Log in

[sticky post] Times for the Times 10th Anniversary!

Pete Biddlecombe (founder of this site and currently Sunday Times Crossword editor) reminded me this week that we have an important anniversary coming up. On 2nd December this year it will be the 10th Anniversary of Times for the Times!

For most of the first year Pete ran it single-handed (with myself and Mark Goodliffe covering the odd few weeks when he was on holiday), then it was reborn as a community effort on October 31st 2006, so we'll be able to have another birthday in 2016 too. Put both dates in your diary! Speaking of anniversaries, I'll have had five years as blogger-in-chief (to coin a phrase) on 1st Jan 2016.

This calls for a party. 2nd December falls on a Wednesday, which is no good for most people. So how about Saturday the 5th for a big 10th anniversary celebration. Everyone's invited - bloggers, solvers, setters, lurkers, even neutrinos! There'll be a venue (to be decided), bespoke crosswords celebrating the event (to be set, but I know a few people to ask) and fireworks (to be expected!).

Times 20,179 - Club Monthly (August 2015)

My second puzzle standing in for Jerry who I'm expecting to return for September's offering refreshed and raring to go!

This is yet another fine puzzle where if you do what the cryptic tells you the answer will emerge - well done setter

1DUST,SHOT - (studs)*-HOT; the smallest pellets in shot;
5MAWMET - MAW-MET; hog's mouth=MAW; an idol;
10PANOPHTHALMITIS - PAN-(hospital I'm)* surrounds TH=Thursday; eye inflammation;
11AGACANT - AGA-CAN'T; provocative en Provence;
12RAMPICK - RAM-PICK; old word (outdated) for a dead tree;
13SPINIFEX - SPIN-IF-EX; grass down under;
15NISAN - N(IS)AN; Jewish month;
18AD-LIB - A-(BILD reversed); BILD=German pictures-based tabloid equivalent of The Sun in the UK;
20RENMINBI - REN(t)-MIN(t)-BI(t); Chinese currency;
23MESQUIT - MES-QUIT; American desert plant;
25TANGHIN - TANG-HIN(t); poison;
26QUODLIBETARIANS - (quandaries I blot)*;
27MOHAWK - MOHA(mmed)-WK;
28DUVETYNE - DU(VET-Y)NE; screen=VET; DUNE=iconic Herbert book/film; soft material;
1DIPSAS - S(ASP)ID all reversed; a snake;
2SANS-APPEL - SAN(S-APP)E-L; the final decision maker;
3SUPPAWN - SUP-PAWN; hock=slang=PAWN; maize flour porridge;
4OCTET - hidden reversed (Mozar)T-ETC-O(ccasionally);
7MATAI - MA(i)-TAI; NZ conifer;
16SUBAHDARY - (hard buys a)*;
19BOURLAW - BO(URL-A)W; old rules in Renfrew;
22SNASTE - ET-SANS all reversed; dialect for used candle wick;
24SPOSH - S-POSH; slush in Seattle;
25TATOU - TA-TO-U; armadillo;
Solving time: 17 minutes

Music: Bach, Brandenburg Concertos, Britten/ECO

A very quick solve, and truly a biffer's paradise. Once you get a few crossing letters, you can pretty much roll with the literals. I just got held up a bit at the end, since I had a very imperfect recollection of 'orris root' and had to puzzle it out. Even then, I was not sure and had to check after solving.

Some solvers may not do as well if they are a little constrained on the vocabulary side. I wrote in 'inspissated' and 'epiglottis' with aplomb. The only word I had had truly never heard of was 'courgette', but the cryptic hands it to you very nicely.

I am glad the puzzle was so easy, because I am a little behind and am having a difficult time with some of last week's offerings. I did spend a whole week in a remote location with nothing but Guardian puzzles, though, so I may have just lost the knack of solving in the Times style.

1PRINCE CONSORT, PRI(N)CE CON + SORT, my FOI, and biffed from the literal and the definition.
8TORY, T(O[pposition])RY.
9UNGENEROUS, UN + anagram of ONE'S URGE. I did biff in 'ungracious' for a bit, but then erased it instinctively.
16OUST, [j]OUST.
17PARR, double definition, a fish and the sixth wife of Henry VIII.
20MEKONG, ME KONG, the boast of a famous ape on the Empire State Building.
26FAT, FAT + E.
27RIGHT REVEREND, RIGHT + R(EVER)END, another one most solvers probably biffed.
1PHOSPHORATE, anagram of SHOP + P.H. + o + RATE.
2IDYLL, I'D + sounds like ILL.
4COGNATE, C(TANGO upside-down)E. 'Tango' was the second dance I tried, after 'samba'.
5NONES, hidden in [fictio]N ONE S[tudied], a very well-hidden hidden. I nearly bunged in 'novel', but couldn't justify it.
6ORRIS ROOT, sounds like 'ORACE + ROOT. Why cockneys would be discussing a Roman poet is not indicated.
7TAU, TAU[t].
14NARROWING, RAN upside-down + ROWING.
21GODOT, GO(DO)T. Not really a good clue, because 'got' is not exactly synonymous with 'annoyed'; most speakers would say 'got to'.
23AYR, sound like AIR.

Quick Cryptic 385 by Teazel

I found this puzzle to be of average difficulty though I can't adequately explain 8D - any suggestions would be most welcome. 22A and 13D might not be words that solvers bandy about in everyday conversation. I'm assuming that the appearance of ERIC and OLAV in the first column/row of unchecked letters is purely coincidental.

The puzzle can be found here if the usual channels are unavailable: http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/timescrossword/20150831/9548/

Definitions are underlined.

1 Exclude bachelor that's in love (5)
DEBAR - B (bachelor) inside DEAR (love, as a term of endearment)
4 Stir up unknown spirit (6)
WHISKY - WHISK (Stir up) + Y (unknown, e.g. in a mathematical equation)
9 Tearing apart rock (7)
GRANITE - anagram (apart) of TEARING
10 Offered large hammer (5)
GAVEL - GAVE (Offered) + L (large)
11 Approval to arrest one lout (3)
OIK - OK (Approval) around (to arrest) I (one). I can't see this word without thinking of the Jennings books, though the meaning there wasn't quite the same as in this clue.
12 Turning, American spots bears (8)
SUSTAINS - reversal (Turning) of US (American), + STAINS (spots)
15 Miss, perhaps, her chocolates being dished out (13)
SCHOOLTEACHER - anagram (being dished out) of HER CHOCOLATES. Nice anagram, though I see that it cropped up in an Izetti in July as well as in a very similar construction in the main Sunday cryptic in June.
17 Make to combine in official fashion (8)
FORMALLY - FORM (Make) + ALLY (to combine). My last one in.
18 Fault in hi-fi equipment that's amazing (3)
WOW - double definition, the first referring to the pitch variation sometimes found with records or tapes (and encountered in the expression "wow and flutter"), the second an interjection
20 Army accepting one's lift (5)
HOIST - HOST (Army) around (accepting) I (one)
22 Husbandry only exercised when young? (7)
TILLAGE - double definition, the second kind of cryptic in that you could say it is TILL AGE, i.e. until old age, i.e. only when young. Hmm. Last seen in these parts in a Hurley in April of 2014.
23 I make my way into place for stuff (3,3)
PIG OUT - I GO (I make my way) inside PUT (place)
24 Small fruit and a little asparagus (5)
SPEAR - S (Small) + PEAR (fruit)

1 Where boxer retires in disgrace? (8)
DOGHOUSE - sort of a cryptic definition, trying to make you think of pugilists rather than dogs. A boxer (dog) would retire to the doghouse for a nap, and figuratively if you are in the doghouse then you are in disgrace.
2 Bishop, something missing for chess-player (5)
BLACK - B (Bishop) + LACK (something missing)
3 Minor star's explosion brings violent weather (9)
RAINSTORM - anagram (explosion) of MINOR STAR
5 Keep to oneself horrendous own goal at first (3)
HOG - initial letters (at first) of Horrendous Own Goal
6 Keep quiet about race, say, being behind six others (7)
SEVENTH - SH (Keep quiet) about EVENT (race, say)
7 Shortly you will scream (4)
YELL - contraction (Shortly) of YE (you) WILL, i.e. YE'LL. I think I've seen this before but I still liked it second time around.
8 The breadth of talent to produce any kind of poetry? (11)
VERSATILITY - I'm stumped by this one. The only explanation I can see is that it's a jocular play on the fact that it could be interpreted as verse-atility, but surely not ...
13 Lily's broken arm, I'll say (9)
AMARYLLIS - anagram (broken) of ARM I'LL SAY. Chambers says: "The belladonna lily, forming the genus Amaryllis which gives name to the narcissus and snowdrop family Amaryllidaceae, differing from lilies in the inferior ovary"
14 Get close, pictured on organ (4,4)
DRAW NEAR - DRAWN (pictured) + EAR (organ)
16 Expressing disapproval of field sport that hasn't begun (7)
HOOTING - {s}HOOTING (field sport that hasn't begun, i.e. "shooting" without its initial letter)
18 Sea creature's sad cry some may hear (5)
WHALE - homophone (some may hear) of WAIL (sad cry)
19 Composer's dropped in for a meat dish (4)
CHOP - CHOP{in} (Composer's dropped in, i.e. "Chopin" without the "in")
21 Foreign character all but tight (3)
TAU - TAU{t} (all but tight, i.e. all but the last letter of TAUT (tight))
18:47. Another very enjoyable puzzle from Dean. I thought this was a relatively gentle offering by his standards, but others seem to have found it a bit harder. Perhaps it helps that I'm of the generation for whom 'Norwegian band' triggers the required response instantaneously.

