February 20th, 2020

  • glheard

Times 27592 - Putin on the 15

Time taken: 10:32. A deliberate solve - very few fell into place immediately, but I wasn't really slowed down as I solved, it was just a little bit of thinking was required to piece together all the answers. This puzzle fits into my favorite type where the wordplay is always clear, and a few of the answers I could piece together from the wordplay, including two new terms.

I'm usually one of the first to complete the crossword online (it appears at 7pm in my time zone), and at the time of completing this I see that I'm second on the timer (and Verlaine has halved my time, so maybe this is easier than I made it out to be) but half of the first eight submissions have at least one error. Wonder if there is a trap here somewhere.

Away we go...

1 Musical sergeant returning cap for sprinkler (6,3)
PEPPER POT - Sergeant PEPPER, then TOP(cap) reversed, for something that sprinkles
6 Dumbo: Disney’s brainchild initially bringing in little? (5)
DWEEB - First letters of Disney's Brainchild containing WEE(little)
9 Phlegmatic type’s standing briefly recognised around India (5)
STOIC - STOCK(standing) missing the last letter around I(India)
10 Plant in holiday venue — ring-shaped, some say (9)
CAMPANULA - this was one I got from wordplay entirely - CAMP(holiday venue), then sounds like ANNULAR(ring-shaped)
11 Distance of seafood outlet to west of loch (15)
STANDOFFISHNESS - the seafood outlet is a STAND OF FISH, then NESS(loch). I thought this rang a bell, I blogged the same wordplay last April in Times 27328
13 Infantile learner withdrawn from cool course (8)
CHILDISH - remove an L(learner) from CHILL(cool), then DISH(course)
14 Part of shopfront, as cased by female spies? (6)
FASCIA - AS inside F(female), CIA(spies)
16 Celebrity from London won Eritreans over (6)
RENOWN - hidden reversed in londoN WON ERitreans
18 Church helper’s fateful day: months in hospital (8)
SIDESMAN - got this one from wordplay alone - IDES(fateful day), M(months) inside SAN(hospital)
21 War zone aid, one with companion picking up litter? (9-6)
STRETCHER-BEARER - cryptic definition
23 Italian beggars left Arizona oddly, touring Zaire’s capital (9)
LAZZARONI - L, then an anagram of ARIZONA surrounding the first letter in Zaire
25 German artist’s way with English sailors (5)
ERNST - ST(way) with E(english), RN(sailors)
26 Slightly burn grouse primarily served during function (5)
SINGE - first letter of Grouse inside SINE(function)
27 Old journalist’s fixed stare always taking in Times (9)
GAZETTEER - GAZE(fixed stare), EER(ever) containing T,T(times)

1 Poles originally transported in river vessel (5)
POSTS - first lettr of Transported in the river PO and SS(vessel)
2 Struggling in art, be poor apprentice (11)
3 Press chief penning note about poem in cipher (7)
ENCODED - ED(press chief) containing N(note), C(about), ODE(poem)
4 Non-belligerent condition is enshrined in treaty (8)
PACIFIST - IF(condition) and IS inside PACT(treaty)
5 Initiation of this Italian test upset singer (6)
TOMTIT - first letter of This, IT(Italian), MOT(vehicle test), all reversed
6 Ready overseas once to include companion in play (7)
DRACHMA - CH(companion) inside DRAMA(play)
7 Flightless bird originally eliciting letter from abroad (3)
EMU - first letter of Etching, then MU(letter from abroad)
8 Petty officer stole this empty wagon (9)
BOATSWAIN - BOA(stole), then the outer letters in ThiS, WAIN(wagon)
12 Burden in French Canada at first, cooking cream bun (11)
ENCUMBRANCE - EN(in, in French), then the first letter in Canada, then an anagram of CREAM,BUN
13 Future monarch possibly has lyrics revised (9)
CHRYSALIS - anagram of HAS,LYRICS - a butterfly pupa
15 Drinking-place at hotel outside one French resort (8)
BIARRITZ - BAR(drinking place) and the RITZ hotel surrounding I(one)
17 Measure of power and income a non-drinker accepted (7)
WATTAGE - WAGE(income) containing A, TT(non-drinker)
19 Possibly copper’s sphere of operation (7)
ELEMENT - double definition
20 Whip restraining leader of riotous mob (6)
THRONG - THONG(whip) surrounding the first letter of Riotous
22 It goes round and round and up and down (5)
ROTOR - palindrome
24 Extreme character converting daughter to new form of Buddhism (3)
ZEN - ZED(last letter of the alphabet) with D(daughter) changed to N(new)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1553 by Mara

I wouldn’t call this easy – there are some chewy bits of parsing and a modicum of General Knowledge required, and some of the clues are deliberately misleading.  However, I finished it in 11 minutes, well inside my target range, so I can’t describe it as hard.

