February 13th, 2021


Times Cryptic Jumbo 1481 - send in the clouds

I thought this was a moderately tricky puzzle with some smart misdirection and a few peculiarly British elements that might have overseas solvers chewing their pens. Probably an hour's worth of solving and parsing including time wasted in the NE thanks to a gaffe at 6a.

First in was EAVESDROP but I must have been distracted as I didn't note, and can't remember, where I finished up.

If any of my explanations don't make sense then feel free to ask for further elucidation.

Clues are in blue with the definition undelined.  Anagram indicators are in bold italics.


DD: Double definition

CD: Cryptic definition

DDCDH: DD/CD hybrid where a straight definition is combined with a cryptic hint.

&Lit: "all in one" where the entire clue is both definition and wordplay.

(fodder)* denotes an anagram of the letters in the brackets.

Rounded brackets are also used to add further clarity

Squiggly brackets {} indicate parts of a word not used

Deletions are struck out

Square brackets [] expand an abbreviation or shortening like L[eft];



What happens in autumn with departure of the first bug (9)

EAVESDROP - lEAVES DROP.  What a lovely way to start.  Neat wordplay and I'm a fan of clues where the part of speech of the definition differs between the surface and cryptic readings (bug being a noun in the surface and a verb in the answer).


Cut usual storm when going round cloud (13)

STRATOCUMULUS - (cut usual storm).  A little knowledge proved to be a dangerous thing for me.  I know enough about clouds to know that strato, stratus, cumulo and cumulus all appear somewhere in the full set of cloud types.  Trouble is, I "frankensteined" CUMULOSTRATUS from the fodder, and was then unable to solve any of the danglers (apart from 12d) for way too long.


Annoyance with firework not starting (5)

ANGER - bANGER.  Do y'all have bangers where you are?  Not the most sophisticated firework. They just go BANG.  Same as a firecracker or do they jump about a bit?


When there’s no drink to be had in bar (11)

PROHIBITION - I think this is intended as a DD but as the whole could also be a clue to the answer it almost ends up not being cryptic at all.


Foreign food delivered by ship, mostly around America (5)

SUSHI - SHI{p} around U[nited] S[tates]


One who manages to dispatch branch email (11)

CHAMBERLAIN - (branch email)*.  A posh foreman.


School has short novel about a Royal Navy battleship sunk in 1943 (11)

SCHARNHORST - SCH[ool] and (short)* surrounding A R[oyal] N[avy]. This is a great example of "lift and separate, as the ill-fated Scarnhorst was a German battleship.


Turmoil at head of British mint? (7)



Shut. Shot (5-2)



Current spinner is cheered at Lords at first appearance (7)

TOPICAL - TOP, I{s} C{heered} A{t} L{ords}


Painting those people on bridge, often man has left in informative details (3,7,2,3,4)

THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN - THEM, ON, ARCH, OFT, HE, L[eft] in GEN.  A handsome 1851 painting of a handsome stag by Sir Edwin Landseer.  It's very famous here but I don't know if it's as familiar to Americans and Aussies say as Whistler's Mother and Rolf Harris's Dingo are to us.


A church service (3)

ACE - A, C[hurch of] E[ngland].  Tennis.


Get back control, eclipsing General Assembly (6)

REGAIN - REIN around G[eneral] A[ssembly].  Spookily, as I was typing the foregoing, the Spotify playlist I'm shuffling decided to play a jazz cover of The Beatles' Get Back.


About twelve, going round? (6)

ZODIAC - Superb &Lit, C[irc}A I DOZ[en] reversed


Perhaps Morse not working has time for female (9)

DETECTIVE - DEFECTIVE with T[ime] replacing F[emale]


What attracts magazine into London borough (3,6)



Emotional shock when former president nearly accepts answer (6)

TRAUMA - TRUMA{n} around A[nswer]


Silence about clip being wide open (6)



Maturity regularly displayed by hangmen (3)

AGE - {h}A{n}G{m}E{n}


Badly clueing “thin”’ as “elvery” for quiz (10,9)

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE - (clueing thin as elvery)*.  TV quiz between university teams which may not be known beyond these shores.


