August 23rd, 2020

Sunday Times 4916 by Dean Mayer

29:22. I found this extremely hard, for reasons that I can actually put my finger on for a change. Dean’s cryptic definitions are often tricky, and I was particularly slow in seeing them in this puzzle: 13dn is probably the most extreme example (it took me forever) but 22ac and 7dn also held me up for some time. Completely unknown words and phrases in 12ac, 24ac and 2dn (which had to be painstakingly constructed from the anagrist) also caused me problems, and the puzzle is riddled with deceptively oblique definitions of familiar words.

Deception is the setter’s job though, and I didn’t find anything unfair in any of this. There’s an awful lot of very clever stuff as we have come to expect from Dean, and it’s always nice to have a challenging puzzle on Sunday when you’ve got time to savour it. It felt like I was making unnecessarily heavy weather of it though, so will be interested in how you all got on.

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

1 Tread, soft one
3 Retreat from tooth-puller?
IVORY TOWER - IVORY (tooth), TOWER (puller). The equivalence between tooth-puller and IVORY TOWER is far from obvious and very clever.
10 Reduce sharp pain
CURTAIL - a pair of oblique references here: neither sharp=CURT nor pain=AIL will be the first synonyms you think of. Perfectly good ones though.
11 Fruit off trolley?
BANANAS - two definitions, one mildly cryptic if only in so far as it’s trying to deceive you into thinking of a physical trolley. An unusually easy clue, make the most of it!
12 Fight in members’ lobby?
PASSAGE OF ARMS - I had never heard this expression so needed all the checkers to make the link between ‘lobby’ and PASSAGE.
14 Game stuffed with hot veg
CHARDS - C(H)ARDS. This took me forever because in all my years of cooking and eating chard I have never seen or heard it referred to in the plural. To me this is like saying ‘spinaches’. I love chard. Separate the stalks from the leaves, cook the former with garlic, chilli and lemon zest, then add the leaves, wilt them down and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.
15 Works a little magic on certificates
CONCERTI - contained in ‘magic on certificates.’
17 Condemn CEO’s salary?
EXECRATE - or EXEC RATE, geddit? This is a bit of a chestnut, but it took me ages to remember it, which was I think an indication that my brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
19 Short old French person eats tea cake
GATEAU - GA(TEA)Ul. Another reasonably straightforward clue that took me forever, which in turn caused me huge problems with my last in, 13ac.
22 Freedom fighter’s sacrificed to become one
PRISONER OF WAR - I went down all sorts of blind alleys with this one before realising that it was just a cryptic definition.
24 Old man is an old friend
PAISANO - PA, IS, AN, O. Another unknown word, fortunately with very clear assembly instructions.
25 Cunning ploy — aim for exhibition centre
OLYMPIA - (PLOY AIM)*. I used to live a stone’s throw from OLYMPIA, but this still took me an embarrassingly long time to see. Another indication that I was being a bit dopey last Sunday.
26 Guess magic includes juggling etc
CONJECTURE - CONJURE (magic, as a verb) containing (ETC)*.
27 One pruned spring flower

1 Dip in fence around pit
2 The cardinalship converted one in religious sect
CHRISTADELPHIAN - a completely new term to me, and we often complain about obscure words clued with anagrams, but it seemed completely clear to me where the letters needed to go. I needed all the checkers first though.
4 Water may flow along this very narrow street
5 Influence of chain turning in cycle
RUB OFF ON - reversal of OF FOB contained in RUN. RUN=cycle is a bit oblique but I think they meet in the sense of a run/cycle of concerts or plays. Or possibly something to do with computers?
6 Type of sex requiring whip and 80 per cent skill
TANTRIC - TAN, TRICk. The type practised by Sting in his over-sharing phase.
7 One should keep clear of driving rain
8 Product of volcano after right eruption
RASH - R, ASH. An eruption on the skin.
9 Crossing Arizona, water may be such a danger
HAZARD - H(AZ)ARD. ‘Water may be such’ to indicate HARD is a little oblique! Fortunately the main definition isn’t.
13 Bar code?
LIQUOR LAWS - CD. This was my last in, and even once I had all the checkers it took me a while. I was somewhat thrown by the fact that this is, as far as I’m aware, an Americanism. You don’t see the word ‘liquor’ at all much in the UK and we have licensing laws.
16 Free, as cotton weaving
18 Destroy old male removed from brood
20 Soon, Gordon Bennett will return as an alias
ANONYM - ANON (soon), reversal of MY (Gordon Bennett).
21 I’m more funny in my own story
MEMOIR - (IM MORE)*. This is another simple clue that took me forever to see and once again suggested that the old grey matter might not be in mid-season form.
23 Very long shot after one point
  • glheard

Mephisto 3129 - Paul McKenna

Fun puzzle, this one - you can trust the wordplay to get the large number of unusual terms in the grid.

Another grid with 90-degree symmetry, it seems we are getting more of these lately.

With the Mephisto, definitions (the first of which is underlined) can be verified in Chambers, so I will focus on the wordplay in this report.

And remember to never smile at a top row pun.

Away we go!

1 In Denver drunk staggered about on the left (7)
CROCKED - Not a term I remember hearing in 20 years in the USA. ROCKED(staggered) with C(about) on the left hand side
6 Passage is in Porter (5)
AISLE - IS in ALE(porter)
10 Again gather a little preliminary work just with its start delayed (9)
RECONVENE - RECON(preliminary work) then EVEN(just) with the first letter moved to the end
11 One at war is hot with sickness at Mons, Earl admitted (7)
ISHMAEL - IS, H(hot) and MAL(sickness in France) containing E(earl).
12 Tedious daily grind preceding husband’s sorrow (4)
RUTH -RUT(tedious daily grind), H(husband)
14 Char’s mate with bit stashed (8, two words)
CHINA TEA - CHINA(mate) containing ATE(bit)
15 Eg, who penned Tamerlane and its opening? (4)
POET - Tamerlane was written by Edgar Allan POE, then the first letter of Tamerlane
17 Ornament’s numbers held in check by kitchen police (5)
KNOSP - NOS(numbers) inside KP(Kitchen Police)
19 Who’d surprise someone holding a pistol around line (8)
STARTLER - a STARTER holds a pistol, surrouding L(line)
21 Victim’s close concealing old injury (8)
MURDEREE - MURE(to close) containing DERE(injury)
22 Sheath is round acer that’s abloom (5)
OCREA - O(round), then an anagram of ACER
24 Refuse in New York behind dispute — new US tip must go (4)
DENY - took a while to work through the worplay - it is NY after DISPUTE minus the mixed letters of US,TIP
26 Most recent ceremony is what makes some tropical landscapes (8)
LATERITE - LATE(most recent), RITE(ceremony)
29 Milton’s grievous and no longer sweet (4)
DEAR - double definition, though for the second one you need to look up SWEET in Chambers
30 Messiah quietly replacing special sort who works with flags (7)
PAVIOUR - SAVIOUR(messiah) with P(quietly) replacing S(special)
31 Shift in derived declaration of shock (9, three words)
I NEVER DID - anagram of IN,DERIVED and a phrase I associate with Kennrth Williams and Charles Hawtrey in Carry On movies
32 Have it large or it’s to go wild (5)
ROIST - anagram of OR,IT'S
33 Obedient duke as once ex officio, one of the royalty (7)
DUTEOUS - D(duke), UT(as), EO(ex officio), US(one of the royalty)
1 Wave from urchin holding up crown (5)
CRIMP - IMP(urchin) under CR(crown)
2 Scots tut over English line which must be toed? (4)
OCHE - OCH(tut) over E(English). This term for a line in darts always reminds me of the first time I had to blog a daily crossword I could not complete, as it was clued as a cryptic definition and I had never heard of it.
3 Turn out Chiron, say, onto Gallic street (8, two words)
COME TRUE - Chiron is a COMET, then RUE(Gallic street)
4 Worn-out charger, eg, HRH unplugged in unconscious act (5)
KNACK - the worn out horse is a KNACKER, remove ER(HRH)
5 Engineer lied with a special light manner of speaking (8)
DELIVERY - anagram of LIED then A and a VERY light (a flare)
6 In German, one’s coming (4)
ANON - hidden inside germAN ONe's
7 Excited suitor toting a pendant (7)
SAUTOIR - anagram of SUITOR containing A
8 Yellowish covering which protects trail (9)
LUTESCENT - LUTE(cement covering), SCENT(trail)
9 Eccentricity mostly cut short Nijinsky’s movement? (7)
ECHAPPE - E(eccentricity) then CHAPPED(cut short) missing the last letter
13 Move to locate Cicero finally diametrically opposed to Caesar (9, two words)
TOTO CAELO - anagram of TO,LOCATE and the last letter of cicerO
16 Blurted out about one having crested plates? (8)
PLUMIPED - PLUMPED(blurted out) containing I(one)
18 Elucidating signal is sent by this dashed refined taste at last (8)
NEEDFIRE - anagram of REFINED and the last letter of tastE
19 Sermon about Trump’s form to linger stateside (7)
SMOLDER - SER(sermon) surrounding MOLD(form)
20 Once Victor’s taken off aviatrix could be flying this (7, two words)
AIR TAXI - remove V(victor) from AVIATRIX and anagram
23 Mason’s face is retrospective, possibly tense (5)
REVET - reverse EVER(possibly), then T(tense)
25 Glance over and, God, son beams (5)
YARDS - RAY(glance) reversed, then D(deus, God), S(son)
27 Pa leaves ma for one split (4)
RENT - remove PA from PARENT(ma, for one)
28 Repeatedly rip off Charlie (4)
DODO - DO(rip off) repeated