May 14th, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic No 1613 by Izetti

Whilst there were some very nice clues here, and nothing obscure or unusual, I’m not convinced that this offering from Izetti is up to his usual very high standards.  It may just be me, but I’ve identified a couple of little niggles in the notes below.

I completed this, fully parsed in 9 minutes, for a good day – I don’t often score below 10 minutes, so it definitely wasn’t hard by my scale of judgement.  However, I have said that in the past only to find that others disagree – comments on the blog should show what others thought about this one.

Thanks Izetti.  Readers, please let me know your thoughts and times.


Across

1  It’s bad at sea, stormy – lots of info here (8)
DATABASE – Anagram (stormy) of [BAD AT SEA].  DATABASES are an example of what we used to call in the IT trade ‘structured information’, and structured would have made a nice anagrind in this clue – perhaps ‘It’s bad at sea – structured information here’.  However, what do I know, I’m just a blogger, not a setter!
Chinese dynasty, something bright and good (4)
SUNG – SUN (something bright) and G{ood}.  SUNG and SONG seem to be interchangeable for the name of this dynasty that ruled China from 960 until 1269 - perhaps our China correspondent (Horryd) can add something here about why the alternatives.  My first thought here was actually TING, which turns out not to be a Chinese dynasty at all, but sounds credible, and I reason that if the SONG dynasty can be called the SUNG dynasty, then why can’t the TONG be the TING?  I think I’m just in a strange mood today!
8 Nobleman keeping nothing in outhouse (5)
BARON – O (nothing) in BARN (outhouse).
9 Bad look coming from someone vile, yes? (4,3)
EVIL EYE – Hidden answer in (coming from) the words {someon}E VILE, YE{s}
11  Pose to offer word of thanks in love (11)
AFFECTATION – TA (word of thanks) inside (in) AFFECTION (love).
13 Release a Parisian philosopher, guillotine finally spared (6)
UNLOCK – UN (French, or Parisian, for a) and LOCK{e} ({guillotine}E finally spared (omitted)).  John LOCKe was an English philosopher known as the father of liberalism.
14  Figure girl collects rubbish (6)
STATUE – SUE (girl) containing (collecting) TAT (my favourite kind of rubbish!)
16  I noticed Ron splashing around bathroom product (11)
CONDITIONER – Anagram (splashing around) of [I NOTICED RON].
18  Eastern bird coming to a lake, not stopping (7)
ETERNAL – E{astern) and TERN (bird) followed by (coming to) A L{ake}.
19  Finally allowing outsiders to depart with everything included (2,3)
IN ALL – {f}INALL{y} (hidden in ‘finally’ after the outside letters have been dropped / departed).  Under normal circumstances, I would argue that the expression ALL IN is more often used to indicate that everything is included, but IN ALL also works, as when totting up a bill and saying ‘that’ll be £10.50 in all’, as opposed to going on an ALL IN holiday for instance in the other case.
20  One’s confused, giving negative responses (4)
NOES – Anagram (confused) of [ONE’S].
21  Most magnificent garden redesigned, facing street (8)
GRANDEST – Anagram (redesigned) of [GARDEN] followed by (facing) ST{reet}.

Down

Smears experts (4)
DABS – Double definition, the second less well known.  As well as a smear, a dab is also defined as an expert, as in ‘to be a dab / expert hand at’.
Pretend not to notice what Nelson would do spinning round (4,1,5,3)
TURN A BLIND EYE – Nelson famously put his spyglass to his blind eye during the battle of Copenhagen and was reported to say ‘I see no ships’.  Actually, what he said was ‘I really do not see the signal!’  Whatever the case, being blind in one eye, if he span around, he would turn a blind eye.
Blessing has been surprisingly given to dissident group (11)
BENEFACTION – Anagram (surprisingly) of [BEEN] followed by (given to) FACTION (dissident group).
4  Embrocation finally rubbed into chest – awful stink (6)
STENCH – {embrocatio}N (finally) inside (rubbed into) anagram (awful) of [CHEST].
Computer screen maybe shows fine creatures running around (4,9)
USER INTERFACE – Anagram (running around) of [FINE CREATURES].  A computer screen is one example of a USER INTERFACE, hence the ‘maybe’, others include a mouse and a keyboard.
7  Teenager fixed drink (5,3)
GREEN TEA – Anagram (fixed) of [TEENAGER].
10  Inane tot in front of teacher, in trouble for not listening  (11)
INATTENTION – Anagram (in trouble) of [INANE TOT IN] and first letter (front of) T{eacher}.
12  Doddery uncle getting on, eating hospital meal (8)
LUNCHEON – Anagram (doddery) of [UNCLE] and (getting) ON and containing (eating) H{ospital}.
15 German dictator battered the French? Right! (6)
HITLER – HIT (battered) LE (the in French) and R{ight}.
17  Dull pad (4)
FLAT – Double definition.

