A Puzzle by MP
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
They said he wouldn’t dare set another puzzle – they were wrong. MP is back. 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.
I am assured that the recent problems with the website were not an attempt by MP to prevent a review of his crossword appearing! This was a marked improvement on his first crossword though not without its own niggling points; but overall it was a good second coming.
9 Spoilsports dare racketeers (9)
PREDATORS – An anagram (spolis) of PORTS DARE. The need to split spoilsports into two to get a wordplay indicator and anagram letters would not always be acceptable to editors. More importantly, as the anagram indicator works in the imperative, it should be spoil, not spoils.
10 Party in first class defence (5)
ALIBI – The abbreviation of an old political party inside two letters that indicate first class.
11 More expensive direction (5)
NORTH – A double definition, the first being a slang expression not in Chambers or Collins indicating that the price is higher thought it would more correctly be used with “of”. The second is a compass direction. Perhaps the first part of the double definition is a little too obscure for use in a crossword.
12 Give support to balancing act (9)
HANDSTAND – A four letter word meaning give followed by another word for a stand.
13 More severe guide adopting force (7)
STERNER – A five letter word meaning to guide or direct includes an abbreviation for one of the armed forces.
14 Sporting a sporran courageously reveals hostility (7)
RANCOUR – The answer is hidden in (reveals) SPORRAN COURAGEOUSLY. The “Sporting a” is padding that would not find favour with all editors as it does not contribute to the definition or the wordplay.
17 Cheerful and delicate (5)
LIGHT – Double definition.
19 Boob appears to hold itself (3)
BAP – The answer is hidden (to hold) in BOOB APPEARS.
20 Bencher who makes judgement about the night before (5)
REEVE – A two letter word meaning about followed by a three letter word meaning the night before.
21 Unsweetened ice with crab cocktail (7)
ACERBIC – An anagram (cocktail) of ICE CRAB. The definition here is misleading. Just because something is unsweetened, it does not mean it is bitter or sour, which is what the answer means.
22 Islanders suffering trances (7)
CRETANS – An anagram (suffering) of TRANCES.
24 Writer went ahead and wrote in (9)
PENCILLED – An implement used to write followed by a three letter word meaning went ahead. As others have already commented, there is a large degree of crossover between the answer and the first part of the wordplay which, ideally, should be avoided when setting clues.
26 Yes! Old sailors hunger (5)
YEARN – An old way of saying yes, followed by an abbreviation for the branch of the armed forces where sailors serve.
28 Reprove cook (5)
ROAST – Double definition.
29 Deliverance from short allowance after endless comfort (9)
SALVATION – A word for an allowance with the first letter removed (short) followed by a word for comfort with the last letter removed (endless). Short as an indicator is usually used to indicate removing the last letter and not the first.
1 Turn bedrolls for a length of time (4)
SPAN – Reverse an informal Australian slang word for bedrolls. It seems that the slang word may be of dubious provenance though it is given in Chambers.
2 Container for one’s last container (6)
HEARSE – Cryptic definition of the vehicle that carried a coffin.
3 Laundry. But put back uses this (7,3)
WASHING TUB – A word for laundry followed by a reversal put back of BUT. Again there is too large a degree of crossover between the wordplay and the answer.
4 Monk has no right to make trouble (6)
BOTHER – Remove the abbreviation for right from a word for a monk.
5 A daily gin in a south facing garden (1,7)
A SUNTRAP – The A from the clue followed by the name of a newspaper (daily) and another word for a gin (a device to capture something). As a general rule, you should not use the definite or indefinite article as part of the solution unless it is a formal part of the answer.
6 Digs cricketer’s protection (4)
PADS – Double definition, the first being somewhere to live and the second being something to protect the cricketer’s shins and knees.
7 Garment worn by “The Lass That Loved A Sailor” without odd humps (8)
PINAFORE – The formal title of the operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan subtitled from the clue after removing the HMS (odd letters in humps).
8 Maybe a swift attempt to cross river (4)
BIRD – A word meaning to attempt something around (to cross) the abbreviation for river.
13 Leading svelte and lissome South Africans dance (5)
SALSA – The initial letters (leading) of the second to sixth words of the clue. Perhaps leading characters in would have been a better first letter indicator.
15 One who pots greens (10)
NURSERYMAN – A cryptic definition of a worker who pots plants.
16 Hares morph into flightless birds (5)
RHEAS – An anagram (morph into) of HARES.
18 Eco-friendly approach leading to undeveloped land (8)
GREENWAY – A word meaning eco-friendly followed by another word for a path or approach. As the answer is an Americanism, this should have been indicated in the clue.
19 Make fewer bets in revealing number (8)
BACKLESS – Split 4,4, the answer could mean make fewer bets. The definition indicates a noun as the answer but the answer itself is an adjective.
22 Muddled clue embraces large cups for hug (6)
CUDDLE – An anagram (muddled) of CLUE includes a bra size. The surface reading here is close to being meaningless.
23 Slowly a soldier gets into trouble (6)
ADAGIO – The A from the clue and the abbreviation for an American soldier inside a three letter word meaning trouble.
24 Cheeky return of intrepid insider (4)
PERT – The answer is hidden (insider) and reversed (return) in INTREPID. I am not convinced that insider means the inside of something, rather an insider is a person who is inside, which is not the same thing.
25 Hearty cheerio. Tara a bit (4)
IOTA – The answer is hidden (hearty) in CHEERIO TARA. Four hidden word clues is probably over-egging the pudding.
27 Nil by mouth. Novice by ear. (4)
NONE – A homophone (by ear) of someone who may be a novice. The clue fails as a fair definition as a novice is someone training to be a nun and would not become one until they have taken their vows, at which point they would no longer be a novice. Depending on how you pronounce it, the answer may rhyme more with gone than the nun.