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Times 27093 - no acrobatics required

Another Wednesday which I don't think will take us far into the orange zone on SNITCH, with some fairly obvious or biffable answers - even if the wordplay was often intricate and very clever. If I'd done it in one go, it would have been 21 minutes, with parsing 13a being the longest task.

UPDATE: As I suspected, this hasn't reached the 100 mark on SNITCH, it's now 13 days since we had an orange one, never mind a red (apart from the yesteryear effort). Is it the hot weather dumb down season, or are we in for a run of toughies?

1 Shortest possible gathering devoted to French cheese? (8)
BRIEFEST - We could all have fun at a BRIE FEST(IVAL).
5 Actor theatre brought back to pen lyric (6)
PLAYER - LAY (LYRIC) inside REP reversed.
10 Nearly all money got from subsidiary job by male with deputy (6-2-7)
SECOND-IN-COMMAND - Most will just write it in, but it's SECOND INCOM(E) for 'nearly all, money got from subsidiary job', then M for male and AND for with.
11 Designate weapon to be carried by English ship (7)
EARMARK - ARM inside E, ARK.
12 Perennial outside’s no cross (7)
ETERNAL - EXTERNAL (outside) loses its X.
13 A rolling county (8)
SOMERSET - Double definition, one obvious (county) the other being an old spelling of SOMERSAULT hence a rolling situation.
15 Tons come down to exercise (5)
TRAIN - T for tons, RAIN = come down.
18 Change state support to include energy (5)
RESET - E inside REST = support, as in snooker for example.
20 Ravel preludes caused dislike (8)
REPULSED - Nothing to do with Maurice's music, which is mostly superb; ravel is the anagrind, (PRELUDES)*.
23 Gallons carried out in barrel for homeless (7)
VAGRANT - G for gallons, RAN for carried out, both inside VAT for barrel.
25 Buns nibbled in fancy bars (7)
RABBITS - BIT inside (BARS)*. BUN was an old word for rabbit, from which we get the more familiar bunny.
26 Poor being made to pay for strikes? (8,3,4)
STRAPPED FOR CASH - Well, if you have to pay to be whipped, you'd be strapped, for cash.
27 Unlikely refusers of Arab country importing ultimate in arms (3-3)
YES-MEN - YEMEN has S inserted, S being the end of armS.
28 Argue excessively in boozy Blue Boar (8)
BELABOUR - (BLUE BOAR)*. Is there a link between BEING LABOUR and arguing excessively?

1 In punt, request a picnic hamper? (6)
BASKET -  Put ASK into BET = punt. Or go on the Isis but don't let go of the pole.
2 Lacking interest, fall liable to debts? (9)
INCURIOUS - If you INCUR I.O.U.s you'd fall liable to debts.
3 Flourish provisions for keen supporters? (7)
4 Puncture made by small parasite (5)
STICK - S for small, TICK a parasite. you can STICK a pig, amongst other things.
6 Quantity of light batter has to stay in the same condition, right? (7)
LAMBERT - A Lambert (I remembered from my A level physics) was a measure of luminance, not in the S.I. system, but equal to 1/π or 0.3183 candela/cm². Lambert was a Swiss chap who lived from 1728 to 1777 but I have no idea why his uninteresting unit has survived. Or maybe it hasn't outside of crosswords. LAM = batter, BE = stay in the same condition, ( as in 'Let it Be'?) , RT = right. A clue not to repeated, IMO.
7 Long period of time before November (5)
YEARN - YEAR, N for November. LONG for = yearn for.
8 Change one’s mind about note being suggestive (8)
REDOLENT - RELENT = change ones mind, insert DO as also in DOH the note.
9 Man in check cap (8)
SCREWTOP - To CREW a boat is to MAN it, insert that into STOP = check.
14 Drink that’s small for each, without ostentatious luxury (8)
SPRITZER - S = small, PER = for each, insert RITZ.
16 Coffee giving out nice aroma (9)
AMERICANO - (NICE AROMA)*. Not really coffee, more a watery brown liquid served by Starbucks for a ridiculous mark-up. I said 'Americano' to Mrs K and she has given me an earworm with that song from that Talented Mr Ripley movie.
17 Birds start to turn in attempt to take off (8)
TRAVESTY - TRY = attempt, insert AVES = Linnaean or Latin for birds and T first letter of turn.
19 Step on public transport: request stops early (7)
TRAMPLE - TRAM = public transport, PLE(A) = request stopping early.
21 Left Western Europe for part of West Africa (7)
LIBERIA - L for left. Well, IBERIA is a part of Western Europe, hardly all of it.
22 Part of Bible’s there? (6)
ESTHER -  Hidden word in BIBL(E'S THER)E. Book of OT.
24 Causes of disease resistance in cat’s eyes, perhaps (5)
GERMS - R inside GEMS.
25 Weapon force used during upset (5)
RIFLE - F inside RILE = upset.

Quick Cryptic 1137 by Flamande

Fairly straightforward fare today. I had to come back for 2dn and 9ac, otherwise it all flowed nicely in order. The highlight for me was the little run of 7, 10, and 11dn which made me chuckle as each penny dropped.

Definitions underlined.

1 Like a cereal plant, perhaps, from south-west England (7)
CORNISH - like corn (cereal plant, perhaps), or CORN-ISH.
5 Knife found among precious tableware (4)
STAB - hidden in (found among) preciouS TABleware.
8 Regular article in newspaper after EU reforms (7)
FEATURE - anagram of (reforms) AFTER EU.
9 Rivers going into cove in Welsh town (5)
BARRY - RR (two rivers) inside (going into) BAY (cove).
11 Endless tune a minstrel composed, music without words (12)
INSTRUMENTAL - anagram of (composed) all but the last letter of (endless) TUNe plus A MINSTREL.
12 Drink with Scotsman over in university grounds (6)
CAMPUS - SUP (drink) and MAC (scotsman) all reversed (over).
14 Briefly hurtful argument causing grief (6)
SORROW - all but the last letter of (briefly) SORe (hurtful) and ROW (argument).
15 Nanny's youngster means to change, being without friends (5,2-5)
BILLY NO-MATES - BILLY (goat, nanny's youngster) with an anagram of (change) MEANS TO.
17 Load vehicle before work (5)
CARGO - CAR (vehicle) and GO (work).
18 Childhood at home, far from plain (7)
INFANCY - IN (at home) and FANCY (far from plain).
20 American tug (4)
YANK - double definition.
21 Avoided wearing cloak after first signs of English summer (7)
ESCAPED - CAPED (wearing cloak) after first letters (first signs) of English and Summer.

2 Cry that goes up in Barcelona? (3)
OLE - reverse hidden (goes up in) barcELOna.
3 Records pieces of music (5)
NOTES - double definition.
4 Teacher reportedly using force? That's unexpected (10)
SURPRISING - sounds like (reportedly) "sir" (teacher) then PRISING (using force).
6 Coach's sports shoe (7)
TRAINER - double definition.
7 Uncivilised places to drink round America (9)
BARBAROUS - BAR and BAR (places to drink), then O (round), then US (america).
10 See mum circulating among workers providing diversions (10)
AMUSEMENTS - anagram of (circulating) SEE MUM, inside (among) ANTS (workers).
11 One contrary girl swallowing a drink? It's not true (9)
IMAGINARY - I (one) and MARY ('quite contrary' in the nursery rhyme, contrary girl) surrounding (swallowing) A GIN (a drink).
13 Figure former educational establishment has almost disappeared (7)
POLYGON - POLY (former educational establishment) then all but the last letter of (almost) GONe.
16 Jewelled head dress, one worn by groups of soldiers (5)
TIARA - I (one) inside (worn by) TA (territorial army) and RA (royal artillery) (groups of soldiers).
19 Every so often, accused gives signal (3)
CUE - every other letter from (every so often) aCcUsEd.

Times Cryptic 27092

I needed 40 minutes for this one which I found quite chewy in its way .  Nothing in it was overly difficult but plenty that needed a bit of thinking about.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1136 by Mara

No time to report today but my guess is that this is a medium difficulty puzzle from Mara. Plenty of anagrams around - roughly a quarter of the clues.
I got on fairly well throughout until the SW caused some pause with 11dn, 19ac and LOI 15dn. Plenty of worthy clues but COD to 14ac.

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Time: 29 minutes
Music: Schubert, Symphony #9, Krips/LSO

Not too hard a puzzle, but not for beginners.    Experienced solvers will be well aware of words such as 'palimpsest' and 'thimblerig' from past experience, and I wrote these in without difficulty.   My problems were getting the wrong end of the stick in some of the cryptics, which sometimes leads to the right answer by a stroke of luck, but often causes considerable delay.

I had gotten a bit behind in my solving due to various things, and I discovered on Saturday morning that I had not even printed off last week's Saturday, Sunday, and Mephisto.   Fortunately, I am nearly caught up, except for Dean's infernal masterpiece.  It is a real corker, but I had to tear myself away and work on my assigned puzzle to get the blog up.

1 Edited parchment most faded, wicked things in it (10)
PALIMPSEST - PAL(IMPS)EST, an early example of recycling.
6 Cork has to plug bottles (4)
STOP - hidden in [ha]S TO P[lug], a very natural surface.
9 Might such vulgar humour be panned? (10)
LAVATORIAL - a jocular cryptic definition
10 Payment for transgression, OK (4)
FINE - Double definition, very simple and very elusive for me.
12 Accumulator having netted foreign cash for retirement, one stroking cat? (5-7)
MONEY-GRUBBER - MO(YEN backwards)G RUBBER.   I was working for a long time on the theory that 'foreign cash for retirement' was a non-UK retirement-account acronym. 
15 Drive off in public — go too far? (9)
17 Last Oscar given to Titanic (5)
OMEGA - O + MEGA, the NATO alphabet again.
18 With river gone, river mammals back in conflict (3-2)
SET-TO - OTTE[r]S backwards.
19 It's certain their guns will go off (4,5)
20 Discussion on bread overheard that sounds so gentle (6-6)
PITTER-PATTER - sounds like PITA (for non-rhotic speakers only) + PATTER, which is not really = 'discussion', but is apparently close enough.
24 Register part to be read out? (4)
ROLL - sounds like ROLE for nearly all dialects.   Anyone disagree?
25 Bash mouse with every bit of the blooming thing! (10)
WALLFLOWER - W + ALL FLOWER.   I worked for a while on theory that an anagram of MOUSE + EVERY would produce the name for a part of a flower.
26 Pull someone across the Pond (4)
YANK - double definition,
27 Very energetic rogue, George IV's deputy, perhaps? (10)
VICEREGENT - Anagram of V + ENERGETIC.   I was thinking of the Vice in medieval  morality plays, which was not it at all, but did lead me to the answer. 
1 European supporter (4)
POLE - Double definition, a chestnut starter clue.
2 Flipping bad, potentially shocking? (4)
LIVE - EVIL upside down, another chestnut.
3 Streakers up in rest home wore pants (6,6)
4 Gunk initially mopped up by dry cloth (5)
SERGE - SER(G[unk])E
5 Heading for slammer, best medicine they say for killing (9)
SLAUGHTER - S + LAUGHTER, the best medicine.
7 Infernal blighter, I'm a notorious con (10)
8 During exercise, parent called to order earlier (10)
PREARRANGE - P(REAR + RANG)E, where 'parent' is a verb.
11 Suddenly able to paint with only two primary colours? (3,2,3,4)
OUT OF THE BLUE - Double definition, one jocular.
13 Do in? (5,5)
HOUSE PARTY - Cryptic defintion.
14 Held inside, Irish town's brief event (10)
16 Tubes in good shape after surgery, having removed five hundred and one (9)
OESOPHAGI - Anagram of GOOD SHAPE without D, and then add a I.  A tricky cryptic which I totally misunderstood, looking for OP at the beginning.  I finally biffed it, and then worked out the wordplay.
21 Current circling lake in wavy line (5)
22 Cute river, bottom dredged? (4)
TWEE - TWEE[d], a bit of a chestnut.
23 Red Rum's first, in short (4)
TROT - TR[um])OT, where a 'tot' is a 'short' in the sense of a small drink.

QC 1135 by Hurley

Short and sharp today. My new internet advertising campaign has been bringing me so many new clients that my feet are not really spending much time in contact with the ground at present, and the same goes for my fingertips and the blogging keyboard.

Felt like a lot of anagrams today and looking back I can see five (one with a small insertion). FOI was 1A, so all's well with the world there. I was heading for another good time by my standards but ended up at just under 7 minutes after staring at 8A for about a minute so that was obviously my LOI. COD for me was 9A, taking me back as it did to my favourite state as a child, i.e. 'nose stuck in a book'. Many thanks to Hurley for a largely easy ride but with a couple of craggy outcrops to negotiate.

Definitions are underlined in italics. For everything else I just describe it as I see it.

1 Led army, moving to protect king — obviously (8)
MARKEDLY - K (king) in an anagram of LED ARMY ('moving').
5 Feature of faith, a lovely circle? (4)
HALO - hidden word: faitH A LOvely.
8 A lot of similar things? Exactly right in southeast (5)
SPATE - when you have something off PAT, you have it exectly right. Put it in SE (southeast) and there you are.
9 Rider’s careworn (7)
HAGGARD - double definition, HAGGARD as in careworn and also as in H. Rider HAGGARD, author of those staples of the prep school library, 'King Solomon's Mines' and 'She'.
11 Lace into rat involved in quarrel (11)
ALTERCATION - anagram ('involved') of LACE INTO RAT.
13 Oscar, ten, thanks the Italian for soup ingredient? (6)
OXTAIL - O (oscar, phonetic alphabet) + X (ten) + TA (thanks) + IL ('the' in Italian).
14 Kind offer (6)
TENDER - double definition.
17 Journey’s end, distant one, I recollected (11)
DESTINATION - anagram ('recollected' - as in 're-collected' (thought I should explain that as I seem to remember someone raising a query on that anagrind before)) of DISTANT ONE I.
20 A non-drinker, one in Paris, with editor, acclimatized (7)
ATTUNED - A + TT (teetotaller) + UN ('one' in French) + our old friend ED the editor.
21 In search of a fine time at school — finishing early (5)
AFTER - A + F (fine) + TER (time at school finishing early: TERm).
22 Nothing about old floor covering (4)
LINO - NIL (nothing) reversed ('about') + O (old).
23 Amiable lady disheartened by Friday finish (8)
FRIENDLY - FRI (Friday) + END (finish) + LY (LadY 'disheartened')
1 Medical Officer’s son’s plant (4)
MOSS - MO (medical officer) + S (son) + the possessive S on the end.
2 Make further changes in study, suitable (7)
READAPT - READ (study) + APT (suitable).
3 Nice article set off sparks (11)
ELECTRICIAN - another anagram: NICE ARTICLE 'set off', giving the tradesperson for whom 'sparks' is the colloquial moniker.
4 Folk tradition about a hot Asian city (6)
LAHORE - LORE (folk tradition) 'about' A + H (hot).
6 First of all ask maestro about the Italian violin (5)
AMATI - initial letters of Ask Maestro About The Italian give us this classic make of violin which is, I am told, preferred by many maestros (but by no means all) over the more famous Stradivarius. Interesting now I think about it how so many choices in life seem to be binary. Think Steinway or Blüthner, Fender or Les Paul, Mac or PC, VHS or Betamax, Virgin or BT, rock or hard place, Devil or deep blue sea, stay or go. But then again Bechsteins definitely get in there amongst the pianos as well as the other two and no doubt if I studied them hard enough the other pairings wouldn't stand up to scrutiny either.
7 A dry iron — sadly commonplace (8)
ORDINARY - quite heavy on the anagrams today. A DRY IRON 'sadly' gives the answer.
10 Somewhat outstanding raven, I’m a general object of worship? (6,5)
GRAVEN IMAGE - hidden words: outstandinG RAVEN I'M A GEneral. The second time this week I have found myself contemplating the ten commandments. The first time was when I went to see a new client and we somehow got talking about his wife having left him. He was an atheist, but she had got involved with the Pentecostal Church and run off with the minister. I was scandalised. I said "But doesn't it say "Thou shalt not commit adultery" in the ten commandments?". He said "Yes, and it also says "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife."". "Nor his ox, nor his ass..." I added, although I admit this was quite beside the point. Call me naïve, but I was just stunned by the hypocrisy of the situation. "Ah yes," he said, "but there's always a get-out clause. Such as "Yes we have sinned, but we are saved by the grace of God..."". He seemed like such a nice guy as well. I almost said to him "Come on let's get out of here and go down the pub and have a few and set the world to rights..." but that would have been most unprofessional. In the event I just gave my sympathy, wished him well and left.
12 Attempt to sell client’s foremost old ring (4,4)
COLD CALL - C (Client's foremost) + OLD + CALL (ring).
15 Gave to charity, old-fashioned, welcoming cricket side (7)
DONATED - DATED (old-fashioned) 'welcoming' ON (the side of the field in cricket otherwise know as 'LEG', and opposite, fairly logically, to the other side which is known as 'OFF' (but which, for those of you who just don't do sport (like I don't do birds, plants or geography), is completely different from OFFSIDE in Football.))
16 Conflict over the German prison officer (6)
WARDER - WAR (conflict) + DER (one of the forms of the definite article in German).
18 Smart, regularly visited in silk? (5)
SATIN - take the alternate letters of SmArT ('regularly') and add IN = SATIN.
19 Pressure over fish — appeal to higher power? (4)
PRAY - P (pressure) 'over' (above in this down clue) RAY (fish).

Mephisto 3019 - Don Manley

I was rather taken with the grid for this puzzle, with the networks of four letters words.

For those of you checking in for the first time, or relatively new to the Mephisto, welcome to the Sunday corner - Mephisto is a barred-grid puzzle, and the setters have some control over the shape of the grid. Having no blocked squares means that there are some unusual words in the grid, but there is rarely any ambiguity in the definition (the first definition is underlined in the clues).

