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August 29th, 2019

A moderate puzzle after yesterday’s eccentric offering, with fewer tricky words and definitions. I still managed to trundle off down the wrong track at a couple of places, and came home in 16.42.
The mutilated creature appears to be making its debut appearance, and was pretty much my last in on wordplay alone. I can only hope that the rest of the required GK in this grid was a much within your ken as within mine. I trust any MPs who do this thing are suitably grateful to our Dear Leader for the extra time off to devote to solving during the next month or so.
I have shown clues in italics, definitions in underlined italics, and solutions in BOLD CAPITALS
ACROSS
1 Check through newspaper reports — of Cinderella? (4-2-6)
RAGS-TO-RICHES CH(eck), when it’s given in chess notation, goes through (crossword for inside) RAG (newspaper) STORIES (reports).
8 One resisting work has a problem (7)
OPPOSER Work is OP, short for opus, Latin/music for (a) work. Problem is POSER
9 Like a Pope’s pedigree, covering a long time (7)
LEONINE There were thirteen Popes Leo, their adjective illustrated by pedigree: LINE “covering” a long time: EON. The setter managed to resist the one about the propreantepenultimate pope of that name.
11 Bohemian needing some pictures met an artist (7)
SMETANA A particular Bohemian, by nationality rather than disposition, Bedrich Smetana (Mr Sour Cream to you) is perhaps best known for his Vltava, a splendid symphonic poem tracing the river from source to sea. Today’s hidden (some) in pictureS MET AN Artist
12 Function of bank not so obscure (7)
CLEARER A sort of double definition. Clearing banks are responsible for the processing of financial transactions, such as cheques (remember them?) so a function of a bank is to act as a clearer. Chambers says clearer is another name for a clearing bank, which makes the function bit redundant and the clue then slightly less clunky.
13 With a huge pot and medals at end of race (5)
OBESE Pot as in belly, the medals are OBES (other bu***rs’ efforts) and E from the end of racE
14 The Devil not good in graveyards, dancing (9)
ADVERSARY  From Compline, the ancient night prayer: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion” as if the night didn’t hold enough terrors already. Take the G(ood) out of GRAVEYARDS and let the remaining letters dance.
16 Mother holds hand at length after firm pledge (9)
COMMITTAL So MITT is hand, which MA (mother) holds after CO(mpany) from firm and before A L(ength)
19 Chief with new bird (5)
CAPON Chief is CAPO (as in di tutti capi) plus N(ew). I cleverly reversed the clue as CROWN (definition chief) made up of with N(ew), CROW (bird). Works until it doesn’t.
21 Vicar, one ladies turned to for dramatic entertainment: that’s not new (7)
REVIVAL Priest supplies the REV, one the I, and ladies the LAV to e turned
23 A fresh set of hands making US policy (3,4)
NEW DEAL Double definition, one from cards and one from Roosevelt countering  the Great Depression
24 Place of exile is backed by head of secret police (7)
SIBERIA How fortuitous that the head of Stalin’s NKVD, Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, had most of Gulag country for his name. You just add IS backwards.
25 Stiff manner is singular, taking in sort of film (7)
ICINESS  The sort of film is CINE, taken in by IS S(ingular)
26 Former spinner almost scores four (7-5)
SEVENTY-EIGHT I was briefly persuaded the was a golfing clue, with EAGLE the second word. But it’s the old shellac records we’re being referred to, and I think the 78 here comes from its being almost scores four (four score), 80.
DOWN
1 Full pelt, running through endless grass (7)
REPLETE  “Running” instructs you to rework the letters of PELT, then place them in REED for grass minus its ending.
2 Slowly develop, say, upset condition (7)
GESTATE  Say clues EG, then upset, and condition translates to STATE
3 Her target, man to abuse? (9)
TERMAGANT An &lit of sorts, an abuse of TARGET MAN for the abuser who targets men. An easy word to misspell made easier to spell correctly by counting the As
4 Sacred object in half of Islam, say? Christianity, primarily (5)
RELIC Islam is an example of a religion, of which you need the first half. Christianity primarily provides the C
5 Inside vehicle, tie mutilated animal (4-3)
CROP-EAR Chambers gives this as obsolete for any creature with – um – cropped ears. I saw quickly that the vehicle was probably CAR, but there’s not enough letters in TIE to mutilate for the rest. Not an anagram, then, just another word for ROPE in its verbal form.
6 Run through ceremony in each country (7)
ERITREA R(un) goes through (see 1ac) ceremony: RITE in EA(ch)
7 A fragile construction, so UFO crashed on the rocks (5,2,5)
HOUSE OF CARDS, an anagram, on the rocks, of SO UFO CRASHED
10 Norman’s successor Henry is generally eccentric (5,7)
EARLY ENGLISH Which form of architecture followed Norman, and is here a reconstruction (eccentric) of H(enry) IS GENERALLY
15 Regularly mean with money contributed to farewell card (9)
VALENTINE Regularly mean invites you to take the E and the N from mean, then add TIN for money (not common slang outside crosswords, these days) and place the lot inside VALE for (Latin) farewell
17 Presumably not “stick” of furniture? (7)
MOVABLE Furniture which does not stick is movable, and movable(s) is a generic legal(ish) term for furniture anyway.
18 Holding volume, in Irish, upside down (7)
INVERSE IN ERSE for in Irish. Slightly confusingly, Chambers gives “formerly, and still occasionally, the name given by Lowland Scots to the language of the people of the West Highlands, as being of Irish origin; sometimes used for Irish Gaelic”. Whatever, it holds V(olume) here
19 Facing down, put in large cover (7)
COWLING Facing down: COWING with L(arge) inserted
20 Quietly take exception to what one’s given (7)
PRESENT  Tricky while I had CROWN rather than CAPON to provide the first letter, easy once I twigged. P music for quietly, RESENT simple translation of take exception to.
22 Inclined to have answer in forty days (5)
LEANT LENT is one example of forty days, slip in A(nswer)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1428 by Mara

