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September 26th, 2019

Maybe it’s because I’m out of practice, because I’ve not been crosswording much of this past week, but I struggled through this over 45 minutes (and four seconds), hoping that it was tricky, and not just me. Early entries included odd letters where they could be deduced and not much else. There seemed to be rather a lot of reversals, particularly in the down clues where there was quite a bit of upping involved. There's also the rare sighting of (almost) the same word providing two definitions

My usual custom puts clues in italics, definitionsin underlined italics, and SOLUTIONSin bold capitals


1 Sob stuff from sailor, by the way(6)
PATHOS My last in today, perhaps not the most obvious definition. The wordplay is the relatively easy O(rdinary) S(eaman), a sailor, by the way which isn’t ST or RD or AVE but PATH.
5 Unmask Tories perhaps there and then (8)
OUTRIGHT  One definition of our entry in Chambers is “at once” which takes care of there and then. OUT for unmask, and RIGHT for Tories, currently not much “perhaps” about the right bit
9 Highly inaccurate description of pauper (5-3)
BADLY-OFF Double definition, the first whimsical
10 A singular gesture brings delegate (6)
ASSIGN Simple enough: A S(ingle) SIGN
11 Isolated dispatch received by French company in recession(8)
EREMITIC Think hermits or Obi Wan Kenobi on Tatouine. A French company styles itself CIE when we might say Inc, just a contraction of Companie. Reverse it and insert REMIT for dispatch. Think transfer or send money.
12 Get wind of doctor breaking law(6)
RUMBLE Another easy one pretending to be tough, the doctor being an MB, and the law broken thereby a RULE
13 Specially adapted troops shadowed guards(8)
TAILORED Shadowed: TAILED “guards” OR, other ranks, troops
15 Using last of inherited money, break the bank (4)
DYKE The last letters only of inheriteD moneY breaK thE
17 Support holiday deferment (4)
STAY  A triple definition, for which my first guess was REST, perhaps a bit shaky for the third, but not impossible if you squint a bit (and are desperate enough)
19 Notice investment of 50 made to settle account(8)
PLAYBILL Settle account is PAY BILL, insert the L for 50
20 Deceptively simple forces (6)
IMPELS First anagram, “deceptively” SIMPLE
21 Former knight abandoning leader's standard (8)
EXEMPLAR Our former knight is an EX TEMPLAR, who loses his head
22 Temporary work on set? (6)
ACTING  A double definition well disguised.  An acting prime minister (for example, is a temporary one. We can but hope
23 A large deer in the midst of very small flies (8)
VAMOOSES A large deer, MOOSE set between two common abbreviations, V(ery) and S(mall)
24 Force displaying which female MP has issues(8)
EMPHASIS Could I spot the hidden? Not until it kicked me where it hurts. Its in femalE MP HAS ISsues
25 Like croissant idiot picked up and consumed?(6)
LUNATE My recent French breakfasts made the crescent shape of croissant pleasingly familiar, and that’s what lunate means. LOON for idiot supplies its sound only, plus ATE for consumed


2 A definition — lowering constant speed (8)
ALACRITY You need the A, then think CLARITY for definition, and drop the C(onstant) a couple of places
3 Be sick of entertaining the Spanish premier's wife (8)
HELPMATE Developed from the creation of Eve in the AV version of Genesis “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” We create the same from be sick of: HATE surrounding the Spanish EL and PM for premier. Currently the Presidente del Gobierno de España is the rather dashing  Pedro Sánchez
4 Screen test where exposure prevails over justice? (4,5)
SHOW TRIAL I take this to be a double definition of sorts, the first for cinema or such, the second for the kind of situation where the trial is for show and justice can go hang
5 A pair of transmitters and convertor safely relocated (9,6)
OLFACTORY NERVESWell, it’s an anagram (relocated) of CONVERTOR SAFELY. These nerves “transmit” smell sensation to the brain, and, depending on how you v=count them, you’ve go two (one per nost ril, natch) or loads
6 Ring head of state up, showing good judgment (7)
RESOUND The head of state is our gracious ER, here unceremoniously tipped up. SOUND for showing good judgement
7 Smoothest tripe served up almost unsurpassed (8)
GLIBBEST Tripe here gives way to BILGE, itself then only almost complete and reversed (another “up”) followed by BEST for unsurpassed
8 Showy TV full of error, beginning to end(8)
TINSELLY The TV is the demotic TELLY, replete with SIN for error with the S dropped to third place
14 “Skinny” male swimming with pride (9)
EPIDERMAL I hope I’m not the only one who toyed with lions, but it’s a straight anagram (“swimming” of MALE and PRIDE
15 Overrule order in stopping assignation(8)
DOMINATE Order is OM (Order of Merit), in is IN, both together “stopping” DATE for assignation
16 Tipped favourites look to maintain the pace (4,4)
Another reversal, tipped (up) of PETS for favourites and PEEK for look
17 Comrades rolling up blue carpet (4,4)
SLAP DOWN Carpet as in berate etc. Comrades are PALS, and, my oath, another up, this time rolling. Add DOWN for blue or depressed
18 Joining a presenter with hardly any foreign capital(8)
ADJACENT A presenter becomes A DJ, possessing A CENT, which is generally as small an amount of foreign currency as can be imagined
19 Italian dish from area south of local river supplied (7)
POLENTANice of the setter to qualify the river with local, as it allows us to remember the PO, the Italian river that isn’t the Tiber. Supplied gives LENT, and the A comes from Area, which is placed south of everything else.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1448 by Corelli

Tricky enough today from Corelli, with quite a lot of misdirection and unyielding definitions that needed checkers to unravel. Oh, and an impressively interwoven Hamlet theme running throughout - I count a dozen characters directly mentioned and at least 18 clues with a reference to, er, the "world's most filmed story after Cinderella". (Thank you Wikipedia for that startling fact.)  If today's date or puzzle number is pertinent then it escapes me, other than 1448 being roughly the number of lines Hamlet speaks.

The mark of a high-quality themed puzzle is that the theme is a flourish, unobtrusive to the overall solve and requiring no specific knowledge of the subject matter. So it was here (2d and 12d are the only definitions that explicitly cite a character in the play). As for me, t
he grid looked quite empty after a first read through of the acrosses with only five entered (8,9,10,13,17), and I finished up a bit shy of the 11 minute mark, four minutes longer than Tuesday's done just beforehand. Excellent stuff, very much enjoyed - many thanks to Corelli!

1 Serious Australians, perhaps, those preparing resting place (12)
GRAVEDIGGERS - GRAVE (serious) DIGGERS (Australians, perhaps - can be NZ as well). I was a bit unsure of the digger bit - it's a friendly term of address, as in "G'day digger". Apparently this originally comes from gold digging in the 1851 gold rush, later reinforced by trench digging in WWI. The gravediggers are also two characters in Hamlet.
8 Uncle’s child, agreeable to embrace revenge, finally (5)
NIECE - NICE (agreeable) to embrace E (revengE, finally). Hamlet reference number two: see 2d as well.
9 Artilleryman, losing head, sheltering in NY convent (7)
NUNNERY - gUNNER (artilleryman, "losing head"), sheltering in NY. "Get thee to a nunnery," says Hamlet to 18d.
10 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern initially tease (3)
RAG - Rosencrantz And Guildenstern "initially"
11 Demented Fortinbras, sending away a likely heir? (5-4)
FIRST-BORN - anagram (demented) of FORTINBRAS, minus/"sending away" A.
13 Fares badly, taking fewer risks (5)
SAFER - anagram (badly) of FARES. I didn't include this among the 18 references, but it's arguable.
14 Manage to halt filming around end of Act I (3,2)
CUT IT - CUT (halt filming) around T ("end" of acT) and I (one).
16 Endless poisonous drinks for characters in Hamlet (9)
VILLAGERS - VILe (poisonous, endless = dock the tail) LAGERS (drinks)
17 English copper coin, once (3)
ECU - E(nglish) Cu (copper). Retaining wide currency in crosswordland, the écu was a French silver coin, roughly equivalent to the English crown.
19 Revolutionary awfully vague, meeting Royal Academician (7)
GUEVARA - "Che" for revolutionary is stock crosswordese, so it's nice to have his surname for a change, here an anagram (awfully) of VAGUE meeting RA (Royal Academician).
21 Good entertainer providing spirit (5)
GHOST - G(ood) HOST (entertainer). Character in Hamlet.
22 Long running drama set to take the Mickey? (3,9)
THE MOUSETRAP - double definition, the first literal, the second whimsical: a set or apparatus to entrap ol' Mickey Mouse. Also, the name of the play-within-a-play in Hamlet.

