No theme, nothing special, just a cryptic crossword to tide you over until @jafe's Friday release. I hope you enjoy!


Plaintext version

1. Ten Roman dances for festive ball (8)
8. Every seasoning is a sweet seasoning (8)
9. Mature after scrap flipped over shed (6)
10. Contract attorney takes a bit more than half of three thousand (9)
11. Mark gets overtime working in state (8)
15. Untethered llama is on the run (3)
18. Half of Greece heads to Athens to see Ms. Garbo (5)
19. Small tidbits you served (4)
21. Envy Edna? Odd, but not odd (4)
22. Sissal awning over green (4)
23. No Russian for the end of Putin until now (4)
25. Beauty queen accessory to illegal activity regarding Asian leaders (5)
28. Chop up a quintillion times (3)
29. Rocking chair to sit on top of the chest! (8)
30. Wobble repair: set extra weight around the middle (5,4)
33. Heard footfall on open plain (6)
34. Hate a man foolishly? It is forbidden (8)
35. Skipping class or science final for game (8)

1. One endless bell, subsuming one over and over (7)
2. Poet declaimed, will at no time evaluate or read aloud (7)
3. Captured in Ulm, agent Ames looks like a Red (7)
4. Pointless story about sunbathing man? (7)
5. Aged like a tree? (7)
6. Unwanted Message is climbing the charts (4)
7. Mother Theresa heard Eisenhower broadcast (4)
12. A keyboard is something that may be vital? (5)
13. Make amends an hour after noon (5)
14. Socially, every other one is smarmy (4)
16. Those who inform us are decreasingly average (5)
17. Dish for microbes made by chewing tripe (5)
20. Smash hits: Star Wars, Dark Knight (4)
23. Nits are dirtier! (7)
24. Always learn to recover after raising the limits (7)
25. Pulling vehicle up backwards? Nonsense! (7)
26. Permits mix tapes to sample from CCR's chart toppers (7)
27. One article like The Onion about primary election win (7)
31. A small quantity of wine loses nothing (4)
32. Tsar murdered by evil men (4)

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, l only solved clue 21. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 7, 2020 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


The solved grid:

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Clue explanations:

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Some comments:

The grid has a lot of "double unches" -- two adjacent cells that are both not crossed by another entry. In cryptic blocked grids, generally this is disallowed. The easiest way to avoid this is to start with a "lattice" of black cells, and add more black cells to block off entries. This recent puzzle by jafe is a good example of this: all the squares in even rows and columns were made black first, and then more black squares were placed in odd rows and/or odd columns.

A few of these clues have parts that I found a bit questionable, too. You may be used to more libertarian setters, which is fine, but I did want to bring these up (for explanatory purposes, if nothing else).

Connectors: 11A ("gets"), 18A ("to see"), 23A ("for"), and 4D ("about") all seem to have words between the two halves of the clue that don't really indicate the connection between them.

Indicators: Some words in 19A ("served"), 30A ("wobble"), 32D ("murdered"), and 22A ("over") seem to be pretty tenuous as indicators. 18A's "heads" doesn't seem to grammatically apply to the words it modifies: it would have to be "to Athens heads", not "heads to Athens".

Clue part reuse: 29A, 23D, and 25D all seem to use the definition in the wordplay half, but not be a full &lit. This is very much disallowed, at least by the setters I know - I think a few of the more libertarian British publications are okay with it, but AFAIK the majority of cryptic setters and solvers aren't.

Synonyms: 1D's "bell" → GONG doesn't seem quite right to me. 7D's "Mother Theresa" → ICON is an unindicated definition by example, and 24D's "always" → ETERNAL has a part of speech mismatch.
Extra words: 15A's "on the" and 6D's "the" are both extra words that go unused in the wordplay.

There are also a few clues I particularly enjoyed:

1A's use of "ball" was perfectly distracting, with the "dances" anagram indicator only adding to it.
25A's "accessory to illegal activity" looked like it should have been a single chunk, and that worked very well. Even though the clue decomposition was very simple, I only solved it after getting three of the crossing letters.
5D's double definition was cute - I'm surprised I haven't seen this before.
20D was also clever: an unconventional definition, with punctuation and capitalization distracting from the intended meaning.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You solved the puzzle, and I thank you for your care in providing the explanations you did. Some of this is just being used to different rules, but there are definitely places where I need to get better. Sincerest thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 18:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover Thanks for the puzzle! I don't want to seem too negative - I still definitely enjoyed it, and I'd love to see more cryptics from you. (Also, I just remembered I had some clues that I liked that I was going to comment on - I had completely forgotten to add those!) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 18:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ thanks for the compliments too! The ones you called out were my favorites in the puzzle too. A number of criticisms hit places that I knew were weak, so there was no offense taken. It just gives me motivation to get better! $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (Feedback on a cryptic crossword from @Deusovi is pretty much a rite of passage - and a badge of honour - here, even if he humbly denies that ;-) Bear his points in mind and your cryptics will keep getting stronger!) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 18:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover Ah, of course! I'll fix those, then. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 20:06

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