Rookie Corner 060

A Puzzle by Moonlapse

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week Moonlapse tries his hand for the first time.  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.

Prolixic has prepared a document entitled “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” which can be downloaded, in pdf format, from the Rookie Corner index page or by clicking below.

Download asa Word file

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Welcome to Moonlapse with an interesting crossword that led to some diverting journeys into the labyrinth of Wikipedia to verify many of the answers and wordplay.  As comments on the crossword show, this had too many obscurities and unusual words to make it an enjoyable crossword to solve.  This is a shame as there were relatively few technical issues with the construction of the clues.  Alchemi’s comments on the blog are well worth reading in this regard.

Across

1 Subject of 18 widely witnessed? (7)
JEHOVAH – Another name for God (who is presumably the subject of idols made of him) who has a group of religious followers called … witnesses.  The cryptic “subject to idols” is somewhat oblique, particularly as the Ten Commandments specifically prohibit the making of them!

5 Reproduction with spiteful woman begets parrot (7)
COPYCAT – A word meaning a reproduction followed by a word for a spiteful woman.  As the solution is also a synonym for the first word of the clue, wordplay that used a different approach should ideally have been used.

9 Beneath mask of grumpy loner is supportive guide (5)
PYLON – The answer is hidden (beneath mask of) GRUMPY LONER.

10 Where increase in tension can set off quarrel? (9)
BOWSTRING – A cryptic definition of what has to be drawn (thereby increasing tension) before launching an arrow (quarrel).

11 Shouting, perhaps, in a manner of speaking (8)
TROPONYM – The answer is a word that describes a more particular version of a general word.  Shouting is a more particular form of speaking.  Whilst I got the answer from the checking letters this was a new word and not one that appears in Chambers.

12 My robe fell open at an early stage (6)
EMBRYO – An anagram (fell open) of MY ROBE.  Where possible, keeping the present tense for clues is preferable so here “falls open” would be better.  I think that falls open just about works as an anagram indicator as if something falls open the parts are separated but the idea of mixing or rearrangement is slim!

14 Stagger drunkenly and give lascivious gaze over shoulder? (4)
REEL – A reversal (over shoulder) of leer (give lascivious gaze).

15 Vital element in risqué but ridiculous nickname (10)
SOUBRIQUET – An anagram (ridiculous) of RISQUE BUT including the chemical symbol of Oxygen (vital element).

17 Dance of restored king through city? (10)
CHARLESTON – An American dance that takes its name from an American city which in turn takes its name from a restored English king.

18 Reputedly indolent superstar (4)
IDOL – A homophone (reputedly) of a word meaning indolent or lazy.

21 Using “Madras” causes interpersonal conflicts (6)
DRAMAS – An anagram (using) of MADRAS.  I am not convinced that “using” works as an anagram indicator but I have seen worse!  I am not overly keen on causes as a link word as the clue reads cryptically wordplay causes definition.

22 Trousers money cutting trees producing mast (8)
BREECHES – The abbreviation for Rand or Rupee (money) goes inside the name of the trees that produce fruit called mast.

24 Bird seed for tropical plate (9)
CARRIBEAN – The name of a species of hummingbird (not in Chambers) followed by a type of seed.  A rather obscure species of bird and a definition to the name of a tectonic plate when a more friendly definition could have been given make this an unfriendly clue for solvers.  Too many obscurities, simply for the sake of it (particularly where you need to rely on general knowledge of obscure facts) reduce the enjoyment of solving.

25 Edward came back to Susan’s velvety skin (5)
SUEDE – The shortened form of Susan followed by a reversal (came back) of a shortened form of Edward.

26 Compose an extra vocal song (7)
LULLABY – A four letter word meaning to calm or compose followed by a homophone (vocal) of another word for an extra in cricket.

27 Forces reportedly trained in excess (7)
EXTORTS – A homophone (reportedly) taught (trained) inside how excess might be written phonetically.

Down

1 Jovial type with most auspicious bird (7)
JUPITER – A cryptic reference to Jove, the God whose sacred animal was the eagle which was the primary or leading animal among the auspices.  I cannot but think that this requires too much knowledge of ancient mythology.

2 American relic, a vessel to have at one’s mercy (4,4,1,6)
HOLD OVER A BARREL – An obscure (even to our American commentator) word for a relic used in America followed by the A from the clue and another word for a vessel in which thinks like oil or beer can be stored (though preferably not a the same time).

