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Quick Cryptic 747 by Mara

I would certainly have found this much harder were it not for the plentitude of double definitions, multi-word answers and anagrams (look out for the unusual indicator at 8dn) that helped me get a start in all quadrants. Not because of any ambiguity or obscurity, but as a result of well hidden definitions and smooth surfaces. As it is, I completed without the need or desire to pause.

My COD has to be 3dn for reasons of well-spotted anagram fodder and occupational allegiance. A thoroughly enjoyable crossword.

Definitions underlined.


Across
1 Food store, where the setter has a feast to prepare (4,4)
MEAT SAFE - ME (the setter) and an anagram of (to prepare) A FEAST.
5 Switch hands back (4)
SWAP - reversal of (back) PAWS (hands).
9 Make out contract (5)
CATCH - double definition. Make out in the sense of ‘glimpse’, and contract in that of contagion.
10 Charity rejected in tavern, a state (7)
INDIANA - AID (charity) backwards (rejected) inside INN (tavern) A.
11 Local restriction (3)
BAR - double definition.
12 False reading, so put right (9)
ORGANISED - anagram of (false) READING SO.
13 New game in for puzzle (6)
ENIGMA - anagram of (new) GAME IN.
15 Very cold beer (6)
BITTER - double definition.
17 Forty lies ruined autobiography (4,5)
LIFE STORY - anagram of (ruined) FORTY LIES.
19 Problem part being discussed (3)
SUM - homophone of (being discussed) “some” (part).
20 Get loan for cultivating fruit (7)
TANGELO - anagram of (for cultivating) GET LOAN.
21 Ring, region around end of Saturn (5)
ARENA - AREA (region) around last letter (end) of saturN.
22 Stone on two axes (4)
ONYX - ON with Y and X (two axes).
23 Drop off in allowance for slope (8)
GRADIENT - DIE (drop off) inside GRANT (allowance).


Down
1 Dark coat on wild bear (7)
MACABRE - MAC (coat) and an anagram of (wild) BEAR.
2 Change key with little hesitation (5)
ALTER - ALT (key, on a computer) and ER (little hesitation).
3 One bringing order to the classroom? (12)
SCHOOLMASTER - anagram of (bringing order to) THE CLASSROOM.
4 Casual affair, as steps taken in Scotland? (5)
FLING - double definition.
6 Something unknown twit has arranged (7)
WHATSIT - anagram of (arranged) TWIT HAS.
7 Penny put down for patterned fabric (5)
PLAID - P (penny) and LAID (put down).
8 Shimmying dart — nice tidy pass, perhaps? (8,4)
IDENTITY CARD - anagram of (shimmying) DART NICE TIDY.
14 Fashionable and complicated, being a child (7)
INFANCY - IN (fashionable) and FANCY (complicated).
16 Defence requiring inclination and skill (7)
RAMPART - RAMP (inclination) and ART (skill).
17 Little room to bury the treasure, for starters, in game of chance (5)
LOTTO - LOO (little room) surrounding (to bury) first letters of (for starters) The Treasure.
18 Stink is offensive at first, and grim (5)
ODOUR - first letter of (at first) Offensive and DOUR (grim).
19 European root (5)
SWEDE - double definition.

Quick Cryptic 746 by Hurley

Longer to solve than yesterday's at 11.11 as there were plenty of good clues to get the teeth into. The SW became my final tussle - I wasn't sure of 15dn but the cluing allowed for nothing else. For 14dn, I had the answer immediately but, unusually, I didn't bif but spent quite some time spotting the hidden answer before relying on checkers to get LOI 21ac. This rather summarises the whole - the answers were easier than working the word play - excellent QC material and highly enjoyable to blog. Thanks Hurley.

ACROSS

1. Saint - Paul say. As recalled (SA), in (IN), (T)arsus. Hurley off to a flyer with a great surface - Tarsus being St. Paul's birthplace.
7. Encourage - support enthusiastically. Central to bench b(ENC)h, associated with modern era - OUR AGE.
9. Belle - attractive girl. Homophone (picked up) of Alexander Graham Bell. Hmm - just occurred to me that the term 'give me a bell' is more appropriate than I thought.
10. Spectator - weekly magazine. The Observer being a daily iPad app, a weekly magazine and, of course, someone who spectates.
11. Bit - double definition.
12. In tatters - ruined. Popular (IN), tatting is to make lace so lace makers are (TATTERS).
14. Spare time - in which one may tackle crosswords - except for staunch and true TftT Bloggers who always get their blogs out on time - whether that time is spare or not. Anagram (possibly) of PETERS AIM.
16. Tun - cask. Brazil (NUT) sent backwards.
18. Pointless - double definition. Vain as in a vain/pointless attempt to do something. To have zero at rugby (of whichever creed) is to have no points.
20. Heave - with effort lift. High explosive (HE) then farewell (AVE).
21. Landscape - the verb - work on garden. Lake (L), with (AND), son (S), anagram (about) of PACE.
22. Sneer - scornful remark. Prophet (SEER) interrupted by new (N).

DOWN

1. Suburb - district. Hurley on fire with this surface. Initially - Summed Up By 'Upmarket, Rather Bourgeois'.
2. Illustration - example. Took a while to prise apart bad and example - another good clue. Anagram (bad) of ILL RUIN TOAST.
3. Teeside - Northeast area - around Middlesbrough. Equipment for golfing (TEES), team (SIDE).
4. Accent - manner of speaking. Bill (AC), money (CENT).
5. Butt - target - of jokes. Objection (BUT) over temperature (T).
6. Debris - rubble. Society girls (DEBS) embracing religious instruction (RI) - in which one could find out about 1ac.
8. Authenticate - confirm as genuine. Anagram (broadcast) of THE ACT AUNTIE - with a nod at the broadcaster BBC (Auntie).
13. The Ashes - a fairly well know cricket trophy. Girl (THEA), she's (SHES).
14. Supple - flexible. I was trying to fit in PU (up turned). The rest of the clue contains the answer with some (letters) to spare - turn(S UP PLE)nty.
15. Ice bag - container - although not an obvious container (to me). Reserve (ICE), graduate (BA), good (G). Ice=reserve didn't leap out at me - my subsequent blogging logic goes reserved=on ice=iced=reserved so ice=reserve. I'm sure someone will put me straight as it may take some time before I request to ice a table for two at 7pm - but I'm enjoying this crossword far too much to quibble.
17. No fear - certainly not. Name (N), of (OF), organ (EAR).
19. Tosh - nonsense. Drunk (SOT) brought upwards followed by (H)ard.

Times 26624

This took me 36 minutes but I ended with one careless error at 4ac. I also lost time along the way having biffed wrong  answers at 1dn and 17dn which gave me incorrect checkers for their adjoining answers and delayed solving them, but after my disaster yesterday this seemed a doddle by comparison and not far in excess of my target time, albeit with one wrong letter. Here's my blog...

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Times 26623 - William Bradford needed one!

Solving time: 32 minutes

Music: Bach, Cello Suite #3, Harnoncourt




At first I thought this was going to be easy, as my first few answers were write-ins. Then I got stuck for a while, and it started to look like trouble. Another burst brought me nearly to the finish, only to again run into a wall. The last few answers were biffed, and I really couldn't see how the cryptics worked unless you used very loose or obscure meanings of the constructing words. In the end, I had to type in my paper copy just to make sure that I had indeed solved the puzzle correctly.

I was hoping to get going quicker at the end of a long day, not helped when I decided to watch the end of the golf tournament while eating dinner instead of starting the puzzle immediately. At least there was no playoff - far from it, indeed.

So I will now attempt the blog, and see if I can untangle the parsing of the clues that got solved through instinct and feel.

Across
1SOMETIME, sounds like SUM + TIME, where 'porridge' is criminal slang for a prison sentence. My FOI, all good so far.
5ENTRAP, E,N + PART backwards.
9OURSELVES, anagram of USE LOVERS.
11VICAR, VIC + A R. Head of a church, not the church.
12CHEVRON, CHEVR[e], ON[e], where 'left unfinished applies to both components.
13MELANGE, anagram of GLEEMAN.
14COMPACT CAMERA, COMPACT (as a verb) + CAME + RA.
16THIMBLERIGGER, anagram of BEER GIRL MIGHT.
20FREESIA, FREE + S(I)A, where 'had' is part of the construction instructions rather than an indicator for I'D, a subtlety that held me up for a long time.
21GROWN-UP, G[i]R[l] + OWN UP.
23OLIVE, O + LIVE, where the terminals are live, neutral, and ground.
24EASY GOING, a reverse cryptic, where 'EASY GOING' turns UNEASY into UN. One I just biffed, of course.
25DANGLE, [fan]DANGLE. I could only vaguely recall 'fandangle', which see, but that had to be it.
26APPARENT, APP + A RENT.
 
