Richo, I Miss You Already (DA on the 13/14th of November)

Richo has retired and I’m gutted. He deserved at the very least a 300th game in which he’d be chaired off upon the shoulders of players who he himself had so often carried over the recent dark years of the Richmond Football Club.

Would it be too much to expect DA to write a Richo crossword?

And here, write about this week’s DA without giving the answers away before Monday.

Update: It was a polite Sunday afternoon in Middle Park that got RC and I this far:


Not a bad crossword — in fact, some of the clues were excellent. Nevertheless, not as brilliant as last week’s, but, well, last week’s was special.

A New Category: The DA Pantheon

RC made a wonderful suggestion while we were walking down Chapel Street, searching for a second-hand trumpet (I ended up buying a steel-stringed acoustic guitar and a ukulele) and marvelling at what we had just experienced: we need a separate category to hail the best DA crosswords.

So now we have: The DA Pantheon.

To our minds, three crosswords stand head and shoulders above the rest:

  1. the McCrossword, which is perhaps the best crossword we’ve ever done;
  2. the footnote crossword, which was exactly the kind of eulogy David Foster Wallace would have loved;
  3. last week’s marriage crossword, which was just brilliant.

There are probably others worthy of the pantheon. Undoubtedly, the Muralidaran/nong’s rumba/red-handed crossword would have been another, yet that was released before this blog had begun and we have no record of its brilliance.

I would move to also include The Simpsons crossword into the pantheon, but I’m biased because I love the show so much.

What do you think? Is The Simpsons crossword worthy? Are there others that spring to mind?

And does anyone know if there’s been a pangrammatic crossword where every letter of the alphabet has been included on the grid? I’d love to see one and would definitely consider it worthy of the pantheon simply because of the degree of difficulty involved.

The Gold (from the 6/7th of November)

It’s a veritable gold rush:

3 down: Lankiest one turned pure (5-4)
Not difficult, just an interesting anagram that got me thinking of El Greco’s paintings: lankiest one turned = lankiest i turned = saint-like = pure.

24 down: Spot beer stolen by a nut in pub (6)
Excellent use of words in the same semantic range: spot beer stolen by a nut = spot pot stolen by a loon = s by a loon = saloon = pub.

28 across: Fine detail gains city medal for 5-down (Cawley) before 4-down (marriage) (9)
The theme gave away what would have been an exceptionally difficult clue: fine detail gains city medal = good de-tail gains LA gong = Goolagong = Cawley before marriage.

6 across: Fifth flavour in gum amiss (5)
Do some research on umami because it’s fascinating to think that a fifth flavour had not been isolated for so long: in gum amiss = in gum amiss = umami = fifth flavour.

17 down: Could be electric energy plugging telecentre (3)
A great direct clue: energy plugging telecentre = e plugging el = eel = could be electric.

29 across: Athlete lost at wrestling girl (5)
Again, DA gets the words all within a semantic range: athlete lost at wrestling = athlete – at wrestling = Ethel = girl.

8 down: Can gawker lose head to sensational thing? (7)
I just like it when the answer is a word that has been formed as many other ordinary words are ordinarily formed, yet it’s a word that’s not ordinarily said: can gawker lose head = tin ogler lose head = tingler = sensational thing?

20 down: Fit prisoner to his rap sheet (7)
This is almost a three-way clue! There are not quite two direct definitions, the not-quite definition acting as the wordplay: prisoner to his rap sheet = con form = conform = fit.

23 down: Record lions mauling delta neighbour (7)
Excellent direct clue that had me thinking rivers instead of alphabets: record lions mauling = ep lions mauling = epsilon = delta neighbour.

31 across: Hand hammer to Spooner for 10-across (Rawlinson) before 4-down (marriage) (7)
In my opinion not the best Spooner, but a Spooner worth noting nonetheless: hand hammer to Spooner = mit pan to Spooner = Pittman = Rawlinson before marriage.

1 down: Boxer’s first contest in our pre-4-down (marriage) 30-across (Simpson), or… (Onassis) (7)
An excellent use of the ellipsis considering the relationship between the two clues: boxer’s first contest in our = b vie in our = Bouvier = pre-marriage Simpson or Onassis.

15 across: Cross the margins in 24-down (saloon) with pre-4-down (marriage)… (Packer) (6)
Everything links to everything else to give a well-constructed cross the margins in saloon = x the margins in bar = x te in bar = Baxter = pre-marriage Packer.

2 down: (Bouvier) … passions, throwing off top (7)
Again, excellent ellipsis: passions, throwing off top = ponassis off top = Onassis = Bouvier.

19 across: (Baxter) … holidaymaker in the making? (6)
Nice ellipsis again, and a nice double meaning: holidaymaker in the making = Packer = Baxter.

14 across: Chief Turk emir runs away from 4-down (marriage) wretched (3)
That emir follows chief Turk is an awesome red herring: emir runs away from marriage wretched = emir r away from marriage wretched = marriage – emirr wretched = aga = Chief Turk.

5 across: Kingdom between 1- and 2-down (Bouvier and Onassis) added up to plenty! (7)
How DA managed to get references to Bouvier, the Simpsons, Marge Simpson, Onassis and Kennedy all into the one crossword is beyond me. What’s also beyond me is a completely clean explanation for this clue, which is brilliant despite my explanatory deficits: added up to plenty = came lot = Camelot = Kingdom between Bouvier and Onassis.

Is that correct? Does the exclamation mark actually signify anything? Is there an &lit explanation that I’m missing?

The Confusion (from the 6/7th of November)

Ask for some pointers here.

Update: Despite our success — we nailed it together in a relatively short session of some two hours over breakfast for the first time in a while — we’ve still got a couple bits of confusion that needs sorting.

And I’m gonna keep quiet about possibilities for those who haven’t completed the crossword yet.

28 across: Fine details gains city medal for 5-down before 4-down (9)
We’re stuck on explaining the first portion of the answer.

5 across: Kingdom between 1-across and 2-down added up to plenty! (7)
We couldn’t quite make a neat explanation for this one.

DA DA (from the 6/7th of October)

Is this week’s DA any good?

Comment away, but no spoilers until Monday in consideration of the plight of the Melbournites.

Update: One of the greatest:


Wow.  What a puzzle…..what a theme!  AS and I (RC) met up in Windsor, already anticipating a cracker from the earlier comments.  Once AS had cracked 4 down we steadily got through a truly fantastic crossword.  So good we’ve decided to make a new category – DA Classics.  Crosswords to tell your grandkids about.  The last one I thought worthy of this imortalisation was the widely acclaimed “McCrossword” from 20th February this year.

My nominations for gold – 13 across, 17 down, 23 down, 9 down 9 across, 6 down

AS also liked 8 down, 29 across.

We agreed that 31 across was the first time in a while that a Spoonerism hasn’t made it into gold.  I thought 1 down bordered on nasty, while AS claims anyone who doesn’t get the direct clue for 1 down is a “cultural philistine”.  Harsh words from a passionate man…passionate about the 30-acrosses.  Token hangups that hardly detract from one of the greats.

The Bullshit (from the 30th/31st of October)

9 across: Roger in late 60s UK band? (3)
Almost a great clue again: roger = yes = late 60s UK band.

I’m with TT in objecting to late 60s UK band referring to Yes. Sure, they formed in the late 60s, but they are definitely more famous for their work in the 70s and should have been referred to as such.

Interesting sidenote: Yes had a Roger associated with the band. Roger Hodgson was their occasional singer from their post-70s work.

An Oversight (from the 30th/31st of October)

3 down: She follows win, or upset (9)
Almost a good clue: win, or upset = success or upset = successor upset = she follows.

That upset shouldn’t be there, as DA makes clear from the comments to the crossword’s list of confusions:

The word ‘upset’ in 3D is the crossword-equivalent of a sponge left behind in a surgery patient.

Ian is quite right, as are AL and RB. The word should have been removed before sewing up the final copy.

Why ‘upset’ was there in the first place was originally I’d tried to make an ellipsis with 4D. I’d been playing with the idea of win [SUCCESS] and upset [reverse one part of the TREE wordplay].

But that ploy fizzled, and I’d been flogging the […] tactic anyhow in recent weeks, so I re-sealed both clues and left the damn wettex behind! Am I upset? Of course. It’s shoddy. Almost suit-worthy.

Thanks for the wake-up. I’ll strive to…um…’expunge’ any further cases of malpractice in this puzzle’s successors. Best, DA

The Gold (from the 30th/31st of October)

11 across: Glaswegian tailor working order? (6)
Ya gotta love how DA twists the language: Glaswegian tailor = kilter (as in a maker of kilts) = kilter = working order.

20 across: Spooner said you (currently) can be clued by 4-down (tree) (3, 5)
Perhaps DA’s best Spoonerism: Spooner said you (currently) can be clued = Spooner said reader = red cedar = tree.

7 down: Bird in Whitechapel Bay? (3)
Brilliant piece of subterfude by DA: whitechapel bay = whitechapel howl = ‘owl (said like a cockney in Whitechapel) = owl = bird.

24 down: Consumed by dope, strongly lost to time (4)
What seems to have been the hardest for most people to solve turned out to be a goodie: dope, strongly lost to time = info f lost to t = into = consumed by.

18 across: Shot producing four prior to break? (6, 3)
An easy one, but a clever one: producing four prior to break = square prior to cut = square cut = shot.

13 down: Common article media skewed: Try Buddhism? (1, 4, 1, 5)
A brilliant clue made easy because of the odd letter arrangement of its answer: article media skewed: Try Buddhism = a media skewed do zen = a dime a dozen = common.

17 down: Somehow laundry finishes up in bigger domestic output (4, 5)
That somehow put me on wild goose chase instead of doing as follows: somehow laundry finishes up in bigger = wy up in greater = grey water = domestic output.

25 across: Fashion child clothing adults seen in bed? (6-2-3)
Another quality clue made easy by its answer’s letter arrangement. Nevertheless, masterful: fashion child clothing adults = forge tot clothing men = forget-me-not = seen in bed (a garden bed).

6 across: Retro old comic has initially cheated age (5)
I had the answer without a thorough explanation for a long time before thinking of comedians: retro old comic has initially cheated = retro Cope has initially cheated = epoch = age.

Now that I look at the explanation again, I notice it’s still not thorough: why purpose does cheated serve in the clue?

Update: I figured it was Julian Cope being referred to, but a glance at his Wikipedia page shows that, while he’s prolific in a number of fields, he’s never really done comic work.

No, the comedian referred to is Bob Hope, and the answer goes retro old comic has initially cheated = retro Hope has c = epoch = age.