Well I did, honestly. Half an hour while savouring the delights of West Wales and a pint of Rev. James. But it wasn’t going to be enough, was it? A half-hearted attempt on my return a week later, but, well, I was pretty much Schadenfreude’d out by then. So sorry Kruger, but this is as far as I got. It looks like we’re stripping O’s from the answers to fit them into the grid, but I haven’t got enough of the redundant words to tell you why. Hopefully Fifteensquared will later.

I notice that the champagne did make it to Wales after all, only a little further west than I would have liked. Oh well.

So until next time…

As remarked last week, sometimes solving a crossword with linked clues is like unpicking a jumper, and once one pulls on the right end the thing resolves itself in short order. Other times it’s more like tackling a particularly bony kipper. Off to a flying start with 5/17, making the two related entries obvious, but this being a puzzle by Tees there was bound to be something fishy about it, as it were. I managed to finish in a fairly respectable time without recourse to reference books, but the last half dozen or so clues took some unpicking.

Some general knowledge of culture high, low and in between was required today: architecture, drama and poetry; Hollywood and slang terms for proscribed drugs, and the works of Phillip Pullman respectively. All fair enough, but I did think that the “cattle” part of 15d was a bit much, being a variant spelling of a word only likely to be familiar to very poor losers at Scrabble. (Yes, that’s me). All told I thought this was an excellent puzzle which managed to provide a good challenge and satisfaction aplenty without making too much of a meal of it. There are some mild expressions of disgruntlement to be found over at Fifteensquared, as per, but by and large the response was appreciative back in April 2013.

Plenty of clues worthy of an honourable mention today, including 1ac, 5d, 6, 10, 19/1 and a few others, but my clue of the day by a whisker is the deviously constructed and elegantly phrased 11ac:

“English-American psychologist to receive writer – books not involved (10)”

First day back in work after a week sunning myself on a far-flung beach – well, West Wales – so a fairly gentle workout from the Don was about all I could cope with. The fox and the plant at 24ac gave me a few problems, what with all the various possibilities, but the rest went in easily enough. An odd looking grid, but no (extremely rare for Quixote) Nina or theme that I can see.

Thanks to Batarde, Cornick and Sprouthater for covering last week. 🙂

COD? 21ac – “Quickly appreciate positive audience reaction (4,3,8)’.

To April 2013:


i Prize Cryptic Crossword 2020 by Hypnos

Saturday 29th July 2017

Given that Hypnos puzzles typically appear in the Independent on Sunday, it seems only natural to include his/ her puzzles in the Weekend i. The editor’s dilemma is that experienced solvers with more time on their hands at the weekend will want a harder puzzle, whereas potential new solvers in the same situation might be tempted by something of a gateway puzzle.  Clearly the latter won out last weekend and this will have been a very quick solve for the regular contributors to this site – I’d be thrilled to hear from any new recruits to the blog though  🙂

And maybe I should pluck up courage and tackle that Inquisitor?

Clue of the Day: 22a Fantastic honeymoon called for poem (3,2,10)

2013 blog plus a picture puzzle here.

The third puzzle from this setter and like the previous offerings quite straightforward. This was originally an IOS prize puzzle and if I recall correctly these puzzles tended towards the easier end of the spectrum probably to encourage more entries or maybe Telegraph readers, experienced solvers will probably find it a bit too easy, none of the answers being particularly obscure only the variant spelling at 26ac was a bit unusual and the only query I had which is the same one as the blogger on Fifteensquared where does the AK in 1dn come from? This is explained although like 21dn it wasn’t to my liking. Lots of good clues but nothing really outstanding so because I don’t like C&W music

COD 25ac     Architect putting line through terrible music centre  (9)

Lucky me: instead of the battle of attrition I half expected this being a Thursday, here we see Crosophile at the top of his form and in jaunty mood withal. A glance at the grid and there’s obviously going to be a Nina; early appearances of J and K suggest a possible pangram, and is that a political theme developing? Wrong on the last two, but yes, there’s a Nina all right and a theme to boot – just not at all what was expected. Baffled? All is explained at Fifteensquared.

A couple of chestnuts (17ac and 18d) notwithstanding, there’s a striking array of different clue writing strategies on show and a good deal of wit and inventiveness. I do take issue with 10ac, an example of the “Uxbridge English Dictionary” tactic which is always good for a chuckle. In this case, however, the definition is deeply dodgy. Never mind though, no doubt we all knew exactly what he was getting at. Crosophile has taken a few liberties elsewhere, but my policy is to overlook that sort of thing when I feel that I’ve been well entertained. Rather an embarrassment of riches today when it comes to COD candidates – choose your own runners-up – but I’m plumping for the triple-definition just because they don’t come up very often:

19ac: “Wifer beater hit the drink (5)”

This virtuoso puzzle first appeared back in April 2013. Well worth a “bravo”, methinks.

A super example of all that Dac does so well.  Lovely smooth surfaces (of course) and definitely at the easier end of his range, there were still a few bits of innovative jiggery-pokery to keep us on our toes.

There’s some discussion over at Fifteensquared as to whether or not ‘premier cru?’ breaks Afrit’s injunction to ‘say what you mean’ – well maybe it wouldn’t pass by the editor at the Times, but thank goodness the Independent/ i allows for this kind of creativity – I thought 16a was a terrific clue – almost as amusing as that Aussie burglar with a fondness for premier cru champagne…

However, amongst stiff competition from those ‘anagram plus’ clues, I’m plumping for the following neat combination as COD:

20a Mathematician from London college taking part in festival (6)

So we reach the grand 1500 with the mysterious SPINK, who I’m guessing is the (ungodly?) alliance of Schadenfreude, Phi, Ifor, Nimrod and Kruger. No doubt that champagne is winging its way here now, unless that’s a hopelessly bad guess, or Nimrod and co quaffed the lot in Manchester. To the puzzle. 35 cells to shade that aren’t in the wordplay, 18 clues with misprints. All leading to something equally mysterious and dubiously relevant.

Onward, with the seasonably torrential rain hammering down outside. To some quite tough clues as it turns out – only 2 acrosses on the first pass, and both of those anagrams. Try again. The SW corner is the first to fall, and then a big leap to the NE, and the realisation that some of these clues are going to be missing large chunks of the letters in the wordplay, 23d being a prime example. Something with BAR in it… Another week looking at the letters we’ve got, bits of wordplay, and a handy electronic edition of Chambers. A little struggle at the close in the NW corner (2d isn’t in said edition, but the online Chambers Word Wizard does have it). And a satisfyingly full grid.

At this point I’ve got lots of misprints that don’t seem to spell out anything sensible. Lots of cells that look like they need highlighting. And lots of question marks scattered around the clues that make me loath to do anything rash.

Step 1: Look at the misprints again; and yes, we do have one word: Mendelevium, which is apparently an element with symbol Md. Remember your Roman numerals…

Step 2: Copy the grid into Excel, and start highlighting cells there. Spot the ones that are obviously wrong. Spot the ones we’re missing, which makes it easier to sort out that wordplay we didn’t get. So Cato was known as Cato the Censor. Who knew? Another great big MD to highlight in the grid.

Step 3: Look at what’s left with the misprinted definitions. Moldova. Guess what, its abbreviation is MD. That’s our third dimension, I suppose.

Well, that was good, and I always enjoy a bit of colouring. I’ll be sunning myself on a far-flung beach when the solution is published, so if the above is hopelessly off the mark, feel free to laugh at my ineptitude. And congratulations to Nimrod and the team on reaching the big MD.

A welcome return by Raich to the Tuesday slot with another fine themed crossword, long on entertainment and short on obscurity. At first glance all those linked clues sent a shiver down this humble blogger’s spine, but it soon became apparent what was going on and it was pretty clear what sort of things might be expected to appear in the grid. A bit of a shame about 25d, I thought, since no special knowledge of the subject was required otherwise.

There’s always a risk with a puzzle like this that it will to some extent solve itself, and there were some mild expressions of disgruntlement over at Fifteensquared back in March 2013. Fair comment, but I for one found plenty to enjoy and it did rather take the time pressure off. Special mentions for 11 and 29ac, and 8d (despite the dreaded “ana”); clue of the day for me is 2d:

“Bemused onlookers without specs get source of inspiration (7)”

Only the second puzzle from this setter who made his debut in the i back in May and seems to have become a regular in the Independent. Unfamiliarity with Kairos’s style led to a fair bit of head scratching, but with four fifteen letter answers around the edges, 3 of which I found quite straightforward, although Round = Game at 8d seems a bit vague to me, there were a goodly number of checking letters to help solving. 1a had me fooled for a long time thinking that “cunning” was an anagrind. Two new words at 17dn and 22dn were both solved from the cryptic. 17dn is a chemical and “Hypnotic” seems a bit of a stretch to me. In general a quite enjoyable puzzle a couple of groans 15a in particular and I preferred Fridays clue for 10a.

COD  1d  Some pills worker and I push down soldiers (15)

A bit of discussion over on Fiteensquared regarding the parsing of 25a and 14d both of which seemed fine to me.