chiefly among them were 21ac, 6dn and 24dn. There were too many references to films and TV programmes for my liking but 15ac was awarded a couple of ticks conversely I thought 9dn was awful, never having come across the contraction of James to Jas before its always been Jim where I come from, and 22dn a film I have not seen but guessed the answer from the cryptic. So a pretty enjoyable puzzle with lots of good clues to choose from for COD but the one that amused me the most was

27ac        Given too much information presented fraudulently including name (5-3)



A lovely inventive puzzle with lots clever misdirection’s and just a couple of obscurities. I started off quite slowly but after unpicking the two long anagrams began to make progress, spent too long overthinking 1dn “goal” must be aim reversed oh well and wasn’t convinced by crowd = mess but that’s just me, there is some who query the Just in 7dn over on Fifteensquared but I had no problem with it and thought it an excellent clue. I did have a problem with the chap in 9ac and the woman in 17dn both only being apparent after the solving and not much help when trying to solve from the cryptic, this especially so in 17dn which was an unknown to me and only entered after a bit of electronic help. My other obscurity was 2dn , after sorting out the anagram fodder found that it was indeed a bird but a North American one so no wonder I had not heard of it. To pick just one clue out today is difficult as most of them below “RATNER” ( which is probably an accidental Nina?) have ticks so with commendations to 19ac,26ac, 20dn and 23dn

COD 18ac   Orientals not popular around East Lancashire? (6)

The third puzzle from this setter and like the previous offerings quite straightforward. This was originally an IOS prize puzzle and if I recall correctly these puzzles tended towards the easier end of the spectrum probably to encourage more entries or maybe Telegraph readers, experienced solvers will probably find it a bit too easy, none of the answers being particularly obscure only the variant spelling at 26ac was a bit unusual and the only query I had which is the same one as the blogger on Fifteensquared where does the AK in 1dn come from? This is explained although like 21dn it wasn’t to my liking. Lots of good clues but nothing really outstanding so because I don’t like C&W music

COD 25ac     Architect putting line through terrible music centre  (9)

Only the second puzzle from this setter who made his debut in the i back in May and seems to have become a regular in the Independent. Unfamiliarity with Kairos’s style led to a fair bit of head scratching, but with four fifteen letter answers around the edges, 3 of which I found quite straightforward, although Round = Game at 8d seems a bit vague to me, there were a goodly number of checking letters to help solving. 1a had me fooled for a long time thinking that “cunning” was an anagrind. Two new words at 17dn and 22dn were both solved from the cryptic. 17dn is a chemical and “Hypnotic” seems a bit of a stretch to me. In general a quite enjoyable puzzle a couple of groans 15a in particular and I preferred Fridays clue for 10a.

COD  1d  Some pills worker and I push down soldiers (15)

A bit of discussion over on Fiteensquared regarding the parsing of 25a and 14d both of which seemed fine to me.

It took me a long time to get into this reprint of a Saturday prize puzzle, there seemed to be a lot of very devious misdirection’s, that’s not a complaint as It was all (with one exception) thoroughly enjoyable. the exception is 20d which seemed to me to be a bit of weak construction to indicate a very obscure piece of American slang. Both 14 and 15d were entered without being able to fully parse and the clever 28a wouldn’t have been solved without all the crossers. Lots of ticks though 13a.17a and 21a I thought worthy and 5a I marked as “evil” but in a good way.

Note to self  Must remember Gam = School and LLano = Plain these crop up quite frequently and I always seem to have trouble with them.

