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I think I’ve got this one, but it’s a little hard to tell. Starting off with a completely empty grid is rarely straightforward (I suppose that’s the point...) and it wasn’t until late in the process, after getting 9dn and most of the across clues, that I started being able to make real deductions about the layout; on the plus side, maybe to make this crossword tractable at all, the clues themselves were noticeably more straightforward than usual. I feel as if I might be missing a little something about the end of the rubric; unless it really means exactly what it says (you don’t strictly need the numbers in the grid), I don’t know what it actually means.

Identity Crisis

The grid should be appropriately filled by correctly locating the solutions to the normal, correctly numbered clues. Numbers are not essential in the completed grid, which displays 180° symmetry, but their inclusion may assist solvers in arriving at the solution.

  • 8ac: TAMED: A little bit about me being under control: TAD (a little bit) around ME
  • 10ac: SEVERE: Very bad cut to top of ear...: SEVER (cut) + E(ar)
  • 11ac: SLASH: ... and another small one on edge of eyelid: S(mall) + LASH (one on edge of eyelid)
  • 13ac: GREASED: Did this to palms, maybe – as in avarice: AS in GREED (avarice)
  • 14ac: INKED: Shut one eye with hit, made black: WINKED (shut one eye) - W(ith)
  • 15ac: IDAHO: State out loud: “I owned a sort of garden tool”: I’D A HOE
  • 16ac: KNEE: King born to genuflect? Once: K(ing) + NEE (born)
  • 17ac: TUNER: It picks up radio signals: the sounds of fish?: TUNA
  • 19ac: BATES: Wild beast rages: *(BEAST)
  • 22ac: TANA: Shrew in a cop shop?: Double Definition
  • 23ac: PEERS: Looks short-sightedly at Members of the Upper House: Double Definition
  • 24ac: TILTH: Tent put on hospital land: TILT (tent) + H(ospital)
  • 25ac: ORLEANS: Fabric – or thin bit of stuff: OR + LEAN (thin) + S(tuff)
  • 26ac: DIET: Finish with last of burnt food?: DIE (finish) + (burn)T
  • 27ac: TEARY: Crying: “Rent boy’s rear end!”: TEAR (rent) + (bo)Y
  • 28ac: KICKER: Player showing an unpaired card: Double Definition
  • 29ac: BUYER: First of emeralds set with ruby for customer: E(meralds) in *(RUBY)
  • 30ac: LOPED: Took a running jump – and cut off half of cheese!: LOP (cut) + ED(am) (half of cheese)
  • 1dn: SAVANNA: Rescue nearly ready for old Asian in African landscape: SAV(e) (rescue) + ANNA (old Indian “ready”, i.e. money)
  • 2dn: LESSEE: The French notice one who rents: LES (fr. “the”) + SEE (notice)
  • 3dn: IDLED: Didn’t do very much, as I’d been out in front: I’Ð LED
  • 4dn: TRAGIC: Time to give up Havana, perhaps? It’s very sad: T(ime) + CIGAR (Havana, perhaps) reversed
  • 5dn: REHEAT: Theatre not started? Organise warm-up: *((t)HEATRE)
  • 7dn: DEODAR: Fix up cutting very expensive tree: DO (fix) reversed in DEAR (very expensive)
  • 9dn: MARKETPLACE: World of commerce in which metal-packer’s involved: *(METALPACKER)
  • 18dn: ENTERED: Went in and perhaps uprooted 7, for example, in the finale: *(TREE) (7, for example) in END (finale)
  • 20dn: SEATED: Teased terribly, not standing for it!: *(TEASED)
  • 21dn: ASSAIL: Attack like a ship: AS SAIL
  • 22dn: TIDY UP: Put everything back three times a day? Yes! (2 words): TID (three times a day) + YUP (yes)
  • 24dn: TURBO: Jet-powered mollusc?: Double Definition

I had alternative solutions for 28ac (JOKER) and 24dn (SQUID) which misled me for a while, but once I had most of the pieces, putting them together wasn’t too bad; once you’ve deduced that 9dn must be on the second row, it’s easy to put together plausible crossings for it, and the rest follows. That gives the notion that the crossword is undecided between BARS (12ac) and BLOCKS (19dn), and hence has a SPLIT PERSONALITY (1ac/6dn).

All told, then:


I wonder whether it’s wise for a new setter (“IQ debutant Jago”, according to Nimrod) to set a crossword whose theme is, basically, crosswords? To me, it doesn’t feel quite special enough – unless, of course, I have missed something in the rubric to suggest an extra step?