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[sticky post] Championship S & B

There will be a meeting for crossword setters and solvers at The George, Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH, coinciding with the annual Times Crossword Championship. The meeting will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday 22nd October 2016, which is when The George opens, and continue until late into the evening.

It is hoped that a number of the setters from the national newspapers will put in an appearance. There should also be a cross-section of bloggers and readers from Big Dave’s Crossword Blog, Times for the Times and Fifteensquared. And last, but by no means least, competitors in the Times Crossword Championship will be popping in between the semi-finals and finals of the competition – the winner to celebrate and the rest to drown their sorrows.

If you’ve never been before, this is a very friendly function and provides the opportunity to meet other like-minded people.

Quick cryptic No 683 by Joker

I don’t mind admitting that this took me 24 minutes this morning, so is far more difficult than usual, or my mind has been stolen by someone.  It might also be due to the large proportion (60%) of clues where the definition comes at the end, rather than the beginning.  If you can cope with this without aids, then I’d say that you are ready and able to have a good crack at the 15 x 15 most days.  Nothing too oblique though, all fairly clued and not a great call on general knowledge (except, perhaps for 14a).  Excellent puzzle Joker

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated by [square brackets] and deletions with {curly ones}

1  Introduce article by church eminence (10)
IMPORTANCE – To IMPORT is to introduce, AN is the article and CE for the church most often applied in crosswordland
8  Backing for cutting mines financial yields (7)
PROFITS – FOR reversed (backing) and inserted (cutting) inside PITS (mines)
9  Mostly cold European country (5)
CHILE – nice misdirection putting European next to the definition, but CHIL{l} is mostly cold, with mostly indicating that the last letter is dropped, and E{uropean} providing the replacement letter
10  Useful piece of advice about river journey (4)
TRIP – TIP is the useful advice, about R{iver}
11  Pair given permission to form band (8)
BRACELET – BRACE is the pair, added to (given) LET (permission).  Brace is usually applied to pairs of birds after they have been shot.
13  Poach small duck (5)
STEAL – S{mall} and TEAL.  Again, misdirection.  Hands up if you were looking for a cooking answer.  The definition of poach needed here is ‘to take illegally, usually from another person’s land’ rather than ‘cooking slowly in simmering liquid’
14  River creature Jeremy Fisher’s creator topped (5)
OTTER – this is much easier to answer if you happen to know that Jeremy Fisher is one of the books written by Beatrix {P}OTTER.  I didn’t, but easy enough to guess with all the checkers in place, hence my last one in.
16  Go off a conservative politician in revolution (8)
ROTATORY – ROT is to go off, A is a, and a conservative politician is of course a TORY
17  Have a quick look back (4)
KEEP – A quick look is a PEEK, reversed (back)
20  Captain’s beginning injury appeal (5)
CHARM – C{aptain’s} beginning (first letter) and HARM (injury)
21  Work at home unit and on view (7)
OPINION – A flat pack assembly clue.  Work is OP, at home is IN, unit is I, and ON is on to give OPINION
22  Typical revolutionary interrupting artistic friend(10)
ARCHETYPAL – Revolutionary in crosswords is usually either RED or CHE, in this case the latter.  An artistic friend might be referred to as an ARTY PAL.  Insert (interrupt) CHE for the answer

Where power enters unit possibly (5)
INPUT – a combination clue, the whole clue forming the definition (an &lit), with P{ower} being inserted into an anagram (possibly) of UNIT
2  Supply translation of Latin - auspicious (12)
PROVIDENTIAL – Supply is to PROVIDE followed by an anagram (translation) of [LATIN]
3  Mind missing British weather (4)
RAIN – Mind missing B{ritish} is {B}RAIN.  I’m not sure where my brain was this morning – this was my LOI (last one in) shortly after getting OTTER
Maintain right to divide valuable item (6)
ASSERT – ASSET is the valuable item, divided by R{ight}
When one might wake up with two birds (8)
COCKCROW – I shouldn’t need to identify the two birds, but my dictionary hyphenates the word and defines COCK-CROW as ‘early morning, when cocks crow’.
6  Article hidden in tree is perhaps initially a hard thing to reach (4,1,3,4)
WILL ‘O THE WISP – The article is THE hidden in WILLOW (tree) and followed by IS (is) and P{erhaps} (initially) to give the answer.  WILL ‘O THE WISP is defined as either ‘ignis fatuus’ (also called friar's lantern. A flitting phosphorescent light seen at night, chiefly over marshy ground), or as ‘any elusive or deceptive person or thing’, hence hard to reach.
7  Make rude remarks about good man Joker (6)
JESTER – To make rude remarks is to JEER, and this surrounds (about) good man S{ain}T.  Clever of Joker to include himself as a definition in his own crossword.  For a while I thought he had included me as blogger as well, when I looked at the checkers for 14a and saw O_T_R one of the options I considered was ROTTER.
12  Veteran told emir off (3,5)
OLD TIMER – straightforward anagram (off) of [TOLD EMIR]
13  Tidy one part of forest? (6)
SPRUCE – Double definition, the second one slightly cryptic in that a SPRUCE might be in a forest
15  Ornamental clasp open on the ear (6)
BROOCH – homophone clue, sounds like broach, which is to open up or begin, as in ‘to broach the subject’.  I’m not personally a big fan of homophone clues because of variations in pronunciation, but this one works ok.
18  Criticise middle two of twelve jurymen? (5)
PANEL – To criticise is to PAN with the middle two letters of {tw}EL{ve}
19  Intelligence about Liberal collapse (4)
WILT – WIT is intelligence around (about) L{iberal}

Times 26548 - a fractured fairy tale

Solving time : 11:27, and I was the first one in on the club timer. Could have been a bit quicker if I knew how to spell, as a poor spelling of 7 down (since it was partially clued as a homophone, my bad spelling isn't helped by the wordplay).

I suspect a few obvious definitions will make this one amenable to biffing, but there's some fun wordplay along the way.

Just finished the write-up and I'm still on top of the leaderboard, so I may have been on the setter's wavelength this time. Nothing particularly obscure I thought, but some cunning wordplay.

Away we go...

1BEHOLDING: BEING(person) surrounding HOLD(cargo area)
6ERROR: E(pick an end of ExpensivE), R(runs), then ROAR missing A
9STRAFED: STRAW-FED(given stalks to eat) without the W(weight)
10ARTEMIS: inside ARTS, put I,ME reversed
11MEANT: MEAN(average),T
12GUEST BEER: sounds like GUESSED BIER(what a body was on)
13ANTIMONY: ANY(some) containing TIMON(miser)
14ASTI: AS(like), then IT reversed
17FLOE: L in FOE
18ALPINIST: A LIST containing PIN
21DROMEDARY: anagram of ROAMED inside DRY
24VOLCANO: VOL(ume), then CA(accountant), NO(isn't it)
25ALASKAN: hidden in montreAL ASK ANy
27FREE LUNCH: anagram of CHEERFUL and N(ews), referencing the phrase "there ain't no such thing as a freelunch" or TANSTAAFL
1BOSOM: MO(tick) and SOB all reversed
2HARD ACT TO FOLLOW: HARD(stiff), ACT(law), TO FOLLOW(not yet ready)
3LIFETIME: anagram of FILE, then TIME magazine
4INDIGENT: INDIA missing A, then GENT
6ESTATE: I suspect this is meant to be E-STATE referring to the E-type jaguar? mctext in comments suggests this is a double definition, though I kind of like the Jaguar rationalization
7RUMPELSTILTSKIN: I'll take issue with "Evil dwarf", without him folks would have had far less gold! Anyway, it sounds like RUMPLES, then TILTS(starts), KIN
8RESTRAINT: RT(right) containing an anagram of RETSINA
13AFFIDAVIT: AFFI(x), then DAVIT(a hoist)
15PLAY SAFE: two definitions, one cryptic
16WINDFALL: another two definitions, the apple may have been blown off in the wind
20SAW OFF: remove the middle from SAWN OFF
23HUNCH: H then (l)UNCH

Times 26547 - a melange

I found this a strange puzzle, because it offered a mixture of dead-easy quickie-type clues and much trickier ones which would have been hard to see without the checkers from the write-ins. With 1a and 1d going in immediately, followed by the next long one at 10d, I thought it was going to be a Monday-type stroll, but there were some more chewy items in store. Just over half an hour saw it done, with 2d my LOI from wordplay as the definition doesn't seem to match the answer very well.

1 SAMOSAS - SAMOS is the island, AS = for instance; D snacks. I've been on a few dozen Greek islands but not yet to Samos, birthplace of Pythagoras amongst other notables.
5 HARASS - HAR(T) = deer no end, ASS follows as the animal; D hound.
8 AIRSTREAM - AIRS = broadcasts, RE = about, AM = American, insert T (president finally); D current.
9 PIN-UP - PI = very good, holy, PUN = gag, reverse it NUP; D a beauty?
11 IVIED - I VIED = I struggled, D overcome by climber. A QC chestnut.
12 PARTIALLY - If I ALLY with a PART, I could be biased; D not entirely.
13 HARD CASH - HARD = firm, CA = not exactly, circa, SH = quiet; D money.
15 WANTON - If you WANT ON you keep desiring, D woman of easy virtue.
17 UPLAND - Hidden word in YO(U PLAN D)RASTICALLY; D rise.
19 MANDATED - a MAN DATED would be a fellow on a night out; D instructed.
22 TERRIFIED - TERRIE(R) is the tailless canine; insert I F(orce) and add D (dog's lead) to the end; D trembling?
23 CONES - Alternate letters of C o O k N e E d S; D ice-cream containers.
24 REEVE - VEER = turn, 'about' means reverse it, add E end of case; D former official.
25 PHONE CALL - Anagram of LONEL CHAP, removing the Y being 'no yen'; D communication.
26 XYSTER - X and Y are axes on a graph, STER(N) = mostly flinty; D tool for scraping (bones usually). I did somehow know this word, maybe from a previous puzzle or reading too many forensic pathology thrillers.
27 FALSELY - 'London school' in a crossword should make you go first to the LSE; Insert A LSE into FLY = cunning, D deceptively.

1 SPANISH GUITAR - An elegant clue, if an easy anagram; (HARPIST USING A)*, D instrument.
2 MARDIER - RE I DRAM would be 'concerned with a single tot'; reverse all; D rather spoilt. I knew MARD or MARDY means a bit soft, a Mummy's boy perhaps, but I can't see why it's 'rather spoilt' as opposed to the comparative 'more spoilt'? Discuss.
3 SITED - SUITED would be wearing formal attire, remove the U; D given position.
4 SHEEPISH - SHE = female, HE male, about = EH, insert PIS = SIP, drink, up; D shamefaced.
5 HOMBRE - Insert BR into HOME; D guy.
6 REPRIMAND - REP is a ccoarse material, RID = delivered, as in saved from, removed; insert MAN = piece; D carpet, tell off.
7 SINGLET - G o L d oddly = GL, after IN, inside SET = collection; D garment.
10 PAY AND DISPLAY - Well, you lay out cash, then you lay out your ticket; D car park.
14 CONFIDENT - CONFIT is a French 'course' well, a dish; insert DEN for study; D certain.
16 HANDS OFF - HANDS = presents, passes over; OF F = belonging to female; D don't touch.
18 LARGELY - (ALLERGY)*, D to a great extent.
20 TINWARE - (I WANT)*, anagrind 'kinks', on = RE, D metal objects.
21 TIPPER - Tourist is TRIPPER, lose a R(upee); D he's happy with the service?
23 CREEL - C = caught, REEL = angler's equipment; container for fish.

Quick Cryptic 682 by Hawthorn

As ever, a delightful little number from Hawthorn characterised by elegant and witty clueing, with no obscurities but plenty to give the grey matter a bit of a work out. The whole thing was an object lesson in smooth surfaces.

Good to see the late great Joe Cocker coming into play (super clue at 17 ac), which just edges 7d as my favourite from a splendid crop. Grateful thanks to Hawthorn for a most enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Article with two pages to conclude one Times supplement
APPENDIX - A (article) + PP (two pages) + END (to conclude) + I (one) + X (times - as in multiplied by)
5 Caterpillar food (4)
9 A photo capturing starter of strawberry jelly (5)
ASPIC - A PIC (a photo) 'captures' S (starter of Strawberry)
10 One breaking into jetty is adventurous type (7)
PIONEER - ONE inside (breaking into) PIER (jetty)
11 That hurts large hooter (3)
OWL - OW (that hurts) + L (abbrev. Large)
12 No. sixteen fouled in extra time (9)
EXTENSION - *(NO SIXTEEN) with "fouled" as the anagrind
13 Throw around stray alcoholic drink (6)
SHERRY - SHY (throw) 'around' ERR (stray)
15 Pub holds onto protein-rich food for down-and-out (6)
BEGGAR - BAR (pub) 'holds' EGG (protein-rich food)
17 Ecstatic sound of famous singer, Joe, and band (4-1-4)
COCK A HOOP - COCKA (sounds like Cocker, the 'famous singer Joe') + HOOP (band). Lovely stuff.
19 Mineral stream (3)
20 New form of lace — it’s stretchy (7)
ELASTIC - *(LACE ITS) with "new form of" as the anagrind
21 Opening portion of macaroni cheese (5)
NICHE - Hidden inside (portion of) macaroNI CHEese
22 Sacred act — it’s covered in religious education (4)
RITE - IT is 'covered' by RE (religious education)
23 Stop for welcome morsel (8)
PROHIBIT - PRO (for) + HI (welcome) + BIT (morsel)

1 Helpless cheers following a defeat (2,1,4)
AT A LOSS - TA (cheers) 'following A' + LOSS (defeat)
2 Student held back by slip-ups (5)
PUPIL - Reverse hidden in (held back by) sLIP UPs
3 Hazardous substance that could make us clean water (7,5)
NUCLEAR WASTE - *(US CLEAN WATER) with "could make" as the anagrind
4 Enter island by rickety punt (5)
INPUT - I (abbrev. Island) + *(PUNT) with "rickety" as the anagrind
6 Winding in loop, catching slippery fish (7)
REELING - RING (loop) containing (catching) EEL (slippery fish)
7 Noble — like The Wasteland being recited (5)
BARON - Sounds like BARREN (like The Wasteland being recited).
8 Hit back with clubs, breaking up truncheon (12)
COUNTERPUNCH - C (bridge abbrev. for Clubs) + *(UP TRUNCHEON) with "breaking" as the anagrind
14 Charm displayed by liking going topless (7)
ENCHANT - {P}ENCHANT (liking going topless). Took a while to spot this - my LOI
16 Once again tend to fall back (7)
RETREAT - RE-TREAT (once again tend to - as in tend / treat a wound)
17 Uncle Arthur not entirely lucid (5)
CLEAR - Hidden inside (not entirely) unCLE ARthur. Very neat.
18 Our welcoming cricket club brings spring to mind (5)
OCCUR - OUR 'welcomes' CC (abbrev. cricket club)
19 John’s opening a company with B Epstein, perhaps (5)
JACOB - J (John's opening) + A CO (a company) + B giving us the celebrated sculptor Jacob Epstein. Very cunning misdirection with the B Epstein reference sending me off looking for Beatles related answers for some time.

Quick Cryptic 681 by Tracy

This all flowed quite smoothly and enjoyably with some lovely wordplay/surfaces until I reached the bottom section where 15dn, 21 and 22ac caused me some 'quality thinking time'. Having eventually overcome these challenges, I found my time of 14 minutes to be less than it seemed.
I'm travelling all day today but I'm certain there will be willing volunteers to answer any questions. I'll get round to any typos later.


1. Basic - simple. When (AS) covered by writer (BIC). The biro people launched their first ballpoint pen, BIC®Cristal®, more than 60 years ago.
4. Thirsty - keen. Number (THIRTY) carrying spades (S).
8. Isolate - quarantine. Gets delayed (IS LATE) with duck (O) put in.
9. Prior - earlier. Monastery (PRIORy) is incomplete.
10. Take a shine to - develop a liking for. Anagram (battered) of HAKE AT ONE ITS.
12. Laxity - slackness. The French (LA), eleven (XI), (T)urke(Y).
13. Embers - remains of fire. First to be put out (remove the first letter of) associates (mEMBERS).
16. Charing Cross - London station. Circle (RING), displeased (CROSS) are after tea (CHA).
18. Genus - group. Information (GEN), us (US).
20. Theatre - place for drama. Anagram (broadcast) of AT THREE.
21. Eyewash - piffle. The first of my banana skins - 'eyewash' didn't occur and I was looking for a homophone of the whole clue. Homophone (heard) of I (EYE), was (WAS), hard (H).
22. Knead - massage. Anagram (invalid) of NAKED. Easy when you get the definition and anagram indicator the right way round.


1. Bristol - city. Anagram (new) of BISTRO, (L)arge.
2. Stock Exchange - market. Old (EX) and money (CHANGE) in support of cattle (STOCK).
3. Character - double definition.
4. The Who - group (my favourite many years ago). Article (THE) on World Health Organisation (WHO).
5. Imp - mischievous child. In Blenhe(IM P)alace.
6. Spin the bottle - a party game in which several players sit/stand/kneel in a circle. A bottle is placed on the floor in the center of the circle. A player spins the bottle, and must kiss the person to whom the bottle points when it stops spinning. Look what I missed out on when I was listening to The Who! Female (SHE) swallowing measure of beer (PINT), courage (BOTTLE).
7. Yard - quadrangle. Nice lead on from the previous clue - brewery wagon (DRAY) overturned.
11. Namecheck - specific mention. Celebrity (NAME) prior to arrest (CHECK).
14. Suspend - delay. COD for the word play - South (S), American (US), writer (PEN - possibly a BIC), with daughter (D).
15. Snatch - bit - as in a snatch of a song - Mikado - 'of ballads, songs and snatches - and dreamy lullaby'. The at (AT) church (CH) but was easy but what was the SN=tin all about - took too long to realise it was the chemical symbol.
17. Ogre - giant in fairytale. Therefore (ERGO) turned up.
19. Spa - health resort. The interval or distance between to points such as the ends of a bridge (SPAn) - without the last letter as it's a short interval.

Times Cryptic 26546

After yesterday's blog by proxy, here's one of my own.

This one presented a few problems in the solving and even more in the blogging where I found some of the parsing quite tricky to explain and I'm left with a few loose ends as noted below against the relevant clues. I don't have a time because I forgot to note it down but I doubt it was many minutes under an hour. On edit: as pointed out in the comments, there's a hidden name in the grid which I failed to spot.

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

1 In Paris I read about this writer’s rejected complaint (8)
JEREMIAD - JE (in Paris, I), READ containing [about] I'M (this writer's) reversed [rejected]. My last one in and I needed to check the answer because I wasn't sure of it. I knew about Jeremiah and his lamentations and that his name has come to mean someone who complains a lot, but JEREMIAD as a complaint or list of complaints was unknown to me. The wordplay was helpful though.
5 Reckless senior officer’s assistant enthralled by chart (6)
MADCAP - ADC (senior office's assistant - aide-de-camp) contained [enthralled] by MAP (chart)
9 Friend o’ the compiler’s briefly seen with old horse (8)
PALOMINO - PAL (friend), O, MIN{e} (the compiler's) [briefly], O (old). A horse with light golden-brown coat and white or pale mane and tail.
10 Lizard droppings mostly found in Iowa (6)
IGUANA - GUAN{o} (droppings) [mostly] found in IA (Iowa)
12 Studious type watching the cricket, perhaps? (12)
ENTOMOLOGIST - Cryptic definition with reference to the study of insects
15 Piece of litter on doorstep (5)
RONDO - Hidden in {litte}R ON DO{orstep}. Piece of music, that is. "Piece" also helps to indicate the enclosure here.
16 Aware of fellow worker swigging spirit from East (9)
COGNIZANT - CO-ANT (fellow worker) containing [swigging] ZING (spirit) reversed [from the East]. I had problems with this one because the only spelling I knew has S for Z so I was unable to parse it for a while.
18 A commotion connected with mother’s inlaid work (9)
DAMASCENE - DAM (mother), A, SCENE (commotion). I knew the word but not this meaning. SOED has "Damascening" as the art of inlaying different metals into one another.
19 I see nothing grand in this dome-shaped dwelling (5)
IGLOO - I, G (grand), LO (see), 0 (nothing)
20 Start of rally with state soldier, perhaps (12)
SERVICEWOMAN - SERVICE (start of rally - tennis), W (with), OMAN (state)
24 Was jealous of girl embraced by English chap (6)
ENVIED - E (English),  then VI (girl) contained [embraced] by NED (chap)
25 A ghastly start for one city plant! (8)
AGRIMONY - A, GRIM (ghastly), O{ne} [start], NY (city). I'm not too bad on plants usually but this one has passed me by until now - apart from April 2010 and June 2015 when I also didn't know it. Again the wordplay was helpful.
26 Divine in church vestment, not the first to walk unsteadily (6)
TODDLE - DD (divine - Doctor of Divinity) in {s}TOLE (church vestment) [not the first]. "Stole" is more familiar as a woman's long scarf or shawl, but it can also be a vestment worn by priests. A "divine" can be a priest who is learned, especially in the study of theology.
27 Rosalind’s ally caught eating last of the summer veg (8)
CELERIAC - CELIA (Rosalind's ally - "As You Like It") containing [eating] {th}E + {summe}R [last of...], C (caught)
1 Primate crushed by judge’s joke (4)
JAPE - J (judge), APE (primate). "Crushed by" indicates A beneath B in the Down clue.
2 Responsibility quietly removed from uncultured pleb (4)
ROLE - {p}ROLE (uncultured pleb) [quietly - p - removed]
3 Fateful sign all of the French associated with mass (9)
MOMENTOUS - M (mass), OMEN (sign), TOUS (all, of the French)
4 Queen’s article on new enemy upset most of intelligent Society (4,2,6)
ANNE OF CLEVES - AN (article), N (new), FOE (enemy) reversed [upset], CLEVE{r} (intelligent) [most of...], S (society)
6 Trouble-making Greek disrupting a match? (5)
AGGRO - A, GR (Greek) is contained by [disrupting) GO (match - as colours may match or go)
7 Generous woman taken in by communication about hours (10)
CHARITABLE - RITA (woman) taken in by CABLE (communication) containing [about] H (hours). A Russian doll type of clue with two containment indicators, "taken in" and "about".
8 Plot French film director takes on in cultivated area (10)
PLANTATION - PLAN (plot), TATI (French film director), ON
11 There’s rhyme as well as reason in this jazz style (6-6)
BOOGIE-WOOGIE - The cryptic element of this clue remains a bit of a mystery to me. It's obvious where the "rhyme" come into it, but as to the "reason", I'm stumped. My only thought is that it's a reference to i.e. as an abbreviation meaning "that is" or "namely" which customarily introduces an explanation or reason. On edit: please see my comment below timed at 01:59 pm.
13 Hibernian ancestry second husband denied, getting shot! (10)
IRIDESCENT - IRI{s,h} (Hibernian) [second, husband denied],  DESCENT (ancestry). I didn't have any idea how the definition works here and after consulting the usual sources I was none the wiser, so in desperation I googled "shot" and "iridescent" together and came up with this on Wikipedia: Shot silk (also called changeant changeable silk and changeable taffeta) is a fabric which is made up of silk woven from warp and weft yarns of two or more colours producing an iridescent appearance.  A "shot" is a single throw of the bobbin that carries the weft thread through the warp, and shot silk colours can be described as "[warp colour] shot with [weft colour]." I still don't really know whether this covers what the setter intended, or if it does, whether it actually works as a clue.
14 Lacking firm evidence, I’m internally no better (10)
UNIMPROVED - UNPROVED (lacking firm evidence) containing I'M [internally]
17 Mimicking cry of kid at play a president’s wife’s mounted (9)
IMITATIVE - I' M IT (cry of kid at play - e.g. playing tag), EVITA (president's wife) reversed [mounted]. The terms used in "tag" or "he" seem to vary according to local custom but as played at my school in the 1950s the person doing the chasing was said to be "it", and that fits nicely with our clue today.
21 Visionary declaration of banker at table? (5)
IDEAL - I DEAL. It's clued as if it's a homophone but as it's not I suppose it's straight definition with a not very cryptic alternative route to the answer. As for the straight definition, once again I'm struggling to see it and the best I can find is this in Collins: visionary -  (of people) characterized by idealistic or radical ideas, esp impractical  ones.
22 Asian desert, one with marshland up to the north (4)
GOBI - I (one) + BOG (marshland) reversed [up to north]
23 Alignment required to make washing-up place sound? (4)
SYNC - Sounds like "sink" (washing-up place)

Times 26545 – Swansong (now cancelled!!)

I'm posting this on behalf of Hugh (ulaca) who is unable to do so himself for reasons he explains below. I only received this an hour or so ago and I haven't had a chance to "speak" to him yet, but I shall be offering him the services of the TftT Tardis in the hope it might enable him to continue blogging from home in future. Here's his blog...

After  years  of  interrupted  use of  Livejournal  at  work, the  powers that  be  appear to  have decided that the site represents use of an application “which is in violation of my internet usage policy”. What this means in the short term is that I am unable to post and will have to rely on a fellow blogger – which is not ideal – and, in the longer term, that I may have to  hang  up  my  blogging  boots. However,  first,  we  shall  see  whether  this  is  a  temporary blip (IT has a few of those on its CV) or an actual policy.

As for the crossword, I thought after my first run through (in which I got only my last –1 across – I start from the bottom) that this was going to be a real toughie. However, once started, I soon gathered pace and was  for once not held up  by  a couple at the end. Even the dinosaur revealed his secrets with minimal prompting, even though my knowledge of these  marvellous  old  things  is  not  much  to  shout about. I  guess  those  early  visits  to the Natural   History   Museum   made   less   impact   on   me   than   early   visits   to   Lord’s, Twickenham and Kempton Park. 27:19.

1 Three, reduced by one, divided by four: finish with flourish (6)
THRIVE -  IV in THRE[e].
4 Parisian is transfixed by international player — is in a fantasy world (8)
ESCAPIST - ‘in  a  fantasy  world’  (adjectival);  CAP  (‘ international  player’ )  +  IS  in EST (French for ‘ is’ ).
10 I'm reduced if not losing heart, and rash (11)
IMPROVIDENT - ‘rash’; cunning wordplay here: IM + PROVIDE[d] (‘reduced if’) + N[o]T (‘not losing heart’).
11 Reprimand avoided by learner, a poor student (3)
SAP -   S[l]AP;  SAP  normally  means  a  foolish  or  gullible  person, so I’m  not  sure where the student fits in, unless we are talking about ‘students of life’ .
12 Negative about eggs being recalled in avian activity (7)
NESTING - NEG around NITS reversed.
14 Record I demand missing final sound (7)
LOGICAL - ‘sound’;  LOG + I + CAL[l] (‘demand missing final’).
15 Alright in earth, possibly, but able to get above it? (7-4-3)
17 Organic material in proper pool (radius varying) (10,4)
PRIMORDIAL SOUP - ‘organic  material’;  PRIM  (‘proper’)  +  POOL  RADIUS*. When a scientist isn’t sure what something is, s/he calls it soup.
21 Feeling daughter should be excluded from downgrade (7)
22 Extended material on the radio producing clean behaviour (7)
HYGIENE -   sounds  like  HIGH  JEAN;  I  think  the  connection  between  high  and extended is a little tenuous, but I suppose extended in its 'stretched out’
 sense and ‘high’ in its ‘extending above the ground’ sense are close enough.
23 Expression of refusal to name revolutionary (3)
NOT - ‘expression of refusal’; TO + N[ame] reversed.
24 Dinosaur artist coming in second best (11)
TRICERATOPS -   RA  in  TRICE  +  TOPS.  Needed  the  wordplay  here,  as  the creature rang only a vague bell.
26 Banter not good for the elderly? (8)
BADINAGE -   the  kind  of  banter  intellectuals  might  have,  as  they quibble  over variant  texts;  if  something  is  not  good  for  the  elderly  then – if  you  were  the  type  of intellectual who quibbles over texts – you might say that it is bad for folk in their old age. From there, you might contract this to ‘bad in age’, especially as all such dense, elliptical phraseology  is  open  to  multiple  interpretations  and  therefore  worthy  of  an  academic paper (plus rejoinders and replies) or two.
27 I may be found next to North East China? South West, actually (6)
NEPALI -  actually if you were in NE China, you would be perilously close to horryd; far safer to be down in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which, as everyone knows (I need to  keep  the  rest  of  my  Internet  connection  in  this  Special Administrative  Region of  the Middle  Kingdom)  is  absolutely  definitely  part  of  China –   like  all  those  islets  off  the Philippine  and  Malaysian  coasts –  and does  indeed  occupy  its  SW  portion.  Oh,  the wordplay? It’s I after NE PAL (‘China’ is a British slang term for mate or pal).
1 Confusion about equipment, losing good kitchen item? (8)
TRIANGLE - ‘kitchen  item’  (the  percussion  section  of  an  orchestra  is  informally referred to as the kitchen); TANGLE around RI[g].
2 Charge has you transported, not getting time (3)
RAP - ‘charge’  (as in criminal charge); RAP[t].
3 Six old items for one following score (7)
VIOLIST - 'one following score’; VI + O + LIST (‘items’ – well, a list has items, as do a lot of other things, like my kitchen cupboard –  Marmite, Branston and Bisto).
5 Warplane — rates the flight ‘turbulent’ (7,7)
6 Inclined to withhold information, maybe, for component of medicine? (7)
ANTIGEN - ‘component of medicine’; I think the idea here is that if one is inclined to withhold information, then s/he is ‘anti gen’. Geddit? Well, then you’re doing better than me.
7 Hornet, for instance, scrambled into service (11)
INSECTIVORE - ‘hornet, for instance’; INTO SERVICE*.
8 Chief request to remove a tip (6)
TOPPLE - 'tip’ (as in knock over); TOP (‘chief') + PLE[a]. Nice clue. My COD.
9 It reveals the touching behaviour of a criminal (14)
FINGERPRINTING - cryptic definition.
13 Wildly outraged as introduction of conscription is made acceptable (5-6)
SUGAR-COATED - ‘made acceptable’; OUTRAGED AS + C[onscription]*.
16 Urge King to participate in excellent social event after sport (5-3)
18 Nothing in aerosol curtailed intent to dampen (7)
MOISTEN - O in MIST + EN[d].
19 Traps ear: joke ending in heartache (7)
LUGGAGE - ‘traps’  (a  little  used  word  meaning  luggage  or  possessions);  LUG  + GAG + [heartache]E.
20 One book introduced by famous Quaker writer (3-3)
PEN-NIB - ‘writer’;  I  +  B[ook]  following  [William]  PENN.  The  only  Quakers I know are George Fox and William Penn. Or was Florence Nightingale one as well?
25 Means of reproduction of various animals primarily (3)
OVA - initial letters of O[f] V[arious] A[nimals].

Quick Cryptic 680 by Flamande

Yes, me again, making a rare appearance blogging a puzzle whose number doesn't end in 5. I'll be away a couple of times in the next month so jackkt has kindly agreed to swap our slots in that time in order to accommodate my absences - thanks, J.

I haven't blogged a Flamande for nearly a year and I was once again struck by the quantity of good surface readings. After a bit of hunting around, I was not surprised to find that this is the same compiler who sets puzzles as Dac in the Independent, where his offerings are also frequently complimented on their surfaces. An enjoyable but not particularly difficult start to the week - thanks, Flamande. And best of luck to anyone attending the Championships this coming Saturday.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual sources are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/timescrossword/20161017/19496/

Definitions are underlined, omissions indicated by {}.

