Log in

Times 26620 - 11 drinks later...

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

Away we go...

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

Times 26619 - put that in and smoke it.

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

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

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

Quick Cryptic 742 by Hawthorn

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Cryptic 741 by Pedro

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


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


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

Times 26618

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

Read more...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 740 by Joker

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

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

Here"s my blog...Collapse )

Times Cryptic 26617 Link

Due to a problem at the Times last week, today's 15x15 puzzle #26617 was posted last Thursday in the Crossword Club as puzzle #26614, blogged accordingly by z8, our blogger on duty, and commented on by a large number of TftT contributors. The error was rectified on the Times site later but the TftT blog and comments remained in place. The puzzle has appeared again today so some of us are without our daily fix, however those who wish to read the blog and comment can do so here.

This posting is for information only. 
A middle of the road puzzle to start the New Year with no less than eight full anagrams. We appear to have clue padding at 6D, which works perfectly well without the questionable word. At 7D we appear to have a river renamed since whilst the river in question causes amnesia I cant find support for it being called Amnesia. If it catches on this process could be fun - the River Chopper perhaps?

1LASSIE - L(ASS)IE; lean=LIE; girl from The Great Glen;
10PLUTOCRAT - PLUTO-C-RAT; somebody with power aquired through riches;
12TRAITORHOOD - (radio tho rot)*; WW2 traitor William Joyce being the most famous;
13APR - A-PR; Annualized Percentage Rate - what it costs to borrow;
16MANNA - M(elon)-ANNA; honeydew is definition;
17THE,RISE,OF - (here its of)*; more than in Maine;
18ERNES - SEE reversed contains RN;
19IGNORES - (regions)*; Daily Telegraph clue;
21MADRASA - MAD-RAS-A; prince=RAS; a Muslim college;
22INERT - hidden reversed (thg)IN-ERT(aeht);
24PRINCESSE - (press nice)*; a dress in Dijon;
28COT - C(l)OT; but=without; the Malbec grape is also known in France as COT;
29AMELIORATED - (ode material)*;
31INDECENCY - autonomy=inde(p-end)ency then change p=positive and end=close to C=Charlie (phonetic alphabet);
32SNUDGE - (mes)S-NUDGE; fine=end; hunks=miser=SNUDGE;
33LENTIL - LENT-IL; Israel=IL;
1L-PLATE - LP-LATE; LP=Lord Provost;
3STAB - S-TAB; pill=TAB(let); pink=slang for STAB;
4ECTASIS - (s)ECT-AS-IS; unnatural stretch;
5CRONE - CR-ONE; crown=CR;
6HARMONICA - (chairman)* surrounds O=old; club=anagrind; "military" appears to be padding; a HARMONICA is a musical instrument made of bowls filled with different amounts of water that are made to resonate to produce notes made famous by Benjamin Franklin in the 1760s;
7ETH - (L)ETH(e); the river Lethe is the mythical river in Hades known as the river of forgetfulness. Not my field but Ive never heard it called River Amnesia - coming this way soon perhaps the River Chamberpot amongst others?
8E,CONVERSO - (ones cover)*; Latin tag;
9DEDANS - saloons=sedans then change s to D=Germany; spectators at tennis game;
11CONCRESCENT - CONC-RE-SCENT; becoming one is the definition;
14PHRASEMAN - (sharp name)*;
15DISARMING - (said)*-R(M)ING; ignore the capital in the definition=Winsome;
20GANGREL - GANG-REL; related=REL; child starting to walk in Whins of Milton;
23TETRYL - TE(TRY)L; Arabic rising=TEL; explosive used as a detonator;
25IMODE - I'M-(n)ODE;
27STEN - NETS reversed;
30LID - (O)-LID; a tile;

Sunday Times 4727 by Jeff Pearce

An enjoyable puzzle, not too stretching which was probably a good thing as I tackled it whilst nursing both a hangover and a dancing injury incurred during the previous night's revelry.

A couple of unknowns from the animal kingdom, but both came with generous wordplay so they did not cause me too much grief. And then there was the high ranking Catholic who eventually revealed himself thanks to there being enough cross checkers that it couldn't really be anything else (the attendant wordplay took a bit of sorting out).

Personal view was that our setter saved the best to last, with 22d being very neat indeed. Thanks to Jeff for kicking off the New Year in fine style, and all the best to everyone for 2017.

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

1 Duchess is near to show (8)
DISCLOSE - D (Duchess) + IS + CLOSE (near)
5 Son visiting heaven once in religious book (6)
ESTHER - S (son) inside (visiting) ETHER (heaven)
9 Prisoner originally found employed at sea (8)
CONFUSED - CON (prisoner) + F (first letter - originally - of Found) + USED (employed)
10 Ape put American soldier in water (6)
PONGID - Just like the man says, we put GI (American soldier) in POND (water), to give a word referring to any member of the great ape family. Unknown to me, but generous wordplay so no problems with this one.
12 For display, arrange clean bandage (5)
DRESS - With some trepidation, I venture to suggest this is a triple definition - but I may have gone off the rails here! I think we are looking at dress as in dress a window (for display, arrange), and dress as in clean a wound and also the verb to dress meaning to bandage.
13 Menu distributed during piano playing gives rise to
complaint (9)
PNEUMONIA - *(MENU) - distributed - inside (during) *(PIANO) with "playing" as the anagrind
14 After start of wedding nag hotelier about where to get a
WATERING HOLE - W (start of Wedding) followed by *(NAG HOTELIER) with "about" as the anagrind
18 Finished a letter to English priest about surprisingly
successful student
OVERACHIEVER - OVER (finished) + A CHI (a letter - in the Greek alphabet) + E (English) + REV reversed (priest about)
21 One might get completely smashed at traditional meal in
… (6,3)
DINNER SET - Cryptic (& Lit, I think). Apparently the plate smashing custom is now regarded as somewhat passé by contemporary Greeks, but it lingers on in a few English Greek restaurants. That said, it's probably preferable to the earlier Greek tradition of throwing knives at the feet of the dancers who provided the entertainment after a good dinner.
23 … and article cheers one of its characters (5)
THETA - THE (article) + TA (cheers) giving us the Greek letter (character)
24 A painful swelling produced by one rodent (6)
AGOUTI - A + GOUT (painful swelling) + I (one), giving the American creature that looks a bit like a guinea pig. Apparently it's greatest claim to fame is that it is one of the few species that can open Brazil nuts without tools - an impressive feat that I have only ever seen a few prop forwards achieve.
25 Girl’s entertaining exploit in fairground feature (8)
CAROUSEL - CAROL (girl) with USE (exploit) inside (entertaining)
26 Put flower in front of dull unfinished vestibule (6)
EXEDRA - EXE (flower - the river in the west country) goes in front of DRA{b} (dull unfinished)
27 One after tips in dingy bar — a horrible place (8)
DYSTOPIA - DY (tips in DingY) followed by STOP (bar) + I (one) + A

