October 26th, 2019

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27486 - Saturday, 19 October 2019. Clueless at Crosswords.

I printed this puzzle within minutes after it appeared online and, like others, blinked with puzzlement that there were only two clues in the down column! Some creatively filled the gap with print-and-paste, or by copying longhand. I went to plan B, solving on the screen, which worked fine for me although some reported problems with that too.

It turned out to be a relatively straightforward exercise for a Saturday, except for my struggles with the NW corner. LOI was 9ac, immediately following 2dn. I enjoyed the gentle pun at 2dn, and was fascinated by the unfamiliar language at 25ac. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets]. The blog is in Times New Roman font, as part of a gentle campaign to urge the club site to use a font in which it is easier to tell one’s stem from one’s stern.

1 Debussy's piece is less convincing (5)
LAMER La Mer was composed by Debussy.

4 Angels, heading off to restrict devil, providing introductory thoughts? (9)
EPIGRAPHS – [s]ERAPHS restricting PIG.

9 Plant provided by gardening girl to cover ridged structure (9)
MACHINERY – MARY, as in Mary Mary quite contrary, ‘covering’ CHINE. ‘Chine’ may be a regional noun, but having visited Poole, I’d heard of Branksome Chine.

10 Live broadcast's core element fine (5)
DWELL – D is the central (‘core’) letter of ‘broaDcast’. WELL is ‘fine’.

11 Just a house — use as place of retreat (6)
HONEST – HO (house), NEST (place of retreat). On edit: thanks to special bitter for pointing out that if you're prepared to read a long dash as a minus sign, "house — use" says to drop the last three letters off to give the HO at the start of the answer. Very nice!

12 Half-hearted saint with inadequate bunch of fighters (8)
LUKEWARM – LUKE, W (with), ARM[y].

14 Dumped old females given confidential advice? (6,3)
TIPPED OFF – TIPPED (dumped), O, F, F.

16 Room for improvement? (5)
SALON – I think this is just a cryptic definition of a salon, as a place you go to improve your mind or appearance.

17 Cold, something inclined to give one pain (5)
CRAMP – C (cold), RAMP.

19 Some maybe in seats support opponents at match (9)

21 City, finally beaten 'ollow, wailed (8)

22 Good old man embracing modern music? That's the spirit! (6)
GRAPPA – G (good), PA, ‘embracing’ RAP.

25 Language of fierce female putting son off repeatedly (5)
TIGRE – TIGRE[ss], dropping two sons. It’s apparently a Semitic language of northern Eritrea and adjacent parts of Sudan.

26 Dead, then ending in Elysium? It's different for this lot! (3,6)
THE DAMNED – (DEAD THEN M*). A delightful &lit. definition.

27 Idiot gets tied up outside and watched (9)

28 Cox maybe in vessel that's lost in the morning (5)
STEER – STE[am]ER is the vessel. To cox is one way to steer.

1 My, my, the plastic's disrupted biological network! (9,6)

2 On a dry day no one will want this wine (5)
MÂCON – On a dry day, you don’t need a MAC ON.

3 Concerned with matter for discussion being put in print again (7)
REISSUE – RE, ISSUE (matter for discussion).

4 Upset some oversexed old lovers (4)
EXES – backwards hidden answer (‘upset’, ‘some’)

5 Aggressive or nice, somehow bottling a fury that's silly, about nothing? (2-4-4)
IN-YOUR-FACE – (NICE A FURY*) ‘about’ an O. There are two anagram indicators, ‘somehow’ and ‘silly’, but an anagram inside another anagram (‘bottled’), is basically just a big anagram.

6 Soldiers needing ceremonial attire correct (7)

7 Quiet minister, excellent, went ahead and won the day (9)

8 Marooned son's ill, abandoned individual in a Pacific location (7,8)

13 Sight in the heavens turns sailor into ferocious person (6,4)
DOUBLE STAR – the sailor is a TAR. If one DOUBLES TAR, one gets TARTAR, the ferocious person in question.

15 Tramp again disturbed shoos off a bird (9)
PTARMIGAN – (TR-MP AGAIN*). The A in ‘tramp’ is ‘shooed off’.

18 Offer from head of state, spending tiny bit of money as before (7)
PRESENT – PRES[id]ENT (head of state), with 1D (one old penny) ‘spent’.

20 Funny folk, the best sort during extremes of seriousness (7)
SCREAMS – CREAM inside S[eriousnes]S.

23 Box in church for money (5)
PENCE – PEN (box in), C.E. (church).

24 Crowd gathered in auditorium (4)
HERD – sounds like ‘heard’ (gathered) in an auditorium.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4873, 20 X 2019, by Dean Mayer — Make mine a double

As my FOI was IN ONE’S RIGHT MIND, and my third, after AIDA, was the other 15-letter answer, DELIRIUM TREMENS, I was off to a flying start. Now, I really like long answers, but especially long anagrams, which neither of these two were. However, this puzzle offered the special treat of two even longer answers, both of them anagrammatical. I had to look twice to figure out what was going on with these two clues, each split into two parts. That’s just because in some puzzles elsewhere when answers are split into more than one place on the grid, the answer may be only one word but each part is also a word on its own (often unclued as such); and if the answer consists of more than one word, those words may not be the same as those that appear in each part as it’s broken up in the grid. Nothing nearly so complicated is involved here! My COD goes to COGNITIVE DISSONANCE… which I experienced a bit over the mechanics of a couple other clues, 1 down and 21.

The last thing I noticed about this puzzle, which occurred to me when I no longer had it in front of me, is that it is a pangram.

I do (amnasarg)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Slave girl’s excellent hairstyle (4)
AIDA — Verdi’s heroine. A1, “excellent,” and the “hairstyle” is DA, for “duck’s arse” or (US) “duck’s ass.”
 3 & 10 Sky watcher intercepts gale force winds [two-word answer] (10)
REFRACTING — (intercepts gale force)*
10 See 3 (9)
TELESCOPE — See above
11 Port—at first just a wine (5)
RIOJA — RIO, “Port” + J[-ust]+ A
12 Retailer serving niche market? (6,4)
CORNER SHOP — CD. Cute, and easy, once you stop looking for something complicated. My LOI!
13 Edge of stockbroker belt (4)
KERB — Hidden
15 Fruit for jam (6)
16 Mark Arctic rocks with single cross (8)
CICATRIX — (Arctic)* + I + X
18 Fair Democrat a US city rejected (3,2,3)
NOT SO BAD — Outspent by the super PACs? D(emocrat) + A + BOSTON  <=“rejected”
19 Wife becoming craftsperson (6)
WRIGHT — W(ife) + RIGHT, “becoming,” in the sense of “appropriate”; often meaning attractively so
22 Article by 1,000 US opponents (4)
THEM — THE, “article” + M for “1,000”
23 Rock thrown over tram line (10)
TETRAMETER — TE(TRAM)ETER. A short one, just three beats.
25 Weapon armistice announced (5)
PIECE — So now we just fight with our hands?  Homophone, “peace”
26 & 27 Cannot give decisions suffering this? [two-word answer] (9)
COGNITIVE — (Cannot give decisions)* This is brilliant, a rare example of a perfect &lit.
27 See 27 (10)
DISSONANCE — See above
28 Run around to find better writing? (4)
EDIT — TIDE<=“around” I saw the definition immediately but was hesitant to put this down. Hmm. What senses, respectively, of “tide” and “run” can we say are synonymous? A tide can be (Collins) “a stream, current, etc. or trend, tendency, etc. the tide of public opinion”—is that it? “A run of bad luck,” “the run of events,” “the tide of events”…

 1 A charge, say, or several (7)
ATTACKS — ”A tax,” homophone (“say”); definition “several [charges].” This is at least a semi-&lit, since one word of the wordplay hss to be mentally resupplied for the definition.
 2 Shakes out of the bottle (8,7)
 4 Number one fan (6)
 5 Rioter oddly cold inhaling hot, hot air (8)
RHETORIC — (Rioter)* + C(old) with H(ot) taken in
 6 Across river, better fish (4)
 7 Having no sinister thoughts? (2,4,5,4)
 8 Shifting equipment, things will get hit (7)
GEARBOX — GEAR, “things” + BOX, “hit”
 9 Slander, as somebody describing one (9)
14 Retreating army to help farmhand (9)
DAIRYMAID — That’s “army,” MYRIAD<=”retreating” + AID, “help”
17 Type of orange drink, oddly nice, that cuts through (8)
VALENCIA — V(ALE, “drink” + N[-i]C[-e])IA
18 Writer’s block (7)
20 In plague, wrong to hold hands (7)
TORMENT — TOR(MEN)T This is an unusual clue, with one word preceding the definition and pointing only to the wordplay. “In a synonym for this word, find this wordplay,” rather the inverse of the usual instructions. Done for the sake of a clever, if horrifying, surface.
21 Like Hamlet cigar, ultimately burnt up (6)
TRAGIC — (cigar + [-burn]T)* To my mind, the comma missing after “Like Hamlet” made for a surreal phrase. “What in blazes is a “Hamlet cigar”?” Thanks to Phil Jordan, in the comments below, for clearing this up. Hamlet cigars are a thing!
24 In France, the humorous monarch’s old love (4)
ZERO — In a corny imitation of a Gallic accent, ZE for “the” + R(ex) + O(ld)