July 9th, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic No 1653 by Des

One of Setter Des’s rare visits, which are invariably welcome.  He scores quite high on Jackkt’s League Table of Difficulty (fifth, and just ahead of Izetti), so I expected the worst when I saw his name, but I solved this one in 12 minutes, which was pretty good going.  I do admit though, that two answers were parsed after I stopped the clock post-solve (5d and 7d, where the answers were obvious, but some of the parsing tricky).

Strangely, this was the exact same grid that I blogged 14 days ago when it was set by Teazel, and which I found slightly harder.  I wonder if our Master Statistician Jackkt can tell us how many standard grids exist in the library, and where I can get a copy of them for setting practice.

FOI was FACE, LOI LEN, and lots to enjoy in between.  Thanks Des, and come back soon.


1  Declares about English people getting their own back? (8)
AVENGERS – AVERS (declares) surrounding (about) ENG{lish}.
6  Loud expert features (4)
FACE – F (loud, forte in music notation) and ACE (expert)
8 See name for pet dog? (4)
SPOT – Double definition, the second referring to a popular name for a pet dog, as well as the eponymous hero of a series of children’s books written and illustrated by Eric Hill.
9  Happier somehow about start of Greek inscription (8)
EPIGRAPH – Anagram (somehow) of [HAPPIER] with G{reek} (start of).
10  Alcoholic drink put out near bowl (5,3)
BROWN ALE – Anagram (put out) of [NEAR BOWL].
12 Bill’s the judge (4)
BEAK – Double definition, the first referring to the bill of a bird, the second to an old slang term for a magistrate.
13  Posh school transforming it’s fourth famous actress (6)
HARLOW – A reference to Jean HARLOW, Hollywood actress.  The posh school is Harrow, which transforms it’s fourth letter from R{ight} to L{eft} to provide the answer.
16  Marks volunteers getting involved in crimes (6)
STAINS – TA (Territorial Army, the volunteers) inside (getting involved in) SINS (crimes).
17  Celebrate increment, finally, in pay (4)
FETE – FEE (pay) with {incremen}T (finally) inserted.
18  Correctional centre in Hampshire media lambasts (8)
REMEDIAL – Hidden answer (centre in) found in {hampshi}RE MEDIA L{ambasts}
21  One not serving polite Scotsman? (8)
CIVILIAN – CIVIL (polite) and IAN (Scotsman).  In Crosswordland, IAN is often accepted to be a Scottish given name, although I have known plenty of Ian's that weren't (Scottish).
22  Saint from this country embraced by the French (4)
LUKE – For those of us solving in the Times’ home country, this country means the UK.  Here UK is inside (embraced by) LE (French for the).
23  Shut up? About time! (4)
CAGE – C (C{irca} = about) and AGE (time).  CAGE as in to shut or lock something up, in a cage.
24  Need cart for transporting wine bottle? (8)
DECANTER – Anagram (for transporting) of [NEED CART]


2  Celebrity royal: a snake! (5)
VIPER – VIP (celebrity) and ER (royal, Elizabeth Regina).
Clear goal (3)
NET – Double definition, the first as in net pay (clear of taxes) and the second as in ‘the ball is in the net / goal’.
Medical procedure possibly reduced lameness on reflection (5)
ENEMA – reverse hidden (reduced on reflection) inside {l}AMENE{ss}.
5  At heart, professional pride the making of these web designers (7)
SPIDERS – Anagram (the making of) [SS] (middle two letters of {profe}SS{ional} (at heart) and [PRIDE] with some good misdirection in the cryptic definition part.
6  Dismiss kind, wildly passionate individual (9)
FIREBRAND – FIRE (dismiss) and BRAND (kind).
Skipper can set about article after international award (7)
CAPTAIN – I found this parsing a bit chewy, until I stopped thinking about CAN clueing the first two and last letters of the answer.  It is CAP (international award) followed by TIN (can) around (about) A (article).
11  Wine lover, extraordinary voracious creature (9)
WOLVERINE – Anagram (extraordinary) of [WINE LOVER]
14  States “I have a girl’s name”? (7)
AMERICA – If I did, I might say I ‘AM ERICA’.  Unusual clueing!
15  Draw rib, shaped as old military plane (7)
WARBIRD – Anagram (shaped) of [DRAW RIB].  The definition of WARBIRD in my Chambers is ‘a vintage military aircraft’.
19  Crazy bloke in charge (5)
MANIC – MAN (bloke) IC (In Charge).
20  Porter maybe astride queen and king’s racehorse (5)
ARKLE – ALE (porter maybe) containing (astride) R (queen) and K{ing’s} to give the name of the famous Irish racehorse.
22  Boy’s fast time – when failing to finish (3)
LEN – The ‘fast time’ is LEN{t}, the 40 days of fasting prior to Easter, failing to finish = drop the last letter.

Times 27712 - git along

Time taken: 8:49. I made a pretty steady solve through this, but I was surprised to be in fifth place with this time after the puzzle has been out for about two hours, I didn't think it was that easy.

Very nice puzzle, excellent wordplay throughout, which is my favorite part of contributing to this blog. There are a couple of USA-centric terms, which puts me at an advantage.

