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February 3rd, 2018

Jumbo 1305

A puzzle that was on the easier side, with perhaps only one unusual word (6D) and even that came with some helpful wordplay. COD to 34D for the nice surface and a favourite expression of mine.

I was looking through some old issues of New Scientist and found a reference to the supposed fact (from some 2005 research) that people lying down solve anagrams in 10% less time than people standing up. I have no idea if there is any genuine scientific basis for the claim but I just thought I'd resurrect it and pass it on in case anyone fancies doing a field test.

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Well, that was hard. After about two and a half times as long as last week, I finally felt reasonably sure I knew all the answers, but now as I submit the blog five days later I am still be far from sure how to explain all the clues. It feels like we’ve gone back to the olden days, when clues had a more free-wheeling approach!

Mind you, it might just be that I’ve missed the point, and the clues – 25 and 27 ac – are even more clever than usual! We may have to draw on the wisdom of the crowd. If you can add enlightenment in the comments, I’ll update the blog. On edit: in summary, I think the consensus of the wise ones is that 25ac can be parsed as a perhaps slightly awkward and certainly obscure cryptic definition. 27ac seems to be a loose humorous definition with perhaps a gap in the wordplay.

For me, the clue of the day is 12ac, because the answer is so at odds with every part of the clue!! I’ve also seen appreciation expressed for 11dn. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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

Across
1 A sign outside court depicting clown (3,3,4)
ACT THE GOAT: A (the letter “a”), THE GOAT (an astrological sign), all around CT (court).
6 Some requirement for café waitressing (1,3)
A FEW: hidden answer.
9 Some simply dreadful abuses (10)
MISEMPLOYS: (SOME SIMPLY*).
10 Bear does, maybe, crawl (4)
FAWN: to bear does would be to fawn.
12 Headgear which is worn by everyone in English cricket side (3-6,3)
TEN-GALLON HAT: one of those nested “Russian doll” clues. THAT (which), around ENG (English) + ON (cricket side), in turn around ALL (everyone).
15 Medal with a chain on friend in US resort (4,5)
PALM BEACH: PAL (friend), MBE (medal), A, CH (chain).
17 Close to farm, sort of grass ditches (5)
MOATS: M is the close to (last letter of) “farm”, OATS is a sort of grass. Combine.
18 Paintings depicting girl at end of the century (5)
TONDI: a TON is a century, DI is a girl who frequently visits our crosswords. A tondo (pl. tondi) is a circular painting.
19 Wood supplier’s men brought back pine for engineers, European (5,4)
ROWAN TREE: OR (men) backwards, WANT (pine), RE (engineers), E (European).
20 Frantically, I insist gym clubs hold nothing against women (12)
MISOGYNISTIC: (I INSIST GYM C O*), where C is for clubs, and O means nothing. Topical.
24 Fix clock (4)
SPOT: double definition. “I’m in a fix”, or “I clock that person”.
25 What one would give to be involved in the group matches! (5,5)
BLOOD DONOR: the first of the mystery clues. Normally a cryptic definition is a valid but unusual or obscure way of describing the answer. Here obviously a blood donor gives blood, and the blood bank works out its blood group, but is this really meant to be a cryptic definition? If so how does it work? In short, what have I missed??  On edit: I think z8b8d8k and jerrywh have seen through it. Replace "what one" by "who", which is a plausible change, and get "who would give [blood] to be involved in the [blood] group matches". So it is indeed a cryptic definition.
26 Deserts partner in the middle — of this? (4)
DUET: I originally classified this as a second mystery clue, although I think I largely unravelled it once I discarded the original idea that “deserts” was the definition, thus giving DUES as the answer – even though none of that seemed to relate to the rest of the clue. On reflection it seems to be the other way round: DUE can be deserts, as in “he got his deserts/due”, although perhaps the two words have slightly different shades of meaning; T is the middle letter of {par}T{ner}. Put them together and get the DUET the two of you are singing, although I’m still puzzled how it can be a duet after you desert partner!
27 What’s played during break time, not during school holidays? (10)
INTERMEZZO: and yet another mystery! If it’s not school holidays, it is of course “IN TERM”, but I have no idea where the “EZZO” comes from. I even wondered for a while when I couldn’t get 23dn, whether this answer might be INTERMEZZI.

Down
1 Confession from doctor that goes in magazine: ...? (4)
AMMO: “I am an M.O.” is the hypothetical confession. Bullets are the ammo that goes in the gun magazine.
2 ... at first this is in Paris Match (4)
TEST: “at first” T{his} gives T; EST is “is” in Paris.
3 Hard, black earth fills escarpment forming UK landmark (6,6)
HUMBER BRIDGE: UMBER for “earth”, between (“filling”) H for hard and B for black, then RIDGE for escarpment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humber_Bridge
4 Camp’s untypical after vacation, shrouded in silence (5)
GULAG: UL is U{ntypica}L “after vacation”. Put it inside (“shrouded in”) GAG, as in to gag/silence dissent.
5 DA who only worked casually (3,3,3)
ANY OLD HOW: (DA WHO ONLY*).
7 Streak on badger one likes to show off (5,5)
FLASH HARRY: FLASH (streak), HARRY (badger). Possibly not a term known to all non-UK solvers.
8 Person presented bouquets, perhaps, with one final flower (4,6)
WINE TASTER: W (with), I (one), NET (final), ASTER (flower). Wines have bouquets among many characteristics.
11 Pearls from Rouen, maybe, for old actor (6,6)
NORMAN WISDOM: pearls of wisdom, obviously, in this case from the capital of Normandy. If you don’t remember Norman Wisdom, you may not be alone.
13 In tele-ads, off and on, sanctimonious chap is made an example of (10)
EPITOMISED: “tele-ads off and on” (every second letter) gives EED. Wrap that around PI (sanctimonious), TOM (random chap), and IS.
14 Non-leftist’s dissembling animated Fred (10)
FLINTSTONE: (NON LEFTIST*). If any of our community is young enough not to remember the Flintstones, please don’t tell me!
16 Hormone turning up one way and another in sodium (9)
ADRENALIN: NA is the chemical symbol for sodium. Wrap that around I (one), LANE (way), RD (road, or another way). Then reverse (“turn up”) the whole assemblage!
21 Field needing seconds to get through (5)
SCOPE: S for seconds, COPE to get through.
22 Japanese school: one that’s raised girl (4)
INEZ: ZEN (Japanese school), I (one). Then reverse (“raise”) the whole thing.
23 Writer lowering one’s spirit (4)
BRIO: BIRO (writer), with the I repositioned.