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15x15 cryptic crossword grid

Note: While it's (hopefully) possible to deduce the missing word in the flavour text, doing so is a bonus challenge that isn't required to get the green check.

1. Summary about flightless birds from the east (6)
4. Explorer's statue shortened following detailed post (8)
9. Rub skin after finally moisturizing (5)
10. Guys cut short repair (3)
11. Announces what Sagittarius B2 smells like (found in deep space originally) (5)
12. In the spotlight: cracked stone containing silver? (7)
14. Piece of linen for ceramic implement (7)
15. Let gangster down (5)
17. Ditch church after 10:00, bored by reverend's introduction (6)
21. (unclued) (6)
22. Heartless director introduces lead characters in acclaimed musical, attracting tension (5)
25. Alchemist's creation derived from stirred spirits (7)
27. Wanderers primarily rode on frolicking mares (7)
29. Earl with heart of gold in charge of the wind (5)
30. Stark's half-hearted demand (3)
31. Quiet leader of investigation buried in crater alongside Oscar (5)
33. American tourists rant to curious children (8)
34. Ship's velocity close to cruise before subordinate returns (6)

1. Local noble apprehending charge (8)
2. Change is a weapon (3)
3. Poorly aimed systems of communication (5)
5. Snow leopard's spot (5)
6. Died in a French battle, finally found in one piece (9)
7. Unclear conclusion to apology after Hamilton critic accepts $50? (6)
8. Unusually messy around back of apartment complex (6)
10. Crazy master and old expert (7)
13. Almost put up Footloose's lead character (4)
16. Impulsive switch mainly melodic, scrapping unusual introduction (9)
18. Guaranteed to confuse end user (7)
19. Confront wizard, following fighter's lead (4)
20. Seat made with rods and hammer, perhaps (8)
23. Angrily beat good man taking the most optimistic view (2,4)
24. It went after Tesla called (6)
26. Spanish man returns from Micronesia (5)
28. Liberal from Camp Lejeune (5)
32. Some spreadsheets and notices (3)


1 Answer 1


The (mostly)-filled grid:

15×15 crossword grid

Clue explanations:

cryptic clue solutions with annotations

The unclued entry

is _I_O_S, and it's placed at 21A. Well, that's weirdly off-center - I wonder if the symmetrical entry is relevant? That entry is TRENCH... and a quick trip to Wikipedia shows that Trench is an album by the band Twenty One Pilots.

In fact, all of Twenty One Pilots' past albums are hidden in the grid:

grid, with entries highlighted
It would then make sense for the blacked-out word to be "albums" -- because a new album (titled Scaled And Icy) came out today!

  • $\begingroup$ In my head the missing word is likely PILOTS, due to the use of 'new' in the flavour text and 'at the top of their game' in the title - but I can't justify it yet from the solved puzzle itself... (Pretty sure it's not WIDOWS, anyway!) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    May 21, 2021 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv Ahh, I see how it works now! Give me a minute... $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    May 21, 2021 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that makes sense now! Glad to be of service :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    May 21, 2021 at 7:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great solve! Some more hints in the grid for you and @Stiv: rot13(gurve "FRYS GVGYRQ" nyohz naq "Fpnyrq naq Vpl" (FNV; V gevrq gb svg gur jubyr guvat va naq pbhyqa'g); gurl'er sebz PBYHZOHF, Buvb, Glyre cynlf CVNAB naq Wbfu cynlf QEHZF, ARQ vf n erpheevat punenpgre, naq BAFGNTR, ZNRFGEB, naq ZRQVN ner fbzr zber inthryl eryngrq jbeqf). You also got the blacked-out word! rot13(Jvgu "nyohzf", gur svefg yrggre bs rnpu jbeq va gur synibhe grkg nantenz gb "FPNYRQ NAQ VPL" (be "PYNAPL VF QRNQ", sebz gur nyohz'f yber), juvpu svgf jvgu fvk yrggref). $\endgroup$
    – samm82
    May 21, 2021 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ Just noticed this, but the intended wordplay for 6D is rot13(HA(Q)R+SNPR+Q) $\endgroup$
    – samm82
    May 25, 2021 at 2:59

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