An IoS reprint to start the week that was perhaps a little trickier than expected, as so many of them seem to be of late. Admittedly I’m not quite with it today, but I note that Pierre needed help with the parsing of one or two on the other side. For my own part I couldn’t quite see how 6ac and 10ac worked – or rather I could, but couldn’t identify the items referred to in the wordplay, and floundered somewhat with the parsing of 7d. A few unknowns dotted round the grid added a little spice, but elsewhere progress could best be described as steady. Finish time about par for the i, last in 7d for reasons that elude me now as I’ve watched the series from start to end and read all the books.

COD? I’ll go with 20d – “Top spy wearing diamonds, an assassin (3,3)”.

To July 2015:



Saturday 5th October 2019

Ooh, a new setter – and a she setter at that. Anarche has company.

The answers fairly flew in for me – might have been my quickest solve of an i puzzle yet, and it reminded me more of a highly polished version of the Times 13×13 quick cryptic than what we’re used to on a Saturday. Good surface readings throughout, a nice balance of clues, but apart from a couple in the SW it was all over far too quickly for an experienced solver, I suspect.

So the editorial policy seems clear – hook the novice solvers at the weekend and provide the Inquisitor to satisfy the more experienced solvers. Fair enough!

Plenty of comments over at Fifteensquared to mark the occasion – some discussion as to whether ‘dance floor’ in 13a might have been better as ‘discotheque’, but for my money it would have been fine if the editor had left it as Vigo originally intended ‘dancefloor’ – I doubt anyone would have objected.

Vigo also tells us that her name is made up of the first two letters of her two names, Vicky Gould or whatever; this is what’s sometimes called ones rapper name. My first setting name was Nico, so it got me wondering if there are any other setters named this way… Oh, and I don’t think Vigo’s crosswords are going to stay this easy, some of her recent contributions to the Indy look decidedly fiendish.

As for COD nomination, I’ll go with the following:

6d Dog mangling Grannie’s slipper (15)

How many crosswords, I wonder, have the same entry twice? In how many crosswords would putting the same entry twice be not only pleasing but most appropriate? I’m interested – curious – to know. ☺

Hob has created a veritable gem of a crossword today, with a theme permeating both clues and answers and a nina to boot. Often I find Hob to be on the the challenging side, but I positively raced through this one finishing it in about three-quarters of an hour. There was a nice mix of clues, if somewhat heavy on anagrams. The crossing UMBEL and CEMBALI were both unknown to me, and I had to guess them – correctly, as it happens! – from the clear word-play and the four given letters from the other clues, and confirm them by googling.

ROOT at 10A I could not parse, and I was relieved to read that there was a little puzzlement about this over on Fifteensquared. I am inclined to agree with Sidey that it is a cryptic definition referring to the book in question.

Lots to enjoy, but the nomination for Clue of the Day has to go to 2D “After a piece of cake, no longer small – 15 and 17, she said.”

It’s Thursday, a Thursday reprint too, and one that is, to quote the original blogger “pitched at what I consider to be the appropriate level for a daily cryptic: far from a write-in, but not mind-blowingly difficult either.” I started in the SE corner rapidly filling the bottom half of the grid, slowed a little to the NE, and needed a little more time to the NW, finishing comfortably under par for the i.

Things I didn’t like? The indirect anagram at 6d and FA for nothing elsewhere, which seemed to be all the rage at one time.

What I did like was Klingsor’s always clear wordplay, with only a handful of obscurities dotted round the grid. Challenging enough to be interesting, but never a slog. So overall a big thumbs up from me.

COD? Let’s go with 3d, which is as nicely done as you’d like – “Small children returning can finally pay attention – it’s time to learn (6,4)”.

To July 2015:

The Don unexpectedly in the mid-week slot with an offering that won’t have held up old hands for too long. The usual mix of good, straightforward wordplay, and the odd new word thrown into the mix for good measure (11ac and 13ac spring to mind), but nothing that wasn’t gettable by following the clear instructions. 🙂 An odd looking grid, but for no reason that I can see.

First in the composer, because that’s what I spotted first on the page, last in the fern, finish time half that par for the i.

COD? 1ac – “Thoroughfare that, in short, takes up half of Oxford (4,4)”.

To July 2015:

By my reckoning we can expect an editor’s special by Eimi twice a year on average, but he’s left it a bit late because this is his first appearance of 2019. It’s a pity we don’t see more of him, but of course he’s a busy man. Today’s example is characteristically perky, with some impish clue writing and a theme concerning 13acs.

Yesterday Cornick mused about Poins’ definition strategy, suspecting that he hunts out the most obscure ones from Chambers. So … anyone familiar with that little violin? This is surely pure devilment, and whilst I don’t mind the solver on the Clapham omnibus might be rather put out to find a fair bit of dictionary work in their weekday puzzle. 10 and 12ac, 19d and the spelling of 21ac all needed checking in my case, along with the mini-fiddle. Furthermore, 27ac is clearly archaic. For all that it’s not an especially difficult crossword, but it kept me amused and on my toes.

Special mentions today for 3, 4 and 14d, with the COD prize going to 11ac on account of the sheer cheek of it:

“One more American – him, obviously (7)”

This puzzle dates back to August 2015, when it appears that the Indy’s crossword website was a shambles. I have nothing whatever to say about that. Click here for the Fifteensquared blog.

Another Inquisitor debut, and another that is very welcome indeed.

Unclued top and bottom rows, extra letters in the wordplay of some clues – and not ones generated from the wordplay as I first thought – but what would Saturdays be without a gross misreading of an eminently clear preamble?

To the grid, hiding from the rain because Winter, sorry Autumn it is evident is here. 1ac? Nope, nothing leaping out there (though if only I’d read that preamble properly)… 6ac? Well, a guard would be a WARDER, conflict is WAR, and bish bash bosh. Extra letter noted, onward mostly clockwise from the NE, though with some very generous long clues lengthwise to open the grid nicely.

As it turns out the NW corner was indeed the last to fall, and of a different level of difficulty altogether. Though perhaps if I’d thought harder about 1ac at the start and realised that (b)eating gives AT TABLE then I wouldn’t have struggled so much. Who else was the singer going to be other than CHER, and OLOGY, well we get lots of ologies in these parts.

What do those letters spell out? After disposing of the obligatory question marks, and amending SIN to AIN… Well, it starts well with BAND’S NAMES PLUS… But then we seem to have a lot of random letters.

Let’s looks what words will fit in the top and bottom rows. Several to choose from, and it was only when I reached the third – GEORGE – that spotting JOHN and PAUL elsewhere finally clicked, and I guessed we’d be seeing RINGO to the SE, together with, yes, all those random looking letters.

Now just that title to highlight. The Beatles would be too long, unless it crosses with an already highlighted letter, which it doesn’t.

An album title perhaps? At which point I remembered seeing the following this morning…

Has it really been 50 years?

That title? Presumably Something is one of Skylark’s favourites. Mine would be another Harrison composition which opens the B side.

Wasn’t that good? Not overly difficulty – which means that it’s within the decidedly low bar of my solving ability – and thoroughly enjoyed. More Skylark please.

A slightly trickier than expected IoS reprint from Poins to start the week, one I finished under par for the i, but with a number of question marks at the close. American horses being an unknown, and some pretty niftily constructed wordplay (in particular at 6d where my frankly quite poor efforts at parsing left me with a P too many) were mostly to blame. Oh, and it’s a Monday, when I’m sure none of use are feeling our best. I would also advise not Googling 19d from a work laptop to check the definition in question, because, well you knew why already.

COD? With lots to appreciate, my nomination goes to 10d – “Spinoza was one of the first to be seen after blast (9)”.

To July 2015:


Saturday 28th September 2019

Regulation stuff from Phi last Saturday, filled for the most part in the common room at Imperial College where the youngest Cornick has just embarked upon 4 years of Mathematics, Lord help him. Apparently he enjoys it. So an empty nest here in Cornwall with more time for crosswords – excellent!

The hidden theme was ‘Lines to a Don’ by Hillaire Belloc, addressed to a critic of G K Chesterton. If you know it, it’s the one that starts up ‘Remote and ineffectual Don/ That dared attack my Chesterton’. Various words in the finished grid come from the poem. And no, I didn’t work that out myself, nor did anyone at the 2015 blog here, but Phi tells us in the comments section at the end.  Still, I’ll award myself half a point for being certain there would prove to be a ghost theme and for guessing that it was probably something literary and rather niche. Once you see the poem, you can certainly appreciate why Phi would use it as grid fodder.

The NW corner contained the thorniest elements; RIENZI, BRUTISH, BLUFF and FURTIVE were my last four in, but unlike some on the other side I didn’t really have any niggles as such – apart from call = vocation in 14d perhaps.  Just 2 ticks though, with 27a being pipped by the following:

7d Conservative losing head about European currency? That’s normal (8)

And the real highlight for me was meeting the delightful word FAROUCHE for the first time at 5d – I’ve managed to sneak it into the conversation a good half a dozen times this week!

Hob to end the working week with an enjoyable offering of under average difficulty, I thought. The grid screamed Nina, though there evidently wasn’t one. What there was though was a theme regarding drummers that, not surprisingly how obscure most of them appear to be, I missed. Lots to appreciate whether you spotted the theme or not, and only a few that caused much difficulty. Unfortunately two of those crossed – 22ac which I got from the definition at the close, forgetting that MIT is a Cambridge University stateside, and 14d where we had extreme obscurities in both answer and wordplay. Elsewhere I had no idea where the WAT bit in 10ac came from, but what else could it be?

COD? Lots to enjoy, with my COD going to 1d – “Old revolutionary in the firing line (4)”.

To June 2015: