The Stickler Weekly 166 Solution

One of the things my old neighbour asked me about was what he called “order of operation”, that is the sequence a solver takes when processing a wordplay. His main question related to whether a clue that flowed left to right with no assumed word groupings (imagined brackets) was superior to a clue where assumptions needed to be made. Here’s an example of each from last week’s crossword: 1) 19-across Call about right to join card game (8,6).  2) 12-across Bond managed by head of taxation in suspicious circumstances (8). The first one can be taken from left to right processing exactly as is stated in the clue; the second one requires the solver to join two elements and put them inside another. The second one has another parsing possible, so the solver must work out which one is in effect. As a setter and solver, I see the work needed to be done by the solver here to be part of the game, same as working out, for example, whether a word is part of a device or fodder, and what word form a particular word takes. When I’m setting, any assumptions will involve groups of words, but the order will always be left to right unless the wordplay contains positional indicators that say otherwise. I might include punctuation to mislead, but I won’t leave punctuation out that potentially changes the order in which indicators operate. That is, an operating adjective will appear ahead of its fodder, not behind it with an implied comma (as is commonly seen in modern-day cryptics). Clues like A B in, where what is really meant is A with B in, will never appear in a Stickler. I think this is where order of operation can create convoluted clues: a combination of implied bracketed wordplay and indicators operating out of order. Clear as mud? So, which is superior, 1) or 2)? In this case, I see them as basically both the same, and although 1) might be seen as being easier, 2) certainly doesn’t present many problems.

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 SMARTY
Wise guy clipped horse in animal enclosure (6) (MAR)E inside STY
4 SHERIFFS
She repeated phrases for officials in court (8) SHE + RIFFS
9 ROBOTIC
Strip of the ear is stiff (7) ROB + OTIC
11 FINANCE
Fund intended holding nominations up front (7) FIANCE outside (N)OMINATIONS
12 WARRANTY
Bond managed by head of taxation in suspicious circumstances (8) [RAN + (T)AXATION] inside WARY
13 REVEAL
Give away large amount of red meat (6) (RE)D + VEAL
16 CATEGORISATION
Arrangement, for example, is detailed in speech after unusual act (14) [EG + (IS inside ORATION)] after anagram of ACT
19 CONTRACT BRIDGE
Call about right to join card game (8,6) CONTACT outside R + BRIDGE
21 ONIONS
Switch position is covering working bulbs (6) (ON + IS) outside ON
22 STRANGER
Street worker found in park with visitor (8) ST + RANGER
25 AMIABLE
Friendly question of personal competence? (7) AM I ABLE?
27 SLIP-ONS
Sign of disrespect apparent in children’s informal attire (4-3) LIP inside SONS
28 EASINESS
A selection of ideas, in essence, may be linked for simplicity (8) idEAS IN ESSence
29 ANGELS
One begins to work with good kids (6) AN + GELS
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 SPRAWL
Small place containing green lounge (6) (S + PL) outside RAW
2 AMBER
Light colour left out of manufactured marble (5) Anagram of MARBLE minus L
3 TETRAHEDRON
The trader worked on solid figure (11) Anagram of THE TRADER + ON
5 HAFT
Handle hot fat used for cooking (4) H + anagram of FAT
6 RUN
Ladder with shortened step (3) (RUN)G
7 FINGERING
Identifying fine wool for knitting (9) Double Definition
8 SWELLING
Output from bottomless well in ground is increasing (8) bottomlesS WELL IN Ground
10 CUT NO ICE
Rough count that is about 100 failed to impress (3,2,3) Anagram of COUNT + (IE outside C)
14 EXAMINATION
Get rid of upstanding minister tossed into a trial (11) AXE reversed + MIN + anagram of INTO A
15 DIABETES
Stops working, taking a risk with metabolic disorder (8) DIES outside A BET
17 ANNUITIES
Cancel unfinalised bonds after one guaranteed payments? (9) (ANNU)L + (TIES after I)
18 ACCOLADE
Youth behind company acknowledged in outstanding award (8) (LAD after CO) inside ACE
20 TRUSTS
Leader of team in medical support unit believes (6) (T)EAM inside TRUSS
23 GROVE
Original piece of gnarled drift wood (5) (G)NARLED + ROVE
24 TEAS
Guy not finishing hot drinks (4) (TEAS)E
26 BIN
Get rid of returned bill (3) NIB reversed

 

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5 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 166 Solution

  1. richard sternes says:

    Yes. Thoroughly enjoyed them both & variation between the two – David.
    Along with all the rest of course…………

  2. richard sternes says:

    & Yes, the much discussed 22a
    Absolutely nothing to do with a street musician (rapper) at all…………

  3. Steve Ball says:

    1)’s easier; 2)’s harder; they’re both fair, and, without some 2)’s, I’d need more than one Stickler per week.

    I hadn’t visited the clue hints page so wasn’t aware that 22-ac had caused problems, but “street||worker found in park” is cleverly misleading.√

    Thanks,
    Steve = : ^ )

    • richard sternes says:

      Worth checking in anyway Steve, even if you do have the answers.
      Join other devotees, share your thoughts
      & maybe assist without giving anything away,
      those who may be struggling, as I do – frequently!!!
      Seems a bit of a Forum is going on –
      & it’s all support & encouragement for David.

  4. Arthur Maynard says:

    I had not thought of the construction being easier or harder. I have no preference of a or b. Like Steve I love the variety to challenge my mind. 2d should have been easy this week, but it was nearly last in for me. A mistake in 1a led me up a garden path and it took a long time for the penny to drop.
    166 was more challenging for me than usual, and I put it down to my frame of mind rather than the degree of difficulty.