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
26ac Cyclist of note about to sell his pants (4,9)
[ wordplay: type of currency (‘note’) + abbrev for ‘circa’ (‘about’) + synonym for ‘to sell’ + anagram (‘pants’ as adjective) of HIS ]
[ MARK + CA + VEND + ISH ]
[ definition: cyclist ]
… for SOB STORIES.
It took me a moment to see what was going on in Nutmeg’s clue …
… for MUSLIN. Italians who dealt in the fabric, we’re told, acquired the name Mussolini, and the fabric itself could once be of gold or silk, manufactured in Mosul, in northern Iraq. Nowadays, it’s a lovely plain name for a lovely plain item, although American English manages to render it plainer still in the form “burp cloth”.
Mosul itself seems to mean something like “The Joining-Up Place”, referring to its handy connections to Persia, Syria and Anatolia and our next challenge concerns the ancient city on the same spot. Reader, how would you clue NINEVEH?
Many thanks for your clues for MALIBU. You may have noticed that I’ve started occasionally removing the odd word before reproducing below, but do let me know if this gets out of hand.
The audacity award goes to Zedible for requiring us to imagine Spooner reporting a fictional character in “Beach where Spooner reported Wooster seeing a bloody cow?”
Of the surfaces, I especially enjoyed the oddness of Mightyboosh2’s “African country that’s landlocked except short surf spot” and the poignancy of 10FootClaudicant’s “In pub I lamely knock back liqueur”.
This word, MALIBU, prompted an enormous quantity of quality clues; the runners-up are Patjberry47’s inquiring “Where one might find Beach Boys album I lost?” and Kolf’s it’s-a-real-border “Liquor smuggled across Mali-Burkina Faso border”; the winner is GappyTooth’s rhythmic “Drink from African country drunk in France”.
Kludos to GappyTooth: please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – and your picks from the broadsheet cryptics – below.
And here is the latest addition to our collaborative playlist Healing Music Recorded in 2020-21 to Accompany a Solve or Even Listen to:
Clue of the Fortnight
5d Street vehicle in task removing what is grotty, ultimately? (8)
[ wordplay: abbrev. for ‘street’ & type of vehicle, both inside synonym for ‘task’ without last letter (‘ultimately’) of GROTTY ]
[ ST & CAR, both inside DUTY – Y ]
… where the whole clue is definition and wordplay for DUSTCART.
The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop.