Friday, October 23, 2009

Best & Worst Of M.Manna's Current Series (THC 9663-9669)

The Hindu Crossword M.Manna, a compiler of The Hindu Crossword, holds the dubious distinction of having both the most brilliant clues in his grids, as well as the lamest ones.

Of his current run of seven puzzles (The Hindu Crossword 9663 to 9669), my picks for the best 5 and worst 5 clues.

Top 5

THC 9663: Partisans can be such trying people (9) ASPIRANTS*
Cogent surface, well-disguised anagram fodder and a nice pun on the word 'trying'.

THC 9665: Not against development of non-progressive state (10) STAGNATION*
Another neat anagram - (NOT AGAINST)*. The word 'state' leads you think of a nation in the surface, and means 'condition' in the wordplay.

THC 9668: Then one's chipping the ball in to win (2,3,4) ON THE N{O}SE*
Remarkably well-constructed, with 'ball' contributing O to the answer. 'chipping the ball' is a phrase used in golf, 'on the nose' comes from horse racing, the term means betting to win only. This came across as a very British clue both in surface and the answer.

THC 9665: Severe strain unsettled the man (10) ASTRIN* GENT
Seamlessly merged definition and wordplay, with a meaningful surface.

THC 9669: Why one doesn't give the sack to the bad cleaner? (9) TO LERANCE*
Semi-&lit with an innovative definition. The word 'to' which we tend to dismiss as filler is put to good use here.

Manna's crosswords are heavy with anagrams, and they're consistently high-quality for long words/phrases. A pity that this skill vanishes with the smaller words in the grid, for which the anagrams are not just weak but full of errors. Examples of this follow.

Bottom 5

THC 9665: Dig it out with Al for a calculation by numerical method (7) DIG IT AL 
'out'  suggests an anagram but the letters "Dig it Al" are not getting anagrammed at all, they're used as-is in the answer. Also, DIGITAL is an adjective, meaning 'pertaining to numerical calculation'. 'calculation by numerical method' should lead to a noun.

THC 9664: Rid the ash around the plant (6) RADISH*
An obtrusive 'the' is stuck between the anagram fodder, and the surface is not very meaningful.

THC 9668: Prepared to tax the French to demand more payment (5) EXACT*
The wordplay leads to EXALT, the definition fits the word EXACT. Superfluous 'to' after the anagrind 'prepared'.

THC 9665: Trot out east for a large aquatic fish-eating carnivore (5) OTTER*
The wordplay gives (TROT)* + E, and not (TROT+E)*. The definition 'a large aquatic fish-eating carnivore' seems to be a case of "copy-paste" from a dictionary, with no care given to reviewing/editing.

THC 9665: Have knowledge of an armed conflict in East (5) A WAR E
AWARE can be 'knowledgeable' or 'having knowledge'. 'have knowledge of' can lead to 'be aware' and not AWARE. Plus other flaws like an ungrammatical surface, and an unsatisfactory connector 'in'.


The difference in quality between Top 5 and Bottom 5 is so marked, it seems incredible that both sets are written by the same compiler.

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1 comment

raghunath said...

Out of your best pick, TOLERANCE and ON THE NOSE are the best, as these are not straightforward as the other three.