A Puzzle by Melvis
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Melvis’s debut puzzle is this seasonal offering. 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.
A very happy Christmas to all on the blog and particularly to all of the Rookie setters who have entertained us throughout 2016. Today we welcome Melvis with a debut puzzle. This was a promising debut. There were a few rough edges but these can easily be polished. The grid was an unusual one. Double unches are frequently seen but as a general rule, each word should have at least 50% of the letters cross-checked. 7 and 26 down would not be acceptable in a national paper’s puzzle having only one cross-checking letter in five. A greater variety in the cluing would help as well. Five hidden word clues and three consecutive central letter clues was over egging the figgy pudding.
1 Oh, fizz dear! Two prepare for Christmas viewing (3,6,2,2)
THE WIZARD OF OZ – An anagram (prepare) of OH FIZZ DEAR TWO. If prepare is used in the imperative, it should come before the letters to be rearranged, as in prepare XYZ. After the letters, prepared would be more appropriate.
8 Recalls losing sleep over smouldering remains (6)
EMBERS – Remove the REM (sleep or rapid eye movement) from the beginning of a word meaning recalls.
9 Take frustrations out on this grumpy lady with drink (8)
PUNCHBAG – A drink made from fruit and alcohol followed by a disrespectful term for a grumpy old lady.
10 Crud olfaction has quite a nose! (6)
RUDOLF – The answer is hidden in (has) CRUD OLFACTION. I don’t think that “quite a nose” works as the definition. If the “has” is included in the definition, it is then doing double duty as the hidden word indicator and part of the definition.
11 Confused Diane expels new notion (4)
IDEA – An anagram (confused) of DIANE without the N (expels new). The surface reading could be improved by using “without new notion”.
12 First under navy vessel (3)
URN – The first letter of under followed by the abbreviation for Royal Navy. Depending on the editor, constructions such as first X to indicate the first letter of the word may or may not be accepted. The grammatical construction would be first of X.
13 Party’s in full swing – it’s no good in there! (6)
SINFUL – The answer is hidden in (in there) PARTY’S IN FULL. Usually definition comes at the beginning or end of the clue but the construction “definition is in there” works well. The “swing” in the clue is padding to make the surface reading work. This would not be acceptable to some editors.
16 Having a laugh playing around start of lecture (8)
GIGGLING – A word in meaning playing (as in playing music at a concert) around the first letter (start of) lecture.
20 Environment outside initially lousy getting more comfortable (8)
SETTLING – Another word for the environment or context for something around (outside) the first letter (initially) of lousy.
23 Involve in late shenanigans (6)
ENTAIL – An anagram (shenanigans) of IN LATE. Some editors would be unhappy with a noun (shenanigans) being used as an anagram indicator.
25 Cure for bad acting? (3)
HAM – Double definition. Neither side of the clue works particularly well. Cure implies the process for making the answer and, as a noun, does not mean the answer. Bad acting implies a verb as the answer but, again, the answer is the actor who is a poor performer.
27 Cause congestion sleeping heavily like this with cold (4)
CLOG – The abbreviation for cold followed by a word that is description of sleeping heavily.
28 Fan missing drink gets ale (6)
PORTER – Omit a three letter word meaning to drink from another word for a fan, as in a football *********.
29 Reserve assessment to keep ones place (8)
BOOKMARK – Another word meaning to book something followed by another word for an assessment.
30 Justification for beheading capital offence (6)
REASON – Remove the initial letter (beheading) from another word for a capital offence. Given the sensitivity over terrorist executions, it is probably better to steer clear from this type of first letter deletion.
31 Fancy chain as on list for Christmas visitor (5,8)
SAINT NICHOLAS – An anagram (fancy) of CHAIN AS ON LIST.
1 Roosevelt gets up and ponders (9)
THEORISES – The shortened form of the first name of the US president followed by another word meaning gets up.
2 Sickly and ill – hear this is common over the festive season (4,3)
WEEK OFF – A homophone of sickly (hear) followed by another word meaning ill. Perhaps this would have been better as “Sickly, we hear, and ill…”
3 Bubbly like a good lemonade (7)
ZEZTFUL – Double definition.
4 Tupac’s music – sounds for gift presentation? (7)
RAPPING – The musical genre of the musical artist Tupac Shakur is a homophone (sounds) of what gifts are presented in.
5 Beastly tonic is ok in gin cocktail (7)
OINKING – An anagram (cocktail) of OK IN GIN. I don’t think that “tonic” as a noun strictly means a noise or sound other than a musical note, but poetic licence would give this meaning!
6 German talks underwear, the animal! (5)
ZEBRA – How a German might pronounce “the” followed by an item of female underwear.
7 Merkel gets pedicure from heaven (5)
ANGEL – Remove the last letter (gets pedicure) from the first name of the German premiere.
14 On reflection, such a large quantity of wine is lunatic (3)
NUT – Reverse (on reflection) of an old measure for 216 gallons of wine!
15 Curtail surly address (3)
URL – Remove the outer letters (curtail) from SURLY. I think that curtail means only to remove the final letter.
17 Shot in imaginary heart (3)
GIN – The answer is in the centre (heart) of IMAGINARY.
18 Marie heartily backs violent movement (3)
IRA – The answer is hidden and reversed (heartily backs) MARIE. Three clues in a row where you have to use the central letters of a word for the answer means that the puzzle lacks balance.
19 Time to take five? (4,5)
GOLD RINGS – I am not sure that this clue has any meaningful wordplay other than a rather indirect allusion to the number of gifts received on the fifth day of Christmas.
21 Soak in driving rainstorm (7)
INGRAIN – The answer is hidden (in) in DRIVING RAINSTORM.
22 Serving her kindly with savoury snack (7)
GHERKIN – The answer is hidden in (with) SERVING HER KINDLY.
23 Experimental inspector involved in heinous crime (7)
EMPIRIC – An abbreviation for a private investigator goes inside (involved in) an anagram (heinous) of CRIME. I don’t think that inspector is a fair indicator for a private investigator given that you have to get from inspector to the synonym and then to the abbreviation.
24 Road not ravaged by freak weather (7)
TORNADO – An anagram (ravaged) of ROAD NOT.
26 Sound of thieving bird (5)
ROBIN – A homophone (sound of) a word meaning thieving. Perhaps has the final letter of the synonym for thieving is not sounded, you need a dialect indicator such as thieving Cockney. As sound has already been used as a homophone indicator, a different indicator should be used here.
27 Cruelly scorns, no new affront (5)
CROSS – An anagram (cruelly) of SCORNS without the N (no new). As new has already been used in the context of a letter deletion, a different letter indicator should have been used.