Words within Words by Madcap
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Madcap makes his debut today. 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 Madcap – you certainly needed one to solve this. This was perhaps overly ambitious for a standard 15×15 crossword with two themed sets of solutions to be resolved. My particular concern about this was those solution where the “definition” in the crossword was to another word into which you then had to add a theme word to get an undefined solution. Each clue should have wordplay and definition (unless a cryptic definition or double definition). Not have a clear definition puts the solver and an immediate disadvantage.
Th clue constructions themselves did not have many major errors but there were some areas where things could be tidied up.
The commentometer reads as 6/28 or 21.4%
7 In brief, engineer outlines extravagant and trendy finish (9)
ENDEARING – The abbreviation (briefly) for engineer around outlines a four-letter word meaning extravagant and a two letter word meaning trendy. The definition of finish gives a six letter word into which you insert EAR (one of the theme words). The solution is not defined by the clue.
8 Judge in row about prosecutor’s last letter (5)
TRIER – A four-letter word for a row around the last letter of prosecutor.
9 Preserve Parisian patient (9)
MARMALADE – Put ARM (one of the theme words) inside a six-letter word for a patient in France.
10 Chinese native has pork to start with and tea to finish (5)
PANDA – The first letter (to start with) of pork followed by the AND from the clue and the final letter of tea. I don’t think that “to finish” indicates the final letter. Maybe a final sip of tea.
12 He pointed to the left, indicating squirrel (6)
MARMOT – Reverse (pointed to the left) a three-letter boy’s name (he) and insert ARM (one of the theme words) into the resulting letters. Using he to define a boy’s name in a themed clue is a tad unfair given the large number of possible boys names.
13 Propose rebate, adjusted to include first and last of April (8)
TEARABLE – An anagram (adjusted) of REBATE into which you insert the the first and last letters of April. The definition of Propose gives a five letter word into which you insert EAR (one of the theme words). The solution is not defined by the clue.
14 Passionate chocolatier discards skin from lactose (7)
EARNEST – A six-letter name of a chocolate maker without the outer letters (discards skin) form lactose. The theme word EAR goes at the start to give the solution.
17 Officer, full of his cockney charms (7)
DISARMS – The abbreviation for Detective Sergeant (office) include IS (his Cockney). The word ARM has to be included in the resulting letters to get the solution.
20 Sweet with last of finger rolls perhaps (8)
CARMAKER – A four-letter word for a sweet baked item followed by the last letter of rolls. The word ARM has to be included in the resulting letters to get the solution. The convention is that you can capitalise a common noun to mislead but you must not put a proper noun into lower case to do so. Watch out for repeating wordplay indicators. This is the third time that “last” has been used to indicate the final letter.
22 Maybe wolf in party clothes? (3-3)
DOG-EAR – A two-letter word for a party followed by a four-letter word for clothes. The definition of Maybe wolf gives a three letter word to which you add EAR (one of the theme words). The solution is note defined by the clue.
24 Madcap boatman left tot (5)
BARMY = A four-letter word for a tot or child has the abbreviation for Able Seaman (boatman) removed (left). Into the letters that remain you have to include ARM (one of the theme words).
25 Shaped, according to the gossip, like half an octopus? (9)
FOREARMED – A homophone (according to the gossip) of FOUR ARMED (like half an octopus). The definition of shaped gives a six-letter word into which you add EAR (one of the theme words). The solution is not defined by the clue itself..
26 Shepherd is stiffer, lacking exercise (5)
STEER – A seven-letter word meaning stiffer without (lacking) the abbreviation for exercise.
27 Second too soon to drink recycled gin by itself (9)
SEARINGLY – The abbreviation for second followed by a five-letter word meaning too soon includes (to drink) an anagram (recycled) of GIN. The definition of by itself gives a six-letter word meaning alone into which you add EAR (one of the theme words). The solution is not defined by the clue.
1 Capital invested in Bank Arabia (6)
ANKARA – The answer is hidden (invested) in the final two words of the clue.
2 He’s in control of line and, at the front, manages to master navigation primarily (8)
HELMSMAN – The HES from the clue includes (in control of) the abbreviation for line and the initial letter (at the front) of manager. These letters are followed by the abbreviation for Master of Arts and the first letter (primarily) of navigation.
3 Small branch regularly sells cheap stuff (6)
ARMLET – Every fourth letter (regularly) of the final three words of the clue. The word ARM (on of the theme words) has to be added to the letters to get the solution.
4 Courting failure to end Alcoholics Anonymous (2,1,4)
ON A DATE – An anagram (failure) of TO END AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Failure of would need to be used if the anagram indicator goes before the letters to be rearranged.
5 Leaders are dextrous and fleet (6)
ARMADA – The first letters (leaders) of the second to fourth words of the clue. You have to add ARM to the resulting letters to get to the solution. Leaders on its own does not work to indicate the initial letters. It needs to be leaders of.
6 Plum nude rudely reveals one hanging and swinging freely (8)
PENDULUM – An anagram (rudely) of PLUM NUDE.
11 Convey thank you letter (4)
TAXI – A two-letter word meaning thank you and a two-letter member of the Greek alphabet.
15 Alas, most cater poorly from the menu (1,2,5)
A LA CARTE – The first three letters (most) from the ALAS from the followed by an anagram (poorly) of CATER. You would need mostly to indicate most of the letters given.
16 Follow sound of one reciting the five Banis, perhaps (4)
SIKH – A homophone (sound) of SEEK (follow). The clue here is too ambiguous as the wording tells you that you need a homophone of one reciting the five Bands.
18 Enraging? (8)
ANGERING – An anagram (?) of ENRAGING. I don’t think that a ? is enough to indicate an anagram.
19 Criminal poached perhaps, stealing rhino horn? (7)
CROOKED – A six-letter word meaning poached around (stealing) the first letter (horn) of rhino. I think that for this to work its needs to be ring’s horn.
21 Recall forgetting about one of fourteen here (6)
MEMBER – An eight-letter word meaning recall without a two-letter word meaning about.
22 Extreme drollery about bottom is wry (6)
DREARY – The outer letters (extreme) of drollery around a four letter word bottom. The definition of wry gives a three letter word into which you add EAR (one of the theme words). The solution is not defined the clue. Again, watch for repeated wordplay indicators. About was used in 8a. Also to indicate the outer letters it would need to be extremes of.
23 Periphery of spot marking upsurge in buffalo eradication (6)
AREOLA – The solution is hidden and reversed (upsurge in) the final two words of the clue.