Herewith the first formal post of 2020 – no jokes about cricket or eyesight, please. At the risk of overloading things after two new Church Times puzzles in December 2019, I am providing another. This puzzle is from almost exactly five years ago, and is thematic, although the thematic content is not immediately evident. You’re nearly at the end of the across clues before something unusual appears.
This is slightly odd – there’s a bit of a tendency to get a thematic element in at 1 Across when you’re putting the grid together. It’s even more apparent when you have two thematic elements starting with the same letter – 1 Across and 1 Down straight off the bat, and the grid will taking shape as well. If there is other thematic material of suitable lengths, then the bottom right corner also starts to fill.
It doesn’t always fall out that way, but I certainly find that the urge to get at least some of the material into the grid can override a more considered approach that weighs up the availability of cross-checking letters. So, if the puzzle you’re solving looks like it could have something thematic top left, it probably does.
Upcoming puzzles are the usual Friday appearances in the Independent with a Times cryptic puzzle on Tuesday 14 January. Further ahead, there should be a Listener puzzle at the start of February, and probably an appearance in the Magpie as well.