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November 3rd, 2018

Jumbo 1348

I have more to comment on than usual in this one as there are a number of unfamiliar word and one clue (35A) that, despite being short, has a lot of complexity. I must make that my favourite in this solve, although I also liked 12D and 25D.

I did not time myself but I think the time was fairly standard as none of the clues were difficult to solve from wordplay and checkers, just needing subsequent fine tuning of my understanding of how the clues worked and the checking of definitions in the dictionary.

I have my doubts as to whether I will be taking up my place in the Crossword Final this year as travel arrangements are proving problematic after we moved away from the London area earlier this year, so good luck to all competitors.

1 POST-HASTE - Flora POSTE - Stella (Gibbons') girl from Cold Comfort Farm, around HAST = had
6 STAFFORDSHIRE - STAFFS = groups of workers, HIRE = engage, around O(ld) and RD = road. Stone is a town in Staffordshire
13 LOADS - LADS = boys, around O = love
15 PRAYS - sounds like PRAISE = approval
16 SILLY SEASON - SILLY = stupid, SEA = water, SON = boy
17 LOAD-BEARING - LOADING = extra premium, around BEAR = put up with
18 RAT RACE - RATE = speed, around R.A.C. = drivers
20 ASEPSIS - ASS = stupid man, around EP = record, IS
21 WIDOWER - W(ith), I = one, DOWER = sort of house
23 NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM - NATURE = character, ABHORS = finds repulsive, A VACUUM = household appliance
27 SKA - SKA(ter) = ice-dancer
28 SEESAW - SEE = Bishop's seat, SAW = was, reversed
29 BELT UP - double definition
31 INDIGNITY - double definition, the second defining IN DIGNITY referencing a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
34 PANELLIST - PT = part, around A NELL = a little girl, and IS/td>
35 HOPPER - (grass)HOPPER = insect, HOPPER = feeder and a HOPPER is only using one leg. So wordplay, straight definition and mildly cryptic definition. I could add a fourth reading with HOP = grass and PER = a, as Chambers has HOP = old slang for any narcotic which would be support for the first part. Hats off to the setter if that was intended
36 DRAGON - DR = GP, around AGON(y) = pain
39 TUG - GUT = narrow water, reversed
40 SWEEP UNDER THE CARPET - SWEEP = worker in chimney, UNDER THE CARPET = rugged on top (with a rug on top)
42 TARNISH - TARN = lake, IS, H(ospital)
43 EXTRACT - EXTRA = more, alternate letters in sCoTt
45 DRESSER - double definition, although there are plenty of dressers still found in kitchens
47 CASTING VOTE - double definition
49 DOUBLE CROSS - DOUBLE = repeated, CROSS = religious symbol. The reference to 55 is to treachery
51 IDOLA - initial letters of Initial Debate Outrageous Lies And. Wordplay was clear but needed to check the word before submission
52 ACCLAMATION - ACTION = operation, around C(aught) and LAMA = priest
53 VIRTU - VIRTU(e) = goodness. Another where the wordplay as clear but I needed to check the word before submission
55 TREACHERY - TEACHER = master, around R = one of the three basics, Y(ears)

1 PALM SPRINGS - PAL = LAP = part of course, reversed, MS = writing, P(oetry), RINGS = calls
2 STARLET - STARLIT = in faint light, with E(nergy) replacing I = one
3 HUSKY - double definition
5 EURASIA - EA = each, around URA(l)S = mountain range, and I = one
7 ANDALUSIA - (v)ANDAL = hooligan, USA = America, around I = one
8 FORMATS - FOR sounds like FOUR = a number, MATS = rugs
9 RAINBOW GUIDE - double definition
10 SEPHARDIM - (co)MRADESHIP* where the removed CO = business
11 IMARI, I, MAR = spoil, I = one
12 EAST GERMANY - the final letters in neglecteD depriveD pooR are DDR, the former East Germany's initials
19 AIRMAIL - cryptic definition
22 WASHING UP - double definition
24 TWEENAGER - TWEE(t) = message, ANGER*
25 HEELTAP - HEEL = send rugby ball back (in a scrum), TAP = gentle kick. I vaguely remembered this word for drink left in a glass
26 ARIDEST - A, RIDE = journey, ST(reet) = way
32 GARBAGE - GARB = clothes, AGE = start to wear out
33 RIDER HAGGGARD - RIDER = passenger, HAGGARD = looking drained. She is a novel by Rider Haggard
34 POTATO CRISP - POT = jar, A, TOP = lid, around alternate letters in CoRk and IS
37 NATURE STUDY - NATURE = science magazine, STUDY = sketch
38 FER-DE-LANCE - FENCE = barrier, around ALDER*
40 SOI-DISANT - SOD = ground, around I = one, IS, ANT = worker
41 NOTRE DAME - NO = absence of, TAME = uninteresting, around RED = colour
43 ECORCHE - hidden in dECOR CHEers.
44 TOURIST - TOUT = strongly recommend, around (i)RIS(h)
46 SCOURGE - SCOUR = clean, G(reas)E
48 SHOGI - SH = peace, OG I = I GO = one board game, reversed. Another one to check
50 CIVIC - a palindrome so no change on reversal. One can have a CIVIC centre and "of town" is the straight definition

A rare visit from your founder …

… who realised the other day that he was getting ready for his 25th appearance at the Times Crossword Championship.  I put together some text and photos about memories on a Facebook page.  You should not need Facebook membership to read it at https://www.facebook.com/peter.biddlecombe.1/posts/10156876890166473

Best of luck to those competing today - may see you at the George later.
This was a very interesting mix of clues. There were some lovely definitions, like 1ac and 2ac for a start.

