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SP – 001

Special Puzzle – 001

“Candidats” by Alchemi

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a Special Puzzle, compiled by Alchemi.  Its theme is very topical and should become obvious fairly quickly.

Alchemi has provided us with a very special puzzle themed on five of the candidates for election to President of 8 Down.  The thematic entries were clued so that they were easy to solve – did you get all of them?


1a Unprincipled examination of Welsh politician (6)
AMORAL: split as (2,4) this could be an examination for a member of the Welsh Assembly

5a Spot parsnip I’m pleased to keep (6)
PIMPLE : hidden (to keep) inside the clue

9a Type of film proposal that follows owls being massacred (4,6)
SLOW MOTION: a proposal preceded by (that follows) an anagram (being massacred) of OWLS

10a Turn back shots (4)
SPIN: the reversal (back) of some shots of alcoholic spirit

11a Against sending back computers to North America (4)
ANTI: the reversal (sending back) of a two-letter collective term for computers and the abbreviation for North America

12a Busy with getting rid of record of fun feat (10)
ATTAINMENT: start with a 13-letter word meaning fun and replace ENTER (record) with a two-letter word meaning busy

13a Extremely tough card device which puts things through eyes (8)
THREADER: the outer letters (extremely) of T[oug]H followed by a device used to input cards into a computer

15a Stuff old and new candidate (6)
FILLON: a verb meaning to stuff or cram followed by O(ld) and N(ew)

18a Fisherman to annoy hiding line (6)
ANGLER: a verb meaning to annoy around (hiding) L(ine)

21a As casual observer, spy bears cavorting (6-2)
PASSER-BY: an anagram (cavorting) of SPY BEARS

24a Male priest in trap next to popular place to dump rubbish (7,3)
WHEELIE BIN: the male pronoun and an Old Testament priest inside a trap set by a spider and followed by the usual adjective meaning popular

26a Some uninhabitable houses (1,3)
A BIT: hidden (houses) inside the clue

27a Maybe Hamilton starts to expect more massive acceleration (4)
EMMA: someone with the surname Hamilton – not Lewis, in spite of the surface reading! – is derived from the initial letters of (starts to) four words in the clue

28a Meat goes round tree (5,5)
SKIRT STEAK: a charade of a verb meaning goes round (6) and a type of tree

29a Nervous individual has trick to avoid party (2,4)
ON EDGE: an individual followed by a trick without (to avoid) DO (party)

30a Pairs of magnets crystallising onions for candidate (6)
MACRON: the first two letters (pairs) of three words in the clue


2d Candidate speaking his own language in Switzerland gets covered in fruit (9)
MÉLENCHON: the word for “in” in the language of this candidate and the IVR code for Switzerland inside (covered in) fruit

3d New version about to feature English legal document (7)
REWRITE: the two-letter word meaning about around (to feature) E(nglish) and a legal document

4d Fat upcoming novelist is swallowed by big cat (7)
LEOPARD: some fat inside which (is swallowed by) the reversal (upcoming in a down clue) of the surname of an American novelist

5d Pope quiet about argument (7)
PONTIFF: a charade of the musical notation for quiet, a two-letter word meaning about and an argument

6d Note nearly everybody finds hardly noticeable (7)
MINIMUM: a musical note followed by most of (nearly) a word meaning everbody

7d Peel off nationalist candidate (2,3)
LE PEN: an anagram (off) of PEEL followed by N(ationalist)

8d Play the riff for everyone to hear in France (5,8)
FIFTH REPUBLIC: an anagram () of THE RIFF fb an adjective meaning for everyone to hear

14d Eastender’s own classical welcome (3)
AVE: drop the initial H, Eastender style, from a verb meaning to own

16d Offers to get rid of black passports? (3)
IDS: start with some offers and drop (get rid of) the B(lack)

17d Accompaniment in bag to boil after shaking (9)
OBBLIGATO: an anagram (after shaking) of BAG TO BOIL

19d Sketch swimmer going backwards in Caribbean islands (7)
LEEWARD: a four-letter verb meaning to sketch and a fish (swimmer) all reversed (going backwards)

20d Engineers’ children put out again (7)
REISSUE: a charade of the Royal Engineers and some children

22d Man cuts off private area (7)
SANCTUM: an anagram (off) of MAN CUTS

23d Bouncy castle I demolished (7)
ELASTIC: an anagram (demolished) of CASTLE I

25d Meat prepared for candidate (5)
HAMON: some meat followed by a two-letter word meaning prepared for or available

18 comments on “SP – 001

  1. Bravo, Alchemi. Somewhat easier to solve than your puzzles generally are but how impressive that you managed to fit so many examples of the theme into a single grid.
    I did need to double-check a couple of spellings – at least one of our number will not have that problem!

    Podium places went to24,29&30a plus 14d. I would have liked to add a few comments about 1a but as we’re discouraged from mentioning the ‘P’ word on the blog I’ll keep my thoughts to myself. Good choice of words though…….

    1. I realised about halfway through clueing it that the clues I was coming up with were fairly easy, and then decided to carry on in that vein where possible. I think this sort of occasion puzzle probably ought to be biased towards making it easy to get the theme words at least, because the aim is to give people something to help them celebrate or whatever rather than have them occupied for ages doing mental gymnastics.

      1. Believe me, Alchemi, I wasn’t complaining in the least. The last few words of your comment perfectly describe my usual modus operandi with one of your puzzles – I was grateful for the pleasant respite this one afforded!

  2. J’ai trouvé cinq candidats, mais où sont les six autres?

    Excuse my French, Jean-Luc, et tout le monde.

    Thanks to Alchemi …

  3. Thanks to the clarity of the cluing and armed only with a list of the “candidats” in question, this all fell into place nicely. The only thing I am struggling with is the parsing of 12a.

    24a was my favourite with 2d in second place.

    Great fun, thank you, Alchemi. and well done on such an excellent creation. Thanks too to BD for spoiling us all by providing yet another diversion. Does SP-001 mark the start of another regular series?

    1. My guess is that the SP means it’s anything but a regular series. There might in future be other events for which someone offers a one-off puzzle for a specific day, so the SP helps to keep them in a special category,which would need a global caveat that they were published on a specific day and were themed around the event.

  4. Such a treat to have an extra puzzle today! Even though I do try to keep up with events in Europe from my side of the pond, I did need to arm myself with a list of the “candidats” beyond the big three. I do have a couple of question marks beside 1A and 12A with regard to parsing, but other than that this was very doable and most enjoyable. Thank you Alchemi!

  5. A very enjoyable puzzle, and all fairly clued with a sense of generosity to the solver for the difficult to spell words. 22 and 23 d were my favourites

  6. As I did not know any of the ‘candidats’ my first act was to Google a list. Armed with this the solving was a relatively straightforward enjoyable process.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  7. Very happy to see such interest in our presidential elections.
    The candidates were filled in first obviously but I really enjoyed the rest of the solve.
    Almost wrote “scrotum” in 22d but stopped myself just in time.
    Thanks to Alchemi for the crossword and the topical theme.
    Ps: Just finished Indy 9485. Very enjoyable too.

  8. I’ve only just had a very quick look at this – I haven’t read any comments yet because I intend to carry on tomorrow.
    How lucky we are to have an extra crossword, and an Alchemi one too – thank you Alchemi and BD.
    PS – I confess that my first thought about the topicality of the crossword was wrong.

  9. Echoing Kath, how lovely to have an extra crossword! And it was very good fun too. My fave was 24a followed by 27a.

    Like Jane, I found this a lttle easier than Alchemi’s puzzles usually are. This did not detract from my enjoyment, au contraire. Even so, I needed your help, Big Dave, for three clues: 12a, because I couldn’t parse my answer; 14d, over which I dithered; and 25a, again to explain my answer.

    Appreciative thanks to Alchemi and to Big Dave. And to Big Dave, I hope your eye is feeling more comfortable.

  10. Thanks all for the nice comments.

    My personal favourite clue was 30a, because it makes me want to know more. Why would a candidate want crystallised onions, and how on earth do you do it with magnets?

  11. Many thanks Alchemi – only just found this, and it helped me get through my Monday. En March! (crystallised onions notwithstanding)

  12. Many thanks for the review, BD. I guess I had an advantage when it came to solving 1a but JL held all the trump cards when it came to spelling the ‘candidats’!
    Haven’t experienced eating a 28a – rather suspect it could be somewhat tough.

    Thanks again to Alchemi – really good topical fun.

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