Crossword roundup: to fool or not to fool?

<span>A dance of fools.</span><span>Photograph: Design Pics Inc/Shutterstock</span>
A dance of fools.Photograph: Design Pics Inc/Shutterstock

In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.

Last year, late in April, we looked at 2023’s April Fools’ puzzles and noted something cheering. After years of apparent April Fools’ fatigue, setters had found still new ways of adding extra misdirection and short-lived confusion.

This year? Let’s start with the Americans. Again, they were happy to play.

The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times went with hidden words in the long answers and generally kept things “Monday” (that is, solvable without great pains). The WSJ: OUT WITH IT, GAS STATION, ADAMS APPLE and COLD OPENS; the LA Times: TEA SERVICE, RIBBON CANDY, KIDNEY BEANS and JOSHUA TREE.

Solving with a suspicious mind is an occupational hazard of 1 April; I kept thinking something was up with the New Yorker, but it was merely hard. The New York Times, by contrast, had a trick that I won’t describe, as discovering it is the fun of it.

Over here, the Times had this clue …

3d Nothing will stop sweet academic, that’s certain (9)
[ wordplay: O (‘nothing’) inside (‘will stop’) synonyms for ‘sweet’ and ‘academic’ ]
[ O in FOOL PROF ]
[ definition: certain ]

… for FOOLPROOF, while Telegraph had this …

1a Nonsense to me lines describing fruit dish (10)
[ wordplay: TOME (‘to me’) + abbreviation for railway (‘lines’) outside (‘describing’) name of a fruit dish ]
[ TOMERY outside FOOL ]
[ definition: nonsense ]

… for TOMFOOLERY. There was no other fooling material – perhaps appropriately, in the first case. Or you can tell me gently what I missed …

As with the New Yorker, I approached Twin’s Independent puzzle with trepidation (especially given his form) and I’m still staring at the completed grid. Not a bumper year, then, but surely no repudiation of foolery.

As for Picaron in this paper, if you didn’t solve that puzzle, you missed a … well, you know the end of that idiom.

The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop