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[sticky post] Blogging Schedule

On the right hand menu there's now a new link to our Google Blogging Calendar. This is now up-to-date (at least until the Easter Bank Holiday puzzles put the Jumbo sequence out again!) and complete. Let me know if you see any errors in it.
And just who is Roy Maer (line 6)? My time for sorting all the letters (it is a pangram this time, I've checked and checked!) was 24' 47", with determined knocking off of the wordplay on the way. It will be interesting to see how many known unknowns there are for our regular readers in this collection. For me, there are a few words I know without necessarily being able to draw a picture of what they represent, but that should never be seen as a handicap to the seasoned solver. First in was 1d, last was the innocuous but elusive 25ac, even after I knew what the noble was. This is how I reasoned my way to everything in between

Across

1   SNOWBOUND  What the redoubtable Ann Bancroft, or come to that the Top Gear Boys could be.
    SOUND (thorough) surrounding NOW (current) B(ook)
6   DECAF  DEAF, unresponsive as "he was deaf to their plea for mercy" taking C(old) on board for a substance that is almost,
    but not quite, entirely unlike coffee. I mean, what is the point of coffee without caffeine?
9   AXILLAE one of those Scrabble™ entriies that players know without having a clue what it is. I looked them up so that you
    don't have to. They are armpits. A football team has XI players until Beckham is sent off. Admit it and ALL "twisted,"
    - reversed -  into A (&) E (ask Thud 'n' Blunder).
10 LACQUER a kindly definition and wordplay, the starts of L(ose) A(t) C(hess) with QUER(y) being without its end.
11 EGO  None of the 3-letters were particularly tough today. This Self Confidence is a hidden reverse in imOGEn
12 DISCIPLINED Definition "being strict", DI plus rejected PICS and LINED with crows feet and such as time's permanent
    markers.
14 HOMAGE  the Pig and Whistle pub name needs treatment to separate out the HOG and the last of (whistl)E and wrap them
    both around old lady MA. Respect!
15 NEW DELHI The place is well known, the wordplay's less obvious. Dicky indicates an anagram of WHEN and LIVED short of
    V(ery)
17 MAJOLICA  Bill=AC(count, see=LO, press=JAM, all reversed to give tin-glazed pottery originally from Italy but nicked by the
    Brits and turned into something rather vulgar with a J, not an I
19 FLORAL  Lad's first is L, place inside FOR=for (!) and (s)AL(e) minus its limits. Among other things, "annuals" are generic
    flowers.
22 INSEPARABLE  How many types of farmland do you know. Yup, ARABLE. Tag it on to an arrangement of PINES and you have
     "very close" spelt correctly with an A not an E.
23 DIS the primaries of Druggie Inhabits Shady for the ever useful word for the lower circles of hell and alternate name for
    Lucifer.
25 TAIL OFF I got the TOFF for noble but struggled with the AIL for suffer. Don't know why: perhaps my solving powers are in
    decline.
27 RHIZOME another handy Scrabble™ word, meaning "rootstock". ZERO, H(elp) and I'M move around to create.
28 DWELT "stayed". See Oxford, think shoe and, here, its bonding WELT added to D(aughter)
29 LANCASTER I think a triple definition, (Burt) Lancaster, the county town of Lancashire, and the Wars of the Roses team
    that wasn't York.

Down

1   STAKE Double definition, pole and the monetary component of a bet/punt. Nothing to do with falling in the Cam.
2   OVIFORM Egg-shaped. Decoration gives O(rder of) M(erit), deposit within V(erse) and generic Welshman IFOR, spelt that
    way because it just is, look you.
3   BULLDOG CLIP A highly sprung device for keeping office papers together and inflicting injuries you may be able to claim
    for. Order from Rome is a (Papal) BULL, follow=DOG.and CLIP is a glancing blow in, say boxing.
4   UNEASY All you actually have to do is take off the Northern (upper when written in the grid) letters of (J)UNE (w)AS (b)Y.
5   DULCIMER A sort of flat harp played with hammers, rather like the cimbalon that does the Harry Lime theme. Judge is LUD
    (as in M') upset and placed before an involvement of CRIME
6   DOC (not necessarily my) COD fish reversed. Think Leonard "he's dead Jim" McCoy to make the connection with bones.
7   CHUNNEL  LUNCHEON with its O(ver) cancelled and realigned for the contracted version of le tunnel sous la Manche,
    surprisingly dating back to 1928
8   FIRE DRILL  A semi &lit, I venture. IF backwards, then RED=burning and RILL=trench, the solution being what you need to
    combat it.
13 LA DOLCE VITA, Federico Fellini's take on a week in the life of Rome. Not a musical: that honour is taken by EVITA, which
    tacked on to LAD=youth and the even letters of pOt LuCk creates the film.
14  HAM-FISTED Our actor is the not necessarily awkward HAM, the IS is gripped by the newspaper boss who is the F(inancial)
    T(imes) ED
16 SCORNFUL  Sixteen is four fifths of SCORe (geddit?), added to the N(ational) F(armers') U(nion) and L(eft) "showing
    contempt"
18 JASMINE One of my small collection of known plants and an air freshener flavour. Germany's yes (JA) set over S(mall)
    MINE=pit
20 REDCOAT An entertainer at Butlin's holiday camps and of course the archetypal British soldier. I've been trying to find out
    whether British soldiers were called redcoats and Tommies at the same time. Today's debate, perhaps.
21 OBERON  King of the fairies in AMSND. Our alumnus, an O(ld) B(oy) picks up the openings of E(xpress) and R(egret) and
    ON, as in playing on stage.
24 SHEER  Compete as in "sheer nonsense" sounds a lot like SHEAR as in haircut or clip.
26 OUT  "Away". In Corsica, you would say OU for "where" and temperature's highest (we are still in down clues) is T

Times Quick Cryptic No 29 by Myles

Hello everyone.

Time: 14 minutes

Another enjoyable solve today. I probably took a little longer than I should have done. Nicely written clues with a couple of genuinely classy ones, for example 3 and 5 down.

Across
1 HARD SHOULDER - As I have previously mentioned, a question mark in a clue usually means that you have to do a little thinking outside the box, and that's the case here. If you take responsibility for something in a forceful manner you could cryptically be said to do this Forceful = HARD and this is added to SHOULDER - to take responsibility , put together it's an expression for an emergency parking area by the side of a road for drivers.
9 HOTEL - HO (small house) + LET (rented) reversed with '..as temporary accommodation' = definition.
10 BRISTOL - This held me up longer than it should have done, i guess. BR + I (Brother and I) + LOTS (in great quantity) reversed (sent back).
11 CLOBBER - Two definitions. To belt or sock someone has the same meaning as a slang word for things to wear.
12 PODIA - AID (relief) + OP (work) reversed (backing) - definition is 'positions taken by speakers'.
13 PASTRY - PA'S (old man's) + TRY (attempt) = definition of 'dough'.
14 CACHET - ACHE (to long) inside CT (court). Definition is 'mark of distinction;.
17 TIBET - Definition is 'land in East'. T (time) + I BET (I'm sure).
19 ATHEIST - Definition is "person of no faith' - T (trust, initially) inside A + HEIST (a robbery).
21 TABLOID - An anagram (oddly) of A BIT OLD gives you a word defined by 'like most dailies today'.
22 BLOOM - The definition is 'flourish' - A word meaning report, as in gunshot (BOOM) with L (learner) inside.
24 PRESS RELEASE - 'Statement to media' is your definition PRESS (be insistent) + RE (about) + LEASE (property contract).

Down
2 AUTHORS - A + U (a university) + an anagram (changed) of SHORT.
3 DELIBERATIONS - Definition is 'careful discussions' - this is a word meaning 'share' inside the name of the composer of 'Lakme' and 'Coppelia', DELIBES. This is indicated by the use of 'holder' tacked onto 'share'. Some crossword purists may not like it. But it works for me.
4 HOBART - BAR (watering-hole) goes inside HOT (sweltering) with the deifnition being 'Australian city'.
5 UNIMPEACHABLE - Probably my favourite clue in the puzzle. This is a double definition clue with one of the definitions cryptic. A way of describing what Nixon was, uniquely, among US Presidents, but the opposite ('as opposed to'). The opposite of how Richard Nixon was, compared to all the other Presidents, with respect to his treatment after Watergate. This is a word meaning totally untrustworthy.
6 DATED - Another double definition clue. Something that is old hat means the same as being taken out by someone in a romantic fashion.
7 RELIANT - An anagram (corrupt) of I LEARNT gives a meaning of the word 'banking'.
8 CHIC - the first letters (starts off) of 'cutting hair in classic' gives a word meaning style, fashion.
13 PIT STOP - Definition is 'opportunity to refuel car'. PITS (mine's) + TOP (first).
16 HEINOUS - 'Extremely bad' is the definition and it's an anagram (changes) of IN-HOUSE.
18 BIBLE - A type of humour, as in fluid, BILE has B (bishop) inside to give a collection of religious books.
20 TOME - A (literary) work of some weight and size is, when split a phrase, TO ME, meaning 'from my perspective'.


Thanks to our setter for an enjoyable challenge today and I'll see you next week.

EDIT: A couple of changes - that will teach me to try and dash off the blog.

Quick Cryptic No 28 by Joker

Apologies for the brevity of this blog- am very rushed today. Not the easiest quick cryptic I thought, I struggled a bit to blog it, hopefully my explanations are clear. Worth trying the Times Crossword qualifying puzzle today- probably a little easier than the standard cryptic (although a bit more challenging than past qualifying puzzles have been in my opinion).
Across
1 BUSINESS CARD - a concern can mean a BUSINESS (as in going concern) with CARD being the substantial paper. Def = hand-out for executive.
8 APART - an out of work actor would welcome ' A PART' which also means divorced. A neat double definition
9 MARIMBA - 'RI' is right one, inside (stuffing is a containment indicator) 'MAMBA' (a highly venomous snake) to give 'MARIMBA' (a percussion instrument). RI is often clued as ireland (republic of ireland) or less commonly Rhode Island (a US state)
10 EWE - 'E' is the end of the linE, followed by WE. Def = creature
11 EASTER EGG - EASTER EGG is an anagram of 'gets eager'. The anagrind is 'excitedly'. My kids have been given 4 already, which will mostly be consumed by their parents. Def = gift of chocolate
13 PIANO - a hidden clue within 'EthioPIAN Orthodox'.'Used by' suggests that the clue is part of the phrase. Def = musical instrument
14 STAVE - I thought this was another musical term, but actuallly it refers to a barrel stave ( a wooden strip that forms part of the sides of a barrel). Vats are the 'large tubs' reversed (returned) to give 'STAV' next to (by) an 'E' (European). Def = part for barrels
16 THEREFORE - 'THE REF' is 'the referee' followed by 'O' (round) and 'RE' (concerning) to give 'THEREFORE' (So). I suppose the 'finds a' in the clue refers to 'THEREF' finding 'ORE' to give 'THEREFORE'. Not the easiest clue to justify, but hopefully you buy it. Def = So
17 ICE - 'IE' is Id Est ('that is' in Latin) 'containing' 'C' , the first letter of Calcium ('primarily'). A nice clue with misdirection, Hard water here is solid water rather than water containing a lot of minerals. Def = Hard Water
19 INFLICT - to 'INFLICT' can mean to lay upon or visit (as unwelcome relatives might). Here 'flint' is rearranged ('moving' is the anagrind) to give 'INFLT' which is placed 'around' 'IC' (in charge) to give 'INFLICT'. Def = Visit
21 PLACE - 'PACE' is to 'step' around ('across') 'L' to give 'PLACE'. A place in an Olympic event is a position in the top three or a medal. Def = position in
22 UNDERCURRENT - UN and DER are the German articles followed by 'CURRENT' ('present'). Def = Latent Suspicion

Down
1 BRAKE - 'B' (bishop in chess notation) followed by 'RAKE' (libertine). Def = slow down
2 STALEMATE - 'STALE MATE' is the partner who's past their best, and also an indecisive position in chess. Def = position on board
3 NOT BEFORE TIME - A dual definition. Committed drinkers don't stop drinking until NOT BEFORE TIME, which can also mean None too Soon
4 SAMOSA - 'SAMOS' is a Greek Island, followed by 'A'. Def = type of fried pastry
5 CARPET SWEEPER - An anagram of 'scrape pewter' and 'e' (symbol for energy) to give 'CARPET SWEEPER'. Def = cleaner
6 RUM - 'RU' is Rugby Union followed by 'M' ('twickenhaM's ultimate' - ie it's last letter) to give seamen's favourite tipple. Def = spirit
7 TANGLE Tons (T) try to catch fish 'ANGLE' (try to catch fish) gives 'TANGLE' (a coarse seaweed)
12 ERADICATE - ERADICATE is an anagram of 'date', 'rice' and 'a'. Mixture is the anagrind. Def = finish off
13 PUTRID - 'DIRT' (filth) followed by 'UP' (at university) to give DIRTUP which is then reversed ('on the rise') to give 'PUTRID'. Def = Very unpleasant
15 COPTIC - 'COP' is the Policeman, followed by (leading to) 'TIC' ('a habitual response') to give an Egyptian language.
18 ERECT - 'ERE' is before, combined with 'CT' (Court). Def = being upstanding
20 FUN - 'FUND' is to pay for, chopped off (endless) gives 'FUN' (amusement)
OK, well, I got about two thirds of this done, all the top half and the odd clue (and golly, some of them are very odd) in the bottom half. I now have a completed grid, thanks to my Wednesday oppo, mctext, who unlike me has managed to complete it. I have copied the clues below, and provide in each case the answer and such parsing as I can. Not sure I've seen a Times cryptic with not one single anagram in it before..

I am now in an extremely grumpy mood, because (a) I rather dislike the Ximenean rules, and (b) I am on record as having defended these vintage crosswords against their modern descendents. However this particular one seems to be a good piece of evidence for the prosecution. My normal habit when faced with really difficult grids is to do what I can, put them to one side and then come back to them later; repeat until completed. Unfortunately blogging duties prevent that today and I am much indebted to mc's help. I like to think I would have got there in the end, but I am feeling very far from 6dn at present






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



Across
1. A swipe at Lord’s is positively incandescent! (8) - BATSWING, a dd since it is a word to describe a gas flame: "a laterally spreading flame from a gas-jet" (OED) - but spelt with a hyphen
5. Look – now and then and up and down (6) - SEESAW, see + saw, fairly clear once you have the answer. Actually not a bad clue
9. To come to grips with the enemy again is very fruity (8) - GREENGAGE, ie (G)REENGAGE
10. Goody, goody, -- a cracker! (6) BONBON, a dd since a bonbon is also "a small parcel of sweets etc containing a fulminant, which explodes when pulled sharply at each end" - ie a cracker!
11. Interval music (8) - ENTRACTE, a dd since the word (which has come up here before, I think) means both an interval at the theatre, and also music played therein
12. Tailor’s assistant is much improved (8) - FITTER, as in outfitter [so the enumeration is wrong, should be (6)].. the junior who has to interact with the clientele to make final clothing adjustments
14. Calls a halt to the gate-crashers (10) - CHALLENGES. Just a cd, as far as I can see
18. Well, what else would this chap be? (10) - HUSBANDMAN. One of the clues I couldn't solve, hearty congrats to anyone who did!
22. Regretful comment of the inebriated on seeing the deer? (6) - WAPITI "Wha' a pity." Words fail me
23. Did the audience get all steamed up in it? (4-4) - SHOW-BOAT, a musical though in that case one word, no hyphen
24. A weeper’s the thing when it serves the purpose (6) - AVAILS, I think as in "a vale" (of tears)
25. “_____ is a great matter, I was a coward on ____” - INSTINCT. From Henry IV part 1. Been there, got the T-shirt... (8)
26. Line for a dowered bride? (6) DOTTED. Not exactly a dd, but a dot is, it transpires "A woman's marriage portion; the property which she brings with her, and of which the interest or annual income alone is under her husband's control"
27. So superlative, large size and incombustible (8) - ASBESTOS. = AS BEST + OS (outsize).

