March 10th, 2021

Times Quick Cryptic 1827 by Jalna

I failed to see 1ac on first pass (the topic not being my strongest subject) so this was a bottom up solve for me. A little over average time, possibly owing to the above, but all seems de rigueur in retrospect. COD to 13dn for the time I accidentally described someone as "in the pudding club" to friends, and was immediately scolded for being rude - a good example of crosswordland and the real world not really mixing very well!

As an aside, Felix left a tantalising message (assuming it's genuine) on my last blog, to say that there was a Nina. I've wracked my brains and can't see it. Perhaps you can help - I'll post an image of the completed grid below.

Definitions underlined.

Across
1 Team not entirely fluid in possession of ball (6,6)
LEYTON ORIENT - anagram of (fluid) NOT ENTIRELY containing (in possession) of O (ball).
8 To the left, space to tie up boat (4)
MOOR - reversal of (to the left) ROOM (space).
9 Insult, loud, in a van (7)
AFFRONT - F (forte, loud) contained by (in) A and FRONT (vanguard, van).
11 Newborn child? No, a teen, strangely (7)
NEONATE - anagram of (strangely) NO A TEEN.
12 The best chocolate ultimately low in calories (5)
ELITE - last letter of (ultimately) chocolatE then LITE (low in calories).
14 Old organ used for stage musical (6)
OLIVER - O (old) and LIVER (organ).
15 Underground place, mostly nasty and hot on the inside (6)
GROTTO - all-but-the-last letter of (mostly) GROTTy (nasty), then the middle letter of (on the inside) hOt.
18 Ace captain, winning (5)
AHEAD - A (ace) and HEAD (captain).
20 Sign attached to back of iron gate (7)
POSTERN - POSTER (sign) then the last letter (back) of iroN.
21 Tooth in front of canine is yellow (7)
INCISOR - IN, first letter (front) of Canine, IS, then OR (yellow, or gold in heraldry).
23 Spot unwanted visitor in the garden (4)
MOLE - double definition. One would be very welcome in mine.
24 An outstanding feature of our economy? (8,4)
NATIONAL DEBT - cryptic definition.

Down
2 Energy company distributed monies, cut costs (9)
ECONOMISE - E (energy), CO (company), and an anagram of (distributed) MONIES.
3 Sailors having starter of eel, served raw (7)
TARTARE - TAR and TAR (sailors) with the first letter (starter) of Eel.
4 New diner is less cluttered (6)
NEATER - N (new) and EATER (diner).
5 Get irritated about loud weapon (5)
RIFLE - RILE (get irritated) containing (about) F (forte, loud).
6 Broody music featured in zombie movie (3)
EMO - hidden in (featured in) zombiE MOvie.
7 Appropriate, small amount of alcohol bloke stirred in pot (2,3,5)
TO THE POINT - TOT (small amount of alcohol), HE (bloke), and an anagram of (stirred) IN POT.
10 Hotel getting prolonged applause for introduction of fresh ideas (10)
INNOVATION - INN (hotel) and OVATION (prolonged applause).
13 Expecting free lunch, I bet! (2,3,4)
IN THE CLUB - anagram of (free) LUNCH I BET.
16 Took a liberty ignoring leader and started again (7)
RESUMED - pRESUMED (took a liberty) missing its first letter (ignoring leader).
17 Ambushes set up next to a city long ago (6)
SPARTA - TRAPS (ambushes) reversed (set up) then (next to) A.
19 Dance tunes made with snippet of Verdi score (5)
DISCO - hidden in (made with snippet of) verDI SCOre.
22 Dock workers' organisation on the rise (3)
CUT - TUC (Trade Union Council, workers organisation) reversed (on the rise).

As promised, below is the completed grid for puzzle 1817 by Felix. His comment was, "There's a Nina in this puzzle but rather an obscure one". Can you find it, and put me out of my misery?

Times 27921 - a piece of that confection

We bloggers are not supposed to say whether we found a certain puzzle hard, easy, or very easy, in case it discourages other less accomplished solvers or damages their self-esteem. So I won't. I will say it was close to a PB time for me, in spite of needing no biffing - all was clear to parse. Even the regulation 'plant' was familiar. Our overseas solvers might not know about 5d, perhaps, but I expect to see a low SNITCH rating for this. All a bit disappointing, really.


Across
1 In Scotland go south, crossing eastern river (6)
GANGES - GANG = 'go' in Scottish talk, insert E for eastern, add S for south.
4 Jittery type with an eye for the birds? (8)
TWITCHER - double definition.
9 Old French city stocking razors ultimately lacking blades (7)
OARLESS - O (old) ARLES (French city) insert S = razors ulitmately.
11 Breaking into cash drawer briefly, aim right and shoot (7)
TENDRIL - TIL(L) = cash drawer briefly, insert END (aim) and R.
12 Northern girl trapping extremely active moles, perhaps (5)
NAEVI - N (northern) VI (a girl) insert AE = extreme ends of ActivE.
13 Senior officer’s first sailing-vessel — expensive, they say (9)
BRIGADIER - BRIG A = brig number one, first sailing vessel; DIER sounds like DEAR.
14 Transparent drinking receptacle outside hotel at York, say (3-7)
SEE-THROUGH - York being a SEE, TROUGH a drinking receptacle, insert H for hotel.
16 Comfort male dog from the east (4)
BALM - M, LAB(rador) reversed.
19 Stolen goods Oscar found in French department (4)
LOOT - O inside LOT, department 46.
20 Material used by writers — still, we hear! (10)
STATIONERY - which sounds like STATIONARY. I am constantly irritated by seeing the wrong word used in print, by people who should know better. Likewise seeing confectionARY meaning sweeties. I am a humbug.
22 Cried out, cutting cook’s wedding confection (9)
BRIDECAKE - BAKE (cook) has CRIED* inserted. I've never seen this word before but it doesn't surprise me that it exists.
23 Minister’s current vehicle parked by entrance to villa (5)
VICAR - V(illa), I (current) CAR.
25 Girl you reportedly allowed to make a small ring (7)
ANNULET - ANN (girl) U (you) LET (allowed).
26 Work hard, gathering in fine wrapping material (7)
TINFOIL - IN F(ine) inside TOIL.
27 Escorted back, knowing where Dover is (8)
DELAWARE - LED reversed, AWARE = knowing, Dover being the capital and second largest city of Delaware state; more top of mind recently because of President Biden's connections. I did mess with ideas about SE and Kent thinking Dover, England, initially.
28 Funky tear in trousers youths initiated (6)
TRENDY - T Y (initial letters of trousers youths) has REND = tear inserted.
Down
1 Reason the Spanish will produce unwanted plant (9)
GROUNDSEL - GROUNDS (reason) EL (the Spanish). Groundsel is a weed which grows all to easily and is a host for a fungus which kills various crops (peas, soya, carrots, tomatoes...).
2 Language once spoken in Bergen or Senja (5)
NORSE - hidden as above.
3 Sense the old spirit at first in rowing crew (8)
EYESIGHT - YE (the old) S (spirit at first), all inside EIGHT.
5 Old way gentle artist laboured to support wife (7,6)
WATLING STREET - W(ife), (GENTLE ARTIST)*. Roman road in Britain from Dover to London to Wroxeter, nowadays making up much of the A2 and A5 roads. Wroxeter is a village in Shropshire which was apparently the 4th largest Roman city in Britain.
6 Metalworker initially travelling as member of crew? (6)
TINMAN - T (initially travelling) IN (as member of) MAN (crew).
7 What’s left outside front of mean retreat (9)
HERMITAGE - HERITAGE (what's left) outside of M(ean).
8 Person in authority that must be straight! (5)
RULER - double definition, a bent ruler would be no use.
10 Captain of warship maybe securing job as mail worker (3-10)
SUB-POSTMASTER - the MASTER of a SUB secures a POST.
15 Poignant proposal accepted by European male (9)
EMOTIONAL - MOTION (proposal) inside E, AL a chap.
17 After springtime exam, finally get key civic office (9)
MAYORALTY - MAY (springtime) ORAL (exam) geT keY.
18 Reminder of archdeacon, one tucking into tart (8)
SOUVENIR - VEN (archdeacon) 1, inside SOUR = tart.
21 Senior member of college tumbled over wicket (6)
FELLOW - FELL (tumbled) O(ver) W(icket).
22 Proposal to clothe artist in interwoven fabric (5)
BRAID - BID (proposal) with RA inserted.
24 Gloat over new trophy, perhaps (5)
CROWN - CROW (gloat) over N (new).