January 27th, 2020

  • vinyl1

Times 27571 - Pillage, then sprenge!

Time: 25 minutes
Music: Smetana, Symphonic Poems, Kubelik/Bavarian Radio Symphony

While I completed this puzzle with decent speed, it really is a minefield full of traps for the unwary.   I would not be a bit surprised to hear a series of lamentations about ill-advised biffs that the solver never revisited, but certainly should have.  A large vocabulary will certainly not come amiss, along with a thorough knowledge of the possible obscure meanings of common words.   However, if you manage to chose the right path, the cryptics are most helpful, and experienced solvers should be able to finish correctly.

A side note on tonight's music; I am surprised Smetena's Richard III, Wallenstein's Camp, Hakon Jarl, and Carnival in Prague are not programmed and recorded more often, they are really quite high-quality orchestal pieces.   Recommended for those who like Liszt, Dvorak, and Tchaikovsky.

1 Almost broke, English woman welcoming offspring’s building skill (12)
STONEMASONRY - STON[y} E MA(SON)RY.   I wasted some time thinking this would start with SKIN[t], with a trick in the literal.  Skingrafting?  Fortunately, I didn't biff.
8 Cut down staff, getting sack (7)
POLEAXE - POLE + AXE, quite obvious once you realize that 'poleaxe' can be a verb as well as a noun.
9 They enjoy inflicting pain, like retired detectives way back (7)
SADISTS - AS backwards, + DIS [Detective Inspectors} + ST backwards.   Here, many will biff the obvious correct answer.
11 Getting rid of doughy pudding left abandoned (7)
12 Bloomer made by union leader in stiffly formal city (7)
PRIMULA - PRIM(U[nion])L.A.   A flower I had never heard of, but if there is a primrose there is likely to be a primula.
13 Lightly wash back of cooker in quarters (5)
RINSE - [cooke]R IN S.E, another easily biffable answer.
14 Extremely ironic, my terms badly affecting both sides (9)
SYMMETRIC - anagram of I[roni}C + MY TERMS.
16 Accomplished youth takes directions, having too much to carry (9)
19 French composer right to abandon burlesque (5)
SATIE - SATI[r]E, one of the few chestnuts in this puzzle.
21 Mostly benevolent sergeant-major, a new member of the clan (7)
KINSMAN - KIN[d] + SM + A + N.
23 Casual greeting from old sailors in China (7)
MORNING - M(O R.N.)ING, where for once 'China' is not CRS.
24 Loutishness of baddy finally replacing initiator of heist (7)
YOBBERY - +Y[-r]OBBERY, a simple letter-substitution clue.
25 Figure a small number continue to badger (7)
NONAGON - NO + NAG ON, a form of pestereing that is not uncommon in these shapes.
26 Calm air disorientated true provider of courses (12)
RESTAURATEUR - REST + AURA + anagram of TRUE.   If you think the word is 'restauranteur', then you might run into difficulties - I just trusted the cryptic.
1 Unaccompanied male operating, a wise man (7)
SOLOMON - SOLO M ON, not a Scotsman this time.
2 Hold forth about gang leader, getting shot (7)
OPALINE -  OP(AL)INE, very tricky, as 'gang leader' is not G, and a very specific sense of 'shot' is needed.
3 Fresh greens I’d eat at first, given vitality (9)
ENERGISED - anagram of GREENS I'D E[at].
4 Fabulous writer thus breaking a record (5)
5 Former lord crushed by one’s first spell in jail (3-4)
6 One who regrets hiding key for person delivering (7)
RESCUER - R(ESC)UER, the well-known computer key, that is.
7 Primate reportedly observed a Scotsman of great importance (6,6)
SPIDER MONKEY - sounds like SPIED A + MON + KEY.
10 Exceptionally, change Ernie’s software (6,6)
15 Single-minded obsession of woman nursing Arab (9)
MONOMANIA - MON(OMANI)A.   It's almost always Oman or Omani, they are very versatile.
17 Honour rise of the Spanish maid in Paris (7)
ENNOBLE - EL + BONNE upside down.
18 Glowing article by doctor breaking fast (7)
19 Spray shrub briefly with last of insecticide (7)
SYRINGE - SYRING[a] + [insecticid]E.
20 Start delivering goods in German city (7)
TRIGGER - TRI(GG)ER, a German city that doesn't appear much, since it's not as useful as Essen, which is often essential.
22 Liqueur no one young at university initially identifies (5)
NOYAU - N[o] O[ne] Y]oung] A[t] U[niversity].   Never heard of it, but the cryptic hands it to you.

