January 1st, 2019


Times Quick Cryptic 1256 by Joker

Happy New Year everyone! Everything seems a bit slow for some reason (!) this morning and today’s crossword was no exception. You may want to wait a bit later than I did and be a bit more prepared before tackling it. I wasn’t making much progress anywhere at first but those I did get were clever so I settled down to chew slowly through the rest and found much to enjoy. Only your comments will establish if this was indeed tricky or if I was just making heavy weather of it. My end time was 17:51 which surely starts my new year in the SCC but I find the company stimulating!
11ac turned out to be prophetic - so well done and thanks to the person mentioned therein. Loi by a margin was 19ac and gets my cod.

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Monthly Club Special No 20,219: Terracottamasalata

The usual masterclass in clues which most mortals will have no chance whatsoever of Bunging In From Definition, needing to tease almost every one out painstakingly from the wordplay. Can JIRD and CIGUATOXIC *really* be words? Dictionary says yes!

And some very lovely wordplay there is herein too - I was particularly fond of a few of the down clues. Honourable mentions to "chill out, brah!" and the off-the-wall madness of YURT/YUFT, but the biggest smile was raised by 3dn managing to hide such a long word in a philanthropist and an ostrich. Another really good puzzle - much admiration to the brilliant setter!

1 Discarded bits of gold line considered magical reflected American vanities (6-4)
YELLOW-BOYS: reversed LEY [line considered magical] + LOWBOYS [American vanities]
An obsolete word for gold coins, hence the "discarded". Lowboys are short-legged American dressing tables with drawers, apparently.

6 Must for fermenting? (4)
STUM - (MUST*) ["for fermenting"], &lit, as stum is pretty much the same thing as must, unfermented grape juice.

9 Ruddy six-footer as Walloon’s rival? (10)
FLAMINGANT - FLAMING ANT [ruddy | six-footer]. A Flemish nationalist, hence no friend to Wallonia.

10 Prisoner releases a one-pound rodent (4)
JIRD - J{ailb}IRD [prisoner, minus A 1 LB]. A jird is some kind of Berber gerbil.

12 Intensity of warmth, both reduced by flapping true spotted cloth (7,7)
HEATHER MIXTURE - HEA{t} THERMI{c} [intensity | of warmth, "both reduced"] + X [by] + (TRUE*) ["flapping"]. A woolen fabric speckled like heather.

14 I repair junk: I live in Philippine mountains (6)
IGOROT - I GO ROT [I | repair | junk]. A Filipino ethnic group inhabiting the mountains of Luzon.

15 Proper lives led by instant messaging in the first place (8)
IMPRIMIS - PRIM IS [proper | lives] "led by" IM [instant messaging]

17 Reluctant to wear headless dummy’s strip (8)
UNCLOTHE - LOTH [reluctant] to wear {d}UNCE ["headless" dummy]

19 Aberdeen’s distant: return its grant to stop minor injury (6)
ABEIGH - reverse GIE [(Scottish word for) grant] inside ABH [minor injury (as opposed to GBH)] to get a Scots (Aberdeen's) word for aloof.

22 Violent bishop accepted by God passed easily in America, having leather straps (14)
THOROUGHBRACED - ROUGH B [violent | bishop] "accepted by" THOR [God] + ACED [passed easily (as in a test), in America]

24 Christian soldier statues were buried here in China (4)
XIAN - double def. Xi'an, home of the famous Terracotta Army.

25 Tricky to read clue free of impurities amenable to solution (10)
EDULCORATE - (TO READ CLUE*) ["tricky"]. Means "to free from soluble particles by washing".

26 Reminder that there’s potassium in long green fruit (4)
CUKE - CUE [reminder] that there's K [potassium] in

27 I deeply lament abuse about climate indicators (10)
ISOCRYMALS - I SO CRY [I | deeply | lament] + reversed SLAM [abuse]. An isocryme or -crymal is "a line connecting points on the Earth's surface having the same mean temperature in the coldest month of the year."

1 Birchbark-oiled leather tent of Siberia with right side cut
off almost-lowest part? (4)
YUFT - YURT is the tent of Siberia, find its penultimate letter ("almost-lowest part") and cut the right side off so that an R becomes an F. Yuft is Russian leather, I'll take the birchbark-oiled bit on faith.

2 Release Australian plant-eater south of grassland (5,2)
LEAVE GO - VEGO [Australian plant-eater: the equivalent of a "veggie" here I assume?] south of LEA [grassland]

3 “Overarching” philanthropist hot on ostrich cages (12)
OPISTHOTONOS - impressive hidden ("caged") in {philanthr}OPIST HOT ON OS{trich}

4 Minor software problem that produces shrill reports? (6)
BUGLET - if a BUG is a software problem then a BUGLET could be a minor one of those. Or else it's, as you might guess, a small bugle.

5 One has permission to set about guenon monkey raised for forest-dwellers (8)
YANOMAMI - I MAY [one has permission] set about MONA [guenon monkey], all reversed for the traditionalist Amazon tribespeople that there were lots of films and documentaries about in the 1980s.

7 Bring up half-forgotten Hawaiian dress scandal a few days before a feast (7)
TRIDUUM - MUU-{muu} DIRT ["half-forgotten" Hawaiian dress | scandal], all reversed. A period of prayer or religious celebration lasting three days.

8 Recall Noah’s son, mostly groomed within religious schools (10)
MEDRESSEHS - reversed SHEM [Noah's son], DRESSE{d} ["mostly" groomed] within. Fortunately the wordplay sorts out the vowels for you as otherwise they could all equally be A's.

11 Once reproachful former right-winger gathering for support? (12)
EXPROBRATORY - EX TORY [former | right-winger] "gathering" PRO BRA [for | support].

13 Poisonous smoke with auto fouled by internal combustion (10)
CIGUATOXIC - CIG [smoke] with (AUTO*) ["fouled"] + X IC [by | internal combustion]

16 Object for lawyers is to protect witch and plug cracks in one’s case? (8)
RHAGADES - RES [object, for lawyers] "protects" HAG AD [witch + plug]. Rhagades are cracks or fissures in the skin.

18 Stick with bent head master in jug? (7)
CROMACK - MA [master] in CROCK [jug]

20 US president more than half crazy, exhibiting array of bloomers (7)
IKEBANA - IKE [US president (Eisenhower)] + BANA{nas} ["more then half" crazy]

21 Crippled by indecision, regularly ignored and upset: chill out, brah! (6)
ABULIC - every other letter of C{h}I{l}L {o}U{t} B{r}A{h}, in reverse

23 Catfish killed when coming from the bottom (4)
WELS - reversed SLEW [killed]