Down
1. Wager at the local? Very doggy! (6) - BARBET, a small curly-haired poodle
2. Implying free entertainment when it’s signed? (6) - TREATY ie treat-y
3. Flag-waving or head-shaking perhaps (3-3) - WIG-WAG. "To move lightly to and fro, to wag; esp. to wave a flag or other object to and fro in signalling" (OED)
4. The dark is deadly (10) - NIGHTSHADE, as in deadly N, so again just a cd really
6. Used the first person singular (8) - EGOTISED. "To talk or write in an egotistic way." The OED however has only egotiZed..
7. What boots it to bring about destruction? (8) - SABOTAGE. Presumably, because a sabot is a boot, a wooden shoe or clog.
8. A gale’s perpetually blowing on the river (8) - WINDRUSH. The Windrush is a Cotswold river, a tributary of the Thames
13. Requirement for nursery tea essential in adults (5,5) - CLEAN HANDS. Another clue I didn't get, and where really words fail. Essential they might be, but hardly universal.
15. What the gate-crasher can’t do (4-4) SHOW CARD, a cd.
16. Dead Sea fruit sapling? (3-5) ASH-PLANT. Dead Sea fruit, aka "Apple of Sodom," is defined as: "a fruit (now usually identified with that of the mudar, Calotropis procera (family Asclepiadaceae)) which, according to legend, appears tempting but dissolves into smoke and ashes when grasped." So a dd
17. The French make a day of it (8) - BASTILLE. So not Mercredi Vendredi or Dimanche as I confess I thought..!
19. What a bind for the dresser! (6) - SWATHE people can be swathed in something: "A band of linen, woollen, or other material in which something is enveloped." Though I haven't swathed lately.
20. Not that the cavalryman got the wind up! (6) - CORNET. A cornet is a cavalry rank, a junior officer. And an instrument of course, though not the one a cornet would have he would have had a bugle, if anything..
21. Keats saw many goodly ones on his travels (6) - STATES, and yes, probably you have seen this poem, or at least bits from it:

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by John Keats

Much have I traveled in the realms of gold
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
    Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise—
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Times 25,761 - Of Roods and Furlongs

75% of this is quite straightforward but the NE corner has a Mephostoish tang to it that may slow some down.

There's an old fashioned flavour to this puzzle which may also prove troublesome. 20 minutes to solve.


Across
1PAPER-CHASE - P(A-PERCH-AS)E; pole=rod=PERCH=Imperial land measurement=a quarter of a chain (about 5 metres);
6PATH - short for pathology - one for Thud;
9PICTORIALS - (social trip)*; the old Picture Post perhaps;
10SAGO - S(anti)AGO; "frogspawn" - memories of 1940-50s school dinners;
12MEETING,HOUSE - "heating mouse";
15NEWMARKET - NEW-MA-(trek)*; the centre of horse racing;
17SENNA - S(i)ENNA; a Gregory;
18USAGE - U-SAGE;
19TACTICIAN - sounds like "tack-Titian"; Hannibal perhaps;
20SUPERCHARGER - SUPER-CHARGER; the stripe down the side of a petrol head's car?;
24IONA - A-NO-1 reversed; Hebridean island;
25SNICKERING - S(NICKER)ING; NICKER=quid; grass=SING; a whole collection of old slang;
26GIST - G(r)IST;
27PROPITIATE - (irate pop)* surrounds IT; appeasing a god to curry favour;
 
Down
1PIPE - two meanings; a churchwarden is a type of pipe for smoking tobacco;
2PACT - P-ACT;
3RIO,DE,JANEIRO - R(I)ODE-JANE-IRO(n); Brazilian tourist trap;
4HOIST - HO(I)ST;
5SPLENETIC - (pose client - o)*; Victor Meldrew;
7AMANUENSIS - A-MAN-(uses in)*; Eric Fenby no doubt;
8HOOTENANNY - HOOT-E-NANNY; he's a HOOT=he's amusing; Hogmanay, Burns Night, etc;
11CHASTISEMENT - C(HAS-SIT reversed)EMENT; spare the rod and spoil the child - a saying the older generation will recognise;
13ANGUISHING - (L)ANGUISHING;
14SWEAT,PANTS - S(WE)AT-P-ANTS; tracky daks;
16KITCHENER - more eager=KEENER then replace (warfar)E by ITCH; WW1 poster pin-up;
21RECAP - R(EC)AP;
22DIVA - DIVA(n);
23AGUE - (pl)AGUE;

Quick Cryptic no 27 by Flamande

Some good clues here so I quite enjoyed myself. This doesn't seem like a Quick breeze as there's good surfaces and quite a lot of play in the word play. I usually struggle with flowers (the ones with petals rather than the rivers) but at least it was an anagram. The scientist I knew so don't know why it took some time to get the answer from pretty clear word play. Flamande does seem to enjoy double definitions.

The definition/'whole thing'/'concise clue' is underlined. The word or phrase which indicates an anagram is shown as (anagrind) and the words of the  anagram (anag).

Across
1 Take Flight - To escape, go by plane - double definition.
8 Bag Lady - Homeless woman happy (GLAD) to settle in (inside) alcove (BAY).
9 Reads - Studies concerning (RE) publicity (ADS).
10 Task - After very little time (T), beg for (ASK) some work.
11 Camellia - This person (ME) cuts (inside) variety (anagrind) of lilac (anag), a flowering shrub - in the family Theaceae - maybe this is why I don't like plant clues - too many vowels.
13 Tracer - One eventually finds (someone who traces) a kind of bullet - double definition.
14 Yellow - Shout (YELL) ouch (OW), being cowardly.
17 Well Done - My (WELL as in 'My! Cryptic crosswords are fun!') teacher (DON), first to express (E) words for encouragement.
19 Mail - Letters man read aloud (MAIL sounds like male).
21 Lathe - Machine produces articles for use on both sides of the channel (LA en France, THE in UK).
22 Brownie - Cake for future Guide? - double definition.
23 Rutherford - Scientist's dull routine (RUT): woman's (HER) cross (FORD)! Father of nuclear physics and a great experimentalist - would maybe have appreciated our efforts to fine tune these blog formats.

Down
2 Augusta - Distinguished (AUGUST) area (A) in US city. At the recent Master's tournament, a friend of our non-skiing son - Matt Fitzpatrick - did really well but sadly missed the cut by a single shot.
3 Exam - Test now in the afternoon? If it is no longer (EX) morning (AM) then it must be now in the afternoon. Nice clue!
4 Layman - Amateur needed by pLAY MANager. The answer is in the clue - needed in the sense that the letters layman are needed to make play manager rather than pager.
5 Gardener - Forest (ARDEN) kept by (inside) German (GER) horticulturalist. It's easy to start with, to think that cryptic clues have answers you've never heard of - how many German horticulturalists do you know? But more often than not the setter is fooling you with a clever surface which needs to be looked through to find a simpler word like gardener.
6 Trail - Track advertisement for future program - double definition. Can a trail (rather than a trailer) be an advertisement? Is advertisement a verb?
7 Oscar Wilde - Writer so upset (OS) and angry (WILD) when taken into (inside) care (CARE).
8 Bath Towels - Wash bottle (anag) out (anagrind) and dry with these, after soaking - in the bath say.
12 Dead Beat - Lout is exhausted - double definition - we seem to be clocking these up - that's 5 so far.
15 Learner - Pupil left (L) to join person getting income (EARNER) - a nice twist as pupil in crosswords is usually L but here it's the definition.
16 Unable - Not fit, having polished off (anagrind) BUN with ALE (anag).
18 Later - Person working on roof (sLATER) loses head (minus the first letter) subsequently.
20 Loaf - Do very little to get bread - our final double definition making half a dozen in all. Nice follow on - 'to get bread' - from 'earner' above.

Times 25760 - Advantage UK!

Solving time: 65 minutes

Music: Malcolm Arnold, Symphony #2 and Eight English Dances, Groves/Bournemouth Symphony




My time was probably not that great, and I did have all but two answers inside of 45 minutes. I had not heard of 'Leighton Buzzard', but it should have been easily attainable from the cryptic; however, the 'L' in 'glider' looked like a 'C', and I didn't notice for quite a while. A UK solver would probably just write it in without thinking.

My last two were 'paintwork' and 'chocker'. I did suspect that 'coats' referred to coats of paint, but I was leaning towards an anagram of 'torn' in the middle. Then I had to laboriously get 'chocker' from the cryptic, not knowing this UK slang term. If it followed the logic of most UK slang, it would have been 'chockers', but then slang is never logical.

And since the hour is getting late, on to the blog.

Across
1MEDICATE, E[cstasy] + T[ime] + ACID + ME, all backwards.
5GLIDER, G(L)IDE + R.
10AWAIT, A + WAIT, a nice starter clue.
11APPOINTED, P.A. backwards + POINTED.
12BALLADEER, BALL + sounds like A DEAR.
13HINDU, backwards alternate letters in [s]U[d]D[e]N [w]I[s]H. The literal is not particularly accurate for Hinduism properly understood.
14LECTERN, LE(CT)ER + [take]N.
16SPORTY, anagram of TORY'S + P.
18TRY OUT, TR(Y)OUT.
20CABARET, CA(BARE)T, a hep cat one would imagine.
22ONE UP, double definition. I wasted a lot of time trying to lift and separate 'horse' and 'rider' before seeing the obvious.
23BRONZE AGE, BRO + NZ + EAGE[r]. The 'New Zealand' part gives the whole thing away.
25PAINTWORK, PA(IN TWO)RK. Simple, elegant, and very difficult here.
26A-LIST, er, well, that's the answer I wrote in from the literal and enumeration. It should be right, but I'd be much more confident if I had a clue how the cryptic works. It's [journ]ALIST, with Alec the first to the post, just nipping Janie by two minutes.
27REGALE, R[ain] + E GALE, where 'shower' has a less literal meaning.
28GRADUAND, GR(AD + U)AND. An inkhorn term easily gettable from the cryptic.
 
Down
1MEATBALL, MEA(T.B.A + L)L.
2DRAWL, hidden in [purchase]D RAW L[amb].
3COTTAGE HOSPITAL, COT + TAG + anagam of IS A HELP TO. An instant write-in for me, which shows I do sometimes pay attention and remember things.
4TRADE-IN, sounds like TRES DIN, hahaha! That'll show those bloggers who keep complaining about all the silly homophones.
6LEIGHTON BUZZARD, L(E)IGHT ON + BUZZ + A RD. I suppose that half of our UK brigade will report some connection with the place.
7DETONATOR, ROTA NOTED upside down.
8RADIUS, RADI[o] + U/S, just written in from the literal here.
9SPURNS, SPUR(N)S. I admit, I couldn't place the team, but the answer is obvious enough.
15CORNERING, CORN + [fugitiv]E + RING.
17ATTESTED, AT(TEST)ED, where the outer letters are an anagram of DATE. I carelessly wrote in ATESTTED, causing a bit of trouble for a while.
19TABOOS, TA + BOOS, which should have been easy, but wasn't.
20CHOCKER, CH + [l]OCKER, quite hard if you don't know the word.
21TOPPER, REP + POT upside down. I hesitated until I saw the required sense of 'pot', which is applied a bit metaphorically here.
24AVILA, A + VIL[l]A.

Quick Cryptic 26 by Grumpy

As at time of writing, the Quick Cryptic link from the Times site is incorrect - you can access it via http://feeds.thetimes.co.uk/timescrossword/20140414/127/

Looking at other Quicky blog posts, it seems as though people are warming to the idea of having the clue explicitly included rather than just available by hovering, so I'm returning to that practice for now. Definitions are underlined.

This was another good entry-level puzzle with no obscurities or convoluted wordplay. I must admit that I was worried that the Quickies would be awash with some of the simpler clue types in Crosswordland, such as anagrams, hidden answers, and strings of initial letters, so it's been a very pleasant surprise that these don't seem to be appearing any more frequently than in the main cryptic.

Across
1 Biscuit that's grand - a humorously vulgar one (9)
GARIBALDI - G (grand, as in the slang word for a thousand) + A + RIBALD (humorously vulgar) + I (one). A concoction of currants and biscuit dough that for some reason rarely features in anyone's top 100 favourite biscuits
6 Mischief maker well-off but oddly lacking (3)
ELF - even letters (oddly lacking) of wElL-oFf
8 Popular turn entertaining former partner? That's not quite right (7)
INEXACT - IN (popular) + ACT (turn, as in a star turn) around (entertaining) EX (former partner)
9 A bone to pick with children? (5)
ISSUE - double definition
10 Pole playing a part in television or theatre (5)
NORTH - hidden in televisioN OR THeatre
12 Young family making a mess (6)
LITTER - double definition, the first a reference to, say, a litter of puppies
14 Celeb must take novel he wrote (6,7)
SAMUEL BECKETT - anagram (novel) of CELEB MUST TAKE. Beckett's most famous work is probably "Waiting for Godot", originally written in French
16 Consternation when boy returns with girl (6)
DISMAY - SID (boy) reversed + MAY (girl)
17 Element in technical speech Jack ignored (5)
ARGON - jARGON (technical speech) without the J (Jack ignored, where J is an abbreviation for a jack from a pack of cards). Argon is quite a popular element in Crosswordland and is also encountered as its chemical symbol Ar
19 Heartless dame resides in Greek island and works as a programmer (5)
CODES - DE (Heartless dame, i.e. dame missing its interior letters) inside (resides in) COS (Greek island). In Crosswordland, cos can also be a lettuce, a mathematical function, or a Chief of Staff
20 Line taken by part of Europe or part of Africa (7)
LIBERIA - L (line) + IBERIA (part of Europe). Liberia has a unique history in Africa, being colonised by African Americans, many of whom were freed slaves. Its capital Monrovia was named after then-US president James Monroe, who had encouraged the founding of the colony.
22 Spoil a short month (3)
MAR - an abbreviation (short) for MARch
23 Damned business bigwig, highly regarded (9)
EXECRATED - EXEC (business bigwig) + RATED (highly regarded)


Down
1 Freedom of speech - blessing in disguise? (8)
GLIBNESS - anagram (in disguise) of BLESSING. The definition is slightly oblique. Almost the exact same clue was used in a Guardian Quiptic in December 2010
2 Old port or whisky (3)
RYE - double definition. Wikipedia tells me that Rye in East Sussex was an important sea port several hundred years ago, but environmental changes have since "moved" it a couple of miles inland
3 Self-assertive bachelor lacking prudence (5)
BRASH - B (bachelor, as in BA for Bachelor of Arts) + RASH (lacking prudence)
4 Hornblower as an infant down in the dumps (6,3,4)
LITTLE BOY BLUE - the definition refers to the nursery rhyme beginning "Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn". LITTLE BOY (infant) + BLUE (down in the dumps)
5 From the first it's daft - it's obvious that it's crazy (7)
IDIOTIC - the first letters (From the first) of It's Daft - It's Obvious That It's Crazy. I would probably call this an extended definition clue, as otherwise crazy is being used twice
6 Segregate nutty chocolate product (6,3)
EASTER EGG - anagram (nutty) of SEGREGATE
7 Release without charge (4)
FREE - double definition
11 Jogger carrying a cut-price book (9)
REMAINDER - REMINDER (Jogger, such as a memory jogger) around (carrying) A. Perhaps most often encountered in the phrase "remaindered book", a remainder is a book that isn't shifting copies and hence is sold at a low price in order to clear out the inventory
13 Normal colours (8)
STANDARD - double definition, the second referring to a flag (e.g. the Trooping of the Colour)
15 In a group coming from France (2,5)
EN MASSE - a thinly veiled cryptic definition, in the sense that en masse is French
17 Warning when first couple have left room (5)
AMBER - the definition refers to the amber signal on a traffic light. Remove the first two letters (first couple have left) of chAMBER (room)
18 Despicable people in dirty film? (4)
SCUM - double definition, the second referring to stuff floating on the surface of a liquid. I wouldn't have complained if the question mark had been omitted
21 Rocky outcrop stuck up? Nonsense! (3)
ROT - reversal (stuck up) of TOR (rocky outcrop)

Sunday Times 4584 (6 Apr 2014) by Dean Mayer

Solving Time: None recorded

I'm on holiday this week, and I struggled through this one over several sessions, before resorting to aids (my Dad) for 3d. There were a lot of comments on the forum about whether this was an acceptable clue or not, due to the obscurity of the answer. I didn't know it, but I have no complaints about it. If I objected to every word or phrase I hadn't heard of then I'd never get through a grid without one!

I did (and still do) have a problem with 5d though. This is issue was raised with the first comment on the forum and immediately answered by the editor (Thanks, PB). However, I still can't see how it works as it stands - 'as was masseur' to me implies that the massuer was kneaded, and that makes no sense.

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

Across
1COME + T
4MAN + I(FE)S + TO
9OS + CILLA + TEst
10LINE + N
11DOWN IN THE MOUTH - dd - I'm not convinced about 'Dicky' for a definition, but it clearly adds a lot to the surface, so I'll let it go.
13NICKNAME = NICK (jug, i.e. prison) + eNAMEl
15STERN + O
17TOMATO = TOTO (in this is completely, i.e. 'in toto') about MA (mum)
18TOMAHAWK = MA in (TO + HAWK)
20GOT NOWHERE FAST = (HE WAS FORGOTTEN)* - a neat anagram
23HYDRA - rev hidden
24ANDALUSIA = (U + LAD) rev in (ASIAN)*
25PUR(CHA)SER
26RUMMY - dd
Down
1COORDINATE = (DECORATION)* - another good anagram
2M(AC)AW
3TELL IT NOT IN GATH = (LITTLE)* + H about (NOTING + AT)* - I didn't know this phrase and I probably would have had to resort to aids if my Dad hadn't managed to dredge it up from somewhere.
4ME ANTI-ME - I rather liked this expression of self-loathing
5NEEDED = "KNEADED" - although surely it should be 'as did masseur' not 'as was masseur', the masseur will have been doing the kneading, not receiving it.
6FELLOW TRAVELLER = FELT (thought) + RAVELLER (one would snarl, i.e. tangle) all about LOW (dirty)
7SANATORIA = AIRS rev about (A + NATO)
8OINK = OK (so-so) about IN (home) - I liked the clever use of 'nursing home'
12ROCK-STEADY - a Spoonerism for STOCK READY (supply prepared)
14CA + MC + ORDER
16TOREADOR = TORE + A + ROD rev
19SW(E)ATS
21ASSAM = MASSA rev
22W + HIP

Mephisto 2797 - Tim Moorey

I found the last few of these (particularly the top left) rather difficult, though after ripping through the first half of it without a dictionary, I thought I was going to be in for an easy time. In the end I think I've got everything sorted out, and all the wordplay makes sense.

There's not as many unusual words in the grid, so maybe that's why there's a few more tricky wordplay elements.

Away we go...


Across
1SHWA: anagram (engineer) of WAS surrounding H(Hungary - IVR code)
4DEFERRAL: F(force),ERR(screw up) in DEAL(wood)
10PREMIER CRU: PREMIER(the first) then sounds like CREW
11RETAMA: A,MATER reversed
13U.N., A.U.
15NODDER: N for F in FODDER
16NUM(miners),ERIC(Irish blood-fine)
17Z,EROS
19GRILLROOM: R,ILL in GROOM
22SEA LAWYER: (WAY)* in LEASE,R
24L,EARN
25BIRETTA: B,(ATTIRE)* - ann all-in-one clue
27INCITE: IN then sounds like SIGHT
29STAB: BATS reversed
30UNLOAD: (ROUND)* surrounding (Apri)L
31DIGLADIATE: LAD,1 in DIG(lodge),ATE(upset)
32EYE TO EYE: TO(for) separating what sounds like AYE AYE
33ENID: DINE(r) reversed
 
Down
1SPRING(let off),A,L
2WETA: A,TEW reversed
3AMABEL: MAB(fairy Queen) in AE,L(Loch)
4DIMER: MI(same as ME in music) in RED reversed
5FRAN(Fanny),COLIN(quail)
6ECTOZOA: (A,ZOO,ETC)*
7RUN DRY: SUNDRY with R for S
8ARAEOMETER: (REMOTE,AREA)*
9(disco)LOUR
12ESURIENTLY: (US,ENTIRELY) - a word I expect most of us know from the Cheese Shop sketch... eee I were all 'ungry like
14MIRABELLE: (BEAR)* in MILLE
18STRANDED: RAND in STED
20LENT,I,GO
21FACADE: FA(b), then (DACE)*
23WELLIE: I presume this is W, then DELL computers without D, I.E. - is DELL an international brand?
26RONDE(l)
27ISLE: IS moved to the front in LEIS. Prince Edward is an island (and a province) in Canada, been there twice
28RO(m)AN

Times Jumbo 1084

I found this one on the tough side, though I did have several interruptions and distractions while I was solving it. What did others think? I may have been hampered by the number of sporting references!

As usual, * indicates an anagram.


Across
1 SO FAR SO GOOD - S, + OF A R, + SO (indicated by 'true', as in 'that is so'), + O in GOD
7 LOCUM TENENS - (men consult e)*
13 OUIJA - OUI + JA ('yes' in French and German)
14 INEXACT - I, + NEXT round AC. The definition is 'out'
15 HALF-CROWN - HAL, + FROWN round C
16 ESCHEWING - ES (ecstasy tablets) + CH + E WING (a prison could have an E WING)
17 GRUBBINESS - GRUB, + BusINESS
20 OVATION - O + VAT, + ON after I. Two cricket references in one clue: O is short for 'over' in the cricketing sense, and 'on' and 'leg' are apparently synonymous (don't ask me why...)
22 OCTETTE - etc (indicated by 'similar'; reversed) in OTT (over the top) + E
24 HOME RUN - cryptic indication, referring to baseball and its field or 'diamond'
25 BAKERLOO - BAKER ('producer of bloomers', i.e. bloomer loaves) + LOO
26 HOUSEHOLD NAMES - (one should shame)*
28 FIFTH - FincH, around I FT (one foot, = twelve inches)
29 LIBERO - hidden in 'bookstORE BILlboard', reversed. A footballing term
30 CLEAR AS MUD - CD, around (slum area)*. Writing data to a CD is 'burning' it
33 UNHAMPERED - UNE ('in paris, a') + banD, around HAM ('joint') + PER ('for')
35 PRIEST - PR (proportional representation) + Id EST
37 AHEAD - HE (He is the abbreviation for the light gas helium), in A + AD. The definition is 'up'
39 BOWLING AVERAGE - BOW, + (revealing a g)*
41 NEUTRINO - sounds like 'new tree know'
44 LEISTER - STERn after LEI. A LEISTER is a fishing spear
45 DRY CELL - (c + yr), reversed, in DELL
46 ICINESS - ICI (the company) + NESS
47 STEERFORTH - STEER, + FORTH which sounds like 'fourth'
49 MAGDALENA - MAG, + (a NE lad) reversed
53 CAMPER VAN - CAMPER ('more theatrical') + VAN ('front')
54 ORPHEAN - ORPHAN around housE
55 DEBAG - last letters of 'held captive', + BAG. The definition is 'Strip of cords', i.e. 'remove the trousers from'
56 SCISSOR KICK - SICK, around I SS in CORK
57 YOU DIRTY RAT - (try try audio)*

'
Down
1 SMOKE-BOMB - SMOKE (indicated by 'joint', as in cannabis cigarette) + BOMB (large amount of money)
2 FAIR CRACK OF THE WHIP - FAIR ('light') + CRACK OF THE WHIP ('humour from Parliamentarian')
3 READE - REmADE
4 OPINION POLL - PI, in (pool in London)*
5 OVERGROW - O + VERGe + ROW
6 DRAUGHTBOARD - DRAUGHT + BOARD
7 LITMUS TEST - hidden in 'TriaL IT MUST ESTablish'
8 COHAB - alternate letters of 'brash coach', reversed
9 MELANCHOLIA - (in hall came)* around O
10 EXCISEMAN - NAMES ICE, around X, all reversed
11 EBON - last letters of 'ensemble club to retain'. 'Linesman' here indicates a poet
12 SINK - sounds like 'sync', indicated by 'cause to work with another'. The definition is 'Founder', i.e. sink like a ship
18 I REMEMBER I REMEMBER - IRE MEMBER, twice in succession. It's the first line of a poem by Thomas Hood
19 ONE-SIDED - ONE (indicated by 'I') + SIDE (indicated by 'camp', in the sense of 'faction') + December
21 IBRAHIM - lIBRA + HI + M
23 ETHELRED - ET, + HELD around RE
27 OBSERVED - jOB + SERVED. The definition is 'with witnesses'
28 FOURBALL - FURBALL around Open
31 ACANTHI - ANT in A CH, + I
32 TRIGGER-HAPPY - TRIGGER ('generate') + HAPPY ('content') - 'piece' here indicates a weapon
34 EAGER BEAVER - EVER, around (a g beer)* + A
36 THE KING AND I - cryptic indication (the middle two letters of 'skit' are K and I)
38 PRAYER-BOOK - (opera by Lehar)* + OK
40 IN TATTERS - NATTERS {'gases') around T, after I. Nice bit of misdirection - 'sewer' here indicates 'someone who sews'
42 ONSLAUGHT - ON ('possible'), + LAUGH in ST
43 FLAMBEAU - F + Lady + AM BEAU
48FUNGI - FUN + GI
50 AUDIT - plAUDIT
51 ACTS - Cats (the musical), with the first two letters reversed
52 IMPI - MP ('member returned') surrounded by II

Saturday Times 25753 (5th April)

Solving time 16:15, which rang a bell, and yes it was indeed exactly the same time as last week's, to the second. Apologies that this is brief but I'm writing this on Friday morning (before 7am) as I'm off for the weekend shortly afterwards and won't be back till Saturday night. Only thing I can say about this puzzle is that there seemed to be an awful lot of container-and-contents clues compared to usual.




