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Times Quick Cryptic No 1207 by Orpheus


And I'm back! As discussed a few weeks ago, I'm going to experiment today with a new portion of the blog, aimed at beginners, describing in detail how I approached solving this puzzle. As this puzzle was on the easier side, it might not be as useful as it could be, but let's start here and see where it goes! First, the solutions.

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Times Cryptic 27176

My solving time was already going to be off the scale so by the time I got to the last answer, a mathematician I had obviously never heard of, I'd lost the will to continue the struggle and looked up his two missing letters. Other than that this was quite an enjoyable battle of wits. I have a feeling that most of the regulars will have sailed through it.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1206 by Tracy

A QC for the old hands to charge through and the newbies, I hope, to finish. That is if they don’t get all muddled, as I did, with 16dn which took the final minute of 7:28. There's an unusual term in the definition of 3ac and a quibble at 6dn but I don’t think they should cause too much of a problem in this otherwise fun romp through a QC - thanks, Tracy. COD to 24ac for the clever surface.

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QC 1205 by Joker

Still suffering from my QC withdrawal symptoms (if indeed they exist and are not simply dimwittedness symptoms - see last blog from me), although I do believe that the QCs are getting harder. Nevertheless, that is how I like them, so many thanks to Joker, who produced at least three clues here that stumped me for longer than usual and contributed to another 12-minute time for me. Great fun.

1A set the tone. It was my FOI, but not in the usual way. It did not come immediately to me, but with the above thoughts spinning round my head I spent several extra seconds thinking it through and rejecting the more obvious sorts of 'tree'. What with my recent experience I was thinking "Surely a tree is just a tree - or is it? Ah yes, but how many different types of tree are there?".

And so it went on. Yes, of course, there were plenty of the usual QC write-ins, but a good number of others that made me stop and think longer than usual. Whether justifiably or not I will discover when you all add your own comments. 12A held me up a long time, and my LOI was 17D, although looking back I can't really see why it was that as it definitely seems easier in retrospect than some of the others. Difficult to choose a COD but I will go for 7D (even though this was one of the write-ins for me) because of the smooth surface and mechanism. 16A also deserves a mention for the same reasons although again I happened to be on the right wavelength for this.

The next time I do this I will be on holiday in Canada and the USA, so please expect nothing more from me than FOI, LOI, COD and a brief comment on ease or difficulty.

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

1 Old chestnut caught by a lot of another tree (6)
CLICHE - C ('caught', as in the abbreviation for being 'out' by that method in Cricket) + LICHEe ('a lot of' another tree, viz LICHEE, the chinese tree from which cometh the fruit of the same name). These used to be a fairly inevitable dessert accompaniment to a Chinese meal back in the early 70s when they were exotic and new. Children and adolescents (as I was then) used to love them for their ghoulish resemblance in colour and presumed texture to human eyeballs. Interesting to see a step up in the obscurity of the type of tree that grows in QC crossword land, where we are more used to seeing ASHes, ELMs, YEWs and other more obvious (to home-grown eyeballs anyway) varieties.
4 A quick look outside hotel for dustbin in New York (6)
ASHCAN - A + SCAN (quick look) 'outside' H (hotel in most of the phonetic alphabets generally in use).
8 Old wine they do fancy with very fixed views (4-2-3-4)
DYED-IN-THE-WOOL - straight anagram ('fancy') of OLD WINE THEY DO.
10 Insinuate plainly where son has gone (5)
IMPLY - SIMPLY minus the S ('when son has gone').
11 Silver mesh installed in second generator (7)
MAGNETO - AG (silver, from the Periodic Table symbol Ag for argentum, meaning silver in Latin) + NET (mesh) 'in' MO (a second, as in "wait a mo(ment)").
12 Expensive retaining mine that’s very steep (11)
PRECIPITOUS - PRECIOUS 'retaining' PIT (mine).
16 Mean to assert seniority (7)
AVERAGE - AVER (assert) + AGE (seniority).
17 Certain about good rise (5)
SURGE - SURE (certain) 'about' G (good).
18 What’s immoral parking by local politician (4,9)
VICE PRESIDENT - VICE (something immoral) + P (parking) + RESIDENT (local).
19 Mounted equipment to limit noise (6)
RIDING - RIG (equipment) 'limiting' DIN (noise).
20 Cut sound made by detector (6)
CENSOR - homophone for SENSOR (detector).
1 Taxi driver has change of heart as driver’s assistant? (6)
CADDIE - CABBIE (taxi driver) with his 'heart' (two central letters) changed gives CADDIE, cryptically an assistant to a 'driver', as a golfer hits many different types of shots, of which some are 'drives' (the first shots on the longer holes). Perhaps at this point I could quickly mention in passing the comment made on the ALBATROSS that appeared in the 15 x 15 the other day. I saw that the blogger, quite rightly in my view, queried the definition as being a 'shot' (as I remember it) and suggested rather that it was a series of shots. Well yes, that is normally how it is, because it is actually a score of 3 under the par for a hole. So the usual way of doing that (I say usual, but it is in fact an extremely rare occurrence, rarer in fact than a hole in one) is to finish a hole that is a par 5 in 2 shots. But another way of doing it would be to hit a hole in one on a par 4. And in that case the albatross would in fact be just a single shot.

While I am at it, perhaps I could blow the trumpet for my son (as he certainly would not do it for himself) who became a 'scratch' (0 handicap) golfer recently, and who hit an albatross once while playing with a friend and his brother and me. On the 565-yard par 5 17th at his local course he hit his drive what must have been about 320 yards, then stepped up and holed his 245-yard 3-wood second. As I said, that is rarer than a hole in one, and I was very privileged to have been there at the time as even just to witness an albatross is probably rarer than a hole in one!
2 Precede nine with XI in mix-up, being new to the job (13)
INEXPERIENCED - straight anagram again ('in mix-up') of PRECEDE NINE + XI.
3 Uncovered fire in dry grass is rather alarming (5)
HAIRY - IR ('uncovered' fIRe) 'in' HAY (dry grass).
5 Cunning dexterity of small and large rowing team (7)
SLEIGHT - S (small) + L (large) + EIGHT ('rowing team').
6 Shut parts of town as restricted area (5,8)
CLOSE QUARTERS - CLOSE (shut) + QUARTERS (parts of town, probably heard more on the continent such as in French quartieres. Apologies for my French spelling as the blog keyboard doesn't seem to know how to do a grave accent).
7 Hold one in high position in Westminster (6)
NELSON - cryptic definition. A NELSON (either HALF or FULL) is a 'hold' in wrestling. And of course there is a tall column somewhere in Westminster atop which stands a statue of Admiral Lord Horatio NELSON.
9 Hunter, perhaps still following herb, reportedly (9)
TIMEPIECE - double homophone ('reportedly') with PIECE (sounds like PEACE = STILL) 'following' TIME (sounds like THYME = HERB). Unusually in a QC I am finding myself feeling as though I ought to explain some defnitions as well. A hunter is a type of pocket watch. A 'full' hunter has a cover over the face, and a 'half' hunter has a hole in the cover so that you can see the time without having to open the cover, a distinct advantage when you are trying to HUNT on horseback, (hence the name) and would rather not have to distract your attention from the upcoming low tree branch in order to open the cover on your watch to find out when you should be home for your tea. [Definition underlining corrected - see comments.]
13 Climber’s aid is a disadvantage round slope (7)
CRAMPON - CON (diasadvantage, as in 'pros and cons') 'round' RAMP (slope). Do I have to explain this definition as well? An attachment to a climbing boot to make climbing easier and less hazardous?
14 Be undecided about India’s suspension of rights (6)
WAIVER - WAVER (be undecided) 'about' I (India, again in phonetic alphabets, but also I think just as a straight abbreviation used for the country (similar to UK or USA)).
15 Delicious drink? About time in local (6)
NECTAR - C (about) + T (time) 'in' NEAR (local).
17 Sleep’s upset on English lace? (5)
SPIKE - KIP'S (sleep's) 'upset' (upside down) 'on' E (English) in this down clue. Definition is LACE in the sense of to 'SPIKE' a drink, as in: "I later found out that she had spiked my tequila with Rohypnol, barbiturates and ayahuasca, which might have been why I felt a little unsteady on my feet". Sorry, that was a completely gratuitous unscripted example of the use of the verb in question, but I just felt like signing off with a bang.

