More football, a bit of cycling, and some politics, but it turned out quite nicely. Yes, there are some quibbles… 5/12 – what was that about? Well, you have to be familiar with Harry Potter to understand it. Both 11ac and 26ac are perhaps slightly a bit too cryptic, but it’s all explained in Gaufrid’s excellent blog over on Fifteensquared  where some mention is also made of 23dn and 31ac, and the vulgar slang used for bottom. While the setter tells us it’s American in 31ac, he doesn’t bother in 23dn where it’s also American. We say Arse not Ass. My first in was 10ac – a well hidden word, but a word I hate so that went in with a grimace. Subsequent progress was quite rapid until I got stuck in the SW corner where I hadn’t read the clue for 30ac properly and entered Gas instead of Ski (this of course made 20d a bit difficult), and my LOI 18dn which took me a while to decipher. Lots of good stuff though – even the anagram 19/1 was a good clue. I did Google him to make sure of the spelling. 28ac and 6dn  were considered for COD but 18dn just takes it:

“Thoroughly punctures slicks? They’re shafted!   (3,5)”


A Saturday prize puzzle reprint from Klingsor which proved a fairly rapid solve even if quite a few went in without fully understanding why, the two main culprits being 7dn and 10ac which figure largely in the posts over on Fifteensquared,  although personally I found the cryptic part of 26ac far more vague than those two even though the answer was obvious once the checkers were in. Similarly 24ac where the solver is expected to dredge up an actress, all I could think of was mint cake which was of no help. The rest of it was fine – a couple of old chestnuts with the treaty at 13 dn and the princess at 19ac, a dubious homophone at 8dn, and a face palm moment at 2dn all adding up to a fairly satisfying puzzle.

COD?  17ac – “After opening of Savoy Hotel stops for a drink (8)”

i Cryptic Crossword 2432 Anax

November 23, 2018

A typical Anax as far as obscurities and complicated wordplay, but it probably wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be after reading 1ac. Fortunately Anax has given some clues that are on the easier side – notably 6ac, 1dn and 8dn – because for me 1ac, 10ac and 4dn were unknowns, and I didn’t think the clue for 4dn was in any way helpful.  2dn was gettable but the Writer’ = I’m seems a bit dubious. I am getting used to Hoy for cyclist but had to stare at the rest of 7dn long and hard before I got what was going on unlike 14ac and 17dn which I couldn’t parse at all and had to consult the Fifteensquared blog for some enlightenment. I am still unconvinced by 17dn and the Admits in 21ac also seems a bit rum. Of the clues that were more to my taste 12ac – no I didn’t fall into the trap and think we were looking for a song – 25ac made me smile and 19dn got a tick but COD:

13ac  Saw ‘bass’ rejected for’base’  (6)

i Cryptic Crossword 2426 Donk

November 16, 2018

We end the working week with a master-class in misdirection from Donk, challenging but in general fair. My only quibble is 17dn which was my LOI and then only because it was all that I could see that would fit. 8dn and 11ac also went in without fully understanding why, the parsing for these and all the solutions can be found in John’s blog over on Fifteensquared  where quite a few comments mention 10ac, 14ac, 7dn and 25dn for their slightly rude content. I liked them all except 7dn which makes me shudder just thinking about it. No one mentions the JR in 6dn so I guess everybody is of an age to know who the shot character refers to. It’s one of those clues that I wonder if younger solvers would struggle with.

Donk has provided us with a tough and amusing puzzle that doesn’t resort to any obscurities and uses some excellent wordplay, so to pick just one for COD when I have so many ticks… Well, I think umm

12dn   Gets on with setter in lift – how happy setter responds?  (7)


Monk again. It was only two weeks ago that he last appeared and that went down like the proverbial lead balloon in some quarters, this must have influenced me as reading through the across clues, well they might as well have been written in Serbo – Croat for all the sense they made until, that is, 11ac. At last something I could answer. Subsequent progress wasn’t exactly rapid but could be best described as steady. The only complete obscurity for me was 15dn, but that was nicely clued so as to make it easily gettable. The Neb part of 8ac and the Kir in 6dn were the only other unknowns. Like RatkojaRiku over on Fifteensquared my LOI was 26ac and like him it was a toss up between Blunders and Clangers but the “angers” part clinched it for me.

This was probably on the easy side for this setter and despite my original misgivings proved an fairly rigorous but enjoyable solve with lots to admire, so picking one for COD is not easy, so I’ll go for the one that made me smile

Blow up bananas (4)

As this is Monk there is a little something going on in the grid. It’s to do with compass points and no I didn’t spot it.

We finish the working week with a Saturday prize puzzle reprint from Klingsor whose wordplay and misdirection left me scratching my head for far too long. 1ac is a prime example of this, solved from the definition and enumeration it was only in hindsight that I realized “High” was an anagrid. Much the same was 2dn – an obvious anagram but how was the solver to know that eBay was to become “e cove”?  27ac was another that went in from the definition alone, although the “sons + time” anagram was fairly obvious but the rest of it a bit obscure to me. Much of this puzzle was in a similar vein. Fortunately there aren’t many obscurities – only a poet at 8dn and the answer at 20dn needed checking.

Everything seemed fair but the construction of the clues made it a very stiff challenge. It’s all resolved over on Fifteensquared  although I still don’t really understand 1dn.

For COD I have a few choices all from the more straightforward sort of clues – 10ac or 12ac would do – but I think 26ac just takes it

One son comes down for Christmas and Easter, perhaps (7)

Monk has a reputation for setting challenging puzzles and anyone wanting a challenge won’t be disappointed by this. Whilst I needed help from both a dictionary and a thesaurus, it was only 7ac that needed a word finder and then from the many options I thought (wrongly) that Damage would be the best choice. No explanation of this clue is offered over on Fifteensquared where solvers were either defeated by it or resorted to the reveal option but the setter does apologise for it.  Quite a few were solved from the synonym and then reverse engineering to fit the cryptic and I was quite surprised by the lack of quibbles I had – 10ac got a bit of a tut and 23ac went in with a grunt of displeasure, but these were outweighed by the number of ticks that included some excellent anagrams – 20ac and 26ac in particular – but for COD

13ac   One could be up for this treat given time  (8)

There is a Nina but it will only mean anything to those who have knowledge of fairly obscure alternative rock bands.

Thursday in the Independent usually meant a tough crossword, but this offering from Morph is pleasingly accessible, not too difficult but still very enjoyable. The four fifteen letter answers were nicely done, 3dn and 11ac along with 22ac had me wondering if there was some sort of toilet theme which was reinforced when I eventually solved the only real obscurity for me 16ac. But no there isn’t anything like that going on. The only hold ups for me were 9ac where the only magazine I could recall was Melody Maker, 10ac where got the “i and e  in 6dn the wrong way round 🤔  and 12ac which perhaps should have been amended.

COD? While both the previously mentioned 3dn and 11ac deserve mention it was 23ac that I particularly liked:

Lacking aspiration tough to follow excitement for high-flier (7)

For all the answers, parsing and comments click here-  Fifteensquared

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.

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)