• 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

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27948 - Saturday, 10 April 2021.

Well, that was harder than the usual Saturday fare. Lots of answers hovered beyond the edge of my memory for a long time. I had more trouble with the LHS than the RHS of the grid. The deadly duo in the top left, at 11ac and 2dn, made me smile when they almost simultaneously emerged from the mist. For me, 13ac and 16dn were two almost unknowns clued by others totally unknown. But, we got there in the end, didn’t we? Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.

[Read more ...]Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions are struck through.
1 Depressingly little is invested in home improvements (8)
DISMALLY – SMALL in D.I.Y. A gentle one to start with.
5 Grave sin — eliminating men in hostile circumstances (6)
ENMITY – ENorMITY, minus OR.
8 Film psychiatrist with bad reputation in the US (6-4)
9 Mollusc shedding small horny covering (4)
NAILsNAIL, minus S for small.
10 How Enright is made to do things differently? (4,3,7)
RING THE CHANGES – ENRIGHT is made from an anagram (‘changes’) of RING THE. So, RING THE CHANGES can serve as a clue for ENRIGHT. I wondered if Enright was a famous name in the bell-ringing community, but found no trace of that.
11 Golf permits in place for dispatch (7)
GALLOWS – G for golf, then ALLOWS. Does the definition count as gallows humour?
13 Judge a very good Köchel number for composer (7)
JANACEK – J for judge, AN ACE, K for Köchel. The Köchel catalogue has a K number for each work of Mozart. Definitely, an unknown clued by an unknown, but still gettable!
15 Argument backing form of vessel for religious devotion (7)
WORSHIP – ROW for argument, backwards; then SHIP.
18 Support a right to begin afresh (7)
RESTART – a REST is a support. Then A, RT for right.
21 Dilapidated tailor-made tent is thrown out (14)
TATTERDEMALION – (‘thrown out’) anagram of TAILOR MADE TENT. 14 letter anagrams aren’t among my favourite things.
22 Flow revealed by Daniel Bernouilli (4)
ELBE – hidden answer. It’s a change for a river to be a flow, not a flower, but it’s very apt since D.B. was one of a distinguished family of Swiss mathematicians and did famous work on fluid dynamics. Flow, indeed!
23 Cut around road blockage finally in Havering (10)
INDECISION – INCISION around last letters of roaD blockagE.
24 Cut juice to noisily swallow new socially-acceptable round (6)
UNPLUG – GULP, N for new, U for acceptable. All ‘round’.
25 Universal depression in untidy house of undergrads? (8)
STUDENTY – U + DENT in STY. Ugly word, but in the dictionary.

1 Cleaner is Henry dressed in women’s clothing (7)
DISHRAG – IS + H for Henry, in DRAG.
2 Potential killer of fish in strait and river (9)
STRANGLER – STR. for strait (not an abbreviation familiar to me, and indeed Chambers has it as an abbreviation for straight, not strait, but there you are!). Then: ANGLE, R.
3 Girl brought up too much dye (7)
ANNATTO – ANNA is the girl, then OTT ‘brought up’. I thought the girl would be ANNE. How is one to know?
4 Unruly as well as disregarding authority’s lead? (7)
LAWLESS – this is a clever all-in-one clue. An (unruly) anagram of AS WELL AS, after ignoring one of the As (authority’s lead!).
5 A construction of Naples paddler regularly visited? (9)
ESPLANADE – and, immediately, another all-in-one! An anagram (construction) of NAPLES + ADE, where the last three letters are the even letters (regularly visited) of PADDLER. I took it on faith that Naples has an esplanade.
6 Capital fellow on the Spanish Main? (7)
MANAGUA – MAN, then AGUA is the Spanish word for water.
7 Sad about European city on the Adriatic (7)
TRIESTE – TRISTE around E for European.
12 Complaining about front pair of teeth getting dental treatment (9)
14 Merger company landed with current working (9)
COALITION – CO, ALIT, I, ON. I is the symbol for electric current.
16 Flier uncovered book of navigational routes (7)
ORTOLAN – I vaguely dredged the answer from the mists of memory, and assumed it is a bird. I’d never heard of a PORTOLAN, but the clue tells you what it is.
17 A certain something penned by excellent poet (7)
SITWELL – IT is that certain something, penned by SWELL.
18 Feel bewildered over English court put in power again (2-5)
RE-ELECT – REEL, E for English, CT.
19 What may be puffin, braised in a stew (7)
SEABIRD – anagram (in a stew) of BRAISED.
20 Note girl’s agreement to stay (7)
TENANCY – TE (a drink with jam and bread!), NANCY.

Quick Cryptic 1854 by Felix

I'd say this is on the easire end of the scale. I can't give you a time because I was interrupted but I reckon 7 minutes or so. Lots of anagrams. Favourite clue probably 20dn or 23ac. Not so keen on the attempted public health announcement at 24ac

1 Tarquin flustered at first later becoming calm (8)
TRANQUIL - anagram ("flustered") of TARQUIN + L
6 Young attendant, quiet and mature (4)
PAGE - P (quiet) + AGE
8 Heard bell tolling for Ms Gwyn? (4)
NELL - Sounds like KNELL. Nell Gwyn, legendary restoration-era good-time girl and mistress of Charles II
9 Bargain-hunters her gals, out to claim goods primarily (8)
HAGGLERS - anagram ("out") of HER GALS with G inserted
10 Potato dish consumed in quiet: it’s a great success! (5,3)
SMASH HIT - MASH inside SH with IT added
12 Old fellow in ME sultanate (4)
13 Curiosity moving friend ultimately to DIY (6)
ODDITY - anagram ("moving") of D (last letter of FRIEND) + TO DIY
16 Shop finally directs petitions (6)
PLEADS - P (last letter of SHOP) + LEADS
17 Nude appearing in club at last, live (4)
BARE - B (last letter of CLUB) + ARE
18 Minds children in small sections crossing gorge briefly (4-4)
BABY-SITS - BITS oustide ABYS(s)
21 Dally outrageously with hip girl (8)
PHYLLIDA - anagram ("outrageously") of DALLY + HIP
22 Eager to display grief (4)
KEEN - double definition, the second I only learnt by doing crosswords
23 I’m turning red, including yarns, primarily? (4)
DYER - RED backwards with Y for yarns inside, and the definition is the whole clue so it's an '&lit'.
24 Some sunbathe? Sit at eateries? Don’t all rush! (8)
HESITATE - hidden word, denoted by the word 'some': sunbatHE SIT AT Eateries. Maybe a bit topical..?

2 Discharge fellow into alcoholic drink (5)
RHEUM - HE inside RUM. watery discharge from nose or eyes.
3 N Ireland originally let in no goals? (3)
NIL - NI + L
4 Half-hearted “yes” from Ruth, thought to be oddly absent (2-3)
UH-HUH - alternate letters of rUtH tHoUgHt
5 Prepare to smoke? Ray finished (5,2)
LIGHT UP - self explanatory
6 Woollies turned up on large romantic couple (9)
PULLOVERS - UP backwards on L + LOVERS
7 Fish to catch for Judy? (7)
11 Will sever nuts to provide revolving part? (9)
SWIVELLER - anagram ("nuts") of WILL SEVER
14 The lady wandering, so very pale? (7)
DEATHLY - anagram ("wandering") of THE LADY
15 Vulgar Yankee old boy found by mistake (7)
19 Top military officers thought of as bold? (5)
BRASS - self-explanatory
20 River discovered by Rex, camping? (5)
TRENT - R in TENT, ie 'camping'
22 Little Christopher’s equipment (3)
KIT - short for Christopher, as in Kit Marlowe.

Times 27,953: Am I My Blogger's Keeper?

Medium-hard I reckon, with some very nice surfaces and cluing to make this go down a smooth treat. I very much liked the "(very!) unsubtle alternative to the key" and the highly relatable surface to 8dn: the African mountain, the Scottish island, the New World discovering ship and the attractively-named plant were all fun GK content too. Many thanks to the setter!

