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Quick Cryptic No 120 by Marty

I think this is my first exercise supplied by Marty. I found it much trickier than Wednesday's quickie, with several clues worthy of the main puzzle; it took me a good twenty minutes although once done the answers were clear and often brought a smile.


Across
1 PULL A FACE - FALL = sink, UP, all turned = PULLAF, ACE = expert (another chestnut), def. grimace.
6 JUNTA - JUN = a month with 30 days, TA = volunteers (another chestnut), def. ruling council.
8 NEGLIGENT - (NIGEL)* indicated by unruly, followed by GENT = fellow, def. careless.
9 COMMA - There's a comma between gardens and occasionally, and a comma is a rather pretty butterfly with irregularly shaped wings.
10 COINTREAU - Anagram of CREATION with U (superior), indicated by exotic, def. liqueur.
12 ORATED - O = nothing, RATED = valued, def. made a speech.
13 ZAGREB - To the west here means it's reversed, a hidden word, CLIM(BER GAZ)ED, not many cities with 6 letters end with a B. It used to be a great place to visit but I haven't been back since the all night party after the Eurovision Song Contest 1990, just before the war.
16 ICELANDER - If you land the ice you win the lolly. Cryptic def. a European.
18 SIT-UP - Cryptic double def., stay out of bed or exercise.
19 SPAGHETTI - Witty indeed. Spaghetti Westerns, cowboy movies made originally in Italian in the 1960s; Spaghetti junction is a notorious early motorway interchange in Birmingham (UK), correctly called Gravelly Hill interchange, the term is now used generically for such complex tangles of concrete.
21 CURVE - CURE = French priest, taking in V = vicar at first, def. crook.
22 NAMECHECK - Complicated enough for the big puzzle, this one. 'Bizarre' indicates an anagram of CHANCE, with ME insterted, NA(ME)CHEC, then K = king, def. mention.

Down
1 PANACHE - Another complicated clue. PANACE(A) is a short solution, insert H = hard, def. confidence. I found the 'everything' bit misleading and unnecessary.
2 LEGS IT - Foot of hill = L, EG = for example, SIT = rest, def. does runner.
3 ATILT - ATILT means listing, leaning over; use the first letters of A(rticles) T(hat) I(nclude) L(ittle) T(hings), indicated by 'first of all'. Easy once you see it, but tuning in to the intended meaning of 'listing' here took me a little while.
4 ALE - The odd letters of eArLiEr, def. drink.
5 EAT HUMBLE PIE - Cryptic def., and it gives you the U at the end of the liqueur, and the B for the city, which helps a lot.
6 JACK ROBINSON - 'Before you can say Jack Robinson' is a common phrase meaning 'pretty quickly'. I looked up the origins of it; several versions of course, the most likely being According to Grose's Classical Dictionary, published in 1785, the reference is to an individual whose social visits were so short that he would be departing almost before his arrival was announced.. The parsing is JACK = card, ROBIN'S = Christmas bird's, ON.
7 NOMINATE - NO MATE is not a friend, insert IN = home, NOM(IN)ATE, def. put up (for election).
11 EUROSTAR - (TOURS ARE)*. Brilliant, witty, concise clueing.
14 AIRSICK - Cryptic def. I was less thrilled with this one, but with all the checking letter it was clear.
15 ODETTE - Girl's name found reversed in REGR(ETTED O)NCE. Indicator 'taken up'.
17 AD HOC - Sounds like ADD HOCK, def. for a particular purpose.
20 AIM - Double def.; if you plan for something, you aim for it; you train your weapon when you aim at a target. At least, that's how I saw it.

Times 25872

This lively and enjoyable puzzle took 50 minutes to complete. There was nothing unknown to me although after the event I needed to look up the US political organisation which I had heard of (more usually with the word 'Hall' following it) but I couldn't bring to mind. Depending whether a replacement can be found in time for two weeks today this may be my last Friday blog as from 2nd September I am moving to Jim's old slot on alternate Tuesdays.

In response to a comment made earlier in the week and to see how it goes,  I am using curly brackets and lower case to indicate deletions instead of crossing letters through.



Across
1 FLASHY - ASH (cinders) inside FLY (carriage)
4 PARTERRE - PART (role), ERRE{d} (nearly went wrong). I think there's nothing specific to the Tippett opera "The Knot Garden" here, but a parterre is a levelled area where one might find a knot garden, a formal layout where mainly herbs and other aromatic plants are grown.
10 COMPLAINT - The A and I in "compliant" (cooperative) are reversed to make a synonym for "beef".
11 SEVER - SEVER{n} (river)
12 SANDWICH COURSE - SANDWICH (round), COURSE (way). This consists partly of training in a college, for example, and partly practical experience in a workplace.
14 VICHY - Hidden. Vichy is best known as the seat of the puppet French government during Nazi occupation.
16 PICTORIAL - {v}ICTORIA (Queen beheaded) inside PL (place). Definition: of shots
18 NONPAREIL - NO (not so) + anagram of PLAINER
20 BIGHT - B{l}IGHT (wreck's getting left to vanish). Bight of Benin and Australian Bight are famous examples of this geographical feature. And German Bight of course, well known to listeners to the Shipping Forecast.
21 CONTRAINDICATE - TRAIN (school) + ACID (tart, reversed) all inside CONTE (short story). My last one in that I was most relieved to work out from wordplay. It's a medical term used in diagnosis. Which reminds me, where's our resident doc these days?
25 HADES - HAD (underwent), S{pac}E reversed
26 PRECIPICE - Anagram of PRICE x 2 (couple of prices) minus an R (rupee)
27 PATIENCE - Anagram of NICE TAPE. I think strictly speaking this is an opera, albeit a comic one, rather than an operetta.
28 AFFECT - Double definition



Down
1 FACE-SAVING - Two definitions, one cryptic
2 AMMAN - {t}AMMAN{y} (corrupt US political party) stripped of its outer letters gives us the capital of Jordan. Those wanting to know more can look it up here.
3 HALLWAY - H (husband), then W (wife) inside ALLAY (calm)
5 ARTIC - AR{c}TIC (very cold minus Celsius)
6 TESTUDO - TEST (trial), U (universal), DO (complete). By a crazy coincidence I was trying to think of this word only yesterday in connection with a question on a TV quiz, and failed to do so. It's the manoeuvre in which Roman soldiers bunched up together with shields raised to protect themselves. There's a tortoise of the same name.
7 RAVISHING - RA (gunners), V{an}ISHING (leaving, without A Note)
8 EARN - Alternate letters in rEpAiRiNg. Definition: pocket. I'm not doing 10 curly brackets for this one!
9 DISCIPLE - DISC( album), then LP reversed inside IE (that is)
13 ALL THE BEST - ALL (the whole), THEBES (Greek city), T{hermopylae}
15 CONCORDAT - CONCORD{e} (Anglo-French project missing out English), A, T (time)
17 COLANDER - CO (company), LANDER (potential mission to Mars). Definition: what will strain. The second part of the wordplay strains things a bit too, unless I'm missing something. Edit: I stand corrected on LANDER, it's perfectly valid. I should have troubled to look it up!
19 ARTISTE - Anagram of RATES IT
20 BAILIFF - AIL (trouble) inside BIFF (hit)
22 ASPIC - A, SPIC{e} (lot of flavour)
23 ABIDE - A BID (an attempt), E{gypt}
24 CHIP - The A in "chap" is changed to I to make the golf shot.

25871 Napoleon's Palindrome

A very pretty set of clues characterised by smooth surfaces and believable little scenarios. This one took me 21'06" with only stupidities such as not being able to do anagrams and befuddlement with the drinks in the lower half slowing me down. I took time out to do an airport pick up between solving and blogging, but I hope the discontinuity doesn't show and the lateness/earliness of the hour is not betrayed by too many typos or downright errors.
This was an elegant, old school puzzle with none of the barbed wire cleverness that we have seen a fair bit of recently. I suppose there's room on planet Earth for both kinds and more.
My reasoning goes thusly.
 
Across

1 ELBA  Island
Hidden in rebEL BAndits, which was slightly annoying because firstly it wasn't "I" in some word for "rebel" that meant bandits, and secondly because once you've spotted today's hidden, you know there's not another one.
3 REMARKABLE  outstanding
A cutesy take on what exam papers are if sent for another look, easy for me because herself is currently up to her ears in EARs (enquiries about results) for a well known A level marking syndicate, There's a word for coincidences like that. If only I could think what it is.
9 ECLIPSE  Obscure
A simple insertion of CLIPS (cuttings) into EnvelopE's -um- envelope emptied.
11 TREASON  Crime against the state
Another relative doddle. AnarchisT's last letter and REASON for justification. Tidy clue.
12 CHOIR PRACTICE  meeting to achieve harmony
Mine's every Tuesday. I reverse engineered this one: it's the odd letters of RePoRt before ACT 1, which easily qualifies as an early bit of drama, both embedded in CHOICE for "special".
14 SPROG (small) child
Turned up on June 25th, when I got it wrong. This clue was (IMO) easier, or at least less mistakable. PRObinG for "looking into" has its bin removed and is placed beside S(mall), perhaps doing double duty. It's worth remembering that "by" can mean in front of or behind.
15 TAMARILLO  fruit
Pleased to see I did not wholly invent the TOMATILLO, but took too long to see it wasn't an anagram of TRIAL LOAM (was there ever a more obvious candidate for fodder?) and struggled with 6d. Memo: check all the letters are there.
17 NARCISSUS Blooming
Suggests we're looking for a flower. It may be there are solvers out there who don't know this bit of Greek myth. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool and, unable to break away from contemplation of his staggering beauty, died. There must be a word for such a fixation...
19 SARGE Officer
Short for sergeant, the (non commissioned) officer who tells us bombardiers what to do. SAGE for "wise" ingests R(esistance)
21 INAPPROPRIATE  unseemly
Fell out the moment "I sleep" translated into I NAP. Streetwalker is PRO(stitute), PRIvATE (the individual us bombardiers tell what to do)  loses its heart.  to complete the answer. I think "individual" here is, strictly speaking, an adjective, as in "every private man".
24 ONE-TIME Former
Broadcast gives EMIT, in French gives EN, and OSA at the outset gives just the O. The whole sequence is reversed. You don't need to know that OAS stands for Organisation de l'Armée Secrète, "an organization of French settlers who opposed Algerian independence in the early 1960s", though it adds a certain historical frisson to the clue. I had a query against the first letter of an acronym being the "leader", but it can't really be anything else.
25 ICELAND Country
A trap for the unwary suggests Ireland might be the chosen nation, but the wordplay insists on an anagram of DANCE I round back of halL
26 ASTONISHED  Surprised
One dropped gives 1 SHED, set behind AS for when and TON for high speed.
27 DEAD  Completely out of breath. Or dead. Or out of breath
Works either as a cryptic, if slightly ironic definition, or as a double. Dead = completely in "dead still", for example, and out of breath is also a plausible whimsy for dead.

Down

1 EXERCISING  worrying
As in "my mind was greatly exercised over 24 across." The useful River EXE, RISING (surging)  around C(irca) for about. No reversals here despite temptations.
2 BALFOUR Conservative PM
Arthur Balfour was Prime Minister from 27 February 1906 – 13 November 1911. Reverse R(ugby) U(nion) OF LAB(our)
4 EXECRATES  Curses
EXECS are senior managers (allegedly) who absorb the RATE charge. I keep wanting to pronounce it like some Greek philosopher.
5 AZTEC  Old Mexican
Not if Stout Cortés had any say. A(rea) Z (unknown) by (de)TEC(tive)
6 KEEP IN RESERVE store
Look around gives PEEK backwards, popular is almost always IN, book as in tickets gives RESERVE.
7 BOSWELL Scottish writer
O(ld) B(ook) reverses before SWELL for great. You don't have to decide for our purposes  whether Sam Johnson's biographer was a great writer.
8 EDNA  Female
Journalist the ever reliable ED, N(ame) and A (indefinite) article
10 PEREGRINATION
PERAMBULATION also fits the space but not the wordplay, which is P(icturesqu)E REGION (area) with an anagram of TRAIN within.
13 BONEHEADED  Stupid
Individual provides ONE to which you add the plain sight HE. BADE for ordered and D(aughter) go without.
16 MUSCOVITE
Citizen of Russia's capital, and an anagram of MOVIES CUT. Is "censored" OK as an anagram indicator?
18 RAIMENT Clothing
AIM for object ("my object all sublime") is held within RENT for tear.
20 REAL ALE this beer
Sounds somewhat like reel ail
22 PRESS Crowd
The heading for Port is just the P, RE is on/about, SS is ship as in SS Grape Written, Brew Nell's masterpiece currently on display in Bristle.
23 SODA drink
Easy enough when you stop thinking cola. A DOS(e) for a certain quality without its E(nergy), "up".
 

Quick Cryptic No 119 by Izetti

Solving Time: Relatively straightforward

The Don is along with today's Quick Cryptic and it's a reasonably accessible puzzle with our setter's invariable smattering of religious clues (a little irritating for those of us who don't share his Passion). The only one I had any bother with was the unusual word at 12 across, which, to be fair, was clued in a fairly accessible manner.

As a postscript, I hope this is early enough for the anonymous bod who grumbled last week.

Across
7 NEMO - The definition is 'novel captain', referring to Jules Verne's famous naval personage. O MEN (old soldiers) reversed (westward).
8 TEMPLATE - Here, the definition is a model. TEMP (Agency worker?) + LATE (formerly).
9 BLITHE - A word for merry or happy is the definition. B (Bishop) + LIT (drunk fired up) + H.E. (explosive).
10 SAVAGE - Def = brutal individual. A + V (very) inside SAGE (wise person).
11 AVON - English river = def. AVION (French word for a plane) minus I (one ditched).
12 MARGRAVE - (German) nobleman [equivalent to a Marquess] is the definition. MAR (ruin) with GRAVE (serious) alongside.
15 PROCURED - Got = definition. CURE (remedial treatment) inside PROD (stimulus).
17 LAND - Come down to earth = definition. L (last letter of FALL) + AND.
18 JOB LOT - Motley collection = definition. JOB + LOT (two characters from the Old Testament).
21 SOREST - Most irritable = definition. SO (therefore) + REST (relaxation).
22 DESOLATE - This is one of those clever clues where the whole thing defines the clue cryptically, but also provides the indications. An anagram (OTHERWISE) of SO ELATED gives a word that is the opposite!
23 ABED - A four-poster, maybe, is the definition.AB (standard crossword abbreviation for a sailor, Able-Bodied) + ED (journlist).

Down
1 FELL OVER - Tripped up is the definition. F (female) + EL (the in Spanish) + lover (SWEETHEART).
2 COTTON - This was my last one in today, not particularly hard from the checking letters. MATERIAL is the definition. CO (firm) + TT (dry, as in teetotal) + ON (leg[side] in cricket).
3 STREAMER - FLAG = definition. An anagram (could make) of ME STARE = R (top of roof).
4 EMUS - Birds = definition. Hidden inside THE MUSEUM.
5 CLEVER - Smart = definition CL [CLASS minus ASS] + EVER (always).
6 STAG - Party man? is the slightly cryptic definition, indicated by the question mark. The name for a person who attends a certain type of party.
13 RADISHES - Salad items = definition. RA (artist) = DISHES (culinary containers).
14 VANISHED - Disappeared is the definition. VAN (vehicle) + I + SHED (got rid of).
15 CALLOW - Green is the definition. COW (farm animal) with ALL (EVERYTHING) inside.
17 LARIAT - What cowboy may use is the definition. An anagram (winding) of A TRAIL.
19 OPEN - Public = definition. O (love) + PEN (writer).
20 TRAP - Catch is the deifnition. The reverse (coming up) of PART (character in play).


Thanks to Izetti for today's challenge. See you next week!

Quick Cryptic No 118 by Flamande

A pleasant puzzle, two of the definitions are rather vague or loose (3d, 5d) and an unspecified woman makes 20a a rather random exercise. Not much else to add.
UPDATE: it appears (see below comments) that the in-paper version has a different / easier clue for 2 dn - all very odd.

Across
1 SECURE - CUR = dog is kept inside SEE = understand, def. safe.
4 STEPPE - STEP = walk, PE = exercise, def. extensive area of grassland.
8 SCARLET RUNNER - Double def., a kind of climbing (runner) bean, and an overheated athlete.
10 ENTRY - Double def., not sure why there's a ?
11 ATTACHE - Another double def. The Embassy employee, and the kind of case originally used by same.
12 BROADSHEETS - (THE BOSS READS)*, indicated by 'various', def. newspapers.
16 VILLAGE - V(ery) ILL = bad, AGE = time, def. small community.
17 UNITE - UNI (abbr. for university), TE(achers), def. marry.
18 NO GREAT SHAKES - Amusing cryptic definition.
19 ENTIRE - NT = set of biblical books, inside EIRE = Ireland, def. complete.
20 CRANNY - ANN gets stuck in CRY = shout, def. crevice. No obvious reason to think of Ann as an example for woman, but the checkers give you little choice.

Down
1 SISTER - Hidden word, WARD(S IS TER)RIFYING, def. nurse.
2 CHARTER FLIGHT - CHAR = daily, then FRET (worry) reversed = TREF, then LIGHT = land, def. specially-organised air trip.
3 RALLY - REALLY = definitely, lacking E = energy, def. long-distance race. Not what I think a rally, is, but I suppose it involves long distances and time trials.
5 TRUSTEE - RUST = decline (does it?) inside TEE = support (for golf ball), def. administrator.
6 PANIC-STRICKEN - (NICKS IN CARPET)*, def. alarmed.
7 EARNER - LEARNER = pupil loses its L = head, def. someone who'll make money.
9 TRANSIENT - TENT = shelter for camper, around (RAINS)*, indicated by 'unexceptedly', def. temporary.
13 AMATEUR - MATE = colleague, stuck inside A UR (city of old, a chestnut as I mentioned 2 weeks ago), def. unprofessional.
14 AVENUE - A VENUE = place to meet, def. boulevard.
15 JERSEY - Double def., 'top' and the island; and GUERNSEY has too many letters.
17 USHER - US = American, HER = female, def. court official.

Times Crossword 25,870

Solving Time: Just over 22 minutes. An easy start but it took me a while to mop up the last few, down the rhs. Then copying it into the club website I found I had one wrong, a simple typo as it turned out. Oh well. It was a nice crossword, so no complaints otherwise

cd = cryptic definition, dd = double definition, rev = reversed, anagrams are *(--), homophones indicated in ""

ODO means the Oxford Dictionaries Online


Across
1 Traitor's Gate - TRAIT (characteristic) + *(STORAGE) for the famous entry to the Tower of London
9 Nolan - hidden, rev., in emulsioN ALONg. I suppose it must be this chap, with whom I am not familiar
10 commodore - CO (officer) + MOD (Whitehall dept) in MORE, extra.
11 thalamus - (poiro)T + HAL (computer, from the film 2001 Space Odyssey) + AMUS(e).
12 Haggai - HAGGA(rd) (gaunt, with the way = rd removed) + I. A minor prophet from the bible
13 pince-nez - PIN (stick) + CE (church, ie of England), + ZEN rev. Though saying Zen = meditation, is pretty much the same as saying Christianity = prayer
15 owlish - O + L(eft) in WISH (want). This meaning is well-supported in dictionaries, but do owls look solemn to you? They look rather fierce to me
17 canape - dd., the first indicating CAN APE
18 deprives - ExPeRt in DIVES, seedy nightclubs
20 lustre - *(RESULT), a clever anagram
21 so-called - SOC(i)AL (party ones left) + LED, a light, the def. being "not real"
24 plaintive - V(ery) in PLAIN TIE
25 glade - GLAD (pleased) + (haz)E
26 hospital pass - HOSPITAL (scene of operations) + PASS (I don't know). Collins: ""(informal)
(sport) a pass made to a team-mate who will be tackled heavily as soon as the ball is received""

Down
1 tank top - TANK + POT rev. ODO says: "A close-fitting sleeveless top typically worn over a shirt or blouse." Is that a jumper, then?
2 a flea in one's ear - sounds like "A flee" or bolt...
3 tonga - N(oon) in TOGA, what your Roman wears. Tonga, it turns out, is a type of cart used in India, as well as a Polynesian island nation with a fine rugby team
4 recouped - COUPE (sports car) in RED
5 gamy - G(ood) + AMY. Whether gamy means spoilt, or even rotten (as opposed to slightly high), is debatable
6 Trojan War - TROJAN (malware, a type of computer virus) + WAR (conflict). The def. being "Extensive investment," the Greeks having invested Troy for ten years or so..
7 bougainvillaea - *(UNAVAILABLE I GO). A clever clue for a beautiful flower. Here is one, outside my daughter's house in Qatar:

20140102_110854

8 delish - DELI (food store) + SH (can it, ie shut up)
14 Esperanto - ESP (intuition) + ERA (time) + *(NOT)
16 redolent - REDO (again go over) + LENT, that part of the church year where you pretend to give something up
17 caliph - CAL(m) + IPH, sounds like "IF"
19 sadness - END (die) + AS (when), both rev., + SS (ship)
22 angel - G(rand) in (p)ANEL, a jury without the P(age)
23 wisp - W (ith) + ISP, an Internet Service Provider..

Times 25869 – Jimbo Woz ’Ere!

Okay - a nice easy one and a joint blogging effort between Z8, Olivia (making her debut, I think) on the acrosses and me on the downs. Hopefully, our mystery alternative Tuesday blogger will be with us by 2 September.



ACROSS

1. POSTLUDE - piece common in recession; mail gives POST, LUDE sounds like lewd or "obscene" I was looking for the clue to behave very differently, with reverses and such: the definition is longer than it strictly needs to be.
5. GAUCHE - Inelegant; dressing gives GAUzE, from which the Z (unknown, maths) is removed and replaced by CH (companion of Honour). Another affront to our sinister friends.
9. CEREBELLA - parts of upper storey; for which read parts of the head/brain. Hidden (rather well I thought) in FierCE REBEL LAird's.
11. AMAZE - AMA(I)ZE; remove the i from "a maize" and you have "cause surprise".
12. IDYLLIC - charming; this one caused me most head scratching: it's ChILLY with the H(usband), stolen reversed (as per contrary) and then ID for papers at the beginning.
13. CANTEEN - mess; that sort of mess. CAN and nick are both slang terms for prison, TEEN an adolescent.
14. TOASTMISTRESS - MC; AT MOST* "dances", SISTERS* are "arranged".
16 POLICE STATIONS - Busy workplace; a cryptic definition. Busy for policeman/detective has come up a few times recently.
20 COINAGE - Money; made up of CO(mpany) and IN AGE getting older, so towards the end.
21 INCOMER - No native; created by adding R(esistance) to the end of INCOME for "means".
23 LEGAL - Allowed; "AGE"= "time" reversed between 2 Ls (lines).
24 SWINBURNE - British poet; BURN[s] - Scots poet briefly without the S contained in "swine" = "rotter".
25. DROWSY - dropping off; disputes can be ROWS. Place them between the two sides of D(erb)y. No, not Spurs/Arsenal. Not enough spaces.
26. EGGSHELL Hard cover; do they still make eggshell gloss paint? EG from "say", GS from G(las)S casing, HE'LL from "man will".

DOWN

1 PECTIN – sounds like ‘pecked’ + IN; pectin (‘setter’) is used in jam making.
2 SPRAY – S[ection] + PRAY for the flowery thing
3. LOBELIA – LOB (shy as in throw) + ELIA (Charles Lamb’s pen name); another flowery thing.
4. DELICATESSENS – ASSETS DECLINE* (anagram); only one specialist shop in Crosswordville.
6. AGAINST – NS (poles) in A + GAIT (carriage as in how you walk); ‘standing beside’.
7. CHAMELEON – CAME (appeared) around H (horse = heroin) + NOEL reversed.
8. EVENNESS – EVE + [inspection]N + NESS; ‘calm’ (as of temperament).
10. ACCLIMATISING – CI + ISNT + MAGICAL* (sadly) ; ‘settling in’. (on edit - thanks to Anon)
14. TALKING-TO – KING in TOTAL*.
15. SPECKLED – [Gregory] PECK (for To Kill a Mockingbird, I imagine) in SLED; Speckled Jim, RIP.
17. CHABLIS – CHA + B-LIS[t].
18. INCUBUS – IN CUB[a] + US; nasty nightmarey thing.
19. ORDEAL – OR (Ordinary Ranks) + DEAL; ‘trial’.
22. MAR[i]NE

Quick Cryptic No 117 by Joker

The first couple seemed easy but then I took what seemed an age to get into the rest. Finished in 12 minutes so must have sped up as I went.

An enjoyable crossword which starts off cute, has pulling power, sex appeal and attraction but, after dealing with the death of a former partner and a bad spirit, rather sadly ends with an ache. I wonder what Joker's life has been like recently?

Definitions are underlined.

Across
1 Endearingly pretty hair style, the last thing in coiffure (4)
CUTE - Hair style (CUT) with the last letter of coiffur(E).
3 Killer of two fools at home (8)
ASSASSIN - Two fools (ASS ASS) at home (IN).
9 Song about chaps in Caucasian republic (7)
ARMENIA - Song (ARIA) about chaps (MEN).
10 What’s seen in peony’s head and others? (5)
PETAL - I think this is one of those &lit clues. What's seen in a peony are petals made up from the first letter of Peony and others (ET AL).
11 Something sacred to the vacant millions (5)
TOTEM - To (TO), ThE vacant (without the middle 'e' - oops middle 'h' - thanks bryanlawson!) and millions (M).
12 Experiment with fish stuffed with thyme in the middle (3,3)
TRY OUT - Fish (TROUT) containing (stuffed with) the middle letter of thYme.
14 Take responsibility for knife in part of the body (8,5)
SHOULDER BLADE - Take responsibility (SHOULDER as in shoulder a burden) and knife (BLADE).
17 Boss takes one round film production company (6)
STUDIO - Boss (STUD), one (I) and round (O).
19 Piece of evidence needs a liberal interpretation at first (5)
ALIBI - A (A) liberal (LIB) plus the first letter of Interpretation. I didn't immediately see alibi=evidence but Collins has a definition of alibi as the evidence to prove an alibi.
22 Clubs have an adverse effect on pulling power (5)
CHARM - Clubs (C), adverse effect (HARM).
23 Remainder live outside centre of Truro (7)
RESIDUE - Live (RESIDE) outside middle letter if trUro.
24 Offered a redrafting of deed next (8)
EXTENDED - Anagram (redrafting of) DEED NEXT.
25 Death of former partner with sex appeal (4)
EXIT - Former partner (EX) with sex appeal (IT). In crossword land 'it' can also mean vermouth as in the term 'gin and it' (3 parts gin, 1 part Italian vermouth). I presume this is a term from the past as I haven't heard it in general conversation - but maybe someone will tell me that I'm making a bish ;-)

