It’s been a mere six weeks since Tees’ last Tuesday appearance (disguised as Hephaestos), and 7ac being my first one in I briefly wondered whether we’d be ploughing the same sort of high-falutin’ furrow. A certain amount of mithering has become the norm from those who do not share my enthusiasm for thematic puzzles, and there’ll probably be some adverse comment on the cross-linking, but it’s unlikely that any complaints will be forthcoming about the theme being highbrow today.

I expect great things of Tees, and whilst this crossword is no disappointment he certainly didn’t present us with as formidable a challenge this time as he has in the past. “Breezy” is le mot juste, I think, with a wide variety of clue types none of which were too fiendish. Even the Spoonerism is decent, as such things go. Entertaining stuff, earning a creditable tally of ticks: particular favourites included 8, 13, 14 and 28. When it comes to the clue of the day 20/19 is sorely tempting given the theme, but the winner simply has to be 18ac:

“Narrow bit of fish? (7,5)”

For Gaufrid’s blog and lots of appreciative commentary, here’s the June 2014 Fifteensquared link.


Belated congratulations to Raich. For once I did spot the Nina, and before completing the puzzle as well, though it didn’t help to the south of the grid which was a little slower to fall than the rest. I say a little slower, this being pretty relative as this was a crossword that was over in a flash, and one I was surprised to find wasn’t an IoS reprint. No complaints, Raich’s puzzles are always lots of fun, and usually straightforward so it wasn’t a surprise to find that this one was too. There’s a little debate on the other side about both 16d and 26ac but both looked fine to me. Elsewhere all was understand, no controversies, just a good, solid, enjoyable start to the week.

COD? I’ll go with 12ac – “Emergency move up? (7)”.

To May 2014:

Saturday 29th September 2018

Something a bit different last Saturday.  Alarms went off in my head when I read the end of 1d: [the first of 12 clues defined as if followed by their locations].  What! This is a daily cryptic, not the Inquisitor, I thought.

But I needn’t have worried, the ruse became clear soon enough – indeed it was the voice of the critic inside my head that helped me; 26d was ‘Decline rise of new routine (4) for which the wordplay clearly seemed to be a reversal of N+RUT. ‘But TURN doesn’t mean decline’, I thought, ‘that should be TURN DOWN’…   Then I got it.

After that things were pretty much plain sailing, with the 12 themed words being SLOW, FACE, SPLASH, WIND, SIMMER, WATER, EIDER, DRESSING, SETTLE, BACK, PIPE and the aforementioned TURN.

Opinions may well be divided between those who twigged what was going on and those who didn’t, but the regular commenters at Fifteensquared back in 2014 [click here] liked it very much (one even wrote a limerick in praise), and so did I.

COD: 22a Redeveloped for UK (not NI), it’s an aquatic plant (4-3)


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)

Looking back through old posts it seems that, as suspected, I’ve got something of a hate-hate relationship going on with Donk, and I’m afraid today’s offering did little to change that. It’s a Saturday reprint, which are sometimes tough, but I’m afraid that for the most part today I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall and not particularly enjoying the experience. Too many that didn’t work for me – 17d being a prime example. Too many that just weren’t to my taste – needing to abbreviate “with” to W for the anagram fodder in 10ac being another one. At the close I had a full grid and lots of question marks I didn’t really feel the need to follow up on. Oh well, perhaps this just isn’t my kind of thing, and you enjoyed it more.

COD? I’ll go with 1d – “Arrogant? Not Sitting Bull! (6)”.

To June 2014:

What’s left to say, except… Yes, another good one from Dac. Pretty much on the easy side, fortunately, as I was somewhat pressed for time today. The demands of work, and trying to make sure the youngest two make it off on time for a residential trip with the school. Yes, we have a couple of days of peace and quiet.

Lots of good surface readings, lots of ticks by the clues, lots to raise a smile. Like several back in the day I wasn’t at all happy with 2d which doesn’t really make any sense, and as I didn’t know the play it was something of a stab in the dark. But never mind…

COD? I had ticks by 1ac, 23/25 and 15d, but my nomination goes to 9ac, a good example of how easy Dac makes it look. “My private pet (5)”.

To June 2014, and a URL that looks wrong, but isn’t:

A new setter this week, welcome! 🙂 A cursory Google search hasn’t unearthed any puzzles on foreign shores, so we have nothing to go on whatsoever. What it has dug up is the completely useless fact that the name is a variation on bismuth, chemical element number 83. No, I hadn’t heard of it either. Does it mean anything? I don’t know that either.

But what about the puzzle? Members of a group in the grey border. A quote. Something to highlight from a homophone the finding of which warrants almost half the preamble. But at least we’ve only got extra letters and words and not a wholesale cut and paste of the wordplay. Hang on though, we’re back into homework season again, and maths is supposed to be my thing. But no, I don’t know what a place value question is either, which proves to be handy as I’m given a reprieve and time to make a start on the puzzle. The first across then. Well, that’ll necessitate a trip to the BRB to confirm that the extra character is indeed a T from tREMBLE. Badly brought up children might be ILL BRED. So where did you get stuck, Jon? Well, that would be on some of the shorter answers. The Nice (a bit of a giveaway, I’ll grant you) house. I always thought that was a maison, but apparently they have other words for things too. The expression of doubt down in the SE corner, appropriately enough. But all is, as they say, well that ends well, even given a bit of a hairy moment with that one that’s not in Chambers.

Lots of letters in the border. Evidently the bells from a pretty well known nursery rhyme. No prizes for guessing what will need highlighting. Two things that might be covered in something that sounds like PEAL, and there they are in the NW to SE diagonal. All done.

Wasn’t that good? And following last week’s struggles, much needed confirmation that I can indeed solve these things. So thanks Vismut, for a most enjoyable outing!

I note that the former Foreign Secretary and alleged thinker pictured on the front page hasn’t made much progress with The Times crossword: let’s see if we can do better with today’s puzzle by Alchemi. Not a particularly stiff challenge on any level.

Bearing in mind that it’s Tuesday and the grid is distinctly Nina-friendly, experienced solvers with their wits about them will have tumbled to what’s going on as soon as 17ac went in. Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that I didn’t notice until the very end, but anyway there it is: our gimmick du jour. Like AndyB says in comment no. 1 on the February 2014 Fifteensquared blog, I’m pretty sure this has come up before in much the same guise, but as Alchemi observes it’s a bit of a gimme for a setter.

An easygoing gentle sort of solving process today, with rather too many write-ins for my liking: exceptions to that general rule included 19, 25 and the rather odd 28. None of those strikes me as really worthy of the COD trophy, so instead I’m going for the one which made me chuckle, 7d:

“Metal group’s press people accepting help (4,6)”

So the start of another week, and an IoS reprint to kick things off. Very little that was too difficult, apart from 7d that is, though once the V was in place it could be nothing else. Still in weekend dictionary search mode I half expected 21ac to be IMAGENT and 22d ADADO, but it won’t have come as a surprise to anyone to find that they weren’t, and that the far more well known options were indeed correct. That, and the fact that 15d wouldn’t have fitted, but that’s just a trifling detail. 😉 Anyway, no fireworks today, just a good, workable puzzle to ease us into the working week.

COD? Slim pickings, but I’ll go with 18d. The surface might not make much sense, but never mind… “Counterfeit gold, gold that’s not obsolete in foreign bank (6)”.

To June 2014:

Saturday 22nd September 2018

In which there was a ‘YUM’ hidden in the unchecked squares (unches) on each of the four sides and ‘Reluctant Cannibal’ hidden at 11a/ 18d.  Mean anything to you?  Well the latter is the title of this song by Flanders and Swann from 1956, which includes the line “a chorus of yums ran around the table”. Ho!

In fact F & S’s career overlapped with The Beatles and The Stones, but to me they seem to come from another age somehow – even if I do remember ‘I’m a G-nu’ from my childhood and I dare say we all know their song, ‘Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud’. Anyhow, Phi is clearly a fan.

As often happens when there’s a Nina, the difficulty was upped a few notches; I failed to parse 18a, didn’t know ‘bam’ was a hoax in 23a, didn’t know a maul was a hammer in 4d,  and in 10a we can all be forgiven for not seeing how ‘Stock’ defined ‘Grim’ – apparently it was a typo for ‘Stark’.  Why does that only ever happen with Phi?

For my COD, it’s got to be the following which had me trying to do something with Land’s End for longer than I care to admit:

6d. Western point of Cornwall not initially very good (6)

Click here to see the original blog by the 23a John.