A Puzzle by Metman
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Metman last appeared in Rookie Corner back in November last year. He has been trying to take on board the feedback, and today offers his latest puzzle. 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.
Prolixic has updated his Cryptic Crossword Guide to include a section on maintaining the grammar in both the surface reading and the cryptic reading and to reflect the appointment of Chris Lancaster as the Telegraph Puzzles Editor.
A review by Prolixic follows.
Welcome back to Metman. I suspect that the choice of grids that Metman has used for his last couple of crosswords has not allowed him to showcase his developing setting skills. Grids with 40 clues inevitably contain a lot of short letters words as solutions that makes cluing more difficult. Shorter answers are often more obvious than longer answers and therefore trickier to clue to disguise the solution. However, I will comment on the clues themselves. The commentometer reads 5/40 or 12.5%. Hopefully, Metman’s next grid will have a better construction with longer solutions. Some of the surface readings could be improved but my feeling is that wordplay and accurate definitions come first and polishing the surface reading comes next in terms of technical development. In most cases the clue construction is there but there are still some notable exceptions.
1 A row heard in the head (5)
SKULL – A homophone (heard) of scull (a row)
4 Retribution gained by swapping bird for shabby goods (3,3,3)
TIT FOR TAT – A three letter name for a small bird and a three letter word for shabby good put in a phrase that would mean they were exchanged. A stylistic point but with the “for” already in the clue, it would have been better to have found another way of expressing this – perhaps “bird with shabby goods”.
9 Small number dance in front of the queen but this one will not succeed (2-5)
NO-HOPER – The abbreviation (small) of number followed by a three letter word for a dance and the regnal cypher of the current queen. The use of but as a link word as wordplay but definition is not ideal.
10 Clued badly with vacant smile cut off (7)
SECLUDE – The outer letters (vacant) of smile followed by an anagram (badly) of clued. Although A on B in an across clue can mean B followed by A, A with B means A followed by B. Perhaps “Clued badly after vacant smile cut off” would have given a better cryptic reading.
11 First past the post heading off towards the middle (5)
INNER – A six letter word for a person who comes first with the first letter removed (heading off).
13 Type of grinder that may be involved in bridgework (5)
MOLAR – Cryptic definition of a tooth.
15 Vessel built in Samarkand (3)
ARK – The answer is hidden in (built in) SAMARKAND.
16 Tired without wings so displayed resentment (3)
IRE – Remove the outer letters (without wings) from the first word of the clue.
17 Take time out from rough budget to correct errors? (5)
DEBUG – An anagram (rough) of BUDGET after removing the T (take time out).
19 Most prominent cook has one (5)
CHIEF – A four letter word for a cook includes (has) the letter representing one. Has is a very weak containment indicator. Here the surface reading and the cryptic grammar could have been improved with cook eats one.
21 The Spanish for example, heard why they mourn (5)
ELEGY – The Spanish for the followed by the abbreviation for “for example” and a letter that sounds like (heard) why. As heard has already been used as a homophone indicator, perhaps a different indicator could have been used here. Perhaps “announced why”.
23 Book held by a knight perhaps (5)
TITLE – Double definition.
24 Petition for a woman? (3)
SUE – Double definition.
25 Sounds posh but not me (3)
YOU – A homophone (sounds) of the letter that indicates posh. The link word “but” does not really work as “wordplay but definition” and if it is part of the definition, perhaps some stronger indication that we need the opposite of “not me”. Perhaps “Sound posh – me? Quite the reverse”
26 Cause smell to be discussed (5)
WREAK – A homophone (to be discussed) of REEK (smell).
28 Come to them for acceptance (5)
TERMS – Cryptic definition that completes the phrase “come to *****” meaning to agree something.
29 Unusual site aim is to engender friendships (7)
AMITIES – An anagram (unusual) of SITE AIM.
31 Unfashionable support may put your welcome in jeopardy (7)
OUTSTAY – A three letter word meaning unfashionable followed by a four letter word meaning support.
33 Essentially, muddled Nelly engaged in silly feud (9)
NEEDFULLY – An anagram (muddled) of NELLY FEUD. The cryptic instructions here are not helpful. The cryptic reading of the clue tells you to put an anagram (muddled) of NELLY inside (engaged in) an anagram (silly) of FEUD but this does not give you the solution. Whilst you can reach the solution by putting an anagram (silly) of FEUD inside NELLY, you do not need an anagram indicator for Nelly. Perhaps “Essentially foolish person describes silly feud”?
34 Decide to lose 500 then change to warm up (2-3)
DE-ICE – An anagram (change) of DECIDE after removing a D (to lose 500).
1 It is bound by taste perhaps, to be made to respond to stimuli (9)
SENSITISE – The IT IS from the clue inside (bound by) the word that describes taste.
2 Huge inn demolished to bring about mental breakdown (7)
UNHINGE – An anagram (demolished) of HUGE INN.
3 See power cut (3)
LOP – A two letter word meaning see followed by the abbreviation for power.
4 End of coarse yarn: repeat monotonously (5)
THRUM – Double definition.
5 Sit upright, it is shorter (3)
TIS – Reverse (upright) the SIT from the clue.
6 Ad hoc curtains show turn up (5)
OCCUR – The answer is hidden in (show) HOC CURTAINS. Whilst the Ad does not contribute to the wordplay and therefore may not find favour with some, I think that where it forms part of a phrase “Ad hoc” it is not objectionable.
7 Poet Eliot initially has a French friend which could be overwhelmingly destructive (7)
TSUNAMI – The initials of the poet Mr Eliot followed by the French for “a friend”.
8 Reportedly week behind time. Small adjustment required (5)
TWEAK – A homophone (reportedly) of WEEK after (behind) the abbreviation for time. A stylistic point but in a down clue, is A behind B or is A under B.
12 Mild expletive appears sanguine (5)
RUDDY – Double definition, the second describing the colour of blood.
14 To run away is briefly acceptable (5)
LEGIT – Split the answer 3,2 to get a word meaning to run away.
18 But note it’s a small hill (5)
BUTTE – The BUT from the clue followed by a two letter word for a note on the musical scale.
19 Credit estimated shortly will be as high as possible (5)
CREST – The abbreviation for credit followed by the abbreviation (shortly) of estimated.
20 Complimentary manner used at the swimming gala? (9)
FREESTYLE – A four letter word meaning complimentary followed by a five letter word meaning manner.
22 Performing due rite is learned (7)
ERUDITE – An anagram (performing) of DUE RITE.
24 Titters about accelerating music (7)
STRETTI – An anagram (about) of TITTERS.
25 Hope for old affirmative with sailors (5)
YEARN – A three letter old word meaning yes (affirmative) followed by the abbreviation for Royal Navy (sailors). The link word is the wrong way around. At the moment you have definition for wordplay but the usual form is wordplay for definition.
26 This is smoked fish (5)
WHIFF – Double definition the first being a slang word for a cigarette and the second a fish relating to the the turbot.
27 Smart but eccentric clothes are a knock-out alright? Unknown! (5)
KOOKY – The abbreviation for knock-out followed by a word meaning alright and a letter representing an unknown quantity. The solution is an adjective that describes smart but eccentric clothes but the definition requires a noun as the solution. Also, the use of “are” a linkword does not work as you have definition are wordplay as the resulting cryptic reading. Perhaps in this clue you could have had “Like smart but eccentric clothes – a knock-out alright? Unknown.
30 A note in isolation (3)
SOL – The answer is hidden in ISOLATION.
32 Thanks to daughter for very little (3)
TAD – A two letter word meaning thanks followed by the abbreviation for daughter.