Our third IOS reprint of the week and like the other two quite straightforward, although I did struggle a little to get going. The wording of 1ac seemed to me to indicate an anagram but I couldn’t find it and it was only after changing tack and solving the down clues that the answer became apparent. Annoyingly the “term” in question is something I am well aware of as it is frequently used in puzzles but just didn’t ring any bells this morning. The rest of the of the grid was soon completed with only 14dn requiring confirmation, although 7dn and 25ac went in on definition alone. 4dn was a bit convoluted – “app” for software seeming to appear in every other puzzle recently, and I wonder if “hen” for woman might be a bit offensive in today’s P.C. climate.

Whilst this is a reasonably enjoyable solve nothing really stands out as exceptional but as is traditional, COD – 11dn   “A creature having right to move north before start of year in country (10)”.

All the solutions and explanations can be found on Fifteensquared




Something a little meatier to get our teeth into today, and a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle it was too. Progress could best be described as non-existent to start – any optimism on solving 6ac was swiftly dispelled when my next answer in was 26ac. Thankfully, however, the downs were a little more forgiving of my solving abilities and, with a few answers in, the rest fairly flew by with the SE corner in particular for the most part going in on checking letters and / or definition alone. A bit of a tussle with 20ac at the close dragged things out a little, but my finishing time was well under par for the i, more akin to a Wednesday than a Thursday reprint. The only question remaining was why Shona is African, but Duncan’s explained that ably as expected over on the other side.

COD? Lots and lots of ticks by the clues today, with 25ac I thought very nicely done – “Counter-revolutionary avoids opening in Leicester Square (4)”.

To January 2014:


Wot no Dac? Instead we have our second IoS reprint of the week, and another fairly straightforward puzzle. I had to give some careful thought about how to spell 24ac, and raised the proverbial eyebrow on solving 1d, but there’s little to discuss elsewhere, this being a good, enjoyable, pretty solid offering. Lots went in on definition alone, lots just on seeing checking letters. A good one I’d suggest for beginners or anyone wanting to find out what this cryptic lark’s all about.

COD? Not a great deal leapt out as is common for IoS reprints, but I’ll go with 9d – “Outlaw grabbing weapon – he might be responsible for you getting shot (6)”.

To February 2014:


How Schadenfreude and Nimrod probably hoped solvers would approach today’s puzzle:

  1. Pick their way through all the lovingly crafted clues, gradually uncovering the nine answers lacking a common definition.
  2. The moment of recognition when it became clue what they were.
  3. Or, failing that, when the jumble of letters in the unclued entries eventually made sense.
  4. The tying up of loose ends, working some arithmetical magic on the clues with the surplus words.
  5. The highlighting of (3,5) using knight’s move at the close.

And this is how I approached it:

  1. Get lots of coffee in. Copious, unreasonable amounts of the stuff, because it is Saturday and I’m not feeling my best.
  2. Struggle badly with the clues, because, well that’s what I do with Schadenfreude. Though to be fair clues like 12ac are pretty straightforward because Porter’s got to be COLE and the other’s often IT in a crossword though never in the real world these days. CITOLE which is a stringed instrument and might be “tuned” but we don’t need that for the definition. 10d our first without a definition – NEVER SAY DIE which sounds a bit like a Bond film but isn’t. Still struggling, by the way. Until the second one with a common definition falls. Good old SIR IVOR.
  3. I wonder what Google makes of those two? Well, it turns out they’re both Derby winners, and both Derby winners ridden by Lester Piggott for good measure who’s probably sadly better known by punters nowadays for his dodgy tax affairs than his riding prowess. I wonder how many Derby winners he rode? Quelle surprise, nine in all, so that’s what the common definition answers are all about. I’m guessing the three jumbled entries will read Lester Keith Piggott. So let’s go looking for likely candidates in the grid, for wordplay that fits, and then chuck them in. At which point the rest becomes a bit of a doddle, what with all those checking letters. Even the jumbled entries, oh yes.
  4. Knight’s move is easy enough, famous last words. Highlight the relevant entries in a lovely shade of green, lob in that last Y in the middle.
  5. A nagging feeling of doubt. Is that really it, or have I missed something again? Let’s do some arithmetic on the extra words and corresponding answers, with a bit of jiggery-pokery where it becomes clear I’ve plumped for the odd wrong extraneous word. And lo, the corresponding trainers:


That’s good then? I think so, even though I feel a bit guilty for not having solved it “properly”. Only a bit, mind. 😉

Scorpion doesn’t tend to go in for stealth when embedding a theme, so with all those references to 18ac and a gateway clue which left the gate wide open it’s pretty obvious what’s going on from the outset. There are ten thematic entries, and the trouble with this approach is that a fair portion of the crossword does itself more or less automatically. A shame really, since some of those clues are rather nice, for example 5 and 28ac.

Very little to complain about today, although I didn’t care for the definition part of 14ac (no issue with the wordplay). Quite a few superior clues to enjoy as one would expect, of which 11 and 17 particularly appealed to me. They are pipped at the post by 18d, which is my Clue of the Day:

“Two types of tea available, when fellow moves inside this hovel? (7)”

An excellent write-up by Duncanshiell with all the solutions and parsing is available at Fifteensquared; the crossword first appeared in March 2014.

Following on from a weekend when I was struggling to solve even the simplest puzzle, this was exactly the sort of confidence boost I needed. Nice and straightforward, well flagged definitions, clear wordplay, in other words a good IoS puzzle and a good one to schedule for a Monday morning when perhaps many solvers aren’t feeling their best. 🙂 Nothing controversial I think, but fun throughout.

COD? Not a great deal leapt out, to be honest, so I’ll go with 8d which older solvers will have seen before, but is still a nice clue – “Old-fashioned, as Rupert Murdoch is? (6,3,5)”.

To February 2014:


Saturday 2nd June 2018

Which I tackled whilst waiting to meet the Indy setter Eccles at ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ – England’s oldest pub, they claim.  Maybe the Nottingham ale put me in a good mood, but I thought this was a splendid puzzle with Phi on top form.  Plenty of clues to savour, and Eccles turned up in time to help me with the last few – ‘Boondocks’ appears in more than one American song, apparently, whilst he also knew ‘Crosspatch’. Useful thing, a large vocabulary.

So quite a few candidates for COD; 5d, 16d and 21d were on the podium, but I liked the surface reading on this one:

8d  Dump a sailor at sea, nothing less, to secure first in contest – this one? (8,3)

No theme or Nina, so I imagine Phi just used the paired entries top & bottom to get him started this time; and for the 2014 blog click here.

A Monday reprint this time from Tees, a setter who I would have thought a bit on the tough side to start the week but this puzzle is quite straightforward by his standards.

Two clues with very long answers helped to fill the grid. The first of these, 9ac, was pretty obviously an anagram and the X in the fodder gave the answer away without too much trouble. The other long answer at 14ac had me fooled for a while – the first word being “revised” and the next two words having the required amount of letters had me thinking it was another anagram, which of course it wasn’t. Very nearly made a mistake at 13ac but couldn’t parse the obvious answer – the actual solution was very good. The “troublesome rift” at 7dn made me smile. Both 1dn and 3dn are fairly obscure words but I suspect regular solvers will have seen them before although I don’t recall seeing “ore” clued as Scandinavian money, but Chambers confirms that it was. My only other queries were 28ac where Tees wants us to extract “use” from “good” which I find a bit of a stretch and the updated 5dn which was my LOI mainly because my glasses malfunctioned and I missed the last line of the clue😣 Once this problem was rectified the answer was obvious but I needed the Fifteensquared blog to parse it.

Most of the clues in this puzzle had ticks but I have to give COD to 15dn  –  “Gimme hot sex in Hampshire town? (4,2,4)”.

Our second Saturday Prize Puzzle reprint of the week comes courtesy of Monk, who’s a setter I often struggle with. Today’s offering though proved to be more straightforward than some, though one where it paid (for me at least) to take a break half-way through and come back to some of the more difficult / obscure clues. 1d falls into the latter category most certainly, but could be little else. I was unaware of the definition used at 11ac, and struggled a little at the close with 21d, but everything else was clear, and always fair and above board. There’s a theme of letters that are repeated only once in each answer I’m guessing most solvers won’t have spotted and won’t be sorry to have missed. 🙂

COD? Lots to like, and lots of very nicely constructed clues, but for me at least 14ac, which is lovely and succinct, raised a smile – “Whipping fetish? (11)”.

To February 2014 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:


Blame the interruptions. I started off at a fair old lick in the NW corner, but then… Pressing information from home. Ok, deal with that. Cue urgent work messages to respond to… At which point my train of thought was completely thrown and it took a while to get back into things. A great big unknown across the centre of the grid at 14ac won’t have helped my state of mind, or the definition at 10ac which prompted a “what???” with the same number of question marks by the clue. Oh, I thought FOR PITY’S SAKE was an entirely reasonable answer too and didn’t bother to parse afterwards. On the other hand 22ac I got right but most definitely couldn’t parse. Not one of my finer days. I still staggered over the finish line in a time well under par for the i, so perhaps it wasn’t that bad after all. Next time I’ll remove myself to a dark corner and switch off the phone and the computer before solving.

COD? Lots to enjoy as always with Dac, with 11d getting an extra tick – “Vending machines are popular in store and highly thought-of on line? (4-8)”.

To February 2014: