April 9th, 2020

Linus van Pelt

27634 Thursday, 9 April 2020 Uncle Bulgaria Remembers

Cop and robbers turn up in equal measure in this puzzle, and there’s also a barrister in attendance and a former criminal keeping us company. I rather breezed through this after a shaky start, with a minor panic setting in after the first few clues seemed opaque. As it turns out, they weren’t really, and I settled into a more confident pace which lasted right until the last clue.
There’s an alcoholic beverage making its second appearance in as many days, though I think today’s version was the rather easier one.
It shoudld be noted that there is considerable economy of cluing today, with almost half the offerings being of 5 words or less. Commendable restarint in a setter, if not necessarily matched by your blogger du jour. Sorry!
I’ve provided my considered reflections on the proceedings, with clues in italics, definitions therein also underlined, and solutions in BOLD.

1 Man in play catching female criminal (10)
MALEFACTOR The first of two criminals, this one formed by man in play: MALE ACTOR catching F(emale)
6 Gathering, following complaint (4)
BEEF Once I discovered that the F(ollowing) came at the end of the word, I sussed where the definition was and stuck BEE for gathering, such as for sewing, in front of the F
10 See in lodge retired contestant (5)
RIVAL V is one of the possibilities for “see”, from the Latin vide. Take the lodge to be LAIR, “retire” it, and lodge the V in the centre
11 Going straight on for motorway in middle of night (9)
REFORMING It’s that “straight on” bit that throws the unwary solver, but you need on to provide the RE, FOR in plain sight, M(otorway), IN in plain sight, and the middle of niGht. Going Straight was the BBC’s vehicle for Ronnie Barker as the immor(t)al  Norman Stanley Fletcher when released from Porridge. Not that you need to know that to solve the clue.
12 Film barrister in French bar (5,9)
BRIEF ENCOUNTER Cue Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 2 as Laura meets Alec, falls wildly in love without ever, you know, actually, um, doing it. For our purpose, the barrister is a BRIEF, French in is EN, and bar is COUNTER. For Glenda Jackson and George Segal in “A Touch of Class”, watching Brief Encounter signals the realisation that their just-for-sex relationship is getting more complicated. You don’t need to know that either, but I thought I’d throw it in.
14 Clothes: a paper reviewed line (7)
APPAREL Our first anagram (“reviewed”) of A PAPER and L(ine)
15 End of year hold-up involved seasonal visitor? (7)
RUDOLPH And immediately our second (“involved”) of end of yeaR plus HOLD-UP
17 Section of government — it leaked name (7)
ENTITLE Today’s hidden, signalled by “section”: governmENT IT Leaked
19 Quite upset the Parisian spirit (7)
TEQUILA No anagrams for ages then three come along almost at once. This one (“upset”) of QUITE plus the lady version of “the” in Parisian (French)
20 At the back of this newspaper, out of date (6,3,5)
BEHIND THE TIMES One for the Womble fans, a sort of double definition, the first more prosaic
23 Tyrant not quite accepting challenge over reckless criminal (9)
DESPERADO The tyrant is a DESPOT (though here minus his T) and the “accepted” challenge is DARE, which being “over” is reversed. Our second criminal
24 Burrowing creature — assess length (5)
RATEL Or honey badger, though it’s not at all a badger. Assess: RATE plus L(ength)
25 Want work on radio (4)
NEED If you heard need on the radio, only context would tell you whether it was need, knead (to work dough) or, come to that kneed.
26 Generally lighter across outskirts of Yeovil? (2,3,5)
BY AND LARGE What are the outskirts of Yeovil? Why, Y AND L. Now find a lighter, realise it’s a BARGE, and conflate

1 Further fabric I rejected (4)
MORE So the fabric would be MOIRE, the I then being rejected
2 Be on river and notice skin blemish (5,4)
LIVER SPOT Be: LIVE, on R(iver) plus notice: SPOT
3 Deceptive behaviour of bogus prelates breaking barriers (5,9)
FALSE PRETENCES I’ve only now worked out the wordplay here, thinking bogus supplied the FALSE and the rest could, well, be worked out later. But bogus is an anagram indicator, of PRELATES, which when suitably jumbled is/are breaking into FENCES, or barriers.
4 Zero service inside small room in US university (7)
CORNELL An Ivy League University in NY state, currently diverting itself to combating Covid-19 while more conventional Uni activity is off. In the clue, zero gives the 0/O, the service is the R(oyal) N(avy), and the small room that contains them is a CELL
5 Policeman in charge on board tender (7)
OFFICER Our first of two policemen, formed from I(n) C(harge) carried by tender: OFFER
7 Clubs in correct order (5)
EDICT C(lubs) (the cards) place inside EDIT for correct
8 Reckon fellow, a duke, is a leader in name only (10)
FIGUREHEAD So it’s reckon: FIGURE, plus fellow: HE, plus a: A, plus D(uke)
9 Rodent in field seen by gent circling right then left (6,8)
GROUND SQUIRREL Such as the chipmunk. The field is a GROUND, the gent is a SQUIRE, which “circles” R(ight). L(eft) then follows the assembly.
13 Book a quiet room, again in foreign town (5-5)
BADEN-BADEN I suppose a DEN is a quiet room, here tagged onto B(ook) plus A, the whole assembly repeated
16 Tudor queen's favourite city? (9)
LEICESTER Elizabeth 1 is the Tudor queen who was chummy with Robert Dudley, latterly Earl of Leicester, throughout most of his life, though more Brief Encounter than A Touch of Class. The clue’s a double definition.
18 Form of English inlet (7)
ESTUARY …English is as she is spoke in the Thames estuary area and in quite a lot of the UK. An estuary is an inlet of the sea, innit.
19 Fix match? Sad (3,4)
TIE DOWN Match is TIE, and sad: DOWN
21 Rush hour measure, no parking round area (5)
HASTE Hour supplies its H, measure provides STEP, but without the P(arking). Insert the A(rea)
22 Moody policeman (4)
BLUE Is moody blue? I suppose so. But is a policeman (a) blue? I mean, yes if he has bottle tagged on, and he is one of the boys in blue. I hesitated for a while before putting this, my last in.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1588 by Hurley

A straightforward-enough puzzle, completed a couple of minutes under target. I was slow to see 1ac, for no good reason, and needed all the checkers for 8ac and several checkers for 10ac, but the rest was fairly 7d, so many thanks to Hurley! 

1 They help you see clean contests, for a change (7,6)
CONTACT LENSES - anagram (for a change) of CLEAN CONTESTS
8 One stocktaking? (7)
RUSTLER - cryptic definition, as in one stealing livestock, with the surface implying a shopkeeper.
9 Musical instrument prohibition by judge, old (5)
BANJO - BAN (prohibition) by J(udge) O(ld)
10 Extremely simple, unvarying, way to produce TV programme (6,6)
SESAME STREET - SE ("extreme" letters of SimplE) SAME (unvarying) STREET (way)
12 Possibly painting European railway route (6)
ARTERY - ART (possibly painting) E(uropean) RY (railway)
14 Sir Isaac’s novel tone curtailed (6)
NEWTON - NEW (novel) TON (TONe, curtailed)
17 Church girl’s sacred vessel (7)
CHALICE - CH(urch) ALICE (girl)
19 Celebrates founder of communism, we hear (5)
MARKS - "we hear" the same as MARX (founder of communism)
20 Hospital thanks gift provider (5)
SANTA - SAN (sanatorium/hospital) TA (thanks)
21 Offence by Charlie before becoming genuine (7)
SINCERE - SIN (offence) by C (Charlie in phonetic alphabet) ERE (before)
22 Excitement as American writers visit southeast (8)
SUSPENSE -  US (American) PENS (writers) visit SE (southeast)
23 Section of most attractive figure (4)
STAT - "section of" moST ATtractive
1 Cereal company supported by sailors (4)
CORN - CO. (company) supported by RN (Royal Navy/sailors)
2 Won seat unexpectedly? You’re welcome! (2,5)
NO SWEAT - anagram (unexpectedly) of WON SEAT
3 Initially athlete looks lively on arrival in Scottish town (5)
ALLOA - "Initially" Athlete Looks Lively On Arrival
4 Flop in the country (6)
TURKEY - double definition
5 Resentful state of English male had effect over period on hospital department (12)
EMBITTERMENT - E(nglish) M(ale) BIT (had effect) over TERM (period)
6 Faculty notice about new Society (5)
SENSE - SEE (notice) about N(ew) S(ociety)
7 Road tests, when arranged, agreeably brief (5,3,5)
SHORT AND SWEET - anagram (when arranged) of ROAD TESTS
11 200 like us saving gold in mountainous region (8)
CAUCASUS - CC (200 in Roman numerals) AS (like) US saving Au (gold). Given its origin, there's a strong argument for abandoning the racial term "Caucasian". You don't see it very much any more, so I guess it is being abandoned.
13 Surrey town: agree it’s evolving (7)
REIGATE - anagram (is evolving) of AGREE IT
15 Downpour: worry, missing outsiders, in shelter (7)
TORRENT - ORR (wORRy, missing "outsiders") in TENT (shelter)
16 Against observers using houses (6)
VERSUS - "housed" in the letters of obserVERS USing
18 Long periods entertaining Northern girl (5)
AGNES - AGES (long periods) entertains N(orthern)

Times 27,635: Be Careful What You Wish For

Well, fair do's, I can't really claim this was anything other than a Friday puzzle, despite the attempted misdirection in 1ac. TRANCHET crossing with CASSIMERE crossing with TWITE though? These are the kind of shenanigans we expect to see in the CMS, not so much in the normal 15x15, and I wonder if a few solvers won't have thrown in the towel rather than deal with this 22ac of obscurities.

