July 31st, 2019


Times Quick Cryptic No 1407 by Teazel


Filling in this week. A very enjoyable puzzle, which I did not finish, on account of needing to look up shore birds at 1 Across, and Russian rivers at 2 Down. Teazel made me think, and I really had to grind out clues like 3 Across, 11 Down, and 22 Across. Some lovely answers like 21 Across and 13 Down.

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Times 27417 - back with a whimper

Having relocated reasonably smoothly to the Land of Hope and Glory, I was ready for a tough challenge and hoping to produce a witty, erudite blog, up to the standard of my excellent locum of last week, Olivia. Sadly, I found this puzzle eminently straightforward and uncontroversial, and am struggling to say anything very witty or erudite about any of the clues. Parsing 14a held me up for longer than writing the rest of the blog.

Now back to opening those boxes and wondering why we have all this stuff.

1 Old Irishman briefly attached to pub belonging to a peer (8)
BARONIAL - NIAL(L) an abberviated Irish first name, is attached to BAR (pub) and O for old.
5 He left by public transport, getting measure of grain (6)
BUSHEL - BUS has HE and L added.
10 Country district to west lacking the ultimate in brio (5)
NIGER - REGION is reversed and has its O (end of brio) removed.
11 Take back City, overcome by ecstatic delight (9)
RECAPTURE - EC (City of London) is inserted into RAPTURE.
12 Part of Jersey, say — and Bath once, I suspect (9)
AITCHBONE - (BATH ONCE I)*, part of a cow one assumes. Not part of a sweater, anyway.
13 Magistrate’s point accepted by minister at conclusion of case (5)
REEVE - REV (minister) has E (point) inserted and E (end of case) added.
14 Intrinsic feature of enclosure being put about (7)
ESSENCE - The best I can do to explain this is to say it's ENC for enclosure inside ESSE which itself means 'essence' or essential nature, it being the Latin verb 'to be'. The surface doesn't make much sense.
16 Stumble over second Cambridge honours exam (6)
TRIPOS - TRIP (stumble), O(ver), S(econd).
18 Part of cannon soldier finally found in tree (6)
BREECH - R (end of soldier) inserted into BEECH tree.
20 Yokel’s plight at first, restricted by useless family (7)
BUMPKIN - P (plight at first) inserted into BUM KIN = useless family.
22 Where gladiatorial contests took place a long time back (5)
ARENA - AN ERA all reversed.
23 One antagonises a retired man, backing duty list (9)
ALIENATOR - A, NEIL reversed, ROTA reversed.
25 Restricted by petty rules, like badly fed cattle? (9)
HIDEBOUND - I supposed a double definition, the second one literal, if a bit strained. Bound by hide, a badly fed cow?
26 Small island administered by a king or queen? (5)
ARRAN - A R (king or queen) RAN the island. I don't see the need for small, Arran is 432 sq. km., not that small.
27 Male, culturally pretentious Republican, one who died for cause (6)
MARTYR - M(ale), ARTY (culturally pretentious), R(epublican).
28 Fail to take in variable poem about aquatic creatures (8)
CRAYFISH - CRASH (fail) has Y (variable) and IF (poem) reversed, inserted.

1 Embargo judge removed, destroyed by incompetence (8)
BANJAXED - BAN (embargo) J(udge) AXED (removed). An odd word which I heard used a lot when I lived in the Emerald Isle. Etymology seems unknown.
2 Correct ceremonial for listeners (5)
RIGHT - Homophone of RITE.
3 Poor boy near the barn digesting start of great novel (10,5)
NORTHANGER ABBEY - Think of a famous novel with 10, 5, then unravel the reason why. (BOY NEAR THE BARN G)*, the G from beginning of great.
4 Publicise complete-sounding aid to ventilation (7)
AIRHOLE - AIR = publicise, HOLE sounds like WHOLE = complete.
6 Rule man in a party breaks, being this? (15)
7 Keep last of water in cooking pot for domestic chores (9)
HOUSEWORK - keep = HOUSE, look after; WOK a cooking pot has R the end of water inserted.
8 Songs principal first violinist talked of (6)
LIEDER - Homophone of LEADER of the orchestra.
9 Stress that may be acute? (6)
ACCENT - may be an acute accent, or grave accent, as you wish.
15 Give in and give up (9)
SURRENDER - Double definition.
17 Dig in in French river, disturbing fish (8)
ENTRENCH - EN = French for in, TENCH a fish, insert R for river.
19 Greeting coming in our direction in break (6)
20 Brilliant piece of play demanding drunken celebration (7)
BLINDER - Play a blinder, go on a blinder.
21 Old lady on edge about youth leader’s state of chaos (6)
MAYHEM - MA (old lady), HEM (edge) insert Y (youth leader).
24 Bones seafarers found on island (5)
TARSI - TARS = seafarers, I(sland).

Monthly Club Special 20,226: A Void (Lik Th Plagu)!

As usual I feel mildly sorry for those who spurn the MCS because the vocabulary is too difficult - they are missing some of the best clues of the month, every month. As usual there were surfaces, definitions, devices and cryptic inventions in here that made my jaw drop. I think 14dn, my last one parsed, may be my favourite clue, for its sheer ambition, but there was so much else here to love. And on top of it all, we have what is presumably the hardest type of nongram to pull off - every letter of the alphabet but the daddy, the big E. Georges Perec would be proud.

Word of the day to 12dn in the face of stiff competition from 1ac and 9ac, surface of the day to 21dn or 3dn or 10ac or 16ac or... oh dammit, they're all amazing. Massive kudos to the brilliant setter and if anyone else was sensible enough to do this last month... which clues did you like the best?

1 Oddly lazy opinion took off — Aristotle’s one of us? (4,9)
An Aristotelian term for a human being - literally "the political animal".

8 Pointed way leaving firm (4)
URDY - {st}URDY. Remove ST [street = way] from a word for firm.
Heraldically pointy.

9 Big Apple contingent, latterly accommodated as eg Tamworth sleeper movement (10)
NYCTINASTY - NYC [Big Apple] + {contingen}T + IN A STY [accommodated as a pig (eg Tamworth)].
Nyctinasty is what plants do as it grows dark, in a manner reminiscent of "going to sleep".

10 Too much Lambrusco? That’s about a flute (8)
OTTAVINO - OTT VINO [too much | Lambrusco], about A.
An ottavino seems to be another word for a piccolo.

11 Gold chain worn by old paramilitaries in that particular role (2,4)
AS SUCH - AU CH [gold | chain] "worn" by SS [old paramilitaries]

13 Asking to be released from Eng Lit briefly to visit motoring group’s festival (10)
QUIRINALIA - {en}QUIRIN{g}, once released from the enclosing ENG, + LI{t} to "visit" AA [motoring group]

16 Cross in second area burned down (4)
MOXA - X [cross] in MO A [second | area]. A downy substance burned in Eastern medicinal practice, making this an unusually brilliant misleading definition...

17 Walk covered in Packer broadcast (4)
STOA - homophone of STOWER [packer]

18 Condition of Rex after treatment “doing ok”, I left hospital (10)
KINGLIHOOD - (DOING OK I L H*) ["after treatment"]

20 Drumming and cheers perhaps having kicked bottle round and round (6)
TATTOO - TA [cheers] + TT [perhaps having kicked bottle] + O [round] + O [round]

22 Charlie stuffs party bags for little nippers (3-5)
DOG-CRABS - C "stuffs" DO GRABS [party | bags]

24 Put an end to gossip — and stop one tweeting (10)
BANANAQUIT - BAN ANA [put and end to | gossip] + QUIT [stop].
One of our household's very favourite bird names.

26 Killer at sea, maybe 30 seconds from holiday island (4)
ORCA - {min}ORCA is the holiday island, remove 30 seconds = half a minute = MIN from it.

27 Live bar music’s ending — and tricolour’s waving (9,4)
CONDUCTOR RAIL - {musi}C + (AND TRICOLOUR*) ["waving"]

1 Spiritual leader and Zulu consequently tango in a sort of skirt (11)
ZARATHUSTRA - Z + THUS T [consequently | tango] in A RARA [sort of skirt]

2 Grasses up lazy robber, not all there (5)
ORYZA - hidden reversed in {l}AZY RO{bber}

3 Rubber of bridge in Monaco: Scotsman leads top cards (9)
PONTIANAK - PONT [bridge, in French] + IAN [Scotsman] + A K = Ace King = top cards

4 Scoff after one probes ally’s body for old death portent? (4-3)
LICH-OWL - CHOW [scoff] after I [one] "probes" {a}LL{y}

5 Unsuitable as fare: halve that after journey’s abandoned quietly (5)
TRIFA - FA{re} after TRI{p}. An unusual spelling of treif, which is non-kosher food.

6 Ask a man who’s inside, twice, to rouse the butler (9)
KHANSAMAH - (ASK A MAN {w}H{o} {w}H{o}*) ["to rouse"]

7 Politician that fans of The Sun would want if returned? (3)
NAT - fans of the sun might want a TAN, fans of The Sun might want a nationalist in power! So &lit.

12 Helmsman, absurd, taking front of boat in vain (11)
COXCOMBICAL - COX [helmsman] + COMICAL [absurd] taking B{oat} in

14 To go off carrying trailer, something long Victoria had picked up: this? (4,5)
ROAD TRAIN - ROT [to go off] "carrying" AD, + homophone of REIGN [something long (Queen) Victoria had];
*or* Victoria being in Australia, the entire clue can be a straightish description of Aussie road trains. Absurd levels of cluing genius!

15 Snapper needing a breather after climbing a peak (9)
ALLIGATOR - A + reversed GILL [breather] + A TOR [peak]

19 Surely where French, not English, is in credit? (2,5)
NO DOUBT - OU [where, in French], instead of E, is in NO DEBT [credit]

21 Regularly failing ports? Ask our computer geeks (5)
OTAKU - {p}O{r}T{s} A{s}K {o}U{r}

23 After cycling, able to hold ten glasses of beer, maybe, or wine (5)
RIOJA - I think 10-JAR may imply "being able to hold ten glasses of beer"? Cycle the letters to R10JA.

25 Husband denied knowing development of plot (3)
ARC - ARC{h} [knowing], with H for husband "denied" to it.