Times 27957 - Anky Panky

I'd a prime time in sunny Broadstairs near the 'arbour over the weekend, saw lots of beachwear, had a pint in the Smugglers, and ended up acquiring a new (rescue) dog - a poodle not a tosa - yet I am glad to be back in the realm of non urban Rutland where the atmosphere is unsullied and the sky is currently free from mares-tail clouds. This epic puzzle kept me amused for 25 minutes; it could have been done on green paper.... [that's enough of this dismal contrived nonsense; Ed].

1 Article seen by chief is to come (5)
AHEAD - A, HEAD = chief.
4 Fail to get great deal that would assist higher aims? (9)
BOMBSIGHT - Bomb (fail) SIGHT (great deal, as in "a sight more than...")
9 Correspondence about a break in cloud (5-4)
MARES-TAIL - MAIL about A REST. Mares-tail clouds are those thin, wispy, hooked shaped clouds which appear when a warm front is approaching.
10 Escorts abandoning hotel customers (5)
USERS - USHERS = escorts, lose the H.
11 Star hides much being a deranged killer (3-7-3)
SUB-MACHINE-GUN - the star is the SUN, into which put (MUCH BEING A)*.
14 Henry sort of cross with horse coming first (4)
HANK - an ANKH is a form of cross with a looped top; move the H to the front to get Henry's nickname.
15 Those wanted are dead? It's uncertain (10)
18 Tirade on socialist dog is something fruity (3,7)
RED CURRANT - RED CUR = socialist dog, RANT = tirade.
19 Despite everything one finds legendary creature (4)
YETI - YET = despite everything, I. Not the daughter's Skoda.
21 Rozzer has run inside: crime writer almost catching us in college (6,7)
CORPUS CHRISTI - Put R into COP, then CHRISTI(E) as in Agatha almost, then insert US. Choose from the Cambridge one founded in 1352 or the relatively recent one in Oxford, founded 1517.
24 Best quality piano introducing old poem (5)
25 Broad line curls round belt (9)
27 Lady of the Lake (9)
CONSTANCE - as in Lake Constance, Europe's third largest lake, on the Rhine, otherwise known as the Bodensee. MartinP1 would no doubt point out there's one in NZ as well.
28 Silver coin added to millions in kingdom (5)
1 Mood cheers up with doctor on department (10)
ATMOSPHERE - TA (cheers) reversed, MO (doctor), SPHERE (department). No ENT department, for once.
2 Musical talent gets attention (3)
EAR - double definition.
3 Miserable face sergeant-major wears (6)
DISMAL - DIAL = face, insert SM.
4 Swimsuits composer carried across East River (9)
BEACHWEAR - E (east) goes into BACH, then WEAR as in the River Wear up north.
5 Staff outside the Italian financial centre (5)
MILAN - IL (the in Italian) inside MAN = staff.
6 Runner showing increased complacency circling lake (8)
SMUGGLER - L inside SMUGGER = more complacent.
7 Documents for discussion in genre slammed by media (5,6)
GREEN PAPERS - (GENRE)* then PAPERS = media.
8 Boozer turned on initially amenable canine (4)
TOSA - SOT (boozer) reversed, A (initially amiable). A rare Japanese breed of dog, not a very amenable type I expect.
12 Monk one taking place in church service (11)
BENEDICTION - BENEDICT founder of the Bnedictine order of monks; I (one) ON (taking place).
13 Peaceful border in Asian region (7,3)
PACIFIC RIM - PACIFIC = peaceful, RIM = border.
16 Corrupt state? On the contrary (9)
INNOCENCE - cryptic definition. Is this supposed to be a dodgy homophone for IN A SENSE? Or IN NO SENSE?
17 Zealot on charter round island promoting growth (8)
NUTRIENT - NUT (zealot) then I (island) inside RENT (charter).
20 Bower Eliza Doolittle's refuge? (6)
ARBOUR - Eliza might have pronounced "harbour" (refuge) as 'arbour.
22 Duke leaves South African port for city (5)
23 Majestic European prince appearing regularly (4)
EPIC - E (European) P r I n C e.
26 Operatic role thought to release energy (3)
IDA - iDEA loses E for energy; as in Princess Ida by G & S.

Times Quick Cryptic 1857 by Hurley

I had a feeling I'd get hung up at the end, which turned out to be the case, because each clue seemed to hold out until the moment before I moved on to the next. Would have been a good time if not for 17dn (bunged in from wordplay), 25ac, and my LOI 20dn.

Definitions underlined.

3 Talented following religion, not half trustworthy (8)
RELIABLE - ABLE (talented) after (following) half of (not half) RELIgion.
7 Coiffure that’s surprising at Irish party (6)
HAIRDO - HA! (that's surprising), next to (at) IR (Irish), and DO (party).
8 Strange new Roman lab (8)
ABNORMAL - anagram of (new) ROMAN LAB.
9 Featured in choir, perhaps, part of diocesan group (4)
SANG - hidden in (part of) dioceSAN Group.
10 Skip journey (3)
HOP - double definition.
11 A cent tip? Outrageous! (8)
PITTANCE - anagram of (outrageous) A CENT TIP. In addition to the whole clue being wordplay, the whole clue is also the (somewhat offbeat) definition - it's an &lit. (and literally) clue.
13 Drink with king in wood (4)
TEAK - TEA (drink) with K (king).
15 Excitement as female friend returning (4)
FLAP - F (female) then PAL (friend) reversed (returning).
17 Certain to accept surprisingly nice, attractive post (8)
SINECURE - SURE (certain) containing (to accept) an anagram of (surprisingly) NICE. A job that requires no work but pays well. There's probably a reason I didn't know this word...
19 Era of silver finally gone (3)
AGE - AG (silver, periodic table) and the last letter of (finally) gonE.
22 Colour proposal — is not keen initially (4)
PINK - first letters of (initially) Proposal In Not Keen.
23 No credit unfortunately for set of beliefs (8)
DOCTRINE - anagram of (unfortunately) NO CREDIT.
24 Needleworker brings in cook’s last item used to prepare food (6)
SKEWER - SEWER (needleworker) containing (brings in) the last letter of (...'s last) cooK.
25 Newly independent guy has hesitation about me at first (8)
EMERGENT - GENT (guy), with ER (hesitation) containing (about) ME put at the front (at first).

1 Magnificent leading couples from Paris, lavish times always! (8)
PALATIAL - first two letters from each of (leading couples from) PAris LAvish TImes ALways.
2 Clever bishop? Correct (6)
BRIGHT - B (bishop) and RIGHT (correct).
3 Stick round a thoroughfare (4)
ROAD - ROD (stick) containing (round) A.
4 Coming from South, Noel tours a French church, getting meal (8)
LUNCHEON - reversal of (coming from south) NOEL containing (tours) UN (a, French) and CH (church).
5 Curt, put bar off (6)
ABRUPT - anagram of (off) PUT BAR.
6 Boy welcoming English guide (4)
LEAD - LAD (boy) containing (welcoming) E (English).
12 Reportedly is familiar with disreputable bar — it will get you down fast! (4,4)
NOSE DIVE - sounds like (reportedly) "knows" (is familiar with), then DIVE (disreputable bar).
14 A roadie at outset called Queen’s musician (8)
ARRANGER - A, first letter of (at outset) Roadie, RANG (called), and ER (Queen).
16 Dad’s high point, becoming vicar (6)
PASTOR - PA's (dad's) and TOR (rocky hill in the West Country, high point).
18 Coin word for policeman? (6)
COPPER - double definition.
20 Surf for missing Romeo, American (4)
FOAM - FOr without the 'r' (missing romeo), and AM (American).
21 Cosy place, extremely nice, on street (4)
NEST - first and last letters from (extremely) NicE, then ST (street).

Times Quick Cryptic 1856 by Breadman

Quite a tough work out from Breadman today which took 11 minutes. I found the word play quite tricky in parts (e.g. 13dn), had trouble with the font at 21ac and needed all the checkers to get LOI - the long anagram at 24ac. Only travels in Scotland allowed me not to make a spelling slip at 1ac.

Good luck!

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  • vinyl1

Times 27955 - The gum-chewing dogs, say??

Time: 29 minutes
Music: Bizet, L'Arlesienne Suites, Morel, Royal Opera House Orchestra

Well, I admit, I'm not usually expecting a challenging puzzle on Monday.   But this one had some elusive answers, and perhaps some over-clever wordplay, so I suspect some solvers may struggle.   Unfortunately, the SNITCH is out of operation right at the moment, so I can't check - I'm sure Starstruck will take care of this shortly.

I was off to a good start by writing in the long answers at both the top and the bottom, which usually gets you going on this grid pattern.   But then I was thoroughly stuck, not being able to use any of the starting letters across the top.   Instead, I had to go chestnut-hunting around the grid, only to come up with a mighty small harvest.   There are some really off-the-wall wordplay tricks here, things that you might expect in Mephisto.

1 Plastic they only peel off (12)
8 Charge for tablet (7)
LOZENGE - I just biffed this while solving, but now I understand - it's a heraldic charge, a device on a shield.
9 Seek dull job with hospital doing longest possible shift in fabrication (7)
UNTRUTH - HUNT RUT, with H (Hospital) moved the maximum possible distance.
11 Like sandstone doubly covered in basilicas’ bricks (7)
SILICIC - [ba]SILIC[as br]IC[ks], another very tricky cryptic.
12 Going down without right piloting (7)
DRIVING - D(R)IVING, where without might be either an enclosure indicator, or a deletion indicator.
13 Always in poetry that is strange (5)
EERIE - E'ER + I.E., the only simple clue in the puzzle.
14 Cooks fruit in packet, perhaps (9)
16 Supporters mostly run restaurant (9)
BRASSERIE - BRAS + SERIE[s], not quite a chestnut.
19 Poorer fretted outside society (5)
21 Drifting, your setter’s in a bar (7)
AIMLESS - A(I'M)LESS.   Less is the equivalent of bar in the sense of without, except for.
23 Newspapers got round belonging to state (7)
24 What canines have lair and can dine without noise? (7)
DENTINE - DEN + TIN + [din}E, with the Mephisto-like letter-removal indicator.
25 Having powerful weapons, some Israel cunningly concealed in turn (7)
NUCLEAR - Backward hidden in [Is]RAEL CUN[ningly].
26 Script producer has to check court document with Her Majesty (12)
1 Parking car heavy on petrol — gallons gone for you (7)
PUZZLER - P + [g]UZZLER, which for many of us might be puzzled!
2 Oxford college relocated in Clare (7)
LINACRE - Anagram of IN CLARE, simple if you know the college, which is not one of the more famous ones.
3 What could make one sexier? Rec fitness equipment (9)
4 Harry’s husband, plump, no Romeo (5)
HOUND - H + [r]OUND.
5 Element burning with smell when current is put into it (7)
6 Promote foreign drama about novelist (7)
NOURISH - NO(URIS)H.   Leon Uris was a big bestseller 60 or 70 years ago, but is probably forgotten today.
7 Bolt rear pads around material applied to walls (12)
10 Drunken bully is very stressing (4-8)
HIGH-PRESSURE -  HIGH + PRESSURE, where bully should be treated as a verb.
15 Something illuminating lid? (3-6)
EYE-OPENER - Double definition.
17 Calendar girl initially nude and clothed (7)
ALMANAC - ALMA + N[ude] A[nd] C[lothed].
18 Unproductive anger after ship’s back without navy (7)
STERILE - STE[rn] + RILE.   I was looking for ire for a long time, and then rage, but rile it is.
19 Picture of timber (7)
WOODCUT - A very terse cryptic definition.
20 Wild animals came by ’orse, reportedly (3,4)
ROE DEER - Sounds like RODE 'ERE.
22 Mug in set gets smashed (5)
STEIN - Anagram of IN SET.

QC 1855 by Mara

A good variety of clues here including the use of quite a few anagrams although I think only one was an anagram pure and simple. All the others were elements of larger constructions. Many thanks to Mara for a witty and enjoyable start to the week.

FOI was 1A and LOI was I believe 12D. The answer did cross my mind earlier but I left it to make sure as I don't think I have ever used a 12D in my life (never having seen that there was anything wrong with the written word for communication and having a vague feeling that having gone to all the trouble of evolving it from hieroglyphics it doesn't make a lot of sense to reverse the process). Also they have really now been taken over by emojis haven't they? (Or should the plural of that be emoji by comparison with fish or deer?) So the word already has a slightly retro feel to me even though it is only a few years old and I thought it best just to leave it to the end to give it my full attention. My COD was 3D. I suspect it's a bit of a chestnut but I do like it.

Definitions are underlined as usual and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can.

