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February 13th, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic 1287 by Pedro

I was a bit worried that I was in for a slog today, with none of 1ac, 1dn or 6dn jumping out at me, but things soon sped up. In the end, it would probably have been a very quick solve had I not had to stare at 2dn for well over a minute before guessing. I could see how the clue worked, and obviously had all the checkers, but I didn't know the word and it took an unaccountably long lime to find the correct synonym for 'pull'. I thought 10ac was a stinker as well; a long charade which exposed a gap in my GK, and that I had to investigate post-solve.

We have a couple of lovely anagrams to admire - 16ac and 5dn - well hidden by unusual indicators and misleading surfaces. My COD is 18ac in which I struggled to separate the wood from the trees! Thanks Pedro!

Definitions underlined.

1 Bits of corn in church for bird (9)
CHAFFINCH - CHAFF (bits of corn), IN then CH (church).
6 The writer gets help backing newspapers etc. (5)
MEDIA - ME (the writer) and AID (help) reversed (backing).
8 Strange thing to have driver, perhaps, for entertainment venue (5-4)
NIGHT-CLUB - anagram of (strange) THING, then CLUB (driver, perhaps).
9 Drop of whisky leading to a series of exciting events (5)
DRAMA - DRAM (drop of whisky) then (leading to) A.
10 Betting quantity of ice beside the French river is source of water (9)
SPRINKLER - SP (starting price, i.e odds, betting), RINK (quantity of ice), LE ('the' in French) and R (river).
12 Creature I am slipping into waterway — not the first (6)
ANIMAL - I'M (I am) surrounded by (slipping into) cANAL (waterway) without its first letter (not the first).
13 Roald recalled excellent flower (6)
DAHLIA - DAHL (Roald) then a reversal of (recalled) A1 (excellent).
16 Located an oddball, according to tales (9)
ANECDOTAL - anagram of (oddball) LOCATED AN.
18 Tree feller around middle of copse (5)
MAPLE - MALE (feller(!)) surrounding (around) the middle letter of coPse.
19 Performer with story about British DJ’s accessory (9)
TURNTABLE - TURN (performer) and TALE (story) surrounding (about) B (British).
21 One very quiet in US city, being chilly (5)
NIPPY - I (one) and PP (pianissimo in musical notation, very quiet), inside NY (New York, US city).
22 Theatre guys taking time — about a year — for revenge (9)
REPAYMENT - REP (theatre), MEN (guys) and T (time), all surrounding (about) A and Y (year).

1 Game giving some American a start (7)
CANASTA - hidden in (some) ameriCAN A STArt.
2 Pulls up under a divine area (6)
ASGARD - reversal of (up) DRAGS (pulls) underneath A. Dwelling place of the gods in Norse mythology.
3 Bed not overturned after a lot of fun (5)
FUTON - reversal of (overturned) NOT after all-but-the-last letter of (a lot of) FUn.
4 Zero energy extracted from river (3)
NIL - 'e' (energy) deleted (extracted) from NILe (river).
5 Herb had years to build shop (12)
HABERDASHERY - anagram of (to build) HERB HAD YEARS.
6 Out to lunch, like one at tea party? (3,2,1,6)
MAD AS A HATTER - double definition, the second referring to a Lewis Carrol character.
7 Telephone fault, and when it should be fixed by? (8)
DEADLINE - cryptic definition, the telephone fault being a 'dead line'.
11 Medicine in quantity of water coming up sweet (8)
LOLLIPOP - PILL (medicine) inside POOL (quantity of water), all reversed (coming up).
14 I lament needing treatment for illness (7)
AILMENT - anagram of (needing treatment) I LAMENT.
15 Book imported by old and musty firm (6)
STABLE - B (book) inside (imported by) STALE (old and musty).
17 Spotted bananas (5)
DOTTY - double definition.
20 Funerary inscription yielding a tear (3)
RIP - double definition.
A reasonably tough puzzle, I thought, with some 'well that's probably what he means' type definitions, and more than the usual number of debatable homophones. 1a passes muster, but 22d less so, and 8d definitely dodgy IMO. Nevertheless, some witty clueing and complicated parsing for the non-biffer to enjoy. It took me about forty minutes to solve and be satisfied I'd seen what was going on.
It's a toss up between the witty definiion at 21a and the corny 17d for my CoD.

1 Organiser of defence to hold out for a hearing (4)
OFFA - Chap who organised his Dyke. sounds like OFFER = hold out. Offa was King of Mercia from 757 to 796, so he had plenty of time to get it done.
3 Notice drag performer: one looked up to for a time? (5,5)
CLOCK TOWER - Clock = notice, see; a TOWER tows something.
10 Time mostly occupied with cast struggling to learn lines? (9)
FORGETFUL - T, FUL(L), after FORGE = cast. Surely you forge a piece of metal into shape, or you cast it with liquid metal, they're not the same thing? If I had a Chambers here I'd check.
11 Research key WWII triumph (5)
DELVE - DEL the delete key, VE Victory in Europe. I was tempted to have the key of D and recall the famous WWII Battle of Elve, but the battle was fake news.
12 Fellow stressed but in good form? (7)
HIMSELF - I see this as a sort of double definition, where himself is used as a stressed form of HIM, and in the reverse of the idea 'he's not himself today' meaning he's not in good form. In my 15 years in Ireland I did meet real people who addressed me with the opening "is it yerself?" when it fairly obviously was me they were meeting. Frank Carson used to make a joke of this Irishism in his stand up act. Or was it Hal Roach? They were both hilarious.
13 French person’s back at the races, perhaps, taking in run (6)
BRETON - If you had a BET ON you could be backing a horse at the races; insert R for run.
15 In which one’s had secret set of cards (10,5)
CONFIDENCE TRICK - Confidence = secret, trick = set of cards.
18 Girl’s offer counters Trust mostly battering Establishment (4-3-4,4)
FISH-AND-CHIP SHOP - FI'S = girl's; HAND = offer, CHIPS are counters, HOP(E) = trust mostly. Biff time, unless you're the blogger.
21 Dish served piping? Charming woman serving Americans (6)
HAGGIS - HAG meaning witch, a charmer, GIs serving Americans. Nice def.
23 Fury after not counting number of shots (7)
BARRAGE - RAGE after BAR = not counting, as in 'all bar two' for example.
26 Standpoint that is often right (5)
ANGLE - Double def, it could be a right angle.
27 Pasta turning cool if sliced with short knife (9)
FETTUCINI - IN (cool) IF with CUTTE(R) inserted, all reversed. IN I CUTTE F.
28 Stop using sticks for cycle accessories (10)
KICKSTANDS - KICK the habit, STANDS = sticks, e.g. in vingt-et-un.
29 Travel writing on reflection that’s bad, if inspired (4)
SMOG - GO = travel, MS = writing, all reversed.
1 Not prepared to mess with quartet of females? Touché! (3,3,4)
2 RAF officer: eccentric old square (5)
FORUM - FO = Flying Officer, RUM = eccentric.
4 What player shown red card has is unusual (9)
LEFTFIELD - if you're shown the red you're sent off so you have left the field. Is OK as one word as an adjective.
5 Star maybe lecherous, lifting trousers (5)
CELEB - Hidden reversed in MAY(BE LEC)HEROUS.
6 One passes on dry clothes, smarter than anything (7)
TIDIEST - I DIES inside (clothed by) TT = dry.
7 Graceful, is going to want to secure Oscar (9)
WILLOWISH - WILL WISH = is going to want; Insert O for Oscar.
8 Is sorry about deception auditor’s picked up (4)
RUES - A nearly homophone IMO; RUES sounds like RUSE (deception) except for me they sound like ROOZE and ROOSE.
9 Arab dated second person — the first person back at home (6)
YEMENI - YE = dated (old) second person, ME = first person, IN reversed.
14 Leading team jump with hoop around gym (10)
SKIPPERING - SKIP = jump, PE = gym, RING = hoop.
16 Locating back from places exotic, being this? (9)
NOSTALGIC - (LOCATING S)*, the S being the back from places.
17 Didn’t officially join in cry from angler breaking record? (9)
COHABITED - CD is the record; insert what an angler may cry, OH A BITE!
19 Capital for redevelopment is large (7)
20 Rise briskly and tip over (4,2)
PERK UP - I'm thinking, a PERK is a tip, an extra benefit, and UP can mean over, as in 'your time is up'. Maybe there's a better thought out there, though.
22 It follows funk broadcast in European city (5)
SOFIA - SO = it follows; FIA perhaps sounds like FEAR = funk. I visited Sofia in 1968 in a Morris Minor convertible, and was unimpressed, it's probably quite nice now.
24 Man with a cross to bear: that’s self-evident (5)
AXIOM - IOM for the Isle of Man, has A X = cross in front.
25 Rating that’s worth more than a ten? (4)
JACK - A double def, JACK tar being a naval rating, and a jack being higher than a ten in cards. I had RANK at first for no particular reason then couldn't justify it when blogging.