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July 17th, 2019

Times Quick Cryptic 1397 by Wurm

Wurm has caught me out numerous times in the past, so I was glad to finish this in just a little over my target time: a mid-difficulty puzzle, I'd say. I had a bit of biffing to unravel afterwards at 15ac, 1dn and 13dn as described below.

What a set of clues, though! Almost all of them are of 6 words of fewer, and to pack in so much wit and misdirection is marvellous.

Definitions underlined.

Across
1 Some twelve-stone sprites (5)
ELVES - hidden in (some) twELVE-Stone.
4 Monk has no resistance to plague (6)
BOTHER - Brother (monk) missing the (has no) 'r' (resistance).
9 Officer gone mad in German city (7)
COLOGNE - COL (colonel, officer), with an anagram of (mad) GONE.
10 Sad song in Matrix about Neo's heart (5)
DIRGE - GRID (matrix) reversed (about) then the middle letter (heart) of nEo.
11 Shining learner having that certain something (3)
LIT - L (learner) and IT (that certain something).
12 A chartered accountant meant to back the universities (8)
ACADEMIA - A, CA (chartered accountant), then AIMED (meant) reversed (to back).
15 Confuses players coming in by boat (6,7)
PADDLE STEAMER - ADDLES (confuses) and TEAM (players), all surrounded by (coming in) PER (by, as in 'by means of'). I count myself very lucky to have spotted the boat with just the enumeration and a few checkers, and apart from TEAM, left the untangling until I'd stopped the clock.
17 Barrow worker caught by deceit (8)
HANDCART - HAND (worker), C (caught) and ART (deceit).
18 Gullible person in France not returning (3)
SAP - reversal of (returning) PAS ('not', in French)
20 Trouble as wrecked Argo ships gallons (5)
AGGRO - anagram of (wrecked) ARGO containing (ships) G (gallons).
22 Policeman circling hospital in helicopter (7)
CHOPPER - COPPER (policman) surrounding (circling) H (hospital). My first thought was 'chinook' for some reason, but I quickly corrected myself.
23 Kind disposition (6)
NATURE - double definition. My LOI; so simple once the penny dropped.
24 Wild animal in eastern country (5)
ELAND - E (eastern) and LAND (country).

Down
1 Sliced veal, look: avoid eating that (8)
ESCALOPE - LO (look, as in 'lo and behold') with ESCAPE (avoid) surrounding it (eating that). I came back to parse this one too. The answer was on the tip of my tongue, but I needed all the checkers to jog my memory and then a bit of time post-solve to work out the word play.
2 Man having beer in Vermont (5)
VALET - ALE (beer) in VT (state abbreviation for Vermont).
3 Frisky single lad gave hint (9)
SIGNALLED - anagram of (frisky) SINGLE LAD.
5 Rum included in good diet (3)
ODD - hidden in (included in) goOD Diet.
6 Dauntless display might be moreish (7)
HEROISM - anagram of (might be) MOREISH.
7 European losing final in ping pong (4)
REEK - gREEK (European), excluding (losing) the 'g' (last letter of (final in) ping). An excellent example of the need to lift and separate words from natural phrases, and my COD.
8 Survey ignoring Conservative revival (11)
RENAISSANCE - REconNAISSANCE (survey) missing the (ignoring) 'con' (conservative).
13 Conductor travelled with those chosen (9)
ELECTRODE - RODE (travelled) with ELECT (those chosen). Another I am only parsing now, having semi-biffed it earlier. I read that the elect were those chosen for salvation in Christian theology, or can be those selected for any position, but the plural noun/adjectival sense of the word was new to me.
14 All set having shaved in advance? (8)
PREPARED - 'pre-pared', or pared (shaved) in advance.
16 Plan announced for man on board (7)
DRAUGHT - the small disc-shaped playing peice (or man) on a (draughts/checkers) board; sounds like (announced) "draft" (plan). At first I was thinking the 'man on board' could be a conscript, or someone selected to be part of a team, and a little research has left me very confused about the difference between 'draft' and 'draught'. It seems either can be used for a sketch / plan, and either for a conscript / to conscript, and that the preferred usage differs between the UK and US. Thankfully I spotted the game-based explanation while writing the blog!
18 Brown as pie in the cooking? (5)
SEPIA - anagram of (in the cooking) AS PIE.
19 Sunrise sketched, right away (4)
DAWN - Drawn (sketched) with the 'r' (right) missing (away).
21 Rower starting out at regatta (3)
OAR - first letters of (starting) Out At Regatta.

Times 27405 - sink or swim

I swam or 20a quickly through this one, 15 or 16 minutes, pausing only to think about 22a and my LOI 27a in terms of parsing. Nothing else very scary or exciting. A few obvious anagrams should get you well on the way.

Next week my learned colleague Olivia will be doing the honours again while I move house, so none of my nonsense!



Across
1 Man from another planet intercepted by copper (6)
MARCUS - An easy one for Verlaine, perhaps? CU goes inside MARS.
5 Worthless plane makers suffering setback — evidence of metal fatigue? (8)
GIMCRACK - Our usual Russian MIG is reversed, followed by a CRACK.
9 Time of revolution finishing — grand for short time (8)
GERMINAL - TERMINAL has its T replaced by a G.
10 Phone city in Alabama (6)
MOBILE - Double definition. Different pronunciations.
11 Hard world where things can get very hot (6)
HEARTH - H(ard), EARTH.
12 Threat to health, minute one found in time (8)
LISTERIA - LIST = minute, as in minute of a meeting; ERA has I inserted.
14 Unease of party politician with nothing certain (12)
DISCOMPOSURE - DISCO = party, MP = politician, O SURE = nothing certain.
17 One rogue's run off — “brainy” operator? (12)
NEUROSURGEON - (ONE ROGUES RUN)*.
20 Lifelong publishing employee made fast progress (8)
CAREERED - CAREER = lifelong, as in 'career ambition'; ED in publishing.
22 Youngster, said by Australian to be a chip off the old block? (6)
SHIVER - I'm not big on Oz speak, but my Australian seafaring uncle used to call me "The Shaver" when I was eight or nine, so I guess this is an Oz pronunciation of SHIVER as 'SHYVER' for shaver, and shiver is a synonym for a sliver or shard.
23 Month seeing end of winter has sheep getting grass (6)
MARRAM - MAR(ch), RAM = sheep. Marram grass is that coarse stuff which grows on sand dunes.
25 Cooking two fish to cover starter for dinner (8)
CODDLING - COD and LING have D(inner) inserted.
26 Alarming changes on the border (8)
MARGINAL - (ALARMING)*.
27 Revolutionary period involved in no end of vile execution by drowning (6)
NOYADE - DAY reversed inside NO (vil)E = no end of vile. From French noyer to drown, notably execution by said method as practised in the "Reign of Terror" at Nantes in 1793-4.

Down
2 Mountain features exist, appearing above ascending group (6)
ARETES - ARE = exist, TES = SET reversed.
3 Friendship of dear America going awry (11)
CAMARADERIE - (DEAR AMERICA)*.
4 Oddly saying academic work offers reconciliation of ideas? (9)
SYNTHESIS - S a Y i N g > SYN, THESIS = academic work.
5 Miss one constellation as astronomer with primitive telescope (7)
GALILEO - Miss = GAL, I = one, LEO constellation.
6 Notes a particular male going the wrong way (5)
MEMOS - SOME M reversed.
7 Difficulty chipping end off stone (3)
RUB - RUB(Y). As in "aye, there's the rub" spoken by Hamlet.
8 Underground workers using dogs to catch snooper finally (8)
COLLIERS - COLLIES dogs catch an R from end of snooper.
13 Industrial German city — it upset colleague, by its very nature (11)
ESSENTIALLY - ESSEN on the Ruhr, IT reversed, ALLY = colleague.
15 Journalists meeting knotty situation to the north kept going (7,2)
PRESSED ON - PRESS = journalists, NODE = knotty situation, reversed.
16 Type of information encountered — notice a brief acknowledgement (8)
METADATA - MET = encountered, AD = notice, A, TA = brief thanks.
18 A bitter uprising separating two sides on the left? (7)
RADICAL - R and L = two sides, insert A and ACID reversed. R (A DICA) L.
19 Was monarch no good to be restricted? (6)
REINED - REIGNED loses its G = no good.
21 Dish on Japanese menu? Head of restaurant has the final word (5)
RAMEN - r(estaurant), AMEN = final word.A Japanese dish with noodles in a broth.
24 Charity event in tabloid? (3)
RAG - Double definition.