February 5th, 2020


Times Quick Cryptic No 1542 by Joker


I spent a long time thinking about 1 Down. Of course, with a really hard one, it's not unusual for me to struggle. After trying in vain for several minutes to get a good grip on it, I put in a very flimsy attempt, resulting in a DNF for me. Knowing I'd need to rise to the occasion, I redoubled my efforts, and with a little focus and thought, I was finally able to put it in.

Much of the puzzle was straightforward, which was rather misleading, as there were several clues with quite tricky wordplay I wasn't expecting. Nice puzzle.

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Times 27579 - Second TCC heat, #2 I assume.

Easier than last week's puzzle from the same heat, in my view, with similar scope for biffing and guessing correctly if you're on the clock. 19a and 4d probably gave some trouble, unless you were an arachnophile and/or had spent time on a sled in Alaska. 25 minutes for me, including checking those two afterwards. I liked 3d for its smooth surface, although not a tricky one, and 23d for the 'feel down' definition idea.

1 Likely to see red snake in fancy (7)
WASPISH - ASP (snake) in WISH (fancy).
5 Wine endlessly consumed in unspoilt meadow (7)
PASTURE - AST(I) = wine endlessly, inside PURE = unspoilt.
9 Soul-stirring volume returned by learner on Scottish island (9)
EMOTIONAL - TOME reversed, IONA, L(earner).
10 More than one fell in love with men in the script (5)
MOORS - O and OR inside MS.
11 Danish canapés potentially causing discomfort (5,3,5)
13 Cover design with male bird, put back for book (8)
NEHEMIAH - HE (male), insert AIM (design), add HEN (bird), then reverse it all.
15 Bad experience the end for Edward the Confessor? (6)
DOWNER - D (end for Edward) OWNER (confessor, as in I own/confess I did say that).
17 Alumnus, boring perhaps, certainly not square (6)
OBLONG - OB (old boy, alumnus), LONG (boring perhaps).
19 Only bitch barks in this breed? (8)
MALEMUTE - I was discombobulated by this, my LOI, because I'd heard of the Alaskan husky type dog breed MALAMUTE but it didn't fit the checkers. MALEMUTE seems to me to be a mis-spelling, not an optional spelling, although our setter must know otherwise. Anyway MALEMUTE obviously fits the &lit.
22 Dance crew walk unsteadily after a few (9,4)
EIGHTSOME REEL - Well, an EIGHT is a rowing crew; to REEL is to walk unsteadily. And before reel, SOME is a few.
25 Light that warns companion leaving compartment (5)
26 Cast made moral sentiment the focus here? (9)
27 Betrayal Tristan’s principal motivation (7)
TREASON - T(ristan), REASON (motivation).
28 Tusked beast smuggled back with prince (7)
NARWHAL - RAN (smuggled) reversed, W(ith), HAL (prince).
1 Petite flyer no man in Royal Navy (4)
WREN - Wrens were the nickname of members of the Women's Royal Naval Service in WWII.
2 Bear cat in bag 4’s opening (7)
STOMACH - TOM (cat) inside SAC, H = first letter of 4d.
3 One Murdoch hails originally from Dublin? (5)
IRISH - IRIS (Murdoch the writer), H = hails originally. Smart, because Iris M was actually born in Dublin.
4 Person embracing books succeeded venomous crawler (8)
HUNTSMAN - A person is a HUMAN, here embracing NT (books) S (succeeded). I put it in from wordplay then went to Wiki, where I learnt a huntsman is a family of venomous (but not deadly to humans) spiders with eight eyes and a leg span of typically six inches. If you see one lurking in the bath, take a shower in the en suite instead.
5 Italian river joins lake with country (6)
POLAND - A QC level clue... the River PO joins with L for lake and AND = with.
6 What about plan received by sensitive signalling system? (9)
SEMAPHORE - EH? (what?) about MAP (plan) all inside SORE = sensitive.
7 Idealistic reformer best protected by posh Scotsman (7)
UTOPIAN - TOP (best) protected by / inside U (posh) IAN (typical Scottish chap).
8 English setter say barking in comfortable situation (4,6)
12 Keen on extremely loathsome diatribe? Evidently not? (10)
INTOLERANT - INTO (keen on) L E (ends of loathsome) RANT (diatribe). Evidently not (keen on).
14 Mr Smetana rearranged lines we once made up (3-2-4)
16 One learned all about northern explorer (8)
MAGELLAN - MAGE (one learned), LLA (all about) N (northern).
18 Complex libel cases for example clear enough? (7)
LEGIBLE - Insert EG (for example) into (LIBEL)*.
20 Not caught, pawnbroker remains free (7)
UNLEASH - UNCLE (pawnbroker) loses his C for caught, then ASH = remains.
21 Founder of sect keeping room for one of different faith (6)
MORMON - Well, Sun Myung MOON founded the Moonies sect, so insert RM (abbr. for room) to get a Mormon.
23 Occasionally behind peers: feel down about this? (5)
EIDER - Alternative letters of b E h I n D p E e R s, spells your duck.
24 Athena, as concealed in shadow (4)
PALL - the Greek goddess Athena is also known as PALLAS Athena, so take off her AS (as concealed) and get PALL, here meaning shadow.