The Stickler Weekly 152 Solution

If you are a cryptic crossword solver (and it’s likely you are if you are reading this), then you’ll know that you are part of a minority group. You know because if cryptic crosswords come up in conversation among a group of unfamiliar people, then you are likely to be the only serious solver there. Some may have dabbled, or do straight crosswords regularly, but you’ll be the only one who has a firm grip on the art of cryptic solving. Some will dismiss your hobby with no interest, but others will be very interested and fire off multiple questions. And remember, I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about you, the solver. Cryptics are nowhere near as popular as they used to be, with the younger generations needing quick-fix puzzles and social games, which don’t fit with cryptic crosswords. Add the lessening influence of our UK ancestors in Australia who showed many the cryptic way, and you have a pastime that less and less people find joy in.
Imagine me at a gathering, just like as above. If proficient solvers are rare, setters are like hen’s teeth. In fact, those who write for newspapers and magazines would number about ten in Australia. I try to avoid saying what I (used to) do for a living because I know I’ll get lots of questions, which is Ok but once I start I tend to dominate the conversation which is a little anti-social. Occasionally, though, I get to be a fly on the wall and hear someone who is a cryptic solver trying to explain the ins and outs to an enquirer. Of course, they don’t know who I am, which allows me to listen in and take the opportunity to probe the mind of a solver with open questions like: “what makes a good cryptic clue”, “are all crossword writers the same”, and “which papers and magazines have the best crosswords”, or more specific questions like: “how many crosswords do you solve a week”, “are you a member of a club” and “do you solve online crosswords”. Rare insights for me.
I’m happy for a solver to explain how cryptics work as long as they say the right thing. One time someone suggested a “how to solve” book that doesn’t hit the mark for me, so I suggested a different book. Another time someone suggested the old “check the answers and work backwards” approach, which may be helpful for some, but doesn’t really help form a mechanism for how to solve or establish basic principles. My first suggestion is to find someone who is good at solving and join them in the process, picking their brains as they go. Of course, finding such a person isn’t as easy as it used to be…

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 CASE LAW
System of jurisprudence about returning part of the UK (4,3) CA + (WALES reversed)
5 LOCALS
Vacated lots, filled with coal, disconcerted people from the neighbourhood? (6) L(ot)S outside anagram of COAL
9 AMBIT
Play down closing of firing range (5) GAMBIT minus FIRIN(G)
10 SEVERANCE
Cane largely involved in punishing breach (9) Anagram of (CAN)E inside SEVERE
11 PROHIBIT
Professional hit almost penetrated outlaw (8) PRO + (HI)T + BIT
12 ON HOLD
One docked next to cargo area of ship is waiting (2,4) (ON)E + HOLD
14 BAGGAGE RECLAIM
A girl became agitated outside quiet part of airport (7,7) Anagram of A GIRL BECAME outside GAG
16 DISINFORMATION
Misleading report is available for covering one kidnapped by mafia boss (14) (IS + IN + FOR + MAT + I) inside DON
20 THRUSH
Move quickly chasing the tailless bird? (6) RUSH after (TH)E
22 INDICATE
Point out popular Jaguar, say, entering exit (8) IN + (CAT inside DIE)
24 INTUITION
Unjustified belief in education (9) IN + TUITION
25 PLIER
One who works at holding tool with end snapped off (5) (PLIER)S
26 HOGGET
Take more than one’s share of land for yearling (6) HOG + GET
27 ENDINGS
Diamonds smuggled by ensign at sea – they are found finally! (7) D inside anagram of ENSIGN
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 CHAMPS
Riding gear worn by male winners (6) M inside CHAPS
2 SUBTOTALS
Board bus heading north travelling around to contracted figures (9) (SLAT + BUS) reversed outside TO
3 LATHING
Insulation around thin wooden strips (7) LAG outside THIN
4 WASHINGTON
President originally used to be nothing out of the ordinary (10) WAS + anagram of NOTHING
5 LIVE
Corruption shown up in play (4) EVIL reversed
6 CHRONIC
King running in fashionable clothing is persistent (7) (R + ON) inside CHIC
7 LINGO
Language matter supported by liberal in government (5) liberaL IN GOvernment
8 SELDOM
Ways around housing all at the centre occasionally (6) MODES reversed outside A(L)L
13 PROMINENCE
Celebrity mistreated minor in English capital (10) Anagram of MINOR in PENCE
15 ADORATION
A party share in great honour (9) A + DO + RATION
16 DETAIL
Cut the end off fine point? (6) Double Definition
17 NESTING
Argentines, going without, are somehow settling down (7) Anagram of ARGENTINES minus ARE
18 TRIPPED
Addict, finally stoned, …? (7) ADDIC(T) + RIPPED
19 DEBRIS
One who’s coming out is displaying right bits (6) (DEB + IS) outside R
21 RETRO
Old types locked inside are troubled (5) aRE TROubled
23 SILT
Pose holding large deposit (4) SIT outside L

 

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