Since there are so many unfamiliar words, both in the grid and as wordplay elements, you should not do the Mephisto without a dictionary handy. The official reference is Chambers, if you don't have one, let your friends know you like crosswords and want one and you will end up with many as Christmas presents (I have three of the current edition).  If you don't have Chambers, you might want to try the online Collins Dictionary, which is good for many obscure words.

Away we go...

1 Flipping trick by African party ensconced in wealth is illegal act (11)
MALFEASANCE - FLAM(trick) reversed, then ANC(African National Congress) inside EASE(wealth)
11 Jars left in a pub with old measure inscribed at the front (9)
ALBARELLI - L inside A, BAR(pub), then ELL(old measure), I(nscribed)
12 See Welsh girl being delightful (7)
ELYSIAN - ELY(see), SIAN(Welsh girl)
13 Market-places in which quick drink is knocked back (5)
TRONS - SNORT(quick drink) reversed - this appeared in a daily puzzle recently
14 Drama involving a rescuer (4)
NOAH - NOH(drama, also appearing this week in the daily as NO), containing A
17 Once cut off on isle after drifting (6)
ESLOIN - anagram of ON,ISLE
18 Excellent additional allowance for returning regiment once (6)
TERTIA - A1(excellent), and TRET(additional allowance) all reversed
20 With number falling short, it's no longer easy (4)
ETHE - shorten ETHER(number, anaesthetic)
22 What’s used by Scottish oboist or pianist (4)
LILL - double definition for a reed and the pianist John Lill
23 Four of the apprentices in company no longer (4)
HEAP - hidden in tHE APprentices
25 Place for preacher once in dance, having abandoned Mass (4)
AMBO - MAMBO(dance) with M(mass) removed
27 Worker brings Queen to entrance (6)
ERGATE - ER(queen) by GATE(entrance) for a worker ant
28 Safe? It's otherwise skirting very large pits (6)
FOSSAE - anagram of SAFE surrounding OS(very large)
32 See this girl in Russian river? (4)
OLGA - clever clue - if you added V(vide, see) to OLGA you would get the river VOLGA
33 What could be small member's helmet? (5)
ARMET - a small member could be an ARM-ET
34 Scottish fruit is slower, lacking sun before the end of August (7)
GROSERT - GROSSER(stupider, slower) missing S(sun) then (Augus)T
35 Past form of worship lead by priest taking summer abroad (9)
PRETERITE - RITE (worship) after PR(priest), ETE(summer in French)
36 Female plotters could be anti-gent, sir! (11)

2 The whole oyster changed due to biochemical process (9)
ALLOSTERY - ALL(the whole), then an anagram of OYSTER
3 Firm associated with top family given new leader (5)
LOYAL - ROYAL(associated with top family) with a different starting letter
4 Obtain recreational drug that's legal (6)
ELICIT - E(recreational drug), LICIT(legal)
5 Embarrassed, he had to go down! (4, two words)
A BAS - ABASHED(embarrassed) with HE'D(he had) removed
6 French explorer heading off behaving in more affected manner (6)
ARTIER - the explorer is Jacques CARTIER, remove his first letter
7 Hooligan holds Rex to be a geek (4)
NERD - NED(hooligan) containing R(rex)
8 Devil uses transport organisation to convey stolen goods (7)
CLOOTIE - The transport organisation is CIE(Coras Iompair Eireann) containing LOOT(stolen goods)
9 Ascetic lad wandering round end of village in bare feet (11)
DISCALCEATE - anagram of ASCETIC,LAD surrounding (villag)E
10 Pat — he is bursting with energy? It's the medical treatment (11, two words)
15 Check forepart of ship (4)
STEM - double definition, the other being the front of a ship
16 Folk from small communities maybe in very bad match (9)
VILLAGREE - V(very), ILL(bad), AGREE(match, correspond)
19 Story-tellers droop before the last word (7)
SAGAMEN - SAG(droop) then AMEN
21 A bit of Scotland English established in Derby? (4)
HAET - E in HAT(Derby)
24 Beginner losing heart a bit once (6)
STATER - STARTER (beginner) missing the middle letter - a bit of money
26 A country businessman initially raised capital (6)
BOGOTA - A, TOGO(country), B(usinessman) all reversed for the capital of Colombia
29 Form of precipitation making sesame plants shoot up (5)
SLEET - TEELS(sesame plants, found in Chambers under TIL as an alternative spelling) reversed
30 European accommodation provided by landlord, we hear (4)
LETT - sounds like LET (rented accommodation)
31 Sound of levers reduced by 50% (4)
TRIG - TRIGGERS(levers) with the second half removed - sound as in tight here.

Sunday Times 4806 by Dean Mayer

23:36. A classic Dean Mayer puzzle this, with lots of clever and witty clues and some nice original touches. Also quite tough, for me at least, which is by no means unusual for this setter.

There were a few unfamiliar or perhaps slightly oblique meanings in here to slow me down: HIP MEASUREMENT isn’t a term you (or at least I) hear very often, and the synonyms for words like ‘myriad’ or ‘hover’ are not the first you’re going to think of. And of course words like BARCAROLE, COTILLION, CHIMER or RES PUBLICA aren’t exactly everyday fare either, but once you’ve been doing these things for a while they become at least vaguely familiar, like different types of carriage, or plants, or books of the bible. And I think in all these cases there was another way into the clue if you didn’t have the requisite vocabulary, and working this sort of thing out from wordplay is part of what doing these things is all about.

My last in was 1dn. I saw RACK for the second definition quite quickly, but it took me forever to see the first. When I did I wasn’t particularly impressed, I must say. I don’t mind a bit of naughtiness but to me this word is inherently demeaning and therefore offensive, and I would prefer not to see words like that in these puzzles. From similar incidents in the past I expect many will consider me a terrible prude, but there it is.

I will be in a canoe or carrying it between lakes in Canada on Sunday so forgive me if I don’t respond to any queries immediately. I will pop in if there is a decent mobile signal. At least I don’t have the challenge of trying to watch the World Cup Final.

And finally, I will be in New York in the week beginning 1 October, so it would be great to meet up with some of the local TfTT crowd. My plans are a little fluid at the moment but I will certainly be there on the evenings of the 2nd and 3rd.

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

1 Sending orders, head off for position
6 Long start for hole in one
ACHE - AC(Hole)E. To ACHE, pine, yearn, long is an equivalence seen a lot in crosswords.
9 Dance company into dancing without injury
COTILLION - CO, (INTO)* containing ILL (injury).
10 Be small, go outside
11 In statistical form?
HIP MEASUREMENT - slightly tenuous CD based on HIP meaning ‘in’ (fashionable).
13 By feeding alien, painter will produce more
EXTRA - E(X)T, RA. X is ‘by’ in the multiplication sense, RA is a crossword staple abbreviation for Royal Academician.
14 Farm worker rejected flood relief
DAIRYMAID - reversal of MYRIAD (flood), AID (relief). ‘Flood’ is a slightly oblique indication for MYRIAD, so it took me a while to see.
15 Say it, say this in French
17 It’s awkward to sleep in it
19 Be a fan of hovering?
BLOW HOT AND COLD - CD. To hover is to ‘be in a state of indecision’, apparently. News to me.
22 Reason fire’s not turned on
INFER - INFERNO missing the reversal of ON.
23 Chorus in simple boating song
24 What a shame - lines are wrong
AWRY - AW (what a shame), RY (lines).
25 Bearing right, soldiers enter arsenal

1 Chest pain
RACK - DD. See above.
2 Poet dealt with teacher’s raised temperature
METRIST - MET (dealt with), reversal (raised) of SIR, T.
3 Nonsense! Lines mean nothing - rope binds
4 The spirit of Jungian imagery
ANIMA - contained in ‘Jungian imagery’.
5 Mistress caught at the right moment covering chest?
7 Robe, one that’s fancy
CHIMERA - CHIMER, A. A CHIMER is ‘a sleeveless red or black gown, part of a bishop's formal dress though not a vestment.’ I’m glad to say that I vaguely remembered this. Glad because it came up a couple of years ago in a clue for the same word (albeit with a different spelling) in a puzzle that I blogged.
8 Old tax declared in Union, they’ll be gutted
ESTATE DUTY - E(STATED)U, TheY. The modern equivalent in the UK is inheritance tax.
10 Bandit shot mercenary, keeping one behind
ENEMY AIRCRAFT - (MERCENARY)* containing I, then AFT. This took me ages to see, partly because I was expecting a person (the outlaw EMERY something or other?) and partly because ENEMY AIRCRAFT strikes me as not quite a lexical unit. We’ve had this debate before: BLUE STOCKING is a recognisable phrase, BLUE CAR is not. For me this one is marginal.
12 The country club rep is a criminal
RES PUBLICA - (CLUB REP IS A)*. Not a term I knew but it was reasonably easy to construct from the anagram fodder once I had all the checkers. In these circumstances I have no real objections to anagrams for obscure and/or foreign terms.
14 Out to lunch after day in market town
DUNSTABLE - D (day), UNSTABLE (out to lunch).
16 Erratic monarch available
ON OFFER - ON-OFF (erratic), ER.
18 Finished without help, carrying empty load
20 Drug dealer bowed, given new start
NARCO - N, ARCO. ARCO is a musical notation to a violinist meaning ‘bowed', as opposed to 'plucked' (pizzicato). Spiccato is also available. I think of a NARCO as a narcotics agent, but this alternative is in Collins.
21 Spades in black? I’m kidding

JUMBO 1331

Howdy folks.  How did you find this?  I thought it was pretty tough and it took me the best part of an hour to wrestle it into submission.  The high count of expertly hidden definitions may have had something to do with it.  In fact, looking at it more closely as I work my way through the blog, this is a fine example of the setter's craft, with admirable precision all over the place.  Thanks setter.