Time: 27 minutes
Music: Carol of Harvest

This is a puzzle that might seem difficult at first, but yields easily if you trust the cryptics.   Even if the answer is a word you are only vaguely familiar with, you can be confident that it must be correct.   The vocabulary is not necessarily obscure, but it is not the stuff of everyday conversation, either.

While some of the clues were a little awkward in their surface, I don't see a hint of controversy or error.  The worse I can say is that 'hooch' is not necessarily inferior in current usage, although that was its original connotation.   So there are really no excuses; skilled solvers will finish quickly.

1 Depart at speed following bishop’s abrupt dismissal (5-3)
5 Save pounds ultimately, meeting accountant over wine (6)
BARSAC - BAR + [pound]S + CA backwards, i.e. Chartered Accountant.  A wine I had a hard time remembering. 
9 Study lines on creative work from East? That’s awkward (8)
CONTRARY - CON + ART backwards + RY.
10 First of Iraqi kings locked up by crazy old emperor (6)
MIKADO - M(I[raqi] K[ings])AD + O.
12 Isolation unsettling Spenser at sea (12)
SEPARATENESS - anagram of SPENSER AT SEA, presumably when he can't think of a suitable archaic word that rhymes!
15 Inferior liquor husband loves — cold and hot (5)
HOOCH - H + OO + C, H.
16 Result of boring climb amusing to Spooner? (9)
DRILLHOLE - Spoonerism of  HILL, DROLL.
18 Leap dancer made at last before talk with hospital department (9)
ENTRECHAT - ENT + [dance]R [mad]E + CHAT.
19 Pearl’s mother, a credit in the Sunderland area? (5)
NACRE - N(A CR)E, a write-in from the literal.
20 Wide boy’s lookalike, one distributing diamonds etc? (6-6)
DOUBLE-DEALER - DOUBLER + DEALER, in entirely different senses.  'Wide boy' is UK slang.
24 Claim member pitched into porter, say (6)
25 Trivial piece rejected by Ted Heath, for one? (8)
NUGATORY - GUN backwards + A TORY, so the PM, not the bandleader.
26 Phoney European hotel with appeal for Irish leader (6)
ERSATZ - E + R(-i,+SA)TZ, a nifty word-for-letter substitution clue....well, a word if you are a crosswordian.
27 After exercise, rings cook about game for children (8)
PEEKABOO - PE + OO BAKE backwards, 
1 Male animal enterprising Americans may make fast? (4)
BUCK - double definition, alluding to the fast buck everyone is looking for. 
2 Bone up primarily on article supporting London’s banks (4)
ULNA - U{p] + L[ondo}N + A.
3 Possible hack’s garden implement, a token of good luck (9)
HORSESHOE - HORSE'S HOE.   A hack was an ordinary riding horse, typically one suitable for unskilled riders.
4 Starchy doctor’s alter ego with notes on pungent gas (12)
6 Delicate priest’s left up displaying nimbleness (5)
AGILE - [fr]AGILE.   Nothing to do with Eli, as it turns out, although he appears upside-down in the answer.
7 Vehicle for men only on green next to a church (10)
8 Sheltered girl appearing in court before duke (10)
CLOISTERED - C(LOIS)T + ERE D.   A clever clue, in that 'before' is not a position indicator, but part of the wordplay.
11 Wise men’s true art excited law administrators (12)
13 Ragged crowd, they say, digesting poster over pub counter? (10)
THREADBARE - THRE(AD BAR)E, two's company, three's a crowd!
14 Left to reduce size of one’s protective grating (10)
17 Soldier caught in narrow passage, held up by sailor (9)
LANCEJACK - LAN(C)E + JACK.   A word I had never heard, but the cryptic gives it to you.
21 Reasonable, in a word, to do a runner (3,2)
22 Search valley, missing centre (4)
23 One who lacks experience in quality roofing (4)
TYRO - Hidden in [quali]TY RO[ofing].

Sunday Times 4820 by Jeff Pearce

9:28. A very straightforward puzzle from Jeff this week, so much so that I felt I ought to have done it a bit quicker. A few of these held me up briefly but there were an awful lot of write-ins so I’ll just blame a mild hangover and the fact that Die Hard was on the TV late on Saturday night. I must have seen that movie twenty times but I still find it hard not to watch it. So perhaps I should just be thankful for a relatively easy one.

No absolute unknowns for me this week, although I’m not sure I’d have been able to tell you exactly what BOREAL meant, and I took HOPPER to be a general description rather than a more specific creature.

So without further ado…

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

1 One looking for extremely scarce bowman
5 Asian idol mostly seen in health club
10 Saw covering page by writer a secondary part
11 Horse heading for poisonous shrub
PACER - Poisonous, ACER (shrub).
12 China were in front — about 12 inches
DELFT - reversal of LED, FT (foot, 12 inches).
13 Before tantrum harshly criticise painting technique
DISTEMPER - DIS (harshly criticise), TEMPER (tantrum).
14 It’s best to whip a dip
PICKPOCKET - PICK (best), POCKET (steal, whip).
17 Yarn put round top of fancy sock
BIFF - reversal of FIB (yarn), Fancy.
19 Dwelling lacking hot running water
OUSE - the river hOUSE.
20 Overly dramatic choir briefly sing it badly
HISTRIONIC - (CHOIR, SINg, IT)*. I considered this answer quite quickly but dismissed it on the assumption that ‘briefly’ must apply to ‘choir’ in constructing the anagrist. Wrong.
22 Leader can take it — ideal or otherwise
24 Doctor in hospital department runs traffic light
AMBER - MB (doctor) contained in AE, then R. I’m sure the subject of A&E being represented as AE has come up before, but I can’t remember what the conclusion was. It doesn’t seem quite right to me, which is probably what I said last time before being given a perfectly good explanation which satisfied me at the time.
26 On speed one is raging
27 Not in favour of hosting current history courses in Italy
ANTIPASTI - ANT(I, PAST)I. I is ‘current’ in electrical notation that I’ve never encountered outside a crossword. I would say that ANTIPASTI is really one course, but who’s counting?
28 Require large key in order to wind up
NEEDLE - NEED, L, E (east, bearing, course).
29 Adeptly cutting mock diamonds one sells?

1 Drastically discounted an amp for entertainer
2 Pointless request to umpire causes outrage
3 Monument that’s not cheap to assemble
4 Dash to front of display to see animal
ELAND - ELAN, Display.
6 Axe decapitated insect
HOPPER - cHOPPER. A word that particularly applies to young locusts, apparently.
7 Party where one is welcomed
8 Utter skill and courage initially required to get jet heading off — from this?
AIRCRAFT CARRIER - AIR (utter), CRAFT (skill), Courage, hARRIER. Semi-&Lit.
9 The most dirty footballer is French
MESSIEST - MESSI (Lionel, a footballer even I’ve heard of), EST (is French).
15 Berate players getting a single wicket?
16 Seriously ill judge starts to alarm
18 Rancour about German computer programme in the City
BIG APPLE - BI(G, APP)LE. Good to see some of you here a couple of weeks ago.
21 Buoy oddly on a lake to the North
BOREAL - BuOy, RE (on), A, L.
23 Machine for shaping endless foam
25 Small bar contains small plant used by cooks
BASIL - BA(S)IL. ‘Bail’ in the cricketing sense.

Mephisto 3033 - Paul McKenna

I found the bottom half of this one went in very quickly, but had a bit more fiddling around to do in the top half. I am a little lost on one piece of wordplay, though I think I have a plausible solution, it may just be some misdirection in the clue hiding the intended wordplay.

Paul McKenna usually puts a pun in the top row, though this one is a head scratcher for me - I think it is means to be LES DAWSON who was a comedian?

Grid watch:  12x12, but this grid has 90-degree symmetry which is a nice touch.

The first definition is underlined in clues, all definitions can be confirmed by Chambers Dictionary.

Away we go...

1 Incline to welcome unknown scorer? (5)
LISZT - LIST(incline) containing Z(unknown) - scorer as in creator of muscial scores
5 Seed split and removed from kelp, say — not a little impressive (7)
AWESOME - I think the first part is leading to a homophone of ORE(stuff tangled in kelp) then SOME(not a little), but I'm open to suggestions on this one. And as usual, I'm way off base, the first part is to remove SEED from SEAWEED - see comments.
10 Farmhand’s gadget mere lad manufactured with iron (11, two words)
12 Barnacles are my business — pick here for French article (8)
OPTICIAN - OPT(pick), ICI(here for French), AN(articlle) - barnacles are spectacles here
13 Dope’s sewn up (4)
NEWS - anagram of SEWN
14 Act of Chancellor? Cashier due to slip on Twitter? (5)
DOOCE - DO(act), O(of), CE(Chancellor of the Exchequer). Cashier here means to fire
16 Fruitcake desperately wants ____ (8, two words)
NUT PINES - NUT(fruitcake), PINES(desperately wants)
18 Stable state is behind returning aptitude tests (6)
STASIS - IS after SATS(tests kids in the US take at the end of High School)
19 Offspring carrying mark of iron? (6)
HEIFER - HEIR(offspring) containing FE(iron) - referencing a cow that would likely be branded
21 Grouse mixed with this mineral could appear sacrilegious (6)
SILICA - add GROUSE and make an anagram and you would get SACRILEGIOUS
23 Twist in narrative catching half-cut person no longer passed up (6)
NOULDE - NODE(twist in narrative) containing half of SOUL(person)
24 Release new tune about fantastic fans (8)
UNFASTEN - anagram of FANS in an anagram of TUNE
26 What's integral to some tremendous work by Pope, perhaps (5)
METRE - hidden in soME TREmendous
28 Something to eat Ionian character is eastern vernacular (4)
AINU - AI(edible fish), NU(Ionian letter)
29 Measurements from tools in sets having new GUI installed (8)
GAUGINGS - GANGS(set) containing an anagram of GUI
30 Easy setter, even for the masses (11)
STREETLEVEL - anagram of SETTER, then LEVEL(even)
31 Panel split by American is open for cultivation (7)
TAMABLE - TABLE(panel) containing AM
32 Placed close to younger Silenus, eg (5)
SATYR -SAT(placed), YR(younger)

1 One applied to feeding minor? (7)
LIONESS - I(one), ON(appplied to) inside LESS(minor) - another one where the definition is the entire clue
2 I am flourishing because of special branch of medicine being fresh (11)
IMPERTINENT - I'M(I am), PERT(flourishing), IN(because of), ENT(Ear, Nose and Throat medicine branch)
3 Believer in a vital force left in second place of the hardly celebs? (5)
Z-LIST - ZOIST(brliever in life force), with L as the second letter
4 Square chin in detective is strictly procedural detail? (8)
TECHNICS - anagram of CHIN in TEC(detective), 'S(is)
5 Process I had about flipping goodbyes (6)
ADIEUS - SUE(process), I'D, A(about) all reversed
6 Spook woman, one in chariot (6)
WRAITH - W(woman) then I in RATH(chariot)
7 Well split by independent Journal’s three-line verse (4)
SIJO - SO(well) containing I(independent), J(Journal)
8 Rocket previously sharp pest (8, two words)
ONION FLY - ONION(WWI rocket), FLY(sharp)
9 Peas from marshlands in the Borders male scythed (5)
ERSES - MERSES(marshlands) missing M(male)
11 Exigency led to shift to an extreme extent (11)
15 Break bust incorporating classic blokey bloke above Troy (8)
HALFTERM - HERM(bust of Hermes), containing ALF(blokey bloke) and T(troy)
17 One thrashing about inside leaves states of bondage (8)
PEONAGES - anagram of ONE inside PAGES(leaves)
20 She won’t give reference, a long established legal right (7)
REFUSER - REF(reference), USER(long-established right)
22 Missile launcher (anti-tank) on latitude 50 (6)
ATLATL - AT(anti-tank) then LAT(latitude), L(50)
23 Born to keep oil up and down and up? (6
NEBULE - NE(born) containing LUBE(oil) reversed
24 Upper-class dimness you didn’t get, we hear, in northern uni once (5)
UMIST - two wordplays - U(upper-class), MIST(dimness) and sounds like YOU MISSED. UMIST is now part of the University of Manchester. I used to collaborate with a chemistry faculty member at UMIST who was really disappointed by the merger, and managed to keep his UMIST email account alive through a proxy mail server.
25 Capuchin against a sectarian (5)
SAIVA - SAI(capuchin), V(against), A
27 Take remedy endlessly being a type of eastern nettle (4)
RHEA - R(recipe, take), then HEA(l) (remedy)

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1346

Holá tout le monde.

How was it for you?  I finished this comfortably inside the hour but I did have to use aids to get the pilgrim's destination and had to check the unlikely looking dance at 1ac.  Working my way through the explanations it struck me that this was largely very straightforward.

I "lost" a week somewhere, only realising I had to get cracking on this puzzle when I opened the paper last week to be confronted by 1347.  Eek.  Or 'Eck.

First in was ASIDE, last was OMBRE.  No hidden messages for me this week *sad face*.

Clues are in blue with the definition underlined.  Different brackets mean different things:

Square to expand a standard crossword abbreviation: L[eft]

Wiggly to denote letters not used:{afterthough}T

Rounded followed by a * to indicate anagram fodder: (forded)*

Rounded to add clarification: cool (as in trendy)

Deletions are denoted by strikeout

CD = cryptic definition, DD = double definition, I guess other stuff is spelled out for you.



First of con artists back, leading attorneys a dance (7)

CSARDAS - C{on}, RAs reversed, DAs.  It's a Hungarian dance but I don't think I've seen it on Strictly.  Depending on where you look this is either the usual spelling or a variant on Czardas (please excuse the lack of accents).


Chap takes time crossing Italian river — it indicates distance (8)

MILEPOST - MILES T[ime] around PO


Main key carried by writer (6)



Put up with one’s impudence, determined to risk censure (5,4,4,3)

STICK ONES NECK OUT - STICK (put up with) ONES (ones) NECK (impudence) OUT (determined)


Quiet, and knowledgeable about ancient Japanese religion (6)



Mountain nymph’s old area enveloped in shade (5)

OREAD - O[ld] + A[rea] in RED


Complaint generated by lack of movement? No way! (7)



Check criminal’s means of transport (9)



City popularly given award, housing Distiller’s Monthly, perhaps? (9)

BRUMMAGEM - I knew BRUM of course but not this full version.


Stop being loyal (7)



Winter sportsperson less safe leaving Rhode Island (5)



One’s allowed to create a little detached territory (5)



Joiner in food store supported by plant (9)



Yesterday’s man is not entirely penniless, do we hear? (3-4)

HAS-BEEN - sounds like has bean.  Not that the expression is normally used in anything other than the negative sense.


Specialist caught occupying chalet in novel (9)

TECHNICAL - C[aught] in (chalet in)*


Vocally support a city university, worried about scripture degree (13)

BACCALAUREATE - Homophone of back + A L.A. U[niversity] + ATE all around R[eligious] E[ducation]


Audibly tease a cleric, one leaving Midland town (13)

KIDDERMINSTER - Homophone of KID A (not the Radiohead album) then MINiSTER


Right sacrificed by a regular old American — that’s exceptional (9)



Rapid reiteration of note? Lot more varied (7)

TREMOLO - (lot more)*


Act for army corps head, though lacking papers (9)

REPRESENT - R[oyal] E[ngineers] PRESidENT


Suitor introduced originally in Shakespeare, perhaps? (5)

SWAIN - I{ntroduced} in SWAN, one of ol' waggledagger's nicknames being the swan of Avon.  Ding dong.


Stockings worn by upper-class in Commons, possibly (5)



Current head I visit mostly (7)



Line up before Morse? It tells us what we should assume (5,4)



Drifting in boat, worry about things worthy of attention (9)

NOTABILIA - (in boat)* then AIL reversed


Place of horror? Conclude the answer is negative (7)



Card game that was dull? Not to begin with (5)

OMBRE - sOMBRE.  "that was" because people started playing it around the end of the 16th century.  The cards must be getting a bit dog-eared by now.


Fellow regularly stood prejudice (6)

TOBIAS - {s}T{o}O{d} BIAS


Tremble with fear, having accessed the pumps? (5,2,4,5)

SHAKE IN ONES SHOES - CD of sorts based around pumps being shoes. Quake in ones boots seems more familiar to me.


Team assembled by the Spanish, no less (6)



Chef’s requirement delivered by good club (8)

GRIDIRON - RID (delivered) by G[ood] then IRON


Old jailor of note in Mustafa Kemal’s country (7)

TURNKEY - N[ote] in TURKEY.  I think Kemal played left back for Besiktas.



Habit the Italian wears only made to order (6-5)



A team in reserve (5)



Title of French Catholic dignitary touring our country (7)



Doctor nags aide to write note about time in pilgrim’s place (8,2,10)

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA - (nags aide to)* (doctor being the anagrind) then COMPOSE LA around T[ime].    It's in Spain at the end of some pilgrim route.  If you want to know more you'll have to look it up yourselves.


Bruiser taking seafood, reportedly, with crew (9)

MUSCLEMAN - Homophone for MUSSEL plus MAN


Vassal say encountered in fiction (5)



Asian’s endless alarm, carrying an old chest (9)

PAKISTANI - PANIc around KIST (a chest used for storing clothes and linen)


Suspicion of scam connected with starter? (7)



Loyal friend’s main upset about gossip (7)

ACHATES - Reversal of SEA surrounding CHAT.  Achates was a close friend of Aeneas and his name became a by-word for an intimate companion.


Experimental shelter Peron set up (9)

TENTATIVE - TENT then EVITA reversed. "Peron" is a bit of a gift for experienced solvers.


Old coin — charge for protecting new heir to throne (5,6)

CROWN PRINCE - CROWN (five bob) then N[ew] in PRICE


Undertaking current athletics trial without pausing to think? (2,3,4,2,3,6)

IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT - DD, one cryptic.  I became fixated with ON THE SPUR OF... but couldn't parse it.


Not given position quietly leaves, without a bit of spirit? (7)



Novel opinion about king’s flavoured drink (7)

SHERBET - SHE BET around R.  She is the setter's novel of choice, I think it's BET in the sense of "It's my bet she done 'im in and buried the body in the garden"


Taste the Spanish initially observed in hybrid fruit (7)

TANGELO - TANG EL O{bserved}.  I've never so much as seen a tangelo outside crosswordland, let alone eaten one.  Mind you, all those crossword antelopes have got to eat something.


Antelope seen in many a land (5)

NYALA - Speaking of which. Hidden answer.


Top resorts scattered principally around ancient city (7)

SURPASS - SPAS S{cattered} around UR, where tangelos come from.


Labour leader in Queen’s vessel (5)

LINER - L{abour} IN ER


Clean or messy, like part of the eye (7)

CORNEAL - (clean or)*


A largely strident affair, but it bears fruit (7)



Where, admitting longing, a chap dined, some say (11)

KITCHENETTE - Semi &Lit, ITCH within a homophone of Ken ate (et)


Former nurses see about smaller amount in crazy way (11)

SENSELESSLY - S[tate] E[nrolled] N[urses] around LESS


Even-handed head of economics in Paris who heads board (9)



Ate out, having cut film first (9)



Part of bedding we’d ironed badly (9)

EIDERDOWN - (we'd ironed)*


Eagerly accept doctor secured by Eastern people (7)



One who steals fish, say, and simmers it in water? (7)



Backer finally keeps Poles in substandard accommodation (7)

SPONSOR - {keep}S then N[orth] S[outh] in POOR


Brother or father adopting elevated bearing (5)

FRIAR - F[athe]R around AIR reversed


Badger bishop over seaside treat (5)

BROCK - B[ishop} on ROCK (with me little stick of Blackpool...)

This puzzle had some very original wordplay, like 13ac and 1dn. 1dn was my clue of the day. It was all so smooth, I don’t have much else to say here. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Irish lake Mike crossed by shallow vessel’s tiller (9)
PLOUGHMAN: LOUGH (Irish lake) / M (Mike, in the phonetic alphabet), “crossed by” PAN (shallow vessel). A nice juxtaposition of “tiller” with “vessel”, since the answer is a tiller of the soil, not a tiller on a vessel. I saw LOUGH quickly, but didn’t get further till I realised it might be followed by an M.

6 Wrap up tool making small holes in wrap (5)
SHAWL: SH (I think this is “wrap up”, as in “be quiet!”) / AWL (tool). Better suggestions welcome – I feel I may not have altogether got this clue.

9 Not the leader in tangerine-coloured product line (5)

10 Last piggy in toilet let out (6,3)
LITTLE TOE: (TOILET LET*). From the nursery rhyme, of course.

11 Good reception on a TV I fixed, first having substitute set off (8,7)
STANDING OVATION: STAND-IN (substitute) / GO (set off) / (ON A TV I*).

13 Letter replaces later one read aloud at opening of vegetable hamper (8)
ENCUMBER: replace “CU” (sounds like “Q”) with “EN” (sounds like “N”) in CUCUMBER.

On edit: thanks to Ulaca for pointing out “en” not only sounds like the letter N, it is the name of it according to the usual dictionaries. I must say I find that puzzling. Do all letters of the alphabet have names? How do you spell the name of the letter “a” for example? And does “z” have different names in UK and US? Apparently so, according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_alphabet. Learn something new every day!

14 Authoritarian, no saint, before a panel (6)

16 Surly politician tucked into more than half of Swiss cheese (6)
GRUMPY: MP “tucked into” GRUY[ere].

18 Banks maybe partly backing Yeltsin at oblast (8)
BOTANIST: reverse hidden answer (“partly backing”). Sir Joseph Banks.

21 Threatened with crumbled Stilton coating, the man would rage (2,3,6,4)
ON THE DANGER LIST: (STILTON*) outside (“coating”) HE’D (the man would) / ANGER (rage).

23 Hugging brat (a jerk) is extremely pleasant (9)
SIMPATICO: SO (extremely) “hugging” IMP (brat) / A / TIC (jerk).

25 Grip bit of seafood softly (5)

26 Was “courting” old-fashioned? (5)
DATED: double definition.

27 Spooner’s optimal equipment for offer at pub? (5,4)

1 Legendary prince’s abilities, missing the crossbar (5)
PARIS: take PARTS (as in “a man of many parts”), and don’t cross the T. Obvious from the definition, but a delight when I saw how it works.

2 Never working, good-for-nothing (2,2,7)
ON NO ACCOUNT: ON (working) / NO-ACCOUNT (good-for-nothing).

3 Upcoming fashion, say, including a thousand anoraks? (7)
GEEKDOM: MODE (fashion) / EG (say), all reversed (“upcoming”), and “including” K (a thousand).

4 Fake illness needs mother to stay around (8)

5 Crazy career representing teachers’ interests? (6)
NUTJOB: NUT (teachers’ union) / JOB (career).

6 Slur lacking in gossip for ruler’s wife (7)
SULTANA: [in]SULT (slur) / ANA (gossip).

7 Prone or flat in compact form? (3)
APT: double definition: one is apt/ prone to, or apt. as a real-estate agent’s abbreviation (“compact”) for apartment/flat. I didn’t recognise the abbreviation until writing up the blog!

8 We initial changes to prepare an ambush (3,2,4)

12 Careless, having DIs leave blame (11)

13 Sod’s green after treatment is absorbed (9)

15 Trick with passion round back of bottling plant (8)
FOXGLOVE: FOX (trick) / LOVE (passion) “round” [bottlin]G. I took some time to see “trick” wasn’t CON.

17 Baked dish with no cover on top is unevenly coloured (7)
PIEBALD: PIE (baked dish) / BALD (no cover on top).

19 7 nabbing Spanish boy’s fruit (7)
APRICOT: APT “nabbing” RICO. Not obviously a Spanish name, I would have thought.

20 Difficult driving plane when one’s out of it? (6)
TAXING: TAX[i]-ING. Driving a plane on the tarmac, in this case.

22 Lush plant in new container looking up (5)
TOPER: REPOT (plant in new container) “looking up”.

24 Finalists in ballroom drama cut a rug (3)
MAT: last letters (“finalists”).
A tough puzzle with a raft of hard double definitions: one of which, 8dn, held me up for a good extra chunk of time at the end as I persuaded myself it couldn't be SILLY, both of the routes from the definitions to the actual answer being rather oblique. I also got very bogged down in the SE corner with multiple clues seeming baffling until the country finally swam into view, making the state much more obvious and the rest all gettable. I must say I was very happy to know dear old Oscar's "I can write no stately proem..." poem or else I might never have cracked 24dn. Much obliged yet again, my dear old Magdalen classicist fop alter ego.

Wavelength may have helped on this puzzle as less was definitely more in much of the cluing, requiring a flash of inspiration on the solver's part to see what the subtle setter was getting it. The "vale to the East" (my COD I think), "young head-turner", "billed companion" are all lots of fun, though my woeful knowledge of sports is such that I thought an albatross was comprised of successful shots rather than being one, shows what I know eh...

There's also some really fine wordplay going on: I loved the elegant "put into use" and "its pockets black" and there are many other moments to enjoy, turning potentially chestnutty clues like 29ac, 4dn, 13dn, 15dn and 25dn into fresh- and difficult-seeming ones: quite a feat, so thanks, ingenious setter!

1 Power line held in that? (5)
PYLON - P [power] + L [line] held in YON [that], &lit

4 Great winger’s successful long shot? (9)
ALBATROSS - double def

9 Took off without reason, it's decided (9)
APPOINTED - APED [took off] "without" POINT [reason]

10 Come to wreck (5)
TOTAL - double def

11 Queen and king on head of tossed coin, once (6)
TANNER - ANNE [queen] and R [king] on T{ossed}

12 Shop requiring actual consignment (8)
DELIVERY - DELI [shop] requiring VERY [actual]

14 New name in development of earliest indoor sport (4,6)
REAL TENNIS - N N [new | name] in (EARLIEST*) ["development of..."]

16 Push skiver, finally, into school (4)
PROD - {skive}R into POD [school]

19 Pull one in custody back (4)
DRAW - WARD [one in custody] reversed

20 A payment put into use, so I'm told (10)
APPARENTLY - A RENT [a | payment] put into APPLY [use]

22 Perhaps beside a river, a vale to the East (8)
SAYONARA - SAY ON A R A [perhaps | beside | a | river | a]

23 Main fix (6)
STAPLE - double def

26 Young head-turner entering hotel, woman viewed from behind (5)
OWLET - hidden reversed in {ho}TEL WO{man}

27 Socrates translated with guidance only beginning to be understood (3,6)
GET ACROSS - (SOCRATES + G{uidance}*) ["translated"]

28 After water flooded by effluent, initially put off (9)
POSTPONED - POST POND [after | water], "flooded by" E{ffluent}

29 Minions abandoning southern nation (5)
YEMEN - YE{s}-MEN [minions, "abandoning" S for southern]

1 Drunk slept badly having quaffed a claret (9)
PLASTERED - (SLEPT*) ["badly"] having "quaffed" A, + RED [claret]

2 Stick supporting middle of blue flower (5)
LUPIN - PIN [stick], supporting {b}LU{e}

3 Feeding see, I write crosswords for chocolate! (8)
NOISETTE - "feeding" NOTE [see], I SET [I | write crosswords]

4 Drink having appeal in different forms, on reflection (4)
ASTI - IT + S.A. [appeal, in two different forms], reversed

5 One moving to invest capital has billed companion? (10)
BUDGERIGAR - BUDGER [one moving], to "invest" RIGA [capital]

6 Scrap suit in the end, its pockets black? (6)
TITBIT - {sui}T + IT IT [(two) its] "pockets" B [black]

7 Cook not happy at first with cake knocked over in a row (2,3,4)
ON THE TROT - (NOT H{appy}*) ["cook..."] + TORTE [cake] reversed

8 Funny spin (5)
SALLY - double def

13 Fury after game, seeing bloomer (10)
SNAPDRAGON - DRAGON [fury] after SNAP [game]

15 Flower a daft male pulled up (9)
AMARYLLIS - A + SILLY RAM [daft | male] reversed

17 Doctor says one needs treatment for a period in the tropics (3,6)
DRY SEASON - DR [Doctor] + (SAYS ONE*) ["...needs treatment"]

18 Northern stuff embraced by central US state (8)
KENTUCKY - N TUCK [northern | stuff] "embraced" by KEY [central]

21 Favourite partners, one doing a backflip, dancing together? (2,4)
IN STEP - PET (S N) I [favourite | (bridge) partners | one] reversed

22 Funds raised for boat (5)
SLOOP - POOLS [funds] reversed

24 Introduction to record in creative work — here? (5)
PROEM - R{ecord} in POEM [creative work], semi-&lit

25 Look at contracts for boss (4)
STUD - STUD{y} [look at, needs to "contract"]

Quick Cryptic 1204 by Oran

Bit more of a workout today. Took a while to get going, straightforward in the middle then held up at the end. I liked the surface at 20, and I was suitably wrongfooted by 4 and 17. Overall an enjoyable solve. 9 min.

1 Reg rolling in in good time for tea (4,4)
EARL GREY - Anagram ('rolling') of REG, inside EARLY
5 Wader in boots is struggling initially (4)
IBIS - Initial letters of In Boots Is Struggling
8 Threatening utterance to become pitiful in the end (5)
GROWL - GROW (become) + L (end of 'pitiful')
9 Dishonourably discharge bank employee (7)
CASHIER - double definition. You either know the first one or you don't.
11 Girl returning in May, victorious (3)
IVY - backwards hidden word  - maY VIctorious
12 ’Alt proceeding in court? Charming! (9)
ENDEARING - cockney-speak for END HEARING
13 Arab perhaps on the radio, sounding rough (6)
HOARSE - Homophone. 'Arab' in crosswords is always HORSE
15 An influential person, Bertha? (3,3)
BIG GUN - double definition, the second referring to the nickname of a WWI German artillery piece.
18 Feature of banknote: one stolen from attendant, note (9)
WATERMARK - Attendant is WAITER, take away 'one' making WATER, note is MARK
19 Drawing most of snare back (3)
ART - Snare is TRAP, Most of it is TRA, most of it backwards is ART
20 MD upset, somehow finding a way out? (7)
STUMPED - Anagram ('somehow') of MD UPSET. 'Way out' means a way of being dismissed in cricket, along with bowled, caught, LBW, run out, hit wicket, handling the ball, obstructing the field, hitting the ball twice, and timed out.
21 Am leaving the States to find her? (5)
22 Something that spins: a child’s toy, timeless (4)
EDDY - TEDDY minus T
23 Fat slob disturbed by loud rocket launch (8)
BLASTOFF - Anagram ('disturbed') of FAT SLOB next to F (loud)

1 Glen, upset, modified his language (7)
ENGLISH - Anagram ('upset') of GLEN + Anagram ('modified') of HIS
2 Small jumper from Australia? Wow, certainly big enough! (5)
ROOMY - ROO (small jumper) + MY (wow!)
3 Awfully ugly person hugging daughter: that’s very sweet (6,5)
GOLDEN SYRUP - Anagram ('awfully') of UGLY PERSON + D
4 A bit of Portugal rarely seen these days (6)
ESCUDO - Cryptic definition. Doh. 'Bit' here means coin.
6 Kid in Crosby engaged in corrupt practice (7)
BRIBING - Crosby is BING, kid is RIB
7 Special equipment for small branch (5)
SPRIG - SP is special, RIG is equipment
10 Nausea that comes in waves? (11)
SEASICKNESS - cryptic definition
14 Desperate Dan’s out to shock (7)
ASTOUND - Anagram ('desperate') of DAN'S OUT
16 The minority or the majority, indeed! (3,4)
NOT HALF - kind of double definition
17 Old German museum, large (6)
VANDAL - museum is V AND A, + L (large). Biffed the answer, but couldn't parse it for ages. Nice.
18 Used to be — note — rubbish (5)
WASTE - WAS + TE (note as in Do Re Me). I though it was spelled TI, but there seems to be accepted variance.
19 In the morning I leave to see friend (5)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1203 by Hurley

12 minutes for me this morning, helped by a plethora of anagrams, nothing too obscure, and a good sprinkling of easier clues.  There is some unusual vocabulary though, both in clues and answers – FRISSON, VIRAGO and SLOVEN stand out.  I have a small doubt about my parsing for 19d, which hopefully one of the regulars will correct if I’m wrong.

WoD is FRISSON and CoD is 11a for the clever device used, which may be new for some still learning.

Thanks to Hurley for another nice puzzle.

8  Stare at first person overheard at dance (7)
EYEBALL – EYE (first person, I, overheard, i.e. a part homophone) and BALL (dance).  EYEBALL, as well as referring to the globe of the eye, also exists as a transitive verb, meaning to examine closely.
9  Note about bone group (5)
TRIBE – TE (note, as in doh, re, me, etc.) wrapped around (about) RIB (bone)
10  Caught in black stuff?  Run! (5)
SCOOT – C{aught} inside SOOT (black stuff).  SCOOT is defined as ‘to make off quickly’, i.e. to run.
11 Brave, changing sides?  That’s not normal (7)
VARIANT – Brave clues VALIANT, which then swaps L{eft} for R{ight} (changes sides) to give VARIANT.  One definition of VARIANT is ‘a specimen slightly differing from a type or standard’, i.e. not normal.
12  Creed a nun translated showing persistence (9)
ENDURANCE – Anagram (translated) of [CREED A NUN]
14 Cricket side, just starting, out for fifty (3)
OFF – First letters (just starting) of O{ut} F{or} F{ifty}.  For those uninitiated, there are two sides to a cricket field, the ON (or LEG side)and OFF side.  Confusingly, these swap around when a right hand batsman is replaced by a left hand batsman.
16 Sharply criticize legal charge (3)
RAP – Double definition, the second as in a RAP sheet.
18  Poor signs treated? This shows how it might go (9)
PROGNOSIS – Straightforward anagram (treated) of [POOR SIGNS]
21  Arrange deposit for cut of beef (7)
TOPSIDE – Another anagram (arranged) of [DEPOSIT]
22  Request to include island, Eastern, to provide colour (5)
BEIGE – BEG (request) including I{sland} and followed by E{astern}.  BEIGE gets its name from the French, where it means natural wool, i.e. unbleached and undyed.
23  Furious, heading off buccaneer (5)
IRATE – Remove the first letter (heading off) of {p}IRATE (buccaneer)
24  Seen in context, remedy’s drastic (7)
EXTREME – Hidden in {cont}EXT, REME{dy’s}

1 Clothing seen, warm possibly (8)
MENSWEAR – Anagram (possibly) of [SEEN, WARM]
Look courageous, captivating English hearts (6)
BEHOLD – BOLD (courageous) containing (captivating) E{nglish} and H{earts}
3  Off and on, gran into special way of walking (4)
GAIT – Alternative letters (off and on) of G{r}A{n} I{n}T{o}
4  Involved in ruinous love necking careless guy (6)
SLOVEN – Another hidden answer (involved in), this time in {ruinous}S LOVE N{ecking}
5  Doctor has loads of time for fish (8)
STURGEON – SURGEON (doctor) ‘loaded with’ T{ime}
6  Six tease old battle-axe (6)
VIRAGO – VI (six in roman numerals) and RAG (tease) followed by O{ld}.  A VIRAGO is a bad tempered woman.
7 Departed from political wing (4)
LEFT – Double definition
13  Fixer referring to someone matching socks? (8)
REPAIRER – RE (referring to) and PAIRER (someone matching socks, for example, hence the question mark)
15  Moving more quickly to secure extremely nice clasp (8)
FASTENER – To be FASTER is to be moving more quickly, and this secures (contains) the first and last letters of N{ic}E (extremely).
17  Wood, popular, excluding upper-class (6)
POPLAR – POP{u}LAR.  The use of U and non-U to describe Upper and aspiring-Middle classes respectively, is commonly used in Crosswordland, and well worth remembering.
19  Over with writer replacing very first song (6)
OPENER – Take OVER and replace the V(ery) with PEN (writer) to get the name for the first song in a musical or performance.  I’m not sure whether the ‘first’ is part of the wordplay and refers to the first letter of Very, or is a part of the definition.  It could be either, and the clue just about works either way.
20  Frisson from area of activity in outskirts of Santander (6)
SHIVER – A HIVE is an area of activity, and this is placed in the outskirts (first and last letters) of S{antande}R.  A frisson is a shiver or a shudder or a thrill.
21  Initially trying painting – hard work (4)
TOIL – T{rying} (initially) and OIL as an example of a painting
22  City hotel supporting club (4)
BATH – BAT (club) supported by H{otel} from the phonetic alphabet.
Time: 11:48. Odd little puzzle this one, there's a number of words that are not in everyday parlance, but the wordplay is in general extremely clear, so it is the sort of puzzle I like, where everything has to be understood.

Since I got most of the left hand side out before the right I wondered if the setter was going for some sort of record of number of instances of the letter H - there's three down answers that have multiple H's in them.

The first definition is underlined in the clues - away we go!

1 Had spiced up editorial content (5)
DUPED - hidden inside spiceD UP EDitorial
4 Colourful knight leaves full of love after church (9)
CHROMATIC - remove N(knight in chess) from ROMANTIC(full of love) after CH(church)
9 One'll defend a point after game (9)
APOLOGIST - A then GIST(point) after POLO(game)
10 Rogue ultimately splits faction (5)
SCAMP - (split)S, CAMP(faction)
11 Rabbit lover to give back trap (6)
GASBAG - one fond of rabbiting - SAG(give, yield) reversed, then BAG(trap)
12 Get engaged to escort, then split up (4,4)
TAKE PART - TAKE(escort), PART(split up)
14 Islander from a small island, one with brown skin? (9)
TASMANIAN - A, S(small), then the isle of MAN, I(one) inside TAN(brown). I lived in Tasmania from 1992-1995. Many natives prefer "Taswegians" or "Australians"
16 Beer from the East that's fit for a king (5)
REGAL - LAGER(beer) reversed
17 Noddy's lack of memory recalled (5)
MORON - if you have a lack of computer memory there is NO ROM - reverse it
19 Voluntary payments or tribute in US a strain, on reflection (9)
HONORARIA - HONOR(tribute in the US, where I live now), A, then AIR(strain of music) reversed
21 When most events occur, maybe, in Big Brother's terms? (8)
NEWSPEAK - most events would occur at NEWS' PEAK - reference the language in Nineteen Eighty-Four
22 Colleges in functioning state complete agreement (6)
UNISON - colleges in functioning state would be UNIS ON
25 Compassion from judge at start of trial (5)
HEART - HEAR(judge), T(rial)
26 Most tedious diet deals with disorder (9)
DEADLIEST - anagram of DIET,DEALS - tedious as in "dead boring"
27 College with vacant refectory taking on several partners (9)
POLYANDRY - POLY(college), AND(with), then R(efector)Y
28 Retiring Times editor penning books — a turn-off for addicts? (5)
DETOX - reverse all of X(times, multiplied by) and ED(editor) containing OT(books)

1 Men on board provide crew scaling craft (15)
DRAUGHTSMANSHIP - DRAUGHTS(men on board - checkers for those on this side of the pond), then MAN SHIP(provide crew)
2 Self-righteous Liberal short of company (5)
PIOUS - COPIOUS(Liberal) missing CO(company)
3 3-D depiction of moon in play (7)
DIORAMA - IO(moon of Jupiter), inside DRAMA(play)
4 Pirate's card game (4)
CRIB - double definition - pirate as in copy illegally
5 Royal attendants in turbulent reign acquiring new skills (10)
RETRAINING - TRAIN(Royal attendants) inside an anagram of REIGN
6 Catch badly in marshier ground, conceding one run (7)
MISHEAR - anagram of MARSHIER missing one R
7 Gunners waving flag held by sailor in battle (9)
TRAFALGAR - RA(gunners) and an anagram of FLAG in TAR(sailor)
8 Levy for which Brussels possibly gets blame (7,5,3)
CAPITAL GAINS TAX - Brussels is a CAPITAL, GAINS(gets), TAX(blame)
13 Like autocrat on a trip, passed over? (4-6)
HIGH-HANDED - HIGH(on a trip, coincidentally this appeared on the same day as Canada legalizing recreational cannabis), HANDED(passed over)
15 Odd American dance succeeding twist (9)
SCREWBALL - BALL(dance) after SCREW(twist)
18 Sweep up last of slush that briefly forms solvent (7)
NAPHTHA - PAN(sweep) reversed, then (slus)H, THA(t)
20 Vexed, if ordered to throttle Labour leader (7)
RANKLED - RANKED(ordered) containing L(abour)
23 Toboggan losing its rear part drifted off (5)
SLEPT - SLED(toboggan) without the last letter, then PT(part)
24 Tramp's friend remained with daughter in custody (4)
LADY - LAY(remained) containing D(daughter), reference to the 1955 Disney movie.
A very enjoyable, medium level puzzle today, which had me going in the wrong direction several times, only to discover later I needed to see the clue from a different angle. Oddly, 1d was my LOI as I was fixated on trying to parse a wrong answer. Doh! It took me 35 minutes with no need for aids, and there are no anagrams of obscure words or other bones to pick, from my point of view. 3d being the only weak clue. Well done Mr. Setter.
If you're reading this, Mr. or Mrs. Obnoxious Anon-troll from last week, I hope you find it illuminating and more to your taste.