There are a few terms in here I hadn't come across before, but the wordplay is all clear. There were also a couple that I found a bit strange, perhaps because I've misunderstood them. Any help from the floor welcome.

1 Can it crack? Pardon?
SHRIFT - SH (can it, i.e. shut up), RIFT. I made life a bit difficult for myself by confidently entering SHRIVE here.
4 Heart of traffic cop also disturbed by something near A4
FOOLSCAP - (traFfic, COP ALSO)*. A paper size similar to A4, but about an inch longer.
10 Dominant Norwegian band penning album
ALPHA - as in 'ALPHA male'. A-HA (Norwegian band of Take On Me fame) surrounding LP. Morten Harket appeared in an Armstrong and Miller sketch a while back in which his sole function was to provide a rhyme for 'farmer's market', so he must be a good sport.
11 Severe punishment’s no answer — execute
12 US flag draping a party bound for US Air Force base.
COLORADO SPRINGS - the flag here is COLORS, the lack of a U signalled by US. It surrounds A DO (a party) and SPRING (bound) to give a city in Colorado that is home to two Air Force bases and one Air Force Academy, none of which is actually called COLORADO SPRINGS, as far as I can tell.
14 I’ll be charged for early delivery
16 Religious person’s desire to be heard
SIKH - sounds like 'seek'.
18 Nothing to promote? That’s not hard work
OPUS - O, PUSh (PUSH without H).
19 One needs something to write about, mind
SENTIENCE - SENTENCE (something to write) around I.
21 Policeman’s baton knocked out horse
STABLE COMPANION - (POLICEMANS BATON)*. Not an expression I knew (unlike 'stablemate') so I needed quite a few checkers.
23 Top removed from grating, so about to swing
OSCILLATE - REVERSAL OF mETALLIC (grating, as in a metallic/grating sound), SO.
25 Pindar work about Greek venue
ODEON - ODE (Pindar work), ON.
26 Salesman’s a fool to return roofing material
TARPAPER - reversal of REP (salesman), A PRAT. Another unknown term derived from wordplay.
27 Attempt to cut tree back to find shrub
MYRTLE - reversal of EL(TRY)M.

1 Brown ring left by one I don’t know
SEARCH ME - SEAR (brown), CHiME.
2 Parry using short sword in both hands
REPEL - R and L (both hands) surrounding EPEe.
3 No uniform?
FLAT REFUSAL - hmm. FLAT is uniform, and 'no' is a REFUSAL... but I can't quite see how this works. Maybe I'm overthinking it. It was my last in and I spent a couple of minutes overthinking it before I could convince myself to put it in, which I did with my fingers crossed. It's hard to type with your fingers crossed.
5 Counterpart bit me on purpose … accidentally
6 Fully expected to drink caustic liquid
LYE - contained in 'fully expected'.
7 No criminal family’s harbouring European family
CLEANSKIN - CL(E)AN'S, KIN. Another unfamiliar (if not totally unheard of) term constructed from wordplay and checkers.
8 Fancy bottles that regularly feed in bed?
POTASH - POSH (fancy) containing ThAt. POTASH is a fertilizer, apparently.
9 So each goes the wrong way, presumably?
WILD GOOSE CHASE - one of those where the answer is the clue: WILD GOOSE CHASE (with WILD the anagrind) gives SO EACH GOES. But this is another where I'm not quite sure of the construction.
13 One in desperate prayer, sort of breathing
15 American cops are excited about extremely neurotic stripper
LAP DANCER - LAPD (American cops), then (ARE)* containing NeurotiC.
17 70s song in meagre old music publication
LEAN ON ME - LEAN (meagre), O, NME.
20 Best head off without my guide
ESCORT - bEST containing COR (my!).
22 Clumsy writer’s put back into it
INEPT - reversal of PEN (writer) contained in IT.
24 Grassland first, not last

Mephisto 2869 - Tim Moorey

Solving time :

Rather a neat little offering this week I thought. There is a strange coincidence here, and maybe I am missing something - it's not his birthday, maybe the anniversary of a significant achievement but there's a clue here for the composer and crossword fan Stephen Sondheim (who I believe Tim Moorey knows reasonably well), and there is also a Sondheim allusion in this month's Maltby crossword in Harper's magazine in the US. Top that off with that as soon as I finish typing this up, I'm heading off to see a production of the Sondheim show "Company" that several of my friends are in.

Or it could all be one big coincidence!

Away we go....

1M,EG,1,L(andscape),P(ainters): and an excellent all-in-one clue to begin with
5WAS,A BI(t)
9CA(the state),PARIS(the captial),ONE,D
10MEROPIDAN: MAN containing (PERIOD)*
13ODSOS: S(Stokes, the unit), OS(mouthlike opening)
17THEOW: TOW containing HE
19ATTORNED: A TED surrounding TORN
21EHING: EH(what),ING(meadow) - this clue is the only one I don't like in the bunch, since EH is coming from the same headword here as the answer
23SINEW: W(weak) after SINE(without)
25FIACRE: IF reversed, then ACRE
26YAROSLAVL: (ROYALS)* surrounding LAV(throne)
27SWEATER GIRL: add an A and S to this and you can make an anagram of WAITRESS,LARGE
28TENSON: TENSION without the 1
1MEMBRANE: RAN in MEMBE(r) - MEMBER here being a clause in grammar
3LA PAZ: LAP(polish) and then AZ for Azed who appears in another place on the same day as the Mephisto. I expect there's enough overlap that this isn't too obscure
4PRISONER: PR(Prize ring), IS,ONE,(boxe)R. PR as an abbreviation was new to me, but it's in Chambers
5WIDE: W then IDEA with A(ustralia's) removed
6SONDHEIM: anagram of the middle letters of aDMONISHEd
8IDES: HIDES missing the last letter in researcH
11PSEUDOCARP: anagram of (PRODUCES,A) then P
15ROMNEYAS: (SOME,YARN)* - a little odd to have two anagram clues in a row
16BEAUFORT: BEAUT(excellent) surrounding FOR, reference the wind scale
18WASTELOT: I rather liked this clue - WAS THE LOT without the H - and since it is a Canadian term, it is the city of London, Ontario that is being used here
22MISGO: stray... (d)OGS,IM all reversed
23SIST: sounds like CYST, and Sturgeon is the current First Minister of Scotland
24BREN: hidden reversed in warNER Brothers

Saturday Times 26184 (22nd August)

Solving time 12:27, so another fairly gentle one (unlike this week's, which was a half-hour monster which I submitted with an error). Anyway, I have to be elsewhere shortly, so without further ado here's what I made of it.

1 Daily newspaper's takings (6)
5 Amount of medicine doctor's initially expecting to keep the old well (8)
MEGADOSE - MO'S (doctor's) + E(xpecting) around EGAD (an old word for "well"). Last one in, as I was thinking "amount of medicine" = DOSE was part of the wordplay.
9 Nickname of Zurich banker embroiled in scam (8)
COGNOMEN - GNOME (Zurich banker) inside CON (scam).
10 Food in the afternoon in most of France once, say? (6)
GATEAU - TEA inside GAU(l) (most of France once), semi-&lit.
11 Regret trouble on the Internet coming back (6)
BEWAIL - AIL (trouble) next to WEB (the Internet) reversed.
12 Salad we locals ordered (8)
COLESLAW - (we locals)*.
14 Theatre employee finds a celebrity reeling in shock (5,7)
STAGE MANAGER - A NAME (a celebrity) reversed inside STAGGER (shock).
17 Reportedly risk dental problem with European dish (5,7)
STEAK TARTARE - STEAK (sounds like "stake", risk) + TARTAR (dental problem) + E(uropean).
20 Play safe with hammer (5,3)
PETER PAN - PETER (safe) + PAN (hammer).
22 Stop getting on, restricted by strike (4,2)
HOLD IT - OLD (getting on) inside HIT (strike).
23 In circulation, not a single book by great historian (6)
GIBBON - NO (not a single) + B(ook) + BIG (great), all reversed. Edward Gibbon (1737-94), most famous for his 6-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
25 Altogether fair and square at the start (8)
OUTRIGHT - RIGHT (fair) after OUT (square, i.e. unfashionable).
26 I agree to visit outskirts of Belgian resort (8)
BRIGHTON - RIGHTO (I agree) inside B(elgia)N.
27 Bubbly husband always can get in Chambery on vacation (6)
CHEERY - H(usband) + E'ER (always) inside C(hamber)Y.

