A Puzzle by Acteon
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Acteon sent this puzzle in to Rookie Corner after I met him in The George last month. What do you think of it? 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.
Our thanks to Acteon for a highly commendable debut crossword in the Rookie corner. There were a lot of good clues and ideas in the wordplay in this crossword. In one or two places, the clues were perhaps a little too ambitious but overall the quality was good.
1 Ex dumps men just before church held? Several of them! (9)
DIVORCEES – Another word for dumps or disreputable places goes around (held) the abbreviation for Other Ranks (men) and the abbreviation for Church of England. I am not keen on splitting the definition at either end of the wordplay and the construction A B held for B inside A is worthy of Yoda!
6 Take drink without your sweetener (5)
SYRUP – A three letter word meaning to drink around (without) a two letter abbreviation for your. Views differ on whether without means around. Without can mean outside and outside can mean around but this is not an equivalence relationship so without does not necessarily mean around!
9 “Sometimes I used this”, narrated Frost? (5)
RHYME – A homophone of rime (frost) to give a verse form sometimes used by the American poet Robert Frost.
10 Government means of funding volunteers to meet unknown soft rock group (9)
TAXPAYERS – The old abbreviation for what is now the Army Reserve followed a letter indicating an unknown amount in algebra, the abbreviation for soft and the rock in the heartland of Australia more correctly known as Uluru all grouped together.
11 Drunken rabble elude Lord Baden-Powell, perhaps (6-9)
DOUBLE-BARRELLED – An anagram (drunken) of RABBLE ELUDE LORD.
13 Poorer quality leaflet tucked inside a manuscript? Quite the reverse! (8)
FLIMSIER – The letter that for one (a) plus the abbreviation for manuscript inside another word for a leaflet. The quite the reverse is an indication that you reverse the wordplay instructions in the clue.
14 Cook, for example, tarts? Eating, I retired (6)
STRAIT – Put the I from the clue inside (eating) the TARTS from the clue to get a narrow strip of water of which Cook is an example.
16 Leaving emails here to hit harder (6)
OUTBOX – Where e-mails that are leaving or being sent are stored split 3,3 might imply that someone hits harder.
18 Sent up a pole in black and white (8)
PARODIED – The A from the clue and a word for a pole inside (in) another word meaning black and white.
21 Soft-ticking watches resynchronise Internet communications, for example (6,9)
PACKET SWITCHING – The abbreviation for soft (already used in 10a so a different indicator should ideally by used) followed by an anagram (resynchronise) of TICKING WATCHES. I think that the definition here is a little too technical for general use in a crossword.
23 Investigating complaints, he makes frightfully dumb moans (9)
OMBUDSMAN – An anagram (frightfully) of DUMB MOANS. A minor point but I don’t think that definition makes wordplay quite works. Wordplay makes definition would be a better order.
25 To make one more quietly certain? (5)
UNIFY – Are you listening carefully, I will say this only once. If something is certain it may fancifully be described as UN-IFFY. If you then express this more quietly, you would then reduce the FF (very loud) to F Loud. I think that with the oblique base word formation and the reduction instruction being unusual, this was a little too ambitious as a clue.
26 Mystified female sat in front of famous puzzle (5)
FAZED – The abbreviation for female followed by the name of a famous cryptic crossword puzzle series. I think within the context of the crossword blog, it is fair to refer to the name of a well known crossword. I suspect that for a wider solver-ship, this would require to much inside knowledge of crossword land.
27 Set right and bandaged again (9)
REDRESSED – Double definition, the first as a legal remedy and the second reapplying a dressing.
1 Defied king in raising dead (5)
DARED – The abbreviation for rex (king) inside a reversal of the DEAD from the clue. In this clue and in 14a, you have a direct lift from the clue into the answer. Too much of this and the puzzle can seem a bit pedestrian.
2 Peeping Tom’s victory I use indecently (11)
VOYEURISTIC – An anagram (use indecently) of TOMS VICTORY I. The definition needs the ‘s expanded to “Peeping Tom Is” to get the correspondence between the definition and the answer.
3 Cruel lessons show the spaces between beds and walls (7)
RUELLES – The answer is hidden inside (show) CRUEL LESSONS. The joys of the English language. Your challenge is to use this word at least once in general conversation this week! As befits an unusual word it was clued clearly and simply. This might have been better as cruel lesson shows so that you have wordplay shows definition but the distinction is a fine one.
4 Head off to where Earl Grey may be served – and food (8)
EATABLES – Remove the first letter (head off) TEA TABLES (where Earl Grey may be served).
5 Young leaders – take great hits (6)
SIXERS – The pack leaders in the cub-scouts and great cricketing hits. I am not sure that “take” in A take B works with a double definition as a link word. It cannot works as part of the definition as it would require a verb as the solution.
6 Most sophisticated drone in fixed bearing south (7)
SUAVEST – The abbreviation for unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) inside a word meaning fixed all around (bearing) the abbreviation for south.
7 Nice way could be to take pity (3)
RUE – The name of a road in France (Nice way) and a word meaning to take pity.
8 Tape sent boxed for this type of cheque? (9)
POSTDATED – The abbreviation for digital audiotape inside (boxed) a word meaning sent. Another Yoda construction of A B boxed to mean A inside B.
12 Sound press skills result in debts (11)
LIABILITIES – A homophone (sound) of lie (press) on a word meaning skills. Here the clue should be capable of wordplay results in definition, not wordplay result in definition.
13 Take in galley to be sure (9)
FOOLPROOF – A word meaning to dupe or take in followed by a trial print or galley that is used to check for typos and formatting errors.
15 Measured and estimated trapped charged particle (8)
RATIONED – Another word for estimate goes around (trapped) a word for a charged particle.
17 Excelled after elevation central to a splendid revolution (7)
OVERDID – The answer is hidden (central to) and reversed (after elevation) in A SPLENDID REVOLUTION. I wonder if you could omit the “a” in this clue but then the answer would be slightly off-centre and not exactly central to the letters given!
19 Bite on cue – cold pie (7)
OCCLUDE – An anagram (pie) of CUE COLD.
20 On the way to this compound, is Rome burned? (6)
ISOMER – An anagram (burned) of IS ROME. The structure here is to get (on the way to) definition [you have] wordplay.
22 Old penny for this paper chief held steadily (5)
GUYED – The effigy for which a penny is called around bonfire night (not necessarily an old penny) followed by the abbreviation for editor (paper chief).
24 Unknown element gets ahead in company (3)
BIZ – The chemical symbol for Bismuth |before (gets ahead) a letter used to indicate an unknown amount in algebra. As unknown has already been used for a letter (albeit a different one), a different indicator should ideally have been used.