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July 27th, 2019

Buenos dias amigos. There was some tricky stuff in here, for which I needed aids.  I smashed the hell out of my square bracket keys wiring up the clue explanations so there appear to have been rather a lot of standard crossword abbreviations on show.

My approach to solving was quite different from normal as the puzzle was published while we were away (in Spain, can you tell?) so I solved online rather than in the paper.  Because it's easier to navigate that way I just kept going through all the clues in order until I had a completed grid.  Normally I'll get a foothold somehwere near the top and work from there using available checking letters (occasionally getting "stuck" and having to start building again from the bottom).

Anyway, the computer said it took 49:30.  First in was SHARP-EYED, last was ARMAGNAC which is unusual for me as I'm normally pretty good on food & drink.  How did you find it?  Any lurkers out there feel free to leave a message!

Clues are in blue with the definition undelined.  Anagram indicators are in bold italics.

Notation:

DD: Double definition

CD: Cryptic definition

DDCDH: DD/CD hybrid where a straight definition is combined with a cryptic hint.

&Lit:  "all in one" where the entire clue is both definition and wordplay.

(fodder)* denotes an anagram of the letters in the brackets.

Rounded brackets are also used to add further clarity

Squiggly brackets {} indicate parts of a word not used

Deletions are struck out

Square brackets [] expand an abbreviation or shortening like N[orth]


Across

1

Average sound quality got with older player (10)
MIDFIELDER - MID-FI (the "thing" that supposedly sits bewteen hi-fi and lo-fi) + ELDER.  Football position with about a squillion different variations these day.

6

Parades truth about state (5,7)
UTTAR PRADESH - (parades truth)*.  How refreshing to encouner a puzzle where the Indian state isn't GOA.

14

Keenly observant, she prayed all over the place (5-4)
SHARP-EYED - (she prayed)*

15

Arab digger, maybe, with no time for gardening tool (5)
ROWEL - tROWEL.  A rowel is the spiked revolving disc at the end of a spur.  Most people don't know the word so they just refer to the spiked revolving disc at the end of a spur

16

What can be good with a cuppa — getting universal vote? (7)
GATEAUX - G[ood], A, TEA, U[niversal], X (that mark you put next to "remain" over two years ago), &Lit

17

Terribly casual orator, no pro, is one using voice to great effect (10,7)
COLORATURA SOPRANO - (casual orator no pro)*.  Never heard of it, had to look it up.

18

Saw race where India obliterates English (5)
SPIED - SPEED with I[ndia] replacing E[nglish]

19

Where bells may be ringing to raise spirits? (7)
INSPIRE - DDCDH based around IN SPIRE

21

The old country gentleman working at court (6)
YEOMAN - YE, OMAN, nice bit of lift and separate making for a convincing surface reading

22

Spirit of large Latin female appearing in a Roman church (8)
ARMAGNAC - MAGNA in A, R[oman] C[atholic]. Ah, that kind of spirit.  Not being any kind of classicist I had no idea that magna was specifically the feminine form of large / great.  (so what does that mean for the Magna Carta?)

24

Little error allowed in what musician might play (7)
TRIPLET - TRIP, LET

26

Suspicious bringing back Diana on a criminal charge? (8)
PARANOID - reversal of DI ON A RAP.  Hold onto that Black Sabbath earworm' it'll be pushed out momentarily.

27

Stomach bananas — month old — on the turn (6)
OMASUM - reversal of MUSA, M[onth], O[ld].  Evil clue.  If you don't know that musa is the tree genus to which the banana belongs (and why would you?) or that the omasum is the muscular third stomach of a ruminant animal, between the reticulum and the abomasum (and why would you?) then you're pretty much stuffed.  I certainly was.  Don't tell me, you're all country vets with large greenhouses and use these words every day.

30

Answer separate item with correspondence (11)
COUNTERPART - COUNTER, PART

32

Music surprise with official record (4,3,4)
ROCK AND ROLL - ROCK, AND, ROLL (cue Led Zep earworm)

33

Being disapproving is losing value when I can’t be seen (11)
DEPRECATING - DEPRECiATING

35

Try nice chop cooked using a little rocket? (11)
PYROTECHNIC - (try nice chop)*

37

Herb’s missing society conference (6)
PARLEY - PARsLEY (now I've got an earworm of "I'm a very friendly Lion called Parsley" from the kids' TV programme The Herbs.

38

Church has to gauge years used for churchyard? (8)
CEMETERY - C[hurch of] E[ngland], METER, Y[ears]

39

Speaking is a habit that’s lost nowadays (7)
DICTION - adDICTION

42

Proposal to confine dying criminal (8)
OFFENDER - OFFER around END

44

Unknown person in crazy area that has banned unknowns (6)
ANYONE - zANY zONE.  Nice one.

46

Large creature seen in stream in Indian state (7)
GORILLA - RILL in GOA.  Oh.

48

Having a bite free on account (5)
ACRID - RID after AC[count].  Note that "A on B" in an across clue invariably means A after B.

49

What upsets us — even carbonating red wine? (8,9)
CABERNET SAUVIGNON - (us even carbonating)*.  It's OK for belnding but to my palate Cab Sauv doesn't work that well as a single varietal.

51

One man keeps a house somewhere in the US (7)
IDAHOAN - I DON around A HO[use]

52

Read this page in correct order? (5)
RECTO - hidden in corRECT Order

53

Relating to issuing musical title with backing (9)
EMANATIVE - reversal of EVITA NAME.

54

Race annoyed America, perhaps (5-7)
CROSS-COUNTRY - CROSS, COUNTRY

55

Part of team abandoned player (6,4)
INSIDE LEFT - IN SIDE, LEFT.  A footy position harking back to the good old days of 2-3-5, Brian.

Down

1

A comic’s this upsetting, taking pleasure in hurt (11)
MASOCHISTIC - (a comic's this)*

2

Speak slowly to bring out learner (5)
DRAWL - DRAW, L[earner]

3

Disclose current key Liberal objective (9)
IMPARTIAL - IMPART, I (the conventional symbol for electric current), A, L[iberal]

4

Baby’s gear still coming in behind schedule (7)
LAYETTE - YET in LATE

5

Old tree lay with heart gone (7)
ELDERLY - ELDER, LaY

7

Leather maker about to have place for environmental adviser (4,7)
TOWN PLANNER - TANNER around OWN PL[ace]

8

Solvent, see, found in a stout? (6)
AFLOAT - LO in A FAT.  Ah, that sort of solvent.

9

What offers a lot of openings in council that’s under limit (8)
PEGBOARD - BOARD under PEG

10

Remedy sorting out most acid pains (13)
ANTISPASMODIC - (most acid pains)*.  Well spotted anagram.

11

Dodge row about alternative vote that’s turned up (7)
EVASION - reversal of NOISE around A[lternative] V[ote]

12

Hard day cutting leather climber’s item up in a high base (11)
HEXADECIMAL - H[ard] then a reversal (signalled by "up") of D[ay] inside LAM ICE AXE

13

Revolutionary target endlessly at risk to Conservative informer (10)
ARISTOCRAT - At, RISk, TO, C[onservative], RAT

20

Mostly fleece garment for a winter sportsman? (3-6)
SKI-JUMPER - SKI{n}, JUMPER

23

Go wrong, getting very muddy around steep cliff (8)
MISCARRY - MIRY around SCAR

25

Skill used to cut bronze material (6)
TARTAN -ART in TAN

26

Hypocrite under pressure — he’s grabbing a pay increase (8)
PHARISEE - P[ressure] then HE around A RISE.  It would be hypocritical of me not to let you do your own research here.

28

Flyer showing cost of cutlery item? (9)
SPOONBILL - The amount you'd have to pay for your item of cutlery might be shown on the SPOON BILL.  Ha ha.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Ha.

29

Did season put girl and boy together? (6)
SALTED - SAL, TED.  Why has it taken 4 billion years for salted caramel to be invented?  Grrr.

31

One understands what sweets the very poor might afford? (3,5,5)
THE PENNY DROPS - DDCDH

33

Alcoholic sinks an Arab account (11)
DIPSOMANIAC - DIPS, OMANI, AC[count]

34

Avocado, perhaps, and, it’s said, more disgusting fruit he sells (11)
GREENGROCER - GREEN (as in 70s bathroom fittings) plus a homophone of grosser.  Acknowledgements to Yoda for the definition.

35

Men phone, after stumbling on incident (10)
PHENOMENON - (menphone)* then ON

36

Quite happy to include area in motorway control (11)
CONTAINMENT - CONTENT around A[rea] In M[otorway]

40

Eat garlic cooked, but this is not good in a pie (9)
CARTILAGE - (eat garlic)*.  Eww.

41

Notable C given out in operatic style (3,5)
BEL CANTO -  (notable C)*

43

Extreme ridicule over confused mix-up (7)
FARRAGO - FAR. RAG, O[ver]

45

Maidstone finally trailing Orient (7)
EASTERN - {maidston}E, ASTERN.  One for fans of home lower / non-league football in the South East.

46

Nearly squash foreign friend’s tropical fish (7)
GOURAMI - GOUR{d}, AMI.