2 Bent, like many an addict? (6)
HOOKED - double definition.
3 Trendy girl's about to be absorbed by most popular piece of music (7,4)
FINGAL'S CAVE - IN (trendy) + GAL'S (girl's) + C (about), inside FAVE (most popular). An overture by Mendelssohn. Coincidentally I'm listening to some of his music as I'm typing, but not that particular piece.
4 Musical's reviewed at front of theatre programme (9)
SIMULCAST - (musicals)* + T(heatre).
5 Not all current No.1s are covered by, say, boy band (7)
MANACLE - first letters of Not All Current, inside MALE (e.g. boy).
6 Writer making repeated attempts to get on line (5)
GOGOL - GO, GO (repeated attempts) + L(ine). Nikolai Gogol (1809-52), Russian author.
7 Endless fuss over small point (3)
DOT - TO-D(o) (endless fuss), reversed.
8 What could make rocky areas wet? (8)
SEAWATER - (areas wet)*, &lit.
13 Growth of flowers round tearoom overlooking lakes, a feature of Cumbria (7,4)
SCAFELL PIKE - SPIKE (growth of flowers) around CAFE (tearoom) + LL (lakes).
15 Not interested in a course, along with other things one introduced (9)
APATHETIC - A PATH (course) + ETC (along with other things) around I (one).
16 Showing greater determination, pilot goes without rest (8)
STEELIER - STEER (pilot) around LIE (rest).
18 Attacked South African capital and leaderless settlement (3,4)
RAN DOWN - RAND (SA money) + (t)OWN (leaderless settlement).
19 Dearer to rent, we're told (6)
HIGHER - sounds like "hire".
21 Maker of wine to drink up (5)
PINOT - TO + NIP (drink), reversed.
24 University degree: good thing (3)
BAG - BA (Univerity degree + G(ood). Definition as in hobby, like solving crosswords.

Jumbo 1163

I must confess I don't remember much about solving this one, and there was not much discussion on the Crossword Club Forum so I will just present my analysis of the solutions.

Please let me know if anything is unclear.

1 DEDUCTION - double definition
6 POUCH - P(ressure), OUCH = that hurts
9 IMITATE - I = one, MATE = couple, around IT
13 LEMON - M(inute) in LEON = NOEL = Christmas, reversed
14 LAGGARD - DRAG GAL = pull girl, all reversed
15 RECKONING - RECKING = sounds like WRECKING = destruction, around ON
16 EINSTEINIUM - EIN STEIN = a beer (German = in Bonn), I'M = this writer's, around U = classy. The table referred to in the clue is the Periodic Table
17 RESTRUCTURE - REST = break, R.U. = ball game, CURE = remedy, around T(ime)
18 VACATE - VA = Virginia, CATE = Catherine
19 MERCATOR - MERC(edes) = motor, ATOR = ROTA = work schedule, reversed
21 IRRUPT - hidden in stIRRUP Temporarily
25 NONMETAL - NOT, AL = aluminium, around alternate letters in eNeMiEs
26 FUNDAMENTALISM - FUND = finance, A, MENTAL = crazy, ISM = ideology
28 TWEET - T,T, = times, around WEE = tiny
29 LIQUID - LI = 51, QUID = £
30 CANNONBALL - double definition, one cryptic
33 FRUIT SALAD - FITS = suits, A LAD = a boy, around R.U. = sport
35 UPBEAT - UP BEAT = how a conductor usually starts
36 ARENA - AREA = district, around N(ew)
40 PLACENTA - PLACE = locate, N(ew), T.A. = reserves
42 SCONCE - S(mall), C(andle), ONCE = in the past
44 FLEECE - FLEE = escape from, C.E. = church
47 ASPECT RATIO - ASPECT = cast, RATIO(n) = helping
50 PHOTOGRAPHY - cryptic definition.
52 MISMANAGE - IS MAN = is guy, in GAME*
53 ON A ROLL - double definition
54 TRICK - T(ime), RICK = pull
55 CARRY ON - CARR = scrub, YON = that
56 SAY-SO - SAYS = conveys, O = nothing
57 THE CREEPS - THE = article, CEPS = mushrooms, around RE = on
1 DELVE - DEE = river, around L(arge), V(olume)
2 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - DOMINICAN = brother, RELIC = remains, around PUB = bar
3 CONSTITUENT - CONSENT = OK, around T.U. = trade union, itself around IT
4 INLAID - IN = trendy, LIAD = DIAL = face, reversed
5 NEGLIGEE - (EG LINGERIE)*, with R(ight) and I = one removed
6 PHARMACEUTIC - P.C. = cop, around (A RHEUMATIC)*
7 UNDERSTUDY - UNDERSTAND = get, JUDY, with A N(orthern) D.J removed from the middle
8 HARTS - H(e)ARTS = (football) eleven in Scotland. E = English removed
9 INCURSION - INCURS = suffers, IN, around O = ring
10 IRON CURTAIN - IRON = press, CURTAIN = cover
11 ADIEU - A D(uke), I.E. = that is, U = posh
12 EAGLET - EAGLE = low score, T(roon)
18 VANITY FAIR - (AN ITV)*, AIR = broadcast, around Y = unknown and F = female
20 RAMPAGED - RAMPED = swindled, around A G(rand)
22 PRIVATE ENTERPRISE - PRIVATE = soldier, ENTER = go in, PRISE = force
23 PAELLA - PA(t)ELLA = bone
24 AMALGAMATE - A MATE = a pal, around MAL(a)GA = Spanish resort
27 SQUADRON - SON = boy, around QUAD = off-roader, and R(ight)
31 NETTLE - hidden reversed in fELT TENsion
32 UPRIGHT PIANO - UPRIGHT = just, PIANO = quietly
34 TECHNOCRACY - (TRACY ONCE)* around CH(eck)
36 ACCELERATOR - (A LOT CAREER)*, around the central letter of cirCuit
39 PREORDAIN - RE = about, OR = gold, D(iamonds) all in PAIN = sting
41 STOOD OUT - O(ld) DO = party, all in STOUT = fat
45 TARMAC - TAR = sailor, MAC = CAM = came back, with the last letter removed
46 COLLIE - C(onstant), OLLIE (Hardy) = companion for Stan (Laurel)
48 POSER - POS(t)ER = bill
49 TRESS - (but)TRESS = pier
51 YIKES - I = current, K(ing), all in YES = sure

Times 26,189: Clarence Drowns Again

Ashamed to say that I submitted this with one error - I'd done this basically back-to-back with yesterday's puzzle, after a day returning from Wales on the train with two tired and fractious tots, and this turned out to be a Marathonian ordeal. So having just passed the 15 minute mark on the club timer, and with no less than three answers I still felt iffy about (10ac, 26ac, 24dn), I threw caution to the winds and hit the submit button. I *think* 10ac was the problem (I'd tried for OVERSHADE, which sadly doesn't have anything to do with fevers), but if I'm wrong about that then it's over to you lot.

I liked the vocabulary in this one, which is pitched at that slightly heightened level from real life that I'd expect Times solvers to be swanning around at, without containing anything that made me think "oh, come on, who's ever heard of that". We've had 27ac recently, haven't we? I do feel like it comes up amazingly often for such a funny little world. I thought all the ?-employing clues were lots of fun, definitely a puzzle unafraid to push the envelope in entertaining ways, but even in the more straightforward constructions there were multiple nice surfaces to be found: 15dn, 8dn, 27ac again... really there was a lot of good stuff in here and both my thumbs find themselves in a heavenward attitude. Thanks setter!