FOI for me was PECK, I have forgotten where I finished, but I admired much along the way.  CRS came to my rescue for 21d and I knew the answer for 10a for some time before I knew why it was the answer.

My thanks to Mara for an enjoyable puzzle.


1  Tongue rotten, put away (6,3)
POLISH OFF – POLISH (tongue, as in the POLISH language) and OFF (rotten).  This didn’t leap off the page at me, and I needed most of the checkers to get it, so a tricky start.
River appeared without end (3)
CAM – CAM{e} – appeared without end, i.e. drop last letter of ‘came’ (appeared).
8 Old racer having discussion about former Olympic hosts (7)
CHARIOT – CHAT (discussion) containing (about) RIO (host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics)
9  Almost everyone I see gets a greeting (5)
ALOHA – AL{l} (everyone would be ALL, almost everyone is therefore AL) followed by OH (I see!) and A (gets a).  ALOHA means love or kindness in Hawaii, and is used as a greeting.
10  Shriek getting cuts – might this foam have helped? (7,5)
SHAVING CREAM – SCREAM (shriek) ‘cut by’ HAVING (getting), with a cryptic definition to the required answer.  The answer occurred to me from the few checkers that I had, and was parsed retrospectively before it could be entered into the grid.
12  Creative skill in work, to some extent (6)
PARTLY – ART (creative skill) inside (in) PLY (work).  To PLY a trade is to work at it steadily.
13  Good to enter better digit (6)
FINGER – G{ood} inside FINER (better).
16  Nice and sound after treatment, scarlet rash (12)
UNCONSIDERED – Anagram (after treatment) of [NICE] and [SOUND], followed by RED (scarlet).  Nice surface, requiring scarlet rash to be lifted and separated.  A rash act might be one that has not been given due consideration, or is UNCONSIDERED.
19  I wander back to see Antipodean people (5)
MAORI – I (I) and ROAM (wander) all reversed (back).
20  Misery caused by spinning of a spider (7)
DESPAIR – Anagram (spinning) of [A SPIDER]
22  Container idiot knocked over (3)
TIN – NIT (idiot) reversed (knocked over).
23  Enduring horrible revenge, sovereign incarcerated (9)
EVERGREEN – Anagram (horrible) of [REVENGE] containing ER (sovereign incarcerated).


Kiss Hollywood great (4)
PECK – Double definition, the second referring to Eldred Gregory PECK, who memorably played Atticus Finch in the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird (amongst other great roles).
Hide face finally in bubbles (7)
LEATHER – LATHER (bubbles) containing {fac}E (finally).
Long blade in swordsman’s kit (3)
SKI – Hidden in {swordsman’}S KI{t}.
Chemical in petroleum at once exploding (6)
OCTANE – Anagram (exploding) of [AT ONCE].  My first thought was that OCTANE was more a measure of the volatility of petroleum, but that is actually the OCTANE number or rating.  An OCTANE is actually any of a group of 18 isomeric hydrocarbons, so is properly described as a chemical.
5  In European country, history ignores Tory voting privilege (9)
FRANCHISE – FRANCE (European country) containing HIS{tory} (ignores tory).
Job centre welcoming husband (5)
CHORE – CORE (centre) containing (welcoming) H{usband}.
Country where chap admits felony ultimately hurt  (7)
MYANMAR – MAN (chap) containing (admitting) {felon}Y (finally) and followed by MAR (hurt).  The republic of the union of MYANMAR is the country that used to be called Burma.
11  Venetian lover’s first, tragic sweetheart (9)
VALENTINE – Anagram (tragic) of [VENETIAN] and L{over’s} (first).
12 Drop fruit on me, last one in basket (7)
PLUMMET – PLUM (fruit) ‘on’ ME and last letter in (last one in) {Baske}T.
14  Something syrupy to drop in explosive device (7)
GRENADE – GRENAD{in}E is the name for pomegranate syrup.  When it ‘drops’ IN it becomes a GRENADE.
15  Found upside down in field, dirty puzzle (6)
RIDDLE – Reverse hidden (found upside down) in {fi}ELD, DIR{ty}.
17  Top money once (5)
CROWN – Double definition, the second referring to an old five-shilling piece, hence money ‘once’.
18  Irish working for club (4)
IRON – IR{ish} and ON (working), to give IRON (a type of golf club).
21  Hang rabbit up (3)
SAG – GAS (rabbit, as in Cockney Rhyming Slang – to rabbit and pork is to ‘talk’ or gas or chatter), reversed (up).

This Month's Puzzles Sponsored By The 9D Group

Well this was an awful lot of fun, and I really don't mind the Times setters taking backhanders from a certain fixtures and fastenings company if the extra cash helps them produce puzzles of this quality. Almost every clue forced me to think and/or made me smile, which is all you can ask for really isn't it? Lots of great candidates for COD but 25dn was pleasingly seaside-postcard-smutty so I'll for that one I guess. A tip of my topper to your good self, dear setter!

1 Dismiss expert screening river fun run (4,4)
SACK RACE - SACK ACE [dismiss | expert] "screening" R

5 Film director with a good score when shooting (6)
WINNER - W INNER [with | a good score, when shooting]. Has the not-especially-illustrious Michael Winner attained the status of the Beerbohm Tree of film directors, in crosswordland?

10 A Somalia boy, not so backward, finding top monk (5,4)
DALAI LAMA - A {so}MALIA LAD reversed.

11 Guinea coin smuggled into football club (5)
FRANC - RAN [smuggled] into F.C. The currency of Guinea, and many other West African countries, of course.

12 Fine extension: hide collapsed floor (4)
FELL - F ELL [fine | extension], followed by a triple def for good measure. "Hide" as in "pelt" as in "animal skin", somewhat obscurely.

13 Traditional notes of musk oil mixed in case of fabric (4,5)
FOLK MUSIC - (MUSK OIL*), in F{abri}C

15 Doctor to reuse missing English vehicle (10)
MOTORCYCLE - M.O. [doctor] + TO R{e}CYCLE

17 Old letter S (4)
OGEE - O GEE [old | letter]. Kudos for the concise definition part here!

19 Cook rarely grasps ladies' fingers (4)
OKRA - hidden in {co}OK RA{arely}. I can't think of okra without being reminded of the Stephen King story in which a doctor marooned on a desert island plans to survive by judiciously cutting off and eating parts of himself, the last somewhat delirious line before he can no longer put pen to paper being something like "lady fingers they taste just like goddam lady fingers". Sweet dreams!

20 Waste removal expert put gallons in brown car (4,6)
DUNG BEETLE - put G in DUN (Volkswagen) BEETLE. Lovely definition.

22 Nasty smell when oxygen is inhaled — it's lethal (6,3)
POISON GAS - PONG AS [nasty smell | when], "inhaling" O IS

24 Free European travel (4)

26 This writer's adopting old airline's screen symbol (1-4)
I-BEAM - I'M "adopting" BEA (British European Airways, 1946-74). This is apparently the little "I" shaped cursor on a computer screen. There's one in front of my eyes as I'm typing this right now, but I never thought about what it was called before!

27 Right line taken in winning point of quarrel (9)

28 School lets us row (6)
TUSSLE - (LETS US*) ["school..."]

29 Nearly all these can be set in just under the counter (2,3,3)
ON THE SLY - THES{e} "set in" ONLY [just]

1 View Pluto rising close to Neptune (4)
SIDE - reversed DIS (as in the God of the Underworld), plus {neptun}E

2 After prayer, golden couples bury small trinkets (10,5)
COLLECTORS ITEMS - after COLLECT [prayer], OR ITEMS [golden | couples] "bury" S

3 Nice article found in pair of lines? Just kidding (8)
RAILLERY - LE [Nice, i.e. French, article] in RAIL RY [(two) lines]

4 Banter from winger that’s not kept in check (5)
CHAFF - CHAFF{in ch} [winger]

6 Disgrace one left out of popular family (6)

7 NHS residents age after surgery for eye complaint (4-11)

8 Rhode Island firm, tricked out of article, bounced back (10)

9 Naive commercial about large plastic tube (8)
RAWLPLUG - RAW PLUG [naive | commercial] "about" L

14 Plump for ripping new option: MBE! (10)
EMBONPOINT - (N OPTION MBE*) ["for ripping:"]. WOD, to nick Horryd's schtick.

16 Second person supported by new agent and boyfriend (5,3)
YOUNG MAN - YOU [second person] supported by N G-MAN

18 Result of cutting about Greek pair raised by Henry? (8)
REGROWTH - RE GR + reversed TWO + H

21 Make aluminium ball (6)
FORMAL - FORM AL. A different, more collegiate type of ball than the spherical one.

23 Alarm concerning being in the wrong (5)
SIREN - RE being in SIN

25 Do the twist with ample cups in view, nearly (4)
EDDY - DD [with ample cups (in the realm of brassieres)] in EY{e}