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I had two stabs at this, at the first in around 35 minutes I had completed and understood all except most of the top left hand quadrant, a.k.a the north west. That took me another twenty minutes or so to decipher and parse, not least because my knowledge of famous Assyrians need some refreshment. In retrospect, there's nothing (apart from 1d) too daunting about it, There are a couple of clues I could take issue with, just to be awkward, like 19d and 25a, but I won't because this is just the kind of puzzle I hope to see on a Wednesday becaue it stretched the little grey cells just far enough.

1 One supporting cuts met with knight (8)
SAWHORSE - SAW = met, HORSE = knight, in chess; hard to see the right wavelength here, but once you do the wordplay is fair.
5 Ready to assimilate City formula (6)
RECIPE - The old standard EC for London City area goes into RIPE for ready.
8 Wreck in sea on moon finally eclipsed (3)
MAR - Seas on the moon have Latin names like MARE something, so that MARE loses an E. I thought MAR just meant damage rather than wreck, but it's passable.
9 Crook to entertain sister's subordinate (5,5)
STAFF NURSE - I spent an age trying to fit NUN into this. A crook is a STAFF, and you NURSE or entertain the idea of something.
10 Right-hand man keeping to hyperbole (8)
RHETORIC - RH = right hand, ERIC is our random man, insert TO. I think not all rhetoric is hyperbole, but once again Collins in its third definition of rhetoric decides it's passable.
11 Tradesman, powerless to deliver cut wood (6)
LUMBER - A PLUMBER, if you can find one, they're all on the beach now in France, he loses his P.
12 Current in which HM ships lost way (4)
MODE - MODERN = current, loses the Royal Navy or RN.
14 Pressure in tie — United beaten for lack of fitness? (10)
17 Tough Berber reflective in secure place (10)
STRONGROOM - A MOOR could be a Berber, a North African Arab; Reverse him and add to STRONG = tough.
20 Stylish welcome received in clubs twice (4)
CHIC - HI = welcome, inside C C for clubs twice. The French have a much used expression "BCBG" which stands for "bon chic bon genre" but those referred to seem to me to have anything but good taste and good attitude, they just have "old money" and arrogance. The Sloanes of Paris.
23 Small deposit to finish in bank (6)
DEPEND - DEP for small deposit, END for finish; DEPEND on as in rely on, bank on.
24 Fundamental article about the Italian church (8)
BASILICA - Insert IL = Italian for 'the', into BASIC A.
25 Feline woman binding husband in chains (10)
CHATELAINE - I was well misled by this one, wondering why chains had anything to do with the Lady of a château. but of course, that would be a châtelaine, not a chatelaine, which is an ornamental chain or chains hanging from a belt. CAT has H inserted then ELAINE is our random woman. No wonder the French won't abandon their beloved circonflex.
26 Alcoholic in the end put back to bed (3)
COT - C = end of AlcoholiC, TO reversed = put back TO.
27 About to introduce tax break (6)
RECESS - RE = about, CESS = tax. We've seen CESS recently.
28 Forebear requires an exotic escort (8)

1 Famed Assyrian house is home to sheep (9)
SEMIRAMIS - a SEMI is a kind of house, and IS is is. Insert RAM for sheep, to get the name of a famous (if barely recalled) Assyrian queen. I'd only heard of it in an operatic context where I knew she was probably a queen but not especially of the Assyrian persuasion.
2 Charge bundle to keep bird on ground (7)
WARHEAD - This is a naughty clue. You're supposed to think of WAD for a synonym of bundle, then think of one particular flightless bird, a RHEA, and bung one into the other to make a word vaguely related to CHARGE. The little grey cells were stretched. My LOI.
3 Cricket side's method hardly secret? (2,4)
ON SHOW - ON'S - cricket side's, HOW = method. Biffable, but not obvious to parse.
4 Pen pusher, perhaps, bursting into tears (9)
STATIONER - Back to regulation clues. (INTO TEARS)*.
5 Lock phone on rental contract (7)
RINGLET - RING = phone, LET = rental. See lock, think hair.
6 Using colour, 20 to dress person travelling on time (9)
CHROMATIC - 20a was CHIC (we're into Grauniad territory here, cross referencing); insert ROMA for a person travelling, and T for time.
7 Fake groom died, having introduced tango (7)
PRETEND - PREEN - groom, insert T for tango, add D for died.
13 Clear river containing single rodent (9)
EXONERATE - Devon's River EXE has ONE RAT inserted.
15 Testing time for one at crease, one performing (9)
PROBATION - PRO = for, BAT = one at crease in cricket, I = one, ON = performing.
16 One charming Chinese detective in lodge (9)
ENCHANTER - Mr CHAN goes into ENTER = lodge, in the sense of 'enter a protest / lodge a protest'.
18 Cereal stirred below temperature becoming syrup (7)
19 Unprincipled little man enters gallery (7)
GODLESS - GODS in a theatre  = gallery; insert our random bloke LES. I rail at this; I am godless, an atheist by conviction, but I am not not unprincipled. I have principles.
21 Process of reduction in capital growth (7)
HAIRCUT - Cryptic definition.
22 Brie munched by me in galley (6)
BIREME - (BRIE)*, ME. Old rowing ship with two banks of oars.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1162 by Teazel

Simon Thelonious Schaffner Weissmann, born August 16th at 11:43 PM, weighing 6 pounds 11 ounces, and measuring 19 1/4 inches.

By all accounts this puzzle took me longer than Simon's birth, all thanks to my putting LOUNGE instead of LONGUE.


1 [In] refitted house, angelic piece of furniture (6,6)
CHAISE LONGUE - anagrammed ("refitted") HOUSE ANGELIC ("house angelic")
8 [Does] he [take] a couple of books in religious class? (5)
RABBI - A ("a") + B B ("couple of books") inside ("in") R.I. ("religious class")
9 Insect repelled girl, one feels (7)
ANTENNA - ANT ("insect") + reversed ("repelled") ANNE ("girl")
10 Sailor [is in] mountain lake briefly (3)
TAR - TARN ("mountain lake") without the last letter ("briefly")
11 Story about baron meeting king [for] tricky task (4,5)
TALL ORDER - TALE ("story") around ("about") LORD ("baron") + ("meeting") R ("king", as in Rex)
13 Child I locked in shed (5)
BAIRN - I ("I") inside ("locked in") BARN ("shed")
Aw. I believe this is a Scottish word.
14 Interior of Roman villa that goes under the hammer (5)
ANVIL - letters inside ("interior of") ROMAN VILLA
16 Offer I had received [to be] head of the board (9)
PRESIDENT - PRESENT ("offer"), I'D ("I had") inside ("received")
17 Mistake to give away pounds [for] small drink (3)
SIP - SLIP ("mistake") without ("to give away") L ("pounds")
19 Rescue first piece of valuable silver put into auction (7)
SALVAGE - first letter of ("first piece of") VALUABLE ("valuable") + AG ("silver", on the periodic table") inside ("put into") SALE ("auction")
21 Estuary commonly brown (5)
UMBER - HUMBER ("estuary") without H ("commonly", like Eliza Doolittle, say)
This was the first British body of water I didn't know...
22 In two places? Sporadically (4,3,5)
HERE AND THERE - double definition


