A Puzzle by Axolotl
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
The latest in the new Rookie Corner series is a return visit from Axolotl, our first rookie. As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.
A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.
It was a delight to see Axolotl returning to the Rookie corner. Another good crossword for us to get to grips with. This was a bit trickier than his first crossword but none the worse for it.
Others have commented on the construction of the grid with the four sets of triple unchecked letters. These types of grid rarely appear in the back page crosswords as they can make it very difficult to get sufficient checking letters. Particularly with 9d and 20d where there are three unchecked letters and only two checked letters, it can be very hard for the solver to make headway.
Apart from a couple of clues where I have doubts over the wordplay, this was an accomplished crossword. I particularly liked the constructions used in 5d and 24d.
Onwards with the review.
1 This must be paid or beat it! (5)
TABOR – … something that you can beat. Another word for a bar bill followed by the OR from the clue.
4 Literary work one penned in youth contains plot (9)
BIOGRAPHY – Take another word for a youth and include (penned) an I (one) and then, inside this, add (contains) another word for a plot or diagram.
8 Revision necessary for exam; chance it and one might be awarded Latin prize (7,3,5)
MEXICAN HAT DANCE – An anagram (revision necessary) of EXAM CHANCE IT AND. The dance is a fusion of Latin American and other styles.
10 Blows into harbour to play with her soon (7)
ONSHORE – An anagram (to play with) of HER SOON.
12 Flip pun perhaps entertains editor (5)
UPEND – I am not sure that this clue works. The wordplay suggests that an anagram (perhaps) of pun includes (entertains) the abbreviation for editor but the answer appears to be an anagram of PUNED so the entertains is misleading for the solver.
13 Reported girl to start diet after gaining weight (9)
ANNOUNCED – An imperial measure of weight goes inside the name of a girl and the first letter (to start) of diet.
14 Chuck in moat (5)
DITCH – A double definition the first being to abandon or throw away.
17 Tugs found on the other side of the Atlantic (5)
YANKS – A double definition, the second being the informal term by which our transatlantic cousins are sometimes referred.
20 Cardigan lost? Wear this instead? (9)
BALACLAVA – A cryptic reference to the Russian battle that gave its name to this item of headwear and where Lord Cardigan led the charge of the Light Brigade.
22 Chorus and orchestra express disapproval before opening of Tristan and Isolde (5)
TUTTI – A three letter word used to express exasperation or disapproval and the initial letters (opening of) Tristian and Isolde. If you are referring to the first letters of two or more words, it should technically by openings of. A better indication that it is the chorus and orchestra together might have helped the clue.
23 Any old bit of furniture (7)
WHATNOT – A double definition of an nondescript item and a light piece of furniture with shelves for bric-a-brac.
25 Rectifying abuse can calm her, or I’ll try to get compensation (9,6)
AMBULANCE CHASER – An anagram (rectifying) of ABUSE CAN CALM HER.
26 Heard gold, silver, etc at front of lorry gets transported (9)
AWESTRUCK – A homophone (heard) of metal bearing rocks followed by another word for a lorry. I am not wholly convinced that gold and silver are examples of ores. Ores may contain silver and gold, but that does not make the silver and gold ores!
27 E.g. dis (5)
SLANG – Dis is an example of this word for informal language or jargon but the answer also means to hurl abuse at, which is the meaning of dis.
1 Stand-in soldiers on railway follow recommended speed (9)
TEMPORARY – The recommended speed for playing a piece of music followed by the abbreviation for the Royal Artillery (soldiers) and the abbreviation for railway. Nice misdirection here as stand-in soldiers immediately makes you think of the former Territorial Army.
2 Is girl in bikini sex object? Clothing restricts view from rear (5,2)
BOXES IN – The answer is hidden (clothing) and reversed (view from rear) in BIKININ SEX OBJECT. There are several minor problems with this clue that taken individually may not amount to much but collectively mean that it is too misleading for the solver. The words “Is girl in” are padding and not necessary to solve the clue. The definition is in the middle of the wordplay – normally the definition appears at the beginning or the end of the clue and for the cryptic grammar to work, “view from the rear” would be better as “viewed from the rear”.
3 Priest not finishing page (5)
RECTO – Remove the final letter (not finishing) from another word for a priest.
4 Chuck genetically engineered pig out (5)
BINGE – Another word meaning to chuck or throw something away followed by the initial letters of genetically engineered. Although Chambers has the abbreviation GM for genetically modified, it does not show GE for genetically engineered.
5 Accrue about five hundred and 99p (7)
REDOUND – A two letter word meaning about followed by the Roman numeral for 500 and OUND (99p is a pound less a penny – brilliant!). Although the primary meaning of redound is to reflect back upon, dictionaries give accrue as a secondary meaning.
6 This fellow’s wordplay gets up one’s nose (7)
PUNGENT – Spit 3, 4 the answer would be a fellow who cracks jokes or makes wordplay. The clue elides (you have mentally to put in the words) “describes something that gets up your nose”.
7 Submit income return (5)
YIELD – Double definition for submitting or surrendering and the profit made on something.
9 Something to stay clear of (5)
AVOID – Spit 1, 4 this would be something to stay clear of. The triple unchecked letters with only the first and last checked combined with a cryptic definition make this type of clue very difficult to solve.
11 Rave reviews at new theatre débuts (4)
RANT – The first letter (debuts) of Reviews At New Theatre.
15 Dad’s first to get out of draught and join her mingling by the fireside (9)
HEARTHRUG – An anagram (mingling) of DRAUGHT HER without the first letter of Dad. Although not strictly wrong, I am not a huge fan of prepositional phrases to indicate the definition. It is the sort of clue where town might be clued as “in France” or “across the Atlantic”.
16 Finally nail a rivet through slat (4)
LATH – The last letters (finally) of Nail A Rivet Through.
18 Well-known for standing room only (7)
NOTABLE – If this item of furniture is not present, presumably there are no chairs either and everyone has to stand.
19 Pan like TLS review (7)
SKILLET – … for frying things in. An anagram (review) of LIKE TLS
20 Saved by being cured? (5)
BACON – A cryptic definition of a cured meat that also appears in the expression “To save your ….”. The curing process prevents the meat from rotting.
21 Recall failure of addled men in Asia (7)
AMNESIA – An anagram (addled) of MEN goes inside ASIA. I liked the definition in this one.
22 Irish queen here wore one? (5)
TIARA – … something that may be worn. The ancient site of Irish kings and queens include an I (one).
23 Cause stink on radio (5)
WREAK – A homophone (on the radio) of reek. Wreak as in wreak havoc.
24 Head of household and husband without it suffers (5)
ACHES – Take the IT from ‘AITCHES (the first letter (head) of Household and Husband). Top clue for me.