The Stickler Weekly 127 Solution

I’m on record (somewhere) as saying that you can’t construct a good cryptic crossword without putting a lot of thought into the choosing of the words in the grid. There are a couple of key reasons for this: a good cryptic crossword doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses, such as an odd or obscure answer, so making sure all words suit the solving audience is important, and secondly, prudent choices at grid-building time, where possible wordplay breakdowns have already been thought about, should yield a set of clues without any obvious deficiencies. I use a couple of guidelines to help me when selecting words – words should be in concise dictionaries if possible; words unknown to me should be in multiple dictionaries and not listed as rare, regional, obscure or archaic; words that exist in just one dictionary shouldn’t be used (look up the word “miserable” in Chambers – it’s a noun meaning “very weak tea” – great meaning to impress people with but no good to use as such in a crossword); and “internet-only” words and terms should be used with extreme caution. I’ve learnt to double-check words I know and not rely on my memory as my personal experience is not everyone’s personal experience, especially when creating an “international” cryptic such as The Stickler Weekly. A few years ago in a Financial Times crossword I was chastised for using “stock” as a definition for “ski pole”. I first skied in my early 20s and the things I used in my hands while skiing were always called stocks. Little did I know this is largely an Australian term and not known to the majority of Financial Times solvers.
A few weeks ago Steve Ball questioned my use of Gathering = Boil, which leads me to say that not only should answer words be appropriate for an audience, but all words and their meanings used in clues should be too. (That is, of course, if, as a setter, you have consideration for your solvers). It’s no good picking all words from a concise list if you use North American, internet-only or obscure meanings of a word in clues that solvers have no hope of knowing. While I don’t think Gathering = Boil falls into that really obscure category, it maybe was stretching people’s general knowledge that little bit too far. My problem in this case was again that the equation wasn’t foreign to me and so I assumed it was more common than perhaps it actually is.

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 RETROSPECT
Organiser recalled favourite holding clubs in hindsight (10) SORTER reversed + (PET outside C)
6 STAG
Associates of psychiatrist agitated male (4) psychiatriST AGitated
9 CHILD
Youngster with cold almost died (5) (CHIL)L + D
10 ROUTINELY
Bank taking ownership of old-fashioned home as a matter of course (9) RELY outside (OUT + IN)
12 SPINSTER
Single lady turns heads of teenagers, executives and retirees (8) SPINS + (T)EENAGERS + (E)XECUTIVES + (R)ETIREES
13 SCREEN
Show actor’s backside in extraordinary scene (6) ACTO(R) inside anagram of SCENE
15 LUNCH
Introduction of a new product, not including a meal (5) LAUNCH minus A
16 UNIONIST
Federation member, on island, captured by a group of soldiers (8) (ON + IS) inside UNIT
18 LIGHTEST
Catalogue including Golding’s first letter excited the most brilliant (8) LIST outside [(G)OLDING + anagram of THE]
20 EERIE
Guinness, say, with no head? That is weird (5) B(EER) + IE
23 RUTILE
Form containing titanium? (6) RULE outside TI
24 IRRITATE
Incense and cross displayed at both ends of ceremony mostly (8) IRATE outside (RIT)E
26 CARESSING
Affectionate behaviour concerns Carol, say (9) CARES + SING
27 NAILS
Pins down pole attached to twisted sail (5) N + anagram of SAIL
28 SEER
Attendees of free seminar backed visionary? (4) fREE Seminar reversed
29 MALTREATED
Have food marinated in whisky and wine roughly handled (10) EAT inside (MALT + RED)
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 ROCK SALT
Tosses key mineral from the sea (4,4) ROCKS + ALT
2 TUITION
One deployed in unit to broadcast instruction (7) I inside anagram of UNIT TO
3 OLD AS THE HILLS
Antiquated hostel had 29 complaints? (3,2,3,5) Anagram of HOSTEL HAD + ILLS
4 PERSECUTED
Victimised peers distributed abridged edition (10) Anagram of PEERS + CUT + ED
5 COUP
Vehicle cut off Triumph (4) (COUP)E
7 THESEUS
He fought the Amazons and us after these (7) US after THESE
8 GUYANA
South American place, an area led by ordinary bloke (6) (AN + A) after GUY
11 INCONVENIENCE
Trouble in Calabria’s capital concerning men losing million in Venice (13) IN + (C)ALABRIA + ON + [(MEN minus M) in VENICE]
14 BIRTHRIGHT
I restricted half of this in promising inheritance (10) [I + R + (TH)IS] inside BRIGHT
17 RELEASED
Issued letter’s agreement printed in colour (8) LEASE inside RED
19 INTER SE
Among or between themselves, in short (5,2) IN + TERSE
21 REALIST
One who’s pragmatic about a tip (7) RE + A + LIST
22 FROCKS
Dresses front edge of flag stones (6) (F)LAG + ROCKS
25 FIFA
Affair, not contained, troubled sports administration group? (4) Anagram of A(FFAI)R

 

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One Response to The Stickler Weekly 127 Solution

  1. Grant Dyer says:

    Hi David
    I don’t mind learning some new words provided the word play is concise. Use of substitutions and contained in clues can lead to the answer. Anagrams should be avoided as the order of letters in a ‘foreign’ word may not be obvious.
    Keep up the good work.