February 29th, 2020

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27594 - Saturday, 22 February 2020. More food for thought.

I'm sorry this is a half hour late. I'm not sure why. Some weird time zone problem, I suspect.

Anyway, the puzzle was not as easy to finish over lunch as last week’s, but was again plenty of delightful clues. It was rather hard to get started, but then things mostly flowed smoothly. The last few answers took a little longer to polish off (unlike lunch!).

FOI was 10ac, and LOI 25ac. It’s hard to pick a favourite from the well disguised definitions and the clever wordplay. I loved the ‘enemy’ at 5dn, but I will pick 22ac simply because I thought the definition was a delight.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].
1 Squads back in uniform before training session initially (5)
UNITS – I looked at this askance, but it works fine. UNI is IN U[-niform], ‘back’. Then  TS is T-raining] S[-essions], ‘initially’.
4 In play, Charlie gets oddly sluggish (9)
LETHARGIC – (CHARLIE G-T-*), ‘in play’.
9 Arcane pursuit last month featured in violent comics (9)
OCCULTISM – ULT (last month) in ‘violent’ (COMICS*).
10 Cook's pan (5)
ROAST – double definition.
11 Golden days during month in the country (6)
JORDAN – JAN[-uary] is the month. Include OR (golden) and D (days).
12 Like a small bully boy casing hotel (2,6)
AS THOUGH – A S[-mall] TOUGH, ‘casing’ H for hotel. When I first saw the answer, I thought the bully might be a THUG, but that didn’t work of course.
14 Upsetting measurement system outfitter's familiar with? (9)
CAPSIZING – double definition. The second is fanciful, although no doubt ‘sizing caps’ is a thing.
16 Patent scheme I introduced (5)
17 The setter had brief simple clues (5)
IDEAS – I’D (the setter had), EAS[-Y]. The definition is nicely understated.
19 Dozy supporter more often away (9)
BRAINLESS – BRA (a supporter, in crosswordland), IN LESS (away more often, so at home less).
21 Revolutionary working extended? Not any more (2,6)
NO LONGER – NO comes from a revolutionary ON (working). LONGER is extended.
22 Artful Dodger always got round Bill (6)
EVADER – EVER (always) around AD (bill). So, the answer is nothing to do with Dickens.
25 Yield from funds reduced (5)
BUDGE – drop the T from BUDGE[-t].
26 Hooded Asian ruler leading troops on horse (4,5)
KING COBRA – KING (ruler), RA (troops) on COB (horse).
27 No-hoper confused with MD, a stout fellow (9)
ENDOMORPH – (NO HOPER MD*), ‘confused’. I know mesomorphs are the muscular ones, but I struggle to remember endomorphs and ectomorphs. Anyhow, this is the big guy.
28 Strike abruptly terminated by hospital worker (5)
SMITH – SMIT[-e], H[-ospital]. Another I had to look at more than once before I was happy to put it in.

1 Ambition in combination with skill is OK (15)
UNOBJECTIONABLE – OBJECT (ambition) in UNION (combination), then ABLE (with skill).
2 Run into S American once leaving a historic city (5)
INCUR – INC[-a], UR. Obvious once you think of the setters’ prime choice for a historic city, UR.
3 Having dashed inside, one’s brought up teaching schedules (7)
SYLLABI – BALLY (dashed) inside I’S (one’s), all backwards (‘brought up’).
4 Joint leaders of industry non-committal at first (4)
LOIN – spelled out by the first letters of each word.
5 I'm stealing misplaced report of the enemy's progress? (4,6)
TIME SIGNAL – (IM STEALING*), ‘misplaced’. Why is time the enemy?
The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time (William Butler Yeats).
6 Outdated transporter freshens fruit (7)
AIRSHIP – alternatively, AIRS HIP.
7 A large nut supply to grind (9)
GRANULATE – (A LARGE NUT*), ‘supplying’. I am a little unconvinced that ‘to grind’ is to granulate. Grains are what you have before grinding, I would have thought, not after.
8 Gasp in surprise: I disturbed bathers (5,4,6)
CATCH ONES BREATH – CATCH (surprise, as in ‘I caught him unawares’), ONE (I), then (BATHERS*) ‘disturbed’.
13 Make fast roller a time-saver at Wimbledon (10)
TIEBREAKER – TIE (make fast), BREAKER (roller).
15 Barred musical movement involving about 500 (9)
PRECLUDED – PRELUDE involving C (about), then D (500).
18 Timber to support Spartan characters climbing shaft (7)
SUNBEAM – NUS are Spartan (or more generally, Greek) letters or characters. Turn them round to make them climb, then add BEAM (timber). A shaft of light.
20 Why craftsmen can't grip religious recruits? (7)
NOVICES – the craftsmen apparently have NO VICES on their workbenches.
23 New York chum served up excellent port (5)
DUBAI – BUD served ‘up’, then AI for excellent.
24 Cross but not completely thank heavens! (4)
ANKH – hidden answer.

Monthly Club Special 20,233: By The Wordpower of Greyskull!

The usual abundance of cluing splendour, but to be honest this puzzle is all about the amazing Homeric-onomatopoeic word for the noise of the sea at 15ac - clue of the (~8th) century (BCE), my friends. The fact that it manages to get Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo into the wordplay is just the icing on the cryptic cake.

Also shout-outs to the appearance of the Stones' Angie (love me a bit of pop culture in my wordplay, as you can probably tell), the awesome insult PIG-SCONCE (WOD in any other puzzle), and the eminently useful word at 26ac which I shall use to outmanoeuvre anybody who tries to wax lyrical about mere crepuscular hours at any point. All great stuff as usual, setter, many thanks for the marvellous monthly marathon!

Made to walk on back, I plod through prison term (10)
GRESSORIAL - reversed, all of I ROSSER "through" LAG

6 Crumpled heap in a dry bath? (4)
EPHA - (HEAP*). This is a Hebrew measure for dry goods, not to be confused with a BATH, which is quite plainly a liquid measure.

9 Edifying tales record objective I procured by dismissal being overturned (7)
EXEMPLA - reversed, all of LP ME [record | objective/accusative I] "procured by" AXE [dismissal]

10 Former tenant is like this one locking up (7)
SOCAGER - SO CAGER [like this | one locking up]

12 Porridge like heavy dough with New York pizza (5)
SADZA - SAD [like heavy/stiff dough, in baking jargon] + ZA [I'm convinced nobody in NY actually calls pizza this, but I refuse to check because it's so darned convenient for Scrabble!]

13 The most an informer recalled about copper’s weed? (9)
TARAXACUM - reversed MAX A RAT [the most | an | informer] "about" CU

14 Malice in person’s exploded into this? (5,10)

15 Noisy college pub list includes Norwegian crime writer without introductions (15)
POLYPHLOESBOEAN - POLY PH LEAN [college | pub | list] "includes" {j}O {n}ESBO

20 Review of risqué artist holding fringe address to audience (9)
EPIRRHEMA - reversed RIPE [risque] + R.A. "holding" HEM [fringe]

21 It’s said to wheedle old fool (5)
COKES - homophone of COAX

23 Large single male with stylised lily for coloured skin patch (7)
EPHELIS - EP [large single, as opposed to a long player] + HE [male] + LIS [stylised lily]

24 Retreating, I conceal half of Iraq’s outstanding works (7)
RILIEVI - reversed I VEIL IR{aq}. Outstanding in a very literal sense of the word.
25 Peony’s back, arranged by Scottish wildflower (4)
YARR - {peon}Y ARR.

26 An intimate tea by lake at sunset (10)
ACRONYCHAL - A CRONY CHA [an | intimate | tea] by L

1 Meshing gears rotated purplish lubricant dispenser 6,3)
GREASE CUP - (GEARS*) + reversed PUCE

2 Shoreditch’s hunks would change for the better (5)
EMEND - In Cockney aitch-dropping style, 'E-MEN'D [hunks'd]

3 Jabber during draining depression, speaking off the top of one’s head? (13)
SUPRATEMPORAL - PRATE [jabber] "during" SUMP [draining depression], + ORAL [speaking]

4 Networks, having a bit of a laugh in historic Roman province (7)
RHAETIA - RETIA [networks], having HA in

5 Donkey facilities in forest clearings (7)
ASSARTS - or ASS ARTS [donkey | facilities]

7 Old blockhead and general staff seen in photo in the old days (3-6)

8 Mean to keep Britain completely full (5)
ABRIM - AIM [mean] to "keep" BR

11 In vain style apple core in cabbage to feed funny friend (13)
COXCOMBICALLY - COX [apple] + {cab}B{age} to "feed" COMIC ALLY

15 Malevolent person has rewritten will and distressed heirs (3-6)

16 Song of Stones with lines about cradling special Shetland instrument (9)
LANGSPIEL - ANGIE [song of Stones], with L L "about", "cradling" S

18 Some buffaloes sicken of dusty earth (7)
LOESSIC - hidden in {buffa}LOES SIC{ken}

19 Perhaps blackberry port’s almost swallowed up overhead (7)
ETAERIO - RIO [port] has reversed EATE{n} above it

20 Sombre song for one entering Anglican cathedral site (5)
ELEGY - E.G. entering ELY

22 Rendered cheek fat that’s congealed in some places

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4891, 23 II 2020, by David McLean — It’s apposite day!

Happy Leap Year! I’m glad last month had an extra day, as I needed some time to catch up…

What struck me about this puzzle was that among the generally quite straightforward and succinct definitions were a handful (12, 26, 4, 13…) that did not exactly define the answer, even by example, but rather alluded to an aspect of it. Of course, this is standard operating procedure (“flyer” or “singer” for any old bird, for example). Perhaps what made me think about this kind of definition a little longer in the case of this puzzle is that there is one clue here made up entirely of such a definition, sans any discernible wordplay, and which I cannot in good conscience call a CD; it just seems to somewhat obliquely describe the desired object, lacking any feint, comical or otherwise, at any other sense. (As you may recall, Keriothe abandoned the puzzle two weeks ago because of a clue to which he had a similar reaction.) If there is any part of 7 that is simply too clever for me to see, I am sure some kind soul will let me know below.

I indicate (ragnasam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Programme cooker, putting rump inside (6)
 5 Produce box filled with quince at last (6)
CREATE — CR([-quinc]E)ATE
 9 Fruit on elm gone in a storm (4,5)
OGEN MELON — (on elm gone)*
10 Couple one encountered bound for port (4)
ITEM — I + MET<=“bound for port”
11 A servant knocked around by husband again (6)
AFRESH — This kind of thing, sadly, happens far too often… A + H(usband) + SERF<=“knocked around” (On closer investigation, it seems the husband is just standing there…)
12 One needing props to pass the ball and then prevent movement (8)
CROSSBAR — CROSS, “to pass the ball” (football) + BAR, “prevent movement”
14 British force boarding rather quiet puffer (8)
BLOWFISH — B(ritish) + LOW(F)ISH
16 Potentially bad forecast captain rejected (4)
OMEN — NEMO<=“rejected” An omen can augur good or ill, actually—though the adjective “ominous” is always baleful.
18 Two notes can get you a piece of furniture (4)
SOFA — Sounds like a deal! SO + FA
19 Suited work secretary repulsed by spot (8)
APPOSITE — OP (“work”) PA (personal assistant, “secretary”) <=“repulsed” + SITE, “spot”
21 Lark or duck with an internal bill (8)
22 King tucks into unhealthy-looking croissant? (6)
24 Foreign capital aficionado slowly collects (4)
OSLO — Hidden
26 At sea, aim at land one’s spotted (9)
DALMATIAN — (aim at land)*
27 One who is trying not to eat quickly (6)
28 Think highly of events European backed (6)
ESTEEM — MEETS+E <=“backed”

 2 Old golf woes diverted blithe companions (11)
GOODFELLOWS — (Old golf woes)*
 3 Relative peace finally found in resort (5)
NIECE — NICE is the French resort town, where [-peac]E is to be found
 4 A jolly church tune in which one finds comfort? (8)
ARMCHAIR — A + RM (“jolly,” for Royal Marine) + CH(urch) + AIR, “tune”—I suppose not all armchairs are very comfy, hence the quirk?
 5 High-flyer right to support Tory party (6)
CONDOR — CON, “Tory” + DO, “party” + R
 6 English Socialist leader admits campaign issues (9)
 7 What one might push firmly in before driving? (3)
 8 Foolishly, bold and cheeky lad going walkabout (13)
BLOCKHEADEDLY — (bold + cheeky lad)*
13 Mole on Ohio pasture that could destroy crops (5,6)
AGENT ORANGE — AGENT, “Mole” + O(hio) + RANGE, “pasture”
15 Do you fancy a fight after whiskey nightcap? (4,5)
WHAT ABOUT — No, it always mellows me out… A BOUT, “a fight,” preceded by W(hiskey, NATO alphabet) + HAT, “nightcap?”
17 Piano track with Snoop on as well as U2? (8)
SPYPLANE — ”Snoop,” SPY, on P(iano) + LANE
20 One who helps to support resistance marauder (6)
RAIDER — R(esistance) + AIDER
23 Penniless family taken in by good person (5)
SKINT — S(KIN)T This was a pretty easy Sunday, I thought, which seems confirmed by this word’s having appeared (with a similar clue) in Wednesday’s QC.
25 Main of steak entrecôte after starters (3)
SEA — First letters