1 Note repeated about a city in Florida (5)
MIAMI - MI MI (note repeated - as found in the Do Re Mi scale) 'about' A.
4 Two pieces for minor role (3,4)
BIT PART - BIT + PART (two pieces).
8 Trimmer vessel (7)
CLIPPER - double definition (hair trimmer and a three-masted ship built for speed).
9 Punch a fragile thing (5)
CHINA - CHIN (punch, as in "I'll chin you!") + A.
10 A large nut badly crushed, ultimately in little pieces (10)
GRANULATED - GRANULATE (anagram ('badly') of A LARGE NUT) + D (crusheD 'ultimately').
14 Clean, favourite child, endearingly (6)
MOPPET - MOP (clean) + PET (favourite).
15 As if failed, company in state of disorder (6)
FIASCO - anagram ('failed') of AS IF + CO (company).
17 Get down to business and discuss what to have for Christmas? (4,6)
TALK TURKEY - TALK (discuss) + TURKEY (what to have for Christmas). Alternatively you could look at it as a double definition with the second one being slightly cryptic as indicated by the '?'. So that is pretty clever to have two clues for the price of one but sadly in the end it does make the solution rather easier if you're given two different ways to get there.
20 Cold, cold elevation (5)
CHILL - C (cold) + HILL (elevation).
22 Originally, eight tendons in sheep joint (7)
FETLOCK - ET (the first letters ('originally') of Eight Tendons) 'in' FLOCK (sheep).
23 Just coming up, link for woman's garment (7)
NIGHTIE - NIGH (just coming up, as in 'the end is nigh') + TIE (link).
24 Ladder positioned vertically, build quickly (3,2)
RUN UP - RUN (ladder, as in a stocking or pair of tights) + UP (positioned vertically).
1 Animals, many in central Europe, initially (4)
MICE - Many In Central Europe 'initially'.
2 Keen to have opera star sent up (4)
AVID - DIVA (opera star) reversed. i.e. 'sent up' in this down clue.
3 Tense boast of bighead? (9)
IMPERFECT - a bighead might say "I'M PERFECT".
4 Bear eating nothing bland (6)
BORING - BRING (bear, as in 'we come bearing gifts') 'eating' O (nothing).
5 Brief moment for twitch (3)
TIC - remove the last letter (i.e. make it 'brief') from TICk (moment).
6 Order dictates it's a critical assessment (4,4)
ACID TEST - straight anagram (order) of DICTATES.
7 Sign of grief after race, let down (8)
TEARDROP - TEAR (race, as in 'racing around') + DROP (let down).
11 I select different queen, where Richard III lies (9)
LEICESTER - anagram of I SELECT ('different') + ER (Elizabeth Regina, queen) gives the resting place of the remains of Richard III. Of course, he was the last of the Yorkists but he was found in what is now a car park in Leicester where he was taken after being killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field (the last English monarch to die in battle. I think there is another quiz question as to who was the last English monarch to lead troops into battle (without actually dying in the process) and I think it was one of the Georges but I am notoriously bad on stuff like this so no doubt somebody will put me right). I believe there was a brief tussle between York and Leicester about where his remains (and therefore all the tourist revenue - the Richard III Experience is now the main tourist attraction in Leicester when tourists are allowed) should end up, but I guess possession is nine-tenths of the Law, so barring a daring midnight raid by a team of Yorkists à la Stone of Scone that's where he's probably going to stay.
12 Mysterious notice inscribed with second digital symbol (8)
EMOTICON - anagram ('mysterious') of NOTICE 'inscribed' with MO (second, as in 'wait a mo(ment)')
13 Letter-writing skill of witches and wizards? (8)
SPELLING - witches and wizards cast spells, which could cryptically be rendered as a verb 'to spell', of which the infinitive would be SPELLING.
16 Dessert: it’s insignificant (6)
TRIFLE - double definition. My Mum used to make lovely ones at Christmas with a sponge biscuit base soaked in rum or Madeira or something like that.
18 Thus working shortly (4)
SOON - SO (thus) + ON (working).
19 Avoid container filled with rubbish (4)
SKIP - double definition.
21 Fortune invested in clothing (3)
LOT - hidden word: 'invested in' cLOThing.

Mephisto 3163 - Don Manley

Greetings barred-grid fans.

At risk of being smacked down like I was last time, I thought this was definitely on the gentler side of Mephisto puzzles, with the usual clear Don Manley wordplay for obscure words.  This was dusted off in one short session with only the crossing pair at 20 down and 33 across sending me to the dictionary for a check, although it was nice to see one of the more fun wordplay elements at 20, which I will get to in a bit.

In Mephisto puzzles, definitions (the most direct of which is underlined) can be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on wordplay here.

Away we go...

