Rough Stuff (from the 12th of December)

6 across: Moptops surely warrant a barber (4)

Does this one actually break the rules? RC said it best when explaining how to solve cryptic crosswords to an anonymous someone: “If the first or last word is not part of the direct clue, you’ll read about it the next day in the letters to the editor. Actually, you will never read about it in the letters to the editor the next day because it just won’t happen.”

The answer here is tops surely warrant a barber = swab = mop. Without the cross clues, I would say that this is nigh-on impossible because only a portion of the first word, which, admittedly, is the first portion of the first word, is the direct clue.

Did DA go too far here? I say yes.

The Goodies (from the 12th of December)

11 down: Sportingly heroic cubist captures modern leader among Europeans (12)


24 down: Halting, big lit on queen (10)

The stroke of brilliance, the q that these two clues share, almost resulted in these clues being left unanswered.

I thought the only three possible answers for cubist in 11-down were pablo, picasso or bracque (sic). I dismissed the last possibility because of what I thought was the inopportune q, but it required EC’s voicing the possibility of the answer ending in esque for me to reconsider the lesser-known cubist as an option. And when I did, I squealed like a school girl when I realised that the answer combined a sporting reference with an artistic reference so that cubist = braque (not bracque), modern leader = m and Europeans = Danes, thereby giving cubist captures modern leader among Europeans = bradmanesque = sportingly heroic.

24-down was a cinch with the q in place, although, again, we might never have realised that it was an anagram clue without the letter already there. Here, it’s just bug lit on queen = ineloquent = halting.

7-down: Content of his poetry has merit!

Everyone loves an &lit clue, and this was no exception. Here, content of his poetry = words and merit = worth, giving content of his poetry has merit = wordsworth = content of his poetry has merit.

We’ve Got Lots of No Ideas (from the 12th of December edition)

9 across: How we pay less often after shop robber of yore (6, 4)


10 across: Rejecting famous Battersea? (4)

Not even a once over with Google helped with this one.

15 across: Again try — big edge nicked — appeal! (9)

I thought it might be appeal = tempt, big edge = tear, big edge nicked = reat, which gives big edge nicked — appeal! = reattempt = again try, but I’m unsure.

17 across: Bleak Dover captured retro spirit (5)

Retro spirit might be rum or ale backwards…

20 across: British trendoid called in resale on mobile (6, 6)

Might have something to do with mobile = ringer or mobile = ranger?

3 down: Brings up the rear? (6-6)


5 down: Registered a mariner strike (7)

Again, ???

13 down: Supplies for dreams? (10)

I can’t remember the last time I had less of a lead on a clue than for this one.

14 down: This sort of detective doesn’t run! (4-6)


8 down: Turkish delight minus six-pack? (5, 5)

We figured the answer was belly dance, just that we had no reason as to why.

1 across: Foot bone armoured at near end? (10)

No one could quite figure out a cogent reason for why the answer is metatarsal, but it does fit!

A Not Even Half Done DA (from the 12th of December)

DA cryptic crossword the age with rc and ec

Nothing has been posted for a while due to our cryptic commune’s lack of co-ordination. We’re back, though, all together in Melbourne once again, and even EC made it into town from Katherine.

This one was a blank slate in my back pocket since its appearance on the 12th. Sadly, it remained largely blank after it was finally attempted only yesterday at my house in the company of RC and EC, with special guest appearances by JC.

This one we considered especially tough. We could not work out most of the answers, and we had not the newspaper that printed the answers.

And besides those unanswered clues, we were left to ponder the following: is this the only example of a cryptic that has ever filled a blank shared by two clues with the letter q?

EC and DA (from the 5th of December)

EC Special

(the circled clues were the failures)

RC discovered a kindred cryptic spirit in EC while in Katherine. Now RC is in Laos, but that did not stop TH and I welcoming EC back to Melbourne with a DA at The Wall on Sunday.

It had been a while since I had last colluded with TH in my attempts on a DA, and neither of us had met EC before, but around a small table that quickly filled with cups of coffee, we convivially made short shrift of the DA. It took about ninety minutes before we consulted the answers, but after having consulted them we groaned at our misses despite not knowing who Marc Chagall is.

Sunday also marks the beginnings of a new relationship with Blowfly. Happily, the second-hand CD store around the corner from The Wall had a rare copy of one his albums available, and the rest is a joyous history.

DP: Second Best

And with today’s fine crossword full of fine double-meaning clues, I hereby crown DP the second best cryptic crossword compiler of the current crop in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

(DH’s crosswords are the most difficult after DA’s, but that’s only because the former’s answers feature impossibly recondite words that no one cares to know.)

The Gold (from the 28th of November)

16 down: …arboreal setter north of Cairns? (8)

This is DA at his most clever, with arboreal setter = daintree (da in tree) = north of cairns.

4 down: Ring New York Times for gem (4)

A nice little ring = o, New York = ny and times = x, which gives ring new york times = onyx = gem.

23 down: Mentioned planters of 13-down (rainforest) plants (6)

Nice audible clue with planters = seeders so that mentioned planters = cedars = rainforest plants.

7 down: Question audio problem in bric-a-brac stand (7)

Another nice audible clue (can you tell I generally like them?), this time with question = what, problem = knot and audio problem = not giving question audio problem = whatnot = in bric-a-brac stand.

11 across: Sort of fly to annoy kids’ inspector (6)

Do kids these days still watch Inspector Gadget? Do they know that ridiculously catchy theme music? Here we’ve got sort of fly = gad and to annoy = get (as in such-and-such is getting at me) giving sort of fly to annoy = gadget = kids’ inspector.

22 down: Fixed description of 1-across? (6)

Another example of fine DA invention! Here, description of dream = mended (or m-ended) = fixed.

The Confusion (from the 28th of November)

Happily, three pieces of confusion have already been resolved!

Nevertheless, that still leaves the following:

2 down: Country remedy ending before it begins, as tumult intervenes (7)

Thanks to cross clues, I got country = ecuador. What I didn’t get was everything else.

1 down: Entitled 5-down (Dickensian) in alcohol-free tedium (8)

Again, cross clues enabled me to get tedium = drudgery, but my dislike of Dickens generally left me none the wiser for the rest of the clue.

Can someone enlighten me here?