On the weekend the heatwave broke in the most spectacular style. Thunderstorms, hail, torrential rain. The day following the company announcement that the normal dress code would be relaxed in light of the extreme temperatures, and the same day we’d decided a trip to Barry Island might be in order. Oh well, there’s always chips, and the Inquisitor. Lato this week who’s not giving much away with that title. Never mind, there’s more than enough detail in the preamble, the main point to remember being misprints in the definitions of 11 clues. Let’s worry about the rest later. Something to do with all those unclued entries, apparently.

I would begin at the beginning, but that’s unclued so I can’t. 7ac was another matter of – no idea. But join is evidently MARRY, and we’re off. First misprint spotted at 20ac – “rice”, not “rich”, of course. The veil at 44ac’s a favourite with crossword setters so I can even spell it. Poor Engels is implicated in a bit of money making at 34d. All of which is to say that the grid fill was a bit of a walk in the park, as they say in some circles.

The unclued entries. I’m pretty certain of CONTINUE to the NW, and LINDBERGH and RED BARON (hello again!) in the SE (despite an initial moment of panic on them not appearing to be proper words). First guess at the one above? Well, BAKER. Now, we’ve got three pilots there (yes, if you google “Baker” you’ll find lots of pilots with that surname). And we’re looking for groupings of the unclued entries, so I’m guessing that’s one. In retrospect a wise man would change BAKER to BADER, a much more famous pilot… Grid duly amended, though I would argue there’s a good case for an alternative solution.

What else? ULTRA down the centre. Is that HOUSE under it, and ROYAL? I think that’s BE LEFT in the NE (yes, the preamble does warn us that two of the entries will contain two words). What about the one to the SW? I’ve got no idea.

OK, backtracking slightly. The 11 misprints are supposed to supply the name of a co-star. Oh dear, it’s SEAN CONNERY. Oh dear because he’s made about a million and one films. Let’s look at some of the more famous ones and see if we can find a star whose name is also 11 letters long, and who happens to be in the grid. The Untouchables was my first guess, but no. One of the Bond films? Nope, I don’t think so. Thankfully Connery’s Wikipedia entry is quite emphatic that Marnie is one of his more important films, because I’ve not seen it. Tippi Hedren starred, and there she is in the grid. Highlighted in a gorgeous shade of orange – it makes a change from green.

Back to the unclued entries. Three groups, each suggesting a word, work out the relationship to the film. Hopefully it’ll help with some of them, because I still can’t see the one to the SW, and the rest are a little iffy.

Three pilots. Tick. CONTINUE and BE LEFT could be carry on, outlast, something like that. But how does ULTRA fit? And HOUSE, ROYAL. Lancaster? Is the SW one STAR, are we looking at something to do with planes, pilots again? And how does that fit with the film?

Hang on. Pilots could be AIRMEN, which is an anagram of MARNIE. REMAIN is another anagram, which fits in with CONTINUE, BE LEFT and, yes, STAY down in the SW corner. MARINE is the only other anagram I can find. ROYAL MARINE, yes. ULTRA MARINE. Let’s look at the dictionary, because HOUSE is evidently wrong. Ah, HORSE MARINE, not heard of that, but it’s in the big red book.

Now that was very satisfying to finish and work out what was going on with the different groups. So thanks Lato, thoroughly enjoyed! By the time you read this I’ll be off in the wilds of Wales (no, I don’t tend to venture too far) where hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a copy of the Weekend i and find time to solve the Inquisitor. Whether I’ll also find time to blog it is another matter, so should next week’s blog not appear, or appear late, fear not, I’ll be holed up in a pub somewhere not worrying overly about the lack of a mobile signal or Wi-Fi.

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I’ve never entirely hit it off with with Crosophile, and generally find his puzzles a mixed bag. Without doubt he’s a very capable setter, but there always seems to be something to bring out the grumpy Batarde in me – today it’s the grid. There’s a nice solid chunk diagonally across the middle but with NW and SE corners flimsily attached, which is bad practice but needn’t be a problem so long as there isn’t a truly lousy cryptic definition forming one of the connections. Yes, 2d, I’m talking about you. Adding insult to injury, 26ac may be in Chambers but it’s a rotten word, and whilst the clue is cleverly constructed the definition is wide open to debate.

It’s Tuesday so there has to be a theme, but this time it escaped my notice. I’m in good company though because it slipped under Duncan’s radar too when he blogged the crossword back in April 2014 at Fifteensquared. Hmmm … okay, you got me, Crosophile, but I’m not all that taken with it – sorry. Nothing much jumps out as especially worthy of comment, but I do have one tick by 17ac so that can be the COD:

“Blow up a stomach almost full of wind (9)”

Today’s puzzle is a reprint from the Independent on Sunday, and it seems to me a bit more 6ac than is usual for a Monday, or indeed for the IoS. Ordinarily I’d expect to have a good four-fifths of the solutions filled in after a first quick run through, but this time it was more of a stately anti-clockwise progress from the NW to the NE, finishing on 8d. Some of the clues are really quite devious, with surprising definitions and complex wordplay which reminded me more of setters like Phi or even Klingsor rather than Quixote. Mostly good stuff, although there are a few questionable ones (4 or 19, anybody?), and 16 seems distinctly wilful to me.

A decent selection of COD candidates today, of which it’s 15ac for me:

“A follower gets into car in an uncertain state (5)”

For exhaustive analytical bloggery by scchua and a typically disappointing number of comments, click here and you’ll be whisked back to a Sunday in May 2014.

Saturday 28th July 2018

Phi is invariably excellent at producing long anagrams, and the two 15-letterers, along with a clutch of some other easier than average clues, got me off to a flier last Saturday.  Mind you, there were a few awkward customers in the SE corner at the end, including Bushido, which was new and needed double-checking in the dictionary. And the less said about 14a the better.

14 of the 28 answers started with B, but those who are familiar with Phi will realise that he tends to use a theme to help along with filling a grid, rather than necessarily to slavishly make all the words start with a B, say – although I bet he could have done so if he’d wanted to!

For the Clue of the Day, I would be happy with either of the aforementioned anagrams at 12a and 20a, but with the footie season kicking off today, let’s go with the following, which put a smile on my face:

17d Four or five in side holding it back before end of game (7)

For all the answers click here.

I read through this with a growing sense of unease – was this the puzzle that I was supposed to blog that I couldn’t solve any of? Well, not quite… A few went in even if I was not completely sure why, and of course once a few are entered it opens up possibilities for others. I was relieved to find that I wasn’t alone – the original Fifteensquared blogger Simon Harding had much the same experience and like me resorted to outside assistance. By clicking the above link you will find all of the correct answers and parsing some of which I am still having difficulty getting my head around, especially 12ac, 13dn and 16dn. Other gripes include 1ac – something to indicate an anagram would have been appreciated, and 18dn where the setter expects us to know the name of an actor’s daughter. Pah.   Of course there were some very good clues – 1dn, 2dn and 5dn all got ticks, but COD goes to the anagram at

25ac   Bum and arse, ma’am? It’s pretty much the same thing (2,4,2,6)

Our second IoS reprint of the week, and another tricky one. Was I only person to assume this was a Thursday reprint? Nevertheless this was as good as expected from eXternal, with ticks beside many of the clues, 6d, 15ac and 1ac among them. I struggled to parse both 13ac and 7d in common with the original blogger, but all is explained in the comments over on the other side. Of the rest, some of those longer answers looked a bit intimidating at first, but with a little patience and examination of the wordplay each fell. I was confident throughout I would finish given sufficient thought and application, which for me is always a sign of a well constructed puzzle.

COD? 11d, just because it made me smile – “Scientist ogles zit on my nuts (12)”.

