April 18th, 2020

Times Cryptic Jumbo No 1432 - 4th April

I found this a bit of a curate's egg. I was all but done in 30 minutes, but then took ages over my last 6 or so clues. The downs were definitely easier - I managed the first 9 if them on the trot. Some nice clues, such as 15A, my COD, 52A, 29D and 35D. But there are more then the usual number of unknowns for me; not least my LOI - a foreign phrase I didn't know and had to look up, although I bet Verlaine does. I also needed an alphabet trawl to get the composer at 20D. What held me up most, though, is, I think, a misprint at 56A [Edit: I meant 50A, of course. Thanks Jerry for pointing out I had typo in my reference to the typo]. I also had a couple of other MERs at some odd surfaces. Never mind. It was mostly fun. Thank-you setter.  How did the rest of you get on?

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  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27636 - Saturday, 11 April 2020. Worshippers of obscure gods.

This puzzle felt somewhat harder than the average Saturday puzzle, with a special mention for obscure vocabulary and neologisms.

I didn’t know 1ac, although the meaning is clear, nor 9ac or 13ac, and I felt a sense of déjà vu about 1dn – I’m pretty sure it’s come up previously, and I didn’t know it then either. As for the godliness of 14ac, my response is: get thee to the Mephisto – go!

Otherwise, a good and fair workout for Easter Saturday. FOI 24dn, LOI 18ac with the necessary correction to 8dn as explained below. Favourite, 8dn for me. Thanks to the setter for an enjoyable puzzle.

Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].
Across
1 Second British auto company backed unknown form of government (9)
MOBOCRACY – MO | B | CAR CO, written backwards | Y. That comes from: second | British | auto company | unknown.
6 Obscure book — and what might sell it (5)
BLURB – BLUR | B.
9 Hebridean isle has little time for magistrate (5)
JURAT – JURA | T = isle | time. I didn’t know either Jura (an island in the Inner Hebrides), or jurats (who Wikipedia says are lay people in Guernsey and Jersey who act as judges of fact rather than law, though they preside over land conveyances and liquor licensing).
10 Royals are working the whole calendar (5,4)
SOLAR YEAR – anagram (‘working’: ROYALS ARE*).
11 Caribou bit him — son left writhing in part of Canada (7,8)
BRITISH COLUMBIA – anagram (‘writhing’: CARIBOU BIT HIM S L*).
13 What may protect legs in ballet leap without a catcher (8)
JEANETTE – JETÉ outside (‘without’) A NET. It’s a fabric.
14 Devotion to god and king — habit’s developed about that (6)
BHAKTI – anagram (‘developed’: HABIT*) about K. BHAKTI looked marginally more plausible than THAKBI, so I went with that. No doubt some enjoy these obscure words, but my overall reaction to cluing it as an anagram is Bah! Humbug!
16 Second cloth for baby, quick (6)
SNAPPY – S | NAPPY.
18 Fast uncovered members’ odd ways (5,3)
EMBER DAY – discard the first and last letters from mEMBERs oDd wAYs. I made this harder by guessing ‘barbarism’ at 8dn, but when I eventually saw how this clue worked, I was finally able to correct that. I didn’t know of ember days.
21 Severe corrective instruments keeping tots from wine (5,5,5)
SHORT SHARP SHOCK – HARPS keeping SHORTS from HOCK.
23 Naughty child, bad-mannered not heartlessly reckless (9)
IMPRUDENT – IMP | RUDE | N{o}T.
25 Antelope US university nearly introduced to North America (5)
NYALA – YAL{e} introduced to N.A.
26 Vessel taking girl a kilometre (5)
KAYAK – KAY | A | K.
27 Bird concealing fresh egg in wall? (9)
STONEWORK – NEW O (egg) in STORK.

Down
1 100 head of Jerseys in herd — giver of a modest income (5)
MCJOB – C (100) J{ersey} in MOB. Not a word in use in my parts.
2 Biafran souk constructed somewhere in West Africa (7,4)
BURKINA FASO – anagram (‘constructed’: BIAFRAN SOUK*). And a very clever anagram, too.
3 Oddly crafty Liberal US president similar to Garfield, perhaps (7)
CATLIKE – C-A-T are the odd letters of ‘crafty’, L for Liberal, IKE for US President Eisenhower. If the setter hoped we would think of James Garfield (also a US President), I suspect those days are gone. I for one immediately thought of Garfield the cat.
4 Scoffed about established male art lover? (8)
AESTHETE – EST. and HE in ATE.
5 Cowardly to express sudden pain? (6)
YELLOW – YELL … OW!
6 Branch opened up by men in part of London (7)
BOROUGH – OR in BOUGH.
7 Benefit of American English (3)
USE – U.S., E.
8 Savagery’s the thing in part of North Africa (9)
BARBARITY – IT (the thing) in BARBARY. I originally bashed in BARBARISM without thinking, or justification. 18ac eventually set me right.
12 Kept too bad a cooked snack (5,6)
BAKED POTATO – anagram (‘cooked’: KEPT TOO BAD A*).
13 What may fumigate small parasite after girl’s sulphur (4,5)
JOSS STICK – JO’S | S | S | TICK = girl’s | sulphur | small | parasite. I was aware that joss sticks exist, but had no idea what they are.
15 Drink to be declined for first two persons, not drinking round (8)
AMARETTO – AM | ARE | TT |  O. AM, ARE (the verb ‘to be’, in its first and second person forms), TT (teetotal, or ‘not drinking’), O (round). The Aussies amongst us can now burst into a rousing chorus of: I am, you are, we are Australian!
17 What comes of books breaking spine? (3,4)
POT LUCK – OT breaking PLUCK.
19 Character of German city church (7)
ESSENCE – ESSEN | C.E.
20 Wife leans over car (6)
WHEELS – W | HEELS.
22 Bent German sausage? Not half (5)
KNACK – KNACKwurst, ya? Our readers have a bent for crosswords.
24 Odd characters in party are very intrusive (3)
PRY – from PaRtY.