A Puzzle by Conto
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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.
Welcome back to Conto. This themed puzzle with shortened names of months appearing in the across clues, produced an awkward grid with 42 clues (too many for publication in a national paper given the constraints of space) and a somewhat unequal balance between number of across and down clues. The large number of three letter solutions (12) is often the result of designing a themed grid. Too many short solutions is not ideal.
Overall, I seemed to have fared better than most solvers with solving the clues. There were a few rough edges and some of the surface readings could have been improved. The commentometer reads as 4.5/42 or 10.7%
1 One taking care to cook in jar outside (7)
JANITOR – The TO from the clue with an anagram (cook) of IN JAR around it (outside).
5 After brief tussle, the Alsatian is feverish (7)
FEBRILE – An anagram (tussle) of BRIEF followed by the French (Alsatian) for the.
9 Mend broken boat in Scandinavia (7)
DENMARK – An anagram (broken) of MEND followed by a three-letter word for a rescue boat. Three anagrams in a row is not ideal. Perhaps somewhere in Scandinavia would be a better definition.
10 Pub where the sink is? (7)
TAPROOM – Definition and cryptic definition.
11 God? Conto says money is central concern (6)
DISMAY – The abbreviation for Deus (god) followed by a phrase 1,3 indicting that Conto, the setter, says with the abbreviation for money in the middle. Given the overlap between says and say, perhaps Conto briefly states “Money is in the central concern” would have been better.
13 Extra cool teenager starts following John Peel? Nice one! (7)
ADJUNCT – The initial letters (starts) of cool teenager after a phrase (1,2) describing the profession of John Peel and the French word (Nice) for one.
17 Foot Exercise Society (3)
PES – A two letter abbreviation for exercise followed by the abbreviation for society.
18 Get this by doing so to shore and to tend (7)
SHORTEN – An elliptical clue where removing the last letter from shore and tend gives the process of removing the last letter.
20 Stuff inside a computer (3)
STUFF – Double definition. I don’t think that inside a computer on its own works as a definition. Perhaps Stuff something inside computer would be better but even that would not prevent the unintended solution PUT.
21 Maria Trapp lacks this – ‘The Sound of Wind’ in French (3)
VON – A homophone (the sound of) wind in French (vent).
23 Helping put radish top into mixture (7)
PORTION – The initial letter (top) of radish inside a six-letter word for mixture.
25 Root may spread (3)
YAM – An anagram (spread) of MAY. Anagram clues where the solution is three letters long should be avoided.
26 Former Dutch ruler and WikiLeaks founder? (7)
JULIANA – Split 6,1 the solution would be the first name and initial of the surname of the founder of WikiLeaks.
28 Heard about anything? (6)
CAUGHT – The single letter abbreviation for about followed by a five-letter word meaning anything.
32 Paciest bats will not decay (7)
ASEPTIC – An anagram (bats) of PACIEST.
34 Dolittle! Who quacks?! (7)
DOCTORS – The first two words are fictional examples of the solution.
36 Ballerina’s gem dropped in guava and lemon cocktail (7)
ULANOVA – An anagram (cocktail) of GUAVA LEMON after removing (dropped) the letters in gem.
37 Sit here and be moved by someone close to you (7)
SIDECAR – Cryptic definition of an accessory used with a motorbike to allow a second person to travel without riding pillion.
1 Tired? Stoned? (5)
JADED – Take a type of green stone and add a D to the end. I don’t think that simply adding a question mark to the end of stoned adequately indicates the wordplay required.
2 Either way, it’s bread (3)
NAN – The answer is a palindrome (either way).
3 Infused inside of water, initially boiled, and given stir (7)
TEABAGS – An anagram (infused) of ATE (inside of water) followed by the initial letters of the final four words of the clue.
4 Smooth operator involved in bra kerfuffle (4)
RAKE – The answer is hidden (involved) in the final two words of the clue.
5 Rank of American agent taking on Tori’s case (5)
FETID – The three-letter abbreviation for a Federal Agent includes (taking on) the outer letters (case) of TORI.
6 Disco hit (3)
BOP – Double definition.
7 Dog star appears earlier, I agree (1,6)
I CONCUR – A four-letter word for a star followed by a three letter word for a dog. The overlap of the I in the clue and the solution is unfortunate.
8 Novel idea – forget about Di eating M&M (4)
EMMA – Remove (forget) a reversal (about) of DI from the second word of the clue and include the MM from the clue.
12 Having lost book, cries ‘help!’ (1.1.1) (3)
SOS – Remove the abbreviation for book from a four-letter word meaning cries.
14 Large tea container? It’s run out! (3)
URN – An anagram (out) of RUN. Another anagram of three letters that is not much of a challenge.
15 A good shot? John’s lacking in taste! (4)
FOUR – Remove a three-letter word for a toilet (John) from a seven-letter word for taste.
16 One leads Muslims at Mosque (4)
IMAM – The letter representing one followed by the initial letter (leads) of the final three words of the clue. I don’t think that leads on its own works as an initial word indicator. It would need to be leads to…. Perhaps One suppresses leaders of Muslims at Mosque would work better.
17 Put down stones and pick up wage – on this day the war ended (4)
PAVE – A homophone (pick up) of PAY (wage) and the abbreviation for Victory in Europe.
19 Haircut 100 + 2,900? (4)
TRIM – 100 + 2,900 = 3000 (MMM in Roman numerals). The solution is another ways of saying three Ms.
22 No university fellows heading up All Souls? (7)
NOUMENA – The NO from the clue followed by the abbreviation for University, a three-letter word for fellows and the initial letter (heading up) of All. Another clue where the initial letter indicator does not quite work. Heading to All Souls would have been better.
23 Acid letter (3)
PHI – Split 2,1 the solution would indicate an acid on the acid / alkali scale.
24 Subtly different, new universal dance is front-to-back (7)
NUANCED – The abbreviation for new and universal followed by the word dance with the first letter moved to the back.
25 Crystal found in ruby agate (3)
YAG – The answer is hidden (found) in the final two words of the clue.
27 Human with waist reduced by 90% exercising back of neck (5)
NUCHA – An anagram (exercising) of HUMAN after changing the M to a C – waist reduced by 50%). Perhaps the wordplay for a rare word is overly complex here and a simpler clue for an unusual word would have been fairer.
29 Stunner sat back by the Queen (5)
TASER – Reverse (back) the SAT from the clue and follow with the two-letter abbreviation for the current queen.
30 Bolognese guitar is broken without it (4)
RAGU – An anagram (broken) of GUITAR without the IT from the clue.
31 Chances during lull? They’re 50-50! (4)
ODDS – The odd letters in lull are L and L or 50-50 in Roman numerals.
33 Half of 15 or a third of 22 (3)
TWO – The answer is half of the answer to 15d or one-third of 22 when written in text. As discussed in the blog, this clue looks as though it has a mistake. Even where the clue is correct, if the solver justifiably thinks there might be an error, then the clue might be described as a bad clue.
35 Soaring bird is detailed creation of Tolkien (3)
ORC – Reverse (soaring) a four-letter type of bird without its final letter (detailed).