March 30th, 2019


Times Cryptic Jumbo 1371 - From the mountain tops, down to the sunny street.

Hello again.  This puzzle kept me occupied for over an hour so I'd put it at the trickier end of the scale.  I needed aids to check some of the more obscure stuff.

There was a veritable musical theme running through this one, with contributions from Jeremiah Clarke, Julie Andrews, Aztec Camera, Chas 'n' Dave, Embrace and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.  ELP missed out by one letter.  Which earworm stuck with you?

First in was ROUGHEST and last was STATION.

Clues are in blue with the definition underlined.  Different brackets mean different things:

Square to expand a standard crossword abbreviation: D[aughter]

Wiggly to denote letters not used:{testimonia}L

Rounded followed by a * to indicate anagram fodder: (spare golf)*

Rounded to add clarification: cool (as in trendy)

Anagram indicators in bold italics: pants

Deletions are denoted by strikeout

CD = cryptic definition, DD = double definition, I guess other stuff is spelled out for you.



Old dictator to be in one’s part-time army (7)

BATISTA - BAT (to be in at cricket), I'S, T[erritorial] A[rmy].


Regulated eg, thus — or most inaccurate (8)

ROUGHEST - (eg thus or)*


Bones and Sulu, only half accepted by the ship’s crew? (6)

TARSUS - SU{lu} in TARS.  Clever Trekky surface.  For the benefit of those of us who never really bothered with medical training the tarsus is a cluster of seven articulating bones in each foot situated between the lower end of tibia and fibula of the lower leg and the metatarsus.


Jumbo’s sound and not forced: that’s music to our ears! (7,9)

TRUMPET VOLUNTARY - Straight def and cryptic hint.  Not by Purcell apparently.


Get back from park, all down? (6)

RECOUP - REC (recreation ground) followed by O UP (i.e. nothing must be up if everything is down).


You troublemakers, partly responsible for closing bars! (5)

OUTRO - Hidden.  Count Basie and his Orchestra on triangle...


Land to the west excellent — north west? (7)

ESTONIA - Reversal of A1, NOT S[outh] E[ast].  Sneaky.


National reserve network with warning light coming back on? (9)

ICELANDER - ICE (reserve), L[ocal] A[rea] N[etwork], RED reversed.


Lots of French who drink fine English whiskey (5,1,3)

QUITE A FEW - QUI, TEA, F[ine] E[nglish] W[hiskey]


One might ask caddie to get this put right (4,3)

IRON OUT - Straight def with golf-related cryptic hint


Two, having change of heart, bringing about thaw? (2-3)

DE-ICE - DEUCE with I replacing U


Insect with a soft skin, mostly (5)

APHID - A P[iano] HID{e}


Psychiatrist, Regional Health Authority chief, hosting old Shakespearean actors (9)

RORSCHACH - R[egional] H[ealth] A[uthority] CH[ief] around O[ld] R[oyal] S[hakespeare] C[ompany] for the ink blot geezer.


Say something cheeky, pinching girlfriend’s drink (3-4)

EGG-FLIP - E.G. LIP around GF


Passes over spare golf pants (9)

LEAPFROGS - (spare golf)*


Be not totally penniless, reportedly, after power failure? (5-4-4)

MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN - Homophone for HAS BEAN after MIGHT


Centre of stilton to keep getting softer, cut with harsh sound (6,7)

MELTON MOWBRAY - MELT ON, MOW, BRAY.  I love a bit of Stilton but I don't see what the fuss is about the pork pies from this place.  The ones our local butcher makes are far superior.


Animated character with old coin after cake (9)



Failed to follow suit, minister agreed (7)



Picked up something to go with roll, a square cheese (9)



Daughter, standing, gets knocked back (5)

DRANK - D[aughter], RANK


City’s matches: one’s been put back (5)

PARIS - PAIRS with the I shifted along a bit


Plant that’s simple and exotic we adore (7)

OARWEED - (we adore)*.  It's a sort of seawwed.  I don't know what's simple about it.  Maybe it's from Norfolk.


Eccentric went for early bath? (4-5)

LEFT-FIELD - Straight def and sporty cryptic hint.