The funny thing about this "hard puzzle" is that the cluing itself is actually rather straight-down-the-line, nothing particularly fancy to report beyond the hard vocab. In fact my favourite clues turned out to be some of the least hippopotomonstrovocabularian: the splendid anagram at 26ac, the very good specimen of the hidden genre at 17ac, and I'll give COD to 23dn for its neat construction. Thanks to the setter for leaving me quite literally out on a LIMB for longer than the quarter hour I'm comfortable a puzzle taking me. Consider "uncle" well and truly cried!

1 Mainly leading role around Thursday (3,3,4,4)

9 Praise cast for acquiring favourite snack (9)
APPETISER - (PRAISE*) "acquiring" PET

10 Best expose cheat (5)
OUTDO - OUT DO [expose | cheat]

11 American sectarians hard on English novelist (5)
AMISH - H on AMIS (Kingsley or Martin)

12 “Great goal” is all you’ll hear a girl raving (4,5)
HOLY GRAIL - homophone of WHOLLY + (A GIRL*)

13 Theft regularly involving farm tool yonks ago (8)
TRANCHET - T{h}E{f}T "involving" RANCH [farm].
A tranchet is a neolithic or mesolithic flint with a chisel-like end, or possibly "a shoemaker's paring knife", but that would be less yonks ago.

15 Killer's headless chickens? (6)
LAYERS - {s}LAYER'S "headless". LOI: spent way too long wondering if there might have been a murderous individual called RAVENS at any point.

17 US city making contribution to help a soldier (2,4)
EL PASO - hidden in {h}ELP A SO{ldier}

19 Cheat finally producing nothing for drug supplier? (8)
FOXGLOVE - FOX {producin}G LOVE. A foxglove is the source of the drug digitalis.

22 Note glut concerning children (9)
OVERISSUE - OVER ISSUE [concerning | children]. If a bank has overissued currency, this would constitute a note glut.

23 Mount collage, initially with border (5)
CLIMB - C{ollage} + LIMB. I put this in straight away then took it out because I thought "border" was LIMN not LIMB. But apparently a "limb" can be the border of e.g. the sun or a sextant. Who, he asked somewhat rhetorically, knew?

24 Fool European singer (5)
TWITE - TWIT + E. The twite is a mountain linnet, I discovered.

25 Opera's wordplay about girl in islands (1,8)
I PURITANI - PUN about RITA in I and I. A work by Bellini, which I'm pretty sure has come up at least once before.

26 Peers interfere improperly in economic system (4,10)

1 Flip gospeller almost into the sea by public hotel (4,2,3,5)
FOAM AT THE MOUTH - MATTHE{W} "into" FOAM [the sea] by OUT H

2 Copy page in souvenir article (7)

3 Strike central heating snag (5)

4 Mike leads playful disruption (8)

5 Keen husband dipped into small brook (6)
SHRILL - H "dipped" into S RILL

6 Capital that is accepted by both sides in promoting Chinese principle (9)
PYONGYANG - YON [that] "is accepted" by P{romotin}G + YANG [Chinese (male) principle]

7 Scramble to get on with artist above suspicion (3,4)

8 Duty of the superior toff, being above inferior English press (8,6)

14 Wrapping a card, crease fancy cloth (9)
CASSIMERE - (CREASE*) "wrapping" SIM [a Subscriber Identity Module card for your phone]

16 Certainly true, cunningly hiding medals (2,2,4)
TO BE SURE - (TRUE*) "hiding" O.B.E.S

18 Voyeur embracing this setter over cardinal (7)
PREMIER - PRIER "embracing" reversed ME

20 In which paperwork is sorted by folders (7)
ORIGAMI - cryptic def, folders as in "people folding"

21 Legendary figure, very large one, in hospital (6)
OSSIAN - OS [very large] + I in SAN

23 Perhaps lag behind on jeep, arriving at bend (5)
CRIMP - CRIM [perhaps lag, as in felon] + {jee}P