A Puzzle by Unable Panda
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This is Unable Panda’s first published puzzle – I hope you enjoy it. [It’s only fair to add that this was a puzzle the setter asked me to shelve and he sent me a different puzzle, using the same grid. I picked the wrong one out last night when I set this up. BD] 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.
Welcome to Unable Panda with their first crossword. A good first outing with the majority of the clues not presenting any problems with a good variety of wordplay. The main issue was the dreaded indirect anagram in 9a. In one or two places wordplay elements were repeated but this is a minor point and some of the surface readings could have done with a polish.
The non-symmetrical grid was unusual but it is not unknown for an unsymmetrical grid to appear in the daily crossword in the Independent so this is not a major issue. The use of triple unchecked letters is more of a problem, particularly as one was at the beginning of the word. Triple unchecked letters should be avoided. Double unchecked letters are seen even in the Times crossword though I understand the policy is that double unchecked letters cannot appear at the beginning of the word. With this grid, the problem could have been solved by add two three letter words. This would also have disguised the unsymmetrical grid more.
1 Viceroy a-lister partly supports the monarch (8)
ROYALIST – The answer is hidden in (partly) VICEROY A-LISTER
5 Pre insect with no energy lost the way from treed area (6)
BEFORE – A type of work insect with the final E removed (no energy) followed by another word for a treed area or wood with the ST removed (lost the way)
9 Defence needs wooden stake to hold off disease (8)
PALISADE – Another word for a wooden stake includes (to hold) an anagram (off) of a type of disease. The clue is an indirect anagram as the solver has to think of the disease AIDS and then make an anagram of it. Such clues are a cardinal sin for setters.
10 One holding the purse at college hides it with a whirring sound (6)
BURSAR – The abbreviation for sex appeal (it) is hidden inside another word for a whirring sound.
12 A bathing mob formed thingy (11)
THINGAMABOB – An anagram (formed) of A BATHING MOB. It is unfortunate that the first five letters of the answer match those in the definition and also appear in the same order in the anagram words.
15 I’m sad without beginner to inspire (5)
IMBUE – The IM from the clue followed by a word meaning sad or down without the abbreviation for learner (without beginner )
16 Right, I compete in front of sun god in fashionable part of Med (7)
RIVIERA – The abbreviation for right followed by the I from the clue and word meaning to compete or contend and the name of the Egyptian sun god.
17 There is a short amount of time before a party to hold half a kilo and get a comic opera (3,6)
THE MIKADO – The abbreviation for time followed by a word for a party inside which you add a prefix meaning half (as in hemisphere) and the abbreviation for kilo.
19 Heard at Wimbledon serving fruit drink (5)
JUICE – A homophone of deuce, a word heard at Wimbledon
20 Going beyond the ordinary across northern hideout between two churches (13)
TRANSCENDENCE – A prefix meaning across followed by the abbreviation for northern and another word for a hideout between two lots of the abbreviation for Church of England (two churches).
22 Late taking fashionable drugs with pollen coats (6)
EXINES – A word meaning late or old followed by a two letter word for fashionable and the abbreviation for a recreational drug with an S (as drugs is in the plural).
23 Frightened lad ropes big cats (8)
LEOPARDS – An anagram (frightened) of LAD ROPES.
25 Some buffo geysers create old-fashioned types (6)
FOGEYS – The answer is hidden inside (some) BUFFO GEYSERS. Setters should avoid making up words to fit the wordplay of the clue.
26 Firstly another felonious shoplifter, not back inside, offends (8)
AFFRONTS – The opposite of back goes inside the initial letters (firstly) of Another Felonious Shoplifter.
1 On return of light blow I took second place in angry return home (10)
REPATRIATE – The two letter word meaning on or about followed by a reversal (return) of a word for a light blow and another word for angry with the initial letter (I) being moved to the second letter of the word (I took second place).
2 Unknown element rising for the given name of a musical actor (3)
YUL – … one of the stars of the King and I. A letter used to represent an unknown quantity or amount followed by a reversal (rising) of the chemical symbol for Lutetium (element).
3 Pull a girl up before giving a girl directions to make a pasta dish (7)
LASAGNE – I think that this is a reversal of a diminutive girls name (pull a girl up) followed by the A from the clue and the abbreviation for girl and two compass directions. Interestingly, Chambers does not recognise B for boy or G for Girl as abbreviations
4 Wicked place makes unpleasant person love Frenchman (5)
SODOM – A three letter word for an unpleasant person followed by the letter representing love or zero and the abbreviation for monsignor (Frenchman).
6 Emotional measure you can calm (7)
EQUABLE – The abbreviation for Emotional Quotient (which abbreviation has not yet made it into Chambers) followed by a word meaning can is having the ability to.
7 Victoria say surrounding a type of address following outside broadcast has difficulty excreting (11)
OBSTIPATION – The abbreviation for outside broadcast followed by the type of facility of which Victoria is an example (as is King’s Cross) around the abbreviation for Internet Protocol (type of address).
8 Look right in Australian lake (4)
EYRE – The abbreviation for right inside a word meaning look.
11 Elevated person’s magical figure is conceited (5,7)
ABOVE ONESELF – A word meaning elevated or over followed by a word meaning person’s (with the S at the end) and a type of magical creature sometime associated with Santa’s little helpers.
13 Taking in air made popular brother consume nearly all of joint (11)
INBREATHING – A two letter word meaning popular followed by the abbreviation for brother, a word meaning consume and a type of joint that allows things to open with the final letter removed (nearly all).
14 Radios are almost edgy before tenants short of a key (10)
WIRELESSES – A five letter word meaning edgy or hyper with the final letter removed (almost) followed by another word for tenants with an E (musical key) removed. The link word does not work here as the cryptic reading of the clue becomes definition ARE wordplay. This is one of the clue where the surface reading is not the greatest.
16 Raises young with right organs (5)
REARS – The abbreviation for right followed by the organs associated with hearing. This is the third use of R for Right in the crossword. Wordplay elements should be used only once in a crossword though I appreciate from personal experience, this is very easy to say but harder to do!
18 Gay Emir concocted descriptive language (7)
IMAGERY – An anagram (concocted) of GAY EMIR.
19 Trousers worn while horse riding but not on the Sabbath in Indian city (7)
JODPHUR – Remove the S from a type of trousers for the name of an Indian city. The trousers take their name from this city.
21 Move from site to site say serving slave (4)
SERF – A homophone (say) of surf (move from site to site).
24 Managed report of rising protuberance (3)
RAN – A homophone of the reversal of KNAR (protuberance or knot on a tree). I liked the idea of reversing the homophone to give added complexity to the clue.