Spies by Dill
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
It’s the third time for Dill – enjoy her latest puzzle. 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.
A very nice crossword from Dill who unfortunately got herself into a pickle with some of the original clues that were edited later after publication. I have reviewed against the amended clues.
The grid was not the most friendly. Double unchecked letters are fair game but in 15,19 and 24 across had two sets of double unchecked letters so that parts of the words had only one cross-checker in five letters. Editors will not usually allow this. The Times and the Independent (but not the Daily Telegraph) will not allow double unchecked letters at the beginning of a word.
The connectivity between the quadrants of the grid might be an issue for some but there are worse grids in the Daily Telegraph library where four quadrants meet only in the middle.
9 Name-dropping Evita Peron affected when performing (9)
OPERATIVE – An anagram (affected) of EVITA PERON after removing the N (name dropping). Nice spot on the subtractive anagram.
10 Country people in China invade Georgia (5)
GHANA – The name given to a group of Chinese people inside (invade) the abbreviation for the American state of Georgia. Perhaps invading would be better than invade otherwise the cryptic grammar could be A invade B, which is grammatically incorrect. Here, as with 15a, the contrary argument is that the wordplay refers to the letters that hide, not the word that hides.
11 Hooks in boxing match reflected on medical department initially (7)
ENTRAPS – The abbreviation for Ear Nose and Throat (medical department) before (on … initially) a reversal (reflected) of a word for a boxing match. I am not sure that the surface reading here makes much sense.
13 Lady ran riot in the rigging (7)
LANYARD –An anagram (riot) of LADY RAN. I think that rigging implies a system of ropes where as the answer is usually a single rope.
15 Cheat does hide nasty vice (8)
DECEIVER – An anagram (nasty) of VICE inside (hide) another word for does (as in the animals). Again, a strict grammatical reading should be A hiding/hides B leads to C.
16 Get away with key on board (6)
ESCAPE – Double definition time, the second being on a computer keyboard.
19 Exhibits capture present day spirits (7)
SHADOWS – A word meaning exhibits includes (capture – again capturing / captures maintains the cryptic reading better) the abbreviation for Anno Domini (present day).
22 Blunt spy ditches Penny for Bob (6)
CURTSY – A four letter word meaning blunt followed by the SPY from the clue without (ditches) the abbreviation for Penny. Good misdirection here with Blunt spy needing a lift and separate to get the wordplay.
24/17D FBI’s mission maybe not in a real US city (8,8)
NATIONAL SECURITY – An anagram (maybe) of NOT IN A REAL USE CITY. Apparantly this is the CIA’s mission, not that of the FBI.
25 Fuss erupts in court (7)
RUCTION – An anagram (erupts) of IN COURT. Perhaps as an intransitive verb “in court erupts” would be better.
27 Made sense of something fishy indeed (7)
DECODED – The three letter name of a fish inside IN the DEED from the clue. It was not simply overuse that led this sort of wordplay to be dropped. As an instruction to the solver in deed is not the same as indeed unless the split is highlighted. Different papers have different views of this lift and separate device. “Queen has to entertain succession (5)”
30 Hint comical dick exchanges unknown quantity for drug (5)
TRACE – Remove the letter used to represent an unknown quantity from the name of a comic book detective and replace it with the abbreviation for Ecstasy. As Dick is being used a proper noun, it should remain capitalised in the clue. The convention is you can capitalise an improper noun but not carry out the reverse.
31 Torn about vocal nun having the capacity to hold out (9)
RESISTANT – A four letter word meaning torn around a homophone (vocal) of SISTER (nun). Not a very precise homophone!
1 Hot chocolate sauce stays undergound (4)
MOLE – Double definition, the first being a chilli chocolate sauce used in Mexican cooking and the second an imprecise verbal definition of an animal that is usually underground. The presence of their hills on lawns gives lie to the fact that is stays underground! Nice use of hot chocolate sauce for a chocolate and chilli sauce.
2 Give authority to clobber without arms (4)
VEST – Double definition, the second being a sleeveless garment.
3 Singers are able to sign (8)
CANARIES – A three letter word meaning are able to followed by a sign of the zodiac.
4 Align skis to touch gently (4)
KISS – An anagram (align) of SKIS.
5 Report William shot accurately (4)
TELL – Double definition, the second by reference to the legend of the Swiss archer. I think would have been better as Report William? This would give a definition by example for the second part. William shot accurately does not really lead to the answer, though “William who shot accurately” might do so.
6 A place to relieve oneself of third parties (6)
AGENTS – The A from the clue followed by another word for the toilets (place to relieve oneself). A minor point is that definition of wordplay is usually allowed but some editors dislike wordplay of definition. An improvement cryptically and for the surface reading would be “with third parties”.
7 Desert king in the style of female double crosser (8)
KALAHARI – The abbreviation for king followed be a phrase 1,2 meaning in the style of followed by the name of a temptress and spy.
8 Headless daddy ram genetically engineered with drug to gather wool (8)
DAYDREAM – An anagram (genetically engineered) of ADDY (headless daddy) RAM with the abbreviation for ecstasy. This is a correction for the previous clue whose letters did not make the required anagram. With the edit, the wordplay for the drug has been repeated. It happens frequently to me that when a clue has to be edited, I inadvertently repeat a wordplay element so I try to take particular care when an edit is requested to check the other clues for duplication.
12 Alien supporting US city makes Russia negative (4)
NYET – The abbreviation for New York followed by the eponymous cutesy film alien. As pointed out by Dutch, this should really be Russian negative.
14 Move quickly up in government’s primary dealing (7)
TRADING – A word meaning move quickly reversed (up) followed by the IN from the clue and the first letter (primary) of government. As G is a recognised abbreviation for Government, the clue could have been simplified to government’s dealing.
17 See 24 Across
18 Belgian money caught sneak in the Brussels administration (8)
EUROCRAT – The current currency of Belgium followed by the abbreviation for caught and another word for a sneak. This is another phrasal definition. Perhaps “one in the Brussels administration” would be better.
20 Check out after two-piecer is packed (8)
SUITCASE – A two piece item of clothing followed by (after) a word meaning to check out or reconnoitre. Another phrasal definition. Too many can become a little off-putting so try to use them sparingly.
21 The American presidential election leaders release recording (4)
TAPE – The first letters (leaders) of the first four words of the clue.
23 Emoticon exposed my lies (6)
SMILEY – An anagram (exposed) of MYLIES.
26 Vessel piloted by new informer (4)
NARK – The abbreviation for new over (piloted by) the Biblical rescue vessel.
27 Fund is conveniently hiding circle (4)
DISC – The answer is hidden (hiding) in FUND IS CONVENIENTLY.
28 Allegedly Roald cooked lentils in India (4)
DHAL – A homophone of DAHL.
29 In brief, prosecutor: ” thanks for the info” (4)
DATA – The abbreviation of District Attorney followed by a two letter word meaning thanks.