A Puzzle by Khatru
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Prologue. 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 Khatru with his or her debut to the Rookie Corner. There was a good variety of clues and understanding of creating a cryptic clue. The major weakness, however, was using a word in the clue to suit the surface reading of the clue that did not work in the cryptic grammar hidden by that surface reading. This was most noticeable when indicating the first or last letters of a word. Given the number of times this occurred, the commentometer is rather on the high side at 8/30 or 26.7%. However, as most of these stem from the same root cause, it can easily be reduced by more attention to the cryptic grammar.
The grid was not the most solver friendly, falling short of the ideal that each solution should have 50% or more of its letters cross-checked. One or two solutions that break the rule, particularly with five letter words is often seen. Here, the worst example was 12d with 3/7ths of the word cross checked and two double lights between the cross checked letters.
1/20 Footballers danced nude with mates (4,3,6)
WEST HAM UNITED – An anagram (danced) of NUDE WITH MATES. For the anagram indicator to work, it should be dancing.
8 Acceptance of task after promotion (9)
ADMISSION – A seven-letter word for a task after a two-letter abbreviation for a promotion or advertisement.
9 Spooner ran away from fray, warning of danger (3,4)
RED FLAG – A Spoonerism of FLED (ran away from) RAG (fray). To indicate the Spoonerism, you need something like “According to Spooner, ran…”. You should not use only his surname.
10 Guy dreamt less after odd selection of rolls (7)
GYRATES – The odd letters in the first three words of the clue. Some editors will not accept wordplay OF definition as the structure of the clue.
11 Crack found in eager leader’s retinue (8)
EQUIPAGE – A four-letter word for a joke or crack in the first four letters (leader’s) of EAGER – You can only use leader’s to indicate the first letter of the word, not an indeterminate number of the letters.
14 Astronomer whose epic tale preceded Newton (5)
SAGAN – A four-letter word for an epic tale followed by the abbreviation for Newton. I think that the whose does not work as a link word.
16 Emmanuel’s place is in a cathedral and diocese (6)
ELYSEE – The name of an English fenland cathedral followed by a three-letter word for a diocese.
18 Limit extent of upset (7)
CAPSIZE – A three-letter word meaning limit followed by a four-letter word for extent.
20 See 1
22 Sugar-coating predictions lacks final truth (5)
ICING – A phrase 1,5 for a Chinese system of making predictions without the final letter of truth. Final on its own should not be used as a final letter indicator. Perhaps “lacks truth ultimately” would be better.
24 Group embodying odd nature of 5d (8)
COVENTRY – The five-letter name given to a small party of people includes (embodying) the odd letters of nature. Odd on its own does not indicate removing alternate letters. Perhaps “regularly overlooked nature” would be better. Another clue with the structure of wordplay of definition that some editors will not accept.
27 Sergeant in semi-retirement makes allowances (7)
INCOMES – The abbreviation for non-commissioned officer (sergeant) inside a reversal (retirement) of the SEMI from the clue. As a sergeant is a definition by example of the abbreviation, this should be indicated.
29 Some backsliding – felt it needed sanction (7)
ENTITLE – The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (backsliding) in the third to fifth words of the clue.
30 Run down drive, reportedly (5,4)
WEIGH INTO – A homophone (reportedly) of WAY INTO. A fine distinction but the homophone is a description of a drive’s possible function not the drive.
31/5 Cruel, witchy crone, lacking last of henbane, keeps me inside (7,4)
NORWICH CITY – An anagram (cruel) of WITCHY CRONE without the last letter of henbane includes the single letter representing the setter (me). To get the definition, you need to split the inside to in side. Whilst some, but not all, editors, will allow un-indicated lift and separate clues where you have to divide a word to get the wordplay, I am not aware of instances where they allow the definition to be merged into another word.
1 Custodians fighting over offices (7)
WARDENS – A three-letter word for fighting folioed by (over in a down clue) a four-letter word for home offices.
2 Holy man briefly hurt, unhappy to begin with (5)
SADHU – Half of the hurt from the clue with a three-letter word meaning unhappy before it (to begin with). Hurt briefly indicates removing the final letter, not an indeterminate number of letters from the end.
3 Divided over Trump’s second historic change (9)
HALFPENCE – a four-letter word meaning divided followed by (over in a down clue) the name of President Trump’s vice-president. I think divided clues halved, not the four letters required in the solution. Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators (such as A over B) when setting clues.
4 Leadership makes a gentleman of green giant (5)
MAGOG – The initial letters (leadership) of the second to sixth words of the clue. I don’t think that leadership on its own indicates the first letter (it would have to be “leaders of” as in Leaders of Malta and Gozo’s officers guard giant).
5 See 31 Across
6 Mainly posh, leading uniform during charge (7)
USUALLY – The single letter representing posh followed by the initial letter (leading) of uniform inside a five-letter word for a charge.
7 Be honest – camel once made a mess (4,5)
COME CLEAN – An anagram (made a mess) of CAMEL ONCE.
12 Tolerant cats lie around (7)
ELASTIC – An anagram (around) of CATS LIE.
13 Head feels extremely zesty in hat (3)
FEZ – The initial letters (head) of the second to fourth words of the clue. Head on its own does not indicate the initial letter. It would need to be head of…Even then, where you are indicating the initial letters of more than one word, this needs to be expressed in the clue. Perhaps Capital investment made by heads of free enterprise zone”.
15 Advertised together to adopt new cat (9)
ANNOUNCED – A three-letter conjunction meaning together includes (to adopt) the abbreviation for new and a five-letter word for a wild cat.
17 Secret Service missing lies and secrets all over the place in 5d (9)
LEICESTER – An anagram (all over the place) of LIES SECRETS without (missing) the abbreviation for secret service. You should use only abbreviations recognised in the main dictionaries. SS is not given as an abbreviation for secret service.
19 Computing pioneer was foremost in advanced digital algorithms (3)
ADA – The initial letter (foremost in) the final three words of the clue. Perhaps “the foremost” rather than “was foremost” would be better.
21 Mobs Romeo in underwear (7)
THRONGS – The letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet inside a six-letter word for a type of underwear.
23 Welshwoman in blazing hot, edgy gown – no good! (7)
GWYNETH – An anagram (blazing) of HOT EDGY GOWN without the letters in the GOOD from the clue. The usual convention is that where letters to be removed are not in the order given in the clue, there should be a secondary anagram indicator to show this. Perhaps “…hot edgy gown lacking good design”
25 Yodel endlessly on in concert hall (5)
ODEON – The inner letters (endlessly) of yodel followed by the ON from the clue.
26 Heavens – seventh note has everyone playing together! (5)
TUTTI – A three-letter word meaning heavens followed by the two-letter spelling of the seventh letter of the tonic sol-fa musical scale. I think that the first three letters are more an expression of exasperation or disapproval rather than meaning heavens.
28 Check on rising tide (4)
EDIT – Reverse (rising) the tide from the clue. I think the on should be omitted from the clue. It is not part of the definition and does not work as a link word between the definition and wordplay.