Down
1 Church painter is a parliamentary reformer (8)
CHARTIST - Church (CH) painter (ARTIST). A supporter of the People's Charter of 1838.
2 Seek to attract short-term worker with little time (5)
TEMPT - Short term worker (TEMP) with little time (T).
4 Running Ascot they sure keep on to the very end (4,3,6)
STAY THE COURSE - Anagram (running) of ASCOT THEY SURE
5 Moving play about trollop’s end has to be relevant (5)
APPLY - Anagram (moving) of PLAY about the last letter of trolloP.
6 Take up something most essential, as for citrus fruit (7)
SATSUMA - Reverse (take up) A MUST and as (AS).
7 North-east contains one large river (4)
NILE - North-east (NE) around one (I) large (L). It's certainly a long river - 4,199 miles or thereabouts.
8 Thin plate served up for lamb, perhaps (6)
ANIMAL - Had loads of fun with this one - the answer is from thin plate (LAMINA) backwards (served up) but with the checkers _N_M_L I managed to convince myself that the answer just HAD to be enamel but couldn't work out the lamb bit. Then light dawned.
13 Hotel guest is torn about team (8)
RESIDENT - Torn (RENT) around team (SIDE).
15 Rejected openly gay group of actors (7)
OUTCAST - Openly gay (OUT), group of actors (CAST).
16 Cook is required in Scottish bank (6)
BRAISE - Is (IS) inside Scottish bank/river (BRAE) - thank you Stronon - definition of brae is the steep or sloping bank of a river or lake or seashore, a steep slope rising from water; a bank or stretch of ground rising with a fairly steep slope, the face of a hill; a road which has a steep gradient; an upland, mountainous district.
18 Bad spirit of public protest over conclusion of coalition (5)
DEMON - Public protest (DEMO) before (over) last letter of coalitioN.
20 Book list is mind-expanding to some extent (5)
INDEX - The answer is in the clue (to some extent) mIND-EXpanding.
21 Pain is hard in top performer (4)
ACHE - Hard (H) inside top performer (ACE).
Solving time: 27 minutes

Music: Mozart, Marriage of Figaro Highlights, Giulini/Wachter/Schwartzkopf/Cossotto/Taddei/Moffo/Philharmonia Orchestra




This Monday offering was a piece of cake for an academic sort like yours truly....how could you be listening to Mozart and not write in 'nocturne' for 5 down? There were a fair number of letter removal and substitution clues, including an unusual 'replace all' style clue. I nearly made a fatal blunder as I finished up in the NW, wanting to put 'diet' until I found the cleverly hidden answer to 2 down.

Speaking of opera, I notice that Lucia Albanese has just passed on. She was born in 1909, and what a different world it was!



Across
1DUMA, A + MUD backwards, the Russian Parliament.
3SOUNDBOARD, double definition, one jocular. Yes, a sound board is what you need to have a well-run company!
10NOT HALF, double definition alluding to the half-empty glass of the pessimist.
11CATIONS, CA[u]TIONS, a clever letter-removal clue. Their opposite numbers are 'anions', which see.
12ANOTHER CUP OF TEA, double definition.
13ENGELS, EN(GEL)S. 'Ens' is a term for 'being' from scholastic philosophy, the non-existent present participle of Latin 'esse'. The schoolmen had a lot to answer for.
14ANTERIOR, A + [i]NTERIOR. I had 'interior', but couldn't justify it, so thought again.
17TUTORIAL, TUT + OR(I)AL.
18STRATA, A + TARTS backwards.
21WISHFUL THINKING, anagram of FLING WITH HUNK, a fine semi-&lit.
23EPIGRAM, [lan]E + PIG + RAM. The literal is somewhat inaccurate; an 'epigram' is a witty saying written by a skilled author, while a 'saw' is a proverbial saying.
24SAUSAGE, S[alvation] A[rmy] USAGE.
25DEPOSITORY DEPOSITARY, anagram of EDITOR PAYS. Always count the letters in 'obvious' anagrams!
26PELT, double definition.
 
Down
1DUNNAGE, DUN(NAG)E. A word I had never heard of, but clear enough from the cryptic. It is stuff used for packing around a ship's cargo.
2METHOUGHT, hidden in [Ro]ME THOUGHT T[ravel-sick].
4ON FORM, replace every letter 'I' with 'O' in INFIRM.
5NOCTURNE, NO C(TURN)E, where the enclosing letters are the old E.C. postal code + ON, being 'uplifted' in this down answer.
6BITE ONE'S TONGUE, double definition.
7ADOPT, ADO + P.T., physical training.
8DESPAIR, D + E + S + PAIR, a compendium of cryptic cliches.
9BACHELOR OF ARTS, anagram of CLOTHES FOR ARAB.
15INANIMATE< IN(A NI)MATE. 'Someone forcibly confined' is not the root meaning of 'inmate', which originally indicated just a resident or inhabitant, as in the famous line "But his sagacious eye an inmate owns".
16TABLE MAT, TAME + L + BAT upside down. More often called a 'placemat' in the US.
17TOWHEAD, WOT backwards + HEAD. In the US, this word refers to a small child with very fair hair - see http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2014/01/towhead.html.
19AUGMENT, AUG([-us]+MEN)T, a word-substitution clue.
20CHASER, double definition, a 'chaser' being a horse trained to compete in the steeplechase.
22SKIMP, SKI(M)P.

Quick Cryptic 116 by Orpheus

An enjoyable puzzle, with only the clue for 12A leaving me a little dissatisfied. It's a solver-friendly grid in that only 4 answers have an unchecked first letter. There are various schools of thought as to how best approach a puzzle, but I think one of the better strategies is to look for a (preferably long) answer that will give you the initial letters of a bunch of other answers - though not all grids will give you such an opening (e.g. last Wednesday's Quicky), in this case 1A gives you the initial letters of the first 5 down answers.

The puzzle gave me a large onscreen keyboard when I accessed it yesterday morning, but I haven't been able to get this keyboard to appear again (not that I would be using it anyway, given that I solve on a desktop). I'm assuming this is a new feature for those solving on tablets.

Definitions are underlined.

Across
1 Popular French novelist's son in Scottish city (9)
INVERNESS - IN (Popular) + VERNE (French novelist) + S ('s) + S (son). This has appeared in the main cryptic clued by "Trendy French writer's southern or northern city" (24958, September 2011) and "Aboard steamer carrying writer coming to northern city" (25117, March 2012), both of which I would deem as inferior to this offering
6 Greek island's salad ingredient (3)
COS - double definition, the first referring to the island also known as Kos, the second referring to a type of lettuce
8 Brain activity, however tortuous at first (7)
THOUGHT - THOUGH (however) + T (tortuous at first, i.e. the first letter of Tortuous)
9 Girl originally from Hebridean island (5)
FIONA - F (originally from, i.e. the first letter of From) + IONA (Hebridean island)
10 Idle scenes at new food shop (12)
DELICATESSEN - anagram (new) of IDLE SCENES AT
12 Car's condition in the old days (6)
ESTATE - double definition, though I 20A-d 15D-ly at the second one. Chambers has "state (archaic)" as one definition of estate, which satisfies "condition in the old days", but this is the kind of wordplay I wouldn't expect to find in the Quicky, especially when there are better alternatives
13 Individual starring primarily in Evita? (6)
PERSON - S (starring primarily, i.e. the first letter of Starring) in PERON (Evita?, a reference to Eva Peron and with a question mark to satisfy any definition-by-example quibblers)
16 Antipodean, sad to say, taken in by native of Vienna? (12)
AUSTRALASIAN - ALAS (sad to say) inside (taken in by) AUSTRIAN (native of Vienna?). This was clued similarly in the main cryptic as "Native of New Guinea, say, unfortunately taken in by European" (25587, September 2013)
19 Abbot's deputy - an inquisitive type, we're told (5)
PRIOR - homophone (we're told) of prier (an inquisitive type). I don't know whether everyone will be aware of that precise definition, but I would imagine that most people will know it's something monkish
20 Stern fighter pilot's facial distortion (7)
GRIMACE - GRIM (Stern) + ACE (fighter pilot)
22 Looker? Yes, by the sound of it (3)
EYE - homophone (by the sound of it) of aye
23 Blew up, invited for tryst outside college (9)
DETONATED - DATED (invited for tryst) outside ETON (college). I've always thought of a tryst as having illicit or clandestine overtones, but Chambers simply has "an appointment to meet". It's marked as archaic, which was also a surprise as I thought it was more common than that


Down
1 Knowledgeable about fashionable tops? Not half! (4)
INTO - IN (fashionable) + TO (tops? Not half!, i.e. only using the first half of TOps)
2 Aggressive workman finally admitted to plant (7)
VIOLENT - N (workman finally, i.e. the last letter of workmaN) inside (admitted to) VIOLET (plant)
3 Jazz piece provoking endless fury (3)
RAG - RAGe (endless fury, i.e. rage without the final letter). Rag in this sense means a piece of ragtime music, e.g. Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag", which you will know even if, like me, you never listen to jazz or its antecedents and don't recognise the piece's name. It was the theme tune for a couple of series of "Ask the Family" but has had a wider cultural reach than that would imply
4 Catch parent out (6)
ENTRAP - anagram (out) of PARENT
5 They put up with people undergoing pain (9)
SUFFERERS - double definition
6 Angry mule, perhaps (5)
CROSS - double definition, the second referring to a mule being the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse
7 Quiet girl on Irish river (7)
SHANNON - SH (Quiet, as an order) + ANN (girl) + ON
11 Like a 6 dn buried outside back of pub (9)
INTERBRED - INTERRED (buried) outside B (back of pub, i.e. the final letter of puB). The definition refers to 6 dn, i.e. CROSS - Chambers has for interbreed: "to breed together, esp of different races"
12 Former politician dipping into drink for instance (7)
EXAMPLE - EX (former) plus MP (politician) inside (dipping into) ALE (drink)
14 Set about man providing waterproofing substance (7)
SEALANT - SET about ALAN (man)
15 Trivial affront (6)
SLIGHT - double definition, the first an adjective, the second a noun/verb
17 Impale small fish (5)
SPIKE - S (small) + PIKE (fish)
18 Provide sustenance for European arrested by FBI member (4)
FEED - E (European) inside (arrested by) FED (FBI member, i.e. the slang term for a Federal agent)
21 Where we may find a bit of dinner? (3)
INN - semi-&lit, where the entire clue is the definition and the wordplay is a bit of dINNer, i.e. part of the word dinner
Solving Time: About 55 minutes

Some clever cluing here, and also some UK-centricities in the form of TV references that may have some overseas solvers scratching their heads.

I liked the longer anagrams at 10a, 5d and particularly 24a, but I think the cleverness of 4a gets my COD.

cd = cryptic def., dd = double def., rev = reversal, homophones are written in quotes, anagrams as (--)*, and removals like this

Across
1DO(C + I)LE
4HALF-MOON - Half of MOON is ON so 'This is possibly on' is the easily missed wordplay.
10STUDIO APARTMENT = (A DAMN PROSTITUTE)*
11FILLE D'HONNEUR = FILLED + HOUR about NiNE - My LOI, despite all the checkers as I didn't know the expression
13ELYTRON = ELY (See) + (TORN)* - Not a word I knew but easy enough from the wordplay
15TITANIA = A + IN + AT IT all rev - the largest moon of Uranus
16DO + T - Dot Cotton being a well-known character from Eastenders
17THE SAME = SA (It) in THEME
19HYDRATE = "HIDE RATE" - 'for delivering' being the homophone indicator, although it's only the 'disguise' part that's homophonous, so the indicator being where it is is a little misleading.
21PETTICOAT + LANE
24LAND SPEED RECORD = (OLDER CAR DEPENDS)*
25BULL'S-EYE - dd - a sweet, and a shot on target
26OKAYED = OED about YAK rev
Down
1DISAFFECTS = (FISTS FACED)*
2CRUELTY - Alternate letters of CoRfU wE'lL sTaY
3LO(I)RE
5AGAINST THE ODDS = (DIAGNOSED THAT'S)*
6FATHER TED - FARTED (made wind) about THE - Another UK TV reference. This is a sitcom set on the fictitious Craggy Island - A typical Anax clue
7OVERRUN - dd
8NOTE - all the musical notes, but NOT E
9CASH ON DELIVERY - cd
12BAREHEADED - or HAIR BEDDED to the Rev. Spooner
14ROAD TESTS = (STARTED SO)*
18ESPANOL = LAPSE about ON all rev
20AN(ATOM)Y
22T(W)EAK
23FLAB = FLAt (punctured, mostly) + B (a bit soft, as in pencils) - 'Spare tyre' is the definition in its colloquial sense.

Mephisto 2815 - Tim Moorey

Sorry about the late post - this was one of the more difficult ones I can remember from Tim Moorey, and of course it would happen on the week where by the time it came to write the blog, I hadn't even started solving.

There's a couple of very unusual terms in here that made me think that there could be something hidden in the grid but after completion I can't see anything.

Away we go!

Across
1CONJUGATION: JUG(prison) with (NO,ACTION)* surrounding it
11BIENNALE: BILE around ANNE reversed
12PREE: R(ain) in PEE(wet)
13UKRAINE: UK, R(ussi)A, IN, E - topical all in one
14RAW,N: the N comes from the middle of ONE
16CAN,ST
17UNDATE: N in U(ruguay),DATE
19BINGLE: BINGE surrounding L another all-in-one
20ROTTEN ROW
22XENOCRYST: NO,CRY in an anagram of TEXAS without A
26TIFOSI: I think I've got this wordplay correct - I have it as an anagram (hot) of IT'S surrounding I(Italy),F(foot) and O (half of SO)
28TOUCH: T(temperature),COUCH missing a C
31URSA: hidden
32AXOLOTL: X(cross),L containing 0,LOT after A
33ROED: sounds like ROAD
34LIP LINER: L with LINER containing I,P(urser)
35DRESSES DOWN: DRESSES, then D(department), (NOW)*
 
Down
2OIKS: SKIO reversed
3NERK: KEN reversed around R
4J,NANA
5UNI(on),ATE
6ALEMBROTH: (MATLO,HERB)*
7TER,CI,O: CI is Cote d'Ivoire
8ORANGEY: (A,GREY,NO)*
9NEWSLESS: ITN without IT, then sounds like USE,LESS
10SENTENTIAL: POTENTIAL with PO(Jerry) replaced by SEN
13USURPATURE: USU, then RAPTURE with the P moved up
15NENNIGAIS: (EASING)* surrounding INN
18NOVGOROD: NOV then R in GOOD
21TROUSER: sungular of TROUSERS
23ETHYLS: anagram of (shel)L,THEY then S
24CIBOLS: 1,BOLS after C - and we all know BOLS from Monty Python's Flying Circus right?
27F(lap),ELID(e)
29MO,NO
30STEW: double def

Jumbo 1103

Standard Jumbo fare - nothing that I think is contentious

Across
1 AT FULL BLAST - AT LAST = finally, around FULL = rich, B(achelor)
7 FICKLE - F(emale), (s)ICKLE = reaper
10 DRAB - DRAB = BARD = poet, reversed
14 PURITAN - RITA = girl to be educated, in PUN = wit, of a sort
15 LOBWORM - LO = see, BM = M.B = Doctor, reversed, around WOR = ROW = line, also reversed. Lobworms are big garden worms and excellent bait for most freshwater fish.
16 GLADDEN - GLADE = clearing, around D(emocrat), N
17 INTERIOR ANGLE - INTERIOR = domestic, ANGLE = invader (of England)
18 ROMAN NOSE - NO MAN ROSE = all us gents stayed in our seats, Spoonerised
19 TROOP - POOR = inadequate (analys)T, all reversed
21 COCONUT SHY - COCO(a) = bedtime drink, NUT = freak, SHY = retiring
23 GAUCHE - G(oals), ACHE = anguish, around U(nited)
25 DETHRONE - (OTHER END)*
26 DIAMOND WEDDING - (D,D,D,D, NOW, IMAGINE)*
29 NURTURE - NUR = RUN reversed, (R(o)UTE)*
30 CO-HOSTING - COSTING = estimate, around OK = surprised reaction
31 SPELL - double definition
32 MAJOR - MAJ = JAM = block, reversed, OR = gold
34 THIRD RAIL - TRAIL = lag, around HI = welcome and RD = way
37 TRUNDLE - TRUE = correct, around final letters in (chicke)N (an)D (vea)L
39 COLD-SHOULDERED - COLD SHOULDER = meat in salad, ED(itor)
41 DIPLOMAT - DI = I'D reversed, PLOT = plan, around M.A. = graduate
43 DRY RUN - double definition, the second cryptic with AA = Alcoholics Anonymous
44 ESCRITOIRE - (RECTORIES I)*
45 RIGID - RIG = fake, ID = papers
48 PLAINTIVE - PLAIN TIE = obvious connection, around V = quintet (Roman numeral)
49 HORSESHOE BATS - HORSESHOE = good-luck token, BATS = touched (as in slightly mad)
51 NAIVELY - NAY = no, around LIVE*
52 DIURNAL - DIAL = LAID = put, reversed, around URN = tea dispenser
53 WHITHER - WHITER = paler, around H(orse)
54 OUST - (j)OUST = formal contest where J(udge) is removed
55 SPONGE - either the one in the bathroom, or the one that takes your money. My last one in when I could not justify anything else.
56 EXPERIENCED - double definition
 
