So, our third guest puzzle, and one from exit who I’d been secretly hoping would send something our way for a while. 🙂 This was a thoroughly enjoyable, pretty breezy offering, finished in a time that would be considerably under par for the i. Think an IoS reprint, or a gentle Dac. Very much what I was hoping for when I foolishly decided – just one more puzzle – very late one evening. Just the thing to while away a little time over a traditionally wet Bank Holiday weekend.

To solve, click here:

COD? A difficult choice, tbh, but in a good way, because there are loads to choose from. But let’s go with 17d which has a lovely surface reading, a definition I bet you didn’t know, and nice clear wordplay to lead you home safe and sound – “Flats offering view over railway (7)”.

Answers and parsing of the clues follows, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, look away now.







1 Less than half-hearted roar (5)

4 Surpass courier, maybe, with direction on label (7)
UPS (courier, maybe) + TAG (label) + E{ast} (direction)

8 Oscar held by poet for directors (5)
O{scar} (‘phonetic’ alphabet) inside BARD (poet)

9 University note is incorrect about sex service providers (9)
U{niversity} + TI (note in tonic sol-fa scale) + LIES (is incorrect) enclosing IT (about sex)

11 Hotel said to be involved in 21A (4)
Homophone of ‘WRITS’ – which are likely to feature in litigation (21ac)

12 How do a tuxedo, one small coin and 50 yen lie next to each other? (10)
A + DJ (dinner jacket, tuxedo) + A (one) + CENT + L (50, Roman numeral) + Y{en}

14 “I rate BR awful” – judge (7)
(I RATE BR)*. A subject close to the other half’s heart at the moment, as she’s been on jury duty for the past couple of weeks.

16 If new they would be American – balls! (7)
A ball in cricket which hits the pitch around the batsman’s feet is called a yorker, and New Yorkers are American.

18 Endless criticism for movement (3)
STICK (criticism, usually adverse) minus its first and last letters (endless).

19 I rush on in a frenzy to feed (7)

20 Supervise bishop’s position (7)
OVER + SEE – a bishop can be said to be over a see (diocese).

21 Court case – in it Ali got rattled (10)

22/10 In Idaho nest you’ll find frankness (7)
Hidden in IdaHO NEST You’ll. Phi splits his answers across the grid quite often and I’m never sure if I love or loathe the device. I suppose it adds a little spice.

25 Be off! Race madly for source of refreshment (6,3)

26 Opposition from New Musical Express initially, we’re told (5)
Sounds like the initials NME. Am I the only person who remembers the headline from said journal “Sleeping with the NME”?

27 Defamation of South country queen (7)
S{outh} + LAND (country) + ER (queen)

28 Quiet dramatist’s dismissive comment (5)
P (musical indication for soft, quiet) + SHAW (George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and critic)


2 Old key to lift (5)
EX (former, old) + ALT (key on computer keyboard)

3 Probability of sailor taking in theologian (4)
DD (Doctor of Divinity, theologian) inside OS (Ordinary Seaman, sailor)

5 In our prom a lyric could be blue, say (7,6)
(OUR PROM A LYRIC)* – blue is an example of a primary colour

6 I let Tories rampage for soap, shampoo, etcetera (10)

7 Blame reduced for the innocent (9)
GUILT (blame) + LESS (reduced)

8 Snip a girl’s first bra in confusion (7)
Anagram (confusion) of (A + G + BRA + IN) – “Girl’s first” indicates first letter only

9 One over the eight, eh? So we hear (5,3,5)
1ac = Below, giving UNDER + THE + a synonym of 8ac (BOARD), TABLE. Across because “eh” sounds like “a”. “One over the eight” and “under the table” are both synonyms for “drunk”. And 9 is one more than 8, just for good measure. Very clever, and quite complex, so true to form I just lobbed it in on solving from the definition and enumeration alone. 🙂

13 Vegetable found in wreckage of Nantes brig (6,4)

15 Generous, reportedly stuffed with chocolate bars? (9)
Homophone of ‘bounty-full’ – Bounty is a type of chocolate bar

17 Flats offering view over railway (7)
SCENE (view) + RY (abbr for railway: line) – flats are the painted panels used for scenery in a theatre. Who knew? Well, exit of course.

21/24 Servants’ need changed? Yes! (7)
LACK (need) + YES* (anagram indicator is ‘changed’).

23 Trollope: “Ragnarök includes Götterdämmerung, for example” (5)
Hidden in TrollOPE RAgnarök. In Norse mythology Ragnarök is “the coming mutual destruction of the gods and the powers of evil, and the end of this world, to he superseded by a better.” – according to the BRB. Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the gods) is the final opera in Wagner’s Ring cycle.