Tricky enough today from Mara. I only had five of the acrosses on a first read over (8,9,10,17,19), and would have been slower than the 11-and-a-half minutes it took me to DNF had it not been for a few helpful anagrams. I was left staring at 21ac at the end, but my patience for staring blankly at cryptic crossword clues was wearing rather thin after yesterday's 15x15 puzzle, done (after a fashion) just before this. So not much hanging around before clicking on the answer. But a very well crafted puzzle with lots of variation and some lovely surfaces, my favourites being 11ac, 22ac, 2d, 3d and 4d. Good stuff - many thanks to Mara!

Across
1 Plant after day is OK (12)
SATISFACTORY - FACTORY (plant) goes after SAT (Saturday = day) IS
8 Companion welcoming secretary of a RC leader (5)
PAPAL - PAL (companion) welcomes PA (secretary). RC = Roman Catholic.
9 Roll filled with a fowl for the oven (7)
ROASTER - ROSTER (roll) filled with A
10 Grass over lovely Cambridge Backs (3)
RYE - the "back" letters of oveR lovelY cambridgE
11 Latest run for paper (9)
NEWSPRINT - NEW (latest) SPRINT (run). Can mean an actual newspaper, but now more often refers to the cheap newspaper-type paper itself.
13 Dog carried back by big rocket (5)
CORGI - "carried back" in the letters of bIG ROCket
14 Caught in trap, illicit profit made (5)
LUCRE - C(aught) inside LURE (trap) makes the answer - definitions don't always come right at the start or end of clues.
16 Old article in complex meant to be shabby (4-5)
MOTH-EATEN - O(ld) THE (article) in an anagram (complex) of MEANT
17 Musical performance that may go either way? (3)
GIG - "going either way" is a cryptic description of a palindrome
19 Attempt to nail one record in series of three (7)
TRILOGY - TRY (attempt) to nail I (one) LOG (record)
21 Heard of charming apartment! (5)
SUITE - is heard the same as SWEET (charming). Yup, so it is.
22 Stirring espresso, don't — use this? (12)
DESSERTSPOON - anagram (stirring) of ESPRESSO DONT. A semi-&lit clue (see glossary for &lit), with the definition here referring back to the cryptic. I don't know that it's especially gauche to use a dessertspoon to stir an espresso, but it would have to be a stirringly large espresso.

Down
1 Wonderful agent takes us up (5)
SUPER - REP has/takes US, up = reverse.
2 Very sensitive poets roaming over island, endlessly (3-6)
TOP-SECRET - anagram (roaming) of POETS over CRETe (island, "endlessly")
3 Great Depression: 'flu spreading? (13)
SPLENDIFEROUS - anagram (spreading) of DEPRESSION FLU. The OED calls the word's current usage colloquial and humorous, which sounds about right, but its first citation dates from 1475 with a straight sense of resplendent.
4 Old weapons in unopened graves (6)
ARROWS - BARROWS = graves, unopened = dock the first letter. I remember the zombiesque barrow-wights from reading Lord of the Rings as a kid: a mount of earth or stones over early graves. More often seen in place names for hills - from Germanic, originally meaning mountain, from the same idea as "berg", but "applied, as the date becomes later, to lower eminences." Nicely put, OED.
5 Bouncers spit: mortal sin, unfortunately (13)
TRAMPOLINISTS - anagram (unfortunately) of SPIT MORTAL SIN. I needed most of the checkers for this particular anagram.
6 Rubbish peak to climb (3)
ROT - TOR (peak) climbing/reversing
7 Produce book, penning ultimate in ghoulish twist (6)
WRITHE - WRITE (produce book) penning/containing H ("ultimate" in ghoulisH)
12 Popular icon got dressed up in disguise (9)
INCOGNITO - IN (popular), anagram (dressed up) of ICON GOT
13 Something flashing across the sky, then nothing: regain consciousness (4,2)
COME TO - COMET (something flashing across the sky) then O (nothing)
15 Tenacious horse: famous name carrying you (6)
STAYER - STAR (famous horse) carrying/holding YE (you). News to me, but doesn't require an excessive leap of logic. I'd want to clarify before betting on one, though - it might also mean a horse with a tenacious attachment to the starting gate.
18 Politician needing info about Religious Education (5)
GREEN - GEN (info) about RE
20 Something cold seen during Antarctic expedition (3)
ICE - "seen during" the letters of AntarctIC Expedition

Times 27,443: Time For A Holiday?

I think the setter may be trying to suggest we all take a hopefully well-deserved vacation in this one: 11ac, 12ac, 17ac, 25ac, 13dn, 18dn and more put that idea into MY head, anyway. Just as well I'm heading off to catch a plane to Portland, the City of Roses, in a couple of hours then.

This felt pretty straightforward, taking me 6 minutes on the dot, but there were certainly a few very cute clues in the mix. I very much liked 10ac, my COD, and 26ac was a model of how to conceal a definition part. 1dn was pretty devious (or perhaps it was just me being too fixated on HOLLANDAISE?) and I'm sure people will have plenty of opinions on 22dn. I'd be surprised if many people knew the name Jill Masterson straightaway, but hopefully, like me, you worked out what was going on pretty quickly. Bonus points because I'm enjoying reading Goldfinger quotes on the internet now. “Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big – bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world.”

So true! Thanks for this one to the no-doubt tall and strapping setter. And have a nice weekend everybody...

ACROSS
1 Cold suddenly affected pert young woman (4)
CHIT - C HIT [cold | suddenly affected]

4 Saw what might be easily done (4,4,2)
LAID EYES ON - (EASILY DONE*) ["what might be..."]

9 Business of bandits dressing to conceal equipment (10)
BRIGANDAGE - BANDAGE [dressing] to "conceal" RIG [equipment]

10 Employed engineers initially in Bucks? (4)
USED - E{ngineers} in USD, ie American dollars, the currency also known as "bucks"

11 Coastal road announced for port (6)
BEIRUT - homophone of BAY ROUTE [coastal | road]

12 Bag sent back — ecstasy widespread in island (8)
TENERIFE - reversed NET [bag] + E RIFE [ecstasy | widespread]

14 Just one dropped round for gambling game (4)
FARO - FA{i}R [just, with I "dropped"] + O [round]

15 Try to stop Southern Ocean bird (10)
SHEARWATER - HEAR [try] to "stop" S WATER [southern | ocean]

17 Serving flyer has sorties to rearrange (3,7)
AIR HOSTESS - (HAS SORTIES*) ["to rearrange"]

20 Virtuoso on piano to establish tempo (4)
PACE - ACE [virtuouso] on P

21 Dealer caught by dogged police officer? (8)
CHANDLER - C [caught] by HANDLER [police offer with a dog]

23 Wholesome? Worth buying? Credit refused! (6)
EDIBLE - {cr}EDIBLE [worth buying, where buy = believe, minus CR = credit]

24 Military detachment to come together shortly (4)
UNIT - UNIT{e} [to come together, "shortly"]

25 Mole finally quits a Baltic base, prepared for leave (10)
SABBATICAL - (A BALTIC BAS{e}) ["prepared"]

26 Handle we use to split explosive open? (10)
TOURNAMENT - OUR NAME [handle we use] to "split" TNT [explosive]

27 Desire to handle dough is expressed (4)
NEED - homophone of KNEAD [to handle dough]

DOWN
2 Almost set to tuck into chestnuts maybe with hot sauce? (11)
HORSERADISH - RADI{o} ["almost" set] to "tuck" into HORSES [chestnuts maybe] + H [hot]

3 Chap briefly shown round German plane (5,4)
TIGER MOTH - TIMOTH{y} [chap "briefly"] shown "round" GER [German]

4 Special formulation was our bond they say (7)
LINCTUS - homophone of LINKED US [was our bond]

5 One with rather evil bent cast as tyrant (4,3,8)
IVAN THE TERRIBLE - I [one] + (RATHER EVIL BENT*) ["cast"]

6 Woman beginning to encourage and tend soldiers (7)
ELEANOR - E{ncourage} + LEAN OR [tend | soldiers]

7 American in boat that's cut fare from Japan (5)
SUSHI - US [American] in SHI{p} [boat "that's cut"]

8 Going in starkers is good way to attract attention (5)
NUDGE - going in NUDE [starkers] is G [good]

13 Protecting name, reveal chef sacked for unauthorised absence (6,5)
FRENCH LEAVE - "protecting" N [name], (REVEAL CHEF*) ["sacked"]

16 Swimmer able to do the crawl? (9)
AMPHIBIAN - cryptic definition for a creature that can swim in water, and crawl on land.

18 Region in small French islands excellent for climbing (7)
SILESIA - S ILES [small | French islands] + reversed A1 [excellent]

19 Scottish clan with the skills to produce great gumbo? (7)
STEWART - or STEW ART [gumbo-making skills!]

21 Limerick perhaps shortened to make an impression (5)
COUNT - Limerick is an Irish county; shorten to COUNT{y}.

22 Share Jill Masterson's fate? Cheerio! (5)
ADIEU - a cheeky little clue this one. Jill Masterson is the girl (played by Shirley Eaton) who memorably dies in the James Bond film Goldfinger, from being painted gold. So her fate is to DIE in AU [gold].