I had intended to follow "A week of Guardian crosswords"
immediately with "A week of Independent crosswords", but I missed Monday's puzzle and didn't know how to retrieve it from their archive, or indeed if such an archive even existed. I'd therefore like to thank mohn2
for telling me how to access old (and current) Indy puzzles.
To do this you need to install a (free) program called Crossword Solver (available from www.crosswordsolver.info). With this you can either download the current day's Independent crosswords (both the cryptic and the concise) directly, or you can download a file containing a puzzle for the date DDMMYY from
for the cryptic, or
for the concise
and then load that. It has to be said that this program is pretty amateurish, but it's usable, and it's better than the online version - that is provided you're happy to have it skip over letters that you've already typed (typically in crossing answers), in the same way that the good old Race the Clock software used to. Its treatment of the backspace key isn't quite as inept as the online version's, but it's still wrong. (The rule should be: if the previous action didn't move the cursor forward one cell, then the backspace key shouldn't move it back one cell. I've already written about this here
), and I don't propose to go into it all again.)
So how were the week's crosswords? All the concise puzzles were pretty straightforward. I spotted one Nina, but as I wasn't really looking for them, there could well have been others. Monday's cryptic (No. 8,328 by Alchemi) contained some interesting clues, including
Healthy, Queen Paul (6) [WELLER]
(select between the square brackets for the answer)
Bird, small, sometimes torpid, caught wearing a surprised expression (7) [OSTRICH], and
Coming to final conclusion in what toddlers have to learn (7) [WALKING]
The first of these wouldn't have appeared in a Times crossword as its answer was a living person, and I have to confess that (such is my ignorance of popular culture) I was grateful for the straightforward wordplay; the second's use of "sometimes" was new to me (at least I don't recall coming across it before); and I particularly liked the third, perhaps because it took me such a long time to parse it correctly.
Tuesday's puzzle (No. 8,329 by Scorpion) was the first themed puzzle of the week, with a Nina thrown in. Here the theme was familiar, but I had to rely on the wordplay for a couple of the answers. Some of the clues struck me as a bit iffy, and the second one seems on the face of it to be downright wrong.
Ringing pub found in new book (8) [TINNITUS ("new book" = "NT book", presumably)]
Sport relief in principle outstanding (6) [ROWING (was the setter thinking of "principal"?)]
One who’s worshipped friend to get a rise? (6) [LAPDOG (dodgy &lit?)]
Rogue soldier seizing the throne (8) [CATHEDRA (RA = "soldiers" would be more usual)]
Wednesday's puzzle (No. 8,330 by Crosophile) was a straightforward, pleasant solve. Thursday's (No. 8,331 by Tyrus) was first-rate; Friday's (No. 8,332 by Phi) was another themed puzzle, perhaps made rather too easy by the way in which the thematic clues were presented; and Sunday's puzzle (No. 1,218 by Kairos) was another first-rate puzzle. Which leaves Saturday's puzzle (No. 8,327, another themed puzzle, by Anax). (I haven't yet figured out the numbering scheme. Is this a prize crossword from the previous Saturday published online a week later?) I have to be in the right mood for an Anax puzzle, but I was feeling tired when I tackled this one, and didn't enjoy it as much as I might have done. And it's now late in the day again, and there are still a couple of clues I don't fully understand.
Seafood given as gifts around market (8) [SCALLOPS (CALL = "market"?)]
Casually having taken my place, you might say (2,7) [EN FAMILLE (the worst homophone ever?)]
But, all in all, this was another interesting and enjoyable week, so I've a good alternative to the Guardian crossword if I choose to cherry-pick.
Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: optimistic