1 Round area lug a measure of gold (5)
CARAT - around ("round") A ("area"), CART ("lug")
Good wordplay, rivalling a 15x15.
2 Purple [and] gold mountain in east (9)
AUBERGINE - AU ("gold") + BERG ("mountain") + IN ("in") + E ("east")
3 Reproduction of "Magpie sitting" [is] exact copy (8,5)
SPITTING IMAGE - anagram of ("reproduction of") MAGPIE SITTING ("magpie sitting")
4 Tending to reproduce a libel (6)
LIABLE - anagram ("reproduce") A LIBEL ("a libel")
Boo for using the same anagram indicator in two successive clues!
5 Heritage organisation [that has] everyone’s confidence? (8,5)
NATIONAL TRUST - double definition; the latter, tounge-in-cheek... er, TONGUE-in-cheek
6 While speaking, bring in vase (3)
URN - homophone of ("while speaking") EARN ("bring in")
7 Hardy: the word one associates with this / tree (6)
LAUREL - double definition, the first referring to the 20th century comedic duo, Laurel and Hardy.
"As Chairman of the Welcoming Committee, it is my privilege to extend a laurel and hearty handshake to our new..." —Blazing Saddles
12 Girl horrid about brother? Possible to be separated (9)
DIVISIBLE - DI ("girl") + VILE ("horrid") around ("about") SIB ("brother?", for instance)
13 Sort of surgery / not found in town centre? (6)
BYPASS - double definition; the second referring to a road that avoids a well-travelled area, for instance a town center
Not exactly sure what is being driven at here... maybe the town in question is by the mountains? EDIT thanks to kevingregg
15 Separate name [for] river (6)
SEVERN - SEVER ("separate") + N ("name")
...and this was the second.
18 Bag perfect to hold shilling (5)
PURSE - PURE ("perfect") around ("to hold") S ("shilling")
20 Relax [and] tell a story (3)
LIE - double definition; the first not precisely substitutable but probably getting at 'lie down'.

Times Cryptic 27122

Solving time: 44 minutes with one error at 5dn. Not easy with some slightly unusual words.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1161 by Orpheus

Having got no joy in several clues in the top half, I ducked down to the SW and built the grid up from there. Last two standing when everything else was complete were 17ac and loi 10ac. 8:31 which is faster than I expected from a slow start.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1160 by Juno

Solving time: 9 minutes

Juno is a rare visitor to QC-land, this being only the 6th puzzle he/she has posted for our delight. The first was QC65 which appeared on 6 June 2014 and was themed to mark  the 70th anniversary on that date of the D-Day landings with 'Juno' being the code name of one of the Normandy beaches. I don't think there is a theme today*. Much of this puzzle is straightforward but there are one or two trickier clues to keep us on our toes.

*Later edit:  Please see Kevin's comment below (timed at 04:07). Emily Bronte was born 200 years ago this year.

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36'50" for this, which is bang on my own personal NITCH. However, if you were to think that this was my average solving time, you would, I'm afraid, be gravely mistaken, as the SNITCH counts only correctly completed entries 'submitted with leaderboard' on the Times crossword website. So, given that I often go over my SNITCH average on tougher crosswords, where I am more likely to get one or two wrong or to have to look up one or two and therefore (rather happily, if the truth be told) disqualify myself from submitting with leaderboard, I would hazard that my real average is in the 40-45 minute range. And, then I cast my mind back and wonder, has there ever been a time since the invention of the SNITCH that I have taken forever and looked none up and got none wrong, but have decided nonetheless to submit without leaderboard to save face. Perish the thought!

I reckon this was a little easier than average but rather tougher than your average Monday puzzle. Having lived out of Blighty for so long, BARISTA is a word that came up on me unawares only a few years ago. I was intrigued at first, thinking that the men and women so named had taken a degree (or at least a diploma) in coffee-making, travelling to Costa Rica and Mexico and perhaps doing an elective or two in fair trade, organics, and mindfulness and compassion. Sadly, as in so much else in my life, I was disappointed when I discovered that every Tomasz, Dirk and Henryk working at Starbucks at Heathrow was called a barrista. How those ladies who used to serve up coffee and chicory at Lyons' Corner Houses must be turning in their graves!

On review, this setter likes his/her question marks as much as I love my exclamation marks!


1 Frequently pressure will be absorbed by broadcaster gaining influence (4,5)
SOFT POWER - OFT P in SOWER (broadcaster); a silly phrase meaning the ability to manipulate through culture, coffee etc. Apparently, the UK is the top peddler of SOFT POWER in the world, which means the laugh is on them, I reckon.
6 US lawyer impounding most of long rural residence (5)
DACHA -ACH[e] in DA; every Russian novel has a dacha and a samovar. Me, excepting War and Peace and anything by Dostoevsky, I prefer your French novels. The Red and the Black by Stendhal (who I thought was Scandinavian until recently) is particularly racy...
9 Café worker? A man filling bill is recalled (7)
BARISTA -reversal of A (SIR [man] in TAB [bill])
10 I guarantee I rejected further broadcast about son (7)
INSURER - similar device to the previous clue: I (S in reversal or RERUN [further broadcast])
11 Closer and closer to ritual at church (5)
LATCH - [ritua]L AT CH
12 Intimidating male taken to court over cartel (9)
HECTORING - HE CT O RING. An excuse (as if I need one) to plug CS Lewis's magnificent oration warning against 1ac
13 Huge energy sustaining Republican bodyguard (5)
14 It'll have a drop of arsenic in various portions, perhaps (3-6)
RAT-POISON - A (drop/first letter of Arsenic) in PORTIONS*
17 The writer's recalled nineteen characters around Northern American state (9)
MINNESOTA - N (north) in MINE reversal of A TO S (first 19 letters of the alphabet)
18 Ecstatic state offering no new suggestion (5)
19 Get program to stop after girl's taken aback (9)
22 Inlet having run in a fraction, not loudly (5)
FIRTH - R in FI[f]TH
24 Alcoholic drink: writer, a bit cut, will get stuck into brew (7)
25 Odd bits of opal and blue interrupted by marks in pale brown (7)
OATMEAL - O[p]A[l] M (marks) in TEAL (blue); a colour
26 Spider perhaps found behind cold hilltop (5)
CREST - C REST (a spider is a stick used in snooker to enable a player to strike over a ball)
27 International game? Plan to include one high-flier (4,5)


1 Forecaster is upset over Times line (5)
SIBYL - reversal of IS BY L (line)
2 Eldest child initially ready to tuck into left half of bonbon? (5-4)
FIRST-BORN - R[eady] in FIRST BON (left half of BONBON)
3 Immediately make online comments over animosity surrounding society (4-5)
4 Newspaper feature teacher edited with software (7,8)
5 Exhibit mammalian consequences of the foregoing? (4,4,3,4)
RAIN CATS AND DOGS - um, yes, well this is a somewhat strained cryptic definition of a quirky nature, where it has to be said that rain being as it were equivalent to a weather forecast is a bit of a stretch, even in Blighty. 'The foregoing' refers to the previous clue, of course.
6 Dancing talent that’s new? Not very (5)
DISCO - DISCO[very]; Susan Boyle was discovered on Britain's Got Talent; Screamer Easton on Esther Rantzen's The Big Time
7 Garment I'd picked up after a lot of consideration (5)
CARDI - CAR[e] ID reversed
8 Superior approach in developing organ care (9)
13 My acting's pulled apart as sort of vigorous (9)
GYMNASTIC - MY ACTINGS*; perhaps the literal is 'vigorous'. I am open to offers
15 Not agreeing how you might get pets? (3,2,4)
OUT OF STEP - an anagram of PETS is STEP, so you can get pets OUT OF STEP
16 Place for flights? Primarily soaring through atmosphere successfully (9)
STAIRWELL - S[oaring] T[hrough] AIR WELL
20 Anger? Private investigator quite expressing it (5)
PIQUE - PI QU[it]E getting rid of (expressing) IT
21 Throw out online winner having no alternative (5)
EVICT - similar device to the previous clue: E VICT[or] getting rid of OR (alternative)
23 Entertainer bringing in latest from musical composer (5)
HOLST - [musica]L in HOST
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. 4D is a perfect example.

This was a very pleasant middle-of-the-road puzzle. In the clues definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments. I’m a bit pushed this week as we are about to take a short break, so I’ve not had time to fully resolve 31A – apologies.


1 Beast who shouts about being dry (7)
CRITTER: CRI(TT)ER; cowboy slang for a cow;
6 Dope, we hear, groans dejectedly (5)
SIGHS: sounds like “size” (dope=a thick liquid or semi-liquid like size);
10 Part of transmission is unsafe? Son to set firm (10)
CRANKSHAFT: CRANK-S-HAFT; set firm=HAFT; main shaft of the engine;
11 Pop turning a blind eye to fine column (4)
ANTA: (F)ANTA; pop=Fanta=awful fizzy drink;
12 A teacher backing cool cupidity (7)
AVARICE: A-(RAV reversed)-ICE; teacher=RAV;
14 Is one in an indefinitely large number a mug? (5)
STEIN: ‘S-TE(I)N; TEN=indefinitely large number according to Chambers; memories of Munich!
16 Old noble’s role seen in a new light (4)
EORL: (role)*; old word for earl – worth remembering;
17 Bit of ornamentation with its native dress (7)
OKIMONO; O(rnamentation)-KIMONO; ah, so;
19 Clear about one wiped out pressing hint? (9, two words)
CARE,LABEL: (clear)*-ABEL; Cane’s victim=ABEL; laundry instructions;
22 Weaken with a sailor’s progress round it (9, two words)
23 Explain once new e-reader (7)
ARREED: (e-reader)*;
25 Fish about for purpose (4)
IDEA: IDE-A; about=A;
29 Some people’s weeds are virtually amongst yours (5)
YARRS: Y(AR-e)RS; dialect for the corn spurrey, me dear;
30 Large edible fish beside butter reservoir (7)
GHILGAI: GHI-L-GAI; butter=GHI; (nanny)GAI=fish;
31 Active Scots swan off, coming back poorly (4)
SEIK: (bir)KIES reversed, I think; I know active Scots=birkies but not sure how “rib”=”swan”; SEIK is Scots for sick, poorly;
32 Allies together bury furore from the east (10)
33 Sniffer is streaked with veins, but not very (5)
E-NOSE: (v)ENOSE; electronic spaniel;
34 Editing suddenly fired up (7)
IGNITED: (editing)*; suddenly=unexpectedly=anagram indicator;


1 Quarry gets in civil engineer (5)
2 Find burrow’s littlest? (10, three words)
3 Surprisingly it cures jaundice (7)
ICTERUS: (it cures)*;
4 I tidy up aged ribbons (7)
TAENIAE: (I-NEAT reversed)-AE;
5  ____ and a Romeo, possibly (9)
ENAMORADO: (and a Romeo)*;
6 Hand up (ie, renounce) advice for accountants initially (4)
SSAP: PASS reversed; Statement of Standard Accounting Practice;
7 Holy state raised welcome with pun (5)
IHRAM: HI reversed – RAM; pun=RAM; holy state enjoyed by Muslim pilgrims to Mecca;
8 Way of walking through German island (4)
9 Small bits of cauli picked up following leaves — they’re waxy (7)
STEROLS: S-(f)LORETS all reversed; f=following; solid, waxy, alcohols such as cholesterol;
13 Call round under no circumstances with independent realism (10, two words)
CINE,VERITE: CI(NEVER-I)TE; I still remember seeing Children of Hiroshima in my teens;
15 Running through wasted weeks near clink (9)
18 Antipodean itinerant succeeded with amusing but quiet European (7)
SWAGGIE: S-WAGGI(sh)-E; a swagman;
20 Extrovert with close to unseemly affinity for diminutive mistress? (7)
LADYKIN: LAD-Y-KIN; Y from (unseemly)Y; term of endearment used as a cosmetics trademark;
21 Drive eccentricity in leading support for sitter (7)
BEDREST: BE(DR-E)ST; eccentricity=E;
24 Perhaps old evils? Meet up about a line (5)
EALES: SEE reversed surrounds A-L; Waggle-dagger misprint in Hamlet;
26 Requested air staff fly (5)
27 Sunk one’s teeth into round tropical fruit (4)
28 Man-eater consequently turned up (4)
OGRE: ERGO reversed;

I put in about half of the answers, starting with the extremely easy FLEET, in a desultory manner while watching the last half-hour of a too-long and somewhat preposterous movie (which had a nice twist at the end, though). Those answers went in with hardly any pondering. The rest of the puzzle was just a bit chewier. But there was one answer I could not think of at all totally unaided.

(gamarans)* like this, definitions underlined…


 1 Monk’s Fiat on hill (8)
BENEDICT—“Fiat” being EDICT, stuck on BEN, “hill.” I saw the first word as “Flat” at first, which didn’t help.
 5 Short deer, goat and badger (6)
HARASS—HAR(t) + ASS (“goat” in the sense applied to a person)
 9 Might one entertain soldiers for dinner? (8)
ANTEATER—Cryptic definition. I think the poor ants would consider this stretching the definition of “entertain” a bit.
10 Second pink wine is sour (6)
MOROSE—MO(ment) = “Second,” “pink” = ROSE.
12 Musical composition left on fabulous ship (5)
LARGO—L on ARGO. This is more properly a musical notation of tempo, and may identify a movement.
13 Obstruct modern portico being built across two lakes (9)
STONEWALL—A bit convoluted, with “modern,” i.e., NEW, with a “portico,” STOA, spanning it, and then two Ls for “lakes,” with nothing crossing them.
14 Using gas with caution—about to enter underground tunnels (6,6)
RABBIT WARREN—To solve this, you would be “Using” RABBIT (for "gas," hot air, yammering) and WARN, “caution,” with “about,” RE, entering the latter.
18 Top managers head off to centre of Heathrow to collect food—it isn’t far… (5,7)
HAIR’S BREADTH—(c)HAIRS and (Hea)TH(row), with BREAD inside.
21 … and head away from Somerset resort to handle a situation beset with problems (9)
MINEFIELD—MINE(head) + FIELD (to handle). I must’ve heard of the resort before, but I didn’t look it up until after solving.
23 Gives support to Australians about test opener (5)
ROOTS—That’s (kanga)ROOS about T(est). Rah rah.
24 Private note hidden in camp (6)
25 Safer net transported catch (8)
FASTENER—(Safer net)*
26 Moderately attractive (6)
PRETTY—Double Definition
27 Pick large crumpet looking fresh on the outside (8)
PLECTRUM—(crumpet)* with L for “large” on the inside


