It’s a Thursday Independent reprint (and our second one of the week I can’t help but note), though perhaps on the gentle side as far as they go. I found the RHS to be a lot more straightforward than the other half, though I should have got 1ac a lot quicker than I did, as it’s pretty common in crosswordland, which would have helped somewhat. Certainly, when I did cotton on 3d followed immediately, and then much of the rest of the grid. One or two I didn’t / couldn’t parse, though perhaps if I’d given the clues more thought I would have. An excellent puzzle to ease us towards the end of the week.

COD? Well, it’s got to be 26ac – “Ham producer concerned about animal welfare (4)” which elicited a rare smile here.

To September 2013:


Three quarters of today’s puzzle was the usual straightforward, breezy solve we’ve come to know and love on a Wednesday, but for me at least the NW corner was much more difficult. I’d never heard of the Cumbrian town, though obviously it had to end …MOUTH, and needed to Google to check the answer. Vichy water was similarly new, as was the composer at 1ac – was I the only person to go through an increasingly desperate list of Welsh singers before settling on the rather more prosaic ALTO in the wordplay? Jones, Jones, Bassey, Tyler, Jones… 23ac on the far side of the grid was also new, but could be nothing else.

Lots to like as ever, with my COD going to 19ac – “Shocking report of animal breeding (4-7)”.

To October 2013:

Battered and bruised after doing twelve rounds with Harribobs, Inquisitor solvers the country wide look tentatively at the Weekend i and wonder, what next? Well, it’s Schadenfreude, who’s sometimes eminently solvable, and sometimes about as difficult as they come. So what’s been asked of us this week? Seven titles to highlight, extra letters yielded from the wordplay to “spell out thematic material”, seven greyed out squares in the centre of the grid and no clue as to what to do with them. Make some very strong coffee and leap in.

1ac, well that couldn’t have been much easier. CARTWHEELING, yielding an S. Something to do with herbs at 4d, a nice easy one at 5d even if the word’s probably new to most of us and, blimey, before you know it that’s a full grid. Yes, that’s about how quickly it happened. Did somebody swap Phi’s prize puzzle and the Inquisitor this week? I’m guessing this is the one star to follow on from Harribobs’ XXX.

What do the extra letters spell out? As is de rigueur there are a number of question marks, and loads that are clearly nonsense and need a second look. But…


Which can only mean one thing, we’re looking at the Carry On films.

Seven titles to highlight, got to be round those blank spaces. As chance would have it one answer I’m not sure of and it turns out is wrong is 22ac, unless Carry On Doktor is a thing. Perhaps somewhere in Scandinavia it is.

Anyway, what we have is CARRY ON along that diagonal, and CLEO, ABROAD, MATRON, NURSE, CABBY, DOCTOR and HENRY crossing it. Fantastic. There are one or two there I haven’t have seen, and Schadenfreude’s omitted two of my favourites – Carry On Screaming and Carry On Up The Khyber – but thanks still for a welcome bit of light relief that was nearer my level of competence than last week’s magnum opus. Which leaves me time to do, well, other things. The household will be fed this week. Clothes will be cleaned. Children bathed. Sleep will happen. Other puzzles.

Tees can generally be relied upon to put up a bit of a fight, and today’s crossword could well be wearisome for solvers without the requisite knowledge to appreciate the theme. The nicely done 12/10 cleared that up for me straight away, and all the other food groups were familiar, so my ride was an easy one. There may be a spot of grumbling though, I suspect.

No shortage of nice clues, so it’s a shame about 16ac. One can well understand Tees wanting to avoid the medical procedure which fits that gap, but it could hardly be worse than the ghastly combination he settled on. That aside, no complaints worth speaking of. Runner up for the COD trophy is 14ac, but of course the winner is 3d:

“Fool with butter and what that says about food group? (10)”

Solutions, analysis and a whole slew of comments can be found at Fifteensquared as usual. We’re back to November 2013 this time.

An IoS reprint to start the week, and a pretty straightforward one at that. Thankfully on a day when this is about the amount of time I’ll have to devote to crosswords. 🙂 That said I thought 17ac was a little tricky if you didn’t know the flavouring or the cinnamon, as was the case here, though in retrospect it was a term I’d met, somewhere, vaguely. 14d I didn’t know either, but it had to be a something TREE. Good to see that 1ac has been rewritten to keep up with present-day politics, though Mr Hinds is perhaps a little less infamous than his predecessor. 10ac was probably a gimmee for solvers of a certain age bracket, though perhaps mystifying for those above and below it.

COD? 19ac – “Cheeky thing to almost steal poison (7)”.

To September 2013:

Saturday 24th January 2018

Which I found up at the top end of the Phi scale of difficulty, but the good people of Fifteensquared here seemed to have struggled with a good deal less.

There were 10 ticks in my margin last Saturday, which is a decent haul by any standards, so plenty to enjoy, but also some real toughies in there, I thought.

28a gave us an Amazonian fish which everyone’s heard about – it’s the one reputed to swim up your stream of urine if you go for a wee in a river – but surely nobody will have known its name (at least until now) and its clue was difficult, to say the least. Then 4d gave us a medical condition unknown to me with wordplay including lisp defined as ‘speak obscurely’…hmm. Pudding was rice in 5d – is that allowed? And the town of Nome was a pretty obscure way to clue the Italian city in the wordplay of 10a.

Never mind, on the plus side were some delicious bits of wordplay: Ex TB in Nest for 6d, CBE in Math for 29a, and a delightful clue for my last one in Iodine at 7d. However my COD award goes to the super-smooth 24a:

Factory profit cut back a small amount (9)

And to find out what links those particular Italian cities click here.


A fairly accessible puzzle from Crosophile today, nothing too obscure but a few that were perhaps a little over complicated. Progress for the most part was pretty brisk with only a bit of lip curling and tutting at 4ac and 6dn it was the SE corner that proved a bit tricky with the convoluted 19ac and 21dn being the final entries. Most of this was good though nothing really stood out as exceptional 10ac amused and the clever concealment of 26ac got a tick but the word itself makes me shudder, the cruciverbalists favourite Norfolk town makes an appearance along with the well used leopard anagram. There is a Nina/theme that I missed. Overall a fairly enjoyable if not overly difficult puzzle

COD  4dn       Gives info why not to shop in Norfolk town on Tue PM say?  (9)

The original blog and all the parsing can be found here

Our run of Thursday Independent reprints continues with an offering from Klingsor. Now, Klingsor can sometimes be a little tricky, and Thursday reprints especially so, but I found today’s puzzle to be quite accessible with few holdups, solved in about the same time as yesterday’s Dac. Perhaps I got lucky, because I spotted the CANTI… bit of 10ac pretty quickly, and vaguely remembered 16ac from somewhere in the dim and distant past, most likely another crossword. Some generously long, pretty obvious write-ins also helped. There were a few I couldn’t parse – 15d, which was my last one in, and 17d where I guessed the answer pretty quickly (don’t the Martian war machines in War of the Worlds ululate – all those hours listening to Jeff Wayne’s musical finally paying off), but I didn’t know the opera so needed to rely on checking letters to confirm. All in all an enjoyable, pretty relaxed solve. BTW, is it just me or does the puzzle look particularly long lengthwise in today’s paper?

COD? 24d – “Take possession of a square in Paris (5)”.

To October 2013:

What can you say? Another enjoyable, accessible puzzle from Dac. I started at a gallop in the NW corner and filled maybe three quarters of the grid pretty quickly, but the rest took as long again. Perhaps it was deciding that the pudding was the definition bit in 22d, or confidently (mis)spelling the African lake as per an old Doctor Who companion that could be derived from the same anagram fodder, or the number of very well disguised definitions throughout. Talking of which, 15ac was rather sneaky… I would blame the error in the enumeration at 11/12, but because I spotted it straight away I can’t. Overall time anyway under par for the i, and about par for Dac.

COD? My last in, and if only because it took an age to work out which bits were the definition and which the wordplay, 7d – “Film director missing start of sad Spielberg movie (5)”.

To October 2013:

Harribobs’ Captain’s Log was voted best Inquisitor of 2016-7. A very worthy winner, so expectations are running high. No pressure. 😉 What do we have today?

The preamble? Let’s just say that together with the way those clues are grouped an inner turmoil is exactly what I’m left feeling, and not in a good way. If we don’t have our work cut out solving the clues we’ll be hard pressed knowing what to do with them afterwards. Backwards, forwards, cycled, completely random. Yikes. Extra words in some clues lead to an instruction. Something to highlight at the end. “Advice – use a pencil!” You bet I will.

The clues. Well, a garden in Saint is pretty obviously SEDENT at 10dn, with “Andrews” as an extra word, and some of the cycled clues are pretty doable, but that list of jumbled clues is pretty extensive, and without knowing where the letters go progress is inevitably slow. The extra words? Well, I’ve got them, and without too much in the way of wailing and gnashing of teeth. A few checking letters here and there by applying a bit of logic. The elusive 1ac – MARRAM – which should have been one of the easy ones – it’s one of the normal clues – but takes a word search and a bit of reverse engineering with the wordplay. Last in? 15ac, which must be EGERIA (with NI as the insurance, which took far too long to work out) but won’t fit. Because as it becomes clear – an hour later – my logic was flawed.

All of which sounds like a steady, pretty reasonable process in retrospect. But in fact took two days, off and on. I can’t remember the rating system for Inquisitor difficulty but Harribobs’s turned it up to 11.

What does the message from the extra words tell us (with Excel at hand to sort the answers)?

sort internal nw to se diagonals

Now this is where it gets scary. Armed only with a ruler, a rubber, and a pencil that’s a lot more blunt than when we started, off we go, as we’re instructed, sorting the letters in each NW-SE diagonal. Now we’ll find out if our answers are correct, with reference now and then to the BRB. No room for error. And having to erase most of that painstakingly filled out grid. Inquisitor solvers the country wide weep silently into their cups of tea – or is it something a bit stronger at this point? As it turns out I only messed up once as far as I can tell, forgetting the W in 20ac, the quite marvellous TWOCCER. Lucky I took a snap of the grid before I started rubbing most of it out. Now we’ve got a grid full of real words rather than the mess there was before.

And the last step, that word we’re supposed to find? Turns out I’m a bit rubbish at that too, but luckily Quinapalus isn’t. 😉 ORDERLINESS. Highlight it in a quite fetching shade of green, throw down the paper, and reach for a stiff gin. Was it satisfying when all the diagonals sorted led to all those real words? Very much so. But did I feel like my head was going to explode getting there? Oh yes…