Hetero Palindromes by Madcap
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
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 Silvanus follows:
Prolixic is away this week and I am honoured to deputise for him for the second time, the previous occasion being in 2019.
Welcome back to Madcap, who usually can be relied upon to produce something a little different to the average setter, so one never quite knows what theme or quirk to expect. This puzzle required the solver to reverse thirteen of the solutions, although I suspect I was not alone in missing the asterisk once or twice and having to change round certain answers!
The puzzle was tricky in places but very enjoyable to solve, with not too much to fault technically. I didn’t warm to the concept of having to reverse elements of wordplay that had already been reversed.
1a Cher released re-mix making enthusiastic supporters… (12)
CHEERLEADERS An anagram (“re-mix”) of the first two words in the clue. Some puzzle editors (including the Telegraph’s) will not allow nouns as anagram indicators if they follow the words to be rearranged.
9a …very entertained by dance party (5)
LEVER *The single letter abbreviation for “very” inside a lively type of dance, *all reversed.
10a Unopened package is stuffed with damn port (9)
ARCHANGEL A euphemism for “damn” inside PARCEL without its first letter (“package unopened”)
11a Lands fishes (7)
PERCHES Double definition.
12a Romantic is coy about French woman (9)
SHELLEY A synonym for “coy” outside the French feminine pronoun.
13a China’s taking half of India’s capital – in this, Western and Eastern views agree (10)
PALINDROME A synonym for “china” plus IND (“half of India’s”) plus a European capital city. The definition is cryptically referring to the fact that examples of the solution will read the same in either direction. I liked the construction here but felt that the definition could have been less wordy.
15a * Back operation approaches zero hour – ugh! (4)
HOOP A reversal of the abbreviation for “operation” plus O + H, *all reversed. Perhaps having a reversal of a reversal isn’t ideal!
18a * Contest is well run (4)
RAPS A synonym for a “well” (or mineral spring) and the abbreviation for “run”, *all reversed. “Well run” ought to be hyphenated in a conventional sentence.
19a Do they make cuts in the plot? (10)
LAWNMOWERS A cryptic definition. I would suggest “to” rather than “in” would improve the surface.
22a * Highlighted with no fringe but with braids (7)
DESSERT A synonym for “highlighted” minus its initial letter (“with no fringe”), * all reversed. I’m not convinced that “fringe” is sufficient to tell the solver whether it is the first or last letter that needs removing. “But” jars for me somewhat as a linking word between wordplay and definition.
24a * Scorned when embarrassed to admit depravity (7)
DELIVER A synonym for the colour one goes when “embarrassed” outside a synonym for “depravity”, * all reversed.
25a Rich from dubious gain, pocketing margin (9)
ABOUNDING An anagram (“dubious”) of GAIN outside a synonym for “margin”.
26a * Barks when hearing chimes (5)
SLEEP A homophone of a plural noun that’s a synonym for “chimes”, * all reversed.
27a Band and parade leader are backing 1000 girls in theatre spectacles (5,7)
OPERA GLASSES A charade clue starting with the shape of a “band” (or ring) and the first letter of “parade” plus a reversal of “are”, followed by an abbreviation for “1000” and a synonym for “girls”.
A few points here. Firstly, certain editors may not accept “parade leader” for the letter P (insisting on “parade’s leader” or “leader of parade”), but like the late setter Alberich/Klingsor I think such a construction is okay. “Back” has already been used as a reversal indicator in 15a. Whereas K and M are fine as abbreviations for 1000, I tend to think of G more as an abbreviation for “grand” in the sense of monetary amounts, so without a currency I’m not convinced it works here.
1d Two fielders providing protection put under the microscope (5,4)
COVER SLIP Two fielding positions in cricket are listed together. Chambers has the answer enumerated as (9). Collins shows it as two words but suggests it is an American expression, the British equivalent being “cover glass”.
2d Electronic harp played – harmonious for listener (8)
EARPHONE The abbreviation for “electronic” plus an anagram (“played”) of HARP followed by a synonym for “harmonious” or united.
3d Scans clues left to right (5)
READS A synonym for “clues” (that a detective might follow) with its letter L changed to R (“left to right”).
4d Joe Wicks? Without hesitation, he’s taxing (9)
EXCISEMAN How the British fitness coach might be described, minus a two-letter expression of hesitation.
5d *18d 18d for pay-off (6)
DRAWER This requires the solver to make an anagram of the answer to 18d (i.e. redraw “redraw”), * all reversed
6d * Drink litre over time on river (5)
REGAL A charade of L (“litre”) plus a synonym for “time” and the abbreviation for “river”, * all reversed.
7d * Those in form eye openings (4,2)
SLIP UP Double definition, * all reversed.
8d Accentuate parochial on vacation with Northern greeting (4,2)
PLAY UP The outer letters (“on vacation”) of PAROCHIAL followed by a greeting heard in Northern England (and the Midlands, I believe). Grammatically, I don’t think “accentuate parochial…” works.
14d Frothy lathering is no substitute (4,5)
REAL THING An anagram (“frothy”) of LATHERING.
16d Agitated wives support detailed public studies (9)
OVERVIEWS An anagram (“agitated”) of WIVES beneath a synonym for “public” minus its final letter (“detailed”). I think the cryptic grammar requires “supporting”, not “support”.
17d They are spineless accomplices, cover for US crime’s Number One (8)
MOLLUSCS A synonym for the (female) “accomplices” of a gangster, surrounding US and the first letter of “crime”.
18d * He keeps fighting communist revolutionary (6)
REDRAW A synonym for “fighting” plus a reversal of one for “communist”, *all reversed. Another instance of a reversal of a reversal. The definition is rather weak and unsatisfactory, I thought.
20d *They’re what gets players going in groups (6)
STROPS The first letter of “players” inside a synonym for “groups”, *all reversed. Like the previous clue, I found the definition rather disappointing.
21d * Cheese maker is established in Kloosterburen, Netherlands (6)
TENNER The answer is hidden in the final two words in the clue, *reversed again.
23d * On which wet people gamble? (5)
SLOOP A cryptic way of referring to something popularised by the likes of Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters. This one didn’t really work for me, but I suspect John Bee will like it!
24d Is teaching a bitch? (5)
DOGMA In Yoda-speak, how one might describe a female canine. Like Fez originally, I think the clue would be better with the first two words swapped round.