Wordplay (Solution)

by Ken Fan, Matt Jordan, Tanya Khovanova, Derek Kisman and Ali Lloyd

The cryptic clues are in groups. When solving the clues you can notice that in each group words have a special property. For each property there is a natural rule how to extract a letter. The extracted letters form a word from the previous group. So we extract a letter again getting the final answer.

Solutions to Clues

The first group is hill words. The hill words have letters in alphabetical order until a peak, then in reverse alphabetical order. The peak is extracted.

AMPLE: Plenty enough army police drown in beer (5)
MP (military police) in ALE (beer)

ADENOID: Refreshing juice with no identification fixes infection fighting tissue (7)
ADE (refreshing juice) + NO ID

MUSIC: Composition 101: add up backwards (5)
CI + SUM reversed

FIFA: World cup organizer's payoff if all outsiders knocked out (4)
payofF IF All

The extracted word is POUI, which has one consonant; the extracted letter is P.

The second group is pyramid words. The letter tally in pyramid words is 1,2,3 and so on. The lonely letter is extracted.

PEEPED: Erectile dysfunction after sweet chick chirped (6)
PEEP (sweet chick) + ED (erectile dysfunction)

ISSEIS: Agreement in Barcelona upon returning six Spanish-Japanese immigrants (6)
SI (agreement in Barcelona) to return = IS, SEIS (six Spanish)

FEE: Charge or no charge, rotten root must be extracted (3)
FREE (no charge) - R (rotten root)

ACACIA: California spooks follow a plant (6)
CA (California) + CIA (spooks) follow A

SALSAS: They are saucy dances (6)
Double definition

RR (Rolls) in AlE cAdRe

The extracted word: DEFILE. This is a hill word, and the extracted letter is L.

The third group is valley words. They are similar to hill words. The letters start in the reverse alphabetical order then reach the lowest point and continue in alphabetical order. The earliest letter in the alphabet is extracted.

SKORT: Rejected trouser - trunks portmanteau for clothing amalgam (5)
TROKS (trouser trunks portmanteau) rejected = SKORT

SPORTY: Bond eats meaty remnant to be athletic (6)
SPY (Bond) eats ORT (meaty remnant)

YOLKS: Egg owl finally transported in sky thrown back, revealing egg insides (5)
O (egg) L (owl finally) in SKY thrown back = YKS

PECCADILLO: Muscle car lacks air-conditioning, with nothing added - a minor fault (10)
PEC (muscle) + CADILLAC (car) - AC (air-conditioning) + O (nothing)

UNKNOT: Eliminate complications, but essentially debunk nothing (6)
debUNK NOThing

ROSY: With a healthy glow, according to the audience at the back of the theater? (4)
ROW Z homophone

The extracted word KOKAKO is a pyramid word, and the extracted letter is A.

The fourth group is palindromes. The middle letter is extracted.

TEST SET: Hardy heroine secures heart of Martian with alien sample data (4,3)
TESS (Hardy heroine) secures marTian with ET (alien)

LOL: Nabokov writing half displayed amusement (3)

TENET: Number of commandments and Latin dogma (5)
TEN (no of commandments) + ET (and Latin)

MALAYALAM: Indian language “Layla” and “Mama” bombed (9)
LAYLA + MAMA anagram

The extracted word is TONY. This is a valley word, and the extracted letter is N.

The fifth group is words with double letters. The double letter is extracted.

HITCHHIKER: Need increase in workforce - someone who could use a lift? (10)
ITCH (need) + HIKE (increase) in HR (workforce)

KAASHOEK: CSAIL professor's shoe found in Alaska by heads of KAOS (8)
SHOE in AK (Alaska) by KAos

JELLYSTONE: Jam on street, one where Yogi lives (10)
JELLY (jam) + ST (street) + ONE

KIERKEGAARD: Existentialist's dark creation consuming curious Greek AI (11)
DARK anagram around GREEK AI anagram.

METALLICA: Hetfield & co processed late claim (9)
LATE CLAIM anagram

MAASTRICT: Overheard mother's stringent treaty (10)
MA'S STRICT homophone

MENSCHHEIT: From Berlin, humanity and humankind's peak, drunkenly reported (10)
MEN'S HEIGHT drunken homophone

The result is HALALAH. This is a palindrome, and the extracted letter is A.

The last group is words with one consonant. The consonant is extracted.

AIME: Math contest ambition: to get a point (4)
AIM (ambition) + E (point)

EYE: Small hole in Romney economy (3)
romnEY Economy

EERIE: Strangely frightening l-lake? (5)
E-ERIE (l-lake)

RIAA: Stricter Somali sea agenda ends with pirate hunters (4)
stricteR somalI seA agendA

OAHU: Energetic hula with hoop to kick off start of luau on Hawaiian island (4)
HULA + O (hoop) - Luau

OEIS: In Tahoe, I saw a place with parades of numbers (4)
tahOE I Saw

The extracted word is MYRRHS. This is a double letter word, and the extracted letter is R.

Taking the extracted letters gives the answer PLANAR.