October 24th, 2020

Jumbo 1463

Very straightforward – I did not time myself but I am sure that it was under 20 minutes. There were very few clues that I needed to go back to.

I don’t really have any issues with any of these clues. If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be 32D for the cryptic surface.

1 Out of action, sort lower in rank (9)
DOWNGRADE – DOWN = out of action, GRADE = sort

6 Money about right for wreck (5)
CRASH – CASH = money, around R = right

9 Source of inspiration after retirement perhaps caused bewilderment? (7)
BEMUSED – MUSE = source of inspiration in BED = after retirement, perhaps

13 Book first of vacations in time for Christmas (5)
NOVEL – NOEL = time for Christmas around the first letter of V{acations}

14 Singer taking short cut to city in Nevada, heading west (7)
CROONER – CRO{p} = cut, ENOR = RENO = city in Nevada, reversed

15 Decide to turn off before quarry, possibly (9)
DETERMINE – DETER = turn off, MINE = quarry, perhaps

16 Musical composition by college principal, a tour de force (11)
MASTERPIECE – MASTER = college principal, PIECE = musical composition

17 Solemn Aussie, a sexton maybe (11)

18 Reindeer given mashed potato, say, before run (6)
DANCER – DANCE = mashed potato, say, R = run

19 Eavesdrop? Line isn't tapped! (6,2)

21 Yellow flowers in neat borders (6)
OXLIPS – OX = neat, LIPS = borders

25 Family, edgier unfortunately, after gym (8)

26 End disagreement? This may have a bearing on title (4,10)

28 Baffle fool, hiding face (5)
ELUDE – {d}ELUDE = fool

29 Spot used to be put back for playground attraction (6)
SEESAW – SEE = spot, SAW = WAS = used to be, reversed

30 Crowd sitting for improvised performance (3,7)
JAM SESSION – JAM = crowd, SESSION = sitting

33 Where one is as a consequence of being sent for an early bath? (2,3,5)
IN HOT WATER – cryptic definition

35 Cloak carried by Ripon chorister (6)
PONCHO – hidden in {Ri}PON CHO{rister}

36 One like Harpagon, in intense discomfort, endlessly (5)
MISER – MISER{y} = intense discomfort. I was not aware of Harpagon, the title character in Molière’s The Miser

38 Play a hit, newsletter broadcast (3,7,4)

40 Old-fashioned Republican next to witness (6-2)
PASSER-BY – PASSÉ = old-fashioned, R = Republican, BY = next to

42 A year in mean accommodation provides sanctuary (6)
ASYLUM – A, SLUM = mean accommodation, around Y = year

43 Damn tack, the cause of a sore finger? (8)
HANGNAIL – HANG = damn, NAIL = tack

44 Precise as regards unfinished shopping centre (6)
FORMAL – FOR = as regards, MAL{l} = shopping centre

47 Somehow smart, hi-tech policy back in the 1980s (11)

50 Bored? Answer: eat noodles, specially prepared (2,1,5,3)

52 Limit beer in grounds (9)
RATIONALE – RATION = limit, ALE = beer

53 Father hiding key makes one cross (7)
SALTIRE – SIRE = father, around ALT = key

54 Black and yellow cape missing (5)
RAVEN – {c}RAVEN = yellow

55 Disorder resulting from exploding grenade (7)

56 Around noon, wee can of beer in Perth? (5)
TINNY – TINY = wee, around N = noon

57 Completed articles by Lawrence? Ask for more (2,3,4)
UP THE ANTE – UP = completed, THE, AN = articles, T.E. = Lawrence

1 Material excavated mounted (5)
DENIM – MINED  = excavated, reversed

2 Book in certain members of the clan? (5,3,9)
WIVES AND DAUGHTERS – double definition

3 Bird in vicious gale, on ledge (6,5)

4 Pass law about edible fungus (6)
ACCEPT – ACT = law, around CEP = edible fungus

5 Circle in compound on island, circle initially difficult to understand (8)
ESOTERIC – ESTER = compound, around O = circle, I = island, C{ircle}

6 Established nunnery on Hebridean island, then left (12)
CONVENTIONAL – CONVENT = nunnery, IONA = Hebridean island, L = left

