May 23rd, 2020

Jumbo 1438

A pleasant Bank Holiday Jumbo in lockdown. Not much more to say, although I did like 6D. Apologies for any typos – this was produced in haste as I realised the deadline was approaching.






ACROSS
1 Troublesome — could it be compatible given right input? (11)
PROBLEMATIC – COMPATIBLE* around R = right

7 Cheap beer that made for expansive habit (11)
FARTHINGALE – FARTHING ALE would be cheap beer

13 Attractive lie spun deviously for business investor (7,10)
VENTURE CAPITALIST – (ATTRACTIVE LIE SPUN)*

14 Pipe connects with eastern state (5)
MAINE – MAIN = pipe, E = eastern

15 Linen not covering picture's frame (6)
NAPERY – NARY = not, around P(ictur)E

16 Prisoner holding a little flower set to be hung in Tower (8)
CARILLON – CON = prisoner, around A and RILL = little flower

17 Work with uranium, fast becoming rich (7)
OPULENT – OP = work, U = uranium, LENT = fast

19 Fool brought back after school as planned (9)
SCHEDULED – SCH = school, EDULED = DELUDE = fool, reversed

21 Vicious perhaps, Scotsman chasing alumnus produces glass (8)
OBSIDIAN – O.B. = alumnus, SID = Vicious (of the Sex Pistols in case anyone is puzzled), IAN = Scotsman

23 Some ground overlooks ruin (4)
UNDO – hidden in groUND Overlooks

25 Giants substitute appears shortly after blunder in field (5)
OGRES – O.G. = blunder in field, RES(erve) = substitute

27 Shaking bunk about to hamper phase of sleep (6)
TREMOR – TOR = ROT = bunk, reversed around R.E.M. = phase of sleep

28 Saunter round northern capital, obtaining picture (10)
MONOCHROME – MOOCH = saunter, around N = northern, ROME = capital

30 This, installed across the pond, to make flight optional? (8)
ELEVATOR – cryptic definition

31 Somewhat limited success as year in Down ends badly (4,4,6)
NINE DAYS WONDER – (YEAR IN DOWN ENDS)*

34 Stylish gesture reworked for panto dames (3,4,7)
THE UGLY SISTERS – (STYLISH GESTURE)*

35 Cathedral plans to include religious education (8)
CHARTRES – CHARTS = plans, around R.E. = religious education

38 Needing atmosphere after interlude, books diner (10)
RESTAURANT – REST = interlude, AURA = atmosphere, N.T. = books

40 With this, not doing as much in class (6)
LESSON – LESS ON = not doing as much

41 Find penny on public transport vehicle in March (5)
TRAMP – TRAM = public transport, P = penny

43 Dispute on chairs around piano (4)
SPAT – SAT = on chairs, around P = piano

44 Retired sleuth visiting Alpine ridge and similar things (2,6)
ET CETERA – ARETE = alpine ridge, around TEC = sleuth, all reversed

45 European craft touching down on frozen mass (9)
ICELANDER – ICE = frozen mass, LANDER = vehicle touching down

48 Company car is damaged in mountainous place (7)
CORSICA – CO = company, (CAR IS)*

49 Waffle about god endlessly, then finish speaking (8)
PERORATE – PRATE = waffle, around ERO(s) = god

50 Literary lion takes time on slope (6)
ASLANT – ASLAN = literary lion, T = time

53 Love new song being broadcast (2,3)
ON AIR – O = love, N = new, AIR = song
54 In which leading Oxbridge pair will make repeated appearances? (7,3,7)
NOUGHTS AND CROSSES – O and X are the first pair of letters in Oxbridge and are used repeatedly in the game

55 Green Man? Here one may find whiskey! (7,4)
EMERALD ISLE – EMERALD = green, ISLE = Man

56 Seer rejecting crazy schemes — common sense deployed about this (11)
NOSTRADAMUS – NOUS = common sense, around STRADAM = MAD ARTS = crazy schemes


DOWN
1 Flag seen in the street — Pentagon is very troubled (6,5)
PAVING STONE – (PENTAGON IS V(ery))*

2 Admit that was painful bit of humour, taken wrong way (3,2)
OWN UP – OW = that was painful, NUP = PUN = bit of humour, reversed

3 Museum finally supplied with slats (7)
LOUVRED – LOUVRE = museum, (supplie)D

4 Once proper hounds assembly (4)
MEET – double definition

5 Accountant in women's underwear leaves containers (3-7)
TEA CADDIES – A.C.A. = accountant, in TEDDIES = women’s underwear

6 Experts in the wrong? (14)
CRIMINOLOGISTS – cryptic definition. This was one of my first in and I really like the simplicity of the clue

