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March 28th, 2019

An amiable piece of work, with pleasures to be found on the way and enough misdirection to keep it interesting. The right side went in quicker than the left for me, possibly because 1 across was not readily resolved. I once crossed the steppes of the Ukraine in an Austin Maestro just as things were changing in 1989, allegedly the first western visitor to Nikolaev  since Operation Barbarossa, so perhaps should have seen it sooner.
We have a full collection of the letters in the English alphabet with no visible strain, though we’re slumming it a bit at 24.
The anteater might be unfamiliar, but if the mathematician is unfamiliar you need to look him up in awe and wonder.
My time at the point of writing is as close to average as it’s possible to be at 21.58.
I present my reasoning below (click click) with clues in italics, definitions distinguished therein in by underlining, and solutions in BOLD capitals


1 Plain academic abused (7,2)
STEPPED ON The plain is the endless STEPPE of Eastern Europe and Asia, more often, I think, met in the plural.  The attached academic, (presumably flowing quietly) is the DON. Respace.
6 Pole that'd need another pound to prosper (5)
DOWEL Not sure about pole as a definition, dowels in my book being on a smaller scale. However, given another £, it will “do well”
9 Nitrogen in parts of piping grows warmer (7)
UNBENDS U BENDS for your bits of piping, N for nitrogen.
10 Finally, young idler becomes fitter (7)
GLAZIER Last letter (finally) of younG, then LAZIER for the comparative, not noun, idler.
11 Give up supporting game (5)
FORGO A neat charade, being FOR (the game of) GO
13 Improving where chess player’s attention should focus, close to board (2,3,4)
ON THE MEND Chess players should focus ON THE MEN (never thought of it before, but the Queen is also a man). Add the close of boarD
14 Sharp old partner is interrupting reasonably (9)
EXQUISITE Not the first definition, perhaps, but think of exquisite pain. Old partner EX, then IS inserted into QUITE standing in for reasonably. Quite/reasonably good works
16 Jet from Kentucky home first (4)
INKY (Jet as in black. Kentucky is KY, home IN, which goes first
18 What gossips do to fat champ? (4)
CHEW Gossips chew the fat, the rest is a straight definition
19 Distressing nonsense written about mathematician (9)
TORTURING Alan TURING is rightly these days feted as one of the greatest of mathematicians though for sure a lot of distressing nonsense was written about him in less enlightened days. Get the TOR by writing ROT, nonsense, “about”
22 Issued fourth of columns penned by our top roaming journalist (9)
OUTPOURED The construction is: fourth of colUmns penned by an anagram (roaming) of OUR TOP plus the perennial journalist ED
24 Sounding more tolerant, in a way (5)
KINDA I don’t have to like this expression, but it sounds like kinder, more tolerant if you are lazy with your Rs. Sorta
25 Make unorthodox start on training workers, initially cutting commission (3-4)
HOT-WIRE Love the definition here. On Training Workers initially “cuts” HIRE for commission
26 Lacking cover, hospital department stops operations (4-3)
OPEN-TOP  Two Operations are stopped/plugged by the most  frequent of hospital departments, ENT
28 Spades pinched from dictator's store (5)
DEPOT Take the S(pades) (cards) from DESPOT, our dictator du jour
29 Singer keeps a band of volunteers that one can deal with (9)
TREATABLE The singer is a TREBLE, you need the unobtrusive A and TA as the traditional band of volunteers

1 Dragging of feet that dealer's used to? (7)
SHUFFLE Something a card dealer is used to
2 Contrary characters from bible regularly fall (3)
EBB  Contrary instructs you to reverse the odd letters (regularly) of BiBlE
3 Insectivore suffering long in acute discomfort (8)
PANGOLIN After failing to find an anagram of L(ong) IN ACUTE, I reverted to an anagram (suffering) of LONG in acute discomfort: PAIN. This is a pangolin. “You eat ants?” “Sure do!”
4 Democrat is leading business party (5)
DISCO A simple charade of D(emocrat) IS and COmpany)
5 Tossing in the raw, without good pyjamas? (9)
NIGHTWEAR An anagram (tossing) of IN THE RAW without (in its green hill far away meaning of outside) G(ood)
6 Finding it harder to pick up base metal, expensively coated? (6)
DEAFER Despite the fact that my hearing aid box is on the desk in front of me, this last of my entries resisted identifying the definition for a good while. FE is the base metal (“any metal other than the precious metals” – Chambers) contained within DEAR for xpensively
7 Craft with engines standard at sea (5,6)
WHITE ENSIGN The flag of the Royal Navy (and the Royal Yacht Squadron) “crafted” from the letters of WITH ENGINES
8 Shockingly deficient law set up without effort (7)
LURIDLY Law gives RULE, lop the E off to make it deficient and set it up/reverse it. Add IDLY for without effort
12 On expeditions, better ask to halt here (7,4)
REQUEST STOP on: RE plus QUESTS for expeditions, TOP for better (beat). Respace
15 Chip in plane with 100 aboard south of Bury (9)
INTERJECT Chip in is a verb. Plane is JET, with C (Roman for a hundred) on board, placed to the south of INTER for Bury (ignore the capital B)
17 Like ground with broken fencing, extremely heavy (8)
BULKIEST BUST for broken fences in an anagram (ground) of LIKE
18 Wrapped article found in mug (7)
CLOTHED Article: THE in CLOD for mug
20 Clutch rind of granular fruit (7)
GRAPPLE The rind of granular is (are?) its outside letters, GR. Fruit? APPLE
21 Council beginning to organise contest to fill vacated seat (6)
SOVIET Vacated seat gives ST. The filling is replaced by beginning to organise O, and VIE for contest (verb)
23 Before ramble, daughter went by car (5)
DROVE D(aughter) before ROVE for ramble
27 Boat sinking though rising (3)
TUB BUT is though, rising to produce a boat. "sinking" is not really doing anything beyond improving the surface

Times Quick Cryptic No 1318 by Hurley

Average difficulty puzzle from Hurley today, which isn't to say that I managed to finish it: I had all bar 15d done by the 10 minute mark, and then spent two minutes on a less-than-algorithmic alphabet trawl before giving up and clicking on the answer. I might have to try a different approach to my alphabet trawls, rather than rehashing the first ten-or-so letters a couple of times and then jumping skittishly around the alphabet. I also spent a bit of time at 22ac simply trying to think of a country that fitted (6,6), let alone the anagram bit, but couldn't think beyond Guinea-Bissau. Good fun - many thanks to Hurley!

1 Company’s grouse about not entirely polite person, much-travelled? (12)
COSMOPOLITAN - CO'S (Company's) MOAN (grouse) about POLIT ("not entirely" POLITe)
8 Old container, English, egg-shaped (5)
OVATE - O(ld) VAT (container) E(nglish)
9 Will’s involved in this legal process? (7)
PROBATE - cryptic definition, I suppose, with a pun on "Will" as a person and "will" of the legal variety.
10 Heard second person’s sheep (3)
EWE - sounds like YOU (second person)
11 Having changed a lot since land seen from sea (9)
COASTLINE - Anagram (having changed) of A LOT SINCE
13 Top bird, northern (5)
CROWN - CROW (bird) N(orthern)
14 Choose ends like every captain, toss at first (5)
ELECTEnds Like Every Captain, Toss "at first"
16 Difficult to understand — certain it must be rewritten (9)
INTRICATE - anagram (must be rewritten) of CERTAIN IT
17 Manage to flee (3)
RUN - Double definition
19 Examine closely popular page penned by religious group (7)
INSPECT - IN (popular), P(age) penned by SECT (religious group)
21 True masculine field of study (5)
REALM - REAL (true) M(asculine)
22 Country diet aunt sets out (6,6)

1 Unpleasant task in branch or elsewhere (5)
CHORE - "In" the letters of branCH OR Elsewhere
2 Southern headland attack — he’s blamed unfairly (9)
SCAPEGOAT - S(outhern) CAPE (headlane) GO AT (attack)
3 Too sure of oneself for novice, tend to be mistaken (4-9)
OVER-CONFIDENT - anagram (to be mistaken) of FOR NOVICE TEND
4 Harp on about deprived child? (6)
ORPHAN - anagram (about) of HARP ON
5 Some ninon these Cretans can display having been tipped off? (2,2,3,6)
IN ON THE SECRET - hidden in "some" of the letters of n INON THESE CRTans. What would have been a nice hidden was rather tipped off by the obscurity (to me a least) of "ninon" - it's a lightwieght fabric.
6 That’s surprising — bathmat oddly missing (3)
AHA - remove the odd letters of b A t H m A t
7 Referring to man, monarch’s stand-in (6)
REGENT - RE (referring to) GENT (man)
12 Bet inn air could become intoxicating (9)
INEBRIANT - anagram (could become) of BET INN AIR. I don't recall seeing "inebriant" as an adjective, but there it is.
13 Upset Catholic, Italian, I initially considered a fault-finder (6)
CRITIC - CR (RC = Catholic, reversed/upset) IT(alian) I C (initially Considered)
15 Pruned around top of tulips and separated (6)
PARTED - PARED (pruned) around T (top of Tulip)
18 New house after revolution in French city (5)
NIMES - N(ew) IMES (semi = house, revolve/reverse)
20 Child, second, performing (3)
SON - S(econd) ON (performing)
My comfortable 4m48 time for this one, after some decidedly chewy numbers early in the week, makes me think that the current management is sticking to its guns about its recent assertion that there is absolutely no policy of easier crosswords at the start, and harder ones at the end, of the workweek.

Though throwing up no particular obstacles to the speed-solver, this was a nicely turned crossword puzzle with a number of rather clever definition parts and surfaces. 21ac takes my Clue of the Day award I think, speaking as a one-time Bridge player, but there were a number of other nice constructions that I'm sure others will applaud in the comments. SILVERSIDES and even ZEN(o) might've been harder if they hadn't both come up quite recently (I think).

Thanks very much setter! It might have been short (for me), but it was still pretty sweet...

1 Undercook or marinate no end — check beef regularly (4-4)
SOUS-CHEF - SOUS{e} [marinate, "no end"] + CH [check] + {b}E{e}F. A nounal undercook, not the verb!

6 Unknown enemy dispersing: that can bring a reaction (6)
ENZYME - (Z ENEMY*) ["dispersing"]

9 Part of face turned down, on this? (6)
PILLOW - reversed LIP [part of face] + LOW [down], semi-&lit

10 “Villa’s other half is hotel” shock (8)
ASTONISH - ASTON [other half of Aston Villa] IS H for hotel

11 Anxious to put name forward for bender (4)
KNEE - KEEN [anxious], moving forward its N for name. Bender as in a think which bends.

12 Responsible for some music not being free (6,4)
BEHIND BARS - BEHIND [responsible for] BARS [some music]

14 Short skirmish in France that resistance can make shorter (8)
BRUSQUER - BRUS{h} ["short" skirmish, as in "a brush with the law"] + QUE [in France, that] + R [resistance]

16 King putting medal on official dress (4)
ROBE - R [king] putting OBE [medal] on

18 My word once accepted by renegade (4)
EGAD - hidden in {ren}EGAD{e}

19 To be off the track could be deadlier (8) (6)

21 The lead is mine, as hearts and diamonds are unlucky (3-7)
ILL-STARRED - I'LL STAR! ["the lead is mine!"] + RED [as hearts and diamonds are]

22 A fish makes one helping (4)
AIDE - A IDE [a | fish]

24 Society figure not one to suppress (8)
STRANGLE - S [society] + TR{i}ANGLE [figure, minus I = one]

26 Big gaps in a text used by church (6)
CHASMS - A SMS [a | text] used by CH [church]

27 Struggle for position in clubs toured by comic (6)
JOCKEY - C [clubs] "toured by" JOKEY [comic]

28 Sleeping place has no value for little creature (8)
DORMOUSE - DORM [sleeping place] has 0 USE [no value]

2 Hunter’s prayer has not succeeded (5)
ORION - ORI{s}ON [prayer, minus S for succeeded]

3 Swimmers in teams chasing second place (11)
SILVERSIDES - SIDES [teams] chasing SILVER [second place]

4 What do you think of a fight after hours that hurt? (3,5)
HOW ABOUT - A BOUT [a | fight] after H OW [hours | that hurt!]

5 Find her at feeder, flapping? (9,6)

6 Measuring device minus top still standing (6)
EXTANT - {s}EXTANT [measuring device, "minus top"]

7 Man of paradox omits nothing in branch of religion (3)
ZEN - ZEN{o} [man of paradox, minus 0 = nothing]

8 Dreary strips gone over in race (9)
MISERABLE - reversed BARES [strips] in MILE [race]

13 I ask for a bun, rambling in the country (7,4)
BURKINA FASO - (I ASK FOR A BUN*) ["rambling"]

15 Fit pair of spectacles worn by N European hunchback (9)
RIGOLETTO - RIG [fit] + O O [pair of spectacles] "worn by" LETT [N European]

17 As creator, stick in more purple (8)
PRODUCER - ROD [stick] in PUCER [more purple]

20 With long, awkward limbs in aisle, left for Washington
GANGLY - take a GANGWAY [aisle], and replace WA [Washington] with L [left]

23 Raise a few daughters, or masses (5)
DEMOS - reversed SOME D [a few | daughters]

25 Out of hospital, listen to chest (3)
ARK - {h}ARK [listen to, minus H = hospital]