Derek Harrison's Crossword Message Board

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Pet Peeves

It has been very quiet on the board lately so I thought that I would take the opportunity to air my pet peeve.

What drives me mad is the use of container or insertion indicators in clues where the wordplay leads to an extra letter when there is no containing or inserting. I am referring to clues like ‘Tend to keep money for drink’ for RUM where the wordplay is supposed to lead to the non-word RUM[N] yielding an extra N. I don’t understand how this can be right, and why, if it is right, it is restricted to these two particular indicators. I don’t recall ever coming across a clue like ‘Doctor returned by lunchtime perhaps, exhausted’ for DONE with an extra R because it leads to [R]DONE. And what about anagram indicators, to me it doesn’t seem dissimilar to ‘Cultivated this grain for Shakira perhaps’ for HISPANIC because it could lead to HI[T]S PANIC.

I think that most setters and editors would consider it bad practice to use a word in a clue solely to provide the extra letter, except for example in the case of a series of first letters, so why do they not consider it equally bad practice to use an indicator which is there solely to support the extra letter? It doesn’t make sense to me and I find myself screaming at the clue. Juxtaposition indicators in clues usually apply to position in the grid and there is no inserting or containing in the grid.

Please do tell me if you agree or disagree and/or post your own pet peeve.


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