7 Confident female — and why she won't listen? (8)
FEARLESS – F = female, EARLESS = why she won’t listen

8 Good to be in control for this! (5)
REIGN – REIN = control, around G = good

9 Stew over author regularly seeing controversial problem (3,6)
HOT POTATO – HOTPOT = stew, alternate letters in AuThOr

10 Summit avoided, wing enters warmer rising cloud (6)
NIMBUS – (l)IMB = wing, in NUS = SUN = warmer, reversed

11 Fantastic girl, elected, having triumphed over the German state (5-2-10)
ALICE-IN-WONDERLAND – ALICE = girl, IN = elected, WON = triumphed, DER = the in German, LAND = state

12 Campaigner the Spanish church upset, one dragged into row (11)
ELECTIONEER – EL = the in Spanish, EC = C.E. = church, reversed, TIER = row, around ONE

18 Greed shown where corporation man banks pounds (8)
GLUTTONY – GUT = corporation, TONY = man, around L = pounds

20 Researcher's goal is to develop powered vehicle (9,8)
HORSELESS CARRIAGE – (RESEARCHERS GOAL IS)*

22 Returned to make cut into beloved tree (6)
DEODAR – DEAR = beloved, around OD = DO = make

24 Article by rotter about firm sent up revered leader (8)
THEOCRAT – THE = article, OC = CO = firm, reversed, RAT = rotter

26 Remain in quiet given excellent port (8)
SHANGHAI, SH = quiet, around HANG = remain, A1 = excellent

29 Group member wants her ego massaged in fortress (6,8)
GEORGE HARRISON – GARRISON = fortress, around (HER EGO)*

32 Small prehistoric monument within borders of certain European area (8)
SCHENGEN – S = small, C(ertai)N around HENGE = prehistoric monument

33 Intended to underwrite funding where one name absconds (6)
FIANCE – FINANCE = underwrite funding, with one N = name removed

34 Muse and priest thrashing tedious Job (11)
TERPSICHORE – PRIEST*, CHORE = tedious job

36 For whom south, set apart, is potentially enough? (11)
SEPARATISTS – (S(outh), SET APART IS)*

37 Silly workers maybe must welcome first people helping (10)
ASSISTANTS – ASS ANTS = silly workers, around IST = first

39 Redundant staff are often kept on, Republican admitted (9)
RETRAINED – RETAINED = kept on, around R = Republican

42 Maybe Vatican brings in cunning Frenchman I don't know (6,2)
SEARCH ME – SEE = Vatican, around ARCH = cunning and M = Frenchman

46 Sailors trick duke and skip town (7)
ABSCOND – ABS = sailors, CON = trick, D = duke

47 Chain letter read out on radio (6)
SIERRA – double definition

49 Rains temporarily stop, as some might hear? (5)
POURS – can be pronounced the same as PAUSE = temporarily stop

51 Top-grade schools vacated before noon in this region (5)
ASSAM – A = top grade, S(chool)S, A.M. = before noon

52 Maple, one seen by river (4)
ACER – ACE = one, R = river
  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27666 - Saturday, 16 May 2020. The mellow mists of May.

My brain was in a fog, so my solving time was off the chart. Nothing to do with COVID, thankfully! The puzzle wasn’t easy, but I don’t think there’s anything that should frighten the horses once the mist clears. 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. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 Wobbly teeth about to rot could be thus described? (10)
PRECARIOUS – delightful pun. Dental decay is caries, of course.
6 Writing about one's girl (4)
MISS – MS (manuscript) ‘about’ I’S. First one in.
10 Horse has to be killed? Horse escapes (7)
MUSTANG – the mustang MUST [h]ANG. I liked this too.
11 Talk of some corn in grass (7)
HEARSAY – EARS of corn in HAY.
12 Traveller set off, one showing despair going around (9)
SIGHTSEER – anagram (‘off’) of SET in SIGHER.
13 Agreed about coating tip for fencing in Asia (5)
KENDO – OK ‘about’, ‘coating’ END. It’s a traditional Japanese martial art, which descended from swordsmanship and uses bamboo swords and protective armour.
14 Turner, for one, makes inquiries vocally (5)
PRIZE – sounds like “pries”. The Turner Prize is awarded annually for visual art.
15 Flannel in little time eaten by dog (5,4)
SWEET TALK – WEE T[ime] in STALK. Close to home, this: flannels are among the many things our dog likes to chew!
17 Bird close to warming duck's back (9)
NIGHTHAWK – NIGH (close to), THAW (warming), [duc]K.
20 Claim this used to be a law? (5)
EXACT – an EX ACT, as it were.
21 Part of geranium below flower cluster (5)
UMBEL – hidden.
23 Pass on dirt cut by gutless ecological polluter (6,3)
DIESEL OIL – DIE (pass on), SOIL ‘cut by’ E[cologica]L.
25 Male cat keeps cold in a wind (7)
HELICON – HE (male), LION ‘keeping’ C. That’s ‘wind’ with a long I meaning to coil, not with a short I meaning a breeze, as the context would suggest. One of the setting tricks I always enjoy. On edit: looking up "helicon", I realise it's a wind instrument. So "wind " in the clue would have a short "I".
26 Stand in lounge in awful daze, as Spooner has it (7)
FIREDOG – a DIRE FOG, per Rev. Spooner. We’ve seen this word twice in recent weeks, so it went in quickly.
27 Bank charge brought back after resistance (4)
REEF – FEE ‘brought back’ after R.
28 I'm amazed about key mixer in drink (4,6)
MALT WHISKY – MY (I’m amazed!) around ALT (a key) and WHISK.

