“Echoes of the Towers.” by Gonzo
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Gonzo is the latest of our new setters. 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.
A creditable start for Gonzo but perhaps a little too enthusiastic in places in an attempt to overcomplicate the wordplay. I cannot ignore the triple unches. They simply would not be allowed in the daily papers and to have a word that begins with three unchecked letters is beyond the pale. The Times and the Independent will not allow two unchecked letters at the start of a word.
There was a super-abundance of anagrams (12 is undoubtedly too many).
The commentometer reads at 5/29 or 17.2%. The title to the crossword suggests a theme but what that theme is remains elusive.
1 Fear gentleman has pinched, in other words, the household valuables (6)
SILVER – A synonym (in other words) of the solution is hidden in (has pinched) the first two words of the clue. The solver could with some justification have entered the hidden word as the solution, it being the synonym for the household valuables.
4 Treat as a 9 arriving at dubious gain (7)
ARRAIGN – The abbreviation for arriving followed by an anagram (dubious) of GAIN.
8 What’s missing in British letters is crime… (9)
BLACKMAIL – Another word meaning “what’s missing” inside the abbreviation for British and a four letter word for letters.
9 …the perpetrator, lone fellow, must be deranged (5)
FELON – An anagram (must be deranged) of LONE F (fellow).
11 Manservant resolves very tangled tale (5)
VALET – The abbreviation for very followed by an anagram (tangled) of TALE.
12 Having turned umber, nap in partial shade (8)
PENUMBRA – An anagram (having turned) of UMBER NAP.
13 Text oath back to hornless 17, perhaps (3)
GMO – Reverse (back) the abbreviation used when texting for Oh My God (oath). I think that the definition here is too unhelpful. There are breeds of cow without horns. Also, you should try not to have abbreviations for solutions unless they are used that way in everyday language (for example RAF or UFO.
14 It’s some job to find humour in an apartment block with one wing demolished (10)
ENGAGEMENT – A three letter word for a joke or humour inside another word for an apartment block with the first T removed (with one wind demolished).
16 A bloomer in Scotty’s language? (4-6)
DOG’S-TONGUE – Another way of saying canine’s (Scotty) language.
17 Subdue livestock (3)
COW – Double definition.
18 A mother, shortly lacking in melanin, worried about what keeps track of the hours in the sun (8)
ANALEMMA – The A from the clue followed by three letter word for a mother with the final letter removed (shortly) followed by an anagram (worried about) of MELANIN after removing the final two letters (lacking in). The “shortly” could have been omitted here. Also as verbal phrase “worried about“ requires a direct object to follow so that letters to be rearranged should follow the anagram indicator. Finally, as an obscure word, cluing it has a subtractive anagram (even if partial) is stretching the rules of fairness. It would be better to have a simpler clue for this type of word to give solvers a better chance of reaching the solution.
20 Father, say, discontented attractive young woman (5)
POPSY – A three letter word for a father followed by the SAY from the clue with the middle letter removed (discontented).
23 Disdain shameful conduct, on recovering notebook at first (5)
SCORN – The initial letters (at first) of the second to sixth words of the clue.
24 Unintentionally bait cur – no situation for a good egg? (9)
INCUBATOR – An anagram (unintentionally) of BAIT CUR NO.
25 Mediocre American suppresses replacement for milk (7)
CREAMER – The answer is hidden in (suppresses) the first two words of the clue.
26 Flammable gas in use? Then evacuate! (6)
ETHENE – The answer is hidden (in) in the final three words of the clue.
1 Schemers and lovers surprised, all being led a merry dance (5)
SALSA – The initial letters (being led) of the first five words of the clue.
2 Hankering after the 20s, see how close you can get to be around her (9)
LECHEROUS – An anagram (see how xxxx can get to be) of CLOSE U (you) around the HER from the clue. I am not convinced by the anagram indicator here as it is not an instruction to rearrange the letters. Also putting the anagram indicator around the letters to be rearranged does not work in this clue. Some editors will not allow the direct link of YOU = U without indicating that it the texting version.
3 Girl, 18, is less obsessive (4)
EMMA – The answer to 18 across without a four letter word meaning obsessive.
5 Loss of recipe for ‘bracer’ concoction leaves one bitter (5)
ACERB – Remove the abbreviation for recipe from BRACER and make an anagram (concoction) of the letter that remain.
6 Unruffled, fine when newt sheds tail (4,2,3)
GOOD AS NEW – A four letter word meaning fine followed by a two letter word meaning when and the NEWT from the clue without its final letter (sheds tail).
7 Having embroiled gent (e.g. in dames), retreat (13)
DISENGAGEMENT – An anagram (having embroiled) of GENT EG IN DAMES. Unless essential to the theme, I would avoid having repetition where you already have 14 across as a solution that differs only by the DIS at the beginning.
10 Widely-audible huntswoman promoting her right to break in and steal (6)
BURGLE – Another word for someone who blows a loud horn (widely-audible huntswoman) has the R moved up (promoting her right).
13 For one fed up with romance from start to finish, he only has to join the dots to see what’s coming (9)
GEOMANCER – A reversal (fed-up) of EG (for one) followed by the ROMANCE from the clue with the R moved from the top to the bottom (from start to finish)
14 Pole, upset over a couple of points, runs away to avoid 7? (6)
ELOPES – An anagram (upset) of POLE followed by the abbreviations for East and South (points).
15 Falsely avow crime to take the heat off? Quite the reverse (9)
MICROWAVE – An anagram (falsely) of AVOW CRIME.
19 Abstainers involve threesome endlessly in matters of the heart (5)
ATRIA – The abbreviation for Alcoholics Anonymous (abstainers) holds a word for a threesome with the final letter removed (endlessly). I am not convinced by the definition being correct. It would suggest the adjectival form but the solution is a noun.
21 Despot, potentially taking time for old china (5)
SPODE – An anagram (potentially) of DESPOT after removing the T (taking time).
22 Don’t start to provoke one’s relative (4)
AUNT – A five letter word meaning to provoke with the first letter removed (don’t start).