A Puzzle by Rags
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Our latest debut puzzle comes from a setter who is using the alias Rags. 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 warm welcome to Rags. Will he or she find riches on the road to setting glory! This was a promising debut. Whilst there were a few rough edges, these are one that will be polished with a little time and practice. The main thing to consider is the surface reading of the resulting clues to ensure that they make sense as a sentence in their own right. Overall there was a good variety of clues and innovative wordplay. A minor point, but it is usual not to include a full stop at the end of the clue.
1 Sadness – see forbidding all around. (6)
DOLOUR – A four letter word meaning forbidding or grim around a two letter word meaning see or behold.
5 Marine creature sounds Polish or sticky to some. (8)
STARFISH – A homophone of a word meaning life a pole or like a stick if you pronounce the A in the word as “ar”, rather like “bath” or “barth”. The “to some” rightly allows for regional variations in pronunciation.
9 “Sundial, Grandad?” (3-5)
OLD TIMER – The description of a sun dial as an ancient chronometer gives another way of describing a granddad.
10 Capacity to have lots of dosh? (6)
POTFUL – The capacity of a pot gives a word meaning having lots of cash. The dictionaries I have looked at don’t give the solution as a word meaning having lots of money and I have not heard this as a colloquial usage.
11 Use a clacker to try it out. (4,2,1,5)
GIVE IT A WHIRL – How you would use a clacker or football rattle gives a phrase meaning to try it out.
13 House sailors, at a cape? (4)
HORN – A two letter abbreviation for house followed by the abbreviation for Royal Navy (sailors).
14 Sharp shapes over firm ones. (8)
ENSIFORM – Medical term describing sword shaped objects comes from an anagram (over) of FIRM ONES. The position of the anagram indicator here does not work as the cryptic readings requires the solver to “over” the letters which does not make grammatical sense. The solution is an adjective but the defintion tells the solver that they are looking for a noun.
17 Animal noise the French can make a basic language. (3,5)
LOW LATIN – A noise made by cows followed by the French feminine version of “the” and another word for a can.
18 Negativity returns a second time when ‘A’ becomes ‘P’? (4)
NOON – A word expressing the negative followed by the same word but this time reversed for when AM becomes PM. The surface reading here makes little sense in its own right.
20 Being argumentative, call me back, for example, and tender lost dog. (12)
BELLIGERENCY – A four letter word meaning call or ring followed by a single letter word meaning the setter or me, a reversal (back) of the abbreviation for “for example” and a word for money or tender without the initial three letters “cur” (lost dog). Again the surface reading is not the greatest. Perhaps missing dog would give a better cryptic reading for the clue. I am not sure that being argumentive gives the same sense of as the answer. Being argumentative would lead to the the ending “..NT”
23 The missing ‘A’ is surely holding back Vlad’s country? (6)
RUSSIA – The answer is hidden and reversed (holding back) in A IS SURELY. Views differ on whether “padding” should be used in clues. There the words “The missing” contribute nothing to the definition or the wordplay and should therefore be removed if possible.
24 African in anger I suspect. (8)
NIGERIAN – An anagram (suspect) of IN ANGER I.
25 Good girl I heard, not a good looker though. (5,3)
GLASS EYE – The abbreviation for good followed by a four letter word for a girl and a homophone (heard) of I.
26 Agreement at present unknown. (6)
TREATY – A word for a gift or present followed by a letter used in algebra for an unknown variable. I don’t like the structure Definition AT wordplay.
2 Engine has no go at first, have a look! (4)
OGLE – Remove the GO from the name of a company that has the biggest presence on-line as a search engine. I think that the link from engine to the name of the company that produces it is a little tenuous.
3 A month previously (November), a line of certain dimensions. (9)
OCTAGONAL – The shortened form of the tenth month of the year followed by a three letter word meaning previously, the abbreviation in the Nato phonetic alphabet for November, the A from the clue and the abbreviation for line. The surface reading makes little or no sense in its own right.
4 Take away shift, again. (6)
REMOVE – Split 2-4, this word could mean shift again.
5 Where one enlists, the back door? (7,8)
SERVICE ENTRANCE – Where one might sign up for the armed forces cryptically gives the definition. I can’t quite describe why by the cryptic definition does not quite hit the nail for me.
6 A quiet gap left in cheers. (8)
APPLAUSE – The A from the clue, the abbreviation for quiet (in musical terms) followed by a five letter word for a gap that includes the abbreviation for left.
7 What a lot will go for? Go get it! (5)
FETCH – Double definition of the price achieved for a lot at an auction and the instruction give to a dog to retrieve something.
8 ‘S’? A radical’s instruction to find this. (6,4)
SQUARE ROOT – A word for which S is an abbreviation followed by another word in mathematics for the radical gives a mathematical instruction to convert 4, say, to 2. There is a little too much correspondence between the radical in the wordplay and the required solution.
12 Mars or Venus figures being adoring of their own. (10)
HOMOSEXUAL – A cryptic definition of those who are attracted to people of their own sex.
15 Plain, having no designs? (5-4)
FANCY-FREE – A word meaning plan could also mean having no plans or ideas for something.
16 Gnats eat rot and turn foul. (8)
STAGNATE – An anagram (rot) of GNATS EAT.
19 King, dark one on board. (6)
KNIGHT – An abbreviation for King followed by a word meaning dark.
21 Is sly about the breaking down of cells. (5)
LYSIS – An anagram (about) of IS SLY.
22 Books are still tough – origins are bark fibre or similar. (4)
BAST – The initial letters (origins) of the first four words of the clue. The structure “wordplay ARE definition” does not quite word gramatically.