A Puzzle by Umber
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Dumber returns with his second puzzle, although this time he has decided (understandably) to rebrand as Umber. 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 back to Umber under a new pseudonym. This was a crossword that displayed some nice touches but it was let down by a number of errors and inaccuracies. Whilst the use of unconventional abbreviations and repetition of wordplay indicators from the previous crossword has been addressed, there were a number of clues where definitions were not precise enough or adjectives were clued as nouns, etc. For the next crossword, if Umber can nail down the precision of the clues, this would greatly improve the quality of the crossword. As a result of the larger number of inaccuracies, the commentometer has risen to 71/2 / 30 or 25%. To paraphrase one of the early pioneers of setting crosswords by adding the word precisely: “You need not say what you mean you must mean precisely what you say.”
1 Line of cocaine following admission of ambiguous sexual identity? (6)
IAMBIC – A phrase (1,2,2) that might be used by someone admitting to being bisexual followed by the abbreviation for cocaine. The solution is an adjective describing a line of poetry, not the line itself, which would be iambus.
5 Novelty event for managers? (4,4)
SACK RACE – A humorous description of a competition between HR manager to dismiss people.
9 Pear-shaped bream got pear-shaped fruit from this (8)
BERGAMOT – An anagram (pear-shaped) of BREAM GOT.
10 Shots of Tiger and others bald and American? (6)
EAGLES – Double definition of a golfing shots and birds.
11 Concentrate and set fire to Sid’s turn-ups (6)
DISTIL – A reversal (turn-ups) of a three letter word meaning set fire to and the SID from the clue. I don’t think that turn-ups works as a reversal indicator. Firstly it is a noun and, secondly, as this is an across clue, you are not turning the clue up but back.
12 What’s left of soldiers’ unit before reported hand-to-hand combat (8)
RESIDUAL – The abbreviation for Royal Engineers followed by the abbreviation for System Internationale (unit) and a homophone (reported) of duel (hand-to-hand combat). Again, the answer means relating to the residue, not what’s left itself. The SI is a system of metric units, not the unit itself.
14 Yep, it’ll stick plastic instantly (7-5)
LICKETY-SPLIT – An anagram (plastic) of YEP ITLL STICK. As the answer is an American phrase, this should be indicated.
18 For eample, a thing read by the vicar (6,6)
OBJECT LESSON – Another word for a thing and another word for a bible reading. The whole clue provides the definition. Watch out for typographical errors in the clues. This should be “For example…”
22 Baffle computer-program addict (8)
DIFFUSER – A three four letter word for a command-line program used with the Unix and Linux operating systems followed by a four letter word for an addict. I think that cluing a little used component part of an operating system as a computer program is pushing it and too specialist.
25 Tickled pink those involved run out (6)
ELATED – Another word for those involved without (out) the abbreviation for run. Those involved would be “relations”. The word required in the wordplay means to be allied by blood or marriage.
26 They wade holding up their bloomers, or so it’s said (6)
STORKS – A homophone (or so it’s said) of stalks (holding up their bloomers).
27 Little frogs are somewhat European, son (8)
TADPOLES – A three letter word meaning somewhat, a four letter East European and the abbreviation for son. I would omit the are otherwise the cryptic reading has the inelegant definition are wordplay.
28 Herb to lace rice pudding (8)
CELERIAC – An anagram (pudding) of LACE RICE. The answer is not a herb but a vegetable. Also, the structure definition to wordplay does not really work. Wordplay to the definition works better.
29 Wager he’s North American (6)
YANKEE – Double definition of a type of bet and a person who lives in the USA.
2 Acid drops in Palace ticket office (6)
ACETIC – The answer is hidden (in) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue. The “drops” and the “office” are padding words and would not be accepted by all editors.
3 Graduate, Georgia, joins Terry at the French game (9)
BAGATELLE – The abbreviation for Bachelor of Arts (graduate), the United States abbreviation for Georgia, a three letter diminutive form of Terence or Terry and the French masculine singular form of “the”.
4 Conniving politician has gripe about it (9)
COMPLICIT – The abbreviation for member of parliament with another word for gripe (as a stomach complaint) around it followed by the IT from the clue.
5 Liberate six games for nothing (3,4)
SET FREE – Something that may or may not consist of six games (it could be many more) in tennis followed by a four letter word meaning for nothing. I don’t think that the six games is precise enough.
6 Musical board game (5)
CHESS – Double definition of a Tim Rice (and others) musical and a matey form of board game.
7 Fixed outfit? I would! (5)
RIGID – A three letter word for an outfit and the contracted for of I would.
8 Climber mails sect by mistake (8)
CLEMATIS – An anagram (by mistake) of MAILS SECT. The letters in “mails sect” give too many letters “MAIL SECT” works.
13 Pinto’s evens to belonging to the thing (3)
ITS – The even letters in the first word of the clue.
15 When astute people weren’t born? (9)
YESTERDAY – Gentle cryptic definition based on the phrase “Do you think I was born …”
16 Clown with goat and duck with claw out (9)
PANTALOON – A three letter word for the goat (based on the pipe playing God who appeared in this form), and a five letter word for a claw around the letter representing a duck or zero. I don’t think that “out” on its own makes a sufficient containment indicator. It would need to be outside to work.
17 Sailors in the drink (8)
ABSINTHE – The pluralised abbreviation for Able Bodied seaman followed by both the IN and the THE from the clue. Having 5/8 of the solution lifted directly from the clue is not ideal.
19 Featured in music: Puccini’s mainframe (3)
CPU – The answer is hidden (featured in) the third and fourth words of the clue. I don’t think that the solution and main-frame are exactly synonymous.
20 Mercurial ruler – and traitor – in charge (7)
ERRATIC – The abbreviation for the current queen, a three letter word for a traitor and the abbreviation for in charge.
21 Night flight to look after wine (6)
REDEYE – A three letter word for a type or colour of wine followed by a three letter word meaning to look.
23 Whitehall speciality – leading characters falling after reversal changes everything (5)
FARCE – The initial letters (leading characters) in the final five works of the clue. If you use a construction such as leading characters … it need to be leading characters from or of …
24 Keep mum out of first hotel and I will get rice and fish (5)
SUSHI – A five letter word meaning keep quiet without the first H followed by the I from the clue.