1 Petty sergeant-major everyone resented (5-6)
SMALL-MINDED - SM (sergeant-major) + ALL (everyone) + MINDED (resented). "Mind" can cover everything from concern to active dislike.
9 Someone of great size I caught leaving doomed ship (5)
TITAN - TITAN{ic} (I caught leaving doomed ship, i.e. TITANIC (doomed ship) without I + C (caught)). J. Bruce Ismay, a high-ranking executive of the company that owned the Titanic, and a survivor of the disaster itself, died today in 1937.
10 Card gamebridge (7)
PONTOON - double definition, the first a variation of blackjack/vingt-et-un/twenty-one etc. This name of the game is apparently derived from vingt-et-un.
11 Carried on cooking aromatic plant (9)
CORIANDER - anagram of (cooking) CARRIED ON. Nice anagram and well blended into the surface reading.
13 Queen Elizabeth I turned in anger (3)
IRE - reversal (turned) of ER I (Queen Elizabeth I). Good Queen Bess has enjoyed something of a renaissance recently, with I think three appearances in one or other Times crossword in the last fortnight.
14 Sort of pipe a rugby player's heard of (6)
HOOKAH - homophone (heard of) HOOKER (rugby player), for (Chambers): "The tobacco pipe of Arabs, Turks, etc with which smoke is inhaled through water". A frequent source of tickings off for Premiership footballers by their managers.
16 Left in nest — no small bird (6)
LINNET - L (Left) + IN + NE{s}T (nest - no small, i.e. the word "nest" without the "s" (small)). Though my parents' garden is a bit of a finch magnet in general, for some reason linnets have always avoided it.
17 Either Claire or Elaine regularly ignored misleading account (3)
LIE - alternative letters (regularly ignored) in either CLaIrE or ELaInE
18 Paint Sid knocked over with outburst of anger (9)
DISTEMPER - reversal (knocked over) of SID, + TEMPER (outburst of anger)
21 Seen on choppy sea, aquatic bird from the orient (7)
EASTERN - anagram of (choppy) SEA, + TERN (aquatic bird). The "Seen on" is just extra verbiage to create a credible surface reading.
23 Top pilot crosses Patagonia's borders quickly (5)
APACE - ACE (Top pilot) around (crosses) P{atagoni}A (Patagonia's borders, i.e. the first and last letters of the word "Patagonia")
24 Checking sappers close to barracks, engaged in exercises (11)
RESTRAINING - RE (sappers, i.e. Royal Engineers) + {barrack}S (close to barracks, i.e. the last letter of the word "barracks") + TRAINING (engaged in exercises)

2 Trucker initially comes in to secure vehicle (5)
MOTOR - T (Trucker initially, i.e. the first letter of the word "Trucker") in MOOR (to secure, as in a boat)
3 Help country to protect border well! (4,1,4)
LEND A HAND - LAND (country) around (to protect) END (border) + AH (well!). I can't find the END=border equivalence in any of the usual sources, which always leaves me slightly uneasy, but it doesn't seem like an enormous stretch of the imagination. As these things are wont to do, the same equivalence cropped up in a Guardian puzzle I tackled just hours later.
4 Scooter was blue (5)
MOPED - double definition
5 Three slices of banana bread (3)
NAN - the "Three slices" construction is telling us to take 3 consecutive letters of baNANa, to give the Indian/Pakistani bread. It could be argued that "slices" could equally well mean non-consecutive letters but such an interpretation would not be very Timesian. Commiserations to anyone who initially plumps for BAN, a Romanian/Moldovan coin that would fit both the wordplay and the monetary meaning of "bread".
6 Soon ire can become wearing (7)
EROSION - anagram of (can become) SOON IRE
7 Investor who keeps animals on farm? (11)
STOCKHOLDER - double definition though, as the usual sources give the second meaning as Australian, it's possible we're supposed to read it instead as STOCK HOLDER, which would be a way of describing someone who keeps animals on a farm, even if not a standard phrase in itself
8 Lists namely kept by people on the make? (11)
INVENTORIES - IE (namely) in (kept by) INVENTORS (people on the make?)
12 Make trouble, as Adam and Eve were destined to do (5,4)
RAISE CAIN - figurative and literal meanings, as Adam and Eve raised three children including the murderous Cain. The "raise" in the figurative expression is to be read along the lines of "to conjure up the spirit of".
15 Supervise poetry being written in Old English (7)
OVERSEE - VERSE (poetry) in OE (Old English)
19 Christmas visitor stuck in treacherous Antarctic (5)
SANTA - hidden (stuck) in treacherouS ANTArctic. Chuckled at this one.
20 Sound of aircraft that’s quite visible (5)
PLAIN - homophone (Sound) of PLANE (aircraft)
22 Consume something vegetarians avoid first off (3)
EAT - {m}EAT (the word "meat" (something vegetarians avoid) without its initial letter (first off))
Pleasant if straightforward puzzle

3PERU,BALSAM - (as a plumber)*; thick black liquid (not from the Liffey);
11TENUE - TENU(r)E; manner of dress;
12CAPUERA - CAPU(t)-ERA; head=caput; martial art and dance;
13ARISTO - (P)ARIS-TO; before=TO; nob=toff=ARISTO;
15DRAT - TARD(y) reversed; swear word beloved of my mother's generation;
16SCOTOMA - S(CO)TOMA; firm=company=CO; hole=STOMA; blind spot;
17HADAL - HAD-AL; AL=aluminium; bauxite=aluminium ore; at a deep level is definition;
19ONEYER - ONE-sounds like "you"; Will's word of imprecise meaning;
24FREDAINE - F(RED)AINE; fashion years ago=FAINE; escapade;
26DOODLE - two meanings 1=vamp on the bagpipes 2=meaningless drawing;
29ABIES - ABI(d)ES; d=died; a tree;
30EXSCIND - EX-sounds like "sinned"; cut off;
32ABAC - AB(A)C; sort of chart;
33SCRIKE - S-CRIKE(y); more swearing from my mum; to yell;
34MEGARAD - (drama)* surrounds EG; a million rads (radiation dosage);
35HEBEN - HEBE-N; shrub=HEBE; old wood;
36PREDENTATE - PR(EDEN-T)ATE; chatter=PRATE; PM=Anthony Eden; toothless;
1STADHOLDER - (fir)ST-AD(miral) = STAD holder - geddit!; governor;
2FERRARA - F(ERR)ARA(d); farad=unit of capacitance; Italian city;
4EUSTACY - (sea cut y)*; y from (countr)y; changes to the shoreline;
5RETELL - RETE-LL; network=RETE;
6BALCONET - BAL(C-ONE)T; conservative=C;
7APRON - two meanings 1=stage 2=kitchen clobber;
8LUNT - (b)LUNT; slow match in Motherwell;
9SEPOYS - sounds like "see poise"; old soldiers;
10ARAME - A-RAME(n); japanese dish=ramen; edible seaweed;
14MARCESCENT - MARC-(hous)E-SCENT; refuse=MARC; withering but not falling off;
18SIRENIAN - (in snare i)*;
21TABARET - TAB-(tear)*; fabric;
22SNEAKER - SNE(A-K)ER; A=ace; K=king (cards); Oxford=quality shoe so not a SNEAKER;
27OXTER - O-X-TER; O=old; territory=TER; X marks the spot Jim lad; an armpit;
28LIVRE - LIV(R)E; king or queen=Rex or Regina=R; old coin;
31CHAD - two meanings 1=wartime man with bald head looking over wall saying "wot no meat" 2=piece removed from punchcard;

Sunday Times 4715 by Jeff Pearce

After the last couple of weeks' offerings from the DMs that were enough to drive a man to drink even more than usual, it was a pleasant relief to get something that was significantly more attainable to the solver on the Cricklewood omnibus (viz. your humble blogger).

Which is not by any means to say this was a pushover. But, Jeff served up an enjoyable puzzle with his usual mix of some quite tricky stuff tempered with some more generous fare that enabled those of us further down the food chain to get a strong foothold and complete the solve within a feasible timescale, so grateful thanks to our setter.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--); omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Small and flipping serious bunkers are things to catch drivers (5,5)
SPEED TRAPS - S (small) + reversal of DEEP (flipping serious) + TRAPS (bunkers - the sand traps that have a mysterious magnetic attraction for golf balls)
6 Influential company take month off work (4)
OPUS - {OCT}OPUS. October leaves (take month off) the organisation whose tentacles spread everywhere in search of global domination. Must admit I'd not come across 'octopus' before as a term of art for a large organisation, but the metaphor was compelling and apparently it is a well recognised usage.
9 Whip up fruits (6,4)
RIDING CROP - "Up" is a term for being on horseback (hence RIDING) + CROP = fruits. Answer went in with some confidence, but needed to do a post-solve check on the "up" usage.
10 About to introduce museum’s fizzy drink (4)
CAVA - CA (about - circa) goes in front of (introduces) VA (museum), giving us the Spanish bubbly
12 Soldiers struggle with magazine? (6)
REVIEW - RE (soldiers - our old pals in the Royal Engineers) + VIE (struggle) + W (abbrev. with)
13 Nutty guys start to talk during act (8)
DEMENTED - MEN (guys) + T (start to Talk) 'during' DEED (act)
15 You’re supposed to go off in this carriage (8,3)
SLEEPING CAR - Barely cryptic cryptic - unless I'm missing something far more subtle...
18 After end of series rotten show travels — but not very far (6,5)
STONES THROW - S (end of serieS) followed by (after) *(ROTTEN SHOW) with "travels" as the anagrind
21 Being this 1 Down ’ad too many! (3-5)
RAT ARSED - *(SARTRE) - 1 Down - + 'AD also in the mix, with the anagrind being the fact that J-P had enjoyed one over the eight. No idea how to categorise this clue - it's a bit 'cryptic & Lit' but not... Anyway, answer was clear enough once 1 Down was in place. The answer seemed to provoke a bit of eyebrow action amongst some of the more conservative types hanging out on the Times Forum. Personally I think it's a great bit of contemporary colloquial English, but then again no one I know would ever regard me as an arbiter of good taste.
22 One villain in California is a chirpy type (6)
CICADA - I CAD (one villain) 'in' CA (abbrev. California)
24 Last in Oaks? You can have a punt on it but it’s a fiddle! (4)
SCAM - S (last in OakS) + CAM (river where punters stand at the correct end of the vessel)
25 Solitary carp, an aquatic creature (6,4)
HERMIT CRAB - HERMIT (solitary) + CRAB (to carp / whinge)
26 Extravagant oil, primarily (4)
OTTO - OTT (over the top - extravagant) + O (Oil primarily) referring to the perfume essence more usually called Attar from the Damask rose. Apparently. Extravagant seems to be doing double duty, as does oil in giving us the second O. The required answer was clear, but the full parsing left me a bit baffled and I will leave it to the senior pros here to comment further. Semi & Lit crossed my mind but I don't think it is...
27 Evil test with beagle is something some folk find creepy (4,6)
STAG BEETLE - *(TEST + BEAGLE) with "evil" as the anagrind