Times 27664 - we've got a live one!

Time taken: 13:04, with my last one in being the clue that floored me. Although it is not forbidden, I think it is unfair to clue proper names using anagrams, particularly uncommon foreign names that are not easily pieced together from an anagram. Anyway, as I finally got it in place, I thought "why is that name familiar"... well it turns out that the former French President is not only having some fingers pointed at him, he is alive and kicking at 94! I wonder if ER is miffed at being usurped as the living person allowed in a crossword, being left out of this one entirely, even when there was a chance for her to appear in the wordplay to 24 down across (sorry).

OK, the rest of this crossword has some lovely stuff, and is tricky but enjoyable. I hope you are all safe and sane, a friend sent me a cocktail set that I am excited to break into after writing this up.

Away we go...

Across
1 Occultism threatening astrologers, complacent at first (5,5)
BLACK MAGIC - BLACK(threatening, of clouds), MAGI(astrologers), then the first letter of Complacent
6 One giving partial cover to member in strike (4)
SOCK - double definition
8 Worried having to work longer hours? (8)
RESTLESS - if you work longer hours you REST LESS
9 Spaniard, no longer with Man U, quits team (6)
ELEVEN - The Spaniard is best known from Fawlty Towers - MANUEL... remove MAN and U, then EVEN(quits)
10 County council leader’s last to be ousted (4)
MAYO - MAYOR(council leader) missing the last letter
11 Oven's content fed to bird who'd appreciate it? (10)
STARVELING - the middle letters of oVEn inside STARLING(birrd)
12 Mating period over and he's out to grab attention (4,5)
TURN HEADS - RUT(mating period) reversed then an anagram of AND,HE'S
14 Where, in Massachusetts, engine driver needs stronger drink? (5)
SALEM - I liked this clue a lot.  An engine may be driven by STEAM, remove the TEA and put in ALE(stronger drink), leading to the town best known for the witch trials
17 Organised church spread (5)
RANCH - RAN(organized), CH(church)
19 Man woman married and separated from daughter in Skye? (9)
HEBRIDEAN - HE(man), BRIDE(woman maried), then AND missing D(daughter)
22 Witty style in a new essay following requests (10)
PLEASANTRY - A, N(new), TRY(essay) after PLEAS(requests)
23 Satanists' leader breaks mirror in church recess (4)
APSE - first leter of Satanists inside APE(mirror, copy)
24 Fur coat owner's hesitant admission? (6)
ERMINE - a hesitant owner may say ER, MINE
25 Begin to explain my activity at restaurant? (8)
INITIATE - or IN IT I ATE. Clever, but a feeling of deja vu as an almost identical clue appeared in last Sunday's Independent crossword. Could be the same setter, I think Paul B is currently on the Times setting team
26 Mike with two Europeans consuming unknown appetisers (4)
MEZE - M(mike), and two E's(European) containing Z(unknown)
27 Commitment shown in battle (10)
ENGAGEMENT - double definition
Down
1 Cockney in to cut deal, one predicting change (9)
BAROMETER - 'OME(in, in Cockney) inside BARTER(deal)
2 Lead analyst perhaps taking Speaker’s role? (7)
ASSAYER - taking Speaker's role would be AS SAYER
3 Dairy product from East found in Irish province (8)
MUENSTER - E(east) inside MUNSTER (Irish province)
4 Organised gang discredits a former leader (7,8)
GISCARD D'ESTAING - anagram of GANG,DISCREDITS,A
5 Fissure allows the French inside underground chamber (6)
CLEAVE -  LE(the in french) inside CAVE(underground chamber)
6 Move silently, forbidden to speak, beating team (5,4)
STEEL BAND - sounds like STEAL(move silently) and BANNED(forbidden). Like the definition
7 Free from sin, is inclined to enter church (7)
CLEANSE - LEANS(is inclined) inside CE(church)
13 Entire can spilled that's full of juice (9)
NECTARINE - anagram of ENTIRE,CAN
15 Cut up heart that fills pastry (9)
MINCEMEAT - MINCE(cut up), MEAT(heart)
16 Fish good served alongside two others (8)
GRAYLING - G(good) with RAY and LING(other fish)
18 Roaming free as feline, not caught by mammoth (2,5)
AT LARGE - CAT(feline) missing C(caught), then LARGE(mammoth)
20 Reformed buccaneer having run away to square sins? (7)
EXPIATE - the reformed buccaneer is an EX PIRATE. Remove R(run)
21 Invitation to compete with your setter — in flower arrangement? (6)
RACEME - or RACE ME
verlaine

