Hmm this seems familiar. Digital version is the same so its try one from Alchemi’s web site or maybe The Guardian.

COD  Still 30ac


The second puzzle from this setter and again an IoS reprint which is a bit further up the difficulty scale than is normal for the IoS. I instantly took a dislike to it with the first two clues featuring heroin but neither required any knowledge of slang terms, but both required all the checking letters before solving as did quite a lot of the others. Fortunately the grid provided plenty of them and there were enough entries after the first pass to take a good stab at most of the rest. 9dn – is that really a word, and 11ac, where does the REE come from – were prime examples, as were 3dn, 14dn which only went in with a bit of outside assistance, and 18dn where I thought the cryptic part fine but “Peevish type of politics” is not really how I would describe it. All the above along with the schoolboy humour at 15ac and 16dn provided a mixed bag which for the most part I enjoyed unlike Pierre over on Fifteensquared who wasn’t very happy with it at all.

I have quite a few ticked but they are manly for the clues that went in on the first pass. The COD needed a couple in before I got it:

10ac  Plenty of time is lost or reserved (5)

An enjoyable and challenging puzzle from Jambazi who doesn’t hold back with the smut or sexual innuendo which seems to annoy a good many solvers. I must admit to not really liking 3dn and wonder if that had been part of a news story would it have been printed as P**s?  5/7 is not really what you want to read at the breakfast table but entirely forgivable as it was such a good clue. The most annoying part of the whole thing for me was 16dn – I always miss the With = W. It’s frequently used by setters and I miss it every time. It was this corner that halted my fairly rapid progress, with 23ac being my LOI and that only because it was the most likely thing the word search came up with.

All of this is admirably explained by Beermagnet over on the Fifteensquared blog where the setter makes a brief appearance and ignores any of the criticism.

COD I have a few to choose from – 1ac, 5dn, 8dn and 20ac all candidates – but 26ac just takes it.

Managed crazy European party (4,2)

A Saturday Prize Puzzle reprint which marks an anniversary for the setter. Nina spotters among you will already have spotted it but I needed the blog.  Not an unduly difficult puzzle to get into – 1dn and 4ac whilst not familiar answers were nicely clued and just needed checking to make sure, likewise 9ac which needed all the checking letters before it made sense. I thought Great Height might be a slight exaggeration compared to Everest. A few went in without fully understanding why but it is mostly all explained over on the Fifteensquared blog. I was though left wondering where the OTTO came from in 12dn, so at the risk of teaching granny etc, it’s an alternative to Attar which is an oil. Whilst the setter gives toilets a rest he does burden us with the equally awful drugs reference at 21dn. 19dn and 16dn were the last ones in – both guesses as I have no Idea who the saint’s mother was, and 16 drugs again and such a convoluted clue.

So to COD. The aforementioned 1ac and 14dn got ticks, 25ac got a smile, but my pick is 6dn

Pretension abandoned when son leaves, one turns to free food (3-6)

A Thursday reprint from Morph and like RatkojaRiku who originally blogged it I found it very hard to get into. First in was 17ac – in retrospect 1ac should have gone in because I was pretty sure it started with CO and ended with A Tory but I didn’t write it in and still think Hire For Sign a bit tenuous. Similarly 9ac – the Man and Ent stood out but I didn’t put pen to paper. It was only after solving the long anagram at 2dn that things started to go in even if I couldn’t parse them. Stand up 5dn or 8dn. Abused? Where does the U come from? Try Abased – there’s an extra A – oh well, bung it in. Again like RatkojaRiku I was left with the 22ac – 23dn crossers but unlike him I didn’t get help from the online puzzle although I was tempted just for clarity you understand, but they hadn’t updated it so again my best guesses went in which fortunately were correct.

Apart from a couple of minor quibbles, 20ac is Skimper really a word (the spellchecker here doesn’t think it is), and the aforementioned 1ac, it was only 10ac that I found a bit too obscure although the answer was fairly obvious. the rest were all excellently crafted clues which makes picking just one rather difficult but I’ll go for 13ac:

South African company landing iffy cod – it’s not for roasting! (6-3)

All the solutions and parsing are provided by the excellent RatkojaRiku, just click on Fifteensquared

A puzzle where nearly all the solutions to the across clues would be at home in a general knowledge quiz. This of course is not a problem if you have access to and don’t mind using Google which I needed to check 11, 18 and 23, although with the latter the cryptic is excellent, but I can’t find any reference to worms just nymphs. The remainder were all well clued so as to be gettable with just the parsing of 22 and the solution at 6 causing any problem. Both of these seem to me to be much too obscure. The down clues are more what we expect as long as you can remember who Mrs Bowes-Lyon was. I’m not quite sure how the answer fits the clue at 16 but it works cryptically and the original blogger has missed it out so it must be me. My LOI was 1dn and I must say I don’t like it. It’s a DD and I don’t think it works properly for either definition.  Grid watchers will have noted the large amount of black squares.