Across
1 SPIGOT - SPIT (image) around GO (fit). Def: plug.
5 SEDIMENT - SENT (ecstatic) around DIME (bit of money). Def: settled matter.
9 MAIDENHAIR - (ahead in)* inside RIM reversed (westward border). Def: fern.
10 WAVE - sounds like "waive" (surrender). Def: signal.
11 MORIBUND - RIB (chaff) inside MOUND (heap). Def: on the way out.
12 SADDLE - SAD (down) + D(a)LE (valley, dropping A). Def: load.
13 APSE - S (last letter of business) inside APE (take off). Def: recess.
15 NAVIGATE - GATE (barrier) next to IVAN reversed (tsar in revolution). Def: direct.
18 PRESSURE - PURE (good) around [RE (on) + S(outh) + S(mall)]. Def: force.
19 OPEN - O (round) + PEN (enclosure). Def: spread out.
21 AFFECT - CT (court) after GAFFE (blunder) minus the G for good. Def: influence.
23 EVIDENCE - DEN (hole) inside DEVICE (scheme) minus the first letter. Def: support.
25 FLAG - double definition.
26 PROGENITOR - (ignore port)*. Def: founder.
27 SOBRIETY - SOY (sauce) around [BRIE (cheese) + T(omato)]. Def: serious quality.
28 DOTING - NIT reversed (fool back) inside DOG (trouble). Def: indulgent.

Down
2 PIANO - AN (article) underneath I (current), all inside PO (river). Def: soft.
3 GODLINESS - D(emocrat) + LINE (policy), all inside GOSS (chitchat). Def: piety.
4 TONGUE - G(l)UE (stick without L for length) following TON (fashion). Def: speech.
5 STAND ON CEREMONY - (censor may not end)*. Def: act formally.
6 DERISIVE - SIRE reversed (upset father) inside DIVE (disreputable bar). Def: taunting.
7 MOWED - MO (second) + WED (link). Def: cut.
8 NOVELETTE - V (see, short for Latin vide) + E(nglish) + LETTE(r) (character, without the R for right), all after NO (refusal). Def: romance?
14 PORTFOLIO - PORT (wine) + F(ine) + OLIO (mixture). Def: case.
16 GEODESIST - (to see digs)*. Def: surveyor.
17 MULTIPLE - MULE (cross) around [L(arge) + TIP (gratuity)]. Def: many.
20 BIG END - GEN (information) inside BID (order). Def: part of engine.
22 EAGER - hidden in "Bronze Age reconstruction". Def: anxious.
24 CROWN - CROW (boast) + N(ew). Def: honour.

Quick Cryptic 25 by Rongo

After finding last week’s crossword (number 20) via the timesonline link, at a little past midnight this morning, I did the old switcheroo with the dates, and finished Rongo’s puzzle in 34 minutes. Good fun, with only one bit of general knowledge unknown to me, but then I only ever get composers of opera from wordplay! I had trouble with the definition at 10dn and 13ac, and was especially stalled by 23ac - my last one in. Clue of the day: 3dn for misdirection.

I plan to follow Ian et al. by including the clues verbatim with the definitions underlined, but have not yet responded to his kind offer of a template. Where I have mentioned definitions they are underlined.


Across
1 CARAPACE - protective casing is A + PACE (speed of running) behind CAR (vehicle). I think I learnt the following trick on this blog, so forgive the plagiarism, but if the clue starts with “A”, it is a good bet that the letter is part of the wordplay (since, if part of the definition, it could be omitted whilst not changing the meaning, making it superfluous/disallowed).
5 HALT - L (line) crossed by HAT (boater, say) gives finish.
8 MANGO - one may find this in a pickle: MAN (fellow) + GO (dynamism).
9 ROSSINI - an anagram of SIR IS NO (indicated by “unfortunately”) for a composer of operas.
11 ASH - AS (equally) + H (hot) = residue from fire.
12 INEBRIATE - some of (hidden in) lET AIR BE NIcotine-filled, after turning is drunk. Both definition and answer should be taken as nouns, as in “drunkard”.
13 SUNBED - cryptic definition, i.e. where you might lie to hide your true colours.
15 BAZAAR - R (resistance) after BAA (sheepish comment) surrounding AZ (Arizona) for foreign market.
18 PARSONAGE - PAGE (errand-boy) with ARSON (crime of burning) inside gives a churchman’s house.
19 BID - offer = B (British) + ID (identity).
20 REAR END - REA is most of “real” (actual) + REND (tear) gives the bump from behind.
21 ALGAE - even letters from eArLy GrAvEs may be what produce blooms in water.
22 YEAR - YEARn (to long, without the end) is some time.
23 DEFLATED - not entirely sure about the wordplay here. I can see FLAT (airless tyre) in the middle of (interrupting) DEED (action), but don’t understand the definition. Is it another cryptic definition that I’ve missed?

Down
1 COMPASS - COMP (competition) + ASS (fool) is a tool to find one’s bearings.
2 RANCH - RAN (managed) + CH (church) and a large farm.
3 PROFITEROLE - PROFIT (goal for capitalist) + E (European) + ROLE (job). A small sweet, unless served in a gigantic pile, as I prefer.
4 CURFEW - FEW (not many) underneath (supporting) CUR (dog, as in scoundrel) for travel restriction.
6 ALI BABA - A LIB (liberal) + A BA (Bachelor of Arts, an arts graduate) gives you the Arabian hero.
7 TWINE - string from Theory + WIN (success) on E (energy).
10 SURFACE MAIL - SURF (waves) + anagram of CAME (indicated by breaking) + AIL (trouble) for any delivery not sent by air.
14 NIRVANA - the ideal state comes from VAN (covered vehicle) in an anagram of RAIN (indicated by stormy).
16 REDHEAD - RED (revolutionary) + HEAD (leader). I have been to see the embalmed body of Lenin in Red Square, but failed to notice that he had red hair. At the time, his ear had fallen off, so I may have been slightly distracted. Or did the setter mean Red Head?
17 PADDLE - PAD (soft footstep) + anagram of LED (indicated by off), gives to walk in shallow water.
18 PERKY - after PERK (fringe benefit), You’re = cheerful.
19 BEGET - to father is to BEG (request formally) + ET (and in Latin).

Times 25758

Solving time: 43:18

A couple of unknowns for me in SUPERCARGO & SURCEASE, but both were gettable from the wordplay.

I'm still blogging from holiday, so I'll keep the preamble brief and move on to the clues.

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

Across
1SH + TICK
4CORSICAN = (OR + SIC) in CAN (preserved) - I saw OR and thought this was going to be some sort of PORCINE derivative, relating to Animal Farm, but no.
10PENDULOUS = (DULSE UPON)*
11UTTER - dd
12RE(C(A + PIT)U)LATION
14ALLOT = ALL + TO rev
16PASSENGER = PAGER about NESS rev
18GIRL POWER = GI (recruit) + (PROWLER)*
20PANEL - dd
21PEROXIDE BLONDE - cd
25RHINO - dd
26GASTROPUB = GAB (talk) about STROP (a bad mood) + menU - I took me a while to see the wordplay as I found it hard to move away from GAS being the 'talk'.
27PIT-A-PATS = PIT (mine) + APT (fitting) about A + Sink
28POLYPS = SPY + LOP all rev
Down
1SUPERCARGO = (SPRUCE)* + ARGO (ship)
2TONIC = I in TON/C (two hundreds)
3CRUMPET - dd
5OUSE + L
6SCUTTLE - dd
7COTTON GIN = (IT CaNNOT GO)*)
8NORM - presumably 'lack of service' implies NO R.M., although which service RM is is anyone's guess. The postal service (Royal Mail) perhaps, or the armed services (Royal Marines). Actually, now I think about it, it's probably room service.
9SOUTH + PAW - Lord North, who was PM from 1770 - 1782, is something of a crossword stalwart.
13TROLLEYBUS = BYE (extra, in cricket) rev in (TROLL + US)
15LARCENIST = (CLARINETS)*
17SURCEASE = (CASE)* in SURE - an archaic word that I had to get from the wordplay, but hence 'old-fashioned' in the clue.
19P(HOT)OOP
20PALER + MO
22INGOT - hidden
23NIPPY - dd
24DRIP - dd
Solving time : 15:26, and I'm currently fourth on the leaderboard, so I think I was just a little off on the wavelength here. Though there's one that I can't figure out the wordplay for right now, thankfully it's near the end of the list so hopefully it will come to me.

I suspect there'll be some scorching times from those that pick up on the definitions, with a lot of long entries where the definition stands out in the clue, you could complete most of the puzzle that way. I had a few I needed the wordplay for, particularly 14 down, where I initially played the "let's go by definition alone" game and put in CARILLION.

Away we go...

Across
1DELICATESSEN: ESSEN next to (CITADEL)*
9WORST: hidden
10REAR-LIGHT: EARL in RIGHT, and the estate is the setter's favorite car
11RELIABLE: ELI in RABBLE missing one B
12INBRED: sounds like IN BREAD. Having lived in both Tasmania and North Carolina, I'm used to this having a more sinister meaning
13PREACHER: P then CHE in REAR
15KIDNEY: KID then YEN reversed, I think we've had this definition of KIDNEY recently
17ENTOMB: MB(GP) after (NOTE)*
18COVETING: COVERING with T for R
20FINNAN: INN in FAN got this from wordplay, it's a type of smoked haddock
21PROSPERO: S in PROPER, 0 - the duke from "The Tempest"
24CONTINENT: CONTE(story), NT(New Testament) surrounding IN
25(d)OVER,T
26PERSISTENTLY: (STYLE,PINTER)*
 
Down
1DEWDROP: WED reversed, then DROP(shed)
2LORD LIEUTENANT: LORD(noble), TENANT(lessee) surrounding LIEU(place)
3C,OTT,A: another one from wordplay, a surplice
4THRILLER: RILL(runner), in THE,R
5SPAT: double def
6EGLANTINE: EG, then ANT in LINE(cable, as in "drop me a line")
7AGGRANDISEMENT: anagram of DEIGN and GREAT MAN'S
8STODGY: DG(Director General - old BBC boss) in S,TOY
14CAMP,A,NILE
16SOCRATES: I liked this double container clue - RAT in CE in SOS
17EFFACE: all six letters are musical notes
19G,HOST,L(oft)Y
22SCONE: this was my last in and I was convinced I was going to be incorrect. I'd never heard of the Stone of Scone
23MESS: double def

Times Quick Cryptic No 24 by Felix

Morning all.

Time: 13 minutes

Thought this was a bit on the tricky side, with a couple of clues that wouldn't have been out of place in a 15 x 15 puzzle.

</tr>
Across
1 JACKAL - JACK (Knave) + A + L (large)- definition is 'wild dog'.
4 WASH - Definition is Bath, the remainder is a cryptic definition if the bath is now cold it was hot, or in short?
9 TREASURER - The definition here is 'official'. An anagram, indicated by corruption, of U (initially under) + ARREST and then add ER (Queen).
10 IVY - I (one) + V (very) + Y (slowly in the end) and the definition is "What can creep".
11 STANDING JOKE - A cryptic definition implying that what may make you smile, is something that is the opposite of lying down. The question amrk at the end tells you something unusual is going on.
13 QUALMS - Q (question) + U (universal) + ALMS (charity) with a definition of "misgivings".
15 STIFLE - Definition here is 'gag' and it's an anagram (out) of IS LEFT
17 ALL AND SUNDRY - Think this is quite tough. An expression meaning 'everyone in'. AL (middle of gale) + LANDS (GETS)
UNDRY (wet?, again note the question mark telling you something's a bit unusual here!)
20 EON - Take the first three letters of a four-letter word for Christmas (indicated by almost) NOE(L) and reverse it (back) to give a word meaning a long time
21 ECONOMIZE - An anagram (unusually) of ZOE and INCOME gives a word that means the same as the verb 'to husband'.
22 PAYS - Hidden backwards (indicated by 'back' and 'somewhat' inside UNEASY APPARENTLY
23 SKINNY - SKY (Satellite TV) with INN (pub) inside gives a way of describing someone in need of a proper feed.

Down
1 JUTE - The name for an old Germanic person is made up of a word meaning to project (JUT) + E (energy).
2 CLEFT - C (conservative) + LEFT (Labour) gives a word meaning split.
3 ABSENT-MINDED - Definiton is an expression meaning to be miles away. A standard crossword abbreviation of a sailor (AB) + dispatched (SENT) + tended (MINDED).
5 A BIT OFF - Two definitions for the same expression. A slight reduction and what something is to taste bad.
6 HAY FEVER - Another cryptic definition. The name of a Noel Coward play is a condition that requires you to use a hanky (and a nasal spray!)
7 MR BIG - A slang name for an important person in an organisation is RB (R&B) inside MIG (Russian plane).
8 BRIGHTON ROCK - The name of a famous book (by Graham Greene) and a film (starring Dickie Attenborough) is BRIGHT (illuminating) + ON (about) + ROCK (pop music).
12 SQUARE UP - Definition here is 'prepare, perhaps to scrap' with SQUARE (old hat) + UP (finished).
14 APLENTY - An anagram (affected) of PENALTY gives the definition of 'score' as in numerals.
16 ASCOT - AS (like) + COT (somewhere to sleep) gives the definition of a Berkshire town.
18 REIGN - A homophone (we hear) of a word meaning a type of bad weather means to prevail.
19 SEXY - X (a kiss) inside the word we use for consent, and reversed gives a word meaning seductive


Thanks to our setter for a stern challenge today.

Times 25756: Oofed

Solving time: Untimed, but not easy

Part of the reason is that I recently heard of the “passing” of a dear friend and neighbour. And, as a fellow Scouser, I have to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at his funeral on Friday. Imagine! So I’ll give the answers I have; and leave some of the parsings to my TfT mates.

We have bad days? No?

Alec

Across

1. WELSH HARP. Well sharp? But then what?

6. MACAW. MA (old lady) with L (large) taken from “claw” (talon).

9. ON ANOTHER PLANET. O (old) NAN (granny); OTT (exaggerated) around HER PLANE.

10. POKIER. PIER (seaside attraction) inc OK (fair).

11. SKITTLED. SKI (runner) & TITLED (named) minus I/1

13. CON,FIGURED.

14. DIVA. A VID{eo} reversed.

16. NULL. Bits of “locaL hospitaL yoU gleaN” in reverse. (I don’t want to think about hospitals right now.)

17. UZBEKISTAN. Anagram of “bunk-size” inc TA.

19. AS LONG AS. Not sure about this. The last AS is “A Second”. And the def is “provided”. Need help.
See Ulaca's comment.

20. CEREAL. “C{rat}E”, REAL (concrete).

23. SIGN OF THE ZODIAC. Anagram: good citizen has F (fine).

24. SATIE. SA (sex appeal), TIE (couple, verb).

25. RAZOR EDGE. No idea at all!
See Ulaca's comment. But (with Jim) I'm still not sure this works.

Down

1. WHOOP. W (wide), HOOP (wheel).

2. LEAD KINDLY LIGHT. LAD (boy) inc E (English) & KINDLY LIGHT (polite request to settle).

3. HOOKED IN. HOOK is the pirate. Then I’m lost again.
= HOOKED IT. See Ulaca's comment.

4. ASHY. A (area) & SHY (throw).

5. PARK KEEPER. PARK (put on ice), KEEPER (our sportsperson).

6. MULCTS. Horrible word. Included reversed.

7. CANDLE IN THE WIND. Charade. Another funereal song.

8. WITHDRAWN. WIT (comedian), H, DRAWN.

12. QUIZ,MASTER. “Pump” = quiz (verb).

13. CANVASSES. CAN, V, ASSES{s}.

15.FIRE DOOR. I, REDO, in FOR.

18. IN JOKE.Go figure this CD.

21. LUCRE. {h}ercul{e} reversed.

22. METZ. Hom for the MET’s.

Today I need a crossword blog like a hole in the head. And my neurosurgeon says I do actually need one!

Quick Cryptic 23 by Hurley

I thought this was a good Quickie with a mix of some relatively straightforward clues to give a way in, and some trickier ones that were quite challenging. One piece of obscure (at least to me) vocabulary involved at 15 down, and one clue I thought was a bit dodgy (see further 20 ac): other than that, a very enjoyable puzzle and thanks to the setter - it must be hard getting the balance right in terms of "degree of difficulty".

I'm afraid I have not yet worked out how to present the clues (whether by hover or otherwise) without totally stuffing up the remainder of the formatting of the template I am working with, so apologies for that. HTML code (well, any code come to that) is a dark art as far as I am concerned, roughly on a par with bagpipe manufacturing. I will seek assistance for next time...