1 Upset journo in America murdered judge (6)
DECIDE - ED (journo) + ICED (American slang for 'murdered') all reversed (upset)
2 Might this performer have you in stitches? (6)
SINGER - Amusing cryptic referencing the iconic Singer sewing machine
3 Uranium and oil developed with Asian state (9)
LOUISIANA - *(OIL + ASIAN) - with "developed" as the anagrind - and U (uranium) also thrown into the mix
4 Switzerland entered into expensive contract for race (12)
STEEPLECHASE - CH (Switzerland) 'enters' STEEP LEASE (expensive contract)
6 Goes off retreating — before military’s first assault (5)
STORM - ROTS reversed (goes off retreating) comes before M (Military's first)
7 Mad Harry’s first character repeated in Goon movie (4,4)
HIGH NOON - *(HH (Harry's first character repeated) + IN GOON) with "mad" as the anagrind giving us the classic western. Neat clue construction.
8 Blushed as choice of wine and weak coffee’s rejected (3-5)
RED FACED - RED (choice of wine) + DECAF reversed (weak coffee's rejected)
11 Senior Catholic girl heard cardinal attempt to entertain one
Roman American (12)
PENITENTIARY - PENI (girl heard - sounds like Penny) + TEN (cardinal - as in number) + I (one Roman) + A (American) inside TRY (attempt), giving a priest who is empowered to deal with certain types of penance. I wasn't wholly sure about the role of "Roman" - maybe it just helps the surface reading...
15 Get actor embarrassed without a piece of clothing (9)
GREATCOAT - *(GET ACTOR) - with "embarrassed" as the anagrind - going around A (without a)
16 Going crazy? On the way, certainly (4,4)
ROAD RAGE - Neat cryptic clue based on "on the way" equating to "on the road"
17 One very tall European runner, say, is in front (8)
BEANPOLE - POLE (European) with BEAN (runner, say) in front
19 Own extremely fashionable cat, on reflection (4,2)
FESS UP - FE (extremes of FashionablE) + PUSS reversed (cat on reflection). There was a bit of huffing on the Forum regarding this being a slang term, but it worked fine for me. Certainly during my recent spell in exile in Australia, "fess up" was in very common use and I've heard it used a few times since being back in Blighty. And we get plenty of colloquialisms in both the ST and the daily cryptics...
20 Valencia’s favourite serving father with his daughter? (6)
PAELLA - PA (father) + ELLA (his daughter?)
22 Go into chippy but ignore the fish (5)
ENTER - {CARP}ENTER - the chippy without the fish. Very neat.
This was a really good puzzle, and I wish my blog could do better justice to it. I think it took me around 20 minutes, on the train home sometime in the week. The good news is that I'd half-finished the blog before looking at any of the clues, because last weekend when I could have been solving, I was writing a perl script to automate the boring bits of creating a blog post.

I usually start with a template based on a random week from when I first created it, so have to change a lot of the clue numbers, then paste in all the clues manually one by one before finally adding the answers and explanations. My script logs in to the Times site, selects the puzzle I want to blog, extracts the clues and fills out the blog post ready for me to just add the solutions and explanations. It works perfectly on Linux, but I've also briefly tested it with ActiveState perl on Windows and it seems to be ok. It'll probably work ok on a Mac too, but I don't have one to test it on. Anyone who's interested in getting their hands dirty with perl is welcome to give it a try, just ask. You probably need to have some programming knowledge to get it working on your own PC, but it's going to save me half an hour a week, so well worth the effort! Anyway, the puzzle...

1 This has to net millions after playing? (5-3)
SMASH-HIT - (this has)* around M(illions), anagram &lit to kick us off.
6 A doctor - English bachelor - leading a simple sort of life (6)
AMOEBA - A + MO (Medical Officer = doctor) + E(nglish) + B(achelor) + A.
9 As exercise, are volunteers running backwards to get in shape? (13)
QUADRILATERAL - QUA (as) + DRILL (exercise), around [ARE, TA (volunteers)] reversed. TA is normally qualified as ex-volunteers or the like as they're called the Army Reserve these days (not that I think crossword setters need to be that pedantic).
10 Like a place for wine, reportedly? And vegetable (6)
CELERY - sounds like "cellary". Groan.
11 Phoney lament from beggar maybe crossing street (8)
IMPOSTOR - I'M POOR (lament from beggar maybe) around ST(reet).
13 Mishandled, now it tends to get torn (2,3,5)
IN TWO MINDS - (now it)* + MINDS (tends). I wasted far too long trying to work "now it tends" into an anagram of something!
15 Kid from France I must keep in order (4)
JOKE - JE (I in France) around OK (in order).
16 Fill / mug up (4)
CRAM - double definition.
18 US school on a trip on first of the month instead (6,4)
JUNIOR HIGH - HIGH (on a trip), next to JUN I (first of the month) + OR (instead).
21 The best seats, perhaps, those with locks behind them (5,3)
FRONT ROW - double definition. First one's obvious, second is about positions in a rugby scrum.
22 Plant used in homeopathy's so produced (6)
HYSSOP - hidden in "homeopathy's so produced".
23 Thin robe, baggy pants: an original idea! (3,4,6)
BIG BANG THEORY - (thin robe baggy)*.
25 Where mere chicken feed presumably aimed to provide capital (6)
ATHENS - where do you aim chicken feed? AT HENS! Original treatment for this city, which normally gets broken down into an "A then S" type of clue.
26 Couple following do went out relieved (8)
REMEDIED - RE, ME (couple following do - like in the song, but with one alternative spelling) + DIED (went out).

2 Host powerful piece portraying Hollywood actor (7)
MCQUEEN - MC (Master of Ceremonies, host) + QUEEN (powerful piece - on a chessboard). I'm sure everyone's heard of Steve McQueen - I was just a bit shocked to find out he died so long ago (1980).
3 Respected politicians panic, with foreboding about Society (11)
STATESWOMEN - STATE (panic) + W(ith) + OMEN (foreboding), around S(ociety).
4 Woman who's grasping standard English: hard, indeed, to grasp that (5)
HARPY - RP (received pronunciation, standard English), inside H(ard), AY (indeed).
5 Unlikely place to drink port (7)
TALLINN - TALL (unlikely) + INN (place to drink). Capital of Estonia - I'll take the setter's word for it that it's also a port!
6 For now, we infer, initially on course (9)
ANTIPASTO - ANTI PAST (therefore: for now) + O(n).
7 Of the speakers - and their time? (3)
OUR - definition plus implied homophone - sounds like HOUR (time).
8 Steer left after bend, going through barrier (7)
BULLOCK - L(eft) after U (bend), inside BLOCK (barrier).
12 Bore keeps going places with wife in London area (2,5,4)
ST JOHN'S WOOD - STOOD (bore) around JOHNS (going places, i.e. toilets) + W(ife). An area of NW London.
14 Army officer gets rid of islanders (9)
MAJORCANS - MAJOR (army officer) + CANS (gets rid of).
17 Dish, a collector's item, pinched? (7)
RAREBIT - RARE (which is an adjective, not a noun, so the clue's missing a word - "like" would do) + BIT (pinched). Normally preceded by Welsh, this is just another name for cheese on toast.
19 Modern philosopher from Sorbonne's in revolutionary venture (3,4)
NEW AGER - EN (the Sorbonne's in France, so French for "in") reversed + WAGER (venture). Not so sure about the "modern", it's all a bit 1980s according to Chambers.
20 My boy Reg swimming across lake (5,2)
GLORY BE - (boy Reg)* around L(ake).
22 Dull, useless accommodation, with bad smell (2-3)
HO-HUM - HOUSE without the USE ("useless accommodation") + HUM (bad smell).
24 Substitute for giddy brother? (3)
GEE - you can tell a horse when you want it to go faster, GIDDY-UP or GEE-UP, and apparently they'll understand. The definition (and the answer) is American slang for wow, corblimey etc.

Jumbo 1242 Boxing Day, 2016

Apparently this one took me just over an hour, and I assume I solved it during one of the extended rain delays in the cricket, but it all seems to have been lost in the fog of the festive season.

Having now done the blog, it seems like a very pleasant holiday offering, despite my one quibble at 20dn.

WOD (as Horryd would have it) to TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA.

Here's how I parsed it.....

Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined.  Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised.  Then there's the answer IN BOLD, followed by the parsing of the wordplay.  (ABC)* means 'anagram of ABC'.
1 Practical guide for digital supremacy? (4,2,5)
RULE OF THUMB - Cryptic second def
Thumbs rule, ok?
7 Public sector advocate I endlessly cite re facts and figures (11)
STATISTICAL - STATIST (Public sector advocate) + I + CAL [endlessly CALL (cite)]
13 Mangle it — bad karaoke's hip, I fear, covering this number (17)
Great clue, referencing the clue number.  Not a bad spelling test either.  Like many solvers, I imagine, I knew the word but would have struggled to reproduce it without anagrind and checkers.
14 Quick to condemn primitive instincts (5)
RAPID - RAP (condemn) + ID (primitive instincts)
15 Those preparing vote for dividing left and right succeeded (6)
LAYERS - AYE (vote for) dividing L (left) and R (right) + S (succeeded)
Those preparing?  Laying the foundations?  Laying in wait?  Laying a table?  Preparing to lay an egg?  Not sure.
16 Returning traveller docked to find girl, getting lookout's aid (8)
SPYGLASS - SPYG [GYPSY (traveller) "docked" and reversed (returning)] + LASS (girl)
17 Host's ground captured in struggle (7)
VISITEE - SITE (ground) in VIE (struggle)
19 Indifferent keeping time — melody, conversely, smoothly maintained (9)
SOSTENUTO - SOSO (indifferent) "keeping" T (time) + ENUT [TUNE (melody) "conversely"]
Somehow I like these musical terms, despite not knowing any of them.  They seem very descriptive.
21 Seed payment I invested, promoting growth (8)
NUTRIENT - I "invested" in NUT (seed) + RENT (payment)
Nutrient as an adjective here.
23 Knocked over beer in gaffe (4)
SLIP - PILS (beer) reversed (knocked over)
25 Pale and birdlike? (5)
ASHEN - AS HEN (like a bird)
27 Dull and boring, cornering attention (6)
DREARY - DRY (boring) "cornering" EAR (attention)
28 Reading torn apart by United after a second, in customary style (2,3,5)
AS PER USUAL - PERUSAL (reading) "torn apart by" U (United) after A + S (second)
I don't follow soccer, but the surface sounds plausible.
30 Chosen few, mostly wealthy, having power (8)
ELECTRIC - ELECT (chosen few) + RIC [mostly RICH (wealthy)]
31 Do I steer acting in play with this? (5,9)
34 Hangdog characteristic of a retriever on a duck hunt? (4,2,3,5)
DOWN IN THE MOUTH - Cryptic second def
Not the first time we've seen this one, or similar.
35 Ties up case that's resolved (8)
38 Member I criticised was doing his job, perhaps (10)
LEGISLATED - LEG (member) + I + SLATED (criticised)
40 Persuade knave to return, mostly getting encouragement from Spanish? (6)
CAJOLE - CAJ [JACK (knave) "to return, mostly"] + OLE (encouragement from Spanish)
41 Is he afraid to smuggle papers? (5)
SHEAF - Hidden (smuggled) in iS HE AFraid
43 Awful-sounding instrument (4)
VIOL - Homophone of VILE (awful)
44 Big birthday present not opened — nabbed by nasty thief (8)
FIFTIETH - IFT [GIFT (present) "not opened"] "nabbed by" (THIEF)*
45 Cut of cloth considered valuable (9)
LACERATED - LACE (cloth) + RATED (considered valuable)
48 Play guitar on right of short stage (7)
ROSTRUM - STRUM (play guitar) on R (right) + O (of short)
49 Tie's rearranged after back-to-back knockouts — most odd (8)
KOOKIEST - (TIES)* after KOOK ["back-to-back" KOs (knockouts)]
50 Allows to have drink (4,2)
OWNS UP - OWN (have) + SUP (drink)
As in "admits to".
53 Yours Truly and alien princess's close encounters (5)
MEETS - ME (yours truly) + ET (alien) + S (princess's close)
54 Leave with no money like domestic staff? (4,2,3,8)
TAKE TO THE CLEANERS - TAKE TO (like) + THE CLEANERS (domestic staff?)
55 Intends crop to be processed as vanilla (11)
56 Person in crowd homeless, having run away without restraint (11)
EXTRAVAGANT - EXTRA (person in crowd) + VAGANT [VAGRANT (homeless) having R (run) away]
1 Creepy type is disconcerting, flagrant with pinching of bottom (11)
RATTLESNAKE - RATTLES (is disconcerting) + NAKE [NAKED (flagrant) with bottom letter "pinched"]
2 Loud song about Ireland (5)
LAIRY - LAY (song) about IR (Ireland)
3 Revolutionary takeover overlooking very famous royal hideout (3,4)
OAK TREE - (TAKEOVER)* "overlooking" V (very)
Didn't know the reference, but apparently Charles II hid in an oak tree to escape the Roundheads in 1651.  Sounds like he had a fair bit of help from others, as is often the way with these royal types.
4 Get a bit of stick (4)
TWIG - Double definition
5 Due to blunder, mounted soldiers on manoeuvre caught out of position? (10)
UNEMPLOYED - NEM [mounted MEN (soldiers)] + PLOY (manoeuvre) "caught" by (DUE)*
6 US writers use drum and bass for this? (4,10)
BEAT GENERATION - Slightly cryptic second def
7 Suzy regularly consuming last of cognac and Scotch whisky in mawkishness (8)
SCHMALTZ - SZ (SuZy regularly) "consuming" CH (last of cognac and Scotch) + MALT (whisky)
8 French clerics grab best clothes (5)
ABBES - Hidden (clothed) in grAB BESt
9 Prior favoured a waltz, grabbing vicar’s top (2,7)
IN ADVANCE - IN (favoured) + A + DANCE (waltz) "grabbing" V (vicar's top)
10 Force hospital into control of self-governing body (6)
THRUST - H (hospital) in TRUST (self-governing body)
11 Sentence given in only one case? (7,10)
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - cryptic second def
Well you don't often hear about lower-case punishment.
12 Band influenced by Marx detailed to go up river (3,8)
LED ZEPPELIN - LED (influenced) by ZEPP [ZEPPO (Marx) detailed] + LINE [NILE (river) "to go up"]
Pretty sure these lads were cryptic crossword enthusiasts ("'cause you know sometimes words have two meanings").
18 Theologian fellow’s captivated by simply a seeker of enlightenment (8)
BUDDHIST - DD (theologian, Doctor of Divinity) + HIS (fellow's) "captivated by" BUT (simply)
20 German state school boy to reprimand on vacation, note, at home (9-8)
SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN - SCH (school) + LES (boy) + WIG (reprimand) + HOLS (vacation) + TE (note) + IN (at home)
Quite an assembly of parts.  My quibble is that if you didn't know the state (I didn't), the "boy" part could have been played by LES, LEN, KEN, KEV, TED and probably a few others.
22 Ruling party's close to centre (6)
INSIDE - IN (ruling) + SIDE (party)
24 Edit form for one of lower orders? (8)
SUBCLASS - SUB (edit) + CLASS (form)
26 Most bats make home around Utah, it being elevated (8)
NUTTIEST - NEST (make home) around UT (Utah) + TI (it being elevated)
29 One who wrote of a gun held initially by a serial killer (6,8)
AGATHA CHRISTIE - A + GAT (gun) + H (held initially) + A + CHRISTIE (serial killer)
John (Reg) Christie was a nasty piece of work in the 1940s and 50s.  The big news here in Perth over Christmas was the arrest of the Claremont serial killer, who did his worst in the mid-1990's.  A truly terrifying time it was, hope they finally got the right guy.
32 To make economies, stop going over the top? (8)
RETRENCH - Cryptic second def
If I was at Gallipoli I think I'd have voted to re-trench rather than "going over the top".
33 Be sorry about gym’s charge (6)
REPENT - RENT (charge) about PE (gym)
34 Van driver perhaps abused after turning loads, back to front (11)
DELIVERYMAN - DELIVER [REVILED (abused) after turning] + YMAN [MANY (loads) back to front]
36 Subsist primarily on ghastly diet of peas in secure unit (4-7)
SAFE-DEPOSIT - S (subsist primarily) on (DIET OF PEAS)*
37 Making united company based on beer and perfume (10)
COALESCENT - CO (company) + ALE (beer) + SCENT (perfume)
39 Accepted a ruinous taxi home without limits in charge (9)
AXIOMATIC - A + [TAXI + OM (home without limits)]* + IC (in charge)
42 Makes lace men, each ascending in a balloon? (8)
AEROSTAT - [TATS (makes lace) + OR (men) + EA (each)] reversed (ascending)
46 Engaged in conflict over US lawyer entering unchecked information (3,4)
RAW DATA - DA (US lawyer) "entering" RAWTA [AT WAR (engaged in conflict) reversed (ove)]
47 Swimmer was seen around river Seine's banks (6)
WRASSE - WAS around R (river) + SE (Seine's banks)
49 Asian weapon launched to irritate Britain (5)
KUKRI - [IRK (irritate) + UK (Britain)] reversed (launched)
I think these are the ones the Gurkhas use.  Tough little buggers those guys.
51 City that is between South and North America (5)
SIENA - IE (that is) between S (south) and NA (North America)
Nowhere near North os South America, of course, but that's the beauty of the cryptic.
52 Female meadow insect (4)
FLEA - F (female) + LEA (meadow)


Gosh, has it really been two weeks since Christmas Eve?  This took well under an hour with distractions – I was expecting something a bit chewier for the festive season.

First in was OBSTREPEROUS but I forgot to note down my LOI and I can’t remember what it was.

Happy 2017 to all both my readers.





OBSTREPEROUS - O(utside) B(roadcast) then (superstore)*.  My late father-in-law used to pronounce this OBSTROPOLOUS. He probably wasn’t alone.


TURPITUDE - T(rade) U(nion) then RUDE around PIT.  One of those words you know exists but might struggle to define if put on the spot, especially as it kinda looks similar to TORPOR


INDIE - {d}I{d}N{t}d{r}I{v}E.   True story.  I used to think the term “indie” referred to Bhangra and the like.  So for years I missed out on indie music as if the radio announcer said summat like “coming up, an hour of the latest indie tunes…” I’d switch off / over.




Y-FRONTS - R(epublican) in Y FONTS (faces as in typefaces)


LONELY - LELY around ON (working), with “by himself as the definition.  Peter Lely was portrait artist to Charles I and later Charles II's Principal Painter in Ordinary


SCENARIO - S for small followed by IRAN reversed in C.E.O.


ILLICIT - IMPLICIT with MP replaced by L(iberal)


TEST TUBE - reversal of E(nergy) BUTT SET


UGLIER - UGLI (fruit) + ER for her Maj, with whom I appear to have shared the common cold virus this festive season


SOVEREIGNTY - (generosity)* with V(anuatu) tossed into the mix in an appropriate place


CANDELABRUM - (balanced)* with engineer as the anagram indicator then RUM.  One of those words that is often mistakenly used in the plural to mean the singular, like data and phenomena


SUNNY-SIDE UP - three synonyms bunged together for the way normal people have their fried eggs cooked


TOTALISATOR - TOTAL (as in to write off a car) + TO {banke}R with ISA (Individual Savings Account) squidged in the middle.  It’s basically what we know as The Tote, a system of betting in which dividends are calculated according to the amount staked rather than odds offered




ROAD BED - {b}ROAD + BED and if you’re still puzzled it’s sleepers as in railway


HAVOC - HAV{e} O(ld) C(old)


OXONIAN - OX (steer as in cow-type-thing) + O for round + NAN around I for one


EGOMANIAC - OMANI in CAGE reversed with “person up himself” as the witty definition




PRETENSION - PENSION (foreign bed & breakfast) around RET (crosswordy word for soaking something or other in some textile-related process or summat)



METAPHYSICS - (shy)* in (campsite)* with bats and abroad as the anagrinds


BRITANNIC - B(ritish) R(ail) + IT ANN IC, the def being OF THIS LAND


LAURELS - LAS around U REL.  I didn’t know rel was an “acceptable” abbreviation for relative 


ETERNAL - EXTERNAL with the X “stolen”


BODY POLITIC - BODY (stiff as in ex-parrot) then IT in POLIC{e}


THESIS - HE’S in SIT reversed


EXIGENCY - TA removed from EXIT AGENCY.  An exigency is a pressing demand or urgent requirement


ELEPHANT GRASS - GR ASS burdened with (i.e. supporting) ELEPHANT.  How does a male elephant find a female elephant in long grass?


OPAQUER - QU in (opera)*


SPECTROGRAM - E CT in S PROGRAM.  Ready? A spectrogram is a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in a sound or other signal as they vary with time or some other variable 


VIDEO NASTY - (advise Tony)*.  I’m sure we’ve had video nasty a couple of times elsewhere recently.  Driller Killer and I spit on Your Grave come to mind


RELEVANCE - NAVEL reversed in RE CE. Navel can mean the central point of a place as well as your belly button


AB INITIO - IO for 10 after AB IN IT.  Why do bloody lawyers have to use Latin when there are perfectly good English equivalents?




TANGELOS TANG + SOLE “revolting” (rising up). What's in the bag Angelos, tell us what's in your bag…


IRRITABLE - in IR(ish) R(epublican) TABLE


PEDLAR - PEAR around (lan)DL(ady)


RHYTHM SECTION  - (test choir hymn)*


SISTERHOODS - female orders is the def and it’s HOOD in SISTERS


PRIMA DONNAS - (or pre-Madonnas to the actual people who riddle cyberspace with escape goats and damp squids) PR followed by MADONNA in IS


RADIO BEACON - RADIO BACON around E(uropean)




ARACHNID - (china)* in A RD, def is tick for one


PAVLOVA - PAVLOV + A.  Barbara Woodhouse didn’t fit.




SEA PORT - EA IN SPORT with “access to drink” being the rather elegant definition


ALIBI - ALI B(oxing) I(nstinctively)


Times 26,615: ★

What a pleasure and privilege to be blogging this superb anniversary-or-thereabouts puzzle, one of the best and hardest to have fallen to me in ages; and it even comes with a Nina, or should I say Davina? And the hand of nemesis was certainly at work, because yesterday was the evening I thought to myself "it's been ages since I got absolutely hammered in the pub on a blog night and tackled a puzzle with the world doing cartwheels around my head during the wee small hours, how hard is tonight's likely to be anyway, let's give that another try". As a result me versus this puzzle strongly resembled the final scene of Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch", or at the very least "Young Guns 2": my struggling braincells were hopelessly outgunned, my final time, very close to the half-hour, a sad epitaph.

But as I say I thought this was a spectacular crossword, with more splendid clues than I have time to properly eulogize. I remember being (woozily) struck by some of the very cleverly concealed definition parts at e.g. 10ac and 23ac, and the brilliant splicings of definition and wordplay at e.g. 12ac and 2dn. I'll say 23ac was my COD, but do let me know yours in the comments. And I hope you'll join me in a big round of applause for the setter. (Oh dear, if I liked it this much you're probably all going to have hated it again, aren't you?)

On to the Nina, which by its nature I'll be amazed if I haven't missed parts of. 1ac obviously, plus I see 6ac on 10ac, 9ac (if reduplicated), 21ac 23ac, and 25ac. 11ac is highly thematic and many other solutions seem like they could be relevant too. Alright then, you clever people, how much have I missed?


