The Stickler Weekly Insights 218

You probably think that, as solvers, your job is to understand my thought processes so you can unravel the 30-odd puzzles I give you in each crossword. Did you know much of what I present to you is actually shaped by you? That’s right, I’m trying to get a handle on how my solvers collectively think so I can create better croswords. My crosswords have changed quite a bit from when I started: some changes have come from solving other crosswords and observing feedback (of solvers generally – what they like and don’t like), but most have come directly as a result of comments made by solvers of my crosswords. After 20 years of driving up this two-way street, I like to think that I have changed to make solving less stressful, more homely, and you have learnt enough to grasp my cryptic philosophy.
Sometimes, however, it’s hard for me to understand, with all that’s been before, and the experience most of you have, how you end up where you do. Let’s look at 6-across in The Stickler Weekly 218: A part of Australia – one loyal to the Queen (3) – A + NT (Northern Territory). A straightforward two-part cryptic clue with a punny definition. At no time did I consider the offered alternative answer of ACT, because it doesn’t fit at all with my style. Let me explain: if ACT is the answer, what is the definition? If the whole thing is the definition, that would make it a pretty rotten cryptic definition, wouldn’t it? Have you ever seen a Stickler clue with no cryptic element? The cryptic definitions I do write (about 1 in 300 clues) have to have disguise somewhere in there, a good play on words, but this clue (if ACT is the answer) had nothing. Thankfully the answer didn’t sit right with some, and the correct answer was found. I’m sure “if it doesn’t seem right, then it probably isn’t” is familiar to you – I’ve said it multiple times in this blog – and it’s nearly always true.
Some time back I challenged you to try and create an &lit from a clue that I toyed with but decided it was too hard to get right. The Stickler Weekly 218 also has a clue, 3-down: A defensive attitude – people inside get it easily mixed up (6,8), that I looked at long and hard, but couldn’t quite crack as an &lit. The structure of the wordplay gives a sense of the answer (especially if you think of someone locked up inside jail), but can you remove the definition, and rejig the wordplay to make it an &lit clue?

Good luck.

The Stickler

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16 Responses to The Stickler Weekly Insights 218

  1. Richard Sternes says:

    Well There You Go – & here’s me thinking all this time that 218/6a was all about the Governor General, the Parliament, Oaths of Allegiance etc etc. – trying to make it work & knowing full well all the while, that it was not correct.

  2. Greg Mansell says:

    Luckily for me, “ACT” didn’t ever enter my head. If it had, I would have wasted a lot of time trying to make it fit.

    David – do you have visibility of what people are entering into the online Stickler? Or did you deduce that they were putting “ACT”?

    As for coming up with an &lit clue where David has failed, I’d rather try something where I have a better chance of success. A few things spring to mind:
    * Batting in conditions where Steve Smith has struggled
    * Unifying General Relativity and Quantum Field Theory
    * Achieving lasting peace in the Middle East

  3. Maggie says:

    I fell into the ACT hole. but I explained it – though not to my complete satisfaction.
    A = one
    CT = court as in the royal court of people loyal to the Queen.

    ANT is, of course a much better solution.

  4. Steve Ball says:

    People in the grip of it get easily alarmed (5,9)

    Steve = : ^ )

  5. Patrick Lewis says:

    Thanks for the challenge David.

    Does this work?

    Feeling trapped inside, soldiers easily get it badly.

    • Greg Mansell says:

      Patrick – not bad, but you need to somehow more clearly indicate that the soldiers (men) are inside the anagram of “easily get it”. For example:

      Soldiers, trapped inside, easily get it badly? (5,9)

      The wordplay now works well, but it’s a bit dodgy definition-wise.

      By the way, I’m mightily impressed by Steve’s and Patrick’s efforts. Makes me feel like a big wuss.

      • Patrick Lewis says:

        Yes Greg, I thought maybe ‘inside’ could double up as part of the definition and the wordplay. Is this allowed, or should there be some indication of it being shared? How about:

        Feeling trapped, soldiers inside easily get it badly?

        • Arthur Maynard says:

          Patrick. I don’t see this as &lit. It works as a charade/anagram, but the definition is clearly identifiable and separate from the word play.
          Comparing it with Greg’s effort, the word play allows you to work the answer, while the definition requires you to ask “What feeling do soldiers trapped inside get?”
          All this from a guy who does not even try to write an &lit clue.

          • Patrick Lewis says:

            Yes, it’s difficult to fit the anagram into a literal representation of the answer rather than it simply being indicated as ‘it’ – which it needs to be for &lit as I understand it, but I could still be wrong. Well, if David couldn’t get it……..!

  6. Greg Mansell says:

    All in all, I think Steve’s is the best effort so far. The whole clue is a solid piece of wordplay, and doubles up as a pretty good definition.

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      Steve’s clue works for me when I know the answer. Without the solution, even if I had the crosses, I would have some issues with fitting the solution to the clue. I do not see anything which conjures up the concept of a siege mentality.
      Again I acknowledge that I am audience and critic, rather than active participant.

  7. Patrick Lewis says:

    Not &lit, I know, but a different approach:

    Soldiers, after blockade at junction in Italy, confused and feeling trapped. (5,9)