Times 27,665: Craving "A Good Walk Spoiled"

With the R&A getting a mention, along with its home of St Andrews on the slimmest of justifications, I think our setter may have been wishing he was 11ac-ing on the second half of 10ac rather than sitting indoors! I had little trouble finishing this puzzle well under par, with not a few holes-in-one as the answers fell straight into their allotted slots in the grid: my only real sandtrap came when I entered PRAYER MAT on autopilot for 2dn, which made my next few swings a lot harder than they needed to be.


COD has to be "engineer in lab coat", very good indeed if it's an original spot. I was also rather partial to the definition part of 15D. Thank you to the setter and I hope you'll be back out on the fairway before too many more months have passed!

ACROSS
1 Shame on you, seizing power — it's arrogant (6)
UPPITY - PITY on U, the whole "seizing" P

4 Modern university head traps fox in St Andrews (2-2-4)
UP-TO-DATE - U PATE "traps" TOD ["chiefly Scottish" fox]

10 Move around bottom pasture (9)
REARRANGE - REAR [bottom] + RANGE [pasture]. This clue comes up a lot, with minor variations

11 Head of regiment drills joint force (5)
DRIVE - R{egiment} "drills" DIVE [(seedy) joint]

12 One of Hugo's articles about current story (3)
LIE - LE [one of (Victor) Hugo's articles] "about" I

13 Drink date in sporting venue (6,5)
SQUASH COURT - SQUASH [drink] + COURT [date]

14 Private secretary hosts rough Victorian types? (6)
PRUDES - P.S. "hosts" RUDE

16 Work schedule covers old boss of coop? (7)
ROOSTER - ROSTER "covers" O. That's definitely coop as opposed to co-op

19 Asian, one pursuing a lover around Grand Hotel (7)
AFGHANI - I pursuing A FAN "around" G H

20 Control river parasites (6)
POLICE - PO LICE [river | parasites]

22 Large diamonds missing from a wedding ring after repairs (4-7)
WIDE-RANGING - (A WED{d}ING RING*)

25 Approval teacher's withdrawn (3)
NOD - reversed DON

26 Root around this counter (5)
REBUT - reversed TUBER

27 Engineer in lab coat dealing with plants (9)
BOTANICAL - (IN LAB COAT*). Credit where it's due, "Engineer in lab coat" is a perfect marriage of anagrist and anagrind...

28 Small stone lodged in baby tooth (8)
SPROCKET - S + ROCK "lodged" in PET

29 Wicked duke keeps tablet hidden (6)
VEILED - VILE D keeps E

DOWN
1 Rowdy guy, losing head, holds large vessel up (6)
UNRULY - {g}UY "holds" reversed L URN

2 Collect wig that's used in mosque (6,3)
PRAYER RUG - PRAYER [collect] + RUG [wig]

3 Heat units, ignoring hot conditions (5)
TERMS - THERMS [heat units] minus H

5 Where masseur focuses, exploiting sun's properties (8,6)
PRESSURE POINTS - (SUN'S PROPERTIES*)

6 Conservative keeps calm, with hearts sinking (3,6)
OLD SCHOOL - HOLDS COOL [keeps | calm], with H "sinking" down the word

7 Bill that is originally unpaid for so long (5)
ADIEU - AD I.E. U{npaid}

8 Committee choosing team omitting top German princes (8)
ELECTORS - {s}ELECTORS

9 Alliance fit to secure goal beyond doubt (14)
UNQUESTIONABLE - UNION ABLE, to "secure" QUEST

15 Molière has one to help upcoming reviewer (9)
DIACRITIC - reversed AID + CRITIC

17 Fixing chain etc on wheel finally is complex (9)
TECHNICAL - (CHAIN ETC*) + {whee}L

18 General initially enquires about dispute over fuel plant (8)
GASWORKS - G{enerals} ASKS "about" reversed ROW

21 Confused? Put on light (6)
ADDLED - ADD L.E.D.

23 R&A plot to overturn ban (5)
DEBAR - reversed R + A + BED

24 Spirit in bottle, German one, say, upended (5)
GENIE - reversed EIN E.G.