i Cryptic Crossword 3708 Serpent

i Cryptic Crossword 3708 Serpent

December 26, 2022

Difficulty rating (out of five): ⏳⏳⏳

Did you spot the theme? I was confident that there would be one, because it’s Boxing Day, and the puzzle is set by Serpent, who rarely (has never yet?) constructed a “plain” crossword, so to speak. I have to say I was expecting somethink a little more gimmicky, but what we have is a high proportion of entries which can be linked to the word Christmas. I spotted it after entering MERRY, and I looked back and saw that CACTUS and PUDDING would be part of the theme. I found this helpful – but I suspect that if you failed to spot the theme early on, you might have had a tougher solve.

As ever, we were given a lot to relish from this consummate setter. We had the single letter I as a definition, and the single character “,” (a comma) as a bit of word-play. It took me a while to twig this one. I got the entry from the definition and crossing C and M, but I had to stop and try to think clearly to parse it. We had a nice bit of misdirection by having a FATHER disguised as a secretary, or personal assistant. And there was a lovely cryptic use of “irony” as part of the definition for RUSTPROOF. Also of note was a fine triple definition for STAND.

My Clue of the Day has to be the aforementioned 16d: ” Impervious to irony tainting start of record by reformed Four Tops (9)”. Brilliant!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish all readers all the best as the festive season continues. I crave your forgiveness for the lateness of the blog. I’m afraid my duties as a host just took up so much more of my time (very happily so, I must say) than I anticipated, what with preparing brunch and more for visiting family and walking a total of six dogs, including the visiting canines. Where does time go?

Here are the answers you may be looking for: https://www.fifteensquared.net/2018/12/26/independent-10047-serpent/


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