A Puzzle by FirmlyDirac
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
FirmlyDirac is the latest Rookie to put his head above the parapet. 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.
The queue for this slot is very short at the moment, so puzzles from new and existing Rookies will be most welcome.
A review by Prolixic follows.
Welcome to FirmlyDirac with an overly tough first crossword. Setting a crossword requires a degree of judgement in relation to the difficulty to balance this with the reward of getting the solutions. A difficult crossword with lots of ah moments, can be a joy to solve. One that requires a lot of slogging seems more like climbing a mountain in the fog with not much of a view from the top. Sadly, I think from the comments during the day that this one fell into the latter category. It is the sort of crossword where you need a long quite afternoon to solve. For many of us on a working day, this required too much time to give it full justice. This is a shame as, with a few exceptions, the actual clues where, when you got to the bottom of them, were good. My main comment would be that some of the definition were a little too loose or stretched to make it an entirely fair crossword but this may be differences in style. I think that it is sensible for new setter not to try and set their first crossword as being too fiendish but to start off with something simpler and then to build up difficulty level as they progress.
6 Composer is fashionable, at low volume, in religious surrounding. (7)
PUCCINI – The abbreviation for fashionable or upper-class followed by the abbreviation for cubic centimetre and the IN from the clue with a two letter word for religious surrounding them. Perhaps low volume is more suggestive of 1 cc, after all you would not way that 1000 cc was a low volume but it is a fine distinction.
7 Shooting-match informed about language? Not half! (7)
SHEBANG – An informal word meaning informed around half of the name of the language of the Israelis. I am not sure that the definition is quite the same as the answer from the definitions I have looked at in Chambers and Collins. The whole shooting match means everything but the whole ….. means an affair or matter.
9 Rubbish-like orders. (5)
ROTAS – A three letter word meaning rubbish followed by a two letter word meaning like.
10 Flowers carried by this churchman to gallows. (5,4)
ELDER TREE – A another word for a churchman followed by an informal word for a gallows. I think that the definition here is too vague to be fair to the solver. It over generalises the nature of the answer.
11 Mosquitoes, for example, swim – a trillion! (7)
DIPTERA – A three letter word for a swim followed by the prefix for a trillion.
13 Tell of change, different direction. (6)
SNITCH – A word meaning change or swap with the N (north) replaced by W (west) (different direction).
15 Failing school gets back top marks, taking on cheaper premises. (6,7)
SOCIAL HOUSING – An anagram (failing) of SCHOOL includes a reversal back of A1 (top marks) with another word for taking on or employing following this.
19 Revolutionary agreement: beginning to end, it’s cheap. (6)
CHEESY – The usual three letter name of a South American revolutionary followed by a three letter word used to signify agreement with the first letter moved to the end.
20 Emphasised bend in atom-smasher. (7)
MARCATO – A three letter word for a bend or part of a circle inside an anagram (smasher) of ATOM. I am not enamoured with smasher as an anagram indicator.
23 Oil turns a bad, into a good barrier. (8)
INSULATOR – An anagram (bad – in its adjectival form this is fine) of OIL TURNS A
24 Considers tests without spare wheel. (5)
MOOTS – Another word for annual tests required for cars around (without) an O (spare wheel).
26 Risk to Bond’s hair: pan out. (7)
PIRANHA – An anagram (out) of HAIR PAN. I think that the definition here is a little unfair for the solver as you need to remember the perils that James Bond has been in from the films to get the definition.
27 Spear-bearer, almost a giant, held back earlier. (7)
NARWHAL – A word meaning held or organised is reversed (back) before (earlier) a word meaning a giant with the final letter removed (almost). Another clue where the definition requires a leap of lateral thinking that is not entirely fair.
1 Dropping out! (4)
SCAT – Double definition, the first being an animal dropping and the second meaning a word for shoo or get out or go away.
2 Wipe out ties with America, back in! (6)
TISSUES – An anagram (out) of TIES includes a reversal (back in) of the abbreviation for United States (America). I think that out before the letters to be rearranged does not work as an anagram indicator – to out something means to make it public.
3 Rolling parts separating terraces? (9)
SIDEWALLS – Double definition of the outer surface of a tyre an what divides terraced houses. As a property lawyer, I would say that the answer is found at the end of the terraces. An interior or party wall divides them.
4 Nudist’s actions reported to journals. (8)
BEARINGS – A homophone (reported) of BARINGS (nudist’s action). I am struggling to see how the answer relates to journals from the dictionary definition of journals – perhaps a little too specialist as a general definition.
5 Country obsession involving gold – go slower! (10)
MAURITANIA – The chemical symbol for gold and the musical abbreviation for go slower inside a a word meaning an obsession.
6 Pray, do not correct this sketch! (6)
PARODY – An anagram (not correct / incorrect) of PRAY DO.
7 Thus agreed in Kremlin: get drink. (4)
SODA – A two letter word meaning thus followed by the Russian (in the Kremlin) for agreed.
8 Poet’s article on advice to young man? Quite the opposite! (6)
GOETHE – Reverse the order of the wordplay and put the definite article after the advice that might be given to a young man (go west) also reversed, to go east. The instruction to reverse the order of the wordplay applying not only to the word order but also to the instruction to the young man is perhaps a little unfair. Perhaps Quite the opposite in every sense would alert the solver that there are two opposites at word in the clue.
12 Chairpersons wander south for spores. (10)
PROFESSORS – An anagram (wander) of S (South) FOR SPORES. I don’t think that wander works as an anagram indicator – you cannot wander something. Wandering would work.
14 This returns catcall called by setter. (9)
BOOMERANG – A three letter catcall and a word meaning called around a two letter word meaning the setter. I don’t think that the containment indicator (by) means around. If anything it means alongside.
16 No respect – no cash – no win! (8)
INSOLENT – A word meaning bankrupt or having no cash without the abbreviation for victory (no win). Although Chambers does not give V for victory outside the use in VE Day, Collins has V = victory in its own right. Perhaps no victory would have been better to avoid the double step of win = victory = v.
17 Swimmer in water, cold rather than hot, to save money. (6)
SCRIMP – The name of a soft shellfish (swimmer) with the H (hot) being replaced by C (cold).
18 Diana gets Jolson on his back. (6)
DORSAL – The surname of the old actress Diana followed by the first name of the singer Jolson. Perhaps a definition by example indicator (to show that Diana and Jolson are examples for the required parts of the wordplay would be better. “Maybe Diana…”. The his in the clue is distracting.
21 Artist is back in city? On the contrary, to fish! (6)
REMORA – Reverse the name of the capital city of Italy inside the two letter abbreviation for an artist.
22 Mount is neat but unruly. (4)
ETNA – An anagram (but unruly) of NEAT.
25 Sort of echo, must be in front of player. (4)
OCHE – An anagram (sort of) of ECHO.