1 Elite regiment’s foolish talk (4)
SASS - the elite regiment is the SAS, so this is SAS'S
4 Plant shows vitality — another plant is dying (8)
ZINGIBER - ZING(vitality) then IBERIS(plant) missing IS
11 Like mites, being a worry outside home (7)
ACARINE - A CARE(worry) surrouding IN(home)
13 Release the writer’s found at riverside (5)
EXEME - ME(the writer) next to the river EXE
14 Severe state control is met with difficulty by Greek character (8)
ETATISME - anagram of IS,MET after ETA(Greek character)
15 Prisoner is old thief — time to be released (5)
LIFER - the thief is a LIFTER, remove T(time)
16 Having particular shrubs with a certain glow — hard to miss (5)
ALOED - HALOED(with a certain glow) missing H(hard)
17 Scottish stories with particular ending (4)
LARE - hidden in particuLAR Ending
19 Python coils and man dies, OK? (12, two words)
21 See nicest deb excited by words of approval on coming out? (12, two words)
28 Ace singer screeches (not half!) when making comeback (4)
LULU - two definitions, ace and the singer. Wordplay is ULULATES(screeches), missing the second half, reversed
29 Oil on tin removed (5)
NOINT - anagram of ON,TIN
30 Poisonous plant I found by river (5)
URALI - I next to the river URAL
31 Move or don’t move in periods of prosperity? (8, two words)
UP STICKS - STICK(don't move) in UPS(periods of prosperity)
32 Poison from old chemical company conveyed by sailors (5)
RICIN - ICI(old chemical company) inside RN(sailors)
33 Old plant possibly beginning to droop in stone behind house (7)
HORDOCK - first letter of Droop insie ROCK(stone) after HO(house)
34 There’s no cost in refixing part of window-frame? (8)
SCONTION - anagram of NO,COST,IN
35 Last bit of luggage — the blue container for drinks (4)
ESKY - last letter in luggagE, then SKY(the blue)
1 Ancient dish that is blue everyone’s collected (6)
SALLAD - SAD(blue) containing ALL(everyone)
2 Laziness of a French company — hero must be brought in (7)
ACCIDIE - A CIE(compagnie, company in French) containing CID(hero)
3 Unruly fans trashed Corsican city (12, two words)
SAN FRANCISCO -  anagram of FANS then an anagram of CORSICAN
5 Place with abbey having no time to start with for novice (6)
INTERN - TINTERN(place with abbey) missing the first T(time)
6 Name for son secured and toughened (6)
NEALED - SEALED(secured) with N(name) replacing S(son)
7 Bother with rubbish, say, piling up (5, two words)
GET AT - TAT(rubbish) and EG(say) all reversed
8 Seasonal mob’s reconciled — words of respect suggesting kissing of hands (12, three words)
9 Tourist restricted, not the first or last to be upset (5)
EMMET - STEMMED(restricted) reversed, missing the first and last letter
10 Too keen to eat something not good, like grass (5)
REEDY - GREEDY(too keen to eat something) missing G(good)
12 Lifesavers — not wimpish chaps, we hear? (7)
REELMEN - sounds like REAL MEN(not wimpish chaps)
18 Is nude shivering? It’s right to go inside to be covered (7)
INSURED - anagram of IS,NUDE containing R(right)
20 Seaman requires American river anchorage, avoiding delta (7)
KILLOCK - KILL(American river), then DOCK(anchorage) missing D(delta).  Kill is a term for river, particularly in the northeast and the old Dutch areas of the US and is often on the end of the names of rivers, like the Schuylkill and in placenames like the Catskills
22 Ethical abroad? Not acting ambassador (6)
ELTCHI - anagram of ETHICAL minus A(acting)
23 Bird to make bird noise having hatched fifty eggs (6)
CUCKOO - CLUCK(make bird noise) minus L(fifty), then O and O are eggs
24 This Devonian idiot (6)
THICKY - I think the wordplay is referring to Devonshire cream being thickened. Edit: thanks to Don Manley for pointing out that THICKY means "This" in Devonshire. I didn't spot it, but it is in Chambers, under THILK
25 Hard bits of ski-run, with one coming adrift sadly (5)
KNURS - anagram of SKI,RUN missing I(one)
26 What’s the matter with head? In charge minimally (5)
TOPIC - TOP(head), and IC(in charge)
27 Bird’s set task (5)
STINT - double definition

Sunday Times 4950 by Robert Price

12:48. I didn’t find this particularly hard but I did find it particularly delightful. A really super puzzle full of wit and lovely penny-drop moments. Thank you very much Bob for a quarter-hour of great enjoyment.

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

1 Killer’s dossier, one detectives fill in
5 Jokes about cutting prices
9 Old lady managed to swallow fly in a layer of cake
MARZIPAN - MA, R(ZIP)AN. In this case we do know why she swallowed the fly, because the clue tells us.
10 Old head saw parent after work
12 Church group’s crime not even reported
SYNOD - sounds like ‘sin odd’.
13 Pineapple rings in syrup
GRENADINE - GRENAD(IN)E. ‘Pineapple’ is a (very logical) slang term for a hand grenade. Brilliant!
14 Champion, one with a prize fruit
VICTORIA PLUM - VICTOR (champion), I, A PLUM (prize, as an adjective I think).
18 Eventually got from home to Marathon?
IN THE LONG RUN - IN (home), THE LONG RUN (marathon). The question mark indicates a definition by example since other long runs are available.
21 One scoring away from home?
23 Start off haughty meeting a cleaner
24 Cut that’s bound to include page five hundred
25 Metal cask to hold gent’s rum
TUNGSTEN - TUN containing (GENTS)*.
26 Operated on ram with anaesthetic
WETHER - W, ETHER. Great definition!
27 Social worker carrying record player to a church next-door
1 Frequency with which sect members go hungry
2 Cat that’s trapped a rook’s airway
3 Naïve Democrat taken in by cool president
4 It’s in black and white, you can check on it
DRAUGHTBOARD - CD, I think based on the fact that chess is played on one of these: I don’t believe there’s such thing as ‘check’ in draughts even though it's also known as checkers.
6 Argonaut dropping gun parts off vessel
AORTA - (ARgOnAuT)*. Oh that kind of vessel! A superbly clever clue.
7 Top part covering Aintree’s second horse jump
CAPRIOLE - CAP, R(aIntree)OLE. Something horses do in dressage.
8 Strips of light paper with black plastic seam
11 Ride or cycle in tight skirt
MERRY-GO-ROUND - MERRY (drunk, tight), GO ROUND (skirt). I think there are two definitions here, one literal and one figurative.
15 Plant from India I set up in water
AQUILEGIA - I (India) then a reversal of I GEL contained in AQUA. I didn’t know the plant (this applies to most of them) but the assembly instructions were very clear.
16 Bar starts to deep-fry its pasty
DISALLOW - Deepfry, Its, SALLOW (pasty).
17 Tart shop’s beginning to advertise
19 Some feel too pumped up to travel leisurely
POOTLE - contained reversed in ‘feel too pumped’.
20 Grand artist frames something attractive
22 Keynote article made less commercial
THEME - THE, MadE. A keynote is ‘a central or determining principle in a speech, literary work, etc’.

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1490 - 3rd April 2021. At sea in a sieve

Hello all.  Penfold has already posted the blog for Easter Monday’s 1491, so I must fill in the gap left by the previous Saturday’s Jumbo.  Apologies for jumbling the jumbo sequence.

This one kept me amused a tad longer than usual, just over the hour, with a hunt needed at the end for the first letter of MULETEER which just didn’t occur to me.  So I ended appropriately enough with a “μ”!

Two or three clues prompt me to take the opportunity to ask you good solvers of the Times about something, namely definitions along the lines of “that does x” to define “that which does x”.  Or perhaps it’s “that does x” in the sense of “this does x” which might be a better reading.  The example here is the definition of 19a: “that ruins crops”.  See also 36a’s “that are helpful” and perhaps “could be a bad sign” in 29a.

I should make clear that this kind of thing clearly is ok – indeed, one of the most respected setters around, and one of my own favourites, frequently does it.  It’s just it does niggle very slightly with me still, and I wanted to see what others think – but I’m asking a question rather than having a moan.  Hopefully you will explain to me why definitions like these are absolutely fine and banish that niggle evermore.

I’ve long since lost the habit of marking favourites (formed back when I used to be chatty and (R)AMBLE on below the line), and in a Jumbo there are just so many clues to choose from.  There is an obvious option for a feline in 3d: JEOPARDY, and several of the surrounding down clues also appeal, particularly 6d, COCK.  I’m a sucker (not 45d) for a reverse clue so I might also pick 31d, BACKDOOR, though that was a sneaky one indeed.  All good fun indeed.  Thanks Setter!