 1 Big bird carries black dog (6)
BEAGLE—B on top of EAGLE.
 2 A heavyweight upset railway official (6)
 3 Interpreters start to discuss part of New Testament about silver (9)
DRAGOMANS—D(iscuss) + R(AG)OMANS. Interpreters and guides, especially in countries speaking Arabic, Turkish, or Persian. Their heyday was the Ottoman Empire. They knew European languages too. I had to give up on trying to parse DIAGONALS to somehow have something to do with “translators.” But this shouldn’t have been so difficult! After all, the only six-letter “part of the New Testament” is the sixth book, Romans! And DRAGOMAN(S) is a word I’ve certainly seen before, though I’m not sure I ever knew it meant a translator (and I will never forget that now). It is surely, and by far, the most interesting word to be found in this week’s lot, with a complicated and variegated etymological background… studying which makes clear why DRAGOMEN is not the plural, nor are there any DRAGOWOMEN.
 4 See nervous merchant when speaking on revolutionary fast food (12)
CHEESEBURGER—(See)* + BURGER (sounds like “burgher”), tacked onto our perennial “revolutionary” CHE. We had a discussion about the use of “on” in clues here recently. I think the “rules” or recommendations are supposed to apply more specifically to the dailies, but it seemed to me logical that in a vertical clue the part “on” the other part would be on top, whereas in an Across, it seems to most often be placed after the other part (putting something on something else implying that the something else was already there). But this consideration only occurred to me days after working this. And, as we can see with LARGO here, the conclusion to be drawn from all this is really that anything goes.
 6 Got up with a bourbon, say (5)
AROSE—Another ROSE, how nice to have two. A “bourbon” is a type of the flower.
 7 Attempt to hold a doctor following a very old scientist (8)
AVOGADRO—His first appearance this week, as he also showed up in a daily. “Attempt” is GO, holding DR for “doctor, following A V(ery) O(ld).
 8 South London district in Bexley is an area suffering inflation (8)
SWELLING—S + WELLING, a London district. Adding “in Bexley” may be extremely helpful to British solvers, but I could only work the clue by ignoring that part. I just assumed there was someplace in London called WELLING (if not someplace in South London called SWELLING). Looked it up later.
11 Halt donation that’s corrupt with utmost force (5,3,4)
TOOTH AND NAIL—(Halt donation)*
15 A group of preservationists take lorry around cold area to the south (9)
ANTARCTIC—A + N(ational) T(rust) + AR(C)TIC. I’m sure I first heard of the NT from The Beatles, Lennon’s “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”: “A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust.” I could never figure out whether it was the impression or the wife that were eaten, and how either could be donated after having been consumed.
16 Green light gets bus ruined in crash (6-2)
17 Get container for rubbish and clean new housing for sailors? (8)
BINNACLE—BIN + (clean)* Actually housing for some nautical equipment onboard.
19 Meet at Queen’s Snug? (6)
JOINER— JOIN with ("at") "Queen" ER (who else?). At first I thought a “snug” (deceptive capitalization?) might be a term for a kind of device also known as a “joiner,” but of course this is the name of one of the colorful characters, a joiner by trade, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
20 Hostel has awful butter (6)
ASHRAM—(has)* + RAM. “Hostel” is a little vague as a definition. It is typically a retreat for religious devotees.
22 Many ships moving rapidly (5)
FLEET—Double Definition.

Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1336 - 4th August

When this was published, I was in the middle of a trienniel reunion with friends who started singing together over 40 years ago, meeting for a few days to sing at the services in Southwell Minster. A couple of my fellow singers said they did the Jumbo every week and had tried this and found it hard to get started. Oo er, I thought. Then I came to solve it a couple of days later. Yes it took me a while to get started too, but in the end it was not too much harder than average, taking me a little over an hour. There is a good smattering of clever clues that were fun to decipher. COD goes to SCHILLING for the nicely misdirecting definition "out-of-date bread". So thank-you setter for an enjoyable puzzle. How did you all find it? Which clues delighted or frustrated you?
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Many will have encountered difficulties with the club site this weekend, so online times may be uncertain. I solved on paper in 33 minutes, so comparable to last week’s, although it felt if anything a little easier. My LOI was 13ac, an unusual word with common letters as checkers, but my clue of the day was the very clever 9ac. 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 {curly brackets}.

1 Fairly good and soft like fur (8)
PASSABLE: P (soft), AS (like), SABLE (fur). A gentle one to start.

9 Comment on what one needs to make a mate a man (8)
ANNOTATE: the 1ac honeymoon didn’t last long! To make “mate” into “man”, you need the last few letters of the word to be “AN”, NOT “ATE”. I eventually biffed this, and deferred the parsing until I got to writing this blog. Luckily this style of clue doesn’t happen often, because I always find it hard to see!

10 Get amazed with temperature in star (4)
STUN: T (temperature) in SUN (star). Not sure the definition quite works. Isn’t “to get amazed” more like “to be stunned”?

11 Good and ancient flag against which others are to be compared (4,8)
GOLD STANDARD: G (good), OLD (ancient), STANDARD (flag). A fine collection of oldies in a standard clue, one might suggest?

13 Transport complex tickets sold in a book (6)
CARNET: CAR (transport), NET (“complex”, as a noun). I’ve never heard a ticket described as a carnet in real life. Does it still happen?

14 Finished by Tuesday? That’s about right for this work (8)
OVERTURE: OVER (finished), TUE (Tuesday) “about” R (right). I liked the faint irony in the surface of the clue.

15 Being concerned about daughter’s combing and cleaning (7)
CARDING: CARING (concerned) around D (daughter). The reference is to the process of preparing wool, say, for spinning.

16 Mangle attacking player without resistance (7)
WRINGER: WINGER “without” (outside) R. “Mangle” is another word that seems to have dropped out of use in this context. Perhaps it’s the unfortunate overtones of the word’s other meaning!

20 Plot summary appearing as Arsenic and Old Lace? (8)
SCENARIO: (ARSENIC O*). A cute anagram indicator!

22 Lamp’s working with a gas that’s ionised (6)

23 In a low bar, he’s recording for tacky band (8,4)
ADHESIVE TAPE: HES in A DIVE, then TAPE (recording).

25 Overall of satinette (4)
NETT: hidden in {sati}NETT{e}.

26 Backer for theatre and opera company, one from Hollywood, perhaps (8)
ANGELENO: ANGEL (theatre backer), ENO (English National Opera). A resident of Los Angeles.

27 Annoying learner leaving truck having broken panel over wheel (8)
WORRYING: {l}ORRY inside (“having broken”) WING (panel over wheel – what in my parts is called a mudguard).

2 More than one robot car to snarl up area (8)
AUTOMATA: AUTO (car), MAT (to snarl up, as in the expression “matted hair”), A (area).

3 Fuss arising from Sinatra’s activities? (4,3,5)
SONG AND DANCE: double definition.

4 News report shot at home (8)
BULLETIN: BULLET (shot), IN (at home).

5 In which one may hear others confused about answer (7)
EARSHOT: (OTHERS*) outside (“about”) A (answer).

6 How many chess games end for prisoner, perhaps (6)
INMATE: chess games often end IN (check-) MATE.

7 Delay over a special sports meeting (4)
GALA: LAG reversed (“over”), then A.

8 Try introducing skinned badger hats (8)
HEADGEAR: HEAR (try) “introduces” {b}ADGE{r}.

12 Union organiser in company serving archaeologists? (6,6)
DATING AGENCY: double definition. The second is a whimsical allusion to carbon dating of archaeological finds.

15 Rejected actors over 42nd Street, for one (8)
CASTAWAY: CAST (actors), over A WAY. I am not sure what’s going on here. Is 42nd Street just an example of a road/way, or is there something more clever?

17 Perhaps watch theatre with one certain to scoff (8)
REPEATER: REP (theatre), EATER (one who scoffs). I knew the expression “repeater watch”, but had no idea what it was. Now I've checked, I don't know why you'd want one! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeater_(horology)

18 Men do not travel in this city (8)

19 One way or another pig keeps untidy home (7)
SOMEHOW: (HOME*) inside SOW.

21 Bankrupt regretted keeping fashionable (6)

24 Tango leaves part of leg extended above the normal level (4)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1159 by Tracy

A typically neat and entertaining puzzle from Tracy today. Not too hard - it took me just under my average solving time, but with plenty to think about and some educating byways of vocabulary and general knowledge. A couple of classic cryptic devices for informing those still learning the trade are included too. Just how a QC should be, I think. I enjoyed checking up on where that European river actually flowed, the origin of the generic name for a crane and the music hall song I'd never heard before... the delights of blogging, not just solving the puzzle. What fun! Thanks, Tracy. How did you all get on?
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Obviously things can go either way on a Friday, but this was a relatively straightforward puzzle and so I was able to finish it and bash out a quick blog in time to leave on my jet plane from YVR to LGW, phew! Normal levels of verlaine service to be resumed as of next week.

Some very likeable clues in here with a combination of fun ideas and good surfaces. I think my favourites were probably the cryptically simple but adorable 12ac (how does he smell? terrible!) and the excellent lift-and-separate "customs inspector" clue at 22dn. Thanks setter!

