Rookie Corner 397 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 397

A Puzzle by Fez

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +


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.

A tour-de-force from Fez – 36 clues, a pangram and a homage to the works of Will Self.  The commentometer reads as 2 / 36 or 5.6%.

Across

1 Artillery cutting external supply line to resolve hostility (3,4)
ILL WILL – Remove the outer letters (cutting external) meaning a supply line and follow with a four-letter word meaning resolve.

5 Mean to do business shortly before school (7)
SELFISH – A four-letter word meaning to do business without the final letter (shortly) followed by the animal that comes in groups called a school.  I don’t think that you can define the noun by reference to a collective noun for a group of them.

9 Call pub at lunchtime, perhaps (5)
PHONE – The abbreviation for public house (pub) followed by the time at which some people have lunch.

10 Our cousins listened to obscure records (5,4)
GREAT APES – A homophone (listened to) of GREY (obscure) TAPES (records).

11 Funds one relies on (4,6)
UNIT TRUSTS – A four-letter word meaning one followed by a five-letter word meaning relies on.

12 Fees halved for golf club (4)
IRON – Remove the last two letters from fees and you have the chemical symbol that gives the answer.

14 Radio broadcast number one from classic Greek group (6)
DORIAN – An anagram (broadcast) of RADIO followed by the first letter (one) of number.

17 In shower, take me out and rub me vigorously all over (8)
UMBRELLA – An anagram (vigorously) of RUB ME followed by a reversal (over) of the all from the clue.

20 Old jam and bread, uncovered, generating fuzzy matter (4,4)
GREY AREA – A four-letter word meaning old followed by the inner letters (uncovered) of JAM and BREAD.

22 Goat’s milk, churned (6)
BUTTER – Double definition, the second being a product of churned butter.

26 Anonymous mother and father of murderer (4)
ADAM – The abbreviation for anonymous followed by a three-letter word for a mother.

27 They take unseemly interest in picking up single nurses (4,6)
LOAN SHARKS – A homophone (picked up) of LONE (single) followed by a six-letter word for a fish of which nurses are a species (but which are also given in Chambers as a primary definition rather than an example).

30 Spooner’s silly nature film? (9)
HOLLYWOOD – A Spoonerism of WALLYHOOD (silly nature).  I think that creating a Spoonerism of a made up word is stretching things a bit (gangster film would have been much better).  I think that that the solution is closely related enough to be a valid definition.

31 Hard centres in nutty chocolate – yuk! (5)
TOUGH – The inner letters (centres) of NUTTY CHOCOLATE followed by a three-letter word meaning yuk.

32 Design software to maintain body (7)
CADAVER – The abbreviation for Computer Aided Design (design software) followed by a four-letter word meaning to maintain.

33 Puts everything on the market – that would make sense if money wasn’t wasted on drink (5,2)
SELLS UP – A five-letter word for a sense without the abbreviation for money followed by a three-letter word meaning to drink.

Down

1 Appropriate introduction from American poet? (7)
IMPOUND – How the American poet Ezra might introduce himself.

2 Exceedingly wacky toilet humour finally being stripped back (7)
LOONIER – A three-letter word for a toilet the final letter of humour and the inner letters (stripped) of being reversed (back).

3 Unprofessional, despite regularly getting in earlier (5)
INEPT – The In from the clue before (earlier) the even letters (regularly) of despite.

4 Leave system file exposed (3,3)
LOG OUT – A three-letter word for a system file on a computer followed by a three-letter word meaning exposed.

5 When to scatter a bit of muesli on porridge (4,4)
SEED TIME – A constituent of muesli followed by a four-letter word for prison or porridge.

6 Running behind schedule, lacking focus – coffee? (4)
LATE – Remove the inner letter (lacking focus) from a five-letter word for a type of coffee.

7 Evacuating area of empire put in danger (7)
IMPERIL – An eight-letter word meaning of empire without (evacuating) the abbreviation for area.

8 “Hallelujah” strangely missing amongst songs painstakingly curated for Cohen’s Essential Collection (7)
HOSANNA – An anagram (strangely) of the middle letters (essential collection) of MISSING AMONGST SONGS PAINSTAKINGLY CURATED FOR COHEN.  A good example of an otter clue where the setter gets carried away with clue and produces something over elaborate and complicated.

13 Some off-colour, dubious language (4)
URDU – The answer is hidden (some) in the second and third words of the clue.

15 Row over a suggestion of reform (3)
OAR – The abbreviation for over followed by the A from the clue and the initial letter (suggestion) of reform.

16 Courageous Greek or Dutch footballers (4)
AJAX – Double definition.

18 Pork pie that is left over (3)
LIE – The abbreviation for id test (that is) with the abbreviation for left above it.

19 Time to go from 0 to 60? We’re talking minutes! (4,4)
ZERO HOUR – A four-letter word meaning 0 followed by the period of time equalling 60 minutes.

20 Pie chart, both detailed and complex, underpins good representation of data (7)
GRAPHIC – An anagram (complex) of PIE CHART without the final letters (detailed) underneath (underpins) the abbreviation for good.

21 Approved of tip to keep fit (7)
ENABLED – A three-letter word word meaning tip includes (to keep) a four-letter word meaning fit.

23 Yaks caught in pieces of twisted metal (7)
TORQUE – A homophone (caught) of TALK (yaks).

24 Stirred in fruit to make tea? (7)
ROSEHIP – A four-letter word meaning stirred followed by a three-letter word meaning in or trendy.

25 They conduct first of official mountain region tours (6)
ANODES – The initial letter (first) of official in the name of a range of mountains.

28 Returned in style to Holiday Inn (5)
HOTEL – The answer is hidden and reversed (returned) in the third to fifth words of the clue.

29 Occasionally lost keys in very big city (4)
KYIV – The odd letters (occasionally lost) of keys in followed by the abbreviation for very.


52 comments on “Rookie Corner 397
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  1. That took us quite a long time but we did get it all finished although still a few with question marks beside the parsing. A big one beside the Spoonerism even though we think we understand how it is meant to work.
    Lots of cleverness in the clues and a pangram to boot.
    Thanks Fez.

    1. Thanks 2Kiwis – glad you got through it :-)
      I was well aware this is very much a Toughie (following a week of comments elsewhere regarding the ‘fluffiness’ of the actual Toughies I thought I might get away with it!)
      The Spoonersim is a bit of a curveball; I don’t really like Spoonerisms but thought I’d give it a go. My criterion is that the phrase should be something meaningful that the Rev. might have said – in this case, for example, ruling out the more obvious “silly gangster”. The idea is that, say, after a typical blooper in his sermon he may ask the congregation to “please, forgive my silly nature!” Of course it’s also in itself rather silly and whimsical.
      I thought a certain “man of letters” deserved a pangram, too.
      Thanks again!

  2. Crikey, Fez. You’ve ramped up the difficulty level several notches with this one, and, although there was a lot of cleverness in evidence, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as your previous offerings. I suspect the dual constraints of a themed pangram may have played a part in this.

    As usual however the quality of your surfaces shone through.

    I did put some question marks against a handful of clues. I’m not convinced by some of your synonyms: in 5a “fish” and “school”; in 30a “Hollywood” and “film”; and “enabled” and “approved of” in 21d. Also, I think in 2d “more” would have been better than “exceedingly”. 30a seems a very strange clue even for a Spoonerism.

    I was alerted to the possibility of a theme, when I saw Dorian and Grey in close proximity until I woke up to the fact that Dorian Gray is not spelt like that. Then I spotted the name of an author, and, with a bit of help from Google, found I think nine of his works elsewhere in the grid.

    You had quite a few wordy clues, and I tended to prefer your shorter ones. I had ticks by 9a, 11a, 12a, 22a (my favourite), 32a & 16d. I am not sure how to categorise 8d. It took ages for the parsing penny to drop and it is certainly very clever, but perhaps too clever?

    Well done and thank you, Fez. This puzzle had a lot to commend it and I look forward to your next one. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Many thanks RD, and well done on spotting the theme (not one to everyone’s taste, I imagine!) There are ten thematic works, a few of them partial. Sorry it wasn’t as much fun for you as previously, but glad you appreciated the surfaces.
      I do like a stretched synonym – I think “film” and “Hollywood” are both regularly used as general terms for the film industry; with the fish I was thinking in pictures (what’s this? some fish / a school); “enabled” as in “authorised”. All perhaps a bit of a stretch but I think/hope still fair in a Toughie-style context? (In 2d yes perhaps “more” would have been better, but “exceedingly” is pretty much the same thing, and I preferred the surface.)
      Anyway despite the reservations/difficulties I’m pleased you found quite a few to tick! Since these early attempts I’ve built up more wordplay ideas and discarded clues, etc, so not so reliant on themes/gimmicks to get a grid going; hopefully you will like the next one more. (I do still enjoy a theme too – I’ve been working on some barred thematics recently – but also have a few ‘plain’ puzzles in the pipeline.)
      Thanks again!

