A Puzzle by Median
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Our second debutant of 2021 is Median. 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 Median with a debut crossword that was far from being half-baked. It was a good first outing with some clever ideas on play, such as 9a, 3d and 22d. In terms of the clues, the basics are there but a little more attention is needed to the cryptic grammar. Cryptic definitions are often the hardest to produce and may of them in this crossword, were probably its weakest point. Some of the surface readings needed attention where clues such as 18d (probably the worst offender) do not make sense in their right. Surface readings come with practice but it is good to pay attention to them. The commentometer reads as 3.5 / 30 or 11.67%.
8 Light ring in such a lot of cakes … (4)
HALO – The answer is hidden in the fourth to sixth words of the clue. Normally, padding words for a hidden word clue are discouraged. Here they could be seen with the ellipses as starting the definition of the next clue.
9 … 1 of 10 here with liquor and ice (10)
PONTEFRACT – put the liquor and ice together as one word and the solution is a type of cake made from the resulting word.
10 Apollo parts are what The Apollo does (6)
STAGES – Double definition by reference to an Apollo rocket and the Apollo theatre. On the cryptic reading of the clue you have Definition A ARE Definition B, which does not work as it should be IS.
11 ‘No Taping’ order is pathetic (8)
POIGNANT – An anagram (order) of NO TAPING.
12 Complete agreement could be shop steward’s position (2,6)
IN UNISON – The membership of a trade union of which a shop steward could be member.
14 Country where gluttony doesn’t end before church (6)
GREECE – A five-letter word for gluttony with the final letter removed (doesn’t end) followed by the abbreviation for Church of England.
16 Relish starting Zoom every single time (4)
ZEST – The initial letters (starting) of the final four words of the clue. I don’t think that starting on its own indicates the start of every word.
17 For tea, maybe, before one is sick, oddly (5)
SCONE – The odd letters is sick before the ONE in the clue. Try to avoid vague definitions such as for tea maybe. Look at what the clue says as a whole – here the sentence is not one that you would use in everyday conversation. Compare the surface reading of this clue with the next one which is more convincing as a sentence in its own right.
18 Come across food in conversation (4)
MEET – A homophone (in conversation) of meat (food).
19 Aim to break cooker. What’s to be done? (6)
AGENDA – A three-letter word for an aim or objective inside (to break) a three-letter word for a type of cooker.
21 For one girl, following Maggie May ultimately makes things easier to see (8)
EYEGLASS – The abbreviation for “for example” (for one) and a four-letter word for a girl after (following) the final letters (ultimately) of Maggie May.
23 Desert absorbs a cold dessert, perhaps (8)
MACAROON – A six-letter word meaning to desert or strand includes (absorbs) the A from the clue and the abbreviation for cold.
26 Ebbing, dangerous tide engulfs whole pier (6)
PILLAR – A three-letter word for a dangerous tide includes (engulfs) a three-letter word meaning whole and all the letters are then reversed (ebbing).
27 Doing a headstand, accidentally wiped sound (6-4)
UPSIDE-DOWN – An anagram (accidentally) of WIPED SOUND.
28 Row when recipe is lost causes complaint (4)
AGUE – A five-letter word meaning row or have a disagreement without (is lost) the abbreviation for recipe. Does the wordplay cause the solution. Perhaps creates complaint would be better.
1 Jam-packed, four-square calorific cuboid (10)
BATTENBERG – A not very well disguised definition of a type of cake with four squares filled with jam between them and covered in marzipan.
2 Top of Homer’s list, he’s obsessed with money (8)
DOUGHNUT – Split 5,3 the answer would be a description of someone obsessed with money.
3 Brief periods when baths admit some every second (6)
SPASMS – A four-letter word for baths includes (admit) the even letters (every second) in SOME. Care needs to be taken with the tense of the cryptic grammar of the clue. Here the clue resolves A admit B which, for the cryptic reading, requires A admits/admitting B.
4 Cry when it’s the same card (4)
SNAP – Straight definition of a card game.
5 Call setter before uncle limits baked item (8)
MERINGUE – A four-letter word meaning call with a two-letter word for the setter before it followed by the outer letter limits. For the cryptic reading of the clue, you need uncle’s limits to indicate the outer letters.
6 Fruit that fussy Sloane Ranger learns to leave (6)
ORANGE – An anagram (fussy) of SLOANE RANGER after removing (to leave) the letter in LEARNS. Where you have a subtractive anagram and the letters to be removed are not in the order given in the clue, it is better to include a secondary anagram indicator to show this. I would also omit the “that” in the clue as the cryptic reading becomes definition that wordplay, which does not read very well. Perhaps “Fruit fussy Sloane Ranger sadly learns to leave”. Even then, if you remove the rearranged letters from SLOANE RANGER, the letters remaining are in the correct order, so you could even remove the fussy from the clue.
7 One Tory who can do no wrong? (4)
ICON – The letter representing one and a three letter abbreviation for a tory.
13 Used to keep people in suspense at Tyburn (5)
NOOSE – Cryptic definition. Perhaps “It was used…” would be better.
15 The Pensioners’ hair style? (7,3)
CHELEA BUN – A cryptic definition of a cake without a definition. Something more is required for this clue to work.
17 Being experienced, argued differently at first (8)
SEASONED – An eight-letter word meaning argued with a different first letter. Perhaps argued and new start is required would be better.
18 Blended tall foam – it’s brown and chewy (4,4)
MALT LOAF – An anagram (blended) of TALL FOAM.
20 Biblical killer turns up in supplement (6)
NIACIN – A four-letter word for the killer of Abel reversed (turns up) followed by the IN from the clue.
22 Make bigger electronic version of Windows Plus (6)
EXPAND – The abbreviation for electronic followed by a two-letter version of the Windows operating system and a three-letter word meaning plus.
24 Afterthought behind the last two of Cleopatra’s horned vipers (4)
ASPS – The abbreviation for post-script (afterthought) after (behind) the last two letters of Cleopatra’s.
25 PM follows 12 (4)
NOON – Another way of saying midday (12).