May 20th, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic 1617 by Mara

I thought this was kind of tricky, and I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those puzzles that splits us down the middle; the more experienced solvers not really noticing the sideways, superficial and distracting parts, while more novice solvers get a bit frustrated.

I hope I've interpreted the setter's intentions at 10ac correctly.

As usual, definitions underlined.

1 Practise fighting, taking knocks from behind (4)
SPAR - reversal of (from behind) RAPS (knocks).
4 Defender on the floor, stop attacking (4,4)
BACK DOWN - BACK (defender) and DOWN (on the floor).
8 Unruly perm's cut in rainbow colours (8)
SPECTRUM - anagram of (unruly) PERM'S CUT.
9 Location faculty mentioned (4)
SITE - sounds like (mentioned) "sight" (faculty).
10 But it's a dramatic work! (4)
PLAY - cryptic definition, alluding to the fact that 'to play' is 'to not be serious about', and if we're talking about 'a dramatic work' we might might expect more serious treatment. If I'm right about this, it's a bit subtle for those learning the ropes who might prefer more justifiably Ximenian clues on the green slopes.
11 Fine land around Leicester's outskirts (3,5)
ALL RIGHT - ALIGHT (land) containing (around) the first and last letters (outskirts) from LeicesteR.
12 Turning a hundred, I left line on map (6)
TROPIC - reversal of (turning) C (a hundred), I and PORT (left).
14 Eat in dining establishment (6)
INGEST - hidden in (in) dinING ESTablishment.
16 Model done with this playboy (8)
HEDONIST - anagram of (model) DONE and THIS.
18 European contradicting principle (4)
POLE - double definition: a national of Poland, and a figurative opposite extreme (usually 'pole's apart').
19 Song recalled in Hair, Aquarius (4)
ARIA - reverse hidden (recalled in) hAIR Aquarius.
20 Tweeter's bedtime tipple? (8)
NIGHTJAR - tweeter as in bird, NIGHT (bedtime) and JAR (tipple).
22 One or two animals in the field? (8)
SHEEPDOG - SHEEPDOG (one), or SHEEP and DOG (two); animals concievably in a field.
23 Nut was obliged to protect kernel in general (4)
HEAD - HAD (was obliged) containing (to conceal) the central letter from (kernel in) genEral.

2 Much-loved dad, initially up late and reading (7)
POPULAR - POP (dad) and the first letters from (initially) Up Late And Reading.
3 Difficultas peak may be? (5)
ROCKY - double definition. Lovely em dash.
4 Local block (3)
BAR - double definition.
5 Beef optimal, can emptied out (9)
COMPLAINT - anagram of (out) OPTIMAL and CaN (excluding the middle letter, emptied).
6 Smart running (7)
DASHING - double definition.
7 Listened to this or that, sorceress (5)
WITCH - sounds like (listened to) "which" (this or that).
11 Education somehow sold off (9)
AUCTIONED - anagram of (somehow) EDUCATION.
13 Flammable substance for glass (7)
PROPANE - PRO (for) and PANE (glass).
15 Alas, nut wrong fruit! (7)
SULTANA - anagram of (wrong) ALAS NUT.
17 Roof off cosy place, our home (5)
EARTH - first letter removed from (roof off) hEARTH (cosy place).
18 Field throw (5)
PITCH - double definition.
21 Is that funny? Silence! (3)
GAG - double definition.

Times 27669 - nothing more to add? Just sprinkles.

Every now and again, along comes a puzzle on a Wednesday which is perfecty satisfactory, and of  medium difficulty, but about which your blogger finds it hard to construct a suitably incisive or witty commentary. Today's is one such. As Jimbo might say, vanilla. With no sprinkles on top. Or perhaps it's just me, Mr. Grumpy, waiting for my vaccination. Think I'll buy some more shares in companies which make disposable needles.

1 Small female with delicate retro clothing's a little cold (7)
SNIFFLE - S (small) ELFIN (delicate) reversed (retro) with F (female) inserted.
5 Plaintiff's account primarily compromised client (7)
ACCUSER - AC (account) C (primarily compromised) USER (client).
9 Explosive force catching duke on arm (9)
GUNPOWDER - GUN (arm) POWER (force) with D (duke) inserted.
10 Fish with large abnormal growth thrown back (5)
TRAWL - All reversed: L(large) WART (abnormal growth).
11 Rehydrate food to cook what's on the menu (5,2,3,3)
13 European sounded weary when picked up on a street here in NY? (4,4)
EAST SIDE - E (European) SIDE (sounds like 'sighed') insert A ST(reet).
15 Westbound sailor taking in coastal country's capital (6)
BOGOTA - AB = sailor; insert TOGO (coastal country) 'westbound' = all reversed.
17 What scoffers do behind theatre screen again? (6)
REPEAT - REP (theatre) EAT (what scoffers do).
19 Sweet spread for sandwiches, badly wrapped (8)
PASTILLE - PASTE (as in fish paste sandwiches) has ILL (badly) inserted.
22 Incarcerated criminal smuggling heroin accepted blame (7,3,3)
25 Bird from banks of Amazon to keep passing through (5)
AVIAN - AN (banks of Amazon) has VIA (passing through) inserted.
26 Ignorant learner and I in clear (9)
OBLIVIOUS - OBVIOUS (clear) has L and I inserted.
27 Tiny particle could make one turn queasy (7)
28 Tend to like (4,3)
CARE FOR - double definition.
1 Base of puddings in the past? (4)
SAGO - S (end of puddings) AGO (in the past). &lit.
2 Like granite or wooden surface scrubbed (7)
IGNEOUS - LIGNEOUS (wooden) has its L (surface) scrubbed.
3 Swamp Commons with Liberal intake (5)
FLOOD - L inserted into commons, which can mean food.
4 Turnover of old bar in valley where wealth abounds (2,6)
EL DORADO - All reversed: O (old) DALE (valley) with ROD (bar inside). O DA (ROD) LE.
5 Result of splitting the bill at sea? (6)
ADRIFT - An AD RIFT could be a split in a bill or poster.
6 Savage insult which hampers rise of servicemen (3-6)
CUT-THROAT - CUT (insult, as in cutting remark perhaps), THAT (which) has OR reversed inserted.
7 Pain accordingly doubled (2-3-2)
SO-AND-SO - SO = accordingly; SO-AND-SO as in 'he's a pain, he's a real so-and-so'.
8 Nations following broadcast events (5,5)
RELAY RACES - RELAY (broadcast) RACES (nations).
12 Mischievous fellow arranged lunch with a peer (10)
LEPRECHAUN - (LUNCH A PEER)*. As you'll know, a leprechaun is a small Irish folklore fairy chap who spends all his time mending shoes and creating mischief.
14 High street shop where police located queen? (9)
STATIONER - STATION where police are located, ER = Queen. I often get cross with people who spell it stationery for 'not moving' and 'stationary' for writing materials.
16 Broad consequence of wind perhaps seizing hat husband put down (8)
CATHOLIC - COLIC seizes HAT with the H lower down i.e. ATH.
18 Haunt lake isle wearing spotless uniform (7)
PURLIEU - PURE (spotless) U (uniform) insert L I (lake isle).
20 Want profoundly bad skiers taken here? (4-3)
LONG-OFF - A cricket clue, not a ski-ing one. LONG = want profoundly, OFF = bad, and a SKIER (pronounced sky-er) is a high, long shot usually caught on the boundary.
21 Meet a host who presents nothing trendy (6)
ADJOIN - A, DJ (host who presents (music)) O (nothing) IN (trendy).
23 Clubs finished top (5)
COVER - C (clubs) OVER (finished).
24 Ex-leader's requests are largely ignored (4)
TSAR - Hidden word in REQUES(TS AR)E.