May 17th, 2020

Mephisto 3115 - Don Manley

I enjoyed this puzzle and there were quite a few wordplay elements that were new to me. Also a big fan of the grid, 180-degree symmetry and two enrties that span the entire puzzle. Kept me amused for a while on Sunday!

In Mephisto puzzles definitons can be verified in Chambers, so I will focus on the wordplay here.

I hope everyone is staying safe and sane! North Carolina is on Phase 1 of reopening, and I went for about a 5km walk this afternoon through an area that is usually brimming with tourists visiting breweries and galleries, it was an eerie feeling to be all alone in this area.

Away we go...

1 Old doublet in home nibbled at edge by pet? (7)
PLACCAT - PLACE(home) missing the end with CAT(pet)
7 Divine Scottish place deemed healthy by English (4)
SPAE - SPA(place deemed healthy), E(English)
12 Plant with large sepal in very miserable state (7)
HEAL-ALL - ALA(large sepal) inside HELL(very miserable state)
13 Awkward sister refuses to move up north? (6)
REISTS - anagram of SISTER
14 Fish not initially seen in stream (4)
RILL - BRILL(fish) missing the first letter
15 Sandy beach? Mum needs something to sit on (7)
MACHAIR - MA(mum), CHAIR(something to sit on)
16 Island, first to serve stale meals (4)
KAIS - IS(Island) with KA(obsolete term for "to serve") first
17 Dishevelled woman to wander into valley (9)
DRATCHELL -  RATCH(to wander) inside DELL(valley)
20 Tree in that place to the west, one in America (6)
CLUSIA - LC(loco citatio, in that place) reversed, then I(one) in USA(America)
21 Engineers facing tedious job, improvement to car engine (6)
REBORE - ER(engineers), BORE(tedious job)
25 Somehow educate female about when ultimately to get pregnant (9)
FECUNDATE - anagram of EDUCATE,F(female),and the last letter of wheN
27 Tree, a sure thing to be cut down (4)
ACER - A, CERT(sure thing) missing the last letter
28 Place for chicks? Lustful king grabs one, expressing love (7)
HENNERY - King HENRY  containing ONE missing the O(love), Herman's Hermits wouldn't need the second part of the wordplay.
30 What you’d see in London street once, but not everywhere (4)
ONST - hidden in londON STreet
31 Hysterical type, the first person to be heard repeatedly (6)
MEEMIE - sounds like ME(the first person) twice
32 Bad man stopped working and went on a course to be helpful (7)
CADDIED - CAD(bad man), DIED(stopped)
33 See about getting marks for supposedly original material (4)
YLEM - ELY(See) reversed then M(marks)
34 Instrument made a sound, interrupting monkey (7)
SARANGI - RANG(made a sound) inside the SAI monkey
1 Spy chief and agent turning up in Russian city (4)
PERM - M(spy chief in the James Bond novels and films), and REP(agent) all reversed
2 A very good name, not quite at the top spot (6)
APICAL - A, PI(very good) then CALL(name) missing the last letter
3 Excellent copper to dash round end of street (6)
CUSHTY - CU(copper), then SHY(dash) around the last letter of streeT
4 Oaf’s inaccurate chatter could be of a ____ nature (12)
5 Hedgehog-like animals in a number of sports grounds (7)
TENRECS - TEN(a number) RECS(sports grounds)
6 Music-maker cast out in our cellar, keeping noise to minimum (12)
CARILLONNEUR - anagram of IN,OUR,CELLAR containing the first letter of Noise
8 The old man is hanging around the Parisian dance-hall (6)
PALAIS - PA(the old man), IS surrounding LA(the in French)
9 Doctor I call before getting much-used antibiotic (7)
ALLICIN - anagram of I,CALL then IN(much-used)
10 Trade opportunity coming up to get neat new synthetic material (8)
ELASTANE - SALE(trade opportunity) reversed containing an anagram of NEAT
11 Catch the utterance of a wise person (4)
SEAR - sounds like SEER(wise person) - the catch of a gun
17 State of calm fellow about to enter boat (8)
DORMANCY - MAN(fellow), CA(about) inside DORY(boat)
18 Look for ’ollow space reportedly to get fuel (7, two words)
SEA COAL - sounds like SEEK(look for), 'OLE('ollow space)
19 Antelopes and goats crossing wilderness initially (7)
LECHWES - LECHES(goats) containing the first letter of Wilderness
22 Mineral no longer to pollute earth’s surface (6)
BLENDE - BLEND(pollute), then the first letter of Earth
23 A biochemical substance that’s no longer in appendages to organs (6)
ADNEXA - A, DNA(biochemical substance) containing EX(no longer)
24 No sweet drink served up — one wants spirit (6)
DAEMON - reversal of NO, MEAD(sweet drink)
26 School expelling a triplet (4)
TRIN - TRAIN(school) missing A
29 Mountain creature not seen — one that’s still on top? (4)
YETI - I (one) with YET(still) above

Sunday Times 4902 by Robert Price

8:46. A pretty straightforward one from Bob this week, but highly enjoyable with lots of concise and inventive clues. Nothing obscure or difficult, just good clean fun.

12dn appeared in almost identical form in one of the daily puzzles this week. No doubt this is just an unfortunate (albeit remarkable) coincidence: the Sunday and daily puzzles have different editors so there’s no obvious mechanism for something like this to be picked up.

Anyhoo, thanks to Bob for another fine puzzle and here’s how I think it all works…

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

1 Made many of crowd push, engulfing Mussolini
9 Abused after admitting one’s crooked
10 One lover holds back, being inexperienced
NAIF - reversal of F(I)AN. I would normally think of this word as a noun, so I almost underlined the word ‘being’ as well, but Collins and Lexico both have it as an adjective so I think that’s the more natural reading of the clue. Take your pick!
11 Loom almost covered by blue-green cloth
12 Pickle got into by Penny’s husband
SPOUSE - S(P)OUSE. This is a definition by example but clearly neither setter nor editor felt this needed signalling, in a case where there are only two such examples. I endorse this decision.
13 When retired, go crazy!
BATS - reversal of STAB (try, go).
15 It’s a nut; he’s ebullient
ENTHUSIAST - (IT’S A NUT HE’S)*. Slightly odd clue here: is the definition just ‘he’s ebullient’, in which case ‘he’s’ is doing double duty in definition and wordplay? Or is it an &Lit, in which case the definition is the whole clue, and therefore a reference to a very specific type of enthusiast? More importantly, does it matter?
17 Sixties icon goes around in skimpy gear
MINISKIRTS - MINI, SKIRTS. Cf. The Italian Job (1969).
19 Complaint received about university
20 Top worn by politician, one that’s transparent
22 Gallery icon is sculpted in rock
24 Man that’s checked stock in grocery stores
KING - contained in ‘stock in grocery’.
25 Acts collecting film Oscars, perhaps
26 An editor sits shuffling paper

2 Picasso initially divides a painting into sections
APART - A(Picasso), ART.
3 Like those made homeless, unexpectedly in the main
4 Girl with net twisted around curly hair
5 Guy in Washington, mostly useless
DUD - DUDe. Mostly?
6 Making excuses for party involved in cheating
7 Feeble types ultimately shed tears
DRIPS - sheD, RIPS. Not that kind of tears!
8 Scholars of retail worked to bring in computers
LITERATI - (RETAIL)* containing IT.
12 Drink with date in sports venue
14 Errors introducing attendant delays
16 Where coal is kept in sinks
18 Withdraw US president’s upsetting tweet at last
RETRACT - reversal of CARTER, T. Never mind the tweets…
21 A classic artist keeps one uplifted
ILIAD - reversal (uplifted) of DA(I)LI.
23 Explosive squaddies can set up
NITRO - reversal of OR, TIN. I wanted to put NITRE here at first.
25 Haggard work has such predictable endings
SHE - last letters in ‘has such predictable’.