There were also some clues that would only appeal to me if the puzzle was an open book exam. 14ac for example has a botanical answer that no doubt you could biff from the helpers if you knew it (which I didn’t), or you could derive from the wordplay if and only if you knew the other botanical term used there (which I didn’t). Otherwise, the whole clue might be a hell of a bore (sorry – couldn’t resist). Fortunately, I detected my vast ignorance early and looked up several answers, so for the purists I am an unrepentant DNF on this puzzle.

There were also many nice clues, but none stood out to me as the clue of the day. Perhaps I’ll pick 8dn for the pleasure of getting an unknown answer from wordplay. Feel free to make your nominations in the comments. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Sacks returned for final part of letters (5)
SERIF: FIRES (sacks) backwards (returned). Very clever definition, I thought.

4 Weaving carpet and matting would surely defeat me (3-6)
TAP-DANCER: (CARPET AND*). And another clever definition – the whole clue describes a problem that might stump a tap-dancer.

9 Peace created by fog and frost by a river (9)
ARMISTICE: A / R (river) / MIST (fog) / ICE (frost).

10 This trailer is a water container (5)
GOURD: double definition, I assume, although I don’t know whether gourds necessarily grow on (trailing) vines. Some do, clearly.

11 Just know Eskimos will have little time inside (6)
INTUIT: T (time) inside INUIT. Another nice definition.

12 Way for London to lose its attraction and shopping centre (4,4)
PALL MALL: PALL (lose its attraction) / MALL (shopping centre).

14 Round campanula flower turned back in present flowering plant (9)
HELLEBORE: O (round) + BELL (campanula flower) all “turned back”, inside HERE (present). An open book clue as far as I’m concerned, since I didn’t know either the answer or the flower in the wordplay.

16 Bluff chap (5)
CLIFF: double definition.

17 Will possibly sounds like a small child (5)
MIGHT: sounds like “MITE”. I had to look carefully to identify the definition, since it’s so natural to assume “possibly” is a wordplay element.

19 Girl group with European dance number (9)
SARABANDE: SARA is the girl, BAND is the group, E is the European. I didn’t know the dance.

21 Large wild agaves adjacent to sierra resort (3,5)
LAS VEGAS: L (large) / (AGAVES*) / S (sierra, in the phonetic alphabet).

22 Man and woman creating fine woollen cloth (6)
VICUNA: VIC is the man, UNA the woman.

25 Way to change one’s view when queen enters (5)
TRACK: to change TACK after R (queen) enters.

26 Prickly, good for temperature, as most desert crops are (9)
IRRIGABLE: IRRITABLE (prickly) with T (temperature) changed to G (good).

27 Some rowing about agreement with king’s order to forces (4,5)
EYES RIGHT: the rowers are an EIGHT. Insert YES (agreement) and R (king).

28 Fail with a Japanese poem (5)
TANKA: TANK (fail) / A. Another that would be obvious if you knew this form of Japanese poetry.

1 Dish for a European spread is in character, mostly (7,8)
SPANISH OMELETTE: SPAN (spread) / IS / HOME (in) / LETTE[r] (character).

2 Right to give out pardon (5)
REMIT: R (right) / EMIT (give out).

3 What’s established during a number of Christmases? (7)

4 Weak object loses its end (4)

5 Small flat pastry with fruit? Sin coming up! (4-1-5)
PIED-À-TERRE: PIE (pastry) / DATE (fruit) / ERR (sin) backwards.

6 Strangely genial Conservative is exceptionally kind (7)
ANGELIC: (GENIAL*) / C (Conservative).

7 Reason for action about America? No, it’s over (9)
CAUSATION: CA (about) / USA (America) / NO IT backwards (is over).

8 Film a red car for novel adaptation outside suspect café in Oxford location (9,6)
RADCLIFFE CAMERA: (FILM A RED CAR*) outside (CAFÉ*). Again, one anagram inside another – amounting in the end to one big anagram. I didn’t know of this building, but got it from the anagram.

13 Prophet’s hurrying to give an example of joint endeavour (3,7)

15 Member misses deadline to vote through law (9)

18 Challenged traveller in space series killing star king and queen (7)
TREKKER: STAR TREK is the space series. Kill the STAR, and add K (king) and ER (queen).

20 Girl is cross over ending of benefit (7)
BRIDGET: BRIDGE (cross over) / [benefit]T.

23 Merged group of four banks in the City (5)
URBAN: hidden answer.

24 Run in Oscar Wilde, perhaps for a court order (4)
WRIT: R for run inside WIT.

The Times Crosswords Championships 2018

If anyone has happened to glance at the TfT right-hand sidebar, you will see that the results of the 2018 Championships are out, and we are once again providing links to the results.

Other than the actual results, interested parties who did not attend know little or nothing, as the Times does not usually publish its report until the following Monday.  However, it is evident from both the results and Keriothe's comment in the Sunday puzzle blog that the great Magoo has finally been dethroned, and we have a new champion.

Well, here is a thread to discuss this exciting development.   Contestants and onlookers are all invited to comment at length, although I am asking that you not reveal the actual clues and answers, as the Times will be reusing the puzzles in its regular daily rota.