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    I hope this proves enjoyable, I have certainly tried to take on board all your feedback from my first go. Less geography, but more cultural references, certainly a bit of film knowledge will help. Without going as far as saying it is themed, a few clues are linked, and hopefully I have found a way of doing so that works. Oh, and there’s still a bird in there!

    A quick word about the grid. I now realise it is horrible, but when I did the first version I was still experimenting with various patterns. I did wonder if it was worth the efort of getting up to scratch, but I thought the number of short answers presented an interesting challenge so stuck with it. I’m not sure any further tweaks are making it ny better, so I thought it was time to get it uploaded.

    I look forward to your feedback,

    Phil / Vanellus.





    Very annoyingly, a last minute bit of editing (with brain firmly in neutral) has rendered clue 3 in the Second Attempt puzzle slightly inaccurate.

    The revised clue 3 should read: Mitt provided camp entertainment for trendy pair of royals (6,4).

    The revised puzzle is attached below, my sincere apologies to anybody who has already attempted the original version.

    A lesson hopefully learned,

    Phil / Vanellus



    Thanks for the update, Phil. I’ve been struggling with your puzzle for a couple of days now and with about 3/4 filled, I haven’t added anything the last few times I’ve looked at it. I was hoping when I read your first couple of lines you were going to correct ‘Mitt’, as it has me totally baffled. Maybe a lack of film GK? Haven’t resorted to online help yet, but did need the BRB to confirm 12. I’m pretty sure I know where the bird is, but only have one crosser and nothing occurs to me.

    Working on one of my own at the mo, so might be a while before I report back. Only one (fairly) serious negative so far (which didn’t stop me solving it — 21). I suggest (*** POSSIBLE SPOILER ***) the way to make it fair is:

    A tiny girl’s shaken, which leaves you speechless

    See what I mean?

    Great pdm on 17a, btw.




    Phil, once I used aids I managed to get all but three: 28, 26 and 27.

    I should have got 29 with the help of my Newnes Pocket Crossword Dictionary, but I missed the right answer in the list of 8-letter birds, and thought SEA-EAGLE was the only fit, which didn’t make sense and didn’t help with the other two. However, I might not have got them anyway, especially 27.

    Of course I knew of the really famous film but haven’t actually seen it (or not for about 50 years if I have), so 3 and 23 meant nothing to me really. That’s probably because I don’t watch TV, so perhaps for those who’ve watched the film a hundred times all would be cleear. I did work out 3 from the parsing though and then googled to see the connection. Still no idea what “Mitt provided camp entertainment” means. Is that describing some element of the plot? If so, I don’t think it’s fair in a non-specialist puzzle to expect solvers to know the details of the plots in films, however well-known, if indeed that is the explanation. Similarly with 23, where in fact I thought of the answer based on the last two words of the clue, but it meant nothing to me and I didn’t (and don’t) see how the wordplay gives it. Also the cryptic grammar in 3 is not right: DEF for WORDPLAY doesn’t work, while the opposite does.

    In 9, I think ‘crosses’ is a bit dubious as an anagram indicator. It’s better as a containment indicator.

    I’d never heard of 11, but having the ‘O’ in the second word, I guessed what that might be from “catch”, and a wordsearch gave me the improbable answer verified by googling. I still don’t really understand the wordplay except LOBS is obviously “throws”.

    12 was a new word for me, got from wordplay and confirmed with dictionary.

    13 was nice.

    17 Lovely pdm. I got it from crossers and remembering seeing the name in lifts before I twigged the very devious wordplay. That’s much more my area of GK, though and it could be a problem for others.

    I don’t think 19/24 really works. I think it should be “Discipline which may (etc)” or “This discipline …”. “Mark me” seems grammatically wrong for the answer, too.

    21 is an indirect anagram, which is, in general, a big no-no, as you have to sub ‘as’ for ‘when’ before shuffling. The version I gave in my earlier comment would work fine though.

    28 had me stumped for ages and it finally hit me looking at the two crossers. It’s very clever, but not sure if it’s totally legit. Would be interested in what others think.

    29 was a good clue and I wish I’d got it

    1d/30 I understand this reference to one of the most famous scenes in the film (now), but see opening remarks. I got it from “sometimes boring film”. I don’t think it’s fair to clue an item needing GK to require even more detailed GK about the answer to get it.

    I liked 14, although some would insist it needs something like “it’s” before “usually blue” as the referent is a noun (fussy so-and-sos!).

    I did understand the reference in 16, but only once I’d got it from crossers and the same goes as for 1d/30. The grammar isn’t quite right, is it? Maybe “Film in which ‘play’ famously features?”, deceptively suggesting a so-called dramatic work? Of course it’s “Play it again, Sam” which is really famous, a line never actually spoken!

    22 Again, not knowing the characters or details of the plot, I’m left wondering whether 3 and 23 qualify because of the nation they serve, or because of their interaction in the story.

    26 That’s pretty obscure vocabulary. So many other words would have fitted the slot, I wonder why you chose it? I even thought of ‘clutz’ (but had forgotten about that by the time I did wordsearch, and anyway SEA-EAGLE screwed it up for me).

    27 Do you mean “owl’s land”? A very obscure reference to a work of fiction you may be surprised to know not everybody is familiar with the details of. Very poor clue in my estimation.

    Sorry to be so negative about aspects of this puzzle, Phil. How about doing one with no proper nouns in the fill? On the positive side, I’m glad you’ve paid attention to the earlier advice about surplus words.



    Hi Tony,

    Many thanks for your feedback, I do appreciate the time you have spent solving my puzzle, particularly if you have found it tough going.


    8 I did wonder if you would comment on this, as there is an element of an indirect anagram (“and French” for “et”). Also, does the anagram indicator cover all the elements? I presume you thought it did.

    9 I justified using “crosses” in the sense of producing a hybrid, as it suited the surface better than anything else I could find. I realise it has other uses in clues, as does “line”, so this was a potentially misleading clue, I admit.

    10 Okay I assume?

    11 The wordplay was “Harry, maybe” = “Potter”, then “making first half last” to move that to “ter pot”, and as you fathomed “throws before” = “lobs” at the start. A bit tortured, I know. Earlier versions had worked on the basis of “throws brewing vessel (teapot)” with a change of letter, possibly I should have persisted with that.

    12 I think this is borderline GK, I presume the fact it should have an acute accent on the e would not be seen as a problem?

    13 Okay

    17 Gkad you liked it! The Redding reference came to me quite late on, and even then it took a long time to get a surface that read well.

    18 Okay.

    19/24. No, this was not a happy one. I don’t know if you are aware that “discipline” is also the name given to a whip used for this purpose? I only discovered that by accident, I am not an expert in the subject, but it was in that context I constructed the clue. There must be a decent anagram in there instead!

    21 I was puzzled by your comment until I looked again at the clue, and was horrified to see my error. It was particularly annoying as this clue had been essentially unchanged since the first version of this puzzle, but at some point I must have tweaked the surface and mistakenly counted “is” as part of the fodder, and removed the “as”. Again, a reminder to have a final double-check.

    23 I’m glad at least “mighty cross” worked, I rather liked that! I have to admit the name “Big X” was only spotted when I was Googling the film, so was probably even more obscure than the other references. That was one reason I added the first part of the clue, to really try and steer the solver towards the film, which is I guess not strictly wordplay? Tom and Harry were the code-names of two of the tunnels, Tom was discovered by the Germans at an early stage and Harry, the one used in the eventual break-out, came to the surface just before the tree-line outside the camp.

    28 I did wonder if this needed a qualifier of some sort, but thought I’d try it without.

    29 I hadn’t thought of the alternative bird that led you astray, glad you liked the clue in itself.

    1/30 I take your point about the level of GK required. I think at one point I did have an anagram for this one, possibly I should have stuck to that.

    3 The last minute change to the wordplay was obviously a mistake: I take your point that “for” is wrongly used here. As for “Mitt”, it was a reference to the baseball glove that the character amused himself with when in solitary confinement.

    4,5,6/2 and 7 presumably okay.

    14 It did originally have “it is” but I went for brevity.

    15 Okay. You had no problem with “limo” as an indicator for “RR”? I did use other indicators such as “posh car” in early versions.

    16 Yes, I had mixed feelings about this one. “Play it” is the line from thw film, I understand, and the reference I went for. As you say “play it again” is not actually spoken, and I did toy with adding something like “Not again!” to the clue. If you can accept the premise of the clue, I wasn’t sure if the comma between “play” and “it” is considered fair misdirection or would be frowned upon?

    22 It was intended as due to their nationalities, I had not thought of it in the sense of comrades in the actual escape. If it works for both (albeit unintentionally), would that actually be a problem?

    25 If it was wrong for 3, then I got the “for” wrong here too, didn’t I? Plus, you were happy with the Glen Campbell reference, I take it?

    26 Yes, fairly obscure, I guess. I did look at other words, I will bear that in mind.

    27 A cryptic definition too far, obviously! There were other cluing options, I should have stuck with one of them.

    Again, many thanks for your time on this, I will take these points on board. As I said with the previous puzzle, I have been re-working puzzles that I compiled in a rush of enthusiasm last year, and I tended to try and put a lot of GK refernces in at that stage, largely for my own entertainment. As you suggest, perhaps I will have to start again from scratch, and aim for some more conventional answers.

    Incidentally, the daily crossword I attempt is in the “i” and yesterday’s has a number of film titles in it. In the short time I had to look yesterday, I had made no progress! I am sure I will know all the titles, but I appreciate the frustration this sort of puzzle can inflict!


    Phil / Vanellus.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by  Vanellus. Reason: Typo
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by  Vanellus.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by  Vanellus.


    Hey Phil,
    At a quick glance I can give you a list of those I understood straight away.

    9AC: Nice anagram of LINEIGOR
    10AC: Made me think of Aladdin till I realised the answer.
    21AC: Wouldn’t “It leaves you speechless as tiny girl is shaken.” Be better?
    4D: Nice initials
    16D: Oh Sam
    20D: I do love moving letters around.
    25D: I kicked myself for not getting this immediately.

    Please let me know what you think about mine.
    Happy Wording




    8 I don’t think it’s an indirect anagram. You correctly indicated “anagram of ‘tough’, with U removed”. However, now you’ve drawn my attention to it, I notice you omitted to indicate that ET had to be inserted. As it stands the clue suggests GHTOET. Got it without noticing that!

    9. Sorry, Phil, I’m not persuaded. Also, if “cross” can indicate an anagram it should be “crossed” ie “line I go r” is anagramatised. “Cross”, as an instruction to the solver would also work but not in the surface, obviously.

    10 Very good. In general, if I didn’t highlight a problem (unless I missed it), the clues are all fine as far as I can see.

    11 Aha! how devious. The thing is, as I explained, I decided ?O? was COP (“catch”) first , then did word search to find LOBSTER. Try googling LOBSTER COP! I really should have paid more attention to the correct solution! Hope this is the only mistake I didn’t notice. I follow the parsing now (very devious!). Not really sure in what scenario the surface could arise, but I think the clue is technically sound, if damn difficult.

    12 The accent is not a problem. The vocab is obscure (to me, at least — is it part of your vocabulary, or part of an automated fill?). Personally, with those crossers, I think I would have gone for LEVI or YETI. Depends how hard you’re trying to make it. The important thing is that if you do have obscure vocabulary the wordplay must be spot on — as it was in this case.

    17 I liked it a lot. I’m taking it on trust that the OTIS signs I’ve seen in lifts refer to the inventor.

    18 Don’t think I mentioned it before, but good clue.

    19/24 It makes more sense to me now, thanks. I still don’t like “me”, because it assumes the first person for “self”. You missed a chance to cross-ref 13, didn’t you? I would have understood that easier than “discipline” in this unusual sense (last-mentioned in Chambers).

    21 If you have a friend who will test-solve for you, they might catch things like that. Definitely check over all your clues very, very carefully before you release them. Since the puzzles here don’t have to pass an editor, things like that will creep in from time to time.

    23 Well, the wordplay is “mighty cross”, isn’t it? And the definition everything before that? “Character in 1/30 mighty cross” seems a lot more straightforward and doesn’t confuse with verbose details of a plot the solver might not know or remember. I would have commended it in that form, because I could have used the internet to find the names of the characters in the film and then got an ‘aha’ when I spotted ‘Big X’. Those who have the GK ditto without the internet. Similarly 3 could have been “Royal pair after trendier character in 1/30”. Again you wouldn’t need to have seen the film to get it.

    28 I got a great pdm from this one, but the problem is those 3 words aren’t synonyms of the answer or even, standing alone, examples of it, so I think something like “Fire army carpenter, perhaps, before me?” (using the convention that an answer can be treated as first-person) would have been fairer.

    1/30 The problem is it’s GK defined by even more GK about exactly the same thing, compounded by an indirect reference (“3”) to further detailed GK about the GK. Well-made clues (usually, not CDs) give two distinct ways of getting to the answer. This just sends you into a labrynth of GK about the film.

    3 See above.

    14 Like I say, I’m fine with it, personally. I know people who would condemn it. More Guardian than, say, Telegraph I think. In fact I’ve just done a similar thing in my latest puzzle. Hope the editor I sent it to concurs!

    15 RR = limo fine for me. Not a very smooth surface

    16 Generally, misleading punctuation is part of the game as far as I’m concerned. There may be people out there who insist that the punctuation must work for the cryptic reading as well as the surface but when I write a clue, I punctuate for the surface and it’s up to the solver to see past that.

    25 Yes, “for” is a mistake here. Easily done. Watch out for it. Otoh, I didn’t notice it. I liked the fact that you helped identify the particular Campbell with the reference to country. I think “after last three lost” is more correct for the surface grammar, assuming it was England that lost three, not Campbell.

    26 Again, it depends how hard you want to make it. It was a perfectly fair clue, imo, suitable for a “hard” crossword. I would have gone for LATE, probably.

    27 No (further) comment

    That i puzzle is a good one. See how he simply defines each of the theme films with the single word “film”, a bit like I suggested just “Character in 1/30” for your (mini-)themed entries. If you read the blog about it, you’ll see even people who didn’t know the films liked it, because there was enough there for them to know to go, e.g. to a film guide. In general, reading blogs about puzzles, and the comments thereto is a good way to learn about making them, and what people will and won’t accept. The i gets a short post at idothei with a link to the full blogpost on fifteensquared from when the puzzle first appeared in the Indy. Btw, I see today’s is by the immaculate Dac, who died recently. RIP



    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for your further thoughts. I debated reposting the puzzle with the error in 21 correected and perhaps some other clues changed along the lines you have suggested, but I assume anybody who is likely to look will have tried it by now?

    I did eventually make some progress on the i puzzle in question, and I take the point about the wordplay of the films not being a CD. That said, I personally did not fully understand the wordplay even when I had the answer in some examples. Thanks for the link, up to now I haven’t tended to use blogs, it’s rare now that I don’t finish the i puzzle (eventually!).

    Dac was entirely responsible for my interest in crosswords getting started. I always made decent progress with his puzzles in the early days, whereas I would often hardly make a start with some other setters. I would probably have given it up without the encouragement and satisfaction his elegant and approachable puzzles offered.

    Phil / Vanellus



    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your feedback. I don’t know if you have since read the posts Whynot and I have made, but if not, you are absolutely right about 21! I mistakenly edited “as” to “when” at some point to make the clue read better, quite convinced that “is” was part of the anagram fodder. I wouldn’t mind, but that was weeks before I published the puzzle, during which time I must have read it a dozen times and not spotted the error!

    I did actually have a shot at your puzzle at the end of last week, but was busy over the weekend and then got involved in the feedback from my own. I will put some feedback up when I get chance, although as I am a newbie myself, I’m not sure I am the ideal critic.

    Thanks again,
    Phi / Vanellus



    Phil, I don’t think it’s worth reposting. It’s still gettable (by me and Mike, at least). Nobody’s going to think “It can’t be that because the anagram doesn’t quite work”. Besides, reposting opens a whole can of worms and you would definitely be well advised to consult editor@1across.co.uk before doing so. Probably best to learn the lesson and move on …



    Thanks for the advice, Tony, that was pretty much the conclusion I had come to!

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