1 Like beefcake — and fish is just fine! (5-4)
HUNKY-DORY - HUNKY [like beefcake] + DORY [fish]
6 Prisoner’s fresh charge briefly withdrawn (5)
LIFER - REFIL{l} reversed [fresh charge "briefly", "withdrawn"]
9 Initially breezy wind is about to rise (5)
REBEL - B{reezy} which REEL [wind] is about
10 Key adversely affects stuffing pipe down bog (4,5)
SALT MARSH - ALT MARS [key | adversely affects] "stuffing" SH [pipe down!]
11 Fascination of Welsh county for us (7)
GLAMOUR - GLAM OUR [Welsh country (Glamorgan) | of us]
12 Puts down poorly fawn in middle of mosses (7)
SCRAWLS - CRAWL [fawn] in {mo}SS{es}
13 Speak, perhaps, fast? No — feels wrong! (7,7)
EXPRESS ONESELF - EXPRESS [fast] + (NO FEELS*) ["wrong"]
17 French photographer barristers once upset (7-7)
21 One outdoing clubs in bidding for playing field (7)
DIAMOND - double def
23 Champers around breakfast time? Then start on sherry (7)
CANINES - CA NINE [around | breakfast time?] + S{herry}
25 Frenchman who wrote material accompanying information film (4,5)
JEAN GENET - JEAN [material] accompanying GEN E.T. [information | film]
26 Fought to be heard alongside a gong? (5)
AWARD - homophone of WARRED [fought "to be heard"] alongside A
27 Stick — at the wicket? (5)
BATON - and also BAT ON [stick at the wicket]
28 Chapter penned by left-leaning fool’s getting slated (9)
SCHEDULED - CH [chapter] "penned by" reverse of DELUDE'S ["left-leaning" fool's]


1 I’m starting hours before matches (4,4)
HERE GOES - H ERE GOES [hours | before | matches]
2 First rate cake from South African region once (5)
NUBIA - A1 BUN reversed [first rate | cake "from South"]
3 Most likely to run or set if mixed? (9)
YELLOWEST - YELLOW [or (heraldic sense)] + (SET*) ["mixed"]
4 Old strongholds coming across small and inferior (2,5)
OF SORTS - O FORTS [old | strongholds] "coming across" S [small]
5 Old leader getting drunk in style (7)
YELTSIN - (IN STYLE*) ["drunk"]
6 Primate, one that went from Berlin to Paris (5)
LEMUR - LE MUR - THE WALL is "one that went from Berlin", to Paris/a Parisian.
7 Food supplies taken when leaving (9)
FAREWELLS - FARE WELLS [food | supplies]
8 Not thinking about what constitutes a make-over (6)
REHASH - RASH [not thinking] about EH [what?]
14 Join in centre of tailpiece was positioned separately (4,1,4)
PLAY A PART - {tail}P{iece} + LAY APART [was positioned | separately]
15 Pilot, losing heart, pulled up and back (9)
STERNWARD - ST{e}ER [pilot "losing heart"] + DRAWN reversed [pulled "up"]
16 Unbalanced indeed, and so .... (3-5)
ONE-SIDED - (INDEED + SO*) ["unbalanced"], &lit
18 Start of transmission postponed until after grand finales (7)
ENDINGS - {S->}ENDING, with its start postponed until after the G [grand]
19 Times with snag: unwanted net gains (2-5)
BY-CATCH - BY [times] with CATCH [snag]
20 Casual work function recalled radio presenter before she died (3,3)
ODD JOB - DO reversed [function "recalled"] + DJ [radio presenter] before OB [she died]
22 Instrument with keyboard and mouthpiece (5)
ORGAN - double def
24 Isabella, intermittently, would show him up (5)
NIALL - hidden reversed in {isabe}LLA IN{termittently}

Quick Cryptic 739 by Rongo

5:47 to complete this one.  So that's four more or less standard Quickies in a row after Izetti started the year off with a bang on Monday.

Nice offering this from Rongo, with a variety of clue structures in play, including the relatively rare triple definition.

Now on with the job...

Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined.  Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised.  Then there's the answer IN BOLD, followed by the parsing of the wordplay.  (ABC)* means 'anagram of ABC'.
1 Line used in print run (4)
DASH - Double def
3 Light musical seen back in latter epoch (8)
OPERETTA - Reverse hidden (seen back) in lATTER EPOch
8 Dog to reach across field without boundaries (7)
SPANIEL - SPAN (to reach across) + {f}IEL{d} (field without boundaries)
10 Father badly ruffled strip of cloth (5)
FRILL - FR (father) + ILL (badly)
11 In a neighbouring valley, or past it? (4,3,4)
OVER THE HILL - Double def, one literal and one proverbial
13 A constant fraction of dollar, in a manner of speaking (6)
ACCENT - A + C (constant) + CENT (fraction of dollar)
15 Banqueter ignoring a brew (6)
FESTER - FE{A}STER (banqueter), ignoring 'A'
17 Upper-class art initial adjusting makes functional (11)
UTILITARIAN - U (upper-class) + (ART INITIAL)*
Keep an eye out for "posh" or "upper-class" to clue U.  Very common in Crosswordland.  U and non-U were terms coined in the 1950's to distinguish between linguistic usages of different classes.  Think I'd be non-U.
20 Frequently aged less than eleven (5)
At the age of ten, you're aged less than eleven, but somehow this clue doesn't quite gel for me.
21 Immature, undefiled island, we hear (7)
PUERILE - Homophone (we hear) of PURE (undefined) + ISLE (island)
Well, sort of.
22 Suspenseful film’s human resources beset by director at sea? (8)
THRILLER - HR (human resources) "beset by" TILLER (director at sea)
Director at sea.  Nice.
23 Dark blue vehicle reversing at back of alley (4)
NAVY - NAV [VAN (vehicle) reversing] + Y (back of alley)
1 Throwing away iPod, lass is upset (8)
2 Son to accept post (5)
STAKE - S (son) + TAKE (accept)
4 Friend rented platform in warehouse, say (6)
PALLET - PAL (friend) + LET (rented)
Friend of mine once had the job of trying to account for the six million CHEP pallets that had gone missing around the world.  Not sure how many he found.
5 Match official with gear (ecstasy, speed) to chill (11)
REFRIGERATE - REF (match official) + RIG (gear) + E (ecstasy) + RATE (speed)
Times setters aren't just experts on music, religion, literature and plants.  They're also very drug-savvy.
6 Journey allowed one of three to share birthday (7)
TRIPLET - TRIP (journey) + LET (allowed)
Of course, they might not share a birthday.  In fact, here's a challenge....be the first commenter to explain how it's possible for naturally-born twins (with no significant birthing delays) to have their birthdays three days apart.
7 Tool for cutting around left wheel shaft (4)
AXLE - AXE (tool for cutting) atound L (left)
9 Deliberate sabotage of online titan (11)
12 Grand publicity incorporated small cathedral city (8)
PRINCELY - PR (publicity) + INC (incorporated small) + ELY (cathedral city)
14 Man on board to speak against serving area (7)
COUNTER - Triple def!
The first def references a marker in a board game.
16 Faint prayer to lose last depression evident in face? (6)
DIMPLE - DIM (faint) + [PLE{A} (prayer) to lose last]
18 Informal business in Iowa or Mediterranean island (5)
IBIZA - BIZ (informal business) in IA (Iowa)
From what I've seen on TV, it looks like it would be worth travelling a long way to avoid this place.
19 Female also overturned base (4)
FOOT - F (female) + OOT [TOO (also) 'overturned']
I had a bash at this on the morning it came out and got almost nowhere. I came back to it this week and, in truth, found it a real slog. The Miller book and the Smollett reference were about the only things I really knew. I also found some of the clues hard to penetrate, even with the liberal use of the solving aids to which I soon had to resort. Tough puzzle, a bit too tough for me.

