March 14th, 2020

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1427 - 29th February

Well adult elephants can't jump, but we have a leap Jumbo today. A middle-of-the-road (or maybe even easier) difficulty Jumbo, I thought. It took me less than 40 minutes of which about 10 were on the last handful. In retrospect, I'm not sure why it took me so long. Lots of pretty easy clues and some interesting pieces of general knowledge to not know and learn about. But also some entertaining pieces of wordplay, like the theatrical caller at 33A. Beethoven's Fifth at 41A, the groan-worthy homophone at 58A, the unhealthy sounding diet at 9D and the single word "lift and separate" at 43D. All very pleasant and entertaining. Thank-you setter. How did everyone else get on?

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  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27606 - Saturday, 07 March 2020. Of imaginary beasts and fanciful fractions.

This puzzle took me several times longer than the week before. No walk in the park here! I wrote in 1ac at a glance, and then there was a long interlude before I solved 20ac. Strangely I then finished the whole bottom half of the grid, bar 15dn, before I got another answer in the top half.

I ended with four outstanding in the NE corner: 4 and 12 across, and 6 and 8 down. They all fell quite quickly once an alphabet trawl suggested a ‘T’ before the ‘W’ in 12ac.

Overall, this was a mix of delightful clues, and the downright weird. For weirdness, the COD is clearly 12ac. For delight, it’s a tossup between 25dn, 15dn and 26ac, but I think I’ll nominate the Cornish corn! What did all of you think?

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. (Who was that masked setter, by the way?)

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].
Across
1 On reflexion, throwing game is expensive fiddle! (5)
STRAD – DARTS, the throwing game, on reflection. (How Times-y to spell that with an x, by the way.)
4 Imagined primate crouching in school (9)
SASQUATCH – ASQUAT (crouching), in SCH.
9 Bishop stopping out to lunch clamours for wine (9)
LAMBRUSCO – B for bishop inside (stopping) (CLAMOURS*), ‘out to lunch’.
10 Pumped up dinghy, perhaps, that’s shrunk (5)
HYPER – hidden answer (‘that’s shrunk’).
11 One in exaltation embracing a new Scottish town (6)
LANARK – A, N[-ew] in LARK. An exaltation of larks is one of those quirky collective nouns.
12 this would be the making of one (8)
TWELFTHS – well yes, twelve twelfths do make one. But I confess, I can’t get my mind round this clue. Is the lower case ‘t’ on ‘this’ meant to tell us to read the clue number as part of the clue text?
14 Which of the Napoleons holds a tirade in isolation? (10)
QUARANTINE – QUE (French for which or what), holds A RANT IN.
16 Stretch, maybe, or where to do it? (4)
STIR – double definition. The first is by an example of something you might do when you stir in the morning, the second is where you might do a prison stretch.
19 Yellow tie at audition (4)
YOLK – sounds like YOKE ‘in audition’.
20 Raw pine should, after treatment (10)
UNPOLISHED – (PINE SHOULD*), ‘after treatment’.
22 Very small wedding buffet (8)
MATCHBOX – MATCH (wedding), BOX (buffet, in the sense of ‘boxing one’s ears’ for example).
23 Set on carol singing without wife (6)
ASSAIL – [-w]ASSAIL. Apparently, wassailing is a ritual drinking of cider for good luck, but there’s a carol about it, Gloucestershire Wassail.
26 Use four-letter word: the “corn” in Cornwall? (5)
SWEAR – SW (south-west, like Cornwall), EAR (corn).
27 What French article’s appearing in press in another language? (9)
IROQUOIAN – QUOI (French for what) A (article of the grammatical kind), in IRON (press). It was a struggle to put this one together, especially since I wasn’t sure how to spell IROQUOIS!
28 Locals keen to include Japanese school after Italian one (9)
CITIZENRY – CRY (keen), to include IT (Italian), I (one), and ZEN (Japanese school).
29 What TT competitors get back, or relinquish (5)
DEMIT – TIMED backwards. Another Times-y word, DEMIT.

Down
1 Lousily made up old queen comes in talking to himself? (9)
SOLILOQUY – O (old) and Q (queen) in (LOUSILY*), ‘made up’.
2 Starter in restaurant? So be it! (5)
RAMEN – R (starter in Restaurant), AMEN. The first three words of the clue are both definition and wordplay.
3 Scandal, reportedly successfully endured, that’s not surfaced (4,4)
DIRT ROAD – DIRT (scandal), then ROAD sounds like RODE, ‘reportedly’.
4 Frame you need when lifting belt up (4)
SASH – SA is AS (when) ‘lifting up’, then SH (belt up!).
5 Chance to display grass snake without looking up (4,6)
SHOP WINDOW – SHOP (grass), WIND (snake), W/O (without) backwards (‘looking up’).
6 Inclined to dress boy in uniform, large (6)
UPHILL – PHIL (today’s random boy), between U (uniform) and L (large).
7 Something from the sewer closed thoroughfare going through field (9)
TOPSTITCH – TO (closed, as in ‘push the door to’), then ST in PITCH. I didn’t know what a top stitch is, but I gather it’s both decorative and functional. The wordplay is clear once you unravel it.
8 Some time’s needed to raise river god (5)
HORUS – HOURS with R for river moved up a place. An Egyptian god.
13 Love intranet to be resigned, with business finally booming (10)
STENTORIAN – (O INTRANET S*), ‘resigned’. (Resigned seems a stretch as an anagram indicator, BTW. Perhaps it was intended to be ‘redesigned’?). The O is for love, the S is the last letter of ‘businesS’.
15 Stag party with Adam, Job etc, at time share (9)
ALLOTMENT – a stag party is of course ALL MEN. These specific people are from the OT (Old Testament), and stand on T for time.
17 Do new plot for film about end of civilised world (3,6)
RED PLANET – REPLAN (do new plot), and ET (film), around D from [-civilise]D.
18 Chart successes by Yard to find killers (3,5)
HIT SQUAD – HITS (chart successes), QUAD (square).
21 Wine producer, his ground not quite level (6)
SHIRAZ – (HIS*), ‘ground’, then RAZ[-e] being to level.
22 I total up, roughly, the score? (5)
MUSIC – I SUM, upwards, then C (roughly).
24 Saw American chopper land in Irish Sea (5)
AXIOM – AX (American spelling of ‘axe’), IOM (Isle of Man).
25 Small hopper full of cracks, except for the centre (4)
JOEY – JO[-k]EY.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4893, 8 III 2020, by Robert Price — Literally amazing

Bob was in great form with this outing, giving us no less than three well-crafted &lits (some puzzles don’t even give us a slightly clumsy one), and some diabolically devious cluing (21 and 2D stand out). Starting with 9, I was off to a flying start, solving several without checkers. Two of the most biffable were also the hardest to parse, which can also be fun. I didn’t know the expression at 23, and 4D may be a bit obscure. Overall, though, I didn’t think this was very hard, though, as always when working these, I wasn’t watching the clock.

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

ACROSS
 1 Chippy’s board left off fish (4)
CARP — CARP[-enter, “board”] ”Chippy” is one of the constantly increasing number of slang terms that I’ve learned by working these things, and whose sole utility to me has been to enable me to more quickly nail things down here.
 4 Where, finally, to join wild cat safari (4,6)
EAST AFRICA — [-wher]E + (cat safari)* An &lit, with what might be considered an unflagged definition by example (since you might do other things in East Africa, which is also not the only place you might find such an excursion), which Pete Biddlecombe has been considering allowing… The definition does not require “finally,” but I’m in a good mood (defying all circumstances) and am not going to complain.
 9 Trifles, possibly about love? (5,8)
SWEET NOTHINGS — Another &lit, which I thought at first was just a somewhat transparent CD, until I remembered that a “trifle” is a British dessert (which sounds slightly disgusting), so here we have SWEET(NOTHING)S. ”Possibly,” indicating that ”Trifles” defines SWEETS by example, is not necessary to the definition, unless SWEET NOTHINGS can be about anything else… But maybe they can; it’s just a figure of speech!
10 Make attractive finish to a queen’s clothing (6)
ENDEAR — END, “finish” + E(A)R
11 Clubs and pubs adopting a bright red colour (8)
CINNABAR — C(lubs) + INN (A) BAR
12 Cards holding an art patron’s old records (8)
ACETATES — ACE(TATE)S
14 Chain, one that’s six feet, keeping large mammals back (6)
ANKLET — AN(ELK<=”back”)T
15 Couples decided wearing uniform is retrograde (6)
UNITES — SET IN U<=“retrograde”
17 Noble site bombed first (8)
EARLIEST — EARL, “Noble” + (site)*
19 Part of a cathedral made over to relics (8)
CLOISTER — (to relics)*
21 Desperate rebel in southern desert (6)
URGENT — [-ins]URGENT My Last One Parsed!
23 Counteract pressure: go by rail, saving seconds (4,3,6)
TAKE THE STRAIN — TAKE THE (S[-econds]) TRAIN The S train in Manhattan is the Times Square shuttle, which runs under 42nd Street between just two stations, Times Square and Grand Central, “about 2,402 feet (732 m) in 90 seconds” (Wikipedia). From Times Square, you can “Take the ‘A’ Train”—on which Duke Ellington (or Billy Strayhorn) would have headed uptown, as it’s “the quickest way to Harlem.”
24 Broken nose bandaged by top medic (10)
BONESETTER — I hope you have good insurance! BETTER, “top” wrapping (nose)*
25 Cheese turned out on the counter (4)
EDAM — MADE<=”turned” There was only one possible answer, though the parsing was elusive. But if your cocktail has been concocted by the mixologist, you will find it “out on the counter,” no? I confess to spending some time pondering and even investigating whether there was an idiom involving “counter” that was relevant here. EDIT: ”Turned out” or MADE<=“on the counter”—cunning reversal indicator! Thanks to Gilems! (I'm going back to sleep now…)

DOWN
 2 One being short of training is a firing offence (5)
ARSON — A [-pe]RSON, “One,” sans P(hysical) E(ducation)… Sudden panic as I wrote the blog, as I couldn’t remember how I parsed this last Sunday (as I surely must have). I even “called a friend” (emailed Keriothe, though it was rather late in London at the time), but, as almost always happens right after I admit defeat, I saw the answer five minutes later. As most of us probably did, I thought of PE right away for “training,” so it was just a matter of knowing where to put it.
 3 Feel aggrieved that map ultimately leads here (7)
PRESENT — [-ma]P + RESENT
 4 One charging setter in criminal complaint (9)
ENTERITIS — I, “one” inside (“charging”) (setter in)*
 5 Cakes filled with a hundred wicked things seen here (7)
SCONCES — SCON(C)ES, things with wicks
 6 Pale nut found under tree (5)
ASHEN — ASH, “tree” + EN, a space-occupying slug from the distant days preceding my own time as a typographical professional
 7 Rifle fire by a parting force (7)
RANSACK — R(A)N, A inside R(oyal) N(avy), "force" + SACK, “fire”
 8 Pairs sometimes used to click while dancing (9)
CASTANETS — CD
13 He painted lines without a permit (9)
CANALETTO — Banksy? CAN(A)(LET)TO I remember him for his depictions of (as his name would seem to wink to) Venice, but he did other cities too!
14 Mimed playing song? It’s caught by screen, briefly (3,6)
AIR GUITAR — AIR, “song” + GU(IT)AR[-d] ”Mimed playing” is a noun here.
16 Fool left before the end of Satie’s slow movement (7)
TRICKLE — What an idiot, that’s the best part! TRICK, “Fool” + L + [-Sati]E
17 Serious art making money? (7)
EARNEST — Doest thou make a good living?
18 One Regan typifies, primarily, in play (7)
INGRATE — Yet another &lit, and “primarily” can certainly be deemed part, if not a necessary one, of the definition, as the answer is a most salient trait of this particular daughter of Lear.
20 Course support needed by tense university student (5)
TUTEE — T(ense) + U(niversity) + TEE, “support”; Collins gives T as an abbreviation for “tense,” though it is not as common as U for “university.”
22 Killer allergen in jam sandwiches (5)
NINJA — Hidden