1 Reject a lot of rubbish about writer and philosopher (6)
SARTRE - TRAS{H} reversed (reject a lot of rubbish) + RE (about) for the thinker who missed out on inclusion in the Bruces' Philosophers' Song (tricky rhyming material) but featured in the priceless Python sketch in his honour which can be viewed here http://www.openculture.com/2011/11/monty_pythons_flying_philosophy.html for anyone with eight minutes to spare.
2 Plant that might be put in joint (6)
ENDIVE - EN (put in - as in something en croute) + DIVE (joint - as in dodgy bar). A suitably curly clue.
3 Opener in dry season bats for ages (7,5)
DONKEYS YEARS - KEY (opener) 'in' *(DRY SEASON) with "bats" as the anagrind
4 Royal has brilliant career (4)
RACE - R (abbrev. Royal ) + ACE (brilliant)
5 Sporting promoter occupies gym for the moment (3,7)
PRO TEMPORE - *(PROMOTER) - with "sporting" as the anagrind - inside (occupies) PE (gym), giving us the full version of the more common pro tem.
7 Rehearsal for short part of play, postponed? (8)
PRACTICE - PR{O} ('for' short) + ACT (part of play) + ICE (postponed - as in "on ice"). I think the "ice" bit needs to be viewed in the context of this being a Down clue - i.e. PRO and ACT are above - 'on' - ice, hence the question mark indicating something a bit cryptic is going on.
8 The usual flag (8)
STANDARD - After the intricacies of the previous clue, a refreshingly straightforward DD
11 Cage: “Why listen?”, blasting this instrument (5,7)
PENNY WHISTLE - PEN (cage) + *(WHY LISTEN) with "blasting" as the anagrind for this apparently inflation-proof device
14 Clear soldiers, with time, from the village (10)
SETTLEMENT - SETTLE (clear - as in a debt) + MEN (soldiers) + T (time)
16 Journalists in Spain, therefore getting black coffee (8)
ESPRESSO - PRESS (journalists) 'in' ES (Spain) + SO (therefore)
17 Make smaller type of bridge (8)
CONTRACT - Another generous DD
19 Repeat the usual claptrap (6)
PARROT - PAR (the usual - or not, in my case, when on the golf course) + ROT (claptrap)
20 It’s good to wander in a punt (6)
GAMBLE - G (good) + AMBLE (to wander)
23 Superior adhesive’s used up (4)
SMUG - Reverse of GUMS (adhesive's used up)

Times Jumbo 1229

There was one answer (57ac) that I hadn't come across before - otherwise I thought this was fairly straightforward.

Hope to see some of you at, or after, the Times Championship in London next Saturday!

As always, * indicates an anagram.

6 HOLY ORDERS - HOLY (sounds like 'wholly') + ORDERS
13 ALABASTER - ASTER, after A LB around A
14 VENUS - double indication ('our Neighbour' indicating a planet near Earth)
17 ZABAGLIONE - (along baize)*
24 TRUMAN - sounds like 'true man'
25 AMATEURISH - A MATE, + IRISH with U replacing the initial I
26 CABER - hidden in baREBACk (reversed)
29 DOTE - DO + TE (indicated by 'notes', in the musical sense)
30 PURE-BRED - PURRED, around E + B
35 CHILEANS - C + LEANS, around HI
36 FAST - double definition
39 RISER - cryptic indication
40 PROPAGANDA - sounds like 'proper gander'
42 GOANNA - ANNA ('girl that reflects', i.e. a palindromic name) after GO
44 SINISTER - (retsina + is), revefersed
46 I'M ALL RIGHT JACK - double indication
53 TOTEM - M after TOTE
57 SALLY PORT - (lots r play). The clue indicates that this is a two-word answer; both Chambers and the Oxford English Dictionary give it as a single word (sallyport), although Wikipedia and other online reference sources go for the two-word version

2 COME TO THAT - COMET, + OTT around (H + A)
7 LETHAL - LEiTH + A + L
15 STEEL GREY - (geyser let)*
18 AGNUS DEI - (g idea)* around NUS
21 LUMBER ROOM - LOOM, around UMBER + chaiR
23 MIND-READER - MIN (half of 'minute', indicated by 'thiry seconds') + DREADER
27 BRITANNIA - triple indication
28 MULTIPLE-CHOICE - cryptic indication
33 NEAR AS DAMMIT - (mainstream ad)*
38 FORTISSIMO - FOR, + (o + miss + it) reversed
41 ALL COMERS - (more calls)*
43 A GOOD BUY - sounds like 'a goodbye'
50 OCTAL - hidden in 'ConcOCT A Lie'. 'based on...' refers to the answer to the next clue (51dn), EIGHT
52 DRAG - Gard, reversed

Saturday Times 26538 (8th Oct)

12:31, so a bit easier than the last few weeks (it was for me anyway). Plenty of really good clues in this one, but my COD is 14ac, closely followed by 22ac I think. TOD (Turkey of the Day) to 17dn, as I'm pretty sure the first word should have been "Woman's".

1 It comes off with cloth initially? (8)
COSMETIC - (it comes, C)*, anagram &lit.
9 A dreamer, withholding name, giving out bouquet (8)
AROMATIC - A + ROMANTIC (dreamer), minus the N(ame).
10 Last to leave side dish (4)
FLAN - FLANK (side) with the last letter removed.
11 Could it be cheap later on? Not this house (7,5)
ANOTHER PLACE - (cheap later on)*. UK House of Commons euphemism for the House of Lords (and vice versa).
13 Make last European king veto cult, ignoring the odds (3,3)
EKE OUT - E(uropean) + K(ing) + even letters of (v)E(t)O (c)U(l)T.
14 The Spanish cross about one New Zealand port (8)
ELSINORE - EL ("the" in Spanish) + SORE (cross) around I (one), N(ew). Danish port in the province of Zealand, better known to us as Hamlet's hometown, and better known to the Danes as Helsingør. New Zealand itself is named after the Dutch province of Zeeland, so there's a lot of misdirection in this clue!
15 Harnessed mount runs into rock (7)
TROTTER - R(uns) inside TOTTER (rock).
16 They pinch what's close to me, coming round the night before (7)
THIEVES - THIS (what's close to me) around EVE (the night before).
20 Relief worker, abrasive, short, guvnor roped in (8)
EMBOSSER - EMER(y) (abrasive, short) around BOSS (guvnor).
22 Censor advocates touring square without one (6)
BANNER - BAR (advocates) around NINE (square), minus the I (one).
23 Stoker's place in rail van: nasty when shunted (12)
TRANSYLVANIA - (rail van nasty)*. Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. I don't think I need to add any more details!
25 Got rid of water / plant in the wrong place? (4)
WEED - double definition.
26 Pair row, following poles — more stuck up (8)
SNOOTIER - O,O (pair, cricket term for scoring nothing in both innings) + TIER (row), after S,N (poles, South and North).
27 Mint drink, with note in it (5-3)
BRAND-NEW - BREW (drink) around AND (with), N(ote).

2 Witness royal couple perhaps after using smallest room (8)
ONLOOKER - K(ing) + ER (royal couple perhaps) after ON LOO (using smallest room).
3 Island on the brink of success ejects one socialite (3,5,4)
MAN ABOUT TOWN - MAN (island) + ABOUT TO WIN (on the brink of success), minus the I (one).
4 Suppress, informally, finished Times article by its Paris correspondent? (8)
THROTTLE - THRO (informally, finished) + TT (times) + LE (article, in French).
5 Till operator / to take out of service (7)
CASHIER - double definition.
6 Designer’s month in Paris, hosting bishop (6)
MORRIS - MOIS (month in Paris) around RR (Right Reverend, bishop). William Morris, influential 19th century designer.
7 Address to Athenians using Zeno's place (4)
STOA - hidden in "Address to Athenians". I wondered what Zeno had to do with it, but Chambers defines it thusly: "in ancient Greece, a portico or covered colonnade; esp the public area, Stoa Poikilē (the Painted Porch), in Athens where Zeno gave his lectures."
8 Bond's nemesis all but capturing revolutionary plotters (8)
SCHEMERS - SMERS(H) (Bond's nemesis, all but) around CHE (Guevara, revolutionary). SMERSH is the acronym of Spetsialnye MEtody Razoblacheniya SHpionov, meaning "Special Methods of Spy Detection". Apparently they actually existed, although in a different guise.
12 Left Janet dancing with Andrew, prominently featured? (7-5)
LANTERN-JAWED - (L, Janet, Andrew)*.
15 In plane maybe a model picked up paper (8)
TREATISE - TREE (plane maybe) around A + SIT (model) reversed.
17 Women’s entertaining a bar with a dance (8)
HABANERA - HER (women's - I think that should be woman's) around A BAN (a bar) + A.
18 Astronomer looks into this segment of big wheel? (8)
EYEPIECE - i.e. a PIECE of the EYE!
19 Lead choking dog? Make haste slowly, perhaps (7)
PROVERB - PB (chemical symbol for lead) around ROVER (archetypal dog's name). Blatant definition-by-example, but deliberately so and perfectly ok for me.
21 Small time criminal cases rear of factory block (6)
STYMIE - S(mall) + (time)* around (factor)Y.
24 Scrap half the alphabet (4)
ATOM - i.e. "A to M" (letters 1-13).

Times 26,543: A Variety of Registers

After four really quite chewy puzzles in a row, I was living in superstitious dread of what Friday might bring, but I needn't have worried: this was by some distance the most straightforward of the week. 7 minutes on the timer for me, among a large pack of fast solves, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the 5 minute barrier broken by one of the usual suspects later today.

I have no idea who this setter is but I feel like I've blogged them before: although the cluing is straightforward there's a great commitment to elegance. If you didn't pay any attention to the quality of the surfaces at the time, being too busy solving, I urge you to go back and read down them: just try to find one that doesn't feel like a real description in English of some kind of plausible real-world scenario. In my own idle attempts at setting I've found this to be so much harder to do than you'd think that I can only applaud the setter furiously here. Bravo!