Down
1SCONCE, SCON(C)E.
2MERGE, MER([workin]G)E.
3THEOREM, anagram of THE[m] + MORE. A bit &litish, as a theorem is not the proof, but what is proven.
4MOVING AVERAGE, MO + VIN GAVE RAGE, another one I just biffed.
6NOVELLA, NO + V + ELLA.
7RACONTEUR, RA(CON)T + EUR. Another biff.
8PARMESAN, P(ARM[i]ES)AN, where I had to use the cryptic to check the spelling.
10SOMETHING IS UP, SOMETHING I SUP.
14CRITERION, C + anagram of INTERIOR. I spent the longest time looking for a banner or flag of some kind.
15STAFFORD, STAFF + O + RD.
17BOSWELL, BO[ok] + SWELL. I was thinking 'excellent' = 'well', and couldn't parse the cryptic, but it is actually quite simple if you take a slangier approach.
18GEORGIA, GEORG[e] + I + A.
19SPIGOT, SPI(GO)T, a very tough cryptic to see, and I certainly didn't see it.
22NOISE, [l]ESION upside-down.

Quick Cryptic 745 by Flamande

This is the first time that Flamande has cropped up in my Monday slot, holiday swaps notwithstanding, which is a pleasant surprise given that I've been a fan of his puzzles in other places for several years. This crossword is fairly typical of the Flamande experience - smooth surfaces, a dash of humour, and a minimal quantity of obscurities. Thanks, Flamande.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/puzzles/crossword/20170116/21823/

Definitions are underlined.

Across
3 Transport for team's trainer (5)
COACH - double definition
7 Name old star of The Godfather (6)
BRANDO - BRAND (Name) + O (old) to give us Marlon Brando, who played Vito Corleone in The Godfather. Today is the birthday of one of Brando's sons.
8 Examination for all? Not entirely (4)
ORAL - hidden in (Not entirely) fOR ALl
9 Alec and Rob worried about Henry, fellow without a mate? (8)
BACHELOR - anagram (worried) of ALEC + ROB, about H (Henry, i.e. the SI symbol for the unit of inductance)
10 Part of allotment scheme (4)
PLOT - double definition
11 Rehearsal of singers in church perplexed opera critic (5,8)
CHOIR PRACTICE - CH (church) + anagram of (perplexed) OPERA CRITIC. Not in Chambers or ODO but in Collins.
15 One promoting harmonious relationships, such as Thomas Telford? (6-7)
BRIDGE-BUILDER - literal example of a figurative expression. Telford's most famous bridge is perhaps that across the Menai Strait, linking Holyhead to Anglesey - at least, that's the one I remember from History O-Level.
16 Letters man read aloud (4)
MAIL - homophone (read aloud) of MALE (man)
18 How to take clipping from newspaper? Please don't do that! (3,2,3)
CUT IT OUT - literal interpretation of a figurative phrase, i.e. if you wanted to take a clipping from a newspaper then you would CUT IT OUT
20 Something wrong, swallowing hot piece of beef (4)
SHIN - SIN (Something wrong) around (swallowing) H (hot). I've usually encountered this as "shin beef" rather than just "shin", but Chambers has: "The lower part of a leg of beef".
21 Fellow is half-rude and cheeky (6)
RUPERT - RU (half-rude, i.e. the first half of the word "rude") + PERT (cheeky)
22 Extremely tipsy drinking rum, an alcoholic beverage (5)
TODDY - TY (Extremely tipsy, i.e. the first and last letters of the word "tipsy") around (drinking) ODD (rum). Often encountered with the adjective "hot", this is (Chambers): "A mixture of spirits, sugar and hot water", though I think honey is more commonly used than just straight sugar. The same word also means (Chambers): "The fermented sap of various palm trees", though I would imagine solvers (at least UK-based ones) will be more familiar with the previous definition.


Down
1 Swimmer, about to get in short rest (8)
BREATHER - BATHER (Swimmer) around (to get in) RE (about)
2 Nick loses head a little bit (4)
INCH - {p}INCH (Nick loses head, i.e. the word "pinch" (Nick) without its first letter)
3 Entering wood, everyone's about to fall down (8)
COLLAPSE - reversal of (about) ALL (everyone), in (Entering) COPSE (wood)
4 Declare a cleric briefly is uplifted (4)
AVER - A + reversal (is uplifted) of REV (cleric briefly, i.e. the usual abbreviation for Reverend)
5 Ah! Pistol goes off in infirmary (8)
HOSPITAL - anagram of (goes off) AH PISTOL
6 Drop round for pudding (4)
SAGO - SAG (Drop) + O (round). Nice surface, which has been exploited before (e.g. by Joker in March 2015).
12 Disinclined to do much during party before pre-Easter period (8)
INDOLENT - IN (during) + DO (party) + LENT (pre-Easter period)
13 Infidelity upsets true lady (8)
ADULTERY - anagram of (upsets) TRUE LADY. As with several other clues in the puzzle, Flamande has chosen an anagram indicator that is perfect for the surface.
14 The sound of people policing PM's residence (8)
CHEQUERS - homophone (The sound) of CHECKERS (people policing), to give the Buckinghamshire retreat of the British Prime Minister. I can't find an exact equivalence of "to police" and "to check" in any of the usual sources, but they are both synonyms of "to control" so it's not much of a stretch.
17 Uncomfortable feeling inside teacher (4)
ACHE - hidden in (inside) teACHEr
18 Maybe ace vehicle with detachable top (4)
CARD - CAR (vehicle) + D (detachable top, i.e. the first letter of the word "detachable"), with an indicated DBE (definition by example) referring to playing cards
19 Error that you print out at first (4)
TYPO - initial letters of (at first) That You Print Out

Sunday Times 4728 by Dean Mayer

DNF. I found this generally quite tricky, but had all but two clues solved in something like fifteen minutes. I then spent another ten or fifteen staring in increasing desperation at 12dn and 19dn. I got 12dn eventually, but at that point I was pretty fed up so I cheated for 19dn, which turned out to be the easier of the two. Goodness only knows why I couldn’t see it.

On top of this I have one wrong answer, which I assume (hope) is the ambiguous 22dn, and one I can’t explain properly: the blogger’s nightmare.

This comprehensive, miserable failure continued my run of form in 2017, with only two successful completions out of the five daily puzzles in the first week of the year. I always give up booze in January, so perhaps increased stupidity is a withdrawal symptom.

So I hope you had better luck with this one than I did. I think it’s a very good puzzle, but it’s hard to say with any certainty given how grumpy it made me, for reasons that have nothing to do with the puzzle itself.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*.

Across
1 Business with husband, also herdsman
COWHAND - CO, W, H, AND.
5 Crater about to swallow tree
CALDERA - C(ALDER)A. A ‘large basin-shaped crater at the top of a volcano’. I vaguely remembered this term, almost certainly from a past crossword, although if you had asked me ‘what’s a CALDERA?’ I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.
9 One complaint after the other?
MORNING SICKNESS - CD: after ‘the other’ (nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean, say no more) you might suffer from this complaint.
10 Brave, perhaps, to hold one’s tongue
INDONESIAN - IND(ONE’S)IAN. Not very PC, but NATIVISE AMERICAN isn’t a language, and doesn’t fit.
11 Fairy about to be given a small jumper
FLEA - reversal of ELF, A.
13 Team turned around court orders
EDICTS - reversal of SIDE containing CT.
14 Stop working after it’s paid back
DIAPASON - reversal of SA (it, sex appeal) PAID, ON (working).
16 Glass vessel
SCHOONER - DD. The fact that a SCHOONER is both a boat and a drinking glass is used reasonably often as misdirection, but I don’t remember seeing it done quite this directly.
17 Desire “freedom” by marital consent
LIBIDO - LIB, (freedom, as in women’s), I DO.
20 Love turning down work
OPUS - O (love), reversal of SUP (drink, down).
21 Top secret
OUT OF SIGHT - DD.
23 Park is, in part, green
PRESERVATIONIST - P(RESERVATION, IS)T.
24 Soviet troops dream about penetrating lines
REDARMY - (DREAM)* contained in RY (lines).
25 Hesitant when changing article in diary
DITHERY - DIARY with A changed to THE. This could equally be a clue for DIARY, but it isn’t.

