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Spelling (and other) mistakes in clues - RTC3
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
Spelling (and other) mistakes in clues
Here's a clue from the second puzzle in the 1975 Championship final:
Enoh to beg land - when? (5) [APRIL]
(select between the square brackets for the answer, or read on)
I'd hardly had time to turn over the paper with the clues on before Terry Girdlestone announced: "There's a spelling mistake in 10 across." - to which Edmund Akenhead replied, quite crossly, that there most certainly was not. In case you haven't yet cracked it, the checked letters [A‑R‑L] should reveal the setter's (Edmund himself?) little joke.

So here's a clue from yesterday's Times crossword (No. 25,771):
Independent fish from the poisonnier? (9)
I'm not going to give the answer since this is a prize puzzle, but anyone with a smattering of French who reads the clue carefully will wonder if this too is a deliberate spelling mistake, and I don't think I'm giving too much away by revealing that this is almost certainly not deliberate, and that the final word should be "poissonnier". OK, what about this clue from Jumbo 1,087?
Actor vainly playing Madame Arcaty? (11)
Is the misspelling of Madame Arcati deliberate? (Answer: again almost certainly not.) Or this from daily cryptic No. 25,761 (15 April)?
Woman who's has just had baby with awful trek to reach town (9) [NEWMARKET]
I wasn't particularly fazed by any of these since they looked like simple typos, but the next set were more worrying (apart from the first, which I didn't spot while solving). In Jumbo 1,085 we had:
A pleb recast in new mould to be fit for proper society? (11) [RESPECTABLE]
which looks fine until you realise that RESPECTABLE isn't an anagram of "A pleb recast". This was followed in Jumbo 1,086 by
Uninspired setter to get angry (7)
I could be wrong, but it looks suspiciously as if there's a word missing. And then in Jumbo 1,088 we had the more tricky
In shock, quickly across line (4)
for which there's general agreement that there definitely is a word missing. Sometimes the editor owns up, as with this clue in daily cryptic No. 25,769:
Wife kept secret about quiet with an advantage (4,4) [WHIP HAND]
where the word "husband" was accidentally omitted, but most solvers are only going to find his apology after they've finished solving.

That makes four successive Jumbos in which there appear to have been misclues - and indeed Jumbo 1,085 appears to have scored a further blunder with
Court possibly offering adulation when Queen comes out (6) [FLATTY]
since "court" (unqualified by "shoe" - tout court, as it were) can surely only mean the type of women's shoe which is definitely not a "flatty", rather than (say) the sort of shoe you would play tennis with on a court. I haven't yet tackled the latest Jumbo, but I'm praying that it's not going to make five in a row. I find the mistakes in the Jumbos especially disappointing, since they mar what are otherwise hugely enjoyable puzzles which I regard as particularly fine examples of the setter's art. They may not all be the crossword editor's fault, but his desk is where the buck stops. Time for some pulling up of socks!

Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: disappointed disappointed

2 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 28th, 2014 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)

From The Editor

(Apologies - posted in the wrong thread also)

Mea entirely culpa I'm afraid. All errors I either should have spotted (Arcaty, poisonnier) or introduced (NEWMARKET etc)
In fact I distinctly remember checking "poisonnier" at the time, so I have no idea how the rather unfortunate version appeared)

Socks duly being pulled up. I rarely look at the blogs on a timely basis but will always post an apology if I know of an error that's still "hot"

(Still trying to work out the joke!)

oliviarhinebeck From: oliviarhinebeck Date: April 28th, 2014 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)


After several days away I only just got around to this puzzle this morning - very nice stuff indeed. It gave me a chance to make mention on the club Forum of Dorset Jimbo's excellent poisson d'Avril on April 1st (duh). I was most definitely fooled for longer than I care to admit.
2 comments or Leave a comment