January 9th, 2021

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27864 - Saturday, 2 Jan 2021. There’s no such thing as a free hunch!

Well, this would have been a much easier job than the week before, if only I hadn’t come up with a plausible but wrong solution to an anagram. That gave me a crossing letter which made no sense for the other word.

When eventually I found the answer anyway, and made the consequential correction to the anagram, I still felt it was satisfying but “relatively straightforward for a Saturday”.  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 Exacting general acceptance for coinage (4,8)
HARD CURRENCY – HARD=exacting, CURRENCY=general acceptance, as in ‘the idea had general acceptance/currency’.
9 Airline's mechanics initially work well (5)
AMPLY – A(irline) M(echanics) “initially”, PLY=work. As in ‘well provided’.
10 Centuries-old notes regarding golf on steppes (9)
PLAINSONG – PLAINS=steppes, ON=regarding, G=golf in the phonetic alphabet.
11 Dismissal notice put off, keeping yours truly in Paris (8)
EJECTION – anagram (put off) of NOTICE, with JE=yours truly, in French.
12 Item stored in cellar, dry inside trunk (6)
BOTTLE – TT=dry, inside BOLE=(tree) trunk.
13 We're told what manager does in other countries (8)
OVERSEAS – we’re told (=sounds like) ‘oversees’.
15 Primates object when pound's replaced old pennies and shillings (6)
LEMURS – DEMUR with D=old pennies replaced by L=pound, followed by S=shilling.
17 Series of comments about keeping a number of commandments? (6)
CATENA – A, TEN=number of commandments, inside CA=about. I knew of catenary arcs, so this unfamiliar word sounded plausible.
18 High copper tap that practitioner struggles to remove? (8)
SUPERBUG – SUPER(intendant)=high-ranking policeman, BUG=(wire) tap.
20 England's opening pair caught during match, producing draw (6)
ENTICE – EN=England’s first two letters, then C=caught inside TIE=match.
21 Secret of criminal avoiding punishment (4,4)
SCOT FREE – anagram (criminal) of SECRET OF.
24 Confirmation of insurance number in private code at last (5,4)
COVER NOTE – NO=number in COVERT=secret, then (cod)E.
25 Play one's part again to produce a response (5)
REACT – RE-ACT=to play the part again.
26 Feast on candies, say, becoming queasy (9,3)
ASCENSION DAY – anagram (becoming queasy) of ON CANDIES SAY.

Down
1 Last of those aboard must stop at sea (5,2)
HEAVE TO – HAVE TO=must, with (thos)E ‘aboard’.
2 Touching gift set up musical agent (14)
REPRESENTATIVE – RE=touching, PRESENT=gift, ATIVE=EVITA=musical, ‘set up’.
3 Keen priest cleared out part of church (5)
CRYPT – CRY=keen, then P(ries)T, ‘cleared out’.
4 Carpeting for five authentic houses (8)
REPROVAL – PRO=for, V=five, ‘housed by’ REAL=authentic.
5 Set up monitor primarily to eliminate paper (4)
EXAM – M(onitor), AXE=eliminate, all reversed (set up).
6 Staff getting to grips with inflections of language (9)
CANTONESE – CANE=staff, gripping TONES=inflections.
7 Hitch-hiker to board and not alight in border region (14)
NORTHUMBERLAND – THUMBER=hitchhiker, ‘boarding’ NOR=and not + LAND=alight. Bordering Scotland, as you know.
8 Tailender from gang entering before old bodyguard leaving (6)
EGRESS – (gan)G entering ERE=before, SS=old (Nazi) bodyguards.
14 Lots of easy work in cracking locks (9)
SINECURES – IN ‘cracking’ SECURES=locks.
16 Works out what next in line does (8)
SUCCEEDS – double definition.
17 Grasp brush, perhaps, scrubbing a pair of taps (6)
CLENCH – CLE(a)N + C(old) + H(ot).
19 Particularly nondescript bears at large (7)
GREATLY – GREY=nondescript, ‘bearing’ AT + L(arge).
22 Roughly beneath tip of elephant's trunk (5)
TORSO – T=(elephan)T, then OR SO=roughly.
23 Fuel sanction got round by church (4)
COKE – CE=church, around OK=sanction, in the sense of approval.

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1475 - 28th December 2020. Polishing off the year

Hi all.  This was the Boxing Day bank holiday (substitute day) puzzle, Boxing Day itself having been a Saturday, with its very own regular Jumbo.  It was a good season at least for Jumbo lovers (and I don’t mean sweethearts who had indulged in too much seasonal nosh).  I found this last one of 2020 enjoyable and not too heavy.  I liked the “cracking war hero” in 39d but needed a knight in shining armour to crack the wordplay in 54a.  Thanks setter!


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