I have several things only half-explained so I'm looking forward to some enlightenment.


9 The buttress is a PIER plus an anagram of 'toiler'.
10 Elaborately hidden word
13 THE+aGeNtS. Giving part of the answer en clair (as 'the' here) always makes for a special makes for a special kind of difficulty!
16 I'm still not sure if this is a formal society .. or what? Anyway, the parsing is EXISTS around (LIB,R)
19 Commander James  ...
20 .. is of course commissioned in the Navy or 'SENIOR Service'
21 Took me ages, even though I sort of knew of Respighi's Roman Trilogy of symphonic poems. A hint that we were in the area of music would have been appreciated
23 definition is "of a left-wing persuasion"
24 Very crafty deceptive puntuation. It's CANTER (Travel by horse) + BURY (inter, the verb), with "faith city" as the definition.
26 One big girl for another, I guess

3 Smollet's Adventures of ... contains a novel within a novel entitled The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality
4 Sounds like 'Q', pseudonym of Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse. Apparently this came up in another Broteas puzzle not long ago
5 a FRONTAL is an altar hanging.
6 Anagram of "labours suit". This is Aristobulus of Chalcis, who was a great-grandson of Herod the Great on both sides of his family
7 CORNELIA BLIMBER is a schoolteacher in Dickens' Dombey and Son, married eventually to Mr Feeder, BA
8 Dick Remington is the narrator of Wells' The New Machiavelli. I don't know about the America bit of this, though a faint bell is ringing ... an advertising slogan, perhaps?
12 I think the "man" is a CAT, and the special kind of home is a Cheshire Home, one of those run by the charity once known as The Cheshire Foundation Homes for the Sick, now Leonard Cheshire Disability
15 Another question mark for me. LINGE could be a number of Germans, including Hitler's valet. Add The RING and you get LINGERING — "protracted"
22 Irene Heron Forsyte
25 ETH is an Old English character. And you'd find -eth at the end of an old way of saying (he) plays ... playeth. Clever.
Much harder than the grid posted on the time warped Club site, at least for me, though I was solving on my smart phone, an experience akin to keyhole surgery. As with next Monday’s puzzle, I have given you the option of not reading the answers and explanations so that you can tackle it as I did, without hints in about 30 minutes.
[To reveal, click here]
Clue, definition, SOLUTION


1 Just about to answer, then clash (4)
AJAR  A(nswer) plus clash JAR. We've chuntered on about to, almost, and ajar before. Let's not do it again.
3 Papa freshly presented with medals gives you a lump in your throat (5,5)
ADAM’S APPLE  Anagram (freshly presented) of PAPA plus MEDALS. Slightly (you, your) suggests all solvers are male. Don’t blame me for such casual sexism
9 Mini cooler holding British beer pot (4,3)
TOBY JUG  So that’s TOY for mini, JUG for cooler (both slang for prison) and an intervening B(ritish)
11 With savoir-faire I must meet the French being touchy-feely (7)
TACTILE  Savoir-faire provides TACT, add I and LE for “the” in French
12 Complete clues fall in a tumble (4-5)
FULL SCALE  “tumble” the letters of CLUES FALL
13 Join customer getting boxes (5)
MERGE  Hidden in custoMER GEtting
14 Some possibly inside lorry briefly moving into building (12)
CONSTRUCTION  CONS are prisoners, so possibly “inside”, TRUC(k) is a short lorry, and the moving letters of INTO provide the rest
18 A bloke's baptism? Matter which superficially lowers tension (7,5)
WETTING AGENT Or, slightly adjusted, wetting a gent. What it says.
21 Fancy that recruit? A majestic companion (5)
CORGI fancy that: COR, recruit GI. Almost my last in, trying to think of a generic companion such as Rani
22 Exclude implied but unstated backtracking in plot (9)
RUSTICATE “Sending down” a student from Oxbridge. TACIT reversed in RUSE
24 Old woven silk, cool material to keep you dry (7)
OILSKIN  So that’s O(ld), SILK “woven”  and IN for cool (as in hip, happening)
25 Record of peer touring round this country? (7
LOG BOOK Not only sexist (see 3 above) but UK centrist, when this country therefore means GB. Bracket it with LOOK for peer. One edit (thanks, Jack): you also need "round" to provide the otherwise missing O
26 Love George, say, picking up small bottle (10)
SWEETHEART  George is an example of a ST, insert WEE for small, and add HEART for courage
27 Produce stick (4)
BEAR  Another late entrant, as there are too many possible synonyms for both words in the clue. Our answer matches both


1 Sculpture, say, providing cool craft (8)
ARTIFICE  Sculpture is one form of ART, providing gives you IF, and cool ICE
2 A doctor aunt upset going round pound walking (8)
AMBULANT  A doctor provides A MB, an upset aunt UANT, which goes round £ for pound.
4 Pursue higher degree in teaching (5)
DOGMA  “I have PhD, so I look down on him because he only has an MA.” “I have an MA, so I look up to him because he has a PhD, but I look down on him because he only has a BA.” “I know my place” Precede with DOG for pursue for what is also a fine, if incredibly foul-mouthed movie with an exceptional performance by the late Alan Rickman as the voice of God (played by Alanis Morissette).
5 Gent's heart, after annual Test excitement, is in a bad way (4-5)
MOTH-EATEN The MOT is the UK annual check on cars aged three years or more HEAT is excitment, and the heart of gent is EN.
6 Helpful stuff in magazine about cold officer becoming old-fashioned (13)
ACCOMMODATING Stuff in a magazine is AMMO, a cold officer is a C CO, and becoming old-faxshioned DATING. Assemble.
7 Nippers in peril playing close to roads (6)
PLIERS An anagram (playing) of PERIL plus the last letter of roadS
8 Train, in America, regular soccer team? (6)
ELEVEN The EL(evated) is what Gene Hackman drives under in The French Connection. Regular provides the EVEN
10 Exactly what's needed for travelling unladen? (4,3,6)
JUST THE TICKET  Two definitions, the second a touch whimsical.
15 Sheer genius absorbing new declaration (9)
UTTERANCE  So that will be an UTTER ACE with an inserted N(ew)
16 Don’t interfere in service being repeated without help (3,5)
LET ALONE  Think tennis for a LET, a serve that must be repeated because the first one touched the net on the way through or suffered some other hindrance. ALONE is without help.
17 Exposed runner, one gambling maybe on getting in? (8)
STREAKER  Whimsical definition, and a whimsical STAKER for one gambling, including RE for “on”.
19 Answer receiving mistaken sign throughout (6)
ACROSS  A(nswer) plus that sign for “wrong” which was sometimes accompanied by “see me”. Arguably, should be marked wrong because it's a down clue.
20 Question closely what closes off fire? This could (6)
GRILLE  Grill for question closely plus the end of firE
23 Zoom up around fifty — it's to do with the sun (5)
SOLAR   SOAR ( and not a word meaning zoom, backwards) circles L, Latin for fifty.

15 x15 puzzle Thursday 5th January

Due to an error at the Times, the cryptic puzzle published in Thursday's newspaper and accessed via the online newspaper was different from the one that appeared on the Club site and it was the latter that was blogged and discussed here before the error came to light although it was not due to appear in the newspaper until Monday 9 January. Z8 has valliantly provided a blog for the correct puzzle which is now available below. For those who have not yet seen that puzzle it can be accessed here.

Proceed with caution below so you don't  see things you don't want to. The actual content of each blog is hidden under "Read more" so it can easily be avoided.

