The Stickler Weekly 169 Solution

The Guardian in the UK has a reputation for publishing a good cryptic crossword. It was the crossword my teacher used back in the 1970s to teach us how to solve. Times have changed since then, and a misguided belief that cryptic crossword evolution is necessary has changed The Guardian crossword into a hit and miss affair. There are quite a few setters, all different, which is a good thing especially if your cryptic tastes are broad. Creativity has been encouraged by the crossword editor Professor Hugh Stephenson and various pronouncements over the years have given warnings to solvers of devices once deemed unacceptable, being brought into the fold in the name of progress. One that sticks in my mind was the acceptance of words like INDEED meaning IN DEED without any indication.
A few weeks ago a clue appeared in a Guardian crossword that caused some questions among solvers. 16-down reads: Type of fun guy reportedly got putting hand under jumpers as well (9)*. The definition is “Type of fun guy reportedly”, that actually has to be solved before the true definition is known. So, “fun guy reportedly” becomes “fungi” and the clue moves on from there. There’s a brief discussion about it on Derek Harrison’s Crossword Message Board. I think there’s so much wrong with this that I don’t know really where to start. The obvious one is the use of wordplay elements in the definition which requires the solver to work out the definition as part of solving. There’s lots of scope when in comes to the wordplay part of a clue, but for me, the definition is sacred. You can be as devious as you like with the definition, but you must still “say what you mean”, which isn’t what’s happening here. While this fanciful definition is sort of a well-known joke, it has its flaws when used in this context because the language is incorrect. Who says “type of trees” or “type of crosswords”? “fungi” is plural, “type” is singular and they are mismatched: surely it should be “Type of fungus”? On a more technical level, “fun guy” is pronounced in more than one way (“fun guy” and “fun ghee” at least), making the sounds-like equation an inaccurate one. I never use a sounds-like indicator where multiple possibilities of the pronunciation of the target word are involved as the effectiveness of the device isn’t guaranteed.
I realise that this kind of thing has been done here in what might be seen as an obvious way, but essentially what we have is two wordplays butted together. Is this acceptable? Maybe it’s the start of a brand new type of crossword.

*TOADSTOOL = L(eft) [hand] after (TOADS  TOO)

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
Why we snort when excited is interesting (10) Anagram of WHY WE SNORT
Most of contest is neck and neck (4) (EVEN)T
Examine ice containing large and small balls (9) TEST + (ICE outside L) + S
Soldiers dropping in horses (5) MARINES minus IN
People from Europe stated orders accepted by banks (6) Sounds like CHEQUES
Document about recall of acid clarified matter (8) FILE outside (TART reversed)
Security, say, on duty around fete almost to the end (6) SAY outside (FET)E
Work on a farm investigation after closing of abattoirs (8) HEARING after ABATTOIR(S)
Man caught spearing fish sleeping (8) (MAN + C) inside DORY
Commercial made by outlet is coming (6) AD + VENT
Marine creature moving around is an odd-looking underwater mollusc (3,5) SEAL outside (anagram of IS AN)
Cheese produced expressly for hamper (6) Sounds like FETTA
Foreign story checked by a newspaper’s head (5) LIE inside [A + (N)EWSPAPER]
Orderly has pipes repaired outside hospital (9) Anagram of PIPES HAS outside H
Dainty post must be shortened (4) (TWEE)T
Meets unmarried men in front of bars? (10) (MEN minus M) + COUNTERS
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
Vote against one in strange sect picks up (7) NO + (I inside anagram of SECT)
Was core picked out of the rubbish? (5) WAS + (THE minus H)
Section containing rowing crew overturned craft in strenuous exercise (6,8) WING outside [EIGHT + (ART reversed) + IN]
Part and parcel of control experiments (4) contROL Experiments
Drug mixture is starting to harden (7) HASH + IS + (H)ARDEN
Relatives in a new marriage should be resourceful (9) Anagram of RELATIVES
Pile of money gets brought up in part of film (4,3) GETS reversed inside NEG
Hired worker in town misses crooked shooter (5,3,6) HAND inside anagram of TOWN MISSES
Moulding or floor covering carried by five (9) (OR + MAT) inside FIVE
16 SHY
Nervous cast (3) Double Definition
Reserved donor initially isn’t accepting thanks (7) (D)ONOR + (ISNT outside TA)
Ammunition chest is indeed encased in tin (7) (IS + SO) inside CAN
Lab animal, running backwards, achieves objectives (7) RAT reversed + GETS
Mark left with time to fly (5) T + RACE
Alcohol is not contributing to dodgy vision (4) Anagram of VISION minus IS


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8 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 169 Solution

  1. Steve Ball says:

    “Is this acceptable?” No. ” Maybe it’s the start of a brand new type of crossword.” One can but hope … not.

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      I agree. I find it difficult to depart from the Ximean principles of definition and word play. To put word play into the definition takes it into the realm of Aracuria. Incidentally was Aracuria the setter? I give his puzzles a total miss, although he is said to be one of the better setters who set the pace in the liberal fraternity of crossworders.

      Back to the puzzle and the speed of solving. This one gave me lots of trouble. Some clues fell into place but my mindset took me down many dark alleys. Meanwhile Steve was speeding through it. Richard was well ahead of me in a number of areas too.

    • Steve Ball says:

      And, re INDEED = IN DEED, in 4-dn above (and usually in a ‘hidden’) the hidden answer spans two words, and to get the answer – ROLE here – we must remove a space from the fodder – here making “controlexperiments”, which then contains ROLE. If it’s okay that we must remove a space from a clue to make the cryptic reading work, is it a million miles away that we need to insert one to make it work?

      Steve = : ^ )

      • Arthur Maynard says:

        This particular word play is becoming more prevalent, and I as a solver just accept it as okay. Like the frog in the pot of water on the stove, you gradually accommodate it. That said, it would be very limiting for a setter not to have this technique. I would guess it is easier to get inclusive letters in a series of words rather than being confined to one word as the container.

      • David Stickley says:

        I think there’s a big difference between the two. As mentioned in my blurb, INDEED is now accepted in The Guardian as meaning “IN DEED” without indication. A hidden clue will have an indicator letting the solver know what device is in play, and part of solving that indicated clue type is looking for an answer spanning words and punctuation.
        With no indication any word that is made up other words (and we are talking multiple words per clue) could possibly have alternative interpretations – that’s far too much in my opinion for a solver to have to consider.
        The key is indication – I have no issue when “language abuse” (as I call it) is flagged somehow – in my case it’s done with “?” and used sparingly.

        • Arthur Maynard says:

          and one of the principles is to ignore punctuation. Since spaces between words would be punctuation as much as commas and dashes, that would seem to fit the bill
          Thanks for the response.

  2. Steve Ball says:

    I just found last week’s puzzle and wanted to say I especially enjoyed 10-ac, 22-ac and 7-dn (the anagram indicator).

    I also especially enjoyed this puzzle because I got the whole thing out on Wednesday over coffee and cake in a café (although the coffee was long gone before I eventually finished the puzzle). I’m sure this week I’ll be back to poring over it for days …

    Steve = : ^ )

    • Steve Ball says:

      Hmmm. That’s confusing, isn’t it? I meant that I just found my printed copy of THIS puzzle (which to me is now last week’s puzzle) on which I’d made a few notes.

      Steve = : ^ [