A Puzzle by Chameleon
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Chameleon is the latest setter to make his debut here. 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.
Winston Churchill once described Russia as “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” The same may be said of many of the clues in this crossword. It felt in many places a if the setter had decided to create a cryptic crossword and then, thinking that it was not cryptic enough, add additional complexity to the clue to make them more opaque. As a result, a lot of the wordplay became overly complex and sometimes illegal and some of the synonyms were stretched. This make solving more of a chore than a joy. This is a great pity as there was a lot of originality and fun in some of the clues. The pair of clues in 21d and 22d and 25a were good examples of Chameleon at his or her best.
The commentometer reads as 6 out of 27 or 22.2%
8 Exploited scripture to enter anti-tax schemes (4-4)
HAVE NOTS – The abbreviation for Old Testament (scriptures) inside (to enter) a six letter for the places where tax-saving schemes are effected. I think that havens describes where the schemes take place rather than the schemes themselves. Perhaps a good example of trying to over-hide the definition. Also, the solution does not mean exploited or necessarily those who are exploited.
9 Herd member’s harsher extremists around a parliamentary lobby (5)
RHINO – The outer letters (extremists) of harsher reversed (around) followed by a letter representing one or i and one of the Parliamentary lobbies where members go to indicate their votes.
10 Can of sauce (4)
MAYO – A three letter word meaning can or is able to followed by the single letter meaning of used in expressions of time – six of the clock. An old canard, I know, but can expresses the ability to do something and the relevant part of the definition expresses permission to do it so that the two are not directly synonymous.
11 Señorita Castro leads “Intro to Spanish”, having picked up post of her career (10)
SCHOLASTIC – The initial letters (leads) from the the first two words of the clue, the Spanish for hello (Intro to Spanish) and a homophone (having picked up) of stick (post – as a verb).
12 Fiddler on Roof finale composer would appreciate (6)
FIDGET – The final letter of roof followed by a phase (2,3) meaning that the setter (composer) would appreciate something. The clue striation of definition ON wordplay does not work – I don’t think that ON can work as a link word in this way.
14 Socialists by worker’s side (4-4)
LEFT-HAND – A four letter word for Socialists followed by a four letter word for workers.
15 Assume 23’s line has a point (not completely meaningless) (3-4)
PRE-EMPT – The abbreviation for public relations (23’s line) followed by the abbreviation for east and a word meaning meaningless without the final letter (not completely).
17 Agent backpedals after award ceremony insiders quit (7)
SCARPER – The annual American film awards with the outer letters removed (insiders) followed by a reversal (backpedals) of a three letter word for an agent.
20 Senior DI’s beat cop in the 60’s (8)
IRONSIDE – An anagram (beat) of SENIOR DI.
22 Ultimately swap Miranda Hart’s set for Jenny Eclair material (6)
PASTRY – The final letters (ultimately) of the second to seventh words of the clue.
23 Spokesperson to skewer document, stemming endless scandal (4,6)
SPIN DOCTOR – A three letter word meaning to pin and a three letter abbreviation for document inside a five letter word for a scandal with the final letter removed (endless). The abbreviation for document is in Collins but not in Chambers.
24 Black knight takes rook from ruminating brute (4)
ONYX – The abbreviation for knight replaces (takes) the abbreviation for rook in a four letter name of an African antelope (ruminating brute). Whilst the solution (as a gem) can be black, the solution itself is not a synonym for black.
25 By stepping out, Irish band gets fresh air (5)
OZONE – Remove (stepping out) the BY from an Irish pop group.
26 Detain those already under arrest (4,4)
STOP DEAD – A four letter word meaning detain followed by a four letter word for those already buried or under.
1 Drink on recliner without a care (8)
CAVALIER – A four letter word for a type of sparkling wine followed by a four letter word describing someone reclining.
2 20’s style must end years after 10 (4)
DECO – Taking the solution to 10 across, years after would at a long stretch another month followed by a O for a 20’s style. Perhaps a little too opaque for its own good. Maybe seven months after 10 would have been fairer.
3 TV repeats entire series (6)
BOXSET – Two three letter words describing a TV. The dictionary gives the solution as (3,3).
4 A saint converted on the road (7)
ASPHALT – An anagram converted of ALPHA (A) ST. This is firmly in the indirect anagram territory. Asking the solver to get a synonym for A and one for saint is too indirect to be fair. Some editors would not allow “on the road” on its own to indicate what is one the road.
5 Rich Tory following iniquitous leader is constant in opposing reproductive rights (8)
PROLIFIC – The abbreviation for conservative (tory) after the first letter (leader) of iniquitous replace the E (constant) in a seven letter word meaning against abortion.
6 Environmental systems said to credit concerns about cows’ regular expulsions (10)
BIOSPHERES – A homophone (said) of BUY (credit) FEARS (concerns) around the even letters (regular expulsions) in cows.
7 See 18
13 Eco-friendly bulb? (5,5)
GREEN ONION – Cryptic definition of a bulbous vegetable.
16 Lag behind in future? No, sir, presently! (8)
PRISONER – The answer is hidden and reversed (behind in) FUTURE NO SIR PRESENTLY.
18/7 Dynamo conjured up a short incantation in parliament (5,3,6)
EARLY DAY MOTION – As I see it, you need to get from early day to Monday and think of a reverse anagram clue that makes Monday Dynamo. Broadly unsolvable without knowing the solution. Again there is too much indirectness to make this fair. I am not sure that there is a really a definition of the solution here either.
19 Most wicked wolf invading birdhouse (7)
NEATEST – A three letter word meaning to consume or wolf inside a four letter word for a bird’s home.
21 Flying predator expressing deadly evolutionary origins? (6)
RAPTOR – Remove (expressing) the first letters (origins) of deadly evolutionary from predator and make an anagram (flying) of the remaining letters. The whole clue provides the definition.
22 To repeat, flying predator expressing deadly evolutionary origins! (6)
PARROT – Remove (expressing) the first letters (origins) of deadly evolutionary from predator and make an anagram (flying) of the remaining letters
24 Chance letter-count and clue number don’t fit here (4)
ODDS – The number of letters in the solution and the clue number are both even so you need the opposite for the solution.