The editor has now confirmed that the mistake has been rectified and the Club has the correct puzzle on the button but there will be no new puzzle next Monday. 

Times Quick Cryptic No 738 by Mara

I think this was towards the harder end of things, so I was happy to come in at the 13 minute mark. Some tricky clues, some generous checker-providers, some cracking clues, and lots of lovely surface readings combined to make it a very enjoyable solve. I really liked 10ac - it's always great to have a clue that makes you suddenly read an old word in a new light. I also liked 16ac - not the hardest, but an unusual &lit clue that grew on me. The definition is maybe a touch cryptic for a quirky, Chambers-esque dictionary entry, but it's very close. So yes, many thanks to Mara for this.

1 Weather that's turbulent in gale
WITHSTAND: anagram (turbulent) of THATS going inside WIND (gale).
6 Read out letter that's prompt
CUE: or read out the letter "Q"
8 Shirt — an awful stain
TARNISH: anagram (awful) of SHIRT AN
9 Bung for member's supporter
SLING: Double definition - to bung = to throw.
10 Sad record playing at an ungodly hour?
DISCONSOLATE: a "record playing at an ungodly hour" could be a "disc on so late".
12 Drilling holes is dull
BORING: double definition of the appositely lacklustre variety.
13 Socialist keeps fighting for compensation
REWARD: RED (socialist) keeps WAR (fighting) inside.
16 Simultaneous stressed syllables similarly starting so, say?
ALLITERATION: an "&lit", or all-in-one clue, where the whole clue is a (lovely) definition for the answer, alongside the wordplay element required to make it a cryptic clue - in this case a sevenfold example of alliteration. (Or perhaps a sixfold example - I'm probably wrong but I'd call three words beginning with the same letter triple alliteration.) "&lit", by the way, is short for "and literally so" - in that the clue is literally the definition, as well as the wordplay.
19 Plant: unusual bush about right?
SHRUB: Anagram (unusual) of BUSH about/going around R(ight).
20 Compound of iron: it assimilates vanadium under laboratory conditions
IN VITRO: anagram (compound) of IRON IT assimilates/absorbs V (vanadium). Literally means "in glass". Another lovely clue.
22 River Clyde emptied partly
DEE: hidden, "partly" in the letters of ClyDE Emptied. I gave serious thought to the existence of a river Cle  ("Clyde" partly emptied). Go to the back of the class.
23 He and I get it wrong heading to Honolulu for senior's birthday
EIGHTIETH: anagram (wrong) of HE and I GET IT ; H (heading for Honolulu)

1 Scottish engineer has question for the audience
WATT: which to an audience sounds the same as WHAT (question).
2 Piece of wedding cake, maybe, catching stray dog
TERRIER: TIER: (Piece of wedding cake, maybe), catching/holding ERR (stray). Wins the prize for today's most surreal surface reading.
3 Runner’s short fleece
SKI: SKIN (fleece), "short" means dock the last letter.
4 Capital in Bulgaria, then: Sofia
ATHENS: hidden "in" BulgariA THEN Sofia.
5 Lying plate on stone, roughly
DISHONEST: DISH (plate) on an anagram (roughly) of STONE. LOI.
6 Tea to drink in teacups, perhaps?
CHINA: double definition - being a smoke-cured tea from south China, and the porcelain that might contain it. Plausible-ish, but wrong:  as Mohn2 and others point out below, the correct parsing is CHA (tea) to drink IN to give teacups.
7 Boffin for example, good man, a mastermind ultimately
EGGHEAD: E.G. (for example) G(ood), HE (man) A, D (mastermind, ultimately)
11 One who painted copper
CONSTABLE: double definition.
12 Banquet's starter brought up, cooked
BRAISED: B (Banquet's starter), RAISED (brought up)
14 A saint in European missionary
APOSTLE: A ; St. (saint) going inside POLE (European).
15 Stressful day's ending in Hertfordshire town
TRYING: Y (day's ending) going inside TRING (Hertfordshire town)
17 Huge composition of Elgar
LARGE: anagram (composition) of ELGAR.
18 Upper-class person of superior heredity, the tops!
POSH: first letters ("the tops") of person of superior heredity.
21 Inverted, the box containing a tank
VAT: TV (the box), invert it and shove in the letter A. And a nice little one to finish.
A rather straightforward solve marred for me by an over-exuberant attempt to score a whizzy time, forgoing proper checking and allowing 2 typos. The grid is rather infested with Formicidae, or bits of them, ten or more on the bottom line alone, a few with other letters intruding. One entry at 21, though obvious enough as a word, I cannot recall encountering before but apart from that, I feel confident in saying that the obscurity index for this one is as low as I’ve ever seen. Stop press. Since (as revealed above) this is next Monday's puzzle, I have hidden my workings so that you can avoid seeing them if desired.
[Spoiler (click to open)]
Clue, definition, SOLUTION


1 Key found in French painter’s attractive bar?  (6)
MAGNET  G is the key, here, pick any one from 7. The French painter MANET.
4 Attack a woman’s daughter, one keeping an eye on Nanny?  (8)
GOATHERD  One assumes there is at least one female of the genus capra  in the keeping of the lonely one high on a hill (rhymes with “gloat heard”, especially a gleaming one). Attack GO AT, woman’s HER, daughter D. In sequence. Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo.
10 Careless bloke from Belfast, say, nursing broken leg  (9)
NEGLIGENT  A bloke from Belfast is an N.I. GENT, apparently “nursing" a broken leg, spelled EGL.
11 Shade that’s variable in a Yorkshire river  (5)
AZURE  Unless I am very much mistaken, the river URE is one of those that trundles through (North) Yorkshire. It needs the supplied A and the variable Z to produce our fetching shade of blue
12 In high spirits, as 23 may be  (4,2,5)
FULL OF BEANS  Spoiler alert. 23 is POD, which indeed may be loaded with beans.
14 Coming from the east, hail woman  (3)
EVA   “From the east” in an across clue indicates a reversed solution. AVE (as in Maria) is our greeting
15 Extremely shirty about person advocating nose job, say  (7)
SURGERY The extremes of shirty are S and Y, and a person advocating is an URGER which effectively replaces the original contents. A rather specific example of a general concept.
17 Girl has Times put on chest  (6)
THORAX As in the middle bit of an ant, say. The girl is THORA, times (as in the regrettably common “times it by 2”) provides the X. If I wanted to be picky, I might point out that the capital T on Times is a bit naughty.
19 Relative with a connection to international organisation? (6)
AUNTIE  Who has A UN TIE. Few, if any, other international organisations are recognised by crosswordland.
21 Furious tirade arrested by female in charge  (7)
FRANTIC  Tirade provides RANT, “arrested” by F(emale) I(n) C(harge)
23 Group of dolphins initially seen by naval NCO? (3)
POD Dolphins obligingly do double duty as part of the definition (Not just whales, then) and supplying their initial D to attach to the P(etty) O(fficer’s) stern.
24 Frivolous description of HD, perhaps?  (5-6)
EMPTY HEADED. I rather liked this one, as one of those where the answer is in itself a cryptic clue. HD is the second part of our solution without its contents.
26  Good Times crossword, not the first to define “okra”  (5)
GUMBO  The crossword in question is the JUMBO: remove its first and replace it with G(ood). Has to be gumbo, ‘cause Ladies’ Fingers doesn’t fit.
27 How Ben unexpectedly accepts beer as stiffener?  (9)
WHALEBONE  An anagram ("unexpectedly") of HOW BEN contains ALE for beer.
29 A number of lines about 30’s lodgers? (8)
TENANTRY  TEN is your number (pick one from an infinite range) and lines are RY for railway. Spoiler alert: 30 is insect, of which one example is ANT. Insert appropriately
30 Six-footer belonging to breakaway group (6)
INSECT  Turned up 3 days ago with a similarly not-difficult clue, though the traditional “six footer” is a giveaway for old hands. In case you need help  it’s IN SECT.