COD  3d  Twice leaves university to find country house (7)

All the answers and explanations plus a few comments are here – Fifteensquared


After a few days away enjoying the architectural delights of York, mainly its alehouses, and not having the time or sobriety to do any crosswords I return to what to me is an extremely difficult puzzle from one of the Indie’s more challenging setters, or maybe like the setter I’m rusty. probably both, but judging by the comments over on Fifteensquared I’m not the only one who failed on 14d, a book by an author that I’ve not heard of before and wordplay that was very complicated. 12ac was another that struck as over complicated but in this case the wordplay proved unnecessary as with a few checking letters the answer was fairly obvious. 19ac similarly proved unparsable. The checking letters came mainly from the excellent and plentiful anagrams, 21ac and 26ac both getting ticks but its 5d that gets

COD     Fancy Tories! True embarrassingly but that’s not illegal (3,1,4.7)

I’m not sure that we have had the pleasure of solving a puzzle by Hob before but this is his or her second offering to be published in the Independent and I found it extremely good for the most part unlike B&J in the original blog who seemed a little underwhelmed. The African theme among the clues was obvious but the Nina wasn’t to me but then I rarely look for them. After the first pass I’d got most of the eastern side but the western was a bit sparse and it wasn’t until I cracked the excellent 8ac that it opened up a bit. Unlike B&J I didn’t like 24ac and found the parsing of 16d equally baffling only surpassed in obscurity by 19d which I completely failed on. The other real obscurity was 5d but I was pleased to get this from the wordplay. Lots to like though as mentioned before 8ac got ticks and the clueing of MP with referring to politician in 9ac brought a smile however

COD 17ac   Following storm, upset about a little crack in these? (7)

All the solutions and a bit of discussion are Here


Scorpion uses a lot of sporting references in this puzzle and it did seem to me a game of two halves. Quite a few were solved on the first pass even if they were not completely understood but a few left me with a feeling of total bewilderment. 4d was new to me and I assume a rarity in crossword land as a search on the other side shows that this is the only puzzle its been used in. I also notice that over there 26ac is numerated as 3,4 and not the 1,1,1,4 that we had, I suppose todays version is correct but it held me up for a bit especially as solving required a knowledge of French which much like my knowledge of Baseball is woeful (although I had heard of 20ac) 5d was only solved because it was an anagram and the checking letters. In the end it was just 1ac and 2d left both seemed quite unfathomable and were only solved by the synonyms and the few checking letters. Of the rest there was plenty to like with 9,13,17,25ac  6,8,14, and 22d all receiving ticks however

COD 5ac    Third in open? Woods? That’s rubbish (7)

For all the parsing and very little comment on this Thursday puzzle from February 2013

click Here.

This reprint of a Thursday puzzle from Nestor was for, me extremely challenging with a couple of new and obscure words, 26ac for which the wordplay made the answer fairly obvious and 18d which I failed on bunging in Sonatas because it fitted, oh well. A knowledge of extremely old thespians helped in the solving of 6ac and 27ac these perhaps a bit unfair for younger solvers as was 5d for people with no interest in football, the wordplay here seemed to be very convoluted and I must admit I cheated and sought help. 10ac was also entered without being able to parse the wordplay jogging nothing in my memory, similarly 2d I liked the cinema bit but the rest especially the jazz singer was just too obscure. 14ac and 19ac are very similar both obvious anagrams but seemingly no definition very clever and praiseworthy when twigged but for

COD 8d  To read it. I needed formatted hard copy. (4,4,7)

All the explanations and comment  from January 2013 is here at Fifteensquared

Tyrus provides us with one of his usual tough challenges, one that I certainly needed some e-help with.  Its always a help to have some checking letters but these were few and far between after the first pass, 10ac, 11ac and 17ac just screamed Anagram but  finding the exact component parts was a challenge. The SW corner held out the longest, 14, 19 and 20d all being entered without being able to parse. 14d is probably regarded by some as very clever but it doesn’t really appeal to me and 19d is completely unfair as golfer always relates to Els☺ and I know take = r has been used before but I find it very obscure. Alongside all the question marks were plenty of ticks 22d and 24ac may well have been used before but I find them amusing, 4d and 5d were also worthy of ticks but

COD  (it either makes you smile or shudder )  2d   Dump assistant (6,3)

The only quibble I can see with this puzzle is 5ac not being updated but back in February 2013 on Fifteensquared they seem a bit concerned about 6d?