  3. This was pretty tough but I enjoyed the struggle – thanks Fez. There are a couple of clues that I can’t fully parse.
    I’d never have spotted the theme without RD’s comment above – it is indeed pretty clever.
    I have 1a, 12a and 27a ticked.

    1. Many thanks Gazza, glad you enjoyed it – I do appreciate it was quite a challenging one, and the theme perhaps won’t be familiar to many. Thanks for the ticks!

  4. Welcome back, Fez.

    I found the top half of the puzzle much more challenging than the bottom half, but thoroughly enjoyable to solve. RD has rightly mentioned the quality of the surfaces, I will merely add that in almost seven years of solving Rookie Corner puzzles I can’t recall seeing surfaces that are superior to those in evidence today. Well done.

    Like Gazza and the 2Ks, there are one or two clues I cannot fully parse, so the jury remains out on whether they are fair ones or too ambitious. Apart from 14a being a “wordplay from definition” construction, very little jarred technically and my printed page is filled with ticks. I gave double ticks to 11a, 12a and 31a. The theme passed me by, as I suspect it would to most solvers.

    Congratulations, Fez, on what you have created, I think a very bright future beckons if this standard of clueing can be maintained, let alone improved upon.

    1. Wow, many thanks Silvanus that’s really very much appreciated! Glad you enjoyed the solve.
      Hopefully the unparsed clues will turn out to be ‘tough but fair’ … I eagerly await Prolixic’s verdict (thanks in advance!) Of course, I can justify them to myself but that’s not the point! You may want to re-read 14a, though, as the “from” is part of the definition rather than a link word.
      I do try to prioritise surface reads and technical accuracy – but probably still at the expense of concise / unconvoluted clues. In this puzzle, the average clue length came in at under 7 words, with just 5 (out of 36) straying into double figures – 33a the main offender (I could have trimmed a couple of words – losing “the” and combing “that’d” – but stuck with the original, partly as I rather stubbornly like the idea of one “essay-style” clue in a Fez puzzle!); the (maybe overly?) complex 8d undoubtedly ‘feels’ longer than it’s 11 words but as a fan of Leonard Cohen I couldn’t resist the surface. Despite that, I really am trying to take on your and others’ sage advice about long clues!
      Many thanks again Silvanus :-)

      1. Yes, objection to 14a now withdrawn! Thank you for that.

        Please do stick with the shorter clues if you can, nobody will object to an occasional wordy one, but it’s much better discipline for a setter to try for brevity wherever possible. I think you got the balance right today.

  5. Hi again, Fez. I’ve got quite a few question marks, didn’t spot the theme and don’t care for wordy clues so I didn’t particularly enjoy solving this one regardless of how cleverly constructed it may have been. Little gems for me were 11,22&27a. I look forward to reading the explanations from Prolixic and await your next puzzle with a measure of trepidation!

    1. Thanks Jane, sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea – I think the next one will be a little more straightforward (shorter clues, less pervasive theme if any at all) so perhaps I’ll yet be able to produce something better for you! I’m glad you did find a few gems too, and hope Prolixic’s explanations might raise a couple of “d’oh!” moments (rather than simply “hmmm…”)

  6. Just a quick note, Fez, to apologise for not being able to look at this puzzle today. Hopefully I’ll get some time later in the week so shall comment again then.

    1. Thanks Conto, no worries – it’s one that’s (somewhat predictably) split the crowd but I hope if you do get a chance you might find something to enjoy!

  7. Some very nice clues as others have said.
    17a was excellent, and well done for resisting the possibility of something ruder! Other favourites were 31a 23d, 24d, 25d, 28d.
    27a was good but I definitely think it needs a ‘?’ or ‘perhaps’ as a definition by example – then again no one seems to have mentioned it, so maybe I’m wrong.
    I can see what you mean about deliberately stretching synonyms – a good thing in my view as clues should strive for orginality (as in your Spoonerism!) – but I thought ‘school’ in 5a and ‘time’ in 19d arguably needed a little bit more. But that’s subjective.
    Nice one, Fez.

    1. Many thanks Twmbarlwm, much appreciated.
      I’m glad you liked 17a, this was perhaps my favourite too (it did originally refer to Rihanna but that surface didn’t last long!)
      27a I did think a def-by-example might be necessary (and certainly ‘safer’) but Chambers has it as a general term (as well as the particular type).
      19d definiton is “time to go” which I thought sufficient, but yes the school was perhaps stretching things to breaking point.
      Is that a tentative thumbs-up for the Spoonerism? I’ll admit I fully expected comments on that one!
      Thanks again!

      1. You could be right on 27a, but Chambers seems to be the exception – and its definition is preceded by ‘a’, which I think might be crucial. It was a good clue anyway that I didn’t struggle over.
        Yes, a tentative thumbs-up *for the Spoonerism itself*, which raised a smile – but I can see why solvers might want a bit more in the definition. Adding i______y to the end would have been more helpful, but the surface wouldn’t have been as neat. The usual dilemma!

        1. I originally had something along lines of “film made here”. My wonderful test solver preferred the shorter version (and I agreed – of course I accept all responsibility for clues!)

  8. Thanks Fez – great stuff! I must admit that this was some way above my pay grade as a solver but judicious use of the reveal button got me there. While a few remain unparsed, I was very taken by the natural and amusing surfaces, and disguised definitions. Particularly liked: 10A, 17A (excellent), 20A, 15D, 24D, 25D.

    1. Many thanks Coot, glad you enjoyed it. It was certainly tough so no disgrace in a few reveals, and I’m really happy the surface reads seem to be getting general approval. Next one will be more of a regular back-pager, promise!

  9. Took me a bit longer than Saturday’s (about twice the time) but didn’t need any reveals, though I did have a couple of guesses and check button presses with a few. Bottom left corner the last to go in, and I didn’t spot the theme – which isn’t uncommon for me! The unusual spelling of 29d held me up for a while. Particularly liked 27a
    Thanks Fez

  10. Eventually got there thanks to waking at 1.30 am and not being able to get back to sleep…
    I’m not familiar with Mr Self’s oeuvre and I missed the pangram.
    I agree with Prolixic that 8d is a case of the setter getting a bit carried away with the clever idea and as a result the clue is, dare one say it, prolixic – but it’s rather fun once you twig it.
    I’m not entirely convinced by approved = enabled; though I don’t have any problem with school = fish in 5a.
    And having got the fairly mild beefs off my chest, I find I have ticks against a lot of clues – 11a, 12a, 17a (brilliant misdirection), 20a, 22a (the other extreme from 8d, concise and very neat), 27a, 30a (I like Spoonerisms, and the sillier the better; and I shall be thinking of a lot of films as Wallyhood from now on), 3d, 20d (another long one, but a good one), 23d, 24d. The two or three I couldn’t parse I recognise are down to me, because the clues are perfectly sound.
    Overall, a fine piece of work, and a most enjoyable tussle. Though if anything, I feel even more wide awake now :-(

    1. Thanks Gollum, sorry to keep you awake :-/
      I do appreciate 8d certainly read as a bit long, 11 words isn’t excessive but they included several long words! I’m glad you did come round to it as a bit of fun though – I think the clue as a whole was coherent and just used two straightforward devices (anagram and central letters) but in combination perhaps this was overly tricky.
      Also glad you liked the Spoonerism – I agree, the sillier the better! Wallyhood is of course sort-of made up, but the “-hood” suffix is in BRB as a combining form potentially for all sorts of words, so I’d still argue it’s justifiable – and that a crossword is exactly the place for such playfulness with words! (In general, I’m not a fan of Spoonerisms, and imho the suggested “silly gangster”, which I’d toyed with, wouldn’t really make a plausible phrase.)
      I’ll also defend school = fish, but then again I would, wouldn’t I?!
      Many thanks again!

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, much appreciated – I’m extremely chuffed with “tour-de-force”, thank you :-) I was well aware that this was a tough solve and wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, thanks to all who have had a go and commented, especially those who persevered despite their reservations! I’m not surprised to register commentometer points (pleased it remained so low!), but happy that the errors were, I think, essentially subjective/stylistic rather than ‘technical’ – I’d be prepared to defend all of those to an editor (who would probably still insist on changes, I guess)

    As ever, huge thaks to Big Dave for the opportunity to share these puzzles – and to my test solver (who warned that this may well receive comments on toughness – I did make significant changes to many of the clues following test-solve, but rather stubbornly decided against toning down the difficulty – I’ll aim to make the next one more straightforward)

    14a I’d intended the definition as a noun rather than an adjective, ie “one from classic Greek group”, with N simply being the abbreviation for “number” – the alternative parsing works too, though I’m not keen on (essentially) “word one” = “w”. (But I do like “word the first” = “w” – KYIV was nearly “City of King Henry the Fifth? The Fourth!”)