1 DIMITY - material: DIY [not using professionals] "to gather" MIT [American university]
4 FACTORS - agents: F ACTORS [fine | performers]
9 DEMUR - object: DR [doctor] "strangles" EMU [bird]
10 OVERSTATE - colour: OVER [maiden, perhaps] + STATE [fever]
11 CONTINENT - a large part of the world: CONTIN{g}ENT [subject to chance - "not good", i.e. minus a G]
12 WEIRD - odd: WIRED [electrically connected "back to front inside", i.e. with the last of the middle three letters moving to become the first]
13 TROT - run: R [run] "bumping into" TOT [little kid]
14 FATHERLESS - without male role model: and "pal becomes left" when PA is removed from it to leave L, i.e. it loses its "father"
18 DEFAMATORY - vicious: D E F [successive characters] + AMATORY [passionate]
20 SPAN - compass: SPA{i}N ["one lost in" the country, i.e. minus an I]
23 ADDER - countryside hazed: ADD [tot] "meets with" ER [hesitation]
24 PROCEDURE - series of steps: PRO [for] + CURE [remedy] with ED ["one having the final word"] "accepted"]
25 SCRIVENER - scribe: (VERSE IN ["vacated"] C{ella}R*) ["translating"]
26 BLAME - responsibility: B [bishop] + LAME [barely believable]
27 MALMSEY - wine: ALMS [gift] "borne by" ME [this person] + Y ["ultimate in" {part}Y]
28 HERESY - a no-no for the faithful: HERE [at this place] + S{a}Y ["heartless" remark]

1 DEDICATED - dutiful: reverse of TA + CID [volunteers (and) police group "turned up"] in DEED [activity]
2 MEMENTO - object recalling past event: outside ENT [part of hospital], MEMO [note]
3 TURBID - muddy: reverse ["goes topsy-turvy"] of DI BRUT [girl, very dry]
4 FLEET - fast: double def with "water under London", i.e. the river Fleet
5 CASEWORK - something "that will contribute to sociological stufy": A SEW [a | tack] in CORK [Irish city]
6 OPALINE - somehow colourful: OP [work] + A LINE [a | way of life]
7 SPEND - exhaust: SPED [hastened] "to limit" N [nitrogen]
8 COVENANT - agreement: OVEN [kitchen appliance] "couched in" CANT [jargon]
15 HARLOTRY - immoral sexual activity: HARRY [worry] about LOT [man with bad wife (Biblically)]
16 SINCERELY - truly: SIN [wickedness] "descends on" CE [church] + RELY [bank]
17 IMPROVES - gains strength: IMP ROVES [devil | wanders around]
19 FEDERAL - in the union camp: (L{incoln} ["initially"] FEARED*) ["possibly"]
21 PLUMAGE - down: AGE [time] after PLUM [tree]
22 FEEBLE - pathetic: FEE [payment] + BLE{w} [wasted "endlessly"]
23 ASSAM - a place "that is located in India": AS SAM [like | type of missile (i.e. surface-to-air)]
24 PENNY - girl: cryptic def based on the fact that a "bob" in the old days was made up of 12 pennies
I did this immediately after a main TC puzzle and I have to say it wasn't the easy 5 minute write-in these things used to be; like last Friday's, it seemed to have a good few clues which needed checkers or were up to the level of the main puzzle. So I hope those who are hoping to move from the blue runs to the red found it a good test. As usual there are no weird words or obscure general knowledge required, just some imaginative wordplay and six anagrams to unravel.

1 UP AGAINST IT - An assembly clue. U (university); PA; GAINS (gets) TIT (bird); def. struggling.
9 OP ART - O (love) PART (separate, as verb); def. style of painting.
10 AIMLESS - (A SMILE'S)*, anagrind 'spreading', def. without end.
11 POLKA DOTS - It seems easy in retrospect, but I have to admit this was my LOI when I had all the checkers and the P-L-A penny dropped. POLKA is the lively dance, then insert T (that's, initially) into DOS = parties. Def. features of pattern.
13 THO - Last letters (tails) of caT eacH kangaroO, def. all the same, abbr. for THOUGH.
14 NINETY - Hidden word reversed in everY TEN INtegers, def, number.
16 MALAWI - Insert LAW (ordinance) into MAI(N) = chief, mostly; def. African country.
17 MET - Double definition.
18 REPLENISH - (HELEN RIPS)*, anagrind 'agitated', def. top up.
21 KRISHNA - (IN SHARK)*, anagrind 'fantastically', def. deity, the top Hindu God.
23 LUPIN - LU sounds like LOO = ladies (toilet), then PIN = fasten, def. flower.
24 PERSIAN GULF - (PAT REFUSING)*, anagrind 'to travel around', def. ME region.

2 PEARL - P (piano) EARL (peer); def. gem. I wondered if a pearl is a gem, but Wiki says it's an 'organic gem'.
3 GET CARTER - Insert ETC ('features in') into GARTER (band); def. Michael Caine film. I've never knowingly seen it as I find MC one of the worst actors in the history of acting; but he's rich, successful, a Sir, and has made over 115 films, so I must be in a small minority and am probably soon to receive a nasty letter from Sue, Grabbit & Run.
4 IMAGO - I'M = the writer's (short for 'the writer is); AGO = in the past; def. perfect stage, the last development stage in an insect's life.
5 SUM - SUMO wrestling not finished; def. problem.
6 ICED TEA - (I ACTED E)*, anagrind 'strangely', the E from energy; def. drink.
7 GO UP IN SMOKE - GO UP = mount, IN = home, SMOKE = cure, perhaps; def. fail disastrously.
8 ASTONISHING - (NOTHING IS AS)*, anagrind 'extraordinary', def. amazing. Nice brief surface for the anagram. Probably a chestnut but I don't remember seeing it before.
12 SHAKE A LEG - SHAKE (brandish) ALE (beer) G (mug, finally); def. step on it.
15 NITRIDE - NIT = fool, RIDE = trip; def. compound. It could have been NITRITE or NITRILE which are also nitrogen compounds, but RILE and RITE don't mean trip. A nitride is a compound where nitrogen has a formal oxidation state of −3, for example BN, boron nitride. Ah, we just love these chemistry lectures, I hear you sigh.
19 PLAZA - PLA(Y) = mostly perform, Z = jazz finally, on A, def. public square.
20 IMPEL - I.E. (that is) L (Liberal) around MP (politician; def. force.
22 HIS - HI = greeting, S = son; def. man's.

Quick Cryptic 383 by Orpheus

Right, it's now 11:00 and nothing has appeared so here's the blog.

This one took me 9 minutes so I scored it as the easiest for a while - since Joker's contribution last Thursday.

As usual defintions are underlined, deletions are in {curly brackets} and indicators are in [square brackets]

1 Others exercise inside, showing self-control (9)
RESTRAINT - TRAIN (exercise) inside REST (others)
6 Dance a doctor held in South Africa (5)
SAMBA - A+ MB (doctor) inside [held in] SA (South Africa)
8 Disorientated persons at interchange? (9)
TRANSPOSE - Anagram [disorientated] of PERSONS AT
9 Small detached territory one's rented out (5)
ISLET - I'S (one's), LET (rented out)
10 Debauchee's false statement about chap at home (9)
LIBERTINE - LIE (false statement) encloses [about] BERT (chap) + IN (at home)
12 Surrenders   crops (6)
YIELDS - Double definition
13 Confused Welshman embracing two daughters (6)
ADDLED - ALED (Welshman) encloses [embracing] D+D (two daughters)
16 Politicians following a man's chronological records (9)
HISTORIES - HIS (a man's), TORIES (politicians)
18 Book from America with songbird at front? (5)
TITUS - TIT (songbird), US (America). It's a book in the New Testament, full name The Epistle of Paul to Titus.
19 Eg southern Scotsman's scowl, concealing light (9)
LOWLANDER - LOWER (scowl) encloses [concealing] LAND (light - in the sense of fall or settle)
21 Old theologian - extremely lofty in a curious way (5)
ODDLY - O (old), DD (theologian -Doctor of Divinity), L{oft}Y [extremely]
22 Leaders of young elephants foolishly strayed very recently (9)
YESTERDAY - First letters [leaders] of Y{oung}, E{lephants} then anagram [foolishly] of STRAYED

1 Disconcerted old PM briefly visiting outskirts of Richmond (7)
RATTLED - ATTLE{e} (old PM - Clement Attlee, Prime Minister 1945-1951) [briefly] inside [visiting] [outskirts of] R{ichmon}D
2 Coy about sailor being initially down at heel (6)
SHABBY - SHY (coy) encloses [about] AB (sailor) + B{eing} [initially]
3 One who gets out of bed, upset about teacher's address (5)
RISER - RE (about) + SIR (teacher's address) reversed [upset]
4 Language book regularly used by Italian leader? (3)
IBO - I{talian} [leader], B{o}O{k} [regularly]
5 New toys lured men, to a considerable degree (12)
6 Vacillate, hearing stupid girl in drunken speech? {6-6)
SHILLY-SHALLY - Sounds like "silly Sally" (stupid girl) perhaps as spoken by someone the worse for alcohol
7 Masculinity landing a chap in trouble (8)
MALENESS - MESS (trouble) encloses [landing] A+LEN (chap)
11 In Paris he left corpulent journalist with poor prognosis (3-5)
ILL-FATED - IL('he' - in Paris), L (left), FAT (corpulent), ED (journalist)
14 Ruin short man going over Helen's place (7)
DESTROY - DES (short man), TROY (Helen's place)
15 Objected to being looked after (6)
MINDED - Two definitions
17 Deliver speech in corridor at Eton (5)
ORATE - Hidden in {corrid}OR AT E{ton)
20 Used to be observed climbing (3)
WAS - SAW (observed) reversed [climbing]

26188 I don't want to go on the cart.

By a considerable distance the hardest puzzle I have contended with for a very long time, taking over three qaurters of an hour. I hope that's because the cluing is truly stretching, and not because my powers, such as they are, are fading. I guess I'll find out if everybody else comes in under ten minutes, in which case I'll stop watching Women's Ashes cricket - Chelmsford today, a bit chilly, but a fine England win - as it clearly has a deletorious effect on my capacity for reasoning. No idea what the causal process might be.
I don't think anything is exactly iffy in the cluing, but I do think there are often Rutherfordian leaps to be made from definition to answer, and several places, such as 6 down, where the usual conventions such as short=cut, park=p, have gone off to hide in the corner while their nastier cousins come out to play.
There follows the tortured reasoning of a frail and battered brain, after which I'm definitely going for a lie down. And to think, if I hadn't been cut off from civilised connections last week, I could have left this one to George.


1 COWCATCHER bar on train
Well I suppose so, but if I feed cowcatcher into my visualisation system, it gives me this:

...which doesn't look very bar like to me. Perhaps we're really in the related field of bull bars. You need to translate "fellow spectator" to the neologism CO-WATCHER, and insert a third rate C
7 CLIP punch box (thanks McT)
Or indeed prune, so a double definition. Clip was a long way down in my lexicon of punches
9 HANDCART hellish transport
The construction is Pass=HAND (as in over) craft=ART, and maximum speed=C, the speed of light. Assemble. Refering to serious deterioration, or a disastrous course of action, the phrase "going to hell in a handcart" is of older origin than I thought, and American: an early citation is from Elbridge Paige's book of Short Patent Sermons, 1841: "[Those people] who would rather ride to hell in a hand-cart than walk to heaven supported by the staff of industry." but there are earlier similar phrases and illustrations.
10 MEMOIR (reflecting) in this
REM is the US band, and our Man is the Isle Of. Insert one into the other and "reflect", doing double duty in both wordplay and definition
11 FLUFFY frivolous
Miss gives FLUFF (think pool and snooker, or theatrical lines) and boY at last provides the Y
13 HANGABLE to be suspended
HAN is one of those convenient Chinese dynasties that save crossword compilers so much time and effort. The Hollywood actor, GABLE is presumably Clark
14 STANDARDISES regiments
Resistance: (eg Custer's Last) STAND; occurs: ARISES, wisited by D(uke)
Try not to waste time thinking of a twin brother for Jack. It's just a pair of (Jack) TARS. The brother has to go with disinherited if you're going to find ESAU, cf Genesis 25 et seq. Place all of the foregoing by CE for church (of England, in case you've ever wondered).
I didn't know that COLO was an alternative abbreviation for Colorado, so this puzzled me somewhat and my entry was with a bit of a shrug. (It is an abbreveiation for Colorado, acording to Chambers, but as Galspray points out, it's also an abbreviated colon, as in :. Sneaky, I call it but it saves "state" having to do twice the work.) I do know the MBA degree and inserting 1 was easy too. "State" in this clue is doing a bit of double duty, otherwise briefly has nothing to work on.
21 MODERN Contemporary
If you look ath geNRE DOMinating retrospectively, you should spot our answer, here helpfully capitalised.
22 POCKET Appropriate
As in steal. Or an area of resistance, such as the American held Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge 1944. Read the story. Don't watch the film, it's terrible, especially the ridiculous speeded up train.
23 AUTUMNAL of season
Unreversed, network and shared give LAN and MUTUAL Remove the L and reverse all.
25 COPY Pirate (verb)
Not forthcoming is COY, and the "Source" of Plunder in crossword speak is the P, which you insert.
26 COACH SCREW Big fixer
Anything in a toolbox preceded by the word coach is a large version, though I didn't know this one. Mentor's give the COACH (keep the 'S) and boasted gives CREW (verb)


2 ON A PLATE evidently readily available
Clever, this. Since all are awake on time, 0 (zero/none) NAP LATE
3 COD There's a catch!
Even the short ones weren't a pushover. COD stands for Cash On Delivery, therefore not in advance
4 TOADY Flirt to gain promotion
An elegant and succinct &lit clue. Flirt also gives TOY, and a promotion might be an AD. Assemble.
5 HATCHED released clutch
Ah, right, that sort of clutch! A rare (in this crosswrod) anagram of THE, C(ar) - "initially" attaches here, and HAD
6  REMINISCE What to do in 10 (i.e. memoir).
Short here gives MINI, S(econds) provides the S, place both within REC and add E(nergy)
7 COMPASS CARD Navigational aid
You wait all this time for an anagram and suddenly a second pops up, this time of ACCORDS and MAPS. The compass card is that part of a compass on which are written the combinations of NEWS.
8 ICICLE one to hang outside
Today's take it or leave it homophone. Spot hook - "eye sickle"
12 FUNCTON KEYthing on a computer
Do, crossword speak for a party, suggests FUNCTION, and important KEY. The function keys on a keyboard are those ones on the top row that sometimes do alarming things when you press them by accident.
15 ACROBATIC going tumbling
The reptile is not the cobra I tried to fit in, but a CROCodile. A stick might in some circumstances be a BAT, and one gives I
16 SCARFACE Gangster, so called
The nickname of the fictional Tony Montana. A stole is a SCARF, and one an ACE
18 ALABAMA State
Like, in the style of, À LA. The degrees are BA and MA, natch. Conferred only there for the flow
19 ROCOCO flowery pattern. ROO comes courtesy of jumper (remember your Winnie the Pooh). Extract and insert the rest from the odd letters of CrOuCh
21 MATCH union
...and (something) to strike. Possibly the weakest clue in the set, but no' bad for a' that.
24 MAC
Mace is the spray you're looking for.  Leave it short of the E, and you have something you might use in a shower in the interests of keeping dry.

For some reason I romped away with this one, finishing the SW and NE quarters in little time at all, with a few write-ins like 8d, 13d, 15a,20a, 16d. Then the SE fell into place, once I'd unravelled the anagram at 27a. Soon I was left with 1d, 2d and 9a. In retrospect, there's nothing really difficult there, but it took me a good 15 minutes to get them all, especially as I'd tried hard to justify ROGER BACON for the cleric. However all was well in the end; no doubt the usual suspects found this a stroll in the park and my struggles were self-imposed due to blogging stress.

1 BORED STIFF - A row (argument) of futons could be a BEDS TIFF (groan); insert OR for men; def. yawning a lot?
6 CHOP - CH chapter, OP start of OPUS work; def. cut. That easy.
9 MINOR CANON - ON = working, alongside MINORCAN = islander; def. cleric. You wouldn't believe how many wrong roads I went down before seeing the right islander.
10 SNOG - S small, NOG drink, def. pet. In my day petting was next after snogging, but we'll not go into more detail.
12 ISOLATIONIST - You probably biffed this, but it's I (one) SO (very), LATINIST (classical scholar) with O (old) inserted; def. a loner.
15 ENTRECOTE - ENTREE = starter, insert CO (firm) T (initially tender); def. steak.
17 TIGER - G in TIER (bank); def. dynamic Asian economy. Fast becoming a historical term, it seems, at least as far as China is concerned.
18 RAIDS - R for resistance leader, AIDS = helps; def. forays.
19 EXTEMPORE - an EX TEMP is an old office worker; (T)ORE is 'ran, out of time'; def. unexpectedly.
20 BIT ON THE SIDE - witty(ish) cryptic double definition.
24 EVAN - (K)NAVE is a scoundrel, remove the K and reverse; another four letter Welsh chap, to go with IVAN and EWAN and EUAN and the rest.
25 QUADRANGLE - (S)QUAD is team, heading off; RANGLE sounds like WRANGLE = fight; def. playground. I'm sure there were times when we treated Peckwater as a playground, but it seems an odd definition.
26 KEEP - A treble (triple?) definition; PEEK reversed = look round; part of a castle, and your keep is your B&L.
27 NEOREALIST - (ONE SERIAL)*, anagrid 'shot', T from Technicolor; def. particular filmmaker. I thought neorealism was an art movement, so I've learnt something new.

1 BOMB - Pack, up, is MOB, reversed, then B is second-rate; def. turkey, a flop. Even with B*** this took me an age, although it's easy enough and maybe a chestnut.
2 RUNT - Another little clue which took me an age; I was fixated on it ending in L (animal finally) and invented a RATL for a while; RUN = control, T = end of 'brought'; def. small animal.
3 DORIS LESSING - Recently read one of hers, so this went in quickly; DO = achieve, then LESS inside RISING.
4 TRAIL - TR = right (rt) reversed; AI - main road, L; def. move slowly.
5 FROSTIEST - ROSTI (or RÖSTI) is a potato dish, inside FEST for celebration, not half; def. extremely cold.
7 HUNTINGDON - double definition, one sounds like a teacher of hunting, one a place near Cambridge.
8 PAGE-TURNER - another double definition, not the strongest clue of the week.
11 COSTUME DRAMA - (ACTORS MADE)*, anagrind 'merry', around UM = hesitation, def. historical production.
13 HEARTBREAK - HEAR (discover), TEAK (tree) around BR (brother); def. suffering.
14 STRIPTEASE - STRIPE (band) around TE (first 2 of tenor) AS (when); def. show. Or as our titillated wizard friend Gandolf34 below points out, 'revealing show'.
16 OPEN HOUSE - OPEN is alternate (regularly offered) letters of cOuPlE iN; HOUSE = parliament; def. hospitality.
21 SEDER - SE = extremely severe, DER = red (cardinal) reversed; def. ceremony. A Jewish dinner ceremony at Passover, apparently, I'd never heard of it.
22 UGLI - fruit, hidden reversed in ev(IL GU)y.
22 REST - RESIT is to take exam again, remove (but not) I; def. the others.

Quick Cryptic No 382 by Mara

I found this one a bit of a game of two halves. First quick run through the Across clues yielded a dispiriting three answers, but then a similar quick run through the Downs got almost all of them straightaway (apart from 1d - an excellent, deceptive clue in my view). Which then enabled me to circle back and finish off the Across clues without too much grief. Looking back on it, the Across clues don't seem particularly tricky - maybe just took me a while to get on the wavelength.

Some very nice stuff here - 1dn the standout for me, but 20ac, 2dn and 6dn also very good.

Thanks to Mara for a highly enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--)

As at time of posting, the online version does not seem to be accessible through the Times website. You should be able to access it from this link

7 Dairy produce that's corny? (6)
CHEESE - Answer is clear enough, but minor query over whether the noun "cheese" equals the adjective "corny". Probably splitting hairs...
8 More tricky trapping American cat (6)
MOUSER - *(MORE) with " tricky" as the anagrind, including (trapping) US (American). Took me a fair while to spot this, as I did not initially see the anagram signal...
9 One party after another for old bird (4)
DODO - In crosswordland, party usually gives us DO. So one Do after another...
10 Ultimate in lard, splendid fat (8)
DRIPPING - D (ultimate - i.e. last letter - in larD) + RIPPING (splendid - as in a ripping yarn). Many a person brought up during the rationing of WW 2 (and its aftermath) speaks fondly of memories of bread and dripping for tea...
11 After the party, there's a battle to get soup (8)
CONSOMME - CON (party - Conservatives) + SOMME (the tragic battle)
13 Offspring knocked over hot food (4)
NOSH - SON (offspring) reversed (knocked over) + H (abbreviation of hot)
15 Briefly look for the Sun, say (4)
STAR - STARE ('look' is shortened - 'briefly')
16 Flat plate securing underwear is a mockery (8)
TRAVESTY - TRAY (flat plate) 'securing' VEST (underwear)
18 Note needlework around front of tapestry (8)
CROTCHET - CROCHET (needlework) 'around' T (front of Tapestry)
20 Work of art ruined (4)
BUST - DD: neat clue
21 Corset fashioned for hired companion (6)
22 Mother gets female illness (6)
MALADY - MA (mother) + LADY (female)

1 Scare away hawk in duel, perhaps? (5-3)
SHOOT-OUT - SHOO (scare away) + TOUT (hawk). Excellent clue, I thought, with plenty of misdirection going on - spent some time looking for a bird inside some kind of bout
2 March day in Dorset ain't bad (13)
DEMONSTRATION - *(IN DORSET AINT) with MON (day) also in the mix, with "bad" as the anagrind. Nice surface, elegant clue
3 Some damsel, domesticated rarely (6)
SELDOM - Hidden (indicated by 'some') in damSEL DOMesticated
4 Referee - I'm pure? Corrupt! (6)
UMPIRE - *(IM PURE) with "corrupt" as the anagrind
5 Supporter pretends Blues can be beaten (9,4)
SUSPENDER BELT - *(PRETENDS BLUES) with "can be beaten" as the anagrind. Refreshing to see 'supporter' leading us to an alternative item of lingerie rather than the bra...
6 Average is low (4)
MEAN - DD. Neat clue
12 Ruin horse, docking tail (3)
MAR - MARE (horse with last letter removed - 'docking tail')
14 Reserve first of tables in coastal area (3,5)
SET ASIDE - SEASIDE (coastal area) with T (first of Tables) inserted
16 Island thanks island, after success (6)
TAHITI - TA (thanks) + HIT (success) + I (abbreviation of island after success)
17 Condition in maths worked out, then top grade given (6)
ASTHMA - *(MATHS) with "worked out" as the anagrind, 'then' A (top grade given)
19 Chance taken to bring king and knight up (4)
RISK - K (king) + SIR (knight) all reversed 'to bring up'

Quick Crytpic No 381 by Flamande

It seems a long time since I had one at the easier end of the spectrum to blog. Most of this went in on first pass and all was finished off just within 10 minutes. Explanations are minimised below (with the exception of 23ac). If you do want any further explanation then let me know and I'll be happy to help.

Definitions underlined, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition, deletions CROSSED OUT

1 Records attempt to produce wall hanging (8)
5 Evidence of damage in front of snazzy vehicle (4)
   SCAR - (S)nazzy, CAR.
8 Lazy person surprisingly riled (5)
   IDLER - Anagram of RILED.
9 Pit worker needs a large fizzy drink (7)
11 Criticising what race from summit to base demands? (7,4)
13 I'll leave Calais, whizzing to eastern French region (6)
   ALSACE - Anagram of CALAiS plus E.
14 Harsh-sounding writer (6)
   STERNE - Homophone of stern.
17 Be extremely keen to examine cheese selection? (2,9)
20 Gym teacher taking public transport with hesitation (7)
21 Letter from Greece, nothing great (5)
22 Part of film about the Spanish (4)
   REEL - RE, EL.
23 Vocal sound set to be drowned by female singer (8)
   FALSETTO - Set (SET) inside female (F), singer (ALTO). A female singer can achieve falsetto (despite Collins' definition of male singers) which can make the parsing rather tricky.

1 Two mills regularly providing work (4)
   TOIL - (T)w(O) m(I)l(L)s.
2 Star in old musical at last, in European capital (7)
   POLARIS - O, musica(L) in PARIS.
3 Jump about, and be inclined to spruce up the home (6-5)
4 Stay behind, keeping mother in check (6)
6 Dog I love is something unusual (5)
   CURIO - CUR, I, O.
7 Advanced through grass and eased up (8)
10 Gathered to organise beginning of truce? They might be (11)
   NEGOTIATORS - Anagram of TO ORGANISE plus (T)ruce.
12 The guard worried a family member (8)
   DAUGHTER - Anagram of THE GUARD.
15 Engineers having managing director over to consume beef? (3,4)
   RED MEAT - RE, MD (backwards), EAT.
16 Voltaire bickered partly about land in Europe (6)
   IBERIA - Volt(AIRE BI)ckered backwards.
18 Speak out initially before judge (5)
   ORATE - (O)ut, RATE.
19 Thanks officer for Mexican dish (4)
   TACO - TA, CO.

Times 26,186

13:11, so not outlandishly difficult based on that criterion (not to mention someone from these parts already solving considerably quicker); and a smooth solve with everything safely worked out before submitting. As always, your mileage may vary, depending on your personal knowledge of Aristotle, the language of Robert Burns, and card games; though I don't think the vocabulary was especially tricky. Whether I'm right or not will soon become clear.

1KINSWOMAN - IN(=at home) in (MONKWAS)*.
6BASIS - 1 in the BASS voice.
9DOWAGER - WAG(=shake) in DOER(=active type).
10SHOWN UP - double def.
11SWOON - W{ife} in SOON.
12LANDOWNER - where LAN stands for Local Area Network; so if you did terminal mischief to one, you'd be a "LAN DOWNER", geddit?
13FORTIETH - (TOFITHER)*, with ruby being another way to express a 40th anniversary.
14DRAB - (BARD)rev.
17LATE - {e}LATE{d}.
18BADINAGE - IN{n} inside [B{ritish} ADAGE]. At first I feared this was going to feature the dread word "banter".
21HALF TRUTH - veracity = truth, so our Vera is only half of that.
22SO FAR - F{eminine} in SOAR.
24UNITIES - UNI{versity) TIES(=associations); the unities are the dramatic rules laid down in Aristotle's Poetics.
25GO ROUND - double def. "Last out" as in "I hope there's enough wine to go round".
26EAGLE - E{nglish}; AGLE{y}, a word I know (as does probably everyone else who happens to know it) from Burns' words To a Mouse i.e. "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley".
27SINGLETON - double def., "one in a suit" being in the card-playing sense, where it means a single card of a particular suit in a hand.
2NOW YOU'RE TALKING - a double definition with the cryptic element not being very cryptic.
3WAGON-LIT - (ALONG)* in WIT. The train sleeping-car sounds even more exotic when rendered in French.
4MORALITY - lift and separate to get the definition "Good conduct", and it's M{ark}, O{ver}, R{E}ALITY minus the E.
5NOSING - 27ac is SINGLETON; if you want to turn that into "admitted", i.e. LET ON, you take off the first bit, so there's NO SING.
6BOO-BOO - BOO{k} x2.
7SAN ANDREAS FAULT - (LAASUNDERFASTA{california}N)* &lit. Very clever.
13FULL HOUSE - double def. More cards, where a full house is three of one rank and two of another in poker; and the theatrical sense.
15PATHOGEN - THO'(=but) in PAGE N, i.e. an unspecified page.
16MINSTREL - MINSTER (=church) with the tail turned to become MINSTRE + L{eft}.
19STRIKE - S{on} + TRIKE.
20CURSES - the curé is the French parish priest; put {pray}S in CURES to get the swearing.
23RADON - R.A.(=Royal Academy) DON(=lecturer) gives the radioactive gas.

Times 26185 – Happy Biffday!

Typical Monday fare, with one clue where you need to get your vowels in the right place, else you may get yourself into a lather. 25 minutes.

Oh, and congratulations to Australia on winning the beer match.


1. MAMMAL – ‘bear, for example’; this is meant to be a homophone of “Ma’am ’ll”, I believe, but I can’t see where the ‘old’ comes from. Thanks to Kevin G for putting me on the right scent, as 'old woman' is a slang term for mother as well as wife, so it's a homophone of "Mam'll".
4. WALK-OVER – W[ith] + A + LOVER round [jac]K.
10. HALL-STAND – H[ospital] + ALL + STAND.
11. DIVES – ‘someone who’s rolling’ (‘dives’, Latin for rich, is the Vulgate translation of the Greek plousios, itself a translation by ‘Luke’ (ch. 16) of Jesus’s original Aramaic); DIVES[t] (‘strip’ with the last letter taken off).
12. CAYENNE – CANE around YEN.
13. GREYLAG – an anagram * of LAY EGG around R[iver] gives that rara avis, a bird that I’ve heard of.
14. NINON – a silk fabric hidden in the clue.
15. DEERSKIN – REED reversed + S + KIN; S for society seems to be popping up a lot recently.
18. EXPENSES – EX ('former') + ES ('opponents' in the card game bridge) around PENS (‘writers’).
20. DOGIE – an orphan or foundling calf (US); initial letters of D[ish] O[f] [G]rease + IE.
23. HIMSELF – I thought this usage was more common in Ireland, which ODO confirms, but then there’s always been intercourse between these Celtic cousins; in Julius Caesar, Brutus describes himself to his mate Cassius as being ‘with himself at war’.
26. CYNIC – Y (mathematical unknown) in C-IN-C reversed.
27. REWARDING – E[d]WARD in RING; this clue got me thinking about what Adam and Eve’s first girl was called. We’re not told, only that they had ‘other sons and daughters’ after their firstborn Seth.
28. ABSOLUTE – ‘positive’ (though I rather think the terms are synonymous only as adverbs); AB (rating=seaman) + a homophone of ‘salute’ (‘courteous recognition’). Thanks to Anon for pointing out the mathematical 'equation' of absolute and positive.
29. CANYON – ‘gorge’; C[hips] + ANYON[e].


1. MOHICANS – O[ver] + HIC (Latin for ‘here’) in MANS.
2. MALAYAN – ‘Singaporean, possibly’ (since a person or thing in Singapore is to be found on the Malayan peninsular); A + LAY in MAN (verbal, ‘to crew’).
3. ASSONANCE – ‘sound correspondence’; O + NAN in CASES*.
5. AT DAGGERS DRAWN – ‘in state of hostility’; GRANDAD GETS WAR*.
6. KEDGE – for the wet bobs (ODO has ‘move or be moved by hauling in a hawser attached at a distance to a small anchor’); K[ing] ‘on EDGE’ (tense – geddit?).
7. VIVALDI – L + DI after VIVA; not too many famous composers begin with a V.
8. RESIGN - REIGN around [trader]S.
9. MAKE A DASH FOR IT – cos when you make an auto you may be the bloke who’s responsible for the dashboard. (I’m assuming all cars have one.)
16. SUDATORIA – Roman saunas or Turkish baths; AUDITORS* around A.
17. HEPTAGON – HEP (a word for ‘trendy’ used by setters when they meet up and compare notes) + TAG (‘label’) + ON (‘attached’).
19. XIMENES – grand inquisitor and the nom de plume of one of crosswording’s founding fathers; MEN + E in SIX reversed.
21. GRAVITY – a barely cryptic double definition.
22. CHA-CHA – A[vailable] + CHA (‘tea’) after CH; not too taxing.
24. EXCEL – a creative homophonic clue, where you take the middle letters of [be]XL[ey] and say then out loud to get ‘excel’ (‘run rings round’).

Quick Cryptic 380 by Hurley

I solved all but two clues in 8 minutes but it occurred to me that some of the answers are not easy if one doesn’t have all the necessary general knowledge. Eventually I ground to a halt and needed a further 7 minutes to work out 8ac and 9dn and finish just as the quarter-hour approached. I should have spotted SURVEY immediately but I had distracted myself working out the non-existent "sureep" from wordplay and found it difficult to backtrack from that misleading thought. 9dn I think is genuinely hard.

As usual, definitions are underlined, deletions are in {curly brackets} and indicators are in [square ones]

1 Conservative girl in charge is Turin's foremost expert in Latin? (10)
CLASSICIST - C (Conservative), LASS (girl), IC (in charge), IS T{urin} [foremost]
7 Riddle perhaps is recalled by woman (5)
SIEVE - IS reversed [recalled], EVE (woman)
8 Look carefully at us returning very unexpectedly (6)
SURVEY - US reversed [returning], anagram [unexpectedly] of VERY
10 Book publicity not good (3)
BAD - B (book), AD (publicity)
12 Drama about calm Herts town (9)
STEVENAGE - STAGE (drama) contains [about] EVEN (calm). Stevenage in Hertfordshire was designated a New Town after WWII and expanded considerably as a result. I looked twice at "drama" = "stage" but then thought "drama/stage school" which seems an acceptable example of the words being interchangeable.
13 At heart back company road agreement (6)
ACCORD - {b}AC{k} [at heart], CO (company), RD (road)
14 Care with money leads to terribly hurtful split (6)
THRIFT - T{erribly} H{urtful} [leads to], RIFT (split)
17 Oblige prisoners to join procession (9)
CONSTRAIN - CONS (prisoners), TRAIN (procession)
19 Notice something Holy in Rome? (3)
SEE - Two definitions. As I understand it, the Holy See of Rome is the jurisdiction of the Vatican.
20 After month draw back trickery (6)
DECEIT - DEC (month), TIE (draw) reversed [back]
21 Ass indulges regularly - make oblique movement (5)
SIDLE - Alternate letters [regularly] of {a}S{s} I{n}D{u}L{g}E{s}
23 Centre pane broken - contrition needed (10)
REPENTANCE - Anagram [broken] of CENTRE PANE. 'Needed' is superfluous but helps the surface reading and I suppose is telling us we are looking for a word meaning "contrition".

1 Cabals can corrupt a port (10)
CASABLANCA - Anagram [corrupt] of CABALS CAN + A
2 Guitar maybe turning up in Texas (3)
AXE - Hidden and reversed [turning up] in {T}EXA{s}. This term for an electric guitar may not be familiar to some solvers, but it often appears in cryptics so is worth getting to know. It can also refer to saxophones and trumpets amongst other musical instruments hence "maybe" in the clue, as "guitar" is only an example.
3 Poet, Southern, writes with hesitation (7)
SPENSER - S (southern), PENS (writes), ER (hesitation). I biffed "Spender" as soon as I saw "poet" and S-E- - - -, but had to do a quick rethink. He was on my mind as he turned up last week in the main puzzle. This is Edmund Spenser the 16th century poet who is possibly not very widely known these days.
4 Obstinate copper's initially so extremely daring (6)
CUSSED - CU'S (copper's), S{o} E{xtremely} D{aring} [initially]
5 Certain to welcome good increase (5)
SURGE - SURE (certain) contains [to welcome] G (good)
6 Old coin Iran used replaced (8)
DENARIUS - Anagram [replaced] of IRAN USED
9 Watchful gaze of sheep - indeed, they say (7,3)
WEATHER EYE - Sounds like [they say] "wether" (sheep) "aye" (indeed). This is most commonly used in the expression "to keep a weather eye on", meaning to watch something carefully, especially for changes in a situation.
11 Some divide can, terrific source of drink (8)
DECANTER - Hidden [some] in {divi}DE CAN TER{rific}
15 Husband with prescribed part of phone (7)
HANDSET - H (husband), AND (with), SET (prescribed)
16 Somewhat pert rascal upset philosopher (6)
SARTRE - Hidden and reversed [somewhat…upset] in {p}ERT RAS{cal}. The French polymath, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980.
18 Article on Religious Education in that place (5)
THERE - THE (article), RE (religious education)
22 Retreat of French knight (3)
DEN - DE (of, French), N (knight - chess)

Times Jumbo 1162

Solving time of 35:36, which on the face of it puts this at the high end of "normal" without being outlandishly difficult. However, now I cast my mind back two weeks, I can't remember how much of that time I spent trying to work out what was going on with 18ac: for those who solve on paper, the clue in its on-line version appeared simply as "R", which obviously makes no sense at all, though I only came to that conclusion after a certain amount of time thinking "A one letter clue? This must be amazingly clever, even if I can't see it yet..." After Googling, I discovered what the correct version should have been, i.e. the actually very straightforward "Road to go down, crossing river", giving the answer DRIVE, so presumably was cut off by accident somewhere in the editorial process (should anyone editorial happen to be reading this, it still hasn't been corrected, should you wish to do so).

Anyway, aside from the typo, this was a pleasant and smooth solve, with some first-class surfaces, and enough interesting vocabulary to provide a tougher than normal challenge.

With Jumbos, which attract a far smaller audience than daily puzzles, I generally confine myself to discussion of answers which I think are a) less straightforward for inexperienced or non-UK based solvers, or b) especially elegant / questionable. In other words, unless it's an exceptionally interesting puzzle, the coverage is unlikely to be 100%; however, as always, if a particular clue is not discussed, please feel free to raise it in comments for explanation or discussion.

1PEWIT - WI(=West Indies) in PET("something like a budgie perhaps"). In reality, a pewit would not be mistaken for a budgie by most ornithologists.
15GLORIA SWANSON - GLORIA(="hymn"), SWANSON{G}. Most famous for Sunset Boulevard, though the full definition ("old actress largely silent") reflects the fact that her career was at its height some years earlier in the pre-talkies era.
16ASTARTE - A, [TART in S.E.]. Phoenician equivalent of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar.
17GRAND TOUR - [D(=500) in GRANT], OUR.
18DRIVE - See note in my introduction. A less testing clue than you may have first thought.
19DOUBLE ENTENDRE - L{ine} in (NEEDNOTBERUDE)*. As the saying goes, if you want a double entendre round here, just ask and someone'll give you one.
25NIGHTSHIRT - NIGH T{ime}, SH(quiet), [R{ight} in IT]. A satisfyingly compiled &lit.
30LET ON - LEPTON is the particle, minus P{ower}.
31VOUCHERS - translate "you" and "dear" into French to get VOUS and CHER, insert one into the other.
32BROUGHAM - BROUGH{t}, A.M. One of the several horse-drawn carriages which exist today only in crosswords and the works of Georgette Heyer.
36GERM CELL - GERM{any}, CELL(=room).
37THRUM - HR. digested by TUM; easily deduced from the wordplay, a secondary meaning which is a tuft of woven cloth apparently.
41PRODUCTION - PROD(=stimulus), {A}UCTION.
43NACELLE - more French required (indicated by Orly, which is the old airport in Paris). (CAN)rev. + ELLE(="she" in French)
48TIARA - 1 in TARA, the hill in Meath where Irish kings were once crowned.
51STATELY - ST. AT ELY, Ely being the crossword compiler's favourite cathedral.
53COMPASSIONATE - COMPASS(=limit), 1 ON ATE(mischievous goddess of the classical world).
55SCREED - S{aint}, CREED.
3TASER - (RESAT)rev.
8CLINOMETER - (NICEMERLOT)*. I liked this surface as it describes me quite well.
9HOARDER - 0 in HARDER, another clever &lit.
13A SHROPSHIRE LAD - (HARDSHIPSOREAL)*, the key work of A.E. Housman.
20BOTANISTS - BOT(=maggot, one of those things I have acquired entirely from crosswords), [IS in ANTS].
21DIAGRAMS - (AID)rev., GRAMS. I wasn't entirely sure of "physics", but I suppose there has to be a word there for the surface, and it relates to physical properties of matter.
23DECAMPMENT - A.M. and P.M. inside DECENT.
24ENGLISHMAN - (LONGISHNAME)* without the 0.
26HAVE A TILE LOOSE - not a turn of phrase I was familiar with, so it was an educated guess as to which word was part of a building and fitted _I_E to form an equivalent to "have a screw loose".
28MOUSTACHE - O in MUST ACHE, i.e. "can't be pain-free".
29SHEEPDOG - cryptic def. with apparently Biblical overtones, but which actually demands you know about the breed of sheep called Jacob.
40DECLAIMER - DEC{ember} [1 in LAMER].
47WYVERN - V{ide}="see", in WYE, R.N.
A pleasant middle of the road puzzle with one trip down memory lane involving Regan, Carter and an old Jaguar car

1SLOP - two meanings 1=old word (discarded) for policeman=Bobby 2=loose garment;
4SPARABLE - SPAR-A(B)LE; a nail;
11PARAMOS - RAP reversed - AMOS; the high plains of South America;
13TEAN - (pro)TEAN; variable=protean; an old poet;
14ACCEND - A-CC-END; old word for kindle;
15ICHOR - I-CHOR(e); medical term for "oozy stuff";
16POINTE - (toe in + p)*; p from p(ain); ballet manoeuvre involving the toes;
17TRIANDRIA - sounds like "try andrea"; reference feminist Andrea Dworkin; plants;
18SPORULES - (leprous)*;
23PSHAWED - P(SHAW)ED; pedestrian=PED;
28ASANTE - AS-ANTE; advance=ANTE; argot in Ghana;
30RIELS - (o)RIEL-S; Cambodian cash;
31TAXEME - TAX-EME; old word for uncle=EME; word order etc;
32AIRN - (b)AIRN; bairn=baby in Banff; AIRN=iron in Inverness; Sandy=a Scot;
33STARETS - STAR(E)TS; Russian holy men;
34SOLANDER - S(O)LANDER; a box that looks like a book;
35PYET - P-YET; a magpie in Motherwell;
1SPEISS - sounds like "spice"; arsenic and antimony compounds;
2LANCE,PRISADO - (a soldier can p)*; p from p(anic); old Italian NCO;
3ORTHROS - (or short)*; or=gold; Greek Lauds;
5PONTIL - PONT-I-L; ferry boat=PONT; see punty in C - glassblower's tool;
6RECON - REC(k)ON; K=Cambodia (Kampuchea); SEAL's slang;
7ASCIDIA - AS(CID)IA; leaves;
8BIEN - two meanings 1=well-off in Wick 2=well in Wattrelos;
9LENTICELLATE - L(ENTICE)LL-ATE; lecturer=L; had=ATE; porous bark;
10ENDEAR - (heartened - het)*; "up" in the clue appears to be padding;
12MARRUM - MAR-RUM; grass;
19ROMNEYA - ROM(NEY)A; reference Marshal NEY, le Brave des Braves; a shrub;
21SWEENEY - S(W)EEN-YE reversed; W from W(embley); rhyming slang Sweeney Todd=Flying Squad;
22ABATIS - A-BAT-IS; a rampart;
24SKLATE - SK(L)ATE; L from (poo)L; slate in Stornoway;
25DESIST - DE(S)IST; S=Sabbath;
27ATMAN - A(T)MAN; T=time;
29AXEL - AXE-L(and); a skater's spiral;

Latest Month

Syndicated Times puzzles

Free online editions of UK dictionaries


RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow