A Puzzle by Wombat
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
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 rather long essay by Prolixic follows:
Welcome to Wombat. I’ll start with the good news. There were 9 clues where I did not have a comment. After that, I am afraid to say, it all went downhill. I would strongly recommend getting hold of a book such as Don Manley’s “Chambers Crossword Manual” to get a sense of the basic rules of creating a crossword. Too many of the clues broke the rules to make solving the crossword either fair or enjoyable for the solver. The commentometer has been working overtime and reads as 14.5/28 or 51.9%.
8a Tell the French a puzzle (6)
WORDLE: A four-letter word meaning tell followed by the French masculine singular for the. I am not convinced that the word required in solution, which is a noun, is the same as tell, a verb or an involuntary tic.
9a Unlawful destruction of tailless fungi which are found in half a lowrider all broken. (8)
WRONGFUL: An anagram (destruction of) FUNGI without the final letter (tailless) inside (found in) an anagram (all broken) of the first half of LOWRIDER. You need consider not only the grammatical reading of the clue in its own right but the grammatical instructions for the cryptic instructions. Here cryptically the instructions resolve to “An anagram of A which are in an anagram B”. Also, whilst I am tolerant of poor surface readings in crosswords created by Rookies (smoothness comes with practice), the clue must make some sort of sense. Here it fails that test.
10a Gun loaded with substance (HRT) (somewhat ineptly) for congregation. (8)
BRETHREN: A four-letter word for a gun includes (loaded with) an anagram (ineptly) of four of the letters (somewhat) of SUBSTANCE HRT. In terms of selecting the letters to be made into an anagram , somewhat is too vague. You should omit full stops at the end of the clues.
11a Criminal trial about drug sales (6)
RETAIL: An anagram (criminal) of TRIAL around the abbreviation of ecstasy.
12a A father goes with your disinterest (6)
APATHY: The A from the clue followed by a two-letter word for father and the old English way of saying your.
13a Church company are caught by arm of critter catcher. (4,4)
LICE COMB: The abbreviations for Church of England and Company inside (caught by) a four-letter word for an appendage such as an arm. Another clue where the cryptic reading does not work grammatically as it resolves to A are caught by B. Some editors will not allow clues where the structure is wordplay of definition where of is the link word between the two.
15a To cover an area with lots of food with no space left (7)
ASPREAD: The abbreviation for area with a six-letter word for lots of food. I am not sure where the “with no space left” come in to the wordplay. I did consider whether this was the definition but that would leave the “to cover” as not contributing to the wordplay.
17a Baby Matrix Character born by junction in hospital department (7)
NEONATE: The three-letter name of a character in the film Matrix followed by an abbreviation for born and a type of road junction inside the name of a hospital department. I cannot find any authority for N being used as an abbreviation for born. The closest would be the abbreviation for new but you cannot ask the solver to get from born to new to N.
20a I know there are two sides to this but, Di, he drones endlessly! (8)
DIHEDRON: The answer is hidden in the clue from the Di to part with through the drones. There is no hidden word indicator in the clue and you cannot use endlessly to signify an arbitrary number of letters to be removed. Endlessly means remove the last letter. The I know should have been omitted as the words are padding and mean that the rule that the definition comes at the start or end of the clue is broken,
22a Removes fruit (6)
PRUNES: Double definition.
23a I attempt to drug master employed by academics (6)
IBIDEM: The I from the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning an attempt, the abbreviation for Ecstasy drug and the abbreviation for master. Do not repeat wordplay indicators. E for Ecstasy was used in 11a. The definition in this clue is too imprecise to define the solution.
25a Correct exam about famous writer’s match (4,4)
MARK TEST: The first name of Mr Twain (famous writer) followed by a four-letter word for a type of sporting match. Solutions in the crossword should be words or phrases appearing in the dictionary or proper nouns. A solution of the type required should not be used. I don’t think that the about works in the clue as a link word cryptically, the clue resolve to definition about wordplay.
26a Reduce Konyot troupe, oddly, by tying two parts together (4,4)
REEF KNOT: A four-letter nautical term meaning to reduce followed by some of the odd letters I the second and third words of the clue. When using the odd letters of two words, you must use all of the odd letters, not some of them. The definition, a verbal phrase, does not match the solution, a noun.
27a Ones from Liverpool reject the home counties’ searches (6)
SCOURS: An eight-letter word for people from Liverpool without the abbreviation for south-east (home counties).
1d Can be used to form 26 and, for women, to contrive prose (3,5)
TOW ROPES: A two-letter word meaning for followed by the abbreviation for women and an anagram (to contrive) of PROSE.
2d One and two do this and, oddly enough, do the trade (3,2,5)
ADD TO THREE: An anagram (oddly enough) of DO THE TRADE. Another solution that is not a phrase listed in the dictionary.
3d Listener bound by strand of yarn describes gates (6)
PEARLY: The organ of hearing inside (bound by) a three-letter word for a strand of yarn.
4d Thief’s first to find glint (7)
TWINKLE: The initial letter (first) of thief followed by a six-letter word meaning to find. The word meaning to find is only used in this sense with “out”.
5d Our farce played in a somewhat smaller wood than Winnie the Pooh’s (4,4)
FOUR ACRE: An anagram (played) of OUR FARCE. Another clue where the solution is not a recognised phrase in the dictionary.
6d Member will rise with grace at first of four awards. (4)
EGOT: A member of the body on end of the foot is reversed (will rise) and includes (with) the first letter of grace. With on its own is not a correct form of insertion indicator.
7d Broken sub consumed by the sea, allegedly and I’m following in Picasso’s footsteps. (6)
CUBISM: An anagram (broken) of SUB inside (consumed by) a letter that is a homophone (allegedly) of sea the I from the clue and finally the M from I’m. This clue does not work. The anagram is not wholly inside the C and I. Also, you cannot use I’m to split into separate parts of the solution without some indication that a split is required.
14d Heat can pass by this criminal conduit in trouble (10)
CONDUCTION: A three-letter word for a criminal followed by an anagram (in trouble) of CONDUIT.
16d Bad feeling created by a miscreant impounded in prison yesterday. (8)
ACRIMONY: The A from the clue followed by a four-letter abbreviation for a miscreant inside (impounded) in some of the letters of the final two words of the clue. There is no indication that the insertion is in some of the letters of the final two word of the clue.
18d X marks the spot, love (8)
TREASURE: Double definition. This first part is not the solution but an indication of where it may be found.
19d To enliven a musical I heard, was joined by friend (7)
ANIMATE: A homophone (I heard) of ANNIE (musical) followed (joined) by a four-letter word for a friend.
21d It’s allegedly common in Norfolk to be a baker, I’ve heard. (6)
INBRED: A homophone (I’ve heard) of IN BREAD (to be a baker). To match the definition, the solution would need to be inbreeding. Avoid repeating homophone indicators (heard was used in the previous clue!). If the solution refers to the people of the county of Norfolk, it may be considered by some to be pejorative.
22d Sure to be uplifted in lesson review (6)
PERUSE: Reverse (to be uplifted) inside a two-letter word for a games lesson.
24d Deceased character featured. That’s nonchalant! (4)
DEFT: The abbreviation for deceased followed by the letter E (character) and the abbreviation for featured. I cannot find a reference in the main dictionaries for the abbreviation for featured. Also to define a letter as simply “character” is too imprecise.