</tr>
Across
1 HOSTELRY -"Pub" provides the definition. The wordplay also providing the answer is HOST (from "lots of people"), EL ("the" in "Spanish"), and RY (standard abbreviation for "railway").
5 ITCH -"Causes discomfort" gives the definition. The wordplay giving the alternative route to the answer is HITCH (from "temporary difficulty") without its initial H ("heading off").
8 SLATE -Double definition - the verb "to slate" meaning to criticise, and slate (noun) also being a (very expensive these days) type of roofing.
9 REALISM -"Practical approach" is our definition. The wordplay is IS which is "covered by" REALM ("field of study").
11 INTELLIGENT -One of the more complex ones, although plenty of cross checkers emerged to assist with it if you were able to get the first few Down clues. "Bright" is the definition. The answer is also built from IN ("popular") then TELL ("instruct") with GENT ("man"). The "I" before gent is a scientific abbreviation for "electric current". Distant memories of the law as handed down by that nice Mr. Ohm being V=IR or something like that (never understood the concept but hey, it does not seem to have ruined my life...)
13 PRELIM -"early race" is the definition (prelim being a kind of heat in some sports events). The wordplay is MILER ("athlete") reversed ("recalled") to give RELIM "after" P (being standard abbreviation for "pressure").
14 BESTOW - "Present gift" gives our definition. The wordplay is BE (BROWNIE disheartened - i.e. with the "heart" of the word being removed) with STOW ("pack").
17 TERRITORIAL -"Its descriptive of army" is the definition - which might not resonate outside UK as I believe in many other countries what the Brits call the Territorial Army is referred to as "reservists" (or similar). The wordplay is TRIAL ("test") with the letters of "rioter" being mixed in ("participates") to provide the answer.
20 INNINGS -Unless I'm missing something, I thought this was a bit iffy as a clue. It's a loose kind of double cryptic, as I see it. "Lord's action" points us to cricketing activity on the hallowed turf in St. John's Wood. In some formats of the game (e.g. county championship and test matches) there are indeed "four" innings. However (and here's my gripe) a lot of cricket matches - including many played at Lord's - are confined to two innings (one day matches and T20s). OK, I know there's a question mark at the end to denote some kind of latitude might be called for, but I did not like this.
21 HEAVE - LOI as I was a bit uncertain about the full parsing with "specified direction", but subsequent checking indicates that all is OK. "Move in specified direction" is, apparently, one of the specific meanings of "heave" (particularly in nautical usage). The answer is also derived from "bliss (endless)" being HEAVEN without its end (N).
22 STEW -"Difficult situation" gives our definition (as in "in a bit of a stew"), and the answer is also WETS ("moderates") backwards ("setback"). A throwback to the Thatcher era...
23 INTEREST -"Financial stake" is the definition bit. The answer is also found "in" the phrase "SLAINTE RESTAURANT".
Down
1 HISS -"sound of disapproval" gives our definition. The wordplay is HIS ("guy's" - possessive) with the additional S coming as an abbreviation of "singular".
2 SEASIDE -"Blackpool" points us towards the "seaside", with the answer being constructed from sounds like ("Reportedly") SEE ("watch") SIDE ("team").
3 ELECTRICIAN -"Tradesman" is the definition, with the answer being an anagram (signalled by "moved") of "Nice article".
4 RARELY -"Seldom" provides the definition. The wordplay is "artist" (giving RA - a frequently used device in crosswordland) combined with ("meeting") RELY ("bank" - as in bank on).
6 TRITE -"Hackneyed" gives the definition. The wordplay is RITE ("procedure") preceded by T (standard abbreviation for "time").
7 HOME-TOWN -Tricky one, I thought - held me up for a fair while. "starting point" is the primary indicator of the answer (I hesitate to say "definition"), with the wordplay being HO (abbreviation of "house") MET (as in London's very own boys in blue - and I'm not referring to Chelsea...) and OWN ("have").
10 ABIDE WITH ME -"Hymn" is the definition (or maybe that should be "exemplar"?) with the letters of "hit" being mixed up ("newly") and mixed in ("associated") with the letters of "web media" to produce the anagram answer. Traditionally sung before the FA Cup Final since 1927, apparently because it was a fave of George V (who was attending the match that year) and no one has seen fit to remove it from the sacred rituals of cup final day since.
12 UPSTAIRS -Another relatively complex construction. "at higher level" provides the definition. The answer is also constructed from P ("quiet"- musical abbreviation) with ST (abbreviation of "street") and AIR ("ambience") with the whole lot being surrounded by ("in") US (i.e. America). Phew...
15 TILLAGE -Tillage, apparently, is the practice (or art) of "raising crops". Thankfully, the answer can also be derived from the wordplay of "up to" (giving us TILL) with AGE ("specific period"- as in the Bronze Age). Must admit I lived for many years in rural Somerset and never once heard this word - neither do I recall it from any of Adge Cutler's lyrics (my other reference source for agricultural terminology...)
16 COUSIN -"Relative" is the definition, with the answer also being derived from COIN ("money") including ("keep") US.
18 RANGE -Double definition kind of clue. Mountain range and cooking range.
19 LEFT -Another straightforward double definition. Left luggage and sailor's term for left side.

Times 25755

15:52 on the Club timer. It's always hard to tell if you've been especially fast or slow at this time of night (currently 2nd of only 4 solvers, so not much to give a comparison), but that time felt about right for a nice solve, with some well-disguised definitions and always elegant surfaces. One of those puzzles where an early Q and Z made me half-look for a pangram, but the V and X never showed up. Required general knowledge along the usual lines: a songbird, some music, the Bible, and a little bit of (Irish) politics, ladies and gentlemen.

Across
1ALLOCATE - (CO.)rev. in ALL, ATE.
5OPAQUE - Old, P.A., QUE("that" in French).
10DUNNO - Name x 2 in DUO.
11NEFARIOUS - (ResistanceNOUSEIFA)*.
12TAOISEACH - TAOISM, EACH. The Prime Minister out to the West, as in Ireland; literally "the chief". Watch out also for the deputy PM, the Tánaiste.
13OGLER - lOnGcLuEoR.
14OFFLOAD - (FOOLDAFT)*.
16NEARBY - NEAR("stingy"), BY("times"). Given our continuing economic travails, perhaps this could replace "You've never had it so good" as the motto for future governments.
18SELDOM - Disease in (MOLES)rev. "Plants" as in the moles placed by an intelligence service.
20CAPITAL - CAP(as in the verb, "better"), ITALy.
22OLDIE - SOLDIER minus his first and last letters. Not sure how far back in the history of cinema you have to go for a film to be officially an "oldie", but the forties would certainly do it.
23BAMBOOZLE - Book, (MA)rev., Left in BOOZE.
25LEASTWAYS - [ST., WAY] in LEAS.
26OPINE - 0, PINE.
27THEORY - (EH?)rev. in TORY. Since puzzles are prepared well in advance of publication, this must be coincidence, and in no way a comment on the second home arrangements of any particular MP whose expenses may be currently under scrutiny in the press...
28BOUNDERS - UNDER in (SOB)rev.
 
Down
1ADDITION - ADDICTION minus the Cape.
2LINGO - Large, IN, GO.
3CROSSWORD SETTER - SET in (WORSTRECORDS)* with the unusually brief - and self-referential - definition "me".
4TANKARD - ANKARA, the old city minus its concluding A, inside T.D., the Irish equivalent of M.P. Short for Teachta Dála.
6PERSONAL PRONOUN - ON O.R.("about men", as in the Other Ranks) inside PERSONAL ("offensive") PUN; and another tiny definition - "us, possibly" for a long clue.
7QUODLIBET - (QUITEBOLD)*.
8ENSURE - Republican in ENSUE.
9AFGHAN - GrowtH inside A FAN.
15FIELDFARE - FIELD("competition"), FARE("manage").
17BLUENESS - BLUE("unhappy"), NESS("point").
19MOB CAP - (COMB)*, (PA)rev. If you picture the traditional Victorian serving-wench, this is probably the sort of headwear she'd be wearing. Not that I spend my time imagining Victorian serving-wenches, honest.
20COMES TO - COME("show up") on STOP minus the Pressure; initially hard-to-spot definition in "makes", as in "adds up to".
21JOB LOT - where one sort of JOB LOT might be the characters in that particular book of the Old Testament.
24ZAIRE - Z(mathematical unknown), [1 in (ERA)rev.] "Once" because this is the former name of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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