June 14th, 2020

Mephisto 3119 - Tim Moorey

On the gentler scale of Mephistos, but I enjoyed it because of one entry, which reminded me of a book I read last year, and I dug off the shelf to re-read the section pertaining to the entry. Since it will break up the blog, and I need something to occupy this space, I'll put the digression here.

The answer to 3 down, illinium is defined in Chambers as "former name for prometheum", which is a spurious definition. The history of element 61 is detailed in The Lost Elements: The Periodic Table's Shadow Side by Fontani, Costa and Orna (Mary Virginia Orna was kind enough to sign my copy). The Cliffs' notes version is that a research group in Illinois claimed to isolate element 61 and name it illinium. This was proven to be false, (it had been shown by Mattauch that there should be no stable isotopes of element 43 or 61), however since the idea of elements being discovered in the USA was attractive,several American textbooks continued to use the term illinium even after the two isotopes of the element were isolated and confirmed as a fissile product of uranium and named prometheum.

 Now that I've bored you with chemical history, it is time for the clues. Since definitions (other than that for illinium) can be confirmed in Chambers I will focus on wordplay in this report.

Away we go...

1 Hold gutted carp fish (4)
HOKI - HO(hold, as an interjection)., then KOI(carp) missing the middle letter
4 Disaster hit marine creatures (8)
11 House delegate caught in love trap (9)
ODELSTING - DEL(delegate) inside O(love), STING(trap)
12 Salmon colour Riesling? Not popular! (6)
GRILSE - anagram of REISLING minus IN(popular)
13 Lose control in strikes getting backing (4)
SPAZ - ZAPS(strikes) reversed
15 Choose one couple for aristo (8)
OPTIMATE - OPT(choose), I(one), MATE(couple)
16 Shake or nausea associated with cobwebs (8)
20 Send back harsh oriental food (4)
NORI - reverse IRON(harsh)
21 Quite boring terribly rude landowner (7)
UDALLER - ALL(quite) inside an anagram of RUDE
23 Majestic area in capital (7)
AUGUSTA - AUGUST(majestic), A(area) - the capital of the state of Georgia Maine (d'oh)
25 Italian painter needing drop of light oil (4)
OTTO - the Italian painter Loreno LOTTO minus the first letter of Light
26 Spell of prosperity broken — that’s a blow (8)
UPPERCUT - I think his is UPPPER(spell of prospertity), CUT(broken) but it could be UP and CUT with PER(a) inside
27 Old journalist resisted changes (8)
30 Such is a healthy food occupational therapist briefly mentioned (4)
OATY - sounds like O.T. (occupational therapy)
31 Copper alloy in uncovered fire door to be replaced (6)
OROIDE - anagram of the middle letters of fIRE DOOr
32 King squeezed by partners playing joker (9)
PRANKSTER - K(king) inside an anagram of PARTNERS
33 Agricultural experts looked at keeping document signed by yours truly (8)
SEEDSMEN - SEEN(looked at) containin DS(document signed) and ME(yours truly)
34 Jaunty foxtrot rejected by Fay (4)
AIRY - remove F(foxtrot) from FAIRY(fay)
1 This revelry could bring about my early hangover (8)
HOGMANAY - a neat all-in-one - anagram of MY,EARLY,HANGOVER minus REVELRY
2 After sacking odd characters, senior Knight’s on top — that’s me (4)
KEIR - alternating letters in sEnIoR eith K(knight) on top
3 Troy retains nothing set up for radioactive element (8)
ILLINIUM - ILIUM(Troy) containing NIL(nothing) reversed
5 Silly to upset, leave room briefly (7, two words)
STEP OUT - anagram of TO,UPSET
6 Pet's condition after bit of a trek? A little tired (4)
TIFT - IF(condition) after the first letter of Trek, then the first letter of Tired
7 Consider lives in Geneva ordered (8)
ENVISAGE - IS(lives) in an anagram of GENEVA
8 Talk over once politician accepted in Ireland (6)
IMPARL - MP(politician), A(accepted) inside IRL(Ireland)
9 Dumb Sally admitting fault finally overturned glass bowl (9)
DIATRETUM - MUTE(dumb) and RAID(sally) both reversed, containing the last letter of faulT
10 Measure of what decorators use (4)
SIZE - double definition (the second referring to a paste)
14 Port charges about to break joint (9)
GROUNDAGE - ROUND(about) inside GAGE(joint, marijuana)
17 Certainly right in being guarantors (8)
ENSURERS - SURE(certainly), R(rght) inside ENS(being)
18 Oil or gas can be processed in plant (8)
GLORIOSA - anagram of OIL,OR,GAS
19 Mere foam remaining in burn (8)
FROTHERY - OTHER(remaining) inside FRY(burn)
22 Lawyer and police officer against ecstasy drug (7)
DAPSONE - DA(lawyer), PS(Police Sargeant), ON(against), E(ecstasy)
24 Act in dashing way on getting swelling (6)
GOITRE - GO IT(act in dashing way), RE(on)
27 Betting game not specified for ages (4)
EONS - EO(betting game), NS(not specified)
28 Test showing reversed cut when Mike’s opening (4)
EXAM - first letter of Mike and AXE(cut) all reversed
29 Bird indeed seen in small tree (4)
TITI - TIT(bird), I(indeed) - apologies for the incorrect parsing originally, saw the finish line and rushed to an incorrect conclusion

Sunday Times 4906 by David McLean

10:44. Once again I have left it very late to blog this one so I don’t remember much about my solving experience… other than that I enjoyed it. I should really try harder to write these things on the day. Subsequent analysis of the clues confirms that lots of them are top notch, and the surface readings (which I have trained myself not to notice when solving) are in several cases outstanding.

Points of discussion? Maybe a slight question mark about the definition at 7ac, and we might debate how cryptic 22ac is, if we want something to argue talk about, but overall another great puzzle so thank you Harry.

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

1 Detachment fire on half-strength Saudis
7 Surprises wife, lurking in recessed place in field
WOWS - W contained in SOW (place in field) reversed (recessed). I’d have said that to WOW is more to impress than surprise, but I guess one is implicit in the other. The use of 'place' here is really clever: nouns that can be verbs are the setters friend!
9 It isn’t result man’s knocked, but player
INSTRUMENTALIST - (IT ISNT RESULT MAN)*. Nice clue, the surface evoking the lingo of the football commentator.
10 A cable containing conservative agreement
12 Dislike rendering on villa’s eastern side
AVERSION - villA, VERSION (rendering).
13 Tough barrier that a soldier goes over
15 Ties unfortunately cost a shilling
17 You must get bit of nitro and spring crook
UNWELL - U (you, text lingo), Nitro, WELL (spring).
18 Your good health is from good spirits and one drop of Orvieto
CHEERIO - CHEER, I, Orvieto.
19 Once more make sure nurse follows on quickly
REFASTEN - RE (on), FAST, EN (Enrolled Nurse).
21 In hearing, a group is tried
SOUGHT - sounds like ‘sort’, to non-rhotic speakers anyway.
22 She’s very big in New York
STATUE OF LIBERTY - (barely) cryptic definition.
24 Very experienced army walk away from front
25 Heavy trailer not in need of refurbishment
TORRENTIAL - (TRAILER NOT)*. Definition cunningly hidden in plain sight.

2 Local news overlooked by head of ITV
INN - Itv, NN (new x2). Not a hard clue to solve but what a surface!
3 Go off with a parent to get financial aid
4 Dive deeply in coastal waters
SOUND - DD. I wasn’t sure about the first definition but it’s in Collins: ‘(of a whale, etc) to dive downwards swiftly and deeply’. The example of the second most familiar to me as an honorary Canuck is Parry Sound in Georgian Bay.
5 Out or not out? England cross with bit of play
INEXACT - IN, E, X, ACT. No assembly required.
6 Letter lady found outside of King’s Cathedral
7 Country cries out to be heard
WALES - sounds like ‘wails’.
8 A chopper with a delayed time of arrival
WISDOM TOOTH - CD. An excellent example of its type. These clues are tough for seasoned solvers because you waste time looking for wordplay (time of arrival = ETA? with = W? etc) when there is none. Some people dislike them but it's a kind of bluff and when it works well (as here) they can be excellent.
11 Repeated correspondence with franchised landlord?
CHAIN LETTER - a bit of a confusing clue in that if you’re a franchisee running a pub in a chain you will be (in a property sense) a renter rather than a landlord, so to make sense of the wordplay I think you have to separate the parts: [franchised] = CHAIN, [landlord] = LETTER.
14 Bunch involved in complicated Mantel plot
ALLOTMENT - (MANTEL)* containing LOT.
16 Fat, but puds halved in my dieting period!
18 Talk about one that's spruce?
20 American leader comes to Long Beach at last!
AITCH - American, ITCH. One of my kids is keen on the Manchaster rapper Aitch at the moment. The things one has to put up with.
21 Small fish spear
23 Film about Sri-Lanka ultimately being Ceylon?
TEA - reversal of ET, sri-lankA. There is a rule that you’re not allowed extraneous words in containment clues so the setter has to sneak a dodgy hyphen in here to make Sri Lanka one word.