The news in clues

We have put out a plea here for more April fooling in puzzles published on 1 April. A few years back, you could expect some extra piece of trickery in most of the crosswords printed on that day.

My plea has been ignored. In the UK, at least. In the Independent, Knut at least acknowledged the event …

2d One caught in spring trap? (5,4)
[ cryptic definition ]

… making APRIL FOOL an answer. And the Times’ quick puzzle had a lovely symmetric display of ninnies, bampots and eejits:

Times 2 crossword 7,927

Times 2 crossword 7,927

What about outside the UK? The New Yorker and Wall Street Journal eschewed fooling; Jake Braun at the Los Angeles Times restricted himself to theme entries TRICK KNEE, RIB-EYE STEAK, KID SISTER and JOSH DUHAMEL and the syndicated Universal paid tribute to media pranks from an age when such things were not the dreary norm, including SPAGHETTI WEEVIL, NIXON’S THIRD TERM and WHISTLING CARROT, courtesy of setters Dallas Fletcher and Christopher Adams.

Is this because American puzzles are generally too gentle on a Monday to allow for foolery? No, answered the New York Times with Joel Fagliano offering a sweet trick (see below) in the Mini and, in the main puzzle, very long entries TTTTTTTTTTTTTTT, GGGGGGGGGGGGGGG and BBBBBBBBBBBBBBB, clued respectively as “Tea set?”, “G-string?” and “Beeline?”


Totally stumped by the @nytimes quick crossword until @LockhartL suggested ‘hyphen’, didn’t know you could such a thing in a crossword!! #goodchat #bestchat

April 2, 2019

For outright tomfoolery (with no spoilers), this Atlantic puzzle by Caleb Madison is a great example of that magazine’s lovely style (Monday puzzles are generally 5×5, building to 9×9 on Friday), and the best of all came from the indie puzzle community.

Please Forgive Me is a wholly merited title for Dave Murchie’s entry in his Monday Fills series, and I commend it to the House.

So, British setters and editors: in 2020, let us have our tricks: the same answers as in the previous puzzle, hidden fish, all that good stuff. And since I blame the situation on a general Fool fatigue engendered by all the mirthless 1 April activity from cutesy brands, that brings us to our next challenge. Reader, how would you clue TWEE?

Cluing competition

Thanks for your clues for MILL. Porcia remarked that “without lots of letters to fiddle about with in the wordplay there’s little opportunity to construct a story”, acknowledging that others had made delightful tales, my favourites including PeterMooreFuller’s “Turner’s incredibly lowly beginnings, in Maiden Lane originally”, Lizard’s “Determination to get revolutionary leader who would want to optimise happiness?” and TonyCollman’s “Philosopher thought dark and satanic by poet?”

Such a versatile word allows for lovely surfaces ranging from Sandwichfeet’s “Plant captured in vermilion and cream illustration” to Notgethithatonharry’s “London club loses support, there could be trouble here”. The audacity award is PeterMooreFuller’s, for “$0.001 or $0.001bn contracts”.

The runners-up are Schroduck’s acrostic “Man inventing liberal laws, primarily?” and Dunnart’s “Philosopher’s works”; for the winner, we return to Porcia with the simple “Pound shop”. Kludos to Porcia; please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition and your picks from the broadsheet cryptics below.

And, incidentally, in reply to Dunnart

I’m not sure if this is allowed here, but I’ve done a timely grid which was set off by a clue AC blogged a couple of weeks ago, if anyone would like to try.

… sharing your puzzles is very much encouraged, and Dunnart’s is a cracker.

Clue of the Fortnight

Pitcherwits books are available at the Guardian Bookshop

Pitcherwits books are available at the Guardian Bookshop

Reader MelonMouse reminds us that (a) simple clues can be as pleasing as baroque ones and (b) there is life outside the broadsheets with this “rather neat and tidy” clue …

Penal Reform Committee (5)
[ wordplay: anagram (‘reform’) of PENAL ]
[ definition: committee ]

… for PANEL by Professor Rebus in the Pitcherwits series. Of course, the first two words could take the solver to multiple places: “Penal reform in Asian country”, “Penal reform is smooth”, “Penal reform in a sealed chamber containing pressurized air” … maybe not the last.

NB: MelonMouse’s recommendation comes underneath last week’s guest puzzle, which I re-recommend in case you missed it.


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