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.

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