January 16th, 2021

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1477 - 2nd January

I know I asked for more tricky ones when I blogged Jumbo 1442... and, lucky me, I got it in spades this time. "A bit of a beast" one or two of my pals have said. And indeed, we have an abundance of trickery today. I loved it! And I'm relieved that (I think!) I've managed to parse it all. I found the NE corner trickiest apart from 52A, for which I needed help. Lots of lovely words and lovely clues. Many ticks on my copy and it's hard to pick a favourite, but 33A was the most fun to try and parse. I have to say I enjoyed doing the blog to revisit the cleverness, some of which I'd missed on solving. If only I hadn't made a typo in 37D  on entering my answers online, leaving me with a pink square. Grr. Thank-you setter. I would say "More like this, please, editor!" again, but what do others think?

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  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27870 - Saturday, 9 January 2021. Don’t drink or drive.

In these times of Christmas celebrations, COVID lockdowns, and summer travel (this side of the equator), the sort of police controls at 1ac loom large! Not that any of those things trouble our household … we continue to shelter in place waiting for normality to return.

Although there was only one piece of general knowledge I lacked, this puzzle was generally rather challenging. Still, I finished it in reasonable time. How did others do?

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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}.



Police control hard to understand in areas to the west (5,4)

SPEED TRAP – DEEP=hard to understand, in PARTS=areas, all going backwards=‘to the west’.


Tony for example a child court protects (5)

AWARD – A, WARD=child court protects.


One used to spin has some control at Headingley (5)

LATHE – hidden answer in ‘control at Headingly’. Clever definition, I thought.


Black inside, rotten old wheat seen in lethal buffet (9)

DEATHBLOW – B=black inside an anagram (‘rotten’) of OLD WHEAT. I was a little surprised this is one word, but Chambers agrees it is.


Volcanic feature about to consume tree (7)

CALDERA – CA=about ‘consumes’ ALDER. An instant write-in for me.


Unhurried pace of a northern comedy writer? (7)

ANDANTE – A, N=northern, DANTE=writer inter alia of the Divine Comedy.


Stimulated mind swamping one's emotion (14)

SENTIMENTALITY – SENT=stimulated (this wasn’t the first meaning I thought of for ‘stimulated’, but in the words of Sam Cooke, Darling you send me, honest you do, honest you do), I=one, MENTALITY=mind.


Confront judge about new clubs forming link-up (5-9)

CROSS-REFERENCE – CROSS=confront, REFEREE=judge, ‘about’ N=new and C=clubs.


Native American soldier turning by a little house (7)

ARAPAHO – PARA=soldier ‘turning’ gives ARAP, then A + HO.


Luminous patches unable to be dispersed, absorbing energy (7)

NEBULAE – anagram (to be dispersed) of UNABLE, ‘absorbing’ E=energy.


Criminal dominates Kentish Town (9)

MAIDSTONE – anagram (criminal) of DOMINATES.


Singer's 22: managed by vacuous Geordie? (5)

RANGE – RAN=managed, G(eordi)E. Range would be an asset (as per 22dn) for a singer.


Flower rook brought into shelter (5)

TRENT – R=rook in TENT. After all, rivers do flow.


Perhaps communed with nature in tree (9)

SATINWOOD – we SAT IN the WOOD and communed.



Fish is covered in cream after gutting error (8)

SOLECISM – SOLE=a fish, then IS covered in C(rea)M.


Passionately praise old auction item coming up (5)

EXTOL – EX=old, then LOT ‘coming up’.


Food studied in this parliament, and standards, hard to ignore (9)

DIETETICS – DIET=the Japanese parliament, ET(h)ICS=standards.


Excellent goddess inspiring one to shine (7)

RADIATE – RAD=excellent, I=one, ATE=the Greek goddess of mischief.


Bumpkin cut hearts from game birds (7)

PEASANT – the bird is a P(h)EASANT.


Companion shunned by man concealed bug (5)

APHID – (ch)AP ‘shuns’ the ‘ch’=companion, then HID=concealed.


Departs from Durham town for military cemetery (9)



Knocked back where Darwin lived and died (6)

DOWNED – Darwin lived in DOWNE (I didn’t know that), D=died.


Deserter stuck in ravine confusedly recounting events (9)

NARRATIVE – RAT=deserter, in an anagram (confusedly) of RAVINE.


Greek hero to praise in speech attributed to Reagan? (4,5)

LORD BYRON – LORD sounds (‘in speech’) like ‘laud’, then another speech perhaps BY RON=attributed to Reagan.


Title for cleric having to tear around all the time (8)



City with favelas as far as we're concerned ungovernable? (7)

RIOTOUS – RIO is a city with favelas, TO US=as far as we’re concerned.


Band in motor giving admirer clout (3,4)

FAN BELT – FAN=admirer, BELT=clout.


Two males on the ascent to see Alpine animal (6)

MARMOT – the two males are TOM and a RAM. All backwards, ‘on the ascent’.


Area with second class property (5)

ASSET – A=area, S=second, SET=class.


Fish served with duck's tongue (5)

LINGO – LING is a fish, O=0=a duck at cricket.

Sunday Times Cryptic 4937, by Dean Mayer — Crumbs of comfort

This time I’m writing this up almost a week after the working. The character of my marks indicates that I filled it in pretty quickly—when there’s a tough one, I like, for some reason, to inscribe the letters carefully, artfully with my Uniball Ultra Micro pen, but on an easier one (especially the Quickie), my calligraphy approaches a scrawl. This one is somewhere in between. In any case, I remember having it all worked except one when I climbed out of the tub (it’s hot bath season).

I indicate (gas an arm)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Spot hiding fish in strong current (4,4)
 5 Tabloid needs right journalist to pressure (6)
REDTOP — R(ight) +ED(itor), “journalist” + TO + P(ressure)
10 Fat pig eating starters of raw greens — wow! (11)
FLABBERGAST — FLAB, “fat” + BE(R)(G)AST… unusual to see this form of the word, isn’t it? “This will flabbergast you!”
11 Sheep — English people generally (3)
EWE — Hey, who you callin’ sheeple? E(nglish) + WE, “people generally”
12 An example of this is not uncommon (6,8)
DOUBLE NEGATIVE — CD, if just barely… it’s not uncryptic.
15 Guy that mixed a new cocktail (9)
MANHATTAN — MAN, “Guy” + (that)* + A + N(ew) I can see its glimmering shore just across the East River when I walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, but I haven’t been to the eponymous isle since mid-March.
16 Man possibly following a path taken by bride? (5)
AISLE — A before ISLE, “Man, possibly”
17 Holy text published on approval from the east (5)
KORAN — OK<=“from the east” + RAN, “published”
19 Cleansing tractor, horse and lorry (9)
CATHARTIC — CAT, “tractor” + H(orse) + ARTIC, “lorry”
21 Row of buildings, factories etc. (5,9)
NOISE POLLUTION — CD, playing on two senses of “row” Also appeared in this Wednesday’s puzzle, also clued with a (somewhat better, or at least more C) CD.
23 Crumbs eaten by binge eater (3)
GEE — Hidden This was for me this puzzle’s most educational clue. My first thought was that GEE and “Crumbs” aren’t the same thing, but it turns out that their uses do overlap, GEE being an expression of surprise, enthusiasm or sympathy, and “Crumbs” expressing dismay or surprise. But I was only familiar with the former of the latter’s senses, seeing it as equivalent to Charlie Brown’s “Rats!”—and I was quite unaware that it, like GEE (from “Jesus”), is a euphemistic way to take the Christian Lord’s name in vain. Apparently, it started out as “Crums,” and substitutes for “Christ!” “Crumbs, you know it ain’t easy / You know how hard it can be-e-ee…”
24 Exciting? Alas, one isn’t excited (11)
SENSATIONAL — (Alas, one isn’t)*
26 Official witness that holds informer back (6)
NOTARY — Y(RAT)ON <=“back”… “by that tree,” “by YON tree”
27 Saw knees trembling in passion? (8)
WEAKNESS — (Saw knees)* Wins this episode’s Creative Anagrind Prize.

 1 Hard to lose opening argument (4)
 2 Continue guarding old soldier (7)
DRAGOON — Who’s guarding the guardians? DRAG O(O)N
 3 Pull a leg bone (3)
 4 Feature of bank statement, of course? (7,7)
CURRENT ACCOUNT — CURRENT is “course” and ACCOUNT “statement”; I guess this qualifies as an &lit. (No, it’s an &lit. after all. Thanks to keriothe for making up my mind.) There are two senses to the term, one being your personal holdings at your financial establishment and the other referring to a nation’s trade balance.
 6 Lavish living to hide ruin, mostly (11)
 7 Temperature cool — it’s horrible (3,4)
THE PITS — T(emperature) + HEP, “cool,” daddy-o + literally IT[’]S
 8 Will start to provide testimonial (10)
PREFERENCE — P[-rovide] + REFERENCE, “testimonial” My LOI, because it was hard for me to see “Will” as equivalent to PREFERENCE. “Where there’s a PREFERENCE, there’s a way,” anyone? However, there is a weaker sense of “Will” that is appropriate, and the two words are found together in synonym lists.
 9 Female worker expects to be given this (9,5)
MATERNITY LEAVE — CD, playing on the double sense of “expects”
13 Be in tears about crossing a river — it’s a problem (5-6)
BRAIN-TEASER — (Be in tears + A)* + R(iver)
14 A report’s conclusive evidence? (7,3)
18 Try to get into torn dress (7)
20 Extremely tender bit to lick (7)
TROUNCE — T[-ende]R + OUNCE, “bit”
22 Stops losing good advantage (4)
25 One oddly like (3)
ILK — I, “One” + odd letters in LiKe… at first, I underlined the whole clue; there is overlap between wordplay and definition, but on a second look, the last word supplies the definition all by itself (ILK being a type, not one example of the “like”). Collins (online) has, in American English, ILK meaning “same, like,” but marks this as Obsolete. The current definition, “kind; sort; class” is said to be used “only in of that (or his, her, etc.) ilk, of the same sort or class: from a misunderstanding of the phrase of that ilk as used in Scotland to mean ‘of the same name…’…often used disparagingly.” The American and British entries differ only insignificantly.
  • vinyl1

Mephisto 3150 - Double your words, double your fun!

I found this Mephisto quite difficult, and was stuck for a long while with only about 1/3 of it done.  I really needed to grind to get going again, and even then each answer had to be squeezed out.    Paul McKenna is working in a very unusual asymetrical grid, with four long answers scattered about.   Unfortunately, only one of them was immediately obvious to me, and the one at 4 down proved particlurly elusive - until I saw it, of course, and then it was obvious, and opened up the whole puzzle.  I ended up biffing Abbasid as my LOI - yeah, that looks right, that must be it.

An interesting feature of this puzzle is the two wordplay words that have two meanings, and two etymologies, but only one spelling and one pronunciation.   With all the various bits and pieces English has picked up over the centuries, there are quite a few words like this, the most common ones being boss, tattoo, and groom.   But when you come across a new one, you are quite likely to be a bit nonplussed, and go scurrying for you Chambers.     Well, it's all in there, although if you really want to read up on etymology and usage history, you will have to switch to the OED.

1 Metaphor turned on a lime, say (6)
TEMPER - MET backwards + PER.  Defined in Chambers as "lime or other substance used to neutralize the acidity of cane juice".
5 Loud husband standing in for lecturer is frightening (5)
HAIRY - (-l,+H)AIRY, a letter-substitution clue using a Scots dialect word.
9 Fool with stiff carriage, mostly little sticks with one (9)
10 Extraordinary bit of info I have is able to be refined (11)
11 Oddball daughter is to be more tanky than Trotsky, say (6)
12 I delivered plant (4)
IRID - I + RID, yes, a plant of the iris family.
13 Secular subsidiary finding deposit in South Africa (6)
15 Time for journo to joke in new essay about hurtful disciple (11, two words)
SILLY SEASON - S(ILL)YSEA + SON, where an anagram of ESSAY is used.
16 A welcome bit of sashimi? (3)
AHI - A + HI, yellowfin tuna, to be precise.
20 Work's unit extracting boron from mountain (3)
ERG - [b]ERG.   Berg entered the English language by way of Afrikaans.
21 Bundle broken twigs for plant cleaner (11)
BOTTLEBRUSH - BOTTLE + BRUSH.  The first of our double words,  derived from botel, not boteille, meaning a bundle of hay.    The clue features two literals as well, as a bottlebrush can be either. 
24 German that is behind weak letter to Hebrew (6)
LAMEDH - LAME + D.H, from das heisst.   I'm not sure what this is doing in an English dictionary, but it's in Chambers. 
25 Drink’s flipping sex and sex appeal (4)
ASTI -  IT + SA backwards, cocking a snook at those who want these two banned from Crosswordland.
26 Suffering complete dirty look (6)
27 Small boggy pool (good tip of yours) conceivably means fungi (11, two words)
SHAGGY MANES - S + HAG + G + Y[ours] + anagram of MEANS.   Our second double word, HAG, from Old Norse hogg, and not related to the word for witch. 
28 Must go with patchy start to enalapril … it boosts good blood (9)
PHAGOCYTE - Anagram of GO + PATCHY + E[nalapril].   A white blood cell that eats invaders. 
29 Transfer a hundred bucks in trade (5)
DECAL - DE(C)AL, as in a C-note.
30 Tonic drink of two unknowns not quite blending (6)
OXYMEL - O' + X,Y + MEL[d], I think.
1 Crown in commotion causes a crux (6)
2 Death is time to get into ethics (9)
3 Skin on poultry, say, is pale, try tossing (7)
PTERYLA - Anagram of PALE, TRY.   A pteros is a wing in Greek, so some solvers will know where the letters go.
4 This is what gets races off — tip off each new day with stable bet (13, three words)
READY, STEADY, GO - R(aces) + E(ach) + anagram of DAY + STEADY + GO.  I'm not sure what's going on with the first letter, but it can't be [p]ER backwards, can it?
5 Chipmunks pick up experience (7)
HACKEES - HACK + SEE backwards.   Chipmunks are surprisingly common in crosswords considering they are a US critter.
6 Haulage rig? It reversed in something like a curve (5)
ARTIC - AR(IT backwards)C.
7 She crams on old mask (7)
8 Once the English knock getting going in Spenser (7)
YEEDING -  YE + E + DING, familiar to readers of the Faerie Queene. 
14 My! Pun does flop — Lewis Carroll’s one (9)
16 Caliph’s offspring picked up discontinued female garment (7)
ABBASID - DIS + ABBA upside down, more usually spelt ABA. 
17 Lord Snowdon made flashy connections here in Oxford, eg (7, two words)
HOT SHOE - HOT + SHOE, where you attach the flash gun to a film camera.
18 Barred absent member first to be beset by trouble (7)
ILLEGAL - IL(LEG,A)L, where A is a valid abbreviation for absent.
19 Smart about relative’s ecclesiastic authority (7)
22 Many amongst Sturgeon’s sort relish getting fresh order (6)
HIRSEL - Anagram of RELISH.   Whether the leaders of the SNP use obscure Scots dialect words, I cannot say. 
23 Indian surveyor uses this pompous snort of scepticism, say (5)
BIGHA - BIG HA, a land measure.