I think it was one of those crosswords where three of the first four across went in straightaway, so FOI 1ac, but my LOI was 14ac, on the marginally amusing basis that I spent the entire puzzle with my brain convinced that Edam was the Swiss cheese with the holes, finally solving it by subtracting one of said holes (O) from the rodent. Any route that gets you there, I suppose, but there's a strong argument that I need to get more sleep in my life, especially over the next seven days so I can be appropriately rested for the 22nd! I think my COD was 3dn, nicely terse, raised a little smile with the "speller", and I have been known to enjoy a game of Scrabble. (A stymied Czech friend handed me the Words With Friends game on her phone the other day and I handed it back a few seconds later having played QUALIA across the top of AGENES. I think her opponent might have suspected something.) Anyway, to the school run with me, and over to all of you...


1 Athletic son — rather fat, needing to lose pounds (6)
SPORTY - S [son] + PORT{l}Y [rather fat, "needing to lose" L (pounds)]

5 Something like gear expert removed from space missile (8)
SPROCKET - SP{ace} [ACE (expert) removed from SPACE] + ROCKET

9 Soldier died in company with second soldier (8)
COMMANDO - MAN D [soldier | died] in CO + MO [company (with) second]

10 Have lofty aims in reforming Persia (6)
ASPIRE - (PERSIA*) ["reforming"]

11 He curbed a working monastery finally in dissolution (10)
DEBAUCHERY - (HE CURBED A*) ["working"] + {monaster}Y ["finally"]

13 Register even now not opened (4)
TILL - {s}TILL [even now, "not opened"]

14 Think rodent’s wanting what looks like Edam cheese? (4)
MUSE - M{o}USE [rodent, "wanting" an O... a letter which resembles the roundest of cheeses]

15 Versatile cricketer in every short game (3-7)
ALL-ROUNDER - ALL ROUNDER{s} [every | "short" game]

18 Concerned with unruly teenager being morally reformed (10)
REGENERATE - RE [concerned with] + (TEENAGER*) ["unruly"]

20 Dog shows no sign of hesitation in lair (4)
SETT - SETT{er} [dog, minus ER (sign of hesitation)]

21 What’s regularly written in quatrain about Arab land (4)
IRAQ - Q{u}A{t}R{a}I{n}, taken "regularly" and then turned "about"

23 Polish scholar manages to get across runic in translation (10)
COPERNICUS - COPES [manages] "to get across" (RUNIC*) ["in translation"]

25 Standard some citizens ignore (6)
ENSIGN - hidden in {citiz}ENS IGN{ore}

26 Optical effect as normal: a line without focus? (8)
PARALLAX - PAR A L LAX [normal | a | line | without focus]

28 See very English stately home has rare furniture item (4,4)
LOVE SEAT - LO V E SEAT [see | very | English | stately home]

29 Show anxiety where Jack has to go on losing weight (6)
JITTER - J [Jack] + {w}ITTER [to go on, losing its W (weight)]


2 Try for decrease in bishop’s area of responsibility (9)
PROSECUTE - PRO [for] + CUT [decrease] in SEE [bishop's area of responsibility]

3 Scrabble with odd speller? (7)
RUMMAGE - RUM MAGE [odd | speller (as in one who casts spells)]

4 The old note in a foreign currency (3)
YEN - YE N [the "old" | note]

5 Upset about clubs making purchase of illegal drugs (5)
SCORE - SORE [upset] about C [clubs]

6 What could be tailored for wearer today? (5-2-4)
READY-TO-WEAR - (WEARER TODAY*) ["tailored"], &lit

7 Rope winder needs big characters to turn under the sun (7)
CAPSTAN - CAPS [big (as in upper case) characters] + TAN [to turn (brown) under the sun]

8 Register new part, the last to be taken up (5)
ENROL - N ROL{<----E} [new | part, with the last letter rising to the top]

12 Blending fuel needs energy and location keeping cold (11)
COALESCENCE - COAL [fuel] + E [energy] + SCENE [location] "keeping" C [cold]

16 Land growing grass in spring, mostly (3)
LEA - LEA{p} [spring, "mostly"] - ETA: probably not actually LEA{k} as I at first and over-hastily assumed

17 Company needs boost — time to replace head of commerce (9)
ENTOURAGE - EN{c->T}OURAGE [boost, with T (time) replacing C{ommerce}]

19 Knight’s man leaves after last couple of games (7)
ESQUIRE - QUIRE [leaves (of paper)] after {gam}ES ["the last couple" of letters thereof]

20 Group eats shot pheasant, perhaps in cooking pot (7)
SKILLET - SET [group] "eats" KILL [shot pheasant, perhaps]

22 Uncovered wrong note in musical piece (5)
RONDO - {w}RON{g} ["uncovered"] + DO [note (as in do-re-mi)]

24 Seed attracts Italian songbird (5)
PIPIT - PIP [seed] "attracts" IT [Italian]

27 Clash over Indian government (3)
RAJ - JAR [clash] turned "over"
One of the joys of blogging a TLS puzzle is the time you get to spend researching clues that almost everyone else threw in with a shrug and a "Gotta be". This week there were two of them, LANIGER and SCHOOLBOY, two clues likely to make you think of TS Eliot and having nothing at all to do with him. Broteas likes his herrings red.

My efforts to untangle the SCHOOLBOY clue were in vain. In fact, it was driving me nuts and 'joy' wasn't the word springing to mind. I turned to our colleague Z8b8d8k for help and he put me on what we hope is the right track. But the time I spent on the wrong track wasn't wasted. I had read the Four Quartets for the first time in years.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Which, on a good day, is how blogging a TLS puzzle goes.

Notes on selected clues

9a LANIGER - (EALING)*+R(adical)
Go to the top of the class if you knew Laniger was a character (more a cipher in a hypothetical rumination) in George Eliot's Impressions of Theophrastus Such

Cheeky! 4d is Corin, so 4th is CORIN+th

The "educated lady" being, as it usually is in crosswordland, Rita from Willy Russell's play

12a STEW(art) being art-less

The tail of one monster, (Mr) HYDE, being replaced by a Royal Acadamician (RA) to give us another

Anagram of (NAME+M for Mark) inside the ancient Greek AGON

Well, it had to be, but why? Fellow blogger Z8 pointed me to Coker being the surname of two brothers in the Billy Bunter stories. So perhaps it's just a case of two Cokers for the price of one found in the name East Coker. Or East might be a reference to Harry 'Scud' East, an older boy in Tom Brown's Schooldays. Best I can offer

18a bLOCKEr

25a ARAL SEA, which is shrinking as a result of Soviet era irrigation projects and hence 'too dry'

Shortened SALARy followed by ALMs (reduced donations) tucked inside THE SON. I read the other day that at one point the Italian government was testing salmon in the Po delta to demonstrate how clean the river was, conveniently failing to mention that salmon on their spawning run don't feed and so are little affected by contaminants in the food chain. Crafty

4d CORIN, one of the Redgrave acting dynasty, now spanning five generations

7d LANGTON is Bennet Langton, close friend of Samuel Johnson and often mentioned in Boswell's Life

Another red herring, the Greene here being not Graham but Robert, from whose 1588 Pandosto Shakespeare half-inched the plot. If you want Graham, see 23d

15d AMIBITIOSO Charade of AM,BIT,IO,SO and a character in The Revenger's Tale, the work of Thomas Middleton or possibly Cyril Tourneur

17d HERBERT or "her Bert", the lady's man

19d CAMPS UP anagram of CAMUS+PP (pianissimo)

23d HALE is the ill-fated reporter in Greene's Brighton Rock. "Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him…"

Quick Cryptic 679 by Mara

An enjoyable offering from Mara.  Took me about five and a half minutes, so I'm thinking it was on the easier side of average difficulty.  What did you think?

There was nothing too devious in the constructions, and no real obscurities as fas as I can see, although MINARET, SAUTERNE and the required meanings of BLOOMER are probably only known to me from crosswords.

Had some fun with the anagrams today, with no less than seven of them appearing in this puzzle.  If you list all of the anagram indicators (or anagrinds, as Horryd insists on calling them), it reads like a haiku describing my university days:


Makes you wonder just how many possibilties there are, doesn't it?  And how hard it must be to find one that hasn't been used before.

Anyway, that's not what I'm being paid for, so let's get on with the parsing of the clues (which is also not what I'm being paid for).....

Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined.  Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised.  Then there's the answer IN BOLD, followed by the parsing of the wordplay.  (ABC)* means 'anagram of ABC'.
1 Mistake at the bakery? (7)
BLOOMER - "at the bakery" refers to another definition of bloomer, ie a large loaf with diagonal slashes on a rounded top.
Actually neither of these definitions is used where I come from, but both are presumably common enough in the UK.  They certainly are in Crosswordland.
5 Surprise result, winning a few tennis games (5)
UPSET - UP (winning) + SET (a few tennis games)
8 Lighter carpet in fact, yes terribly, and hard (6,5)
SAFETY MATCH - MAT (carpet) in (FACT YES)* + H (hard)
10 Shock, with things that are hard recalled (4)
STUN - NUTS, reversed.
Well nuts are hard to crack, and a 'hard nut' is a tough person.  Arfur Daley's minder Terry was well 'ard.
11 Simplest, but strangely written wrongly (8)
A word that is commonly misspelt, funnily enough.
12 Situated towards the back, like a bird (6)
ASTERN - AS (like) + TERN (a bird)
14 Unwell, not succeeding without leader (6)
AILING - {f}AILING (not succeeding)
16 Wine drunk neat, sure! (8)
A French sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux.  So Wiki says anyway.
On edit:  Actually that would be a Sauternes.  A Sauterne is a Californian wine.  Many thanks to Ulaca, who knows these things.
18 Shocker with Kafka's first novel (4)
BOOK - BOO (shocker) + K (Kafka's first)
20 Practical and realistic — so grounded? (4-2-5)
DOWN-TO-EARTH - Double def
I think the second definition is meant to be cryptic, but we refer to a practical and realistic person as being 'grounded', so it could be seen as the same definition re-stated.
22 Fish gave off an odour (5)
SMELT - Double def
23 Duck fat on drake, perhaps, endless (7)
MALLARD - LARD (fat) on MAL{e} [male (drake, perhaps), endless]
2 Composer’s record overheard (5)
LISZT - Homophone (overheard) of LIST (record)
Never quite sure where to put the Z in these names, despite being a big fan of Ziggy Niszczot, who played for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the early '80's.
3 Crime of a criminal (7)
OFFENCE - OF + FENCE (criminal)
A fence is a person who deals in stolen goods.  Usually named Freddy.
4 In essence, a tree swallow (3)
EAT - Hidden in essencE A Tree
6 Erect — from above or below (3,2)
PUTUP - 'From above or below' indicating a palindrome in a Down clue
7 Rank slipping on leech! (7)
9 Written note in officers’ dining room on time (7)
MESSAGE - MESS (officers' dining room) + AGE (time)
11 London police carrying rajah's wife up tower (7)
MINARET - MET (London police) 'carrying' INAR [RANI (rajah's wife) 'up']
MET is the commonly used abbreviaton for London's Metropolitan Police Service.
RANI is Indian royalty.  Both commonly found in crosswords.
13 Mad sort desperate for fame (7)
15 Generous, serving brie all wrong (7)
17 Duck going in awfully wet, head of linnet drier (5)
TOWEL - O (duck) in (WET)* + L (head of linnet)
19 Different article in gold (5)
OTHER - THE (article) in OR (gold)
As you've probably learnt by now, gold is nearly always AU (chemical symbol) or OR (from heraldry).
21 Time in moderation (3)
ERA - Hiddden in modERAtion

Times Quick Cryptic No 678 by Izetti

Another lovely puzzle from Izetti. Probably around par in terms of difficulty for this setter - I took a notch over 14 mins. I was delayed a bit by the NW, having a mental block at 1ac, 1d and 8ac, and falling for a bit of misdirection at 2d (and, less forgivably, 3d). Lots of very nice clues, my favourite being 11d for its double clueing potential, one of which provided an excellent all-in-one surface reading. I was also glad to learn the origin of 13ac: there's some old folk etymology involving bells and graveyards and premature burials which I knew was nonsense, without knowing what it did come from. Anyway, all very enjoyable, definitions underlined, an many thanks to Izetti.

1 Cumbrian lad as street trader
BARROW-BOY: A lad from Cumbria could be a boy from Barrow[-in-Furness].
6 Vessel overturns in this vehicle
BUS: SUB (vessel) overturns (or reverses). It would have been ambiguous had the clue read "Vessel overturns vehicle", but the linkwords "in this" give distance between the overturning device and the definition to make it (fairly) clear which one reverses.
8 Policeman no longer operating — possibly hazard on road, right?
OFFICER: OFF (no longer operating) ICE (possibly hazard on road), R (right). Easy when you see it.
9 Little man introducing party music
RONDO: RON (little man - as in short for Ronald) DO (party).
10 Danger: foe set to move — go slow deliberately
DRAG ONES FEET: anagram (to move) of DANGER FOE SET.
12 Company admits a wicked activity in entertainment centre
CASINO: Co. (Company) admits A SIN (a wicked activity).
13 One in church tower who looks like someone else?
RINGER: double definition. For the first, it can either be the mechanism or the person causing the bell to ring. The second is more often known as "dead ringer", with "dead" meaning "exact", and a ringer originally (19C, US) being a horse substituted for another in a race to defraud a bookie, although the verb "to ring" meaning to substitute fraudulently was a good bit earlier.
16 Experts making terrible noise scorn us
CONNOISSEURS: Anagram (terrible) of NOISE SCORN US.
19 Haughty and heartless pair, couple making comeback
PROUD: PR (heartless pair - i.e., P[ai]R losing its centre letters); OUD = DUO reversing (making comeback).
20 It helps electrical engineers as a rule
OHM'S LAW: A straight, semi-cryptic definition, this clue, as far as I can work out. Further insights are welcome!
22 Unending row creating obligation
TIE: TIER = row, TIE[r] = row, unending. I'd happily bunged in DUE until 12d reared its head, but can a duel be called a row? It's a bit loose.
23 Explanation making a relation look silly
RATIONALE:  anagram (look silly) of A RELATION.

1 Blemish of British group
BLOT: B(ritish) LOT (group). I couldn't get boil out of my head - to oil together, to group together? No, that is nonsense.
2 Changes in classes taking Religious Education
REFORMS: R.E. forms could be classes taking R.E. I kept thinking "classes" going around (or taking) RE, to give a _RES ending.
3 Soldiers caught a monster
ORC: O.R. (Soldiers - Other Ranks) C (caught). I was sure the "a" was caught, and so debated RAE, OAR, and the fearsome TAA as possible monsters.
4 Doing work with a drill is dull
BORING: double definition.
5 Rosy hiker wandering around northern county
YORKSHIRE: anagram (wandering) of ROSY HIKER.
6 Some grabbing edibles eat too much
BINGE: "Some" means it's hidden in some of the letters of grabBING Edibles.
7 One speaking a lot has ridiculous posture
SPOUTER: anagram (ridiculous) of POSTURE. Reminded me of George Osborne's wide-legged stance, which unbelivably was deemed to be suitably indicative of power to be copied by others.
11 Explosive power dung could provide!
GUNPOWDER: anagram of POWER DUNG. There two ways of reading this clue: the first it that the anagram is indicated by "could provide"; the second is the anagram indicator being "explosive", giving an all-in-one clue, as you can indeed make gunpowder from dung. I much prefer the latter, and love the clue.
12 Conservative to pick out — there's a place for a high-flyer
COCKPIT: C(onservative), and an anagram ("out") of TO PICK. As i had "Due" bunged in for 22ac, and thus C_C_P_D, the definition made me briefly consider the ill-sounding "cockpad".
14 Travel with artist carrying sick animal
GORILLA: GO (travel) with R.A. (artist - Royal Academician) holding / carrying ILL (sick).
15 Bodyguard, Eastern type protecting China's leader
ESCORT:  E. SORT (Eastern type) protects / covers C (China's leader)
17 Loop or ring inserted into part of face
NOOSE: O (ring) inserted into NOSE (part of face).
18 Ultimate character in ballet — small and too sentimental
TWEE: T (Ultimate character in ballet), WEE (small).
21 Sound of animal in desolate place with no river
MOO: Moor (desolate place - lose the R for river).
24.40  completes a set of times in the 40’s, 30’s, 20’ and 10’s this week, and it remains to be seen at which end I complete the running flush. I look forward to seeing what the assembled company regard as obscurities in this collection, though I’d venture most of the cluing is helpful enough. This continues,  in my opinion, a run of very fine puzzles towards the tough end of the spectrum. Elizabeth I crops up for I think the third time in four days, which must be something of a record. The origin of 4 down may well be known to devotees of Trivial Pursuit, where I believe it was the basis of a question in an early edition, but I’ve included it for the sheer unlikelihood of the answer.
My reasoning follows, with clue, definition and SOLUTION


1 Pop? It does, mainly for the young?  (6,3)
BUBBLE GUM   A cryptic definition
6 Division eight? That’s so far down!  (5)
DEPTH  Division is DEP(artmen)T, and counting from A, H is 8
9 Restless native following women’s vessel  (4,3)
WINE VAT  an anagram of native, suggested by restless, follows W(omen’s).
10 Plain’s high point, reservoir fed by river  (7)
UPFRONT  which can be spelt with or without a space or hyphen. Chambers gives candidly or openly, so plain as in speaking. One of the funeral code phrases is “she always spoke her mind”, which generally translates as “she was always bloody rude to everyone.” Perhaps I should also mention wordplay, which is high point UP, reservoir FONT (Chambers says it's poetic) with R(iver) fed into it.
11 Cloth round middle of piping grabbed by girl  (5)
DHOTI Think Ghandi-ji. Girl is nearly always DI, and here she embraces HOT for piping. The origin of the phrase piping hot is apparently from the “sizzling, whistling sound made by steam escaping from very hot food, which is similar to the sound of high-pitched musical pipes”. Um, OK.
12 Retired from tie on Thursday in triumph  (9)
WITHDRAWN Tie gives you DRAW, which you tag on to TH for Thursday. Then dump both into WIN for victory
13 Shopper’s right to go for large bottles?  (5)
GLASS   A shopper in this place is “someone who shops/peaches/rats squeals”, so a GRASS. Swap the L(eft) for R(ight) and  you get GLASS, clued by some sort of association with bottles. Sort of works.
14 Drops antiwar novel by “weak and feeble” woman  (9)
RAINWATER   A novel form of ANTIWAR is rainwat, so you need ER for the Virgin Queen Gloriana (theme of the week) for the full answer. “I may have the weak and feeble body of a woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and a King of England too”. ER at Tilbury 9/19th August 1588.
17  Bile sapping energy and forbidding brilliance  (9)
SPLENDOUR  Fairly elderly versions of bile and SPLEEN are interchangeable for bad temper. “Sap”,  in this case knock out an E and add DOUR for forbidding
18 Something is vexatious about showing this?  (1-4)
V-SIGN Winston Churchill, Agincourt archers or Harvey Smith, take your pick. It’s reversed in SomethiNG IS Vexatious. Winny occasional got it the rude  way round. &lit, I think
19 Royal once having time in trip to see game with Gunners  (3,6)
RAS TAFARI  His followers turned up on my watch 2 months ago, and the man himself three days before, so no excuses. A trip to see game is, of course a SAFAFI;  chuck in a T(ime). Gunners are my lot, the Royal Artillery. I still have the badge.
22 Heads of armoured division make it their own (5)
ADMIT  The first letters of Armoured Division Make It Their. Own as in own up.
24 Informally, offering some food to consume on ship  (7)
PRESSIE  I spell it with the ZZ. On ship is translated to RE SS, and some food, which paradoxically consumes it, is PIE
25 One quiet after dash, and rather pale  (7)
WHITISH  Dash provides WHIT (a little bit), one I and quiet SH. Assemble in a likely order.
26 Use of the computer workshop goes to West Indian  (5)
BALTI  Anyone else biff BAJAN?. Detach the west, it’s a reversing instruction for IT LAB, your computer workshop. Indian as in curry, this one invented in Birmingham
27 Sweet stuff good in celery, surprisingly  (9)
GLYCERINE Looks like, and is, an anagram of G(ood) IN CELERY. Not much of a surprise, then!


