December 12th, 2020

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27840 - Saturday, 5 December 2020.

I did this puzzle in snatches during a busy Saturday, so I don't know how long it would have taken under normal conditions. The standout clue for me was 1dn. I had no idea what to make of it until I had enough helpers to guess the answer, and finally work out what was going on. Delightful!

My LOI was 22ac, where I guessed the answer but took ages to see the wordplay. I enjoyed the tricky definition at 12ac, and looked askance at 13dn. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did everyone find it?

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.
1 Neck requiring equal, unlimited, forces (5)
QUAFF – (E)QUA(L), 2 x F for force.
4 States monarch might be taken in by sweetener or bribe (4,5)
HUSH MONEY – US=the States, HM=Her Majesty, all taken in by HONEY=sweetener, in a sense unrelated to the answer.
9 Aviation industry maybe quickly getting around upset, making a comeback (9)
AEROSPACE – APACE getting around EROS=SORE making a comeback.
10 Mother grasps baking at last — it's very hot under the crust (5)
MAGMA – (bakin)G in MAMA.
11 Being ahead of coppers, dashed off (6)
RANCID – RAN = dashed, ahead of CID = coppers.
12 Seafood's left in vessel, baked in the middle and not turned over (8)
PLANKTON – L=left in PAN, (ba)K(Ed), TON=NOT turned over. Not a food commonly seen in a fisherman’s basket, but a staple food of fish and whales!
14 Biased information for irreligious state prosecutor (10)
PROPAGANDA – the irreligious might, whimsically, be PRO PAGAN, the prosecutor is the DA.
16 Start to stroke animal's cheek (4)
SASS – S(troke) ASS.
19 Refuse dump's opening next to English city (4)
DENY – D(ump), E=English, NY=city.
20 Audition centres arranged before makeshift set (6,4)
SCREEN TEST – anagrams of CENTRES (arranged), and SET (makeshift).
22 Frequently clap MEP, making an effort to secure votes (8)
CAMPAIGN – odd letters of “clap mep making an” give C-A- M-P -A-I-G -N.
23 Fight French industrial relations body (6)
FRACAS – FR=French, the ACAS is an English industrial relations body (I believed the setter, though of course I’d never heard of it!)
26 Beast you can see in Pennsylvania, briefly? (5)
PANDA – the two-letter code for Pennsylvania is PA, or to spell it out more fully, P-AND-A.
27 Wine collector has mobile phone pinched by eg crude European (9)
OENOPHILE – anagram of (mobile) PHONE pinched by OIL=crude say, then E=European.
28 Uses bugging device, compromising Leninists (7,2)
LISTENS IN – anagram of (compromising) LENINISTS.
29 Took on water maybe — unpleasantly wet crossing river (5)
DRANK – DANK crossing R.

1 For example, 26 x 4 - 50 (9)
QUADRUPED – what a delight! 26ac is PANDA, which gives the answer as a definition by example. “x 4” is a multiplication instruction, for something to be QUADRUPLED. In Roman numerals, 50 = L, which needs to be removed from QUADRUP(L)ED to give the answer.
2 Expert wearing an item of PPE (5)
APRON – PRO wearing AN.
3 Can its energy start to fire up a period of celebration? (8)
FESTIVAL – LAV=can, ITS, E=energy, F=start of fire. Turn it all “up”, and behold!
4 Stop scratching head and vote for fraud (4)
HOAX – (W)HOA, scratching its head, then X=vote.
5 Heading for peak, chap departs wearing guide's climbing equipment (10)
STEPLADDER – P=heading of Peak, LAD=chap, and D=departs, all going in STEER=guide.
6 Motorway sign might ultimately flash (6)
MOMENT – M, OMEN, (migh)T ultimately.
7 A thing somehow associated with REM? (9)
NIGHTMARE – anagram (somehow) of A THING REM.
8 Long story rings true at the end (5)
YEARN – YARN ringing (tru)E. I saw “long” and quickly thought “yearn”, but I struggled to see the wordplay.
13 So, God might be 15, perhaps? (5,5)
FANCY GOODS – GOODS is an anagram (FANCY) of SO GOD. So, the answer might be a clue for 15dn.
15 Decorates ends of narrowboat with external gold handles (9)
ORNAMENTS – OR=gold, NAMES=handles. N(arrowboa)T is inside.
17 Drunkard consequently flipped over and fell, as it were (2,2,5)
SO TO SPEAK – SOT, OS=SO flipped over, PEAK=fell.
18 Brave international agent is provided with papers (8)
INTREPID – INT=international, REP=agent, ID=papers.
21 Front of academy partially gives protection (6)
FACADE – hidden in/protected by O(F ACADE)MY. I think “partially” and “protection” overlap; both say it’s a hidden answer.
22 Fossil fuel containing phosphorus and resin (5)
COPAL – P=phosporus in COAL.
24 State control has increased, not abated, primarily (5)
CHINA – spelled out by the first letters of each word (primarily).
25 Soon, news article is to be written up — there's nothing in it (4)
ANON – N+N=new, twice. A is the article. Write them upwards, and insert O=nothing.

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1470 - 28th November

Hello to you all, on my last Jumbo blog of 2020.  Where has the year gone?  (And if your automatic answer to that is swear-free, you’re a better human than me!)  Anyway, I wish you all festivities as enjoyable as possible, and most importantly a humungously improved 2021.

This puzzle was a DNF for me, but it was clear with a handful of answers to go that I was going to need assistance for at least a couple, so the decision to use aids was an easy one.  No staring at those last one or two gaps wondering if there’s some knowledge I just don’t have or whether I will be kicking myself silly if I give in.

Up until then (about 45 or 50 minutes) it was smooth-going, and even the long anagrams sorted themselves out with no bother, which is not something I can usually say.  All very nice – thanks, setter!

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