Border Agency by Hasslethymi
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This puzzle from Hasslethymi is titled “Border Agency” – can you see why? 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.
Hasslethymi has produced an excellent crossword that includes a Nina around the perimeter that reads FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. Often when this is done, you find unusual words in the grid but our setter has managed to avoid this and to keep the overall feel of the clues light and simple. However, with simplicity comes a price. Just as in the Great British Bake Off, where a simple recipe requires greater perfection in its execution, simpler clues tend to highlight more any smaller imperfections in the cluing. To use another analogy, from Strictly, the dance was fantastic but as Craig would say, “your thumb was sticking up!”
8 Zero scope left after water becomes marmalade ingredient (6,4)
ORANGE PEEL – The letter representing zero followed by another word for the scope or ambit of something, a word for water that you pass and, finally, the abbreviation for left.
9 Efficient wrappers take to the stuffing of suit case (4)
ETUI – The outer letters (wrappers) followed by (take to) the inner letters (stuffing) of suit. I think that the “take to” is out of place here as “take to” does not imply a charade. Perhaps “with” would have been better here.
10 Greatest duty is essentially to lead largest number (6)
UTMOST – The inner letters (essential) before (to lead) a word for the largest number. The “is” could have been omitted here and it would have improved the cryptic grammar whilst maintaining the surface reading.
11 Turning lovely (8)
BECOMING – A double definition.
12 Take back support when it comes before informant or judge (10)
ARBITRATOR – Reverse a female item of underwear (take back support) and follow it with the IT from the clue, a word meaning an informant and the OR from the clue.
14 Cheers following US lawyer’s evidence (4)
DATA – The abbreviation for District Attorney (US lawyer) followed by a word meaning cheers or thank you.
16 Ireland before the first person invaded? (4)
EIRE – The letter representing the first person goes inside (invaded) a word meaning before.
17 Audible toss of coins (5)
SONIC – An anagram (toss of) COINS. I am not sure that the definition and the answer are synonyms. Audible is an adjective meaning able to be heard. The answer is an adjective meaning relating to sound.
18 Let it remain in trust eternally (4)
STET – The answer is hidden in TRUST ETERNALLY.
19 Regulate rule that lacks gravity (4)
REIN – Remove the abbreviation for the force of gravity from a word meaning rule.
21 Select a flower, we hear, as condiment (10)
PICCALILLI – The answer sound like (we hear) “pick a lily”, select a flower.
23 College poetry reveals everything (8)
UNIVERSE – A three letter abbreviation for a college followed by another word for universe.
26 Style from gold brought back by a pair of commanding officers (6)
ROCOCO – Reverse a two letter heraldic term for gold and follow it with the abbreviation for commanding officers twice (pair of).
27 Franklin maybe has a pulse (4)
BEAN – The short form of Benjamin (as in Benjamin Franklin) includes (has) an A included. A minor niggle, but unless Benjamin Franklin was ever known by the diminutive, this is slightly unfair on the solver. Has as an inclusion indicator is at best very weak and a stronger one such as “describes” would have improved the clue.
28 Nothing organic or ecofriendly is khaki (5,5)
OLIVE GREEN – The letter representing nothing followed by a word meaning organic and a word meaning eco-friendly. I don’t think that live is a direct synonym for organic, something that is organic may be living. Also, and more important, the “or” is simply wrong. It could be replaced by an “and”.
1 Mix finest rare ingredients (10)
FRATERNISE – An anagram (ingredients) of FINEST RARE. Some editors will not allow a noun as an anagram indicator. Also, although ingredients as a noun, implies component parts, there is nothing as a nounal anagram indicator to indicate rearrangement of the component parts. To keep the surface reading this would be difficult but you could have “Mix recipe of finest rare ingredients”.
2 Bar open season without delay (2,2,4)
IN NO TIME – A three letter word for a bar or pub followed by an O (open?) and a word for a season. O is not give as a recognised abbreviation in Chambers and I have not found any other reference to it used in this way.
3 Coconut shell sitting in almost sweet liquid (6)
NECTAR – The outer letters (shell) of coconut inside a word meaning almost. As a synonym, almost would give “nearly” or “very nearly” rather than “near”.
4 Is part of riverbank crumbling, collapsing or eroding? (4)
VERB – The answer, forming part of the word riverbank is exemplified by the final words of the clue. This construction could have been made a bit smoother to remove the “is” with “Part of riverbank maybe crumbling, collapsing or eroding?”.
5 Moving the French court into Morecambe, perhaps (8)
ELECTRIC – The French masculine form of “the” and the abbreviation for court go inside (into) the first name of the comedian Mr Morecambe.
6 Appeared to be joined in speech (6)
SEEMED – A homophone (in speech) of seamed (joined).
7 Go initially to where the Ashes are kept (4)
TURN – The first letter (initially) of to followed by another word for the vase in which the Ashes are kept.
13 Medicine for spasm’s working internally (5)
TONIC – A word meaning working goes inside a word for a nervous or muscular spasm. The link word here does not work as we get definition FOR wordplay which is back to front.
15 Refurbished cell bereft of staff sign (6,4)
TREBLE CLEF – An anagram (refurbished) of CELL BEREFT.
17 Fabulous accommodation on the outskirts of Brazilian city is even better (8)
SUPERIOR – A meaning fabulous goes around (accommodation on the outskirts of) a Brazilian city. As has been pointed out, the synonym in the wordplay for “fabulous” is closely related to the answer and a bit more misdirection could have been provided with “Police chief” or something similar. Accommodation on the outskirts of is rather clunky containment indicator. Maybe something along the lines of “Police chief’s touring Brazilian city’s lake”.
18 Panic about family’s facial treatments, maybe (8)
SKINCARE – A word for a panic goes around a word for family.
20 Explosion of an oven elicits prayer (6)
NOVENA – An anagram (explosion of) AN OVEN.
22 One deadly sin is acceptable (6)
AGREED – A word meaning one (as in I will have one/a cake) followed by one of the seven deadly sins.
24 Festive season marks the change from flight to fight (4)
NOEL – Split 2, 2 the answer means removing the letter L (phonetically ‘el’), as in getting from flight to fight.
25 16’s rising lake (4)
ERIE – Reverse (rising) the answer 16a.