7 Brazenly, turn up inside, with pride (10)
ARROGANTLY – ARRANTLY = brazenly, around OG = GO = turn, reversed

8 Monster in Binchy drama (5)
HYDRA – hidden in {Binc}HY DRA{ma}

9 Gambler leaving in profit? (6,3)
BETTER OFF – BETTER = gambler, OFF = leaving

10 Officer reportedly game, heading off for karate, etc. (7,4)
MARTIAL ARTS – MARTIAL sounds like MARSHAL = officer, {d}ARTS = game

11 Smart, Romeo leaving procession (5)
STING – ST{r}ING = procession

12 Dull days breed melancholy, ultimately (6)
DREARY – D = days, REAR = breed, {melancholy}Y

18 I must go in to protest against decline (10)
DEPRECIATE – DEPRECATE = protest against, around I

20 Bore is lying in shade (8)
NUISANCE – NUANCE = shade, around IS

22 Song's unexpected benefit (7,4,6)
PENNIES FROM HEAVEN – double definition

23 Ridiculous age, his female companion (6)

24 Mint coin — sovereign, perhaps (10)
PENNYROYAL – PENNY = coin, ROYAL = sovereign

27 Look into touching prior to examination (8)
RESEARCH – RE = touching, SEARCH = examination

31 Work hard on a new jingle (6)
SLOGAN – SLOG = work hard, A, N = new

32 Where one may get spares down the lane? (7,5)
BOWLING ALLEY – cryptic definition

34 Nonsense written about large cap and papal tiara (6,5)
TRIPLE CROWN – TRIPE = nonsense, around L = large, CROWN = cap

36 Wrongly interpret young lady defending argument against? Correct (11)
MISCONSTRUE – MISS = young lady, around CON = argument against, TRUE = correct

37 Man soon set off — his business may be flagging (10)

39 Paddy had a meal, balanced (9)
TEMPERATE – TEMPER = paddy, ATE = had a meal

41 American and I ruin it, upside-down dessert (8)
TIRAMISU – U.S. = American, I, MAR = ruin, IT, all reversed

45 Kept being annoyed about time taken by duke (6)
STORED – SORE = annoyed, around T = time, D = duke

46 Concealed hide close to nest (6)
COVERT – COVER = hide, {nes}T

48 A sailor holding line where knot may be tied (5)
ALTAR – A TAR = a sailor, around L = line

49 Delicate point, female being sacked for showing no skill (5)
INEPT – {f}INE = delicate, PT = point

51 Slow to understand Democrat, unable to relax, blowing top (5)
DENSE – D = Democrat, {t}ENSE = unable to relax
  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27798 - Saturday, 17 October 2020. Anyone for badminton?

I would have rated this as middle of the road for a Saturday, until I got hopelessly stuck in the NW corner. It turned out I had never heard of the specific form of the sport at 3dn, although it was obviously some sort of tennis (not badminton!), and I found a shaky justification for another form of it. So, that made 1, 9, and 10ac intransigent. Oh well! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. Let’s take a look.

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 Crooked person, one ending in slammer? (8)
PRISONER – anagram (‘crooked’) of PERSON I (one) R (ending in slammeR). A clever literal definition.
6 Physicist's bilingual parents going in different directions (6)
AMPERE – MA is the English parent, PÈRE the French one. MA is reversed, as instructed, to give AM.
9 Unqualified yob wearing hot pants on the way out (13)
THOROUGHGOING – THO is an anagram (‘pants’) of HOT, ROUGH is the yob, and GOING is ‘on the way out’.
10 A loose woman in the family (6)
AUNTIE – A is literally in the clue, UNTIE = loose, as a verb.
11 Catholic chosen to save canon's face, I see (8)
ECLECTIC – canon’s face is C. Put that in ELECT, then I, and C=see.
13 Miscues the shot, finding the score (5,5)
SHEET MUSIC – anagram (‘shot’) of MISCUES THE.
15 Yorkshire runner catching golf drive (4)
URGE – G for golf in URE.
16 E.g. pen's tip of steel lacking in colour (4)
SWAN – S is the tip of Steel, followed by WAN.
18 Readily opt to change cosmetic lotion? (10)
DEPILATORY – anagram (‘change’) of READILY OPT.
21 Widespread drug consumption one’s seen in parlour (8)
MASSEUSE – theres MASS USE of E, don’t ya know.
22 I'm leaving mum's fishy foodstuff (6)
TARAMA – TARA MA, I’m leaving! I assume this is a British abbreviation for taramasalata? New to me, whatever it is.
23 Online comments criticise engaging staff for game (8,5)
POSTMAN’S KNOCK – POSTS (online comments) + KNOCK (criticise), ‘engaging’ MAN.
25 Royal put on proper coat (6)
PRIMER – E.R. ‘put on’ PRIM.
26 Traps fish in the drink (3,5)
GIN SLING – GINS = traps (for animals, not of the horse-drawn kind). LING is the fish.