Down
1 APPOINT - AINT = isn't, around P(ressure and PO = OP = work, reversed (up)
2 FIRST FOOTER - FIRST = best, FOOTER = game (football). The tradition is that the first person to cross the threshold on Jan 1 each year should be dark, not fair.
3 LATER - ALTER = reform, with L(iberal) moved to the start of the word
4 BONE OF CONTENTION - cryptic definition, where boxers are dogs
5 ALLIANCE - (d)ALLIANCE = casual romance
6 TO BEGIN WITH - (WE BOTH)* including GIN and IT
7 FROZE - alternate letters in FaRmEr around OZ = Australia
8 COMPREHENSIBLE - (COMPILERS BEEN)* around H
9 LEGUME - LEG = GEL = posh girl, reversed, on UME = EMU = bird, reversed
11 RADIOACTIVE - RADIO = set, ACTIVE = working. The definition must be "in period of decay"
12 BENZENE - BEE = working party around N(orthern), ZEN = Buddhist type
13 GAINSAID - GAINS = gets, AID = handout
20 PURSUER - REP = traveller, reversed, around US R.U. = American sport, all reversed
22 TAMES - T(h)AMES = banker
24 DWIGHT EISENHOWER - (WHOSE DITHERING WE)*
25 DYNAMIC - MANY = a lot, in CID = police department, all reversed
27 GILBERT - (G(rand) LIBRET(ti))*
28 ACHILLES TENDON - ACHES = pains, around ILL = awfully an TEND = lean, followed by ON = leg
31 SQUALOR - S(un), (e)QUAL = peer, O.R. = men
33 JELLY BABIES - JELLY = explosive, BABIES = little ones
35 DREAR - D(uke), REAR = rise
36 AGENT ORANGE - AGENT = one with power to act, ORANGE = royal house
38 DEMOGRAPHIC - DEM)(b) = discharge, GRAPHIC = striking
40 SQUANDER - N2 = (N SQUARED)*.
42 SIDESLIP - SIDES' LIP = backchat from players
43 DIP INTO - I PIN(t) = single drink, in DO = party After Adrian Cobb's comment below I realise I have parsed this incorrectly in haste. The wordplay is I PINT = single drink, in DO = party, and the definition is "Partake of, not finishing"
46 DESIRED - DEED = act, around R(esistance) IS reversed
47 TIDY UP - PUNDIT = guru with N(ote) replaced by Y(en), all reversed
49 HOUSE - HOE = work in garden, around US = American
50 EXILE EX = former, ILE = ELI = priest, reversed

Saturday Times 25861 (9th August)

Solving time 19:28, so my slow-solving malaise continues. I didn't really notice while solving, but now I'm writing it up there seem to be a record number of double definitions for a Times puzzle, rivalling a Monday Guardian by Rufus!





Across
1 Back-stabber has drag artist clutching lower back (8)
EPIDURAL - LA RUE (Danny La Rue, drag artist) around DIP (lower), all reversed. A pain-killing injection into the spine - my mum had one when trying to deliver me into the world. I was worth it though :-)
6 Saw cut out fairly dark clothes (6)
DICTUM - (cut)* inside DIM (fairly dark).
9 Rum folderols I organised as master of revelry (4,2,7)
LORD OF MISRULE - (rum folderols I)*. In medieval times, someone in charge of drunken partying around Christmas time. As if they needed encouragement...
10 One caught in red fabric (6)
TRICOT - I (one) + C(aught), inside TROT (red). A hand-knitted woollen fabric.
11 Native Australian disease, always the drink (4,4)
ROOT BEER - ROO (native Australian) + TB (disease) + EER (always). An alcohol-free American invention, yuck.
13 Healthy encouraging words (4,3,3)
GOOD FOR YOU - double definition.
15 Players lose toss (4)
CAST - triple definition.
16 Crusty despicable type? (4)
SCAB - single definition, but with a hint of another meaning.
18 Change row (10)
DIFFERENCE - double definition.
21 Pay decrease for a number of people entering shop (8)
FOOTFALL - FOOT (pay) + FALL (decrease).
22 Singing in bath, finally in the pink (6)
CHORAL - H (batH, finally) inside CORAL (pink).
23 Writer's assistant got printable works to cover page (8,5)
BLOTTING PAPER - (got printable)* around P(age).
25 Say, bigger cheese diminished by it? (6)
GRATER - sounds like "greater".
26 Giving up being soft? (8)
YIELDING - double definition.

Down
2 More faded, second city of Italy (7)
PALERMO - PALER (more faded) + MO (second).
3 Payment with plastic credited before coin (6,5)
DIRECT DEBIT - (credited)* + BIT (coin).
4 Perch like this standing amongst garbage (5)
ROOST - SO (like this) reversed inside ROT (garbage).
5 Sucker punch on victim (7)
LAMPREY - LAM (punch) + PREY (victim).
6 Abandoned ship getting old, water down port and starboard? (9)
DISSOLUTE - SS (ship) + O(ld) inside DILUTE (water down). I don't think I've "port and starboard" used as a surroundicator before, but it works fine, especially in the surface of this clue.
7 Source of alcohol in scrumpy (3)
CRU - hidden in sCRUmpy. French for a vineyard.
8 Very poor - so save? (7)
USELESS - "USE LESS".
12 Chap with twenty children and untamed leopard in place of single man (8,3)
BACHELOR PAD - BACH (chap with twenty children) + (leopard)*.
14 Art seldom seen as new? (3,6)
OLD MASTER - (art seldom)*, &lit. I'm sure I've seen this one before, so probably an old chestnut.
17 Belt for clothes (7)
CLOBBER - double definition.
19 Prison reformer outlines halving of stretch for criminals (7)
FELONRY - FRY (prison reformer Elizabeth Fry) around ELON(gate) (halving of stretch).
20 Vexation when girl oddly breaking links (7)
CHAGRIN - G(i)R(l) inside CHAIN (links).
22 Manage small breaks in wood (5)
COPSE - COPE (manage) around S(mall).
24 For example, caught unconscious (3)
OUT - double definition.

Times 25,866: I Favour That Remark

A whisker over half an hour for me to finish this ostensibly straightforward (but inwardly quite devious) puzzle. The southeast corner fell quickly, followed by the northeast, then the southwest, and then finally it was the top left quadrant that gave me the most pause; 1A being probably the most difficult piece of vocabulary, at least to a non-botanical type, and 1D not being one of the quickest synonyms of "favour" to spring to mind. I also spent a while on the fool's errand of trying to make a word meaning "fail to understand" out of (H COPY NAME*), chance would be a fine thing!

20A first one in, the aforementioned 3D the last to fall. Slightly difficult for me to find something I'd enthusiastically declare COTD today: this was a puzzle with lots of very basic definitions ("capital", "river", "sport", et al), and not much in the way of jokes and puns. I did nod my head approvingly at the cluing technique several times, e.g. 6D and 17D with their very clever requirements in the "lift and separate" department. So not my personal favourite type of puzzle, but still with much to admire about it. I'll take that on a bleary Friday morning.

Across
1 RACEME - cluster: RACE [competition] + ME [first person]
4 SLAPDASH - careless: SH [be quiet] "about" SAD PAL [inadequate comrade] "turning"
10 SPLASH OUT - be extravagant: ALPS [range] "going back" + SHOUT [round]
11 DECOR - "interior designer's creation": DEC [month] + OR [gold]
12 MARSHAL - arrange: MARS [damage] + HAL{t} [stop - t{ime}]
13 TOASTIE - snack: TOE [end] "involving" ASTI [wine]
14 LIT UP - drunk: LiT [settled] + antonym of down
15 ELDRITCH - weird: ELD{e}R [influential figure - e{cstasy}] + ITCH [desire]
18 PLANKTON - "drifting masses": PLANK [element of policy] + TON [weight]
20 LUCRE - money: C [clubs] in LURE [draw]
23 LIMPOPO - river: POP [sound of explosion] in LIMO [car]
25 REGULAR - routine: REAR [stern] "restricting" LUG [pull] "back"
26 CLOSE - double def
27 IRASCIBLE - bilious: AS [when] in (CRIB LIE*) ["awkwardly"]
28 SANTIAGO - capital: ANTI [not in favour of] "entering" SAG [slump] + O [zero]
29 FLEECE - rob: FLEE [run away from] + CE [church]

Down
1 RESEMBLE - favour: R [king] + E{n}SEMBLE [group - n{ew}]
2 CULPRIT - offender: PRI [RIP* "wildly"] "let into" CULT [system of devotion]
3 MISSHAPEN - distorted: MISS [fail to understand] + H APE [hard copy] + N [name]
5 LATITUDINARIAN - far from dogmatic: TU DIN [trade union racket] + ARIA [song] in LATIN [language]
6 PODIA - stands: {u}P {t}O {a}D{m}I{r}A{l} "dismissing odd characters"
7 ASCETIC - one avoiding indulgence: (CASE IT*) "spoilt" + C [chapter]
8 HURLEY - sport: URL [web address] in HEY [call for attention]
9 SOUL-DESTROYING - monotonous: (STYLE RUINS GOOD*) "broadcast"
16 ILLOGICAL - lacking sense: O GI [old soldier] in ILL CA L [trouble about line]
17 REPRIEVE - spare: REP [agent] + {g}RIEVE [upset "with leader going"]
19 LAMPOON - ridicule: LOON [fool] "to accept" AMP [quantity of current]
21 CALIBRE - bore: CARE [mind] "absorbing" BIL{l} [account "mostly"] "written up"
22 SLACKS - casual attire: S [head of "state"] + LACKS [does not have]
24 OBELI - daggers: "belonging to" {m}OB ELI{minated}

Quick Cryptic Number 115 by Hurley

A fairly straightforward puzzle with some super anagrams, only one double definition, and a couple of less familiar words to keep you on your toes. Most of the across clues went in on the first pass, whereas I had to scratch my head and wait for checkers for a few of the downs. We have a good mix of common crossword devices - an element, some sport, a bit of religion, a rank, initial letters, a hidden word and some French. I’m quite sure every beginner will learn something from this one, I certainly did!


Across
7 FRANCE - F (female) + RAN (hurried) + CE (Church of England) gives this country.
8 ABRUPT - curt from AB (able-bodied seaman) + RU (rugby union) + PT (as in, the Army’s PT Corps).
9 VETO - VET (animal surgeon) associated with O (elemental oxygen) makes ban.
10 OUTSIDER - anagram of US EDITOR (indicated by worked out), and he’s unlikely to win.
11 DIRECTOR - DI (detective inspector) + REC (leisure facility) + TOR (hill) gives film pro.
13 SCAM - MACS reversed (Scots on the rebound) for swindle.
15 OGLE - stare at from OG (own goal) + LE (the in French). I’ve not come across the footballing abbreviation before; this “credit” goes on the scoresheet.
16 SEABOARD - SEA (homophone of “see”, notice) + anagram of B ROAD (indicated by winding) gives coastal region.
18 ESCAPIST - literally, one escaping reality in duncE’S CAP IS Touching.
20 TARE - TAR (road surface) with finE (ultimately, i.e. last letter) for empty vehicle’s weight.
21 HAMLET - poor actor is HAM + LET (allowed) feature in this play.
22 MANUAL - instruction book comes from MAN (vb. to staff) + regular letters of UsAbLe.

Down
1 FREEZING - ZING (energy) with FREE at the start makes very cold. I’ve not seen zing for energy used before (usually E).
2 UNFORESEEABLE - anagram of (indicated by potentially?) LEBANESE FOR EU gives impossible to predict. Lovely surface meaning.
3 REPORT - RE (regarding, about) + PORT (Liverpool, say) gives account. Although this one was quite straightforward, the word “about” usually makes me wake up; it can mean C or CA (circa), RE or ON (regarding), as well as anagram or containment indicator. Any others?
4 PASTOR - PAST (previous life) + O (over, cricket) + R (right) for minister.
5 TRAINSPOTTING - this hobby is an anagram or STARTING POINT (indicated by new).
6 APSE - a failing is a lapse, which provides our recess if missing the L (learner leaves). This held me up on account of the unknown ecclesiastical niche, and a style of clue I find very tricky (the starting point is to look for a 5-letter word, but my mind’s accessing the 4-letter word file).
12 ODE - odd (unusual) with an unspecified revision to the last letter makes poem.
14 AGRARIAN - meaning of or relating to fields/farming, this is new vocabulary for me (the definition is concerned with land). I became fixed on agri- for a while, and was distracted by thoughts of “arable” or similar, but the correct answer comes from A + GR (greek) + ARIA (song) + N (new).
16 SHINTO - S (second) + H (husband) + INTO (enthusiastically involved in) for this religion.
17 AUTUMN - period of time from AUThor (half-cut) + first letters of Up My Nose (initially).
19 STAY - double definition. To guy is to fix or secure (like guy ropes of a tent).
Solving time: Fairly straightforward.

One that will raise a few smiles today with one or two clues with the air of the seaside postcard about them and would probably never make the daily puzzle.

Top right corner held me up while I thought about the answer to 6 down and I hadm't heard of 7 down as one word so was side-tracked a little but otherwise a relatively straightforward solve. An abundance of double definitions in today's puzzle, becoming a staple of this genre of puzzle methinks!

Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable work-out. Incidentally, if any of the other bloggers have a template where I can add the clues without disrupting the format, please let me know!

Across
1 HALLUCINATORY - We start with a straightforward anagram. Delusional is the definition and the answer is an anagram (indicated by obstreporous) of RHINO ACTUALLY.
8 WOLVES - Double definition clue. The name of a famous Midlands soccer club is that of a group of creatures that hunt in a pack.
9 CURACY - Clergyman's office is the definition, with CU (odd bits of CLUE) + RACY (exciting).
10 STAR - Another double definition clue. This time a word that means both a celebrity and something that shines brightly.
11 PHARMACY - This is what is called "a container and contents clue" in all the old manuals. PACY (quick) has HARM (abuse) inside it (shown by 'to hide').
12 CATER - Quite a clever clue. A word that means to provide food can be broken down into two words that both mean queen. The first is the sort of animal whose female may be called a queen and the second is the abbreviation for she who lives in Buck House (and is prob the only living person allowed in the Times Crossword - a perk that's in her job description!)
13 INTER - Another double definition. Something that can mean to bury (as in a funeral) and is also the first half of one of the two teams from Milan, and sometimes how it is just known.
15 WELL DONE - Two definitions that again mean the same thing. A way of cooking a steak and an expression used as a way of congratulating someone.
17 PECK - The surname of a matinée idol named Gregory is also a word meaning to kiss.
19 ENIGMA - Something that means a puzzle or riddle is an anagram (tricky) of GAME IN.
20 DEEJAY - The name for a person who plays records is the name of a Scottish or Welsh river, plus the name of a bird from the crow family.
21 FEATHER DUSTER - Something that could be used as (and by) a cleaner is an anagram (could be) of DRAT! THE REFUSE.

Down
2 ALOFT - An anagram (off) of FLOAT means up in the air.
3 LEVERET - The definition here is leggy young runner, in the animal not the naughty magazine sense. Another 'container and contents' jobbie with a word meaning permit containing (shown by 'to box') something that means still, when used in a temporal sense.
4 COS - The name of a Greek island (or a lettuce) is shown by reversing (looking north - this can only be used in a down clue to show a reversal) of SO (very) + C (cold).
5 NECTARINE - Fruit is your definition. An anagram (mixed) of ENTIRE CAN.
6 THRUM - The definition here is to play the guitar, say, so you are looking for a way of playing it. This was my last one in (LOI) today, as it's a slightly unusual word. The word for a digit on your hand, but without its last letter (shown by 'short'), with R (right) inside.
7 RACECAR - Probably the clue is liked least today, though it was a minor grumble. A word for a vehicle that goes fast (I couldn't find it as one word in Chambers) that is also a palindrome. Once I had the checking letters I could fill it in. it's probably a personal thing, but I dislike clues that you have to rely on the grid to help you, rather than the wordplay. Discuss, if you like!
11 PARSONAGE - Another container and contents clue. A part of a newspaper, i.e. one sheet, (PAGE) has a type of crime (ARSON) inside it.
12 CLEANSE - The abbreviation for the Church (of England) has something that means props (up) (LEANS) inside to give a word meaning purify.
14 TOPLESS - The definition here is how you are if you wear only pyjama bottoms, and it's an anagram (badly) of SLEPT SO.
16 LIGHT - Back to the double defintions. Something that means easy to carry is also another word for a torch.
18 CRAVE - The definition here is yearn. C (Conservative) + RAVE (party).
20 DAD - Another appearance of the palindrome. This time, like for like. A word that you could use when calling someone 'pop'is also a palindrome.
Solving time : 19:44 but that included answering an email and a few texts, been on the road for almost two weeks and people are starting to notice I'm not home. Pity that.

I found this a tricky one to get my head around, and it looks like some of the early birds on the leaderboard agree with me. I think there's a homophone that doesn't quite work, even when I think about pronouncing it without the Australian/Southern US accent hybrid I've acquired that people on the west coast of the US seem to be suitably bemused by.

OKeydoke, away we go...

Across
1CROOKED: C, and ED containing ROOK
5A,SCOT: SCOT as a tax I've seen in barred cryptics but I don't recall it being part of a daily before
9U,SAGE(pundit)
10RABBINATE: got this from the definition and had to look up that RABBIE is another name for Robert Burns, so he's eating A inside NT(New Testament)
11KITSCHY: (wor)K then S(succeeded) in ITCHY
12TERRIER: double def
13TANTAMOUNT: ANT in TA(army, same one as in the previous clue), MOUNT(horse)
15STOP: POTS reversed
18YETI: YE and then IT reversed
20ABLE-BODIED: ELBA reversed, then BODED containing 1
23BAR,MA,ID
24CALVING: according to the clue sounds like CARVING, but not when I say it
25IGNORAMUS: (RON,IS,A,MUG)*
26ABELE: A, BEE around L
27GOOEY: E for D in GOODY (as in GOODYS and BADDYS, though thanks to a certain television show I've always thought it was spelled GOODIES)
28NEEDLES(s)
 
Down
1CHASTE,N
2OVERCOAT: double definition
3KERRY: ERR in KY
4DEBUTANTE: D and E are notes, BUT, and then ETNA reversed
5A(pproached),VIA,RY
6CHARIOT: CHAT around RIO
7THEIR: sounds like THERE
8MUSKETRY: MUSE surrounding K, then TRY(experiment with)
14OMBUDSMAN: got this from wordplay originally, it's M(mass), BUDS(shoots) in OMAN
16PEDIGREE: PE then DIE surrounding ERG reversed
17ROLL(press),CALL(demand)
19TOR(y),ON TO
21ICI(French for "here"), NESS
22FAIRLY: FLY surrounding AIR
23BEING: E in BING Crosby
24CASTE: A,ST inside C(another note),E

Times 25864

Managed ninety per cent of this without too much trouble, then spent another ten minutes on several of the shorter clues, trying to convince myself I had the right options. 29 minutes overall, with 19 ac my last one in. No NINAs or pangrams and no obscure GK but a couple of unusual words in a moderately difficult puzzle.


Across
1 HOT DOG - HOG = greedy person, around T(ea) DO = party. Def. food.
5 PICK OVER - PIC = film, KO = OK in retrospect, VER(Y) = extremely, short; def. review.
9 FALSE ALARM - FARM around A L(arge) SEAL; def. unnecessary panic.
10 LOON - L = left, O ON = nothing on = without costume; def. diver; a kind of water fowl.
11 TELEFILM - Reverse all of M (spymaster) LIFE (biography) LET (allowed); def. TV movie. Not sure I knew this was a word but it seems fair enough.
12 ATTLEE - A(s)T(u)T(e) then LEE = General; Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG OM CH PC FRS, PM 1945-51 is your statesman, one of the better ones, IMO.
13 IDEA - Hidden word, W(IDE A)wake, def. suggestion.
15 CARDINAL - Triple def. One is a cardinal number; cardinal is a shade of red; cardinal is a cleric.
18 HONOLULU - This teased me for a bit while considering MET and SCALA and EC as content, but it's HO (house) LULU (opera, by Berg not Bartok as malc kindly pointed out) around NO (small number), def. city. I like Bartok string quartets and the Berg violin concerto and I like some opera but have never managed to stick more than five minutes of LULU. Opera, singer, whichever Lulu you care to pick.
19 CREW - Having reviewed 15 possible words for C_E_ I think this is the one, C (first to come) RE (on) W (with), def. band. And a sort of &lit. I remember the days of saying 'I'm with the band', which seldom worked.
21 BEDSIT - BEDS = Bedfordshire, county. I, T(own), without own = private; def. accommodation.
23 INCHMEAL - (MACHINE)* L, def. bit by bit. Not a word I had seen before, but plausible and obviously an anagram.
25 MAXI - a MAXIM is a saw, like a proverb; shortened; def. garment. I spent a while trying to parse SARI, unsuccessfully.
26 SKATED OVER - SKATE = fish, DOVER = port; def. avoided handling.
27 EYEGLASS - EG = say, around YE = you once, LASS = young female, E(YE)GLASS, def. lens.
28 THEIST - T (back of depot), HEIST (robbery); def. someone who believes.

Down
2 ORATE - OR (other ranks, soldiers), ATE (worried), def. speak out.
3 DESPERADO - DE = extremely dire, then REPS = travellers, reversed, ADO = trouble; def. criminal. Once you have the final O there are few possibilities and you work out why afterwards.
4 GOALIE - GO = shot, A LIE = in a position (to take shot, as in golf), def. footballer.
5 PHARMACEUTICALS - (PLASTIC)* around HARM ACE U (suffering one U(ndergoes)), def. drugs.
6 COMPADRE - CADRE (group of activists) around O(ld) MP, def. ally.
7 OWLET - HOWLED, endlessly = OWLE, then T = top of tree, def. little bird.
8 EXONERATE - EX CON (old lag), remove the C (about, to go), E (English), RATE (judge), def. free of all charges.
14 DROMEDARY - DRY around ROME DA(Y), def. animal.
16 INCOMMODE - MOD inside INCOME, def. bother.
17 PUT TO SEA - (OUT PAST E)*, E being edge /end of Shore, def. sail.
20 ACCENT - AC = account, CENT = very little money, def. stress.
22 SLING - Double def; sling = chuck; drink as in Singapore Sling. Are there other types of sling drinkies I wonder?
24 AVERS - SAVER = bank customer (well not at today's rates!) with the S moved to the end, def. states.
Quite a chewy Quickie, I thought, with several of the clues taking a bit of unravelling. Looking back at it, there does not really appear to be much to frighten the horses as jackkt says - no arcane GK or obscure vocabulary - it just felt tricky... Around half the clues would sit quite well in the main cryptic I reckon (at least in one of the easier offerings), so this is probably just about right for the QC in terms of degree of difficulty.

The solution is also a Pangram (i.e. every letter of the alphabet is used in the grid). Must admit I've never been quite sure why Pangrams seem to generate particular interest amongst the crossword fraternity - to use a twitcher's analogy, not quite at the level of an Osprey sighting but seemingly up there with the Bearded Tit in terms of noteworthiness. Maybe it reflects a special level of skill on the part of the setter, in which case hats off to Dazzler. Anyway, here is one in all its glory...

Thanks to Dazzler for a very enjoyable puzzle.


Across
7 REQUIRED - Essential is the definition. Answer also derived from QUIRE ("set of papers") surrounded ("penned" - as in penned in) by RED ("socialist").
8 AXIS - Alliance is the definition (think Axis powers during WW2). Answer also from the wordplay A with SIX reversed ("boundary's rejected" - i.e. ultimate scoring cricket shot backwards)
9 BOOKIE - chap giving better payout is the definition. Answer also from the wordplay BOOK ("reserve") with IE ("that is"). Odds are that the redoubtable (and apparently fast growing) band of female bookies may take exception to the gender assumption inherent in this clue...
10 SIGHT - Double definition, with one being a homophone. "A sense" gives us SIGHT, and "place, so to speak" gives us SITE. Neat clue
11 AGO - in the past is the definition. Answer also derived from part of ("some of") "hexagonal" which is "housing" the answer
12 AS WELL - too is the definition. Answer also comes from the wordplay of L (abbreviation of "Lake") included in ("found in") anagram (indicated by "possibly") of WALES
14 NATIVE - Mother is the definition (as in "motherland") - albeit this is probably a definition that would not work too well outside of Crosswordland. Answer also derived from NAIVE ("easily taken in") with ("accepting") T ("tittle-tattle at outset" - i.e. first letter thereof)
16 SWITCH - a change is the definition. Answer also from SW ("bridge opponents"- i.e. South and West being conventional opponents in bridge literature) with ITCH ("longing")
18 SPRING - Double definition - not much to usefully add
19 ODE - Lyric poem is the definition. Answer also from every other letter ("read regularly") of "soldier"
20 FRAIL - feeble is the definition. Answer also derived from FAIL ("to sink") around R ("crossing river" - R being standard abbreviation of river)
21 LEAGUE - class is the definition. Answer also from the wordplay LE ("the French") with AGUE ("shivering fit") "after"
23 ZINC - Element is our definition. The answer is also built from Z ("unknown") IN and C ("capital of China")
24 IN CAMERA - privately is the definition. The answer is also an anagram (signalled by "treated") of AMERICAN

Down
1 TENON SAW - Carpenter's tool is the definition. The answer also comes from WASN(ONE)T - i.e. "wasn't holding one" backwards ("up")
2 JUNK - Double definition type of clue. Junk is "Scrap" (i.e. rubbish) and also a type of boat plying Oriental waters
3 ORDEAL - baptism of fire is the definition. The wordplay also giving the answer is OR (abbreviation of Other Ranks - "soldiers" - a commonly used device in cryptics) with DEAL ("give out" - as in deal the cards out)
4 EDISON - inventor is the definition (he of the light bulb, amongst many other things). The answer also comes from NO SIDE ("lack of team") backwards ("upset")
5 LAUGHTER - Sniggering is our definition. The wordplay is SLAUGHTER ("butcher" - the verb rather than the jolly chap in the striped apron) without its first letter ("loses head")
6 DIET - what one may regularly eat is the definition. The wordplay is DIE ("cut out" - as in an engine cutting out or "dying") "over" T (abbreviation of "time")
13 ENTRANCE - Double definition. "Way in" is obvious - "transport" may be less so (in this sense it's "carry away by strong emotion" - Chambers). Spike Milligan's Transports of Delight came to mind for me...
15 VANGUARD - Front is the definition (generally a military term - the troops up front). The answer also comes from VAN ("vehicle") "seen on" GUARD ("screen" - as in fireguard)
17 HOLD IT - stop! is the definition. The answer is also an anagram (signalled by "getting drunk") of I TOLD with H (abbreviation of "husband")
18 SELECT - Single out is the definition. The answer is also constructed from the last two letters ("last couples") of THOSE AVAILABLE CORRECT
20 FOIL - Double definition. Took me a while to see this due to the cunning misdirection with the food wrapping reference pointing to picnic hampers rather than hamper as in "foiled again!"
22 ARMY - soldiers is the definition. The wordplay is MARY (the celebrated contrarian lass with the garden of nursery rhyme fame) with her first letter ("head") being "lowered" (i.e. removed from the top and placed further down - this being a Down clue). Quite neat, I thought.

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