Christmas by 8ball
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This seasonal puzzle is 8ball’s debut 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 8Ball. There was a lot of promise in the cluing and most of the clues were good. The main problem was the repetition of wordplay indicators.
In terms of the grid, this was not ideal. The norm (but very occasionally broken) is for the grid to be symmetrical. Even if the rule is broken, the three unchecked letters as the end of 9 down would not be accepted by most editors.
The commentometer reads as 5/32 or 15.6%.
1 Drunk has it’s charms strangely – enjoy the festive season (5,9)
MERRY CHRISTMAS – A five-letter word meaning drunk followed by an anagram (strangely) of ITS CHARMS.
10 Heartless poacher has rumoured solution to reindeer that can fly (7)
PRANCER – The outer letters (heartless) of poacher followed by a homophone (rumoured) of ANSWER (solution)
11 Festive singer with beginning of song about a Christmas tree’s decoration (7)
BAUBLES – The surname of a Canadian-Italian singer and the first letter (beginning) of song about the A from the clue. The Festive here is padding and, as the singer is not especially festive, it might be considered misleading.
12 Handsome horse regretted jumping over (6)
RUGGED A two letter childish way of referring to a horse with a four-letter word meaning referred around it (jumping over).
13 Sweet treat for Everton fans (7)
TOFFEES – Double definition of a a hard or chewy sweet and the nickname for Everton fans.
15 Flower lively, not very lacking in energy (4)
LILY – Remove the abbreviations for very and energy from the second word of the clue.
16 Quietly dislike gift (7)
PRESENT – The abbreviation for quietly followed by a six-letter word meaning dislike.
20 Singer covered with large bite after vacation – leave it alone (3,2,2)
LET IT BE – A three-letter word for a bird (singer) inside (covered by) the outer letters (after vacation) of large and bite.
22 Earn prize with raffle finally – could be 7 or 9 (4)
WINE – A three-letter word meaning earn followed by the final letter of raffle.
25 Merry go rounds’s useless Christmas song (5)
CAROL – An eight-letter word meaning a merry-go-round without the USE at the end (useless).
26 Tremendous show less good with bad acting (8)
GIGANTIC – A three-letter word for a show followed by an anagram (bad) of acting without the G – less good. The word order for the cryptic reading of the clue puts the instructions in a very odd order – Perhaps “Tremendous show with bad stilted acting”
29 Christmas movie for singleton without support bubble? (4,5) (9)
HOME ALONE – Double definition for a Christmas movie and a description of a single person in lockdown who is not part of a support bubble. Watch how clues are enumerated. You only need the 4,5 here not the 9.
30 Initially Meghan and her husband returned without a gift for royal baby (5)
MYRRH – The first letter (initially) of Meghan followed by the name of her husband reversed (returned) without the letter A.
31 Christmas food – mine is baked with spice (5,4)
MINCE PIE – An anagram (baked) of MINE SPICE.
32 Gas produced by volcano – daredevils partially in retreat (5)
RADON – The answer is hidden (partially) and reversed (in retreat) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.
2 Nag elves to dance – they bring good tidings (8)
EVANGELS – An anagram (to dance) of NAG ELVES.
3 Provider of a Christmas joke, endlessly given time to generate noise (6)
RACKET – The inner letters (endlessly) of CRACKER (provider of a Christmas joke) followed by the abbreviation for time.
4 Doctor and accountant about to get warning (4)
CARD – The abbreviation for doctor and accountant reversed (about).
5 Strips of meat have upper class person coming back (7)
RIBBONS – A cut of meat followed by a reversal (coming back) of a four-letter word for an upper-class person. You need to watch cryptic grammar. Here the cryptic reading translates as A have B reversed where have should be had.
6 Packaging from gifts fun to unwrap (8)
STUFFING – An anagram (to unwrap) of GIFTS FUN.
7 Pondered hair style – time that daughter replaced (6)
MULLED – The type of haircut that Chambers describes as “short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round” with the final T (time) replaced by a D (daughter).
8 Doubly overweight when coming back? It’s ok (2-2)
SO-SO – Two abbreviations for over-sized returned (when coming back). Coming back has already been used as a reversal indicator in 5d so a different indicator should have been used here.
9 Bubbly student driver limited by test’s third maneuver (9)
SPARKLING – The abbreviation for a student drive inside (limited by) the third letter of test and a driving manoeuvre. Watch spellings. Maneuver is wrong for a UK crossword.
14 French nudist regularly taking out plums? (5)
FRUIT – A two-letter abbreviation for French followed by the even letters (regularly taken out) of nudist.
17 Female from Paris giving one of many Christmas gifts (6,3) (9)
FRENCH HEN – One of the birds given in the Twelve Days of Christmas could be descriptive of a female from Paris.
18 Spruce up the place after November say (8)
DECORATE – The abbreviation for the month after November followed by a five-letter word meaning say.
19 Spent the cold months initially tucking into merlot perhaps after colour drops (8)
WINTERED – The first letter (initially) of tucking in a description (3,4) of Merlot with the colour moved to the end. Try to avoid reusing wordplay indicators. Initially has been used as an initial letter indication in 30a and it appears again in 27d.
21 Yes, drunk after take off from Irish cream liqueur (7)
BAILEYS – An anagram (drunk) of YES after a four-letter word meaning take off. Perhaps the word meaning take off is slightly stretched here and not included in UK dictionaries. Even as an Americanism, take off would leave to ???? out.
23 One might get roasted when putting bullets in gun oddly (6)
GAMMON – A four-letter word for bullets inside the odd letters of gun.
24 One grows mass military force boosted with queen’s support (6)
FARMER – The abbreviations for mass and Royal Air Force reversed (boosted – as in pushed up or raised) above the two letter abbreviation for the current queen.
27 Mother returns initially half of what they gave us last Christmas (4)
WHAM – A reversed (returns) of a two-letter word for mother after (initially) of half of the word what. Its is not permissible to put a proper noun into lower case. Here it should be Last Christmas. Also, watch duplicating reversal indicators – here return has already been used in 30a.
28 Travel over endlessly large desert (4)
GOBI – A two-letter word meaning travel followed by a three-letter word meaning large without the final letter (endlessly). Another repetition of endlessly, here used as a final letter deletion but previously used as an instruction to remove the first and last letters.
At the end of the Rookie series for 2020, I would like to thank all of our Rookies for providing us with weekly puzzles to entertain and amuse us this year. As 2021 approaches, we look forward to more puzzles and a brighter year than this one.