Telegraph Toughie fans are provided with an Elkamere puzzle today. Plug done.
So I’ve gone a little quiet again; just ploughing on with puzzles. At the moment it’s my next Independent crossword that demands my attention. Grid fill done, clues about 50% done, and just reaching the ‘interesting dilemma’ stage. You see, there’s a bit of a theme going on, and much of it is incidental in that a few answers tie in with each other – in the clues this is marked by numerical references to the locations of other answers. At the moment that accounts for eight clues, and as a setter you begin to wonder ‘Is that enough?’
At this point a few nerves kick in, because the temptation is to force bits of thematic wordplay into clues whose answers have nothing to do with the theme. For obvious reasons I can’t give the theme away here, but I’ll try an example. Let’s say the theme revolves around a particular event. I’ve got a completely unrelated answer somewhere in the grid and the initials of someone associated with the theme happen to be the first two letters – the remainder doesn’t look promising, and the answer is too far removed from the theme for me to attempt giving it a definition that can somehow tie in.
The sensible bit of the brain says ‘Leave it – the resulting clue is likely to be forced and clumsy’. On the other hand, many solvers like it if you’re prepared to wrestle with wordplay until it bends to your thematic idea. It’s just that doing that takes time – a lot of it, usually. I do wonder how other setters deal with this predicament.