1 Disappointed expression of Finn, perhaps, aboard vessel (6)
SHUCKS - HUCK(leberry) "aboard" S.S.

5 Brother turning up with companion grabbed by murderous twin (8)
CAPUCHIN - reversed UP + CH, "grabbed" by CAIN

9 Shetland island qualified as rocky (8)
UNSTABLE - UNST [Shetland island] + ABLE [qualified]

10 Filter problem (6)
RIDDLE - double def; filter as in "sieve"

11 Doctor on leave gets dope from Australia (6)

12 A talk hosted by leader in sport (8)
KAYAKING - A YAK, "hosted" by KING

14 When embarrassment becomes evident, initially? (2,5,5)
AT FIRST BLUSH - pretty much a cryptic def: bad luck to anybody unfamiliar with the expression who hazarded "at first flush"...

17 Unsubtle alternative to the key ingredient in fried fish, in metric weight (9,3)
BATTERING RAM - BATTER [ingredient in fried fish] + IN + GRAM [metric weight]

20 Blooming Conservative in clear (8)
OUTRIGHT - OUT [blooming] + RIGHT [Conservative]

22 Relative value not nice, odd bits thrown away (6)
AUNTIE - {v}A{l}U{e} N{o}T {n}I{c}E

23 Candlemas to Lent, not entirely hot (6)
STOLEN - hidden in {candlema}S TO LEN{t}

25 Tailored fragments for pagan (8)

26 Something to deal with in hospital delivery (3,5)
LEG BREAK - double def; one more literal (and painful) than the other

27 Strain loading contents of short chest (6)
THORAX - TAX [strain] "loading" {s}HOR{t}

2 Eager to get area in country evacuated (6)

3 Cargo ship carrying quality plant (11)
COTONEASTER - COASTER [cargo ship] "carrying" TONE [quality]. This would have taken me a lot longer if the shrub hadn't come up in these parts within fairly recent memory (I think)

4 Lend setter, for example, audio equipment (9)
SUBWOOFER - SUB [lend] + WOOFER [canine setters do woof]

5 Examiner with case of coursework entering lift (7)
CHECKER - C{oursewor}K "entering" CHEER [lift]

6 Component with unknown function (5)
PARTY - PART [component] + Y [unknown]

7 Mock swimmer (3)
COD - double def

8 Endless exercising beneath one — what's the alternative? (8)
IDLENESS - (ENDLESS*) "beneath" I, semi-&lit

13 I hand over beer in metric weight for African challenger? (11)
KILIMANJARO - I MAN [hand, as in worker] over JAR [beer] in KILO. Climbing Kilimanjaro would certainly be a challenge

15 Two spells of illness, between which a complete shift (9)
TURNABOUT - TURN and BOUT [two spells of illness], between which, A

16 Stick a short gun in more efficiently when sawn-off (8)

18 To split hairs can upset something ground-breaking (3-4)
NIT-PICK - reversed TIN [can], + PICK [tool for breaking ground]

19 More than one wood ending in gunwale carried by 15th-century ship (6)
PINETA - {gunwal}E carried by PINTA [one of Columbus's ships, alongside the Nina and the Santa Maria]

21 Spirit in bottle in Egypt arising (5)
GENIE - hidden reversed in {bottl}E IN EG{ypt}, with obvious semi-&lit qualities

24 Pitch black: zero light initially when getting up (3)
LOB - B 0 L{ight}, reversed

Times 27952 - all this and some biochemistry

Time taken: 14:47.  That is a little bit longer than my usual, and looking at some of the early scores, I think this is going to fall into the more difficult camp.

I am hoping that I can piece together a few of the entries that went in largely from definition, so this may be a puzzle that favors some specialized knowledge.  I'm curious what people make of 13 across, a term that I run across pretty regularly, but may be obscure and has some tricky wordplay.

Postscript: Looks like I was on the money with 13 across dividing the solvers, and thanks to those of you who said that my explanations were helpful. This is a tricky puzzle, but all the wordplay is in place. Check the comments from a vist from the setter!

Away we go...

1 Conjecture Glen’s worked with a view to please? Unlikely (8,6)
9 Initially pleased that group holds unknown amount of capital (9)
PYONGYANG - first letter of Pleased, then YON(that), GANG(group) containing Y(unknown amount)
10 I’ll do that which is largely counted on at the outset (5)
WILCO - first letters of Which Is Largely Counted On
11 God-fearing husband’s left without theology degree, strangely (5)
ODDLY - HOLY(god-fearing) missing H(husband), surrounding DD(doctor of divinity, theology degree)
12 Sister loves visiting city in Oregon — lots to see there? (9)
SALESROOM - SR(sister) and O,O(loves) inside SALEM, the capital of the state of Oregon
13 Energy source that’s unappealing, first off, then endlessly powerful (8)
GLYCOGEN - UGLY(unappealing) missing the first letter, then COGENT(powerful) missing the last letter
15 American going around in saunas naked (6)
KANSAN - hidden reversed in sauNAS NAKed
17 Could mostly act deviously, unable to keep a secret (6)
OCCULT - anagram of COUL(d) and ACT missing A
19 Dance in the buff? Dare, perhaps, to proceed (8)
FANDANGO - FAN(buff), then DAN Dare, and GO(proceed)
22 Music maker’s nickname called out, with cheer echoing (9)
HARMONICA - sounds like MONICKER(nickname) after RAH(cheer) reversed
23 Arab sailor with a measure of intelligence (5)
TARIQ - TAR(sailor) and IQ(measure of intelligence)
24 Key player in commercial having change of heart (5)
PRIMO - PROMO(commercial) with a change of the middle letter
25 For this artwork, one needed to concentrate a long time? (5,4)
STILL LIFE - STILL(one needed to distil or concentrate), LIFE(a long time)
26 Film that’s certainly no light work (1,4,4,5)
A HARD DAYS NIGHT - double definition
1 African head’s cloak looking rather on the bright side? (4,2,4,4)
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE - CAPE(cloak) then OF GOOD HOPE(looking rather on the bright side)
2 Twelve years on, and zero changes (7)
NOONDAY - anagram of Y(years),ON, AND,O(zero)
3 Game of golf needing fortieth round (5)
RUGBY - G(golf) inside RUBY(fortieth anniversary)
4 In Whistler’s paintings note revolutionary shift (8)
TRANSFER - REF'S(whistler's), ART(paintings) all reversed, containing N(note)
5 To try to keep up with vessel, galley periodically used (6)
JUGGLE -  JUG(vessel) and then alternating letters in GaLlEy
6 Novel way into Polish I might be sold on (9)
NEWSSTAND - NEW(novel) then ST(street, way) inside SAND(polish).  "I" is referring to the i newspaper
7 Circles having lengths within bounds (7)
LOLLOPS - LOOPS(circles) containing L, and L(lengths)
8 Sandhurst NCO involved in what’s not a search for military success (6,8)
NORMAN CONQUEST - RMA (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst) and NCO inside NON QUEST (what is not a search).  This went in from checking letters and I had to scramble to find wordplay for the blog
14 Behold inspiration returned for us — what artist needs? (3,6)
OIL COLOUR - LO(behold) and CLIO(inspiration) all reversed, then OUR(for us)
16 One passed on from rich landed gentry, finally (8)
FATALITY - FAT(rich), ALIT(landed) and the last letter in gentrY
18 My name I keep quiet: it’s no longer spoken (7)
CORNISH - COR(my), N(name), I, SH(keep quiet)
20 Career, on reflection, Carol’s after? (7)
NURSING - RUN(career) reversed, followed by SING(carol). An all-in-one
21 Brushed and organised one’s desk (6)
KISSED - anagram of I'S,DESK
23 A large weight’s secured pile of cards (5)
TALON - A, L(large) inside TON(weight)