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July 18th, 2019

27406  Thursday, 18 July 2019
A struggle for me, midnight solving not necessarily to blame, extending to all but 32 minutes and producing an improbable but annoyingly pink error. As disclosed, I have some minor quibbles with several of the clues, but it’s more than possible I’m just being picky. I am, however, inclined to the opinion that there are no wilful obscurities in this display, for which credit and thanks to the setter. 21a I only parsed while preparing this entry, and little 1a was my last in because I
couldn’t see the hidden in plain sight “with”.
I present my findings and Boris-level meanderings with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS thus displayed


ACROSS
1 Backing horse with an appreciable amount (4)
MUCH Time taken to justify this. It’s that “with” that’s the unconsidered trifle, which of course translates to CUM (Latin) found in place names such as Chorlton-cum-Hardy (Manchester) or Shingay-cum-Wendy (Cambs), and in degrees summa cum laude. Anyway, add to the H(orse) and reverse (backing)
3 Farm animals of various colours, around fifty held in reserve (10)
STOCKPILED Farm animals are stock, and if multicoloured might be PIED. Stick in more Latin, L for 50
10 Old boy on express entering part of Ireland’s capital (7)
NAIROBI  The word order is tricky, but O(ld) B(oy) goes on the back end of AIR for express (air ones opinions) and the construction as a whole is entered into N(orthern) I(reland)
11 Banned act top in sport (7)
OUTPLAY A charade of banned: OUT and act: PLAY. Top in sport is a verb phrase here.
12 Eg. Panamanian chap in a near miss at sea (7-8)
SPANISH-AMERICAN There’s an anagram here, indicated by “at sea”. Your required letters are CHAP IN A NEAR MISS. Is a Panamanian a S-A?. Depends on how you Google it. Wiki says S-As are Spanish descent US citizens, as distinct from Spanish speaking migrants from Latin America. Panama itself is (mostly) Spanish speaking, but with a considerable ethnic mix. I’d have said Panamanians were Latin Americans. But what do I know?
13 Tipple that comes in pairs? (6)
SHORTS Is a tipple more than one short. It is here, and shorts come in pairs
14 Complaint from serviceman backed by Republican in US state (8)
MIGRAINE The serviceman is GI, backed (reversed) by R(epublican) and place in MAINE, your US state.
17 Indulgence? European in communist city forgetting it (8)
LENIENCY E(uropean) is found in LENIN, undoubtedly a communist, and CITY without IT completes the entry.
18 Shot, or dram, boy’s swallowed back (6)
SNIPED is the answer, and it’s NIP for dram in DES for boy (shortened male names are often clued as boy), reversed. You have to assume the “back” refers only to the boy. Iffy
21 Such people deserve respect, primarily in services (7,8)
WARRANT OFFICERS An &lit, I think. Deserve gives WARRANT, and R(espect) primarily finds its way into OFFICES, equivalent to services as acts of worship, or possibly as lavatories: take your pick. I lost a lot of time trying to think of a WO who was also a DR
23 In the company of Doctor in Distress (7)
AMONGST And wouldn’t you know, here’s a military officer who’s also a Dr, in this case an MO, immersed in ANGST for distress. Doctor in Distress as capitalised is one of a series of 60’s comedies starring Dirk Bogarde as Dr. Simon Sparrow
24 Carrier making earlier entry with misplaced aspiration (7)
HOLDALL Earlier entry is  OLD HALL. Misplace the H(aspiration)
25 Departs, mad about motorists and their sport? (4,6)
DRAG RACING D(eparts) plus RAGING mad surrounds the RAC, the other motoring association in the UK
26 Provocative Kentish couple yet to be identified (4)
SEXY  Kentish gives you SE, because that’s where Kent is, and X and Y are our unidentified couple.



DOWN
1 Considers getting to grips with home's unattractive points (7)
MINUSES Considers MUSES, and home IN comfortably gripped.
2 Foreign god elevated in prominent feature in ethnic quarter (9)
CHINATOWN A prominent feature in most people is their CHIN. The foreign (Norse/Asgardian) god is WOTAN (Wagner’s Ring spelling), to be “elevated” and inserted
4 Making 50% reductions, tailor child's exercise regime (3,3)
TAI CHI. Knock off half of TAIlor and CHIld’s
5 I must chop pieces at bottom of dog dish (4,4)
CHOW MEIN  Oddly enough, I recently queried whether protesting Koreans defiantly eating tradition dog meat might be eating chow mein, and this wordplay is not a million miles away. Dog is CHOW, and pieces are (chess) MEN, which I chops into.
6 Hierarchical rule first announced under first Pope (5,9)
PETER PRINCIPLE “the theory that members of an organization, etc, are generally promoted to posts one stage above their level of competence”, so I suppose it’s a rule about hierarchy. PRINCIPLE, which sounds like principal: first, is found under PETER, apostle and traditionally first Bishop of Rome.
7 Shade reversed in optical illusion (5)
LILAC  Todays (reverse) hidden, in optiCAL ILlusion
8 Unopened Eye penned by poet one respected in class (7)
DOYENNE “the most senior (female) and most respected member of an academy, diplomatic corps, class, or profession”. EYE loses its opening E, and tucks into poet John DONNE
9 Perverse defender doing badly? Team's boss has only one answer (3,2,3,6)
DOG IN THE MANGER Neat, if perverse definition. DOING badly give the DOG IN, then Team’s boss is THE MANAGER, removing one of the A’s. Those of you with extensive and critical knowledge of football can make up your own jokes.
15 Curse devil found with head lowered (9)
IMPRECATE Devil is IMP, found (verb) is CREATE, drop the C down the rankings
16 High church from South making no progress (8)
ECSTATIC Church in these things is often CE (of England), which viewed from the south gives EC. Making no progress: STATIC
17 Plain member of parliament in saddle? (7)
LOWLAND You cant stretch MP or TD to fit, but the collective noun for OWLs is parliament. Saddle gives LAND as in burden with.
19 Demonstrate upcoming range in home improvements (7)
DISPLAY Another upcoming reversal, this time of ALPS (range) in DIY home improvements if no making work for the working man to do.
20 National force in a part of Africa suppressing base (6)
AFGHAN a bunch of whom improbably shone in the Cricket World Cup  F(orce) finds its way into A GHANA with its final A missing, believed suppressed
22 Girl in Resistance initially has trouble getting up (5)
RHODA Boy (girl?) did I struggle with this eventually misentering the improbable RHONA for no reason I can now imagine. I began with in Resistance initially for IR, added a reversed ADO and Imagining IRODA was a name which I then confused with IRONA the Robot Maid. Eventually I worked out that Resistance is R without the qualifying “initial”, which instead separates the H from Has. Somehow the N survived uncorrected.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1398 by Tracy

I found this easier than yesterday's, which I did just beforehand, but I was aware of that nice experience, notable by its rarity, where for a good number of the clues the first thing that sprang to mind ended up being the correct answer. I don't know if that's wavelength or luck - I suppose the flitting mind is subject to a degree of chance - or perhaps it's more to do with well-crafted nudges from a setter in a generous mood. Anyway, I was a bit over 10 minutes for yesterday's and a bit under 6 for this, which is about as quick as I get. So obviously I found this a most pleasant solve - many thanks to Tracy! Oh, and you'll be pleased to have the Rotter back this time next week.

Across
1 Wintry weather in south at present (4)
SNOW - S(outh) NOW (at present)
4 View of country importing gold (8)
PANORAMA - PANAMA (country) importing/bringing in OR (gold)
8 Dwelling of a French girl in Cockney area (8)
BUNGALOW - UN ("a", French) GAL (girl) in BOW (cockney area)
9 Beginning to describe strange percussion instrument (4)
DRUM - D (beginning to Describe) RUM (strange)
10 Wrong about grand gesture (4)
SIGN - SIN (wrong) about G(rand)
11 Islamic symbol in curved street (8)
CRESCENT - double definition
12 Fellow cut rent for ski lodge (6)
CHALET - CHAP (fellow), cut [the last letter]; LET (rent)
14 I'm sadly having to go back for a highly seasoned sausage (6)
SALAMI - IM, ALAS (I'm, sadly) going back/returning
16 Food sent back, and, for Fritz, last of barley wine (8)
BURGUNDY - BURG (grub = food) sent back, UND ("and" in German/for Fritz) Y (last in barleY)
18 Thin fog may be avoided, we hear (4)
MIST - we hear the same as MISSED (avoided)
19 Help retired head of lyceum to make call (4)
DIAL - DIA (aid = help, retired/returned) L (head of Lyceum)
20 Target of ridicule in genuine denial (8)
REBUTTAL - BUTT (target of ridicule) in REAL (genuine)
22 Displaced persons, finally, receive an answer (8)
RESPONSE - anagram (displaced) of PERSONS, E ("finally" receivE)
23 Fine Hungarian wine needing no introduction (4)
OKAY - TOKAY (Hungarian wine) without the introductory letter. I had a cheapish bottle of Tokaji furmint not so long ago and remembered the name, but I hear the Tokay or Tokaji region does produce some rather fine wine.

Down
2 Initially, neither of us is hard to feed (7)
NOURISH - N ("initially" Neither) OUR (of us/belonging to us) IS H(ard)
3 Joker aboard truck (5)
WAGON - WAG (joker) ON (aboard)
4 Comrade, drink up! (3)
PAL - LAP (drink) up/reverse
5 Very recently made top state (3,6)
NEW JERSEY - NEW (very recently made) JERSEY (top)
6 Extremist spoke about start of communism (7)
RADICAL - RADIAL (spoke) about C (start of Communism)
7 Medical Officer on vessel gets to wear black, perhaps (5)
MOURN - MO (Medical Officer) on URN (vessel)
11 Escape quickly after seeing copper close to flat with ladder (3,3,3)
CUT AND RUN - CU (copper) T ("close" to flaT) AND (with) RUN (ladder, in tights, etc.)
13 Members cheek fielder (3,4)
LEG SLIP - LEGS (members/limbs) LIP (cheek). Slightly odd sounding surface, meaning: [club] members [give] cheek [to] fielder.
15 A blemish covered by mother's cosmetic (7)
MASCARA - is A SCAR (a blemish) covered by MA (mother)
17 Join squad, English (5)
UNITE - UNIT (squad) E(nglish)
18 Saw bishop out of bed, having risen (5)
MOTTO - take B(ishop) out of BOTTOM (bed), and reverse it (having risen). Saw/axiom/adage/etc.
21 Extra purchase, reportedly (3)
BYE - sounds like ("reportedly") BUY (purchase) - an extra in cricket.