Down
1 Turn up carrying scrap alloy
COMBINE - COM(BIN)E.
2 Always real?
WORLD WITHOUT END - I put this in from checkers and the definition, but I don’t really understand it. Is the idea just that if something is ‘of the world’ it is real? Or am I missing something?
3 Turning away false people
ALIENATION - or A LIE NATION, geddit?
4 Shorten long joke for an audience
DIGEST - sounds like ‘die, jest’. A relatively unusual meaning of the word, in verb form at least. The noun is familiar to me from Readers Digest. My grandmother used to have ancient issues on shelves all round her house, and I used to find the old adverts strangely fascinating: I couldn't quite get my head round the descriptions (ultra-modern, wave of the future, hi-tech etc) of products (particularly cars) that were clearly from the olden days.
5 Of weather, exciting when cold has gone
CLIMATIC - CLIMAcTIC.
6 Fancy a match?
LIKE - if X is ‘a match’ for Y, it is like Y.
7 Promise of heaven revealing itself to be nonsensical
EVERLASTING LIFE - (REVEALING ITSELF)*. Great anagram. For this to happen heaven would have to exist, but in a really disappointing form.
8 Salt isn’t a compound to keep dry
ABSTAIN - AB (sailor, salt), (ISN’T A)*. What I’m doing at the moment.
12 Babies carry wet blanket
SPOILSTOUTPORT - SPOILS, TOUT. Not a word I can remember seeing before. I saw TOUT quite quickly but it took me forever to get SPOILS from ‘babies’. PORT (carry). See below: I am a moron.
15 Tripper turned up very unusual map again
RESURVEY - USER (as in drugs), (VERY)*.
16 One may pick up small receptacle
SHOPPER - S, HOPPER. As in ‘could you pick up some milk on the way home?’
18 Most of our tasty nuts last longer
OUTSTAY - (OUr TASTY)*. I wasted some time here trying to find an anagram of OUR TASTy.
19 Rank opponent slightly less than fair
FOETID - FOE, TIDy. I saw the TID bit, but couldn’t for the life of me see the FOE bit. It’s so incredibly obvious now, of course.
22 Show stomach
WEAR - at least I think that’s the answer. I had BEAR: if that’s the right answer I have something wrong somewhere else. The other day BEAR was the answer to another double definition clue, and I got it wrong (I put GEAR), so I was primed for it this time.

Mephisto 2941 - Don Manley

Filled this one in without too much fuss, though looking over at the end I'm impressed by the larger blocks in this grid - there's two 4x3 fully-checked regions of the grid and four 4x2 regions, while still having one unchecked letter in each answer. Recently I've been trying to create US-style grids that require big chunks of fully-checked cells (though you can get away with murder in those grids, crossing proper names and using abbreviations willy-nilly).

Away we go...

Across
1APEPSY: APE(animal) then half of PSYCHE
5MASSIF: anagram of FAMISHES missing HE
10ROSETTA STONE: ROAST(slate), ONE(I) found outside SETT(badger's burrow)
11GUTTA: double definition
12CLAY: C, then LAY(put down)
13AVESTA: A, VESTA(l)
14TARPON: NO, PRAT all reversed
16HAULT: U(superior) in HALT(an incomplete railway station)
17SEA TROUT: SEAT(country abode, mansion), ROUT(a fuss)
21ENSHEATH: ENS(being), HEATH(countryside)
24CUSUM: US inside CUM(with, Latin)
27HIPPIC: HIPPIE(dropout) mising E, then C. Was this DM's tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In?
28ACATER: anagram of CREAM,TEA missing ME
29EMIN: half of EMINENCE
30ATONY: A, TONY(simpleton)
31SECRETARIATE: anagram of CARE and TREATIES
32TREBLY: TREMBLY(quivering) missing the M
33RECTUS: R, ECT(shock treatment), U/S(unserviceable)
 
Down
1ARGANS: SNAG(trouble) and RA(Sun) all reversed
2ESTER: the book of ESTHER missing the symbol for hydrogen, H
3PETSIT: PETIT surrounding S
4STATE: ESTATE(property) missing E(arl)at the beginning
5MALTHUSIAN: MAL(sickness), THUS(so), IAN(Scotsman)
6STYRAX: the river STYX containing RA(member of the Royal Academy of Arts)
7SOLPUGA: PUG inside SOLA(spongewood)
8INSOLATE: or IN SO LATE
9FEINTS: sounds like FAINTS
12CANONICITY: CANON(cleric), I, CITY(Durham, say) - a term used commonly now to refer to episodes of TV shows
15BEGUILER: anagram of RUE, BILGE
18AUSPICE: AU(gold), SPICE(relish)
19SCHIST: CH,IS inside ST
20SUPERB: REP inside BUS, all reversed
22ENATIC: ENA, TIC - the wordplay is clear, but I had a bit of a moment just now - I looked it up in Chambers and it is nowhere to be found. ENATE is, as an adjective. Collins has ENATIC as an alternative to ENATE.
23HERYES: he wants to hear HER YES (unless he is proposing to another male)
25SCARE: S(ecure), CARE
26STOAT: or S TO A T
Sorry it's late today, nearly done by 9am but then an emergency Skype from work meant I had to drop everything and attend to that (especially as it was indirectly my fault last night!). Back to it now, so the post should be following shortly...and here it is.

Quite a gentle one for a Saturday. I still had quite a big backlog in the pile from the holiday period, and only got round to this on Thursday evening, solved in a leisurely 12:18. Some clever clues - 2ac was very good, 9ac required a penny-drop moment when I remembered that Holmes is usually referred to in the books as a "consulting detective", and 6dn was brilliant when I understood it. LOI was 26dn, obvious in retrospect but it's easy to be put off by such an unhelpful set of checked letters.

Across
1 Wild parties interrupted by a problem for host (8)
PARASITE - (parties)* around A.
5 It's not about you, in French dialect (6)
PATOIS - PAS (not) around TOI (you), all in French, as is the solution.
9 Record of work doctor compiled for consultant (8)
CASEBOOK - cryptic definition, the doctor being Watson, the consultant Holmes. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes was the last published set of stories by Conan Doyle.
10 Scouts look for this article left in part of camp (6)
TALENT - A (article) + L(eft) inside TENT (part of camp).
12 Steadily proceed to make money illegally (5)
FORGE - double definition...
13 Required to keep out of trouble, that's clear (5,4)
BOUND OVER - ... and another.
14 Young women whose hips arouse sports fans? (12)
CHEERLEADERS - cryptic definition. Do people still shout "hip, hip, hurrah"?
18 Turn attack on king and queen that reveals character flaws (12)
SPELLCHECKER - SPELL (turn) + CHECK (attack on king) + ER (queen).
21 Vegetable that's all right in acre hit disastrously (9)
ARTICHOKE - OK (all right) inside (acre hit)*.
23 Capital at one time husband invested in food store (5)
DELHI - H(usband) inside DELI (food store). It became New Delhi in 1927.
24 Opening of a sort, in part of Africa — time for a change, finally (6)
GAMBIT - GAMBIA (part of Africa) with the A at the end changed to a T (time for a change, finally).
25 A temperature checked and confirmed in trial (8)
ATTESTED - A + T(emperature) + TESTED (checked).
26 Decisively raised a bit of money before game (6)
TOSSED - cryptic definition.
27 Cancel ceremony, we hear, not taking place (5,3)
WRITE OFF - sounds like "rite off".

Down
1 Stop fighting if surrounded by fleet (6)
PACIFY - IF inside PACY (fleet).
2 Platforms in section of ramparts originally set up (6)
ROSTRA - hidden reversed in "ramparts originally".
3 Bullet has done damage, less than fatal (9)
SUBLETHAL - (bullet has)*.
4 Find what's wrong with foreign money — get out time after time (12)
TROUBLESHOOT - ROUBLE (foreign money) + SHOO (get out) + T(ime), all after T(ime). What I was doing instead earlier of finishing this off!
6 As Cecily Cardew was for Oscar, say (5)
AWARD - A WARD. Cecily was the ward of the eponymous E(a)rnest in the Oscar Wilde play. Clever clue, most of it over my head until I looked her up.
7 Series of deliveries that is taken in car, in summary (8)
OVERVIEW - OVER (series of deliveries) + IE (that is) inside VW (car).
8 Author poking fun at flower-girl in street (8)
SATIRIST - AT + IRIS (flower-girl), inside ST(reet).
11 Change to club's price that could be the government's business (6,6)
PUBLIC SECTOR - (to club's price)*.
15 Revision in note people twice produced on time (9)
AMENDMENT - A, MEN (note, people) + D, MEN (note, people again) + T(ime).
16 Something French like to eat — not fast food (8)
ESCARGOT - cryptic definition, or more like straight definition with some cryptic reinforcement.
17 Occasions for retirement in base daily (8)
BEDTIMES - BED (base) + TIMES (daily).
19 Fate or destiny hard to see in firm (6)
CLOTHO - LOT (destiny) + H(ard), inside CO (firm). One of the three Moirai or Fates in Greek mythology. The other two are Lachesis and Atropos.
20 To some extent, relatives manage fine (4,2)
KIND OF - KIN (relatives) + DO (manage) + F(ine).
22 Food that's hot or cold, we hear, in this country (5)
CHILE - sounds like CHILLI (food that's hot) or CHILLY (cold).

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1244

Happy New Year, everyone.

Hard on the heels of 1243, here's 1244, which was published on the 2 January Bank Holiday Monday. I didn't think this one was too difficult either, but I did note a slightly political air to it, what with 13ac, 18ac, 47ac, 49ac, 54ac, 26dn, and possibly 1ac and 55ac. Or maybe that's just me...

As always, * indicates an anagram.

Across
1 VITRIOLIC - (civil)* around TRIO
6 REITH LECTURES - (their)* + LECTURES
13 LYING - fLYING (the definition is 'invention')
14 COUNTERPART - COUNTER + PART
15 SOLAR - SOAR around L
16 A POSTERIORI - A POSTER, + first letters of 'is only rarely interesting'
17 GUTTA-PERCHA - GUT + TAPER + CHA
18 LEFTIST - (f titles)*
20 BOTULIN - U, + nil (reversed), after BOT
21 ANEMONE - no men (reversed) in AE
23 THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS - (shifted off tidy earth)*
27 FIG - alternate letters of 'fridge'
28 NICKEL - NICK + E + L
29 SESAME - SagE + SAME
31 STANDPIPE - STAND + PIPE
34 RELAY RACE - RE + LAY + RACE
35 YUPPIE - puy (reversed) + PIE
36 JUNIOR - J + UNI + OR
39 LEE - fLEE
40 ROYAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC - (famous delicacy mayor)*
42 ENTASIS - AS IS, after E + NT
43 DRIFTER - DRIER around FT
45 PARATHA - RajA, in PATH + A
47 SMALL-MINDED - SMALL + M + IN + DEeD
49 OPINIONATED - O + PINION + A TED
51 AIOLI - rAvIOLI
52 PARSON'S NOSE - POSE, around ARSON + SN (Sn is the chemical symbol for tin)
53 DINGO - DING + O
54 EXAGGERATEDLY - (Greet gay ex-lad)*
55 SATIRICAL - (racialist)*

Down
1 VULGAR LATIN - VULGAR + LATIN
2 TAIL OFF - TOFF around AIL
3 INGOT - IN + GOT
4 LACERATION - LACE + RATION
5 COULOMB - COULd + O + MB
6 RETAIL THERAPY - (they're partial in)*
7 IRREGULAR - I + RR, around Luger (reversed)
8 HEARTEN - HEAR + TENt
9 EXTRAMARITAL - EX + TRAM + A + RITA + L
10 TASTELESS - S in TATE, + LESS
11 RELIC - ELI in RC
12 SPREAD EAGLE - SP + READ + EAGLE
19 IMAGERY - I'M + AGE + RY
22 OFF LIMITS - OFF + LIMITS
24 EXCELLENT - EXTENT, with CELL replacing the first T
25 THE BELL - HEBE, in T + LL. THE BELL is a novel by Iris Murdoch
26 FASCISM - FA + SChISM
30 EXPEDITIOUSLY - (Pity oils exude)*
32 DRUMMER - Daiquiri + RUMMER
33 LADY'S-SLIPPER - (sadly)* + SLIPPER
34 ROLLER-SKATE - ROLLERS (slang for Rolls Royce cars) + K + ATE
37 ROCK AND ROLL - ROCK + A + N + DROLL
38 COMPLIMENT - COMMENT, around PL + I
40 RESULTING - RE + inSULTING
41 CHILDHOOD - CHILleD + HOOD
43 DIDEROT - DID, + TORE (reversed)
44 RUINOUS - 'drug hit one house', with the outermost letters removed from each word
46 TITANIC - TIT + pANIC
48 AROMA - A + ROMA
50 NADIR - (rid an), reversed

Jumbo 1243

Happy New Year to all(?) my readers

This one was published on New Year's Eve in that strange time between the bank holidays which may explain why it did not feel particularly exciting at the time. However, typing this up made me realise there are some clever clues - 12D probably the most difficult to parse. I did not record a solving time as I seldom do Jumbo crosswords with full concentration.

I am pleased to report that I was actually picked as a winner of Jumbo 1239, and the prize arrived a few days ago, so the reference part of our bookcase has had a refresh.

Apologies for typing inaccuracies - it has been a busy time at work so this has been compiled quite quickly.

Across
1 HYPOCHONDRIAC - cryptic definition
8 MONT BLANC - (B(ritai)N, CALM, NOT)*
13 LANAI - I = one, ANAL = obsessed with orderliness, all reversed
14 CREATIONIST - (SO INTRICATE)*
15 DEMON - DE = of (French), MON = my (French)
16 TRAPEZIUS - U(niform) in SIZE = extent, PART = a section, all reversed
17 RISK - (b)RISK = quick
18 DOCTRINE - DO IN = polish off, around CT = court and R(ules), E(nglish)
20 SALVER - double definition, the second mildly cryptic relying on something that salves (or is comforting) being a salver
21 CORONATION STREET - COROT = French artist, around NATION'S = country's and TREE = oak, say
24 SITUATION - NO = number, II = two, S(on), around TAUT = tense, all reversed
26 AUTOCUE - AUT = sounds like AUGHT = anything at all, O = 15th letter (sound), CUE = sounds like Q = 17th letter
27 SET-TO - S(mall), (canal)ETTO = Italian painter
29 RECOLLECTION - REFLECTION = careful thought with F(emale) replaced by COL(onel)
31 BASTARDISE - BASE = centre for operations, around TARDIS = Doctor's craft
33 CHIMPANZEE - CHEE(tahs), around I'M, PAN = a woodland spirit, and Z = unknown
35 SPIDER MONKEY - SERMON = moral lecture, around PI = sanctimonious and D(uke), KEY = chief
38 POSER - POS(h)ER = higher class
39 BARRIER - BARRI(st)ER = lawyer, where the removal is st(umped)
40 TO A NICETY - (ACTION YET TO)*
42 OLD HABITS DIE HARD - OLD HABITS = traditional dress, DIEHARD = resolute defender
44 BIOPIC - BI(g t)OPIC = famous subject
47 APPLAUSE - APP = software, LA = note, USE = exploit
49 QUIN - (e)QUIN(e) = possibly donkey
50 ODD MAN OUT - AMOUNT is an anagram of MAN OUT
52 IROKO - IRO(n) = metal, K.O. = floor
53 OVIPOSITION - OPPOSITION = the other side, with VI = six, replacing a P(enny)
54 STEAM - S(econd), TEAM = eleven
55 GRAVESEND - GRAVE = dire, SEND = transport
56 STEPTOE AND SON - STEP = pace, TOE = kick, (h)ANDS ON = directly involved
 
Down
1 HALITOSIS - cryptic definition where humming = smelling bad
2 PINTAIL - PINT = a beer, AIL = trouble
3 CHINESE WALL - CHIN = feature, E(astern), SEW = patch, ALL = completely, with the whole clue also acting as a definition
4 ORCHID - O.R. = men, CHID = rebuked
5 DRESS DOWN - double definition
6 INTERROGATOR - IN TERROR = consumed with dread, around GOAT*
7 CROSS-PARTY - CROMARTY = Scottish shipping area, with M(iles) replaced by SS = ship and P(arking)
8 MAIM - MA(x)IM = Gorky
9 NOT BORN YESTERDAY - double definition, the second cryptic
10 BIDET - BIDE (one's) T(ime). I guess the T for time is the "somewhat symbolically. I think it just about works
11 ARMOIRE - A RM = room, O = love, IRE = anger
12 CONFECTIONERY - CONE = ice cream, around F(emale), CONE = another ice cream around TI = IT reverse, RY = line. Well constructed
19 PILCHARD - PILC = CLIP = cut, reversed, HARD = with vigour
22 TASER - RESAT = had another go at at pas, reversed
23 FIRE AND BRIMSTONE - F(ollowing), (SERMON, DIATRIBE)*, around N = note
25 TACTICS - TICS = uncontrolled moves, around ACT = deed
28 TWINKLE - TWIN = duplicate, KLE(e) = Swiss painter
29 RECIPROCATING - RATING = lowly person on board, around CORP = corporation and ICE = freeze, reversed
30 THEORIST - cryptic definition
32 APPREHENSIVE - A, PP = very soft, RE = about, HENS = poultry, I'VE = I have
34 PARKA - PA(int), around ARK = giant boat
36 ORIGINAL SIN - ORIGINAL = new, SIN = sine = wave function
37 RIDICULOUS - RID = free, I.C.U. = facility for those acutely ill, LOUS(y) = rotten
40 TERRORIST - T(ERR)ORIST where ERR = mistake replaces HE = man in the solution to 30D
41 YACHTSMAN - (ANY MATCH'S)8
43 DIPLOMA - DIP = swim, LO = sounds like (in sound) LOW = deep, MA = old lady
45 PROFESS - PRESS = reporters around OF
46 ODENSE - hidden in woODEN SEntry box
48 ABODE - A B(ook), ODE = lines expressing emotion
51 MILD - MILD(ewed) = affected by plant fungus

Times 26,621: IT Support

Another superbly well-crafted puzzle about which, tragically, I have left myself not enough time to wax properly lyrical about this morning! So it's going to have to be an "over to you lot in the comments" special.

Suffice it to say that the surfaces were immaculate throughout and there were some absolute corkers amongst the clues: I was very taken by the economy of 14ac but surely 3dn has to pip all others to the COD post with its brilliance? Thanks setter, and I hope you weren't actually having the internet troubles while composing this puzzles that 1ac + 26ac, plus various other answers passim, might suggest!

