January 30th, 2020

Linus van Pelt
  • z8b8d8k

++++++++++++++++++++++++++27574 Thursday, 30 January 2020 Daydream believer

A small confession: my solving is currently spasmodic, and when I clicked on the crossword as the clock ticked over into Thursday, Wednesday’s grid occupied my solving attention until I submitted and found myself in an impossible 78th place.. A very fine crossword outclassing today’s still impressive, if somewhat easier version. I rolled this over in 16 minutes or so, with enough to enjoy along the way particularly some cutesy definitions. The perhaps less well known sage at 2d you’ll recognise if you mentally put Maha (“great”) in front of it.
I present my dissections with clues in italics, definitions also underlined, and solutions THUS though with different letters, duh.

1 Detectives attending fight where vehicles broken (9)
SCRAPYARD Place (Scotland) YARD detectives in the immediate vicinity of a fight renamed as a SCRAP
6 Son opening unwanted mail in sudden attack (5)
SPASM Lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM? Well no, obviously, because no-one wants it, but you won’t be able to resist the tune. Insert a S(on).
9 The Spanish sovereign defeated contender (5)
LOSER I wasted time with EL and REY, but it’s LOS and our own beloved sovereign ER
10 Part I for instance (9)
CHARACTER Playing the role of a part in a play. The sans serif font used for our clues doesn’t disclose whether it’s a number or a letter, but I prefer the letter I Anyway I is also a character
11 One sliding in card from most valued suit: hearts win (7)
TRIUMPH Not spades, then but a card in whatever suit has been declared TRUMPs slide in a I (one or I again) and add H(earts)
12 Pseudo intellectual's beginning to reform incestuous king (7)
OEDIPUS An anagram (“to reform”) of PSEUDO and I(ntellectual) for Sophocles’ most famous and complex creation
13 Guide with current deals to include southern archipelago (7,7
CHANNEL ISLANDS Well they are a group of islands, so an archipelago, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard them so described. Anyway, CHANNEL for guide and then I think you have I for current (see 3d yesterday) LANDS to mean deals (though I think that’s a bit of a stretch) and an included S(outhern)
17 Daydream, perhaps, as France is divided (14)
DEPARTMENTALLY One of those whimsical, sideslip definitions introduces the more prosaic one. If you daydream, you could say you  DEPART MENTALLY, but probably wouldn’t, hence the “perhaps”. Caesar had a different take on France’s structure: “Gallia in tres partes divisa est” but you can’t make it fit
21 Local vessel that's managed single-handedly? (7)
TANKARD Local because it’s in a pub. Just a cryptic definition, then.
23 Official exploited having had appeal turned down (7)
REFUSED The official is the B’stard in the black, the REF plus exploited: USED
25 Depression caused where shattering blow follows blow (5,4)
PUNCH BOWL A specific depression in Surrey rather than a generic feature. An anagram (“shattered”) of BLOW follows another word for blow, PUNCH
26 Roman censor to suppress new division in poem (5)
CANTO I mean, there must be other Roman Censors byut it’s usually CATO. “Suppress” N(ew)
27 One who's stopped lying about knight from the east (5)
RISER A reverse (from the east)  of about: RE and knight: SIR
28 Command corrupt peers' exit (9)
EXPERTISE “Corrupt” is as plain an anagram indicator as you could wish, apply to PEERS’ EXIT.  Perhaps not the meaning of command you were expecting
1 Fish, holding shortened rod in biannual event (8)
SOLSTICE A shortened rod is a STICk the fish is a SOLE. Assemble
2 King is greeting seer or sage (5)
RISHI Trust the cryptic, or learn Sanskrit. King: R, is: IS )(obviously) and greeting: HI
3 Obsession that keeps one going to matches? (9)
PYROMANIA More cryptic definition.
4 Everyone catching salmon in the drink (7)
ALCOHOL The Pacific salmon or COHO turns up occasionally on these shores). ALL for everyone “catches” it
5 Inhale smoke from small flame-throwers? (7)
DRAGONS A whimsical definition derived from DRAG ON  for inhale smoke from plus S(mall)
6 Glass shattered in vertiginous building? (5)
SHARD a piece of broken glass and the building next door to the Times London office and venue for the champs
7 Not liking river, boy rising on opposite side (9)
ANTIPODAL  I can’t imagine why anyone would describe themselves as ANTI PO, but they would be not liking that particular river. LAD for boy “rising” completes our grid emtry
8 Bad-tempered beast devouring ram's head (6)
MOROSE The beast is a MOOSE, the ram’s head R
14 Figures under a pound in extensive range (9)
APENNINES Nines are figures, A PEN the same as a pound
15 Answer terrific that's muddled mechanic (9)
ARTIFICER Another generously signposted anagram, “MUDDLED”. Apply to TERRIFIC plus A(nswer)
16 Characteristic events on radio offended Vatican (8)
SYNDROME If heard on the radio, offended: sinned sounds like SYND, add in the Vatican’s ROME
18 This ultimately destined to leap, when developed (7)
TADPOLE A tricksy &lit, with destineD and TO LEAP being developed
19 Attention and fuss that protects listeners (7)
EARFLAP Attention: EAR and fuss: FLAP
20 Accommodates, as it were, men in drunken state? (6)
STUPOR Accommodated might be the same as PUTS up, and puts “up” gives you the stup bit. Men as so oten, are O(ther) R(anks)
22 Hate Sailor Short's guts (5)
ABHOR Sailor is AB, the guts of Shorts is/are the HOR
24 Pharaohs in Aida retaining Egyptian land (5)
SINAI Today’s hidden, in pharaoS IN AIda

Times Quick Cryptic No 1538 by Tracy

A bit on the gentler side today from Tracy: I came in about a minute under my target after finishing off with a slightly sluggish LH side and then taking a minute to locate the tip of my tongue for 23ac, my LOI - a nicely put together clue it was, too. The three other long clues along the borders were all generous enough and gave plenty of routes into the puzzle, so all good - many thanks to Tracy!

1 Entertainment centre just by stadium (10)
FAIRGROUND - FAIR (just) by GROUND (stadium)
8 Humorous drawing of box containing nothing (7)
CARTOON - CATRON (box) contains O (nothing)
9 Hood following sheriff's lead may make one frown (5)
SCOWL - COWL (hood) following S (Sheriff's "lead") may give one the answer.
10 Stinking row (4)
RANK - double definition, the second as in, say, chess or taxis.
11 Shipment greatly required by food shop (8)
DELIVERY - VERY (greatly) required by DELI (food shop)
13 Goad pointer (6)
NEEDLE - double definition
14 Put right about couple (6)
REPAIR - RE (about) PAIR (couple)
17 Substantial list includes North American soldier (8)
TANGIBLE - TABLE (list) includes N(orth) GI (American soldier)
19 Call outfit around noon, initially (4)
RING - RIG (outfit) around N (Noon, initially)
21 Mouthpiece for musical instrument (5)
ORGAN - double definition, the first as in an organ of government.
22 Italian composer ahead of court ruling (7)
VERDICT - VERDI (Italian composer) CT. (court)
23 What may decide winner of cup, about right after draw (10)
TIEBREAKER - BEAKER (cup) about R(ight) after TIE (draw)
2 Set out with a compass, crossing top of ridge (7)
ARRANGE - A, the RANGE of = the compass of, crossing R ("top" of Ridge)
3 Swindle man on board (4)
ROOK - double definition
4 £10 brought up for cheesemaker (6)
RENNET - TENNER (£10) brought up/reversed.
5 Not appropriate, units due to be changed (8)
UNSUITED - anagram (to be changed) of UNITS DUE
6 Monotonous speaker, doctor on energy (5)
DRONE - DR (doctor), ON, E(nergy)
7 Predicament consuming terribly wary dramatist (10)
PLAYWRIGHT - PLIGHT (predicament) consuming an anagram (terribly) of WARY
8 My old country's royal event (10)
CORONATION - COR (my/gosh/etc.) O(ld) NATION (country) is the answer.
12 Everyone at home welcoming a church wedding (8)
ALLIANCE - ALL (everyone) IN (at home) welcoming A, CE (Church of England = church)
15 Stupid in the way that number must cross island (7)
ASININE - AS (in the way that) NINE (number) to cross I(sland). I wonder how many people this has caught out in spelling bees? Easily done, and what a word to crash out on.
16 Bright in bar after opening of curtains (6)
CLEVER - LEVER (bar) after C ("opening" of Curtains)
18 Dark wicked thing (5)
NIGHT - anagram (wicked) of NIGHT. I was wondering if there was a short word for an UNLIT CANDLE after that inspired old chestnut clue "A wicked thing? (6)" - as in, a thing with a wick.
20 Song from Callas, not her first (4)
ARIA - MARIA Callas was a famous soprano (apparently), deduct the first letter.