3 Flogger takes up rod after Sven loses shirt (6)
VENDOR – … someone who sells.  A reversal of the ROD from the clue after the final three letters of Sven (loses shirt).  Loses shirt cannot mean removing the S as S is not a recognised abbreviation for shirt.  It could suggest going topless but it is a bit of a stretch.

4 Favourite topic for children? (5-5)
HOBBY-HORSE – Another word for a favourite topic or obsession about something is also a type of children’s toy.  I think that this clue needs something to indicate that the toy is involved or that it is something “used by children”

5 Daunts Dexter and Angus, for example (4)
COWS – Double definition where Dexter and Angus are breeds of this animal.

6 Scene of maritime revolt gives illusion of prosperity (8)
POTEMKIN – Double definition of a Russian ship that was the subject of a mutiny and the name of a fake village built to impress the Empress that has come to mean anything that gives the illusion of prosperity!  I was aware of the battleship but not of the second meaning of the word – again is this too much general knowledge required of the solver?  Wikipedia suggests that the second definition is followed by village.

7 Hired Clapton? Rue mistake and get smack (4,5,3,3)
CLIP ROUND THE EAR – An anagram (mistake) of HIRED CLAPTON RUE.

8 Water tower (7)
TUGBOAT – A cryptic definition of a boat that tows other boats.

13 Cheer a born misfit’s loathing (10)
ABHORRENCE – An anagram (misfit) of CHEER A BORN.

16 Decree the Arabic scenery-chewer needs support (8)
ALHAMBRA – The Arabic word for the followed by another word for a bad actor or scenery-chewer followed by Crypticsue’s favourite supporter.  Again there is a reference to another relatively obscure piece of general knowledge that people would have had to look up to confirm the answer.

17 Supplement to fish is unfavourably received (7)
CODICIL – A three letter fish (eaten with chips) followed by a homophone (received) of IS ILL (is unfavourably).

19 Reduces the French prefecture! (7)
LESSENS – The French plural form of “the” followed by the name of a prefecture in France.  When we are getting to level of needing to know the names of French prefectures to solve a crossword it is time to reconsider the worsdplay!  Also, French is probably doing double duty here and I don’t think that putting an exclamation mark at the end of the clue excuses this.

20 It’s old, young lady brought up in lodgings (6)
BEDSIT – An old way of saying “It’s” followed by another word for a young lady all reversed (brought up).

23 Raise soldier (4)
LEVY – A double definition although Chambers gives the second definition in the plural.

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46 Comments

  1. 2Kiwis
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    Today here is what most of you would call a Bank Holiday. We call it Queen’s Birthday long weekend. The solving process got interrupted when visitors arrived for lunch but we did get the puzzle solved and it looks as if we are still in time to be first to comment.
    We had to use references for several, such as 6d, 23d and 11a but did end up with a completed grid although there are a couple where a bit of work is still required to unravel the finer points of wordplay. The last two to be put in were 20d and 27a which gave us quite a fight. Favourite for us is 8d despite it being the very first one to write in, as it reminded us of one of the clues from many years ago that was pivotal in getting the cryptic addiction started. It was “Agricultural tower”.
    A good challenge and satisfying to solve.
    Thanks Moonlapse.

  2. crypticsue
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Thank you Moonlapse.

    This is a crossword which requires you to have a certain amount of knowledge (general or otherwise) to complete. In places there’s also been a ‘borrowing’ from Mr Manley’s Book of Unusual Words for Crosswords.

    The RH side is ‘easier’ than the left. I have 9 clues with ?? by them as I have the solution but can’t quite see either the definition or how the wordplay works. There are also a few where I think you have strayed into ‘I’m writing a cryptic clue, I must be really cryptic’ and have ended up just confusing the poor old solver.

    I did like 10a and 5d. I hope we see you here again in due course.

  3. gazza
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    After some (well, quite a lot) of Googling I think I understand all the clues except for 17a. I did enjoy the process though I agree with CS that there are a few too many obscurities. My favourite clue was 10a. Thanks to Moonlapse – I look forward to your next puzzle.

  4. silvanus
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    This was an extremely proficient debut puzzle, even if there were perhaps a few too many obscurities (the decree in 16d, the prefecture in 19d to name but two), but it was an interesting and enjoyable challenge. I totally agree with CS that the right-hand side is less tricky than the left.

