A Puzzle by X-File
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
This week we have another new setter. 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 X-File. If I was paid by the hour for solving and commenting on the rookie corner crosswords, I could afford to take the rest of the month off! Whilst there was a lot of inventiveness and some good ideas on display, these were lost in some poor or overelaborate cluing. It needed a a bit more fine crafting and chiselling to produce a polished rather than a rough hewn finish. I suspect that it was over-ambitious for a first crossword. Concentrate on the basics, keeping things simpler to start with and then building up the ideas. In this crosswords, it was the simpler clues that worked the best.
The commentometer reads as 9/26 or 34.6%
1 Get the better of old posh fool (6)
OUTWIT – The abbreviations for old and posh followed by a four-letter word meaning a fool.
5 Fine Ferrari never runs, no acceleration, and not ultimately worth fixing… really not worth fixing (5-3)
WRITE-OFF – An anagram of F (fine) FEI (Ferrari without the Rs – never runs – and A – no acceleration) WORT (not ultimately worth). Sometimes setters run away with an idea and produce a clue of such complexity and verbosity that it becomes over the top. These are referred to as otters. This is a classic otter. More importantly, in the cryptic grammar, fixing as an anagram indicator needs to come before the letters to be re-arranged, not after. Here “not ultimately worth being fixed” would have worked better. Also as the solution, with the hyphen is a noun, the definition would be better as “it’s really not worth fixing.”
9 I’m going to Israel cheaply (3,5)
AIR MILES – An anagram (going or cheaply) of IM ISRAEL. Unfortunately this clue does not work at any level. There is no valid definition and where the letters to be rearranged are split (as they are here) the instructions to the solver need to make grammatical sense. A mixed with B or A with B mixed works but A mixed to B does not. Perhaps “I’m over in Israel travelling with fare concession”
10 For the most part lymphoma, in lymphoma not for the most part (6)
MAINLY – The answer’s hidden (not for the most part) in the fifth to seventh words of the clue.
11 Overpaint’s becoming overt, bargain to bar suffering’s rewarded (2,4,2,4)
NO PAIN NO GAIN – Two phrases, each 2,4, the described how you get from overpaint to overt and from bargain to bar. This is one of the worst examples of nonsensical surface readings in the clue. I am tolerant with Rookies not having fully polished surfaces but simply stringing words together to make a clue that makes no sense whatsoever as a sentence in its own right does not work. Perhaps suffering’s proverbially rewarded would be a better definition.
13 See 22 Down
14 Understand? Surface appears easy (8)
GETTABLE – A three-letter word meaning understand followed by a five-letter word for a surface on which items can be placed. Again, the cryptic grammar does not quite work as the structure of the clue resolves to Wordplay appears definition. Perhaps “Understand, surface could be easy”
17 Vocally prohibited woman head covering (8)
BANDANNA – A homophone (vocally) of banned (prohibited) followed by a four-letter woman’s name.
18 Ivanka’s naked, turning orange finally, as a dishonest man (5)
KNAVE – The inner letters (naked) of IVANKA reversed (turning) followed by the final letter or orange.
20 How Hamish and Sally go together? (7,5)
HOLDING HANDS – A reverse engineering clue – the first part of the solution as a hidden word indicator and the second part of the solution being the hidden word give what you might find in the second to fourth words of the clue.
23 Setter’s good to you, with lightweight anagram: Find a reptile in Guiana (6)
IGUANA – A single letter for the setter followed by the abbreviation for good and the letter representing you in text speak with the letters in anagram without a unit of weight – lightweight. The second part of the clue is both a definition and a clue its own right being an anagram (find) of GUIANA and a lightweight anagram in its own right. A minor point but if you is being used as text speak, this should be indicated, alternatively, a homophone indicator should be used.
24 Northern Ireland’s troubles start to leave a catalogue of victims, promoting profound negativity (8)
NIHILIST – The abbreviation for Northern Ireland followed by a phrase 3,4 for a catalogue of victims without the the letter T (troubles start to leave). Troubles start needs to be trouble’s start correctly to indicate the initial letter.
25 X-File’s swapping alien for a new one with feminine glasses (8)
SNIFTERS – The role of X-File as compiler maintaining the ’s has the abbreviation for Extra-terrestrial replaced by the abbreviation for new, the letter represented by one and the abbreviation for feminine. I think that the “a” should be omitted here as it implies it is inserted into to the solution. Where you can omit an article, you should.
26 Release the clutch on route and block traffic (6)
WAYLAY – A three-letter word meaning to release a clutch of eggs after (on) a three-letter word for a route. Chambers gives the solution with the meaning to obstruct as obsolete (the usual meaning is to ambush or attack) and this should be indicated.
2 One‘s begun not plead with itself, abandoning the ego (4)
UNIT – The begun from the clue without a three-letter word meaning to plead followed by the itself from the clue without a four-letter word for the ego. Another clue where the surface reading is sadly lacking in sense. Also, give this device has been used in 11a and in part in 23a, perhaps it is overusing the wordplay.
3 What sisters share, e.g. Anna’s bandit (9)
WOMANHOOD – The description of a person of whom Anna may be an example followed by a four-letter word for a bandit.
4 You French-kissers come mostly from Holland (6)
TULIPS – The French single pronoun for you followed by a four-letter word for the part of the body used to kiss. As the solution is a noun, perhaps these ones come mostly from Holland might be better.
5 Used to turns around the speed of sound, and now clean your 17 (7,8)
WASHING MACHINES – A three-letter word meaning used to be and a six-letter word meaning turns around a phrase 4,1 for the speed of sound and the single letter that can represent and in phrases such as fish and chips. The definition here is too loose to define the solution.
6 1+2 coming together, getting resistance… (8)
IMMUNITY – The letter representing one followed by the abbreviation for millimetre (an example of the solution to 2d) followed by a five-letter word meaning coming together.
7 …out of electronic ruler, making it longer (5)
EKING – The abbreviation for electronic followed by a four-letter word for a ruler.
8 Fill with a novel passion (4,2,4)
FALL IN LOVE – An anagram (passion) of FILL A NOVEL. I am not convinced by passion as an anagram indicator. As a noun some editors would not allow it. Nounal anagram indicators should nevertheless suggested movement such as organisation. Even as an &lit clue, where the clue as a whole is wordplay and definition, I don’t think that the clue precisely defines the solution.
12 A loving art, to break a heart? (5,5)
VITAL ORGAN – An anagram (to break) of A LOVING ART.
15 Tries powerlessly to get a friend, without being an easy target (4,5)
AUNT SALLY – A five-letter word meaning tries without the initial P (powerlessly) with a phrase 1, 4 meaning a friend around it (without).
16 Put out too much with one’s sister before dinner and a movie (8)
INUNDATE – The letter representing one followed by a three-letter word for a religious sister and a four-letter word word dinner and a movie. A couple of points here. This is the third use of one to represent I. Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators. Also, dinner and a movie is a definition by example of the four letter required so this should be indicated.
19 So much for Mandy, not heeding my unending scream! (3,3)
AND HOW – The letters in Mandy without the MY followed by a four-letter word for a scream with the final letter removed (unending).
21 Little by little, had a struggle going to France (5)
DWARF – The single letter that can represent had (little had) followed by a three-letter word for a struggle or battle and the abbreviation for France.
22/13 One succeeded getting into Romania, travelling from western Turkey (4,5)
ASIA MINOR – An anagram (travelling) of I (one – again!) S (succeeded) ROMANIA. The wordplay here implied that the IS are inserted into an anagram of ROMANIA which is incorrect. The use of from here appears to be a link word. You can have definition from wordplay but wordplay from definition is not technically correct.