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January 10th, 2019

Solving time: 11:03, which is pretty close to my average time, though I think I was on to a few lesser used techniques that popped up in here. I was a little nervous about 13 across that went in on wordplay alone.

There's a lot to like in this crossword with some intricate consrtuctions, in particular some long reversals. I love a pun, so I have to hand it to the setter for getting 28 across in.

The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go....

Across
1 Only this much into books, excluding royalty (8)
SOLITARY - SO(this much), then LITERARY(into books) missing ER(royalty)
5 Cloud is back in under a minute (6)
NIMBUS - reversal of SUB(under a) MIN(minute)
10 Saw notice become out of date (5)
ADAGE - AD(notice), AGE(become out of date)
11 In small bed, thorn tree (5,4)
SCOTS PINE - S(small), COT(bed) SPINE(thorn)
12 Give away pounds, having left nothing for artist (9)
DONATELLO - DONATE(give away), L(pounds), L(left) O(nothing) for an artist who is sometimes a turtle
13 Join English match (5)
FUSEE - FUSE(join), E(English). This was my last in, didn't know it was an outdoor match
14 Basket-maker getting thanks for a fine biscuit (7)
RATAFIA - RAFFIA(palm fibres for making a basket), with TA(thanks) replacing one of the F's
16 A little agitation as Republican code of honour almost rejected (6)
TREMOR - R(Republican), and OMERTA(Mafia code of honour) missing the last letter, all reversed
18 Chap sounds fit, for a Spaniard (6)
MANUEL - Sounds like MAN WELL. Que?
20 French film-maker’s company facing acute distress (7)
Jean COCTEAU - CO(company) then an anagram of ACUTE
22 Parts of church show small errors, length being out (5)
APSES - LAPSES(small errors) missing L(length)
23 Make a demand, and others raise it, beginning to swagger about (9)
STIPULATE - ET AL(and others), UP(raise), IT, S(wagger) all reversed
25 High-pitched sounds each video modulated (4,5)
HEAD VOICE - anagram of EACH,VIDEO, along with HEAD REGISTER it can mean falsetto
26 Wrong end of sponge cake (5)
TORTE - TORT(wrong) and the last letter of SPONGE
27 You need to remove middle and last line of story (3,3)
THE END - THEE(you) and N(ee)D
28 Bumper corn harvest may produce this quantity of work (3-5)
MAN-YEARS - a bumper corn harvest woud have MANY EARS

Down
1 One way and another keeping a model (8)
STANDARD - ST(street, one way), AND, RD(road) containing A
2 Digest litre — gross! (5)
LEARN - L(litre), EARN(gross as in wages)
3 Eighty divisible by two? All the time (6-4-5)
TWENTY-FOUR-SEVEN - Eighty is TWENTY FOURS and something divisible by two is EVEN
4 Parrot took off over large city (7)
ROSELLA - ROSE(took off), L(large), LA(city)
6 Say what you like, Britain is so different from N Korea (3,1,4,7)
ITS A FREE COUNTRY - double definition
7 Butterfly is absolutely filled with colour (9)
BRIMSTONE - BRIMS(is absolutely filled), TONE(colour)
8 Pin more asymmetrical? (6)
SKEWER - double definition, with SKEW-ER
9 Sign off, endlessly depressed by painful condition (3,3)
LOG OUT - LO(w) (depressed), GOUT(painful condition)
15 Up-and-coming skill, covering new roofing material in render (9)
TRANSLATE - reverse ART(skill), over N(new), SLATE(roofing material)
17 Use scent liberally for appeal (8)
CUTENESS - anagram of USE,SCENT
19 Group of composers, minus nine (3,3)
LES SIX - LESS(minus), IX(nine)
20 Your setter is within reach somehow for old monster (7)
CHIMERA - I'M(your setter is) in an anagram of REACH
21 Prestige long maintained by court (6)
CACHET - ACHE(long) inside CT(court)
24 One leads from heart ace, or leads from trump ace (5)
AORTA - A(ace) OR, first letters in T(rump) A(ce)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1263 by Pedro

A few bits of slightly chewy parsing from Pedro this morning, together with a couple of foreign or adopted words / phrases, but nothing too taxing on the GK front.  I completed this, fully parsed in 16 minutes, one over my target.  How did you all do?

My only disappointment was with the clue for 16d, which barely fitted the description of ‘cryptic’, but there were plenty of other good clues and excellent surfaces to make up for that one lapse (IMHO).