2 Improve image of soldiers on move (7)
RETOUCH – R.E. are the soldiers, and TOUCH is to move (in an emotional sense, for example).
3 Tots on either side of net in playing this? (5,6)
SHORT TENNIS – SHORTS are tots of spirits. Insert an anagram (‘playing’) of NET IN. Apparently short tennis is a variant of the game for kids. I’d never heard of it and thought perhaps TABLE…S must be some new spread-sheet expression for when one tots up numbers. That left me in a very bad place with 1, 9 and 10ac!
4 Proud parent back home with award (5)
NIOBE – IN backwards, then OBE is the award. A bit of a chestnut, perhaps.
5 Right means of escape in retreat (7)
REGRESS – R for right, EGRESS for escape.
6 Sweet food getting left — it’s really good (9)
ANGELICAL – add an L to ANGELICA, to give a rather awkward adjective.
7 Letter from abroad with a lot of acidity (3)
PHI – apparently a pH of 1-1.5 is typical of gastric acid, so very acidic indeed!
8 Fixing equipment on board (7)
RIGGING – straightforward double definition.
12 Financial record of our client going astray (11)
COUNTERFOIL – anagram (‘going astray’) of OF OUR CLIENT. It turns out I didn’t know what this word meant! Nothing to do with Holmes and Moriarty, for example. It’s the stub of a cheque or theatre ticket, etc.
14 Return of stupid arithmetician, say, in warm period (9)
MIDSUMMER – DIM backwards, then SUMMER.
17 Cover popular musician’s sound (7)
WRAPPER – sounds like RAPPER. Popular with some, if not all!
19 Old coin in wetland, north in gorge (7)
20 Dish with starters of kimchi in noodle soup (7)
22 Sign showing where Barbie's affections go? (5)
TOKEN – since Ken is the male counterpart of the Barbie doll.
24 Card game (3)
SIM – double definition. SIM card as in a mobile phone, or a simulation video game.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4925 by Dean Mayer — Boffo socko performance!

I hardly ever start with the first clue on these but rather approach them strategically. My virtual FOI (though I happened to see ANI first) was the one long one right down the middle. After that (and the little birdie), I got seven others without any crossers, and the only answer that didn’t have at least one letter in the grid was 4, which I filled in next. So my impression is that this couldn’t have been very hard for y’all.

Thoroughly enjoyable, though. I knew the Britishisms SPROG, SNOG (nice pair) and the quite cute LOO ROLL… all except for 7, which I got anyway before I had more than three letters in. I looked up what the “blessing” business was all about after.

I indicate (a nag’s arm)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Long Island is shelter for grass house (8)
MARATHON — MA(RAT)(HO)N, MAN being the isle, with RAT, “grass” in the sense of betraying co-conspirators, and HO(use) inside
 6 Dry peak area (6)
SECTOR — SEC, “dry” + TOR, “peak”
 9 MP on trial, so worried (10)
LEGISLATOR — LEG, “on” + (trial so)*
10 Performance unfinished? (2-2)
11 Old silver and lead regularly used (4)
AGED — AG, “silver” + alternate letters in lEaD
13 OK, train rides are here (10)
FAIRGROUND — FAIR, “OK” + GROUND, “train” My LOI, because this definition for “train” was elusive.
14 Before play, check sporting kit (5,9)
16 Waste taps to turn on and off? (4,3,3,4)
BLOW HOT AND COLD — BLOW, “Waste” + H and C faucets or “taps”
18 Ice for this lolly (5,5)
20 Son confused by girl’s first kiss (4)
SNOG — About time to have that little talk, eh? (son)* + G
21 Jelly derived from a fish (4)
22 Misleading people leads to social detachment (10)
ALIENATION — A LIE NATION—like if all anybody watched here was Fox News.
24 To west of railway, river also stopped flowing (3,3)
RAN DRY — Left, or “west,” of RY, “railway,” we have R(iver) + AND, “also”
25 US city, described by Great Britain, like empty French city (8)

 2 Lying in state, English seeker of justice (7)
AVENGER — AV(ENG)ER (the longer abbreviation for “English” this time)
 3 Tropical bird, a new one (3)
ANI — A + N(ew) + I, or 1, “one”
 4 Take centre stage in talk show (4,5)
 5 Even if smart, also into stupid things (15)
NOTWITHSTANDING — NO TWIT, “smart” and (things)* around AND, “also”
 6 Baby—super-tough, oddly (5)
 7 They can accommodate little piggies, bless them! (6,5)
COTTON SOCKS — CD… and thereby hangs a tale. This is probably something all the Brits here already know, but I was charmed: The various “(little) cotton socks” expressions (“Bless my…,” “Bless his…,” “Bless your…,” etc.), whose inflections run the gamut from sincere doting to sarcastic takedown, all started with the tragic history of an Anglican bishop of Calcutta, George Edward Lynch Cotton, who regularly supplied crates of socks to be worn by Eurasian children during classes in the schools he established. According to a letter to The Guardian by one (Mrs) Jane M Glossop, of Pwllheli, Gwynedd (you can’t make this stuff up), “It was the rule of the Bishop to bless all goods which arrived at the schools. A zealous member of staff one day distributed socks before the blessing, so thereafter every time a shipment arrived a note was placed on them to the effect: ‘Cotton’s socks for blessing’. [‘]Cotton’s socks[’] soon became corrupted to [‘]cotton socks[’]. When the Bishop was drowned in the Ganges [he fell in] on October 6, 1866, a despatch [sic] was sent to the Archbishop to ask: ‘Who will bless his cotton socks?’”
 8 Service book from Ford in a library (7)
ORDINAL — Hidden
12 He did our son wrong, refused to pay (11)
DISHONOURED — (He did our son)* MER at the definition, as I didn’t know this word could legitimately mean “failed to honor” in this sense.
15 Pest spray can, anyone? (9)
ANNOYANCE — (can, anyone)*, and anagrind of the week!
16 An attempt to throw up sausage (7)
BOLOGNA — AN + GO, “attempt” + LOB, “to throw” <=“up”
17 Toilet paper alternative over in lounge (3,4)
LOO ROLL — LO(OR, “alternative”)(O, “over”)LL
19 Substantial to consume, my sandwiches (5)
23 Wife enters before couple (3)
TWO — T(W)O, TO being “before” as in “quarter to 3”
  • vinyl1

Mephisto 3138 - What the bright dawn scatters

Here we have another fine Mephisto from Paul McKenna, with the usual groaner across the top line.   This is the first time I ever used one of these atrocious puns to come up with an answer, but even so, you're left with the rest of the puzzle.  The vocabulary, fortunately, is not to recondite, but there are some calls upon general knowledge, which may be obscure to younger solvers.

I worked through most of the this in my US Saturday night, and finished it off on the porch next morning.   Unfortunately, it is probably getting too cold around here for porch solves, despite being pretty nice for most of the week.  However, my road and driveway were being paved, so things were a bit on the noisy side during the sunniest weather.     I am getting ready to retreat inside, as well as having to wait another hour for the puzzle, as always happens at this time of year.

1 Rumpole’s one old poet, clownish chap wanting black juice (6)
HORACE - A triple cryptic, I believe, referring to Horace Rumpole, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, and some other fellow I have no idea about.  I'm sure a fellow solver will step in the an explanation.  It's HO[b] + RACE.
5 Hamper packed with right rubbish (5)
TRUCK - T(R)UCK, a hamper usually found in English schools, guarded by Billy Bunter.
10 Fitting piece got at fare (10, two words)
12 Stuff which has been put away without being turned in shelf (7)
STOWAGE - W/O backwards inside STAGE.
13 Prep round opening of water pump (5)
PUPIL - LIP UP backwards, where prep can refer equally to the school or its victim.
14 No longer concerned with organ’s right to keep Albania (6)
LIENAL - LIEN + AL, pertaining to the spleen, but not any more.
16 Spinning catchword to plug lo-cal mineral (7)
LEUCITE - CUE backwards inside LITE, where classicists will recognize the Greek root meaning white.
17 Region is made by cream of Scots holding line (5)
REALM - REA(L)M, where the verb ream is a perfectly respectable English word preserved only in the North, as often happened.
19 Grapples with interminable quiet concerning time of abeyance (11, two words)
24 Chancy games from American inhabiting minute Square (5)
MAINS - M(A)IN + S, and here I was thinking they were electrical outlets in the UK!
27 Exercises without vigour around noon making a show of affection? (7, two words)
29 Jack placed back doll (6, two words)
TART UP - TAR + PUT backwards.
30 On the piste we go up on such runs — born for bit of exhilaration (5)
T-BARS - T(-e,+B)ARS, a simple letter-substitution cryptic.
31 Cunning Earl involved in insult (7)
32 With Google I’m freely covering Republican's scope for negotiation (10, two words)
WIGGLE ROOM - W + anagram of GOOGLE I'M around R.
33 Supplier of oil born west of Manitoba (5)
NEEMB - NEE + MB - you'd better know the two-letter abbreviations for Canadian provinces!
34 Bootlegger’s German white wine 50 per cent discounted (6)
RUNNER - The second half of [krotenb]RUNNER - looks like more than 50% to me, or maybe I've got the wrong wine?   Comments from experts invited.  Yes, the wine is Marcobrunner, hardly necessary to solve the clue.
1 That bloke is a “star” in decline (6)
2 Duff up Yankee husky for a Scot (5)
ROOPY - POOR backwards + Y, helpfully checked by the across entries.
3 A fabric for whenever you wish (6, two words)
AT WILL - A TWILL, a clue that would not be out of place in the Quickie.
4 Baby bird — as some say, lift it not at the front but at the back (6)
EAGLET - A sounds like clue, but what it sounds like I have no idea - with this setter, there are too many possibilities to contemplate. It's TEAGLE, with the IT sound moved from the front to the back.  
6 Mr Expert overturned, caught by being captured rioter? (7)
REBECCA - REB + AC(C)E backwards - Wales, 1843; you could look it up.
7 Brings together (from Spenser) fully reversed furore (7)
UPKNITS - UP + STINK backwards.
8 Quoted passages in it, OT Cain's on the run (9)
9 Bargee who famously sat astride a chair the wrong way? (6)
KEELER - Double definition, one alluding to a famous poster feature a famous model who was part of a famous scandal.....long ago.
11 We wouldn’t be Lilliputian doctors (7, two words)
TALLMEN - Double definition, where both doctors and tallmen are slang terms for loaded dice.
15 Unfairly belie lame mistress of Macron (9, two words)
BELLE AMIE - Anagram of BELIE LAME, where the literal refers only to the French language and not an actual mistress, AFAIK.
18 Divinity encountered in stag, say (7)
20 Indignation beginning to rise in the course of power cut (7)
OUTRAGE - OUT(R[ise])AGE.   Beware of typos when announcing a scheduled outage!
21 Changing gymnast’s body with a system not often seen now? (7)
SYNTAGM - anagram of GYMNAST, which until now few people knew could be anagrammed.
22 Excited and close to time to utterly dominate dormitories (6)
23 Unusually real about Tory, say, becoming richer (6)
AMPLER - anagram of REAL around MP.
25 Pound with a shriek of joy entered an ancient island of poets (6)
ALBION - A(L + BIO)N, also the hero of The Four Zoas, as far as anyone can tell.
26 Internal security assumed by sterling fellow (6)
SISTER - S(I.S)TER, where fellow has the sense of a match or mate of some sort.
28 Troll with inclination towards vehicle supporting dry sort? (5)
WAGON -  WAG ON, the vehicle the teetotaller is always falling off of.