December 26th, 2020

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1472 - 12th December

Compliments of the season to you all!  Turkey sandwich anyone? A fairly gentle Jumbo here from two  weeks ago but with a bit of a sting in the tail. At the end 34A had me scratching my head and resorting to aids... an unknown word with less than obvious wordplay crossing with a word, 26D, that I wouldn't have spelled that way. Otherwise all good stuff, all done in less than 40 minutes, with the usual couple of other unknowns more generously clued. Favourites included 15A, 46A and 25D. How did you all get on?

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  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27852 - Saturday, 19 December 2020. All over the grid.

By the sound of it, some solvers like to take a structured approach: start with 1ac and proceed in order to 24dn, before going back to fill in any gaps.

That’s not my style! I start wherever my eye falls and once I have an answer, I see if any of the helpers suggest another answer. (Brownian motion comes to mind!) With this puzzle, the result of that was that I finished the whole bottom half before making any significant progress with the top half. Thus, my FOI was 29ac, and my LOI was the rather clever 12ac.

With the festive season upon us, I hope you are settling in for a relaxed Boxing Day as you read the blog. Happy New Year to all!

There were an unusual number of literal or cryptic definitions, all well done, I thought. 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}.
Across
1 Withhold food from female members of sect (6)
FAMISH – F=female, AMISH=sect.
4 Bacon's partner the man in question plans to sort of paint (8)
EGGSHELL – EGGS go with bacon; HE’LL=the man plans to. I might have thought, wrongly, that ‘eggshell’ would be a colour of paint. No! Chambers tells me it means ‘having only a slight gloss’.
10 Boxers perhaps having been knocked out by fray (9)
UNDERWEAR – UNDER=knocked out; WEAR=fray.
11 Drive back one taking public transport eastbound (5)
REBUT – TUBER, ‘eastbound’. Actually, I think it’s ‘westbound’, since we’re to write the word from right to left? But, 27ac! I’m used to seeing ‘rebut’ as ‘disprove’ or ‘refute’, but Chambers has ‘drive back’ as its first definition listed!
12 Scrap: it’s what vet might do? (7)
SNIPPET – pun of the day: the vet might SNIP your PET. Sorry, Fido or Felix.
13 Commend or second” covers it (7)
ENDORSE – the answer is hidden. (The clue ‘covers it’!) Unusually, the answer is hidden inside the definition! Nice work, setter.
14 Religious official of note touring university daily (5)
MUFTI – MI=the note, which ‘tours’ U=university + FT=the Financial Times, published daily.
15 Broadcast from European embassy (8)
EMISSION – E=European, MISSION=embassy.
18 The sack for setter, maybe, when one’s unable to finish? (5,3)
DOGGY BAG – cryptic definition. In this clue, the setter is canine!
20 Orange's so long to perish when wrapped in something metallic (5)
ADIEU – DIE in AU, obviously. I wasn’t sure exactly where the Principality of Orange was, so I took it on faith that the local language was French. Wikipedia tells me it was on the Rhone, in what is now Provence. (Further reading confirms that at some point, the ‘Orange’ title passed to a relative in the Netherlands, and William of Orange was indeed from Holland, so no wonder I was confused!)
23 Fruit's a necessity when reflecting (7)
SATSUMA – A MUST=necessity, AS=when; all ‘reflecting’.
25 Mournful glee clubs playing around Iowa (7)
ELEGIAC – anagram (playing) of GLEE C, around IA for Iowa.
26 Cold, then hot, being laid up with this? (5)
CHILL – C=cold, H=hot, ILL=laid up. A literal definition.
27 It's not important back office getting hacked by bugs? (5,4)
NEVER MIND – NED=DEN backwards, ‘hacked by’ VERMIN.
28 Poetic soiree, happening before fateful day, over too soon (8)
EVENTIDE – EVENT before IDE(s). Beware the Ides of March!
29 Charm: a drug-runner has tons (6)
AMULET – A MULE has T=tons.

Down
1 More of us might become bridge players, possibly (8)
FOURSOME – anagram (might become) of MORE OF US.
2 Halfway through key piece of music is one section containing organs (7)
MIDRIFF – mid-riff, in musical terms.
3 Big bands can provide it (9)
STRAPPING – double definition.
5 Working on plot to resign, taking this first? (9,5)
GARDENING LEAVE – cryptic definition.
6 Slough, where queen's shielded, a tiny bit (5)
SHRED – SHED=slough. Insert R=Regina=queen.
7 Bar served up nothing to attract my interest (7)
EMBARGO – O=nothing, GRAB ME=attract my interest. ‘Serve it up’, meaning write it backwards in this down clue.
8 Turner's foaming water (6)
LATHER – the operator of a lathe is a turner, or, quaintly, a lather (pronounced with a long ‘A’).
9 Pamper in shower? On the contrary, stupid! (7-7)
FEATHER-BRAINED – RAIN=shower in FEATHERBED=pamper.
16 Got in gin and Bacardi, maybe that’s in the kitchen? (5,4)
SNARE DRUM – SNARED = caught in a gin trap; RUM=Bacardi, perhaps. The kitchen of the orchestra, we’re talking about.
17 White fish swallowed by heartless red one? (8)
MUSCADET – SCAD=fish, swallowed by MU—ET, which I think must come from (red) mullet. The answer is a wine, not a fish. I was delighted to look up mullet in Chambers and find this: A hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round.
19 Profile of an unfashionable occupation (7)
OUTLINE – OUT=unfashionable, LINE=occupation.
21 Sign one must stop visiting Tuscany perhaps, endlessly (7)
INITIAL – I=one is visiting IN ITAL(y). I’m not convinced ‘signing’ and ‘initialling’ are the same thing, but 27ac!
22 Mind agent getting centre forward and Argentinian left-winger (6)
PSYCHE – SPY moves the P forward. CHE (Guevara) was born in Argentina.
24 A place to sleep in Saint-Tropez is dingy (5)
UNLIT – in France, one might sleep on un lit, n’est pas?