Piece of text fool inserted into episode (7)

PASSAGE - ASS in PAGE.  I "um"ed and "ah"ed over what to underline.  I think "episode" is a better fit for "passage" than for "page", despite the Yodaesque cryptic grammar.  You may disagree.


Noisily get round girl with sex appeal (7)



Replayed point before sad disappointment (7)

LETDOWN - LET (tennis again), DOWN


Organised site in mine to store uranium, a radioactive element (11)

EINSTEINIUM - (site in mine)* around U[ranium]


One trying to impress modern paper with editing (4-7)

NAME-DROPPER - (modern paper)*


Happen to rain heavily around cricket club, cutting off parking (5)

OCCUR - pOUR around C[ricket] C[lub]


Bury coins in crossroads (11)



Earliest of dialects of rough intonation, classically (5)

DORIC - &Lit, initial letters


Spar shows, mind, terribly good use of steel (13)

SWORDSMANSHIP - (spar shows mind)*


Naval ship Thalaba, for instance (9)

DESTROYER - DD. Thalaba the Destroyer is an 1801 epic poem composed by Robert Southey.  That's the sort of thing you want to get boys interested in poetry, bot bleedin' daffodils and skylarks.



Freer duty list with picture and title put up (11)


Old lady found in vessel, wandering (7)



Get rid of Bush (5)



Game to tolerate including impudent children’s hero (6,4)

RUPERT BEAR -  R[ugby] U[nion] BEAR around PERT. Another that may cause problems for non-Brits.  Rupert Bear (middle name THE) is a comic strip character whose "adventures" have appeared in the Daily Express newspaper since 1920.


Ordinary professionals are initially in charge (7)

PROSAIC - PRO[fessional]S, A{re}, I[n] C[harge]


Solstice got in eccentric spiritual believer (13)

SCIENTOLOGIST - (solstice got in)*


Cried following rail services starting late, beset by bad weather (9)



Tons cut hard work for music (4,3)

TRIP HOP - T[ons], RIP, H[ard] OP[us]. Music?  OK.


Trick rodent trapped by gluttony, note praise (12)

CONGRATULATE - CON, then RAT in GULA (Latin for the deadly sin), TE


Girl has cut quill crooked (9)



Strong light beer — good to be small (5)

LASER - LAGER with G[ood] replaced by S[mall]


Their vessel transported army material? (11)

SHIRTSLEEVE - (their vessel)*.  "ARMY" in an Uxbridge English Dictionary way.


Titillating material ripped up by art institute (7)

EROTICA - TORE reversed, I[nstitute of] C[ontemporary] A[rts]


Fusion fuel has appeal over charged particle (9)

COALITION - COAL, IT (sex appeal), ION


Keen nature of silver eagles in European sierra (9)

EAGERNESS - AG, ERNES in E[uropean] S[ierra]


Laugh with little time left in tedious job (7)

CHORTLE - T[ime] L[eft] in CHORE


Put a stop to rodents turning up in a particular area (7)

ENDEMIC - END, MICE reversed


Quality of work key with crew in at least three boats (13)



Man allowed string of beads (7)



Discrimination in working isn’t Times’ aim (4-8)

ANTI-SEMITISM - (isn't Times aim)*


Godless queen’s killer, on edge in short loose jacket (11)

BLASPHEMOUS - ASP, HEM all inside BLOUS{e} (or blous{on}?)


Supplier of gram accepted by naïve leather-clad youth wanting kilos (11)



Look of snowfield's extremity, poorly reflected in mountain route (10)



Lacking change, central fund haggled without pence (9)



Coastal area sailor damages with wash that hasn’t existed? (4,5)



Menu, perhaps, has information about something sparkling (7)

GLISTEN - LIST in GEN.  Who knew that GLISTEN could be a noun?  My Chambers app has gleam as the nounal definition of glisten and if I look up gleam it gives a few nounal definitions that are close enough to "something sparkling"


Man that’s lost house key outside car (7)

HOMINID - HO[use], D (music) outside MINI.  Nice definition.


Rich border hotel invested in gold quarry (7)

ORPHREY - H[otel] in OR PREY.  Gold or rich embroidery the like of which I have on my best velvet dressing gown.


Snack served in Vienna chophouse (5)

NACHO - hidden


Architectural style of edging with no breadth (5)

ORDER - BORDER missing B[readth]

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27894 - Saturday, 6 February 2021. Slip, slap, slop.

This was a delight. Clever definitions, challenging wordplay, and some amusing surfaces. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. My definition of the day was 12ac closely followed by 27ac, and wordplay of the day goes to 24ac. Fun!

I feel people’s times may be on the slower side, because many clues needed careful thought. Sadly for me, I fell short of that standard. The Australian Cancer Council has a skin cancer message, “slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat.” Alas, I just slipped, by slapping in an answer I couldn’t justify (because it was wrong, of course), and sloppily not going back to rethink it! Oh, drat.

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}.
1 Driven back by hard shot, becoming cross (6)
HYBRID – BY + H=hard “driven back”, then RID=shot, as in “get rid of that”.
4 Granted health (or wealth), ought to downsize (8)
ALTHOUGH – hidden answer (“downsized”)
10 Nanny yours truly’s rushed back to assist (9)
NURSEMAID – ME’S=yours truly’s (no, don’t quibble, please; setter’s licence!). Then, RUN=rushed. Turn that all around (“back”), and append AID=assist.
11 Short races some hope to hold? (5)
RATTY – TT=races, “held by” RAY=some hope.
12 High Mass forged a major link with Islam at first (11)
KILIMANJARO – anagram (“forged”) of A MAJOR LINK + I=Islam, at first. A great definition!
14 Green, yet crop is to be cut, oddly (3)
ECO – alternate letters of yEt CrOp.
15 Writer knocking back very fine Scottish port (7)
NABOKOV – V=very, OK=fine, OBAN is the port; all “back”.
17 Such a fine meal, with seconds, to consume with relish (4-2)
SLAP-UP – S=seconds, LAP UP=consume with relish. So, no: nothing to do with SOAK UP. Silly me.
19 Their neighbours about to stop entering America (6)
CUBANS – C=circa=about, then BAN=stop “entering” U.S.
21 Advance before meeting resistance, keeping at a distance (7)
PROFFER – PRE=before + R=resistance, “keeping” OFF=at a distance.
23 Back of bureau sealed off by heavy metal bar (3)
PUB – U from (burea)U, in PB=lead, the heavy metal.
24 University developed extremely wisely by the arts (11)
ABERYSTWYTH – anagram (“developed”) of W(…)Y BY THE ARTS,
26 Cheats men, reversing sanctions (5)
ROOKS – OR=men, “reversing”. OKS=sanctions.
27 Son, drunk, kicks daughter and kitty for no good reason? (5,4)
SLUSH FUND – S=son, LUSH=drunk, FUN=kicks, D=daughter. Delightful definition.
29 Modernising, cheerful, sort of agency (8)
UPDATING – UP=cheerful, dating=sort of agency.
30 Old kingdom’s relations on mend, after setback (6)
WESSEX – SEW=mend, “set back”. Then SEX=relations. I got the E early, and thought MERCIA, but later the X made it obvious.