1 Was on the fiddle, and bent  (5)
BOWED  double definition. It’s occurred to me that “bow and scrape” may be similarly  linked.
2 Swine upset everyone after scrap in entertainment venue  (5,4)
BINGO HALL Swine HOG and all, um , ALL. The first is reversed (upset) and both are tagged on to BIN for scrap (verb)
3 Don’t tie the knot in line, one with streaks in  (4,2,3)
LIVE IN SIN Now rather dated, as we live in more elastic times. L(ine), I (one) streaks VEINS and in , um,  IN
4 Old slogan urging Labour folk to get cracking! (2,2,4,2,2,3)
GO TO WORK ON AN EGG A pre-Edwina Curry (salmonella in eggs scaremonger and mistress of John Major) slogan composed by Salman Rushie. I claim the prize for the most unlikely but true statements in a single blog entry. (on edit): Naughty but nice! Jack spoils a perfectly good story with a reminder that Fay Weldon produced the slogan (Though see below) . Rushdie did the cream cake one and "That'll do nicely" for American Express
5 I want your animal for grooming: line up!  (8,7)
MOUNTAIN RAILWAY  Groom I WANT YOUR ANIMAL by artfully rearranging its letters and get the “line up”. You are permitted to be chuffchuffed.
6 County, once, had finally mounted challenge  (5)
DYFED  The last letter of haD plus DEFY, challenge, mounted. Now Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire, though the Lord Lieutenant still thanks it’s Dyfed.
7 Photo in bar oddly displaying Indian city  (5)
POONA  an odd letters clue (hint, start with the first letter of photo.)  Now spelt PUNE
8 Success with series is an accident  (3-3-3)
HIT-AND-RUN  Think of a word meaning success and another meaning series.
13 Top grub, as served here?  (9)
GASTROPUB  Poshed up pub food at inflated prices, and an anagram of TOP GRUB AS. A neat &lit.
15 Trend for each party to dismiss  (4,5)
WAVE ASIDE  Trend translates fairly easy to WAVE, as in New Wave music of the late 70’s. Each A as in per and party: SIDE
16 Old rulers vacated Tangier: one united with king in 1007  (9)
TRIUMVIRI, from the Mark Antony, Octavian and, er, Marcus Lepidus set up post et tu Brute. (other Triumvirates may be available in your local supermarket). This is the Latin version, kindly produced by following instructions. T(angie)R vacated, then I (one, again) U(nited) and 10057 (thanks Penfold) in Roman numerals with R inserted. Rather clever, I thought
20 Hawk close to window punctures balloon  (5)
SWELL  The end (close, noun) of window puncture SELL for hawk (verb)
21 Musician’s very short slate  (5)
ASSAI In musical Italian means very. I think the shortened slate you’re looking for is ASSAI(L), with slate being either a verbal assault or a dialect word for set on. Who knew?
23 Volunteers to remove weeds from lake  (5)
TAHOE A  large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. Volunteers are often the T(erritorial) A(rmy) on  planet Cryptic and people use a HOE primarily for scraping up weeds, so I’m told.

Times 26541 - worth the p-pain

Had this not been a blog-day, I might well have put this one down after half an hour, with only two-thirds of it filled in. I wasn't particulary enjoying it, my arthritic hip was sore and I had an unprovoked but persistent attack of hiccups (I don't have curry and lager for breakfast). However, subscribing to our team maxim, "Never knowingly underblogged", I soldiered on.
I'm glad I did, as the recalcitrant NW corner fell into place and raised a smile or two as the SDF decided to call it a day.
Parsing them all correctly was another matter; I'll let the usual critics straighten me out where necessary.
I'll be interested to hear whether others found it heavy going or it was just me today.

1 JUNKER - I had a vague idea Junkers were something to do with German aristocracy, but expected it to be spelt with a C before the K, as in our non-aristocratic Luxem-bourgeois EU President; I thought without the C it was an aeroplane. However I confirm, JUNKERs were Prussian aristocracy who treated their peasants like tom-tit, and a junker would be someone throwing stuff away. All a long-winded way to tell you it's a DD.
4 PATHOGEN - PATH = way, O GEN = no information; D it makes us sick. I saw a similar clue to this answer a couple of weeks ago.
10 CORMORANT - I'd never heard of this as a synonym for glutton, but it seemed reasonable; the word play is COR! = my!, MO = second, RANT = angry outburst.
11 GRAIN - GRAN is your relative, insert I, D seed.
12 BOOTLEG - BOOTLE is a port town adjacent to Liverpool; add G for good, D not made legally. It took me a long time to see this because I had the G at the end and was hung up on an ING ending.
13 ROLLING - If you're rich you're ROLLING in it, and ROLLING STOCK will take you by train, unless you're commuting on Southern Rail this week.
14 TOKEN - TO KENT would be south-east from London; 'almost' = remove the T; D without meaning it, as in 'token gesture'.
15 GO POSTAL - An American expression I didn't know, but the wordplay is clear; GOAL POST is a supporter on pitch, move the AL to the end = push A Large right back.
18 PASTORAL - PAST = former time, ORAL = not written down; D type of poem. My ignorance and dislike of poetry has already been recorded in this forum, but it sounded reasonable that there was such a type. Looking it up, I see I was right, it's a drippy sort of ode about Utopian rural life.
20 LEHAR - This is more my kind of clue; musical. LEAR is the king, insert H for Henry, Franz Lehar of Merry Widow fame is your answer.
23 ELASTIC - (LACE IT'S)*; D used in knickers. Indeed it is.
25 GRIMACE - GRIM = serious, ACE = expert, D expression.
26 LODGE - EG (say) DOL(L) all reversed, where DOLL = pretty girl; D small house.
27 ABSORBENT - Insert ORB = the Earth, into ABSENT = off; D taking it all in.
28 GENDARME - G E = outskirts of Grenoble, insert END (aim) ARM (gun); D &lit. Neat.
29 SNOOPY - NOO(N) = almost twelve, insert into SPY = agent; D dog, Charlie Brown's pet beagle.

1 JACOBITE - My LOI, although it's fair enough once you start looking for a revolutionary. JAC(K) = sailor having lost foot, O = old, BITE = wound; D one involved in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.
2 NORFOLK - AND NO PEOPLE would be NOR FOLK, and Norfolk is where one finds the Norfolk Broads, a recreational wetlands area made up of more than one 'BROAD'.
3 EXOPLANET - Anagram of ANTELOPE around X = unknown; D distant world, a planet discovered to be orbiting a star other than our own.
5 ANTHROPOLOGIST - Serious misdirection here. An ANTHOLOGIST could be a collector of stories, little gems worth reading, then insert ROP being the central heart of EUROPOL; D customs investigator, one who studies traditions and human traits.
6 HEGEL - LEG = on, in cricket, EH? = what? All reversed (coming up); D philosopher. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, German chap.
7 GRANITA - This clue really annoyed me; not knowing the expression at 15a, I was determined to get GRANITE in there but unable to see why. But the definition isn't rock, it's ICE; the end of granite = rock changes to A as in onset of Arctic. A Granita is an iced dessert.
8 NONAGE - NO = upside-down ON, NAG horse, E = exciting at first; D infancy.
9 BAGGAGE RECLAIM - Hands up, biffers. A BAGGAGE is a slang term for a saucy girl, then (MIRACLE)*; D her case comes up here.
16 SOLDIER ON - I blogged another clue to this answer a couple of weeks ago; SOON = quickly, holds L and R (hands) = SOL R ON, then insert DIE = fail; D keep going.
17 URGENTLY - hUrRy evenly = U R, then GENTLY = peacefully; D without delay.
19 ALADDIN - A LAD = a boy, D = dressed finally, IN; D rubber, as in the rubber of his lamp. Yes, you may well groan.
21 HEAVE-HO - I'm not 100% sure how this works. If you give something the HEAVE-HO, you're rejecting it? And sailors are called upon to heave-ho?
22 JET LAG - Another one which took me too long to see, I wanted it to be SEA LEG for a while. JAG is the car, insert (LET)*; D travel sickness, of a sort I suppose, although jet lag is nothing to do with travelling only with time differences, you don't get it if you fly from London to Cape town.
24 THETA - THEFT is stealing, drop the F = not using force, add A; D letter.

Quick Cryptic 677 by Rongo

A pleasant, gentle offering from Rongo today. Nothing too tricky and no obscurities. Thanks to our setter.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

1 Conventional argument in place of financial trading (5,8)
STOCK EXCHANGE - STOCK (conventional) + EXCHANGE (argument), giving us the thing defined by Warren Buffet as "a mechanism for transferring wealth from the impatient to the patient". Day traders might disagree...
8 Fix theatre company broadcast (6)
REPAIR - REP (theatre company) + AIR (broadcast)
9 Fool playing up-tempo endlessly (6)
MUPPET - *(UPTEMP{O}) - without the last letter (endlessly) - with "playing" as the anagrind
10 Satirical piece needing small equipment (4)
SKIT - S (small) + KIT (equipment)
11 Cheese melted near Spam (8)
PARMESAN - *(NEAR SPAM) with "melted" as the anagrind
12 Termite maybe carried by rook (5)
BORER - BORE (carried) + R (Rook - chess notation)
13 Unmarried, not having pound to burn (5)
SINGE - SING{L}E - 'not having' the L (pound)
15 Short of time, enter within ash-coloured foliage (8)
GREENERY - EN{T}ER (minus its T - "short of time") 'within' GREY (ash-coloured)
17 Add nothing for form of wrestling (4)
SUMO - SUM (add) + O (nothing)
19 Opening of Moulin Rouge adapted room for bodies (6)
MORGUE - *(ROUGE) - with M (opening of Moulin) also in the mix - with "adapted" as the anagrind
20 Quite attractive (6)
21 See how things stand to be a successful photographer?
GET THE PICTURE - DD, the second definition being slightly cryptic

2 Slightly adjust weight in hard timber (5)
TWEAK - W (weight) 'in' TEAK (hard timber)
3 Burn partially surrounding private part of book? (7)
CHAPTER - CHAR (burn partially) goes around PTE (military abbrev. 'private')
4 Expression of doubt about origin of “Rongo” — “go wrong”?
ERR - ER (expression of doubt) goes round (about) R (origin of Rongo)
5 Arrived with excess haste, ultimately tetchy and averse to
being filmed
CAMERA SHY - CAME (arrived) + RASH (excess haste) + Y (ultimately tetchY)
6 Large specimen with top cut off (5)
AMPLE - {S}AMPLE (specimen with top cut off)
7 Small device to blow up raised part of sedan ergonomically
GRENADE - Reversed (raised) hidden (part of) in sEDAN ERGonomically
11 Continue in the face of difficulty, for every Spartan (9)
PERSEVERE - PER (for every) + SEVERE (Spartan)
12 Apart from start of couplet, poem is something designed to
BAR CODE - BAR (apart from) + C (start of Couplet) + ODE (poem)
14 Beginning to develop northern way up mountain (7)
NASCENT - N (abbrev. northern) + ASCENT (way up mountain)
16 A number dined while speaking? (5)
EIGHT - Sounds like (while speaking) ATE (dined)
18 Measuring device encountered resistance with input of
energy (5)
METER - MET (encountered) + R (abbrev. resistance) with E (abbrev. energy) inserted (input)
20 Greek character’s fractured hip (3)
PHI - *(HIP) with "fractured" as the anagrind

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