May 7th, 2020

Linus van Pelt

27658 Thursday, 7 May 2020 "Two households, both alike in dignity"

I found this a cheerful enough number, with intelligent and witty clues and nothing I could see that was obscure. My last two in, the mostly harmless crossing pair at 3d and 14a took my time to 2 seconds short of 17 minutes. At the time of writing, that’s a bit outside the average. I only sorted out the wordplay for 8d after submitting (it’s not hard) but I took care with everything else because I am a dutiful and conscientious contributor.
I trust lockdown is not proving too onerous: I’ve rather enjoyed binge watching Game of Thrones (which I had avoided before) and working my way backwards through Listener crosswords, valiantly trying to avoid looking up the synopses of the former and (when I get stuck) the solutions of the latter. Mostly I succeed, and today got to the last episode of GoT without knowing what was going to happen, though not much of it was a surprise.
On to my analysis, clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS marked.
[(click to open)]

1 House found touring Uzbek capital (6)
STUART The royal house, that is. Found: START, and U the capital of Uzbek (no “Where is Kazakhstan?” knowledge needed). (Either Tashkent or the Som, to save you looking them up).
5 Like rock formed from lava that’s cooled (as in cold) (8)
BASALTIC One of the longest definitions you’ll see. And in the brackets, one of the shortest bits of wordplay. BALTIC, as well as being the sea or the collection of states, is (informally and without the capital) “extremely cold”. Insert AS
9 Passionate, well-built chaps kept in check (8)
VEHEMENT Well built chaps are HE-MEN, with or without the power of Greyskull. Put in check, in this case VET
10 I'm disgusted by backtracking individual — it's all I can take! (6)
ENOUGH UGH for a representation of “I’m disgusted”, following an individual ONE reversed (backtracking)
11 Taken aboard ship, Neapolitan food for horse (10)
LIPIZZANER Trust the wordplay for the spelling of the Spanish/Austrian horses. PIZZA from Napoli, (actually the birthplace of the modern version) on board a LINER
13 Table: first of furniture items lost (4)
EATS I presume the furniture items are SEATS, from which the first (letter) is deleted.
14 Little personal responsibility (4)
BABY My last in, and a bit of a struggle. Reminiscent of pigeon a fortnight ago. Chambers has “one's pet project, invention, machine, etc; one's own responsibility”. Babies are (undeniably) little, but there is also the notion of, for example, a baby grand piano.
15 Shame about poles attached to cord being bent (10)
PROPENSITY Shame is PITY, the cord is ROPE, and poles N and S. Assemble.
18 Astonished, when teeth knocked out? (10)
GOBSMACKED Two versions, one the colloquialism, the other taking a more literal approach
20 Unexciting European, dull revolutionary (4)
TAME E(uropean) and MAT for dull, in revolutionary presentation.
21 Agreement stuffed, by the sound of it? (4)
PACT Sounds an awful lot like PACKED
23 Lock securing object in style (10)
TRENDINESS You need the TRESS from lock, the END from object, and IN as itself. Assemble.
25 Man is struggling to accept one — like himself? (6)
SIMIAN Our first anagram (struggling) du jour. MAN IS plus I from one. &lit-ish
26 Converted cabin behind pub in tower (8)
BARBICAN …and straightway our second, at least in part. CABIN’s letters “converted” after BAR for pub
28 How grass cutter's cut line of bushes (8)
HEDGEROW A grass cutter might be an EDGER, place it in HOW (in plain sight)
29 After publication, clear drawer (6)
MAGNET The publication a MAG, and clear NET, often with an extra T

2 Kid at home playing opera (3,6)
THE MIKADO An anagram (playing) of KID AT HOME. My grandfather used to enjoy singing "On a tree by a river", because it gave him licence to use the word tit, repeatedly and with emphasis, without being ticked off.
3 Useful thing bringing up branch stuck in a well (7)
AMENITY I think this is TINE, which I think of as the pointy bit on a fork, but is also a branch of an antler, surrounded by [on edit: A and] MY(!) as a representation of well(!)
4 Digit so extreme, ultimately? (3)
TOE A cheeky little &lit, the last letters of digiT sO extremE
5 Stick no label upside down (5)
BATON NO in plain sight TAB for label, joined and tipped over
6 Led, having heard a shot in race (11)
SPEARHEADED An anagram (shot) of HEARD A in SPEED for race
7 Prowler in deli, one's shoplifting (7)
LIONESS Today’s rather decent hidden, deLI ONE’S Shoplifting
8 Roof blown off house, ending in different block (5)
INGOT This time, the house is BINGO, house being an older (?) term for legalised theft the game beloved of millions. Remove its "roof" first letter, and add T from the end of differenT
12 Nothing quicker around ultimately than crane fly? (3,8)
ZIP FASTENER ZIP one of the many synonyms for nothing, FASTER for quicker, and the last letters of thaN and cranE inserted
16 Attention-seeker beginning to kick lout (3)
OIK OI being the attention seeker, K being the beginning to Kick.
17 Property agreement invalid as I'm three! (9)
TIMESHARE A straightforward anagram (invalid) of AS I’M THREE. Amusing
19 Cruciverbalist's job getting harder (7)
SETTING Two definitions, the first undeniably in house
20 Beating champion of the century? (7)
TONKING My favourite clue. In cricket (and in other sports) a century is a TON, so the soi-disant champion would be the TON KING
22 Quick, a stay (5)
ALIVE BCP “ He will come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead”. Wordplay the terse A plus LIVE for stay as in I live/stay here
24 Pound invested in misery served up in joint (5)
ELBOW Pound here is the full LB, in WOE for misery “served up”
27 Edge: border of hat, not cap (3)
RIM the border of a hat is a BRIM, remove the “capital” first letter

Times Quick Cryptic No 1608 by Trelawney

Very enjoyable puzzle today, pitched towards the easier end, which Trelawney has been tending to do on about a monthly basis since first setting all the way back in those joyous, carefree, touchy-feely days of August last year. Jackkt gave a good welcome and some info about the name at the time, if you missed it. A number of nice surfaces - my favourites being 9ac, 5d, 6d and 11d - made for a very pleasant 7 minute solve, so many thanks to Trelawney!

1 Roman god: he's cruel, unfortunately (8)
HERCULES - anagram (unfortunately) of HES CRUEL. The Roman equivalent of Heracles.
6 Leave car electrician has failed to start (4)
PARK - SPARK (electrician) "has failed to start".
8 Retain possession of stronghold (4)
KEEP - double definition.
9 Seating broken by second very large lady (8)
GIANTESS - anagram (broken) of SEATING, by/beside S(econd). My LOI.
10 Psychological strategy: look out for wild animals (4,4)
MIND GAME - MIND (look out for) GAME (wild animals)
12 Colour of metal tiger's head (4)
TINT - TIN (metal) T (Tiger's "head")
13 Rodent disease contained by artificial intelligence (6)
AGOUTI - GOUT (disease) contained by AI (artificial intelligence). From Central America, and sizable, weighing up to a stone.
15 Consequences of one initially minor agreement (6)
IMPACT - I (one) M ("initially" Minor) PACT (agreement)
17 Shakespeare, perhaps, is forbidden on the radio (4)
BARD - sounds ("on the radio") like BARRED (forbidden)
19 Redesign secure HQ where the PM stays sometimes (8)
CHEQUERS - anagram (redesign) SECURE HQ
21 Try out underground piece of laboratory apparatus (4,4)
TEST TUBE - TEST (try out), the TUBE = the underground
23 Cut legs when retreating (4)
SNIP - PINS (legs) retreating/reversing
24 Attractive man's bit of jewellery (4)
STUD - double definition
25 The current decade represented in tweets (8)
TWENTIES - anagram (represented) of IN TWEETS

2 Smoothing the end of the day (7)
EVENING - double definition
3 Survived being confined, losing oxygen (5)
COPED - COOPED (confined) losing O(xygen)
4 Fall behind lass heading north (3)
LAG - GAL (lass) heading north
5 Lager and cider: you'll need an antidote for it! (9)
SNAKEBITE - double definition, with an accurate surface: it's been quite a while since I've had that unnecessary mishmash of flavours, the best antidote for which is simply a non-disgusting drink.
6 When a car refuels, containers fall over (3,4)
PIT STOP - POTS (containers) TIP (fall) over/going up/reversing.
7 Rinse strange sticky substance (5)
RESIN - anagram (strange) of RINSE
11 Where the litigious will see you after a good battle (9)
AGINCOURT - IN COURT (where the litigious will see you) after A G(ood)
14 Modernised a dud pet, somehow (7)
UPDATED - anagram (somehow) of A DUD PET
16 Wow, delightful ornamental feature (7)
CORNICE - COR (wow) NICE (delightful)
18 Prevent a former soldier keeping rifle, at first (5)
AVERT - A VET (a former soldier) keeping R (Rifle, "at first")
20 Overturn unexpected result (5)
UPSET - double definition
22 Observe affirmative response, we hear (3)
EYE - "we hear" the same as AYE (affirmative response)

Times 27,659: 75 Years Of Unconditional Surrender (To Crosswords)

Acceptable Friday fare, not too "abstruse" but not without some little deviosities either. For my part I got well bogged down in the NE corner by having essayed PLAY FIGHT as some kind of weak cryptic def, which wasn't my best ever idea but the correct solution is no great shakes either. COD to 22ac for stimulating my jaded palate and also 20dn, where separating the definition and cryptic parts was no simple task. Thanks skilful setter and have a happy jumbo-filled bank holiday weekend, everybody!

1 Distance I ran into outskirts of Rome at end of last month (9)
DECIMETRE - I MET R{om}E, at end of DEC [last month (of the year)]

6 Unwanted, like returning drip (5)
SADDO - reversed ODD AS [unwanted | like]

9 Learner driver's support when bad weather intervenes (7)
TRAINEE - TEE [driver's support] when RAIN "intervenes". FOI.

10 Prize article for one returning bird’s coat (7)
PLUMAGE - PLUM A [prize | article] + reversed E.G.

11 A particular chap, fifty-nine in spring (5)
HELIX - HE [a particular chap] + LIX [59 (in Roman numerals)]

12 Engage in an attack, but don't take it seriously? (4,5)
PLAY ABOUT - PLAY [engage in] + A BOUT

13 Remaining one in residence made for two (8)
RESIDUAL - I in RES DUAL [residence | made for two]

14 Charlatan tailed 1 down in Berlin (4)
FRAU - FRAU{d}. German for "missus".

17 Change tack at any time, driving leader back (4)
VEER - EVER, its first letter ("leader") being driven back to later in the word

18 Dined in local, coming back the worse for wear (6,2)
BEATEN UP - EATEN [dined] in reversed PUB [local]

21 Poseur from Germany boarding small punt (9)

22 To find ancient city in this province could be expected (5)
NATAL - if you found the ancient city of UR in it, it'd be NAT{UR}AL. A rare type of clue with the definition part neither at the beginning or the end.

24 Town's first boozers screened entertainment many years ago (7)

25 Hold back burden (7)
REFRAIN - double def

26 Imagine troops breaching barrier (5)
DREAM - R.E. "breaching" DAM

27 Main task that's easy comes as a blow on the coast (3,6)
SEA BREEZE - SEA [main] + BREEZE [task that's easy]

1 National church supporting reduction in tax (5)
DUTCH - CH supporting DUT{y}

2 Airport's gear all scheduled shortly for replacement (7,2,6)

3 Chemical process involving small number on team (8)
MONOXIDE - MODE "involving" NO on XI

4 One taking part pains the jockeys (8)

5 I must stop careless lapse being spotted (6)
ESPIAL - I "stops" (LAPSE*)

6 Shrill cry of ecstasy in brief storm (6)

7 Take loads of money and be laughing? (2,1,7,5)
DO A ROARING TRADE - cryptic def, playing on the suggestion given by "roaring".

8 Make aggressive move at cards and clear what's left (9)
OVERTRUMP - OVERT [clear] + RUMP [what's left]

13 Went back to centre of city with altered housing (9)
REVISITED - {c}IT{y} "housed" by REVISED [altered]

15 Blunder admitted by volunteers turning up gas tanks for reptiles (8)
TERRARIA - ERR [blunder] "admitted" by T.A. + reversed AIR

16 Represent bear (5,3)
STAND FOR - double def

19 During meeting, start to employ one's discrimination (6)
AGEISM - during A.G.M., E{mploy} I'S

20 After a struggle, takes naps on air (6)
WRESTS - homophone of RESTS

23 Quick butcher's severing grand knight's arm (5)
LANCE - A butcher's (hook), in Cockney rhyming slang, is a look, a quick look is a GLANCE, "sever" the G.