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Times 27489 - a European journey

Well, I thought Monday's was tough, at least the left side of it, but this one was closer to one I'd expect for a Monday. If it has a theme, it's a Tour de l'Europe, and odyssey indeed, referring to places in Greece (twice), Romania, Armenia, Germany (twice), and Italy (twice), But this is a mere observation, made to help avoid a blank space before the analysis of clues below, and doesn't help you solve the clues. It took me 20 minutes and my only MER was in relation to 12d, see below. I thought my clue of the day, 10a, was mildly amusing.


Across
1 Matched level in light drama, backer having withdrawn (8)
COMPARED - PAR (level) inside COMED which is COMEDY without its backer.
5 Seated outside clubs, Hesse emptied small bag (6)
SACHET - SAT has C (clubs) and HE (Hesse emptied) inserted.
8 Wicked deeds at or around large towns (10)
ATROCITIES - AT, OR reversed, CITIES.
9 Poet relieved of diamonds getting payment in advance (4)
ANTE - the poet DANTE loses his D.
10 Why logician won't accept chair is obvious (6,2,6)
STANDS TO REASON - Cryptic definition ha ha.
11 Daily forced to cancel leader in ridiculous pretence (7)
CHARADE - CHAR (daily) (M)ADE.
13 Headless corpse is sent back for certain journey (7)
ODYSSEY - (B)ODY'S = headless corpse is, YES reversed = sent back for certain.
15 Divine law associated with electoral system (7)
PREDICT - PR (electoral system) EDICT (law).
18 Country folk involved in operatic number (7)
ARMENIA - MEN (folk) inside ARIA.
21 Nobleman to free bananas at this point stuck in tree (4,2,3,5)
PEER OF THE REALM - PALM is the tree, into which insert (TO FREE)* and HERE.
22 Fortify, across the pond, a private thoroughfare (4)
GIRD - GI (across the pond a private), RD (thoroughfare). My loins are frequently girded.
23 One to quit troubled Dáil Eireann — that causes rush! (10)
ADRENALINE - (DA L EIREANN)*.
24 Irishman joins Anglicans for spirited meeting (6)
SEANCE - SEAN the Irish chap joins CE the Church of England. Perhaps not.
25 Outrageous sort of animus (8)
INFAMOUS - (OF ANIMUS)*.
Down
1 Brilliant rescue dog detailed to enter cricket club (7)
CLASSIC - CC cricket club has LASSI(E) a 'detailed dog' inserted.
2 Horse carrying disease endlessly spread (9)
MARMALADE - MARE the horse has MALAD(Y) inserted.
3 Song about stinker seen in rural idyll (7)
ARCADIA - ARIA (song, as in 18a), has CAD (stinker) inserted.
4 Style shown in being short with the French (7)
ENTITLE - ENTITY = being, shortened = ENTIT, LE the in French.
5 One to support stocking revolutionary American poet (9)
SUSPENDER - SU = revolutionary American, SPENDER as in Stephen Spender a poet.
6 Husband tucking into liqueur that’s got body (7)
CHASSIS - CASSIS a blackcurrant liqueur, has H for husband inserted.
7 Agreement achieved with three tens, minus tips (7)
ENTENTE - (T)EN, TEN, TE(N).
12 Researcher wanting this instruction to make tea? (9)
DOCTORATE - to get TEA you need to 'doctor' ATE. First insticts were that a doctorate is a qualification being sought, or obtained, but here it refers to a person in course of obtaining one, perhaps with an added word 'student' being understood.
14 Romanians on the rampage in small republic (3,6)
SAN MARINO - (ROMANIANS)*.
16 Alligator is one regarding soft floor covering (7)
REPTILE - RE (regarding), P (soft), TILE (floor covering).
17 Prepare without finishing and study in China (7)
DRESDEN - DRES(S), DEN = study.
18 Long article about a provincial Greek (7)
ACHAEAN - ACHE (long), AN (article), insert A. An Achaean comes from an area of Greece in the NW Peloponnese.
19 Wine stain unfortunately showing up (7)
MARSALA - MAR = stain, ALAS reversed.
20 After correction, smile, as lacking purpose (7)
AIMLESS - (SMILE AS)*.

Times Quick Cryptic 1467 by Oink

Nothing too scary here. Plenty of footholds and generous clueing meant I was only held up at the very end by 17ac, which I did not know and took ages to switch gears from the usual abbreviations for doctor. No piggies today (well, they do eat noisily) but we have a different farmyard creature, so that's okay.

Definitions underlined.


Across
1 Out of place as a teacher? (5)
AMISS - A and MISS (teacher).
4 Best pot I foolishly presented to old lady (7)
OPTIMUM - anagram of (foolishly) POT I, then MUM (old lady).
8 Passage from old pamphlet (7)
EXTRACT - EX (old) and TRACT (pamphlet).
9 Weaken finally in bankruptcy dispute (3-2)
RUN-IN - last letter of (finally) weakeN inside RUIN (bankruptcy).
10 In prison, where landlords ought to be? (6,4)
BEHIND BARS - straight/cryptic definition, the second referring to publicans.
14 Prices tumbling? Goodness me! (6)
CRIPES - anagram of (tumbling) PRICES.
15 Hope that you may find in church? (6)
ASPIRE - straight/cryptic definition, although really you might find a spire on a church.
17 Doctor pointed at university contingent (10)
DEPUTATION - anagram of (doctor) POINTED AT and U (university).
20 Noisily eat lunch, enjoying different starter (5)
MUNCH - {L}UNCH with a different first letter (starter), in this case M.
22 Soldier scowls occasionally, shading head with this? (7)
PARASOL - PARA (soldier) and every other letter from (occasionally) ScOwLs.
23 Bright around north-east for Mrs Mop? (7)
CLEANER - CLEAR (bright) surrounding (around) NE (north-east).
24 Delete some camera settings (5)
ERASE - hidden in (some) camERA SEttings.

Down
1 Only half of the 26 letters help (4)
ABET - half of alphABET (26 letters).
2 Island postman regularly delivering letter (4)
IOTA - I (island) and every other letter from (regularly) pOsTmAn.
3 Men at test making declaration (9)
STATEMENT - anagram of (making) MEN AT TEST.
4 Get better of old fool, nabbing last of Cointreau (6)
OUTWIT - O (old) and TWIT (fool) surrounding (nabbing) the last letter of cointreaU.
5 Reversing right round a sailor (3)
TAR - reversal of RT (right) surrounding (round) A.
6 Fruit for senior civil servant (8)
MANDARIN - double definition.
7 One visiting cathedral: Foreign Secretary perhaps (8)
MINISTER - I (one) inside (visiting) MINSTER (cathedral).
11 Sid back on track in speech (9)
DISCOURSE -reversal of (back) SID then COURSE (track).
12 Scholarly chap of no practical help (8)
ACADEMIC - double definition. Or maybe just a definition!
13 Son has 9p — or a little less? (8)
SIXPENCE - S (son), IX (nine), and PENCE (p). The definition refers to the rest of the clue, i.e. sixpence is a little less than 9p.
16 Puts up other ranks in drunken state (6)
STUPOR - reversal of (up) PUTS, then OR (other ranks).
18 Like India, having a large land area (4)
ASIA - AS (like), I (india), and A.
19 Run away with circus performer, you say? (4)
FLEE - sounds like (you say) "flea" (circus performer).
21 Glasgow woman found in Parthenon (3)
HEN - hidden in (found in) partHENon.

Times Quick Cryptic 1466 by Joker

This QC was so well devised that it led me the wrong way around most of the clues. I gave up on any thought of timings and settled down to work through and enjoy the cleverness of the clues. I struggled most trying to finish in the NE but made it in the end.
For Jackkt (and anyone else) who has mentioned problems with reading the font, I would point out that the word in 3dn is BURN (not bum).
Read more...Collapse )

Times Cryptic 27488

I've no solving time to offer for this one as I was distracted and forgot to note how long I was away from it. There were a couple of answers unknown to me and an unknown meaning required for parsing, but much of this was straightforward enough. I thought we were in for a pangram but we are missing V and J.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

QC 1465 by Hurley

There will be jubilation in certain quarters when I say that I honestly have no time to say anything this week except:

1. Medium difficulty
2. FOI: 5A
3. LOI: 13A
4. COD: 1A

Many thanks to Hurley for another entertaining cup of tea.

Definitions are underlined in italics. Everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Country girl’s examination (7)
PERUSAL - PERU (country) + SAL (girl).
5 Signify average (4)
MEAN - double definition.
7 Traitor oddly missed in port (3)
RIO - miss out the odd letters of tRaItOr.
8 Aware lad’s suffering unfair treatment (1,3,4)
A RAW DEAL - straight anagram ('suffering') of AWARE LAD.
10 Got the odour of fish (5)
SMELT - double definition. As in 'I smelt the smelt'.
11 In natural movement edit books, English, on return (3,4)
EBB TIDE - EDIT + BB (books) + E (English) all reversed ('on return').
13 Doorman’s endless resilience (6)
BOUNCE - remove the end from BOUNCEr (doorman).
15 Genuine in path one’s taken (6)
HONEST - hidden word: patH ONES Taken.
17 Start to notice, we hear, area away from land (4,3)
OPEN SEA - OPEN (start) + SEA (sounds like SEE (notice)).
18 Excellent protest at noon (5)
DEMON - DEMO (protest) + N (noon). DEMON can be an adjective as in 'a demon card player' or 'a demon driver'.
20 Tess welcoming European I’d at first engaged in regional area (8)
TEESSIDE - TESS 'welcoming' E (European) + ID (I'd) + E (at first Engaged).
22 Originally filed under national merriment? (3)
FUN - first letters ('originally') of Filed Under National.
23 Colour clash? Yes, in part (4)
ASHY - hidden word: clASH Yes.
24 Frantically lug a new section of boat (7)
GUNWALE - straight anagram of LUG A NEW.
Down
1 Abroad, broke, a shop providing help for translation? (6,4)
PHRASE BOOK - straight anagram ('abroad') of BROKE A SHOP.
2 With new start, shone in river (5)
RHONE - give SHONE a new start and you could get RHONE.
3 After fight, thanks copper and son, leader of revolt (9)
SPARTACUS - SPAR (fight) + TA (thanks) + CU (copper (chemical symbol)) + S (son).
4 Gloomy field retreat (6)
LEADEN - LEA (field) + DEN (retreat in the sense of study).
5 Foolish mother supported by daughter (3)
MAD - MA (mother) 'supported by' (i.e. 'on top of' in this down clue) D (daughter).
6 Greed, a bad habit, ensnaring artist on rise (7)
AVARICE - A VICE (bad habit) 'ensnaring' RA (artist) reversed ('on rise' in this down clue).
9 Relevance of net price uncertain around northeast (10)
PERTINENCE - anagram of NET PRICE ('uncertain') around NE (northeast).
12 Barn, abode, unusually for this vegetable? (5,4)
BROAD BEAN - straight anagram ('unusually') of BARN ABODE.
14 Stupid plea to economize? (7)
USELESS - a plea to economise might be USE LESS.
16 Darling, left out as reckless (6)
DARING - hardly needs explanation: take L (left) out of DARlING.
19 Criminal organisation’s aim to take in footballers all round? (5)
MAFIA - AIM 'taking in' FA (Football Association) 'all round', i.e. all reversed.
21 Catch sight of Bond perhaps (3)
SPY - double definition.

Times 27487 - A Picasso in the works!

Time: 66 minutes
Music: Oliver Nelson, Blues and the Abstract Truth

I don't know about you, but I found this very clever and very tough.   If you don't pay careful attention to the cryptics, you won't get anywhere, because the literals are pretty well concealed.   I might have been a little tired from today's golf, but even if I were fresh and rested I don't think I would have done very well.   The SNITCH shows that most solvers found this pretty difficult.   My main problem was getting started, and after twenty minutes I had only a few answers.   Once you have a few crossers, then you may be able to pick up steam - which I did, only to get stuck again in all four corners.    In the end, I had only one answer I couldn't parse, and I may discover how that one works as I write the blog.

Across
1 Spring tax returns for Picasso? (8)
SPANIARD - SPA + DRAIN backwards.
5 Reproductive organ of fish feels oddly deficient (6)
CARPEL - CARP + [f]E[e]L[s], not to be confused with carpal.
9 Small ducks ruined patch of ground (3)
LOT - LO[s]T, as a building lot.
10 Splendidly accoutred drunk embracing mean one thus (11)
CAPARISONED - CA(PAR I SO)NED.  'Caned' is evidently an obscure UK slang expression, as I had supposed.
12 Ultimately frantic perhaps as jockeys refuse to go on these (10)
SCRAPHEAPS - Anagram of [franti]C PERHAPS AS.   I spotted the defintion early on, but had a hard time finding the cryptic.
13 Master mariner wearing breeches inside out (4)
BOSS - B(O.S)S, where the inside of breeches is 'out', so don't use it!
15 Leaders of party salute your revolutionary spirit (6)
PSYCHE - P[arty] S[alute] Y[our] + CHE, a straight translation of Latin into Greek.
16 Drop unbounded passion for EU nation (7)
ROMANIA - [d]RO[p] + MANIA.  I was afraid 'EU' was part of the cryptic, and it would turn out to be a country from some other continent.
18 One's favourite American drive (7)
IMPETUS - I'M + PET + US, my FOI.
20 Without a pair of spectacles, kiss and cuddle something wicked! (6)
CANDLE - CAN[oo]DLE, a simple letter-removal clue for a literal using a chestnutty concealment technique.
23 Complaint coming from Isaac Newton (4)
ACNE - hidden in [Isa]AC NE[wton].
24 Jumping beans, a meal for Jack (4,6)
ABLE SEAMAN - anagram of BEANS, A MEAL to give us the full version of AB!
26 Treated Uncle Tom, being doctor (5,6)
LOCUM TENENS - anagram of UNCLE TOM + ENS, a Latin word meaning 'being', widely used in philosophy.   A 'locum tenens' just means a substitute, but has come to be associated with the medical profession, since doctors can't very well go on vacation and tell their patients to wait until they return.
27 Join old man, heading some way back (3)
ADD - DAD, with the initial letter moved to the middle, as it would be 'all the way back' if the end was meant.
28 Fury engulfing English crown (6)
WREATH - WR(E)ATH.
29 Lug instrument and books round room (8)
OTOSCOPE - OT + O + SCOPE.  I suspected early that 'lug' would turn out to be 'ear', but not in so literal a sense.
Down
1 Climbing southern mountains with husband in plaster (6)
SPLASH - S ALPS upside-down + H.
2 Star of panto was leaving wings with resolution (7)
ANTARES - [p]ANT[o] [w]A[s] + RES.   I saw early on that Antares would fit, but only discovered it was in fact the answer much later.
3 Weakness of urban housing control (10)
INCAPACITY - IN (CAPA) CITY.   I'm not sure of this one, but CAPA is a control point in QMS.    I'm sure glad I'm retired and don't have to go to management training seminars any more.
4 Deplorable fellow stops fermenting Pilsner beer (13)
REPREHENSIBLE - HE inside an anagram of PILSNER BEER.
6 Too early? Stop regularly (4)
ALSO - [e]A[r]L[y] S[t]O[p].
7 Buccaneer less angry aboard working barge (7)
PONTOON - P[irate] + ONTO + ON.
8 Albatross heard above head of superstitious sailor and his guide (8)
LODESTAR - sounds like LOAD + S[uperstitious] TAR.
11 Criminal charge for tough guys in court is getting closer (13)
RAPPROCHEMENT - RAP + PRO + C(HE-MEN)T.
14 Supply insane sum to retain a literary assistant (10)
AMANUENSIS - Anagram of INSANE SUM, the closest we're going to get to a chestnut today.
17 Refuse to sanction pallid policeman at first (8)
DISALLOW - D.I. + SALLOW, our old friend the Detective Inspector.
19 Flamboyant style long crushed by censure (7)
PANACHE - PAN + ACHE.
21 Delay arresting university doctor over complaint (7)
LUMBAGO - L(U M.B.)AG + O, one I biffed and then analyzed.
22 Third of troopers, say, retreat, upset and nervous (2,4)
ON EDGE - [tr]O[opers] + E.G. DEN upside down.
25 Belch while keeling over (4)
EMIT - TIME upside down, where belch has a metaphorical sense, as in 'belching smoke'. 

Mephisto 3085 - Don Manley

A puzzle so nice I had to share it twice.

I'm off on a golf weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and I thought I had brought my printed copy of the puzzle to write it up in a rare moment of sobriety, but it turns out that was not the case and I had to solve it over again.

From memory, it took me about 15 minutes, so I guess that is the equivalent of a Mephisto meutrino?

For Mephisto puzzles, all definitions (underlined) can be checked in Chambers, so in the blog I will focus on wordplay.

Away we go...

Across
1 Idiot copper’s put into cell (5)
ASCUS - ASS(idiot) containing CU(copper)
6 First-class chums around at Oxford? (6)
SLAP-UP - reversal of PALS(chums) then UP(at Oxford)
11 Smart shelter redesigned, lined with a tough material (12, two words)
NEATS LEATHER - NEAT(smart) then an anagram of SHELTER containing A
12 Greek in one story one set of books covered (8)
ITALIOTE - I(one) and TALE(story) containing OT(set of books)
14 Small creatures in major road blocking vehicle (5)
ACARI - The A1(major road) containing CAR(vehicle)
15 Beginner is jovial when knocked over (4)
NOOB - BOON(jovial) reversed. A term possibly making its Sunday Times debut
16 Old money for one who’s helped make 11? (6)
TANNER - double definition, since 11 is leather
17 Artless young chap at home, dope of the upper-classes (6)
INGENU - IN(at home), GEN(dope), U(upper-class)
18 Botanical part's found in grit by lake (8)
STAMINAL - STAMINA(grit), L(lake)
23 Like some languages in journal lacking particular letters? (8)
JAPHETIC - J(journal), APHETIC(missing a vowel at the start of a word)
26 Arrive en masse fishing with banks to be avoided (6, two words)
ROLL IN - TROLLING(fishing) missing the first and last letters
27 Helmet made of gold coated with particular pigment (6)
HEAUME - AU(gold) inside HEME(pigment)
29 A rescuer of animals has tail cut off wild beast (4)
ANOA - A, NOAH(recuer of animals) missing the last letter
31 A never-ending dull task that’s done — no longer with a smile (5)
AGRIN - A, then GRIND(never-ending task) missing the last letter
32 New menu that is about to be offered — food may be presented thus (8)
MEUNIERE -  anagram of MENU then IE(that is), RE(about)
33 Liar currently succeeding with article — something hazy about that (12)
MISINFORMANT - IN FORM(currently succeeding), AN(article) inside MIST(something hazy)
34 Beer firm admitting contaminant finally? Fury is result (6)
ALECTO - ALE(beer) then CO(firm) containing the last letter in contaminanT
35 Special house staff, time-wasting group (5)
MANSE - MAN(staff) then SET(group) without T(time)

Down
1 Woman in temple and saint set up sums for certain widows (6)
ANNATS - ANNA(the prophetess from the book of Luke), then ST(saint) reversed
2 Fish about to be brought into stations (7, two words)
SEA CATS - CA(about) inside SEATS(stations
3 Chalet in July/August period in biblical location (6)
CABANA - AB(July and August in the Jewish calendar) inside CANA(biblical location)
4 Vengeance shown by sailors in a complete reversal (5)
U-TURN - UTU(vengeance) then RN(sailors)
5 Alien can’t learn English? Special training needed (10)
ALTERNANCE - anagram of CANT,LEARN then E(English)
7 Sing of a land divorced from reality? (4)
LA-LA - double definition (the second referring to LA-LA LAND)
8 Excited, sitting by the fire? (7)
ATINGLE - sittinng by the fire you may be AT INGLE
9 Hope abandoned with nothing gained, end of story? Nonsense! (6)
PHOOEY - anagram of HOPE containing O(nothing), then the last letter in storY
10 Presumably bust, in need of alms somehow — somehow secure earlier? (6)
PRE-BUY - anagram of PRESUMABLY minus ALMS
13 Something unimportant making one terribly paranoid — stop getting involved (10)
ADIAPHORON - anagram of PARANOID containing HO
19 Black male with vigour and style in charge (7)
MELANIC - M(male), ELAN(vigour and style), IC(in charge)
20 Man is repeatedly confused with apes (7)
SIMIANS - anagram of MAN, IS,IS
21 Grass in school overlooking river (6)
GRAMMA - GRAMMAR school missing R(river)
22 Loud insect makes splash (6)
FLOUSE - F(loud), LOUSE(insect)
24 Old Muslim not wanting Sikh symbol gets to prohibit … this? (6)
TURBAN - TURK(old Muslim) missing one of the five K's (Sikh symbol)
25 Church getting to mark place of sacrifice? (6)
CENOTE - CE(church), NOTE(mark)
28 Lizard eaten by stag — amazing! (5)
AGAMA - hidden inside stAG AMAzing
30 Six no trumps in a card game (4)
VINT - VI(six) NT(no trumps)

Sunday Times 4872 by Robert Price

7:09. A pretty easy one from Bob this week, but none the worse for that. There are lots of fun and creative clues in here, starting with a neat ‘answer as clue’ number at 1ac (which I didn’t get immediately), and then a witty device at 5ac. Nothing is particularly hard, but I found myself repeatedly thinking ‘oh well done’ as the pennies dropped in fairly quick succession. Saturday’s (12 October) was a complete beast of a puzzle so this was a welcome contrast.

My only unknown was 3dn BOOKLOUSE. I had bunged in WOODLOUSE as the only possible wee beastie that could fit, which made 1ac a bit tricky, but fortunately something in my speed-solving brain registered that WOOD didn’t really work for ‘reserve’ and I reconsidered quite quickly.

So thanks to Bob for a very enjoyable puzzle, and here’s how I think it all works.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

Across
1 Clue to patients’ accommodation problem
DRAWBACK - DRAW BACK is WARD, so the answer is a clue to ‘patient’s accommodation’. Nice.
5 Extravagant high-five!
SLAP-UP - because a high five is a (hand) slap in the air (up). Also nice.
9 Dry European drink in greenish-blue
TEETOTAL - TE(E, TOT)AL.
10 Office equipment that is right next to PC
COPIER - COP (PC), IE, R.
11 Watch heads of government in lectures on sex
VIGIL - VI, first letters of government in lectures. ‘Sex’ (six in Latin) for VI is becoming quite commonplace.
12 Disorganised leader to host a quiet venture
HAPHAZARD - Host, A, P, HAZARD.
14 Cut down on Geordie sides to suppress incompetence
USELESSNESS - USE LESS (cut down on), NE (Geordie), SuppresS.
18 Comic accepts change to Melchester’s first daydreamer
WALTER MITTY - W(ALTER, Melchester)ITTY. How old do you have to be to remember Roy of the Rovers, I wonder?
21 Fan of old farm equipment
EXTRACTOR - or EX TRACTOR.
23 Big beast in foreign river
HIPPO - HIP (in), PO (foreign river).
24 Line showing pressure of abrasion, endlessly repaired
ISOBAR - (aBRASIOn)*.
25 Twisting cap in hands, check clothes
SCREW TOP - S(CREW)TOP. The hands are the CREW, and STOP (check) is ‘clothing’ them. A lovely clue where the surface is completely at odds with the wordplay.
26 Part of plant in which stewed meat is tinned?
STAMEN - (MEAT)* contained in SN (the chemical symbol for tin). Excellent stuff.
27 Painter needing frames someone locked away
INTERNEE - contained in ‘painter needing’.

Down
1 A case of Garland’s last musical making a comeback
DATIVE - garlanD, reversal of EVITA (musical).
2 Exact payment for archdeacon’s time touring
AVENGE - A(VEN)GE. I know from doing these things that VEN (venerable) is a title given to an archdeacon, but I don’t really know what an archdeacon is.
3 Tiny animal reserve close to small river
BOOKLOUSE - BOOK, smalL, OUSE.
4 Doctor clears them around hotel in case a nut goes inside
CRASH HELMET - (CLEARS THEM)* containing H (hotel).
6 Creamy mixture tipped on a sponge
LOOFA - reversal of FOOL (creamy mixture), A. I went through a phase of making FOOLs a few years ago. You can make them with cream or custard. The former is a lot easier.
7 Minister mostly collects tax for servicemen
PRIVATES - PRI(VAT)ESt.
8 Spectacle that moves around is promised land
PARADISE - PARAD(IS)E.
13 Travelling to Peru in car from San Juan?
PUERTO RICAN - (TO PERU IN CAR)*.
15 Power over Lancashire? That makes me smile
SAY CHEESE - SAY (influence, power), CHEESE. Mmm, Kirkham’s Lancashire...
16 Singular couples taking in little darlings
SWEETIES - S(WEE), TIES
17 Request that God divides wealth
PLETHORA - PLE(THOR)A. Other Avengers are available.
19 Perfect time to interrupt kiss and cuddle
SPOT-ON - SPO(T)ON. SPOON for snog, or something similar, came up the other day and triggered some discussion.
20 Rug to go under end of bureau
TOUPEE - TO, bureaU, PEE.
22 Native American wanting horse with speed
APACE - APAChE.
Greetings this week from Estes Park, Colorado, on the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park, into which tomorrow morning I shall be venturing, full of missionary zeal to bring news of the Times Cryptic Crossword to the black bear population therein.

A well-put together Jumbo, this, though it made me sad because I managed to bung in STAKEHOLDERS for SHAREHOLDERS, an error I feel sure I've committed before. I mean a company's investors could be its STAKEHOLDERS, SHAREHOLDERS or STOCKHOLDERS and agriculturists could as well be brandishing stakes or even stocks as shares, though admittedly only the last of those could really be described as a "cutting edge", more's the pity.

Many of the answers went in rather quickly but there were also some cracking (semi-)&lits and a few other really clever moments - I particularly liked the Roman maths in 16ac and that, therefore, shall be my COD for this one. Good work setter!

ACROSS
1 Brightly coloured hat? We hear you are wearing that (5)
LURID - LID [hat], "worn" by U R ["we hear" you are]

4 Sound from above? This is missing below (7)
THUNDER - TH{is} UNDER

8 Husband considered “never good”' in retrospect, showing a certain sort of fake concern (9)
GREENWASH - reversed H SAW NE'ER G [husband | considered | never | good]

13 Specialist element said to be backing police investigator (9)
TECHNICAL - homophone of NICKEL [element], backing TEC [police investigator]

14 Team falling apart? That's very funny (13)
SIDESPLITTING - or SIDE SPLITTING [team | falling apart]

15 Singer thus embracing musical work took off (7)
SOPRANO - SO [thus] "embracing" OP. RAN [musical work | took off]

16 Numbers in financial documents — one number therein multiplied by five (7)
AMOUNTS - take ACCOUNTS [financial documents], and multiply its CC [200] by V [5] to get M instead

17 One that may go through wood in county with endless wonder (7)
BUCKSAW - BUCKS [county] + AW{e} ["endless" wonder]

18 Total entertainment — everything being enjoyed by blondes? (3,3,3,2,3,4)
ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR - with a cryptic alternative definition, with "fair" now suggesting hair colour.

21 After victory you initially like a drink in the bar? (4)
WINY - after WIN [victory], Y{ou}

23 Criminal ten gaoled, given a stretch (9)
ELONGATED - (TEN GAOLED*) ["criminal"]

25 Fierce folk, initially getting into rows (6)
TIGERS - G{etting} "into" TIERS [rows]

26 Move your hips without hesitation — thanks to me? (6)
PHYSIO - (YO{ur} HIPS*) ["move"], UR being the hesitation needing to be removed from the anagrist. Semi-&lit

28 Agriculturists at the cutting edge who hope to do well from investments? (12)
SHAREHOLDERS - or agriculturists may hold a (plough)share to be at the cutting edge.

30 One given go-ahead sign, beginning to travel east in splendid emergency vehicle (4,6)
FIRE ENGINE - I [one], given GREEN [go-ahead sign] but with its first letter travelling eastwards to its end, inside FINE [splendid]

33 Verbiage used by fashionable folk in London location (10)
PADDINGTON - PADDING [verbiage] by TON [fashionable folk]

34 Mean person who achieves little success as a pickpocket? (5-7)
PENNY-PINCHER - or, if you are a pickpocket who manages to pinch only pennies, you aren't doing very well.

37 Celebrity and agent in front of truck (6)
REPUTE - REP [agent] in front of UTE [truck]

39 Love, very good, had to be seen in one man's view of religion (6)
OPIATE - O PI ATE [love | very good | had]. Karl Marx's view, opiate of the masses etc etc.

40 Original equine measure — from the horse's mouth! (5-4)
FIRST-HAND - or FIRST HAND [original | equine measurement]

42 Country refugee's claim about what he or she did? (4)
IRAN - or I RAN (away)!

43 Re Lent: Christianity constructed basic set of beliefs (6-4,8)
THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES - (RE LENT CHRISTIANITY*) ["constructed"]. The defining statements of the doctrines and practices of the Church of England.

46 In saint one recognises someone who prays lyrically? (7)
INTONER - hidden in {sa}INT ONE R{ecognises}

47 Combed and scrubbed (7)
SCOURED - double def

48 Periodical facing difficulty, having nothing that provides spark (7)
MAGNETO - MAG [periodical], facing NET [difficulty], having O [nothing]. I took a long time convincing myself that NET was a difficulty exactly, but it certainly is if you're a fish?

50 A scholar, I get excited when there's buried circle? (13)
ARCHAEOLOGIST - (A SCHOLAR I GET*) ["excited"] with O [circle] "buried", very nice &lit

51 What you may see with photograph of mum and computer? (9)
MAINFRAME - or MA IN FRAME, what you may see with photo of mum!

52 Game plan to engage one who’s willing to take highlevel risks (4,5)
TEST PILOT - TEST [game (of cricket)] + PLOT [plan] to "engage" I [one]

53 With worker having little energy, movement is slow (7)
ANDANTE - AND ANT [with | worker] + E ["little" energy]

54 Very little support given to American city (5)
TEENY - TEE [support] given to N.Y. [American city]

DOWN
1 Group of dreamers tolerates us working (5-6)
LOTUS-EATERS - (TOLERATES US*) ["working"]

2 Playing field a player's first to go back over (5)
RECAP - REC A [playing field | a] + P{layer}

3 Sign in with teeth sadly amiss — to see the likes of us? (6,10)
DENTAL HYGIENISTS - (SIGN IN + TEETH SADLY*) ["amiss"], another highly polished semi-&lit

4 Rebuke coming from country bumpkin losing head, interrupting smart gent (4,3)
TICK OFF - {h}ICK [country bumpkin "losing head"] "interrupting" TOFF [smart gent]

5 Without guidance, without merit, without knowledge (9)
UNLEARNED - UNLED [without guidance] "without" EARN [merit]

6 Unease that could be engendered by sitcom if rude (12)
DISCOMFITURE - (SITCOM IF RUDE*)

7 Managing school and boosted by success (6,4)
RIDING HIGH - RIDING [managing] + HIGH [school]

8 Non-English visitors — they may breeze in (5)
GUSTS - GU{e}STS [visitors, minus E for English]

9 From collection of old politician, by chance not complete (2-6)
EX-LIBRIS - EX-LIB [old politician], by RIS{k} [chance "not complete"]

10 See old books with pleasant binding (6)
NOTICE - O.T. [old books] with NICE [pleasant] "binding"

11 Like position of sailor maybe, well away from port? (9)
AMIDSHIPS - a sailor is probably found AMID SHIPS? I'm not sure that amidships actually means away from port as much as it does away from bow and stern, but I'm a landlubber so what would I know really.

12 Why each dog must be trained — one included rules for walkers etc. (7,4)
HIGHWAY CODE - (WHY EACH DOG*) ["trained"], with I [one] "included"

19 Man is fat — very many years getting stuffed (7)
LEONARD - LARD [fat] "stuffed" with EON [very many years]

20 Strange female, old, having time in office (7)
FOREIGN - F O REIGN [female | old | time in office]

22 To have low opinion of modern technology? That matters not a bit! (5,7,2,2)
THINK NOTHING OF IT - or else THINK NOTHING OF I.T.

24 For all that it is hard inside, it is hard outside (6)
THOUGH - H [hard] inside TOUGH [hard]

27 One sad little person, boy getting lost (6)
WEEPER - WEE [little] + PER{son} [losing SON = boy]

29 Careless type in drive policeman caught out (7)
DROPPER - DR {c}OPPER [drive | policeman, minus C = caught]

31 Outcast somewhat masculine, from what we hear (7)
ISHMAEL - ISH [somewhat] + homophone of MALE [masculine]. Son of Abraham, cast out after the birth of Isaac.

32 Terrible English editor getting told off got worse (12)
DETERIORATED - (E EDITOR*) ["terrible"] + RATED [told off]

33 Some old company worker quietly interrupts active member (11)
PARTICIPANT - PART ICI ANT [some | old company | worker] "interrupted" by P [quietly]

35 Hellish situation in rescue operation? Find that's not new (11)
REDISCOVERY - DIS [hellish situation] in RECOVERY [rescue operation]

36 Woman who went up barely making an impression? (4,6)
LADY GODIVA - cryptic def. "Up" as in "on a horse", "barely" as in "in the nude".

38 Procedures involving amounts charged when only part of play is screened (9)
PRACTICES - PRICES [amounts charged] "screening" ACT [only part of play]

40 WC, maybe “Gents”, for cricketers (9)
FIELDSMEN - FIELDS [WC, the children-and-dog-hating comedian] + MEN [gents]

41 Fuel must be cleaner — firm beginning to abandon oil finally (8)
CHARCOAL - CHAR CO [cleaner | firm] + A{bandon} {oi}L

44 A home in the capital offers a sort of lettuce (7)
ROMAINE - A IN [a | home] in ROME [capital]

45 Head of government spots uprising — answer is to make a settlement (6)
ENCAMP - reversed PM ACNE [head of government | spots]

47 Explorer lodging in this cottage (5)
SCOTT - hidden in {thi}S COTT{age}

49 Cheer brought by counselling service, right away (5)
ELATE - {r}ELATE [counselling service, minus R = right]
Well, that was too hard for me! Two clues had wordplay that could be used to confirm the (unknown) answer, but for me weren’t specific enough to construct it. Several other answers I biffed, and will have to try to work out the wordplay so I can finish this blog. We’ll see how I go! It was a shame, I thought, because there were many clues, even the unknown 13dn, where one could work out the answer with the aid of the wordplay and checkers and with a sense of triumph.

Several comments on last week’s blog pointed out the problem with 16ac. Although they were all careful to avoid spoilers, it’s worth a reminder that we try not to say anything relating to competition puzzles until the deadline has passed.

My clue of the day was 5dn, where I saw the answer and noted that I would have to look up the relevance of Newcastle for the blog. It turned out to be a nice surprise! Thanks to the setter for a very challenging puzzle.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets]. The blog is in Times New Roman font, as part of a gentle campaign to urge the club site to use a font in which it is easier to tell one’s stem from one’s stern.

Across
1 Reduced visibility with large eye shade (5)
HAZEL – HAZE, L[arge].

4 Big loans arranged by on-line control centre (6-3)
SIGNAL-BOX – “arranged” (BIG LOANS X*), where X is “by”.

9 Push on taps to obtain drink in pub? (4,5)
MILK STOUT – TOUT (push) after MILKS (taps).

10 Great enthusiasm to blow over (5)
GUSTO – GUST, O[ver].

11 Chap needing transport periodically when on breaks (6)
JOHNNY – JOY (transport) ‘broken by’ -H-N-N (the alternate letters of ‘when on’).

12 Stick around with girl after five to get the tube (4,4)
VENA CAVA – CANE (stick) backwards (around) with AVA (girl) after V (five). The two vena cavae are large veins that return deoxygenated blood from the body into the heart.

14 Girl in club’s second tango in the dress (6-2-2)
MOTHER-TO-BE – MO (second), then T (tango) in THE ROBE (dress). (Just cracked the parsing now.)

16 Synthesiser’s small volume expanded by twin buttons? (4)
MOOG – oops. A milligram (MG) is a weight, not a volume. Z8b8d8k described this in the comments as a “category error”. That sent me off to explore the internet, until I finally gave up trying to understand what those philosophers are talking about! Anyway, I assume the two buttons are O-O.

19 Cutting short Scotsman’s shirt (4)
SARK – SARK[y] is cutting, as in sarcastic. I could think of several words that might mean “cutting” or near enough, and had no idea which one gave “shirt” in Gaelic, so I looked this one up.

20 Welshman taking cruise after year in the country (5,5)
IVORY COAST – IVOR, Y (year), COAST (cruise).

22 Swears it’s wrong for woman to give orders (8)
WAITRESS – (SWEARS IT*) ‘wrong’. The woman you give orders to, not the one you take orders from. (Hint: that’s your wife!)

23 City’s silent pledge after missing the final (6)
MUMBAI – MUM (silent), BAI- (‘missing the final’ L from ‘bail’).

26 Muscle linked to hip or tongue (5)
LATIN – LAT (latissimus dorsii muscle), IN (hip).

27 Jack maybe to ask for comb (5,4)
COURT CARD – COURT (ask for), CARD (comb, used to prepare e.g. wool for spinning). In card games, kings, queens and jacks are court cards.

28 Quietly detests being involved in key software trial (5-4)
ALPHA-TEST – P, HATES in ALT.

29 Symbol in, perhaps, Persian he backed to preface poem (5)
MOTIF – the Persian ‘he’ is a TOM. Turn him around and put him in front of the crossword setter’s most well-used poem.


Down
1 English press probing old PM’s instruction to coachman? (4,5)
HOME JAMES – E, JAM (press) ‘probing’ HOME’S (Sir Alec Douglas-Home, that is). Home, James was apparently a 1928 silent movie. I knew the quote but not its source.

2 Bet revolving around husband’s love (5)
ZILCH – ZIL (Liz, Bet, Betty, Elizabeth ‘revolving’), C (around), H (husband), all giving love (zip/nada/zilch).

3 Spellbound lover in forest led astray with yarns (8)
LYSANDER – (LED, YARNS*) ‘astray’. The character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

4 Drop clock setting (4)
SPOT – triple definition!

5 Contracted Newcastle disease, possibly, after consuming last of our port (10)
GOTHENBURG – GOT (contracted), HEN BUG (Newcastle disease), ‘consuming’ R (last of ‘our’). I dreamed up all sorts of theories about what ‘hen’ had to do with ‘Newcastle’, but I now discover it’s a highly contagious poultry disease, aka a hen bug. Very clever!

6 An eagle hadn’t every second passed over the sea (6)
AEGEAN – A-E-G-E-A-N- are the alternate letters of ‘an eagle hadn’t’.

7 Brazilian steps put of van as boos reverberating (5,4)
BOSSA NOVA – (VAN AS BOOS*) ‘reverberating’. Blame it on the Bossa Nova!

8 Cross book’s dispensing with English language (5)
XHOSA – X (cross), HOSEA (book), without the E. An ethnic group from South Africa and their language.

13 Poisonous plant in a way welcome — almost blessed (10)
STAVESACRE – ST (way), AVE (welcome), SACRE[d] ‘almost’. Didn’t know of the plant.

15 Vegetable roll and one pint before work (6,3)
TURNIP TOP – TURN (roll), 1 (one), PT (pint), OP (work). I constructed this, but had trouble believing it’s a vegetable. I looked it up. It is.

17 Hear about double celebration, arriving in force for one returning (3,4,2)
GET WIND OF – TWIN (double) DO (celebration), all in F (force) EG (for one) ‘returning’. For a while I thought ‘double’ might be TWO, and was trying to make GET WORD OF.

18 Get used cents in gold: most unusual (8)
ACCUSTOM – CC (cents) in AU (gold), then (MOST*) ‘unusual’.

21 Inspiration for stars raised in a form of football academy originally (6)
URANIA – IN A RU (a form of football), all ‘raised’), then A[cademy]. I think this is the first time I’ve seen Rugby Union admitted as football in the Crossword! Usually it’s just ‘a sport’. Anyway, Urania was, in Greek mythology, the muse of astronomy.

22 Girl is going to, may never quite finish (5)
WILMA – WIL[l], MA[y]. Not sure I’m convinced I’ve understood this!

24 Cracker that’s filled maybe automatically (5)
BEAUT – hidden answer.

25 Still avoiding eastern desert (4)
QUIT – QUIT[e]. On edit, thanks to isla3, QUI[e]T is a better fit to "still".

Quick Cryptic 1464 by Tracy

Well, I started badly by solving yesterday's by mistake, then wondering why Therotter had already blogged it and 30+ people had already commented on it. The perils of leaving browser windows open. Anyway, this was a fun puzzle of medium difficulty, and a lot easier than yesterday's. 8 minutes for me

Across
1 Crusade Conservative politician is entering again, sadly (8)
CAMPAIGN - C (conservative) + MP inside anagram ('sadly') of AGAIN
5 Fish, black as soot, initially (4)
BASS - B (black) + AS + S
8 Fellow's initially entering minister's house (5)
MANSE - MAN'S + E
9 The main deity, a heavenly body (7)
NEPTUNE - Planet, named after the Roman sea god, hence 'main' deity. Geddit?
11 Their sister trained a dog (5,6)
IRISH SETTER - anagram ('trained') of THEIR SISTER
13 Decorative ornament: last one placed inside (6)
FINIAL - FINAL  with I inside
14 Black girl returned in a state of exhaustion (3,3)
JET LAG - JET (black) + GAL backwards
17 Accountant in bar started to lose heart earlier (4-7)
BEAN-COUNTER - Bar is COUNTER, before which we have BEGAN without its heart (i.e central letter)
20 Former partner, big enough for a model (7)
EXAMPLE - EX + AMPLE
21 Item of historical interest found in barrel I collected (5)
RELIC - hidden word: barREL I Collected
22 Hold the fort? (4)
KEEP - double definition
23 Old charitable centre reveals oversight (8)
OMISSION - O + MISSION

Down
1 Strong horse circling male groom (4)
COMB - COB is a strong horse, insert M for male
2 Refer to soldiers on it abroad (7)
MENTION - MEN + anagram ('abroad') of ON IT
3 Accra is excited about me winning yachting race (8,3)
AMERICAS CUP - anagram ('excited') of ACCRA IS around ME, + UP (winning)
4 Head of government also greeting spiritual leader (6)
GANDHI - G (head of 'government') + AND + HI
6 Grown-up daughter wearing gold locket that's empty (5)
ADULT - D for daughter inside AU for gold, plus LT which is 'locket' with the insides removed
7 Pilot to decline cheapest accommodation (8)
STEERAGE - STEER + AGE, third class accommodation at the rear of a ship
10 Here members salute (7,4)
PRESENT ARMS - write-in
12 Delivery of francs on holiday (8)
OFFBREAK - OF + F + BREAK. Type of delivery by a spin bowler in cricket
15 Siren of traditional stories on the French island (7)
LORELEI - LORE (traditional stories) + LE + I. A siren who lured boatment to destruction on the Rhine, the bitch.
16 Mother accepting employment in the Ashmolean, say (6)
MUSEUM - MUM with USE inside. Ashmolean being an example right here in Oxford.
18 Shock article on Indian corn I ignored (5)
AMAZE - A + MAIZE with the I removed. I wasnt sure what the 'Indian' was doing in this clue, but 'Indian corn' is apparently a type of maize, used for making decorations rather than food.
19 Examine top of soup tin (4)
SCAN - S + CAN

Times 27,485: Copularity Pontest

I completed this comfortably inside of 10 minutes, but it could have been quicker if I hadn't entered 10ac as "COPULA", which left the intersecting down clues a lot harder to make head or tail of! When the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, however probable, must be the truth, so the light did eventually dawn.

This felt to me like an absolutely irreproachable crossword in the modern style, with a battery of the latest cryptic tricks resulting in perfect surfaces and not a few laughs; the GK (literally in one case) was also pitched at an excellently erudite level, while never stooping to obscurity. I really liked the wordplay in both 24 and 25ac, but full marks to the definition parts of 11dn and 27ac too, and their seamless marriage into the cryptic. 13/10 to the setter, would solve again.

ACROSS
1 Such as Chesterton, maybe, entertaining with his stirring article (8)
EGGWHISK - E.G. G.K. [such as | (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton, maybe], "entertaining" W HIS [with | his]

5 Can pocket valuable? Hardly! (6)
TINPOT - TIN [can] + POT [pocket]

9 Seafood etc barman mostly prepared (8)
CRABMEAT - (ETC BARMA{n}*) ["prepared"]

10 Carbonated drink bottles finished round roof (6)
CUPOLA - COLA [carbonated drink] "bottles" UP [finished]

12 Toy bear’s in bunk (12)
FIDDLESTICKS - FIDDLE STICK'S [toy | bear's]

15 He passed on book two in series of books (5)
OBIIT - B II [book | two] in O.T. [series of books]

16 Cancels course if ill, unable to return displays (9)
NULLIFIES - Hidden reversed in {cour}SE IF ILL UN{able}

18 Jailed by judge, ex-pupil’s assisted crime (6,3)
INSIDE JOB - INSIDE [jailed] by J O.B. [judge | ex-pupil]

19 Stop at sea to tell some tales? (3,2)
LIE TO - double def

20 Designates perimeter of park especially for winter sport (5,7)
SPEED SKATING - (DESIGNATES P{ar}K*) ["especially"]

24 Running without queen’s backing (2,1,3)
IN A ROW - reversed W/O RANI [without | queen]

25 Cried several times over, with husband involved in plot (8)
BOOHOOED - O O O O ["several (four) times", over], with H [husband] "involved"], in BED [plot]

26 Partner of old politician getting into film for free (6)
EXEMPT - EX [partner of old] + MP [politician] "getting into" E.T. [film]

27 Biased when accepting Houses of Parliament as constitutional asset? (8)
ASHPLANT - ASLANT [biased] when accepting H.P. [Houses of Parliament]. I didn't know that an "ashplant" was a walking stick, but such would certainly prove an asset while going on a "constitutional".

DOWN
1 Watch Italian sides being eliminated after football upset (4)
ECCO - reversed {s}OCCE{r} [football]

2 Get stuck into the butter! (4)
GOAT - or GO AT [get stuck into]. The butter as in "the creature that butts".

3 Awkward when first on diet of meat sandwiches? (3-6)
HAM-FISTED - 1ST [first], "sandwiched" by HAM-FED [on diet of meat]

4 What’s amusing by reputation? (8,4)
STANDING JOKE - JOKE [what's amusing] by STANDING [reputation], &lit I guess

6 Time to leave to pick up cold tongue? (5)
INUIT - IN{t}UIT [to pick up, minus T for time]. "Cold tongue?" as in "language spoken in a cold region"

7 Banned for plagiarism in second edition (10)
PROSCRIBED - PRO [for] + CRIB [plagiarism] in S ED. [second | edition]

8 Radio station’s run repeated broadcast (10)
TRANSISTOR - (STATION'S R R*) ["broadcast"]

11 Ringer that’s incorporating end for our now cordless sockets (12)
BELLYBUTTONS - BELL YON'S [ringer | that's] "incorporating" BUTT [end]. The sockets left by our cut umbilical cords!

13 In short, “garish” is appropriate for style of French king (5,5)
LOUIS SEIZE - LOU{d} ["in short", garish] + IS SEIZE [is | appropriate]

14 King and I set makes for cracking musical (4,2,4)
KISS ME KATE - (K I SET MAKES*) ["for cracking"]

17 Move inch by inch? (6-3)
ISLAND-HOP - an "inch" being an island, a lovely cryptic def

21 Band ultimately mean to raise flag (5)
DROOP - {ban}D + reversed POOR [mean]

22 What’s oddly featured by satellite state (4)
IOWA - W{h}A{t} by IO [satellite (of Jupiter)]

23 Approach of mine having commercial appeal (4)
ADIT - AD IT [commercial | appeal]. "Of mine" as in "in a mine".

Times Quick Cryptic No 1463 by Juno

I predict that some will have some difficulties with this offering from Juno.  For the second time this week this took me the wrong side of 20 minutes, 5 over my target, at least partly due to trying to parse the last down clue.  I think I have only blogged Juno once before, and I struggled a bit then as well.

There was plenty to enjoy here.  My COD candidates are 12 and 22 across, for their surfaces and misdirection respectively.  Thanks Juno, I look forward to our next encounter.

Across

1. 
Some strudel I saw in food shops (5)
DELIS – Hidden inside {stru}DEL I S{aw}.
4  Lay outside on new hat (6)
BONNET – BET (lay, as in lay a wager) outside ON and N{ew}.
9 One slip ruined Greek character (7)
EPSILON – Anagram (ruined) of [ONE SLIP].  EPSILON is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet.
10  Fellow otherwise from whom charity benefits? (5)
DONOR – DON (fellow, in more ways than one!) and OR (otherwise).
11 Card game for ladies or gents (3)
LOO – Double definition, the first a card game with forfeits, the second a public convenience or lavatory.
12 Man types out Acts of Settlement (8)
PAYMENTS – Anagram (out) of [MAN TYPES] – nice surface!
15 Instruments, etc, MP restores after damage (13)
SPECTROMETERS – Anagram (after damage) of [ETC, MP RESTORES].
17  Wine is something Highlander tosses to catch (8)
CABERNET – CABER (something a Highlander might toss) and NET (catch).
18  Articles about hotel leading to a surprised response (3)
AHA – The articles are both A, surrounding (about) H{otel} (phonetic alphabet).
20  Eight carat ring someone not from this world possesses (5)
OCTET – CT (carat) inside (possessed by) O (ring) and ET (extra-terrestrial – someone not from this world).
22  More than one top vehicle conks out (7)
CARDIES – CAR (vehicle) and DIES (conks out).  CARDIES is short for cardigans (plural), a kind of ‘top’ that I find myself wearing more often than before.
23  This composer’s shop associated with singing style? (6)
BARBER – An &Lit clue referring to Samuel Barber (US Composer) and to the Barber Shop singing style of cappella close harmony as exemplified by the Barber Shop Quartets most popular around the turn of the 20th century.
24  Material from track given name (5)
LINEN – LINE (track) and N{ame}.

Down

1. 
One might have a second, outstanding, large register (8)
DUELLIST – DUE (outstanding) and L{arge} and LIST (register).
Rope, behold, used to catch donkey? (5)
LASSO – LO (behold) ‘catching’ (containing) ASS (donkey)
Explosive component to season: about to go past favourite (9)
SALTPETRE – SALT (to season) and RE (about) around (to go past) PET (favourite).  As everyone knows, SALTPETRE (potassium nitrate) is a key ingredient of gunpowder.  Hopefully, no budding terrorists ill have learnt anything from this blogging item.
5  Cockney’s to have aged (3)
OLD – {h}OLD.  To have is to hold, and any word starting with an aitch can be made cockney in Crosswordland by dropping the aitch.  Personally, I find it a bit tiresome and lazy, but that’s just my opinion.
Regret tenancy holding this girl up (7)
NANETTE – Reverse (up) hidden (holding) in {regr}ET TENAN{cy}.
Change one’s act? (4)
TURN – Double definition.
8  Nothing but Bond seen in this TV programme? (4,7)
ONLY CONNECT – ONLY (nothing but) and CONNECT (bond).  ONLY CONNECT is the thinking person’s quiz show on TV in the UK, and may not be familiar to our overseas solvers.
13 Voting to relocate local tree (9)
ELECTORAL –  Anagram (to relocate) of [LOCAL TREE].
14  Killer who has a cheek, interrupting crime (8)
ASSASSIN – SASS (cheek) inside (interrupting) A SIN (crime).
16  Demanding person’s coat, Rex out of order (7)
EXACTOR – Anagram (out of order) of [COAT, REX].
18 Like Flight of the Bumblebee?  A thing to play it on endlessly (5)
APIAN – A (a) PIAN{o} (thing to play it on, endlessly, i.e. drop the last letter).  APIAN is of or relating to bees.
19  Tease company doctor (4)
COMB – CO{mpany} and MB (doctor).
21  From out of one’s mouth, pull part of one’s foot (3)
TOE – Homophone (from out of one’s mouth), sounds like TOW (pull).  I struggled parsing this initially, which added to my time.  I suspect some will just biff it, but one can’t get away with that when blogging!

Times 27484 - a solver in training

Time taken: 11:01. Relieved that this was correct as there is one answer that went in completely from wordplay, and I'm going to have to figure out how the definition plays in to things as I write it up (a quick check of Chambers does not help - it is 25 across).

I'm rather taken with this one - the surfaces are brilliant, there's some good puns and tricky wordplay, so my sort of puzzle. Hope you did well!

Away we go...

Across
1 Stone seat from which one has furthest to rise? (4,6)
ROCK BOTTOM - ROCK(stone), BOTTOM(seat)
6 Means of dispatching members (4)
ARMS - double definition
9 Bed salesmen assuming new functions (10)
COTANGENTS - COT(bed), AGENTS(salesmen) containing N(new)
10 Disturb fairies, by the sound of it (4)
FAZE - Sounds like FAYS (or FAES if you are in the American South) for fairies
12 Record held by green worker, a better service provider (4,10)
TURF ACCOUNTANT -  ACCOUNT(record) inside TURF(green) and a worker ANT
14 Classical region's key citizen volunteers once, going west (6)
ATTICA - A(musical key), CIT(citizen), TA(volunteers) all reversed
15 Potentially dangerous mineral like prime salt (8)
ASBESTOS - AS(like), BEST(prime), OS(Ordinary Seaman, salt)
17 Our opponents adopting main rule of Olympians? (8)
THEARCHY - our opponents are THEY, insert ARCH(main)
19 Standard of Federation partially raised in tribute (6)
DOFFED - hidden inside standarD OF FEDeration
22 Reminder of past content expected in Good Friday sermon? (5-9)
CROSS-REFERENCE - double definition, the second one partly cryptic
24 Sentiment for those who perished on Scott's last journey (4)
TRIP - RIP(sentiment for those who perished) after the last letter in ScotT
25 Local office bar, one entered on a points system? (6,4)
BRANCH LINE - BRANCH(local office), LINE(bar). OK - I got this from wordplay and shows how little I know about trains, points are the switches that allow trains to move from one track to another. Don't tell anyone I'm the grandson of the stationmaster of Rockbank railway station.
26 Action man's love captured by Communist in Revolution (4)
DOER - O(love) inside RED(communist) reversed
27 "Gutsy" batting twice bagging international a half-century (10)
INTESTINAL - IN and IN (batting twice) containing TEST(international match), then A, L(50, half-century)

Down
1 Naughty drivers close to boundary (4)
RACY - the drivers are RAC, then the last letter in boundarY
2 Queen possibly needing case for garment she's unlikely to wear (7)
CATSUIT - CAT(queen, possibly), and SUIT(legal case)
3 Supporter's complaint, on introduction of northern player (12)
BENEFACTRESS - BEEF(complaint) containing N(northern), then ACTRESS(player)
4 Extreme parts in twelfth edition come from such a source (6)
THENCE - the outside letters in TweftH EditioN ComE
5 Where to store stuff you formerly dumped in river (8)
OUTHOUSE - THOU(you, formerly) inside the river OUSE. Not the function I usually think of for this word, but it means any external building
7 Register liable to change again (7)
READAPT - READ(register), APT(liable)
8 Dismissed SA team lamented getting involved (5,5)
SWEPT ASIDE - SA SIDE(team) containing WEPT(lamented)
11 Baby bonnet, apparently, in secret storage space (5,4,3)
UNDER ONES HAT - love this clue - a baby bonnet could be an UNDER ONE'S HAT
13 Academist given extra time to work ground (10)
MASTICATED - anagram of ACADEMIST and T(time)
16 Fine fencing placed originally on a French pasture (5-3)
SHEEP-RUN - SHEER(fine) containing the first letter of Placed, then UN(a in French)
18 Gut-wrenching reason for going online? (7)
EMOTIVE - the reason for going online could be an E-MOTIVE
20 No one stands up to support particular sect (7)
FACTION - NO, I(one) all reversed after FACT(particlar)
21 Heartless orphan presented by the author as "spoilsport" (6)
MEANIE - remove the middle letter from orphan ANNIE, then put ME(the author) on top
23 Rock and roll dance north of the border (4)
REEL - double definition

Times 27483 - crosswordy swimming practice

I thought this was an elegant puzzle, the best on Wednesday for a while, not difficult but with some clever, smooth surfaces and no MERs for me. I went astray at first with 15a and took a while to sort out 21a, no issues with the rest in a total time of around 24 leisurely minutes. For a clue of the day I'd pick either 10a or 21a.




Across
1 Bank charge discount partially returned (4)
SIDE - bank = side e.g. of a river. Reversed hidden in CHARG(E DIS)COUNT.
3 American embraces endlessly resilient old scientist (10)
ASTRONOMER - There was discussion recently when we had AMER for American, and here it is again. Into AMER you insert STRON(G) (endlessly resilient) and O for old.
10 Describing open-air activities that could be yours to do (9)
OUTDOORSY - (YOURS TO DO)*.
11 Tycoon is second victim of hoax, though losing just one pound (5)
MOGUL - MO (second) GUL(L) victim of hoax loses an L.
12 Make fun of a politician in guise of a fool? (7)
LAMPOON - A MP inside LOON = fool.
13 Guy at St Andrews? Liberal guy at St Andrews, not Conservative (6)
LADDIE - A Scottish chap. The guy at St Andrews (R & A Golf Club of) is a CADDIE, carrying my bag, not C, add L.
15 Preparation the public can’t see for exclusion of NHS work? (7,8)
PRIVATE PRACTICE - Cryptic double definition, where 'practice in private' wouldn't be seen in public. I went wrong for a while with PRIVATE MEDICINE, thinking the 'preparation' was a drug not an activity, but 6d ending in I woudln't work.
18 Landlord blocking theatre presented by cultivated political group (10,5)
REPUBLICAN PARTY - PUBLICAN is our landlord, he goes into REP our theatre, then ARTY = cultivated.
21 Necklace queen’s wearing removed by force (6)
TORQUE - I put in the correct answer to this quite a while before seeing how it worked; was the definition force or necklace? I think it is necklace, as TORE = removed by force, leaving you with QU for queen to insert. A torque (or torc) is a rigid metal necklace, as well as a force causing rotation.
23 Rewarding golf? Agonising missing first of putts (7)
GAINFUL - G for golf, PAINFUL = agonising, loses its P.
26 Supple, seeing reduction of ailment in time (5)
AGILE - AGE (time) has IL(L) inserted.
27 Area a lot choppy? Channel swimmer weak (2,1,3,3)
AT A LOW EBB - (A A LOT)* then WEBB = Captain Matthew Webb, first to swim the channel in 1875. What a nice, topical surface, given the recent amazing feat by Sarah Thomas. A pity she didn't get sponsored to raise money for breast cancer research.
28 Lack of skill recording songbird? One gets exposed about that (10)
INEPTITUDE - I NUDE = one gets exposed; into that insert EP (recording) TIT (songbird).
29 Times item in centre: several bits (4)
BYTE - BY = times, multiplied by, TE = central letters of iTEm, a byte has 8 bits in it.
Down
1 Plunder harbour town, getting damper (10)
SPOILSPORT - SPOILS = plunder, as a noun; PORT.
2 Information corporation supplied to American lawyer (5)
DATUM - DA (American lawyer) TUM (corporation). Singular of DATA, which latter is all too often treated as singular not plural. A moment of pedantry.
4 Determined to include wild green island in African ecosystem (9)
SERENGETI - My FOI. SET = determined, insert (GREEN)* and add I for island.
5 Though no son, optimistic over a line of monarchs (5)
ROYAL - ROSY could be optimistic, delete the S for son, add A L(ine).
6 Mostly I refuse to accept degree of person who’s travelled (7)
NOMADIC - I refuse could be "NO DICE", mostly = NODIC, insert MA degree.
7 Source of detailed view that is needed in review of farming (9)
MAGNIFIER - Insert I.E. into (FARMING)*.
8 No opening for comic turn (4)
ROLL - DROLL loses its opening letter.
9 Study leading to answer about golden solar gases (6)
CORONA - CON (study) has OR (golden) inserted, then A for answer.
14 Playground: yard left cordoned off by rope, fit for repeated use (10)
RECYCLABLE - REC = playground, Y = yard, CABLE = rope, insert L for left.
16 Pull together one million, supporting Society in contest (9)
IMPROVISE - I, M(illion), PRO (supporting), then S for society inside VIE = contest.
17 Defending month being taken up in Bishop engaging in study (9)
REARGUARD - READ = study; insert AUG reversed into RR (bishop) then insert that RGUAR into READ.
19 Happen to search for a legacy (7)
BEQUEST - BE = happen, QUEST = search.
20 River being shown? It’s not what you’d want to drink (6)
POISON - The River PO (in Italy) IS ON = being shown.
22 Praise X-ray as investment in unlimited health (5)
EXALT - HEALTH "unlimited" = EALT, insert X for x-ray.
24 Passionate on-line exclamation of disapproval (5)
FIERY - FIE! = exclamation of disapproval, is '"on line" i.e. on RY railway line.
25 Artist I’d upset about almost everything (4)
DALI - AL(L) inside I'D reversed.


Times Quick Cryptic No 1462 by Mara

Introduction

Hats off to any puzzle that makes me take 23 minutes to finish. I was well-stymied in the upper-right while trying to take care of kiddos... my head wasn't really in the game! Most of the puzzle was straightforward, but there was some lovely, deceptive wordplay in my last six or so clues.

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Times Cryptic 27482

Solving time: 38 minutes. There were a couple of unfamiliar words here but the answers came easily enough from wordplay, which is as things should be so I have no complaints. Much more enjoyabe than yesterday's strange offering.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1461 by Breadman

Hmph! For me, the 'Q' in this one stood for Quite hard and I felt lucky to come in on 14 minutes. The odd tea and haircut I could have lived with, but what was Breadman thinking by crossing a thankfully unknown ailment with a chap who was the life and soul of the party some two and a half thousand years ago?
As usual, if you know the answers it’s all plain sailing but do let me know if you’ve joined me in the grump club.
To make matters worse, I'm also having some problems with the font in the blog - let me know if you can read it.
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Times Quick Cryptic 1460 by Teazel



Solving time: 10 minutes but I needed at least 1 minute to find a clue that I could solve at first glance. Once I had got going it all fell into place fairly rapidly.

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Times 27481 - Under the wether

Just the bare bones of a blog today, as I am suffering from a lurgy. This one took me around 40 minutes and has some very nice stuff. If you have queries, please ask, and the collective brain will furnish you with all you desire...

Across
1 Deliberately dodging physical activity (8)
SKIPPING - DD
5 Your compiler’s about to stay in the same place (6)
IBIDEM - BIDE in I'M
9 What may be grave for missing female singer! (8)
ACCENTOR - ACCENT [f]OR
10 Bird caught on Cornish river to the west (6)
FALCON - FAL 'west' of C ON
12 Ultimately serious desire to be fashionable (5)
SWISH - [seriou]S WISH
13 Georgian citizen holds end of rope, having great strength (9)
ATLANTEAN - [rop]E in ATLANTAN
14 Sore about Scottish town, she adopts Irish county (12)
WARWICKSHIRE - RAW reversed WICK IR in SHE
18 Dazzling brightness of quiet chap replacing one in home (12)
RESPLENDENCE - P LEN for I in RESIDENCE
21 Identification of disease in dogs is a diversion (9)
DIAGNOSIS - IN DOGS IS A*
23 Murder victim given grave at last in Poplar? (5)
ABELE - ABEL [grav]E
24 Make certain council leader is excluded from blame (6)
ENSURE - [c]ENSURE
25 Green pigment, one I delivered first in commercial vehicle (8)
VIRIDIAN - I RID I in VAN
26 Gentle 22’s offer? (6)
TENDER - TD (triple definition)
27 Unaccompanied song not all finding full of merriment (8)
GLEESOME - GLEE SOME

Down

1 Mad about first of seed being thinly scattered (6)
SPARSE - S[eed] in SPARE (angry/upset)
2 Island savings scheme penetrated by foreign character (6)
ISCHIA - CHI in ISA
3 In America, game to have drink before dance (9)
PUNCHBALL - PUNCH BALL
4 Reform I saw in modern evolutionary theory (3-9)
NEO-DARWINISM - I SAW IN MODERN*
6 In Scotland, finely dressed knight’s muscularity (5)
BRAWN - BRAW N
7 Enfeebled duke, abandoning our country, moved slowly round island (8)
DECREPIT - D[uk]E I in CREPT
8 Greek dramatist’s amble round end of green (8)
MENANDER - [gree]N in MEANDER
11 Instrument identified in general speech outside bar? (12)
GLOCKENSPIEL - LOCK (bar) in GEN SPIEL
15 Breaking ice a lot is — part of one’s lifestyle? (9)
SOCIALITE - ICE A LOT IS*
16 It’s inclined to go west, protected by allowance (8)
GRADIENT - DIE (go west, kick the bucket, shuffle off this...) in GRANT
17 Booth, for example, with Charlie and Jenny in? (8)
ASSASSIN - ASS (Charlie - figurative donkey) ASS (Jenny - echt donkey) IN
19 Breed of sheep doctor keeps in old Ireland (6)
MERINO - ERIN in MO
20 Tight-fisted type withholding pounds from girl (6)
MEANIE - ME[l]ANIE; I rode my bicycle past your window last night
22 Old railwaymen with points to look after (5)
NURSE - NUR (Sid Weighell's old lot) SE

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