Solutions for Act IV Scene 4 - Disbarred

This puzzle presented a completely empty 10x10 grid with a list of unlabelled cryptic crossword clues. The implication was that we wanted to solve these clues and consequently fill out the grid.

Solving the clues is made a little difficult by the 2-letter clues all referencing other unlabelled clues, but we at least can quickly learn that each set of answers is ordered alphabetically, and that the non-referencing part of each 2-letter clue must serve as its literal definition. The answers and explanations in order are:

  • 'A'A: Basaltic lava = outside letters (outskirts) of ACCRA (1ac)
  • AD: Spot = part of (feature) COMRADE (2dn)
  • AX: American (spelling of) butcher = hidden backwards (held up) in ALEXANDRIA (1dn)
  • EM: Descriptive of — (em-dash) = ME (10dn) backwards (recalling)
  • ET: Visitor (alien) = half removed (consumed half) of MOET (10ac)
  • I'M: Setter's (belonging to puzzle writer) = odd letters of (on the main beats) IAMB (29d)
  • ME: I object (objective case) = inside letters removed (gutting) of MUTE (23a)
  • O.S.: Apple originally (was an operating system) = outside letters removed (peeled) from NOSH (6dn)
  • PI: Constant (number) = PIN (thing typed into KEYPAD (15dn)) minus last letter (mostly)
  • RA: God (Ancient Egyptian) = contained in (inhabiting) ACCRA (1ac)
  • RE: Note (in solfedge) = middle of (heart) TENDERNESS (9dn) backwards (rejected)
  • SO: Who cares? = OS (5dn) backwards (reboot)
  • TO: Dear (to begin a letter) = AUTO (19dn) without AU (unpatriotic = lacking Australia)
  • UP: Boost (as a verb) = ABORTed, perhaps (40ac) (double definition)
  • AVE: Farewell = AVERED (stated) without (left) RED (cardinal)
  • FEE: Bill = FEEL (go through) without last letter (footing)
  • PAS: Fathers = PASH (kiss) without last letter (barely)
  • SAY: Perhaps (for example) = A with S and Y (sandy) on either side (coating)
  • UTE: Truck = U (turn) with E (east) after T (intersection)
  • XOR: Logic gate = PROXY (intermediary server) center (core) backwards (circuit)
  • YEN: [whole description - &lit.] = just over 50% (majority) of MONEY (currency) backwards (from the east)
  • ANON: Soon = AN (1) with (+) ONE (1) without last letter (fairly)
  • AUTO: Wheels = "OR, TOE" (or, foot extreme) sounded out (announcement)
  • AWAY: Off = A + YAW (plane's motion) backwards (spun)
  • EDIT: Fix = ED (school = education) + IT (computers = information technology)
  • IAMB: As seen in verse = I AM (yours truly is) B (bold)
  • IRKS: Ruffles = SKIRT minus (remove) T (shirt), anagrammed (shake)
  • MOET: Bubbly (champagne) = MONET (artist) minus middle letter (lost heart)
  • MUTE: Silent = half of MALAMUTE (dog)
  • NEAR: Close = N (new) + EAR (listening device)
  • NOSH: Food = "NO SH" (what's heard in a quiet library)
  • ABORT: Arrest = ROB (mug) backwards (turning) in AT (at)
  • ACCRA: African capital = AC (cooling = air-conditioning) + CAR anagrammed (off)
  • ATRIA: Chambers = AIR (broadcast) backwards (circulate) after outside (Case) of ARTIST
  • CHIDE: Lecture = HID (buried) in CE (today)
  • DIETS: Food fads = DIE (fade) with T and S (conditions = Terms and Services)
  • DROPS: Cancels = DRS (doctor's) with OP (operation) inside (invasive)
  • EVERT: Turnout (turn out) = outside of EVENT containing (welcomes) VERY without last letter (small)
  • ONSET: Attack = "ON SET" (where to see TV actors - TV set or stage!)
  • ON TAP: Available = TONNE APP (weight programme) Spoonerised (Spooner's)
  • KEYPAD: Old phone feature = KEEP (save) AD (poster) sounded out (announcing)
  • WITHER: Wither = WITH (dating) HER (chick) without initial H (Cockney = spoken without aspiration)
  • COMRADE: Friend = COME (visit) with RAD (awesome) inside (at heart)
  • DIEHARD: Fanatic = DID all around (catching) HARE (bunny) with last letter moved to front (tailfirst)
  • ALEXANDRIA: Lighthouse locale = ALE (drink) + X (10 in Roman numerals) + AND (+) + AIR (quality) backwards (lifts)
  • TENDERNESS: Warmth = TENDS (is inclined) containing (harvest) ERNES (birds)

Next comes the tricky part of entering the words into the grid. A bit of trial-and-error is required here, but most attempts can quickly be confirmed/denied by the cross-referencing each 2-letter clue provides. Note the title "Disbarred" and the sheer number of letters here both imply our grid should be of the barred variety, where certain line segments are thickened to represent walls between words, as opposed to the more conventional full squares shaded black. Also note there are deliberately some letters in the full set of answers that only appear once or twice total, like the F in FEE, intended to make filling out the grid slightly quicker.

Once completed, the grid with all bars and clue numbers should look like:

It's apparent that the bars spell out a message, namely "CELL 2, 3, 5, 7, ETC.". This implies we want to look at the cells labelled by prime numbers. Highlighted below, they can be seen to spell out CROSS-EXAMINED, another law term to go with the puzzle title, and a somewhat fitting description of what the solver's done to complete this crossword puzzle.

Design notes:
Creating a nice grid with the required message turned out to be quite difficult for any size over 10x10, which is why there were so many small words. Originally this puzzle eschewed the cross-referencing clues for a grid with the first X already entered, which is why so many words/letter combinations were carefully chosen. We eventually realised offering cross-references with a completely blank grid was slightly fairer and more fun to solve.

The answer is: crossexamined