A Puzzle by Sprocker
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This week we have another fine puzzle from Sprocker. 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.
Sproker has tried to stretch himself by producing a tougher puzzle this week. He succeeded but the wordplay and constructions of the clues suffered in the process as there were a few too many obscurities in the wordplay to make this a fair challenge for the solver.
1 Could this be Mister T’s awesome leg? (4,4,6)
NINE DART FINISH – The position in the grid where the answer MISTER appears followed by a three letter word that finishes with a T as it might be clued cryptically. The answer refers to a feat in the game which is slightly less interesting than underwater origami or competitive macramé one of whose players was Phil Taylor, referred to variously as Mr T or the Power. A clue I feel that is far to clever for its own good. Mister works to give NINE D but to clue ART FINISH as T is too vague and the only way that you could solve this cold was by having a working knowledge of the nickname of a player of a minority sport. Definitely one that is too unfair for the solver.
10 PC may have this inside information (5)
INTEL – The maker of the central processing unit in a computer shares a name with inside information.
11 Sounds like our second cousin is a fighter (9)
GUERRILLA – A homophone (sounds like) of gorilla (our second cousin).
12 Pocket with a pocket (7)
TROUSER – A double definition of a word to steal or pocket something and an item of clothing that contains a pocket.
13 Assassin’s business turns head and leads to marketing activity (7)
NETWORK – Thanks to those on the blog for the enlightenment. It seems that this WET WORK (assassin’s business) with a new first letter. The definition marketing activity would lead to NETWORKING as the solution not the noun network. The word for assassin’s business is not in Chambers and is somewhat obscure and I don’t think that “turn’s head” means substitute a new first letter.
14 Rushes, perhaps, Oliver North to make a U-turn (5)
REEDS – The surname of the actor Oliver followed by the opposite (to make a U-turn) of North.
16 Three-legged race (9)
TRIATHALON – A semi-cryptic definition of a sporting event that comprises running, cycling and swimming as the three events or legs.
19 Unconscious enigmatic leader gets replacement car (9)
AUTONOMIC – A word meaning enigmatic with the first letter (leader) replaced by a word for a car.
20 Filtered coffee (5)
DECAF – Coffee with the caffeine filtered out.
22 Tin-pot dictator’s heading for old river to find spy (7)
SNOOPER – The best I can do for this clue is SN for tin followed by DOPE for pot with the D removed and an O (old) added at the beginning and an R for river put at the end but cryptic grammar suggests that the D (dictator’s heading) replaces the O (D for O).
25 Stench surrounding toy dog’s guts is criminal (7)
HOODLUM – A three letter word for a stench goes around a breed of dog with the first and last letters removed (guts). My sister breeds the dog referred to and they come in standard, minature and toy varieties. To describe the dog as toy alone without any indication that it is an example of the breed might be considered unfair by some.
27 Great start to a meal as there is fizzy Asti on tap (9)
ANTIPASTO – An anagram (fizzy) of ASTIONTAP. Not sure why the great is there as it seems to be padding for the surface reading.
28 Weak back holds a single message (1-4)
E-MAIL – Reverse (back) a word meaning weak and insert a letter representing one or a single.
29 Resourcefully come promoting brand to one without assistance (14)
ENTERPRISINGLY – A word meaning come or go in followed by a word for promoting a brand, the letter representing one and a word meaning without assistance or on your own.
2 Possibly describing half-pipe skating enthusiast who possesses right to be a loner? (9)
INTROVERT – I think that this is INTO VERT an enthusiast of the vert ramp or half-pipe used by skaters around an R. Again, the reference here to the alternative name of a skating pipe requires a bit too much technical knowledge for my liking. Chamber’s defines VERT as any vertical extension to a ramp used in skating.
3 Well I suppose having odd-shaped balls made him famous! (5)
ELLIS – The answer his hidden (having) in WELL I SUPPOSE.
4 Vice-President almost finds Daffy Duck’s ideology routine (9)
ALGORITHM – The VP noted for his campaigns on climate change with the final letter removed followed by who someone with a lisp might pronounce ISM (a ideology). Daffy Duck does not immediately spring to mind as a character who lithps but it is a while since I saw any cartoons featuring him!
5 Draw popular relation (3-2)
TIE-IN – A word for a draw or game between two teams followed by a word meaning popular.
6 Annoyed invisible girl in education with small cuddly toy (9)
IRRITATED – A type of radiation that is invisible to the human eye followed by the name of the lady in the play and film Educating ???? and diminutive word for a cuddly toy. I think that using invisible to describe something that cannot be seen without giving any further indication of what the solver is looking for is a step too far. Invisible describes the resulting wordplay, it is not a synonym of the wordplay itself.
7 Home of the century featuring odd bits of gold (5)
IGLOO – The odd letters of gold go inside the letter equivalents of 100.
8 Listen to space-man rotating around craft (7)
HEARKEN – Reverse (rotating) the words for a printer’s space and a pronoun for a man and put this around a craft used as a rescue vessel.
9 He finds aliens upside down in abandoned space station (6)
MISTER – Reverse (upside down) ETS (aliens – note the plural) inside an abandoned space station. I am in two minds about whether definition finds wordplay is acceptable. On balance, I think it is.
15 Son with a supporting father is abrasive (9)
SANDPAPER – The abbreviation for son followed by a word meaning with and a word meaning a or each after (supporting) a two letter word for a father.
17 Partnership identified when supply chain foundation is reduced by 20% (2,7)
IN CAHOOTS – An anagram (supply) of CHAIN followed by a five letter word for foundation with the first letter removed (reduced by 20% or 1/5th). I think that the solution would require “in partnership” to be strictly correct.
18 Label diet before contact with a close friend? (5,4)
LOCAL CALL – A word for a type of diet goes before a word meaning to name or label something.
19 Relieve concern when herb is found to contain trace of Uranium (7)
ASSUAGE – A two letter word for when followed by a four letter word for a type of herb around (to contain) the first letter (trace of ) Uranium.
21 Vulgar sweet nothing leads to misunderstanding involving lecherous young blood (6)
FAMILY – A vulgar way of saying sweet nothing followed by the initial letters (leads to) of Misunderstanding Involving Lecherous Young.
23 Group of criminals terrorise elderly Tory leaders (5)
OCTET – The initial letters (leaders) of Of Criminals Terrorise Elderly Tory. Ideally you would not set two initial letter clues one after the other.
24 Could describe a plane just after take-off, or found in flight? (5)
RISER – A double definition of a plane just after take-off and part of a stairway (flight).
26 Water‘s freezing – no Scots about (5)
OCEAN – The temperature at which water freezes followed by a reversal about of the Scottish way of saying no.