Once again the Observer Everyman cryptic crossword provides some well-crafted clues which illustrate a few of the fiendish ways that expert compilers use to keep us entertained!
Observer Everyman 5/8/17
18D: Sincere, not caring? Not he. (7)
‘Not caring’ is HEARTLESS. Removing the letters HE gives the answer, a synonym of sincere.
8D: Structure for play with unknown actors in club one organised. (6, 6)
‘Structure for play’ is the definition. ‘Unknown’ is often used for X, Y or Z (as in an equation such as Y = X+2). Here it is Y and followed by CAST (ie ‘Actors’) inside an anagram of CLUB ONE. Note how the word ‘actors’ leads us down the garden path by suggesting a different meaning for ‘play’!
Today, both clues of the week are from Kropotkin crossword 998: both provide interesting examples of the vagaries of the English language! They also illustrate Kropotkin’s tendency to write clues which rely on obscure and archaic words…
1A: “It is eaten by large reptile” – a brain-twisting dilemma (11)
IT is eaten by (ie included in) CROCODILE. Pretty straightforward, and the definition is indeed a type of insoluble dilemma
known to students of philosophy. There is the potential for confusion here, as the mineral crocidolite
(which has a completely different derivation and pronunciation) is sometimes misspelled as crocodolite. Neither are words in common use!
27A: One living with someone won’t be dressed in acton unfortunately (10)
‘One living with someone’ is the definition. ‘Won’t’ is very misleading – it should be read ‘wont’ which is a synonym for ‘habit’. SO HABIT is included (‘dressed’) in an anagram (‘unfortunately’) of ACTON. Note that ‘acton’ is an archaic word for an item of clothing as suggested by ‘dressed’.
A cleverly misleading clue from the Observer Everyman this week: I really enjoyed this one, a standout from the weekend’s puzzles.
Observer Everyman 1/7/17
14D. Dandies keeping style of T. Rex in bright lights (3, 5)
‘Dandies’ = FOPS. ‘T. Rex’ would usually suggest the letter T followed by the letter R (which can also be suggested by ‘King’,’Regina’ or ‘Queen’). But here it refers to the rock band T. Rex, whose style is usually characterised as ‘glam rock’. So GLAM is inserted into (‘keeping’) FOPS. Very cunning!
What a weightlifter might do with one kilo over after slipping on some snow (5-3)
‘What a weightlifter might do’ is A PRESS + (with) KI (‘one’ with ‘kilo’ over it). The definition is ‘after slipping on some snow’. Nicely convoluted.
The Maori sub-tribe are an isolated settlement up North (2, 5)
A clue that is particular to New Zealand and wouldn’t make much sense anywhere else! ‘The Maori’ is TE (‘the’ in Maori) + HAPU (a sub-tribe) + A for ‘are’: an are
is a unit of measurement (as in hectare).
Observer Everyman 17/6/17
Famous person’s stage tip (6)
‘Stage’ is LEG (ie a stage of a race). ‘Tip’ is END (ie the tip of a knife). ‘Famous person’ is the definition. This is a great example of the compiler’s craft in hiding the solution in a web of double meanings!
Two tricky clues this week, both designed to mislead and confuse the solver:
Palindromes are a special case of cryptic clue as they sometimes provide just a definition, without any obvious hint as to the letters to be used.
Whichever way you look at it, it provides evidence of ownership (4)
Can you work it out?
One way that cryptic crossword compilers hide the answer within a clue is by reversing some or all of the letters. Here’s an example from a recent Tossman crossword:
Root back to show the contention is untrue (5)