The Stickler Weekly 220

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10 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 220

  1. Afrit says:

    15 What is the authority for tea = t? It’s not in Chambers.
    18 Query ‘not going forward’ as a reversal indicator in a down clue. Across, yes, but not down.
    Ten out of thirty clues (33%) contain anagrams. This is somewhat excessive. Imagine ten Spoonerisms or ten hidden reversals. To have so many clues of one type limits the variety which is so imoportant to a good cryptic. I believe a maximum of six anagrams per ‘normal’ 15×15 grid with 26 to 32 clues is about the right number.

    • David Stickley says:

      15 Maybe you could explain how you think this clue works?
      18 Incorrect: All clues (across and down) are written, and therefore expandable, in normal English, left to right. After all that’s how physically and mentally people solve clues. It’s only in inserting the answer that the direction of the actual answer may be considered, and in this case the reversal and positional indicators may come into play. For this reason, it isn’t valid to use a “down only” indicator for an across clue.
      Regarding numbers of anagrams. Your comparison with the one-dimensional clues types Spoonerism and hidden reversals is simply not valid. Of the 10 anagram components in this crossword, only one is a full anagram clue. The rest involve wordplay using synonyms, abbreviations, reversals, containment and subtractions. If you think just because an anagram is involved variety is negated, then you are mistaken.
      Under the Times anagram rule that setters are forced to use, up to 10 partial anagram clues are allowed. Do you think the Times has too many anagrams?
      There are two questions I have for you: did you breeze through the crossword like you do the SMH ones and can you see many comments here where people complain about the lack of variety or the ease with which they solve the crossword?

      The Stickler

  2. Afrit says:

    15 char+lot+te(a) My original anaysis was in error. If ‘tea before a = te’ it is still an awkward constructed
    18 When I solve a clue its direction (across or down) is important in how I read it even before inserting in the puzzle. If it uses a word like forward or backwards I assume it to be an across clue which is confirmed by its position in the grid. You seem to agree when you say, ‘it isn’t valid to use a “down only” indicator for an across clue.” And vice versa I say.
    Re anagrams: yes I do think the Times has too many anagrams.
    And to be nit picking 27 and 20 are full anagrams
    I ‘breezed through’ a good three-quarters of the puzzle. I do not breeze through DA in The Age. Not that I consider him a shining example of fair cluing. I have not done enough of your puzzles recently to know what others think. Anyway, ease of doing crosswords is a subjective thing. Your surfaces are superior to most in the Fairfax stable.

    • David Stickley says:

      15 Different doesn’t mean awkward. You are looking for variety, aren’t you?
      18 Sorry, I don’t understand. All clues are written horizontally, so they all can obey forwards and backwards indicators – it’s the way English is written. The same can’t be said for down answers which only become “down” when the final answer is entered into the grid.
      27 Again, you’ll have to explain how 27 is just a full anagram. More than the answer is anagrammed, so a subtraction is needed to get the answer. Variety, no? Surely, you can see this as different to the straight full anagram that you clearly despise.
      DA in the Age? Don’t you dare compare my crosswords to his. “most of the Fairfax stable” – now you are just insulting me.

      The Stickler

  3. Afrit says:

    15 I didn’t say it was ‘different’. I still believe to be an awkward construction. We must agree to disagree on this.
    18 Here is very simple example of a clue (written horizontally) which can only work according to the wording as a down clue even before entry in the grid. ” The air is rising in the valley (3)’ compared to ‘There is turbulent air in the valley (3)’ which as an (admittedly poor) anagram can work as either an across or a down clue. As banal as it may seem, a down answer is a down answer because it is listed in the down clues. Likewise with across clues. Forward and backward indicators are out of place in the ‘upness’ and ‘downness’ of down clues. We may be arguing at cross purposes here but I believe the connection betwen a clue’s wording and is alignment to be important.

    You raised the question of breezing vis-a-vis your puzzles and those of Fairfax. And you assumed I breeze through the latter. I do, but not with DA, I often find him a chore. I was NOT comparing you and him. I consider the wording of the NS Saturday crosswords to be of a good standard, if not to your level.
    To whom should I compare you? The Guardian stable? Azed? Everyman? The Listener crossword? The Daily Telegraph?
    Is there a Fairfax Crossword Editor. If so, he/she may care to explain why these examples from today’s SMH/Age are acceptable.
    Tim’s vet? She upset Aussie captain? (5-5)
    Choke seer? Wild American Indians? (9)
    Are Fairfax setters paid extra for excess question marks?

    • David Stickley says:

      18 There’s no question that your example works, but it works because of the nature of crosswords and the position of the answer in the grid, it doesn’t change the overall concept of language and how it’s read. The “down” indicator concept has been added to the natural order of things to give setters more to work with – it was never intended to replace it.
      Sure alignment is important if a setter decides to use that alignment in the construction of the answer, but it is secondary: all clues operate left to right (on paper and in the head) by default.
      Re comparison: not sure how to take “Your surfaces are superior to most in the Fairfax stable” other than “some SMH setters have better surfaces than you.” Sounded like a comparison with DA to me: “breezed through 3/4 of yours…I don’t breeze through DA”. My crosswords are written for everyone and always have been – compare me with any setter with the same philosophy. I’ve been published in the FT and NYT, so comparison with like-minded overseas setters doesn’t phase me. DS does Saturday and he tries hard with his surfaces – agreed. It is important, though, to remember good surfaces are irrelevant if the clues aren’t completely sound.
      You’ll have to contact the SMH about clue issues. I’ve mentioned on the ACC blog that the setting group must be doing something right to have crosswords published every week for about the last 20 years. What this says about the paper and the solving group I’ll leave for you to decide.

      The Stickler

  4. Greg Mansell says:

    I’m happy to say that The Stickler’s surfaces are far superior to all of the SMH cryptics.

  5. Afrit says:

    Re acrosses and downs. As a matter of interest, the earliest example in my collection of ‘downness’ being integral to a clue’s working comes from The Times of 24th February 1937.
    23d ‘ Throw it up for a painter (6)’

    • David Stickley says:

      Sure, a tool, a way to get something out of how an answer appears in the grid, but not a replacement for the natural order of the English language.