23,481 – 9ac gave me the 9ac

Solving time: Gave up after 25 mins or so with one missing (9ac) and two wrong (10ac, 24ac).

Had a good start on this one but got bogged down and spent the last 15 minutes trying to unravel 9ac to no avail. Never mind, happy Christmas to all readers and contributors.

* = anagram.

1 rev. of (UK + R) inside MAP – stupidly I entered PERK-UP at first (PEPs are Personal Equity Plans, whatever they are), but surely ‘Britain’ = UK is wrong?
5 A + POST + ATE (= worried) – good surface reading.
9 RUNABOUT = N.U.R. – another ‘wordplay in the answer’ clue, hence ‘as it were’, but this one’s pretty tough: I’d not heard of the NUR and the definition (‘nippy car’) is fairly unhelpful (aren’t ‘runabouts’ more likely to be old bangers than ‘nippy’? I suppose you might ‘nip about’ in them…). I spent most of my time on this clue trying to fit ‘nippy’ into the wordplay and was fooled by the ‘as it were’ into attempting to split ‘railwaymen’ into ‘railway + men’ (looking for something like EL + OR).
10 ZAP + A + TA – catastrophe. I put in ‘Gasata’ at first, then decided RA (Royal Artillery) was more likely than TA so changed it to ‘Gasara’, then noticed the ‘pangram’ and changed it again to ‘Zapara’ before realising there was no ‘J’ and changing it back. Turns out that Emiliano Zapata was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
11 FL(ASH)IER – the full definition is ‘giving more dazzling display’.
12 AB (= crewman) + JE(C)T
13 CHAP + EAUX (= the waters at Vichy, i.e. in France)
17 O (= nothing) inside SON – as in, a son with nothing inside him might want food. Hmmm.
19 “WAYS UP”
20 “TATTY”
21 rev. of (PACT + H + GIN)
22 RA + RELY – ‘X is given backing by Y’ here seems to mean simply ‘Y is at the back of X’, unless ‘artist’ can give AR as well as RA and ARA.
23 RETAINER – which can mean ‘a servant of long standing’ and also (according to the Compact Oxford) ‘a reduced rent paid to retain accommodation during a period of non-occupancy’. The word ‘given’ in the clue seems superfluous and barely justifiable as a link word.
24 ‘S’ AND ‘WELL’ – which make ‘swell’ = ‘fantastic’: yet again, ‘wordplay in the answer’ (see below). Despite being born in the West Midlands I didn’t know Sandwell and entered entered ‘Singwell’, thinking the clue was a pun on ‘parts’ meaning vocal parts.
2 AQU[a] (= water) + I (= one) + LINE (= course) – the incorrect initial ‘E’ from 1ac slowed me down badly, but my real problem was failing to split ‘water course’. Nice clue.
3 P[a]S[t]A inside KNACK (i.e. gift-wrapped) – ‘gift-wrapped’ really needs a question mark.
4 PRO (= non-amateur) + XI (= team) + MATE
5 (TYROL[e]AN TEENAGER)* – a helpful long anagram, and my first solve.
7 AMORETTO (= lover/cupid) with the first O changed to A.
14 ([garde]N THIS UGLY)* – quite a good &lit, i.e. the whole clue is the definition and the wordplay. Interesting use of ‘this’ – c.f. the clues in the extra bit below.
15 DA (= District Attorney = lawyer) + (D inside STARS)
17 (rev. of TIPS) + FIRE
18 OR (= golden) + NAME (= handle) + N (= new) + [pain]T – ‘paint, no trouble’ is unusual but fair.
19 WHIT (= a bit) + LOW – an inflammation or abscess near a fingernail or toenail.

‘Wordplay in the answer clues’: clarification
These sort of clues (e.g. 9ac, 24ac above) have been flagged regularly recently following my write-up of #23,470 (here), but this isn’t quite the sort of clue I originally meant when I said that such clues were rare in daily crosswords. The relevant clue in #23,470 was:

Gamble about this distinctive characteristic in bear market (7)
Answer: EARMARK (which gives BEAR MARKET when put inside BET)

In this type of clue, the definition of the answer, uniquely, appears in the middle of the clue and is prefixed by ‘this’; other bits are tacked onto one or both ends to give a longer word which is defined (or in the case of this clue, actually given). I have no idea what you might call these clues, but other examples might be things like:

Run this oven for Sunday lunch (4) – OAST (‘this’ oven), which gives ROAST with R (= run) on the front

Men on both sides of this box form music group (5) – CHEST (‘this’ box), which gives ORCHESTRA when surrounded by OR (‘men’) and RA (more ‘men’)

If I had any ‘Magpies’ to hand I would be able to give some much better examples.

These clues are distinct from the examples in today’s puzzle, when some element of the answer is actually read as wordplay (e.g. ‘runabout’ = ‘run’ about), and where a question mark or some other hint (e.g. ‘as it were’, ‘by implication’ in today’s examples) is required.

4 comments on “23,481 – 9ac gave me the 9ac”

  1. I also gave up, though I did persevere for over an hour. I had no idea whether to put SANDWELL, SINGWELL, SUNSWELL or whatever for 24 ac. and WHITLOW is new to me, though I guessed 19d might begin with WHIT. I’m not sure that I like ‘by implication’ in 24 across; ‘collectively’ or ‘together’ would have been fairer indications of what is going on in a very devious clue. Annoyingly, I also failed to get ZAPATA, even though ‘Viva Zapata’ was one of the first Marlon Brando films I ever saw.
  2. I got lucky with this, knowing SANDWELL and ZAPATA, and guessing WHITLOW and AMARETTO, tho my brain was so addled by that time that I failed to get the rather obvious wordplay for the latter.
    Re the clue types you mention, they are not common but all contain the word “this”, which does tend to flag up the definition rather, even though it’s in an unusual place. Anyone learning cryptic solving who has been told to look always for the definition at the end or the beginning of the clue will be awfully confused!
    1. On your last point: I’d advise learners to be wary of any claim about things that “always” happen in cryptic clues. (Especially when trying those vintage puzzles!)
  3. Also failed with Zapata, not spotting the pangram. Slight mitigating circumstances as I was doing the online version, which has an irritatingly different answer entry style to RTC, and two young nephews were having a fairly loud game of FIFA 2007 football on a PS2 in the same room.

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