1 Kitty chasing second little bit (4)
SPOT - POT [kitty] chasing S [second]

4 Pact remade with island united behind surrender (10)
CAPITULATE - (PACT + I*) ["remade"] + U LATE [united | behind]

9 Confined by police — suspect one soundly beaten? (10)
KETTLEDRUM - KETTLED RUM [confined by police | suspect]. A punny definition, meaning more "one beaten to produce sound", I reckon.

10 Elite soldiers bashing in middle window frame (4)
SASH - SAS [elite soldiers] + {bas}H{ing}

11 Many practise religion secretly at first (6)
DOZENS - DO ZEN [practise | religion] + S{ecretly}

12 My poor dog's nose! (8)
GOODNESS - (DOG'S NOSE*) ["poor"]

14 Chatter idly when leaving King's Head (4)
PATE - P{r}ATE [chatter idly, losing its R(=king)]

15 Bundle of nerves wrecking old car on short trip (6,4)
SPINAL CORD - (OLD CAR*) ["wrecking"] on SPIN [short trip]

17 Waste left in more open land running out to sea (10)
WILDERNESS - L [left] in WIDER [more open] + NESS [land running out to sea]

20 Two girls regularly finding work (4)
TOIL - T{w}O {g}I{r}L{s}

21 Woman must go without instant dessert (8)
SEMOLINA - SELINA [woman] must go without MO [instant]

23 Constant pain and temperature? Here's capsule! (6)
CACHET - C ACHE [constant | pain] and T [temperature]

24 Fate of Scandinavians alternatively featured in news? (4)
NORN - OR [alternatively] featured in N N [(two) news]. The Norns in Scandinavian mythology were the goddesses of fate, and named Urd, Verdandi and Skuld, give or take an ETH from 8dn or two.

25 Cold rook shovelled in not fit to eat — or unusually good! (10)
INCREDIBLE - C R [cold | rook] shovelled in INEDIBLE [not fit to eat]

26 Rebel group in 19 having need for speedy action (10)
INSURGENCY - IN S [in | society] having URGENCY [need for speedy action]

27 One such being goat starts to meander on the heath (4)
MOTH - M{eander} O{n} T{he} H{eath}. Cossus cossus, the goat moth.

2 Right pair get over split (11)

3 Appropriate document to be landed with? (5,4)
TITLE DEED - cryptic def; if you are landed you are a land owner and may well have a title deed proving such...

4 Regime originally coming in stops wrinkles (7)
CREASES - R{egime} coming in CEASES [stops]

5 Training on rifle-range, shot blue bird (9,6)
PEREGRINE FALCON - P.E. [training] + (RIFLE RANGE*) ["shot"] + CON [blue (as in Tory)]

6 Drum roll to precede this lottery's result? (7)
TOMBOLA - cryptic def, as you spin around a drum before picking a winner in a tombola

7 Wide open love Christian shows (5)
AGAPE - double def (very different pronunciations though!)

8 Sailor accompanies ancient character in spirit (5)
ETHOS - O.S. [sailor (Ordinary Seaman)] accompanies ETH [ancient character]. I thought ETH might have been Hebrew but in fact it's that d with a cross at the top that you see in Icelandic.

13 Ritual discouraged in managed accommodation (7,4)
SERVICE FLAT - SERVICE [ritual] + FLAT [discouraged]. Flat as in "lacking interest/emotion".

16 Problem is Mass involving eastern religious instruction (9)
CATECHISM - CATCH IS M [problem | is | mass] involving E [eastern]

18 Two swimmers, the first heard making complaint (7)
RAILING - the two swimmers (fish) are RAY and LING, but it's just a homophone of the first one here.

19 Company very close to collapse in financial district (7)
SOCIETY - SO [very] + {collaps}E in CITY [financial district]

21 Offence attracts fine where law handed down (5)
SINAI - SIN [offence] attracts A1 [fine]; God's law was handed down to Moses on tablets there.

22 Customs inspector hauling last couple up (5)
MORES - the inspector is MORSE; reverse the last couple of letters.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1158 by Izetti

I threw in the towel at the 18 minute mark with a guess at 23ac and a made-up anagram of "female" at 10ac. Lots of tricky cluing with surfaces that read seamlessly and required a fair amount of unpicking, so a lovely puzzle but very much on the tougher end of things - many thanks to Izetti!

7 A stone that's been turned over is huge (4)
MEGA - A GEM (a stone) turned over = reverse
8 USA sure to get excited about old philosopher (8)
ROUSSEAU - anagram (excited) of USA SURE about O(ld)
9 Intimidating company faction (6)
COWING - CO. (company) WING (faction)
10 Facing change, see female wobble (6)
FALTER - on the "face" of ALTER (change) see F(emale). With F_L_E_ and a FEMALE "wobbling", I bunged in FALEEM, hoping a "facing change" is a term used in plastic surgery... for what? An unintended realignment of skin and features following a cheap, superficial facelift? Yes, quite possibly.
11 Quiet deed brings agreement (4)
PACT - P (piano - quiet) ACT (deed)
12 Reckon car may go across motorway after spinning round (8)
ESTIMATE - ESTATE (car) to go across IM (M1 = motorway, spinning round)
15 Supporting insincere person, one puts forward an idea (8)
PROPOSER - If you're pro a poser, or PRO-POSER, you would be supporting an insincere person.
17 Opponent of Henry VIII to a greater extent (4)
MORE - double definition. He was already a saint, but in October 2000 Pope John Paul II made Sir Tommy the patron saint of Statesmen and Politicians. Well, St Jude had already bagged the lost causes and desperate cases gig, hadn't he?
18 Talk about the French holiday home? (6)
CHALET - CHAT (talk) about/around LE (the, French)
21 Pale-looking old rocker sought by police? (6)
WANTED - WAN (pale-looking) TED (old rocker)
22 Member of club managed to contain a riot somehow (8)
ROTARIAN - RAN (managed) to contain an anagram (somehow) of A RIOT. A member of the Rotary Club apparently.
23 Stupid person gets the bird (4)
LOON - double definition. Yet another bird I've either never heard of or will quickly forget ever having done so.
1 Jaunty female socialite once performing song (8)
DEBONAIR - DEB (debutante: female socialite once) ON (performing) AIR (song)
2 Terrible stir about Bill being a prejudiced person (6)
RACIST - anagram (terrible) of STIR about AC (account - bill)
3 Advance publicity given to ferocious woman (8)
PROGRESS - PR (publicity) given to OGRESS (ferocious woman)
4 Fruit brought up after one’s removed earth (4)
TURF - TIURF = fruit brought up/reversed with I (one) removed.
5 Shelter unknown character in a deprived area (6)
ASYLUM - Y (unknown character) in A SLUM (a deprived area)
6 Establish arts graduates must have English (4)
BASE - BAs (arts graduates) to have E(nglish)
13 Chucking object containing string (8)
THROWING - THING (object) containing ROW (string). I couldn't get "twine" out of my head.
14 Aroused? This may suggest no! (6,2)
TURNED ONA turned "on" becomes "no", no? I lethargically love this type of clue. Like a good cryptic definition clue, it makes you re-evaluate a commonplace word. Children do it routinely; adults should do so more than they do.
16 What to expect — badly penned column (6)
PILLAR - PAR (what to expect) has ILL (badly - "to think __ of") penned in.
17 Crush has fellow getting broken leg (6)
MANGLE - MAN (fellow) gets an anagram (broken) of LEG
19 House with old books — indication of wise old bird? (4)
HOOT - H (house) with O (old) OT (Old Testament - books)
20 Work until 1.50 (4)
TOIL -  TO (until) I (one) L (fifty).
I’m not currently solving at top speed, and this certainly chewed up a good 30 minutes, not helped by offering a (valid?) alternative at 1 across which created a need at 2 down for a physicist I didn’t know instead of the one I did.
An interesting grid, with 2 clues you didn’t need to solve, though being a slave to duty I did anyway. I still have one clue that I can’t quite see, and am inclined to think has a bit missing.
All I’ll say about the vocab is that there’s nothing I didn’t have in my collection. Clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS are all indicated below.

