Half Conceal the Soul Within by JollySwagman
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This is JollySwagman’s second Rookie Puzzle. 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.
Many thanks to JollySwagman for the crossword. The puzzle raises some interesting issues in relation to grid design and use of language. A symmetrical grid is usual but not set in stone – and in exceptional circumstances you will find unsymmetrical grids. The use of symmetry is a discipline that helps to ensure that the grid is a fair for the solver. In this grid there were two triple unches (three unchecked letters in a row) and less than 50% of the answer having cross-checked letters. Grids in daily papers will hardly ever have triple unches (I cannot recall having seen this in a long while) and at least checking is normal though occasionally you will see five letter words with only two letters cross-checked.
Double unches are often encountered, even in the Times. I believe the rule in the Times is that double unches are permitted so long as the double unch is not at the beginning of the word. Telegraph grids have some that contain double unches at the beginning of a word so there is no standard rule applied here.
The use of coarse language will inevitably be divisive and usually needs a good reason to be included. Some papers would not allow the use of some of the words in this crossword.
I did wonder whether some of the clues require too much knowledge of language or words not in everyday use.
1/4/22/26 Singers in amazing skin-tights end happy after starting like that (6,6,3,3,4)
GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS – An anagram (amazing) of SKIN TIGHTS END HAPPY after a starting word meaning happy (like that).
9 Tram-smash in Alaska – 8d is ours (6)
AMTRAK – … an American railway operator. An anagram (smash) of TRAM inside the abbreviation for the state of Alaska.
10 So well organised (2,5)
IN ORDER – A double definition, the first usually followed by that “so that” or “in order that”
11 Perhaps King Edward almost got a French film director in the shit (6)
POTATO – Remove the final letter (almost got a) from the name of a famous French film director and include this in another word for faeces. Comments have been made in the blog about the use of coarse language in clues. Policies differ across papers. Only one third of the letters are cross-checked and there are three consecutive unchecked letters both of which would be highly unusual in a daily crossword.
12 Latin babe‘s a gas in America (8)
NEONATUS – … a Latin word for a baby or infant (not in Chambers which gives only neonate but which is in the free on-line dictionary and may be in others) a type of gas followed by a word meaning in (as I was at the railway station or I was in the railway station) followed by a two letter abbreviation for America. As the word is not in common use, is it fair to expect the solver to know Latin words such as this?
13 See 28
15 Concert’s fairy-tale beginning (4)
ONCE – The answer is hidden in concert (the apostrophe s indicating has as the hidden word indicator)
16 See 28
17 8d’s objective. What is it? (3,1,5)
IT’S A STATE – The answer to what is the destination of the train referred to in 8d.
21 It’s not odd for beans (garden variety) to get blight (8)
ENDANGER – The even letters (it’s not odd for) in beans followed by an anagram (variety) of GARDEN.
22 See 1
24 See 28
26 See 1
27 Thora’s bronzes (6)
THIRDS – How a noted actress Thora might indicate her full name with an S on the end for the ‘s in clue.
28/13/16/24 1a 4a cut from “in vino veritas” so they say (1,5,2,7,3,9)
I HEARD IT ON THE GRAPEVINE – … a record by the themed artist cryptically and loosely referred to (more a collection of words that link wine and where it comes from) by “in vino veritas”.
1 “You men smell. Got to admit that.” (Wellington) (7)
GUMBOOT – Inside the word GOT from the clue add how you would be indicated when texting, an abbreviation for men (not a recognised abbreviation in Chambers) and an abbreviation for a nasty smell).
2 It’s a song from a musical – skip the intro (3)
AIR – Remove the first letter (skip the intro) from a rock musical.
3 Hi Tony. Good to be back playing ball – but I do miss John (4,3)
YOKO ONO – A two letter informal way of saying hi (as George Bush greeted Tony Blair) followed by a reversal (to be back) of a word meaning good followed by a two letter word meaning playing and the letter that looks like a ball. I wonder whether the Tony greeting is in widely enough known to make this fair? Also the clue would suggest that you need YO BLAIR in the answer.
5 Perhaps Boy George has lunch around different parts of the city (6)
NEOCON – … the political persuasion of George Osborne (I assume Boy George is a nickname for him but is this well known enough as I cannot see the pop singer being of this persuasion!). A word for lunchtime goes around separate parts of the postcode for the City of London. I don’t think that this clue gives sufficient indication that the elements of the postcode are inserted separately into the word for lunchtime. I wonder also if NEOCON is more associated with the American far-right but I cannot find sufficient reference George Bush being referred to as Boy George.
6 Blimey – in America mating’s odd – it’s perverted (9)
GODDAMNIT – An anagram (it’s perverted) of MATING ODD.
7 Not up to herniation – it’s agony (7)
TORTURE – The TO from the clue and another name for a hernia (herniation is given in medical dictionaries but not in Chambers) with the UP removed (not up).
8 How 1a, 4a left La La land (8,5)
MIDNIGHT TRAIN – How the person in the song by 1a 4a went from Los Angels (LA) at night (La La Land) to Georgia.
14 Hello Mrs Sharples – we heard you liked a laugh … (5)
HYENA – A homophone (we heard) of HI ENA (Hello Mrs Sharples).
16 … later on in the snug (7)
TONIGHT – The ON from the clue goes inside a word meaning snug. The use of the snug implies that the synonym is a noun but the required word is an adjective and I cannot think of a phrase where “the snug” could be replaced by the required word.
18 Chartered Accountant’s help dubious – you could get badly stung by this (7)
ACALEPH – … a type of jellyfish. The abbreviation for a Chartered Accountant followed by an anagram (dubious) of HELP.
19 Like many shirts – frilly as drapes with the arse ripped out (1-6)
T-SHAPED – An anagram (frilly) of AS DRAPES THE (with the letters in arse removed). Views differ on whether you need a secondary anagram indicator where the letters to be removed are in the same order in the clue – I tend to the view that you don’t but other setters and editors may have differing views.
20 Getting back a buck – maybe 8d’s objective in short – OK! (6)
AGREED – Reverse (getting back) the animal of which a buck is an example and the abbreviation for the state of Georgia (where the train in 8d was going).
23 Don’t dazzle Dawkins (3)
DIP – A double definition of what you do with your headlights so you don’t dazzle on-coming traffic and another word for a pickpocket from Jack Dawkins in Oliver Twist (thanks Gazza).
25 The greatest of all – not even I could add to that (3)
ALI – Remove the even letter from ALL and follow it with an I.