A Puzzle by Bonster
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Bonster 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 Bonster. You have clearly borrowed the DT book of obscure words when setting this. As others have pointed out, one or two fairly clued new words / items of general knowledge is acceptable but this was overloaded with them, with some of the clues not compensating for the obscurity with simpler wordplay. The clueing was largely precise although there were an unusually high number of repetitions of wordplay indicators. The commentometer reads as 5 / 28 or 17.8%.
1 Her novel way to win a US Championships – almost nineteen and unqualified originally (4,8)
EMMA RADUCANU – A four letter name of a novel followed by the abbreviation for road (way) with an A included (to win) with the initial letters (originally) of US Championships – almost nineteen unqualified.
8 Balls shown by partners set in conflict (7)
OPPOSED – The two-letter first name of the former MP Balls after a five-letter word for partners. As the word for partners has the dictionary meaning of opposite number, I don’t think that patterns is a fair indication.
9 Exercise volunteers returning in painful condition (7)
PILATES – The abbreviation for territorial army (volunteers) is reversed (return) in a five-letter word for haemorrhoids (painful condition). As a matter cryptic grammar, you need returning rather than returns as the clue construction A return in B does not work.
11 English game set off boost in confidence (3-4)
EGO-TRIP – The abbreviation for English followed by a two-letter board game and a four-letter word meaning set off.
12 Blue touring before returning to capital (7)
YEREVAN – A four-letter word for a shade of blue includes a three-letter word meaning before with all of the letter then reversed (returning). Try not to repeat wordplay indicators (return in 9a and returning in the this clue both indicating a reversal).
13 States collectively declare repeal (5)
UNSAY – A two-letter abbreviation for an international association of states followed by a three-letter word meaning declare.
14 Use tummy very centrally, ready for gymnastic move (9)
SUMMERSET – The inner letters (internally) of the first three words of the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning ready.
16 Condition I’m in? A tumult, sadly (9)
ULTIMATUM – The I’m from the clue inside (found in) an anagram (sadly) of TUMULT.
19 Free? Over £1,000 off? It must have strings attached (5)
SITAR – A five-letter word meaning free is reversed (over) without the abbreviation for grand (£1,000).
21 Fatty Arbuckle’s first swim session occasionally recalled (7)
ADIPOSE – The first letter of Arbuckle followed by a three-letter word meaning a swim and the even letters in session reversed (recalled).
23 Troublesome old emperor busy with no clothes on (7)
ONEROUS – The abbreviation for old followed by a four-letter name for a Roman emperor and the inner letters (with no clothes on) of busy.
24 A hunter could be mine! (7)
UNEARTH – An anagram (could be) of A HUNTER.
25 Fancy Bonster’s going back up to university (7)
IMPULSE – A two-letter word meaning the setter (Bonster is) followed by a reversal (going back) of UP and a three-letter abbreviation for a London university.
26 Creative mail merges, introducing Queen flyers (12)
LAMMERGEIERS – An anagram (creative) of MAIL MERGES include the abbreviation for Queen. A particular bete noir of mine is setters who produce an anagram from an obscure word that, even with the crossing letters, is more or less impossible to deduce correctly. Whilst the clue is technically sound, it strikes me a being unfair.
1 Takes on strategies after chronic illness returns (7)
EMPLOYS – A five-letter word for strategies after a reversal (returns) of ME (chronic illness). Another repetition of wordplay with return having been used in 9a.
2 Left in despair, like Scrooge (7)
MISERLY – The abbreviation for left In a six-letter word meaning despair.
3 Again invest in wine and illegal drug – it’s not right (9)
REDEPOSIT – A three-letter word for a variety of wine followed by a three-letter abbreviation for an illegal performance enhancing drug used by athletes and an anagram (not right) of ITS. I think that the abbreviation for the drug, whilst technically correct, is too obscure for solvers to know.
4 Out to lunch? Like taramasalata? (5)
DIPPY – Double definition, the first meaning slightly mad and the second identifying the quality of taramasalata.
5 Cheat (7)
CALORIE – Double definition splitting the clue into C and HEAT. Lift and separate clues like this are divisive. Some editors allow them where there is a clear split in the word. That is not the case here and, in the absence of any other wordplay, it is another clue that is not fair for the solver.
6 Those indigenous deviants dropping diamonds all over the place (7)
NATIVES – An anagram (all over the place) of DEVIANTS after removing (dropping) the abbreviation for diamonds.
7 Singer in city car backing country to get forward (6,6)
ROMELU LUKAKU – The four-letter name of a 1960’s singer inside a four letter name of a city in Italy, a two-letter name of a car and a reversal (backing) of UK (country). The clue is technically sound. However, where you have a general knowledge solution, you might need to give a bit more of a steer to the solver. Indicators can be open or closed (pointing to a multitude of words or a single or limited number of solutions. If you look at this clue all of the indicators city, car and country are open indicators each giving rise to a large number of potential solutions.
10 Lad with sports car by hotel takes no time getting birds (4,8)
SONG THRUSHES – A three-letter word for a lad followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a sports car, the abbreviation for hotel and a five-letter word meaning hurries or takes no time.
15 Is one hardened over a period pursuing money? (9)
MAMMONITE – A type of fossil (on hardened over a period of time) after the abbreviation for money.
17 “Give Boris a go!” shouted New York neighbourhood (7)
TRIBECA – A homophone (shouted) of TRY BECKER (give Boris a go).
18 Activity record from setter’s pulse, having breathed in oxygen (7)
MYOGRAM – A two-letter word meaning belonging to the setter followed by a four-letter word for a type of chickpea or pulse include (having breathed in) the abbreviation for oxygen.
19 Writer quietly hiding church feature (7)
STEEPLE – The name of the write Danielle includes hiding the abbreviation for quietly.
20 Suitor left broken (7)
TROILUS – An anagram (broken) of SUITOR L (left). Another repetition of L for left (see 2d). Although an all in one clue, it presumes that solvers will know the plot of the play in which the suitor appears. Maybe too much general knowledge is required here.
22 Some calculate the right number (5)
ETHER – The answer is hidden in (some) the second to fourth words of the clue.