A Puzzle by MacLog
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Here’s another puzzle from MacLog. 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.
Welcome back to MacLog. As with his previous crossword, there was an inordinate number of acrostic clues (taking the first or last letters from words to form the solution and a high anagram count. Reducing these and including more insertion clues, every other letter clues or other clue forms would give a more balanced crossword. There was an unusually high repetition count with wordplay indicators for reveals, initial letters and anagrams indicators getting more than one outing.
Having said all of this, there was a good deal of promising cluing. The use of initial letters with an anagram in 11 across was a good idea. The surface readings usually made sense and the theme was helpful in getting some of the solution.
9 One sleeping out takes divan but leaves papers back in vehicle (9)
CAMPERVAN – A six letter word for someone who sleeps out under canvas followed by the DIVAN from the clue with a reversal (back) of ID (papers) removed (leaves out). The dictionaries I have looked at give the enumeration for the solution as 6,3 or 6-3.
10 Nails made for one supporting house (5)
SNAIL – An anagram (made) of NAILS.
11 Initially Roman Catholic convert is always round about (5)
CIRCA – An anagram (round) of the initial letters (initially) of the second to sixths words of the clue.
12 Engine house? (9)
MOTORHOME – Split 5,4 you would have words for an engine and a house.
13 Free range ducks stuffed with seasoning (7)
OREGANO – An anagram (free) of RANGE inside two Os (stuffed). The order of the wordplay suggests that it is the anagram of RANGE that includes the Os where the solution requires the reverse.
14 Dip in road often includes 13a (7)
LASAGNE – A three letter word for a dip inside a four letter word for a narrow road. I think the definition, whilst it may be factually correct (though when looking at six on-line recipes only one included the relevant herb) is so loose as to be worth little aid to the solver.
17 Agreeing to pick, in essence, subject for discussion (5)
TOPIC – The answer it hidden inside (in essence) in TO PICK. When creating hidden word clues, it is better to try and have the hidden word span the end of one word and the beginning of another word (with or without another word in the middle). Also, the “agreeing” in the clue is padding. Some editors dislike padding words that do not contribute to the wordplay or the definition.
19 Odour detector back in Paris for Japanese School (3)
ZEN – Reverse (back) the French word for nose (odour detector). Back has already been used as a reversal indicator and should ideally be replaced by a different indicator. Also, the positioning of the reversal indicator should follow in Paris as you need the French word first before reversing it. Perhaps “Odour detector in Paris is returned to Japanese School”
20 Firetraps especially found in parts of churches (5)
APSES – The answer is hidden in (found in) FIRETRAPS ESPECIALLY. The order of the wordplay here with “found in” following the letters does not work. Parts of church are found in firetraps especially, not the reverse.
21 In days gone by protect spirit at first sound of conflict (3,4)
WAR DRUM – An old four letter word (in days gone by) meaning to protect followed by a three letter word for an alcoholic spirit. I am not keen on the “at” as the link word – wordplay at definition does not work for me.
22 Liberation for reformed drunk (beginning rehab unecessary) (7)
FREEDOM – An anagram (drunk) of REFORMED after removing the R (beginning rehab). A small point but unnecessary needs the typo correcting.
24 Want a trek round the reservoir? (5,4)
WATER TANK – An anagram (round) of WANT A TREK. Round has already been used as an anagram indicator so a different indicator should have been used here.
26 Explosive drug perhaps (1,4)
H BOMB – The abbreviation for heroin followed by the name of an explosive device. I don’t think that this clue works. Although the drug is correctly clued, there seems to be no wordplay for the second word of the solution. I cannot find any reference to the solution being a slang word for a drug.
28 Type of pot used in the Caribbean (5)
GANJA – Cryptic definition for cannabis (pot) in the Caribbean.
29 Began with wino oddly enough but developed luxury 9 (9)
WINNEBAGO – An anagram (oddly enough but developed) of BEGAN WINO. The anagram indicator here should be truncated.
1 Going both ways for hook up at site (4)
AC DC – A slang term for bisexual (going both ways). I cannot see how this could be enumerated as (4). (2,2) would be better. I cannot see how hook up at site relates to the solution.
2 I come back with returning soldier and mostly get to come out (6)
EMERGE – A reversal (come back) of a two letter word for the setter (I) followed by a reversal (returning) of the abbreviation for Royal Engineer (soldier) and the first two letters (mostly) of GET.
3 Holiday transport? (7,3)
GETWAY CAR – A cryptic definition of a type of vehicle used in a robbery that could fancifully be a vehicle used for a holiday.
4 Boom involves endless tax for Namibian tribe (6)
OVAMBO – An anagram (un-indicated) of BOOM includes the first two letters (endless) of VAT (tax). The lack of an anagram indicator is a problem here. Also, taking unusual words and cluing them as an anagram is not the fairest way of cluing for the solver. Perhaps eggs on business takeover for Namibian tribe would be fairer.
5 Runs to lend a hand inside to discover what the burglar left (8)
UNSTOLEN – The answer is hidden in (inside) RUNS TO LEND. The words “a hand” are padding again. Neither Chambers or Collins give unstolen as a word.
6 Starting right after Soviets took back supreme power in Russia (4)
TSAR – A reversal (back – the fourth time this has been used as a wordplay indicator) of the initial letters (starting) of the second to fifth words of the clue.
7 Rags and coal can be recycled to produce portable energy (5,3)
CALOR GAS — An anagram (can be recycled) of RAGS COAL.
8 Initially cops look up everything for a lead (4)
CLUE – The first letters (initially – again a repetition of a wordplay indicator) of the second to fifth letters of the clue.
13 Pulled behind sign (2,3)
ON TOW – A cryptic definition of the sign that might be placed on the rear of a vehicle that is being pulled by another vehicle.
15 Extra around in case of let down for example (5,5)
SPARE WHEEL – A cryptic definition of something carried by a motorist to be used if he or she gets a puncture.
16 Here runner-up returns to form at last on course (5)
EPSOM – The final letters (at last) of the first five words of the clue. Another link word that does not quite work. Wordplay on definition jars.
18 Strict protestants came from Rasputin weirdly (8)
PURITANS – An anagram (weirdly) of RASPUTIN. The tense “came from” would be better as “come from”.
19 In Africa zebras in motion beat all big wilderbeest easily at first (8)
ZIMBABWE – The initial letters (at first) of the third to ninth words of the clue. The spelling of Wildebeest needs to be corrected. Prepositional definitions such as “in Africa” to indicate an African country are sometimes seen in national papers but they are not universally liked. It is better to try and avoid them.
22 Taking top off and changing for the start of flagrant cheating (6)
FAKING – A word meaning taking the top off has the initial letter replaced by the first letter (start of) of flagrant. It seems to me that there is no indication that it is the first letter of the word meaning taking top off that has has to be changed unless taking top off is doing double duty as wordplay for the root word and wordplay for removing the first letter and replacing it with something else. Perhaps Taking top off initially changing for the start of flagrant cheating.
23 Composer drunk vodka with king (6)
DVORAK – An anagram (drunk) of VODKA followed by an abbreviation for king. Again, drunk has already been used as an anagram indicator so a different indicator should be used.
24 Gamble most of salary (4)
WAGE – Remove the last letter (most of) from a word meaning gamble. The order here should have most of before gamble. Perhaps “Nearly gamble with salary” would have been better.
25 Way travellers might go (4)
ROAD – What seems to be a straight definition.
27 British half of me is here (4)
BLOG – The abbreviation for British followed by half of the name of the setter. The clue only works where the crossword is solved on-line.