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October 6th, 2019

Mephisto 3083 - Tim Moorey

Another tricky Mephisto, particularly near the end. I didn't do myself any favours by being convinced that SAGEST was the correct answer at 31 across.

With the Mephisto, since the definitions can be verified in Chambers, this write-up will focus on the wordplay. The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go...

1 Against army regulation for poisonous stuff (6)
ANTIAR - ANTI(against), AR(army regulation)
5 Horse down under Midlands city in reserve (6)
BRUMBY - BRUM(Midlands city) next to standing BY(in reserve)
9 Customs document isn’t rare when travelling (8)
TRANSIRE - anagram of ISN'T RARE
11 Dope imported by nameless Chinese official, smooth agent (12)
AMBASSADRESS - ASS(dope) inside AMBAN(Chinese official) missing the N(name), then DRESS(smoooth)
13 Arab cuts dodgy habit concerning Indian republic (7)
BHARATI - AR(Arab) inside an anagram of HABIT
14 One disallowed tips in Cape ferry-boats? (5)
PONTS - remove I(one) fromr POINTS(tips)
16 Scotland’s happy, Gove about to embrace independence (5)
VOGIE - anagram of GOVE containing I(independence)
17 Asian dish good anonymous party made twice (8)
GADO-GADO - G(good), A(anonymous), DO(party) repeated. I'm partial to this Indonesian salad
21 Wild asters screening tip, mostly in layers (8)
STRATOSE - anagram of ASTERS containing TOP(tip) missing the last letter
23 Scottish island’s independent butcher (5)
ISLAY - I(independent), SLAY(butcher)
27 English poet’s nipped north with a great deal on reflection (5)
STOL'N - N(north) and LOTS(a great deal) all reversed
28 Mushroom bap for tea initially in French farmhouse (7)
GIROLLE - ROLL(bap) replacting T(tea) in GITE(French farmhouse)
29 Model in Italian car associated with daring design (12)
30 Russian VIP excited finally with leader sacked on return (8)
TSARITSA - ASTIR(excited) and LAST(finally) missing the first letter, all reversed
31 Most knowing remains found in Sao Tome (6)
SLIEST - LIES(remains) iniside ST(Sao Tome)
32 Origin in Latin seems wrong for lepers of yore (6)
MESELS - anagram of L(atin), SEEMS

1 Absolute leader in Turkey, say imprisoning a bishop? (6)
ATABEG - an all-in-one clue. A(absolute), then the first letter in Turkey, EG(say) containing A, B(bishop)
2 Bill and penniless partners making tunics for ladies (7)
TABARDS - TAB(bill) and PARDS(pardners, partners) missing the P(penny)
3 Queen shown up on front of metal clasp (5)
INARM - RANI(queen) reversed then M(etal)
4 Test is shortened in Australian state (5)
ASSAY -  'S(is) inside A(Australian), SAY(state)
5 Head of Balliol departs in lots of wet weather — a loss of talent (10, two words)
BRAIN DRAIN - first letter of Balliol then D(departs) inside RAIN RAIN (lots of wet weather)
6 Early drive from perch catch on Stour (7)
UNROOST - anagram of ON,STOUR
7 Most buxom couples in sculpture (8)
BUSTIEST - TIES(couples) inside BUST(sculpture)
8 Positive responses from the old-fashioned session served up (6)
YESSES - YE(the, old-fashioned), then SESS(session) reversed
10 Outmoded couple in pieces head for geriatrician (4)
MENG - MEN(pieces), then the first letter in Geriatrician
12 Consider soldier in two ways for military planner (10)
STRATEGIST - RATE(consider) GI(soldier) in ST, ST(two streets)
15 As before dump plans hardly to be believed (8)
LAYSTALL -  LAYS(plans) then TALL(hardly to be believed)
18 Work on a course of gems (7)
OPALINE - OP(work) on A LINE(course)
19 Foot soldier rested in enclosure (7)
HOPLITE - LIT(rested) in HOPE(enclosure)
20 Consume endless freshwater fish (6)
DISCUS - DISCUSS(consume) missing the last letter
22 At the very moment when hospital lady turned up (6, two words)
EVEN AS - SAN(hospital) and EVE(lady) all reversed
24 House can set about conclusion of Brexit (4)
LOTO - LOO(can, toilet) surrounding the last letter in brexiT
25 Poison not for all to see in trading vessel (5)
CRARE - CURARE(poison) missing U(for all to see)
26 Foremost of Brexiteers (originally Remainer) is me (5)
BORIS - another all-in-one. First letters in Brexiteers Originally Remainer Is Me

Sunday Times 4870 by Dean Mayer

17:15. A corker of a puzzle from Dean this week. One of those that seem quite hard at the time, but look entirely simple and obvious when you go back and look at the clues a few days later. This is invariably a sign of quality. Or perhaps I was just being a bit dim and you all found it super-easy.

I raised an eyebrow slightly at 2dn. After you’ve been solving these things for a long time you start to think that words like ‘tar’ for sailor, or TARN for lake are entirely commonplace, but I’m not sure they are. Not so much a double-obscurity at as a double-crossword-word.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

1 Casual greeting leads to words or casual chat
WOTCHA - first letters of ‘words or’, (CHAT)*.
4 Half gripped by Great Plague
10 Walk across area with parking, sounding casual?
STRAW POLL - STR(A, W, P)OLL. ‘Sounding casual’ here has to be read like ‘knight errant’ or ‘court martial’. A nice bit of misdirection.
11 Store giving money to auditor
CACHE - sounds like ‘cash’.
12 Bound to become more skilful
APPRENTICED - CD. Apprentices used to be ‘bound’ in the sense that they committed to work for their employer for a fixed period of time, a bit like an indentured servant.
14 Excellent “reading” voice?
AIR - AI (excellent), R (reading, the only one of the three Rs that actually starts with an R). To air an opinion is to voice it. The question mark (even though it is not next to it) signals that ‘reading’ is a definition by example.
15 Reluctant to see husband after shower
LOTH - LOT, H. ‘Shower’ here in the Terry Thomas sense.
16 A boyfriend in bits? For me?
PERSONALLY - PER (a), SON (boy), ALLY (friend). ‘In bits’ indicates that you have to separate the boy from the friend.
18 The enemy spotted in middle distance
CENTIMETRE - CEN(TIME)TRE. ‘The enemy’ suggested ‘time’ immediately for me, which is probably a sign that I’ve been doing these things for too long.
19 Work of genius? No
GOOF -GO (work), OF.
22 That felt by people without love?
WOE - W(O)E. I’m not sure how ‘we’ is supposed to equate to ‘people’ here. I suppose you could read it as a reference to the US Constitution.
23 Turn male into amusing fantasist
WALTER MITTY - W(ALTER, M)ITTY. From the short story by James Thurber.
24 Dog’s heading off bird of prey
25 Gnome one likes to keep at home
FINANCIER - F(IN)ANCIER. Also the name for little cakes made with lots of ground almonds that are a good use for excess egg whites when you can't be bothered to make a meringue.
27 See circles over illuminated crystal
DATOLITE - DAT(O, LIT)E. New to me, but the wordplay was clear.
28 Beer or punch
WALLOP - DD, something of a chestnut.

1 Carol’s whiskey trouble
WASSAIL - W, ASSAIL. ‘Assail’ for trouble seems a bit OTT, but close enough for government work I guess.
2 Small lake with no place for new sailor
TAR - TARn. This clue requires you to know two rather crosswordy things.
3 Bird caught by the woman, 19
HOWLER - H(OWL)ER. 19 (the definition) being GOOF, of course.
5 Cop 24, Inspector 26?
POLICE SERGEANT - (INSPECTOR EAGLE)*. This took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. Another cross-reference clue where the answer to one clue provides part of the anagrist and another provides an anagrind.
6 Very bad plug with nice wrapping
DECADENT - DEC(AD)ENT. This definition seems a bit loose, but the wordplay is very clear.
7 Old MP’s claim he reformed pay
MICHAEL FOOT - (CLAIM HE)*, FOOT (pay, as in the bill).
8 150 — very old, without doubt
CLEARLY - CL, EARLY. Very old in the sense that early man (not the movie) is.
9 In fun, Spain welcome to stop away match
FOR THE HELL OF IT - FORTH (away) (E, HELLO), FIT (match).
13 Somehow got up when it got bigger
17 One very important feature of fairground
18 Tender beef has steaming chowder
COWHERD - (CHOWDER)*. Brilliant!
20 Plant flourished, side turned up
FLYTRAP - FL, reversal of PARTY. FL is short for floruit, which is French for ‘went to a posh school’.
21 An artist describes me as a supreme being
26 Avril Lavigne’s secret pain
ILL - contained in ‘Avril Lavigne’. A slightly oblique containment indicator but with I_L you don’t even need the clue so stop complaining.