A Puzzle by Zplig
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This week we have a puzzle from Zplig, another setter making his debut. 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 Zplig our latest rookie to these shores though I see he had previous form in Australia were he sets of a crossword magazine.
There was a lot of promise in this crossword though in places, I think that his enthusiasm for the twin themes of knights and chess ran away with him and led to some clues being a little too off kilter to be fair to the solver. Some of the cryptic grammar requires attention but this can easily be addressed.
The exuberance comes at a price on the commentometer reads as 11/33 or 33%
7 That man sadly welcomed a year in the mountains (9)
HIMALAYAS – A three letter word meaning that man and a four letter word meaning sadly include the A from the clue and the abbreviation for year.
8 Wifeless? Sort of Queen Gwen’s type (5)
GENRE – An anagram (sort) of ER (Queen) GWEN without the abbreviation for wife (wifeless). Although abbreviations can be used to indicate part of the letters to be rearranged, it is better to use abbreviations where there no doubt about the letters to be used otherwise it strays into indirect anagram territory. Given that Queen could be Q, Qu or any of the regnal cyphers of the current and past Queens, this is perhaps on the wrong side of the line.
9 Worry was stemmed after seat’s secured for everyone taking a crash course? (6,3)
BUMPER CAR – A four letter word for worry has the final letter removed (was stemmed) after a three letter word for seat or bottom all going around a three letter word meaning for everyone. Tense is important in the surface reading. Perhaps “Worry’s stemmed after seat’s secured for everyone” to keep it in the present tense. Also whilst you can have verbal phrases to define a noun, I am not convinced that “taking a crash course” indicates the solution fairly. Perhaps “Worry’s stemmed after seat’s secured for everyone in vehicle”
10 The King succeeded this guy essentially (5)
UTHER – The central letter (essentially) of GUY followed by (succeeded) the “THE” in the clue and the abbreviation for king. Superfluous words should be omitted where possible. There the “this” plays not part in the wordplay and could be omitted. Again there is no definition as such and as an &Lit, it is not precise enough to define the exact king required.
12 The revolution campaigned for this city (6)
TEHRAN – An anagram (revolution) of THE followed by a three letter word meaning campaigned.
13 Broke down any leads! (8)
ANALYSED – An anagram (broke down) of ANY LEADS.
16 Saw for cutting, perhaps? (7)
PROVERB – A three letter word meaning for and the type of word of which cutting is an example.
19 Wounded in Japan united against Marxist adherent (7)
INJURED – The IN from the clue followed by the abbreviation for Japan, the abbreviation for united and a three letter word meaning a Marxist adherent.
22 Ruined cavalier; one atop another? (8)
PERCIVAL – An anagram (ruined) of CAVALIER after changing one of the A’s to a P “one atop”. Whilst some editors allow lift and separate clues where you have mentally split ATOP to A TO P, not all will do so. Also, where it is permitted, there is invariably an unwritten rule that the split has to be a word sound break in the word. Not sure if people would described the solution as a ruined cavalier.
25 A decaf blend – it’s showy without much substance (6)
FAÇADE – An anagram (blend) of A DECAF.
27 King’s conclusion; to be sick in a castle? The opposite with this! (5)
GRAIL – The final letter (conclusion) of king followed by the chess abbreviation for a rook (it is not a castle – that is the move where the rook and king exchange places) and a three letter word meaning to be sick. Where is the definition? It is so tangential to be unfair to the solver.
28 Burning, turning, and killing – the work of Morgana? (9)
EVILDOING – Reverse (turning) a four letter word meaning burning and follow with a word meaning killing. Killing would lead to “doing in” not doing on its own.
29 Lancelot used a bit of this to help forget (5)
LOTUS – The answer is hidden (a bit of this) in LANCELOT USED.
30 “Be1x? Crazy!” – Souped-up hater of kibitzers (9)
XENOPHOBE – An anagram (crazy) of BE ONE X around a three letter word for a Vietnamese soup. Where do I begin? The definition is so wide of the mark, it is unfair to the solver. The soup is an obscure word. I cannot see that souped-up means put the soup in and, like the Queen clue earlier” it is bordering on an indirect anagram
1 Female soldier returned safe as the first to leave in 2007? (6)
FIGURE – The abbreviation for female followed by a reversal (returned) of soldier and a four letter word meaning safe with the first letter removed. A minor point, but the cryptic grammar would be improved if you omitted the “as” to give “Female soldier returned safe – first to leave in 2007?
2 As Karpov was beaten this man took his place (8)
KASPAROV – An anagram (was beaten) of AS KARPOV.
3 A knight standing by a king, or a girl standing by a boy (6)
PATRON – A three letter girl’s name followed by a three letter boys name. I am not sure that the definition here is the most helpful as the King rather than the knight would be the solution and not the reverse. Also, with a down clue A standing by B almost suggests a reversal of A followed by B.
4 Lady took the heart of foward knight? (7)
GALAHAD – A three letter word for describing a girl followed by a five letter word meaning forward with the middle letter removed. Forward is misspelled in the clue. The cryptic grammar does not work here as the clue instructs you to add the central letter not to add the letters after the central letter has been removed. Perhaps “Leading lady’s first to dismiss base knight”
5 Watch Carlsen trying to secure the result (6)
SENTRY – The answer is hidden in (to secure) CARSEN TRYING.
6 Pie, or it’s cooler (6)
BREEZE – Double definition, the first in the sense of easy and the second a cooling wind.
11 Knight chasing foot soldier (4)
PAWN – A three letter word for the foot of an animal followed by a single letter abbreviation for knight.
14 Whirling river is what’s often seen with Gawain (3)
SIR – Reverse (whirling) the abbreviation for river and the IS from the clue.
15 Dishonoured man lost his footing (3)
DUD – A four letter word for a man without the last letter (lost his footing).
16 Narrowly defeat by one in dominoes (3)
PIP – Double definition
17 Blade said to inspire fear (3)
OAR – A homophone (said) of a word meaning to inspire fear. Not wrong but a point to watch with this type of clue is that with the homophone indicator in the middle of the clue, the solver does not know whether the indicator operated on the “blade” or “to inspire fear”. If possible, the clue should make it clear – perhaps “Blade to inspire fear we hear”
18 French bank split up a while ago (4)
RIVE – An archaic form (a while ago) of a word meaning split up is also the French word for a river bank.
20 Peacekeepers keep constant watch on the Strip (8)
UNCLOTHE – The abbreviation for United Nations (peacekeepers) followed by the abbreviation for constant, a two letter word meaning watch and the “the” from the clue. The keep here seems out of place as it indicates a form of containment that is not required in the solution. Peacekeepers’ constant watch on the strip would have worked as well.
21 Oscar (51st) contender (7)
OLIVIER – The letter in the NATO phonetic alphabet represented by Oscar followed by the number 51 in Roman numerals a four letter word for a contender. Apparently, he was a contender for an Oscar in the 51st awards ceremony but knowing this type of general knowledge is arguably too detailed for a clue. More importantly, the st in 51st is misleading as it plays no part in the solution and solvers might be expecting a solution with LIST in it.
23 Implant? Deeply egotistical – not really organic or therapeutic, for starters (6)
ENROOT – The initial letters (for starters) of the third to eighth letters of the clue. Although punctuation can usually be disregarded, the ? between implant and deeply, breaks the definition and therefore is unfair on the solver. The surface reading is not the best in this crossword.
24 The Knights of the Round Table, perhaps, caught student on a quest losing their way (6)
CLIQUE – The abbreviations for caught and learner (student) over (on) the quest from the clue without (losing) the abbreviation for street (way). The cryptic grammar here does not quire work. The a should have been omitted from “a quest” as it does not feature in the solution and the “their” would have been better omitted or changed to “the”. Perhaps “The Knights of the Round Table, perhaps” caught student on quest getting rid of holy man”
25 Nothing left against Merlin? (6)
FALCON – A two letter abbreviation for nothing and the abbreviation for left followed by a three letter word from the Latin meaning against. The abbreviation for nothing used here is fair game and has been used in several Independent crosswords and at least one Toughie.
26 Knight stopped by an English flower (6)
DANUBE – A three letter word meaning to knight someone includes (stopped) by the AN from the clue followed by the abbreviation for English.