1 Land within Berkshire maybe no good — put out information finally (4,4)
HONG KONG – N.G.=no good, K.O.=put out, N=information, “finally”; all “within” HOG=Berkshire (pig), maybe.
2 Bachelor, one requiring pluck when looking up girl (5)
BERYL – B=bachelor, LYRE=one requiring pluck, “looking up”.
3 Fish observed in sound (3)
IDE – sounds like EYED.
5 Commercial manager initially coming in is behind his publications (3,4)
LAD MAGS – AD=commercial + M=manager, “initially”; all “coming in” LAGS=is behind.
6 To keep mentioning Marx appropriate in public (4,2,5)
HARP ON ABOUT – HARPO Marx, NAB=appropriate=steal, OUT=in public.
7 Expecting finished article: pants (2,3,4)
UP THE DUFF – UP=finished, THE=article, PANTS=duff.
8 Upset by hoax, one can continue cooking (6)
HAYBOX – anagram (“upset”) of BY HOAX. Not a thing I knew, but interesting!
9 Guidance system sailors mostly used by day (6)
SATNAV – SAT(urday), NAV(y).
13 Force dad up when seated and try to get to bed? (4,1,4,2)
MAKE A PASS AT – MAKE=force, AP=PA “up”, AS=when, SAT=seated. Deceptive definition.
16 The flower of the aristocracy? (4,5)
BLUE BLOOD – clever cryptic definition.
18 Established Pole, losing head, has taken harmful amount neat (8)
ORTHODOX – (n)ORTH, O.D., OX=neat. Elegant clue.
20 Relative stages revolutionary eastern drama (7)
STEPSON – STEPS=stages, NO=Japanese drama “revolving”.
21 Look sullen after accepting a year’s compensation? (3-3)
PAY-OUT – POUT accepting A, Y=year.
22 Illuminating remark from copyist, copper-bottomed (6)
APERÇU – APER=copist, CU=copper. A word I recognise but wouldn’t feel confident to use!
25 Letter’s last word deviates from what’s dictated? (5)
YOURS – sounds like YAWS. The definition is as at the end of a letter: Yours, George.
28 Garden is something to dig — not large (3)
HOE – dig a HO(l)E.

Sunday Times Cryptic 4941, by Robert Price — circling the square

Nothing much very convoluted here, but all quite engaging for the smoothness of the surfaces and the uncontrived craftiness of the wordplay. Not saying I ripped thru this in 5, but I got the first two right off, followed by the long anagrams, and most doors opened up pretty easily once I pressed against them. Even my LOI, 12, would have been solved rather earlier, if only I hadn’t carelessly entered O instead of U in the square crossing 13after, mind you, unscrambling the anagram perfectly in the margins of the paper. I don’t know if you’ve had many similar experiences, but the idea that one of my confidently entered answers might be wrong is often the last thing to occur to me, let alone that my precise pen somehow committed a “typo.”

I indicate (as AM rang)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Offensive person’s laugh taken in good part (9)
 6 Like an angel taking her away to a higher power (5)
 9 Making sterile cities thrilling with paintings (15)
ANTISEPTICISING — (cities + paintings)* …A mouthful, when you could simply say “sterilizing”! This clue is tied with 7 in this week’s Creative Anagrind contest.
10 Close pet, nearly shot (6)
SULTRY — SUL[-k], “pet, nearly” + TRY, “shot”
11 Lake creator’s imported fish (8)
FLOUNDER — F(L)OUNDER I decrypted this immediately, spotting the formula in operation, so I guess it’s simple enough, though the word order would most naturally be taken to indicate that the definition is “Lake,” with (a word meaning) “creator” containing “fish”—or even that “Lake” takes in “creator” to make “fish”—rather than what’s really going on here.
13 Cooked up risotto to cover cold meat (10)
PROSCIUTTO — (up risotto + C)*
14 Fly emperors from the east to the west (4)
GNAT — TANG<=“from the east to the west,” a Chinese dynasty
16 Wait in the same place endlessly (4)
BIDE — [-i]BIDE[-m]
17 Body part very softly separating water (5,5)
19 Stacks fruit in vehicle (8)
RICKSHAW — RICKS, “stacks” + HAW, “fruit”
20 Capital, one lost from Bronze Age reconstruction (6)
ZAGREB — (br--z- age)*
23 What ensures voting success? Manipulating voting age! (7,8)
WORKING MAJORITY — WORKING, “manipulating” + MAJORITY, “voting age” Ask me about the filibuster in the US Senate! (Just not here.)
24 Fibre one’s covered with tar mostly (5)
SISAL — S(I[’]S)AL[-t]
25 Papers retained by lovers of old trains (9)

 1 Stones hit ought to be turned up (5)
OPALS — SLAP, “hit” + O, 0 or “ought” <=“turned up”
 2 Finally get even light on Mozart manuscripts? (6,3,6)
SETTLE OLD SCORES — SETTLE, “light” + OLD SCORES, “Mozart manuscripts,” e.g.
 3 Remove unrealistic summary (8)
ABSTRACT — Triple definition!!!
 4 Good sport suppressing a yawn (4)
GAPE — G(A)PE Took a moment to think of PE as “sport,” though the answer seemed obvious from the definition. I knew the “a” couldn’t be a… dangler!
 5 Waltzers keep this prime title when dancing (6,4)
TRIPLE TIME — (prime title)*
 6 Mark of intelligence in part of crossword coterie (6)
 7 They let you construct bridges until PM rages about one (8,7)
BUILDING PERMITS — (bridges until PM + I)*
 8 It’s smoked fish, alien in name (9)
12 Court medic feeding Queen a fish (10)
QUADRANGLE — QU, “Queen” + (A) + DR, “medic” + ANGLE, “fish” This is certainly the most complicated clue here, indicating that “medic” is swallowed by “Queen a” and only after all that comes “fish.” I think we may have caught our limit of fish this outing.
13 Such moving events may call for a few drinks (3-6)
15 Tribal chief’s story that goes on further (8)
SAGAMORE — SAGA, “story that goes on”… and on + MORE, “further”
18 Mistake overturned without a single observation (6)
ESPIAL — LA(I)PSE<=“overturned”
21 In Newport, lads brought up really tough (5)
BOYOS — SO, “really” + YOB, “tough” <=“brought up” I didn’t realize this is an especially Welsh term, nor that there is a town in Wales with a name only seven characters long, and easy to pronounce.
22 Sucker lacking passion and someone to seduce him? (4)
VAMP — VAMP[-ire, “passion”]
  • vinyl1

Mephisto 3154 - I would have said Jeff...

This was a really classic Don Manley puzzle, with the wordplay from words you know yielding answers that you probably don't know.    This, for me, is the chief pleasure in solving these things, although as you begin to expand your vocaulary you may venture for a biff or two.   I did know thesps, tortile, noyous, cauld, omer, gomoku, kraken, and fatamid, so I was able to do a fair bit without consulting Chambers.   The only clue I thought was verging on unfair was that for enarch, but it may be that others will see how it works immediately. 

I would advise you to remember the answers, but it really isn't of any use - there's an endless supply of obscure words in Chambers.   You'd do much better to remember the wordplay words like bi and ked, which come up all the time. 

1 Practitioner of magic gets response in Arab country (6)
OBIMAN - O(BI)MAN, with Manley's usual Chinese medicine.   If you know obi/obeah, you might biff.
5 Guess about winter month becoming fresher (6)
BEJANT - BE(JAN)T, easy cryptic, hard word - a first-year man up north.
10 Favourite worker keeping not very well? Only sparkling a bit (9)
PETILLANT - PET(ILL)ANT, another easy cryptic. 
11 Actors in the places such as Bath not active (6)
12 Line in insect — colour gone (4)
14 Twisted priest to run around (7)
TORTILE - ELI + TROT backwards.
15 Troublesome old boy about to grab second person (6)
NOYOUS -  YOU in SON backwards - note that old goes with troublesome, not boy as the surface reads.
16 Old head covering needed by daughter? Fiona’s not warm (5)
CAULD -  CAUL + D.   I tried cowld for a while, but the crossers got to me after a while.
17 Put earth around a withering plant (7)
TURPETH -  Anagram of PUT EARTH minus A.
23 Repudiates Fleet Street etc in declamations (7)
RECANTS - R(EC)ANTS, yes, Fleet Street is in EC.
25 Theatre getting reproach in the auditorium (5)
ODEUM - Sounds like ODIUM.
26 Basher of duds in conflict — time to move on (6)
BATLET - BATTLE with one T moved forward.     Apparently, a word that doesn't really exist.
28 Yarn written with pen, page being out of order (7)
GENAPPE - Anagram of PEN, PAGE.
30 Measure coming with Home Rule (4)
OMER - Hidden in [h]OME R[ule], and a well-know crossword word to boot.
31 Game with fiddle — all right after order is introduced (6)
GOMOKU -  G(OM, OK)U.  A gu is an actual fiddle from Shetland, and not an obscure form of swindle.    I knew Go was derived from Gomoku, and was able to biff this one. 
32 Most bad-tempered row that is on street after start of curfew (9)
CRANKIEST - C[urfew] + RANK + I.E. + ST.
33 King, dissolute fellow, bit of nasty monster (6)
KRAKEN - K + RAKE + N[asty].
34 Enclosure had to be put back after appearance of harmful fly (6)
KEDDAH - KED + HAD backwards, where the answer was not a word in my vocabulary.
1 Not apt to work? One makes a choice (6)
OPTANT - Anagram of NOT APT.
2 Couple having sex upset this writer (4)
ITEM - IT + ME upside-down.
3 Writer’s transgression — gosh, is policeman brought in?! (7)
4 Strange pal I only start to understand at most (5, two words)
AL PIU - Anagram of PAL + I + U[nderstand].   It's in Chambers, but I'm not sure why.
5 The fellow joining graduate society, a group once in parliament (7)
BASOCHE - BA SOC + HE, a bunch of French medieval thesps.
6 Reversal of bent pipe requires rare hard graft (6)
ENARCH - C(R)ANE upside-down + H.   R for rare is not in Chambers, but is in Collins.  Thanks to Jeremy for the parsing, as I was looking at arc or arch.
7 Plant discovering metallic element in sulphate (6)
ALLIUM - AL(LI)UM, lithium, I believe - are there any chemists in the house?
8 Lined metal, face of it having been scratched, could be this (9)
9 Cheryl, resembling a well-off country girl? (6)
TWEEDY -[Cheryl] TWEEDY, never heard of her, but the answer is obvious enough.
13 Pure model done out as a swimmer in the sea (9, three words)
LOUP DE MER - Anagram of PURE MODEL,   Well-known, but I can't find it in Chambers.
18 With drug comes hallucinatory experience (taste not good) (7)
TRIPTAN -  TRIP + TAN[g], a drug for migraines.
19 Exceptionally fit maid, one in an Islamic dynasty? (7)
FATIMID - Anagram of FAT MAID.
20 One goat with another almost falling in sunken wood (6)
BOG OAK - BO(GOA[t])T.   I don't think of boks as goats, but they can be goats as well as antelopes.
21 Nitrogen trichloride’s turned up in American plant (6)
SENEGA - AGENE'S upside down - we definitely do need a chemist!
22 What physicist here could produce weather map? (6)
AMPERE - WHAT AMPERE is an anagram of WEATHER MAP, a trick compound anagram where I wasted a lot of time trying to use here instead of what.
24 Keep quiet about solicitor’s past crime in Glasgow? (6)
27 Skunk beginning to eat bit of worm (5)
ATOKE - ATOK + E[at], classic Mephisto words.
29 Looking angry about duck having tiny eggs (4)