May 2nd, 2020

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27648 - Saturday, 25 April 2020. Happiness is a crossword.

This was a delightful exercise. The most notable feature was how often I saw a probable answer, but hesitated to write it in because I couldn’t see why … in most cases to eventually smile in delight when the penny dropped. The clues covered a lot of ground and many were original in construction. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. My time wasn’t fast, but it was enjoyably spent. Thanks to the setter for a very 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 Grounds for learning about member joining our side (6)
CAMPUS – CA (about), MP (member), US (our side).
5 Girl meeting Bond’s controller (8)
JOYSTICK – JOY | STICK. No, nothing to do with James of that name.
9 Quiet Spanish girl penning chapter in French viewing aid (5-3)
PINCE-NEZ – P (quiet), INEZ (Spanish girl) ‘penning’ C (chapter) and EN (in, in French) to give PIN(CEN)EZ.
10 Down, maybe, “early”? (6)
COUNTY – Down is the Irish county, of course. So, the first two words of the clue are a definition by example. The third word is a pun about the relative aristocratic qualities of counts (‘count-y’) and earls (‘earl-y’). I liked it!
11 Briefs a few of our best friends? (6)
BOXERS – a jocular double definition, referring to dogs as man’s best friends.
12 Gain somehow with toil? It provides no relief (8)
INTAGLIO – anagram (‘somehow’: GAIN TOIL*). Intaglio is sunken, as opposed to raised or in relief.
14 Nonstop events, including jolly, are enough for everyone (5-2-5)
MERRY-GO-ROUND – MERRY (jolly), GO ROUND (enough for all).
17 Astounding origami display? Or preparation for it? (12)
BLINDFOLDING – hmm. I’m not sure about this one. If ‘blind’ can mean ‘astounding’, then this is saying ‘amazing display; amazing that a blind person could make it’. That would all make sense, except that I can’t find ASTOUNDING=BLIND in the usual dictionaries. However, a BLINDER is an outstanding performance, and BLIND DRUNK is absolutely drunk. Perhaps that is near enough?
20 Miss chance? (4,4)
LADY LUCK – very cute cryptic definition. Let’s hear it from the chairman of the board: Luck, be a lady tonight!
22 Series from Dvorak centenary retrospective that runs in Germany (6)
NECKAR – ‘retrospective’ answer, hidden in ‘Dvorak centenary’. It’s a German river.
23 Part of engine’s tender carrying dope (3,3)
BIG END – BID carrying GEN.
25 Transformation of brand complete (8)
MAKEOVER – MAKE (brand), OVER (complete).
26 Crimson wrapping paper is essential (8)
REQUIRED – QUIRE of paper in RED.
27 Absentee who’d booked fare, returning without (2-4)
NO-SHOW – NOSH, W/O ‘returning’.

Down
2 I shift endlessly after seeing that writer (6)
ASIMOV – I MOV[e] after AS (seeing that).
3 I must stop little brother getting his regular reward? (6,5)
POCKET MONEY – ONE (I) ‘stopping’ POCKET (little) + MY (brother! as an exclamation).
4 Singular fairness transformed face (4,5)
SANS SERIF – anagram (‘transformed’: S FAIRNESS*), where S is for ‘singular’. The definition is of a type face.
5 Bird circling tailless female, soaring with ostentation (7)
JAZZILY – JAY ‘circling’ LIZZ[Y], ‘soaring’ (i.e. backwards, in this down clue).
6 Sail made from unknown German’s two pairs of braces (5)
YACHT – Y is the unknown. ‘Acht’ is German for 8 = 2 (two) x 2 (pairs) x 2 (braces)!
7 Tense mostly that’s familiar to students of Greek (3)
TAU – TAU[t] = tense. My first thought was PAS[t], as in ‘past tense’, but that led nowhere!
8 Dippy Croatian girl (8)
CATRIONA – anagram (‘dippy’: CROATIAN*). An unusual anagram indicator!
13 Stuff put out about European award (6,5)
GEORGE CROSS – GORGE | CROSS = ‘stuff’ | ‘put out’. Insert E for European.
15 Tears appearing when this paper is cut? (9)
ONIONSKIN – a humorous cryptic definition.
16 What can inconvenience slightly when cutting up sticks (4,4)
FLEA BITEhmm, again. A biologist would say fleas and ticks are different things, but the only suggestion I have is that TICK (almost a flea) is ‘bitten by’ STICKS. Any better ideas? On edit: JerryWh has explained. It's A BIT (slightly) in FLEE (up sticks). Thanks!
18 Dig barrier up furiously (4,3)
LIKE MAD – LIKE (dig), MAD=DAM (barrier) up.
19 Start practising regularly: need couple to lose weight (4,2)
TAKE TO – it would TAKE TWO to tango. Lose W for weight. On edit: it seems from various comments that I didn't explain this well. It's simply TAKE=need, TWO=couple. Delete W=weight. The definition is as in, "they took to playing golf/gardening/collecting stamps" or whatever.
21 Steer with this? Not right! (5)
UDDER – steer with a RUDDER, but a steer doesn’t have an [r]UDDER, right!?
24 Grounded winger regularly missed team bus (3)
EMU – every second letter of team bus.