A Puzzle by Gollum
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Gollum is our latest setter making his debut. 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 Gollum. It was an impressive feat to get so much thematic material into the grid. I enjoyed the theme though, as you will have noticed, overly complex themed puzzles will divide solvers. Technically, there were only a small number of comments on the clues. Long anagrams such as 14d are sometimes seen. Whilst I am not a fan of them, you will find them from time to time. My reservations with the anagram are more technical. The device using 25a as part of the solution to two clue is fine.
The commentometer reads as 3/24 or 12.5%.
1 Women’s sickness (6)
MALADY – A two-letter word for a woman followed by a four-letter word for woman.
4 Cheltenham’s text message contractions (6)
SPASMS – The type of resort for which Cheltenham is an example followed by the three-letter abbreviation for text messages. As Cheltenham is aa definition by example, this should be indicated. It could have been avoided by using Bath in place of Cheltenham.
9 Surrounded by Military Intelligence in modern times (4)
AMID – The abbreviation for Military Intelligence in the abbreviation for modern times.
10 18, 15 for example – though an American would sound as if he lived in a bog (10)
LIEUTENANT – The American pronunciation of this rank would be a homophone of LOO TENANT.
11 She’s born to last in Kent, maybe, followed by a blessing (6)
SNEEZE – The three-letter word for a feminine birth followed by the last letter of the alphabet all inside the region of England where Kent is found. Not all solvers iike verbal phrases to define the solution – to work they nave to be precise.
12 The Hunter, sick inside a projection from a bastion (8)
ORILLION – The famous hunter immortalised in a constellation includes a three-letter word meaning sick.
13 Eradicate this dictator by love in defeat (4,2,3)
ROOT IT OUT – The four-letter name of a Yugoslavian dictator followed by the letter representing love or zero all inside a four-letter word for a defeat. I think that the this could have been omitted.
15 See 18 Down
16 It’s fitting I’m an alien – 18, 15 had a strange longer one (4)
MEET – Split 2,2, this could be someone saying I’m an extra-terrestrial. The second part of the clue refers to the poem Strange ****ing.
17 Admiral, for example, fit to sail (9)
SEAWORTHY – Split 3, 6, an admiral might be so described.
21 Strong way – war holds the key? On the contrary (8)
STALWART – The abbreviation for street (way) followed by a three-letter word for a key on a computer keyboard with the WAR from the clue within it.
22 A gap where bend in canal is bombed (6)
LACUNA – The letter suggesting of a bend in a pipe used in plumbing inside an anagram (is bombed) of CANAL
24 Girl’s brow, suggested 18, 15 – Spooner’s one who matches stones seen at a funeral (4-6)
PALL BEARER – A Spoonerism of BALL PAIRER (one who matches stones). Perhaps the one thematic clue that relied too much on knowledge of the theme.
25 See both 1 Down and 14 Down
26 Before public transport, it’s hell (6)
EREBUS – A three-letter word meaning before followed by a three-letter word for a type of public transport.
27 A senior theologian at the Front? That’s bad (6)
ADDLED – The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for doctor of divinity and a three-letter word meaning at the front.
1 /25a: Men, “Other Ranks”, “Tommies” endlessly marching in formation – the danse macabre, perhaps (7,4)
MEMENTO MORI – An anagram (marching in formation) of MEN OR (other ranks) TOMMIE (tommies endlessly).
2 Serve Germany with the French on both sides (5)
LADLE – The feminine and masculine singular forms of the French word for the around the IVR code for Germany.
3 See 14 Down
5 See 14 Down
6 To the south, a French river which rises high (9)
SUNFLOWER – The A from the clue followed by the French masculine singular for a and a six-letter word that cryptically is used to define a river. This is the weakest of the verbal phrases as a definition. Perhaps “one painted by Van Gogh” would have been better and created a more pleasing surface reading.
7 Where horses run at the end of the day, with an article not socially acceptable (7)
SANDOWN – A seven-letter word for the end of the day with the indefinite article replacing the letter representing socially acceptable.
8 See 14 Down
14 /3d/8d/5d/25a: 18, 15 told Horace’s misguided murderers I proceeded on automatic pilot to Hell (3,3,3,5,2,7,3,3,6,4)
THE OLD LIE DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI – An anagram (misguided) of MURDERS I PROCEEDED AUTOMATIC PILOT TO HELL. Whilst there is nothing technically wrong with long anagrams, there were two issues with this clue. It seems to me that misguided is doing double duty as part of the definition and the anagram indicator. Secondly, the “on” between parts of the anagram fodder is too misleading given the complexity of the anagram.
16 Macbeth might say “It’s a gas!” (7)
METHANE – Split 2,5, this is how Macbeth might describe his status. Having used the device in 16a, a different way of cluing one the the clues should have been found.
18/15 Down rifle? We desperately wrote of the Pity of War (7,4)
WILFRED OWEN – An anagram (desperately) of DOWN RIFLE WE.
19 An area where fear follows Attila, we hear (7)
HUNDRED – A homophone (we hear) of HUN DREAD – fear after the group of which Attila was a leader.
20 German devoured gold – it’s a piece of cake on the Somme! (6)
GATEAU – The abbreviation for German followed by a three-letter word meaning devoured and the chemical symbol for gold.
23 Sopwith‘s river animal (5)
CAMEL – Triple definition of a bi-plane made by Sopwith, a Cornish river and a desert animal.