The idothei Guest Puzzle No. 2

April 21, 2019


Roll up ladies and gentlemen, and no shoving at the back please.  Welcome to the second idothei Guest Puzzle, and the debut of a new setter. As far as I know this is Saltamonte’s first published crossword, and Jon tells me that a constructive critique would not be unwelcome. My job is to provide an introduction and the parsings: I’ll raise any niggles which occur to me but leave the general criticism for the comments. Positive and polite are the watchwords, of course. I enjoyed solving this puzzle, and there are some punchy surfaces and unusual clue constructions to ponder. Here is my COD:

16ac: “Mineral keys lock in the French (5,4)”

… and here is a little diversion for you. I have been rather harsh about 25ac, which seemed to let the general standard down somewhat. Therefore, money where your mouth is time, Batarde. I’m inviting suggestions for alternative clues, and here’s mine:

“Take measures before capturing poet (7)”

And so to the parsings. There are, of course conventions for doing this, all of which are going out of the window in the interests of plain English. Definitions are in bold face and anagram indicators are italicised. Obviously if you scroll down any further you’ll come to the answers, so it seems prudent to issue a






1 Acrobatic Cleo, no learner, appeared in dodgy strip joint’s showers (14)
PROJECTIONISTS. Anagram of “Cleo” minus the “L” plus “strip joints”.

10 Incorporate measure of info into bomb (5)
IMBED Mb (megabyte) in IED (improvised explosive device).

11 Ruinous PA went wild producing offspring (just the one) (9)
UNIPAROUS Anagram of “ruinous PA”, and a fairly recondite word.

12 Battleaxe held bra in tatters (7)
HALBERD Anagram of “held bra”.

13 Enterprise headed by explorer returned to dock maybe (7)
TOBACCO The explorer is either John or Sebastian Cabot, backwards, plus CO for company. This refers to Tobacco Dock in London.

14 From head to toe, Spain aches (5)
PAINS Spain with the “S” moved to the end.

16 Mineral keys lock in the French (5,4)
TABLE SALT “Les”, the French definite article (plural) between “tab” and “alt”, both to be found on your keyboard. Smashing clue.

19 Reading maybe outside, a book with wine. Superb! (9)
FANTASTIC Refers to Reading FC football club, with “a” plus “NT” plus “asti” inside. The New Testament is books plural, surely, even if bound in a single volume?

20 Medics eat, for example, leftovers (5)
DREGS “eg” inside “drs”.

22 Catching mesh (7)
NETTING Double definition.

25 Given curtailed supply (7)
PROVIDE Simply “provided” without the final letter. This does seem weak to me since it uses the same sense of the verb.

27 Dali art on mixed freight (9)
TRAINLOAD Anagram of “Dali on art”

28 Slow starts to begin really active kinetic exercises (5)
BRAKE First letters of Begin Really Active Kinetic Exercises.

29 Trick put double agent in crumbling gaol unit. Well done (14)
CONGRATULATION “con” (trick) followed by “rat” in an anagram of “gaolunit”. A couple of queries here: is a rat a double agent? – and can congratulation be singular in this sense. I feel that both can be justified, but it’s a bit of a stretch.


2 Plan to enter dance before brave uprising (9)
REBELLION Hmm. That would be plan B inside “reel”, followed by “lion”, I think. Brave can mean a courageous soldier, as can lion, but I don’t really buy it because the sense here only works as an adjective.

3 Good hearted saint finds justice (5)
JUDGE “g(ood)” in St Jude.

4 Looking for a new start? Adopt cute fashion (4,5)
COUP D’ETAT Anagram of “adopt cute”; not keen on fashion as an anagrind. “Looking for” appears to be redundant.

5 Pointless edition produced for numbskull (5)
IDIOT Anagram of “edition” minus the points, ie. East and North.

6 Mashed red banana found in restaurants (4,5)
NAAN BREAD Anagram of “red banana” – a good spot.

7 Emotionless King left exorcist working (5)
STOIC Anagram of “exorcist” without “rex”. The pedant in me thinks that a Stoic controls his or her emotions rather than lacks them.

8 Colossus southpaw shows resolve (4,3)
SUSS OUT Hidden solution.

9 Mitred piece? (6)
BISHOP Cryptic definition.

15 Drug has nothing on queen, but ruler sold here (9)
STATIONER “statin” with “o” inside, followed by HM the Queen.

17 Retreat but return by bike (9)
BACKPEDAL Cryptic definition, nicely done.

18 Coffee brewing, nice aroma (9)
AMERICANO Anagram of “nice aroma”.

19 Brown back in charge after governing body shows excessive zeal (7)
FANATIC “tan” backwards plus “i(n) c(harge)”, preceded by F(ootball) A(ssociation).  “Showing” would be better in my opinion, since the sense is adjectival.

