Surfeit of subtraction

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I enjoyed this puzzle, but have to admit that some of the joy of completing it was dissipated in the over-reliance on “subtraction” clues, where the solver has to remove parts of words to get the entry, be it the middle of a word (11 and 28, e.g.) or just a letter or two. The surfaces in this puzzle read well, and there’s more than the average number of &lit. clues and these made up for the overuse of the subtraction device. I’d be interested in finding out whether other solvers agree?

I spent about 15 minutes on this puzzle, because the top right-hand corner held me up.

1 BE AT LES(son) – the first subtraction clue.
5 SEVILLE (<= el lives) – this took me much longer to solve than it should have because I couldn’t get Sevilla (Spanish spelling) out of my head.
11 E(IL)AT – where the IL is “Israel’s borders” – good surface, referring to the city which has become a haven for tourists in recent years.
12 LE(M)ON PEEL – Leon Trotsky and Robert Peel
13 EASY LISTENING – (is gentle say in)* – nice &lit. clue
17 (p)INT-RAVENOUSLY – another subtraction clue…
21 HAL(t) F-LIGHT – …and another
25 ADLER – Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist, who turns up regularly in Crosswordland, but I don’t see the wordplay. I can’t think of an appropriate Spoonerism.
26 EDITORIALS – TOR in (dailie)* – yet another subtraction.
28 LO-T(TE)RY – like 11ac, you needed to take the first and last letters of a word (“treasure”)
1 BARLEY – “upsetting the French” (i.e. LE) would give you BARELY (“only just”)
2 ANNU(a)L-ME(a)NT – subtraction clue…
3 LEA(NTO)S(e) – where NTO is (not)* – …and another
4 S(TE)(ELBL)-UE – where ELBL is (bell)* – nice surface – the use of tone is inspired as it applies to the colour in the answer, and helps with the music-related surface reading
5 SALE-M – “where possessions were claimed” is a brilliant indication of Salem, the scene of the famous witch trials
6 VAL(i)ANCE – like with many of the clues today, another subtraction clue with a good surface – “hangover in bed”
8 EA(RP)LUGS – very good &lit. clue, that evaded me for ages due to my mental block on 5ac.
14 SHOW TRIAL – (law or this)*
15 I-F(Y)OUL-IKE – really good
19 SELL OUT – good &lit. clue, as popular performers often have sell-out performances, but almost as often “sell out” where their principles are concerned
20 WESLEY – hidden backwards in “praY ELSEWhere”

8 comments on “Surfeit of subtraction”

  1. Spooner = ladler

    You’ll be please to add another substraction to your list!

  2. Is 7D just three straight definitions? LANCE = pole, cut open, man. Or have I missed something else?

    I’m not happy with 23D assuming its G (gallon) + LEAN. In what sense does lean = a lot of air?

    [Pleased for please in my message above, btw]


    1. LEAN = “fuel mixed with a lot of air” though… as in what a carburetor does (or did).
      1. Solved in 8:05 here.

        Strictly, lean = “of fuel, mixed with a lot of air” – i.e. lean is an adjective, so can’t indicate the fuel or the fuel/air mixture. Possibly a better clue with the comma after fuel, which would have done little damage to the surface.

        But enough nit-picking. I enjoyed the puzzle, and didn’t notice the excess of subtractions when solving. Also found the NE corner hard, even with SEVILLE going straight in.

        Yes, 7D is 3 defs.

  3. I was going pretty quickly on this until I realised that every answer contained the letter ‘L’. For some reason I was much slower thereafter (10:21 total).
    1. I completely missed the fact that every answer had an L – it would have made me more confident of ‘glean’ – had to check the meaning of ‘lean’.
  4. I did particularly enjoy the &lits, especially ‘lottery’ and ‘show trial’ – in fact, I hadn’t notice ‘easy listening’ was an &lit until reading your comments.
    After 1a I was hoping for a Beatles theme – but it was not to be. Still a satisfying crossword, and quite easy for the most part; NW corner held me up.
  5. Nice spot by Talbinho about the ubiquitous L.

    A bunch of “easies” with at least one L each:

    9a Toll is to jog memories (4,1,4)

    10a Blunt dart missing sides of a circling body (5)
    LUNAR. Missing sides = (b)LUN(t) (d)AR(t)

    24a Fail to keep accomodating university parasite (5)
    LO U SE

    27a Stirring, (Centre-L)*eft speeches may come from this (7)

    7d Pole cut open a man (5)
    LANCE. A Triple Def as revealed above.

    16d Merman’s got one to swing the rear end (8)
    FISHTAIL. Double def including a term for wiggling the back end of a motor?

    18d (Real tag)* is played on the run (2,5)

    22d Pale violet, one in mounting demand (5)
    L I LAC. An I = 1 in CALL upside down.

    23d Pick up gallons of fuel mixed with a lot of air (5)
    G LEAN. As suggested above a “lean mixture” is where you have adjusted the carb to reduce the amount of fuel to be introduced into the chamber for each ignition stroke. Your engine will run hot though!

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