Forum Replies Created
Thanks for explaining the title. “Just Read the Instructions” as the (apparent) instructions would have been nicely baffling (but wouldn’t have helped any more as I’m not familiar with the books). It’s good that knowing nothing about the theme wasn’t a bar to solving.
22a Yes I discovered ‘fettle’ as something a potter does by googling it (although some disagreement about exactly what). Should have looked in my old Chambers which gives “to potter fussily about”.
24d I think there should have been an indicator as you mean “an abbreviation for ‘ulimate'”, but not necessarily if you had defined it by “in the last month”.
I understand why you didn’t want to capitalise Banks, but that doesn’t make it fair and your clue doesn’t indicate that you mean the whole puzzle is a tribute to him anyway. Anyway, it didn’t stop me getting the right answer.
Found this pretty tricky but got there in the end, although the theme went right over my head. I’m not sure what the significance is of “Thank you and Goodnight”. Is that a clue to the theme, and if so, how?
I was a bit put off by the double unches, especially where they’re at the beginning and ending of answers (8d, 14d), but decided to have a go anyway and managed it. Alberich has quite a good article on grid construction you may find helpful.
There were some very good clues. I have noted in particular 1a, 14a, 16a, 2d, 5d, 18d (although that last was a word I’m barely familiar with and had to look up to be certain of it). I quite liked the ‘soft touch’ theming once I had googled the relevant material.
A few notes:
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22a I think the standard abbreviation for the Department of Employment was DoE, not just DE.
26a You’ve defined a French word (“Nice woman”). Although “Nice” was helpful, I think you should just have defined it as the English word, also meaning ‘woman’.
27a False downcasing is not usually allowed, and the missile is Trident.
28a I didn’t know the song, but as you helpfully gave three ways to get to the answer it didn’t matter and I was interested to learn about it. I actually got it from “working daily”.
30a I think it’s not right to make up the spelling of a homophone like this. LEFAL from “Cockney’s mortal” would be ok, but probably not LEEFUL, even though that would fairly obviously be pronounced the same way.
4d Is FETTLE a potter? Or just something a potter does? I didn’t know the word except as in the expression ‘fine fettle’.
7d I think ‘which is to be paid’ would be a little better. I didn’t understand “(to banks)” till I looked at the solution and although I see what you’re trying to do, I don’t think it quite works, not least because “banks” should be capitalised (see above).
23d I think the “and” is wrong as it makes Henry the subject of “going doolally”, not “archives”. Removing it doesn’t spoil the surface. I think simply ‘shows guts’ would have been better, too.
24 “Last word” for ‘ult.’ is a bit loose
Hello, Chameleon. Actually I completed this puzzle some time ago and greatly enjoyed it but just haven’t found time to comment.
I thought there were a lot of excellent clues with a good variety of types, some rather original.
I got completely stuck at one point with four to go (12a, 13, 4d, 14d). Then, on returning after a break I got 14d and finally the rest. Perhaps the notes below explain why I had particular difficulty with those four.
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In 8a, Ximeneans would insist that “over second” cannot mean ‘the second letter of “over”‘: it would have to be “over’s second”, so the clue might not be accepted by some editors.
In 12a, I don’t think “crack” really defines ‘ass’, it’s just a feature of one. Also that’s an American spelling of the British ‘arse’, so perhaps that at least should have been indicated?
In 13a, I don’t think an epic is necessarily ancient, so maybe another adjective would have been better?
I didn’t get the second def in 17a, even though I thought of GO TO POT early. I did think of “near” possibly being a verb, but the sporting connotation didn’t click. Btw, did you mean to say “snooker” rather than “tennis” in your explanation?
I loved ‘army fellow’ as a definition in 19a, although ‘dangerous’ is a slightly dubious anagram indicator.
22a was a very clever device, not one I remember seeing before.
I failed to parse 24a, though I guessed it from the def. I’m happy with your explanation.
In 32a, I don’t think “figures” is right to describe ‘letters’. ‘Characters’ would have been better, and still works in the surface (not quite as smoothly).
2d: I hadn’t heard the slang ‘pres’ but guessed it. Is that the word you were warning about in your presentation?
I didn’t get the Cluedo ref in 4d. Tricky!
I thought 6d was great, but I like anything a bit smutty.
In 14d, ‘novels’ is a definition by example (prose is any writing that isn’t poetry), which should have been indicated. Lovely surface, though, which wouldn’t be harmed by the addition of ‘,perhaps?’, or even just a QM to indicate the DBE.
18d Lovely &lit
20d A beautiful cryptic def which took me ages to understand. Excellent pdm!
21d Nice. I like “have another go at” as anagram indicator.
23d Cryptically it’s fine, but I struggle to see a surface meaning.
The small negatives mentioned were wholly overwhelmed by the general excellence of the puzzle. Thanks, Chameleon.
- This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Whynot. Reason: Typos
Cheers, Sean! Glad you appreciated the feedback.
You’re wise to hold yourself back on the anagrams early on, because later you might have a couple you can’t find any other way to clue. It’s very difficult to judge how hard clues are when you’ve made them up yourself, especially at first. Beginners tend to make them too hard as a result, so it’s better to err towards ‘too easy’ than ‘too hard’. You want people to solve them, after all. It’s always best to check your words are in a good dictionary. Different outlets have different dictionaries of resort — and don’t always say which they are, but if it’s in Collins online, you’re very safe and if it’s in Chambers, unless anyone’s told you that doesn’t count, it’s hard to argue with. Be particularly careful with abbreviations. I find it’s a good idea also to check the dictionary definition of every word I use in a clue, because sometimes I find I was deluded about a meaning.
No connection to Whynot Coffee as far as I know, but I want to go there now I know about it. I do like coffee houses (and puzzles with coffee in them).
Sean, I did your puzzle and found it an enjoyable challenge, about the difficulty level of a Guardian Prize. The bottom half was mostly full while the top half was still mostly empty, so it might be worth thinking about how you spread easier and harder clues. Or it could just be me.
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There were some excellent and novel clues. I really liked 31/25; it reminded me of an old Tony Hancock gag. I won’t tell the animal rights people what you’ve written! 6a was very clever; it’s a shame the definition wasn’t a little more precise, since the worplay was tricky (but I can’t think of a closer word that will work in the surface off the top off my head). Fair enough, the town is well-enough known. I thought 10/23d was very good too. At first I didn’t like the look of it, because I thought I needed to know a TV character called Benson, and didn’t know any. It was great realising Benson’s actual role in the scheme of things. I also loved the phrase “classical musician” in 14a once I clicked on. Classical music is another area of ignorance that makes clues suggesting it scary for me. 24 was more up my street.
A few small technical criticisms:
There were a lot of anagrams (I counted twelve, including partials and subtractives). That’s a lot. For example, The Times will not allow more than five straight anagrams or six if combined with other wordplay. You have some excellent ideas for clues, so you could try using a more even spread of types. I did like the hidden YESES, which eluded me a long time.
11a is a good subtractive anagram but the word ‘by’ seems surplus. Perhaps it could have been better as something like: “Careless categories caused trouble for self-obsessed person”, where every word is part of wordplay or definition or creates a logical link between the two (“for” = ‘to produce’ in my example). There are a couple of other subtractive anagrams (30a and 29d) where you should be aware that there is a convention that when the letters to be removed do not appear in the source word in the same order as in the word to be subtracted (unlike 11a), that should also be indicated as well as the major anagram. Not everyone follows that, but there are editors who would insist on it, I believe.
19a One for our editor, Hamish! He knows why. Good clue. I spent a long time trying to work tinman in.
21 I doubted that that was a word for ‘a drink’ as such, even though I knew of ‘Java coffee’ (and the little icon with Java software!). It’s not in Chambers but Collins online gives it as American, which it would have been ideal to indicate in some way in the clue. Maybe you’re American? (But I think you wouldn’t have referred to “a Suffolk town” if so.)
I got 27 right because it rang a vague bell (I’ve never eaten one, and wouldn’t), but I can’t find the ‘dessert’ definition in dictionaries, although there are lots of pictures of them on the internet. Maybe it’s arrived into English (from It. ‘bomba’? or Fr. ‘bombe’?) too recently? I also wondered if “unless kept in the freezer” was necessary, or just verbiage?
Anyway, great fun. Bet your puzzles made great Christmas presents! Thanks.
- This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Whynot. Reason: Add Fr., 'bombe'
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Rather good, I thought, and not as easy for me as for Harold apparently, possibly because the long ‘un was unknown to me. In fact, once I’d identified the reference, having completed the NE section, I thought about giving up because I’ve never seen it despite, of course, knowing of it. However, after getting some of the crossers, I made a good enough guess to get it with a search. It’s still taken me till today, off and on, to finish the puzzle though.
9a was a delightful surface and cryptically neat too.
10a was a new word for me (unsurprisingly) but gettable from wp and a nice surface with the pale complexion from time inside.
15 etc. Did it really go out every Wed at 9pm? Very cute anagram if so. I hear it’s on at 5pm every day at the moment somewhere. I eventually got a link to a YouTube containing the relevant clip.
23a Took a long time to get as I didn’t spot the reference without mention of the other occupant of that craft.
29 LOI, got from word search. Wasn’t too sure if the definition was right, but both have ‘fidelity’ as definitions, so ok. Complicated by the adjectival “fairy”.
3d Another new word, but I guessed it from crossers and confirmed. It seemed a likely candidate to be the Latin for what I guessed was the def.
7d Small technical point: that’s a former ministry. Always best to indicate such things if possible.
11. Is/was it a soap? Or a sitcom? Didn’t follow it, though I hear it is/was excellent.
16 Not keen on ‘flow’.
19 Didn’t get the wordplay, perhaps because ‘departing’ doesn’t seem a very good synonym. (Or perhaps because I’m a bit thick). I was trying for ages to think of the name of a RN 60’s sub. Got it from wordsearch in the end.
24 I told you once before that ‘U’ doesn’t meant ‘fashionable’. Did you forget, or didn’t you believe me? I even linked you to the full facts. Luckily I remembered you thought that’s what it means!
Cheers, Laccaria. If this is anything to go by, you definitely shouldn’t be thinking of throwing the towel in.
Oh! And I liked the snakes once I understood them. It was the ‘for’ that seemed dubious
Yes, thanks, Harold, that worked fine.
8a Ah! Of course! I took it as god + anagram of “‘s acre”
20a Haven’t noticed that before, though I always do the Guardian Prize. Some setters on than Guardian are a lot more relaxed about that sort of thing than elsewhere.
1d Yes, I understood it when I saw the answer, thanks.
14d Yes, that works.
Thanks again, and have a great Christmas and new year. I notice you had a puzzle up on Rookie Corner a couple of weeks ago too, a place I’ve neglected a bit of late. Having done this one, I will go back to that at some point. I also have one in the pipeline there, so look out for it.
Thanks, Foxglove. A delightful puzzle with pitch-perfect wordplay and clear definitions. Unlike Ray (whose comment on Late Halloween I think probably belongs here), I was pleased to have an enjoyable puzzle to do which took less than an hour to complete! It could perhaps have been made harder with more deceptive definitions, but I for one enjoy a puzzle which is not too taxing. At least I get to finish it! Also it is not easy to create a puzzle with excellent meaningful surfaces like this which is at the same time not too difficult.
Thanks also for the very clear explanations. There were a couple I didn’t quite parse right.
I had a couple of question marks about the cluing. One was the use of ‘heartily’, but I see now that the QM at the end took care of that rather professionally. I did also wonder about ‘failure’ as the definition for 14a, since it originally meant an inheritance and came to be used for a death, as confirmed by my old paper Chambers. However, more modern sources such as Collins online show that the meaning has drifted further to encompass ‘failure’, as when referring to a plan.
Many thanks for the fun, Foxglove.
Doh! Thanks, Harold. After your hint I looked at the filled grid and of course spotted your nina (Grr!). In fact, when I first downloaded the puzzle and saw the grid, I made a mental note to look out for something like that but (as usual) completely forgot about it when solving. It surely would have been a great help with the two I didn’t get, although I still think something like “Cutting off snakes’ tails results in legal sanction” would be better cryptic grammar. Btw, those orders went out in 2014(?), so perhaps some indication of their non-extant nature should have been given? Having said that, I only found that out the other day myself, so it wouldn’t have helped solve it.
Unfortunately, I haven’t got software to read .docx files. Can you please post again with a pdf as I feel sure some of my qualms will be eased by reading your explanations.
Thanks again, Harold for a puzzle that was even better than I thought!
(Btw, I forgot to say what a corker 22a was!)
I wonder if this wasn’t supposed to be a reply to Foxglove?
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Excellent puzzle, with technically sound and inventive cluing for the most part, if some quite difficult vocabulary. I didn’t quite manage to complete it, giving up with 1dn and 10ac still unanswered.
In 8ac, I didn’t really understand what the words “and absorbed” do. Is it something to do with the break at the apostrophe?
10ac I see what your thinking was here, but I’m not sure the clue quite works. Sour grapes maybe?
13ac was not a word I knew, although I do know its spoonerism, which I was tempted to enter despite its not fitting the definition. Later, however, a wordsearch gave me the right answer.
11ac was clever and took me quite a while, but I think that technically (as I’ve just recently seen pointed out to another amateur setter), ‘en’ is the name of the space, while the dash that can occupy that space is an ‘en-dash’.
18ac Great clue, with a novel twist on an old crossword standard (‘model’ for T)
In 20ac, I don’t quite understand the parsing, which seems to lead to Z-AXES (reversal of ‘sex’ + ‘A-Z’), though the definition is singular. Is this a mistake or was I supposed to translate ‘sex’ from the Latin? Having just checked the dictionary, if you are referring to the prefix ‘sex-‘, I think that needs to be indicated in some way. I think it might have been better to use the plural answer with ‘lines’ as the definition. I do really like the fact that both the wordplay element and the answer have a dash at the same point.
23. I have come across that name of breed before, and I’ve certainly seen quite a few examples, but it didn’t come to mind and I ended up wordsearching on ‘****MUTE’ to get it. It’s good that your clue made it clear which of the alternative spellings was needed.
28. ‘Manx’ was clever. Again, I didn’t know that word though I recognised its meaning when it was returned from wordsearch.
32. Didn’t recognise the name of the play, but that didn’t matter. Nice clue.
1dn I felt sure this was an A (“airhead”) in a synonym for ‘romance’, leading to the surname of a famous Kirsty (but not famous enough for me to get). Oh well, you can’t win ’em all! I’d like to think I would have tumbled it if I’d got 10ac, but maybe not.
3dn Another word I’m not really familiar with, though I think I’ve seen it without knowing what it meant. I built it from the wordplay ok though, so no complaint.
4dn Very clever. I like it.
7dn Spent a long time thinking this was an anagram, but not entirely sure what of, and what was the indicator and what the def. Then when I thought of hell= Dis, it still took me a long time to come up with the answer.
14 Another unheard-of word! I think some will say the cryptic grammar doesn’t works (oops! talk about irony!), because you need ‘finds’, not ‘find’ for the cryptic meaning (the letter ‘I’ finds …).
15 Excellent clue!
17. A very cryptic definition which I don’t think I would have got if I hadn’t listened to a certain ‘important’ broadcast on R4 Sunday. Good clear wordplay though, so maybe …
Thanks very much for the challenge, Harold. I look forward to seeing more from you.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 4 weeks ago by Whynot. Reason: Noting error of "works" re 14dn
Phil, I don’t think it’s worth reposting. It’s still gettable (by me and Mike, at least). Nobody’s going to think “It can’t be that because the anagram doesn’t quite work”. Besides, reposting opens a whole can of worms and you would definitely be well advised to consult firstname.lastname@example.org before doing so. Probably best to learn the lesson and move on …
8 I don’t think it’s an indirect anagram. You correctly indicated “anagram of ‘tough’, with U removed”. However, now you’ve drawn my attention to it, I notice you omitted to indicate that ET had to be inserted. As it stands the clue suggests GHTOET. Got it without noticing that!
9. Sorry, Phil, I’m not persuaded. Also, if “cross” can indicate an anagram it should be “crossed” ie “line I go r” is anagramatised. “Cross”, as an instruction to the solver would also work but not in the surface, obviously.
10 Very good. In general, if I didn’t highlight a problem (unless I missed it), the clues are all fine as far as I can see.
11 Aha! how devious. The thing is, as I explained, I decided ?O? was COP (“catch”) first , then did word search to find LOBSTER. Try googling LOBSTER COP! I really should have paid more attention to the correct solution! Hope this is the only mistake I didn’t notice. I follow the parsing now (very devious!). Not really sure in what scenario the surface could arise, but I think the clue is technically sound, if damn difficult.
12 The accent is not a problem. The vocab is obscure (to me, at least — is it part of your vocabulary, or part of an automated fill?). Personally, with those crossers, I think I would have gone for LEVI or YETI. Depends how hard you’re trying to make it. The important thing is that if you do have obscure vocabulary the wordplay must be spot on — as it was in this case.
17 I liked it a lot. I’m taking it on trust that the OTIS signs I’ve seen in lifts refer to the inventor.
18 Don’t think I mentioned it before, but good clue.
19/24 It makes more sense to me now, thanks. I still don’t like “me”, because it assumes the first person for “self”. You missed a chance to cross-ref 13, didn’t you? I would have understood that easier than “discipline” in this unusual sense (last-mentioned in Chambers).
21 If you have a friend who will test-solve for you, they might catch things like that. Definitely check over all your clues very, very carefully before you release them. Since the puzzles here don’t have to pass an editor, things like that will creep in from time to time.
23 Well, the wordplay is “mighty cross”, isn’t it? And the definition everything before that? “Character in 1/30 mighty cross” seems a lot more straightforward and doesn’t confuse with verbose details of a plot the solver might not know or remember. I would have commended it in that form, because I could have used the internet to find the names of the characters in the film and then got an ‘aha’ when I spotted ‘Big X’. Those who have the GK ditto without the internet. Similarly 3 could have been “Royal pair after trendier character in 1/30”. Again you wouldn’t need to have seen the film to get it.
28 I got a great pdm from this one, but the problem is those 3 words aren’t synonyms of the answer or even, standing alone, examples of it, so I think something like “Fire army carpenter, perhaps, before me?” (using the convention that an answer can be treated as first-person) would have been fairer.
1/30 The problem is it’s GK defined by even more GK about exactly the same thing, compounded by an indirect reference (“3”) to further detailed GK about the GK. Well-made clues (usually, not CDs) give two distinct ways of getting to the answer. This just sends you into a labrynth of GK about the film.
3 See above.
14 Like I say, I’m fine with it, personally. I know people who would condemn it. More Guardian than, say, Telegraph I think. In fact I’ve just done a similar thing in my latest puzzle. Hope the editor I sent it to concurs!
15 RR = limo fine for me. Not a very smooth surface
16 Generally, misleading punctuation is part of the game as far as I’m concerned. There may be people out there who insist that the punctuation must work for the cryptic reading as well as the surface but when I write a clue, I punctuate for the surface and it’s up to the solver to see past that.
25 Yes, “for” is a mistake here. Easily done. Watch out for it. Otoh, I didn’t notice it. I liked the fact that you helped identify the particular Campbell with the reference to country. I think “after last three lost” is more correct for the surface grammar, assuming it was England that lost three, not Campbell.
26 Again, it depends how hard you want to make it. It was a perfectly fair clue, imo, suitable for a “hard” crossword. I would have gone for LATE, probably.
27 No (further) comment
That i puzzle is a good one. See how he simply defines each of the theme films with the single word “film”, a bit like I suggested just “Character in 1/30” for your (mini-)themed entries. If you read the blog about it, you’ll see even people who didn’t know the films liked it, because there was enough there for them to know to go, e.g. to a film guide. In general, reading blogs about puzzles, and the comments thereto is a good way to learn about making them, and what people will and won’t accept. The i gets a short post at idothei with a link to the full blogpost on fifteensquared from when the puzzle first appeared in the Indy. Btw, I see today’s is by the immaculate Dac, who died recently. RIP
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Phil, once I used aids I managed to get all but three: 28, 26 and 27.
I should have got 29 with the help of my Newnes Pocket Crossword Dictionary, but I missed the right answer in the list of 8-letter birds, and thought SEA-EAGLE was the only fit, which didn’t make sense and didn’t help with the other two. However, I might not have got them anyway, especially 27.
Of course I knew of the really famous film but haven’t actually seen it (or not for about 50 years if I have), so 3 and 23 meant nothing to me really. That’s probably because I don’t watch TV, so perhaps for those who’ve watched the film a hundred times all would be cleear. I did work out 3 from the parsing though and then googled to see the connection. Still no idea what “Mitt provided camp entertainment” means. Is that describing some element of the plot? If so, I don’t think it’s fair in a non-specialist puzzle to expect solvers to know the details of the plots in films, however well-known, if indeed that is the explanation. Similarly with 23, where in fact I thought of the answer based on the last two words of the clue, but it meant nothing to me and I didn’t (and don’t) see how the wordplay gives it. Also the cryptic grammar in 3 is not right: DEF for WORDPLAY doesn’t work, while the opposite does.
In 9, I think ‘crosses’ is a bit dubious as an anagram indicator. It’s better as a containment indicator.
I’d never heard of 11, but having the ‘O’ in the second word, I guessed what that might be from “catch”, and a wordsearch gave me the improbable answer verified by googling. I still don’t really understand the wordplay except LOBS is obviously “throws”.
12 was a new word for me, got from wordplay and confirmed with dictionary.
13 was nice.
17 Lovely pdm. I got it from crossers and remembering seeing the name in lifts before I twigged the very devious wordplay. That’s much more my area of GK, though and it could be a problem for others.
I don’t think 19/24 really works. I think it should be “Discipline which may (etc)” or “This discipline …”. “Mark me” seems grammatically wrong for the answer, too.
21 is an indirect anagram, which is, in general, a big no-no, as you have to sub ‘as’ for ‘when’ before shuffling. The version I gave in my earlier comment would work fine though.
28 had me stumped for ages and it finally hit me looking at the two crossers. It’s very clever, but not sure if it’s totally legit. Would be interested in what others think.
29 was a good clue and I wish I’d got it
1d/30 I understand this reference to one of the most famous scenes in the film (now), but see opening remarks. I got it from “sometimes boring film”. I don’t think it’s fair to clue an item needing GK to require even more detailed GK about the answer to get it.
I liked 14, although some would insist it needs something like “it’s” before “usually blue” as the referent is a noun (fussy so-and-sos!).
I did understand the reference in 16, but only once I’d got it from crossers and the same goes as for 1d/30. The grammar isn’t quite right, is it? Maybe “Film in which ‘play’ famously features?”, deceptively suggesting a so-called dramatic work? Of course it’s “Play it again, Sam” which is really famous, a line never actually spoken!
22 Again, not knowing the characters or details of the plot, I’m left wondering whether 3 and 23 qualify because of the nation they serve, or because of their interaction in the story.
26 That’s pretty obscure vocabulary. So many other words would have fitted the slot, I wonder why you chose it? I even thought of ‘clutz’ (but had forgotten about that by the time I did wordsearch, and anyway SEA-EAGLE screwed it up for me).
27 Do you mean “owl’s land”? A very obscure reference to a work of fiction you may be surprised to know not everybody is familiar with the details of. Very poor clue in my estimation.
Sorry to be so negative about aspects of this puzzle, Phil. How about doing one with no proper nouns in the fill? On the positive side, I’m glad you’ve paid attention to the earlier advice about surplus words.