21 Discharged driver headed north to collect upturned sample? (6)
SEEPED My last one in. The sample is “pee”, the driver is “des” and the whole lot is inverted. Is the designated driver thing widely known? It had passed me by.

23 Nonsensical witterings regularly held back writer (5)
TWAIN Not sure I’ve seen this done before – anyway, every other letter of “nonsensical witterings” backwards reads “gieTWAINso”, and there’s Mr Clemens in the middle.

24 Billy holds fifty and isn’t shy to tell (5)
GLOAT A (billy) goat with an L in it.  The definition isn’t quite right because it suggests “gloats”.

26 Ring composer (5)
ORBIT Double definition, referring to William Orbit. Who knew?

15 Responses to “The idothei Guest Puzzle No. 2”

  1. dtw42 said

    Well, I’ll leap in:
    I too liked 16ac – not least because we’ve all got used to ‘key’ (when not being the musical A–G) tending to be ‘ESC’, so spotting wordplay to use two others off the keyboard was pleasing.
    Likewise for 15dn to have ‘drug’ refer to something other than ‘E’ or ‘POT’ for a change.
    I wasn’t familiar with Tobacco Dock, so although the solution was clear from the wordplay & crossing letters I had to look that up to see what was being referenced.
    21dn was last in for me, partly because I was just finishing in the SE corner but mostly because ‘Des’ is not part of my awareness either.
    In defence of 25ac, I read the ‘given’=’PROVIDED’ in a conjunction sense of ‘on the condition that’ or ‘supposing that’, which I think counts as different?
    I am lightly familiar with William Orbit, so once I’d got enough crossers in to realise 26dn referred to him, I thought that was kinda fun – again a change from the old-school usual list of composers.
    18dn was a nicely handy anagram even if the def was a bit of a giveaway (something vaguer than ‘coffee’ might’ve helped?).

  2. jonofwales said

    Thanks for the blog, and to Saltamonte for the puzzle. I thought that was a very promising debut, and look forward to seeing more! Regarding “brave” in 2d, that was my bright suggestion, so if it doesn’t quite work then the fault lies entirely with me. 😀

  3. Cornick said

    Bravo Saltamonte – first of all congratulation(s) for putting your head above the parapet – there are doubtless dozens out there tempted to do the same but still mustering sufficient courage!

    I too liked 16a best of all – a worthy COD. However I’d leave 18a just as it is – along with 10a, 12a, 14a, 19a, 20a, 3d, 15d and 19d, these were my favourites. Actually I should add 23d to that list – a neat idea and one I’ve never seen before; good surface reading too.

    I failed at the end on 21d, putting in ‘spewed’ because I couldn’t see the wordplay. Presumably 2d refers to Plan B the singer? Dock tobacco was also put in without fully understanding it, though it had to be.

    Here’s my entry for the 25a competition:
    ‘Deliver advertising film back to front’

  4. sprouthater said

    Enjoyed this, plenty of anagrams which I like, no problem with Brave /Lion as I have seen it done before and the composer was for once a write in. Thanks Saltamonte for the puzzle and Batarde for unravelling 13ac,19ac and 21dn. My personal favourite was 17dn

  5. Saltamonte said

    Currently away in Zaragoza but just had a quick look at what’s been said and see that a total mauling has been avoided. Which is nice! Thanks for the feedback, I might even have another go, onto the difficult second puzzle. As for being brave, that’s tosh for two reasons; it’s only a crossword and there’s a pseudonym! So go on people, have a bash at it…

    • batarde said

      Thank you for stopping by Saltamonte, and I for one think you deserve a round of applause. Hope to see another one of yours before long.

  6. jonofwales said

    Regarding 25ac. I’m useless at writing clues, but what about something like “Take measures? Civil Engineer from state capital (not new) would”. with extreme doubts about the soundness of that final “would”.

  7. dtw42 said

    …or “Take measures before poet’s allowed in.” [?]

  8. Michaelatcobblerscottage said

    Thoroughly enjoyable! 29As to the setter!

    Any quibbles I had were entirely trivial and have been commented on by previous contributors. 19A had me perplexed for a while, as I don’t think the parsing is quite right, apart from the sparkling Italian wine (I wonder if anyone outside crosswordland still knows about it now that prosecco has taken over the world). Unfamiliar with Orbit, but glad to expand my knowledge.

    Well done!

  9. allan_c said

    A generally enjoyable crossword, although I had reservations about some clues – these have been highlighted by others so there’s no need to air them again. I liked 22ac, though I’m not sure if it’s a double definition or a cryptic definition it could be either. I’d vaguely heard of William ORBIT, and after googling him I think some of his music might be worth exploring – thanks for pointing me in his direction.

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