386 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Toughie 386

Toughie No 386 by Petitjean


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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment ****

A generous smattering of F1 references in this offering from Petitjean, and my first review of a puzzle by this setter. It was difficult to pinpoint an accurate BD rating and 4/4 may be a compromise. I have a little knowledge of motorsport so some answers were easier for me than they may be for others; combined with some obscure answers elsewhere you may find it warrants 5 stars for Difficulty. For Enjoyment I was close to giving it 5 stars as there are some lovely clues, and certainly no quibbles worth dwelling on. Perhaps what took the edge off was the frequent use of initial/last letters for the sake of tying in with the theme – when it’s not done well it looks a little desperate, and in fairness that’s not the case in this puzzle.

Immediately noticeable, on printing the puzzle, was a clutch of long clues. For me they ran to about ¼ of a second page (hence my brilliantly observed and impossibly clever choice of title) whereas previous puzzles have always fitted on one page with a little spare space above the footer. I’ve been called “Mr Short and Snappy” before – hopefully it was a reference to my cryptic clues – so very long clues can feel like a bit of a slog. But again, as with the initial/last letters thing, the long clues here didn’t seem tortured – in most cases they’re actually very smoothly presented.

I’ve highlighted my favourite clues in blue – please let us know about your favourites too.

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