Silvanus is one of those solvers where I’m still not sure what to expect, and this being the Thursday slot we can sometimes get something extremely chewy indeed so I approached this with some trepidation. As it was we had a fairly gentle puzzle with a few bits dotted round the grid that required a little more in the way of cognitive powers. Here I floundered on having too many trees to pick from at 12ac, convinced myself 13d was an anagram, and had eaglet stuck in my head causing me no end of problems in the SE corner. On the other hand the longer entries were a lot more straightforward than they appeared at first glance, and much of the bottom half of the grid was a write-in. 7d would have been similarly so it occurs to me on a better day, in other words one where I’m not limping badly towards the end of a long week. Things to like outside of the COD included the Norwegian Blue reference, “IN CARE” which was nicely done, and the very nice surface reading at 1ac. Finish time akin to that of an easyish Dac, and thoroughly enjoyed.

COD? I’ll go with 9ac – “Appearance of married couple losing weight attracts TV channel (13)”.

And so to April 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

A welcome return for Peter today with an IoS reprint that was finished in a pretty sharpish time, but that also felt a little knotty in places. A few synonyms in wordplay that were a little off the beaten track (STIFF for tiring, the less common RAM, FLY for crafty, etc) will have been mostly responsible for any knottiness, I suspect, but most welcome it was too, making the puzzle feel a little different from the run-of-the-mill, and always engaging and lively. 1ac did make me wonder if some sort of theme might be afoot, but that was because I’d got it mixed up with Krampus. No puzzle is complete here without a chronic moment of misapprehension.

COD? With much to appreciate, I’ll go with 3d – “Minor fairy meeting pantheon’s foremost goddess by lake (10)”.

To February 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

Following Dysart and eXtent, in quick succession comes Eclogue, in almost but not quite alphabetical order. Am I just reading too much into what is evidently random? Would I would be better off spending my time trying to work out what the seemingly random Ransomware in the title is referring to?

Because until I glanced at it a moment ago, having neglected to do so until now, I was feeling quietly smug on a puzzle just about fully parsed and understood. Because, you see, that message. Generated from superfluous words. I have it, and without any question marks.


My solving this week could even be considered methodical, because belatedly it occurred to jot down beside each clue the required letters when they popped up. Helping with the solving process, you see?

Not that too much help was required (I hope), as this was Inquisitor-lite territory. Yes, it’s the long awaited “easy one”. I would like to think that a quick reveal of CUESTA right at the start means that I’m getting better at these, but I suspect this was actually just a gentle puzzle. Albeit with some entries we had to anagram on entry, and weird and wonderful entries such as the handily flagged OOSPERMS. Never mind, there was much that was low brow too thanks to the likes of CONAN who’s one of the few barbarians that readily springs to mind.

Endgame time. Presumably we’re being asked to bring to mind moving the goalposts, moving letters being what we’ve been up to a fair bit throughout. Completing the equally well flagged empty squares gives an equally handy anagram of the last two words in the phrase. A nifty spot of highlighting later, and we’re done.

Another good one, that. And one aimed at us mere mortals too, I suspect. More please, more like this.


One of eXternal’s rarish Monday outings kicks us off this week. Of about middling difficulty I thought, with what looked certain to be a pangram when the Z surfaced in 1ac turning out not to be so. We had a bit of geography regular readers will be astonished to learn that I did for reasons I can’t fathom know, a gang member it took me far too long to twig despite guessing the source material immediately, a crossword staple at 9ac, and just the two I failed to parse (24ac and 19d). Elsewhere 5d I discovered I can’t spell, and 2d I was pleased to get despite nagging doubts in my mind as to whether USS was actually a real thing or just a fictional starship prefix. Quality stuff and enjoyable as expected.

COD? I’ll go with 8d – “Gents, maybe, cut up when brought in to view new TV show (5,5)”.

To February 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

It’s that cheeky chap Hoskins again with the requisite amount of bodily functions and slightly risque clues. Fun as always, and yet again over in a flash – if this had appeared earlier in the week it would have been a potential personal best, but as it is was just a tad slower than yesterday’s Dac. Loads went in on definition followed by a quick glance back over the wordplay to confirm, with only 28ac at the close giving any problems in the latter department, though not the former. That was one of many I thought where the surface reading was worthy of Dac – the sort of thing that’s so smoothly put together that the wordplay becomes that much harder to spot. Enjoyed, as always, and yet again – more Hoskins please.

COD? Loads to pick from today, from the smile / groan inducing definition at 17d to the “bellish” 27ac, with my pick going to 18d – “Teacher carrying expensive letter opener? (4,3)”.

And so to January 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues for this IoS reprint:

It’s mid-week, the sun’s shining in Wales, and Dac’s on fine form, so all is well with the world. A sprint through the clues here this morning, notching up what I believe is a record time for the i, but enjoyed nevertheless, with all but the one clue (2d) parsed on solving. 20d gave me a little pause for thought at the close (did anybody else get SUM stuck in their head for part of the wordplay?), but the rest went in without too much hard thinking required.

You’ll probably all have your own picks for COD, this being Dac and it being that sort of puzzle, with my nomination going to 24ac – “Separation: it preceded 1981 royal wedding (13)”.

To January 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

Things learnt this weekend:

  • It may be nice to sit out in the sun with the Inquisitor, but too much sun is likely to induce only sleepiness.
  • Birthday celebrations are equally unconducive to the required concentration levels needed, especially when they are not your own.
  • If you’re mysteriously struggling to come up with plausible answers in one bit of the grid, it’s probably because the gimmick hinted at in the preamble is to be found thereabouts.

Not one but two grids, mashed together clues, misprints for good measure. This is the IQ on speed.

Needless to say my solving was less speedy, but with the cooling evening a steady progress could be said to be made, especially when it was spotted that some answers in the left hand grid were to be reversed. Sharper solvers will have got BACKING and done the necessary fairly quickly I suspect, but it took me a while longer. Thankfully the down clues could be in one grid only. Which was the sort of generous hint I appreciate and we don’t always get. 🙂

Misprints. I don’t have them all. I’m not sure if the ones I’ve got are correct. COTRANYM. Perhaps there’s an N in there somewhere. Something about opposites would be my best guess. Google gives contronym, but I’m pretty certain of that A. Oh well.

The chap that faces both ways springs to mind as regarding the highlighting bit, and lo, lob a J in the centre and JANUS certainly does.

That looks right to me.

Job done, though I’m still not sure that we’ve had to long awaited “easy one”. As ever though enjoyed and appreciated.

20210613_211031~2 (1)

An IoS reprint from Kairos kicks us off this week, and one that I found to be a little knotty in places. Most of my problems came to the north of the grid, with the complexities of 6d already discussed over on the other side, but 12ac and 9d also caused me some issues (I really must brush up on my state abbreviations and chemical symbols), plus a few unknowns dotted around (the food processor and second definition at 18d). A good puzzle nevertheless, that had me a little more puzzled than expected, coming in at the close a little over par for the i.

COD? I’ll go with 7d, as I thought “leading ladies” was very nicely done – “Leading ladies standing up for chief magistrate (5)”.

Over to January 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

A pretty tough offering from Klingsor today I thought. Apart from the bird in the SW corner there is nothing that is obscure, so here at least the problems lay with lots of very difficult to spot definitions and quite tricky wordplay. Exactly the way things should be of course, each answered clue eliciting a – why didn’t I think of that earlier. Perhaps you did, and I’m just being slow today. Of the ones I couldn’t parse, the aforementioned 21ac also featured a river I’ve not heard of, and at 2d the anagram indicator was so well hidden in the surface reading that I totally misread the cryptic part. Elsewhere I was most definitely just being a little dim, as “nerd” for “geek” and the dance required in the far NE corner took far too long to surface. I will claim though that I’m justified in taking an age to get the firearm required in 26ac as the usage feels very old fashioned now.

COD? With lots to pick from, and I’m sure you’ll have your own favourites, I’ll go with the wince inducing 9ac – “Players facing pace slice balls away (8)”.

To February 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues:

An enjoyable, pretty straightforward offering from Eccles this week that was a more than able substitute for Dac. At the close 1d, 4d and 7d gave a little pause for thought, but the rest fairly flew by which was a relief to be honest after a few tough days in the i. I half expected to go onto Fifteensquared to find a theme that I hadn’t quite fathomed out, 9ac and 29ac being indicative of things stateside, but it appears not. Perhaps that was just the drift of Eccles’ thoughts when he was filling the grid. Non horse-racing fans may have been a little stumped by 1d I suspect, but the name was familiar enough here that, after working out that we were looking for an unexpected acronym (do we get many of those?), in it went.

COD? I suspect this will be a day when there will be lots of different nominations, because there were quite a few worthy of note, with mine going to 22d – “How Sesame Street might describe scimitars and sabres? (6)”.

To February 2017 for all the answers and parsing of the clues: