The Stickler Weekly 53 Solution

Everyone makes mistakes. We know this and put mechanisms, procedures and safeguards in place to minimise them, but sometimes circumstances thwart our best preventative measures. Crossword setters suffer the same lapses as everyone else and rely on various means to end up with clues with integrity. I’m not talking about contestable “errors” like whether A is really a synonym of B or whether a word can be used as an anagram indicator, but the spelling mistakes in clues and answers, anagrams that don’t work with the letters given, the tenses of definitions that don’t match the results of wordplays and countless other mishaps that can occur during construction. The ideal situation for a setter would be for each puzzle to be checked by a test solver, and the revised result checked by a crossword editor before publication. For most of my Stickler career it’s been just me as test-solving needs the right person with time available and it costs money. The Stickler’s publisher, The Daily Telegraph, didn’t employ a cryptic crossword editor during my time and so there was no last line of defence. To compensate I had a process that at least made sure answers and the spelling of the clues were correct. Let’s face it, with electronic references available and Google, there’s no excuse for mispelling an answer or using a wrong answer, and the spellcheck inside Crossword Compiler ensured my clues were spelt Ok. In the absence of further checkers, I reviewed my clues three times before emailing them in: twice at the time of writing, and once (usually 6 weeks later) just prior to sending. I found the break useful in highlighting mistakes as the clues would no longer be fresh in my mind and I’d have to think through them without the possibility of being contaminated by misconceptions introduced at clue-writing time.
Cryptic crossword setters in some ways can get away with wordplay mistakes as the solver can never be entirely sure they haven’t missed something. I imagine a solver, satisfied with a definition/answer match, if pressed for time, could simply move on to the next clue without fully sorting out the wordplay, thus bypassing a setter’s mistake.

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 DICTIONARY
Fresh ingredients of tonic listed in journal’s glossary (10) Anagram of TONIC inside DIARY
6 OPAH
Ocean swimmer’s surgical procedure performed by a hospital (4) OP + A + H
10 CHAIRED
Looked after meeting’s tea and wine (7) CHAI + RED
11 PARTIED
Celebrated even after an average course score (7) TIED after PAR
12 DISAGREED
Had words said in a different way – with eagerness (9) (Anagram of SAID) + GREED
13 CUTIE
Share that is being considered by most to be attractive (5) CUT + IE
14 NIPPLE
Nitrogen pipe wrongly fitted with large flow regulator (6) N + (anagram of PIPE outside L)
16 STRATUS
Grey cover is right in position (7) R inside STATUS
17 BUY
Procure extra by word of mouth (3) Sounds like BYE
19 SPARTAN
Plain workmanship featured in cross (7) ART inside SPAN
20 STAY UP
Don’t retire with support in place (4,2) Double Definition
23 THEFT
Stealing from the vacated flat? (5) THE + F)LA(T
24 TARANTULA
Time given by a sort of natural web developer (9) T + A + anagram of NATURAL
26 CHEWERS
Gum workers caught people using axes (7) C + HEWERS
27 ENTWINE
Selection of excellent wines closely blend together (7) excellENT WINEs
28 SPRY
Active leader of rebels captured by operative (4) (R)EBELS inside SPY
29 ADOLESCENT
Benefit held by rising youngster (10) DOLE inside ASCENT
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 DECADENT
Reprobate acted improperly outside study (8) Anagram of ACTED outside DEN
2 CLASS
Study group buckles, not dealing with pressure (5) CLASPS minus P
3 IRREGULARITIES
One gun turned up among collector’s items and odd things (14) I + (LUGER reversed inside RARITIES)
4 NODDER
Agreeable person is last to mention stranger (6) MENTIO(N) + ODDER
5 RAPIDITY
Dispatch identification, one seized during wild party (8) (ID + I) inside anagram of PARTY
7 POINT DUTY
Pilots primarily unaccustomed to untidy work done by a traffic controller (5,4) (P)ILOTS + anagram of TO UNTIDY
8 HEDGER
Worker in the garden is hard on trimming tool (6) H + EDGER
9 PROCRASTINATES
Disorganised airports can put up with delays (14) (Anagram of AIRPORTS CAN) + SET reversed
15 PUPPETEER
Fellow holding up special person who’s manipulative (9) PEER outside (UP + PET)
16 SUN
Family member in audience is a star (3) Sounds like SON
17 BAPTISED
Expert is, in area of garden, wet by a sprinkler? (8) (APT + IS) inside BED
18 APPARENT
Clear retired Father, one responsible for children (8) PA reversed + PARENT
21 STOCKS
Handle small investments (6) STOCK + S
22 ORDEAL
A trying experience or contract (6) OR + DEAL
25 URINE
Stuff that’s passed to/from rewritten routine? (5) Anagram of ROUTINE minus TO

 

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2 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 53 Solution

  1. Greg Mansell says:

    I never move on before I’ve sorted out the wordplay. I can remember only one mistake in 53 Stickler Weeklies: a typo in #20. So your process seems to be working.

    However, there’s a “whoops” moment above: “…sometimes circumstances thwart out best preventative measures.”