Posted by bridgesong on December 3rd, 2011
Shed doesn’t get many outings in the Saturday slot, and I can’t remember blogging one of his puzzles before. I thought this was something of a curate’s egg of a puzzle, with a mixture of easy and difficult clues of varying quality. I found it appropriately challenging for a prize puzzle, and even with the help of my regular solving partner Timon, it probably took us over an hour to complete. I’d be interested in the views of others on 9 down and 23 across; is it reasonable to provide an anagram of a pretty obscure 13 letter word and expect solvers to work it out unaided? If this were an Azed puzzle, I would have no objection.
1. Sculptor of decay (7)
MOULDER Double definition
5. Right of officer to be wrong about court (7)
CORRECT C(ommanding) O(fficer) ERR (rev.) C(our)T. It seems to me that “of” in the clue is redundant, and the clue would work perfectly well without it. Indeed, in that event “to be” could be omitted also.
10. Setter’s introduced to supersoft exploiter of women (4)
PIMP I’M in PP (pianissimo).
11. Potential butcher filleted scraggy piece of meat en route (10)
PSYCHOPATH S(cragg)Y CHOP in PATH. A nice surface to this clue, I thought.
12. Fool — character from Lear — carrying monarch round (6)
DRONGO R in DONG O. The Dong with the Luminous Nose is a character from an Edward Lear poem, and while the reference to Lear was appropriately misleading, I felt that some indication that drongo is an Australian term might have been fairer.
13. Natural defence for small boy absorbing brief life in retrospect (8)
ANTIBODY OBIT (rev.) in ANDY. Although the clue is perfectly fair, the surface really doesn’t make much sense.
14. Falling, with drink unfinished, in pub before church (9)
INCIDENCE CIDE(r) in INN, CE. The first and oldest meaning of “incident” in its adjectival sense, is “falling”, something cleverly exploited in this excellent clue.
16. Ill-humour about book, or a collection of them (5)
BIBLE B(ook) in BILE.
17. In Africa, barter over counters (5)
ABACI Hidden and reversed in “Africa barter”. Chambers gives both this version and “abacuses” as valid plurals.
19. Relate to mate shipwrecked before end of voyage (9)
EMPATHISE *MATE SHIP, E
23. Crowds catching an unpleasant whiff of 9 (8)
MAN-BOOBS AN BO in MOBS. The definition is “9”, which is fair enough, particularly in a prize puzzle, but I can’t find MAN-BOOBS (with or without a hyphen) in Chambers. Perhaps it’s in the new edition (which I have yet to buy)? Either way, it did make us laugh.
24. Spoil argument for vegetable (6)
MARROW A simple two part charade.
26. Cheerful chime making little sense (10)
BLITHERING BLITHE RING. Particular thanks to Timon for getting this one, which puzzled us even after we had all the crossing letters. According to Chambers, it’s just a term expressing contempt, although to blither is an alternative form of to blether. Perhaps a question mark might have been in order.
27. Penetrators of the mysteries of origami coming from the East (4)
MAGI Another hidden reverse.
28. Belittle qualification endlessly receiving publicity (7)
DEGRADE AD in DEGRE(e).
29. Play nurse first? (7)
2. Very short distance to pursue love letter (7)
OMICRON 0 MICRON. It’s the name of a letter in the Greek alphabet, equivalent to our letter O.
3. Flower having risen, nothing’s rising outside (5)
LUPIN UP in NIL (rev.)
4. Go off and trudge into river (7)
EXPLODE PLOD in EXE. As well as the Exe, the river Po is among setters’ favourite rivers (or flowers) and we seriously considered Limpopo but fortunately rejected it.
6. Stone-baked hot pie (6)
OPHITE *(HOT PIE).
7. Once more bring out of watering hole in delight (9)
REPUBLISH PUB in RELISH.
8. Helen’s mother’s habit — erecting fortress (7)
CITADEL LEDA, TIC (all rev.) In Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen to Zeus (while married to somebody else).
9. Abnormal growth of company? A nasty image, needs refashioning (13)
GYNAECOMASTIA *(CO(mpany) A NASTY IMAGE). Congratulations to anyone who managed to solve this without resorting to artificial or mechanical aids. It refers to the abnormal enlargement of a man’s breast, setting up the slightly dubious clue at 23 across.
15. Promoter of early growth in state raised 1 (9)
INCUBATOR IN CUBA, ROT(rev.)
18. Bank of Scotland provides home for unhealthy type-founder (7)
BRAILLE ILL in BRAE (a Scottish term for a bank).
20. Squire’s Alfa Romeo gets government almost overthrown (7)
ARMIGER A(lfa) R(omeo) REGIM(e)(rev.). In heraldry, it refers to one entitled to a coat of arms, hence an esquire.
21. Military leader securing time with firearm (7)
SHOTGUN T in SHOGUN. The shoguns were the hereditary military governors of Japan.
22. Do what must be done, slicing ends off butt (3-3)
DOG-END DO (a)GEND(a). The use of “ends” in the clue is a weakness.
25. Appointed tasks concerning US seat of learning (5)
REMIT RE M.I.T. (Massachusets Institute of Technology).