Beasts by Perceval
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Today we have a debut puzzle from Perceval, who has managed to squeeze 40 clues into a 13×13 grid. 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.
Congratulations to Perceval on his first foray into the Rookie Corner. In reviewing the crossword, my commentometer score rocketed. However, it is not as bad is it appears as a lot of the errors were repeated. Six indirect anagrams is something of a record in the annals of the Rookie Corner.
On the positive side, the clues were concise and the grid did not use obscure words. With the exception of the indirect anagrams, the intention of the setter was clear even if the clues could have been polished and the surface readings were not off the wall.
For future crosswords I would recommend using a 15 by 15 grid to avoid too many three letter solutions and not using indirect anagrams, only using recognised abbreviations and watching out for repeated wordplay.
The commentometer is 15 / 40 or 37.5%
1 Bubbly? Not half! Winner. (5)
CHAMP – Remove the final four letter from a word for a bubbly sort of wine. As the number of letters to be removed in not half of them, this clue does not work as intended. Clues must be precise in their instructions. As a small matter of etiquette when setting, you do not include full stops at the end of clues.
5 Being healthy is back following way of doing things. It’s an idea. (5)
MOTIF – A three letter word meaning health is reversed (back) after (following) the abbreviation for modus operandi (way of doing things).
8 Band Kiss on March 15th, not 2nd? Might be rusty. (5)
OXIDE -The letter resembling a ring or band followed by the letter representing a kiss and the date in Rome represented by March 15th without the abbreviation for second (2nd). There is a double step required in this clue that not all editors would permit. 2nd gives ordinal number second that you then have mentally transpose to the unit of time second for which S is the abbreviation. You should be able to get directly from the word clued to the abbreviation.
9 Spanish man takes anaesthetic for animal? (3)
ELK – The Spanish male pronoun followed by an abbreviation K (the only one I can thing of is Ketamine used by vets for anaesthetics). K as an abbreviation for Ketamine is not a recognised abbreviation in the main dictionaries. Setters should use only recognised abbreviations in Chambers, the OED or Collins.
10 Short cleric gives record spin? (3)
REV – Double definition, the first being the abbreviation for reverend and the second that might describe the speed at which a record turns.
11 Liberated boy apparently gives goosebumps. (7)
FRISSON – A homophone (apparently) of FREE (liberated as an adjective) followed by a three letter word for a boy.
13 Give time away after second half. (4)
SEMI – A four letter word meaning give out or radiate without the T (time away) after the abbreviation for second. Ideally, when setting, you should avoid using the same letter indicators. As we have already had (albeit indirectly S for second) in 8a, a different indicator should be used. Also the word for give should have been give out for the correct wordplay.
15 Time without potential for aspiration? That belongs to us. (4)
OURS – The division of time being 1/24th of a day without the letter that is often aspirated.
17 Unknown application causes chat. (3)
YAP – A letter representing an unknown quantity followed by a two letter abbreviation for application. Again there is a problem with the abbreviation. Applications is abbreviated as app in the dictionaries, not as ap.
19 It’s repeated that chap has time with artist. (6)
MANTRA – A three letter word for a chap with the abbreviations for Time and an artist. T for time has already been used in 13 across so is a repetition that should be avoided. The “that” does not work in the clue. It does not acts a link word as definition that wordplay and in the clue, that chap indicates a pronoun such as he or him.
20 Give small change to beast, and there’ll be no article to add. (6)
APPEND – Include the definition for pence (small change) in a three letter word for a beast and follow it with the word AND from the clue without the singular article.
21 Unlocks one part of Florida, perhaps. (3)
KEY – Double definition.
23 Ceremonies off without English – palaver. (4)
STIR – An anagram of RITES (ceremonies) without the abbreviation for English. This is the first of several indirect anagrams. You will not find indirect anagrams in any of the main daily papers. Whilst they may be used judiciously in some advanced crosswords, the general rule for new setters is to avoid them like the plague. They should be regarded as a no-go area.
24 Regrets being upset for addict? (4)
USER – An anagram (upset) of RUES (regrets). The second of our indirect anagrams.
26 144 following headless Ben’s arrest. (7)
ENGROSS – Remove the first letter (headless) from BEN and follow it with a word that describes a quantity of 144 things. We have already seen following as a positional indicator in 5a so another indicator should have been used.