AMAH was my first in and I finsihed with SMITHIES.  There seemed to be a lot of multi-word phrases on show here, none of which came immediately to mind.

Clues are in blue with definitions underlined, explanations are custom designed to be comprehensible but if I've failed in that regard feel free to quiz me.



Whaler chap ain’t a bad sailor (7,4)

CAPTAIN AHAB - (chapainta)* + AB


Registering editor's copy in front of gazetteer (11)



Advantage that's got out of hand? (1,4,2,4,6)



Yellowish, not exactly pure honey (5)

CAMEL - CA (circa) + MEL.  MEL for honey came up in a daily puzzle fairly recently and prompted a fair bit of discussion.


On reflection, mayor liked displaying his name on walls once (6)

KILROY - reverse hidden woz 'ere


Faithfully copied from East German with a British minister (8)

VERBATIM - MIT A B[ritish] REV[erend] with "from East" being the immaculately disguised reversicator.


Yellow, but also willing to carry the can (7)

GAMBOGE - BOG = can = lav "carried by" GAME


Grub supply that extends underground (9)



Arm in support of old priest and doctor (8)



At heart, lame word said to dentist or nurse (4)

AMAH - {l}AM{e} + AH!


Anticipate a burden being picked up (5)

AWAIT - Sounds like "a weight"


Rail watchdog’s curt recommendation that’s put on for show? (6)

FINERY - (levy a) FINE (on) RY (railway)


Using little energy, performing amusing covers (10)

ECONOMICAL - E[nergy] then ON in COMICAL.  Lift & separate of "little energy" needed.  Clever stuff.


The speaker’s regularly late? So cavalier! (8)



Words accepting offer of dominion did fit, somehow (1,4,4,2,1,2)

I DONT MIND IF I DO - (dominion did fit)*


Landing increased sentence that’s imposed on motorists (8-2,4)

LIGHTING-UP TIME - LIGHTING UP TIME (as in prison sentence)


Remove from office one whose staff's headed by a crook (8)

UNBISHOP - CD. Strange word.


Column by a Democrat blasted right-wing group (6,4)

MONDAY CLUB - (column by a D[emocrat])*


Stroll around lake and land (6)

CLINCH - CINCH (stroll as in something easy) around L[ake]


Dissenting voices will broadcast using a particular organ (5)

NASAL - Sounds like NAYS'LL


Departed to the west and elsewhere (2,2)

ET AL - LATE reversed


Sportsperson winding down played mostly small role (8)

SLALOMER - (small role)*.  Very neat definition.


I see people, escorted outside, doomed? (3-6)

ILL-OMENED - I then LO MEN in LED.  Flatpack clue.


Runner nearly died — and so did hound (7)



Better tally of available seconds essential (8)



Language teacher discarding one book in a hundred (6)



Limitless haste carries you so far (2,3)

AS YET - YE in hASTe


What’s shocking, still? (6,11)



Top class bits of meat by kilo: they're delivered by hand (6,5)



Eccentric English cyclist touring small plant (5,6)

SWEET CICELY - (E[nglish] cyclist)* around WEE



Solver with rating perhaps that’s outstanding (11)



A little wisdom maybe from Labour's leader at Conference? (5)

PEARL - PEAR L{abour}. DBE denoted by the question mark.


Couple in a hurry with horse going uphill (7)

ARDUOUS - DUO in A RUSh. More delightful lift & separating.


Scruff in Suffolk village refused introduction (4)

NAPE - sNAPE.  It may only be a village but it's known as the home of The Maltings, a well-known concert venue.


Nagging top poultry farmer possibly to engage some muscle (10)



A guarantee of freshness, though not in the matchmaking business? (4-6,4)

BEST-BEFORE DATE - Straight definition with a cryptic hint?


Punishment that sees company barred (8)



Look delighted to be swallowing head of raw fish (5)

BREAM - R{aw} in BEAM


My clanger unsettled minister (9)

CLERGYMAN - (myclanger)*


Returns home with invitation? (6)



Prince’s complaint at excessive tabloid exposure? (1,2,3,4,1,3,3)

I AM TOO MUCH I THE SUN - CD based on a quote from Hamlet, a play wot Shakespeare wrote.


Very early, extreme difficulty stops advance payment to recruit (6,5)



Flag almost no one waves now? (8)

GONFALON - Semi &Lit ("now" stops it being a full-on example). You probably looked this up yourself so you don't need me to tell you that a gonwhatsit is a type of heraldic flag or banner, often pointed, swallow-tailed, or with several streamers, and suspended from a crossbar in an identical manner to the ancient Roman vexillum.


Visiting part of prison, perhaps with a solicitor, unlikely to succeed (2,1,4,3,1,6)



They stand in chimneys, containing rise of poisonous gas (6)

LOCUMS - CO (carbon monoxide) reversed in LUMS, the kind of Scottish chimbley favoured by setters.


Purpose before twelve part satellite transmission’s ending (8)

AMBITION - A.M. (before 12) BIT IO {transmissio}N


Artist coming across a hotel on S Pacific island (8)

TAHITIAN - TITIAN around A H[otel]


Giving Malian this old picture? (6,8)

ANIMAL CRACKERS - MALIAN is an anagram of ANIMALS hence ANIMAL CRACKERS.  Easy for me as a huge Marx Bros fan.


Of course, smaller Germany's no complete entity, you'd say (4-4)

NINE-HOLE - Souns like NEIN WHOLE.  Clever definition.


Creator of surreal pictures of hairstyle quietly removing the odd bits (6)

BUNUEL - BUN {q}U{i}E{t}L{y}.  I knew of old Luis through his work with Dali, my second favourite artist after Magritte.


Girl to disappear in pursuit of hit dance (7,4)

LAMBETH WALK - BETH WALK after LAM.  Tricky for overseas solvers? OI!


Cold tap left three years in disrepair being fingered excessively (11)

POLYDACTYLY - (cold tap l yyy)*


Fraternize with European replacing right dodgy additive (10)

ANTIFREEZE - Anagram of FRATERNIZE less R plus E.  Oh how I miss the days when you could make nasty cheap wine taste better by adding antifreeze.


Copper on drug investigation going up blind alleys (4-2-3)

CULS-DE-SAC - CU LSD + CASE reversed.  Take that, people who say "cul-de-sacs".


Chap's turned old presses on, where hot metal's worked (8)

SMITHIES - TIM'S reversed then HIES.  It took me ages to justify the answer which is why it was my last in.  To hie is an old verb meaning to go quickly.


Drink can ruin one's clothing (7)

MARTINI - TIN (can) clothed by MAR I.  What a beautiful clue.


Knight is in time to help reversing unpopular decree (6)

DIKTAT - KT in a reversal of T[ime] AID.  Normally your crossword radar should be screaming N when you see "knight" but here it's a real knight rather than a little plastic horse.


Series of books on past antipodean province (5)

OTAGO - O[ld] T[estament] AGO.  Somehwere in New Zealand apparently.


Felt article penned by composer too short (5)

BAIZE - A in BIZE{t}


Having relations up in Flint — Italian (2,2)

AT IT - Naughty reverse hidden.  It's not referencing your aunt Mabel.  Or is it?

This took me longer than usual: about 50 minutes. I don’t think it was too hard. Just a well-clued Saturday puzzle. My LOI was 1ac, which took me ages to see, so I’ll call it the clue of the day. The bulk of the clues were “assemble as per instructions”, although the structure of 25ac is interesting. A feature was the number of clever definitions! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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

1 One is so tired of editors! (7)
ANAGRAM: cryptic definition, since “so tired” is an anagram of “editors”. Unusual style of clue, and my LOI.

5 Mark a record for language (7)
TAGALOG: TAG, A, LOG (mark, a, record). A Philippine language which some may not know  , but the wordplay is generous.

9 Bandaging a strange wound, murmur finding rash (5-6)
HARUM-SCARUM: A RUM SCAR (a, strange, wound) inside (“bandaged by”) HUM (murmur).

10 Dirty horse, tail wiped (3)
MAR: drop “e” from MARE.

11 Coat bound to cover a hole, half reversed (6)
MOHAIR: RIM (bound, in the sense of boundary) “covering” A HO{le}, then the whole thing is reversed. Neither my Collins nor my Chambers gave “mohair” as the garment as distinct from the fabric, but the Shorter Oxford has it. On edit: thanks to Isla for pointing out that the definition works perfectly if it’s referring to the coat of the goat, rather than the garment made from it!

12 Make to withdraw in secret, a renegade (8)
GENERATE: backward hidden answer, indicated by “to withdraw in”.

14 Old football stadium messed about with near the Arsenal, vacated (5,4,4)
WHITE HART LANE: (WITH NEAR THE A-L*). A-L is Arsenal “vacated”. Cute surface, since I assume WHL (home of Spurs, of course) is/was near their rival Arsenal's ground.

17 Very little in clue, if I have no ability (13)
INSIGNIFICANT: IN, SIGN, IF, I, CAN’T (in, clue, if, I, have no ability). We had a very similar clue five weeks ago - perhaps even more clever. My first instinct was to pencil in INFINITESIMAL, which didn’t help me at all.

21 Party after support gaining seat (8)
BACKSIDE: BACK, SIDE (support, party).

23 Lovely drop, in parts (6)
DIVINE: DIVE, parted by IN. The crossing letters were _I_I_E, so I needed to apply myself to the clue to get this as my last in on the RHS.

25 One catching dinner running this way and that? (3)
BIB: cryptic definition … what a baby wears to, er, catch dinner. “Running this way and that” could refer to the baby food, or could mean the answer is a palindrome.

26 Drained piping, distant or otherwise, in remote outlet (7,4)
TRADING POST: (P-G DISTANT OR*). P-G because “piping” is “drained”.

27 Setter consumed with guilt finally, over disease (7)
TETANUS: SUN (setter – very nice!), ATE (consumed), {guil}T, all "over".

28 Capital letters in centre of banknote read out? (7)
CAYENNE: sounds like KN. I didn’t know, but it’s the capital of French Guiana.

1 In two articles, order maintained (2,4)
AT HOME: A, THE are the articles. They hold (“maintain”) OM. A minimalist definition.

2 Sky entertainment, broadcast repeated? (7)
AIRSHOW: AIR and SHOW both can mean “broadcast”.

3 Left in control of horse, mother overwhelmed (9)
REMAINING: MA inside REINING. Another nicely disguised definition.

4 Club that's used in riot control (4)
MACE: double definition: a club or a riot control gas.

5 Sharp taste initially in scoffin' dessert (5,5)
TARTE TATIN: TART (sharp), then T from T{aste} in EATIN’. Never heard of this one.

6 Ultimately failing, I am what I am, one's usually conceded (5)
GIMME: G from {failin}G, then I’M ME. A golfing expression.

7 Beat damaging a dance (7)
LAMBADA: LAM (beat), BAD (damaging, perhaps as in “damaging revelations”), then A.

8 Gem cut, ruby collected (8)
GARNERED: GARNE{t} is the gem, then ruby RED.

13 Wrap filled with what? Some chocolate inside (6,4)
BEHIND BARS:EH (what?) in BIND (wrap), then BARS (some chocolate). Yet another nicely hidden definition.

15 In provocative manner, drink alone? (9)
TEASINGLY: TEA (drink), SINGLY (alone).

16 Slowly, Times fed to boring couple? (3,2,3)
BIT BY BIT: BY (times, with a deceptive capital letter), inside (fed to) BIT twice (boring couple!)

18 Fire still in old instrument (7)
SACKBUT: SACK (fire), BUT (still). A sort of trombone, apparently.

19 Endless knitted fabric on navy hat (7)
TRICORN: TRICO{t} is the fabric, on RN, the Royal Navy.

20 Spot on the boil (6)
SEETHE: SEE (spot), on THE.

22 Material appeal, money (5)
SATIN: SA (crossword staple for “appeal”), TIN (ditto for “money”).

24 Openers in dreamland, incredibly, securing cricketing record (4)
DISC: first letters.


Quick Cryptic 1134 by Izetti

Decent rattle through today, which was welcome after recent blogging days. Nothing too tricksy, no Ninas. Took far too long to spot the parsing of 17ac so I suppose that's my CoD. 6 minutes.

1 Small island in March is blissful place (8)
PARADISE - March is PARADE, with SI inside - edited: sorry - it's IS inside, short for island. Thanks for pointing that out kevingregg...
5 Show contempt and endless malevolence (4)
SPIT - SPITE without its end
9 Yobs, many hanging around university (5)
LOUTS - LOTS outside U for university
10 Favoured and named and given encouragement (7)
INCITED - IN is favoured, CITED is named
11 Muck in mound regularly removed (3)
MUD - alternate letters of MoUnD
12 Given order, go in early as soldier (9)
LEGIONARY - anagram ('given order') of GO IN EARLY
13 Powerful dope hidden in bed (6)
COGENT - GEN is dope, as in information, COT is bed.
15 Walk beginning to end for one toddling along (6)
AMBLER - RAMBLE (walk) with the first letter moved to the end
17 Rapid way to write with one moving round more slowly (9)
SHORTHAND - Biffed this then stared at it for ages before a Doh! moment. The short hand on a clock moves more slowly that the longer one.
19 Mechanical device in East Anglian river (3)
CAM - double definition
20 Event is put on record. something poetic (7)
EPISODE - EP (record) + IS +ODE
21 Bit of a joint eaten once, middle portion (5)
TENON - hidden word: eaTEN ONce. Carpentry joint.
22 Pieces of fruit in small diagrams (4)
FIGS - short for FIGURES
23 State since renamed — or so I heard when travelling (8)
RHODESIA - anagram ('travelling') of SO I HEARD

1 Argument from European male in charge (7)
2 Some toast what the milkman does (5)
ROUND - double definition
3 Purification process that could be nationalised (12)
DESALINATION - anagram ('could be') of NATIONALISED
4 Sort of drink — celebrate, imbibing litre (5)
SLING - SING with L inside. As in Singapore
6 Lift pal collapsing — into this? (7)
PITFALL - what do we call this? Not quite an &lit, but there's nothing really to underline. Anagram ('collapsing') of LIFT PAL
7 Finish up in Scottish river now (5)
TODAY - Finish is DO, 'up' (backwards) it's OD, inside TAY.
8 Given room, perhaps, adapted (12)
ACCOMMODATED - double definition.
14 Good water sport on the up (7)
GROWING - G is good, ROWING is the water sport
16 Country manor dilapidated, the reverse of tip-top (7)
ROMANIA - anagram ('dilapidated') of MANOR, + IA (reverse of AI or tip-top)
17 The woman, a female offering something that's corny? (5)
SHEAF -  SHE + A + F
18 Foreign character could be a help (5)
ALEPH - anagram ('could be') of A HELP. First letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
19 Coins numismatist necessarily holds up (5)
CENTS - backwards hidden word: numismatiST NECessarily

Times 27,089: The Wizard of Speed and Time

I've been a bit distracted from the 15x15s by my duties as a team captain in the Quiz League of London of late, but fortunately for me there was a definite sense of the puzzles not being overly hard this week, and so it proved even with the Friday puzzle, which was all done and dusted on paper in 6 and a half minutes. Most of the clues flew in with Mondayish rapidity, though I did come a cropper by over-slavishly following the wordplay and trying to begin 1D with "METAMP..."; and then later had a bit of difficulty with the obscurer meanings of "eccentric" and "keeper".

Some of the clues here I thought bordered on too easy, at least for a Friday, with answers that were the thing I immediately thought of upon reading the definition (the first two across clues, just for a start). But I did appreciate some of the slightly trickier pieces of wordplay, for instance at 19ac, 3dn, 7dn. A fun crossword overall, thank you setter!

1 Money-hoarder's endless wretchedness (5)
MISER - MISER{y} ["endless" wretchedness]

4 Wakeful type in county recalled famous murderer (9)
INSOMNIAC - IN SOM. + CAIN reversed [in ; county (= Somerset); "recalled", famous murderer]

9 Old Chinese philosophy briefly followed by every European leader (9)
TAOISEACH - TAOIS{m} followed by EACH [old Chinese philosophy, "briefly"; every]

10 State of small number knocked back by speaker's gift (5)
GABON - NO. reversed by GAB [small number, "knocked back"; speaker's gift]

11 Enthusiasm is more exhausting, as Cockneys may say (6)
ARDOUR - homophone of 'ARDER [more exhausting, with a Cockney dropped aitch]

12 Its occupants may be collared pinching grain (8)
DOVECOTE - I think this is just a cryptic definition. Doves certainly come in a collared variety, but I wasn't sure if there was anything more to the "pinching grain" part than the literal reading?

14 Fabric man or woman keeps in hotel safe at front (9)
PETERSHAM - SAM keeps in H, with PETER at front [man or woman (= Samuel or Samantha); hotel; safe]

16 Blooming supplier of meat and sauce (5)
OXLIP - OX and LIP [supplier of meat; sauce (= cheek)]. "Blooming" is slightly oblique for "a thing that blooms".

17 Send Irishman over with key (5)
EMAIL - LIAM with E, all reversed [Irishman; key]

19 Culturally pretentious turn digested by a reveller (9)
PARTYGOER - ARTY GO digested by PER [culturally pretentious; turn; a]. A to mean PER (as in "five pounds a head") has become very common in crosswords in recent years, hasn't it? It is certainly a subtle and difficult-to-spot device.

21 Acknowledged being enrolled as member (8)
ADMITTED - double definition

22 Educational establishment's working agreement (6)
UNISON - UNI'S ON [educational establishment's | working]

25 Bury doctor in US abandoning Washington finally (5)
INTER - INTER{n} [doctor in US, "abandoning {washingto}N"]

26 Hanger-on in largely civilised old Communist executive (9)
POLITBURO - BUR in POLIT{e} O [hanger-on; "largely", civilised; old]

27 Bizarre device for converting motion (9)
ECCENTRIC - double definition
If you didn't know the second definition, as I didn't, it's "a disc or wheel mounted eccentrically on a revolving shaft in order to transform rotation into backward-and-forward motion, e.g. a cam in an internal combustion engine".

28 Spirit revealed albeit briefly in French art (5)
ETHOS - THO in ES [albeit (= though) briefly; French word for art, as in thou art, tu es]

1 Drug satisfied a politician and governor in the main resort (15)
METHAMPHETAMINE - MET + A MP and H.E. in (THE MAIN*) ["re-sort"]
HE for governor or ambassador comes up in crosswords an awful lot, and is short for His/Her Excellency.

2 Nagging woman flogged outside clubs (5)
SCOLD - SOLD outside C [flogged; clubs (suit of cards)]

3 Bring up second reminder for a saver (7)
RESCUER - RE{a}R [bring up], with S CUE [second | reminder] in place of ["for"] the "a". An easy clue to bung in but a harder one to parse correctly!

4 Spiritual leader, one with mother in Newcastle, perhaps (4)
IMAM - I with MAM [one; mother in Newcastle, perhaps]

5 Something fishy originally marking a jolly prim teacher (10)
SCHOOLMARM - SCHOOL M{arking} A RM. Fish come in schools and an RM is a Royal Marine is a jolly, but probably not a Jolly Jack Tar it seems.

6 Generator of glossy, potentially clear source of ointment (7)
MAGNET - MAG NET O [glossy, potentially; clear; O{intment}]

7 Sibling’s declaration soldier left inside entrance to officers' mess? (9)
IMBROGLIO - I'M BRO [sibling's declaration] + GI [soldier] (with) L [left] inside + O{fficers}

8 Top men on a course oddly existing at the same time (15)

13 Give away ring? One might expect to sell it (10)
SHOPKEEPER - SHOP [give away] + KEEPER [ring]
I didn't know "keeper" as a ring but apparently it can either be a plain ring worn to preserve a hole in a pierced ear lobe, or a ring worn to keep a more valuable one on the finger. Well well!

15 Shocking start for uncle in vehicle — Greek, reportedly (9)
TRAUMATIC - U{ncle} in TRAM [vehicle] + homophone of ATTIC [Greek, "reportedly"]

18 More recent article identifying old Roman palace (7)
LATERAN - LATER AN [more recent | article]. A familiar word to enthusiasts of Rome or Popes.

20 Get kicks with zany foreign banker (7)
YANGTZE - (GET + ZANY*) ["...kicks with..."]. Banker as in "thing with banks", a time-honoured alternative to "flower" in crossword puzzles.

23 Quiet son taking a couple of horses across America (5)
SHUSH - S taking H H across US [son; a couple of horses (= 2 x H); America]

24 Fellow caught with intoxicating liquor (4)
ALEC - C with ALE [caught; intoxicating liquor]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1133 by Oran

Well this felt different!  In the only previous blog I did for an Oran puzzle, I was somewhat smug about completing it in record time.  Perhaps this is Oran’s revenge?

I took all of 18 minutes here, and found the clueing and style slightly, and suspiciously, unfamiliar.  There were proper names all over the place, along with some unusual words and names in the grid, including two uncommon men’s names in 10a and 1d, and a new word for me in 23a.

There is also a NINA in the penultimate row, which combines with 1d to give the name of a prominent painter, sporting writer and magazine illustrator about a hundred years ago.  He was an alumni of King’s College London, where I currently work.  Coincidence?  It gets curiouser and curiouser as Alice said...

...trying another tack, resulting from the suspicion I referred to earlier, I looked again.  There is a definite football theme here.  'Coleraine star' appears in a clue, as does 'Eoin' and 'Oran' himself.  Eoin Bradley (BRADLEY is the NINA) is a star player and striker at Coleraine Football Club, where the manager is Oran Kearney.  I can't find any record of George Best ever playing for Coleraine, but maybe he played against them in his early days?  Certainly Aaron Burns is a Coleraine player, as is Darren McCauley (D McCauley a la 4d).  I'm confidant that I have stumbled here on the theme for Oran's QC today - this is surely too much for coincidence?

I'm sure there are more connections out there if one plays with the names and words that are in the clues and grid.  Coleraine won the Irish CUP last season, they were CLOSERS and gave ORAN his first GREAT SUCCESS, something of a COUP.  You see what I mean.  Can anyone spot any more?  Whilst this is a perfectly reasonable QC, it is more a celebration of a small Northern Ireland football club's fantastic season last season, and hopes and aspirations for their new season - starting tonight incidentally (although I am sure that it is anything but incidental), with the first qualifying round of the EUFA Europa League, when they play Spartak Subotica at the Karadorde Stadium in Serbia.  Let's all wish them, and Oran the best of luck - we've been a bit short on football lately!  Incidentally, EXURBIA may be a sub-liminal and phonetic reference to SERBIA.

I haven't yet found who CUTHBERT is - maybe the Coleraine mascot, or a founder or similar - answers on postcards please.  Moving on from observation to supposition - does this tell us anything about ORAN himself - born and bred in Coleraine maybe?

Back to the crossword. With plenty of anagrams, hiddens, double-definitions and cryptic clues, if one can avoid the mis-directions and distractions, I think there is something here for everyone, although I expect some of our newbies to struggle a little in places.  I will be very interested to see what you guys think of it.

Thanks Oran for an excellent work-out and very well constructed secret message.  TUBFUL is CoD and DINK is WoD.  Good luck tonight!

1  Trophy sealing Oran’s first great success (4)
COUP – CUP is the trophy, containing O{ran’s} first.
Copied one defeated at chess, capturing it (8)
IMITATED – I (one) MATED (defeated at chess) ‘capturing’ IT (it)
Drinks spilt: PE ruined (7)
TIPPLES – Anagram (ruined) of [SPILT: PE]
10 Man appearing in bazaar once (5)
AARON – Hidden (appearing in) {Baz}AAR ON{ce}.  My occasional gardener is called AARON, so I spotted this quite quickly.
11  Scottish Linesman is on fire! (5)
BURNS – A double definition (the first cryptic, referring to Robert BURNS, known as Rabbie, the bard (hence linesman) of Ayrshire).
12 Charlie can go back for brandy (6)
COGNAC – C (Charlie – phonetic alphabet) and CAN GO (all reversed – back).
14 How different colours mix maybe worried Coleraine star (4,9)
17  Lancashire football team mostly played very fast (6)
PRESTO – The Lancashire football team referred to is PRESTO{n}, dropping the last letter (mostly) to give the musical indicator for ‘very quick’.  PRESTO, I am told, is quicker than Allegro.
19  N Ireland footballer conserving energy in attack (5)
BESET – N Ireland footballer has to be George BEST, one of the greatest ever, and he conserves (retains) E{nergy} to give BESET.  I wondered about BESET = ATTACK.  Usually, BESET is more like surrounding with hostile intentions, to besiege, rather than to attack itself.  My on-line Chambers dictionary seems to agree with me, but the thesaurus allows the equation, so I shan’t quibble.
22  Find the netOne can be composed! (5)
SCORE – Double definition, the first referring to the act of scoring in football, hockey, handball, etc., and the second to a musical SCORE.
23  Uber taxi – not the first – out in area beyond city (7)
EXURBIA – This might catch a few out.  An obvious anagram (out) of [UBER {t}AXI], with the added complication of whether to drop the first letter of Uber or Taxi.  I admit I tried both before spotting, and entering, the most credible answer, which was previously unknown to me.
24  Performs better than president, at first, cutting costs (8)
OUTPLAYS – P{resident} (at first) ‘cutting’ costs - OUTLAYS
25  Cockney idol’s famous London statue (4)
EROS – Cockney idol’s would be {h}ERO’S, and EROS is the (common, but erroneous) name of the world’s first cast-aluminium statue that stands in Piccadilly Circus, as part of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain.  Eros is more properly his brother Anteros, the God of selfless love.