Although there are a couple of grumbles I enjoyed this with 13dn and the COD 25ac being my favourites

Prefer a 5 in 4 (6)

The Original blog by Twencelas where he has provide Wikipedia links for the across clues and Tees makes an appearance can be found by clicking this link

After yesterdays pleasant stroll through the gentle pastures of crossword land Monk today takes us to the cruciverbal equivalent of mountain climbing, well that’s how I saw it. After solving 1ac it all became steadily harder and it was only after sorting out the two long anagrams, 9ac and 23ac that things started to fall into place and even then answers were going in by definition only as some of the wordplay was just a bit too torturous or just unknown as in 8dn Norma a constellation and 4ac where I could only think of Bonzer, if only I had spotted the clever link between all the across clues but I didn’t so it was out with the word finder for the last few.

While nothing here is particularly obscure, 4ac maybe the exception if you are not up on your Australian slang, the clues take a fair bit of unravelling but give a lot of satisfaction once you have and just in case you haven’t there is always the Fifteensquared blog where Bertandjoyce explain it all except for the COD 5dn

Tough guy possibly viewed as a female? (4,3)

A very enjoyable IOS reprint, nothing very obscure, the Italian writer at 22ac, the singer at 10ac maybe and I cant say 21ac sprung readily to mind when thinking of TV drama’s  but with the checking letters in they were all readily gettable and easy enough to parse once written down.

As said over on Fifteensquared  it is very difficult to find much to say as its all so clearly clued that it just remains to pick a COD which is 8dn

Set of rules corruptly concocted and found to lack sanction ultimately (4,2,7)

It’s Good Friday and the sun is shining, you don’t want to be stuck inside wrestling with a too difficult crossword puzzle when you could be out and about adding to the chaos on the roads do you?  Well, we have a Saturday Prize Puzzle reprint which I found largely accessible and enjoyable even if some is hard to parse. Two in particular – 11dn Daisy?  which according to the Fifteensquared blog refers to a 1955 Disney film, and 14dn where we are expected to know that Posh Spice’s surname was/is Adams, both of these got snorts of derision from me, unlike 6dn and 17ac – both slang terms which I can imagine causing displeasure to some solvers. And then we get to 13ac, I worked out the anagram and checked it in the dictionary and bunged it in not understanding the rest of the clue which it seems is related to the Nina which I didn’t spot either. Best if you refer to Fifteensquared again for an explanation. 

I said at the beginning that I found it largely accessible, thats because I got stuck with 12dn having entered Berry at 12ac, a much better answer I think but wrong, and as I want to be outside adding to to the pollution and traffic problems I left it there.

COD well quite a few but I’m going with 17dn

Turn nose up at housework over and aver again (4-4)

An IOS reprint and a new setter which some, me included, found a bit tough. I do like a puzzle that I can get straight into it but no chance of that here because solving 1ac relies on first solving 17ac which fortunately wasn’t too difficult. The linked clue device was also used in 11ac/12ac, where again 12ac being a bit of a write-in worked just fine. But 14ac and 19ac, while I had solved their associated clues, they needed some outside assistance to solve. Quite a few went in unparsed – 6ac where “in the theatre” is a homophone indicator that was new to me,  1dn Sister = Twin hmm and both 23ac and 24ac where my lack of Latin left me scratching my head. 6dn was one of those clues that the setter goes to a great deal of trouble to concoct but with a few checking letters this solver just bunged the answer in.

As I said I found this quite difficult, whether that was just unfamiliarity with the setter’s style or my lack of French, Spanish and Latin I’m not sure. There were of course some good clues – 25ac was well constructed although the “Jack” part seems a bit contentious and 28ac also got ticks but for COD mainly because I like the word

15dn   Crazy drugs  (8)

Fifteensquared provides all the answers and explanations plus a few comments including one from the setter Click here