Roll up ladies and gentlemen, and no shoving at the back please.  Welcome to the second idothei Guest Puzzle, and the debut of a new setter. As far as I know this is Saltamonte’s first published crossword, and Jon tells me that a constructive critique would not be unwelcome. My job is to provide an introduction and the parsings: I’ll raise any niggles which occur to me but leave the general criticism for the comments. Positive and polite are the watchwords, of course. I enjoyed solving this puzzle, and there are some punchy surfaces and unusual clue constructions to ponder. Here is my COD:

16ac: “Mineral keys lock in the French (5,4)”

… and here is a little diversion for you. I have been rather harsh about 25ac, which seemed to let the general standard down somewhat. Therefore, money where your mouth is time, Batarde. I’m inviting suggestions for alternative clues, and here’s mine:

“Take measures before capturing poet (7)”

And so to the parsings. There are, of course conventions for doing this, all of which are going out of the window in the interests of plain English. Definitions are in bold face and anagram indicators are italicised. Obviously if you scroll down any further you’ll come to the answers, so it seems prudent to issue a






1 Acrobatic Cleo, no learner, appeared in dodgy strip joint’s showers (14)
PROJECTIONISTS. Anagram of “Cleo” minus the “L” plus “strip joints”.

10 Incorporate measure of info into bomb (5)
IMBED Mb (megabyte) in IED (improvised explosive device).

11 Ruinous PA went wild producing offspring (just the one) (9)
UNIPAROUS Anagram of “ruinous PA”, and a fairly recondite word.

12 Battleaxe held bra in tatters (7)
HALBERD Anagram of “held bra”.

13 Enterprise headed by explorer returned to dock maybe (7)
TOBACCO The explorer is either John or Sebastian Cabot, backwards, plus CO for company. This refers to Tobacco Dock in London.

14 From head to toe, Spain aches (5)
PAINS Spain with the “S” moved to the end.

16 Mineral keys lock in the French (5,4)
TABLE SALT “Les”, the French definite article (plural) between “tab” and “alt”, both to be found on your keyboard. Smashing clue.

19 Reading maybe outside, a book with wine. Superb! (9)
FANTASTIC Refers to Reading FC football club, with “a” plus “NT” plus “asti” inside. The New Testament is books plural, surely, even if bound in a single volume?

20 Medics eat, for example, leftovers (5)
DREGS “eg” inside “drs”.

22 Catching mesh (7)
NETTING Double definition.

25 Given curtailed supply (7)
PROVIDE Simply “provided” without the final letter. This does seem weak to me since it uses the same sense of the verb.

27 Dali art on mixed freight (9)
TRAINLOAD Anagram of “Dali on art”

28 Slow starts to begin really active kinetic exercises (5)
BRAKE First letters of Begin Really Active Kinetic Exercises.

29 Trick put double agent in crumbling gaol unit. Well done (14)
CONGRATULATION “con” (trick) followed by “rat” in an anagram of “gaolunit”. A couple of queries here: is a rat a double agent? – and can congratulation be singular in this sense. I feel that both can be justified, but it’s a bit of a stretch.


2 Plan to enter dance before brave uprising (9)
REBELLION Hmm. That would be plan B inside “reel”, followed by “lion”, I think. Brave can mean a courageous soldier, as can lion, but I don’t really buy it because the sense here only works as an adjective.

3 Good hearted saint finds justice (5)
JUDGE “g(ood)” in St Jude.

4 Looking for a new start? Adopt cute fashion (4,5)
COUP D’ETAT Anagram of “adopt cute”; not keen on fashion as an anagrind. “Looking for” appears to be redundant.

5 Pointless edition produced for numbskull (5)
IDIOT Anagram of “edition” minus the points, ie. East and North.

6 Mashed red banana found in restaurants (4,5)
NAAN BREAD Anagram of “red banana” – a good spot.

7 Emotionless King left exorcist working (5)
STOIC Anagram of “exorcist” without “rex”. The pedant in me thinks that a Stoic controls his or her emotions rather than lacks them.

8 Colossus southpaw shows resolve (4,3)
SUSS OUT Hidden solution.

9 Mitred piece? (6)
BISHOP Cryptic definition.

15 Drug has nothing on queen, but ruler sold here (9)
STATIONER “statin” with “o” inside, followed by HM the Queen.

17 Retreat but return by bike (9)
BACKPEDAL Cryptic definition, nicely done.

18 Coffee brewing, nice aroma (9)
AMERICANO Anagram of “nice aroma”.

19 Brown back in charge after governing body shows excessive zeal (7)
FANATIC “tan” backwards plus “i(n) c(harge)”, preceded by F(ootball) A(ssociation).  “Showing” would be better in my opinion, since the sense is adjectival.

21 Discharged driver headed north to collect upturned sample? (6)
SEEPED My last one in. The sample is “pee”, the driver is “des” and the whole lot is inverted. Is the designated driver thing widely known? It had passed me by.

