August 1st, 2020

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1450 - 18th July. From gold stars to planet Earth

Hi everyone, I hope this blog finds you well.  I haven’t managed to so much as look at TfTT for some time, but it’s not because I don’t love you!  I’ve been busy with the day job, juggling two separate roles (neither of which involves actual juggling, mercifully).  It looks like all this may be keeping me busy for some months to come, but I do hope to manage to fit in a few more crosswords before the year is out …

I was hoping for a gentle puzzle and this one fit the bill nicely, everything slipping in without much trouble in around 45 minutes (I’m no speedster).  I learnt a few bits and pieces, but any checking/investigation could wait until after the solve, which always increases the satisfaction for me.  I haven’t identified any clues for special mention, but if I’ve failed to highlight a gem worthy of comment, the comments section is just the place to rectify that!

9a reminded me of something I’ve thought for a while, namely that I think there is now a good argument for allowing deceptive decapitalisation in clues.  Certainly of names, for which there is a growing tendency for people to use lower case informally – just look below the line on a more commented-upon post!  Instant messaging has also resulted in a trend towards the uncapitalised (bucked a little by autocorrect).  I wouldn’t expect to see it first in the Times, but I wonder whether we might find this happening somewhere soon.

Enough blathering from me.  With thanks to the setter for the entertainment, onwards to the clues.

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  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27726 - Saturday, 25 July 2020. Intimations of immor(t)ality?

This was all done at a relatively brisk pace, although I had an unaccountable block at the end with 16ac. I particularly liked that the clue told me specifically how to spell 10ac … although I confess even after following the instructions, I had trouble believing it is a real place!

18ac reminded me of the schoolboy version of Wordsworth’s Ode on the imitations of … (well, you get the drift).

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 {curly brackets}.

1 Showing hair nets provided by Victoria, say (13)
MANIFESTATION – MANE (hair) ‘nets’ IF (provided), ‘by’ STATION (Victoria, say).
8 Slight noise made by drinker is reduced (4)
SLUR – SLUR{p}, ‘reduced’.
9 Regret road is winding, going downhill (10)
RETROGRADE – anagram (‘is winding’) of (REGRET ROAD)
10 Celebrity keeping tuxedo by North American capital (8)
N’DJAMENA – NAME (celebrity) ‘keeping’ DJ (tux), ‘by’ N.A.  Yes, it’s a real place! The capital of Chad.
11 Stop using computer symbol with great noise (3,3)
LOG OFF – LOGO (symbol), FF (very loud).
13 I see wave swamping English vessel (10)
ICEBREAKER – I, C (see – it’s always a surprise to me that you can spell the names of letters! It didn’t happen at my school), E (English), BREAKER (wave). 
16 Head to lounge (4)
LOAF – double definition.
17 National chief in newspaper covers (4)
FINN – hidden answer. The definition refers to a national of Finland.
18 For one in dire need, naughty immorality (10)
DEGENERACY – E.G. (for one), in anagram (‘dire’) of (NEED), then RACY (naughty).
20 Intermittent surrounding echo — it's not repeated (3-3)
ONE-OFF – ON-OFF (intermittent), surrounding E (echo).
22 Love convenience during breaks in Alpine scenery? (8)
SNOWCAPS – O (love), andWC (convenience) ‘during’ SNAPS (breaks).
24 Blemishes covering a material for liqueur (10)
MARASCHINO – MARS (blemishes) ‘covering’ A, then CHINO.
26 Player of music school led by upright character (4)
IPOD – I (the upright character), then POD (school). Sorry, I think the clue is a comment on how the letter is written, not on your or my moral purity!
27 Featured by tabloid, awful bile is beyond words (13)
INEXPRESSIBLE – IN [the] EXPRESS (the tabloid of the moment), then anagram (‘awful’) of (BILE).

1 How men enunciate curse (11)
2 High priestess and not mother (5)
NORMA – not pa, NOR MA, eh? The heroine of Bellini’s opera. She was a Druid priestess.
3 Stuff from police agent in US containing drug (5-4)
FORCE-FEED – FORCE (police), FED (US agent) containing E.
4 What hinders determined rugby player (7)
SETBACK – SET (determined), BACK (one of the better-looking rugby players). Since you ask, yes, I played in the forwards.
5 A charge for a bunch of keys? (5)
ATOLL – A, TOLL. Chambers tells me an atoll is "A coral island consisting of a circular belt of coral enclosing a central lagoon" (ORIGIN: Name in Maldive Islands). And, a key is "A low island or reef". So, I'm not at all sure what "bunch" is doing in the clue!
6 Current Republicans holding a gun up for soldier (9)
IRREGULAR – I (the symbol for electrical current), and R+R (2 x Republicans), ‘holding’ A LUGER ‘up’=backwards.
7 Greeting teacher returned (3)
NOD – DON ‘returned’.
12 Ruling general on call, one like de Gaulle (11)
FRANCOPHONE – FRANCO (the Spanish general), PHONE (call).
14 Carrying nothing in bag, envoy arranged send-off (3,6)
BON VOYAGE – O (nothing) in anagram (‘arranged’) of (BAG ENVOY).
15 Under Egyptian sun abroad we must drink my bitter (9)
RANCOROUS – RA (the Egyptian sun god), NOUS (‘we’, in France), ‘drinking’ COR! (my!).
19 After raising flag, let go of heater (3,4)
GAS FIRE – GAS=SAG (flag) ‘raising’, then FIRE (let go an employee).
21 Football club bagging a leading trophy (2,3)
FA CUP – F.C. (football club), ‘bagging’ A, and UP (leading, at halftime for instance).
23 Conservative member to seek higher position (5)
CLIMB – C (Conservative), LIMB (member).
25 Is this person a foreign ally? (3)
AMI – ‘AM I?’, you ask.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4913 by Dean Mayer — The Favorite Game

I’ve never read the Leonard Cohen novel that shares its name with this entry. (There, the title refers to a non-solitary activity. Sigh)
This was quite an enjoyable romp, and I became acquainted with a new fruit and a somewhat obscure usage for “bottom.”

Worked online, and I neglected to note my FOI or LOI. I’m sure it took me a while to get 1ac.

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

 1 Crikey, he’s left a flower (5)
AVENS — [-he]AVENS… Only in Crosswordland does anyone ever call a river “a flow-er.” However, this is the botanical kind.
 4 An ace in the hand? (3,6)
TOP BANANA — CD… a bunch of the fruit being called a “hand” (the number of “fingers” varies wildly)
 9 Gossip first to leave during scrap? (7)
10 English PM accepting he’s “the Younger”, say (7)
EPITHET — E(nglish) + PIT(HE)T
11 One struggles to turn “fine fashion” into “bottom” (7,7)
FREEDOM FIGHTER — FRE(F + MODE<=)IGHTER… Did you know that “bottom” is another word for a cargo ship? I didn’t. One person’s FREEDOM FIGHTER is another’s “terrorist.”
13 Unite and disunite (6)
14 Cape Horn (8)
VUVUZELA — CD… because the raucous noisemaker is closely associated with football matches in Cape Town, South Africa
16 In state of emergency, merchant about to hide Louise’s skirts (3,5)
RED ALERT — TRADER<=“about” covering L[-ouis]E… Odd to have a definition-wordplay connector as the first word.
18 Do punks have second offer? (6)
MOHAWK — MO(ment), “second” + HAWK, “offer”
21 Lightweight carpeting (4,2,3,5)
23 South American church, one next to bank (7)
CHILEAN — CH(urch) + I, “one” beside LEAN, “bank”
24 Fruit essential while travelling west (7)
SATSUMA — A MUST + AS <=“traveling west” Hadn’t heard of this citrus fruit, but it’s not unlikely that I’ve eaten it. (It’s not a drupe.)
25 Now well off? (5,4)
RIGHT AWAY — RIGHT, “well” (as an intensifier) + AWAY, “off”
26 Is author heard in offices? (5)
RITES — “writes”

 1 Fantastic as terrific craftsmen (10)
ARTIFICERS — (as terrific)*
 2 Great old actor, minute parts (7)
EXTREME — EX, “old” + TRE(M)E, the “actor” being Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (17 December 1852—2 July 1917)
 3 PM’s love need left out personal growth (4-11)
SELF-DEVELOPMENT — (PM’s love need left)*
 4 Journalist abandoning the drums plays guitar (6)
 5 Very good to carry gun that criminal may have (8)
 6 Catch this misfit? (1,4,3,2,5)
A FISH OUT OF WATER — (It doesn’t seem like that would be very sporting.)
 7 Piece of spinach I eventually produce (7)
ACHIEVE — Hidden
 8 Modifying key ought to get fairly high vocal range (4)
ALTO — ALT, “Modifying key” + O, or zero, “ought” being an alternate spelling of “aught”
12 Sandy is into one game or another (10)
JACKSTRAWS — Well, I guess crosswords are games… JACK(STRAW)S, or pick-up sticks
15 Virgin with name hidden in plot (5-3)
BRAND-NEW — AND, “with” + N(ame) cached in BREW, “plot”
17 Lived rough—no good searching (7)
DELVING — (lived)* + N(o) G(ood)
19 “I am the greatest” for one missing last part? (7)
ALIQUOT — ALI QUOT[-e] I became familiar with this word when learning about just intonation, as the overtone series is produced by the division of, say, a vibrating string into ALIQUOT parts, or proper divisors, of the fundamental. The word can be a noun as well as an adjective.
20 At first we welcome the blue drink (6)
WHISKY — W[-e] + HI, “welcome” + SKY, “the blue” Unless the WHISKY is a single malt, I’d prefer whiskey.
22 Damage small vehicle (4)