The Stickler Weekly 30 Solution

I was recently interviewed by an excellent cryptic crossword blog called Crossword Unclued. You can find the interview here. We covered a whole range of topics, but the focus was on life as a professional full-time setter and how I’d changed in clueing style from the early days. I mentioned more than once a shift away from setting for myself and focussing on setting for the solvers. What did I mean by that? I’ll explain with an example. A recent clue from the UK, “A number of ducks crossing the sea (4,2,2)”, had me pondering for quite some time and was only solved once all the crossing letters were obtained. The answer is LOVE ME DO, a Beatles song released over 50 years ago. The definition is “A NUMBER” and “OF” is a linking word. The wordplay requires “DUCKS” to equal LOVEO and “THE SEA” to equal MED, with CROSSING being the containment indicator. For me, this clue asks too much of the solver. First they have to realise “A NUMBER” is a song and then find one from the millions that have ever been released – the definition may be clever in the context of the clue, but it’s far from giving the solver a good pointer to the answer. Next “DUCKS” must be seen as just two (separate) “DUCKS”, and one of them equated to “LOVE”. While DUCK and LOVE are zero score (0) in cricket and tennis respectively, they are not interchangeable and surely not synonymous without making a giant leap. For a solver to come up with “DUCKS” = LOVEO without first finding the answer would be almost impossible.
So, this is a setter’s clue: one that has great surface and construction but has been written with little regard to how a solver will actually solve it. One may say that it works technically, but is that enough?

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 STOPWATCH
Sample of cloth wrapped around finest timepiece (9) SWATCH outside TOP
6 STEP
Measure an amount of waste, perhaps (4) waSTE Perhaps
10 ELDER
Shoddy dealer paying no attention to a senior (5) Anagram of DEALER minus A
11 TEMPERATE
Reasonable salesman satisfied with backing at opening of exhibition (9) (REP + MET) reversed + AT + (E)XHIBITION
12 DRAGSTER
Bike is ridiculously dear, right, with the inclusion of GST (8) (Anagram of DEAR + R) outside GST
13 ALIENS
Outsiders state the wrong thing entering answer (6) LIE inside ANS
15 SNOOKER PLAYER
Potter corrected person about fine film (7,6) (Anagram of PERSON outside OK) + LAYER
18 EXTREME SPORTS
“Sex romp” setter reworded as “unconventional recreational activities” (7,6) Anagram of SEX ROMP SETTER
22 CHIACK
Young girl accepting a tease (6) CHICK outside A
23 OUT THERE
Tout worked at this place in the public domain (3,5) Anagram of TOUT + HERE
26 STOMACHED
Bore, most perversely, caused pain (9) Anagram of MOST + ACHED
27 INTER
Bury rational figure giving up, for example (5) INTEGER minus EG
28 SOFT
Tender’s essential elements listed in terms of trade (4) termS OF Trade
29 REDEFINED
Colour choice adopted by editor is specified differently (9) RED +(FINE inside ED)
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 SPEEDY
Passenger’s first aboard run-down express (6) (P)ASSENGER inside SEEDY
2 ORDEALS
One released by a soldier sorted out difficult tests (7) Anagram of A SOLDIER minus I
3 WARTS
Item used to suck up unwanted lumps (5) STRAW reversed
4 TO THE SKIES
Youngster, hot, opening coolers extravagantly (2,3,5) TOT + H + ESKIES
5 HYMN
Church song that fellow heard (4) Sounds like HIM
7 TRACERY
Fine, decorative pattern people described in essay (7) RACE inside TRY
8 PLEASURE
Request guaranteed satisfaction (8) PLEA + SURE
9 CELLULAR
Pitted and skinned plum thrown into stock of wine? (8) P)LU(M inside CELLAR
14 PROPOUNDED
Professional, hit hard, submitted (10) PRO + POUNDED
16 OVERCOAT
Coax mostly sealed in plain protective layer (8) (COA)X inside OVERT
17 WEBCASTS
Internet shows cab wrecked in West Indies ultimately (8) (Anagram of CAB inside WEST) + INDIE(S)
19 TAIL OFF
Drop a good sort admitting trouble (4,3) TOFF outside AIL
20 SWEETEN
Sugar bags turned up with little inside (7) NETS reversed outside WEE
21 SEE RED
Drove, not having time to blow a gasket (3,3) STEERED minus T
24 THIEF
The fellow pinching items primarily (5) (THE + F) outside (I)TEMS
25 CHAR
Blacken large area of map (4) (CHAR)T

 

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3 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 30 Solution

  1. Greg Mansell says:

    I love an &lit, so 24dn was my absolute favourite.

  2. Ross McCallum says:

    Plenty of great clues in this one. 15ac , with all the snooker I have played yet I could not stop thinking about Harry!

  3. Robert Balic says:

    A bit late. I’m still catching up after Easter.

    This was not much easier than week 29 but I might have been slow to get back into it. Loved 15ac. Clay thrower?witch? Demi Moore?