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Times Cryptic Jumbo 1491 - a bank holiday culture lesson

Well, this was a right bank holiday challenge.  I have to confess to requiring aids to finish, as some of the (cultural, foreign) "general" knowledge was beyond my Ken.  Kudos if you finished all correct without aids. Over an hour again for me.  In writing up the blog I noticed that there were a lot of "extra" words linking wordplay and definition, no all of them seemingly logical.  Maybe that slowed me down.  In fact, just for "fun" this week, I'm going to make these link words red.

First in was SWING and last was FIELDED.

If any of my explanations don't make sense then feel free to ask for further elucidation.

Clues are in blue with the definition undelined.  Anagram indicators are in bold italics.


DD: Double definition

CD: Cryptic definition

DDCDH: DD/CD hybrid where a straight definition is combined with a cryptic hint.

&Lit: "all in one" where the entire clue is both definition and wordplay.

(fodder)* denotes an anagram of the letters in the brackets.

Rounded brackets are also used to add further clarity

Squiggly brackets {} indicate parts of a word not used

Deletions are struck out

Square brackets [] expand an abbreviation or shortening like S[iste]R



Sister holding rug with no time to beat it (7)

SCARPER - S[iste]R around CARPEt.  In case scarper is a Britishism it means the same as leg it!


Stretch of river covering basins of salt (7)

EXPANSE - EXE around PANS.  It must be challenging for overseas solvers to keep a mental list of all the UK rivers.


Appear cheated in hearing, so stopped and returned (7)

FIELDED - Sounds like FEEL DID.  The definition is crickety.  I won't go through all the in, out, on, off stuff, but the batsman hits the ball, the fielder (possibly extra cover, deep mid-wicket or backward square leg) stops it and throws it back (returns it) to the bowler or wicket keeper, depending on which end he's throwing to.  Well fielded.


Poem the Italian writes with nothing on love (2,9)

IL PENSEROSO - IL, PENS, then O on (after) EROS.  Had to use aids to get this.  Never heard of it. It's by Milton rather than some Italian or Roman poet.


Writhing excites love — stop! (4,7)

VOIX CELESTE - (excites love)*.  Tricky.  Once I'd figured out we were looking for an organ stop VOIX suggested itself and the remaining letters unscrambled themselves into the name of musical instrument I recognised.


Small limb child plays on (5)

SWING - S[mall] WING.  The definition doesn't really work for me. Looks like there's a word missing.


Calm, not yet sacked by The Times? (7)



When one’s ahead of everybody, almost? (9)

AFTERNOON - AFTER NO ON{e}.  The "one's" is sort of part of the definition but also sort of isn't.


Thought train often featured in modernist novels (6,2,13)

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS - Maybe I'm missing something here but this looks like a fairly weak barely cryptic DD of sorts (FWBCDDOS for short).


Trouble-maker pretended to have had an effect (8)



Designated as nasty, knocking off sodium light (6)

STYLED - naSTY, L.E.D.  As someone asked why SN = TIN in the comments for a daily cryptic blog the other day I'd better explain that Na is the chemical symbol for the element sodium.


Lightly fried sesame, for example, which faculty regularly may tuck into (7)

SAUTEED - SEED around {f}A{c}U{l}T{y}


Northerner once holding old twist of thread (5)

PICOT - PICT arond O[ld]


Structure of an alliance that surprises me (7)



Mechanic is erratic, if given confusing order (9)

ARTIFICER - (erratic if)*


Flirtatious girl with very little money — gambler making right move (9)

SOUBRETTE - SOU, BETTER with the R shuffled a few places forward.


Happening to enter, shortly departed (5,2)



Linger as blue is reflected by lake (5)

DWELL - LEWD reversed by L[ake]


Periodically, three fired up are busily active around one (7)

LITHIUM - LIT, HUM around I.  A very clever definition as 3 is the atomic number for Lithium.  As someone asked why SN = TIN in the comments for a daily cryptic blog the other day I'd better explain that...


For the audience, it might be on a high card (6)

HONOUR - Sounds like ON A (to some)


Men following female python, say, replacing end of skin that’s cast off (8)

FORSAKEN - O[ther] R[anks] (men) after F[emale], SNAKE with the N ({ski}N) re-placed.


Livelihood dull person finds sweet (5-3-6,7)

BREAD-AND-BUTTER PUDDING - two-part charade


I’m a vocalist, love — something fishy here (9)

ISINGLASS - I SING, LASS.  A northerner might call a girl "lass" or "love".  At least I think that's the intention here.  I know isinglass from the student placement I had at Shepherd Neame brewery where one of my duties was conducting brewery tours.  It's a sort of gelatin obtained from e.g. the swim bladder of the sturgeon, and you put it in real ale as a "fining", making the sediment collect at the bottom of the cask.


Care worker shows a lot of cash in both hands (7)

ALMONER - A, MONE{y} in L[eft], R[ight]


Flirt with the lassies on and off (5)

TEASE - T{h}E {l}A{s}S{i}E{s}


Get don back somehow in headcount reduction? Fanciful (4-3-4)

COCK-AND-BULL - (don back)* in CULL


Feature of phone to be delayed, interrupting profession (4,7)



Catch some veterans newly returned (7)

ENSNARE - reverse hidden


Argument fills feeble football feature (5-2)



Some err, generating this? (7)

REMORSE - (some err)*, semi &Lit



Most devious way to conceal concoctions (6)

SLIEST - ST[reet] around LIES


Taking fruit round one makes a request (7)



In terror, grey with worry making public oration (9)

PANEGYRIC - PANIC around (grey)*


Judges restricting European banks (5)

REEFS - REF[eree]S around E[uropean]


Expressive face, having picked up book I pore over (8)

EMOTICON -TOME reversed, CON (study)


Patrol runs into would-be escapee? Back to cell (5)

PROWL - R[uns] in P[risoner] O[f] W[ar], {cel}L


Statesman, one that runs through St Petersburg, and collapses (7)

NEVADAN - (river) NEVA, (and)*


Poussin’s work I decorate again, stupidly (2,2,7,3)

ET IN ARCADIA EGO - (I decorate again)*.  Another one I needed aids for.  The short story is that it's an old painting in the Louvre. Never heard of it and couldn't shuffle the letters into something I was happy with.  I'm firmly in the "please don't clue obscure foreign words and phrases as anagrams" club.


Turbulent, consuming energy without serious purpose (9)

FACETIOUS - FACTIOUS around E[nergy]


Oriental potentate dismissing head mathematician (5)

EULER - E[astern] (oriental) rULER.  Times Crossword.  Mathematician.  Five letters.  Your knee-jerk reaction should be EULER.


Board manoeuvre brought to light audit (10,5)

DISCOVERED CHECK - Two-part charade.  Not being a chess player I didn't know this.  For ages I thought it was going to be a manoeuvre in surfing or snowboarding.  I figured it out but looked it up to confirm.


Chaperones expected small girl to stand up (7)

DUENNAS - DUE, S[mall] ANN reversed


One never cracking up with a long period to survive (7)

AGELAST - AGE, LAST.  Someone who doesn't laugh.


Machine removing seeds from bed: nothing wrong displacing horse (6,3)

COTTON GIN - COT, (nothing)* without the H[orse]


Filled with second bunch of grass, we hear (7)

STUFFED - S[econd], homophone of TUFT.


Face accepting concessions in return for sale (8)

DISPOSAL - DIAL around SOPS reversed


Acquire certain guns to restore equilibrium (4,2,3,6)



Substitute for model terribly ugly, I fear (3,6)

LAY FIGURE - (ugly I fear)*.  A joined model used by painters.


In the night, king embraced by beloved (8)



Surpass everything by eating a rich tea? (4,3,7)



Waited, having had a go at crossing a river (7)

TARRIED - TRIED around A R[iver]


Brown went for a small child, possibly, and danced (7)

TANGOED - TAN, GOED (what a child might say instead of went)


Violently grab principal knob, dropping one (9)



In religion, suggestion to follow saint is in order (9)

SHINTOISM - HINT after S[aint], IS in O[rder of] M[erit]


Start to design type of work area (4-4)

OPEN-PLAN - two-part charade


With enthusiasm shortly get teeth into roll (7)



One that’s behind advertisement (7)



Frozen creeper finally dying, more delicate (7)

GLACIER - {dyin}G, LACIER.  Nice definition.


Bond to some extent while a guest (6)

LEAGUE - hidden


Gather for hearing in the country (5)

GHANA - Sounds like GARNER (to some)


Bird about to disappear into gullet (5)

MACAW - C[irc]A in MAW


Quarrelsome sportsman? (5)

ROWER - CD of a sort