June 30th, 2020

  • jackkt

Times Cryptic 27704

Solving time: 36 minutes. This is my 450th blog of 15x15 puzzles - the first having been posted on 23rd November 2007. I remember sweating blood over the early ones but the process became much easier over time as I got used to what I was trying to do and difficulties with presentation and formating were resolved by the introduction of the template script. I'm not sure my solving times have improved a lot since those days but  I don't concern myself too much about that, quoting them mainly for the encouragment of slower solvers who might otherwise feel over-awed when seeing the times posted by our speed merchants. I found today's puzzle quite gentle.

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  • jackkt

QC League Table of difficulty by Setter (June 2020)

Nobody has asked for it this time round, but undeterred I bring you an update of my analysis of QC difficulty levels by Setter. It's based entirely on my own solving times and whether or not I achieved my target of 10 minutes on any particular day. It's intended as a bit of fun and I am not suggesting for a moment that it would stand up to an objective statistical examination other than of my own failure rate, but when I published previously it proved to be of some interest.

Setters are once again rated 1 - 10 (easiest to hardest) and I have excluded a handful of setters who gave us fewer than 4 puzzles in the current period (1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020).

Monthly Club Special 20,237: I Fought Scots Law, And Scots Law Won

Once again the best cryptic workout of the month, because biffability has been all but subtracted from the equation - if you could readily define more than half a dozen of these words without resort to a dictionary, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Interesting and experimental cluing is the icing on the cake.

I really really liked the surface for 26ac, but also have a soft spot having grown up on the wrong side of Offa's Dyke for 13ac. What tickled your fancies this month?

1 Wafer eaters forgoing starter, confused with tiny portions (8)
AZYMITES - {h}AZY [confused, minus its starter] + MITES [tiny portions]. An azymite is "a member of any church using unleavened bread in the Eucharist", if you want to drop it casually into conversation at some point.

6 Pop radio personality possibly a preener, according to tragic Prince (6)
PAJOCK - PA [pop] + JOCK [radio personality]. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, either (a) a peacock or (b) a misprint.

9 Once turned piles over (4)
SPAN - reversed NAPS. "Spun" is preferred these days, hence the "once".

10 Male cricket team putting name forward initially tried taking woman from old Scottish trial? (10)
ENLEVEMENT - ELEVEN MEN, putting N (= name) forward; + T{ried}. An archaic term in Scottish law for abducting a woman or child. Whew!

11 Something from prompter, a nod, once, for toothless one that was giant in the wings (10)
PTERANODON - flying dinosaur hidden in {prom}PTER A NOD ON{ce}.

13 John Wyclif has this divine inspiration symmetrically arranged (4)
HWYL - located, symmetrically and inventively, in {jo}H{n} WY{c}L{if}. As you may have guessed, it's Welsh.

14 Locked room vacated unexpectedly for official function? (8)
CLERKDOM - (LOCKED R{oo}M*) ["unexpectedly"]

16 Music featuring accordion cases in Zemlinsky double concerto (6)
ZYDECO - Z{emlinsk}Y D{oubl}E C{oncert}O. Louisianan, mainly.

18 Society of Jesus welcomed by Virgin (traditionally) in place of worship (6)
MASJID - S.J. "welcomed" by MAID, to find another word for a mosque.

20 Succeeded with grooming tool, having teeth clear of tuna etc (8)
SCOMBRID - S [succeeded] + COMB [grooming tool, having teeth] + RID [clear]. Very fishy if you ask me.

22 Dirty dog stops short of male monkey (4)
DOUC - DOUC{he}. A "variegated monkey of SE Asia", well worth a Google Image Search.

24 Parisian who fills multipurpose device: note volcanic chemical (10)
COQUIMBITE - QUI [Parisian "who"] fills COMBI [multipurpose device] + TE [note]. Named for Coquimbo in Chile where it was found, obviously.

26 Scotsman’s son moves to opening, driven out by last of scary stories in tent (10)
SHAMIYANAH - take HAMISH, a Scotsman, and drive out his S (= son) as instructed with {scar}Y ANA. The tent is Indian or Persian.

28 Said what results from initial delay in attention (4)
EHED - take HEED [attention], and delay the first letter just a tad. Said "what?"

29 Shellfish porridge on leaves? That’s 100 yen up front (6)
CYPRIS - PRIS{on}, with C Y "up front". Cypris is a sobriquet of Aphrodite, so I'm imagining these bivalve crustaceans are quite dishy in some way.

30 Proud necromancer almost secures ways to escape going west (9)
FASTUOUS - FAUS{t} [necromancer, "almost"] secures reversed OUTS

2 Tropical fruit punch replacing fluid in several small vessels (9)
ZAPOTILLA - take FLOTILLA [several small vessels] and replace FL [fluid] with ZAP [punch]

3 Dresser upended, given another airing before midday (7)
MANURER - reversed RERUN A.M.

4 Next to embrace grand old English aristocrat (5)
THEGN - THEN [next] to "embrace" G

5 Half of pay needed to make a crust (3)
SAL - SAL{ary}. Another word for "sial", the silica-alumina upper part of the earth's continental crust/

6 Coloured marble from around Wunsiedel used for length of sumptuous Italian building (9)
PAVONAZZO - take a PALAZZO [sumptuous Italian building], and replace its L (= length) for VON [from, in Wunsiedel or anywhere else in Germany really]

7 Legendary king’s predicament easily frightened daughter (7)
JAMSHYD - JAM SHY D [predicament | easily frightened | daughter]. Jamshyd is (as we all know) the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian dynasty.

8 Glaswegian’s in good spirits, barely enough to lose head (5)
CANTY - {s}CANTY. Scots word for lively or cheerful.

12 For locals, Syrian city is unlit, similar to headquarters (7)
DIMASHQ - DIM AS HQ [unlit | similar to | headquarters]. One must assume that we've been spelling Damascus wrong all these years...

15 Perhaps unaus made a move, climbing with surreptitiousness (9)
DIDACTYLS - DID ACT [made a move] + reversed SLY [with surreptitiousness]. The unau is the two-toed sloth.

17 Fizzy tonic with bottomless red, gold and orange drink (9)
COINTREAU - (TONIC*) ["fizzy"] + RE{d} + AU [gold]

19 Vessel crossing a river to see iridescent bird (7)
JACAMAR - JAR crossing A CAM. South American long-billed insect-catching bird.

21 Live insect on middle of spruce tree (7)
BEBEERU - BE + BEE + {sp}RU{ce}. This is the "greenheart" tree of Guyana.

23 Perthshire town abandoning pit left full of colourful earth (5)
OCHRY - {pit}{l}OCHRY

25 Hope for good outcome with wife leaving Scottish court’s exits (5)
ISHES - {w}ISHES. The "liberty of going out", in Scots law, is an ish, ish.

27 Stand for cutlery etc and wash up (3)
NEF - reverse of a FEN, or marshy wash. This ornamental cutlery stand was "often in the shape of a ship", hence the word's similarity to "nave".