    The relic in 2d was new to me, as was the answer to 11a, although it’s one that I’ll definitely store away for future reference! Also Google seems to suggest that the less well-known of the double definitions in 6d is only valid if “village” follows it?

    There are three or four that I still can’t fully parse, including the 17a mentioned by Gazza.

    My favourites are 10a, 26a and 27a.

    Many thanks Moonlapse and I hope you’ll entertain us again soon.

  5. Sprocker
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I found this very much a game of two halves – really enjoyed the RHS, which went in OK, and I thought featured some excellent clues (8d, 5a, and 10a my favourites).

    The LHS on the other hand almost completely stumped me, and required lots of cheating to fill in – there were quite a few words / definitions I’d never heard of and several clues that I still can’t parse even with the assistance of Google.

    Thanks Moonlapse! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_bye.gif

  6. dutch
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    So far I only have the RHS – will battle on

  7. n0vus
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for encouraging comments thus far :). (I am the culprit!) Sadly I have to go off to work all afternoon and evening, much as I would like to keep on eye on the comments here. But I’ll be sure to look in later on.

    I remember a comment Beet made about how obvious your own clues seem once you’ve made the necessary leap of logic. Glad to see she was right. :)

    I am unaware of the Don’s book (if book there is; I can’t find it after a cursory google) but am pleased to draw the comparison either way. :)

    N/M

    • crypticsue
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Welcome n0vus – there isn’t such a book – I just assume when Mr M is being extra obscure in his choice of words that he must have one, and that sometimes he lends it to other setters! Good thing really as more than two obscurities in a crossword induces grumpiness in solvers.

  8. Kath
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Just popped in to see if I was the only one having a big fight with this one – apparently not so I’ll carry on.
    I only have one answer in the left hand side so far.

  9. Expat Chris
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I have six clues left to solve, mostly in the SE corner, and a print-out littered with question marks and comments. It has taken me ( and Google)ages to get this far. I’m giving it ten more minutes before it has to be shelved until lunch-time.

  10. Jane
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Doing much better than me, Chris. I’ve only got 10 ‘definites’ in the whole grid. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_unsure.gif

  11. Una
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    A puzzle of two halves, some terrific and getable and some very obscure.
    I cannot see how 1a and 18a are linked , since they are antonyms.I can’t actually see the crossword anymore as I did it on line.
    Thanks for the new word at 11a.
    I had to google 6d.
    8d, brilliant !
    I liked 2d,3d,4d,5d, and 17a.
    9a, I don’t understand it and never heard of it.I just guessed some letters to fit the checkers.
    I look forward to more puzzles from you , Moonlapse, although you may get a visit from the Obscure Word Complaint Bureau .

    • Jane
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Hi Una,
      Assuming I’m right (no guarantee with this puzzle!) I think you might kick yourself over 9a. Not only that, but Kath will be apologising for giving you her ‘bug’.

    • Kath
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      9a – assuming that I’m right and that Jane is right (I agree with her that nothing is guaranteed in this crossword) I do apologise for infecting you with my inability to see the ‘lurkers’. I think that the indicator here has to be ‘beneath mask of’ and the answer is in the middle/hidden between the fourth and fifth words of the clue. I could, of course, be totally wrong . . .

  12. dutch
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Prolixic: what a magnificent effort putting together this guide! I read it with delight!

    However I have only ever seen the spelling “Ximenean”, and I assume that is the spelling we would want to preserve, especially when training rookies!

    Many thanks!

  13. dutch
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Phew, Ok, a completed grid with the odd question mark. Took me a long time. Last one in was 11a, surprised this does not seem to be in my brb.

    I managed to complete last week’s Friday toughie by Notabilis, one of the harder setters, without any references to dictionaries, google, etc. Not so for this puzzle! which puts it on a scale that is quite a bit harder than most toughies.

    There were some very inventive clues and original use of indicators. A magnificent effort, thank you very much for this. Just a bit on the difficult and obscure side. I look forward to the review tomorrow, and I will save any comments until Prolixic has had his say.

    Thank you Moonlapse / nOvus

  14. Franco
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    By Jove! Missus! That was difficult!

    I gave up quite early and filled most of the grid by blatant cheating!

    But I still don’t understand quite a few of them…. ?

    However, I particularly liked 10a, 15a and 4d.

    Thanks to Moonlapse and to prolixic (in advance) for the review.