Across

1 Swimmer is seen in a little water, say, with nothing on (5)
CISCO - IS seen in CC [a little water, say (cubic centimetre, in liquid measurement)], with O [nothing] on
4 Hurry with business lunch, then go back around end of afternoon (4,5)
COME ALONG - CO MEAL [business | lunch] + GO reversed around {afternoo}N
9 Stopped working, being penniless and sad (5,4)
BROKE DOWN - BROKE [penniless] + DOWN [sad]
10 TV programme shows very good French department (5)
PILOT - PI LOT [very good | French department (in the SW)]
11 Very minor reverses in amateur play (6)
LEEWAY - WEE [very minor] reversed in LAY [amateur]
12 Unmarried priest given stick entering church (8)
CELIBATE - ELI [priest] + BAT [stick], entering CE [church]
14 Study noise of birds from Northern Europe (12)
SCANDINAVIAN - SCAN DIN AVIAN [study | noise | of birds]
17 No practical sort, he rushed about, getting bright red reportedly (12)
THEORETICIAN - HE with TORE [rushed] about + homophone of TITIAN [bright red "reportedly"]
20 Charles when speaking secures wig (8)
CHASTISE - CHAS [Charles] + homophone of TIES ["when speaking" secures]
21 Commotion near centre of Preston, close to university (6)
UNREST - NR {pr}EST{on}, close to U [university]
23 Comic book craze I abandoned for good (5)
MANGA - MANIA [craze], with the I "abandoned" in favour of G [good]
24 Sports ground: area certain people set foot inside (9)
ASTRODOME - A SOME [area | certain people], with TROD [set foot] inside
25 Noticeably shrewd, admitting foreigner a short time later (9)
SALIENTLY - SLY [shrewd], admitting ALIEN [foreigner] + T [a short time] later
26 Computer device rejected in some domiciles (5)
MODEM - hidden reversed in {so}ME DOM{iciles}

Down

1 Mystic scholar seen in taxi with top celebs? (8)
CABALIST - CAB [taxi] with A-LIST [top celebs]
2 Warehouse employee brought up as handle becomes weak (8)
STOREMAN - reverse of NAME ROTS [handle | becomes weak]
3 For the solver, a piece of cake (the canapes sound revolting) (4,3,4,4)
OPEN AND SHUT CASE - (THE CANAPES SOUND*) ["revolting"]
4 A rail company motto: “every second counts” (4)
COOT - CO [company] + only every second letter of {m}O{t}T{o}
5 Reform overdue after fellow pulled the strings (10)
MANOEUVRED - (OVERDUE*) ["reform..."] after MAN [fellow]
6 Job seeker might show this past record of hard work? (11,4)
APPLICATION FORM - APPLICATION is hard work, FORM is past record, so you could have APPLICATION FORM
7 One labouring principally in Middle Eastern territory? (6)
OILMAN - I L{abouring} in OMAN [Middle Eastern territory], &lit
8 Channel crossing's final part, say (6)
GUTTER - the "final part" of {crossin}G + UTTER [say]
13 Politician in a flash becoming unreliable (10)
INCONSTANT - CON [politician] in INSTANT [a flash]
15 Do we hurry up, touring old film studios? (8)
PINEWOOD - DO WE NIP [do | we | hurry] reversed, touring O [old]. Pinewood Studios out west of London.
16 Newly-trained 2 now working (2,6)
ON STREAM - (STOREMAN*) ["newly-trained"]
18 Rogues sleep under canvas on board ship (6)
SCAMPS - CAMP [sleep under canvas] in S.S.
19 Mostly cursed large weed (6)
DARNEL - DARNE{d} ["mostly" cursed] + L [large]
22 Guy is steady, regularly so (4)
STAY - {i}S {s}T{e}A{d}Y, taking every second letter
Times Quick cryptic 744 by Orpheus

Friday 13th January 2017

This puzzle has everything: lots of musical references, as befits Orpheus; Shakespeare; geography; mathematics; an obscure new word or two; two chemistry references; plus some lovely clue structures at e.g. 10ac, 16ac, 17d. Fitted my general knowledge and specialisms very well, so despite not being able to type, and being fat-fingered, did a better-than-average time online.

ACROSS

7. A bit of rope rarely seen at 1? (5)

OPERA – A bit of r{OPE RA}rely seen at 1 ac, i.e. Covent Garden, a reference to the Opera House and Theatre Royal rather than the former fruit and vegetable market. This clue is most unlike the Times, with one clue referencing another, there may be complaints from purists.

8. Supervise poetry in Old English (7)

OVERSEE – To oversee means to supervise, VERSE (poetry) in O.E. (Old English)

10. Number one book about instinctive feeling (7)

EMOTION – definition is ‘instinctive feeling’ – the definition is at the beginning or the end nearly all the time, great clue this. It’s NO I TOME backwards.

11. Awkward person originally caught in one trap (5)

INEPT – inept = awkward, P (person originally, i.e. first) in I NET

12. It should kindle the fire, all being well (9)

TOUCHWOOD – noun (archaic) ‘ready flammable wood used as tinder, especially when made soft by fungi’. This meaning was completely new to me, even after a childhood of lighting coal fires. One says or indeed does ‘touch wood’ when hoping/wishing all will be well.

14. Whale finally entering quiet area — it’s in a pod (3)

PEA – nice surface, which completely passed me by the first time through. PEAs are in a pod, and so are whales. P for quiet, E for ‘Whale finally’, A for area.

15. A card, this brave fighter pilot (3)

ACE – double definition, an ‘ace’ being a playing card and also a title given to fighter pilots who shot down a specified number of enemy planes. Presumably such pilots are brave, but the word seems redundant here.

16. Jittery old man engaging in theft (9)

PANICKING – equals ‘jittery’. PA = old man, + NICKING = engaging in theft.

18. Graduate following possible setter’s code of beliefs (5)

DOGMA – MA = graduate, Master of Arts following DOG = setter, the breed.

20. Element two animals put together (7)

WOLFRAM – good general knowledge required here, knowing that WOLFRAM is the old name for Tungsten, hence the chemical symbol W for Tungsten. Incidentally the word tungsten comes from the Swedish for ‘heavy stone’ and its atomic number is 74.


22. Apprehensive over Sun getting involved! (7)

NERVOUS – anagram (getting involved) of ‘over Sun’.

23. Stoneworker’s mother and offspring (5)

MASON – MA (mother) + SON. Not much else it could be, except in the senses of jeweller, or maybe (old GK needed here) compositor.

DOWN

1.London district badly contravened ruling in the end (6,6)

COVENT GARDEN – see the first across clue above. An anagram (badly) of ‘contravened’ + g (ruling in the end, i.e. the last letter). The area was originally a convent garden, but somewhere lost a letter.

2. Bold about note on old stringed instrument (8)

RESOLUTE – definition is ‘Bold’ – RE (about) + SO (note, which isn’t correct, should be SOL or SOH) + LUTE (old stringed instrument). Other parsing suggestions please.

3. Indonesian island’s grain, by the sound of it... (4)

BALI - Name an Indonesian island, and after considering JAVA, get to BALI, which by the sound of it, is barley = grain. Indonesia may in fact consist of 13,466 islands, but you only need a few for crosswords.

4. ...an island Oberon represented (6)

BORNEO – after 3d, this is a gimme, if your mind is in that part of the world. An anagram (represented) of Oberon, king of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

5. Full stop in Chaucer initially recurring at intervals (8)

PERIODIC – Definition is ‘recurring at intervals’ – PERIOD (American for ‘full stop’) + I + C (in Chaucer, initially, i.e. the first letters). It is just possible that this is also an allusion to the previous clue, referencing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a major theme of which, unmentioned at school, is menstruation. Also see 20ac.

6. Man possibly removing article from passage (4)

ISLE – another island, this time the ISLE of Man, AISLE (passage) without the A (article). The mind may boggle at the surface of this clue.

9. Break-up of odd blokes in sci-fi film (12)

ESTRANGEMENT – definition is ‘Break-up’. STRANGE MEN in E.T.

13. Plane figure fashionable once, with label on (8)

HEPTAGON – a seven-sided polygon, a plane figure. Greek for seven angles, HEPT and SEPT being interchangeable, but HEP = fashionable, an old-fashioned term for HIP + TAG (label) = ON. If you look in your pocket or purse in the UK you’ll find two sorts of heptagon, though they are not strictly polygons, having curved edges. And in the near future we will have dodecagonal coins once again! Also, it’s a pity that the word in the blog title is too long for the crosswords.

14. Senior nun’s urge to tour Brazilian port (8)

PRIORESS – Definition is ‘Senior nun’, the apostrophe indicates ‘is’ PRESS (urge) around (to tour) RIO (Brazilian port). A prioress is next in rank below an abbess, but a prioress can be head of house in certain orders.

17.Fairly recent desire to support Tyneside (6)

NEWISH – excellent clue this, WISH (desire) underneath (to support) NE (North East) where Tyneside, representing the region, may be all that most people down south know about the North East. cf Kent for SE.


19. Travel on railway? It’s bloody! (4)

GORY – Go (travel) on RY (abbreviation of railway). GO + RY = GORY, full of gore, blood. I left that particular hell some years ago, but still allow double the time to go from A to B by rail.

