A Puzzle by Fiddler
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Not to be confused with last week’s Rookie setter, today we have a debut puzzle from Fiddler. 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.
Welcome to Fiddler. At first glance as I solved this, I was less than enamoured with the crossword. However, on preparing the review, my opinion has improved. It was a case of the poor clues overshadowing the good ones. There is plenty to enjoy and a few train crashes along the route.
6/7/21 Both needed to get some sun on leave (2,5,3,2,5)
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO – An all in one clue with the first part of the solution (all but the last to letter) meaning both needed to get some sun followed by a two letter word meaning leave.
9 Returning, the Italian journalist visited small grocer’s? (4)
DELI – Reverse (returning) the Italian word for “the” and the two letter abbreviation for editor (journalist). A small point, but what is the apostrophe doing in the definition?
10 Losing draw, awkward customer from East End took on Pole amidst chaos, showing courage (10)
MANFULNESS – Hold onto to your hats as we begin the explanation. Inside (amidst) a four letter word for chaos include a word for an awkward customer after removing the initial H (from East End) and the abbreviation for draw (losing draw) and adding the abbreviation for North (Pole). Although D for draw is used in football pools, it has not figured as an abbreviation in Chambers or Collins (I have not checked the OED). Normally, you could use only abbreviations featured in one of the main dictionaries when setting clues.
11 Gramophone in trial takes award with nothing added, surprisingly (8)
VICTROLA – An anagram (surprisingly) of TRIAL VC (Victoria Cross or medal) O (nothing added). As a study in how not to compile a clue this is excellent. The solution (eight letters) has only three cross-checked letters and is an obscure word so difficult even if you have all the cross-checked letters. The wordplay is an indirect anagram as you need to get from award to Victoria Cross to VC as part of the letters to be rearranged. Whilst you could legitimately have Victoria Cross in the clue (as the abbreviation is a direct substitution) the wordplay here is too indirect for it to stand in a daily crossword. The nothing added is OK as there is a direct O = nothing substitution.
12 Excites youngster holding records (4,2)
PEPS UP – The abbreviation (in the plural) of for extended play records inside (holding) a three letter word for a youngster.
14 Aurora is arising in the east (4)
ASIA – The answer is hidden and reversed in AURORA IS ARISING. As a hidden word clue, this lacks both a hidden word indicators and a reversal indicator. Perhaps “Aurora is against holding back the east”
16 Good time to mingle, anticipating character who never arrives (5)
GODOT – An anagram (to mingle) of GOOD + T (time). This clue has three unchecked letters in a row. This is not usually permitted in a daily crossword. Here, the problem could have been overcome by changing (as suggested) a pair of solutions to provide a five letter intersecting down clue or have two three letter words as additional down clues (LEO and OVA).
17 Credentials covering revolutionary not hot, frozen (4)
ICED – A two letter word for credentials around (covering) crossword land’s favourite revolutionary with the H removed (not hot).
18 Sailor returns with note after a short while – simple creature (6)
AMOEBA – The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for moment (short while) and a reversal of the abbreviation for Able Seaman (sailor) and a musical note.
19 Place equipped for holidaymakers sounds like a flamboyant spectacle. (8)
CAMPSITE – A homophone of camp sight (a flamboyant spectacle). A small note, but full stops are not needed at the end of clues.
22 European bird to spread damage? (10)
BUTTERBUMP – A six letter word meaning to spread (as in applying spread to a piece of toast) and a four letter word meaning damage.
25 Clue not inept, incorporating sharp point (4)
TINE – The answer is hidden (incorporating) in NOT INEPT. The “Clue” is padding and not needed for the solution. Where possible it is better to avoid padding words.
26 Achieves silver, snatching victory – astonishing! (5)
AWING – The chemical symbol for silver includes (snatching) a three letter word for victory. Again the “achieves” is padding and could be omitted.
27 Vote tax authority out of Italian province (7)
TREVISO – An anagram (out) of VOTE IRS (tax authority). Again, an indirect anagram. It is not fair to expect the solver to get from tax authority to the American Internal Revenue Service to IRS. Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.
1 Taking seat, disturbed in bar by arousing performance (10)
STRIPTEASE – An anagram (disturbed) of SEAT inside (taking…in) a word for a bar or band. As a link word, by is unusual. Wordplay by definition does not read particularly well.
2 Flung out wildly. Forty-seven killed from rifle held by one with frenzied mob (6)
AKIMBO – Remove (killed) the 47 from the name of the rifle AK-47 and follow with the letter for one and an anagram (frenzied) of MOB. The clue here is misleading as the “held by” implies that there is a containment in the wordplay where it is, in the solution, a simple charade.
3 Special nibs used to sign out books (4)
ISBN – An anagram (special) of NIBS. The definition here is a little oblique. Perhaps identify books would have been more precise, even at the expense of the wordplay. More importantly, it is good practice to try to avoid abbreviations as solutions.
4 Let it stand as proof, pinching bottom of mistress (8)
STRUPMPET – The printer’s instruction for let it stand includes (pinching) a four letter word for bottom. Again, the “as proof” would probably be better omitted or, at least, changed to “in proof” to indicate where the printer’s instruction would be found.
5 Hear area for croquet has become abandoned (4)
LORN – A homophone of Lawn (area for croquet)
6 Freeze National Insurance for old people (5)
ICENI – A three letter word meaning freeze followed by the abbreviation for National Insurance.
8 Smoke following confusion over story genre? Incomprehensible! (7)
OBSCURE – A four letter word for smoke (as used in food preparation) after (following) an anagram (confusion) of SOB (story genre). A third indirect anagram (good job BD does not operate a three strikes and you’re out policy).
13 One put pest into a mixture made for plant (10)
POINSETTIA – An anagram (mixture) of I (one) PEST INTO A. The “put” here sticks out like a sore thumb. It does not operate as an insertion indicator on its own.
15 Around morning, distilled Cuba’s liqueur (7)
SAMBUCA – An anagram (distilled) of CUBAS around the abbreviation for morning.
16 Jokes about boy exercising right to wear best clothes (4,4)
GLAD RAGS – A four letter word for jokes around (about) a three letter word for a boy and the abbreviation for right. Perhaps “having” right would be better than “exercising” right. The “to wear is also padding as it is not needed in the wordplay. “Jokes about boy having right clothes” would have sufficed.
20 Plan agent returning with charter? (6)
MAPPER – A three letter word for a plan with a reversal of a three letter word for a travelling representative or agent. As there is a close correspondence between the plan and the charter, this could have been avoided by something along the lines of “Agent Ayres, perhaps, returns with charter”
21 See 6 Across
23 Slave to find alien lost in lavatory (4)
TOIL – Remove the abbreviation for Extra Terrestrial (alien) from a word for a lavatory.
24 Goddess predicting fate of our planet in broadcast? (4)
URTH – A homophone (in broadcast) of earth (our planet).
As a little experiment, I am testing ing an informal commentometer to look at the crossword review. Where here are major comments I will award one point. Minor comments such as ‘padding’ or practices where views differ will not be counted towards the score. The results will be subjective but give an indication of the overall quality of the crossword. Setters can see where they are improving as successive crosswords are published. The number of comments will be divided by the number of clues to give an overall percentage. The lower the percentage the better.
For Fiddler’s first crossword the commentometer reads 42%.