1 Spurn hand from below? (4,2)
PASS UP Two definitions, either of which could have been, and were in my grid for a long time, GIVE UP
5 Start with a set of clubs, maybe, and something for putting on (4,4)
JUMP SUIT A slightly up-market onesie, I suppose. Start as in react in surprise gives JUMP, and in cards, a set of clubs is a SUIT
9 Row of onions, perhaps second chopped (8)
DOMESTIC Police slang for a disturbance in a home. DOMES are onions (or onion-shaped) on, say St Basil’s in Moscow, second is TICK, chop off the K
10 Proof, legally suspect, one left out (6)
GALLEY In printing, a first impression of typeset text. Anagram (suspect) of LEGALLY minus one L(eft)
11 Boxer’s ruin spooks opponent (8)
MARCIANO The original Rocky. Now then, I get ruin for MAR and CIA is given by spooks opponent (ie counterspies). But I can’t find the NO. Unless the spooks are the CIA and so their opponent is CIA NO, but I don’t really feel that. On reflection: I suppose a no is an opposing voter. Will that do?
12 Spectator possibly in front of goal a centre of attraction (6)
MAGNET The Spectator is a weekly MAGazine, once edited by BoJo, and in footie the goal can be referred to as the NET
13 Liverpool player tackled delivering cross? (3-5)
RED-FACED Liverpool FC traditionally play in an all-RED strip, and tackled gives FACED. Red-faced is probably more angry or cross rather than embarrassed these days with the rise of “gammon” as a term for easily angered older white men, typically Brexit supporters.
15 Leek is one token of Welsh nationhood, primarily (4)
TOWN First letters of Token Of Welsh Nationhood. My nomination for CoD
“I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day.”
“I wear it for a memorable honour; for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman”
17 Example of daily goodness (1,3)
I SAY The I, formerly little sister of the Independent, and strictly lower case is a daily paper. So example of daily is i, say.
19 Call on eg stews for protein (8)
COLLAGEN Anagram (stews) of CALL ON EG
20 Approval total? Hardly! (2,4)
NO DICE Or NOD (approval) and ICE (total, as in total with extreme prejudice, kill)
21 Sporting event that’s driving people mad initially cancelled for good (4,4)
ROAD RACE Driving people mad are in the grip of ROAD RAGE. Swap out the G(ood) for initially C(ancelled)
22 Backward lad is going to set about A levels (6)
LLANOS South American plains, very flat. Reverse SON’LL (lad will) around A. Timely clue, as A level results are out today.
23 Fat landlord finally getting rent (8)
DRIPPING As in bread and dripping, for us kids a real treat but for our impoverished parents a cheap option of cooking detritus as a spread. Yum. Last letter of landlorD with ripping for getting rent/torn
24 See you within days accumulate capital (8)
DAMASCUS OK, so here we have two homophone letters, C and U set within D(ays) and AMASS for accumulate
25 Come by on ramble bringing device (6)
GADGET Ramble: GAD (via wander about) and come by: GET

2 Briefly declare a doctor in turn a physicist (8)
AVOGADRO known for his number (the number of atoms or molecules in one mole of a substance, equal to 6.023 × 1023 ) Briefly declare is AVO(w), the place  A D(octo)R inside GO for turn.
3 Fruit-bearer potentially upset girl scoffing sandwiches (4,4)
SEED CORN DEE is today’s random girl, reversed and sandwiched by SCORN for scoffing
4 Fancy a top-up? I’d originally taken scotch (3,4,2)
PUT PAID TO An anagram (fancy) of A TOP UP I’D plus the first letter of Taken
5 Mastercard this is not! (4,2,3,6)
JACK OF ALL TRADES The mot continues as ...and master of none. A somewhat whimsical clue you can dig the answer out of.
6 Notice rat crossing river after climbing mountain (7)
PLACARD The climbing mountain is ALP reversed, plus CAD for rat surrounding R(iver)
7 EU slings out objectionable state (8)
UGLINESS Anagram (out) of EU SLINGS, a barely-veiled commentary on the no-deal solution
8 Tinkers with politician’s picture (3,5)
TOY STORY Picture as in film. Tinkers: TOYS, politician: TORY
14 Fancy cutting our tongue! Crazy! (9)
ENGRAVING Our tongue is ENG(lish) and crazy: RAVING
15 Shone on and off in match pack ultimately controlled (8)
TWINKLED Match gives TWIN, last letter of pacK, controlled: LED
16 Force within coil prime source of power (4,4)
WIND FARM F(orce) placed within coil: WIND and prime: ARM. If you prime a weapon, you arm it.
17 Bold time traveller stopping at home with the papers? (8)
INTREPID Traveller is REP (as in travelling salesman), with at home: IN and papers: ID the bits it stops.
18 Port in old heavyweight container, note (8)
ALICANTE Our second boxing superstar is, of course, ALI, container CAN, random note TE
19 Giant moan heard around docks (7)
CYCLOPS CY sounds like Sigh (moan) (no argument from me!) around is C, and docks: LOPS.
Today is a public holiday in my neck of the woods - Assumption - so I have a much needed respite from the daily grind of trekking 220 km by taxi, at the nation's expense, for a 10 minute treatment. And only 2 more to go, so, soon I shall have my life back, for a while.
I was able to solve this at leisure, sitting still, and found it a pleasant, middle-of-the-road puzzle, nothing too obscure or controversial, a 22 minute solve and only one clue - 1a - required a look-up afterwards to make sure I wasn't in Cloud Cuckoo Land. And so 1a is a fitting clue for a largely Catholic holiday, as is 21d. And the chap with the razor must have been a crossword fan.

1 Decorative work in cape and vestment (7)
CROCHET - C for cape, ROCHET is a white dress worn by Catholic (and some Anglican?) priests in a choir situation. I remember my gran's fingers moving at warp speed doing this without taking her eyes off the television.
5 Getting into beds, start to abandon clothes (5)
COATS - A starts abandon, goes into COTS = beds. I think CLOTHES here is a verb.
9 Encourage holy person after word of disapproval (5)
BOOST - ST for Saint, after BOO.
10 Teddy hugging wife in long apparel on holiday? (9)
BEACHWEAR - W for wife inside ACHE for long inside BEAR for teddy.
11 Rough during performance that involves old flame (7)
INEXACT - My LOI because I couldn't spell 8d properly and had 11a beginning with an S. Twit. EX for old flame, inside IN ACT for during performance.
12 Rev. is about to lead church worship (7)
SERVICE - (REV IS)* followed by CE for church.
13 Region of USA to horrify a nameless pal (10)
APPALACHIA - APPAL = horrify, CHINA = pal loses his N. One presumes, the area of USA where one finds the Appalachian Mountains, of which one had heard.
15 Bird in head ornament with tail knocked off (4)
CROW - CROWN loses its tail.
18 Community to triumph, but one missing out (4)
TOWN - TO WIN = to triumph, lose the I.
20 Say word of warning to players, having got cross enough (3,7)
FOR EXAMPLE - FORE ! = word of warning, to golfers; X = cross, AMPLE = enough.
23 Religious group of idiots enthralling a thousand (7)
MORMONS - MORONS enthrall an M.
24 Vehicle, traveller round planet, featured in diagram (7)
CHARIOT - CHART = diagram, insert IO a moon which travels around Jupiter.
25 Moggy kept by doddery oldies is put out (9)
26 Blank out needing peace? That's about right (5)
ERASE - EASE = peace, insert an R.
27 Composer has meal, finishing early (5)
SUPPE - SUPPER ends early. Franz von Suppé, chap born in Split in 1819, d. 1895, wrote light opera and jolly overtures. He looks like Edward VII's decoy man.
28 Miss sent in a spin by your old man? (7)
TIMOTHY - Miss = OMIT, in a spin = TIMO, add THY = 'your old'. Just a random man's name. Not great.
1 Intimate photo of couples misbehaving (5-2)
CLOSE-UP - (COUPLES)* it's that easy.
2 Terribly foul salt water discharges (8)
OUTFALLS - (FOUL SALT)* it's that easy.
3 Way sailor gets into clobber (5)
HABIT - AB = sailor inside HIT = clobber, as Ben Stokes can get away with it appears.
4 Vehicle dropping one with prominent church feature to be discovered (9)
5 Enclosed space with house for university group (6)
COHORT - COURT = enclosed space; replace the U with HO for house.
6 Provocative goddess, one reclining in studio (7)
ATELIER - ATE was the Greek goddess of mischief, delusion, ruin and folly. Add LIER for one reclining.
7 Pair in Durham, say, for drinking bout (5)
SPREE - Durham is a SEE or Bishopric, insert PR for pair.
8 Old boy beginning to enthuse is worker kowtowing to boss? (8)
OBEISANT - OB = old boy, E(nthuse), IS, ANT = worker. Stupidly I first wrote in OBESIANT which, as noted above, screwed up 11a and delayed a finish.
14 Food item in can is sort that's been processed (9)
CROISSANT - (CAN IS SORT)*. I prefer a pain au raisin.
16 Struggled with those left, then took the initiative (8)
WRESTLED -W for with, REST = those left, LED = took initiative.
17 Scottish solicitor with a wit advanced cases (3,5)
LAW AGENT - A WAG = a wit, inside LENT = advanced.
19 Notts town acts with river rising (7)
WORKSOP - WORKS = acts, then the river PO rises. I'd heard of it as the home town of golfer Lee Westwood. Apparently it's also home town to Basil Boothroyd, Donald Pleasance and Graham Taylor, although I expect they don't or didn't crow about it.
21 Quiet woman holding scripture lessons maybe in school (7)
PRIMARY - P - quiet, MARY a woman, one such whose Assumption is celebrated today, insert RI for Religious Instruction.
22 Merry man eating lettuce (6)
JOCOSE - See lettuce in a clue, think COS. Insert into JOE.
23 Unfortunate king in motorway dash coming to premature end (5)
MIDAS - M1 motorway, DAS(H). Moral of story; if things you touch turn to gold, don't touch your daughter. Go look for a Cameron, Rees-Mogg or Johnson to touch.
24 The best stuff, full of energy (5)
CREAM - Stuff = CRAM, insert E for energy.

Quick Cryptic 1157 by Hawthorn

Highly enjoyable. I was quick off the mark but soon came across those clues that were not so generous in the wordplay, and one unknown word at 11dn. Also found that 1ac, 18ac and 3dn (my LOI) were not write-ins, and I was glad of the anagrams to give me some checkers. Lots of neat and funny clues.

Definitions underlined.

1 Nursery rhyme from storytelling show cut by a third: presenter unwell (4,3,4)
JACK AND JILL - JACKANory (storrytelling show) missing the final three letters (cut by a third), then DJ (presenter, and ILL (unwell).
8 Leave the country, missing golf in Dubai? (7)
EMIRATE - EMIgRATE (leaving the country) missing the 'g' (golf, in phonetic alphabet).
9 Devil’s lair imprisoning little Maureen (5)
DEMON - DEN (lair) surrounding (imprisoning) MO (short or diminutive version of (little) Maureen).
10 We initial forms to prepare for attack (3,2,4)
LIE IN WAIT - anagram of (forms) WE INITIAL.
12 Free travel by horse without tail (3)
RID - RIDe (travel by horse) missing final letter (without tail).
13 Battles a western city (6)
WARSAW - WARS (battles), plus A and W (western).
15 Russian scientist who regularly produced a dog’s dinner? (6)
PAVLOV - cryptic definition. Pavlov repeatedly presented dogs with food whilst ringing a bell to condition their salivary response.
17 Curvature observed in turning aircraft (3)
ARC - hidden in (observed in) the reversal of (turning) airCRAft.
18 Bar supporters from the football ground? (9)
GOALPOSTS - double/cryptic defintion. One can set the minimum criteria (bar or goalposts), and the latter support the crossbar in the football ground.
20 Call for Tom to cut grass around one area (5)
MIAOW - MOW (to cut grass) surrounding I (one) and A (area).
22 Style of fancy red coat (3,4)
ART DECO - anagram of (fancy) RED COAT.
23 Suggestive short skirts with modern clothing (11)
REMINISCENT - MINIS (short skirts) with RECENT (modern) surrounding (clothing) it.

1 Drink half of just frozen water (5)
JUICE - first two letters (half) of JUst then ICE (frozen water).
2 Changing a reformed group of prisoners (5,4)
CHAIN GANG - anagram of (reformed) CHANGING A.
3 Chopper with a cross on rotating handle (6)
AXEMAN - A and X (cross) next to reversal of (rotating) NAME (handle).
4 Useless Edmund ignoring odd characters (3)
DUD - even letters from (ignoring odd characters) eDmUnD.
5 One, then two marks added to spoken exam — that’s unethical! (7)
IMMORAL - I (one), M and M (two marks) and ORAL (spoken exam).
6 Method of calculating the Great Wall of China, say? (4,8)
LONG DIVISION - double/cryptic definition.
7 Chicken with batter — or a different bird (12)
YELLOWHAMMER - YELLOW (chicken) and HAMMER (batter).
11 Re-attempt shifting diminutive bouncer (9)
TRAMPETTE - anagram of (shifting) RE-ATTEMPT.
14 Worked miracle to recover (7)
RECLAIM - anagram of (worked) MIRACLE.
16 Badger has to eat tops of radishes and swedes (6)
HARASS - HAS surrounds (to eat) first letters (tops) of Radishes And Swedes.
19 Time church benches must be lifted and brushed (5)
SWEPT - T (time) and PEWS (church benches) all reversed (lifted).
21 Success with batting (3)
WIN - W (with) and IN (batting, cricket).

Times Cryptic 27116

My solving time for this was 76 minutes over four interrupted sessions as I found it to be a toughie. I wonder if it was just me?

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Times Quick Cryptic 1156 by Pedro

LOI 8ac took a while to drop and took me to a fraction over 8 minutes. If one were to feel particularly strongly about it, one could formulate a reference to US politics in 1ac, 10dn, 8ac and hidden in 18ac - elsewhere we have some longish definitions and some mental gymnastics with the word play. I liked 15ac but COD to 19dn. All in all a satisfying QC - thank you Pedro.
Anyone not yet having attempted a prize crossword may like to have a look at last Saturday's.

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QC 1155 by Joker

Medium dificulty for me, I would say just under 10 minutes although I fielded an early morning business call in the middle which muddied the waters. But it felt like the easy side of average on my scale.

I think my FOI was 8A although looking back I can't see why it was not 5A. My brain flirted with that one, tasting it as the easiest initial prey but for some reason (probably visual association, one of the mental facilities that one generally has to try to switch off while wandering through Crossword Land) I kept thinking of POLO as in the water version. LOI was, uncommonly, 1A, as I swooped back round for the third time and twigged to 'LAY'. I think that has to be my COD too (I also liked 9A but ultimately felt that the surface was a bit laboured). In passing I wonder if the surface of 1A was at all inspired by recent news items involving Downside and Ampleforth but then I may just be oversensitive having known people who lived through St Benedict's.

Many thanks to Joker for a pleasantly challenging accompaniment to my Monday morning wake-up cup of tea.

Definitions are underlined in italics and everything else is explained just as I see it.

PS Itried to post this about an hour ago but on checking the website just now it doesn't seem to have appeared. I think I must have pressed the wrong button in my early morning haze. Doing it again now.

1 Unprofessional with boy during PE break in school (8)
PLAYTIME - LAY (unprofessional) + TIM (boy) 'during' PE.
5 Place for swimming game (4)
POOL - double definition.
7 I assembled returned article (4)
ITEM - I + TEM (MET (assembled) 'returned').
8 Menace near the front of tent, moving (8)
THREATEN - anagram ('moving') of NEAR THE + T ('front' of Tent).
9 Standards for judging writer sacrificing wife taken in by spies (8)
CRITERIA - CIA (spies) 'taking in' RITER (WRITER 'sacrificing' W (wife))
11 Suitable small apartment (3)
APT - contraction ('small') of apartment. Nearly a double definition except that the contraction isn't really a word.
13 Lines held by last Anzacs (6)
STANZA - hidden word - laST ANZAcs.
16 After start of printing, our editor’s served tea? (6)
POURED - P ('start' of Printing) + OUR ED (our editor).
18 Part of colonel’s unit (3)
ONE - hidden word - colONEl.
19 Visitor called cutting rest, unfortunately (8)
STRANGER - RANG (called) 'cutting' STER (anagram of REST ('unfortunately'))
20 Dawn’s daughter — certainly not heavy (8)
DAYLIGHT - D (daughter) + AY (certainly) + LIGHT (not heavy).
22 Make heavy demands on current vehicle (4)
TAXI - TAX (make heavy demands on) + I (the conventional physical symbol for the electrical quantity 'current'). On first reading you might think this would have to be a down clue, with TAX being 'on' I, but on closer reading 'on' falls within the surface verb phrase.
23 Cry over small employer (4)
BOSS - SOB 'over' (i.e. reversed) + S (small).
24 SAS tried sorting out calamity (8)
DISASTER - anagram of SAS TRIED ('sorting out').
1 Royals their sister cut? (7)
PRINCES - if you cut PRINCESS by taking off the last letter you get PRINCES.
2 A man hugs another from the New World (8)
AMERICAN - A MAN 'hugging' ERIC (another man).
3 Vast liner converted for short breaks (9)
INTERVALS - anagram ('converted') of VAST LINER.
4 Expensive losing diamonds in some corn (3)
EAR - DEAR (expensive) 'losing' D (diamonds to all you Bridge players).
5 Deposit metal coating on gold table (7)
PLATEAU - PLATE (to deposit metal coating on, cf. 22A above) + AU (chemical symbol for gold, aurum). Once again 'on' falls within the verb phrase of the surface.
6 Oxygen exercises used on speed run (7)
OPERATE - O (oxygen) + PE (exercises) + RATE (speed).
10 A quiet soldier needs time with American kit (9)
APPARATUS - A + P (quiet) + PARA (soldier) + T (time) + US (American).
12 Expecting ruling after pressure (8)
PREGNANT - P (pressure) + REGNANT (ruling).
14 Strong wind ripped advert off, initially (7)
TORNADO - TORN (ripped) + AD (advert) + O (Off 'initially').
15 Pointers being almost not necessary (7)
NEEDLES - 'almost' NEEDLESs, i.e. with the last letter chopped off.
17 Row after doctor’s introducing iodine that’s more contaminated (7)
DIRTIER - TIER (row) 'after' DR (doctor) 'introducing' I (chemical symbol for iodine as well as current. A versatile scientific letter that in its lower case guise also represents the square root of -1, so making a significant contribution to each of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.).
21 Precious metal’s left out. Mercury, perhaps? (3)
GOD - GOLD with L (left) out = GOD.

Time: 37 minutes
Music: Mozart, Piano Sonatas, Christopher Eschenbach

Good evening, fellow solvers.   The blog is a bit late tonight, as I was involved in watching the final major of the year on TV, which is more than those in the UK can say.   I admit that I don't care for the hype around Tiger, but his play from all sorts of undesireable locations was truly spectacular.  But in the end, Koepka had the final word, tapping in his last putt as if to say that winning a major is nothing new to him, either.

On to the puzzle.   I found tonight's offering really excellent, with very subtle and allusive literals that were difficult to untangle from the wordplay.   None of the answers are that obscure, but extracting them from the clues takes a little work.

1 Triumph when surrounded by independent, select group (2-5)
IN-CROWD - IN(CROW)D, my FOI, with inspiration from the Bryan Ferry version.
5 Bit of skin trimmed and left in freezer (7)
9 Complaint unlikely in small Shetland island, or round Skye regularly? (9)
SUNSTROKE - S + UNST + OR backwards + [s]K[y]E.   I worked for a long time that this ended in OSY, misinterpreting 'round' and taking the wrong letters from 'Skye', but a likely ending for a disease of some sort.
10 Colourful sort of light in West (5)
MAUVE - MA(UV)E, that is, Mae West and ultra-violet.....but not Ultra Violet, although since she died four years ago she is available for cryptic use.
11 Problem breathing oxygen after run in competition (5)
CROUP - C(R, O)UP.   I wasted a lot of time thinking 'competition' was the literal.
12 Not quite understand teaching story that can be analysed (9)
13 Objective for Trappists, perhaps, not to exaggerate (2,3,3,5)
TO SAY THE LEAST - Double definition, one somewhat far-fetched.
17 Black music heard in stages that give one a lift (8,5)
PLATFORM SOLES - PLATFOR(sounds like SOUL)S.  I had biffed 'shoes', and then I read the wordplay.
21 I see endless loot around failed invasion site (9)
GALLIPOLI - I + LO + PILLAG[e] backwards.  I wasted a lot of time trying to work in 'Dieppe'.
24 Travel round city, and finally ask for wall sticker (5)
GECKO - G(EC + [as]K)O, with a clever allusive definition.
25 Custody, after a court decision (5)
AWARD - A + WARD.  Not quite right, as custody would really be 'wardship'.
26 Disturbed serenity, receiving a tired look (9)
EYESTRAIN - anagram of SERENITY + A, with another clever literal.
27 Clinics, each covering western city (7)
28 Leader to drink more, getting drunk (7)
SUPREMO - SUP + anagram of MORE - lift and separate!
1 Examine heartless, wretched person (6)
INSECT - INS[p]ECT, the sole chestnut in the puzzle.
2 Wife, excellent, raised lots of concerns (9)
3 In several weeks work one may use a lot of ink (7)
OCTOPUS - OCT = OPUS.   Another clever literal, referring to the release of dark fluid by various species of octopus.
4 I fear the worst, but army does nothing wrong (9)
5 Heard vulgar call from the hatch (5)
CHEEP - Sounds like CHEAP, and in virtually all dialects, too.
6 Sound quality: pound, shake this (7)
TIMBREL - TIMBRE + L, a tambourine.
7 Not much comfort in clubs: not all dance (5)
CRUMB - C + RUMB[a].   Another allusive definition: 'a crumb of comfort' isn't much.
8 Out of the Top Ten for Armistice Day? (8)
ELEVENTH - Double definition, more or less.
14 Comes with spikes: singular recipe for losing speed? (9)
HASTINESS -  HAS TINES + S.   "More haste, less speed", another allusive literal.
15 Companion and I must visit sea-coast for a swim (9)
16 With this telescope, secretly watch grand girl (8)
SPYGLASS - SPY + G LASS, the easiest clue in the puzzle.
18 Feminine coiffures repelling husband? Be reasonable! (4,3)
19 Start to burn as cheek punched by nasty thug (5,2)
LIGHT UP -  LI(anagram of THUG)P.   Both 'cheek' and 'lip' are to be taken in the sense of 'insolence'.
20 Investigate precise moment pressure dropped in game (2,4)
GO INTO - G([p]OINT)O, which most solvers will biff.
22 One city has merged into another (5)
LHASA - L(HAS)A, my LOI, and very puzzling until I realized 'has' was part of the wordplay.
23 The last round — great! (5)
OMEGA - O + MEGA, one we've seen before.

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