47

Honour no queen over Shakespearean king (6)
OBERON - O.B.E. then NO R[egina] reversed

50

Rogue losing head about one innocent (5)
NAIVE - kNAVE around I

Today’s puzzle is packed full of brilliant clues. Well done, setter! I got the four 15-letter answers fairly early, but even they didn’t 9ac re the rest of the answers. I was at a bit of a *loss* with 13ac, as noted below, but the rest was delightful. My last one in will be 22dn, when I get there!

I do indeed fancy this setter’s work, although I can’t comment on their dog. My only request for next time is a more upbeat theme song to echo in my head as I write the blog!

On with the show. Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 Distinguish between two types of split (4,5)
TELL APART: TELL=split, as in spill the beans. APART=split asunder. I saw the second word at once, but had to search for the first.

6 Fed on fabrication that concludes the debate! (3,2)
END OF: anagram (fabrication) of (FED ON*).

9 Generous grouse shooter may squeal (4,3,4,4)
GIVE THE GAME AWAY: double definition, replete with whimsy.

10 Ring back in no more than fifty-nine seconds? (6)
NIMBUS: SUB-MIN reversed (back).

11 Not fair when superior virtually eclipses career (8)
BRUNETTE: BETTE[r] “eclipses” RUN. The definition fits neatly into the surface.

13 People written to no longer having to stop new casino (10)
COLOSSIANS: obviously an anagram (new) of (CASINO*), “stopped” by a word meaning “no longer having”.  If you were familiar with St. Paul’s various letters, this might have been a write-in. My first effort was COLOSTIANS, but that rang no bells (either). I eventually had to look it up, and I’m at a bit of a loss as to why “no longer” or “no longer having” is LOSS.

14 Short step for man (4)
STAG: the step is a STAG[e].

16 Stratagem an instant success in WWII (4)
MOVE: MO=instant, V.E.=success in WWII.

17 Let one quite quietly correct grasping people (10)
IMPEDIMENT: I (one), MP=mezzo-piano=quite quietly, EDIT=correct “grasping” MEN=people. The definition is as in “let or hindrance”.

19 Following punch, after something for leaning on, by George! (8)
LAMPPOST: Chambers has LAMP as slang for “punch”. POST is obviously “after”. The George in question is of course Formby, and you probably know the song.

20 Avoids runners, keeping right (6)
SKIRTS: SKIS are runners, “keeping” RT as a less usual but setter-friendly abbreviation for “right”.

23 Adorable plays with unnamed stars (9,6)
ANDROMEDA NEBULA: anagram of (plays with) (ADORABLE UNNAMED*).

24 Doctor close to Eleanor? (5)
RIGBY: RIG for “doctor”, BY for “close to”. A Beatles song.

25 Endlessly proclaim Irish politicians fake (7-2)
TRUMPED UP: TRUMPE[t] “endlessly”, D.U.P. Oh, the irony.


Down
1 Can hosts become cross? (5)
TIGON: TIN “hosts” GO. “Become” as in “go blue”.

2 If you fancy this setter, you may also have to tolerate a different one! (4,2,4,2,3)
LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG: delightful cryptic definition, playing on two meanings of “setter”.

3 Selflessness that’s really at heart platitude (8)
ALTRUISM: AL=[re]AL[ly] “at heart”, TRUISM.

4 Jump with blade to cut line (4)
AXEL: AXE=blade to cut, L. Cunning that “cut” is for once not telling us to put something inside something else.

5 Cheering cup fan’s taken ride around, close to skipper (3,7)
TEA DRINKER: anagram (around) of (TAKEN RIDE*), then [skippe]R. The definition is presumably a reference to this poem by William Cowper.

6 Are Leavers not disheartened by Britain’s future status? (6)
EXEUNT: after Brexit, Britain will be EX-EU. NT is N[o]T, “disheartened”. The answer is commonly used as a stage instruction. The wordplay made me smile.

7 Entirely because of article, crushed (4,2,3,6)
DOWN TO THE GROUND: DOWN TO=because of, THE=an article, GROUND=crushed.

8 Smart Kensington postcode written in letters for boxer (9)
FLYWEIGHT: FLY=smart; W8 or, in letters W-EIGHT, is a Kensington postcode.

12 What’s contained in chemical it must establish? (6,4)
LITMUS TEST: hidden answer, and an &lit. definition (see glossary).

13 Material appeared hard in earth (9)
CAMELHAIR: CAME=appeared, then H=hard in LAIR=earth.

15 Note in contract for firing agent (4-2-2)
PICK-ME-UP: ME in PICK UP (contract, measles for example).

18 Mysterious spot round well bores (6)
SPOOKY: O=round and OK=well both “bore” SPY.

21 Go up with champ at last for European trophy (5)
SCALP: SCALE with P from [cham]P replacing E from E[uropean].

22 Capital city of this country backed by its airline (4)
BAKU: UK “backed” after BA, the UK airline. Baku, as I now know, is the capital of Azerbaijan.