1 Fellow butcher somehow is on time (6)
CUTHBERT – Anagram (somehow) of [BUTCHER] and T{ime} to give an uncommon man’s name.
Superior meal, but no starter (13)
UPPER – The meal is {s}UPPER, with no starter – drop the first letter.
Dramatic work from D McCauley: I’m so excited (7,6)
MUSICAL COMEDY – Nicely disguised anagram (excited) of [D MCCAULEY: IM SO].  The use of a proper name in the anagrist may send you off in search of arcane general knowledge, but it isn’t needed!
5  At first they were all nervous; finally showing pluck (5)
TWANG – First letters of (at first) T{hey} W{ere} A{ll} N{ervous} and last letter (finally) of {showin}G.  TWANG is defined as the sound of a plucked string.
High wind that’s to sailors trouble (7)
TORNADO – TO (to) RN (sailors) ADO (trouble).
7  Child rising to embrace Eoin’s final, delicate touch (4)
DINK – KID (child) reversed (rising in a down clue) and embracing (holding) last letter of {eoi}N.  To DINK (as well as what people do to my car in car parks) can mean to gently hit a ball in a slow arc, with a delicate touch, rather than a slog, and is used in cricket and other bat and ball games, as well as in football.
8 Someone finishing on more intimate terms (6)
CLOSER – DD – someone finishing / closing a contract would be a CLOSER, and to be CLOSER is to be more intimate.
13 They’ll take throw-ins for those out of puff! (8)
ASHTRAYS – Cryptic definition with misdirection in this period of World Cup madness.
15  Complain nothing right in place for vehicle (7)
CARPORT – CARP (complain) O (nothing) RT (R{igh}T).
16  Total amount in VAT? (6)
TUBFUL – Cryptic definition, again with a hint of misdirection – not that kind of VAT.  My CoD
18  Pinch small duck (5)
STEAL – S{mall} and TEAL (duck)
20  Cry over queen’s grave (5)
SOBER – SOB (cry) on (over) ER (Queen)
21  Restrictive order upset job satisfaction, somewhat (4)
ASBO – Reverse (upset) hidden (somewhat) in {j}OB SA{tisfaction).  An ASBO is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, a court order that places restrictions on a person who has been found guilty of antisocial acts.

Times 27088 - how's your geography?

Solving time: 9:04, but missed a typo when I was checking over answers, so I'm not gonig to be contributing to the SNITCH times today. As of right now, three of the four solvers have one error, so maybe it is international butterfingers day.

I was expecting a stinker after the last few days being not too difficult, and I didn't get it (apologies to Verlaine in advance, it must be coming tomorrow).  There's a couple of place names used in wordplay and as solutions, one of which usually appears as a racecouse, so that is something different.

In last week's Mephisto blog an anonymous poster accused me of being arrogant, smug and unhelpful. It is rare someone nails me on the first try. First definitions are underlined.

Away we go...

1 Cold worker keeping on, good fellow — and steadfast (8)
CONSTANT - C(cold), ANT(worker) containing ON, and ST(saint, good fellow)
6 Laugh with merriment, no end, after performance (6)
GIGGLE - GLE(e) (merriment, shortened) after GIG(performance)
9 Prevent vessels returning (4)
STOP - POTS(vessels) reversed
10 Give up "better" sort of technology (superior no longer) (10)
CAPITULATE -  CAP(better), IT(technology), U(superior), LATE(no longer). I have to hand it to the setter, that is terrific wordplay and a great clue for a tricky word
11 Attest fear about sensation after meal (10)
13 Husband, slippery type and cad (4)
HEEL - H(husband), EEL(slippery type)
14 Like article in US magazine that's prominently printed (8)
MASTHEAD - AS(like), THE(article) in MAD magazine. Not a magazine I can recall being used in wordplay. Loved it as a kid, particularly the spy vs spy comics and the fold-in at the back
16 Old unseemly pub — eat noisily (6)
INDIGN - sounds like INN, DINE. Tricky one - couldn't remember how to spell it until I got the G
18 Act as befits a ram and attack (4,2)
BEAT UP - if you act like a ram you may BE A TUP
20 Get hold of artist and musician (8)
BAGPIPER - BAG(get hold of), PIPER(artist) - when I solved this I thought it referred to a musician but it more likely a reference to the artist John Piper. I saw a concert of Britten's War Requiem earlier this year where pictures of his artwork were on the screen with the surtext
22 Concert given publicity, not half (4)
PROM - half of PROMOTED(given publicity) - this was my typo where I had somehow entered FROM
24 Trend involved with email being taken off line (10)
DERAILMENT - anagram of TREND and EMAIL - nice deception in the definition
26 Arrive with the Spanish nibbles brought round for food (10)
COMESTIBLE - COME(arrive) and then EL(the, Spanish), BITS(nibbles) both reversed
28 Play one way and another for a time (4)
NOON - a Japanese NO play forwards and backwards
29 Approaching a worker about task, putting out request (2,4)
AT HAND - A HAND(worker) surrounding TASK missing ASK(request)
30 Restricting trouble, looks after the final bits and pieces (4,4)
TAIL ENDS - AIL(trouble) inside TENDS(looks after)

2 Having no more fruit that's unfashionable (3-2-4)
OUT-OF-DATE - OUT OF(having no more), DATE(fruit)
3 Fool that is not without heart may become wise (7)
SAPIENT - SAP(fool), IE(that is), then N(o)T
4 A duck puts the Queen off somewhere near Windsor (5)
ASCOT - A SCOTER(duck) missing ER. I didn't know where they are, but Google Maps says it is about 13km from Ascot to Windsor
5 Load of rubbish in hole mounting up (3)
TIP - PIT(hole) reversed
6 Company is picking up (9)
GATHERING - double definition - picking up as in learning
7 Girl was forced to set about a noble adventurer (7)
GALAHAD - GAL(girl), HAD(was forced to) surrounding A
8 Woman's last to surface — drink has a profound effect here? (5)
LETHE - ETHEL with the L at the top, the Greek river of forgetfulness
12 Unusual seabird featured in short article (7)
SIDEBAR - anagram of SEABIRD
15 Hurried up, no longer wanting page changed before printing (9)
EXPEDITED - EX(no longer), P(page), EDITED(changed before printing)
17 Wife never upset when surrounded by attractive lot of trees in leaf (9)
GREENWOOD - W, NEER(never) reversed surrounded by GOOD(attractive) - a forest of leafy trees
19 One drafted into office takes a long time, painting (7)
TEMPERA - TEMP(one drafted into office), ERA(a long time)
21 Tremendous chaps in fantastic Times putting out leader (7)
IMMENSE - MEN(chaps) in an anagram of TIMES minus the T
23 Squat in inadequate space overlooking street (5)
ROOST - ROO(m) (space) on top of ST
25 Old tribe pleasant, beginning to end, on island (5)
ICENI - NICE(pleasant) with the N at the bottom, then I(island)
27 Club in SW city closing early (3)
BAT - the city of BATH missing the end
Did this is 20 minutes in my currently daily taxi to / from Bordeaux, on a nice smooth French autoroute, no potholes here (although it is péage). The second half of 18a was the only bit of vocab new to me, but an obvious answer. I had to think for a minute about *E*R*E options in 25a before the coin dropped. Nothing very stand-out today, I think 13d gets the CoD vote for 'items displayed by posters'.

1 Description of aural event very pleasant, mostly (5)
SONIC - SO NICE = very pleasant, drop the E to make it mostly.
4 An atmosphere dismissing source of Italian style is rebellious (8)
ANARCHIC - AN AIR loses the I from Italian, then CHIC = style.
8 Provocative example of issue produced in Paris? (6,8)
ENFANT TERRIBLE - witty cryptic definition.
10 Poet closing parts of number with very dodgy metres (9)
RHYMESTER - Last letters of numbeR witH verY, then (METRES)*.
11 University in China attracting a female (5)
PAULA - U in PAL = china, A.
12 Family employee showing a positive attitude (2,4)
14 Romantic approach and solemn promise that gives access to secrets? (8)
PASSWORD - Make a PASS these days at your peril; give you my WORD is to make a promise.
17 A great many unwell in Eastern state, nursed by rather fewer (8)
TRILLION - ILL inside RI (Rhode Island) inside TON.
18 Customer, old man, at marketplace (6)
PATRON - PA = old man, TRON not known to me but Collins says: a public weighing machine, the place where a tron is set up, a marketplace.
20 Millions chasing woman who does enchant (5)
CHARM - 'Woman who does' (i.e. cleans for you) = CHAR, M.
22 Say nothing adopted by sort of professor is outrageous (9)
EGREGIOUS - EG = say, REGIUS professor adopts an O.
24 Bring up opinion by newspaper: motorist looks into it (4-4,6)
REAR-VIEW MIRROR - REAR = bring up, VIEW = opinion, MIRROR = a paper, as in Daily.
25 Crikey — it's just like 1984 (2,6)
BY GEORGE - I assume this is because GEORGE Orwell wrote 1984, it was 'by' him.
26 Story-teller recalled river meeting larger body of water (5)
AESOP - The River PO meets the SEA, each reversed.

1 After broadcasting sarcastic item I must ignore defamatory methods (5,7)
SMEAR TACTICS - (SARCAST C ITEM)* an I being dropped for the anagram fodder.
2 Rather clever, providing opening for tourism in US city (5)
NIFTY - IF = providing, T = opening for tourism, inside NY city. What a nice word, nifty, we should use it more.
3 Welcoming information in part of UK investing in fuel (9)
CONGENIAL - GEN = info, NI being for now part of UK, all inside COAL fuel.
4 Shrewd, like student giving up English once (6)
ASTUTE - AS = like, TUTEE = student, loses one of its Es.
5 Rural river caught in tumult of Niagara (8)
6 Curl copper up round edge (5)
CRIMP - PC reversed around RIM.
7 Anger when lines are busy for us after one (3,6)
ILL HUMOUR - I = one, LL = lines, HUM = are busy, OUR = for us.
9 Places between flights on journey — this may be one (7-5)
LANDING-STRIP - LANDINGS are places between flights of stairs, TRIP = journey.
13 Items displayed by posters supporting this hobby (9)
PHILATELY - People who post things are 'posters', and they use stamps, and stamp collectors are into... as a hobby.
15 Mum with annoyance missing year attending a mystical retreat (7-2)
SHANGRI-LA - SH = mum, be quiet; ANGRILY = with annoyance, lose the Y, add A. It's worth a read of the Wiki entry, to see how the concept and name roots existed before James Hilton's 1933 novel Lost Horizon.
16 Room provider keen to have Queen about to occupy bed (8)
HOTELIER - HOT = keen, insert LIE = occupy bed, into ER the Queen.
19 Work on the Web to happen to involve arguments (6)
BROWSE - Insert ROWS into BE for happen.
21 American inventor leaving small item unfinished (5)
MORSE - MORSEL is unfinished.
23 Big figures try to pick up a lot of support (5)
OGRES - OG = GO (try) reversed, then RES(T) = a lot of support.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1132 by Teazel

A fine puzzle, but a ghastly solve — the perfect storm of difficulty and distraction: scrawling in answers to a very (~30%) UK-centric puzzle and simultaneously trying to prevent my two-year-old from burning the house down, all the while supervising the grandparents who are supposed to be watching the imp but who seem to require rather a lot of supervision themselves.

Forgive my terseness this week, but I think I hear a refrigerator falling over...


3 Sort of account [for] nervous anticipation (8)
SUSPENSE - double definition
I hadn't heard of a 'suspense account', but I like Merriam-Webster's definition: "an account for the temporary entry of charges or credits or especially of doubtful accounts receivable pending determination of their ultimate disposition".
7 Shout in pain, [being] cowardly (6)
YELLOW - YELL, 'OW' ("shout in pain")
8 [In] time, I lag dreadfully: a restriction on the old? (3,5)
AGE LIMIT - TIME I LAG ("time I lag") anagrammed ("dreadfully")
I usually think of this as a restriction on the young! I'd love to hear some choice examples of the other.
9 Cook[’s] agitated state (4)
STEW - double definition
10 Taking only starter in dinner, I am faint (3)
DIM - first letter of ("taking only starter in") DINNER ("dinner") + I'M ("I am")
11 Two drinks before my card game (3,5)
GIN RUMMY - GIN, RUM ("two drinks") + ("before") MY ("my")
13 Married in a church, one’s high point (4)
ACME - M ("married") in ("in") A ("a") + CE ("church")
15 Look around [in] centre of castle (4)
KEEP - PEEK ("look") reversed ("around")
I got stuck trying to put something in ST ("centre of castle").
17 Community entertainment regularly rising and falling (8)
SINGSONG - double definition
In the US, I know the former as a 'sing-along', hence I spent a lot of time trying to put something in S_N_S_N_ relating to regularly rising and falling sine waves. :(
19 We're disgusted — [and] some shrug helplessly (3)
UGH - letters in ("some") SHRUG HELPLESSLY
22 [The] genuine side of Madrid? (4)
REAL - double definition, a reference to the football team ("side"), Real Madrid
23 No more room on satellite? It happens every month (4,4)
FULL MOON - double definition, the first humorously describing the moon ("satellite")
24 Assassin was old lunatic (6)
OSWALD - WAS OLD ("was old") anagrammed ("lunatic")
Lee Harvey Oswald, that is.
25 Long-distance traveller, singular fast bowler (8)
SPACEMAN - S ("singular") + PACEMAN ("fast bowler")


1 Girl [is] to live very short time (8)
BEATRICE - BE ("to live") + A TRICE ("very short time")
And not BE + VER{y} + AGE, which as we all know is the full name of 'Beverly'.
2 Plant [is] fine further down (6)
FLOWER - F ("fine") + LOWER ("further down")
3 Change, [putting] feet up (4)
SWAP - PAWS ("feet") reversed ("up")
4 Notes day is stormy: keep calm! (6,2)
STEADY ON - NOTES DAY ("notes day") anagrammed ("is stormy")
5 Puzzle in game resolved (6)
ENIGMA - IN GAME ("in game") anagrammed ("resolved"; that is, re-solved)
6 Tin one penny? A bargain (4)
SNIP - SN ("tin", on the periodic table) + I ("one") + P ("penny")
12 Features space to grow fast (8)
MUSHROOM - MUSH ("features", as in one's face) + ROOM ("space")
14 People add up in their heads (8)
MENTALLY - MEN ("people") + TALLY ("add up")
16 But such a school is private (6)
PUBLIC - cryptic definition
This little paradox rang a bell, but after reading up on the etymology I still don't quite understand it.
18 Son to go on all fours, [showing] bad hand (6)
SCRAWL - S ("son") + CRAWL ("to go on all fours")
'Hand' as in 'handwriting'.
20 Persistently question origin of meat eaten by dog (4)
PUMP - first letter of ("origin of") MEAT ("meat") in ("eaten by") PUP ("dog")
Still sort of convinced this might be CUMR.
21 Soon a refusal from Paris (4)
ANON - A ("a") + NON ("refusal from Paris"; that is, 'no' in French)

Times Cryptic 27086

I needed 38 minutes to complete this one as it presented no major problems. There were a couple of  words / meanings I didn't know, but the wordplay was straightforward in these instances apart from the (almost)  inevitable foreign / obscure word clued as an anagram.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1131 by Joker

This initially seemed hard but I got underway quite quickly with 1dn (despite not being familiar with the university), got used to what seemed to me to be an unusual amount of verbiage in the clues and ended up completing with 14ac in 7:49. That would indicate on the easy side but not, I suspect, for less experienced solvers who may struggle to work out which parts of the clues are fillers/positioners and which require synonyms. There are a lot of initials going on as well. If you work your way through then do let us know how you got on.
I rather enjoyed 18dn but COD to 16dn for the surface and the organ.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1130 by Flamande

This puzzle took me 8 minutes so I'd say it's at the easier end of the spectrum, but it still has a few trickier clues that may stretch the brain a little more.

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Times 27085 - Coming Home?

25 minutes for this pleasant offering that had some nice misdirection if not too much to frighten the horses. Away we go...


1 Approve pub bar's term for concoction (6-5)
7 Patient man's situation? (3)
JOB - double definition (job = situation as in situations vacant)
9 Person pushing in to seize Victorian lunchbox (6-3)
TUCKER-BAG - a person who tucks or pushes a letter into an envelope might be called a tucker; to seize is to bag. Victorian here refers to the state in Australia
10 Maiden crossing island brought back hemp, of a sort (5)
SISAL - I in LASS reversed
11 What it's said 007 has on invasive code? (7)
SPYWARE - sounds like 'spy wear'
12 Dodgy individual giving ninety the sack (7)
ELUSIVE - EXCLUSIVE minus the XC (ninety in Latin). 'evasive' rather than 'elusive', I'd have thought, but close enough
13 Made great strides and took charge of fencing work (5)
15 Nurse with extra energy, first person determined to get on (9)
17 Plain cash released for Panama, perhaps (4,5)
19 Here's something to drink, after knocking back dram — cheers (5)
PINTA - NIP reversed TA
20 A fine romance, full of good humour (7)
22 Bloody child behind 80% of lawlessness! (7)
24 Wastrel filling barrel dithered around (5)
IDLER - reverse hidden
25 Smallest rabbit ultimately getting most irritation? (9)
27 Rope that's ritually burned? (3)
GUY - every 5 November...
28 One leaves coaches, wild about inventor's latest conveyance (11)
TRANSFERRAL - TRA[i]NS FERAL around [invento]R


1 Aggressive male behaviour Proust regularly exhibited (3)
RUT - every other letter in [p]R[o]U[s]T
2 Havana needs this vehicle reversing on city's outskirts (5)
BACCY - CAB reversed on outside letters of C[it]Y
3 Eastern male, messenger casting the first stone (7)
4 Minor cleric's case bound to collapse (9)
5 View that could be right (5)
ANGLE - quirky extended, geometrical definition
6 Farmland beyond river (7)
PASTURE - PAST (beyond) URE (that of Wensleydale, if I remember correct)
7 Emperor newly arrived in housing area (9)
JUSTINIAN - JUST IN (newly arrived) IN (from clue) containing (housing) A (area)
8 Little urban ground for high-speed transport (6,5)
11 Single fleas in contortions forming their own bond (4-7)
14 Dad participating wholeheartedly, to one's embarrassment (9)
PAINFULLY - PA IN FULLY ('participating wholeheartedly')
16 During reports, Officer in Command is moved (9)
18 With nothing on Persian maybe grabs some entertainment (7)
CABARET - BARE in CAT ('Persian maybe')
19 Please old ambassador in ceremony, quietly taking the lead (7)
21 Spare
no established player (5)
23 What's said to be complete fleece (5)
SHEAR - sounds like 'sheer'
26 Sesame to cultivate: large leaves (3)
TIL - TIL[l]; another name for sesame

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