The Stickler Weekly 109 Solution

Solvers of my puzzles will know that I rarely do theme crosswords, however they are almost mandatory for the Christmas and New Year period running up to Australia Day. The Australian Financial Review (AFR) publishes bumper editions where I write large themed cryptics with more than 70 clues. Since my debut in the AFR I’ve written 26 Christmas or New Year themed puzzles, all containing different ideas. As the holiday period approaches, I rack my brains trying to find something new, but some topics have limited scope. After the days of Christmas and the reindeer, there’s really not a lot left for Christmas. Even though it’s a religious festival, a religious theme these days has the tendency to offend people, so I stay away. New Year is even worse – apart from the date change, what else is there? Fireworks? Done. Thankfully the cryptic element of crosswords allows for other possibilities like “New Year” in a clue meaning an anagram of “year”. A few years ago I wrapped a Christmas cake recipe into the crossword that was great fun and very tasty. This year I’ve done the same in the AFR but with a twist. One thing that always surprises me is that something always seems to pop out, even when there appears to be no more ideas to be had. If nothing spectacular comes to mind, there’s always my default gimmick which is to incorporate an appropriate message somewhere in the grid to acknowledge the time of year and my appreciation of solvers.
I find the larger grids offer much more room to incorporate a theme and allow everything to stay normal from a grid design, grid-fill and cluing sense. A standard 15×15 is a tight space to work in and compromise is often needed to squeeze in that extra theme word or make a gimmick work. Nothing worse than leaving yourself a really obscure word or two to clue that obviously don’t fit with the style of rest of the puzzle. These misfits can stand out so much that they push the theme into to background and spoil a lot of hard work.

 

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 LACROSSE
A pass from the wing played in middle of athletic sport (8) (A + CROSS) inside ATH(LE)TIC
5 RIPPER
Current agent knocked back an excellent thing (6) RIP + (REP reversed)
10 WHALE
High-roller who reduced alcohol (5) (WH)O + ALE
11 APOSTOLIC
Papal stool roughly drawn in a picture (9) Anagram of STOOL inside (A + PIC)
12 BUMPER-TO-BUMPER
Worthless forward arranged more pub crawling (6-2-6) BUM + PERT + anagram of MORE PUB
14 DUNG
Manure turned over containing nitrogen (4) DUG outside N
15 MEET WITH
The writer and comedian involved in the rotten experience (4,4) ME + (WIT inside anagram of THE)
18 PAD
Pressure applied to commercial paper group (3) P + AD
19 NURTURED
U-turn complicated by traffic light may be brought up (8) Anagram of UTURN + RED
20 TEAM
Drink with married people who work together (4) TEA + M
23 DEVILS ADVOCATE
One who likes to argue was withdrawn and sad about entering ballot (6,8) LIVED reversed + SAD + (CA inside VOTE)
26 MARKED OUT
Duo’s medley staged in shopping centre is described (6,3) Anagram of DUO inside MARKET
27 BLIMP
BMW’s first flexible air-bag (5) (B)MW + LIMP
28 SPLASH
Prominently display special tie (6) SP + LASH
29 GRADIENT
Rise and decline in government subsidy (8) DIE inside GRANT
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 LAW-ABIDING
A tender handled by Los Angeles branch is compliant (3-7) (A + BID) inside (LA + WING)
2 COAL-MINER
Digger reserved one claim located next to river? (4-5) Anagram of ONE CLAIM + R
3 OPENER
Withdrawn elements of polystyrene polymer may be key (6) polystRENE POlymer reversed
4 SHANTY
Six-footer located in retiring mariner’s hut (6) ANT inside SHY
6 INTIMATE
Confidential tip nearly admitted by prisoner (8) (TI)P inside INMATE
7 PULSE
Vibration from bearing trapped in pipe (5) S(outh) inside PULE
8 RACY
Blue vehicle overturned close to freeway (4) CAR reversed + FREEWA(Y)
9 DOUBTED
Debut rescheduled after celebration is questioned (7) Anagram of DEBUT after DO
13 CHAMBERPOT
Hot, orangy-yellow pee sat in bed pan (10) (H + AMBER + P) inside COT
15 MAD
Funny American magazine produced in cut-down form (3) (MAD)E
16 ITERATIVE
Repetitious item not completed by four in class (9) (ITE)M + (IV inside RATE)
17 BUSINESS
Firm coaches accepting home schooling initially (8) (BUSES outside IN) + (S)CHOOLING
18 PENSION
Writer is upset about allowance (7) PEN + (IS reversed) + ON
21 EDITOR
Print controller went on backing up with input from IT (6) RODE reversed outside IT
22 MORBID
Unhealthy ball, one nursed by doctor (6) (ORD + I) inside MD
24 ENROL
Recruit, one holding up right and left (5) (ONE reversed outside R) + L
25 XMAS
Crazy Mexicans giving up nice holiday (4) Anagram of MEXICANS minus NICE

 

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5 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 109 Solution

  1. Maggie says:

    I look forward to Wednesdays when I can download another challenging crossword. Always enjoyable and usually there is an opportunity to learn a new word or recall a word not used for a long time. This week it was ‘pule’. I remembered hearing the term relating to a child but did not readily make the connection with pipe. It was a was a great clue.

    I hope you have a happy Christmas. I look forward to another year of Stickler puzzles. Thank you.

  2. Arthur says:

    David, Thank youf or this challenge. I really have to get back into the groove.ust say I am not really happy with “meet with”. I have seldom found this to be a rotten experience. My limiteds searches do not reveal any link between pipe and pule, although if one is anti bagpipes you might conclude that he sound is indeed a pule.

  3. Arthur says:

    Oops, silly me. It is experience as a verb – the rotten relates to “the”

  4. Andrew Gibson says:

    No wonder I had a problem with this one! Vehicle overturned (van) close to freeway (y) Blue = navy (navy blue)?

  5. Steve Ball says:

    I enjoyed this and didn’t need to resort to pattern matching but I finished it over a period of days. There were a couple of surfaces that might have been a little risqué for a published puzzle, but I enjoy that sort of thing. 🙂

    One thing: 24-across: I can get ENRO out of ‘ONE reversed holding R’ and out of ‘[ONE holding R] reversed’, but I don’t see how ‘ONE holding reversed R’ produces it. Am I missing something?

    Thanks,
    Steve = : ^ )