Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Hindu Crossword 9387: M.Manna

This puzzle was not so easy, with some clues clever enough to keep you thinking, some others faulty enough to keep you thinking. I got going with the right-hand side; the clever 14D was my last to get entered.

As is the case with M.Manna's puzzles, the surface reading is uniformly good but there is surprising variation in the quality of clues.


1 I’m going to repeat that, despite lacking education (10) I'LL ITERATE
The first clue defines the 'mood' of the puzzle for me. I liked this charade.

6 The French in charge is a layman (4) LA IC
Ho-hum wordplay. I’m not a fan of clues that rely entirely on standard abbreviations.

9 The shortest dance? (3,4) ONE STEP [CD]
Nice CD.

10 Oriental writing a note back (7) EASTERN
I don't understand the wordplay here. 'Oriental' is the definition and 'back' suggests a reversal but can't see the rest. (Thanks to xwd_fiend for clarifying - (musical) note = E, and ASTERN = back (towards the back of a ship))

12 Gen up on new smart articles of clothing (8) GARMENTS*
I genned up on the phrase 'gen up' after reading this clue :) British slang, not used in India-speak but it makes for good surface reading.
Not pleased with the indicators; they do not convey that 'gen' and 'smart' have to be anagrammed together. ‘up’ isn’t a convincing anagram indicator in any case.

13 Mental picture of an idol (5) IMAGE [2]
Uninspiring double-definition.

15 Dad summed up for Ted (5) ADDED
How does this clue work? Is it an anagram, charade or &Lit? Whatever it is, I bet that Ted or Ted's "T" have no business being in the wordplay. (xwd_fiend explains that Ed and Ted are both diminutives of Edward, so Ted = ED is OK. I would have lost the bet!)

17 Understand her perturbation and hang about (9) APP{REH*}END
Good one!

19 Successor to ancestor’s assets (9) INHERITOR
Nothing cryptic about this.

21 Not right river to prevent a crossing (5) DETER
Other than 'prevent' being the definition, don't see the rest. Definition in the middle of the clue does not bode well for its correctness!

23 Authenticate a hard shell by an examination (5) TEST A
Testa is a hard shell. 'authenticate a' is enough to derive it. What is 'by an examination' there for?

24 Containers holding nothing but pictures (8) CARTO{O}NS
The word 'container' naturally gives an easy surface read to this c/c clue.

27 Made a neat net for her (7) ANNETTE*
All fine, except that I don't like random proper names in crosswords.

28 It tends to confuse one who has to do oral examinations (7) DENTIST*
Smart anagram. I toyed with the idea of cryptic definition for a while, when the crossing letters made me see light.

29 Cheese that’s made the wrong way (4) EDAM<-
Fine reversal. And a coincidence: the same word appeared in The Guardian today.
The Guardian clue:
Cheese: 12-ed and ____? (4)
where the 12 referred to the clue: Touch one's son on back of neck (4)

30 Mid-morning Daniel goes to church gate (10) AT TEN DAN CE
Really good! Creative definition, and I like 'mid-morning' for 'at ten'.


1 Ron goes around with a golf club (4) IRON*
It took me ages to solve this simple one. I kept using the 'A' instead of substituting 'I' for the anagram.

2 Pull fish up into the shelter of the boat (7)LEE<- WARD
All right.

3 Symbol of a North American tribe (5) TOTEM
Straight definition.

4 Sorry when the agent gets the tenant to move (9) REP ENTANT*
All right.

5 A rest maybe needed on mountain ranges (5) TIERS
Another clue of which the wordplay doesn't make sense. Is this an anagram of (I+REST)? If yes, 'maybe needed' as indicator is taking it too far. Is it a cryptic definition? If yes, it is weak.

7 Mean to assert one’s seniority (7) AVER + AGE
AVER+AGE is terribly overused! Regular THC solvers will know the answer on sight.

8 Not favouring offers made by the opposition (10) CON TENDERS
Liked this one!

11 Clergyman may spend it freely (7) STIPEND*
Another well-cloaked anagram that I took to be a cryptic definition at first. Didn't know that stipend=clergyman? (xwd_fiend explains that stipend is the wages that clergymen receive, so this clue looks fine as an &Lit now.)

14 He tries to give old priests free treats (10) MAGI STRATE*
'free treats' is such a neat way to clue 'strate', and 'he tries' works really well as the definition.

16 Don’t ring Irma, I left her sleeping (7) DO{RMA}NT
Another excellent clue.

18 Some crest! Some bird! (9) PART RIDGE
Very well put together.

20 Glory be! Governess supports bottomless stockings! (7) HOS(-E) ANNA
The surface reading made me chuckle. I looked up the connection between governess and ANNA after solving the clue.

22 One isn’t put out by it, but it’s a strain (7) TENSION*
The anagram fodder is well-concealed but there are too many filler words. If this was meant as an &Lit, it doesn't quite work.

24 Teach one to make bread of a lower quality (5) CHEAT*
Problem with connectors again. 'one' is redundant, on top of that it is wedged between the anagram fodder and indicator.

25 Acknowledged new party in trouble (5) OWNED*
All right.

26 Set young around to climb over the filthy place (4)STYE*
Lots of problems with this one! The least of them is whether young=Y is valid.
There are two indicators: 'around' and 'to climb over' - why? If this is meant to be an anagram, then one indicator is redundant; if meant to be an anagram+c/c, then the indicators are incorrectly placed.
An eye infection may be a huge annoyance but calling it "filthy place" is a bit much. Was it STY and not STYE that the definition was written for? (xwd_fiend points out that STY can also be spelt as STYE in big enough dictionaries)

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xwd_fiend said...

Agree with most of your comments about some poor/non-cryptic clues - a few explanantions/ideas follow.

10A: If you treat 'writing' as a wordplay/def link, (musical) note = E, and ASTERN = back (towards the back of a ship).

15A: Ed and Ted are both diminutives of Edward, so Ted = ED is OK. 'up' = 'in revolt' is sometimes used as an anag indicator in hard puzzles. So everything necessary is arguably there, but in silly order.

29: 'Cheese made backwards' for Edam is such an old chestnut that in the UK it crops up in quizzes as well as xwds. One for use about once a year only!

11D: Stipend is actually not a member of the clergy, but their wages.

21D: Just possibly a horrible mixture of: river = Dee, plus Rt. = right. (But if so, still badly done.)

25D: Strictly, getting you to convert party to DO and then use it in an anagram is an "indirect anagram" which many think unfair. But on a practical level, {party = do} is so routine that you can harldy miss it.

26D: If you use a big enough dictionary (Chambers, for example), any meaning of 'sty' can also be spelled 'stye' (and vice versa). I'm not saying that a daily paper should resort to Chambers, though.

Shuchi said...

Thank you for your helpful comments, xwd_fiend. I've updated the post.