November 29th, 2020

  • glheard

Mephisto 3143 - Tim Moorey

I got pretty bogged down in the bottom left hand quater of this puzzle where I confidently wrote in an alternative (though the spelling I see most often) spelling at 14 down which had me second-guessing 23 across and 19 down.

In pretty spectacular George fashion I took a bunch of notes on a printed copy of this puzzle and then recycled it, so I had to solve it again online and I hope I can remember everything I had circled or noted as being worth mentioning.

In Mephistos, definitions (the most direct of which is underlined) can be confirmed in Chambers so I will be focusing on the wordplay in the clues.

Away we go...

1 Onset of obesity on monkeys leads to complaint in pavilion (6)
OTITIS - first letter in Obesity then TITIS (monkeys). The pavilion is the outer ear
5 Neat enclosure good for Charlie, more than a handful for Angus (6)
GOWPEN - COW PEN (neat enclosure) with G(good) instead of C(Charlie)
9 Spy HQ, one’s almost distraught with it being attacked (11)
MOLESTATION - two sets of wordplay - MOLE(spy) STATION(HQ) and an anagram of ONE,ALMOST and IT
11 Indian officer’s subordinate had abused army regulation (8)
SUBAHDAR - SUB(subordinate) then an anagram of HAD, AR(army regulation)
12 Flog duck by the sound of it in Barnsley (5)
KNOUT - sounds like NOWT(zero, duck in cricket)
13 Feathers of hawk and wading bird found in rubbish (6)
BRAILS - RAIL(wading bird) inside B***S*** (rubbish)
14 More affable Master of the Rolls receives a bow (6)
MATIER - MR(Master of the Rolls) contaning A TIE(bow)
17 Latin term, one for the ultimate of precision in reproduction (9)
LITERATIM - anagram of LATIN TERM with I (one) replacing the last letter of precisioN
18 Black hole, apparently small in surrounding band (9)
COLLAPSAR - AP(apparently), S(small) inside COLLAR(band)
22 Pressure on Nigerian ready to return fine marble (6)
PARIAN - P(pressure) then a reversal of NAIRA(Nigerian money)
23 Saudi term of abuse could be “swine” (6)
SUIDAE - anagram of SAUDI and the last letter of abusE - found in Chambers under SUID
24 Some overseas left-handers for the Ashes (5)
EASLE - hidden inside oversEAS LEft-handers
26 Feet opened somehow in two seconds (8)
SPONDEES - anagram of OPENED inside S, S(two seconds)
27 What can keep engine from overheating? Nitre possibly, can (11)
INTERCOOLER - anagram of NITRE then COOLER(prison, can)
28 Name for maiden schoolgirls in Brownies (6)
NISSES - N(name) replacing M(maiden) in MISSES(schoolgirls)
29 Pictures in lobby mostly showing industrial action (6)
HARTAL - ART(pictures) inside HALL(lobby) missing the last letter
1 Head off from one Siberian city for another (4)
OMSK - remove the top letter from TOMSK(Siberian city)
2 Take up drink after getting ragged in violent storms (8)
TORNADOS -  SODA(drink) reversed after TORN(ragged)
3 Leaves writer inside to get liquor (8)
TEQUILLA - TEA leaves with QUILL(writer) inside. Only ever seen this with one L, but both spellings are in Chambers
4 Royal house for all to see in shoot (6)
STUART - U(for all to see) in START(to pour out or shoot)
5 Rattle’s double bass interrupting wind (6)
GABBLE - B and B(double bass) inside GALE(wind)
6 Nameless public official brings seal (5)
OTARY - remove N(name) from NOTARY(public offiicial)
7 Adroit tips rubbished, one does feel a heel (10)
8 Vikings seem excited with goddess coming round (8)
NORSEMEN - anagram of SEEM inside NORN(goddess)
10 Forget about colonialist waffling — it’s balls! (10)
COTILLIONS - remove A(about) from COLONIALIST and form an anagram
14 Ridicule a lapse in conversation — one puts one’s foot in it (8)
MOCASSIN - sounds like MOCK A SIN. I have only seen this spelled with two Cs and one S
15 Book on reporter not the first one to cause litigation (8)
BARRATOR - B(book) on NARRATOR(reporter) missing the first letter
16 Case laid out for plant (8)
19 Sound of alarms for old spouses (6)
PHEERS - sounds like FEARS - found in Chambers under FERE
20 Go to crack school parole as before (6)
SPEECH - PEE(go to the toilet) inside SCH(school)
21 Iced tea on the rocks? Reject it and porter (5)
CADEE - anagram of ICED,TEA missing IT
25 Old nobleman rising needs both hands with grandchild (4)
EORL - reverse all of L, R(both hands) and OE(grandchild)

Sunday Times 4930 by David McLean - 'Allo 'Allo 'Allo!

DNF. I found this quite hard and ended up with a blank at 1ac. I could see that ‘police’ corresponded to what turned out to be the answer but I couldn’t see anything in the rest of the clue that justified it. It also didn’t occur to me that ‘being in the police’ might be the definition. I should have just bunged it in, and probably would have done if it had been the championships.

A shame because I really enjoyed the rest of it: some very good clues.

And here’s how I think they all work…

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

1 Being in the Police is the pinnacle of rock
GENDARME - DD. ‘A sharp pinnacle of rock on a mountain ridge, esp in the Alps.’ Double definitions in which one of the definitions is really obscure are not my favourite clues.
5 Bishop in drink coming over? Help!
ABET - reversal of TE(B)A.
8 Live with line-snorting mum, creating this?
BEDLAM - BE, D(L)AM. Semi-&Lit. Great clue!
9 My periods of sexual activity enthral quiet doctors
10 School memo written in a quasi-Arabic style
ETON - reversal of NOTE, because Arabic is written right to left. Only quasi-Arabic because the script and word itself are English of course.
11 Son breaks fresh coverage of fake ghosts in bulletins
NEWS SHEETS - NEW(S), SHEETS. I liked ‘coverage of fake ghosts’.
12 Court reporter maybe displays subpoena in front of the Queen
SPORTSWRITER - SPORTS (displays), WRIT, ER. No, not that sort of court!
16 Full of cold, writhing feverishly with bad twitching
18 A hand in seas cast adrift
20 Dumb artist medium-sized record label rejected
MIME - M, reversal of EMI.
21 Worker provided with stock of various kinds
MANIFOLD - MAN (worker), IF (provided), OLD (stock).
22 Light infantryman must retreat by dark, according to message
IGNITE - reversal of GI, homophone of ‘night’. ‘According to message’ is a bit of an odd homophone indicator because messages aren’t necessarily (or indeed usually) oral.
23 Journal left in toilet
24 Collapsed apartment needs action to secure it

1 Beastly type in a rage with pet barking
2 Material used to make many longhouses
NYLON - contained in ‘many longhouses’.
3 Government bill pint-sized Republican put in post
4 Flapper in raincoat that’s adorable
MACAW - MAC, AW. ‘That’s adorable’ for AW is neat.
5 A pretty mischievous feature in a church
ACUTE ARCH - A, CUTE, ARCH. ‘Another name for a lancet arch’ says Collins, helpfully.
6 English country houses
7 I’m right to tell new nurses medics’ ultimately useful info
GRIST TO THE MILL - (IM RIGHT TO TELL)* containing medicS. Arguably a definition by example because it's not necessarily information.
13 Big brat in for treatment, being very gassy
14 Bloody freezing
15 Dame exercising with a tin full of beans
17 Harshly ridicule a trip in tub for all to hear
ASSAIL - sounds like ‘a sail’. I wouldn’t necessarily think of a tub as a sailing boat, but the intention is clear.
19 Dig not being clobbered around head in Glasgow
NUDGE - NUD(Glasgow)E. ‘Not being clobbered’ is good.
20 I filled canvas bag with Medical Officer at front
MONET - MO, NET. Neatly disguised definition.
  • vinyl1

Times 27835 - Or the Insular Ionan?

Time: 29 minutes
Music: Ravel, Piano Music, Gieseking

This was not quite an easy Monday, but none of the answers were that obscure, and the literals were pretty obvious.   Experienced solvers will probably zip through in no time, and nearly everyone will finish without too much difficulty.  I was wondering what took me so long when I finished - on another day, this could easily be a sub-20-minute solve for me. 

This is my first blog since the failed online Championships, and I really feel sorry for poor David Parfitt.   Since he is non-technical, and the Crossword Club is probably the bottom priority for IT services, there was really very little he could do.   There could not have been more than a couple of hundred hits a minute on the competition puzzles, and properly tuned software and hardware should have handled the requests easily.   Oh, well, it's back to the Times building and those little desks next year.

1 African capital where an old banger may end up, do we hear? (8)
KHARTOUM - Sounds like CART ROOM, maybe?   Or perhaps something else, I had one letter and biffed it.
9 Lively friend dipping into a new set of papers? (8)
10 Old boy mostly existing with love in limbo (8)
OBLIVION - O.B + LIVI(O)N[g], biffed from the first two letters.
11 A right pain, a lemur, primarily living in tree! (8)
ARBOREAL - A R BORE + A + L[emur], another biff here.
12 Plain nurse’s distorted description of Iberia (10)
14 Sound made by chosen Caledonian tribesman (4)
PICT - Sounds like PICKED - a homonym that works!
15 Tack supplier’s son finally fell, bitten by snake (7)
17 Token of victory originally that hurt reigning monarch (7)
21 Boss missing start of Disney film (4)
UMBO - [d]UMBO.   As a hard-core Mephisto solver, I saw boss and biffed.   This is the other kind of boss, the stud at the centre of the shield.
22 Bird top man and woman located in tree (10)
KINGFISHER - KING + FI(SHE)R.   Many solvers will apply "top" to the woman as well as the man, put E.R., and then wonder how the fish got in. 
23 Exist as male insect, or biblical monster? (8)
BEHEMOTH - BE HE MOTH, a chestnut.
25 A French cookery writer reportedly never surpassed (8)
UNBEATEN - UN + sounds like [mrs} BEATON, who was a.....cookery writer!
26 Sanctions optical aids, including insurance cover to begin with (8)
LICENSES - L(I[nsurance] C[over])ENSES.   I was looking for sanctions in the sense of punishes, so one for the setter.
27 The Spanish character long ago carrying priest’s ordinal? (8)
ELEVENTH - EL + E(VEN)TH.  Eth, em, en, some useful little words clued in various ways.
2 Dance a woman’s beginning to accompany outside a bar (8)
HABANERA - H(A BAN)ER + A[ccompany].
3 Verbally control attempt to catch right type of woodpecker (8)
RAINBIRD - Sounds like REIN + BI(R)D.
4 Girl in party upset old poet (4)
OVID - O(VI)D, my FOI.  DO is our upset party.
5 Restrain fellow fighter pilot capturing head of Luftwaffe? (7)
6 Extremely low bite from wild animal (6,4)
TIMBER WOLF - Anagram of L[o]W + BITE FROM.
7 Soak one’s hair at first — it’s fairly excessive (8)
8 Deal tiro organised for worshipper of false god (8)
IDOLATER - Anagram of DEAL TIRO, which accounts for the alternate spelling of tyro.  Count the letters - don't put idolator!
13 Restaurant’s pronounced gamble over hotel on river (10)
STEAKHOUSE - Sounds like STAKE + H + OUSE.
15 Southern queen with capacity to grasp bishop’s argument (8)
SQUABBLE - S + QU AB(B)LE.   Remember to try a Q if you see a U!
16 Rise for poor peasant ringing about aquatic bird (8)
DABCHICK - BAD backwards  (C) HICK.  Is a peasant really a hick? They come from two different worlds.
18 Recce ship’s officer’s gun enclosure (8)
CASEMATE - CASE + MATE, trust the cryptic and the crossers.
19 Developing army corps set up information outlet at last (8)
EMERGENT -  R.E.M.E upside down + GEN + [outle]T
20 Wax lyrical in this way entering quarters (7)
ENTHUSE - EN(THUS)E, where E, N, and E are random directions.
24 French priest born in Lincoln? (4)
ABBE - AB(B)E, a Quickie clue.