Pip Kirby (pipkirby) wrote in times_xwd_times,
Pip Kirby
pipkirby
times_xwd_times

Times 26865 - to wit, to woo, this was fun. But tricky.

I came to this straight after finishing another, easier puzzle and feeling 'warmed up.' However I soon cooled down as my first pass saw only a few clues in the NW corner filled in and many more which looked intractable, even a bit weird.
Gradually the little grey cells did their job and the Penny Drop Moments came along, revealing a hatful of ingenious wordplay and devious definitions. Forty minutes of fun. I wasn't familiar with the exact expressions at 5d and 15d but they seemed likely phrases. For the sheer baffling brilliance of its surface - which had me struggling until the checkers were in - I vote for 16a as the CoD.

Across
1 Defender returned to usual position? (4-4)
LEFT BACK - Cryptic definition.
6 Pickle to grate for container (6)
JAMJAR - JAM = pickle, as in in a spot; JAR = grate. I think two words is more usual but the dictionaries allow jamjar as one.
9 Travel report for Japanese game (6)
GOBANG - GO = travel BANG = report. A board game involving trying to place 5 counters in a row, more usually called GOMUKO in Japanese.
10 Leader of Bolshevik women — or crazed reformer? (3,5)
NEW BROOM - (B WOMEN OR)*. Took me an age to see it was an anagram.
11 Office worker of note, one sitting in house (4)
TEMP - TE – musical note, MP sits in the House.
12 Shortage of decent cells with migrants slowly escaping? (5,5)
BRAIN DRAIN - I think &lit. cryptic definitions don’t come any smarter or more topical than this..
14 Bogart film, something that opens slowly (3,5)
KEY LARGO - a key opens, and largo means slowly in musical terms .
16 The Central Line in E London has eleven stops (4)
AXIS - HAS in East London speak could be ‘AS. Insert (‘stops’) XI for eleven. Blimey guv, that’s neat.
18 Vessel that’s empty picked up by mistake? (4)
VEIN - Sounds like VAIN, meaning empty as in ‘empty threat’ perhaps..
19 Some mocking hosts repelled European girl (8)
JENNIFER - Here’s our random girl’s name answer of the day. Insert FINN reversed (repelled European) into JEER = some mocking.
21 In place of repartee, was sitting wrapping present (5,3,2)
WHERE IT’S AT - A bit of an odd definition, I think. I untangled this as HERE inside WIT = repartee, and HERE SAT = was sitting. There’s probably a clearer way to express it. EDIT there is, as elucidated below; the definition is "in place" not "present" and WIT and SAT are around HERE. Doh.
22 Sound shocked when doctor comes round (4)
GASP - AS = when, surrounded by GP = doctor.
24 Nude pictures of an Archer are OTT: I’m rattled (8)
AMORETTI - This didn’t turn out to be as tasty as I’d imagined. An Amoretto is a representation of Cupid in art, not just an almond biscuit as I’d thought. Anagram time, (ARE OTT I’M)*.
26 Sort of home? Not there (2,1,3)
IN A WAY - Home = IN, AWAY = not there.
27 Working uniform, black (6)
USABLE - U = uniform, SABLE = black.
28 Relieved lover no longer exhausted, missing one (8)
EXEMPTED - EX = lover no longer, EMPTIED = exhausted, remove the I. I suppose there is a sense in which relieved can mean exempted, as in ‘relieved from duty’?

Down
2 Recall some returning from trek overseas (5)
EVOKE - Hidden reversed in TR(EK OVE)RSEAS.
3 Bouncer’s long walk round ship (11)
TRAMPOLINER - TRAMP = long walk, O = round, LINER = ship.
4 Fare’s going up after month in German town (8)
AUGSBURG - AUG = month, GRUB’S = fare’s, reversed.
5 A joker, initially, took care, using awfully rough sentences (8,7)
KANGAROO JUSTICE - Anagram of (A J TOOK CARE USING)*. I got the kangaroo bit and had the letters for justice left over, I’d heard of a kangaroo court which obviously can dispense ‘kangaroo justice’ but I can’t actually find any reference on the net to the two words together being a phrase in use.
6 Maybe doing better than warring faction of German yesmen? (6)
JAWING - Well, they say “jaw, jaw, is better than war, war”, although Mr Trump might disagree where Rocket Man is concerned. And the JA WING could be a bunch of German yes-men.
7 Drinker finally overcome by mother’s ruin (3
MAR - MA = mother, R = drinker finally.
8 Native area suffered without a single soldier (9)
ABORIGINE - A(rea), BORNE (suffered), insert I GI = a single soldier.
13 Trailer in Welsh county possessed by one travelling light (7,4)
READING LAMP - One travelling = REP. Insert AD (trailer), IN, GLAM (short for Glamorgan). Not the best of definitions.
15 Come home, through Slough for example (3,6)
EYE RHYMES - &lit. Those who amuse themselves with poetry will probably like this clue, but I didn’t. I had all the checkers and saw it must be EYE something before the penny dropped. Examples of words which look like they’ll rhyme, because of the similar spelling, but they don’t. How do people from abroad ever master English, when there are so many ways to pronounce -OUGH-?
17 Out — or still facing the bowler? (2,6)
ON STRIKE - Cryptic DD, one cricket related. More my kind of clue.
20 One going to market on foot? (3,3)
BIG TOE - Amusing cryptic definition; as in this little piggy went to market, this little piggy… . I hope I don’t need to provide further explanation.
23 Wind in southern plain, mostly (5)
SNAKE - I think this is S for south and NAKE(D). Does naked equal plain in some way?
25 Rag and bone (3)
RIB - Another double definition, rag in the sense of tease.
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