    • gazza
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I liked 10a too, but is it actually correct? Isn’t it a decrease in tension that sets the quarrel going?

      • n0vus
        Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Haha, I hadn’t thought of that! I suppose you need the increase in tension before the decrease sets it off. :)

  15. Kath
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like admitting defeat but, in the interests of achieving anything today, that’s what I’m doing for the moment anyway.
    Maybe my brain will do a few useful things on its own while I do something else – let’s hope so!
    I’ve only done about half and I’m not even sure of about half of those – oh dear!!
    I liked 5 and 7d and 25a. I also liked 26a and feel quite smug about having done that one.
    With thanks and well done to Moonlapse and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  16. jean-luc cheval
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Well. I haven’t cheated for a long time but today the “reveal a letter” button was needed.
    Only in the NW corner actually where I had 9 and 14a seulement. I didn’t even have the first word in 2d. Thought it was pull or roll.
    Only knew the castle in 16d. Surprised CS didn’t mention the support!
    I understand the O in 15a but not the R in 22a.
    As for 17a does it mean that if you put back a certain King, like William say, you end up with a city?
    Favourite is 24a.
    Thanks to Moonlapse

    • Franco
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      The “R” in 22a?

      Qu’est-ce que c’est?

      • jean-luc cheval
        Posted June 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        I thought the trees were beeches. Have I got the whole thing wrong?

        • Franco
          Posted June 1, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          22a – I don’t understand it either!

          ******** – excuse my French!

        • crypticsue
          Posted June 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

          R for Rand or R for Rupees perhaps. The trees are definitely beeches which produce beech mast.

  17. n0vus
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Turns out I wasn’t due at work quite as early as I thought. On the topic of obscurities, my thoughts are:

    A grid will always consist of words for which you already have nice clues, and words that are dictated by those other words, for which you do not yet have nice clues.

    I am always happy to discover new things from doing crosswords. If the wordplay is easy and/or there are helpful checking letters, them I’m happy to go looking stuff up to confirm my theories.

    By the same token if I can’t think of a reasonable clue based on wordplay alone I prefer to go looking for something I can reference than produce a clunky or awkward clue which is no pleasure to solve or is just an obvious “read and write”. Often this will entail my learning something too, eg 1 down and 16 down in this grid.

    However, according to an Indy article from nearly 20 years ago, the trend is in the opposite direction, away from GK and classics references and more towards pure wordplay. I suppose it depends how you interpret “puzzle”. Should a puzzle be something that you should be able to do without looking up from the page, like a Sudoku? Where is the line between an obscure sense of a word, which might require dictionary consultation, and an obscure fact?

    All that said, it seems as though I should try harder to produce more self-contained clues and rely less on research for inspiration. Number 2 will conform to this requirement a bit more :)

    • silvanus
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Although this is your debut puzzle in Rookie Corner, I’m assuming this is certainly not the first that you have compiled? It would be interesting to know a little about when you started producing puzzles and what your background is.

      Far be it for any of us to suggest changing your natural style, but in general far more fun is derived as a solver from unravelling wordplay than endlessly looking up answers on Google! In terms of difficulty, it is not always straightforward to achieve the right balance between obscure and everyday words, but I think that anything more than one or two obscurities per puzzle is likely to frustrate potential solvers.

      I believe that the trend away from classical and mythological references in puzzles over the last 20-30 years merely reflects the fact that fewer of us are taught Latin and Greek than used to be the case, and it’s a natural evolution in cryptic puzzles.

      • n0vus
        Posted June 1, 2015 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Actually it more-or-less is my first completed grid, barring one I did and sent to friends to mark the birth of my son. I’ve been solving for about 23 years having got the bug from my father who appeared to be entirely self-taught, just working out the rules from looking at the answers every day. One of the problems I have as a solver is that I am always getting distracted by thinking how a given clue might with a bit of adjustment be a great clue for some other word, or the process of solving one clue makes another occur to me, so I started keeping a list of clues I’d written. I was also fortunate to have for a while a job that gave me a lot of free time to do crosswords, which was when I started spending a lot of time on Toughies and here on BD, and was really able to develop a deeper appreciation for setting. That’s not to say, as has been shown here today, that I am yet able to bring that appreciation to bear in my own clues :)

        Alchemi, I certainly don’t use any auto-fill :). Thanks for your lengthy comment, I will reply later, I hope, but for now I’m still at work and my phone’s getting hot :)

        • silvanus
          Posted June 1, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the background, Moonlapse/Novus.

