The Stickler Weekly 66 Solution

Some of you may know that I enjoy making sourdough. I started over 5 years ago after searching for a new hobby that had clearly defined boundaries, was not expensive and something I could share with others. It’s common when I bring a loaf to a BBQ or dinner for people to say they buy thier sourdough from the local supermarket and they are taken aback when I say that it’s unlikely to be “proper” sourdough as the process to produce it is far too labour-intensive and lengthy to fit into the usual supermarket bakery routine, where the emphasis is on mass-production to maximise profit. Proper sourdough contains flour, water and salt, and a natural culture grown from fermented flour and water that is fed with flour and water. If any other “ingredient” is present, it isn’t proper sourdough. I’ve seen vinegar listed in the ingredients which is obviously used to create a sour taste. So, where am I going and how does this relate to crosswords?
Currently there are no laws clearly defining what sourdough is, so it’s legal to call any bread sourdough no matter what the taste, texture or ingredients. It seems to me that cryptic crosswords are tarred with the same brush: you can call any crossword cryptic basically as long as it doesn’t look like a “normal” synonym-style puzzle. There’s no list of devices that must be used, no requirement for clues to make sense, no set of acceptable indicators, no need even for absolute equation between clue and answer (a suggestion will do) and no right or wrong. Just a “cryptic” label – the ingredients don’t really matter.
Recently I saw a “cryptic” crossword that appears in The Warwick Daily News. I had sought it out after reading an online article about recent changes to the newspaper’s puzzle page and the desire of a local man to teach others how to solve cryptics. It would be best described as a “skim” rather than a “full-cream” crossword, as the clues lack cryptic fat like good surface reading, indicators (that’s right, there were no indicators in most clues), device variety, cleverness of any description and precision. Despite its shortcomings, I’m loathe to call this crossword a disgrace for a number of reasons:

  1. Someone wrote it and obviously believes they have done a good job
  2. It appears in a newspaper so someone has paid money for it
  3. It’s written in such a way, with only a few basic devices, that people may be able to solve it without intensive tuition.
  4. There are people who solve this every day for which this crossword is their cryptic world, who believe this is what cryptics are all about and would be proud of their ability to solve it.

I believe this style of cryptic crossword first appeared in women’s magazines and puzzle books, with the main aim of being solvable. They wanted to use the cryptic tag but needed a way to allow ordinary solvers to finish them, as this is the main focus in such publications. As a cryptic crossword doesn’t have laws defining it, as with sourdough, it’s no good trying convince people that the Warwick Daily News puzzle isn’t a proper cryptic as it looks right and doesn’t work like a normal crossword. I feel for the local man trying to teach others how to solve with this as the local crossword – almost everything he’d say would be contradicted by what’s actually published. Here are a couple of clues (and answers) from the abovementioned crossword:

  • A bright statue? (6) ASTUTE
  • Our shandy may be a waterless substance (9) ANHYDROUS
  • A fishy sausage (7) ABALONE

Next week I’m going to look at how and why these work despite their obviously inadequacies.

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 PROGRESSIVE
Monsters, surrounded by writhing vipers, should be moving forward (11) OGRES inside anagram of VIPERS
9 CHEWING
Processing food, chef trimmed piece of chicken (7) (CHE)F + WING
10 REVIVAL
Envy regularly shown in competitor’s comeback (7) (E)N(V)Y inside RIVAL
11 INITIATE
Enjoying success, I had a meal with new member (8) IN IT + I + ATE
12 MISSIS
Lady of the house is behind failure (6) IS behind MISS
14 THIN
Superficial affair ended early (4) (THIN)G
15 INCOHERENT
Native interrupted by commanding officer is rambling (10) CO inside INHERENT
18 CONTROLLED
Disciplined kid provoked people on the internet (10) CON + TROLLED
19 OPEC
Alliance in Europe criticised 17 suppliers? (4) eurOPE Criticised
22 ARCADE
Race organised around commercial shopping area (6) Anagram of RACE outside AD
24 LET ALONE
Don’t touch hooked claw found buried in shelter (3,5) TALON inside LEE
26 PLATOON
Army unit is overly active in strategy (7) TOO inside PLAN
27 TESTERS
Output of cryptic setters! (7) Anagram of SETTERS
28 PALM SPRINGS
Californian resort is very quiet about offering jewellery (4,7) PP outside ALMS + RINGS
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 PRECISION
Accuracy is adjusted in copiers (9) Anagram of IN COPIERS
2 ORIGIN
Ring engineer concerned with extraction (6) O + RIG + IN
3 RIGHT ANGLE
Part of a square rig tied with hard knot (5,5) RIG + H + TANGLE
4 SORE
Tender process wrongly overlooking input of PCs (4) Anagram of PROCESS minus PCS
5 INVOICED
Vino, not served properly chilled, is added to the bill (8) Anagram of VINO + ICED
6 EAVES
Foliage separated from large overhanging part of roof (5) LEAVES minus L
7 SCRIPT
One released by inspector forged letters (6) Anagram of INSPECTOR minus ONE
8 CLOSET
Shut front of this small cupboard (6) CLOSE + (T)HIS
13 BONESETTER
One is nursed by improving osteopath (10) ONES inside BETTER
16 EMPLOYEES
Workers seem openly upset without reason ultimately (9) Anagram of SEEM OPENLY minus REASO(N)
17 CRUDE OIL
Electrical device harnessing startling output from rig (5,3) COIL outside RUDE
18 CLAMPS
Close electrical units with fasteners (6) CL + AMPS
20 CREASE
Car not handling a moderate line (6) CAR minus A + EASE
21 RAISIN
Producing, in reduced quantity, dried fruit (6) (RAISIN)G
23 CHAMP
Crush a title holder (5) Double Definition
25 ENDS
A passenger, pulled from wrecked sedan, passes away (4) Anagram of SEDAN mnius A

 

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2 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 66 Solution

  1. Greg Mansell says:

    I’m still catching up after a couple of weeks’ break. Yet another enjoyable one — especially 9ac, 19ac, 26ac, 27ac, 28ac & 3dn.

  2. Steve Ball says:

    After struggling with 65 over a few days, and using pattern matching to complete it, I finished this in one sitting of about 30 mins., with no aids at all. Does it occur to you that it was easier, or was I just having a good day?

    Steve = : ^ )