29 Equine shrew? (3)
NAG – Double definition, the second being another name for an argumentative person.
31 Jack first gets book, then gives hint. (3)
JOT – The first letter of Jack followed by the abbreviation for Old Testament (book). Technically the Old Testament is a collection of books and to describe it as a book is a stretch. Also J is an abbreviation for Jack in its own right so the “first” could have been omitted.
32 Bloke thanks Ray? (5)
MANTA – A three letter word for a bloke followed by a two letter word for thanks.
33 Argument without the French? Less bad, but still heavy? (5)
SQUAB – An eight letter word for an argument without the French masculine directly article and one of the Bs. Again B is not a recognised abbreviation for bad (slightly odd as G is an abbreviation for good).
34 Rear heartless Polly? Not an easy ride. (5)
BUMPY – A three letter word for the read followed by the outer letters (heartless) of POLLY.
1 The Greens – on a roll? (5)
CRESS – Cryptic definition of a salad item that may be added to a roll or sandwich.
2 Caribbean music around. Why? (3)
ASK – An anagram (around) of SKA. The third of our indirect anagrams. Also, why is an interrogative – is does not mean the same thing as the solution.
3 Have-nots sell love for university entrance. That’s service! (4)
POUR – A four letter word for people who do not have materials goods or money with one of the Os (love) removed by U (university entrance).
4 An unpleasant smell coming from my respiratory condition, they say. (6)
MIASMA – A homophone (they say) of MY ASTHMA (my respiratory condition). The homophone is not a very good one here as the two word sounds are not the same.
5 Twitter presence, old not English, makes comment. (4)
MEMO – A four letter word for a trending idea on Twitter or other social media with one of the letters for English replace by an O (old). There is another repetition of E for English (used in 23a).
6 Go off over hill. (3)
TOR – A reversal (over) of a three letter word meaning go off or putrefy.
7 Reduced team against south? (5)
FIVES – The abbreviation for versus (against) converted to a number via Roman numerals and the abbreviation for South. Another double step that would not find favour with most setters. Against to Versus to V to Five involves four steps that is unfair on the solver.
11 Hit proper drunk. Game on. (7)
FIXTURE – A three letter word for drug hit followed by an anagram (drunk) of TRUE (proper). The fourth of our indirect anagrams.
12 Organised students amassed functioning power, left in a confused state. (7)
NONPLUS – The abbreviation for the National Union of Students (organised students) includes (amassed) a two letter word meaning functioning, the abbreviation for power and the abbreviation for left. The definition here “in a confused state” would required a solution ending in ED.
14 Meticulous demand (5)
EXACT – Double definition, the second in the sense of extortion.
16 In part, sporran generated row. (5)
RANGE – The answer is hidden in (in part) SPORRAN GENERATED.
17 YMCA on vacation with 1000 horny beasts! (3)
YAK – The outer letters (on vacation) of YMCA followed by the abbreviation for 1000. Dictionaries are divided on whether the solution can be a plural noun (like sheep).
18 Talk around for money. (3)
PAY – A reversal (around) of a three letter word for talk.
22 What usually comes after night, so to speak? That’s not right. (6)
ERRANT – A word that could come after Knight (night so to speak).
23 American following flag, not good, leaves hollow. (5)
SINUS – A four letter word meaning flag or indicate without the abbreviation for good followed by a two letter abbreviation for American.
25 Hotel Upsilon is fancy. (5)
RITZY – A four letter word for a fancy hotel followed by the English letter to which Upsilon is often translated from the Greek. As the solution is named after the hotel, perhaps a greater separation between the solution and the wordplay could have been used.
27 Group without Queen feel nothing (4)
NUMB – A six letter word for a group without the two letter abbreviation for the current queen. I think that the definition would be better as feeling nothing.
28 Sponge lived sadly – bad! (4)
SWAB – An anagram (sadly) of WAS (lived) followed by the abbreviation for bad. The fifth of our indirect anagrams an another repetition of wordplay (albeit an unrecognised abbreviation).
30 Creature with arm off. (3)
GNU – An anagram (off) of GUN (arm). A sixth and final indirect anagram. Also it was unfortunate that the wordplay gives an equally valid solution of RAM as an anagram (off) of ARM.
31 Some ganja might give sticky situation. (3)
JAM – The answer is hidden in (some) GANJA MIGHT.