1 Liliaceous plants taken by yellowish-brown grazers (9)
BUFFALOES - BUFF = yellowish-brown, ALOES are liliaceous plants apparently, although I thought they were more cactus-like.
6 Source of strength identified by wife attending function (5)
SINEW - My FOI. SINE the trig function, W for wife.
9 Supervising healthy exercise (7)
RUNNING - Double definition. Personally I always found running an unhealthy exercise compared to hill walking or golf.
10 Asian joke, one involving judge and sailor (7)
PUNJABI - PUN = joke, I = one, insert J for judge and AB for sailor.
11 Position offered by sardonic headmaster (5)
12 What Parker displays, disturbed by current din? (9)
NOISINESS - I for current goes inside NOSINESS as in nosy Parker. No certainty about the origin of the phrase, but amusing to read about all the same: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/nosy-parker.html
14 Ironic study dismissed by poet and dramatist (3)
DRY - John DRYDEN the poet laureate and dramatist loses his DEN = study.
15 His curate blunders initially in consecration of sacred elements (11)
EUCHARISTIC - (HIS CURATE)* then I C = initial letters of in consecration.
17 Like priests in Times unusually backing animal shelter… (11)
MINISTERIAL - (IN TIMES)* then LAIR reversed.
19 … only briefly, note (3)
SOL - SOLO = only, briefly = SOL as in the SOL FA tonic scale.
20 Notes male attorney has penned backing City (9)
MEMORANDA - MAN = male, DA = attorney, insert ROME reversed.
22 Bloke outside hotel, source of good news brought to Aix? (5)
GHENT - H inside GENT; place from which they set off to ride to Aix, as in the Browning poem. Nowt to do with Mr Revere, who was on another ride altogether, apparently. I did tell you I know nothng of poetry.
24 Figure a small number badger without respite? (7)
NONAGON - NO = a small number; to NAG ON would be to badger without respite.
26 One drinking beer half-heartedly with doctors in islands (7)
IMBIBER - MB = doctor, inside I, I = islands, then BER = beer half-heartedly. Why doctors plural? Which would make it IMBSIBER from the wordplay? I suppose MB can stand for Medicinae Baccalaures and be plural in Latin.
27 Chapter in revolutionary story bringing conspicuous success (5)
ECLAT - C for chapter inside TALE reversed.
28 Senior officer in boat starts to lecture youth sharply (9)
PUNGENTLY - GEN(ERAL) inside PUNT for boat, then L Y = starts to lecture youth.

1 Verbally unproductive? Lord! (5)
BARON - Well, it's not difficult, but for B-R-N I kept trying to justify BYRON as the LORD involved. At last I saw that it's BARON as a homophone for BARREN = unproductive. Not a very good homophone, the way I pronounce them.
2 A couple of girls fussing (7)
FINICKY - I realised early on this would be two girls'names adding up to the definition, but again, got fixated on NANCY as the second lady. No, it's FI (Fiona) and NICKY not Nancy.
3 Vitality not recorded in a number of quarters (9)
ALIVENESS - A, LIVE = not recorded; E N E S S being compass quarters. A not very elegant clue for a not very elegant word.
4 Possibly eyes Native Americans on new church feature (5,6)
ORGAN SCREEN - ORGANS could be eyes, CREE are native Americans, N for new.
5 Juice quietly taken down in Bath, for example? (3)
SAP - Bath is a SPA city, move the P (quietly) down to the end.
6 Muslim star going over part of UK (5)
SUNNI - SUN our star, NI = Northern Ireland.
7 Live in shelter closest to hand (7)
NEAREST - Insert ARE (live, exist) into NEST = shelter.
8 Fanciful act overturned, protecting particular chap thus (9)
WHIMSICAL - LAW = act, reversed = WAL, insert HIM = particular chap, SIC = Latin for thus.
13 This writer’s against changing into a wit (11)
IMAGINATION - I'M (this writer's) AGIN (against) (INTO A)*.
14 US politician working in dome for shady group (9)
16 Displaying deficiency in character-forming action? (9)
ILLEGIBLE - Cryptic definition.
18 Token love-bird found in northern lake (7)
NOMINAL - O (love), MINA (bird) inside N, L. Token as in token gesture.
19 Second man splashing out rupees for cooling drink (7)
SHERBET - S = second, HERBERT is our man, loses his R. In my youth I thought it was SHERBERT with two R's, because people seemed to pronounce it that way.
21 What authors do to listeners? Absolutely (5)
RIGHT - A homophone that works; RIGHT sounds like WRITE to me.
23 Stay smeared with viscid substance (5)
TARRY - Double definition; TARRY as in 'tarry a while'. Now I know viscid I'll try and use it in a conversation and wait for someone to tell me I mean viscous.
25 Dash to get form of identification set up (3)
NIP - PIN number being a form of ID, dash as in a dash of brandy.

Quick Cryptic 1202 by Flamande

I'm standing in for Jeremy, who's back for a double starting next week.

A nice mixture of difficulty in the clues, I thought. The first few across and down clues went in straight away, normal service then resumed (bouncing around the grid, picking off a few easier ones), before finally coming to a halt in the SE corner. I took a while unscrambling 12dn, as I was looking for a literal material, which then illuminated the way forward at 22ac (my COD). LOI the rather unsatisfying 16dn.

Definitions underlined.

1 Medical magazine showing short Greek character stabbed by weapon (3,6)
THE LANCET - all but the last letter of (short) THETa (Greek character) surrounding (stabbed by) LANCE (weapon).
6 Regularly tell off mischievous child (3)
ELF - every other letter from (regularly) tElL oFf.
8 Supporter of Chinese communist, not a little wet (5)
MOIST - MaOIST (support of Chinese communist) without the 'a' (not a).
9 Assorted bones: a good source of food for Dobbin? (7)
NOSEBAG - anagram of (assorted) BONES, with A then G (good).
10 Hooligan's meal still to be cooked? Correct (8)
TEARAWAY - TEA (meal), RAW (still to be cooked), and AY (correct).
11 Musical chairs, first and last to go (4)
HAIR - remove the first and lest letters from (first and last to go) cHAIRs.
13 Computer program to carry out check on bank's customer? (11)
SCREENSAVER - lateral double definition.
17 Clue penned by wordsmith in Times (4)
HINT - hidden inside (penned by) wordsmitH IN Times.
18 People next to trail in driving event (4,4)
DRAG RACE - RACE (poeple) next to DRAG (trail).
21 We say he disposed of rubbish (7)
EYEWASH - anagram of (disposed of) WE SAY HE.
22 Second class travel for new union member? (5)
BRIDE - B (second class) and RIDE (travel).
23 Alcoholic drink — nothing for abstainer to imbibe (3)
TOT - TT (tee-totaller, abstainer) surrounding (to imbibe) O (nothing).
24 Extremely desperate newspaper editor is despondent (9)
DEPRESSED - first and last letters from (extremely) DesperatE, PRESS (newspaper) and ED (editor).

1 Fruit: Thomas has cut tiny amount (6)
TOMATO - TOM (Thomas) with all but the last letter of (cut) ATOm (tiny amount).
2 Girl Americans will take to heart (5)
ERICA - hidden in the centre of (will take to heart) amERICAns
3 Mammal climbing Sicilian mountain consumed last of water (8)
ANTEATER - ETNA (Sicilean mountain) reversed (climbing), ATE (consumed), then last letter of wateR.
4 Sailing vessel tossed about in E China ports (9,4)
CONTAINER SHIP - anagram of (tossed about) IN E CHINA PORTS.
5 Time to request a bit of work (4)
TASK - T (time) and ASK (request).
6 Hug half of them, along with a further couple (7)
EMBRACE - half of the letters from thEM, with BRACE (a couple).
7 Imagine is number one, perhaps (6)
FIGURE - double definition, the second by example.
12 Close to Ghent, Belgian spins material (8)
TANGIBLE - anagram of (spins) the last letter of (close to) ghenT with BELGIAN.
14 Agree Tories entice? Not half (7)
CONSENT - CONS (Tories) and the first half of (not half) ENTice.
15 Danger that overwhelms some soldiers (6)
THREAT - THAT surrounding (overwhelms) RE (Royal Engineers, some soldiers).
16 Story of a famous footballer? (6)
LEGEND - lateral double definition. Though why footballer, I don't know.
19 Without love, a day is so long (5)
ADIOS - surrounding (without) O (love), A, D (day) and IS.
20 Mother and I finally employed someone to help out (4)
MAID - MA (mother) with I and last letter of (finally) employeD.