I hope everyone is staying safe and sane! Maybe there will be cricket tomorrow...

Away we go

1 Lake bird ultimately happier on home ground (7)
MOORHEN - anagram of the last letter of happieR,ON,HOME
5 Thorny shrub that can be cut by a lively person? (5)
CAPER - double definition, the second based on the phrase "cut a caper"
9 German poet’s idyll finally digested by Republican president (5)
RILKE - last letter of idylL inside R(Republican), IKE(President Eisenhower, who was also a Republican)
10 Tinny tone upset nobody (9)
11 Palm-greasing bachelor tucking into cheese by railway (7)
BRIBERY - B(Bachelor) inside BRIE(cheese) then RY(railway)
12 Policemen get older? It’s a measure of things! (7)
YARDAGE - YARD(policemen), AGE(get older). Things being cloth and golf holes
13 One who circumvents hurdles when discussing terms? (10)
NEGOTIATOR - double definition
15 Bucket down, causing hunt assembly to retreat (4)
TEEM - MEET(hunt assembly) reversed
18 Expression of amusement having left lounge (4)
LOLL - LOL(laugh out loud, expression of amusement), L(left)
20 Amateur work protecting calmer place where drinks are made (10)
DISTILLERY - DIY(do it yourself, amateur work) containing STILLER(calmer)
23 Study racehorse’s record and fit in (7)
CONFORM - CON(study), and the racing FORM
24 Podgier member, one held in proper regard initially (7)
DUMPIER - MP(member), I(one) inside DUE(proper) and the first letter of Regard
25 Sadness quiet girl displays about old soldier going west (9)
POIGNANCY - P(quiet), NANCY(girl) surrounding O(old) and GI(soldier) reversed
26 Sign of tooth decay? Not the first (5)
ARIES - CARIES(tooth decay) missing the first letter
27 Motherless calf in US that is faced with canine (5)
DOGIE -  IE(that is), with DOG(canine)
28 Line up again for compensation (7)
REDRESS - to line up again you could RE-DRESS
1 Type in China working on dairy farm? (7)
MILKING - ILK(type) inside MING china
2 Choose to applaud at first before interrupting stage work (8)
OPERETTA - OPT(choose) then the first letters of To Apploaud containing ERE(before)
3 Practical characters at borders of Hungary? (5)
HANDY - the outside letters of Hungary are H AND Y
4 Governess has shot at making butter, possibly (5,4)
NANNY GOAT - NANNY(governess), GO(shot), AT
5 Quirky person swallowing an unfounded rumour (6)
CANARD - CARD(quirky person) containing AN
6 Formal note about a church dignitary (7)
PRIMATE - PRIM(formal), and TE(note) surrounding A
7 Product of poet — Frost, by the sound of it (5)
RHYME - sounds like RIME(frost)
8 Organisation keeping peace in family court (8)
TRIBUNAL - UN(United Nations, organization keeping peace) inside TRIBAL(family)
14 Soldiers propping up a former country in old Anatolia (4,5)
ASIA MINOR - OR(soldiers) underneath A, SIAM(former country), IN
16 Civic dignitary from Irish county on seagoing vessel (8)
MAYORESS - county MAYO, RE(on), SS(seagoing vessel)
17 Brownie possibly eating meat? It’s Uncle Sam’s picnic (8)
CLAMBAKE - CAKE(brownie) containing LAMB(meat)
19 Urge of significant duration in capital of Greece (7)
LONGING - LONG(of significant duration), IN, then the first letter of Greece
21 Priest given right to plug team’s sovereign remedies (7)
ELIXIRS - ELI(priest) then R(right) inside XI'S(team's)
22 Power employed by snow leopard to strike (6)
POUNCE -  P(power), OUNCE(snow leapoard)
23 Girl turning up with award — a winged figure (5)
CUPID - DI(girl) reversed with CUP(award)
24 Tree-dweller featuring in sundry advertisements (5)
DRYAD - hidden in sunDRY ADvertisements

Times 27,713: Guess Who's Back, Friday's Back

Well this was something of a beast, requiring as it did knowledge of sporting argot, classical AND rock music and various foreign tongues to negotiate its pangrammatic wynds. Marvellous stuff though I'm ashamed to admit I didn't make it home inside of the quarter hour, due to having JUST AS IT IS in for 12ac and then somehow only being able to think of CROCODILE ROCK for the longest time. As Chuck D so rightly put it "Elvis was a hero to most, but..." Maybe when he went on "most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps" he meant that you could find their pseudonyms on puzzle pages of British broadsheets instead?

I did at least avoid the temptation to submit MUCH AS IT IS when the juzgado penny dropped... but there was only a split second in it.

Loads of treasurably brilliant clues in here, with surfaces to die for. I really really liked the double political jibing at 28dn and 8dn - how is Sir Keir Dave Starmer working out in these times of crisis, anyway? - so I'll make them my joint COD, but there were any number of constructions I could have waxed lyrical about in this grid, I'll let you all nominate your own faves. Bravo setter for this excellent introductory course to build stamina for tackling the Monthly Club Special, and please to keep the tough ones coming at the end of the week!

1 Start doing gags about Charlie being seen at Cheltenham? (4,6)
JUMP JOCKEY - JUMP [start] + JOKEY [doing gags] "about" C(harlie). I figured this was a fair bet to be something about racing but I hadn't realised that Cheltenham Racecourse is The Home of Jump Racing. So of course you'll find "jump jockeys" there!

6 He’s likely to be a Muslim? Most unlikely! (2,2)
AS IF - Asif is an Arabic-world masculine name; chances are that most Asifs are Muslim.

9 Foreign criminal having gone back, one had nick closed (7)
BANDITO - reverse I'D NAB [one had | nick], + TO [closed].

10 Game show from Oz, initially pushing IQ up, weirdly (3,4)
POP QUIZ - (OZ P{ushing} IQ UP*) ["weirdly"]

12 Say what many diseases end in: being no better? (4,2,2,2)
SUCH AS IT IS - SUCH AS [say] + -ITIS [what many diseases end in]

13 Release clutch like a pro? Hardly! (3)
LAY - Complicated double definition. I thought the first half was just about "letting go of something, putting it down" but it's what a hen does; and the second contrasts being a professional with being a layperson.

15 Not the case guard used regularly to keep books in (6)
UNTRUE - {g}U{a}R{d} U{s}E{d}, to keep N(ew) T(estament) in

16 Irrational and I hesitate to say outsize note providing musical direction (3,5)
PIU MOSSO - PI [irrational] + UM [I hesitate to say] + O/S + SO [note]. I was not familiar with this direction to play "with more movement", more quickly than before, so had to be very careful not to get the penultimate lesser wrong. MOSDO didn't look very Italian fortunately.

18 Teary daughter, newly wed, hugging you repeatedly (4-4)
DEWY-EYED - D(aughter) + (WED*) ["newly"], "hugging" YE YE

20 Russian perhaps with trace of novichok avoiding check (6)
ANDREI - AND [with] + REI{n} [check, minus the first trace of N{ovichok}]

23 Chap writes off to the auditors (3)
REX - homophone of WRECKS [writes off]

24 Glaring as family Golf is going past (10)
OVERTAKING - OVERT AKIN G [glaring | as family | Golf]

26 Doubt short integrated circuit close to spark plugs is faster (7)
QUICKER - take QUER{y} [doubt, "short"] and then "plug" it with IC {spar}K. The type of clue that you need a degree (or equivalent experience) in crosswordology to untangle the workings of quickly!

27 Like a bargain? One not available continuously? (2,5)
ON OFFER - or, humorously, an ON-OFF-ER sounds like someone who oscillates between being on and off. Much like my blogging really.

28 Party for letting go of some left-leaning minority groups (4)
ORGY - hidden reversed (leaning right-to-left!) in {minorit}Y GRO{ups}

29 People similar to this feel ok, somehow (3,5,2)
THE LIKES OF - (THIS FEEL OK*) ["somehow"]

1 Judge the writer’s ungrammatical sneer (4)
JIBE - J(udge) + I BE [an ungrammatical form of I AM, = "the writer is"]

2 Look for someone with height in football team, not lacking heart (7)
MANHUNT - H(eight) in MAN U [football team], + N{o}T

3 Single jug? That pitcher might do (9,4)
JAILHOUSE ROCK - JAILHOUSE [prison = jug] + ROCK [what a "pitch"er might do]

4 Pick toffees out of one’s mouth? (6)
CHOOSE - homophone of CHEWS. I was worried this might be a classic dodgy homophone but I just asked a Scot to say them both and they sounded the same, so that's one of the usually most stringent tests passing.

5 Very understanding chap, changing with time (8)
EMPATHIC - (CHAP + TIME*) ["changing"]

7 Cries as lumbang-oil emptied into vessel (7)
SQUALLS - QUA [as] + L{umbang-oi}L, into S.S.

8 The force of certain posturing involving Left in imprecise reasoning? (5,5)
FUZZY LOGIC - FUZZ [= coppers = the force] + YOGIC [of certain posturing] "involving" L(eft)

11 Child’s play, this innings from one used to handling deliveries? (8,5)
POSTMAN'S KNOCK - "knock" as in a spell of batting in cricket was unknown to me, but the crossers eventually got me to the children's game.

14 Exchange money, being paid half of stated price (4,3,3)
QUID PRO QUO - QUID [money] + PRO [professional = being paid] + QUO{ted} [half of "stated price"]

17 Touching address finally by head of Europol leading investigation (8)
RESEARCH = RE [touching] + {addres}S + E{uropol} + ARCH [leading]

19 Singer in need of whiskey getting larger bottles (7)
WAXWING - WAXING [getting larger] "bottles" W(hiskey)

21 Series of low very low grades deciding contests (7)
RUNOFFS - RUN OF FS. Not sure if there mightn't be at least one superfluous word in this clue, but it doesn't actively hurt anything.

22 Way to get bread and piece of cake (6)
STROLL - S(tree)T + ROLL [bread] to make a walk in the park.

25 Composer’s optional direction to play louder? (4)