Guest Puzzle 5 by Skirwingle – American Classic

June 14, 2020

This is a very special puzzle.

It’s been  a pleasure to blog this crossword. Guest puzzles tend to be few and far between, and this one has that certain something. Click here, and you’ll find it. I recommend that you download this as a pdf and print it, rather than completing it online.

It’s unique. Of course, every crossword is unique, but this one goes somewhere that I have never before known a crossword to go. Perhaps it’s a bit naughty, but I dare say very few indeed would not grant an indulgence, under the circumstances. It is clear from the appearance of the grid that something is going on – but my advice is to enjoy this as the straightforward cryptic it appears to be, and only then to ponder on what to do next.

It’s quite a dense crossword, with lots of crossing letters throughout, only five clues where the initial letter is not a crossing one and an impressive total of thirty-five clues, a good 20% more than one might normally find in this particular genre. This makes it a little easier for the solver than some other grids do. That’s helpful, because it makes a puzzle of above-par difficulty that bit more accessible for beginners and improvers. Given the title of the puzzle it’s not giving anything away to say that there is an American flavour to some of the clues and some of the answers.

SPOILER ALERT! Scroll down for the answers – and then scroll down again for some more!   








1. “President, reportedly a faithful fellow… (6)”  TRUMAN.  A homophone (indicated by “reportedly”) of “true man” for “faithful fellow”. “President” is the definition.

4. “…fellow (admirable Australian), last to play bagatelle. (8)” FRIPPERY. A charade of F (fellow), RIPPER (Australian parlance for admirable) and the last letter of plaY. “Bagatelle” is the definition.

10. “Expert democrat with muscle (3)” DAB. D for Democrat  followed by “ab” for “muscle”. The definition is “expert”. I wonder whether one can have an ab in the singular? It seems to me that it’s abs in the plural when referring to a well-toned abdomen. However, in my case, even one would be nice.

11. “Crucial contrivance with Conservative going round (11)” CIRCULATORY. “Contrivance” is an anagram indicator for “crucial”. Add TORY (Conservative) on the end, and the definition is “going round”.

12. “In a crescent in France, the one with a Kennedy or Roosevelt (7)”. LUNATED. The definition is “in a crescent”. It’s  “l’un”, which is how you would say “the one” in France, plus “A” plus “Ted”, being the first name of a Kennedy and a Roosevelt. An unusual and perhaps less well-known word, but with helpful crossing letters, so quite gettable.

13. “Origin of hurling is in extreme tickling” (6)”.  EMETIC .  A hidden inclusion (“is in”) in extrEME TICkling. “Origin of” in this instance means “cause of”, and hurling is caused by an emetic. A  nicely misleading clue, making you think of the sport.

15. “I tire easily, absorbed in reversing road cleaner? Quite the reverse (7)”. DIRTIER. “Easily” is the anagram indicator for “I tire”, which is inserted in (“absorbed in”) DR (Rd for “road” reversing). The definition is “Cleaner? Quite the reverse!”. These sort of clues can quite often take a bit of unravelling – exactly what do I reverse?

17. “White copper at key party (3,4)”. CUE BALL. A charade of Cu, being the atomic symbol for copper, plus “E” being a musical key, and “ball” for “party”. The definition is “white”; a snooker cue ball often being referred to as “the white”. Since the composition of this puzzle, recent events have made this clue seem more prominent than it might have done.

18. “Round five-amp cells (3)”. OVA. “O” for “round”, “V” for “five” and “A” for “amp”. Ova being the plural of the Latin for eggs, commonly used for mammals, so the definition is “cells”.

19. “Colourful conservative wearing frames (7)”. CRIMSON. “C” for “Conservative” plus “rims on” for “wearing frames”. The definition is “colourful”.

19. “Sort of image found upside-down later in reformation (7)”. RETINAL. An anagram (“in reformation”) of “later in”. Images on the retina are, it would seem, upside-down, and our brain corrects them.

23. “Bullet idiot heard in Art of Noise samples (6)”. DUMDUM.  The definition is “bullet”. I think this is simply a homophone of “dumb-dumb” for “idiot”, the “Art of Noise samples” being the homophone-indicator. I may be wrong about this and invite correction.

25. “Swimmer from Red or Dead, perhaps, with deep voice (3,4)”. SEA BASS. The definition is “Swimmer”, for a fish. “Red” and “Dead” are the names of seas, and “bass” is a “deep voice”.

29. “Wife wearing tux before noon goes to French sea with small ships (11)”. WINDJAMMERS.  A charade of “W” plus “in” plus “DJ”, (“wife wearing tux”) “am” for “before noon”, “mer” being the sea in French, and “s” for “small”. The definition is “ships”. The surface reading creates a rather unlikely image, but nevertheless the clue is impeccably constructed.

30. “Decline English books (3)”. EBB. Definition is “decline”. E from “English” plus “b” for book, twice, because it’s “books”.

31. “Strangely biased about America, but free of wrong ideas (8)”. DISABUSE. An anagram (“strangely”) of “biased” around “US” for “America”. The definition is “free of wrong ideas”.

32. “He loses weight more quickly (6)”. FASTER.  A double definition, and an &lit. Someone who fasts will lose weight, “faster” means “more quickly”, and I dare say someone who fasts will lose weight more quickly than someone who merely diets.


1. “Boy with sex appeal rising… rising and falling (5)”. TIDAL The definition is “rising and falling”, made up from “lad” from “boy” and “it” for “sex appeal”, reading upwards (“rising”). An amusing visual image is brought to mind…

2. “Proto-batman villain resolving at first to be more refined (7)”. URBANER. A charade of “ur” for “proto”, “Bane”, being the eponymously-immortalised-in-film Batman villain, and the first letter of “Resolving”. The definition is “more refined”. Is “urbaner” a word? I suppose so, even if we are more likely to say “more urbane”.

3. “A Caledonian cravat (5)”. ASCOT. “A” plus “Scot” from “Caledonian”. An ascot is a sort of cravat.

5. “Get up or put up with application (5)”. ROUSE. The definition is “get up”. It made by “or” being “put up” to give “ro” plus “use” from “application”.

6. “Setting exercise about, say, Honiton chaps (9)”. PLACEMENT. The definition is “setting”. “Exercise” is “PT” around (“about”) “lace” (of which the Honiton variety is an example) and “men” from “chaps”.

7. “Former London arts centre houses old books and weird objets d’art (7)”. EXOTICA. “Ex” from “former” and . “ICA” from the Institute of Contemporary Art (in London) around (“housing”) “OT” referring  to the Old Testament from “books”.

8. “Toy that’s had it’s ups and downs” (2-2). YO-YO. A cryptic definition and an &lit, since they have come in and gone out of fashion, over the years.

9. “Field taxman working to support Greek papers (8)”. GRIDIRON. Taxman of yore, really, since the Inland Revenue (“IR”) has been replaced by HMRC (which is probably less use in Crosswordland). “On” is from “working” and both are beneath, and so “support” “gr” from “Greek” and “ID” for one’s “papers”. In keeping with the American flavour of this puzzle, the definition (“field”) refers to the playing field for American football.

14. “They run flights between Basel and Algiers (2,2)”. EL AL.  Made from the end of BasEL and the beginning of ALgiers. The definition is “they run flights”. I haven’t checked, but it’s an unlikely route for an airline based in Tel Aviv, so I doubt it’s an &lit. Pity, really.

15. “‘Little Richard’s dead?’ That’s repulsive (4)”. DICK. Dick is a diminutive form of Richard, hence the definition “Little Richard”. The wordplay is “D” from “dead” and “ick”, being  the response that might be elicited by something repulsive.

16. “Caper planned with help from within beds? I join up. (6,3)”. INSIDE JOB. An anagram of “beds I join”, indicated by “up”. The definition is “caper planned with help from within”.

17. “Lovingly stroked vehicle, being Dutch (8)”. CARESSED. A charade of “car” (“vehicle”) plus “esse” (“being”) plus “D” for Dutch. The definition is “lovingly stroked”.

20. “Animals scaled Asia – gnu, perhaps. (7)”. IGUANAS. An anagram (indicated by “perhaps”) of “Asia gnu”.  The definition is “animals, scaled” – iguanas, being reptiles, have scales.

22. “Turkey and the Balkans short of a best estimate (7)”. NEAREST. A subtraction (“short of”) of “a” from “Near East”, suggested by “Turkey and the Balkans”. “Best estimate” is the definition.

24. “They quietly perform miracles in modern English setting – leading characters? (5)”. MIMES. First letters (“leading characters”) of “Miracles In Modern English Setting”. The definition is “they quietly perform”.

26. “Lost in deep water (2,3)”. AT SEA. Double definition.

27. “Very British queen’s unamused (5)”. SOBER. A charade of “so” (from “very”) then “B” for Britiah and “ER” referring to the Queen. The definition is “unamused”, and the clue evokes  a picture of the very British, and anecdotally unamused Queen Victoria.

28. “Outstanding lines read out (4)”. OWED. A homophone (“read out”) of ode (“lines”). The definition is “outstanding”.

So far an enjoyable, straightforward Cryptic. But what do we make of the annotations to the grid? And why is this called “American Classic”, when there is no more than a smattering of American references, barely more than there would be in any daily Cryptic, and not enough to constitute even a mini-theme?





Move next to the three circled letters in the fourth column. These spell out the name of an American publication.

Need help? Click here.

And if you’re familiar with the publication in question you may have guessed what to do with the A and B and the arrows at the top.  If not, click here.


So there we have it. Possibly the most astute political analysis yet. Bravo, Skirwingle!

15 Responses to “Guest Puzzle 5 by Skirwingle – American Classic”

  1. jonofwales said

    A great puzzle from Skirwingle, with a twist that was so much fun. A great blog to go with it too – you’ve really done the puzzle justice! 😀

  2. batarde said

    Very good indeed. A quick grid fill for me, perhaps because I’ve been picking away at the Inquisitor, but working out the endgame was satisfying indeed. I’ve only seen the origami gimmick in a Listener before, and this was much more fun. Many thanks to Skirwingle, and to our intrepid blogger who also did a splendid job.

  3. dtw42 said

    Thank you for the comprehensive blog/parsing & kind comments.

    The idea came when I was about ¼ of the way through this past month’s 1ACross puzzle ‘Instructions’ by Eclogue (I hadn’t yet untangled all its intricacies but I had spotted that the nina was going to be the word ‘origami’ and that got me thinking about Mad fold-ins).

    FYI the other aspect of 23ac (DUMDUM) is that the band ‘Art of Noise’ were pioneers of sampling and did indeed frequently use one that went “dum … dum” (as in their hit ‘Close (to the Edit)’ here: … but that was a bonus bit of GK and I tried to make sure the clue wasn’t dependent on it!

    • saboteur said

      Well, I for one am so glad you didn’t make the clue dependent on knowing that!

      A splendid puzzle. Getting it at the end was a genuine laugh out loud moment. Laughter being only one of the possible responses to the subject matter on question!

  4. Grodnik said

    What a treat. Saw “It’s a mad mad mad mad mad world”in my student days but never thought I would actually live through it. Knew nothing about the Mad Fold-In, but how I share the sentiment expressed.
    Stay safe.

  5. Cornick said

    Ha! A genuine laugh out loud moment when I did the fold-in and saw the six brilliantly realised words reveal themselves – excellent!
    The MAD magazine allusion was lost on me – I had no idea they did that – as was the Art of Noise reference, but otherwise all pretty breezy as regards the grid fill.

  6. allan_c said

    A pretty quick solve but I missed the folding trick. Enjoyable as a straight cryptic, though. Thanks, Skirwingle and Saboteur.

  7. jonofwales said

    I’ve just heard that the Cryptic Sunday people are planning a live Zoom solve of the puzzle this Thursday at 8PM. You can get further details from Rachel Playforth on Twitter. I’m planning to give it a whirl.

  8. Is this crossword only available online? I could not find it in the weekend edition of the i printed newspaper.

  9. Sowmya said

    That was a fun puzzle Skirwingle and the fold-in has been done very well. If folks here enjoyed this, we had done a Fold-in interactive puzzle in November last year at which you might enjoy too – you can solve it like a regular cryptic and then watch it Unfold on your screen – It’s a nod to Mad Magazine’s Al
    Jaffee – Link

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: