In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
Crossword depictions of the prime minister at time of writing appear to have settled on three characteristics. There’s the question of honesty, as in Picaroon’s clue …
7d List what fibbers do endlessly, one such as Boris (9)
[ wordplay: word meaning “what fibbers do” minus last letter (“endlessly”) + what Boris is example of ]
[ INVENT – T + TORY ]
[ definition: list (as a noun) ]
… for INVENTORY. Then there’s the question of stability, as in Brunel’s clue …
1a Tory leader gets over quandary reported in the news (7)
[ wordplay: first letter (“leader”) of TORY + cricket abbreviation for “over” + soundalike (“reported”) of word meaning “quandary” ]
[ T + O + soundalike of PICKLE ]
[ definition: in the news ]
… for TOPICAL. Lastly, there’s the question of sobriety …
18d Remarkably, Conservative initially isn’t attending latest party (6)
[ wordplay: synonym for “remarkably” + abbreviation for “Conservative” + first letters of (“initially”) ISN’T ATTENDING LATEST ]
[ SO + C + IAL ]
[ definition: party ]
… as in this Telegraph clue for SOCIAL.
In the Guardian’s beginner-friendly Quiptic, we have, from Chandler …
… a fine clue for TUNDRA. That word for treeless icy terrain is as far as I know the only regular word that English has borrowed from a Sami language. We’ve taken so many words from Latin, German, Spanish and the rest; let’s hear it for those languages from which we’ve barely borrowed anything, such as Czech (by my count, “robot” and “polka”) and Ukrainian.
I’d be interested to see whether English adopts any new terms from the latter as the year goes on; in the meantime, one that is taking on a new form. Many publications and organisations follow usage suggested by the Associated Press Stylebook …
The spelling Kyiv is AP style for the capital of Ukraine, in line with the Ukrainian government’s preferred transliteration to English and increasing usage. The style for the food dish remains chicken Kiev.
— APStylebook (@APStylebook) January 21, 2022
Thanks for your clues for WISTERIA. I especially appreciated the friendly discussion of hyphens, which deserves its own moment at another time.
And thanks to Mr_Rob_T for raising the tone with the Joycean references, especially “Bloom’s ire waits, befuddled”. The audacity award goes to Zedible for a clue so headache-inducing …
‘First of all, what’s important?’
Spencer, Allsop: ‘Interior, interior, interior! And flowers on the outside walls.’
… as to make a person question the wisdom of rewarding audacity, but we are where we are.
The runners-up are Catarella’s devious “In Bow, is Teri ’atcher bloomin’ lovely?” and Newlaplandes’ “Women’s Institute awfully irate following suggestion of social climber”. We have a rare, possibly unique, double-header winner in Zedible again, with the far more acceptable “Absorbed in Twister, I abandon bloomers”. Kludos to Zedible.
Please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – as well as your non-print finds and picks from the broadsheet cryptics – in the comments, below.
Clue of the fortnight
There are lots of things doing jobs you don’t expect in Fed’s clue …
12a Craft of, say, steel pan player finally accepted (9)
[ wordplay: what steel is an example of (“steel, say”) + type of WOK with last letter of (“finally”) PLAYER inserted (“accepted”) ]
[ METAL + WOK containing R ]
[ definition: craft ]
… for METALWORK, which is as it should be. Mind how you go.
Find a collection of explainers, interviews and other helpful bits and bobs at alanconnor.com
The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop