Coder by Fiddlesticks
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Fiddlesticks is our first new setter of 2017. 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 review by Prolixic follows:
Welcome to Fiddlesticks. This was tough and possible unnecessarily so. I took me about four times the length of time it usually takes me to solve a toughie. There was far too much reliance of subtractive anagrams and overall 15 of the clues involved anagrams in some form. As there were only 26 clues, this represents 57% of the clues which is too high a percentage. There were very few charades and container and content clues. Although there were some very clever clues and inventive wordplay, the net result that the very good parts were lost in the overall impression off the crossword.
7 Side member makes an entrance to improvise in soundcheck (8)
DOORJAMB – A four letter word for an entrance followed by a homophone (in soundcheck) of jam (to improvise). The first part of the wordplay is perhaps to similar to the first part of the solution. I think that definition makes wordplay would be better as wordplay makes definition.
9 Squash mum with never-ending argument (6)
MARROW – A two letter word for mum or mother followed by the final letter (ending) of never and another word for an argument.
10 Shoot and arrest (4)
STEM – Double definition of a plant shoot and a word meaning to stop or arrest.
11 Indicator showing zero gain when migrants tune in to programme (10)
INSTRUMENT – An anagram (to programme) of MIGRANTS TUNE IN after removing (zero) the letters of GAIN. Some editors would require a secondary anagram indicator to indicate that the letters in GAIN are not in the same order when removed from the initial letters.
12 Without hesitation, roams where horse mackerel used as bait (6)
HECKLE – Another subtractive anagram – remove (without) an ER (hesitation) and the letters in ROAM from HORSE MACKEREL and make an anagram (used) of the letters that remain.
14 Cleaner misapprehended in seizure with no remand in custody (5,3)
SHEEP DIP – A third subtractive anagram in a row (perhaps a little more variety in the cluing would be welcome) – Remove (no … in custody) the letters in REMAND from MISAPPREHENDED and make an anagram (in seizure) of the letters that remain. Again, as with all of the subtractive anagrams, there is no secondary anagram indicator.
15 11 all too much, dismisses another after performance (4,9)
ALTO SAXAPHONE – The first two letters of all and of too (much – grammatically in the cryptic reading it should be much of X to indicate removing the final letter) followed by a homophone (after performance) of SACKS A PHONE (dismisses another where another is another instrument).
17 Drop the ball, drop the dot dash for 11 (8)
BELLHARP – Yes – yet another subtractive anagram. Remove (drop the) letters in DOT from DROP THE BALL and make an anagram (dash) from the letters that remain. The answer is not in Chambers or Collins. On-line sources disagree over whether the answer is (8) or (4,4) or (4-4).
19 Whipped cream in England is fine (6)
AMERCE – An anagram (whipped) of CREAM E (England). This clue does not work. E is the abbreviation for English not England and the IN is completely out of place. “Whipped English cream is fine” would have been much better.
21 Drop the dash dash LSD ad at Methodism centre (10)
MIDDLEMOST – Guess what – another subtractive anagram! Remove (drop the) letters in DASH from LSD AD METHODISM and make an anagram (dash) of the letters that remain. I think that the answer is more closely related to central rather than centre to give the adjective rather than the noun.
22 Drop one dot dash bread at God’s mountain (4)
BERG – Remove the A (one) and the D (dot dash – dash meaning the first bit of of I think that this should be dash of…) from BREAD and add a G for God. Again this clue does not work – You need to make an anagram of the remaining letters in bread and there is no anagram indicator. Dash could be anagram indicator but it is the wordplay indicator for the first letter of dot. D on its own is not an abbreviation for dot. Also G is not a recognised indicator for God.
23 Painfulness of a fiddle without flaps or bores (6)
ENNUIS – It will not come as any surprise that there is another subtractive anagram. Remove the letters (without) in FLAPS from PAINFULNESS and make an anagram (of a fiddle) of the letters that remains. I think that “of a fiddle” does not really work as an anagram indicator.
24 Joiner reheels an old flip-flop to drop the dot (8)
ENROLLEE – Rather like busses, you wait ages for a subtractive anagram and two come along at once. Remove the letters in the DOT from REHEELS AN OLD and make an anagram (flip flop) of the remaining letters. Again, this clue does not work as the removal should he the letters in DASH not DOT.
1 Suspicious prostitutes distrust agent (6)
POSTIE – Remove the letters in TRUST (dis-trust) from PROSTITUTES and make an anagram (suspicious) of the letters that remain. I think that the definition is a bit of a stretch for the solution. How unusual to have a subtractive anagram again.
2 11 enjoyed rumination, content (4)
DRUM – The answer is hidden in (content) in ENJOYED RUMINATION. One of the issues with this crossword is a lot of repetition in the answer. See 17a and 22d, 2d and 13d, 8d and 15a and (in part 5d). To give a better cryptic grammar, perhaps enjoyed ruminant’s content would have been better.
3 Caution after drug withdrawal out of exhaustion (8)
WARINESS – Remove the abbreviation for ecstasy from a word meaning exhaustion.
4 Steep climb rued on finding more at every side (6)
IMBRUE -The answer is hidden (finding more at every side (perhaps this would work better in an across clue) in CLIMB RUED.
5 Player‘s pulse after start of overture is 11 (10)
GRAMOPHONE – A four letter word for a type of pulse followed by the first letter (start of) of overture and a type of the answer to 11.
6 11 takes two to dance (8)
HORNPIPE – Two examples of musical 11s. Takes two does not quite read correctly in the cryptic reading of the clue. If you wanted to make it more cryptic you could have 2 x 11 makes dance.
8 Snap shoebox, as used for 11 (4,9)
BASS SAXOPHONE – An anagram (used) of SNAP SHOEBOX AS. Although some latitude is permissible with drop / dot / dash device in the clues, used has already been used as an anagram indicator and a different one could be used.
13 11 contained drink (10)
KETTLEDRUM – A word used in policing to mean contained or forced to gather in a particular area followed by a three letter word for drink.
15 Purgative “I repent”, a release (8)
APERIENT – An anagram (release) of I REPENT A.
16 Tennis player sent off after losing 9 matches is 11 (8)
PSALTERY – Jolly good, another subtractive anagram! Remove the letters in NINE (9) from TENNIS PLAYER and make an anagram (sent off). I am not sure that the “matches is” works here, Losing 9 in 11 would work better.
18 Cleaver seen as unfavourable in evidence (6)
AVERSE – The answer is hidden (in evidence) in CLEAVER SEEN. Normally, the definition should be at the beginning or end of the clue. It is unusual, unless the clue demands it, for the definition to be in the middle of the clue. I am not sure that the clue warrants a deviation from the normal convention.
20 11 cent euro revaluation after EU withdrawal (6)
CORNET – An anagram (revaluation) of CENT EURO after removing US (withdrawal).
22 Libellous statement brings 11 (4)
BELL – The answer is hidden (statement) in LIBELLOUS. I am not sure that statement is a adequate hidden word indicator.