HERE are two ways to looks at a Wrong Number puzzle. On the one hand you need to do a lot more work to fit a solution into the grid. On the other there’s an extra definition lurking somewhere amongst the clues, that may be especially helpful towards the end. That said, the easiest clue to solve, 31 across, proved the hardest to locate, as noted below.
Overall Wrong Number is a more difficult proposition than a plain puzzle, but even if you don’t relish the challenge of the grid there is compensation in the clues, which are often very inventive in their definitions and wordplay. Apart from two geographic references, everything in this puzzle can be verified in Chambers.
The usual advice: it’s important to read the clue-writing instructions carefully. A few competitors enter a clue to the word defined in the asterisked clue rather than to the unclued solution. Also remember that the locating definition must be integral to the clue that contains it and not an addition to the clue’s own definition and wordplay.
In the explanations below the clues are numbered as they appear in the puzzle. The notes in brackets indicate where their solutions go in the grid, and the one-word definition that appears in the clue at that location.
11. Low round valley featuring tree in early stage of artist’s work. MODELLO (dell in moo; 34a; sketch). The extended definition of ‘dell’ as ‘valley featuring tree’ takes advantage of Chambers’s entry ‘usu covered with trees’ to supply the locating definition for ARAROBA.
12. One in circus you’ll see diminish leaving US and turning up in pub activity CRAIC (a in circ(us), rev.; 3d; fun). Again the indicator for the removal of US is extended to accommodate ‘diminish’, the definition of WANZE.
14. Start of youth and pals are playing – scram PARALYSE (anag. inc. y; 20d; stun). Chambers gives scram2 as a dialect word from SW England meaning to paralyse or benumb as well as, intriguingly, ‘to shut down (a nuclear reactor), esp in an emergency’, which presumably originated at Hinkley Point.
15. Mostly unfeeling on the whole, the US kind is called a hooker HARLOT (har(d) + lot; 5d; strumpet). The wordplay is nicely realised and would give the clue & lit. scope in a normal puzzle.
18. Estates gaining concealment in salient ENTAILS (anag.; 32a; involves). ‘Gaining concealment’ is a rather unnatural anagram indicator but provides the definition of COVER-UP. ‘Estate’ and ‘entail’ are both used in the legal verb sense of determining entitlement to an estate.
21. The French in Loire town, anything but crusty ANGERLESS (les in Angers; 8d; calm). Angers in NW France is important historically as the orginal seat of the Plantagenet dynasty.
30. Kids into robbery perhaps, lives looked into by the Met? IMPS (MP in is; 26d; spirits). With P and S in place, Dr Watson felt sure this clue would lead to NIPS, meaning cutpurses, but it proved otherwise. MP and Met are both abbreviations for the Metropolitan Police.
33. Powder sandarach on fashioned boa ARAROBA (arar + anag.; 11a; tree). Araroba and sandarach, though unrelated, are both types of tree that provide a substance that is powdered. Confusingly arar is the product of the sandarach and not the araroba.
6. Strumpet STRIPE (15a; kind). ‘Strumpet’ is merely a locating definition for HARLOT, so per the instructions, it needs to be replaced with a clue to the only unclued 6-letter solution, STRIPE (whose own locating definition is found at 15 across), that contains a one word definition of HARLOT.
7. Labrus properly aligned with regard to pouch BURSAL (anag.; 28a; bagged). Another extended anagram indication, ‘properly aligned’, though not quite so contorted as ‘gaining concealment’.
17. Love in progress to make things happen slower in song ROUNDELAY (0 in run + delay; 16d; dance). ‘Make things happen slower’ is necessary for the definition of EVENTUATE, but also serves to give the clue a rather attractive surface.
22. Sign of omission with litre bottled? Many welcome top-up thereof CLARET (l in caret; 23d; red). The most amusing example in the puzzle of a ‘Wrong Number’ adaptation, in this case to locate REFILL.
25. A choc’s bad for one? He may recommend training with weights COACH (anag.; 1a; train). And perhaps the most extended definition, in order to include ‘weights’ for ARTAL.
31. Small coin held in grip – a rappen? PARA (hidden; 13a; state). One of the easiest clues to solve, but one of the hardest to place, even with the grid nealy full. The locating definition ‘state’ at 13 across doesn’t refer to one of Chambers’s entries, but to the NE Brazilian state of Pará, whose main city Belém lies at the mouth of the Amazon. ‘Para’ indicated by ‘state’ is enough of a crossword staple to have made it into Bradford’s.
Across: 1. ARTAL (anag. of tra(in) + al(l); 25d; weights); 11. STYLATE (hidden; 35a; fashioned); 13. FIST (s in fit; 27d; grip); 22. HOSPITALE (anag. + tale; 4d; lodging); 24. CHARACT (char act; 8a; part); 26. REFILL (life, rev., in RL; 22d; top-up); 29. CAPSICUM (caps I cum; 1d; plant); 31. ELPEE (hidden rev.; 34a; album); 32. COVER-UP (over in cup; 18a; concealment); 34. PSALM (anag. + m; 31a; tract).
Down: 1. ORATORIO (RA in anag. + I 0; 2d; work); 2. SPRINGAL (anag.; 14a; youth); 3. WANZE (w + n in Aze(d); 12a; diminish); 4. CRUSTATED (state in crud; 21a; crusty); 8. EVENTUATE (even + taut, rev. + t, e; 17d; happen); 9. TELL (let, rev. + l; 10d; utter); 10. CZAR (Z in car; 9d; ruler); 16. RACONTEUR (anag. + r; 22a; storyteller); 19. MILIARIA (mili(t)aria; 29a; inflammation); 20. UNUSABLE (anag. less t; 19d; futile); 23. RANGED (anag.; 7d; aligned); 26. TOBY (to by; 30a; robbery).