To April 2014, and a record number of comments surely for an IoS puzzle:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/04/13/independent-on-sunday-1259-by-external/

Another enjoyable mid-week offering from Dac, probably at the easier end of the spectrum. I was left with only a couple of queries at the close, the slang term used at 10ac having defeated me even if the answer was clear enough, and also a question mark beside the definition for 7d, though it appears to be correct. Elsewhere there were lots of smiles – 14ac and 15d in particular standing out, and lots of watertight cluing. In other words, as is usual for a Wednesday, what’s not to like? First in 1ac, last in 18d followed by 23ac.

COD? The surface reading isn’t perhaps as smooth as some by Dac, but I did like the wordplay at 18d – “Spotted Gregory being transported in winter? (8)”.

To April 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/04/02/independent-8569-dac/

Or “loors”, the printing goblins having been at work again. A glance to the right of the grid confirms the suspicion that my solution to Eclogue’s Ivy was, indeed, the working of my fevered imaginings, and swiftly moving on to eXtent’s latest offering. eXtent being, of course, eXternal and Serpent in union. Misprints this week, incorrect and correct letters (remember that order), resulting in a verse with one missing word we’ve got to highlight. A preamble I can understand. Worrying.

Onto a not so glorious start. The plural of love feasts starting AG is AGAPES, isn’t it? No idea about the misprint but let’s ignore that and look at the crossing answers. 1d – so far so good. ABDUCT is indeed to take away with an anagram of sorts once the misprint’s sorted. 2d – yep, GRIS. Still on course. 3d ditto. But no, 4d’s not going to be anything other than EQUAL no matter how hard I squint. Check the dictionary, confirm we should have entered AGAPAE for 1ac with a misprint that suddenly make sense. That brief stumble done with the grid entry is one that is occasioned without too much ado. Yes, I know, I’m a right 35ac.

What do the misprints amount to? They start EYE HAVE A SPELLING IT CAME WITH MY PEA SEA which is part of the first two lines of Candidate for a Pullet Surprise, of which there seem to be loads of versions online, none of which quite agree and none of which quite match eXtent’s version. Oh well, the seven letter word missing is evidently CHEQUER, and there it is near the bottom of the grid all ready to highlight. Hurrah.

Wasn’t that good? Not too tricky, always engaging, and that verse – new to me – was indeed quite amusing. And, you never know, perhaps I haven’t made such a dog’s dinner of things this time.

“Oh dear”, I thought, glancing at 1ac. “Hope it gets better”. And it did. Poins isn’t really your go-to guy for wild flights of fancy, but he does provide plenty of variety in his clues and it’s good to see what he can do with a themed puzzle – his first since I’ve been doing Tuesdays.

Our theme today is perhaps a bit nebulous, but there’s a scattering of 6s and a couple of characters from the 26, so it helps if you had the relevant information drummed into you at an early age so you don’t have to look it up in a good book. All the same, the penny took a long time to drop with 23. Lots of decent stuff to enjoy, including a perfectly acceptable Spoonerism – which I think we can all agree is a rare beast. Nothing jumps out in particular, although I did enjoy the tortuousness of 5 and the sneakiness of 19. 11ac is elegantly done with a classy surface, and is my COD:

“A carrier employing Poles and Danes flying tea to Iran (5,5)”

This is an IoS reprint from April 2014, which explains the disappointing number of comments on PeeDee’s Fifteensquared write-up.

An enjoyable, fairly gentle start to the week from Quixote. The usual mix of fair clues with a sprinkling of unknown terms to add a bit of spice. I didn’t know the answer or the game referenced in 1ac so had to seek help there, which proved to be the only real issue, progress elsewhere being steady if not particularly rapid. There were a couple I couldn’t parse – notably 7d – but in each case it didn’t really make any difference to the outcome. Finish time under par for the i.

COD? I’ll go with 19d – “Little house with B&B – thing to suit fictional adventurer? (8)”.

To March 2014:

http://www.fifteensquared.net/2014/03/31/independent-8567-by-quixote/