          As it’s virtually your first proper grid, it’s an even worthier effort than I originally thought, and deserves full marks for effort.

          I’m sure you’ll benefit greatly from Prolixic’s review tomorrow and that you’ll improve with each future puzzle.

    • Alchemi
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      “A grid will always consist of words for which you already have nice clues”. That depends on the setter. It’s not very common for me to have a clue already worked out before I fill a grid. Certainly not the puzzle I’m currently working on, which started with a nina. Perimeter ninas make it very difficult not to include obscure words, but I managed to get it down to two, which is as many as I will tolerate in a nina puzzle. (For an ordinary themed puzzle, I only allow myself one. A plain puzzle shouldn’t have any – and setters who use the Crossword Compiler autofill feature to complete their grids without bothering to eliminate the obscurities are just bloody lazy, even if they are setting a million frighteningly dull puzzles a week.) My working definition of “obscure” is “I’m not confident I could write a sentence using it which shows I know what it means.”

      The more obscure the entry, the simpler the clue should be. If you can avoid using an anagram for it, so much the better – anagrams give the solver no clue about the unches. The less likely it is that the solver knows the word, the more you have to give instructions for assembling it which can seem almost childishly simple (to you as the setter), but the solver wants to be able to trust the wordplay.

      If you have to look a reference up to write the clue, it’s almost certainly unfair. I sometimes look one up to check that I’ve got it correct, but I have to have thought of it unaided. If I know it without looking it up, my guess is that a fair number of solvers will also know it. Since my brain is filled with rubbish, it often turns out that some solvers end up having to look up a reference (or so they say), but that’s not my fault. There’s one big exception to that, which is classical mythology: I regard classical mythology as non-obscure when it comes to grid entries, because I know most of the names even if what they did is a mystery. Off the top of my head, I haven’t the faintest idea about ANDROMACHE beyond her being female, so I’d look her up to fashion some sort of definition – though if her story didn’t ring enough bells, I’d fall back to “mythological character”.

      • dutch
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Useful tip about obscure words and anagrams, hadn’t thought of that, I might have been tempted to use an anagram as “easy and unambiguous”, but you are quite right.

      • n0vus
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        I do take many of your points, but as you say one solver’s obscurity is another’s useless trivia, and as I would add is another’s gospel, to take only the example of Don Manley who rarely fails to include Biblical references which require a far greater familiarity with that book than I at least have managed to acquire. I also don’t want you to have the impression that I’m looking up the most obscure thing. For example I know almost nothing about plants and birds – my great crossword weakness along with the Bible – so when I was wrestling with “breeches” I went and researched beeches, and discovered what I thought was the excellently misleading fact that they produce mast. This is for me no less obscure a fact than the ranking of birds in augury :). But knowledge of plants and birds seems to be assumed by setters and not protested by solvers. So I am doomed to research birds and plants for the rest of my life.

        And as I say, the line seems blurry between looking up a word to check an obscure sense and looking up an obscure or half-remembered fact. By the same token, I am always slightly confused as to how it’s not ok to expect the solver to rearrange a synonym (indirect anagram) but it is apparently fine to expect the solver to perform some other operation on a synonym, eg, shortening or reversing.

        It’s just question of balance I guess. If I’d kept it to one or two clues there wouldn’t be a problem. :)

        • Alchemi
          Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know whether there is a causal connection between larding one’s puzzles with biblical references and producing frighteningly dull puzzles, but on the basis of a very small sample size, there is no evidence against the hypothesis that such a connection exists. Let’s just say there are setters who make much better role models.

  18. spindrift
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I have 11 clues which I cannot solve & I haven’t the time or the inclination to spend the day googling the interweb thingy. Not once have the corners of my mouth been raised which normally happens when I solve what I think is a clever clue.
    I shall await the review but interim I welcome the setter’s final sentience in comment 17.
    Thanks to N0vus & to Prolxic

    (by the way I forgot to say thank you to Prolixic for his essay on setting crosswords – sterling work that man)

  19. Expat Chris
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve given up with two unsolved. I only got this far by cheating on four (Crossword Solver) and bung-in. Obscure words, obscure definitions (23D), too much time spent on the internet, and even more time spent trying to parse clues is not much fun. I did like 8D, though, and once I had the answer to 11A (by cheating), and looked up the definition, I can see that the clue’s quite clever. But in my book, the first two words of 2D– taken as one word– don’t mean anything close to American relic.