I spotted a possible but improbable NINA in the 8th row, possibly referring to the English comedian Kenneth Horne, who died 50 years ago next month.  Put it together with the answer to 5d, and it could also be referring to his very popular BBC Radio series, 'Round the Horne', but I'm sure that's just a fancy

Whilst on the subject of tenuous connections, with Papa turning up yesterday, and Oscar today, the phonetic alphabet is certainly getting a workout.  Will we see Romeo or Juliet turning up tomorrow I wonder?


Thanks to Pedro for this, and let me be the last to say Happy New Year to you all.

Across
1  Newspaper articles about church gaining wealth after poverty (4-2-6)
RAGS-TO-RICHES – RAG (newspaper) followed by STORIES (articles) inside which (about) is CH{urch}. 
8  Lady’s first to participate in improving hair treatment (7)
CURLING – L{ady} (first gives first letter) inside (participating in) CURING (improving).
9 Bike was blue (5)
MOPED – Double definition, the first a small or lightweight motorcycle, the second meaning ‘was listless or depressed’ – was blue.
10 Ill-suited to sleep during unspecified item (5)
INAPT – NAP (to sleep) inside (during) IT (unspecified item)
11  End points in spell in capital of Italy (7)
TERMINI – TERM (spell, as in period of time) followed by IN (in) and (capital of) I{taly}.  Did you know that Terminus was the name of the Roman God of boundaries?
12 Visitor reckoned to be heard (5)
GUEST – Homophone – sounds like (to be heard) ‘guessed’ (reckoned)
14  Establish railway or factory (7)
FOUNDRY – FOUND (establish) and RY (railway).  A FOUNDRY is a factory or place where founding is carried out.
15  Nothing tender about explosion of mine?  Agreed (2,3,4)
OF ONE MIND – O (nothing) followed by FOND (tender) containing (around) an anagram (explosion) of [MINE].  To be ‘of one mind’ is to be in accord or agreement.
17  Fish from Arctic slipping line (3)
COD – CO{l}D – dropping (slipping) L{ine} from COLD (arctic).  Arctic as an adjective can mean extremely cold, as in ‘arctic conditions’ - how it felt here yesterday.
19  Disappointed, apparently seeking veterinary assistance (4,2,1,6)
SICK AS A PARROT – Cryptic definition.  To be as SICK AS A PARROT means, informally, to be extremely disappointed, whereas to be as sick as a dog means to vomit profusely and unrestrainedly.  I was sick as a parrot at Leicester City’s FA Cup tie result on Sunday as I was driving back from Edinburgh, but managed to stop short of being as sick as a dog!
21  Mesh not entirely heated (6)
GRILLE – GRILLE{d} (heated, not entirely – missing the last letter)
22  Out of practice, but reliable (just missing start) (5)
RUSTY – {t}RUSTY (just missing start)

Down
1 Mounting attraction in the nursery (7-5)
ROCKING-HORSE – Cryptic definition, with ‘mounting’ providing the key part of the clue.
Relevant European supporting specific European (7)
GERMANE – GERMAN (specific European) supported by E{uropean}.
Dickensian hero in plot development (5)
TWIST – Double definition, the first Oliver (Dickensian hero) and the second referring to a plot twist.
4  Clever to avoid book?  Correct (5)
RIGHT – {b}RIGHT (clever, avoiding B{ook})
Don’t stay out for visit (4,5)
COME ROUND – Another double definition, the first referring to the action of waking up or recovering consciousness from a faint or trance (don’t stay out) and the second the more recognisable synonym for a visit.  I suspect that some of our newbies may not see the DD.
6  Rewrite of scripted prose shows team spirit (6,2,5)
ESPRIT DE CORPS – Straightforward anagram (rewrite) of [SCRIPTED PROSE], except that we are looking for an adopted French term that may confuse some for a second or two.
Curious character upset party before I’d upset heartless Tory (6)
ODDITY – DO (party) reversed (upset) and followed by ID (I’d) reversed (upset) and T{or}Y (heartless).
13  Part of foot one fractured in the end (3-4)
TOE-NAIL – Anagram of (fractured) [ONE] inside TAIL (the end).
14 Ship’s destiny, to carry arrangement of sails (7)
FRIGATE – FATE (destiny) containing (to carry) RIG (arrangement of sails).
16  O for someone on the radio to get a Hollywood award (5)
OSCAR – OSCAR is the code word given to denote the letter O in the phonetic alphabet or in international radio communication (i.e. when spelling out letters on the radio).  I’m not sure that this even counts as a cryptic clue, unless it is a week double definition!
18 Song of amateur construction, inwardly dry (5)
DITTY – DIY (of amateur construction – Do It Yourself) containing (inwardly) TT (tee-total, or dry)
20  Song provided by duo without piano (3)
AIR – {p}AIR (duo without P{iano}) for our second consecutive clue with ‘song’ as the definition.

Times 27,245: Cigarettes & Alcohol

A very nice little Friday puzzle with a combination of above averagely devious wordplay and unwieldy vocab (I'm looking at you, PROGNOSTIC and PERSECUTEE) to keep the solver sweating. I took a little less than 10 minutes over it, starting with 9ac (it helped that Libra is my own star sign) and finishing with 13dn.

Clue of the Day honours split evenly between 23ac and the splendidly surfaced 19dn for their celebration of the finer things in life. When's the next crossword pubmeet I'll be able to make I wonder?

ACROSS
1 Grand old address (4)
THOU - double def, where the first is short for THOUsand

4 As we see it, admitting motive is criminal (10)
TREASONOUS - TO US [as we see it], "admitting" REASON [motive]

9 Animal keeping balance, otherwise one has to adjust (10)
CALIBRATOR - CAT [animal] "keeping" LIBRA [balance], + OR [otherwise]

10 American originally backing Pop Art concept (4)
DADA - A{merican}, backing DAD [pop]

11 How come sci-fi writer's spoken of monster? (6)
WYVERN - homophone of WHY VERNE [how come | sci-fi writer]

12 Illegally acquire gift, we hear: a thing of little value (8)
NICKNACK - NICK [illegally acquire] + homophone of KNACK [gift]

14 Lots of people in a state, briefly (4)
MASS - double def, where the second is short for MASSachusetts

15 Insult politician with something sure to upset (10)
DISCONCERT - DIS CON with CERT [insult | politician | something sure]

17 Let us read novel, singular one like Madame Bovary (10)
ADULTERESS - (LET US READ*) ["novel"] + S [singular]

20 Office uncovered waste product (4)
UREA - {b}UREA{u}

21 Measuring device to suffice in remote travelling (8)
ODOMETER - DO [to suffice] in (REMOTE*) ["travelling"]

23 Camels’ final resting place, maybe, leaving horse off track (6)
ASTRAY - AS{h}TRAY [Camels' (as in cigarettes) final resting place, maybe, without H for horse]

24 It's used to fix a direction (4)
TACK - double definition

25 Sign for heretical Christian (10)
PROGNOSTIC - PRO GNOSTIC [for | heretical Christian]

26 Intrinsically sweet, ultimately naive victim (10)
PERSECUTEE - PER SE [intrinsically] + CUTE [sweet] + {naiv}E

27 Figure shown by Austen in Emma (4)
NINE - hidden in {auste}N IN E{mma}

DOWN
2 Rough, unknown labourer, thrown outside (5-6)
HEAVY-HANDED - Y HAND [unknown | labourer], HEAVED [thrown] "outside"

3 Common place to learn ode cut by a line (9)
UNIVERSAL - UNI [place to learn] + VERS{e} [ode "cut"] + A L [a | line]

4 Almost unseat rough Glaswegian sitting majestically (7)
THRONED - THRO{w} ["almost" unseat] + NED [rough Glaswegian]

5 European agreed to fleece dodgy dealer in pine (3,4,5,3)
EAT ONE'S HEART OUT - E [European] + AT ONE [agreed] + SHEAR TOUT [fleece | dodgy dealer]

6 One's around African country, wanting second wind (7)
SIROCCO - reversed I'S [one's] + {mo}ROCCO [African country, without MO (second)]

7 US city has royal award, I see (5)
OMAHA - O.M. AHA [royal award | I see!]

8 Fire keeping hot in grim lodgings (5)
SHACK - SACK [fire] "keeping" H [hot]

13 Link goodness and joy? That's about right (11)
CORRELATION - COR [goodness!] + ELATION [joy], the whole "about" R [right]

16 Good behaviour curtailed by an odalisque (9)
COURTESAN - COURTES{y} [good behaviour "curtailed"] by AN

18 Vacuous esoteric theme is out of place (7)
ECTOPIC - E{soteri}C + TOPIC [theme]

19 Ale isn't bad for your health! (7)
SLAINTE - (ALE ISN'T*) ["bad"]

21 Playing record that's short and accessible (2,3)
ON TAP - ON [playing] + TAP{e} [record "that's short"]

22 One close to Mike has nothing on Mark (5)
OSCAR - O on SCAR [nothing | mark]. I think this is "one close to Mike" in the NATO phonetic alphabet, though it's not *that* close, November is in the way!