August 29th, 2020

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Times Cryptic No 27750 - Saturday, 22 August 2020. Wot's that you zed?

This puzzle was more challenging than recent Saturdays, all thanks to clever clues, not obscurities. I didn’t note the exact order, but 10ac, 4dn, 7dn and 23ac all went in quickly. When three quarters were done, the SE corner was still virgin! 28ac was my LOI, and went in with great satisfaction!

As highlighted in the comments, there were some obscure uses of familiar words, but they are all supported by the dictionary, I think. 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 Sentimental, say, extremely, about year at college (6)
SYRUPY – S{a}Y (say, extremely), about YR (year) and UP (at college).
4 Head in charge, almost totally, for now? (7)
TOPICAL – TOP (head), I/C (in charge), AL{L} (totally, almost)
9 Nose, or a brief description of one? (5)
AROMA – classically, a prominent nose in the physical sense is A ROMA{N} one.
10 It was a miracle staff ran as door shattered (6,3)
AARON’S ROD – anagram (shattered) of RAN AS DOOR.
11 Preserve and deliver letter at the end, then track (6-3)
FREEZE-DRY – FREE (deliver), ZED (again, Im surprised to see a letter spelled out. Here, it’s the letter at the end of the alphabet, as spelled and pronounced in the UK), RY (railway track).
12 Like beer, often for old people (5)
INCAN – if beer isn’t in a bottle, it’ll be IN a CAN.
13 Stone axes and miniature figure from the east (4)
ONYX – X and Y axes, NO=number=figure, all backwards (from the east).
14 Scandinavian girl initially bringing in chicken, and something for dips later? (10)
FINGERBOWL – INGER is the girl. She and B (for Bringing) go in a FOWL.
18 Am merely puzzled, with no way of looking back? (6,4)
MEMORY LANE – anagram (puzzled) of AM MERELY NO.
20 Strip of land, double the amount you can dig up? (4)
SPIT – the answer was obvious , but I had to look it up to understand the wordplay. It’s a triple definition: a spit of land, a spitting image, or a spadeful=spitful of soil. I didn’t know the last usage!
23 I can be saved, cured and brought home (5)
BACON – a clever triple definition. Save the bacon, cure the bacon, bring home the bacon!
24 Replacing another very young airman who crashed orbiting moon (9)
VICARIOUS – V for very, ICARUS (the airman), orbiting IO (a moon of Jupiter).
25 Finished, I had, around five o’clock, basking in a warm glow? (3-6)
SUN-KISSED – SUNK (finished), I’D (I had), around SSE (south-south-east, approximately, on the clock face). SSE is actually a quarter past five on the clock, but it would be a shame to quibble with such an original device!
26 Not qualified to show clip? Only hear it (5)
SHEER – SHEER meaning unqualified as in “sheer nonsense”, sounds like SHEAR meaning clip.
27 Always with expensive clothes — but no pyjamas? (7)
DAYWEAR – AY (always) and W (with) in DEAR (expensive).
28 Turbulent, indeed, and corrupt place (6)
YEASTY – YEA (indeed), STY (corrupt place).

1 Crook, maybe, turned up to secure place in school (9)
STAFFROOM – STAFF (crook, maybe), MOOR (secure) turned up.
2 Fine for breaking eggs, overturning younger birds’ nests (7)
ROOKERY – OK (fine) breaking ROE (eggs), YR (younger) overturning.
3 Square meal, one that normally isn’t without appeal at first (6)
PIAZZA – PIZZA (a meal that's normally round, not square!), without=outside A{ppeal}.
4 Go around middle of rehearsals — or not? (5)
TARRY – TRY (go) around {rehe}AR{sals}.
5 Awfully dry input — that of experts? (8)
PUNDITRY – anagram (awfully) of DRY INPUT. An unkind definition gives a cute literal meaning for the clue.
6 You are casually opening what’s needed to make chocolate liqueur (7)
CURACAO – UR (you are, casually) opening=inside CACAO. Cacao is the tree that cocoa beans come from.
7 On the way up earned a lot contracting, becoming loaded (5)
LADEN – backwards hidden answer, signalled by ‘on the way up’ ‘contracting’.
8 Miss in the field actually helping us to victory? (4,4)
LAND GIRL – just a cryptic definition, I think. A reference to the WWII Land Army.
15 As recalled, no team reportedly finishing off race? (8)
GENOCIDE – GE is EG (as), recalled. The rest sounds like ‘NO SIDE’. A rather callous definition.
16 Invitation from minister to allow university’s petition (3,2,4)
LET US PRAY – LET (allow), U’S (university’s), PRAY (to petition, as a verb).
17 Press bags request from this writer? Dig that! (4,4)
IRON MINE – While you’re pressing pants, please IRON MINE. Dig for iron ore you know where.
19 Person affecting accent once my back finally is turned (7)
MOCKNEY – never heard this expression, but the anagram (turned) of ONCE MY {bac}K was obvious.
21 Great ability of female counterpart to bow? (7)
PROWESS – I always think of words ending in -ESS as an endearing Times Crossword archaism, but here it’s just a pun. His PROW, her PROWESS! Of course ships are traditionally female, so it would be her prow in any case.
22 Man washed up — after giving off of course (6)
CRUSOE – I saw the R and immediately thought MAN FRIDAY, but eventually saw that it’s an anagram of COURSE.
23 Put in home when retired? (5)
BASED – AS (when) in BED (i.e. retired).
24 Shield it from guest (5)
VISOR – the guest is a VIS{it}OR.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4917 by Robert Price — divine language, classic novel

…leading horses nick vehicle…

Some firm and full “lift and separate” (and even squeeze back together) clues here. I learned a Scottish word I’m not likely to forget, as well as what “SS” in nautical nomenclature originally meant.

Fun to work, and to comment on too.

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

 1 High-speed craft succeeded in catching sailors (8)
STARSHIP — S(ucceeded) + HIP, “in” hemming in TARS, “sailors”
 5 When to hold court, leading horses around (4,2)
ACTS UP — AS, “when” gripping CT, “court” = A(CT)S + UP, “leading”
 9 Weaponry law not keeping current (8)
ORDNANCE — ORD[-i]NANCE (i = “current”)
10 Animal that’s swallowed completely raw (6)
12 Taking too long snack breaks? (4-9)
TIME-CONSUMING — Says who? I’m glad I don’t work at a place like that… DD, one of them a CD, but then you have to mentally drop the hyphen
14 First bit to grab on ladder (4)
RUNG — RUN, “ladder” (as in nylons) + G[-rab] This gem of an &lit is my COD.
15 Nick vehicle from girl behind bar (5,5)
BLACK MARIA — “Nick” as in arrest, and this is a sort of paddy wagon, of which I’d heard. MARIA is the “girl” coming after BLACK, which apparently has meant “bar” at some time over there; courtesy of Lexico: “British dated Refuse to handle (goods), undertake (work), or have dealings with (a person or business) as a way of taking industrial action.”
17 Run corrupt trade importing cars (10)
ADMINISTER — (trade)* taking in MINIS, “cars”
19 My word for one accompanying a duke (4)
EGAD — EG, “for one” + A, “a” + D(uke)
22 Chess icon playing with hobo as there’s no alternative (7,6)
HOBSONS CHOICE — A game is a game. (chess icon + hobo)* Wikipedia: “The phrase is said to have originated with Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), a livery stable owner in Cambridge, England, who offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in his stall nearest to the door or taking none at all.”
24 Divine language includes an extra tense (6)
INTUIT — IN(T)UIT My LOI, though now it seems obvious (ironically enough). We don’t often see T abbreviating “tense,” but it’s in Collins…
25 Peak time badly needs a flat fare (8)
TORTILLA — TOR, “peak” + T(ime) + ILL, “badly” + A, “a” (John Steinbeck turns over briefly, goes back to sleep…)
26 Sort of hats we put bands around (6)
SWATHE — (hats we)*
27 Fish eaten by steamship captains (8)
SKIPPERS — S(KIPPER)S Wikipedia: ‘Steamships usually use the prefix designations of “PS” for paddle steamer or “SS” for screw steamer (using a propeller or screw). As paddle steamers became less common, “SS” is [sic] assumed by many to stand for “steamship.” Ships powered by internal combustion engines use a prefix such as “MV” for motor vessel, so it is not correct to use “SS” for most modern vessels.’

 1 Biscuit tin that’s sharp on top (10)
SHORTBREAD — SHORT, “sharp” (in the sense of brusque, curt) over BREAD, “tin” (in the sense of money)
 2 Corporation’s bid voided after a warning (7)
ABDOMEN — B[-i]D + OMEN, “warning” following A, “a”
 3 Meeting medium forecasts should raise spirits (6)
SEANCE — A pallid CD you can see right through immediately. Boo!
 4 Councils forced into home working finally (2,10)
IN CONCLUSION — IN, “home” + ON, “working” have (Councils)* inside
 6 Appeal from one’s mother daily to come over (8)
CHARISMA — For heaven’s sake, pay a visit to the poor old girl! I[’]S, “one’s” + MA, “mother” below the “daily” (cleaningwoman), CHAR.
 7 Classic novel gets to cover the French Resistance (2,5)
ST LEGER — (gets)* with LE, “the[, in] French” + R(esistance)… I didn’t know the book (ha). Actually, this “classic” is a horse race. (The surface is a bit odd: How can we conceive of a novel “get[ting] to” do anything?)
 8 Which dogs walk on and stop being picked up? (4)
PAWS — “pause”
11 Look less sissy and agitated (8,4)
BUTCHERS HOOK — Honestly, I’m trying! BUTCHER, “less sissy” + SHOOK, “agitated,” and the answer is CRS, of course.
13 Part of cycle a composer reportedly excludes (10)
HANDLEBARS — “Handel bars,” har de har
16 Toffee-nosed society, VIP joined by mistake (8)
SNOBBISH — S(ociety) + NOB, “VIP” + BISH, “mistake”
18 Mother holding mitre for one holy leader (7)
20 Scots guide that is with group leader fell over (7)
GHILLIE — G[-roup] + HILL, “fell” above IE, “that is” My POI, and the only word, it seems, that can possibly fill the checkers. It took me a while to remember that “fell” can mean HILL. Google informs me that “Gillie or ghillie is a Gaelic term for a man or a boy who acts as an attendant on a fishing, fly fishing, hunting, or deer stalking expedition, primarily in the Highlands or on a river such as the River Spey.” But y’all probably know all that—and even about the wild ghillie suit.
21 In prison close to Oxford (4,2)
SHUT UP — SHUT, “close” + UP, “to Oxford” (or any university), with the dialect sense of “to” as “at”
23 Like spades making burrows (4)
DIGS — DIG, “Like” + S, “spades” (could have been just “Likes burrows,” but that’s even easier)

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1454: Douze Points

I thought this was a superb jumbo, with all sorts of interesting words well, in some cases brilliantly clued. 7 to 9 down is a run of three of my very favourites, but 8dn wins my clue of the day award: I got it fairly early on and laughed out loud, setting the tone for a very agreeable quarter hour of subsequent solving.

Hope you're all enjoying your Bank Holiday in the UK... roll on Labor Day over here!

1 French scientist rotating resin and juice (6)
PASCAL - reversed LAC SAP [resin | juice]

5 Diver daily getting among group of whales? (7)
POCHARD - CHAR getting among POD

9 Discard black metal boxes thus (8)

13 Where vote-counting snore is so trashy? (10,4,7)

14 One welcomed by everyone in staff — masses (8)
CANAILLE - I "welcomed" by ALL in CANE

15 Part of arms firm seen from behind by drone (7)
HUMERUS - reversed SURE by HUM

16 Doctors attending function — all-star affair? (6)
COSMOS - M(edical) O(fficer)S attending COS(ine)

17 Crawling along, boundaries only required by cricket side (2,3,5)
ON ALL FOURS - ALL FOURS [boundaries only, in cricket], by ON [side, in cricket]

20 Record given free airtime when entertaining new single out (12)
DISCRIMINATE - DISC + (AIRTIME*) "entertaining" N

23 Bird caught in bigger net (4)
ERNE - hidden in {bigg}ER NE{t}

24 In odd parts of the prairie, cattle finding Japanese food (8)
TERIYAKI - in T{h}E {p}R{a}I{r}I{e}, YAK

26 Some glass bottles narrowly beat another instrument one blows across? (8)
PANPIPES - PANES [some glass] "bottles" PIP [narrowly beat]

29 Socialist possibly resigned, somehow not free to embrace Conservative (4-2-6)
LEFT OF CENTRE - LEFT [resigned] + (NOT FREE*) "embracing" C

30 Reportedly escape arrest, ring harbouring a killer? (4,6)
FLEA COLLAR - homophone of FLEE, plus COLLAR [arrest]

32 Blast misses lifting equipment (10)
WINDLASSES - WIND [(gusty) blast] + LASSES [(female) misses]

34 Single state prison hosted dances (12)

36 Popular Democrat in lead, dissent initially contained (8)
INCLUDED - IN [popular] + D in CLUE [lead] + D{issent}

38 A river running through foreign capital or British city (8)
ABERDEEN - A + DEE running through BERN

39 Picture that's a match! (4)
SNAP - double def

41 Something on daddy’s face perhaps keeping Charlie and Romeo in stitches (7,5)

43 Observe God whose creation proves timely? (10)
WATCHMAKER - WATCH [observe] + MAKER [God]

44 Red powder recalled around red cut (6)
CLARET - reversed TALC around RE{d}

46 Last time some returning to tour Newfoundland on vacation (7)
ENDMOST - reversed T SOME "touring" N{ewfoundlan}D

48 Reversible bar set off at the back (8)
DORSALLY - reversed ROD + SALLY [set off]

50 Good Lord’s miracles are eternal! (7,4,5,5)
WONDERS WILL NEVER CEASE - double def, of the idiomatic/literalistic variety

51 Cool head in distress claiming lost here without a compass? (4-4)
FREE-HAND - FAN [cool] + D{istress} "claiming" (HERE*)

52 Gem maiden pockets while taking ring (7)
GIRASOL - GIRL "pockets" AS [while] + O [ring]

53 North Africans are in small boat (6)

2 Piece of cake labelled a Kipling creation (5)
AKELA - hidden in {c}AKE LA{belled}. Akela is the wolf in the Jungle Book, better known through the scouting movement.

3 Docking liner's stern blocking canal, complaint follows (11)
CURTAILMENT - {line}R "blocking" CUT [canal], + AILMENT

4 Record book upset on European relations? (4,4)
LOVE LIFE - reverse FILE VOL [record | book] on E

5 Stick English after History (5)
PASTE - E after PAST

6 He wears clown's outfit (7)

7 Have both Latin-American and Vietnamese — this alias? (7,4)
ASSUMED NAME - reverse cryptic - both {lati}N-AME{rican} and {viet}NAME{se} have ASSUMED NAME!

8 Foot of salesman where it might be seen? Generous chap! (5)
DONOR - the foot of {salesma}N has been got in the DOOR!

9 Cricket supporter Down Under? (9)
JOCKSTRAP - cryptic definition. In cricket, one might support one's "down under" regions with one of these...

10 Note a reviver? (5)
TONIC - double def

11 In tale that's tragic, I head over the top — that's unnecessary (11)
INESSENTIAL - I NESS over the top of (IN TALE*)

12 Settlement some way off in blooming job (7)
OUTPOST - OUT [blooming] + POST [job]

18 What Amundsen was wearing on travels (9)
NORWEGIAN - (WEARING ON*) ["travels"]

19 By implication, retain more pants (7)
USELESS - double def with USE LESS

21 First wild cherry, one put in to be cooked (4-5)
STIR-FRIED - (FIRST*) ["wild"] + I put in RED [cherry]

22 Second burglar 7 down (8)
MONICKER - MO NICKER [second | burglar]

25 Lacking the will, or much money, not starting car (9)

27 Far from simple to explain (9)
ELABORATE - double def

28 Occasionally switch options? (3,3,2)
OFF AND ON - double def with the two settings for a switch

31 Point about rising energy is most straightforward (7)
EASIEST - EAST about reversed E IS

33 Relief finding something vital under bottom of aggregate in skip (11)
DELIVERANCE - LIVER [vital organ] under {aggregat}E, in DANCE [skip]

34 Itinerant squeezing me the wrong way, admitting a crush (11)
STEAMROLLER - STROLLER "squeezing" reversed ME "admitting" A

35 Beginning in Hanoi, a chap in old Asian capital for so long (5,6)
HASTA MANANA - H{anoi} + A MAN in ASTANA [former capital of Kazakhstan]

37 Dropped, having gone to hook bouncer finally (9)
DECREASED - DECEASED "hooking" {bounce}R

40 Bob's one for more efficient method (5,3)
SHORT CUT - or else a bob is a short (hair)cut

42 Something cold about likely extremists, with jihad (4,3)
HOLY WAR - HOAR [something cold] "about" L{ikel}Y W(ith)

43 See end of advert plugging alcoholic drink on ship (7)
WITNESS - {adver}T "plugging" WINE on S.S.

45 Times covering that man, a Greek character (5)
THETA - T T [(two) times] "covering" HE + A

47 Villain to throttle in execution (5)
DOING - DOG "throttling" IN

48 Hang out first of washing in valley (5)
DWELL - W{ashing} in DELL

49 Faithful story, genuine case (5)
LIEGE - LIE + G{enuin}E