A Puzzle by Grub
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Grub is our latest new setter in Rookie Corner. 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 Grub with a themed crossword with a number of the solutions being the propriety names of chocolate bars. This was a good start for the first crossword from a Rookie setter but on digging into the clues there were a few weaknesses to address. The main one is watching the use of synonyms. There were a few places where word A = word B = word C was used where Word A did not mean Word C.
Whilst some of the surface readings were less than polished, this will come with practice.
One other point to watch is the construction of grid. 12 of the solutions had less than 50% cross-checked letters. Whilst there is some latitude with themed crosswords, this was probably too many solutions without the usual 50% minimum cross-checking.
The commentometer reads as 5.5/28 or 19.6%.
7 Hands over influence, admitting criminal gains (5,4)
SIGNS AWAY – A four letter word meaning influence includes (admitting) an anagram (criminal) of GAINS.
8 Subject matter to photons, ionise charges initially (5)
TOPIC – The TO from the clue followed initial letters (initially) of the fourth to sixth words of the clue.
9 Uniform fit backwards, starting to turn fit is not possible to perform (9)
UNACTABLE – The abbreviation for uniform followed by a reversal (backwards) of a three letter word meaning fit, the initial letter (starting to) of turn and a four letter word meaning fit. I am not too sure about the first synonym for fit. I think it relies on an illogical link between fit = able = can. However, you have to be careful with this sort of construction. If word A = word B and word B = word C, this does not mean that word A means Word C. Another point to note is that I don’t think that “starting to” works as an initial word indicator. Beginning to would word as beginning is a positional indicator but starting is not.
10 Alcoholic drink without Northern wind (5)
SNAKE – A four letter Japanese alcoholic drink around (without) the abbreviation for Northern. A couple of points here – first is the old canard that without means around. Without means outside and, whilst outside can mean around, this does not means that without means around. The second is that the surface reading here is nonsensical.
12 Peculiar, I start to yodel? (6)
SCREWY – A five letter word for a grub followed by the initial letter (start to) of yodel. I think that there is too much indirectness in this clue to make it fair. The solver has to get from I (= setter), grub (the name of the setter) to screw as a synonym of grub. I= setter = grub = screw is to many stages.
13 Dancing only wows one bird (5,3)
SNOWY OWL – An anagram (dancing) of ONLY WOWS.
14 Good, good person in divine phantom (7)
GHOSTLY – The abbreviation for good followed by the abbreviation for saint (good person) inside (in) a four letter word meaning divine.
17 Organs heard from youthful joints? (7)
KIDNEYS – A homophone (heard) from KID KNEES (youthful joints). I am not too keen on “heard from”. Perhaps “Sound of young joints and organs” would be a little better.
20 Two handed arm gets Ali further (8)
CLAYMORE – The original surname of Mohammed Ali followed by a four letter word meaning further.
22 Increases takes (6)
BOOSTS – Double definition. The second appears to be a slang Americanism for shoplifts. If this was the intention, then the Americanism should have been indicated.
24 Swivel lopped off pair of hands (5)
TWIRL – A four letter word meaning pair of with the final letter removed (lopped off) followed by the abbreviations for right and left (hands).
25 Losing heart, once more chase is a battle (9)
AGINCOURT – A five letter word meaning once more without the central letter (losing heart) followed by a five letter word meaning chase or woo.
26 Perfectionist ain’t admitting to smear (5)
STAIN – The answer is hidden in (admitting) the first and second words of the clue.
27 Well mannered police department hiding evil is put straight (9)
CIVILISED – A three letter abbreviation for a police department includes (hiding) an anagram (put straight) of EVIL IS.
1 Dine out on choice steal, dropping a couple of thousand (6)
PICNIC – A four letter word meaning choice and a four letter word meaning steal, each without their final K (dropping a couple of thousand). The use of “on” as a linkword does not work. You have definition on wordplay.
2 Back to front pants? Brief time for titters (8)
SNICKERS – A seven letter word for pants and the abbreviation for second (brief time) swap places (back to front).
3 Lots of stars in fundraiser, and some unknowns (6)
GALAXY – A four letter word for a fundraising party followed by two letter used algebraically to represent unknown quantities.
4 Explosion covers nearly everyone in sandbags for example (7)
BALLAST – A five letter word meaning an explosion around (covers) a three letter word for everyone with the final letter removed (nearly). I am not too keen on covers meaning around in a down clue as positionally, covers suggests over in a down clue.
5 Geordie will almost certainly go on air for reward (6)
BOUNTY – Worst homophone of the year award for how a Georgie might say (go on air) bound to (will almost certainly.
6 Type in chairman of the board’s number for 3 (5,3)
MILKY WAY – A three letter word meaning type inside (in) a song by Frank Sinatra (Chairman of the Board. The rule when setting is that common nouns can be capitalised but proper nouns must retain their capitalisation.
11 God, according to hearsay, is modest (4)
LOKI – A homophone (according to hearsay) of low key (modest). A point to watch where the homophone indicator is in the middle of the wordplay is to make sure the solver can be clear which is the definition and which is the wordplay. Here, the clue could equally be a homophone of God makes a word meaning modest.
15 Goons saw filth disguised (8)
HALFWITS – An anagram (disguised) of SAW FILTH.
16 Liverpool opener, one-nil, number one with Mané (4)
LION – The first letter (opener) followed by the letters representing one and nil followed by the abbreviation for number. A couple of points here – First, to indicate the first letter, it should really be Liverpool’s opener. Secondly, the point is well made in the comments that by adding the accent, this unfairly changes the definition. A Mané is not a mane. Whilst you can mislead, you have to mislead fairly. As an early pioneer of crossword setting put it, “I need not mean what I say, but I must say what I mean.”
18 Freshly coined, branch embraced by new E-coin (8)
NEOLOGIC – A three letter word fora branch inside (embraced by) an anagram (new) of E COIN.
19 Perhaps emperor tucked in to open Guinness (7)
PENGUIN – The answer is hidden is the final two words of the clue.
21 Dog from royal house for example (6)
YORKIE – A four letter word for a royal house and the abbreviation for id best (for example). I don’t think that “that is” means for example.
22 Outlaw, forbid, full-stop! (6)
BANDIT – A three letter word meaning forbid followed by a three letter word for a full stop.
23 Gobbler of a prison warden loses core (6)
TURKEY – A seven letter word for a prison warden without the central letter (loses core).