23 Nonsensical witterings regularly held back writer (5)
TWAIN Not sure I’ve seen this done before – anyway, every other letter of “nonsensical witterings” backwards reads “gieTWAINso”, and there’s Mr Clemens in the middle.

24 Billy holds fifty and isn’t shy to tell (5)
GLOAT A (billy) goat with an L in it.  The definition isn’t quite right because it suggests “gloats”.

26 Ring composer (5)
ORBIT Double definition, referring to William Orbit. Who knew?

As promised a few weeks back, here’s the first in a potentially sporadic series of guest puzzles. If you’d like to submit, there are some brief guidelines on our crossword hosting site linked to below.

Talking of which, you can find the first puzzle by Skirwingle here:

Let me know if the site gives you grief. I’ve tested it pretty thoroughly, but, well, you never know. Apparently it should work for 99.9% of browsers, which should be comforting but isn’t. Who knew there were so many?

To Skirwingle then. A good puzzle to begin with as expected on past form. In terms of i difficulty this felt pretty Wednesday-ish with only the one obscure term (most musical terms are obscure to me). Nicely clued, good surface readings throughout, I liked it. But what did you think? There was one I couldn’t parse, of which more below.

COD? I particularly liked 22d. Short, sweet, and to the point.


1 Everyone’s different – How do Maynards Bassetts turn a profit? (2,5,3,5)
A nice cryptic definition to begin with.

9 Where to find pilot? Yes, Russian one in space station (6)
MI(DA)R, which is about the extent of my Russian and presumably yours too.

10 French one beginning to dry tangled layer that’s backing mat (8)
UN + D + an anagram of “layer”.

11 Unbelievable statement from Cockney cartoon character – detailed estimate to start with (5,3)
The answer’s obvious with a few letters in place, but the parsing took a little more figuring out. It’s this character, presumably, “detailed”, with the E from “estimate” at the end.

13 French pupil’s new time for morning snacks (6)
The N’s obvious, but as for the ELEVE bit. Colour me confused.

14 Notice part of your ear (4)
Contained in the first word, and not the last two as I first thought.

16 That person (female) is carrying a bundle (5)

17 Competed to put Ellen’s onset into 6 down (4)
Hands up if you were looking for an insertion of E into the answer for 6d sort of thing? It’s actually VI E D, the D presumably from “down”, though the abbreviation isn’t in Chambers.

18 Small vessel for fish from America (4)
S + CUP, though well done if you’d actually heard of it. 🙂

20 I rent unusual place in the ground (5)
A nice easy anagram of the first two words in case you were struggling at this point.

21 Box got from supermarket (4)
A double definition. The supermarket’s obvious to anyone in the UK, but box? Apparently “spar” can mean “to shut” as well. Who knew?

23 Stewpot‘s got one from Ultravox in number 10 (6)
That would be Midge URE contained in TEN.

24 Ute customised with nitro’s losing speed (8)
An obscure bit of musical terminology I needed to look up, an anagram of UTE and NITRO.

26 Doctor to peer at Candide, perhaps (8)
Of which Candide is an example. It’s an anagram of “to peer at”.

27 Southern church is heading for major division (6)

28 Plate of fizzy sweets perhaps for those whose skills are rusty? (9,6)
A cryptic definition, referencing yet another sweet. Is this how Skirwingle keeps his sugar levels up?


2 See things high up tor – it may be crumbling (4,3)
An anagram of “up tor it”.

3 Find a defender by surprise (5)

4 Fine art’s embracing listener (3)
Hidden in the first two words…

5 Something on the pier perhaps playing REM etc., ad nauseam (9,6)
An anagram of “REM etc., ad nauseam”.

6 Chivalric comment about toilet cleaning schedule? (6,5)
A slightly whimsical cryptic definition.

7 Confused EU solvers (us) resolve to untangle this (9)
It’s an anagram of both “EU solvers” and “(us) resolve” which is quite neat.

8 Bring in unknown to repeat crazy circus act (7)
Z’s the unknown, in an anagram (crazy) of “repeat”.

12 Tacky items stuck up around the office (4-2,5)
A cryptic definition that is presumably referencing other sorts of tacky items that might be put on the walls in offices.

15 Who serves drinks and ghastly crab puree? (9)
An anagram of “crab puree”.

19 Collapse of Conservative arse when lead’s cut by 50% (7)
C RUMP and half of “lead”.

22 Dire Straits? (7)
Now, I particularly liked this one, a very nicely observed &lit.

25 Statesman brought up by Arthur Hendrix (5)
Reverse hidden in the last two words. A statesman I know from crosswords alone which says more about my own ignorance than anything else.

27 Switch alternate parts thus (3)
Alternate letters from “Switch”.