QC 1535 by Joker

I think that I found this about the most enjoyable QC that I have ever blogged. I did find it very straightforward, and it could nearly have been a PB, but as I have mentioned before I don't really keep accurate times and there are a couple of reasons for that which I won't go into here. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it and found two candidates for my COD where normally I find the choice very difficult because I don't see much to differentiate between the clues in terms of difficulty or style, with the result that I normally end up plumping for the smoothest surface. So many thanks to Joker for an entertaining morning cuppa.

FOI was the obvious anagram at 1A as you might expect, and LOI was in fact 22D just as it should be (although progress was not exactly linear between the two). The two potential CODs for me were 10A and 4D. Both of these I thought could have sat quite happily at the easy end of the spectrum in a 15x15 and they were a pleasant surprise when they were served up at this table. Having said that I think they are both pretty much write-ins for the experienced solver as long as you are on the mysterious 'wavelength'. Thankfully I was, with the definition leaping out at me in 10A and the cryptic doing the same in 4D. I think 10A gets my vote by a whisker.

Definitions are underlined in italics and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

1 Nice groom is upset, made to offer efficient service (9)
ERGONOMIC - straight anagram ('is upset') of NICE GROOM.
6 Cause of obesity is mostly inevitable destiny (3)
FAT - 'mostly' FATe (inevitable destiny).
8 New in constituency, old Republican politician (7)
SENATOR - N (new) in SEAT (constituency) + O (old) + R (Republican).
9 Succulent fruit piece, half gone (5)
MANGO - MAN (a piece, as in Chess or Draughts) + GO (half GOne).
10 Small joint development making packets? (12)
SHIPBUILDING - S (small) + HIP (joint) + BUILDING (development). The definition is a cryptic one (hence the question mark) as a packet is a type of small ship.
12 Look endlessly for celebrity (4)
STAR - STARe (look 'endlessly').
13 Female dog losing head in desire (4)
ITCH - similar to the last clue but chopped off at the other end: bITCH (female dog 'losing head').
17 Crossroads into centre is under reconstruction (12)
INTERSECTION - straight anagram ('under reconstruction') of INTO CENTRE IS.
20 Thousand pounds in good currency (5)
GRAND - G (good) + RAND (South African currency).
21 Redoubt rebuilt to be more prominent (7)
OBTRUDE - straight anagram ('rebuilt') of REDOUBT.
23 Himalayan ox is all right over going without oxygen (3)
YAK - oKAY (all right) reversed ('over') 'going without' O (oxygen).
24 Opposing bridge players resist meeting (9)
ENCOUNTER - E + N (East and North, opposing bridge players) + COUNTER (resist).
1 A lack of effort getting fifth grades, reportedly (4)
EASE - sounds like Es (fifth grades).
2 Report weapon’s stolen (7)
GUNSHOT - GUN'S HOT (weapon's stolen).
3 Collar that has number turned up (3)
NET - TEN (number) 'turned up' (i.e. reversed in this down clue).
4 Odd spirit raised for quiet talk (6)
MURMUR - RUM (odd) + RUM (spirit) 'raised' (again, reversed in this down clue).
5 Illness having Mike clearly in bed (9)
COMPLAINT - M (Mike) + PLAIN (clearly) 'in' COT (bed).
6 Growths initially found upsetting New Guinea islander (5)
FUNGI - initial letters of Found Upsetting New Guinea Islander.
7 River in hard to cut channel (6)
TROUGH - R (river) 'in' TOUGH (hard to cut).
11 Game bird from one area of mountain top (9)
PARTRIDGE - PART RIDGE (one area of mountain top).
14 Empty Chaucer quote rubbished game played on grass (7)
CROQUET - CR ('empty' ChauceR) + OQUET (anagram 'rubbished' of QUOTE).
15 Hard getting into dirty-looking small boat (6)
DINGHY - another small boat. H (hard) 'getting into' DINGY (dirty-looking).
16 Some ranchero I considered very brave (6)
HEROIC - hidden word ('some'): rancHERO I Considered.
18 Follow the movements of vehicle reversing kilometres (5)
TRACK - TRAC (CART (vehicle) 'reversing') + K (kilometres).
19 Sustained campaign about European clothing (4)
WEAR - WAR (sustained campaign) 'about' E (European).
22 Greek character well on the way to being tight (3)
TAU - TAU is 'well on the way to being' TAUt (tight).