jackkt (jackkt) wrote in times_xwd_times,
jackkt
jackkt
times_xwd_times

Times Cryptic 27038

"This puzzle was presented as a British cryptic challenge to contestants at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in March. The fastest solving time was 12 minutes".

I don't think we've ever had an individual solving time indicated before, but it only served to prove once again (as if I needed reminding) how far at the back of the field I am, as I needed 50 minutes to fill the grid. Most of it was fairly straightforward other than 8ac over which I lost a lot of time and needed all the checkers in place before eventually coming up with the answer.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

Across
1 Chaplain is sorry for holding composer back (7)
ROSSINI - Hidden [holding] and reversed [back] in {chapla}IN IS SOR{ry}. A rare example of a definition being neither at the very beginning nor at the very end of a clue.
5 Sort of noble word ultimately preferred by gentlemen? (6)
BLONDE - Anagram [sort] of NOBLE {wor}D [ultimately]. The definition refers to the 1925 novel 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' famously made into a film in 1953 starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.
8 Tiny weight of messengers dressed up as elderly relatives? (9)
NANOGRAMS - This is one billionth of a gram. I was under illusion that 'gram' (as opposed to 'gramme') was exclusively an American spelling but apparently it's not, or not so any longer. I'm unsure what's going on in the second part of the clue but imagine it's a cryptic hint based on the idea that if 'stripograms' are messengers dressed up (at least initially) as something or other, then 'nanograms' might be messengers dressed up as nans (elderly relatives) but hopefully not with the intention of performing striptease! Apart from that rather strange concept which made the cryptic half of the clue unfathomable other than by reverse engineering, I was a little thrown by the definition suggesting the singular whilst requiring an answer in the plural - not that there was anything wrong with this in retrospect.
9 Kind of theatre seat, note, next to small dog (3-2)
TIP-UP - TI (note), PUP (small dog)
11 A halfwit or two seen around start of period (5)
IDIOT - II (two) contains [seen around] the first letter [start] of DOT (period). The target audience for this puzzle use the word 'period' for 'full stop' as represented by a dot. I don't recall seeing this variation on standard containment previously.
12 Gangster fooled gal, disgracefully (9)
GOODFELLA - Anagram [disgracefully] of FOOLED GAL. Not a word I knew other than as a brand of pizza, but no doubt everyone but me is familiar with its mafia associations if only from watching the Robert de Niro film.
13 Much power in performance tailed away, time after time (8)
GIGAWATT - GIG (performance), AWA{y} [tailed], TT (time after time)
15 Hut for redeveloping, just missing out on a medal? (6)
FOURTH - Anagram [redeveloping] of HUT FOR. This reminded me that I'm still smarting from failing to solve 'perfect interval' in a recent ST puzzle.
17 House seen in vacation can be filmed another time (6)
RESHOT - HO (house) in REST (vacation)
19 A little mischief by lassoer is unseemly (8)
IMPROPER - IMP (a little mischief), ROPER (lassoer)
22 Steadfast and united, mark well, before finale (9)
UNBENDING - U (united), NB (mark well - nota bene), ENDING (finale)
23 Sanctimonious group’s conduct (5)
PILOT - PI (sanctimonious), LOT (group)
24 Certain ears, or part of one, catching second bit of music (5)
DURUM - DRUM (part of one - referring back to 'ears') containing [catching] {m}U{sic} [second bit]. This is a type of wheat perhaps best known for making  pasta. In addition to the organs of hearing, 'ears' are the parts of cereal plants which contain the flowers or seeds, most usually associated with corn or maize but perhaps wheat too.
25 Angling: so unusual an activity for joining in (9)
SINGALONG - Anagram [unusual] of ANGLING SO. 'Singalongamax' was very popular in its day as are 'Sound of Music' singalongs still.
26 Two common sources of allergy in China once (6)
CATHAY - CAT + HAY (two common sources of allergy)
27 Small tear maybe in work permit found on drive (7)
DROPLET - DR (drive), OP (work), LET (permit)
Down
1 Makes a few phone calls after race: that’s easily best (3,5,5)
RUN RINGS ROUND - RUN (race), RINGS ROUND (makes a few phone calls). 'Best' in the sense of 'defeat' or 'beat'.
2 Louis XIV, laid low at home with gout at first (3,4)
SUN KING - SUNK (laid low), IN (at home), G{out} [at first]
3 Bar that’s fashionable acquired (5)
INGOT - IN (fashionable), GOT (acquired)
4 I called, worried to discover old political scandal (8)
IRANGATE - I, RANG (called), ATE (worried). More correctly known as the Iran-Contra Scandal, this occurred 1985-1987 during Ronnie Reagan's second term of office. It may not have come so easily to mind today were it not for the incumbent President's current activities in the region.
5 Waiter’s assistant initially should be ordered to block purchase (6)
BUSBOY - S{hould} B{e} O{rdered} [initially] contained by [to block] BUY (purchase). I only knew this word because it cropped up in March clued as 'American waiter' and Kevin Gregg pointed out the inaccuracy of that definition.
6 Foot odour spreading in the open air (3-2-4)
OUT-OF-DOOR - Anagram [spreading] of FOOT ODOUR. What a distasteful picture the surface reading brings to mind!
7 Sort of shift from place that druggie’s around (7)
DOPPLER - DOPER [druggie] contains [around] PL (place). The Doppler effect is the apparent shift of pitch experienced e.g. as the siren of an emergency vehicle is heard to approach and pass.
10 Be apparently unwilling to see obscure piece of theatre? (4,4,2,3)
PLAY HARD TO GET - A straight defintion and a cryptic hint
14 Divine being in chase: departs New York at speed! (4,5)
WOOD NYMPH - WOO (chase), D (departs), NY (New York), MPH (speed - miles per hour)
16 Dreamed of aged mini being restored (8)
IMAGINED - Anagram [restored] of AGED MINI
18 Lives overturned by Soviet police chief in gulag setting (7)
SIBERIA - IS (lives) reversed [overturned], BERIA (Soviet police chief). 'Sent to Siberia' is a traditional term for punishment and imprisonment in harsh conditions in the USSR.
20 Extract bribe, perhaps, swapping parts around (4,3)
PALM OIL - OIL PALM (bribe) [swapping parts around]
21 General Secretary, steeped in compassion, finding place for Wilbur? (6)
PIGSTY - GS (General Secretary) contained by [steeped in] PITY (compassion). Wilbur is the porcine hero of 'Charlotte's Web' apparently - a reference completely lost on me.
23 Art gallery having trouble with public relations (5)
PRADO - PR (public relations), ADO (trouble). The national gallery in Madrid.
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