21. Walk unsteadily, being flabby (4)
LIMP – Those who limp are often quite steady, but it works.

Please comment on the puzzle and on the blog.
Judging from a well-populated stat board and the comments on the Club site, this seems to have been a deservedly popular puzzle.  The two quotations at 1A and D gave a friendly foothold and there was nothing obscure elsewhere.  At solving time I'd completely forgotten that I was blogging this which meant I enjoyed it at leisure and it took me a pleasing 37.21.  Some items needed checking and I had an episode of dithering at 11A even though the clue was admirably clear, unlike some of this genre.  Just the ticket to put one in the mood for a holiday weekend.

It occurred to me to mention that I've evolved the TLS method of curing insomnia (opiate-free, patent pending).  You take three authors (Jane Austen, Kingsley Amis, Hans Christian Andersen) and three works of literature (Anna Karenina, Adam Bede, the Arabian Nights) and mix and match, the more absurd the better.  Then you go on to B, C, etc.  Sometimes it works best to start further down the alphabet (the three James's, Henry, MR and PD wrote Jane Eyre, Jaws and Jude The Obscure) or work backwards.  If you're not fast asleep after 3 or 4 letters you'll be wide awake so you may as well get up and start the day.  You're welcome.

Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.  P.S.  I attempted the "read more" thingy but seem to have omitted a crucial step.  Maybe next time.

Across
1.  "To miss the march of this retreating world / Into vain -- that are not walled" (Wilfred Owen) (8)
CITADELS.  From the poem Strange Meeting which was one of those adapted by Benjamin Britten for his War Requiem.
5.  Endless success, having opened tremendous O'Neill play (6)
HUGHIE.  HI[t]=endless success contained in (having opened) HUGE=tremendous.  That word for large (especially when pronounced "yuge") is banned in our house for the duration.  1950s two-character play set in a seedy NYC hotel in the 1920s.
10.  Dame involved in crime withholding number a car possessed (9)
CHRISTINE. 1980s novel by Stephen King in the horror genre also made into a movie.  I've read and seen neither but they're certainly well known.  CHRISTIE=dame (Agatha) crime novelist holding N[umber].  I suspect many of us parsed this afterwards but it was a very nice clue.
11.  After changing taps, what James might turn for Kate? (5)
SHREW.  If you take The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James (scariest ghost story ever) and switch the cold for the hot tap you get Shakespeare's Katherina.  There really was no reason for my faffing except that I've muddled these (so-called double helix) clues so often I'm programmed to doubt.
12.  The Foreign Legion has not use for my king (4)
LEAR.  LE= the in French (foreign).  AR[my]=legion without MY.
13.  Middle-Earth realm visited by porky boatman (9)
GONDOLIER.  GONDOR=Tolkien's realm, containing (visited by) LIE=porky in cockney rhyming slang.  You don't need any Lord Of The Rings minutiae (just a general familiarity) for this.
15.  Playwright who might shy away from Christmas (4,6)
NOEL COWARD.  Very neat and needs no further explanation!
17.  Creep lawyer from Maycomb initially ignored (4)
INCH.  The Alabama county lawyer in To Kill A Mockingbird was Atticus Finch.  Remove the F (initially), and there you have it.  I haven't read Go Set A Watchman, the recently released prequel by Harper Lee, but while it doesn't quite make Atticus a creep it certainly scuffs up his halo.
19.  Briefly imagine a way to describe Clyde Wynant? (9)
THIN.  THIN[k]=imagine curtailed (briefly).  In the 1930s Dashiell Hammet hardboiled novel The Thin Man, he's the client of debonair private eye Nick Charles.  The novel was later serialized on film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles.  If your memory gets fuzzy (mine was) you begin to think it's Nick Charles the PI who was the thin guy.  In the NY Times crosswords the Charles's dog Asta (a schnauzer in the book, a terrier in the movies) is a staple.
20.  A word for go astray in a Nigerian novel (5,2,3)
ARROW OF GOD.  Anagram (astray) of A WORD FOR GO.  1960s novel by Chinua Achebe.
22.  Some assure us a harpy recalled Xerxes by another name (9)
AHASUERUS.  Hidden in [as]SURE US A HA[rpy] reversed (recalled).  This is Xerxes's nom de Bible in Esther.
24.  Live rail cut in half around Paddington? (4)
BEAR.  BE=live.  RA[il]=half of rail reversed (around).  The little ursine fellow from Peru.
26.  One behind Heart of Midlothian?  That's too much! (5)
SCOTT.  Sir Walter - novel in the Waverly series.  SC(scilicet)=that's.  OTT (over the top)=too much.
27.  Junkie writer with digs underground, they say (9)
BURROUGHS.  William S. II, beat writer, drug user, author of The Naked Lunch et al.  Homophone of "burrows" (digs underground).
28. Taking down zip to set husband free? (6)
NOTING.  Remove (set free) H[usband] from NOTHING=zip.
29.  Officer who saw a former Danish king develop rare bond (8)
BERNARDO.  Anagram (develop) of RARE BOND.  He and Marcellus are the first to see the ghost of Hamlet's father on the battlements of Elsinore.  In some editions he is spelled "Barnardo", but the anagram makes an error far less likely, assuming one's paying attention.  In times of yore with these puzzles there might well have been (a) no checking letter in a down clue and (b) no helpful anagram!

Down

1.  "The game -- clipp'd and arm'd for fight / Does the Rising Sun affright." (William Blake) (4)
COCK.  From Auguries Of Innocence.  One of the best known ones that begins "To see a world in a grain of sand".  The ghost of English A Level past.
2.  Record set on a river by an all-male coxed pair? (5,3,2,1,4)
THREE MEN IN A BOAT.  By Jerome K. Jerome.  The record being the tale and the setting being the Thames between Kingston and Oxford.  Very neat.
3..Booker-winner's note on archbishop's address in Bow (8)
DISGRACE.  By South African author J.M. Coetzee, it won the 1999 prize.  D=note. [H]IS GRACE, archbishop as addressed by a cockney.  Does Lambeth come within the sound of Bow bells?
4.  Erica Jong's fear?  Losing an edge for storytelling (5)
LYING.  From the 70s novel Fear Of Flying by Jong.  Remove the F (edge) from [f]LYING.
6.  A little drink with posh Penny - result! (6)
UPSHOT.  SHOT=little drink, with U=posh and P=Penny.
7. Potter's associate sculpting no meagre herring (8,7)
HERMIONE GRANGER.  Anagram (sculpting) of NO MEAGRE HERRING.  Mate of Harry at Hogwarts.  I've the greatest possible admiration for J.K. Rowling but for some reason I couldn't get into the books, and my children were just that bit too old for them when they first came out.  You absorb them anyway, and I believe Zabadak is an aficionado so this may have been a write-in for him.
8.  Why a Dr. gets mixed up in murderous deed? (6,4)
EDWARD HYDE.  Another of the signature TLS AndLits.  Anagram (mixed up) of WHY A DR and DEED.  The remarkable creation of R.L Stevenson that has long since passed into the language.
9. Bassanio's man gets stood up in house party (8)
LEONARDO.  Bassanio's slave in Merchant Of Venice.  LEO=astrological house.  DO=party.  Containing RAN=stood reversed (up).  I get my Shakespearean ****ardos mixed up so I needed to check this.
14. Hunger was his king, having escaped a US manhunt (4,6)
KNUT HAMSUN.  Anagram of K=king and US MANHUNT.  He was the Norwegian author of 19th Century novel Hunger.
16.  Conflict about road award for a gateway to Lewis (8)
WARDROBE.  From The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, where the wardrobe is the way into Narnia.  WAR=conflict.  DR=road reversed (about) OBE=award.
18. A schoolboy error finally breaks grave individual (3,5)
TOM BROWN.  TOMB=grave.  R=[erro]R (finally) OWN=individual.  19th Century novel by Thomas Hughes about a schoolboy at Rugby.
21. Perhaps Jane worried about American close to Tarzan (6)
AUSTEN.  ATE=worried containing (about) US with last letter (close to) in [Tarza]N.
23. Soldier that's run into the Oracle of Delphi? (5)
SARGE.  R in SAGE=oracle - the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
25.  Look after little sailor in Harry Hole's patch (4)
OSLO.  OS=ordinary seaman (little sailor).  LO=look.  Another Norwegian author - Jo Nesbo - created Harry the detective as his protagonist in a series of crime novels.

Quick cryptic No 743 by Des

I don’t think I have blogged a puzzle by Des before, and I had no difficulty adapting to him on this occasion, my total time being well inside my 15 minute target.

Some nice clues here, with little need for any extensive General Knowledge (except perhaps ECRU), and everything going in without a struggle.  Thanks Setter, and Happy New Year to everyone.