    Still, since I could never compile even a quickie crossword, I do applaud nOvus’ effort.

    • Expat Chris
      Posted June 1, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Hold the phone. 27A just hit me between the eyes, then 20D followed right behind.

  20. Jane
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Spent far too long battling with this one, which spoiled much of the enjoyment. A lot of electronic help required for parsing and there are still a couple of question marks by ‘bung ins’.
    Really liked 5a,4&8d and would doubtless have appreciated 10a if I’d known that definition of quarrel!

    Thanks to Moonlapse – maybe go a bit easier on us next time?

  21. Ashley Smith
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant debut, in my opinion. Got all but seven, and didn’t have trouble with the General Knowledge references, once I had unpicked them. Favourites were 7D, 9A, 5A and 8D. Keep them coming!

  22. Expat Chris
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Prolixic, for your usual thorough review. As the American commentator you mention (though Gloucestershire born and bred I hasten to add), I am often bemused (and much amused) by what British setters consider to be “Americanisms.” 2D is a case in point.

    • dutch
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      2D is in Chambers as an americanism…

      • Expat Chris
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Not the first time I’ve disagreed with Chambers! http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif

  23. dutch
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Thanks Prolix for the enlightening review: I had not twigged “most auspicious bird” (1d), “through city” (17a) “is unfavourably received” (17d).

    Great comments for the setter.

    Moonlapse:

    I am very impressed. Clean clueing, no baggage, good surfaces. An absolutely amazing first effort.

    May I add my own comments. I am a novice having written only one crossword, so as always, please remember these are the opinions of just one person: if they help, great.
    1a: I think the cross reference to 18 detracts. As Prolixic says, the resultant cryptic reference is rather oblique, and it is annoying to have a cross reference in the first clue
    5a: great link word – begets
    9a: to me, a pylon is either a support (electricity pylons) or a guide (airstrip pylons) – when is it both? great hidden word indicator (beneath mask)
    10a: I would have preferred “Through which” rather than “Where”, since the answer is a thing not a place
    11a: This is beautifully constructed – I love “manner of speaking”. The clue has an &lit character, and I was wondering if a question mark would help. This was my LOI, don’t know why the answer isn’t in Chambers, that held me up.
    12a interesting anagrind, as Prolific says perhaps on the limits, but the surface counts for something here. My quibble is the “at” which cannot be part of the definition and is a peculiar link word.
    14a interesting reversal indicator, though slightly clunky in the cryptic reading
    17a I completely missed “through city” – perhaps asking a bit much of the solver?
    22a money to rand to R is quite difficult since it is indirect – you have to guess the R first then make it work as money.
    24a feels like gratuitous obscurity – other ways of clueing caribbean
    26a was looking at compose as possible anagrind, nice mislead
    27a exs doesn’t work for me as a substitute for excess. I’ve seen xs as chemistry shorthand, but neither are in Chambers.
    1dJovial type to Jove to Jupiter is a big ask from the solver, and I missed the auspicious bird altogether.
    2d I have no problem with the american relic, it’s in Chambers as exactly that.
    3d I didn’t like “loses shirt” – sometimes losing clothing is used to strip first and last letters.
    4d – agree with Prolixic
    6d – this is an obscure answer clued with two obscurities! I think an obscurity should not appear in both clue and solution.
    7d – anagram fodder stands out.
    8d – very clever to have a 2 word cd, I started looking at this as a double definition
    13a great anagrind
    16d since the castle is better known than the decree, again this feels like gratuitous obscurity. Might have done something with “Keep”. I haven’t seen “scenery-chewer” before
    17d I missed the “is unfavourably received”. nice play on supplement which worked to mislead me!
    19d I had to get the answer first and google sens. I found it listed as a “sub-prefecture”. Way too obscure, and then not even sure it is a prefecture.
    20d bedsit is singular, so lodgings should be as well.
    23d agree with prolixic, not sure this is used in the singular for soldier.

    Looking forward to the next one!

    • n0vus
      Posted June 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for extensive comments, and to Prolixic for the review.