    4d the definition was intended as “leave system”, with LOG = just “file”. Again the alternative parsing also works of course, though perhaps on its own “leave” as a definition is a bit loose (hmmm, I appreciate I may not be in best position to talk about loose/stretched definitions)

    And 19d I guess is a typo – the definiton is “time to go”, with “we’re talking minutes!” being applied to the 60 (which on its own wouldn’t be sufficient to define HOUR)

    Thanks again all, hope to be back before too long!

  12. Re 5a, I was initially unsure of “school” = “fish” but the more I thought about it the more sense it made. Personally I quite like the idea of collective nouns being used to define plurals of animals! Might the following be used in defence (or do they simply underline a sense of unfairness)?

    – Cries in Hungary’s parliament (5)
    – Group initially dismayed after one involved in murder (5)
    – Bullies heard on radio (4)

    1. I think I buy your argument Fez, if only because it should be possible to construct a sentence where the words are interchangeable. Not so convinced by bullies but that’s because of the “ies”! How about “Bullsxxx heard on the radio” as a Grauniad alternative?!

    2. As with ‘school’ in 5a I would use ‘?’/’perhaps’ etc, but I can see how that might make it too obvious to experienced solvers. ‘Owls’ could just be two, which isn’t a parliament, and the same goes for two crows not being a murder.
      But I think you could probably justify it if the clue was otherwise straightforward, as in your examples. (I thought the third one was ‘herd’ but perhaps that’s too obvious.)

      Re 30a ‘silly gangster’ could work if you managed to mention the Ant Hill Mob!

      1. Hmm, “owls” could be just two, but I think it works the other way round here – ie you’re given “parliament”, which could only be (lots of) “owls” (rather than having “owls” in the clue leading to an answer “parliament” – which might arguably need “owls, perhaps”?) Or maybe I’m just confusing myself!

        The “silly gangster” was a consideration, but I couldn’t see “wally hood” (ie meaning ‘silly’ as a noun and ‘gangster’) being a realistic phrase that anyone would ever use. At the technical level of having the initial sounds switched, it works, and the ‘fodder’ phrase “silly gangster” also works because silly is interpreted as an adjective – but I think the clue fails because the intended Spoonerised phrase “wally [as a noun] hood” is nonsense. One reason I don’t often like Spoonerisms is just that – they are two random words put together that don’t make a meaningful phrase that the good Rev may have tried to articulate. Wheras “wallyhood”, despite it’s sort-of made-up nature, is conceivably a thing that might be said – as I mentioned in earlier post, he asks the congregation to “please forgive my wallyhood!”

        Perhaps I’ll steer clear of Spoonerisms in future (although I do have one I quite like waiting in the wings…)

        1. No, I can see your point of view and I don’t think you’re technically wrong at all. As I said before, this is one of those elastic areas that are ultimately subjective.
          There’s a fine line between delightful penny-drop moments and ‘how am I supposed to get that?’, and a setter is unlikely to satisfy everyone.
          For what it’s worth, I like stretched synonyms and playfulness (and that includes Wallyhood!) if they’re justified by dictionaries and thesauruses, but I’m basically conservative in most respects – one of those people who don’t care for ‘Very loud European indeed upset’ for AFFECT. (Just made that up, but I hope you know what I mean.)

          The important thing is that I’ve got the comment total up to 50. :D

  13. After last week’s run of easier Toughies I thought I would give this one a go. I found much to like but the S seemed much harder than the N.

    I really did not like 30A. Silly Gangster I could live with but I can’t see hood as a synonym of nature.

    I got 8A, but could not parse it. Now I have read Prolixic’s hints I think it was trying to be far too clever. If you take a long sequence of words and allow any manipulation of the letters you can spell anything you like.

    Regarding Prolixic’s hints: 18D should read id est, answer to 23D omits final S and it may be me but I don’t see how the hint for 29D explains the final IV.

    1. Thanks Scientist, glad you found some to like.

      Re 30A, I’ve tried to explain my thinking in replies above eg to Twmbarlwm (so “hood” is not intended as a synonym of nature, but “wallyhood” is intended as a whimsical description of a “silly nature” – using the BRB-defined “-hood” suffix to create a word “x-hood” meaning “the state or nature of being x”). “Silly gangster” is the one that I couldn’t live with.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which cleared up my parsing issues. Not at all surprised that I didn’t know the design software!
    A tour-de-force? Ah well, I’ll just have to accept that it was out of my league……….
    Well done, Fez.

  15. Sorry not to have been at the party yesterday Fez. Work is such an irritation!
    I make no great claims for myself as a solver, so this was way beyond me, but I do enjoy discovering the way other setters think and learning from that, despite lavish use of reveals. This offered a great lesson – the near perfect surfaces and technical accuracy were great to behold with 12a,17a, 1d, 3d, 5d, 24d, 25d & 28d all favourites! But I feel Prolixic has let you off a little lightly, if I may dare to say so (sacrilege, I know!), though I certainly don’t seek to deny you your well-deserved tour-de-force gong. For example:
    14a Surprised NUMBER ONE = N was allowed to pass. So often I see setters being told, for example, that FIRST NUMBER should be FIRST OF NUMBER etc so I don’t see how this is allowed.
    22a This is a great example of one of your super-stretchy definitions, though for me it also needs an example indicator as there are others out there who do this and goats are known for other things!.
    2d Exceedingly doesn’t convey the sense of more, but to excess or unusually large/great
    8d is brilliant wordplay but absurdly difficult. A surface that has got in the way of fairness perhaps? (TBF Prolixic also said as much)
    18d ID test = that is?? Really? Personally I don’t see that.
    20d Complex is for me too far from the fodder and the AND gets in the way as it is there purely to make the surface work
    Nevertheless, although this was only ever going to appeal to the very best solvers as a challenge, it is still a super puzzle overall. I like your style, I love your surfaces and I thought your word count was very restrained and well within the bounds of acceptability.

    1. hi DD, glad you made it! Thanks for the kind words. I agree I could have easily received a higher commentometer score, though also feel willing to defend most of the specific details!
      14a I’m with you – the N was just from “number” with “one from…” being the definition (as a noun), whilst 18d I think was just a typo in the review, should be the familiar id est = i.e.
      2d I do agree with you, exceedingly isn’t really “more” but I think in crosswordland it can be used in a very literal sense ie “in a way that is exceeding/greater” – a slight stretch of the usual meaning, similar to how “detailed” or “discovered” might be used. Probably should’ve stuck with “more” though!
      8d on reflection is probably overly complex – I expected it would be easy enough from crossers and definition, and hoped for a PDM/d’oh from solvers when trying to subsequently sort out the parsing.
      20d I’d argue the AND is there to indicate that both operations are to be applied to the fodder (ie de-tail them both AND anagram them) – which then also accounts for the ‘distance’. With possible exception of 30a, I did try to ensure every word served a justifiable purpose (eg I thought the indefinite article in “a bit of muesli” was fairer than omitting it)
      Many thanks again for the kind words, very much appreciated – looking forward to the next DD puzzle!

      1. Hi Fez, all makes sense and your “defence” (which I take as explanation as a defence is really not needed) is good (though two typos from Prolixic, previously thought to be infallible, is an eye-opener, LOL). Sometimes it just comes down to personal preference – it would be dull if we were all the same – but I still think 20d isn’t quite right. You have BOTH OPERATOR AND DESCRIPTOR which IMO, especially as BOTH applies to PIE CHART, either renders the AND padding or suggests that the AND is the fodder. A simple change from COMPLEX to COMPLICATED gives you BOTH OPERATOR AND OPERATOR which I think is more valid. It is just a thought though, which, given no one else commented, is possibly overpedantic.

        1. Hmmm, I see what you mean DD, I hadn’t made that distinction of “operator” and “descriptor” which is helpful in explaining where the difficulty arises – I do still think it works (“Word1 Word2 – both having their ends removed [‘both detailed’], ‘AND’ presented in a complicated way [‘complex’]…”) but just using the “complicated” is better. I don’t think anyone else is looking now so I may have gotten away with it!

  16. Hi Fez. I finally got round to this accomplished puzzle, for which thanks. Quite a few ticks from me – 17a, 22a, 33a, 1d, 18d, 25d. I personally found the difficulty level OK, although I needed some hints for the NW corner. The only clue I feel is a little unfair is 30a. I have no problem with ‘school’ = fish. You might say ‘the school’ in place of ‘the fish’ as you would say ‘the herd’ in place of ‘the cows’.

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