The Stickler Weekly Catch-up Time


The website stats show a large number of solvers are running at least one crossword behind at the moment. The Stickler Weekly will take a week’s break to allow solvers to catch up.


In a sort of related matter, I am concerned that people can be intimidated by how quickly some can solve The Stickler Weekly, and may either give up early or resort to word-solving websites in order the accelerate their solve as a result. It is a weekly crossword, and while some can finish quickly, the majority take much longer. To alleviate pressure that early comments might cause, I’m considering disabling the comments on The Stickler Weekly posts for 1 or 2 days after publishing. This may have an impact on the number of weekly posts overall, but I think it could be worthwhile. There’s nothing to stop anyone sending me an email about a crossword if necessary. What do you think?

Cluing challenge

Most of you would be aware of my cryptic crossword cluing philosophy regarding definition/wordplay etymological crossover. I try not to have ANY relationship in whole or part between the definition and the wordplay. This style originated in the US and it leads to more pure clues but it does add restrictions to the palette of the setter.

To demonstrate how this works, write a clue for PARTISAN without using PART as an element in the wordplay. PART in PARTISAN has the same origin as the lone PART. As there is only one entry in the dictionary, all meanings of PART are taboo, whether noun, verb or adverb. Give it a go as there are many other breakdowns available.

The Stickler Weekly 267 and solution to The Stickler Weekly 266 will appear next week.

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22 Responses to The Stickler Weekly Catch-up Time

  1. Richard Sternes says:

    Days like this, very glad the option exists to revisit something from Archives,
    in this case #126 from three years ago.

    Re Comments
    I am often really struggling well into Day 2 & looking for assistance as a consequence.
    So All Good with me to delay One day or Two & in the meantime the occasional light-bulb moment becomes all the more enjoyable.

    How about “Towering Place contains creativity, plus Pole”
    (Not about to give up day job!!!)

  2. Partisan..a.skilled worker plans ahead.
    Think the idea of holding back on the comments is spot on. It will definitely make me work harder.

  3. Patrick Lewis says:

    Convoluted art, a spin that is biased?

  4. Sandra Smith says:

    Hi David,
    I want to thank you for giving our brains a great workout each week. I find it’s touch and go for a few attempts, then with perseverance I’m usually (not always!) through and able to finish. I never mind if it takes me most of the week – for me it’s the personal challenge of finishing, pumping the air and thinking “ Take that, David! I did it!” Must admit I don’t bother reading the early comments as some can easily make you feel inadequate if you only have four or five clues in, so you have my vote to hold back on the comments.
    Again, sincere thanks and enjoy your break.
    Sandra Smith

    • Richard Sternes says:

      Endorse this Sandra. Perhaps I may be a little quicker,
      but you have pretty much summed up my approach
      specially the “personal challenge of finishing” bit.
      It’s not really about anyone else.
      Glad you enjoy David’s Weekly Fix as much as I do.

  5. Arthur Maynard says:

    Artfull detectives with article foster favouritism. (An obsolete form of spelling available in some dictionaries).
    I would be happy with holding back the comments. Blogs by with solvers of Guardian cryptics within hours of publication make me feel totally inadequate. So I can understand the potential.
    I generally avoid the blog until I have solved the puzzle, or I cannot get the solution even with David’s clues.
    I am all for encouraging solvers, and totally against deterring them.

  6. Tony Santucci says:

    Partisan — paintings in Italian city (Northern) for a political person

  7. Joy Whalley says:

    More than happy not to post. I can remember even solving one clue was a great achievement and brought me much pleasure. We do not have to solve an entire puzzle to be a success.

  8. Steve Ball says:

    Some clues for PARTISAN:

    Piano Sinatra played for a fan (8)

    A sometime soldier with an outdated weapon (8)

    Devotee’s skill is clouded by pot (8)

    Biased aspirant?

  9. Greg Murray says:

    David I see you refer to your cryptics as US style and that’s what I like. What would you call the current style for the Daily Telegraph cryptic? To me they’re more like riddles than cryptics. For example:
    A restricted place of call (9,3)
    A gamekeeper might – if the bag isn’t big enough (3,3,4)

    • David Stickley says:

      Occasionally I might pick up a DT and look over the puzzle page, but I certainly don’t waste any money on the paper. I have no idea what the current cryptic is like. I’d happily solve one or two so I could answer your question properly if you’d like to take a couple of snaps and email them to me.
      The examples seem like puns or cryptic definitions, the lazy way to clue in most cases. It’s also the way to clue for a relatively immature solving group as you need almost no cryptic solving knowledge, just a different way of thinking, to solve these. US-style cryptics generally don’t allow these types of clues because editors believe they belong more in non-cryptic crosswords.

  10. Ian Batey says:

    Partisan: Blind Arthur is found in toilet.

    • David Stickley says:

      I like the breakdown used here. You can use the same structure and create many different clues. “pan”, for instance, has multiple possible synonyms both nouns and verbs. Good fun to mess around and refine. It helps that Partisan can be an adjective and a noun, providing many options.

  11. Graeme Patch says:

    For me the the opportunity to develop clues from an answer (which is the art of compiling a crossword) is worthwhile. Although I played around with “partisan” I didn’t make the time to reply. The word is rich in potential anagrams i.e Paris-ant, sitar nap, star’s pain, RAN is apt, and ‘art is in a ‘pan’ be it a book publisher or Tinkerbell’s friend etc.

    I haven’t quite gotten my head around your concept of an American style crossword. Liking wordplays, puns and clever double meanings in this respect I do enjoy some Guardian setters work. In contrast I would avoid a crossword which becomes alphabetical sudoku.
    Nevertheless I have continued to enjoy your work since Daily Telegraph even pre-Stickler crosswords if they were yours and the Saturday Courier Mail ones.

    • David Stickley says:

      As a solver you probably don’t notice any difference in what I DON’T do, making it difficult to recognise that my crosswords are different from others. Mine isn’t a US style crossword per se, but on the whole would be acceptable in the few US newspapers that publish cryptics. It’s the restriction of no etymological crossover between wordplay and definition that I like because, as a solver, I dislike it when the setter basically just rewords an answer by substituting synonyms. Although some synonyms seem far removed from the answer, they have their origins from the base meaning, and I don’t have to think hard for a connection to be made. I feel cheated as a solver, and I don’t want my solvers to feel the same way. Other restrictions used in US crosswords like no cryptic definitions I don’t stick to strictly, but I do avoid to some extent simply because they can be very hit-or-miss. There’s no such thing as a surefire cryptic definition (CD) because it only takes a solver to be thinking on the right track first time through for it to fall flat, and this often happens with experienced solvers who never take things at face value. CDs are also not clued with two parts or indicated in any way, so are often only solved last after all the cross-letters have been found. To me, this doesn’t fit with the whole cryptic concept. Having said that, I’ll throw them in sometimes if I come up with a good idea because I know some people like them. The important thing with both of these “restrictions” is that I train my mind not to go to them as a default, that is, I force myself to look for alternatives first, but I never rule anything out.

  12. Cathy Saunders says:

    Hi. I am somewhat slow at completing the crosswords. A few days delay in comments appearing may not make much difference but it can’t hurt!

  13. Greg Mansell says:

    Hi – I’m catching up again after a period of slackness/distraction.
    I’m certainly happy with a couple of days’ moratorium on forum posts.
    Now – onto #267…