Times Cryptic 27170

68 minutes but with one error that I would probably have avoided if I'd remembered to return to it as planned before stopping the clock.  A little easier than yesterday's puzzle for me but that was one I found exceptionally tough.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1201 by Izetti

An excellent QC, in my opinion, as it was quick (8:28) but definitely put up a struggle. Unusually, I had several half answers around the grid at one time waiting for a crossing letter (e.g. 15dn). Dnk the country at 15dn and had some fun at 12dn. COD to 13ac for the surface.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1200 by Mara

My solving time for this was 8 minutes so I'd say it's on the easier side of the balance. Very enjoyable, but unless I've missed it there's nothing special here to mark the publication of  Quick Cryptic 1200.

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Times 27169 - Monster Monday

Well, I struggled mightily with this, getting one wrong and needing to cheat on two, while managing to nod off as well. There were certainly some difficult words, including a medical term I'd never heard of, though it was Latiny enough to be able to work out. As often, the hidden eluded me for ages (the fact that it was some chemistry thing didn't help), while my biggest source of embarrassment - on a particularly embarrassing sort of solve - was my failure to remember what VALETUDINARIAN meant - and to separate it out from the 'valedictory' stable of words, even though I'd read an entry (very carefully, I might add) on it not six months ago.

Maybe everyone else will find it a breeze, but I would say that this is definitely not one for the Quickie brigade.


1 Good girl we're told deciding it's an unfair obstacle (5,7)
GLASS CEILING - G LASS sounds like 'sealing'
9 Greek festival inspires king – it’s something in the atmosphere (5)
ARGON - R in AGON; a Greek festival, such as the one at Olympia, at which competitors vied for laurel wreaths et al
10 Musical style it's rude to sing (9)
BLUEGRASS - BLUE GRASS (rat on someone)
11 The cloth sample on skimpy garments (8)
12 Leave the neighbouring housing compound (6)
ETHENE - hidden in[leav[E THE NE[eighbouring]; I'd herard of ETHANE but not this stuff
13 Investigator on the booze (8)
REPORTER - RE PORTER (a dark sweet ale brewed from black malt - one of my favourite tipples)
15 Heavy drinks bottles heading for tavern (6)
ROTUND - T[avern] in ROUND ('drinks bottles heading for tavern' is crosswordese for chuck the initial letter of tavern in drinks)
17 Reduce by cooking in two months (6)
DECOCT - DEC OCT; if I was being really honest (something I haven't tried for some time now) I would have to say that I'd never heard of this word. I probably said that last time it came up...
18 Flatter, or fairly flat? (8)
BLANDISH - if something were not that dull, but definitely on the dull side (think Michael MacIntyre doing yet another observational domestic sketch), then you might call it on the bland side, or indeed, 'blandish'. Oh God, I think I've just given him an idea he'll be able to pad out into a 3-minute item...
20 Prickly Scandinavian hero content to leave Norway (6)
21 Sordid party game (8)
24 View short camera shot, in which a lot is crooked? (5,4)
CRIME WAVE - anagram* of VIEW CAMER[a]
25 Fiddle one misplaced? There it is! (5)
VOILA - VOILA with the I moving about
26 Christian book favouring giving up almost everything (12)
PROCESSIONAL - PRO CESSION (giving up) AL[l]; a book as well as 'Once in Royal David's City' then


1 What may qualify school to provide set of rules (7)
GRAMMAR - one of the words that may premodify school, along with finishing and special needs, is GRAMMAR
2 Front of chest in great pain, so could be this? (6,8)
ANGINA PECTORIS - C[hest] IN GREAT PAIN SO* for the heart-related chest pain that my healthy lifestyle has so far kept me safe from
3 Passage south across the Atlantic (5)
4 Got on vessel in eastern sea (8)
5 Flamboyant old Law Lord entertains (4)
LOUD - O in LUD; it is a sad indictment of modern times that judges are no longer addressed by barristers with their hands pressed against their chests under the lapels of their gowns as M'Lud. Boring old Milord is now the order of the day in the lego-judicial industry.
6 New wig and thong, kinky bedroom gear (9)
NIGHTGOWN - n[ew] WIG THONG*; shame on anyone who went down the leather, wrist-cuff route...
7 Invalid with a nature that's sickly? (14)
VALETUDINARIAN - INVALID A NATURE* for the hypochondriac
8 Get promoted in a post broadcasting (6)
ASCEND - A sounds like 'send'
14 Trained to run race, his performance is telling (9)
16 They could hack off Conservative Brexiteers (8)
CLEAVERS - C LEAVERS (bless 'em - I'd never have joined in the first place)
17 Didn't like touring Croatia's capital, back in Split (6)
DETACH - HATED reversed around C[roatia]
19 Item for traveller knocking on mansion walls (7)
HOLDALL - OLD (knocking on - geddit?) in HALL; walls is the containment indicator
22 Brief verse in French mostly useless (5)
ENVOI - EN VOI[d]; a literary entity that is still commonly found in crosswords - along with EPODES, ELEGIES et al - meaning a short stanza concluding a ballade
23 Demonstrate putting away hot alcoholic drink (4)
Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 5A is a perfect example.

This was a very pleasant puzzle of average complexity. It included a memory jog for Saturday Morning Pictures and the cowboy films starring Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, etc. Those were the days!

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.


1 Extremist in bizarre rituals is thrown out (5)
ULTRA: (rituals – is)*;
5 Pleased to keep one favoured cereal ingredient (7)
GLIADIN: GL(I)AD-IN; a protein in gluten;
11 Your setter finally tails off? The reverse, lots on offer here (8)
12 Matrix ducks accommodating extreme Brazilian state (10, two words)
13 Dislike days without a course of action ending in victory (8)
DYSPATHY: D(a)YS-PATH-(victor)Y;
16 Sheep shelter from sun on hill (5)
STELL: S-TELL; S=sun; hill=TELL;
17 Very good old van for youngster or banger from the Gorbals? (4)
PIOY: PI-O-Y(oungster); a firework in Fife;
18 Two notes on long, decorative braid (8)
19 Seattle plant succeeded with present and former President (8)
21 Flies back for boring thing in Scotland (4)
STOB: BOTS reversed;
23 Perfume ingredient: get it in Middle Eastern state, no question (5)
26 Spring roll said to be refined (8)
WELLBRED: WELL-sounds like “bread”;
27 Heraldic animals formerly seen in French city square (10)
28 Weapon’s protective covering whitish as mentioned (8)
ARMALITE: sounds like “armour”-“light”;
29 Wyn, once a gorgeous lady is Sorbian (7)
WENDISH: WEN-DISH; WEN= old word for wyn;
30 Fox TV’s latest: 9/11 vacuously presented (5)
VIXEN: (t)V-IX-E(leve)N;

1 Clapped-out like a brolly (6)
2 Seasons in the case of Blackpool: rainy or windy! (12)
LABYRINTHINE: (in the bl rainy)*; bl from B(lackpoo)L;
3 Highland forecaster upset by cuts (5)
REAPS: SPAER reversed;
4 Article about large Mediterranean units (5)
ARTAL: ART-A-L; unit of weight, see rotl in Chambers;
6 Record gambling game in cabin (8)
LOG-HOUSE: LOG-HOUSE; Bingo was once known as HOUSE;
7 Insectivore not popular in a south-eastern state (6)
8 Short written treatise on area not special for examiner (9)
9 Is the outline styled as such? (12, two words)
IN, SILHOUETTE: (is the outline)*; nice clue;
10 Head, / one ending in the soup (6)
NOODLE: two meanings;
14 Film unhappy defeat (9, two words)
15 University in turn mocks sexual disease? Supposedly (8)
GOUJEERS: GO-U-JEERS; Waggle-Dagger for VD;
19 Quite filling spread with pasty (6)
20 Rod reportedly became pale (6)
WANNED: sounds like “wand”;
22 Outlaws second-class guys seeking publicity (6)
BADMEN: B-ADMEN; Jack Palance, Lee Marvin, the ones with the black hats whilst Roy Rogers et al wore white
24 Irishman who’s learned nothing lost office (5)
OLLAV: O-L-LAV; office=slang for toilet; I don’t understand “lost” = L
25 Honour given to lecturer, one showing marks on script (5)

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