1 Glaring when fine mast is damaged (8)
MANIFEST  Could this be an anagram? Yup. FINE MAST. For the definition, go via “obvious”
2 Russian writer attempts novel at last (5)
GOGOL  Well. It’s not going to be Dostoyevsky is it? But I rather like the repeated GO for attempts. Get the L from the “at last” bit of novel.
3 Old priest absorbed by the Litany  (3)
ELI Who turned up only yesterday as a contribution to the solution MELIssa, here is himself a contribution to thE LItany
5 Survive longer than Ishmael, maybe, having left for cape  (7)
OUTLAST Abraham’s other son, the one he only exiled rather than attempted to kill, was therefore an OUTCAST. You are required to replace the C(ape) with an L(eft)
6 Move to Lancaster for treatment (11)
TRANSLOCATE  A toss up as to whether the anagram indicator is “move “ or “for treatment”, the latter winning the call. The rest of the clue supplies the letter mix.
7 Animated old soldier possibly shelters over in Berlin  (9)
EXUBERANT  An old soldier, possibly, is an EX ANT. UBER is nothing to do with taxis here, just German for over.
8 Radio employee’s girl and boy  (6)
DEEJAY  Just two random names joined in holy matrimony.
9 Stony strand accommodating flag  (6)
PEBBLY  Strand as in three PLY wool, flag as in EBB. Insert.
13 Extremely happy, like a jumped-up cow? (4,3,4)
OVER THE MOON  A phrase which Tottenham fans and players will probably be using even as I write. Combined with a reference to Hey Diddle Diddle.
16 He delivers cycles north of Douglas’s place  (9)
ROUNDSMAN Douglas is on the (Isle of) MAN, cycles ROUNDS. Happy memories of horse and cart laden with milk churns.
18 Searching investigation involving detectives attending a match  (4,4)
ACID TEST  Our friends from the Criminal Investigation Department are taking a day off attending A TEST.
20 Authorise northbound soldiers to restrain prisoner (7)
EMPOWER   REME, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers reversed (this is a down clue so that’s what northbound signifies) and take in a P(risoner) O(f) W(ar)
21 Clever procedure that’s associated with migrating birds?  (6)
FLYWAY  Clever is FLY, procedure WAY, which gave me the answer even though I don’t recall seeing it before.
22 Peg, drunkard, crossing gorge  (6)
SPIGOT A drunkard gives you SOT, and gorge is the heavy eating variety, so PIG. Insert.
25 Swarm over the pond lost height crossing river (5)
DROVE  Unless you’re over the other side of the Pond yourself, when the cryptic bit would be dived, it’s DOVE. Insert R(iver)
28 Individual bringing up rear for a very long time! (3)
EON Start with an individual ONE, bring its last to the top. Voila.
Appropriately, I had been catching up on the last few episodes of Professional Masterchef and feeling foodie friendly, just before tackling this challenge. What do we find? A feast of 1a, with a 17a or 19a of tasty culinary oddities like 12a and 20a, all delivered with 15a! All I needed afterwards was a glass of sparkling 14a or horseless 10a to calm me down.
I didn't find it straightforward, mainly because I went wrong a couple of times, at 4d, 22d, and at first enumerating 2d as 4,5 not 5,4, which dented my time considerably; the bones of an hour by the time I had retraced some blind alleys and understood how it all could be explained.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

1 CREATIVITY - (VARIET)* inside CITY for town, D talent. As I had 4d beginning with G for a while, I spent too long looking for a town ending in GATE.
6 SHOO - SH! OO! being cries of surprise (well OO! is); D get lost. Ah, I was slightly vague here, (i.e. at sea), see first comment below where paulmcl explains it.
10 WHINE - Insert H for horse into WINE from Bordeaux; D plaintive cry. Not a MARE in sight.
11 LARCENIST - This was my LOI in spite of having all the checkers, because I couldn't parse it, but now I think it's a dodgy (well, criminal) homophone; L for left and ARCENIST supposed to sound like another criminal, arsonist.
12 BEARNAISE SAUCE - (AUSSIE A BEER CAN)*, D dressing; a delicious tarragon flavoured sauce best served with steak. The history is a bit confused, it's not a speciality of the Bearn region, but supposedly named after (and first served to) old Henri IV who was born in that part of SW France.
14 COOLANT - CANT being inclination, insert a reversed LOO being the throne; D that's rather chilling.
15 PANACHE - PAN means swing round, with a camera, ACHE for hurt; D dash. If you order it round here with an É you get a glass of shandy.
17 AMALGAM - MAG = little journal, LAMA = priest, all reversed to give D composite.
19 MELANGE - MEAN for base, insert L, add G(at)E; D confusion. I thought a melange was just a mixture and a melée was a confusion, but no doubt dictionary corner will allow it.
20 MOCK TURTLE SOUP - (PLUCK OUTERMOST)*, D tasty snack. Apparently it was in existence before Lewis Carroll created the "real" Mock Turtle from which soup could be sung about; it was invented as a substitute for the real green turtle soup in the early 1800's, using calves' brains, feet, and other surplus bits. Yes, I am in a looking up and learning mode today.
23 TROMBONES - MO = army medic, RT = right; reverse these, add BONES for surgeon; D instruments.
24 ATRIA - Hidden word in the alternate letters of A pTaRmIgAn. D Anatomical parts.
25 LIDO - LID for hat, O; D might one crawl here, i.e. swim.
26 ARMAGEDDON - ARM weapon, AGED of antiquity, DON put on; D battlefield. I think I've seen this one before, else I'd have been scouring my memory for WWI battles.

1 COWL - Double definition.
2 EMILE ZOLA - As mentioned, I drew the dividing line after 4 letters not 5 and ended with an author E*O*A who looked more like a virus. Then sanity was restored. OZ = weight, inserted into ALE LIME being beer and fruit; reverse the lot; D author.
3 THE GREAT GATSBY - THE, BY = times; insert GREAT GATS, gats being Gattling guns; D work. Biff it and work it out afterwards, I did.
4 VALIANT - V = see, vide; ALI = Dali losing top; ANT = worker; D courageous. For some reason in a senior moment I had first put in GALLANT (parsed as Cha-GALL - ANT) which caused a hold-up.
5 TURNS UP - TURNS = goes, tries; UP = in high spirits; D comes.
7 HAIKU - the 60s musical was HAIR, drop the R, add UK reversed; D lines, a short poem in English based on a Japanese form, three lines of a meaningful observation about nature and such. The shorter the better, I say.
8 ON THE LEVEL - Double definition, one meaning truthful.
9 PERSONAL ESTATE - PER ESTATE would be for each car; insert (LOANS)*; D what's left.
13 SCRAP METAL - SCRAP = brawl, METAL sounds like METTLE, resolution; D recyclable items.
16 CONCURRED - CON CURED would be a report of prisoner's reform; insert an R; D agreed.
18 MARINER - MINER being an excavator, insert Ar being the chemical symbol for argon, D one going in deep.
19 MELISSA - ELI = priest, inside MSS = papers, add A; D lady.
21 CROWD - CROW = triumph over, boast; D for Democrat; D press.
22 WARN - D alert; sounds like WORN, put on in the past tense. At first I had WARE as in BEWARE, and WEAR being the present tense of put on. But I was wrong, as Armageddon followed.

Latest Month

January 2017

Syndicated Times puzzles

Free online editions of UK dictionaries


RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow