Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Some days you can’t spot the theme in a puzzle for looking, others, well, they’re signposted as clearly as they come. How well you got on with today’s offering will depend a lot on how well you know the works of the children’s author referenced in the middle of the grid. Everybody must know the title at the very bottom, surely, but I’m guessing I won’t have been alone in checking others on Google.

This was a little tricky in places – the wordplay for 10ac and 12ac were both quite fiendish, the former requiring a leap of faith to a fairly well known song, the latter a little French. I will freely admit to lobbing in both with a shrug. Elsewhere we had plenty of easy clues to get a toehold in the grid, which for me at least meant that this was a medium level difficulty puzzle, and being Punk of course lively, interesting and enjoyable.

COD? I had a number of ticks beside the clues, 9d in particular being nicely done, with my nomination going to the aforementioned 10ac – “Besides which, I do like to be singing about Tottenhamโ€™s first reserve (3,5)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from May 2018:


Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

All the trade-marks of a puzzle from Hoskins are on display in this enjoyable and entertaining puzzle. We have delightful and plausible surface readings – something I really appreciate in a cryptic clue. We have creativity and invention. We have humour. The latter is not quite as in-your-face as some other offerings we have had presented to us from this setter, but is distinctive enough for the persona of the setter to shine through.

This is not, perhaps, Hoskins at his best. I was a little disappointed with the double-definition for TRAIL, which seems just a tad pedestrian. And I did wonder whether anyone actually refers to the constellation Canis Major as anything other than that. But these are minor quibbles, included, I confess, to prove if only to myself that I am capable of writing something balanced about one of my favourite setters. Otherwise it would be a paean of praise.

From among many contenders, my favourite clue today has to be 11 across. We have a splendid surface reading. We have that creative way with a definition. We have that cheeky humour, with more than a little nod towards the identity-politics debate. “Romeo’s a bloke who prefers using female loos (6,3)”.

Here’s the link to Fifteensquared for the answers and explanations: https://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/05/13/independent-on-sunday-1472-hoskins/

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Another crossword from the prolific Phi, and this one came with a real sense that he was enjoying himself with some very creative clues. Some will have enjoyed the references to SULU in 17d, there was ‘shape of hole’ for O in OLIVE (very nicely done), a bit of astronomy and opera which we know Phi likes, a nifty subtraction in [c]LAM B[ake], a good &Lit for TEA COSTY and a good Straight Cryptic for NOSEBLEED.

However my CoD goes to this bit of rudeness:

9a Increasingly crude exclamation about bit of crude language? (7)

The vocabulary was testing in places: STORM CONE, DUTCH TREAT, BEETLE as a potato masher, but nothing too hard – probably an average sort of Phi in many regards.

There is a ghost theme you can explore if you want to (it seems he does them for his own amusement and to tell the Fifteensquared people about it after the event). If so, please scroll through to Phi’s comments after the puzzle’s original blog via this link:


Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

A delightful crossword from Vigo of the ‘Something for Everyone’ variety – by which I mean there were quite a few easy end clues but also some real challenges dotted around the grid which certainly caused me a good deal of head-scratching. So 3* in places.

Great surface readings throughout with some beautifully crafted bits of ingenuity. I could pick out several, and we’ll all have our favourites. Even Mrs C. liked the double definition (one whimsical) for FREE SPIRIT, then IN A WAY was similarly smooth. The use of ‘roots’ in the clue for ZONE was neatly done, and all the anagrams were excellent. I’m normally very disparaging about using anagrams for short words, but ‘Felt sadly abandoned’ for LEFT made me think again; perhaps it shows that if you’re going to do a short ‘un you’d better make it a good ‘un, and that means with a very compelling surface reading as Vigo did here – so providing the required element of deception, because without that there’s no penny-drop moment of course, and without that we probably wouldn’t keep coming back for more.

I love a reverse anagram thingy so here was my pick for CoD:

10d Glibness could be seen as dubious gift (5,8)

Just one bit of obscurity with CENA in the middle of MERCENARY which I certainly didn’t know, and then it was a pangram – not that I noticed until reading Sil’s original Independent blog with all the answers here:


Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ

A nicely accessible puzzle from Poins comes to us this morning. Just as well, as my brain ceases to function once the temperature rises above a certain level. Any more challenging and it might have been just too much for me in this heat (and it’s still only mid-morning as I write this).

This was a pleasing and satisfying solve. I don’t think anyone will find anything to quibble over, as it all seems to parse perfectly, there’s no recondite vocabulary, and the only conceivable unknowns are the novelist and the composer – not that either of them are exactly unheard of, and certainly not in Crosswordland. Is the Labour leader of forty years ago forgotten about these days? Perhaps, but the crossing letters left little room for doubt.Even my nemeses (can one have more than one?) those four-letter entries with the initial letter not crossing, brought me no grief.

Clue of the Day for me is the rather neat 23 across, not least for its good surface reading: “Vigour and style exhibited by the French in Parisian houses (4)”.

Here’s the link should you be in need of it: https://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/06/03/independent-on-sunday-1475-by-poins/

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

A bit of a tour de force from Morph this Thursday in the i, with too many standout clues and smiles along the journey to list. Highlights for me outside of the COD would include the cryptic definition at 14ac, the sound-alike at 26ac, the gender-neutral thriller at 5d, the quite delightful wordplay in both 3d and 15d, and the “Sabbath guitarist” that had nothing to do with Tony Lommi.

In other words, I enjoyed it.

The plate at 21ac gave me a few issues at the close, but elsewhere everything was entered fully understood, with 10ac a standout example of how to clue a pretty rare term.

The aforementioned COD? With many to pick from, I’ll go with 9d – “Heading for beach, I must change to new outfit (7,7)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from May 2018:


10 Today

June 15, 2022

I thought it was worth noting that the blog is 10 today. On this day in June 2012, the first post was published by WritingHawk, which you can find here:


From little acorns…

So thanks to all bloggers past and present for all your hard work, to all who visit the site daily, and to those who comment on the posts. All much appreciated. I think it’s safe to say that, all those years ago, we never believed we’d still be going now.

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Peterโ€™s puzzles in the Indy appear almost exclusively on Sundays, so given that the IoS puzzle is usually fairly gentle, one can expect something which is not too taxing. As is the case here โ€“ in fact I hardly think it needs both those stars. This, then, was a puzzle much in the mould of Dac and if Peterโ€™s other offerings are similar their appearance on Wednesdays will be most welcome.

As you may gather from the above, I solved this with few if any problems, and โ€˜problemsโ€™ is something of an exaggeration. There were one or two momentary hold-ups, notably with the intersecting 24ac and 22dn, but on the other hand a few write-ins such as 15ac. Pierre, the original fifteensquared blogger, wondered about โ€˜liningโ€™ as an insertion indicator in 2dn but the only thing I might raise an eyebrow at is the appearance of โ€˜chaletโ€™, albeit with different treatment, in two cluess.

Difficult to pick out a CoD, but as it gave me an โ€˜ahaโ€™ moment Iโ€™ll go for 14dn: โ€˜waving flags found in prop containing English chart (9)โ€™.

Pierreโ€™s blog from 2018, plus a few comments, can be found at http://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/05/20/independent-on-sunday-1473-peter/

Difficulty rating (out of five): ๐ŸŒŸ

I usually miss Phi’s themes, but it being a Tuesday and therefore knowing there must be one, I was disappointed at the close to really have no idea what was going on, despite spotting the link with 1, 4 and 6 across. Never mind – apart from the distinctly odd 27ac which required a trip to the dictionary, this was a pretty easy going puzzle that could be solved without needing to parse large chunks of it, given some checking letters and lots of generous definitions. I invariably enjoy Phi’s puzzles (it was one of his that first convinced me to start buying the i), and today’s was no exception. A good grid-fill that didn’t leave the solver stranded in any potentially sticky corners, and good, always interesting clues, this was Phi at his most entertaining.

COD? I’ll go with the pretty neat 4ac – “A good deal of connectivity supplied by energy partner (4)”.

All the answers and parsing of the clues, together with the 1ac themed entries, can be found in Fifteensquared’s blog from June 2018:


So, Phi’s accustomed Saturday cryptic spot was presumably moved to make way for… Phi in the Inquisitor, and not an unwanted J****** themed puzzle as feared.

An alarming looking preamble this week, it must be said. Extra letters yielded from 8 clues, no problem. The other clues being paired a fair bet that we were going to have definitions in one clue, and wordplay in another. Which can often make life somewhat difficult for the poor solver.

A quick skim through the across clues led to that sinking feeling I often get with a puzzle I haven’t even begun to get to grips with. Thankfully, with the downs light dawned when it occurred that the 13 letter 1d might be matched with the symmetrically placed 6d. The latter being a tricky but solvable anagram of a crystalline form I’d unsurprisingly not heard of, the other a more gettable PA(I)NTS TRIPPER, we were in business, picking off the paired clues which once you got the hang of it turned out to be pretty straightforward.

As were the ones with the extra letters, apart from NUB (missing an X) which I needed the endgame to parse.

Not that it needed to be solved, thanks to a Google search for a likely looking CONTRARIA and COMPLEMENTA yielding a physicist I’d also not heard of at the bottom of the grid, and the SUNT to complete the required Motto.

BITTER SWEET and SPEND THRIFT either side of the grid are of course both OXYMORONs. Perhaps we should have been asked to jot the latter under the grid, as you could quite happily finish the puzzle without recourse to sorting out that one final step.

No matter, this was a pretty nippy solve as it turns out, that I enjoyed, with the added bonus of it not being on the dreaded theme.