Times 27,575: Criss Cross'll Make You Jump

I very much enjoyed this but I expect we won't be getting very deep into the comments before somebody complains vociferously about the cross-references at 14 and 18dn. I quite enjoy them I must say, but I get the impression some think they're a device somewhat "beneath" the lofty puzzles of the Thunderer.

Certainly they didn't help me get off to a fast start on this grid, my FOI being as far down as 21ac. But progress was relatively steady thereafter, if cautious, as there were many devious twists and turns to navigate. COD may have to go to 10ac as I obviously bunged it at some point, but it proved very clever indeed once I girded up my loins to parse the brute later. The cross-references were also rather brilliantly implemented, justifying their use in my opinion. But what did you think?

1 Police informer's tied up suspect (8)
DISTRUST - DI'S [police] + homophone ["informer's..."] of TRUSSED [tied up]

5 Robust car's function drivers primarily treasure (6)
DODGEM - DO [function] + D{rivers} + GEM [treasure]

10 Feeble folk creating disturbance outside our home have control (4,3,8)
WEAR THE TROUSERS - WET ROUSERS [feeble | folk creating disturbance], outside EARTH [our home]

11 What's involved adapting an endangered species? (5,5)
GIANT PANDA - (ADAPTING AN*) ["involved"]

13 Eventually leave wife suffering (4)
WILL - W ILL [wife | suffering]

15 Lawless venue for Olympics, in our opinion (7)
RIOTOUS - RIO [venue for Olympics] + TO US [in our opinion]

17 Essential bag for Spooner's bun (7)
TEACAKE - Spoonerism of KEY TAKE [essential | bag]

18 Scorer from Europe contacted in the Americas (7)
SMETANA - MET [contacted] in S.A. + N.A. [(both of) the Americas]

19 Outcome of masseur's dismissal is conveyed by association (4,3)
RUBS OFF - if the masseur has been dismissed, then your RUB'S OFF...

21 Companion comes in always feeling pained (4)
ACHY - CH [companion] in AY [always]. FOI

22 A dazzling display amid applause for racing driver (10)

25 Rated Too Highly, like this clue? (15)
OVERCAPITALISED - in both economic and typographic senses!

27 Candidate from class rejected support on course (6)
TESTEE - reversed SET [class], plus TEE [support on (golf) course]

28 Teutonic god snatching old lady's mantle, showing no emotion (8)
WOODENLY - WODEN "snatching" O, plus L{ad}Y

1 Plea from bookie's lady whose partner's late (7)
DOWAGER - or a bookie might tell you "DO WAGER"!

2 Bath possibly an afterthought when getting up (3)
SPA - A P.S. reversed. And not, as I initially thought, TUB.

3 Revolutionary books, all there at the borders (10)
ROTATIONAL - O.T., "bordered" by RATIONAL [all there]

4 Fresh tales required for long-standing column (5)
STELA - (TALES*) ["fresh"]

6 Mounting snow regularly holds up work (4)
OPUS - S{n}O{w}, "holding" UP, the whole reversed ["mounting"]

7 Injured goose in tale carries on without help (4,2,5)
GOES IT ALONE - (GOOSE IN TALE*) ["injured"]

8 With Frenchwoman's support, doctors wine (7)
MOSELLE - MOS [doctors], "supported" by ELLE [Frenchwoman]. Classic crossword wine.

9 One heading for quarry before fourth schedule's drawn up? (8)
PREDATOR - PRE [before] + reversed ROTA D [the fourth schedule, ie the one after rotas A through C].

12 Pays for offending scoundrels in close pursuit (2,4,5)
AT ONES HEELS - ATONES [pays for offending] + HEELS

14 Tricked, like 11 lured by its food with unknown filling? (10)
BAMBOOZLED - imagine a BAMBOO-LED panda, and then "fill" with Z [unknown]. I got 11ac from this, rather than the other way around.

16 Phaetons replaced single-seater carriage (8)
STANHOPE - (PHAETONS*) ["replaced"]. Probably quite hard if it isn't one you've heard before.

18 24 perhaps, each to display houses (7)
SEAPORT - EA [each], "housed" by SPORT [to display]. LOI, mainly because I was looking for another word for an "amount of land"...

20 Scientist, absent-minded, departs for West (7)
FARADAY - FAR-AWAY [absent-minded], with D [departs] in place of W

23 Limit short correspondence (5)
RATIO - RATIO{n} [limit, "short"]

24 Amount of land that's about to rise and fall (4)
ACRE - reversed CA [about] + unreversed RE [about]

26 Daily Star (3)
SUN - double def, or possibly cryptic def, WHO KNOWS FOR SURE