1 Turning up in Elsinore, no guarantee he’s doomed (5)
GONER - "Turning up in" the letters of  elsinoRE NO Guarantee.
2 Like Hamlet? Flag venue for play (9)
AVENGEFUL - anagram (for play) of FLAG VENUE
3 Quits, briefly, the night before (3)
EVE - if you are EVEN you are quits, briefly = dock the last letter. Spoiler alert: Hamlet doesn't sail all the way to England.
4 Disregard Italian gentleman losing head (6)
IGNORE - sIGNORE (Italian gentleman "losing head")
5 Weapon handles son stuck roughly under king, finally (9)
GUNSTOCKS - an anagram (roughly) of SON STUCK goes under/below G (kinG, finally)
6 Every so often, arouse regret (3)
RUE - every so often, aRoUsE
7 The Swan’s tragic play: starting in Elsinore, it ends there (6)
CYGNET - the "ends" of tragiC plaY: startinG iN elsinorE, iT. The Swan Theatre was built in 1595, about 7 years before Hamlet would have played there.
11 If something is going up, I should be going off (4,5)
FIRE ALARM - cryptic definition: if a fire goes up, the alarm should go off.
12 Punctually, like Barnardo? The honour’s rare (2,3,4)
ON THE HOUR - THE HONOUR's an anagram (rare) of the answer. Hamlet opens with Barnardo arriving to relieve another soldier of sentry duty. "You come most carefully upon the hour," says the weary sentry. As in: you're not exactly late, but you're not exactly early.
13 Wild herb found around Virginia (6)
SAVAGE - SAGE (herb) found around Va. (Virginia)
15 Poor Jude, concealing a very familiar feeling (4,2)
DEJA VU - anagram (poor) of JUDE conceals A V(ery)
18 Somewhat abrupt, Ophelia, in her mind? (2,3)
UP TOP - is "somewhat" part of abrUPT OPhelia. Up top relates to the mind. And three more Hamlet characters in this and the next two clues, to finish us off. Phew, good effort Corelli!
20 Old letter from envoys to Horatio, first of all (3)
ETHEnvoys To Horatio, "first of all". The symbol ð in Old English
21 My Gertrude’s first letter (3)
GEE - is the letter "g", as in Gertrude’s first letter.

Times 27,467: Champy Days Are Here Again

Can it really be? December 7th? Jeepers, I hope that flying over from San Francisco for a long weekend then will be within my price range. In any case, this felt like a championship-strength puzzle designed to put the appropriate fear back into is; I did not succeed in submitting inside the 10 minute mark, but I reckon I could probably get three of these done in an hour, and that's the main thing, isn't it?

Some very neat clues in here, marrying a slightly increased cryptic deviosity level from the usual with highly effective surface reading. Well done to the setter and I very much hope I will be matching wits with you and your ilk again a couple of months hence! In the meantime, I'll also be in London the weekend after next, if anyone wants to do a preparatory recce of The George...

1 Doctor’s case? There’s one spare (3,2,5)
BAG OF BONES - the case of a doctor could be the BAG OF a BONES; or, more conventionally, a BAG OF BONES is a very thin person, or "one spare".

6 Some pickle, maybe, only just opened? (4)
AJAR - A JAR could be some pickle; AJAR is, I was reliably informed as a youth, when a door is not a door.

9 Cross of bronze with ring, on backwards (7)
TANGELO - TAN [bronze] + reversed O LEG [ring | on]. A tangelo is a cross between a tangerine and a pomelo, or something like that anyway.

10 Procedure by arresting officer employing violence (7)
CUFFING - by the standards of this puzzle at least, a straightforward double definition.

12 One might be left in this list (5)
LURCH - one might be left in the LURCH, and it's also a synonym for list.

13 Interrupting work, managed to catch one’s butterfly (6-3)
ORANGE-TIP - "interrupting" OP [work], RAN [managed] to GET I [catch | one]. My first one in, basically just from the enum and def, with much gratitude.

14 Rat to watch on grain container, one flitting about (11,4)
GRASSHOPPER MIND - GRASS [rat] + MIND [to watch] on HOPPER [grain container]

17 This hung over diner at feast — from cold sodas we laced (5,2,8)
SWORD OF DAMOCLES - totally biffed SOI. (FROM COLD SODAS WE*) ["laced"]

20 Was transformed by make-up girl from East African state (9)
SWAZILAND - (WAS*) ["transformed"] by reversed ("from East" to west) DNA LIZ [(genetic) make-up | girl]. I tried SWAHILIAN for size for a few seconds but it had the problem of being nonsense.

21 Tip of twenty-five pounds: a pony? (5)
EQUID - {twenty-fiv}E + QUID [pounds]. Definition by example.

23 Jubilant cry, finding track in earth? (5,2)
GLORY BE - RY [track] in GLOBE [earth?]. Neither TALLY HO or GIDDY UP fit the bill, but third time lucky.

24 Material of gold, not initially cut into strip abroad (7)
ORGANZA - OR [gold] + N{ot} "cut into" GAZA [strip, abroad]

25 Some retired female’s particular niche (4)
APSE - hidden reversed in {femal}E'S PA{rticular}

26 Like one who’s still available, but not off-the-shelf (10)
SPINSTERLY - cryptic def. A spinster is unmarried (still available), but "on the shelf".

1 Propane perhaps but not a nerve agent, however (6-3)
BOTTLE-GAS - Propane comes in bottles but the owner of a thesaurus might expect a "bottle"-gas to be a "nerve" agent. Wrongly alas!

2 One who’s passed on answer abandoning approach (5)
GONER - GO NE{a}R [approach, removing its A for answer]. LOI, submitted with 90% certainly from the crossers, with just a small twinge of DEVONPORT-style mounting panic.

3 Lively old person tied up holds part of a chain? (5,2,1,5)
FRESH AS A DAISY - reversed SERF [old person tied] + HAS A DAISY [holds part of a chain]

4 Drink sadly not coming with starter (7)
OLOROSO - {d}OLOROSO [sadly], minus its "starter"

5 Take in French lesson, quiet for final seconds (7)
ENCLASP - EN [in (French)] + CLAS{s->P} [replace the final S (seconds) of CLASS (lesson) with P (quiet)]

7 It can’t be left alone (5,4)
JOINT WILL - cryptic def. One leaves a will, but one cannot leave a joint will on one's own.

8 A clue to short lass’s build (3,2)
RIG UP - cryptically, GIR{l} is a "short lass", and could be indicated by RIG UP. My first thought was BIG UP but this proved yet another non-starter.

11 Person on rowing team cut by blade? (6,2,5)
FIGURE OF EIGHT - an EIGHT is a rowing team and a person is a FIGURE. The blade here is an ice skate I think, and not as I initially fondly imagined a musketeer's swishing rapier.

15 Old woman, behold, in a sense peculiar (9)
ANOMALOUS - MA LO [old woman | behold!] in A NOUS [a | sense]

16 Kids ready to demolish something with dates in (4,5)
DESK DIARY - (KIDS READY*) ["to demolish"]

18 Dreadful earful preceding Penny’s sudden outburst (5-2)
FLARE-UP - (EARFUL*) ["dreadful"] preceding P [penny]

19 Not known for accepting military decoration, etc (3,2,2)
AND SO ON - ANON [not known], for "accepting" DSO [military decoration]

20 Letter making case for Sophocles? (5)
SIGMA - As every classicist kno, sigma is the Greek letter that begins and ends the name "Sophocles"

22 Like part of arm of satellite, left to drop (5)
ULNAR - take LUNAR [of satellite], and "drop" its L [left] down a couple of notches.