Times 27,407: A Toast To The Happy Couple?

About as easy as Times 15x15s get, pace a few interesting words like 5dn and 17dn. There seems to me to be a nonzero chance that this puzzle is to celebrate a wedding, if 10ac, 11ac, 13ac, 16ac, 26ac, 8dn, 23dn and 27dn are anything to go by - have I missed any others? Perhaps the name of the couple is 4dn, as this seems to be central too somehow. Anyway sincerest congratulations to them both if this is actually what is going on - I wish you a long life of joy and Times Crossword puzzles together!

ACROSS
7 Kind of rock wayward genius has put in ring (7)
IGNEOUS - (GENIUS*) ["wayward"] has put in O [ring]

9 Somehow, is crop circle a sign? (7)
SCORPIO - (IS CROP O*) ["somehow"]

10 United duo having just achieved goal in match? (9)
NEWLYWEDS - cryptic def. We're talking about the sacred institution of marriage, not the even more sacred one of football, here.

11 Daughter and a friend, ignoring the odds, took on challenge (5)
DARED - D + A + {f}R{i}E{n}D

12 Method of paying, initially, that could be catch (3)
COD - or, alternatively punctuated, C.O.D., the acronym for Cash On Delivery.

13 Its consumers are celebrating achievement of union (7,4)
WEDDING CAKE - cryptic def. Again we're talking about people getting married. Is this puzzle dedicated to an actual pair of 10 perchance?

15 Finishes off any new ale — one way to work on glass (6)
ANNEAL - AN{y} NE{w} AL{e}

16 Records a pair of names, too — endlessly together (6)
ANNALS - A + N N + ALS{o} [too, "endlessly"]

20 They extend a line — casts twice end badly (11)
DESCENDANTS - (CASTS END END*) ["badly"]

22 Original piece of art framed in fine 4 (3)
OAK - A{rt} in OK [fine]. 4dn = WOOD.

24 For example, working with 4 boats (5)
CRAFT - Double def. 4dn still = WOOD.

26 Desirable feature of house that's comprehended by groom, in essence (9)
ROOMINESS - hidden in {g}ROOM IN ESS{ence}

28 Literary great, in time, was told about book (3,4)
THE BARD - T [time] + HEARD [was told] "about" B [book]

29 Dog that is with novelist from same part of world (7)
SCOTTIE - I.E. [that is], with SCOTT [novelist who is from Scotland, like the dog. There's a clue to their provenance in both their names, really]

DOWN
1 Easy task? Part of it could be a piece of cake (6)
PICNIC - Double def. If this is a thematic puzzle, maybe the cake is wedding cake.

2 Unable to move under white blanket (6,2)
SNOWED IN - cryptic def

3 Fish from front or stern of dinghy (4)
DORY - or, put another way, the D OR Y of "dinghy"

4 Duke attached to court in deal, for example (4)
WOOD - D [duke] attached to WOO [court]

5 Ornamental shrub is feature of cathedral area (6)
SPIREA - SPIRE A [feature of cathedral | area]

6 Unable to deliver speech in exceptionally low dress (8)
WORDLESS - (LOW DRESS*) ["exceptionally"]

8 Place with company, finally, as regular partner (6)
STEADY - STEAD [place] with {compan}Y

9 Bird appearing as one's sitting in hide (6)
SISKIN - I'S [one's] "sitting in" SKIN [hide]

13 Practice a craft, as setter and solvers have stated (5)
WEAVE - homophone of WE'VE [setter and solvers have]

14 Casual garments, we hear — they're passed on by parents (5)
GENES - homophone of JEANS [casual garments]

15 Including account in financial check, said why that's bold (8)
AUDACITY - including AC [account] in AUDIT [financial check] + Y ["said" WHY]

17 Transformed art tome with old representation of Cupid (8)
AMORETTO - (ART TOME*) ["transformed"] + O [old]

18 Really liked a party on extreme left (6)
ADORED - A DO RED [a | party | on extreme left, like Ken]

19 Cause of tears known to the cognoscenti? (6)
ONIONS - and the cognoscenti "know their onions"

21 Does some gardening work in suit (6)
SPADES - double def

23 Satisfied with endless show of affection? That's fate (6)
KISMET - MET [satisfied] with KIS{s} ["endless" show of affection]

25 Timber used in the afterdeck, being extremely selective (4)
TEAK - T{h}E A{fterdec}K

27 Revered person adding line to acceptance speech (4)
IDOL - add L [line] to I DO [acceptance speech]