Down
1 Felines leading around family members (5)
PUMAS – UP (leading) turned ‘around’, then MAS (mothers, or specific family members). I found this strangely hard to see.
2 Heard you must leave one synagogue, oddly mellow (9)
EASYGOING – anagram (‘oddly’) of I (one) SYNAGOG[u]E. U sounds like ‘you’, so it leaves the anagram.
3 Separately, people stop maintaining temperature in building (9,5)
APARTMENT BLOCK – APART, MEN, T[emperature], BLOCK.
4 Entrance painter with head of sylph (7)
INGRESS – INGRES (the painter), S[ylph].
5 Throw junk behind junk removed from tips (7)
UNHORSE – HORSE (junk, aka drugs), ‘behind’ [j]UN[k]. A very neat clue!
7 Stock complaint received by popular playwright (5)
IBSEN – see playwright (5), think IBSEN! I slowed myself down by looking for IN---, rather than I---N. BSE is the animal disease (stock complaint).
8 Variety of blue, edible leaves shoot up (9)
SKYROCKET – SKY blue, ROCKET salad.
9 Following sign, doctor creates her diagnosis of consumption? (6,8)
MARKET RESEARCH – MARK (sign), anagram (‘doctor’) of CREATES HER. Another nicely misleading definition.
14 Detain criminal retailer, a clerical fellow (9)
PENPUSHER – PEN (detain), PUSHER.
16 A flipping low number preserve reptiles (9)
ANACONDAS – A, then ‘flip’ SAD (low) + NO (number) + CAN (preserve).
18 Notice and study prosecutor's further words (7)
ADDENDA – AD, DEN, DA. Monkey see, monkey solve?
19 Look over suit — it may have a slimming effect (4-3)
KEEP-FIT – PEEK (look, ‘over’), FIT (suit).
22 Part of Hull for one politician on the rise (5)
BILGE – E.G (for one), LIB (politician) all ‘on the rise’.
24 Tired of starter of lamb — like an omelette? (5)
LEGGY – L[amb], EGGY. I didn’t know this usage of LEGGY, but the wordplay was clear.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4903 by David McLean — Sneaking suspicions

Well, this one gave me a bit to think about. Although there are a couple clues, right next to each other, whose construction I found unusual (a rather goofy &lit that may cast aspersions on an entire medical specialization; the slippery missing L in the next one), the wordplay here is generally fairly transparent and there is hardly any unusual vocabulary (you don’t hear ARTICULAR every day) in the answers. Ah, but sometimes the hardest part of a clue is locating the definition. In compensation, perhaps, for the ease of the wordplay and, on the best occasions, assuring a silky-smooth surface, a little-used, fairly obscure sense of the sought word is used, perhaps one that is found only in the most complete dictionaries. OK, I don’t think anything here is quite that obscure, really, as much as due to lacunae in my own knowledge.

Most definitions here are also straightforward, and succinct, but there are three anagrinds of more than one word. I could detect no topical references (which is a relief, no?), though there is the temporary apparition of a superannuated US pol.

I indicate (manargas)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

ACROSS
 1 Restrain daring writer from Spooner’s lips (4,4)
HOLD BACK — “bold hack”
 5 Bad officer cut down in midst of attack (6)
RANCID — RA(NC[-o])ID
 9 Pet loves being surrounded by light (8)
CANOODLE — CAN(OO)DLE
10 They could be walkers on cold hills (6)
CLIMBS — C(old) + LIMBS, which “could be walkers,” with the definition “place[s] or thing[s] to be climbed” (as Collins has it) given by the example of “hills.”
12 Conclusion about yours truly is correct (5)
EMEND — E(ME)ND
13 Return baton given to English conductor (9)
ELECTRODE — ELECT, “Return” + ROD, “baton” + E(nglish)… “Return” is not a term we use in the US for a (re)election.
14 Sailors with cheek to catch European dressing (7,5)
TARTARE SAUCE — TAR + TAR, “Sailors” + E(uropean) + SAUCE, “cheek”
18 Engineer giving teens a minus mark (8,4)
NEGATIVE SIGN — (giving teens a)*
21 A curt liar gets high using joints (9)
ARTICULAR — (A curt liar)*
23 Line of traffic (5)
TRADE — The two definitions are not too far from each other.
24 Bit of restlessness during sleeping is natural (6)
INBRED — INB(R[-estlessness])ED
25 Head of brewery, always with time for a drink (8)
BEVERAGE — Love what you do! B[-rewery] + EVER, “always” + AGE, “time”
26 Renowned writer, but inexperienced on radio (6)
GREENE — “green”
27 Rise at home and pack in bags last of gear (8)
INCREASE — IN, “at home” + CEASE, “pack in” holding [-gea]R

DOWN
 1 Game Charlie punches artificial American (6)
HOCKEY — HO[C(harlie)]KEY I (a Yank) don’t think of “hokey” as being “artificial” so much as “corny”—or, as Lexico has it (“North American informal”), “Mawkishly sentimental.” However, Lexico also has (not given as specific to the US) “Noticeably contrived,” so we’re cool.
 2 Son must give the slip to thin creditor (6)
LENDER — [-s]LENDER
 3 Acting group in support of vulgar show on TV (9)
BROADCAST — “Acting group,” CAST holding up BROAD, “vulgar”
 4 Celtic lovely when playing as a team (12)
COLLECTIVELY — (Celtic lovely)*
 6 Vote to eject Bob at summit! Dole out! (5)
ALLOT — [-b]ALLOT, “Bob” signaling B. I’ve been trying to find some justification for this abbreviation besides the mere fact that it is an initial. (“At summit” can only refer to the top of this down clue, so there’s no beheading indicator for “Bob.”) That this question was so distracting must be why I didn’t notice till today the sly reference in the surface to a retired American senator.
 7 Mostly potty American leader and tyrant (8)
COMMODUS — COMMOD[-e] + US
 8 Untidy she-devil needs sorting out (8)
DISHEVEL — (she-devil)* “Untidy” could have been the anagrind, but it at least can be taken as a verb, whereas “needs sorting out” is an adjective any way you look at it.
11 Gone off with our nurse? One might do that! (12)
NEUROSURGEON — (Gone + our nurse)* Rather a jocular &lit. (And I bet most of us initially imagined a male doctor and a female nurse, but anything is possible.)
15 Slim, wise man losing pound for looker abroad? (9)
SIGHTSEER — S[-l]IGHT SEER… Normally, parts of a charade clue don’t have to hang together as a phrase when decrypted, but here they must, as the L that comes out of “slight” is said to be lost by the “wise man.” You can sightsee in your own country, too, hence the question mark.
16 Private last to run aboard navy helicopter (8)
SNEAKING — S([-ru]N)EAKING… According to Wikipedia, the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, an American twin-engined anti-submarine helicopter, was the world’s first amphibious helicopter. Sea King is now part of the name of several US and UK helicopter models. This was probably my LOI, and holding me up as much as not knowing the aircraft was the… sneaky definition. Many a merely private person is accused of SNEAKING around, when that’s not the way they see it at all! It’s tricky, too, because SNEAKING isn’t used that much as an adjective—most commonly maybe in the expression in my headline, where it doesn’t mean “private”; Lexico has “(of a feeling) persistent in one’s mind but reluctantly held or not fully recognized.” And the other Lexico definition is “Furtive and contemptible.” But SNEAKING and “private” are found cheek by jowl in some lists of synonyms and “similar” words, so I guess that’s close enough for our purposes.
17 Desk, after a grunt, is easily moved (8)
AGITABLE — A + GI, “grunt” + TABLE, “desk”
19 State prison lawyer in US tours close to Alabama (6)
CANADA — CAN, “prison” + [-alabam]A + DA, “lawyer in US”
20 Respect Queen demanding that soprano leaves (6)
REVERE — Even at her age, she has sensitive ears! R + [-s]EVERE, “demanding“ minus its S
22 Conservative slant with no endorsements (5)
CLEAN — C(onservative) + LEAN, “slant”… The definition gave me pause—and prompted a little research. My first thought was of a politician untainted by any sleazy corporate backing… but that didn’t quite fit. Googling “clean” and “no endorsements” turned up the phrase “All licenses must be clean with no endorsements to rent with us.” Eventually, I learned that an endorsement (in these cases hewing closely to the literal, etymological sense of “something written on the back”) is a clause in an insurance policy detailing an exemption from or change in coverage or (Lexico) “(in the UK) a note on a driving licence recording the penalty points incurred for a driving offence” (Lexico also gives “indorsement” as a US spelling, but that looks odd to me). I guess the latter sense is the most common, and it must be amusing for those to whom such endorsements are possibly even all too familiar to see an American (who, by the way, doesn’t drive) scratching his head over it.