Show where the food’s kept: about time! (9)



Recalled hotel late in the day closing early in ME city once (7)

NINEVEH - reversal of H[otel] EVENIN{g}. It was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq so I'm guessing the ME means Middle East rather than Maine.


French philosopher’s pained conclusion to testimonial (5)

SOREL - SORE {testimonia}L.  Georges Eugène Sorel (2 November 1847 – 29 August 1922) was a French philosopher and theorist of Sorelianism.


Complaint viewer has first off is recorded? Correct! (6)

IRITIS - I[s] R[ecorded] IT IS.  Correct and IT IS are both ways of avoiding saying YES and getting gonged.


Fair number to be found in magazine? (6,10)



The latest hard, fashionable, Times puzzle setter (6)

SPHINX - SP (as in what's the SP?) H[ard] IN X (mulitiplication sign)


They make better notes — doesn’t respond to them? (8)

REMEDIES - RE, ME, DIES (doesn't respond to remedies)


Kindly leave the car running after parking, finally (7)

GERTCHA - {parking}G, (the car)*.  Gotta love Chas n Dave.  There were first on the bill when I saw Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979 and I enjoyed them more than the other support acts including Fairport Convention and Todd Rundgren's Utopia.  Gertcha was the song used in the Courage Best ads.



One’s often up in the air, however not turning to shrink (6,5)

BUTTON QUAIL - BUT, NOT reversed, QUAIL.  Not a bird I knew and my image of quail is of birds pecking around on the ground rather than flying.


Barb’s letter from Kefalonia — not on vacation (5)



Judge has way of sitting after drink (7)



Wartime lines repeated do haunt memory of the wounded (6,3,6,5)

ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH - (do do haunt memory of the)*.  Clever anagram.  Wilfred Owen, natch.


Oarsman to do exercises inside part of church (4-5)

ROOD-TOWER - ROWER around (to do)*.  I got caught out by the related ROOD LOFT the first time I entered the championships, going for ROOD PORT instead.


What future holds: new and drastic change (1-4)

U-TURN - {f}UTUR{u}, N[ew]


A certain posturing no longer holds a Spanish artist up (5,4)

HATHA YOGA - HATH (old version of has/holds) + A GOYA reversed. I think I just invented four new yoga poses trying to get a chocolate chip cookie that I dropped under the table.


Short withered crack masking very good condition of skin (7)

SERPIGO - SER{e} GO around PI


Brother murdered by a doctor turned theologian in France (7)

ABELARD - ABEL, A D[octor]R reversed. Pierre Abélard, (1079 – 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian, and preeminent logician.  Him and Sorel played at centre back for PSG.


Hummingbird that’s flown high we hear and notice (9)

SWORDBILL - homophone (to some) for SOARED + BILL


A new purpose for developing devastating missile perhaps (11)

SUPERWEAPON - (a new purpose)


Tell Tom off as a result? (3,3,3,3,2,3,3)

LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG - Another one of those traight def / cryptic hint combos


Sort of parent, the Spanish patriarch (7)



New entrant’s pay ultimately fair (7)



Take orders from wizard perched on stone (7)

DEFROCK - DEF as in wizard as in spiffing + ROCK.  Clever definition.


Can’t stand up in corset: a hindrance (5)

HATES - reverse hidden


Old actor appreciated on tours one reflected (7)

GIELGUD - Reversal of DUG, LEG (on side in cricket) around (touring) I


Broadcaster of the truth used to be cut short (5)



R-refuse to admit Grace possibly upset county (7)

GWYNEDD -reversal of D-DENY, W.G.  No, not that sort of grace / fate / fury / muse but the beardy cricketer


In which host briefly holds British artist? (7)

EMBRACE - B[ritish] R[oyal] A[cademician] in EMCE{e}.  Quirky &Lit, Yorkshire band.


Nursemaid’s extraordinary parsimony, saving pennies (4,7)

MARY POPPINS - PP (pennies) in (parsimony)*.  I wasn't terribly impresssed with the remake / sequel thingy.


Dessert poor, sadly, containing essence of weakened spirit (5,6)

BAKED ALASKA - BAD, ALAS around {wea}KE{ned} then KA


Through journey is hard, crossing river like the Amazon? (9)

VIRAGOISH - VIA, GO, IS, H[ard] around R[iver]


Strange, tailless goat, mostly seen over Eastern China (5,4)

QUEEN ANNE - QUEEr NANN{y} E[astern]


Plain clothes police at centre totally in the dark? (9)

OBLIVIOUS - OBVIOUS around (clothing) {po}LI{ce}.  Track one of my favourite album.


Stop and figure it out? Not at first (7)

STATION - STAT, I{t} O{ut} N{ot}


What would be for Queen Elizabeth I? (5,2)

ROYAL WE - CD, worded YODA-like.  For Queen Elizabeth (II), I is the "royal we".


Champion mater and pater, with Independent Schools Council for a time! (7)

FISCHER - FATHER with I[independent] S[chools] C[ouncil] replacing A T[ime].  Great definition.  Bobby Fischer of course, one of the great chess grandmasters.


Patches of red and green, last three to turn up (5)

NAEVI - NAIVE with the last three letters reversed. Plural of naevus, a nonspecific medical term for a visible, circumscribed, chronic lesion of the skin or mucosa.


Survivor’s ordeal: his CD Ignoring the Odds (5)

RELIC - {o}R{d}E{a}L{h}I{S}c{d}

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27306 - Saturday, 23 March 2019. In the mood.

I solved this in quickstep tempo: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. (Pause for vinyl1 to put on appropriate mood music.) I finished the SE corner after some time and then worked up and left until only three were left – 5ac, 1dn and 6dn.

Overall it was harder than recent weeks – no personal bests today, I suspect – but very doable. It was full of hidden delights. 11ac was a standout, with good support elsewhere. 5ac, 9ac, 15ac, 24ac and 16dn were vocabulary expanders. Others had high quality cryptic definition and lots of elegant wordplay. 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'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Who might steal eggs and cook them? (7)
POACHER: cute double definition.

5 Politeness but misplaced emphasis in report of special-purpose subgroup? (6)
COMITY:  a sounds-like clue, signalled by “in report of”, along with the acknowledgement that COMITY has its emphasis on the first syllable, while COMMITTEE has its on the second.

It took a lot of time looking at C---T- to come up with COMITY as an option, and more time to decide whether I knew what the word actually meant.

8 Dashing person has known lady primarily for the time that dampens fire (9)
SPRINKLER: replace the T=time in SPRINTER = “dashing person” by KL, first letters of Known Lady.

9 Don’t speak badly as an accomplice (5)
SHILL: SH=don’t speak, ILL=badly. Another word of whose meaning I was uncertain, but I trusted the wordplay and wrote it in as soon as I saw it.

11 Flamboyant alias for “Denny”? (5)
LAIRY: this made me laugh. A den might be a lair, so if DENNY means “like a den”, LAIRY can do likewise. I suspected “lairy” might be an Aussie word, and Chambers agrees, but here it is!

12 Nutcracker part unexpectedly exuded sap (3,2,4)
PAS DE DEUX: anagram (“unexpectedly”) of (EXUDED SAP*). A part of the ballet, of course, nothing to do with a literal nutcracker.

13 Extraordinary and not welcomed by a retiring gentle person (8)
ABNORMAL : A, BMAL=LAMB “retiring”=gentle person; all “welcoming” NOR=not.

15 What makes old lady jerk uncontrollably? Substance applied to joints (6)
MASTIC: or, MA’S TIC. Apparently mastic can be used as a glue.

17 Maintain batting is over, stumped (6)
INSIST: IN=batting, SI=IS “over”, ST=stumped. A double helping of cricket!

19 Thus form band, making things serious (8)

22 Poor health for one’s partner (5,4)
OTHER HALF: anagram (“poor”) of (HEALTH FOR*).

23 Order stopped short of November, which gives us pause (5)
COMMA: COMMA[nd] = order, stopping before N=November.

24 Welcome remedy (5)
SALVE: A double definition, the first from Latin.

25 Dry up about crime syndicate, saving the last family head (9)
PATRIARCH: PARCH “about” TRIA[d], “saving” the final letter.

26 Author more appropriate for audiobooks? (6)
WRITER: sounds like (“for audiobooks”) RIGHTER=more appropriate.

27 Bribe accepted by salesmen returning giveaway (7)
SPOILER: OIL=bribe, “accepted by” SPER= (REPS=salesmen “returning”).

1 Finland, note everything’s doomed from the south — or undetermined? (13)
PUSILLANIMOUS: I had to get this from the helpers and the (delicious) definition, and reconstruct the wordplay later. It’s a reversal (“from the south”) of SUOMI=Finland, N=note, ALL IS=everything’s, UP=doomed, as in “the game is up”.

2 Ring Arab without final roaming charge (7)
ARRAIGN: anagram (“roaming”) of (RING ARA-*), where ARAB is without its final letter.

3 Series of thank-you letters in small rag (5)
HANKY: hidden answer.

4 Bungled op? Really pretend to be someone else (4-4)
ROLE PLAY: anagram (“bungled”) of (OP REALLY*).

5 Crack up on the boards (6)
CORPSE: cryptic definition. One that’s come up more than once in recent months.  It’s a theatrical term for an actor’s collapsing in laughter.

6 Honour to maintain, with lives stuck in sin (9)
MISBEHAVE: MBE=honour, HAVE=maintain, with IS=lives “stuck in” between. This was my LOI. I got hung up thinking the definition would be honour.

7 Camp under chopped spruce cut into thirds (7)
TRISECT: TRI[m]=spruce, “cut”, SECT=a metaphorical camp.

10 My career is meaningful by definition (13)
LEXICOGRAPHER: A cryptic definition of a person who compiles, um, definitions.

14 Raise note on curtailment of county court (9)
RESURRECT: RE=on, SURRE[y]=“curtailed” county, CT=court.

16 Jailbird following trucks for digger proves wrong (8)
CONFUTES: CON=jailbird, F=following, UTES=an Australian (diggers’) word for small trucks. Not a word I knew. It’s odd that “confutes” seems to mean much the same as “refutes”.

18 Academic chief breaks from the Sun (7)
SCHOLAR: CH=chief, in SOLAR.

20 One million marks on exam — cheating? (7)
IMMORAL: I=one, M=million, M=marks, ORAL=exam. The question mark is part of the definition, since it’s a definition by example.

21 Almost nothing limits software for remote control (6)
ZAPPER: ZER[o] “limiting” APP.

23 Nothing for Poles in Australian city or Egyptian one (5)
CAIRO: CAIRNS, with the north and south poles replaced by O=nothing.


Sunday Times Cryptic 4843, 24 March 2019, by Dean Mayer — Is it just me?

This seemed harder than any Dean Mayer I’d heretofore had the honor of blogging. But maybe I was just a bit trepidatious after the previous week’s debut performance of our new Sunday blogger (with whose witty wordplay as a commenter on the blog we are all already familiar)—whose next effort may fall on my watch. As often, in retrospect, nothing seems very obscure, and there were even a few really easy ones here (13, 18…). No anagrams that make up the totality of the clue. Did anyone else find this a little tougher than usual, or did I just have too many other things on my mind?

I am just back from the Warhol show at the Whitney (barely made it, next to last day!), which is wonderful, but, unfortunately, did not inspire a more clever title for this entry.

I do (garnasam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 About to beat an old racehorse (3,3)
RED RUM — RE, “about” + DRUM, “to beat.” This is a real historical figure, a “steeplechase horse who won the Grand National at Aintree, England, an unprecedented three times, in 1973, 1974, and 1977”—and not just a creation of Stephen King.
 5 Corrupt way to meet fighter (8)
WARPLANE — WARP (“Corrupt”) + LANE (“way”)
 9 Real card tricks are what I do (9,5)
PRACTICAL JOKER — ”Real” is PRACTICAL, and a JOKER is a “card” (in a couple senses)
10 Marry, so love wears out (8)
FORSOOTH — A rather pessimistic view of matrimony? SO + O (“love”) donning FORTH, or “out.” One obsolete word clued by an obsolete sense of another, quite fair.
12 US poet rejecting wife’s offer? (6)
HITMAN — [-w]HITMAN, with a jocular definition
13 Bullets held back by commando (4)
AMMO — Reversed hidden word
14 Mutant spider turned on English”—German magazine (3,7)
DER SPIEGEL — (spider)* + LEG (“on” in cricketspeak) + E for “English” <— “turned”
16 Restaurant offering overeater chicken? Heads will roll! (10)
FINGERBOWL — ”Binger fowl” with the first letters (“heads”) switched (and a space removed). I was thinking this was a clue for a Spoonerism that avoids mentioning the eponymous “reverend,” but Jackkt points out, below, that there may be a good reason for not bringing him up. The rolling heads is (are?) still a nice device. I think this was my LOI.
18 An island’s edge (4)
20 Expert runs into trouble with applied science (6)
ADROIT — AD(R)O + IT (“information technology”)
22 City name outside walls of old outer part (8)
ECTODERM — EC is “city” in specific reference to the Eastern Central postcode of London (“The City,” containing the central business district) + TERM “name” outside “walls of old” or OD. (EC also means “European Community,” of course, a poignant coincidence at this juncture…)
23 Write to singer about one after a drug (14)
PENTOBARBITONE — PEN (“write”) TO (“to”!) BAR(B)ITONE (“singer”)—B being “one after [A]”! I think when I parsed this last part, I must have given audible vent to my joy. Also known as “pentobarbital,” this substance has been used for executions in my enlightened home country. (And now I see looming before me Andy’s various renditions of the electric chair…)
25 Horse box with crank attached (8)
CHESTNUT — CHEST (“box”) + NUT (“crank”)
26 Imagine former lover kissed on the ear (6)
EXPECT — EX is the “former lover” + PECT sounds like “pecked”

 2 Repetitive strain injury for mare holding column up (7)
EARWORM — (mare)* holding ROW<—  Took me a while to “lift and separate” the first two from the third word.
 3 Fantastic bird taking crumbs aloft? (3)
ROC —  COR <— So the exclamation “Crumbs!” is also one meaning of “Cor!” OK, if you say so!
 4 Newly married guards see what brides may be (4-5)
MAIL-ORDER — (married)* surrounding LO, “see”
 5 Met expectations? (7,8)
WEATHER FORECAST — CD, “Met” being UK parlance for meteorologic, and not a reference to the opera, my first, unhelpful thought
 6 Indian prince almost had drink knocked over (5)
RAJAH — HA[-d] + JAR <—
 7 Fleet happily accept doctor? (4,3,4)
LIKE THE WIND — I saw what the answer must be before I knew quite what was going on with “doctor,” but that is indeed one name for a certain dry trade wind that blows on the West African coast when it is winter in our hemisphere—another name of which is taken by one of the largest French publishers, L’Harmattan, with whose stores on Rue des écoles in Paris (near the Sorbonne) I am familiar.
 8 Managed to return judge’s report (7)
NARRATE — RAN (“Managed”) <— (“to return”) + RATE (“judge”)
11 Justify locations for outdoor events (11)
SHOWGROUNDS — To “show grounds,” two words, being to prove or “Justify”
15 Pleasant friend one put forward (9)
PALATABLE — PAL is “friend,” A is “one” and TABLE is “put forward”
17 Full hotel after cool office? (2-5)
IN-DEPTH — IN is “cool,” DEPT is “office” (department), with our old stand-by H for “hotel”
19 Republican appearing in stylish pants (7)
CHRONIC — They’re not really known for their sartorial flair… Roger Stone? ”Republican” = R, “appearing” = ON, inside CHIC = “stylish.” To Brits, CHRONIC can mean (Oxford) “Of a very poor quality,” which is synonymous with “pants” in Britslang. (To me, “the chronic” also means a certain substance not at all objectionable… And right after I wrote that, I came across a reference to Dr. Dre’s album The Chronic in the Friday New York Times crossword.)
21 Spike Milligan finally supports God (5)
THORN — THOR (a [g]od) stands on N, the last letter in “Mulligan”
24 Record without knowledge, ultimately (3)
TAP — TAP[-e]. This is only a semi-&lit, as “ultimately” isn’t necessary for the definition, only the wordplay. (But it sure looks lonely there without the underline.)