A Puzzle by Fiddlesticks
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Today we have a new puzzle from Fiddlesticks. 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.
After a promising improvement in his last crossword, I did not find this crossword as approachable and well clued. Where you are including more complex clues, you have to be much more precise in the clue construction. There were some lose constructions and too many repetitions of wordplay indicators. Four hidden words is too many. The gird construction was unhelpful as 12 of the solutions have less than 50% checking letters with the first and last letters unchecked. This would not be acceptable except, perhaps, in a themed puzzle where the theme provides additional help. The commentometer reads as 7 / 28 or 25%.
7 Drag queen in Barbican, say (5)
TOWER – The three letter word meaning drag followed by the regnal cypher for the current queen.
8 Doctor gets people in scans for kicks, perhaps (9)
MOVEMENTS – The abbreviation for medical orderly (doctor) followed by (gets) a three letter word for people inside a four letter word meaning scans.
10 Land of the French is even nastier (6)
ESTATE – The French third person singular for is followed by the even letters (even) of nastier. A couple of points to note. By including “the” before French, you force the cryptic grammar to have the French for is. Omitting the “the”, this problem would be overcome. Secondly, for even letters, it should be evenly nastier. This does not fit the surface reading. The could be overcome by using “regularly” giving “Land of French is regularly nastier”.
11 After turning mushrooms, Fiddlesticks and female setter crack open Chardonnay and set (8)
SPECIFIC – Reverse (after turning) a four letter word for mushrooms and follow with a single letter representing the setter (Fiddlesticks), the abbreviation for female and the single letter representing the setter again. The add the opening letter (crack open) of Chardonnay. The surface reading leaves an unfinished sentence which is not ideal. I don’t like crack open as the initial letter indicator as crack open means to break or remove the top from something. Perhaps “add a bit of Chardonnay”
12 Hardy’s pure woman faithfully presented, getting in twice, exposing triviality (8)
TININESS – The name of the heroine in a Thomas Hardy novel contains the IN from the clue twice. Although not wrong, the definition of the heroine is over-elaborate and could have been shortened to “Hardy’s heroine” or “Hardy lady”
13 Failed to succeed with indecent pick-up (4)
BLEW – A homophone (pick-up) of BLUE (indecent).
15 Interpretation of Enigma adding new variation (7)
MEANING – An anagram (variation) of ENIGMA with an N (new) included (adding).
17 Setter found in watery grave (7)
SERIOUS – The single letter representing the setter inside a six letter word meaning watery. As setter has already been used in 11a, a different indicator should have been used here.
20 Blemish coming to light in disc artwork (4)
SCAR – The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue.
22 Current on after circuit indicates goal (8)
AMBITION – A five letter word meaning circuit followed by the abbreviation for current and the ON from the clue.
25 Showers, and bathes taking a second hour (8)
LAVISHES – A five letter archaic word meaning bathes includes (taking) the letter I (a = one = I) and the abbreviation for second and hour. A couple of points on this clue. First, as the word for bathes is an archaic one, this should be indicated in the clue. Secondly, the two step process A = One = I is a bit of a stretch and may not be acceptable to editors.
26 Grain of rice reallocated (6)
CEREAL – The answer is hidden in (of) the final two words of the clue.
27 Not like to be fed if “mixed raw starter” extends to chicken portion and rat’s tail (9)
DIFFERENT – An anagram (mixed) of FED IF followed by the first letter (starter) of RAW and the final two letters (portion) of a three letter word for chicken and the final letter (tail) of RAT. The entire clue is something of a stew. I am not overly keen on “extends to” as a concatenation indicator and portion to select only two letters is a little loose.
28 Custom initially holds AI back in technology (5)
HABIT – The initial letters for the final five words of the clue.
1 Crisis about insects having way in with turning points (9)
SOLSTICES – The abbreviation for save our souls (crisis) around (about) a word for insects that includes (having … in) the abbreviation for street (way). The indicator for SOS is incorrect. The SOS is a message following a crisis, not the crisis itself. Perhaps “Call in a crisis about…” would be better
2 Respect is helping to restrain English League (8)
RELATION – A six letter for a helping or portion includes (to restrain) the abbreviations for English and League.
3 Control group given shots containing only peripheral ingredients (7)
POSSESS – A five letter word for a group or gang of people followed by the outer letters (peripheral ingredients) of SHOTS. The use of containing only peripheral ingredients does not work for me to indicate only the outer letters. Perhaps “using only” would be better.
4 Get back together, as losing favour (8)
RESEMBLE – Remove the AS from a word meaning get back together. The construction “as losing” does not work in the cryptic grammar. Perhaps without a special favour would be better.
5 Dirty pass (6)
DEFILE – Double definition the first as a verb meaning to make dirty or sordid and the second as a pass in mountain.
6 Way to go by air for one section of flight (5)
STAIR – The abbreviation for street (way) followed by the AIR from the clue. We have a repetition of way for ST here. Also, it would better to have fewer direct inclusions from the clue into the solution. This is the third clue where this has been done.
9 Lived in awe: redeemed (4)
WERE – The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue. Three simple hidden word clues is too many. With a fourth coming put, then this is over-egging the clue type.
14 Aim to cut a mix without having to do anything (9)
AUTOMATIC – An anagram (mix) of AIM TO CUT A. As mix has already been used as an anagram indicator, a different indicator should be used.
16 Arctic hornet near mutation (8)
NORTHERN – An anagram (mutation) of HORNET NR (NEAR).
18 Trainee best left inside (8)
INTERNAL – A six letter word for a trainee followed by the letter representing top grade or best and the abbreviation for left.
19 Source of fuel: Stars and Stripes flags (3,4)
TAR SAND – The answer is hidden in (flags) STARS AND. The stripes as clued is a padding word. This could have been corrected by hyphenating the words “stars-and-stripes”.
21 Heads perhaps hanker after these when streaming audio? On the contrary (6)
CHIEFS – The word that follows HANDKER (homophone – audio – of hanker) when describing something you would use on a streaming nose.
23 Muscle lacking power, section getting blue (4)
BICE – The name of the muscles in the arms removing the abbreviations for power and section. For the clue to word, muscle needs to be muscles.
24 Fear of a god (5)
PANIC – Double definition, the second being an adjective relating to the god Pan.