A Puzzle by Starhorse
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This week I am pleased to add another new name to Rookie Corner – so give a welcome to Starhorse. 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 updated his 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.
The quality of the work that new setters are producing for the Rookie corner is more often than not exceptionally good for those who are beginners in the arcane arts of creating cryptic crosswords. Starhorse has proved this once again with an accomplished debut. My thanks to the setter for an entertaining crossword. There are a few clues where I have added comments but these are merely to polish what is a good crossword.
1 I covered ground for former spouse (8)
DIVORCEE – An anagram (ground) of I COVERED.
5 Alarm when father starts fire naked (6)
FRIGHT – A two letter abbreviation for father followed by the inner letters (naked) of a word meaning starts fire.
8 Troublemaker‘s Y chromosome? (10)
MALEFACTOR – Split 4, 6 this describes the role of the Y chromosome.
9 This yarn might stand up in court (4)
SILK – A double definition, the second being another word for Queen’s Counsel who would stand up to address the court.
10 Newfoundland backs Cameron? It’s unbelievable! (6,3,5)
SHAGGY DOG STORY – The type of hairy pet of which a Newfoundland is an example followed by, I think, another word meaning backs which is then shortened to its common abbreviation followed by the political persuasion of David Cameron. If I have understood the wordplay correctly, we have a clue to a clue as you need to find the synonym of backs and then an abbreviation for the synonym. Clues to a clue are generally not used in crosswords like this. The alternative, as used in 11 across is that backs is a positional indicator but this leaves a singular cluing a plural phrase which is not correct.
11 Composer backs Cameron? No it’s deceptive (8)
DELUSORY – The name of a composer probably best known of “On hearing the first cuckoo of spring” goes before (backs) by the political persuasion of David Cameron (as in 10a) removing from the letters the I and T from the “it” in the clue. Repeating a wordplay element like Cameron is usually frowned upon but I think that it works here as 10a and 11a work as pair of clues where the alliteration is part of the appeal.
13 Cross-examine soldier with a suspicious attitude (6)
ASKANT – A three letter word meaning question or cross-examine followed by one of crossword land’s favourite insect soldiers.
15 Spoil a garment (small not regular) (6)
COSSET – A type of undergarment with the R (regular) replaced by an S (small). The abbreviation of R for regular is not supported by Chambers Dictionary but then neither is S for small! Collins gives S for small but I cannot find a reference to R for regular in Collins or Oxford On-Line dictionaries. It is usual only to use abbreviations contained in one of the major dictionaries.
18 Promising report private office takes time to reject (8)
TALENTED – Another word for a report or story followed by another word for a private office or lair in which you include the abbreviation for time and reverse the letters (to reject). Probably personal preference but I would have preferred … takes time over here.
22 ET may be risqué! (5,2,3,4)
CLOSE TO THE BONE – First split the ET (the exclamation mark tells us something fishy is going on) and then create an inverse clue (the 5,2,3 part) that might give the letter E as an answer and then add as the 4 part a part of an animal cut of meat that might be described as a T. The need both to lift and separate and to create an inverse clue both indicated by the may be and exclamation mark may not find favour with all editors.
23 Bitter sweet? (4)
TART – Double definition time with the second being a kind of dessert / sweet.
24 Daughter’s visiting Lazio-based buddy, and possibly mum or dad… (10)
PALINDROME – Put the abbreviation for daughter inside a phrase (3,2,4) that might describe a friend in Lazio.
25 … coming to let off steam after endless bother (6)
ADVENT – Another word meaning to let off steam or other gasses follows a word meaning bother or fuss with the final letter removed (endless).
26 Very warm in a tie (4,4)
DEAD HEAT – Another word for very as in “He’s very gorgeous” followed by a word meaning to warm something.
1 Bequeathed by deeds amended to include note (7)
DEMISED – An anagram (amended) of DEEDS includes a two letter note on the musical scale.
2 Maybe watches John returning to America carrying can (9)
VALUABLES – Reverse (returning) a three letter word for a toilet or john and follow this by a two letter abbreviation for America inside which (carrying) you add a word meaning can. Can and able are not directly synonymous. Able requires the verb to be fulfil its function “I am able to swim” and “I can swim”.
3 Retreats from European city after brother’s expulsion overseen by official (7)
REFUGES – A city in Belgium has the abbreviation for brother removed (expulsion) and another word for an official at a football match but before it (overseen in a down clue).
4 Enigma, perhaps in French or German, describing Churchillian leader (7)
ENCODER – The French word for “in” and the German word for “or” include the first letter (leader) of Churchillian.
5 Head off at the end everyone that could follow Nottingham (9)
FORESTALL – Another word meaning everyone goes after (at the end) a word that could follow Nottingham if you are a football fan.
6 Available this month: well-dressed Conservative (2,5)
IN STOCK – The abbreviation for this month followed by the abbreviation for Conservative around which you add a word meaning well (well-dressed).
7 Kingfisher that’s seen better days? (7)
HALCYON – A double definition, the first being an old word for a Kingfisher.
12 Ten photos developed instantly (2-3-4)
ON-THE-SPOT – An anagram (developed) of TEN PHOTOS.
14 Having stepped inside we left breathtaking sports venue (9)
ASTRODOME – A word meaning stepped goes inside a word meaning breathtaking from which the WE is removed (we left).
16 It provides fruit, alternatively a vegetable (7)
ORCHARD – A two letter word meaning alternatively followed by a type of green leafy vegetable.
17 Dog that’s following naturalist (7)
SCOTTIE – The name of a naturalist followed by the abbreviation for “that is” or that’s.
19 A way of playing piano with legs apart (7)
ASTRIDE – The A from the clue followed by a way of playing jazz piano.
20 Revised text of letter completed (7)
EMENDED – The phonetic spelling of the letter M followed by a word meaning completed.
21 Flower blight common to Lake Baikal and the River Congo (7)
DEEPEST – A three letter river (flower) followed another word for blight. I think that the definition here requires too much general knowledge of quite a specialist kind.