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.
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.
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.
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.