November 7th, 2020

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1465 - 24th October. Lots of highs

Hi everyone, and Happy Caturday.

A great crossword to savour, I thought.  It took me something like a couple of hours over a few sessions but yielded to applied thinking, with plenty of lovely aha! moments along the way.  Thanks, setter!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics, explicit [deletions] are in square brackets, and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.

Collapse )

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27810 - Saturday, 31 October 2020. Happy Halloween.

Given that this puzzle appeared on Halloween, I wondered if there would be spooky things afoot. As it turned out, no … it was much more treat than trick. I finished quickly and relatively easily. My LOI was 10ac, with its nice clue. 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 Manage to hold everything together with current steam organ (8)
CALLIOPE – COPE (manage) holds ALL (everything) and I (the symbol for current in physics).
5 Upturn in iron making plant (6)
FRISÉE – RISE in FE, the chemical symbol for iron. I didn’t know the plant … it’s a French name, obviously.
9 Drink minutes after game (3)
RUM – RU for Rugby Union, M for minutes,
10 Repairs the brickwork of the church here? It could be a little light (5,6)
POINT SOURCE – POINTS (repairs the brickwork, by replacing the mortar), OUR C.E. (this church here).
12 Dry goods may be carried here (2,3,5)
ON THE WAGON – double definition. Who uses a wagon these days?
13 Dismissing editor, looked intently for a brilliant one (4)
STAR – from STAR{ed}.
15 Knowing about key as something that might open windows? (6)
ADWARE – D is the key, in AWARE. ADWARE might open a window on your computer, to show you an advertisement.
16 Ring to listen to one half of animated pair (7)
GROMMET – sounds like (‘listen’!) one half of Wallace & Gromit.
18 Hooligan managed to get round two-thirds of gallery in Florence (7)
RUFFIAN – RAN around UFFI{zi}. I didn’t know the gallery, but the answer was clear.
20 Take husks off tough rice and such (6)
THRESH – outside letters of T***H, R**E, S**H spell the answer. Neat literal definition.
23 Stake a new note (4)
ANTE – A (from the clue), N (for new), TE (a musical note).
24 Brilliant singer at our carol broadcast (10)
COLORATURA – anagram (broadcast) of AT OUR CAROL.
26 Into Hell he’d burst to maintain a position (4,3,4)
HOLD THE LINE – anagram (burst) of INTO HELL HED.
27 Pawn the thing? That’s mine (3)
PIT – P for pawn, IT is the thing.
28 Each day Iran backed capturing foreign capital (6)
RIYADH – hidden, backwards, in eaCH DAY IRan.
29 As hand waving left Tuaregs confused (8)
GESTURAL – anagram (confused) of L TUAREGS.

1 Projecting course of ring road in county (northern) (6)
CORDON – O (ring) and RD inside CO (county), then N (northern). I think the definition refers to a projecting course of stonework. Can anyone give us the details?
2 Restricted American university breaking into song (7)
3 Theatre manager with prime positioning above dress circle (10)
IMPRESARIO – IMPRE is an anagram (‘positioning’) of PRIME. SARI is a dress. O is the circle.
4 Means soldier in company has more when other ranks are gone (7,6)
PRIVATE INCOME – PRIVATE is the soldier. IN CO is ‘in company’. ME is M{OR}E, when OR (other ranks) are gone.
6 Crucifix with diamonds affixed to jumper (4)
ROOD – ROO is the jumper. D is diamonds.
7 A point in society setting up arts corporation (7)
STRATUM – STRA is the result of ‘setting up’ ARTS. TUM is the corporation.
8 Condemn river vehicle that’s worn out (8)
EXECRATE – EXE is the river. CRATE is the worn-out vehicle.
11 All are expected to conform with these arresting ideas? (7,6)
THOUGHT POLICE – I think this is just a very obscure cryptic definition. If so, too deep for me!
14 Title we have secured by explosive series of games (10)
TOURNAMENT – OUR NAME is the title we have. It’s secured by TNT.
17 Stop brewing herb tea with the last of water (8)
BREATHER – anagram (brewing) of HERB TEA with the final R from {wate}R.
19 Terminally overweight friend (7)
FATALLY – FAT ALLY describes our overweight friend.
21 Thwart special constable taking stimulant (7)
SCUPPER – S.C. is Special Constable. UPPER is a stimulant.
22 What determines price of wagon on railway (6)
CARTEL – CART on EL (a railway, in Chicago for example).
25 Boss is unintelligent, but not very religious (4)
STUD – STUPID, minus PI.

Sunday Times Cryptic No 4927 by David McLean — Trick or tweet

This one was worked the night of Halloween,
Quite the most eerie I have ever seen.
For months we’d gone about our daily tasks
With tout le monde already wearing masks.
There was no jubilant parade this year,
As make-believe was trumped by honest fear.

I should add that there was much jubilation in New York City streets today…!

I indicate (a ram snag)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Soldiers in offensive operation finally access canopy (8)
TREETOPS — T(RE)ET, your Royal Engineers in the notorious Vietnam War action + OP(eration) + [-acces]S
 5 Not all fillet halibut with devastating ability (6)
LETHAL — Hidden
 9 Oboe part enthralling performer delivered (8)
RETURNED — RE(TURN)ED For TURN, Lexico has: “A performer giving one of a number of short performances. ‘She simply agonises over how to describe what she does when a camera is pointed at her, saying that she feels more like a performer or a circus turn than an actress.’”
10 Assault by sea or land (6)
DOMAIN — DO, “assault” (British slang—I found it in Collins!) + MAIN, “sea”
11 Religious type radiating good humour on Radio Manchester (5)
SUNNI — Sounds like “sunny” in that neck of the woods, I assume
12 British government? Pure rubbish ultimately to a man! (9)
WHITEHALL — As an American, I shall refrain from comment… WHITE, “pure” + [-rubbis]H + ALL, “to a man”
14 Squeaky as a mountaineer’s tent might be? (4-7)
HIGH-PITCHED — CD, ha ha The definition didn’t quite do it for me, but dictionaries say it’s all that’s necessary. Certainly there are high-pitched sounds (tweets?) that you would not describe with this word. Today’s Superfluous Fun Fact (#1): The reason higher frequencies sound thinner, and lower sounds fatter (or phatter, ha) to us humans is, of course, only because of the ceiling on our sense of hearing; if our range went higher, we could hear more of the overtones of those higher sounds.
18 Crossover chart hit named “Raving” (4,7)
VENN DIAGRAM — (named “Raving”)* Wonderful clue: creative anagrind, and I want to hear that song. COD
21 Mafioso with a command to get old body-building Italian (9)
DONATELLO — DON, “Mafioso” + A + TELL, “command” + O(ld) MER at “building,” as the first definition of build (in Lexico/Oxford) is “Construct (something) by putting parts or material together,” and that’s not the kind of sculptor Donatello was; he worked by carving and chiseling: subtraction. In the view of some, such as my sculptor friend David Stoltz, he is the absolute greatest sculptor of all time, and I am disappointed to learn that perhaps his most famous piece, the nude David, is (and the clothed version too) in a gallery I didn’t know about (Donatello nobody!) when I made my only trip (so far…) to Firenze: the Bargello. (David didn’t tell me!)
23 Away from home, City charge to the left and mark area (5)
PARMA — RAP<=“to the left” + M(ark) + A(rea) The first part of the clue threw me for a lonnng time. It’s part of the definition, another way of saying “Foreign” to qualify “city,” which wouldn’t have been necessary, actually, and hardly helps here! But it’s totally legal.
24 English dons raced back to get Times locally (6)
NEARBY — RAN<=“back” puts on E(nglish) and acquires BY, “times”
25 Spooner’s alert and pretty lady’s a tart of sorts (8)
BAKEWELL — “Woke belle” (It’s about time!) One of my last in, not being familiar with the brand, though it must have come up here before.
26 Number of flat opened by large key (6)
27 Tales of the French getting dope, being off the booze (8)
LEGENDRY — LE, “the[,] French” + GEN, “dope” (see 16) + DRY, “off the booze.”

 1 One tweeting hard-hearted retweet about American hotel (6)
THRUSH — R(H)T<=“about” + US, “American” + H(otel)
 2 Volume of old wine (6)
EXTENT — EX, “old” + TENT, “wine”
 3 The drains must get sorted being befouled (9)
TARNISHED — (The drains)* Wordy anagrind, which you might guess is such if you wonder in what context “drains” might need “sort[ing].”
 4 I tag wild ape shakily, being known to flap (4,7)
PIED WAGTAIL — (I tag wild ape)* Never heard of the bird (our second one here… along with TREETOPS), so this was one of my last in. Rather a goofy surface, but I love the (cryptic) definition.
 6 E-book written about play with great passion? (5)
EMOTE — E + TOME<=“written about”
 7 Something that can stop one having sex is a problem (8)
HEADACHE — DD—or just one CD? “A problem that could stop one having sex” is a single thought.
 8 Woman who’ll let son into light infantry in the end (8)
LANDLADY — LAND, “light” + LAD, “son” + [-infantr]Y
13 Possibly represent one individual detained in China (11)
15 Where one might see the enemy marching forward? (9)
TIMEPIECE — CD Seems that several words could fit the definition, though only one the enumeration and crossers as well. That “the enemy” is time is an old trope that I learned only from doing these things, but, as I am the blogger today, I am duty-bound to give some semblance of a derivation (even if ultimately for entertainment purposes only. Ha). According to the website Word Histories (, the phrase "How goes the enemy?" was once a way of asking the time (illustrated by a 1942 cartoon showing a soldier in the midst of combat looking at his watch… It's an interesting link).
16 New vice cops study ecstasy and hard dope in a case (8)
EVIDENCE — (vice)* collaring DEN, “study,” and followed by E, the drug “ecstasy”; “dope” in the sense of information
17 I go out with woman with a habit in Bury (8)
19 Foul spirit infused with drop of Ribena or a Bud? (6)
FRIEND — F (R[-ibena]) IEND “Ribena” is a soft drink, which I didn’t know, and which you don’t have to know to work this.
20 Boat showroom overlooking river (6)
22 Climbing club left stuck on European plateau (5)
TABLE — BAT<=“climbing” + L(eft) + E(uropean)
  • vinyl1

Mephisto 3140 - Parlez-vous francais?

Rather an easy Mephisto, where I was only held back by not dropping wrong theories quickly enough.   Even the answers were not very startling, although I was a bit taken aback by chapess.   Anta and frab are probably the most obscure answers, and they are heavily checked, although some solvers might not recognize skeg or remember Leon Blum.  I did solve this in one sitting, but it was definitely a long one.  

4 Sort to be disheartened during most skilful financial investigation (9, two words)
MEANS TEST - MEAN(S[or]T)EST.   US slang meaning of mean.
10 French revolutionaries tackling one put in order as before (8)
ENRAUNGE - ENRA(UN)GE - yes, the whole wordplay is in French!  However, the answer is in Spenser-speak.
11 Mike cut back paper (4)
EXAM - M + AXE backwards.
12 One’s grown up in prison camp with old lady (8)
STALAGMA - STALAG + MA, more often a stalagmite. 
13 Sale or return on British fruit (4)
SORB - S.O.R + B. 
14 Bill attached to papers is consumptive (5)
15 Separate term for that one flipping old dress (6)
ATTRAP -  PART TA backwards.   I'm not really sure about TA, it doesn't seem to be a dialect form of that.
17 They’re left behind in European nations (7)
ESTATES - E STATES, a clue that would not be out of place in the cryptic.
21 Who’d help recovery from recurrent ailment in back? (7)
RALLIER -  RE(ILL)AR, all backwards, where recurrent is the reversal indicator. 
23 Musical boxes apparently for this woman (7)
CHAPESS - CH(AP)ESS.   I was hung up on Cats, which is not it at all. 
26 Mollusc caught in rough sea near dock (7)
ESCALOP - C in anagram of SEA, LOP. 
27 Smart clothing left for Mary Jane (6)
SPLIFF - SP(L)IFF, a ganja cigar. 
28 Ghost writer’s latest found in a bum novel (5)
UMBRA - anagram of [write]R + A BUM.
31 Slave trade finally cut for the most part (4)
ESNE - [trad]E + SNE[d]. 
32 Liberal into kinky sex gets warnings (8)
EXAMPLES - EX(AMPLE)S, where the outer letters are an anagram of SEX.   Awful warnings, that is.
33 Primarily something on front of keel, say? The back actually (4)
SKEG - S[omething] + K[eel] + E.G.
34 Organises anew ineptly for purges head of finance leaked (8)
REGROUPS - anagram of [f]OR PURGES.
35 Becoming hidden behind trail (9)
1 English society cracking mysteries about Roman brass (9)
SESTERCES - S(E S)TERCES, where the outer letters are SECRET backwards.
2 Tapir seen over in Indian capital, not the first (4)
ANTA - [p]ATNA backwards, the capital of Bihar, of course.
3 Worry frequently about dropping out (4)
FRAB - FR + AB[out].
4 African fellow boxing heavyweight champion (6)
5 Rages about short line? They may do (7)
ANGLERS - Anagram of RAGES + LN.   A semi-&lit, but a bit of a stretch. 
6 Associate sharing seat in port (7)
SEATTLE - SE(A)TTLE, not the first port you may think of. 
7 Special seat around back of court providing cover for a seed (5)
TESTA - Anagram of SEAT around [cour]T.
8 Introductory exchange before men phone (8)
9 Lady by Jove running Bosnian city (8)
SARAJEVO - SARA + anagram of JOVE.
16 Camouflaged para is up for keeping section together (9, two words)
PARI PASSU - Anagram of PARA IS UP + S[ection], where together is a rather vague definition of a very specific term.
18 Marshal asks about man getting cap for lancers (8)
SCHAPSKA - S(CHAP)SKA, where the outer letters are an anagram of ASKS.
19 Line scrambled in restaurant — it’s a drag (8)
TRAILNET - TRA(anagram of LINE)T, a trattoria, that is.
20 Alludes to boarding eastern midshipmen (7)
REEFERS - RE(E)FERS.  Or what they wear, or what they smoke?
22 Behind with pay? Old-timers calm (7)
ASSWAGE - ASS + WAGE, a variant spelling of assuage. 
24 Tittle about absent politician? Minister could be choked by it (6)
JAMPOT - J(A MP)OT.   A colorful slang expression for a rather uncomfortable collar.
25 Once superior European province (5)
LIEGE - Double definition. 
29 French ex-PM wrong about focus on nationalisation? (4)
BLUM - B([nationa]L[isation])UM
30 Financial agreement made with pre-emptor ignoring the odds (4)
REPO - [p]R[e]-E[m]P[t]O[r].  A very important financial market for overnight money.