In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners’ series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
Paul’s puzzle has a bunch of names …
16/6d Hunter: feud with me and devious leporine rival originally animated (5,4)
[ definition: hunter ]
[ wordplay: anagram (‘animated’) of FEUD & ME & first letters of (‘originally’) DEVIOUS LEPORINE RIVAL ]
[ anagram of FEUDMEDLR ]
… including ELMER FUDD, Bugs Bunny’s bungling foe, with three down informing us that WARNER BROS properties would be featuring throughout, all of whom star in a film that Warner Bros …
… releases next month. Actually, not quite all of them are in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
25/13d Noisome Casanova, footballer on page, keen to read up about it (4,2,3)
[ definition: Noisome Casanova ]
[ wordplay: noted footballer & abbrev. for ‘page’ with reversed (‘to read up’) synonym for ‘keen’ (as verb) surrounding (‘about it’) ]
[ PELE & P inside reversed WEEP ]
Pepé Le Pew, Deadline tells us, was due some comeuppance in the film, but the skunk’s scenes have been removed. The relative benefits of keeping and deleting them was once something about which it was possible to have an interesting conversation; instead, let’s note that “Noisome Casanova” is a perfect definition on which we can all agree.
Incidentally, inspired by Dave Gorman’s recent suggestion that solvers consider definition before wordplay, I am conducting a wild experiment. When explaining the clues, I’m putting definition above wordplay, in case it’s easier to follow. Your thoughts on this innovation are very welcome.
Here’s a question that Google presumed I might have in mind:
I already had my answer. “Snaccident” does not yet appear in Chambers or the OED and is in Collins only as a “new word suggestion” but as we’ve noted here before, crosswords sometimes step in and record a piece of language before the dictionaries. So it is with a puzzle from Puck:
Puck’s use means that for me, “snaccident” is indeed a word; will it make it to the dictionaries?
My money says yes. In the crossword context, solvers who haven’t encountered snaccidents – or at least those who haven’t encountered the name – are given extra help through its being a portmanteau word, which brings us to our next challenge. From the French “velours croché”: reader: how would you clue VELCRO?
Thanks for your clues for NINEVEH, a collection of letters that I wrongly thought might stifle our general creativity. Quite the reverse, as we’ll see.
I was hoping to see a quinquereme or two, so was delighted by GeoScanner’s “First port for Masefield’s quinquereme returning from Scheveningen.” And I was anticipating poignancy, like in Thepoisonedgift’s “Even in ruins, holy capital is a site of religious importance,” and Lizard’s: “New Vienna slightly lacking – what a great city that once was!”, that sneaky “what” also appearing in Sophical’s “What follows 9-5 in city?”
The audacity award is shared by Obtrectator’s “Where and when, initially, two nuns were taken to name this ancient city in its heyday,” and Mcavoybickford’s clue, which space does not allow here.
For the first time, it’s a triple on the same device, because the runners-up are Phitonelly’s biblical: “After being thrown up, Jonah even inspires part of ancient city,” and Montano’s multidisciplinary: “Pitched battle held in Chevening, in retrospect.” The winner is Porcia’s splendid: “Part of Iraq which even intimidates Revolutionary Guards.”
Kludos to Porcia: please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – and your picks from the broadsheet cryptics – below.
And here is the latest addition to our collaborative playlist Healing Music Recorded in 2020-21 to Accompany a Solve or Even Listen to:
Clue of the fortnight
When a clue asks us to look at a word fancifully, it’s lovely when the rest is simple, as in Imogen’s definition …
… of SCRAPER. Scrubs up nicely. Stay safe.
The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop.