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Times Cryptic 27044

My solving time was off the scale yet again and I had a one letter error in an unknown answer. Quite a few unknowns for me today, amongst a number of very easy ones.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1096 by Mara

A lot of multiple word play clues, many anagrams, made this on the hard side for me today - 16 minutes to complete. Thinking of a comparison to the main 15 X 15 puzzle, I could only dream of completing this number clues in that time in the easiest of 15 x 15 puzzles - so I’d say this is a good QC work out.
I found the NE NW hardest and, in order, 1ac,1dn,11ac were my LOIs.

I wonder if MARA is a 1ac Liverpool FC (15ac) fan who is very excited about the (unlikely to be 23ac) 13ac this 11ac?
The only 14dns I’ve seen are the extraordinary number of goals in previous exciting games and I hope the game on Saturday doesn’t go down to a 16dn shoot out. I hope it’s 21 and has Mara 18dn-ing at the final whistle.

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QC 1095 by Grumpy

Oh the shame! I am sorry everybody, I've had such a busy weekend that I had forgotten I was on duty this morning and have been tidying up admin tasks since 7.00 am instead of doing this!

I'm only going to have time to say:

FOI: 1A, pretty straightforward.
LOI and COD: 8A, nice cryptic with a continental flavour.

Plenty of other very enjoyable clues, really enjoyed it and found it a bit towards the more difficult end of the spectrum. What did everybody else think?

Many thanks to Grumpy, whom I can't remember if I have encountered before. But I like the name as it's what my wife and I call each other whenever one of us gets, well, grumpy!

Definitions are underlined, and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can muster.

Across
1 Rastafarian leaders backing former emperor (4)
TSAR - the first four letters (leaders) of RASTafarian reversed.
4 Musician rings any number to get mother admitted (8)
BANDSMAN - BANDS (rings) + N (any number) admitting MA (mother).
8 What retired teller did in Parisian milieu? (4,4)
LEFT BANK - a cryptic retired teller might have LEFT a BANK.
9 Unprepossessing, lumpy, extremely unpleasant (4)
UGLY - the 'extremes' of UnpreposessinG and LumpY = UGLY.
10 Prison agitation (4)
STIR - double definition.
11 Stubborn old boy expected to hold rodent (8)
OBDURATE - OB (old boy) + DUE (exoptected) 'holding' RAT (rodent).
12 Go through ruined arches (6)
SEARCH - anagram of ARCHES ('ruined').
14 Praying mantis, say, as part of religious group? (6)
INSECT - an example of an insect, which could be read as IN SECT (as part of religious group).
16 Regret of stumbling high jumper (4,4)
TREE FROG - anagram of REGRET OF ('stumbling'). I don't think tree frogs are particularly high jumpers in terms of jumping many times their body height, but they can be seen cryptically as high jumpers (jumpers who live in trees).
18 Expensive honey (4)
DEAR - double definition.
19 A bit of fluff in one's sherry (4)
FINO - hidden in flufF IN One's.
20 Child runs with unknown soldiers (8)
INFANTRY - INFANT (child) + R (runs) + Y (unknown in the algebraic sense).
22 Most verdant meadow seen before short holiday abroad (8)
LEAFIEST - LEA (meadow) before FIESTa with the end chopped off (short holiday).
23 Guy useless before 4th of November (4)
DUDE - DUD (useless) before E (4th letter of NovEmber)
Down
2 That woman has two articles to enclose (7)
SHEATHE - SHE (that woman) + A + THE (two articles).
3 Part of helicopter going up and down (5)
ROTOR - a palindrome ('going up and down' in this down clue).
4 Sort of scarf for snake (3)
BOA - double definition.
5 Really expressing agreement about King and I (2,7)
NO KIDDING - NODDING 'about' K + I (King and I).
6 Royal family united in launches (7)
STUARTS - U (united) 'in' STARTS (launches).
7 Missing first vote for grant (5)
ALLOT - BALLOT (vote) mising its first letter.
11 White rose represented differently (9)
OTHERWISE - anagram ('otherwise') of WHITE ROSE.
13 Stagger away, say, without apparent effort (4,3)
REEL OFF - REEL (stagger) + OFF (away). When you REEL OFF something that you have committed to memory then you say it without apparent effort.
15 Vegetable, we hear, that's scorched (7)
CHARRED - homophone, sounds like CHARD. The only vegetable I know of that traditionally comes from Switzerland.
17 Right height in English river (5)
RHINE - nice bit of misdirection here, as the English is part of the wordplay and not a dsecription of the river in question. R (right) + H (height) + IN + E (English).
18 Row before editor had a meal (5)
DINED - DIN (row) + ED (editor).
21 Suitable starters for feast in trattoria (3)
FIT - first letters of Feast In Trattoria.

Times 27043 - "On my foot!"

Time: 22 minutes
Music: Chopin, Polinaises, Pollini


This was a relatively straightforward Monday puzzle that should not present much difficulty, with a number of chestnuts and clues suitable for the Quickie.   Some may have to retrieve 'sapodilla' from the cryptic, and 'areca' may be unknown to those who have not solved US puzzles,  My main problem was the exact spelling of 'Pleistocene', but that became clear with the checkers.

Some have asked whether I don't find music distracting while solving, but I find it has the opposite effect, and loosens up the old brain.   This afternoon, I took a half-solved Mephisto to a concert to work on before the music started, and got a few clues.  But in the short interval between the first and second pieces on the program, I filled in nearly the entire top half, erasing several wrong answers.    It is amazing how a solver can slip into the groove, and solve large parts of the puzzle as quickly as if he were Mark Goodliffe, only to suddenly fall back to earth and become completely stuck.   It is something about the internal rhythms of the brain that allows this to happen, and then un-happen.

On other fronts, we will be having a couple of new bloggers along to handle the puzzles formerly blogged by Nick_the_Novice.   I'll let them introduce themselves when they appear, but I have every confidence that they will do a fine job.

Across
1 Hybrid language primarily involving RAF slang, surprisingly (9)
FRANGLAIS - Anagram of I[nvolving] + RAF SLANG.
6 Tasty juice a princess rejected (5)
SAPID - SAP + DI backwards, the only princess we ever get.
9 One writing about air in distant planet (7)
NEPTUNE - PEN backwards + TUNE.
10 Prepare for church, taking two sons (7)
PROCESS - PRO + C.E. + S,S.
11 Entice politician to visit Vietnamese festival (5)
TEMPT - TE(MP)T, the only Vietnamese festival setters use.
13 Intended recipient of a frock, we hear — and points (9)
ADDRESSEE - sounds like A DRESS + E, E.
14 Agreeable set touring part of UK (9)
CONGENIAL - CONGE(N.I.)AL, the usual part of the UK.  I was thinking 'genial' at first, but of course it didn't fit, so I moved on.
16 Item of footwear providing profit once? (4)
BOOT - double definition.
18 Land conservationists originally owned? (4)
CHAD - C + HAD.   They didn't, actually.
19 Make fewer pronouncements, having no nationality (9)
STATELESS - STATE LESS, a chestnut.
22 Manufactured instrument mostly used before party (7-2)
TRUMPED-UP - TRUMPE[t] + D.U.P.   Politics mostly avoided, we hope.
24 Costly setting for king displaying dullness in poem (5)
DREAR - D(R)EAR, as presumably no one would use 'drear' in prose.
25 About-turn protecting Latin here in US city (7)
CHICAGO - C(HIC)A + GO, where you have to lift and separate a hyphenated word, which you see mainly in the Guardian puzzles.
26 Ossie leader heading off decrease in expenditure in bush (7)
OUTBACK - O[ssie] + [c]UTBACK, which most solvers will just biff.
28 Old Abraham’s nephew returning for praise (5)
EXTOL -EX + LOT backwards, another lift and separate.
29 Revised pay and terms covering second intelligence boss (9)
SPYMASTER - anagram of PAY + TERMS around S.
Down
1 Frenzied religious leader leaves to collect a devotee (7)
FANATIC - F[-r}AN(+A)TIC, where a letter is dropped and another is picked up, but in a different place.
2 A place to climb Mont Blanc, for example (3)
ALP - A + PL upside-down.
3 Bitten by bug, relative put on large glove (8)
GAUNTLET - G(AUNT + L)ET, where both 'bug' and 'get' have the sense of managing to annoy someone.
4 A park initially accommodating a tall palm (5)
ARECA - A + REC + A[commodating], a palm that grows in US crosswords.
5 Everyone is upset about a small school’s tropical tree (9)
SAPODILLA - S(A POD)ILLA, where the enclosing letters are ALL IS upside-down.   Is a 'pod' necessarily small?
6 Dig sand lying principally around coastal resort (6)
SHOVEL - S(HOVE)L
7 Silence poet developed from an early age (11)
PLEISTOCENE - anagram of SILENCE POET, a tricky one if you're not thinking of the right kind of 'age'.
8 Difference of opinion when lineage is mentioned? (7)
DISSENT - sounds like DESCENT, which would fit, but is clearly not the intended target.
12 Car a tripper used, missing old painter (11)
MINIATURIST - MINI + A T[o]URIST.
15 Stealthy son replacing Victor in arousing resentment (9)
INSIDIOUS - IN(-v +S)IDIOUS, a simple letter-substitution clue.
17 Feud involving archdeacon, one with obligations, we hear (8)
VENDETTA - VEN + sounds like DEBTOR.
18 Compilers initially clue it loosely as "dead skin" (7)
CUTICLE - C[ompiles} + anagram of CLUE IT.
20 One pursuing industrial action, attacking player (7)
STRIKER - double definition, and a very simple one.
21 Afterthought about green lost at first in urban development (6)
SPRAWL -PS upside-down + RAW + L[ost].
23 Lousy environment for king’s representative (5)
PROXY - P(R)OXY, with both lousy and poxy looking back to their root meanings.
27 Small island rowing crew talked of (3)
AIT - sounds like EIGHT.

Mephisto 3011 - Tim Moorey

I didn't have too much difficulty with this one, and I thought the design of the grid was very solver friendly, with a lot of thre letter strings in checked letters.

It was an interesting choice of wor at 9 down and 26 down - with DEA?  leading to six possibilities in Chambers I wonder why the least familiar (at least to me) was chosen, similarly for the 13 possibilities for ?ING

First definitions in clues are underlined.

Away we go...

Across
1 Hush punctures endlessly rude acting colleagues (7)
COSTARS - ST(hush) inside COARS(e)(rude)
6 Mostly, large fly did swarm in the Highlands (5)
BIKED - BI(g), KED(fly)
10 Treat with quinine? Something easy is occupying one (10)
CINCHONISE - CINCH(something easy) then IS in ONE
11 In Edinburgh that skimpy swimwear’s no good (4)
THON - THONG swimwear missing G
13 Drop of alcohol and seaman’s on about bloomers (6)
ERRATA - A(lcohol), TAR(seaman), RE(on) all reversed
14 Malaysian lord keeping time oddly for piece worker (6)
TUTMAN - TUAN(lord) containing alternating letters in TiMe
16 Flautist periodically allowed in Scotland (4)
LUIT - alternating letters in fLaUtIsT
18 Write in English for George Town (6)
PENANG - PEN(wrtie) ANG(Anglice, in English)
20 Taking advantage, furious Head canes on occasion, as before (9)
ENCHEASON - remove A(advantage) from an anagram of HEAD,CANES
21 Television screening one old ruler and bishop on a fasting day (9, two words)
TISHAH B'AV - TV(television) containing I, SHAH(old ruler), B(bishop). A Listed under about 75 different spellings in Chambers
24 Agree rise on the radio (6)
ASSENT - sounds like ASCENT
25 Old enemies are fine with joke (4)
FONE - F(fine), ONE(joke)
28 Henry in battered Panama hat getting evidence of complaint (6)
APHTHA - H in an anagram of PA,HAT
30 Strain to develop form of insect (6)
INSTAR - anagram of STRAIN
31 Sight that is seen in Polo? (4)
VIEW - IE(that is) in VW(the Polo is a Volkswagen car)
32 Cuckoos in the country for artificial reduction (10)
NANISATION - ANIS(cuckoos) in the NATION
33 Term for excessive luminance involved with 60% of argon (5)
GLARE - an all-in-one anagram of (excessiv)E, L(luminance) and ARG(on)
34 Criminal activity surprisingly clear and near once (7)
LARCENY - anagram of CLEAR, then NY(alternative spelling of NIGH)

Down
1 Costa Rican orchid that’s neat? Yes, when from the south (8)
CATTLEYA - CATTLE(neat), then AY(yes) reversed
2 Part of Samoa, hugely popular Pacific location (4)
OAHU - hidden in samOA HUgely
3 Feeling in Glasgow is cosmetic, sadly English unwanted (9)
SCOTICISM - anagram of IS,COSMETIC minus E
4 Short dagger first-class? It’s not permitted to have one (6)
ANLACE - A(first class), NL(non licet, not permitted), ACE(one)
5 Leicester’s boss is a mug (10)
SHEEPSHEAD - or SHEEP'S HEAD
6 Narrow-minded leader of opposition in the island (6)
BORNEO - BORNE(narrow-minded), O(pposition)
7 Prize picker not fully set up? That’s concerning (4, two words)
IN RE - ERNI(e) reversed. ERNIE has a webpage
8 High tension surrounding one European language (8)
ESTONIAN - anagram of TENSION containing A
9 Leaving Centre, walked in water northwards with early freshness forgotten (4)
DEAW - reversal of WA(d)ED
12 One old test not depicting rural life (10)
UNPASTORAL - UN(one), PAST(old), ORAL(test)
15 Pottery teacher potting nothing paltry (9)
BARBOTINE - BARBE(teacher) containing O(nothing), TIN(paltry, like tin-hat or tin-god)
17 University boy with a first from LSE sounding together (8)
UNISONAL - UNI, SON, A, L(se)
19 Present Queen holds a view that’s disguised (8)
GIVEAWAY - GAY(queen, homosexual) containing an anagram of A,VIEW
22 Indians echo line (6)
INCASE - INCAS(Indians) E(echo)
23 Apprentice publicity causing damage no longer (6)
APPAIR - APP(apprentice), AIR(publicity)
26 Foul-smelling resin in fact not opened (4)
HING - THING(fact) missing the beginning
27 Nick’s to start to move (4)
STIR - double definition
29 Turned up once topless? That’s cut! (4)
HEWN - SHEWN(turned up) missing the top

Sunday Times 4798 by David McLean

17:18. I felt I made very heavy weather of this. I solved about half of it very quickly indeed, but then slowed to a crawl. Broadly speaking I found the north-east a lot easier than the south-west, but in many cases I was making problems for myself (I had TITTILATE for quite a long time) and/or being very slow to twig things that seem simple in retrospect. GODIVA, for instance, was my last in and I kicked myself hard when the penny finally dropped.

So I wonder if it was just me, or if others found this a bit trickier than it now seems. From my point of view any difficulty involved certainly didn’t come from the use of obscurity. LEONIDAS isn’t the first king to come to my mind, but I’m sure he’s come up before, and everything else was perfectly familiar. And as we’ve come to expect from Harry the whole thing was very entertaining.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

Across
1 There’s no place for mild bitter
ACID - plACID.
4 Book with hot photo takes the biscuit
BRANDY SNAP - B, RANDY, SNAP.
9 In the past, I got up out of habit
GODIVA - CD.
10 King unhappy one Christmas after a turn
LEONIDAS - reversal (after a turn) of SAD, I, NOEL. King of Sparta, killed at the battle of Thermopylae by the Persian army led by Xerxes, who also appears here from time to time.
11 Vulgar party game for swingers?
BASEBALL - BASE (vulgar), BALL (party), then a cryptic definition.
13 Get a dry drop of Amarone at home
ATTAIN - A, TT (teetotal, dry), Amarone, IN (home).
14 Replace heads of old left in African state
CALIFORNIA - (Old, Left, In AFRICAN)*. This one took me ages to see. It seems simple in retrospect but perhaps it’s not completely obvious how the wordplay works. So much so in fact that I got it wrong. Thanks to anon below for correcting me.
16 Clue guide
LEAD - DD. The first definition is the kind of LEAD a detective might get.
17 Correct turning point for reversing
EDIT - reversal of TIDE. In this case a high or low one: the sort which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.
18 It’s a little odd and tickles a little
TITILLATES - (IT’S A LITTLE)*.
20 Not just as brown mops are?
UNFAIR - two definitions, one slightly cryptic. A ‘mop’ is hair, of course.
21 Fruit works with, say, grapefruit starter
EGGPLANT - PLANT (works) preceded by EG, Grapefruit. The people who insist that an aubergine is a fruit no doubt adopt the same position on the tomato. Don’t eat their fruit salad. You should probably avoid their ratatouille too, come to think of it.
23 Man in silk changing foreign capital
HELSINKI - HE, (IN SILK)*. Somewhere I will be going a lot less when I leave my job in a couple of weeks.
24 Brood on times I left to go to The East
LITTER - reversal of RE (on), TT (times), I, L.
26 Writer’s stuff is unmoving on radio
STATIONERY - sounds like ‘stationary’. Chestnut.
27 Perhaps a school in need of turning around
NOTE - reversal of ETON. Cunning definition.

Down
2 My love wants company in the van
COO - O (love) with CO (company) in front of it (in the van).
3 Ambition to succeed? It’ll be a long shot
DRIVE - DD. The second definition wasn’t necessarily accurate when I played golf.
4 Swagger shown by upcoming lawyer with excellent case
BRAVADO - BRAV(AD)O. The reversed (upcoming) lawyer is a DA.
5 Where sleepers might be found at every point
ALL ALONG THE LINE - two definitions, one a mildly cryptic reference to railway sleepers.
6 Small scene in play is Iago’s first and last
DIORAMA - D(IagO)RAMA.
7 Can I still cast piece of little substance?
SCINTILLA - (CAN I STILL)*. The small piece is almost always evidence, but it is almost always absent.
8 Babe in a car collecting a new coffee-maker
ARABICA BEAN - (BABE IN A CAR, A)*. The wordplay suggests that strictly you have to insert the A into BABE IN A CAR and then make an anagram. Where you insert the A is up to you.
12 A group of dudes close to arrest for desertion
ABANDONMENT - A, BAND, ON, MEN, arresT. You have to separate each element here to get ON from ‘of’. I don’t really understand how the two are equivalent though: Chambers gives ‘on’ as a definition of ‘of’ but I can’t think of a sentence where you can substitute one for the other. Can you?
15 Out of order train isn’t on its way
IN TRANSIT - (TRAIN ISN’T)*.
18 Piece from editor on touristy city abroad
TORONTO - contained in ‘editor on touristy’. Somewhere I will be going a lot more when I leave my job in a couple of weeks.
19 Large ship must give European a lift by law
LEGALLY - L, GALLEY with the E moved up (given a lift) to the beginning.
22 Language seen in loo left by King and Earl
LATIN - LATrINe.
25 Have seconds in new cafe by the front in Torquay
EAT - second letters in ‘nEw cAfe’, Torquay

Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1322 - 7th May

A fairly gentle Jumbo for the Bank Holiday Monday after the rather trickier Saturday pachyderm. Nothing too difficult or obscure today - I even knew the ice skating twizzle at 1d, but one or two clues are nicely devious. It helps to know your Shakespeare plots to parse 32a and the phrase at 21d may be unknown to some, but the wordplay is helpful. A good half dozen clues have a tick of approval on my paper copy. I liked the transformation of CONSOLATION at 35d and the SCOOTER, but my COD goes to BOW LEGS for the cheeky defintion that reminds me that I haven't been 10-pin bowling with the family for a while. A post-exam treat in a few weeks time, perhaps.... Yes it's GCSE and 'A' levels in the Interred household this month and next! Thanks to our setter for an entertaining and satisfying puzzle. How did you all find it?
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Jumbo 1321

This took me 55 minutes all told so that would put it on the slightly tricky side of average and I thought there was some extremely good stuff here, including plenty of very neat wordplay and a decent smattering of hard-to-spot definitions.

Clues are in blue with definitions underlined and, hopefully, the explanations all making sense.  I'm going to be in France for the day when this blog will, with any luck, magically appear on your screens so any queries are unlikely to be dealt with for a while.

First in was MACRO, last was ARMPITS

Across

1

Flagon of beer as conveyed by Spooner to dance (9)


JITTERBUG - Spoonerism of bitter jug

6

Novelist’s oddly set view lacks moral, ultimately (9-4)


SACKVILLE-WEST - anagram of set view lacks and the last letter of moral. Vita Sackville-West was a successful novelist, poet and journalist, as well as a prolific letter writer, diarist and garden designer.  The lazy get.

13

Lens for camera cases returned (5)


MACRO - Reverse hidden in fOR CAMera.  Nice clue with "cases returned" being the very neat combination of reversal and containment indicators, camera cases needing to be separated and the wordplay elements fitting seamlessly with the definition in the surface reading.  A macro lens enables you to take extreme close-up photos of things like insects, flowers and navel fluff.

14

Early Christians sneakily ensnare a leader of Zionism (9)


NAZARENES - (ensnare a zionsim)*.  I'm not sure if "sneakily" works perfectly as an anagram indicator but it didn't hold me up.

15

Boy fronting pupils’ moving proposition (7)


THEOREM - THEO R.E.M.

16

Endure a bitter little general harbouring fancy project, obviously (5,3,4,1,4,5)


STICK OUT LIKE A SORE THUMB - STICK OUT for endure with a cryptic nod to "little" General Tom Thumb with a cob on.

18

Boy soon getting around large resistance (8)


ALGERNON - ANON around LGE (short for large) R[esistance]

20

Did like eating vegetables, becoming satisfied (8)


APPEASED - APED (did like as in acted like) around PEAS.  Neat.

21

Pole appearing earlier in Gdansk (5)


NORTH - This took me a while to fathom.  Of the two poles appearing in the word GDANSK the N comes before the S.

23

Note first of series of books portraying Italian town (6)


TIVOLI - TI VOL[ume] I

24

Host clutching very large and fine decoration (6)


MOSAIC - M.C. around OS AI

25

Plant arrived at by pilot carpeted with gold (3,6)


FLY ORCHID - FLY (to pilot) then CHID with OR

28

Some biscuits and bread carried out by one on plane (6,4)


BARREL ROLL - I'm not a fan of clues like this where a verbal definition is deemed sufficient for a nounal answer.  IMHO this one is lacking "this could be" or "something" or summat along those lines.

29

Party to open pub with ball... (2,2)


IN ON - O (ball-shaped letter) inside (opening) INN.  Nicely concealed definition.

30

...Ring to cancel our party (7)


ANNULUS - ANNUL US

32

Depressions drastically increase militancy of mining unions? (7)


ARMPITS - ARM PITS

34

Change from upright character into criminal (4)


COIN - I in CON

35

Periodical not available to convey a historic document (5,5)


MAGNA CARTA - MAG N/A CART A

38

During vacation, lass meeting Irish Americans in neighbourhood? (9)


HOMEGIRLS - MEG IR[ish] in HOLS. An informal US (and South African term) for a young female acquaintance from one's own town or neighbourhood, or from the same social background.

39

What widow would give not to end a recluse (6)


HERMIT - HER MITe

40

Bring up something one’s pinned to one’s ear (6)


BROACH - Sounds like BROOCH (any dissenters?)

43

Had perished at sea, in doctor’s absence (5)


OWNED - drOWNED

45

Boy needs mum: is that unusual? (8)


MATTHIAS - MA + (istaht)*

47

Impracticable cunning failed to get a hearing (4-4)


WILD-EYED - Sounds like WILE DIED

49

And so send them to sleep in just a pyjama jacket? (4,3,5,3,7)


BORE THE PANTS OFF SOMEONE - CD

52

Popular novelist doesn’t stop interfering with books? (7)


COOKSON - COOKS ON

53

I run in, this time (6,3)


COMMON ERA - ONE R[un] in COMMA.  Sneaky.

54

Extract from a little white lie (5)


WREST - W[hite] REST

55

Mir apparently going around the earth, for example (7,6)


PRIMARY PLANET - (mir apparently)*

56

One traducing Solicitor at Law: and before king! (9)


SLANDERER - SL AND ERE R.  Of the myriad things that SL can apparently stand for (e.g. Steam Locomotive, Secret Lover and Space Laser) Solicitor at Law is one.




Down

1

Politician and celebrity involved in project get going (4,5)


JUMP START - M.P. STAR in JUT

2

Reprimand, not very loud, and very short, for idling (7,4)


TICKING OVER - TICKING OFF with VERy replacing FF

3

Tips for office job: do no donkey-work and no paperwork! (5)


EBOOK - An ebook would be a no paper work.  Geddit?

4

Bedroom at first holding advantage over study (4,2,2)


BONE UP ON - B(edroom) ONE UP ON

5

Scoff when crossword’s abandoned quietly for good (6)


GUZZLE - G replacing P in PUZZLE

6

Format for golf talk arranged with pro? Yes (10)


STROKEPLAY - (talk pro yes)*

7

Getting fit again, do trail across glen (12)


CONVALESCENT - CON SCENT around VALE

8

Thick aristocrat trading books for seconds (7)


VISCOUS -S[econds] replacing N[ew] T[estament] in VISCOUNT

9

Coffee time’s about right? Isn’t for a Mormon (6-3,5)


LATTER-DAY SAINT - LATTE DAY'S around R then AIN'T.

10

Oriental drama used to be turned to Victorian satire (7)


EREWHON - reversal of NOH WERE.  A novel by Samuel Butler.

11

State official left inside hears alarm going off (4,7)


EARL MARSHAL - L in (hears alarm)*

12

Nurse could take this work through agency? (4)


TEMP - If you're a temporary worker you're said to be temping and a nurse can take your TEMP(erature), ideally under the tongue or in the armpit...

17

Country no longer could come to hero’s aid (8)


RHODESIA - A sort of reverse anagram, involving the letters of HERO's AID

19

Discharging energy again going through stocks (9)


RELIEVING - E[nergy] inside (stocked by) RE-LIVING (again going through)

22

Yanks holding Republican line in mess (8)


HORLICKS - R[epublican] L[ine] in HOICKS.  This might baffle overseas solvers.  Horlicks is a brand of malt-based bed-time hot drink powder and is used in expressions like "he made a right horlicks of that".  I suspect it's a euphemism for a certian B- word.

25

Lover one day turned up with a Disney film (8)


FANTASIA - FAN then I SAT[urday] reversed and A

26

Bothered following leads that brave folk wouldn’t? (3,6)


RUN SCARED - CARED after LEADS

27

Translated first, sign small, compact novel (8,6)


TRISTRAM SHANDY - TR[anslated] 1ST RAM S[mall] HANDY.  Laurence Sterne novel about the inventor of lager and lime.

28

Ace hobby, training to become lifeguard (8)


BEACHBOY - (ace hobby)*

31

Appropriate to give maiden an indispensable partner (5-4,3)


RIGHT-HAND MAN - RIGHT HAND M[aiden] AN

33

Reminder of passing minutes — no more time, sadly (7,4)


MEMENTO MORI - M[inutes] + (no more time)*

36

Draw in study period that’s not specially tailored (5-2-4)


READY-TO-WEAR - TOW in READ YEAR

37

My Greek food company not touching alcohol (5,5)


GREAT SCOTT - GR[eek] EATS CO[mpany] TT.  One of the well-disguised defs I referred to in my preamble.

41

Swindled punter ought to (3,6)


HAD BETTER - er, HAD + BETTER

42

Family’s experiences near a city in Africa (8)


KINSHASA - KIN'S HAS A

44

In the main, SAE speeds up packages (4-3)


DEEP-SEA - reverse hidden, beautifully woven into a neat surface reading.

46

Variable illustration featuring in short story classic (7)


TYPICAL - Y PIC[ture] in TALe

48

Pudding is where you’ll get tea, in a manner of speaking (6)


AFTERS - in a manner of speaking tea = T which comes AFTER S in th'alphabet

50

Laconic admission from groom sounded pitiful (5)


MEWED - You Tarzan, ME WED. "Mr Burtenshaw?". "Me doctor?". "No, me doctor, you Mr. Burtenshaw".

51

Drink bottles beginning to contaminate fish (4)


SCUP - C(ontaminate) in SUP.  I don't think I've ever seen scup on the menu at the Wetherby Whaler.


This was fairly straightforward. I struggled a bit with the salad ingredient at 17ac – not rugola, of course – but otherwise progress was steady. The long anagrams down the left and across the bottom helped. I did it on paper and didn’t time it, but I think it rates as easy to medium. (Medium rare - goes nicely with salad!)

My clue of the day was 11ac. A lovely idea, even if I didn’t know what or where Goole is. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, followed by the wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in {curly brackets}.

Across
1 Like Ascot classic that provides a flutter for the Queen? (5,8)
ROYAL STANDARD: “ROYAL” Ascot is a particular part of the calendar at Ascot racecourse. STANDARD is classic.

9 Cheers on withdrawal of police statements (5)
DICTA: CID backwards, then TA.

10 Display a forbidding array of locks (9)
POMPADOUR: POMP, A, DOUR. The answer is certainly an “array of locks”, but you might well argue that the clue is a semi-&lit, with the whole thing being the definition, and the left hand side the wordplay. I looked at the helpers and thought “demeanour”, but the lovely definition (“forbidding array of locks”) steered me away from that.

11 Free way to travel from York to Goole astride horse? (2,3,5)
ON THE HOUSE: I had to go to the internet to learn York and Goole are both on the river Ouse, so you could go from one to the other by boat. Insert an “H” and there you have it – for free! My first thought was of another meaning of “free” – as in “on the loose”. No joy there.

12 From East, call on unknown god (4)
ZEUS: SUE as in “call for mercy”, then Z as today’s algebraic unknown. All reversed.

14 Commentator's kit supplied by leading firm (7)
HEADSET: HEAD (leading), SET (firm).

16 Dishonour surrounding bishop left in lurch (7)
SHAMBLE: SHAME with the insertion of B and L.

17 Cook comparing skinned salad ingredient (7)
RAMPION: (-OMPARIN-*). Forget the first and last letters, since the word is “skinned”. DNK the plant, which made me wonder if it was something Italian like RAMPINO. Saved by the helpers!

19 Cutting from spectacular but useful shrub (7)
ARBUTUS: hidden in “spectacular but useful”.

20 They keep last of seed in position (4)
PODS: D (last of “seed”) in POS. It seems “pos” is more commonly an abbreviation for “positive”, but I found the option of  “position” in Collins.

21 Like cardigan successfully completed for mum? (8,2)
BUTTONED UP: double definition, the first quite whimsical. On edit (thanks to johninterred): it's actually a triple definition.

24 Response to tasty food one's set aside for rescue (9)
SALVATION: SALIVATION, with “I” set aside.

25 Criminal to leave country (5)
CONGO: CON / GO.

26 Immoderate wanton love enduring with time (13)
OVERINDULGENT: (LOVE ENDURING T*).


Down
1 Health worker condemned apartheid riots (14)
RADIOTHERAPIST: (APARTHEID RIOTS*). Nice surface!

2 Turning turtle roughly in your old boat (5)
YACHT: CA (roughly) in THY (old “your”), upside down (turned turtle!).Very nice!

3 Top brass almost all perished in conflict (10)
LEADERSHIP: (AL- PERISHED*). Ignore the last letter of “all”.

4 Cartoon gang leader retains old clothing (7)
TOPCOAT: TOP CAT, retaining O. ETA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Cat

5 Some disheartened troops brought about one's downfall (7)
NEMESIS: S{om}E MEN all backwards (“brought around”), then I’S. Another nice surface.

6 A drink from pub that's just opened? (4)
AJAR: A JAR being what you might have at a pub, AJAR being opened slightly as opposed to opened recently.

7 Personally contribute coin for Lorna? (2,4,3)
DO ONE’S BIT: DOONE’S BIT (from the novel Lorna Doone, published 1869).

8 What could enhance Turkey's capital growth? (8,6)
BRUSSELS SPROUT: a traditional British offering, I gather: roast turkey, Brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce. BRUSSELS is the capital, a SPROUT is new growth.

13 Short talk tying up no end of priests (10)
RABBINICAL: RABBI{t}, then LACIN{g} backwards.

15 Endangered species, cuckoo, drowned in a stream close to Rio (9)
ARMADILLO: MAD (cuckoo) in A RILL, then {ri}O. On edit: are armadillos endangered? Comments.

18 Sea creatures, broadcaster's titillating invention (7)
NAUTILI: sounds like a “naughty lie”.

19 Bill absorbing temperature and air to get acclimatised (7)
ATTUNED: AD (bill) “absorbing” T and TUNE.

22 Goose departs before cat drops round (5)
DUNCE: D (departs), then {o}UNCE (a snow leopard – known to me only though crosswords).

23 Come to main track (4)
WAKE: double definition, the second seafaring.
[Whoops - managed to post this to my own blog instead of the community first thing this morning by mistake. Sorry about the delay!]

A straightforward puzzle by recent standards, with a not unpleasant mid-20th-century feel about it. I did it on paper, untimed, but I felt it was neither egregiously easy nor particularly difficult anywhere, and would guess I'd have clocked in at 7-8 minutes ish.

My FOI was 13ac (any other well-known three letter places in India?), my LOI 24ac because of its slightly more elaborate wordplay, compared to the rest of the puzzle.

I liked the low-level general knowledge requirement infusing the puzzle - nothing too obscure, but you do have to know an old prime minister, poet, author or archbishop when you hear one. And the (probably accidental) juxtaposition of the gloomy and happy fellows in the thirteenth row, which gave my blog its title today.

COD to 14dn, not a hard clue (although it took me a little while as I was looking for synonyms for "engaged, betrothed" at first) but I like the quaintness of the term and it put me in a happy reverie. Thanks to the setter, and also for going a little easier on us after Tuesday's festivities. Good to see those of you I did see at the George!

ACROSS
1 Backward-looking archbishop is issue for TV announcement (4,6)
TIME SIGNAL: reverse all of LANG IS EMIT [archbishop | is | issue]. Cosmo Gordon Lang was Archbishop of Canterbury at e.g. the time of the 1936 abdication crisis.
Not sure how many time signals you get on TV in these days of ubiquitous mobile phones, but I assume they used to be happen and be very useful in the day?

6 Publisher wants opening chapter to be a stunning success (4)
COUP: OUP [= Oxford University Press = publisher] wants a C [chapter] at the front

9 Old king keeping dry for the most part in carriage (7)
CARIOLE: COLE [old king (in the nursery rhyme)] keeping ARI{d} [dry "for the most part"]

10 Let down after US agent returned behind schedule (7)
DEFLATE: after FED reversed [US agent "returned"], LATE [behind schedule]

12 PM very familiar with good fashion (10)
WELLINGTON: WELL IN [very familiar] with G TON [good | fashion]

13 Area at end of journey somewhere in India (3)
GOA: A [area] at end of GO [journey]

15 Couple of eggs — potentially boring tea (6)
OOLONG: O O [two eggs] + LONG [potentially boring]

16 Tighten up legal agreement (8)
CONTRACT: double def

18 Manoeuvring honestly or sneakily? (2,3,3)
ON THE SLY: (HONESTLY*) ["manoeuvring"]

20 Sports ground with companies backing game (6)
SOCCER: reverse all of REC COS [sports ground + companies]

23 Bit of scale revealed by fish (3)
RAY: double def. RAY as in doh-ray-mi-fah, the second note of the diatonic scale.

24 Degrees needing particular days — be avoiding one month for collection (10)
DOCTORATES: DATES [particular days], collecting OCTO{be}R [one month, but with BE "avoided"]

26 Left-wing sphere without love set about deep thinker (7)
BROODER: reverse all of RED O ORB [left-wing | sphere, "without" (as in outside of) O for love]

27 Sportsperson digesting very quiet team talk from him? (7)
SKIPPER: SKIER [sportsperson] "digesting" PP [pianissimo = very quiet]

28 Remainder to despatch? Put first bit to the back (4)
ENDS: SEND [to despatch], its first letter moved to the end

29 Possibility for “mint”: create money (10)
REMITTANCE: (MINT CREATE*) ["possibility for..."]

DOWN
1 Food — one who looked overfed? (4)
TUCK: double def with Robin Hood's famously fat friar friend.

2 Feel astonishment meeting line produced by poet (7)
MARVELL: MARVEL [feel astonishment] meeting L [line]

3 Well as he'd done, it's out of order to be conceited (7-6)
SWOLLEN-HEADED: (WELL AS HE'D DONE*) ["it's out of order"]

4 Author with endless dynamism about to pen end of tale (6)
GREENE: reverse ENERG{y} ["endless" dynamism] and have it "pen" the last letter of {tal}E.
Graham Greene surely must be the author to have made most appearances in cryptics due to his helpful letters. Are there any other contenders?

5 Rider in habit, not cold (8)
ADDITION: ADDIC{t}ION [habit, losing its C for cold]

7 I start to grimace a lot — a nasty sort of pain (7)
OTALGIA: (I G{rimace} A LOT A*) ["nasty"]

8 Inferior writers presenting author with samples (10)
POETASTERS: POE [author] gets presented with TASTERS [samples]

11 Philosopher loud with obsequiousness when meeting bunch of celebrities (13)
FUNCTIONALIST: F [loud] with UNCTION [obsequiousness] meeting A-LIST [bunch of celebs].
How many functionalist philosophers can you name? I've got Hilary Putnam. All rather bleeding-edge for someone weaned on Plato and Aristotle, though no doubt refuted already too.

14 Intending to go on to the match? (10)
HONOURABLE: cryptic def referring not to any sporting fixture, but to one with "honourable intentions", i.e. to marry the girl, not just waste her time. Sounds rather old-fashioned now I try to articulate it.

17 A wagon with beer brought round, offering a choice (1,2,5)
A LA CARTE: A CART [a | wagon] with ALE [beer] brought round. Set menus aren't that much of a thing any more are they? At least not in the shabby circles I move in.

19 Your clothes designer brought up something hidden under the neck (7)
THYROID: THY [your] + DIOR reversed [mid-20th-c fashion designer Christian, "brought up"]

21 Reduce price of pile in exhibition centre that's mounted up (7)
CHEAPEN: HEAP [pile] in NEC reversed [(Birmingham's) exhibition centre, "that's mounted up"]

22 What's good in Paris — Tuilleries's latest thing, excellent garden feature (6)
BONSAI: BON [what's good in Paris] + {tuillerie}S + A1 [excellent]

25 Indian having long passage sealed off at either end (4)
CREE: {s}CREE{d} [long (written) passage, topped and tailed]. A usual suspect in crosswordland, due to the convenient letters. I remember by grandfather having a copy of the Bible in Cree, which was a thing of great alphabetic wonder.

Quick Cryptic 1094 by Pedro

Last time I completely misjudged the mood of the room and praised a puzzle that you all thought was a stinker. This week, I'm going to stick my neck out again and risk my remaining shreds of credibility by giving this one the thumbs up too. Mainly straightforward but with a few witty clues and a new anagrind (for me at least.). 8 Minutes.





Across
1 Woodman to add to sailor's burden? (10)
LUMBERJACK - LUMBER (add to burden of) + JACK (tar, sailor). I always thought it was 'woodsman', but both are apparently valid
7 Smoke starts to creep into half of garden (5)
CIGAR - CI (initials of Creep Into) + GAR
8 Surprised exclamation about capital city, recalled in nostalgia (6)
MEMORY - MY about ROME backwards
10 Plan, article adopted by legislator (3)
MAP - A inside MP
12 It is back in Iceland, unexpectedly — the very same (9)
IDENTICAL - IT reversed, inside an anagram ('unexpectedly') of ICELAND
13 Medical assessment has one probing temperature and madness (6)
TRIAGE - T is temperature, RAGE is madness, stick I inside. From the French trier, to sort.
14 A doctor with it is covering round with skill (6)
ADROIT - A + DR + IT with O (round) inside
17 Is it ever wrong about blood group types? (9)
VARIETIES - A is the blood group, inside an anagram ('wrong') of IS IT EVER
19 A lot of wrestling in total (3)
SUM - Most of the word SUMO
20 Conservative in E-type getting armed guard (6)
ESCORT - E-type is E SORT with C for Conservative inside. Nice.
21 Best I do some trading (5)
IDEAL - barely even cryptic
23 Torture device butchers heads of men and women indiscriminately (10)
THUMBSCREW - this is nice: an anagram ('indiscriminately') of BUTCHERS + M + W

Down
1 See company incentive and train (10)
LOCOMOTIVE - LO + CO + MOTIVE
2 Fool thinking to disregard sin (3)
MUG - MUSING without SIN
3 Wrong about a piece of jewellery (7)
EARRING - wrong is ERRING, add A
4 Sweater bound to come with little hesitation (6)
JUMPER - JUMP (bound) + ER
5 Astronomical phenomenon to arrive on time (5)
COMET - COME + T
6 Curried rice soup is greatly appreciated (8)
PRECIOUS - anagram ('curried') of RICE SOUP. I don't think I've come across that anagrind before. Nice.
9 Two ill with meal dished up? That's the nadir (3-4,3)
ALL-TIME LOW - anagram ('dished up') of TWO ILL MEAL
11 Flower in formal lines, we hear (8)
PRIMROSE - sounds like PRIM ROWS
15 Sack girl after course has finished early (7)
DISMISS - Girl is MISS, after DIS which is short for DISH
16 One suffers endless prison sentence after endless crime (6)
VICTIM -  endless crime is VIC(e), endless prison sentence is TIM(e). Nice
18 Hard to manage standing up for a long time (5)
EPOCH - Hard is H (as in pencils), Manage is COPE, all upside down.
22 Each source of riches gets attention (3)
EAR - Each is EA, source of riches is R

Quick Cryptic No 1093 by Hurley

A plethora of geographical questions here (10, 11, 12, 22 across and 4 and 5 down), which together with some very simple hidden and other relatively easy clues made for a fast time, at least for me, at just inside the 10 minute mark.  My favourite clue (CoD) today is 14a, and my word of the day (WoD) is a toss-up between 19d and 14d.  I’ll try to use them both during the course of the day, maybe in the same sentence.

I have finally hit pay dirt in my investigations into the numbers of the QCs that I blog.  1093 is quite special, in that it is a prime number, and together with 1091 and 1097, it forms a prime triplet. It is also a happy prime and a star prime. It is also the smallest Wieferich prime. Finally, 1093 is a repunit prime in base 3.  If interested, google '1093 number' or look it up on wikipedia to discover more.

I hope you all enjoyed it.  I’ll be interested to see your comments.

Across
7  A daughter taking long time to see truism (5)
ADAGE – A (a) D{aughter} and AGE (long time)
8  Half of scheme ignored by artist – extremely lurid colour (7)
EMERALD – {sch}EME (half ignored) RA (artist) and L{uri}D (extremely)
10  Main feature of German city church (7)
ESSENCE – ESSEN is the German city and CE is church (from C{hurch of }E{ngland}
11  Aides with name for island mountains (5)
ANDES – swap N{ame} for I{sland} in AIDES to get ANDES – couldn’t be simpler!
12  Catty set I abandoned in Rome once (4-5)
CITY-STATE – Anagram (abandoned) of [CATTY SET I].  A CITY-STATE refers to a sovereign state, also described as a type of small independent country, that usually consists of a single city and its dependent territories.  Rome was such a state until I don’t know when, probably until the last stages of the unification of Italy when Rome became its capital in 1871, but I’m happy to be corrected by more knowledgeable commentators
14 It’s nailed low down (3)
TOE – Nice cryptic definition that made me smile when I got the answer
15 Shelter wrapped in fleece (3)
LEE – Hidden (but not very well) in {f}LEE{ce}
16  One profiting illegally from tennis equipment and beers uncovered (9)
RACKETEER – RACKET (tennis equipment) and {b}EER{s} (uncovered, i.e. remove first and last letters)
18  Some fun duenna finds excessive (5)
UNDUE – Hidden (barely) in {f}UN DUE{nna}.  Well done if you knew that DUENNA was a kind of chaperone – I didn’t and needed to look it up after solving.
20  Expose firm; note result (7)
OUTCOME – These modern days, to OUT someone is to expose them.  This is followed by CO (firm) and ME (note, as in Do, Ray, Me)
22  US city jeans so fancy (3,4)
SAN JOSE – anagram (fancy) of [JEANS SO] to identify the economic and cultural centre of Silicon Valley
23  Hundred have high opinion of old car (5)
CRATE – C (hundred) and RATE (have high opinion of)

Down
1 Paintings sale row – court involved (12)
WATERCOLOURS – Anagram (involved) of [SALE ROW COURT]
2  Visible from Veronica’s settee, container for recording (8)
CASSETTE – Hidden (this time more effectively) in {veroni}CAS SETTE{e}
Clergyman’s article located in study (4)
DEAN – A (article) inside (located in) DEN (study)
4  Information on girl in Swiss city (6)
GENEVA – GEN (information) and EVA (girl)
Middle Easterner seen – able, flexible (8)
LEBANESE – Anagram (flexible) of [SEEN ABLE].  Did you know that Lebanon is the smallest recognised  country on the entire Asian continent?
6  Monsieur with help, servant (4)
MAID – M (common abbreviation in France for Monsieur) and AID (help)
9 Potential heir ends date with lower expectations? (12)
DISHEARTENED – Anagram (potential) of [HEIR ENDS DATE]
13 Buildings expert certain to include volume Roy brought up (8)
SURVEYOR – SURE (certain) containing V{olume} with ROY reversed (brought up in a down clue)
14  Not drinking alcohol, Peg to speak briefly (8)
TEETOTAL – TEE (peg, as in golf tee) with TO (to) and TAL{k} (speak briefly).  In the old days of the Royal Navy, every sailor was classified as either TT (teetotal), UA (under age) or G (grog) as an indicator of their entitlement to draw the tot, the daily rum ration.
17  Exclamation of admiration about fine English stove (6)
COOKER – The exclamation of admiration is COR!, which is about (or surrounds) OK (fine) and E{nglish}.
19  Starts to drizzle awfully, new kit wet (4)
DANK – First letters (starts to) D{rizzle} A{wfully} N{ew} K{it}
21  Friar’s sweets for schoolchildren (4)
TUCK – Double definition, the first the famous Friar from Robin Hood, and the second the sweets available from a TUCK shop.

Times 27040 - a little off the sides

Solving time: 18:47. That's pretty slow for me, and there's some tricky stuff in here, but I don't know if I have ever agonized over an answer like I have 1 down. The second word seemed to fit part of the clue, but I had a hard time trying to pick over the words that fit in the first part of the answer, and plumped for one triggered by another one in the clue.  The good news is that I came back as correct, the bad is that I still have no clue whatsowever as to how the clue works.

Definitions are underlined in the clues... away we go!

Across
1 Startle, prepared to keep ace and not lead (4,1,4,4)
TAKE A BACK SEAT - TAKE ABACK(startle) then SET(prepared) containing A(ace)
9 It may get endless representation (5)
IMAGE - nice clue - remove the last letters from It MAy GEt
10 Message’s tenor we may hear described (9)
VOICEMAIL - and a tenor may be a VOICE, MALE
11 Think shop needs rebuke (10)
DELIBERATE - DELI(shop), BERATE(rebuke)
12 No time for jokes — strap on leg (4)
JESS - remove T from JESTS(jokes). Got this from wordplay, it is the strap on the leg of a hawk. Last seen in the daily Times in 2007 (back when I was a mere occasional commenter) and the Saturday Times in 2008
14 Get cash for proper detached place, not large (7)
REALISE - REAL(proper) then ISLE(detached place) missing L
16 Republic extremely embarrassed, withdrawing current coins (7)
DENARII - the Republic of IRAN, and E(mbarrasse)D reversed, then I(current)
17 At heart, regrets nothing in Spanish island (7)
GRENADA - the middle of reGREts then NADA(nothing)
19 Burden of work papers (7)
OPPRESS - OP, PRESS(papers)
20 Just open a container (4)
AJAR - A JAR
21 Fruit and meat including starter of rice for Chinese runner (5,5)
PEARL RIVER - PEAR(fruit), and LIVER(meat) containing R(ice). Got this from wordplay, it is also called the Canton River
24 People arrest smooth boy over a little bling (9)
MEDALLION - MEN(people) containing OIL(smooth), LAD(boy) all reversed
25 Maxim’s garden feature? (5)
GNOME - double definition for a witty saying and a think you might stick in the garden
26 Ma and Granny worried about Junior, a disillusioned playwright (5,5,3)
ANGRY YOUNG MAN - anagram of MA and GRANNY surrounding YOUNG(Junior)

Down
1 Old broadcaster’s second trailer for good stuff on compiler (5,9)
THIRD PROGRAMME - I think I have this sorted out... THIRD PROGRAMME was an old radio station.  So THIRD would be trailing second, then PRO(for), G(good), RAM(stuff), ME(the compiler of this crossword).
2 Frolic about, holding a pen (5)
KRAAL - LARK(frolic) reversed containing A
3 Land almost nothing, after a West Indian lands one (10)
AZERBAIJAN - ZER(o) after A, then BAJAN(West Indian) containing I(one)
4 Injurious commercial, very Irish (7)
ADVERSE - AD, V, ERSE
5 Came together and kept busy at the guillotine? (7)
KNITTED - double definition, referencing the crowd in front of the guillotine bringing their knitting to do between executions
6 Like some spuds? I had to speak (4)
EYED - sounds like I'D
7 Agreed toe is deformed somewhat (2,1,6)
TO A DEGREE - anagram of AGREED,TOE
8 Doctor percussing a lot who will get you looking better (7,7)
PLASTIC SURGEON - anagram of PERCUSSING,A,LOT, though the defintion is up for debate
13 Simple game won’t come to an end — I go to bed (10)
SNAPDRAGON - the game of SNAP will DRAG ON
15 Queen cross with regiment holding up drink (9)
ALEXANDRA - X(cross), AND, RA(regiment) under ALE
18 Useful feature to order any time (7)
AMENITY - anagram of ANY,TIME
19 Managed to support some good books: here, The Castle? (7)
OTRANTO - RAN(managed), TO under OT(good books). Got this from wordplay and thought it might have been a physical castle, but it is a book by Horace Walpole. OK, it appears there is a physical castle from comments, but the question mark seems to indicate that the clue is referring to the book.
22 Rev Vicar’s first study, say (5)
VROOM - V(icar) ROOM(study, for example)
23 Bullet hit pest (4)
SLUG - triple definition!
Today's puzzle is online in place of the second TCC qualifier, in the paper, which I shall blog after the closing date (I expect on 24th May). This one, based on its serial number, dates from April Fool's Day in 1977, not quite as ancient as the previous old stinker, and not nearly as difficult. We still have need for knowledge of a poetic quotation and some classical references, but the word play is not too vague and definitions, by and large, exist. An overdose of anagrams too. It took me about 30 minutes at leisure. There are a couple I don't fully understand (27a, 23d)  but I think the answers are all correct.
I'd hoped it might have some kind of an April 1 theme, to suit my avatar, but not that I noticed. However it is a pangram.

Across
1 Judge taking in old writer almost makes a bloomer (7)
JONQUIL - J for judge, O for old, QUIL(L) for writer almost; a jonquil is a variety of daffodil, as everyone knew in 1977. EDIT see third comment below, I think the OLD relates to the quill and it's J, ON = taking, QUIL(L).
5 Stone dead, his foes (7)
PERSEUS - &lit. Said Greek chap had quite a few tricks up his sleeve but one involved turning people to stone by brandishing the head of Medusa, whom he had eariler decapitated using a Baldrick style cunning ploy.
9 Does it, say, intimidate yachting visitors? (5)
COWES - &lit. Isle of Wight yachting capital, sounds like COWS = intimidates.
10 Where master is involved in craze of living off the land (4-5)
FARM-STEAD - Anagram of MASTER inside FAD. Never seen it hyphenated before.
11 Leads in The Rivals can be performed — easily managed (9)
TRACTABLE - T, R fist letters of The Rivals, ACTABLE = cen be performed.
12 Over a pint needed to get engineer tiddly (5)
LITRE - An RE (engineer) LIT would be a tiddly one.
13 Thus shortens said — to avoid these dangers? (5)
REEFS - I think this is a DD, to do with reefing a sail to make it shorter.
15 A girl’s in love, madly, with new creations (9)
ORIGINALS - (A GIRLS IN O)*
18 Visited by Puck in twenty minutes? (9)
ANTIPODES - In AMND Puck says he can put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes, presumably anticipating the ISS, so he could get to New Zealand in half that time. Although he'd have to be in a lower orbit as the ISS takes 90 minutes to go round.
19 Grand to do nothing but mend broken windows (5)
GLAZE - G = grand, LAZE = do nothing.
21 Capital is in order in toy-making (5)
TOKYO - OK inside (TOY)*. Would have been good for the Quick Cryptic, if there was one.
23 I came unstuck in voting that’s controversial (9)
POLEMICAL - (I CAME)* inside POLL.
25 Put back flag, make speech and vanish (9)
EVAPORATE - PAVE = flag, put back = EVAP, ORATE = make speech. I could argue that evaporate means turn to vapour, not exactly vanish, but no doubt a non-scientific use of the word is OK.
26 A bit of a fight (5)
SCRAP - Double definition.
27 Card-sharpers returning from the Holy Land? (7)
PALMERS - People who palm cards could be card-sharps, I am not clued up enough about returning Crusaders or whichever other holy ritual is being referred to here to explain it further.
28 No agent misrepresented cargo capacity (7)
TONNAGE - (NO AGENT)*.

Down
1 Sailor makes difficult tack in a vessel (4,3)
JACK TAR - Anagram of TACK inside JAR.
2 He supplies daily intelligence on the Scottish factor (9)
NEWSAGENT - NEWS = intelligence, AGENT = Scottish factor, a land agent.
3 Disturb order of words for its antonym (5)
UPSET - I presume this is implying the opposite of SET DOWN.
4 Julius Caesar’s ultimate loss (4-5)
LIFE-BLOOD - I can't find a quote with the exact phrase life-blood in the play, but Cassius exhorts them all to come and bathe their hands in Caesar's blood. Is that all there is to this?
5 Standard direction to grammar students (5)
PARSE - PAR = standard, SE = south-east; 'direction'appears to do double duty here.
6 Phone about broken lutes ( ____ in their repair?) (9)
RESULTING - I've underlined an underlined space to identify the definition. A first time for everything. (LUTES)* inside RIG.
7 Exercise that Rex expects back in this (5)
EXERT - Hidden reversed in THA(T REX E)PECTS.
8 "May there be no ____ of farewell" (Tennyson) (7)
SADNESS - A quotation. I just guessed it from S*D*E*S.
14 Student hopes to get room changed (9)
SOPHOMORE - (HOPES ROOM)*. Loose identifying of the anagrist, but never mind.
16 Five enter in water off 9, or in Queer Street (9)
INSOLVENT - The water off Cowes (answer to 9a) is the SOLENT, insert a V for five.
17 A song about a cur tangled in a monkey-puzzle (9)
ARAUCARIA - A, ARIA around (A CUR)*.
18 New part exchange arrangement in Belgium (7)
ANTWERP - (NEW PART)*.
20 Maybe see about film cuts of the black-out (7)
ECLIPSE - (SEE)* around CLIPS.
22 Put up bird outside a native village (5)
KRAAL - LARK reversed (put up) with A inserted.
23 The Hamlet thing being one of them (5)
PLAYS - Well, Hamlet is a play. Am I missing something deeper? Yes, apparently, in the play Hamlet says 'the play's the thing'. Thanks to the literate commenter below.
24 Novelist, craft type (5)
MASON - Double definition. There are a few novelists called somebody Mason, Richard being the most obvious, three of those on my list but one was only born in 1977 so we'll go with the author of The Wind Cannot Read and The World of Susie Wong.

Quick Cryptic 1092 by Hawthorn

A distinctly chewy offering from Hawthorn today which I suspect will have some of our newer solvers struggling (but hopefully not complaining - the whole point is to be pushed beyond your comfort zone as that is the only way to improve your skills: end of brief homily).

No real obscurities apart from the Japanese sash at 1d, but with the rest of the wordplay and a couple of cross checkers the unknown (to me) bit of the answer could be written in with a high degree of confidence. The difficulty of the puzzle (at least to me) came with the cryptic definitions at 4a and 10a (both very good - but it took me some time to see what was going on) and the tricky / well disguised definitions at 5d and 20a.

A couple of impressive anagrams at 2d and 6d - although they were some of the easier clues I thought - but my COD goes to 4a for reasons I suspect only my shrink could explain.

Well, playmates, that's me over and out as a blogger of the QC I'm afraid. For those of you who did not look at my last Sunday Times blog, I've decided to pass on the baton due to pressure of work and generally being time poor at the moment. I was privileged to be in at the beginning of the QC and blogged QC number 3 back in March 2014. Since then I have done around 108 all up (not that I've been counting - but that's roughly what the sums suggest) so it's time to give someone else a crack.

It only remains for me to say a big thank you to all the setters and editors of the QC. It was a bold experiment when first launched (which attracted criticism from some of the more conservative quarters) but has, I believe, encouraged a new generation of solvers to get into the Times crossword scene. Some will go on to become top flight solvers of the 15x15, some will stay comfortably enjoying the QC but will venture no further, and some will say the whole thing is just too damn hard. But at least everyone will have had a crack and decided whether the investment of time and intellectual energy associated with being eventually able to solve The Times 15x15 is worth it. And that's great.

So toodle pip and thanks for the (generally) positive feedback you have provided to my efforts over the last 4 years.

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

Across
1 Put back part of wall on Kentish hill (5)
KNOLL - Reverse hidden (put back part of) waLL ON Kentish hill
4 Result of getting teeth stuck into Hawthorn, perhaps
(7)
SAWDUST - Cryptic definition revolving around the teeth of a saw - and the strangely pleasing notion of sinking our teeth into a setter from time to time
8 Playing lute etc in Cos? (7)
LETTUCE - *(LUTE ETC) with "playing" signalling the anagram
9 Affectedly sing end of witty poem by Pound (5)
YODEL - Y (end of wittY) + ODE (poem) + L (abbrev. for pound sterling). Was it only me that found this a slightly odd definition?
10 A sound defence aiding nightwatchman? (7,5)
BURGLAR ALARM - Cryptic definition steering us down a cricketing line of thinking - straight bat and all that - when in fact the key is in the noisy kind of "sound" and the nightwatchman is of the traditional variety rather than the tail end batsman promoted to take the last few overs to save a leading batsman from exposure at the end of the day's play.
12 To step backwards in part of shoe (6)
TOECAP - TO + reversal of PACE (step backwards)
13 A naturalist primarily twitches for larks (6)
ANTICS - A N (A Naturalist primarily) + TICS (twitches)
16 The very best peach biscuit (5,7)
CREAM CRACKER - CREAM (the very best) + CRACKER (peach - terminology employed by one's grandfather with regard to a particularly attractive gal)
18 Cautious statement fellow had withdrawn for example (5)
HEDGE - HE'D (fellow had) + EG reversed (withdrawn for example)
20 Engineer ran good railroad (7)
DRAGOON - *(RAN GOOD) with "engineer" signposting the anagram
21 There’s tons in cigars that’s bad for the stomach (7)
GASTRIC - T (tons) 'in' *(CIGARS) with "that's bad" indicating the anagram
22 Avoid old magistrate after pocketing diamonds (5)
DODGE - D (abbrev. diamonds in Bridge notation) 'pocketed' by DOGE (old magistrate)


Down
1 Some memory of Scottish garment bearing Japanese sash (7)
KILOBIT - KILT (Scottish garment) is 'bearing' (i.e. carrying inside) OBI (Japanese sash). Did not know the OBI, but once the K hove into view the garment had to be a kilt, which (with the definition) inevitably meant that OBI must be some kind of Japanese sash - which apparently it is. And that, I might say for the benefit of new solvers, is a good example of having to make educated guesses sometimes as words which are completely unknown to you will inevitably crop up from time to time.
2 Craft sure to be hired for remote islands (5,8)
OUTER HEBRIDES - *(SURE TO BE HIRED) with "craft" signalling the anagram
3 Liberal judge restyled Banjul a capital (9)
LJUBLJANA - L J (liberal judge) + *(BANJUL) - with "restyled" signposting the anagram - + A giving us the capital of Slovenia. I visited it some years ago, and I couldn't spell it correctly then, either... thank goodness the cross checkers didn't leave much room for getting it wrong!
4 Son tries gardening tool (6)
SHEARS - S (son) + HEARS (tries - as in a judge trying / hearing a case)
5 Biting cereal noisily (3)
WRY - Sounds like RYE (cereal noisily). The wry / bitter equation surprised me somewhat, as I'd always associated it with sardonic humour rather than real bitterness. But the dictionaries (of course) support the setter...
6 Loud workmen I’d recast in radio play (5,4,4)
UNDER MILK WOOD - *(LOUD WORKMEN I'D) with "recast" pointing to the anagram. How many other radio plays does anyone know?
7 Conversation arising in Greek/Latin (4)
TALK - Reverse hidden (arising in) greeK LATin
11 Help close a hotel in the country (4,1,4)
LEND A HAND - END (close) + A + H (hotel - as in the phonetic alphabet) 'in' LAND (the country)
14 Crazed singer swallowing unknown medical item (7)
SYRINGE - *(SINGER) - with "crazed" indicating the anagram - and Y also in the mix (swallowing unknown)
15 Sharp American spies returned to protect detectives (6)
ACIDIC - CIA reversed (American spies returned) wrap around (to protect) CID (detectives)
17 Time to embrace ruffian (4)
THUG - T (time) + HUG (to embrace)
19 Blunder as US hospital department shortened radius (3)
ERR - ER (US hospital department ) + R (shortened R{adius}

Times Cryptic 27038

"This puzzle was presented as a British cryptic challenge to contestants at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in March. The fastest solving time was 12 minutes".

I don't think we've ever had an individual solving time indicated before, but it only served to prove once again (as if I needed reminding) how far at the back of the field I am, as I needed 50 minutes to fill the grid. Most of it was fairly straightforward other than 8ac over which I lost a lot of time and needed all the checkers in place before eventually coming up with the answer.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1091 by Rongo

A blogger's lot, whilst arguably somewhat more upbeat than a policeman's, is not consistently one of joy and song. However, today finds my mood in perfect harmony with the clemency of the weather conditions currently prevailing over most of the U.K. As Sir Pelham Grenville may have put it - the lark's on the wing and the snail is having a great time messing about on the thorn.

Today's challenging puzzle from Rongo set all this off by diverting me onto a culinary tangent (for which apologies). Several long clues were hold ups and then there's the 1ac/1dn pair which were my final hurdle. Chock full of tasty clues, it took 12 minutes to enjoy and rather more to digest how the ingredients all came together. Here are my notes in the margins of the recipe book - don’t miss la pièce de résistance at 15dn.

Read more...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1090 by Flamande

Once again we celebrate a ton-up as Flamande reaches his 100th QC today, so congratulations and thanks to him for this fine puzzle. I think only one other of the original setters is due to achieve this milestone in the near future having currently clocked up 99. This one took me 9 minutes.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times 27037 - Spooner in the Works

Today's was very much your average Monday offering - high in entertainment and not too taxing. The lovers of the bodice-ripping Regency tales of Ms Heyer get a clue all to themselves. Most of us will need most, if not all, of the checkers before essaying our answer. There's a nice aeronautical clue that will have some of us scratching our heads for the precise form of the first word; the second is easy enough, even if it may give some the hump. My favourite, I think, is 8 across, where many a pencil will have been being sharpened as crossword aficionados prepared to write in to say that this is a pretty ordinary cryptic definition. But it isn't after all. It's rather cunning. Or perhaps everyone apart from me got the parsing straight off. We shall see.

ACROSS

1 Initially served up some hotpot, Irish dish (5)
SUSHI - Initial letters of the 2nd to 6th words - not an Irish stew in sight
4 Spooner's fault opening package for Christmas? (8)
GIFTWRAP - RIFT GAP changing first letters and the second part gaining a silent W. Not sure if I have seen this conceit before but I like it. A tick for the setter for including a question mark, so that no one has to waste pencil lead pointing out that gift-wrapping services are available at times other than Christmas, and not at Christmas, at all, in some parts of the world, I would imagine. My last in.
8 This sort of business meeting might end quickly (5,9)
POWER BREAKFAST - lovely &lit; POWER (might) END (break) FAST (quickly). Not , as I first thought a CD, because anyone with sense would want to get out of a 5-star hotel making inane conversation with someone he doesn't know and go to a nice friendly caff.
10 Carry out appliance (9)
IMPLEMENT - double definition
11 Small instrument for piercing (5)
SHARP - S + HARP
12 Moan about having to guard silver dish (6)
HAGGIS - SIGH reversed around AG
14 Out? A Liberal admitting nothing speculative (8)
NOTIONAL - O in NOT IN + A + L
17 Especially a black protective coat Romeo discarded (5,3)
ABOVE ALL - A + B OVE[r]ALL
18 Minister in vicious circle (6)
CLERIC - anagram* of CIRCLE
20 Avid listener for example back inside (5)
EAGER - EG reversed in EAR
22 Love entering closed place of worship on which there's a tribal emblem (5,4)
TOTEM POLE - TO (closed - as of a door: cue discussion...) + O in TEMPLE
24 Tripping over stand in the way, an obstacle (9,5)
STUMBLING BLOCK - a simple charade (a + b) of STUMBLING (tripping over) and BLOCK (stand in the way)
25 Individual copies turned over with speed (8)
SEPARATE - APES reversed + RATE
26 Miserable old doctor by organ (5)
DREAR - DR + EAR; 'old' because it's a literary, and somewhat archaic word - though I have a suspicion that horryd would use it in his tomes.

DOWN

1 Son arrived after work and left in old plane (7,5)
SOPWITH CAMEL - OP + WITH (and) in S + CAME + L
2 Successfully complete repair? (3,2)
SEW UP - DD
3 Grim realities for a Hebrew (9)
ISRAELITE - REALITIES*
4 Band: T Rex up wearing outrageous gear (6)
GARTER - T + R (rex) reversed in GEAR*; I guess TR is an abbreviation for the animal in some dictionary... I guessed wrong - thanks to KG for the parsing
5 Perhaps half of Republicans originally in dissenting group (8)
FRACTION - R in FACTION
6 Floats gently in water, at first, behind front of ship (5)
WAFTS - W[ater] + AFT (behind) + S (front of ship)
7 One practising self-denial in a British town? Almost right (9)
ABSTAINER - A + B + STAINE[s-upon Thames] + R; when we lived in posh Virginia Water, we called it 'Stoines'.
9 Point at analyst producing computer program (12)
SPELLCHECKER - I think the idea here is that if you were, say, Harry Potter, and, first, you thought an analyst was a checker and, second, you thought that to point at someone was pretty much equivalent to spelling them, then you could - Petrificus Totalus - conjure up a spellchecker. (I had to Google the incantation - honest!)
13 "Material Girl"? (9)
GEORGETTE - DD for Heyer lovers; G is is 'a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric named after the early 20th century French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante'.
15 I harshly criticise a poor place in Pakistan (9)
ISLAMABAD - I SLAM A BAD
16 A good many coming in to stock a number of small ships (8)
FLOTILLA - LOT in FILL A
19 Example that’s missing in policy (6)
STANCE - [in]STANCE
21 Odd drop of brandy before a dance (5)
RUMBA - RUM + B[randy] + A
23 Bracing air round region (5)
OZONE - O + ZONE

Mephisto 3010 - by Don Manley

Middle of the road puzzle. Some help needed with 2 Down please.

In the blog, the definition in the clue is underlined and followed by the answer; the parsing; any comments

ACROSS
1 What’s special about a port offering flexible working arrangement (10)
SPREADOVER: SP-RE-A-DOVER;
10 Weakness of one group of old soldiers captured by enemy (6)
FOIBLE: FO(I-BL)E; BL=British Legion
11 Tick given to attractive girl looking smart? (6)
MODISH: MO-DISH;
12 Being on bike, say, not hard — OK then for Jock? (5)
AWEEL: AW(H)EEL;
13 Some moles falling over in a parcel of land once (5)
TALPA: A-PALT all reversed;
14 Explorer reported to be turning back (4)
DIAS: SAID reversed; explorer Bartolomeu Dias (1450-1500)
16 Scottish liquor, kind in short supply (4)
BREE: BREE(d);
17 An authentic object of a region (5)
AREAL: A-REAL;
18 Two girls making cake with chemical in it (11, two words)
SAL,PRUNELLA; SAL – PRUNELLA;
20 Old females singing I deem angels in distress (11)
GLEEMAIDENS: (I deem angels)*;
23 Stale vinegar is penetrating fish (5)
EISEL: E(IS)EL;
26 Embankment — part of drab Underground (4)
BUND: hidden (dra)B-UND(erground); Embankment is a London Underground station
29 Old king/ conveying the essence of Scotland (4)
SAUL: two meanings 1=Old King 2=soul in Sutherland;
30 Keen Glaswegian /man of law (5)
SNELL: two meanings; 1=keen in Kirkcaldy; 2=reference Snell’s Law from wave physics
31 Gods arise unexpectedly (5)
AESIR: (arise)*;
32 Old rocker on a high note, very happy (6)
ELATED: E-LA-TED; TED=Teddy Boy;
33 Very cold water in heavy soil destroying a plant (6)
CICELY: C(ICE)L(a)Y;
34 Deer sprint, spreading animal disease (10)
RINDERPEST: (deer sprint)*;

DOWN
2 Angels who flew over dangerous territory? (6)
POWERS: can’t say I understand this clue. According to Wiki: The Powers are the bearers of conscience and the keepers of history. They are also the warrior angels created to be completely loyal to God.
3 Plunder Spain, tear across it north to south (5)
RIEVE: RI(E)VE
4 Comprehensive plummeting, not the first or last (5)
ALL-IN: (f)ALLIN(g)
5 Girl getting ’ounded needs to be free (11)
DEBARRASSED: DEB-(h)ARRASSED;
6 Opposing salesman’s earnings is a democratic right (4)
VOTE: V-OTE; OTE=On Target Earnings;
7 Feature of heavenly body revealed in thriller (5)
RILLE: hidden (th)RILLE(r);
8 Observation of shortcoming upset one getting caught (6)
ESPIAL: LA(I)PSE reversed;
9 Asian hit, a fantastic hit (10)
THAILANDER: (hit a)*-LANDER;  a LANDER is a punch;
11 What is devious aim with seducing? (11)
MISGUIDANCE: (aim + seducing)*; nice clue;
12 Members of Christian sect may be seen as glib (10)
ALBIGENSES: (seen as glib)*;
15 Endless longing for victory (4)
GREE: GREE(d);
19 Little / court of days gone by (4)
LEET: two meanings;
21 Foot soldiers, just outstandingly courageous? (6)
LIONLY: LI-ONLY; LI=Light Infantry;
22 Crawlers eliciting blasphemous oath? (6)
SNAILS: S’NAILS;
24 What sounds quite separate (5)
SHEAR: sounds like “sheer”
25 Queen has song book, very old (5)
QUAIR: QU-AIR;
27 At university witness a carousal (5)
UPSEE: UP-SEE;
28 Dope getting left in depression (4)
GLEN: G(L)EN; dope=slang for information;

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