Across
Prisoner perhaps popular with friend (6)
INMATE – Popular is ‘IN’ and friend is ‘MATE’
Tip up plain vase (8)
OVERTURN – Plain is ‘OVERT’ and vase is ‘URN’
Delicate insect crossing one manuscript (6)
FLIMSY – The insect is a ‘FLY’ which crosses, or has inserted in it I (one) M{anu}S{cript}
9  In Waterloo, pal lustily recalled Scottish resort (8)
ULLAPOOL – Reverse hidden in {water}LOO PAL LU{stilly}.  Ullapool is a major tourist destination in Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands, despite having only 1500 or so inhabitants, by virtue of the fact that, even at that size, it is the largest settlement for many miles around.
10  Skin condition not considered(4)
RASH –Double definition referring to a (usually) itchy RASH and a RASH action respectively
12  Hunter discovered holding bullock, close to ranch (8)
FOXHOUND – Discovered gives ‘FOUND’, which has inserted (holding) OX and {ranc}H (i.e. close to, or last letter of rancH)
15  One taking car from girl – a legal stipulation (8)
JOYRIDER – JOY is the girl, and RIDER the legal stipulation, being a ‘condition or proviso added to something already agreed’.
18  Weaselly creature losing head?  Exactly! (2,1,1)
TO A T – The weaselly creature is a {s}TOAT, otherwise known as the short-tailed weasel.  When something is ‘done to a T’, it is done perfectly, or exactly!
20  More flexible about one’s dealer (8)
SUPPLIER – To be more flexible is to be SUPPLER, into which is inserted I (about one’s)
22  English planes carrying first of captives and exiles (6)
EJECTS – E{nglish} followed by JETS ‘carrying’ first of C{aptives}
23  Yet competition ultimately free, strangely, with this? (5,3)
ENTRY FEE – The whole clue works as a kind of reverse &Lit, with the answer further clued as an anagram (indicated by ‘strangely’) of [YET] with {competition}N (ultimately indicating last letter) and [FREE]
24  Answer certain to be readily available (6)
ABOUND – A{nswer} BOUND (certain, as in BOUND to happen).  To ABOUND is to be readily available.

Down
1 Nothing very large about article shaped like Easter gift? (4)
OVAL – Nothing gives O, V{ery} L{arge} around A (article)
2  Her caper disturbed a clergyman (8)
PREACHER – Straightforward anagram indicated by ‘disturbed’ of [HER CAPER]
German’s recycled old fur (6)
RUDOLF – Another straightforward anagram, indicated this time by ‘recycled’ of [OLD FUR].  RUDOLF and its variants and diminutives (Rolf, Rodolf, Rudolph, Rudy) are all common masculine given names in German, and several Kings and Rulers have been so-named.
Arrival at home with illness by ten (6)
INFLUX – At home gives IN, the illness is FLU and ten is indicated by the Roman numeral X
5  Old woman one left in post (4)
MAIL – MA is the usual ‘old woman’, I (one) and L{eft}
6 State expressions of gratitude: an obsession (8)
TASMANIA – TAS are expressions of gratitude (informal thank you), followed by MANIA which is the obsession
11  What to expect from competent handyman, thankfully (1,4,3)
A GOOD JOB – A double definition, one of them cryptic
13  Poet’s work was outstanding when recited (3)
ODE – Sounds like ‘owed’ when spoken – today’s homophone clue
14  Performs better than us at poly, unexpectedly (8)
OUTPLAYS – Another simple anagram, clued by ‘unexpectedly’, of [US AT POLY]
16  Small boy after party’s slept (6)
DOSSED – The small boy is S{mall} ED{ward} which follows DO’S or ‘party’s’.  DOSSED is one of those evocative words that always reminds me of the late 60’s when sleeping rough was a common experience (at least for me).
17  Place in short grass for standing (6)
REPUTE – The short grass is REE{d} with last letter dropped.  Insert PUT (place) as instructed
19  Grey colour cell shows up (4)
ECRU – A second reversed hidden in today’s QC, this time in {colo}UR CE{ll}.  ECRU is unbleached linen, or its greyish brown colour
21  Business manager and former partner, each appearing on and off (4)
EXEC – A former partner is oft referred to as an EX, and E{a}C{h} appearing ‘on and off’ refers to alternate letters of the word ‘each’.

Times 26620 - 11 drinks later...

Solving time : 39:40 with my friend Brian helping me get one. OK - I am probably not in the best solving form at the moment since we went to Epcot at Walt Disney World and prevailed in the challenge of having a drink in all 11 areas of the World Showcase (woohoo). However, even in my admittedly inebriated state, this puzzle wasn't for me. Regular readers may know my dislike of cryptic definitions and I think there's two here. Scattered amongst is some clever wordplay but I can't say this was a winner overall. Feel free to toast me in comments.

Away we go...

Across
1SIZE: ASSIZE(old court) with AS removed
3COPERNICUS: CO(firm) then PERNICIOUS(injurious) missing IO(moon)
10GIRAFFE: GAFFE containing IR
11ASTRIDE: RIDE on A ST(street, public way)
12THREE MEN IN A BOAT: cryptic definition
13DETAIL: or DE-TAIL
14REMEMBER: REM(eye movement), EMBER(a bit glowing)
17RED CORAL: anagram of COLD REAR
18UPKEEP: or UP KEEP
21BETWEEN YOU AND ME: anagram of WOMEN NEED BEAUTY
23CULVERT: VER(y) inside CULT
23CHEMISE: TRY removed from CHEMISTRY then E
25NUTCRACKER: NUT(fan), CRACKER(biscuit) - the Nitcracker Suite by Tschaikowsky
26HERD: sounds like HEARD
 
Down
1SIGHTED: double definition
2ZERO RATED: PERORATED(wound up speech) with a new first letter
3OPENER: double definition
5EXAMINER: EX MINER containing A
6NOT HAVE A PRAYER: tichy double definition
7CHINO: I then ON(leg side in cricket) reversed after CH
8SWEATER: cryptic definition
9A FLEA IN ONE'S EAR: jumper is A FLEA and the lug is an ear
15BREADLINE: anagram of DINER,ABLE
16MAGNETIC: NET in MAGIC
17RUBICON: RUB(clean), ICON(holy image)
19PREBEND: PRE(ahead of time), BEND(submit)
20TOUCHE: (m)UCH in TOE
22TO LET: DO(make) removed from TOLEDO then T

Times 26619 - put that in and smoke it.

Maybe I was in a less than enthusiastic mood today, but I found this more of a plod than a pleasure; I hope the esteemed setter will forgive me if everyone else finds it a blast. It took around 25 minutes, starting with 10a and ending with 19a which I got from wordplay and had to check was correct before going to press with this. On a day with more zest I think I could halve that time, so I expect the usual whizzos will be in single figures.
Don't get me wrong - there are some nice clues, a few chunky anagrams, some golfing terms, and a reappearance of HM's canine friend - is this the third one of late?

Across
1 DEMOTE - D for daughter, EMOTE to behave theatrically, D put down.
4 TRAIPSED - Anagram of STRIDE and PA(CE); D walked.
10 CARNIVORA - CARNIVA(L) = festival finishing early, insert OR for men; D Beefeaters, perhaps.
11 CORGI - I, G, ROC, reversed; D dog.
12 MAS - Uncle SAM reversed; D mothers.
13 DELAWARE BAY - AWARE, B (knowing, bishop), inside DELAY = hold-up; D US estuary.
14 MASHIE - M.A.S.H. we all remember, i.e. = that is; D club. A mashie today would be something like a 5 iron, but it sounds much more exciting and violent.
16 REISSUE - ER = hesitation, reverse it and add ISSUE for children; D once more put out.
19 CALUMET - A LUM is a (Scottish) chimney, so smoker; insert it into CE = church, add T being last thing of priest; D pipe, name for the pipe of peace smoked by our North American natives once.
20 HUNGRY - HUNGARY loses its A; D lacking fertility. Seems the word can be applied to poor soil, but I wasn't that keen on it, rather dull.
22 OUT OF BOUNDS - D forbidden territory, amusing-ish tired kangaroo idea.
25 PAH - D expression of disgust, sounds like your PA.
26 LARGO - L for line, ARGO the Greek ship Jason's lot sailed; D moving slowly, as in Handel's.
27 INSTALLER - I'S around (kitche)N, TALLER for getting higher up; D one fixing apparatus.
28 DRIFTAGE - EGAD ! would be 'that's surprising!' in some circles; reverse it and insert RIFT = disagreement; D deviation.
29 STABLE - ST short for Saint, person who's very good, ABLE for competent; D firm.

Down
1 DECAMP - EC for City (London busness disctrict post code), inside DAMP for rank air; D leave.
2 MARES TAIL - (MATERIALS)*, D plant. For once, a plant I knew.
3 TRIAD - Insert I being first person pronoun, into TRAD being jazz; D sort of chord. At first I had THIRD as I knew that was a chord, from my piano playing days, but I couldn't derive anything jazzy from TH RD, so I hit the road again.
5 ROADWORTHINESS - (HORSE AT WINDSOR)*, D reliability on the track.
6 INCURSION - INCURS = suffers, ION can be a tiny (charged particle) bit; D attack.
7 SCRUB - Double definition.
8 DAIRYMEN - (MIND YEAR)*, D Farmers.
9 SOUL DESTROYING - (OLDSTER IS YOUNG)*, D boring. Like I said before.
15 HOME FRONT - I saw this as HOME = in, FRONT = van, D people left behind to support soldiers.
17 STRIP CLUB - S = end of hiS, TRIP = journey, CLUB = driver maybe; D seedy joint. On behalf of the ecdysiasts location fraternity, I'd like to propose that they're not all seedy.
18 SCHOOLED - S(econd), CH(ild), (F)OOLED; D disciplined.
21 CHARGE - Double definition.
23 TORSI - IS ROT reversed, D trunks, Latin plural of torso.
24 SCANT - SCAN = examination, T = minimal time; d barely sufficient.

Quick Cryptic 742 by Hawthorn

I've had the pleasure of blogging a few Hawthorn puzzles recently, and they have always been beautifully crafted. This one is no exception.

I've now totally given up on predicting degree of difficulty around the QC (when I think it's an easy one, others say it's hard - and vice versa). All I can say is I solved it in about 15 minutes, which is about average for me (but then again I am a slow - but thorough - solver), so for those who are interested in solving times I'm afraid I'm not much of a yardstick. I just enjoy the elegance of the challenge and the beautiful process, and the hell with how long it takes: in many ways, the longer the better.

Good QC fare I thought. No real obscurities (although you will need to be somewhat familiar with popular UK cars in bygone decades) and 18d might be unknown depending on your TV watching in the '60s (not to mention your geographic location) although the wordplay is generous. Thanks very much to our setter.

Definitions underlined: DD = Double definition: Anagrams indicated by *(--): Omitted letters indicated by {-}

Across
1 Spin bowler’s trick presenting a problem for the author
(7,5)
WRITERS BLOCK - *(BOWLERS TRICK) with "spin" as the anagrind. I had to wait until the cross checkers were in place before I finally got this, as our setter had successfully sent me up a few garden paths. Initially I thought the definition was "spin bowler's trick" so I was going through wrong 'uns etc. to no avail. Then I thought we were looking for an author. Got there in the end.
9 Parrot of old lady put with cashew when she is absent (5)
MACAW - MA (old lady) + CAW - CA{SHE}W (cashew when SHE is absent)
10 Adolescent is after food container in workplace eatery (7)
CANTEEN - TEEN (adolescent) 'after' CAN (food container)
11 Rupture regularly found in noble gas particle (7)
NEUTRON - UTR (rUpTuRe regularly - i.e. every other letter) inside (found in) NEON (one of the noble gases)
12 Delete Times puzzle at the end (5)
ERASE - ERAS (times) + E (puzzlE at the end)
13 Southeastern upper-class type to embark on journey (3,3)
SET OFF - SE (south eastern) + TOFF (upper-class type). "Don't care if you've got a first class season ticket, mate - there's no trains today 'cos we're on strike..."
14 Long narrow inlets start to join in Capri and Granada? (6)
FJORDS - J (start to Join) goes in FORDS (Capri and Granada - two of the most famous Ford cars from the '70s, '80s and '90s, but possibly unknown to younger audiences)
17 State “I do”, securing a husband (5)
IDAHO - I DO 'secures' A H (a husband). Today's gimme...
19 This country is in ruin — am I biased? (7)
NAMIBIA - The African nation is indeed 'in' ruiN AM I BIAsed
21 Fate mostly dire, turning desperate (2-2-3)
DO OR DIE - DOO{M} (fate mostly - i.e. last letter missing) + DIRE rearranged (turning)
22 Suffer at home with vicious mutt (5)
INCUR - IN (at home) + CUR (vicious mutt). Wondered a little at the definition to start with until I thought of "incur a penalty / suffer a penalty"
23 Ado! Hungry dog barking in all-too-familiar situation (9,3)
GROUNDHOG DAY - *(ADO HUNGRY DOG) with "barking" as the anagrind


Down
2 Tell on Dracula? (7)
RECOUNT - RE (on - as in "about") + COUNT (Dracula?)
3 Capital offences once punished here? (5,2,6)
TOWER OF LONDON - Cryptic definition based on London being the capital
4 Modern recycling centre (6)
RECENT - *(CENTRE) with "recycling" as the anagrind. Neat clue.
5 Stuff reckless mug in Jeep for extreme sport (6,7)
BUNGEE JUMPING - BUNG (stuff) + *(MUG IN JEEP) with "reckless" as the anagrind
6 Come gallantly holding final letter (5)
OMEGA - Hidden in (indicated by 'holding') cOME GAllantly
7 Where setters go for a holiday? (7)
KENNELS - Droll cryptic clue based on setters being dogs rather than our daily tormentors
8 Sign depicting old fellows (4)
OMEN - O (old) + MEN (fellows)
13 Part of leg found by excavation party (7)
SHINDIG - SHIN (part of leg) in front of (found by) DIG (excavation)
15 Du Maurier book with short revolutionary chapters — ace!
(7)
REBECCA - REBE{L} (short revolutionary - i.e. minus last letter) + CC (chapters - two of them) + A (abbrev. Ace)
16 Tangle with men he’s upset (6)
ENMESH - *(MEN HES) with "upset" as the anagrind
18 Love attempt to follow silver galore (1,4)
A GOGO - AG (chemical symbol for silver) is followed by O GO (love attempt). Whilst the wordplay was clearly pointing us to the solution, I was struggling with "what the hell is a gogo?" until I vaguely recalled "Discs A-Gogo" from watching TV during my teenage years in the late '60s. Must admit I had no idea it was a recognised term meaning "in abundance; galore"
20 Crooked? Sounds like a grass (4)
AWRY - It does indeed sound like A RYE (a grass)

Quick Cryptic 741 by Pedro

13 minutes with 15dn/20ac being the last to fall. The long clue at 8ac could prove the key to faster times as it provides many crossing letters including the first letter of the long 9dn which helps a lot. Some of the vocabulary isn't the simplest - neither is some cluing but it is very fair which gives this a satisfying feel. Thanks Pedro.

ACROSS

1. Backpack - essential for a hiker? Support (BACK), group (PACK).
5. Span - a period - a span of years. The letter 'I' leaves SPAiN.
8. New South Wales - a part of Australia which is very biffable from (3,5,5). Information (NEWS), released (OUT) linked to (sitting alongside) an anagram (abused) of LAWS HE.
10. Hello - greeting. He will - he'll (HELL), love (O).
11. Austere - harsh. Anagram (is rough) of SEA TRUE.
12. Repair - make improvements to. Attitude (AIR) shown by salesman (REP).
13. Despot - tyrant. Remove blemishes from DE-SPOT.
16. Portion - serving. Queen (R this time - not ER) tucks into elixir (POTION).
18. Ahead - in the lead. Article (A), homophone (on the radio) of caught (HEArD) dismissing the 'R' for Republican.
20. Swashbuckling - gallant. In quiet (SH) put WAS to get SWASH then weak at the knees (BUCKLING).
21. Eats - swallows. Non vegetarian foods (mEATS) skipping the starter letter.
22. Hysteria - wild excitement. Anagram (erupting) of THIS YEAR.

DOWN

1. Bunch - group. Some bread (BUN) given to church (CH).
2. Cowslip - flowering plant. Border (LIP) with cattle (COWS) overhead.
3. Photo finish - exciting climax? (P)lumpton, anagram (damaged) of HOOF IN THIS.
4. Catnap - sleep. Soldier (ANT) rolled over (TNA) inside better (CAP).
6. Pulse - double definition.
7. Nascent - beginning. New (N), climb (ASCENT).
9. Waste Basket - bin. Anagram (fluttering) of (S)pider, WEB AT STAKE.
12. Riposte - witty reply. One (I) online comment (POST) both put inside about (RE).
14. Premier - first. Not sure why but this word play struck me like a recipe - so here goes - take one sea at Calais (MER) give it an upsurge so that it becomes REM then place the finished article inside jetty (PIER).
15. Injury - harm. Deliberating on court case (IN JURY).
17. Roast - cook meat for example. Run (R), oven (OAST - as in oast houses once used to dry hops).
19. Dogma - principle. Mother (MA) chasing (after) pet (DOG).

Times 26618

I had problems with this one solved over two sessions and probably need most of an hour in all. In particular I came to grief in the SW corner where the French word eluded me for ages. I don't quite understand why we need to import a 9-letter foreign word when there's a perfectly serviceable 3-letter English word meaning exactly the same thing but such are the mysteries of life, and it's in the English dictionary so I suppose we have to accept its validity and that the setter didn't feel the need to indicate its foreignness in the clue. This is all starting to sound a bit petulant so I'll shut up and get  on with the blog...

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Times Quick Cryptic 740 by Joker

I've no solving time for this one as I nodded off and returned to it later. I can't imagine I found it hard as many of the clues are very straightforward, so I must have been extremely tired and ready for sleep when I decided to tackle it.


As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

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