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May 20th, 2018

Sunday Times 4798 by David McLean

17:18. I felt I made very heavy weather of this. I solved about half of it very quickly indeed, but then slowed to a crawl. Broadly speaking I found the north-east a lot easier than the south-west, but in many cases I was making problems for myself (I had TITTILATE for quite a long time) and/or being very slow to twig things that seem simple in retrospect. GODIVA, for instance, was my last in and I kicked myself hard when the penny finally dropped.

So I wonder if it was just me, or if others found this a bit trickier than it now seems. From my point of view any difficulty involved certainly didn’t come from the use of obscurity. LEONIDAS isn’t the first king to come to my mind, but I’m sure he’s come up before, and everything else was perfectly familiar. And as we’ve come to expect from Harry the whole thing was very entertaining.

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

Across
1 There’s no place for mild bitter
ACID - plACID.
4 Book with hot photo takes the biscuit
BRANDY SNAP - B, RANDY, SNAP.
9 In the past, I got up out of habit
GODIVA - CD.
10 King unhappy one Christmas after a turn
LEONIDAS - reversal (after a turn) of SAD, I, NOEL. King of Sparta, killed at the battle of Thermopylae by the Persian army led by Xerxes, who also appears here from time to time.
11 Vulgar party game for swingers?
BASEBALL - BASE (vulgar), BALL (party), then a cryptic definition.
13 Get a dry drop of Amarone at home
ATTAIN - A, TT (teetotal, dry), Amarone, IN (home).
14 Replace heads of old left in African state
CALIFORNIA - (Old, Left, In AFRICAN)*. This one took me ages to see. It seems simple in retrospect but perhaps it’s not completely obvious how the wordplay works. So much so in fact that I got it wrong. Thanks to anon below for correcting me.
16 Clue guide
LEAD - DD. The first definition is the kind of LEAD a detective might get.
17 Correct turning point for reversing
EDIT - reversal of TIDE. In this case a high or low one: the sort which taken at the flood leads on to fortune.
18 It’s a little odd and tickles a little
TITILLATES - (IT’S A LITTLE)*.
20 Not just as brown mops are?
UNFAIR - two definitions, one slightly cryptic. A ‘mop’ is hair, of course.
21 Fruit works with, say, grapefruit starter
EGGPLANT - PLANT (works) preceded by EG, Grapefruit. The people who insist that an aubergine is a fruit no doubt adopt the same position on the tomato. Don’t eat their fruit salad. You should probably avoid their ratatouille too, come to think of it.
23 Man in silk changing foreign capital
HELSINKI - HE, (IN SILK)*. Somewhere I will be going a lot less when I leave my job in a couple of weeks.
24 Brood on times I left to go to The East
LITTER - reversal of RE (on), TT (times), I, L.
26 Writer’s stuff is unmoving on radio
STATIONERY - sounds like ‘stationary’. Chestnut.
27 Perhaps a school in need of turning around
NOTE - reversal of ETON. Cunning definition.

Down
2 My love wants company in the van
COO - O (love) with CO (company) in front of it (in the van).
3 Ambition to succeed? It’ll be a long shot
DRIVE - DD. The second definition wasn’t necessarily accurate when I played golf.
4 Swagger shown by upcoming lawyer with excellent case
BRAVADO - BRAV(AD)O. The reversed (upcoming) lawyer is a DA.
5 Where sleepers might be found at every point
ALL ALONG THE LINE - two definitions, one a mildly cryptic reference to railway sleepers.
6 Small scene in play is Iago’s first and last
DIORAMA - D(IagO)RAMA.
7 Can I still cast piece of little substance?
SCINTILLA - (CAN I STILL)*. The small piece is almost always evidence, but it is almost always absent.
8 Babe in a car collecting a new coffee-maker
ARABICA BEAN - (BABE IN A CAR, A)*. The wordplay suggests that strictly you have to insert the A into BABE IN A CAR and then make an anagram. Where you insert the A is up to you.
12 A group of dudes close to arrest for desertion
ABANDONMENT - A, BAND, ON, MEN, arresT. You have to separate each element here to get ON from ‘of’. I don’t really understand how the two are equivalent though: Chambers gives ‘on’ as a definition of ‘of’ but I can’t think of a sentence where you can substitute one for the other. Can you?
15 Out of order train isn’t on its way
IN TRANSIT - (TRAIN ISN’T)*.
18 Piece from editor on touristy city abroad
TORONTO - contained in ‘editor on touristy’. Somewhere I will be going a lot more when I leave my job in a couple of weeks.
19 Large ship must give European a lift by law
LEGALLY - L, GALLEY with the E moved up (given a lift) to the beginning.
22 Language seen in loo left by King and Earl
LATIN - LATrINe.
25 Have seconds in new cafe by the front in Torquay
EAT - second letters in ‘nEw cAfe’, Torquay

Mephisto 3011 - Tim Moorey

I didn't have too much difficulty with this one, and I thought the design of the grid was very solver friendly, with a lot of thre letter strings in checked letters.

It was an interesting choice of wor at 9 down and 26 down - with DEA?  leading to six possibilities in Chambers I wonder why the least familiar (at least to me) was chosen, similarly for the 13 possibilities for ?ING

First definitions in clues are underlined.

Away we go...

Across
1 Hush punctures endlessly rude acting colleagues (7)
COSTARS - ST(hush) inside COARS(e)(rude)
6 Mostly, large fly did swarm in the Highlands (5)
BIKED - BI(g), KED(fly)
10 Treat with quinine? Something easy is occupying one (10)
CINCHONISE - CINCH(something easy) then IS in ONE
11 In Edinburgh that skimpy swimwear’s no good (4)
THON - THONG swimwear missing G
13 Drop of alcohol and seaman’s on about bloomers (6)
ERRATA - A(lcohol), TAR(seaman), RE(on) all reversed
14 Malaysian lord keeping time oddly for piece worker (6)
TUTMAN - TUAN(lord) containing alternating letters in TiMe
16 Flautist periodically allowed in Scotland (4)
LUIT - alternating letters in fLaUtIsT
18 Write in English for George Town (6)
PENANG - PEN(wrtie) ANG(Anglice, in English)
20 Taking advantage, furious Head canes on occasion, as before (9)
ENCHEASON - remove A(advantage) from an anagram of HEAD,CANES
21 Television screening one old ruler and bishop on a fasting day (9, two words)
TISHAH B'AV - TV(television) containing I, SHAH(old ruler), B(bishop). A Listed under about 75 different spellings in Chambers
24 Agree rise on the radio (6)
ASSENT - sounds like ASCENT
25 Old enemies are fine with joke (4)
FONE - F(fine), ONE(joke)
28 Henry in battered Panama hat getting evidence of complaint (6)
APHTHA - H in an anagram of PA,HAT
30 Strain to develop form of insect (6)
INSTAR - anagram of STRAIN
31 Sight that is seen in Polo? (4)
VIEW - IE(that is) in VW(the Polo is a Volkswagen car)
32 Cuckoos in the country for artificial reduction (10)
NANISATION - ANIS(cuckoos) in the NATION
33 Term for excessive luminance involved with 60% of argon (5)
GLARE - an all-in-one anagram of (excessiv)E, L(luminance) and ARG(on)
34 Criminal activity surprisingly clear and near once (7)
LARCENY - anagram of CLEAR, then NY(alternative spelling of NIGH)

Down
1 Costa Rican orchid that’s neat? Yes, when from the south (8)
CATTLEYA - CATTLE(neat), then AY(yes) reversed
2 Part of Samoa, hugely popular Pacific location (4)
OAHU - hidden in samOA HUgely
3 Feeling in Glasgow is cosmetic, sadly English unwanted (9)
SCOTICISM - anagram of IS,COSMETIC minus E
4 Short dagger first-class? It’s not permitted to have one (6)
ANLACE - A(first class), NL(non licet, not permitted), ACE(one)
5 Leicester’s boss is a mug (10)
SHEEPSHEAD - or SHEEP'S HEAD
6 Narrow-minded leader of opposition in the island (6)
BORNEO - BORNE(narrow-minded), O(pposition)
7 Prize picker not fully set up? That’s concerning (4, two words)
IN RE - ERNI(e) reversed. ERNIE has a webpage
8 High tension surrounding one European language (8)
ESTONIAN - anagram of TENSION containing A
9 Leaving Centre, walked in water northwards with early freshness forgotten (4)
DEAW - reversal of WA(d)ED
12 One old test not depicting rural life (10)
UNPASTORAL - UN(one), PAST(old), ORAL(test)
15 Pottery teacher potting nothing paltry (9)
BARBOTINE - BARBE(teacher) containing O(nothing), TIN(paltry, like tin-hat or tin-god)
17 University boy with a first from LSE sounding together (8)
UNISONAL - UNI, SON, A, L(se)
19 Present Queen holds a view that’s disguised (8)
GIVEAWAY - GAY(queen, homosexual) containing an anagram of A,VIEW
22 Indians echo line (6)
INCASE - INCAS(Indians) E(echo)
23 Apprentice publicity causing damage no longer (6)
APPAIR - APP(apprentice), AIR(publicity)
26 Foul-smelling resin in fact not opened (4)
HING - THING(fact) missing the beginning
27 Nick’s to start to move (4)
STIR - double definition
29 Turned up once topless? That’s cut! (4)
HEWN - SHEWN(turned up) missing the top