A Puzzle by Fiddlesticks
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
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.
Mostly good clues but massively let down by a grid that has more holes in it than a fishing net. Whilst Fiddlestick’s clues have become less complicated and (a few points apart) cryptically sound, the move to DIY grid construction has not worked.
In any answer, at least 50% of the letters in each answer should ideally be cross- checked – that is they intersect with another clue. Occasionally, with five letter answers, you will get unchecked, checked, unchecked, checked, unchecked. You should try to avoid these but one or two such clues in a grid are sometimes unavoidable.
A white square that does not intersect with another answer is referred to as an UNCH (unchecked). Quite often you will get double unches in grids – these are two successive squares that are unchecked. Even the Times crossword permits double unches but not where the two unchecked letters are at the beginning of a word. Double unches can make it more difficult to solve the crossword so too many double unches can be off-putting. However,
provided that at least 50% of the letters are cross-checked, double unches are a fact of the solver’s life. If setting, try not to have too many though. Triple unches are a different story and would not be acceptable. Going for a quadruple unch is something of a record.
The commentometer reads as 7/28 or 25%.
1 Demand one goes to get seafood (4)
CLAM – A five-letter word meaning demand without the letter I (one goes).
3 Monstrous pimp picked up, a bear-like beast (5,5)
GIANT PANDA – A five-letter word meaning monstrous or large followed by a homophone (picked up) of pander (pimp).
8 To pluck introducing muscle produces a range of frequencies (8)
SPECTRUM – A five-letter word meaning to play a guitar includes (introducing) a three-letter word for a muscle. As mentioned save for the commonality of means of playing a guitar, the two a not directly synonymous.
9 Salesperson, reportedly one on a bicycle (6)
PEDLAR – A homophone (reportedly) of peddler (one on a bicycle).
10 African country, initially barren, agriculture now growing under independence (6)
BANGUI – The initial letters of the final six words of the clue. The setter has confessed to the mistake in the clue where the solution is a capital city and not a country.
12 Earth backs tribunal judgement (5)
TERRA – Reverse (backs) a five-letter word word a tribunal judgement. Perhaps backing would have given a smoother cryptic reading of the clue.
13 Almost in heaven, love from the beginning (2,3)
AB OVO – A five letter word meaning in heaven or over with the final letter removed (almost) followed by the letter representing love.
14 Joker with drink knocked back in truck (6)
WAGGON – A three-letter word for a joker followed by a reversal (knocked back) of a three-letter word for a drink. Watch out or repetition in wordplay indicators. Backs and knocked back have been used with the back functioning as a reversal indicator.
15 Thai sauce from processed napalm (3,3)
NAM PLA – An anagram (processed) of NAPALM.
17 Read out the letters of “wheat” (5)
SPELT – Double definition for another way of saying spelled and a type of wheat.
18 Flashy bastard lacking caution (5)
BRASH – The abbreviation for bastard followed by a four-letter word meaning lacking caution.
20 Pretence to be very active, an obsession (6)
HUMBUG – A three-letter word meaning to be very active folioed by a three-letter word for an obsession.
23 Admits to private drink (4,2)
OWNS UP – A three-letter word meaning private followed by a three-letter word meaning to drink.
25 Pole gets take-home amount, Franc perhaps (8)
CABERNET – A five-letter word word for a pole used in Scottish highland games followed by a three-letter word meaning take-home amount.
27 Strike leads to dismissal–retire (3,3,4)
HIT THE SACK – A three-letter word meaning strike followed by a phrase 3,4 for dismissal from a job.
28 Globally produced cheese forced back (4)
EDAM – Reverse (back – for the third time) a four letter word meaning forced.
1 Shot across bows with secret weapon (8)
CROSSBOW – The answer is hidden (shot … with secret) in the second and third words of the clue.
2 Confused as rent gets behind (6)
ASTERN – An anagram (confused) of AS RENT.
3 Paper boat for protective care (12)
GUARDIANSHIP – An eight-letter word for the title of one of the national daily papers followed by a four-letter word for a ship.
4 Horse trouble (3)
NAG – Double definition for an old horse and a word meaning to trouble.
5 Odd, pearlier light (4)
PALE – The odd letters in the second word of the clue. For the cryptic grammar to work, oddly would need to be used.
6 Cheat giving away a billion is more worthy (6)
NOBLER – A seven-letter word for a cheat without one of the letters B (giving away a billion)
7 Stop pong, held in by skill (5)
ABORT – A two-letter abbreviation for body odour (pong) inside (held in by) a three-letter word for skill.
9 Spooner’s “flying mammal” playing card design finds approval (3,2,3,4)
PAT ON THE BACK – A Spoonerism of bat (flying mammal) on the pack (playing card design).
11 Descend from High King? On the contrary (5)
LOWER – A three-letter word being the opposite of high and the two letter abbreviation for the current queen (opposite of king). Not convinced that the solution is the same as the definition where you could use the two words interchangeably in a sentence.
16 Anxiety over gypsy unit (8)
ANGSTROM – A five-letter word for anxiety followed by a three-letter word fora gypsy.
19 Left quickly and expired (3,3)
RAN OUT – Double definition.
21 Outlawed group in broadcast (6)
BANNED – A homophone (in broadcast) of BAND (group).
22 Most of dry spell after start is hard (5)
ROUGH – A seven-letter word for a dry spell without the first letter (after start) and without the final letter (most of).
24 From glue to heroin? No (2-2)
UH-UH – A three-letter word being the proprietary name for a brand of followed by the abbreviation for heroin.
26 Observers miss first word of agreement (3)
YES – A four-letter word for the organs of sight without the first letter (miss first). Again missing would be better than miss to maintain the cryptic grammar of the solution.