      1a Agreed, I was struggling to clue this one in a way that wasn’t screamingly obvious, eg “god widely witnessed” would surely have taken all of 0.3 seconds for most people.
      5a Surprised that this was so widely enjoyed, I thought it was a bit mechanical. Not sure that reproduction is grammatically identical with copycat except in a rather informal sense of the latter.
      9a True enough, I evidently managed to combine Chambers’ two definitions.
      10a I see what you’re getting at but I think it’s fair to say that an increase in tension in or at the bowstring will set off the quarrel so you can say, “Where is the increase in tension?” – “In the bowstring.”
      11a Thanks. I was upset too to see it wasn’t in Chambers, I nearly wrote them a stiff letter. ;)
      12a I think the last clue written, I had nothing here. I wasn’t happy with the clue either.
      14a Agreed
      17a Perhaps the effect of a having a sister who in her youth was in a production of “The Boy Friend” means that I am more familiar than most with the Charleston, so maybe I thought the dance was more obvious than it was to many, and that the rest of the clue would fall into place easily.
      22a I would agree, but I had seen the use of money = R in a Times shortly before writing the clue, I’m fairly sure.
      24a Guilty!
      26a Was quite pleased with that one. :)
      27a Agreed, wasn’t happy with that one.
      1d I don’t know. I don’t think you need to be a philologist to know that jovial comes from Jove, and if you don’t there’s always Holst to help you! The bird thing, I agree, except to note what I said to Alchemi, that this is for me no more obscure than the news that beech trees produce mast.
      2d That’s exactly where I found it.
      3d I thought the surface would forgive the slight solecsim :)
      4d Fair point both.
      6d True enough; I was going to argue that checkers were helpful here, but to have had the K checked would have strengthened that argument considerably…
      7d Yes but in turn it’s a moderately underused phrase.
      8d Again surprised that many people singled this out. Although this was a clue that occurred to me in the course of solving something else, it turns out to be a bit of a chestnut. Elgar based a clue on the homograph shortly after it had occurred to me which was both pleasing and annoying, and 2Kiwis have seen a variant. Sure they can’t be the only ones.
      13d Thanks :)
      16d Fair comment. It will perhaps not surprise you to hear that this and 19d were among the last clues I wrote.
      17d Was pleased with this one although just for the surface, hadn’t contemplated that the definition could mislead.
      19d See 16!
      20d I have to say I think you can use “lodgings” as singular. Rather like “digs”. “I’m heading back to my lodgings now.”
      23d “Levies” certainly seems to be used to mean “soldiers” although I agree that 1 levy is unusual.

      Many thanks again to all for comments and advice, the next one will be less referential and I hope will even cause spindrift to crack a smile ;)

      • dutch
        Posted June 2, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        and thank you for the extensive reply! best of luck

        Today’s toughie by Giovanni has a few too many GK/obscurities for my taste… an example at odds with the sentiment here, perhaps not the most appropriate role model (as CS hinted earlier)

  24. Jane
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks, Prolixic – and I’m delighted to see that you also struggle to spell 24a. http://bigdave44.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-monalisa/icons/wpml_wink.gif . That particular clue didn’t give me a problem as I knew both the bird and the seed, although had to verify the plate for the parsing.
    Didn’t have an issue with either 3 or 4d – the parsing that troubled me most came from 1,2 & 19d. Oh – I should also add 26a, but that’s down to my seemingly incurable blind spot re: cricket references. No wonder Kath was so proud of herself for sorting that one out!

    I was pleased to see such comprehensive feedback from Moonlapse as well as our ‘experts’. I did comment to BD a while back that it would be good if that could always be the case with Rookie puzzles. Apart from the obvious interest that solvers have in discovering how and why the clues were put together, I regard it as a setter’s acknowledgement of the effort put in by Prolixic to construct both his excellent reviews and his suggestions as to how wordplay etc. could be improved in the future.

    Look forward to the next one, Moonlapse.

  25. Snape
    Posted June 2, 2015 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Nice work. I do like the novel indicators of various types that were used, although much of it was too difficult for me (I completed about half). One thing that I’ve learned quickly is that any obscurities do have to be very clearly clued.
    Interesting discussion on what an obscurity actually is – I would disagree slightly with Alchemi that anything you have to look up in a reference is unfair, (just because I don’t know a word doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t – especially on subjects such as flora and fauna – and also, obscure words can still be fairly clued) but perhaps crosswords with obscure words can fairly be described as less accessible.

    I was disappointed to see ’caused’ was not a great link – mainly because I’ve used it in one I’ve submitted to RC! Ah well.

    Many thanks Moonlapse and Prolixic