433 Morph

June 29, 2012

A few easy clues to get you started, then always just hard enough to keep you going without being stuck. A nice double definition at 3 (Crime racket being smashed with no regard for fate of grass, say? (8,2,5)) – the witty surface and unexpected imbalance between the two parts sending you astray. Several neat surfaces especially for the easiest clues, such as 1dn and 10ac.

My last one in was 12ac; simple enough, but with all letters checked I spent a few minutes trying to make ‘excreted’ work.

Across

1. BRUNCH: R in BUNCH.
4. SMOCKING: S + MOCKING.
9. GIBING: GI BING.
10. MAGNOLIA: {I AM A LONG}.
12. ESCHEWED: E’S + CHEWED.
13. BROWSE: “brows”.
15. TELEPHONE BOX: TELEPHONE + BOX. No doubt Morph liked the double pun on ‘box’ and ‘ring’, but it’s terribly weedy to have the same meaning of ‘telephone’ clued in both halves of the clue.
18. MORNING GLORY: Morning = a.m. or am, but certainly not Am, so this clue is a dud. Besides, ‘glory’ suffers from essentially the same problem as ‘telephone’ in 15ac.
12. PALACE: PAL + ACE.
22. COCA-COLA: CA and LA are both after CO.
24. INTRUDER: INT + RUDER.
25. BIKINI: e.d.
26. NINETEEN: <(TEN IN) + E(v)EN.
27. MYRTLE: {TRY ELM}.

Down

1. BAGUETTE: {GET A TUBE}.
2. UNBUCKLE: BUCK in (UN + LE).
3. CONTEMPT OF COURT: d.d.
5. MEAN: E in MAN. I’m not too convinced by ‘character’ for MAN. Chap / fellow / guy / etc would get my vote.
6. CENTRE OF GRAVITY: d.d.
7. IN-LAWS: Hood was, on the contrary, an outlaw, of course.
8. GOATEE: {TOE + AGE}.
11. RECOUNT: RE + COUNT.
14. REUNION: {I RUN + ONE}.
16. MOTORIST: {I’M SORT TO}.
17. DYNAMITE: {DIET + MANY}.
19. OPTION: POTION, with first two letters reversed, for which ‘turning heads’ is a rather weak device.
20. GLUTEN: ‘UT (hut) in GLEN.
23. MERE: d.d.

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431 Dac

June 27, 2012

A fair puzzle of average difficulty. ‘Cook began dreaming about recipe for cake (11,3)’ at 11ac easily wins my vote for favourite clue. Rather too many double definitions for my liking; I don’t find them very satisfactory where the two meanings are basically the same (where, say, you would expect to find them in the same dictionary entry), as most are here – 10dn easily gets the booby prize (no pun intended). The word at 7d is a new one on me.

Any help with the construction of 23ac appreciated.

Across

1. STRUCK: S + TRUCK.
4. BIG BUCKS: BIG + BUCK’S (buck = a male rabbit).
9: ARGON: {ORGAN}.
10. APPLE TART: (P + LET) in A PART. Unless I’ve missed something the word ‘popular’ is completely extraneous, spoiling an otherwise nice clue.
11. GINGERBREAD MAN: R in {BEGAN DREAMING}.
13. REGARDLESS: d.d.
15. ARIA: fAiR dIvA.
17. NILE: NIL + E.
18. LA ROCHELLE: <(CORAL) + HE’LL + E.
20. GENERALISATION: AL(l) IS in GENERATION.
23. COPPED OUT. The answer is obvious enough, but why? It sounds like “cop doubt”, and a cop is a policeman, but a doubt is not a solicitor.
24. E-MAIL: <(wilLIAM Evidently).
25. SPECTATE: P in SECT ATE.
26. GROOVY: d.d.

Down

1. STAGGERING: d.d.
2. REGAN: REaGAN. She is, of course, one of King Lear‘s ungrateful daughters.
3. CANBERRA: B(annister) in {RAN RACE}.
5. IMPRESSIONIST: d.d.
6. BRENDA: END in BRA.
7. CHAPARRAL: CHAP + ARR + A + L.
8. SITE: SIT + E. To sit an exam is to take it, so ‘exams’ is helpfully doing double duty here in nudging you towards a suitable synonym.
10. AS BALD AS A COOT: d.d. Particularly weak, as even baldness does not make one *very* coot-y, still less duck-y, since a coot is not a duck.
12. PATERNALLY: A TERN in PALLY.
14. GILLESPIE: GILL + ESPIE(d).
16. WHEATEAR: A in {WEATHER}.
19. BEREFT: F in BERET.
21. IDAHO: IDA + HO.
22. ACTS: A + CT + S.

427 Bannsider

June 22, 2012

Bannsider at his best is a genius, and he never writes a crossword without being at his best at least some of the time. Clues like 10ac (‘Have a posh car containing new reverse gear’) show off his flair for a beautifully precise clue with a natural but completely misdirecting surface. How the same pen can produce careless clues like 23ac is a bit of a mystery. Since he favours slightly obscure words, I feel it’s all the more important to be strictly fair to the solver, but still, I’ll always go out of my way to do a Bannsider puzzle.

Across

1. LOUIS QUATORZE: {SUZI QUATRO + ELO}. All I know about rock could be written on a postage stamp but Quatro and the ELO were active at the same time making this a lovely anagram of what is indeed an old style.
9. RED SPIDER: RED + <(RE DIP’S).
10. GANJA: <(N in A JAG). (Oh, *that* kind of gear!)
11. SICKO: SIC + K.O.
12. ROENTGENS: {GREENS NOT}.
13. POGO: PlOuGh On. I don’t really think ‘when pairs lose partners’ works for dropping alternate letters, but it’s a nice idea.
14. BORED STIFF: paralysed by the ‘deadly’ boring, that is. BO + RED’S (= “of Socialist”) + TIFF.
17. RANSACKING: RAN (= ‘lost no time’) + SACKING. Yes, ‘as it were’ indeed! I think we’ll allow this one.
18. FISH: F + ISH. This being Bannsider I was ready for ‘smelt’ as in melt iron ore, but temporarily forgot that a smelt is also a fish.
20. TAE KWON DO: {WEAK DON’T} + O. (What do people think of a capital O for zero? I know everyone does it.)
22. OXTER: (X + T) in O’ER. Another nice misdirection where unrelated clue parts fit together as to the manor born.
24. AB OVO: AB (a Jack or sailor) + O v. O, a goalless draw. One of the bad eggs in the crossword, since ‘playing in’ means nothing, and the O v. O is somewhat suspect too, in that scores aren’t generally written with ‘v.’
25. HAPPY LANDINGS: {APPLYING HANDS}. ‘All the best, pilots!’ Chambers (like me) has never heard of this obscure expression of goodwill, though Google does lend it some support.

Down

1. LORDS SPIRITUAL: A bit lazy this, but it’s true that Lords is not a venue for singing spirituals.
2. UNDECAGON: UN + DEC + AGON(y). This is the second time in a week Nancy has been dusted off as a typical French speaking place. Undecagon is a bastard-word, but who ever heard of a hendecagon?
3. SIPHON: SIP + Hon., as in the Hon. Secretaryship, a position which does not pay (‘not paying’).
4. UNDER LOCK AND KEY: These clues where each word in the answer is clued by referring to essentially the same meaning as in the phrase are very weak tea in my view.
5. THREEPENNY OPERA: Well yes a tan(ner) was 6d., of which 3d. was half, but it’s a stretch I don’t think all the question-marks in the world could make up for.
6. RIGHTIST: RIG + (I’S in H T T), the initial (front) letters of ‘has two tassels’.
7. ERNIE: <(challengE IN REnfreshire). I had no idea what this was about, but it turns out to be this song with which Benny Hill had a number one hit in 1971.
8. WARS OF THE ROSES: It would be most tactful to pass over this clue in silence.
15. IDIOTICON: I in (IDIOT + CON), related senses of ‘fool’.
16. WAR WHOOP: <(POOH + W (= with) + RAW).
19. MOSSAD: MOSS + AD.
21. EPOCH: <(H + COPE). Cope = “get by”, another nice piece of misdirecting syntax that makes me inclined to be indulgent about ‘uppish’, which doesn’t really mean ‘somewhat upward’. But I suppose it could do.

424 Virgilius

June 19, 2012

The across lights reveal a theme of soldiering on, perhaps because Virgilius hoped solvers would ‘keep right on to the end of the road’ despite the mediocre cluing. I don’t consider an ‘elusive definition’ a true cryptic clue (though it can be a fine half of a clue), but more than a couple of them in a puzzle are unforgivable, particularly when they are not in fact very elusive – as clues from setters specially addicted to them often aren’t. (6ac typifies everything bad about this clue type.)

The rest is padded out with double definitions. This mostly felt like waiting for the real crossword to begin, but 22ac was a rare flash of something better.

Across

6. BURN YOUR BRIDGES: I suppose intended as an e.d., though ‘straightforward definition’ would be nearer the mark. As is often the case when there is no subsidiary the clue leads to a wrong answer as easily as a right one – it could equally well be BURN ONE’S BRIDGES.
9. POINT OF NO RETURN: Some kind of e.d. This one doesn’t even make any sense. I suppose the idea is that if you get excellent service in a shop you won’t return the product, though surely that has more to do with the quality of the product than the service.
10. STAY THE COURSE: {SE ROUTE + YACHTS}.
15. AITCH: e.d.
16. ICE: C (clubs) in I.E.
17. PRESS: d.d.
19. KEEP RIGHT ON TO THE END OF THE ROAD: ‘Going by air’? I’ve no idea. Is it a song reference? I hope so, otherwise ‘keep right on etc’ isn’t really a real phrase, is it? It’s something you might say when giving directions, but so is ‘Take the second left after the roundabout’ – which I hope not to find in a crossword soon.
22. CROSS THE RUBICON: Ref. 6ac; THE RUB in CROSS + ICON, two sacred objects. Ay, there’s the rub!

Down

1. TRAIN SET: d.d.
2. CYST: iCY STreams.
3. OUTFITTING: FIT + T in OUTING.
4. EBRO: thE BROads.
5. PIPES OF PAN: {EP POP FAN IS}.
6. BOPS: d.d. I don’t think much of double definitions where the two definitions are essentially the same, either.
7. GLUER: G + {RULE}.
8. SIN: I in SN. South and North are partners at the bridge table, at least when all is going well.
11. APHORISING: A + P + HO + RISING.
12. ELECTORATE: e.d. ‘Eventually’ is flab – it weakens both straight and elusive readings.
13. EASY: E (European) + {SAY}.
14. RACK: d.d.
18. ETON CROP: d.d.
20. ELOPE: e.d.
21. ENID: I in END.
22. CAT: d.d. I suppose, though quite why a cat might be a queen I don’t know. But ‘a cat may look at a king’, as the old saw has it.
23. HOOD: d.d., the latter d. being the evergreen outlaw of Sherwood.
24. BREW: BR (British Rail) + E(ast) W(est). ‘Sides of the country’ is a little tenuous.

421 Hypnos

June 15, 2012

I have never blogged a crossword before, but this was an agreeable one to start with.

Very fair clues from Hypnos and mostly a pleasant stroll, though the NW corner was a bit more of a scramble. ‘Request from Nancy’s little club rejecting rule (8)’ at 9ac was the killer: although with the checked letters it was tolerably obvious what the answer must be, it was not till some hours after I’d finished that I suddenly realised why. ‘Nancy’ indeed!

‘Detest twelve and a half per cent of explosive devices, say (9)’ at 15dn raised a satisfactory groan.

Across

1. SLIGHT: S + LIGHT
5. MAGICIAN: GI in {MANIAC}
9. PETITION: PETIT, as they say in Nancy, + IrON. Hypnos had me going here.
10. SENSOR: S in SEÑOR
11. BEEFBURGER: BEEF + <(RE GRUB)
12. OBOE: B in OO + examinE. Do we allow OO for specs? We’ll let it through this once.
13. WHEATEAR: H in {WET AREA}
16. CADDIE: {ADDICt} + collapsE
17. ANGOLA: A + N + (L in GOA)
19. SANCTITY: CT in SANITY
21. DALI: <(ILiAD)
22. VETERINARY: ERIN in {YEAR TV}
25. HOT AIR: {THORA I}
26. HESITANT: {HINT TEA’S}
27. ETHEREAL: ETHER (it numbs you) + A in EL
28. ARDENT: ARDEN + T

Down

2. LIEGE: Double def, LIEGE / LIÈGE
3. GRIEF: {FIGuRE}
4. TRIBUNE: RIB in TUNE
5. MANAGER: AN AGE in ManchesteR
6. GASTRIC: T(rattoria) in {CIGARS}
7. CONCORDAT: CO + {CAR DON’T}
8. APOLOGIST: A + POLO + GIST
14. HANG ABOUT: HANGAr + BOUT. I thought at first ‘attack’ was not quite right for BOUT, but it is about of illness, not of boxing, that is meant.
15. ABOMINATE: “a bomb in eight” (!)
18. ADVERSE: A + D + VERSE
19. SATCHEL: {CHEAT’S} + L
20. NERISSA: <(AS SIREN)
23. NOTED: No, Ted!
24. RUN-IN: N in RUIN