April 29th, 2021

Times Quick Cryptic No 1863 by Orpheus

After yesterday's travails, this was just 10 minutes for me, with a good mix of clue types, middling GK required and a fair bit of tongue-in-cheek humour (but no nina that I can spot).  The only real hold-up I experienced was the unusual abbreviation for Lord in 10 across – I’m not sure that I have come across that device before.

Thanks to Orpheus, and do let me know how you got on.


1  Old French coin I examine, like some friars (10)
FRANCISCAN – FRANC (old French coin) with I (I) and SCAN (examine).  FRANCISCAN refers to the order of mendicant friars founded by St Francis of Assisi – a wonderful place to visit in Italy.
Bones sailors primarily identified (5)
TARSI – TARS (sailors) and I{dentified} (primarily).  Bones of the foot.
8  Horse the French used for such farming (6)
ARABLE – ARAB (type of horse) and LE (the in French).  This is a semi &Lit referring to ARABLE farming, or land suitable for ploughing or crop production, where Arab horses would be unlikely to be used to do the ploughing.
10  Lord Emsworth originally entering came first (3)
LED – This is an unusual and (in my experience) rarely used two-letter abbreviation for Lord (LD) into which is inserted E{msworth} (originally).  The abbreviation is recognised in Chambers.
12 Camel roamed freely in arid environment (9)
DROMEDARY – Anagram (freely) of [ROAMED] inside DRY (arid environment).  Good surface for a clue to the type of camel that I can remember.  It’s the Bactrian that I often struggle to recall.
13  Greet son with a stringed instrument (6)
SALUTE – S{on} with A (a) and LUTE (stringed instrument).
14  Site incorporating a luxurious dwelling (6)
PALACE – PLACE (site) with A inside (incorporating A).
17  Popular old pope, though harsh (9)
INCLEMENT – IN (popular) and CLEMENT (old pope, referring to any one of the XIV popes of that name that have existed).
19  Supporter on course initially tackling English exam (3)
TEE – Initial letters (initially) of T{ackling} E{nglish} E{xam}, referring to a golf TEE (on course).
20  Fall guy within is too gentle (6)
STOOGE – Hidden inside {i}S TOO GE{ntle}.
21  Work trapeze artists are ill-advised to have? (5)
NONET – A trapeze artist would be ill-advised to have NO NET.  A NONET is a work or composition for nine performers.
23  TV anchor from South Carolina invested in modern plant (10)
NEWSCASTER – S{outh} C{arolina} inside NEW ASTER (invested in modern plant).


Stoical stout girl’s spasmodic twitching (10)
FATALISTIC – FAT (stout) and ALI’S (girl’s) with TIC (spasmodic twitching).
Broacast simple remedy (3)
AIR – Double definition.
WWII commando using Asian language in court (7)
CHINDIT – HINDI (Asian language) inside CT (CourT).  The CHINDITs were members of General Orde Wingate’s Allied commando force in Burma during WWII.
4  Main issue in Spring, for example (6)
SEASON – SEA (main) and SON (issue).
5 Tropical plant Auntie originally donated (5)
AGAVE – A{untie} (originally) and GAVE (donated).
6 Affable country bumpkin crossing lake (8)
PLEASANT – PEASANT (country bumpkin) containing / crossing L{ake}.
Press employee – sort seen with gun dog (10)
TYPESETTER – TYPE (sort) and SETTER (gun dog).
11  Frail food store pet beginning to eat (8)
DELICATE – DELI (food store) and CAT (pet) finishing with E{at} (beginning to).
15  Feeler put out by worker upset girl (7)
ANTENNA – ANT (worker) and ANNE (girl) reversed (upset).
16  Holiday in bay (6)
RECESS – Double definition.
18  Behave theatrically, breaking top off TV control (5)
EMOTE – {r}EMOTE – break top off / remove first letter.
22  Upturn beer cask to find a little food (3)
NUT – TUN (beer cask) reversed / upturned.

Times 27964 - mind your P's and W's

I submitted this in 10:30, pretty much bang on my average time, to find out that I had an error.  Not my week this week, I had a silly typo on Tuesday, mangled a spelling yesterday, and today I have one that is close but no cigar. I had put in PADDING at 15 across thinking it was PADDLING minus L, but of course there was a better option.

There's rather a lot of letter deletions in this puzzle.

Maybe tomorrow I can go for my record of 11 errors in one grid! I was a little more under the weather when I tried that puzzle than I am now.

Since it is late here, check the comments in case I have not explained something correctly and I will check in early in the afternoon UK time with a postscript.

Very very very late postscript - it seems RAMSONS is the most contentious entry, which as pointed out in comments, where I live is better known as RAMPS. I thought I had seen it recently in a puzzle but it doesn't appear to be a regular times one, maybe a Listener?

Away we go...

1 Note slippery patch on road: that is expected in December (8)
SOLSTICE - SOL(musical note), then ICE(slippery patch) next to ST(road)
5 European power in tricky situation, trying to hold this? (6)
EMPIRE - E(european) then P(power) in MIRE(tricky situation) with a slighlty cryptic definition
8 By virtue of being fighting man, following a colour (10)
AQUAMARINE - QUA(by virtue of being), MARINE(fighting man) after A
9 Have a home not left to turn dirty (4)
LEWD - DWELL(have a home) missing an L(left) and reversed
10 Something for tea — Veronica’s to pig out (8,6)
11 Corrupt record separates Democrat from party (7)
DEPRAVE - EP(record) between D(democrat) and RAVE(party)
13 Staff given a hint: uniform is missing cuff (7)
MANACLE - MAN(staff) then A CLUE(hint) minus U(uniform)
15 Moving awkwardly after dispatching large cotton sheets (7)
WADDING - WADDLING(moving awkwardly) missing L(large). My downfall today.
18 Enemy agents quietly dropped next to a shrub (7)
SYRINGA - the enemy agents are a SPY RING. Remove P(quietly) and put next to A
21 Why spitting feathers (blue)? (4,2,3,5)
DOWN IN THE MOUTH - double definition
22 Shortly up and about, I’m sparkling (4)
ASTI - ASTIR(up and about) missing the last letter
23 Moved a mile to make address better (10)
AMELIORATE - anagram of A,MILE then ORATE(to make address)
24 Disloyal squad one left with regret (6)
UNTRUE - UNIT(squad) missing I(one), then RUE(regret)
25 Agree to get involved with Mrs Wordsworth’s home (8)
GRASMERE - anagram of AGREE and MRS. Home of both William and Dorothy Wordsworth
1 Deprived of stone, created statue without head (7)
STARVED - ST(stone) then CARVED(created statue) missing the first letter
2 One’s fired up here to hold flat-warming party? (6,3)
LAUNCH PAD - double definition referring to firing up a spacecraft, and welcoming a place to live
3 Many turning up old doctor injected, chancy business (7)
TOMBOLA - A LOT(many) reversed containing O(old), MB(doctor)
4 Wow: lovely piece of plasterwork (7)
CORNICE - COR(wow) and NICE(lovely)
5 Largely excused, lolled around rear of bar: perfect (9)
EXEMPLARY - EXEMPT(excused) missing the last letter, then LAY(lolled) surrounding the last letter in baR
6 Work over, provided with a dish of porridge (7)
POLENTA - OP(work) reversed, then LENT(provided) and A
7 Rough treatment in battles over wood (3,4)
RAW DEAL - WAR(battles) reversed, then DEAL(wood)
12 Make fresher talent vie to be broadcast (9)
14 Firm turning off current to make wiring safe for government office (9)
CONSULATE - CO(firm) then remove I(current) from INSULATE(make wiring safe)
16 Essayist is to have another boy (7)
ADDISON - if you have another boy you ADD I SON. Heard of him, don't think I've ever read anything by Joseph ADDISON
17 Make weird changes, even more unstylish (7)
DOWDIER - DO(make) and an anagram of WEIRD
18 Bookish type succeeded, anger being expressed (7)
SCHOLAR - S(succeeded) then sounds like CHOLER(anger)
19 Stuff children, offering garlic (7)
RAMSONS - RAM(stuff) SONS(children)
20 Reach that is very limited by pain (7)
ACHIEVE - I.E. (that is), and V(very) inside ACHE(pain).

Times 27,965: Hufflepuff Shufflestuff

Not too arduous (7 minutes here) but certainly adequate to Friday purposes. I liked "is tasted again" as the hard-to-see definition for 5ac, the &lit, the complex subtractive anagram at 27ac and the misleading capitalisation at 18dn, which may well be my COD. Appearances by Mentor and Troy were also good and Homeric, such that I will forgive the centre stage that was given to the scientific disciplines at 17ac. Cheers, your settership!

The NYT crossword champs last week was fun though probably hard for Brits to compete in, requiring optimisation of a different skillset. Most of the puzzles contain puns but nothing tortuously cryptic, which means that the fastest times are literally flying solves, done in a couple of minutes without any real speedbumps. By far the best puzzle of the day was the notorious Puzzle 5, which had a devious Listener-style trick required to solve it. If they had all been that hard it would be a much more fun contest, in my opinion, but different strokes for different crosswording nations I suppose. Congratulations to Mark Goodliffe who I would assume was the top British result, to the large number of members of my online quiz league who finished in the top 100 or even 10, and of course to Tyler Hinman the final winner of the contest, who would have had my vote in any case due to being the fastest solver of the devious Puzzle 5 even if he was outraced on some of the simpler puzzles. Was quite a lot of fun, will go again next year!

1 Carry piece of sound equipment suggestive of ritual? (7)
TOTEMIC - TOTE MIC [carry | piece of sound equipment]

5 Theatre food is tasted again (7)
REPEATS - REP EATS [theatre | food]

9 Married chum's brought into Middle East location as investigator (9)
OMBUDSMAN - M BUD'S brought into OMAN

10 American cannon got from vehicle when given order (5)
CAROM - CAR when given O.M.

11 Room for keeping a type of food (5)
HALAL - HALL "keeping" A

12 Board behind reversing vehicle that can be easily dealt with (9)
TRACTABLE - TABLE [board] behind reversing CART

14 He'd get reform, if violently (7,7)

17 Nice clues composed with an art that will show intellectual discipline (7,7)

21 Restaurant offers excellent crumble, sweet course served retro-style (9)
TRATTORIA - A1 ROT TART [excellent | crumble | sweet course], the whole reversed

23 Hack possibly putting run in stockings? (5)

24 Illicit drink about to be removed, leading to a kerfuffle (3-2)
HOO-HA - HOO{c}H, leading to A

25 One drug-dealer, short worker at end of street offering cocaine? (9)
STIMULANT - I MUL{e} ANT, at end of ST

26 Maybe rabbit turned and ran, being disconcerted (7)
RUFFLED - reversed FUR [maybe rabbit] + FLED [ran]

27 Lunar domain — no sea, awfully lumpy (7)

1 Ancient city grasping a way of buying up prize (6)
TROPHY - TROY grasping reversed H.P.

2 A male beast without tail in strange art in flat (7)
TABULAR - A BUL{l} in (ART*)

3 Cavity in heart needing attention (6,3)
MIDDLE EAR - MIDDLE [heart] + EAR [attention]

4 Host briefly entertaining monster, a sort of accountant (11)
COMPTROLLER - COMPER{e} "entertaining" TROLL

5 Ladder lets one escape from dilapidated building (3)
RUN - RU{i}N

6 Very good bed's embroidered decoration (5)
PICOT - PI [very good] + COT [bed]

7 A boy initially enthralled by east European entertainer (7)
ACROBAT - A + B{oy} "enthralled by" CROAT

8 Try me out with my singular correspondence! (8)

13 Insincerity of thank you drowned in sentiment (11)

15 Spooner's dry grass, territory that would do for dog (9)
GREYHOUND - spoonerism of HAY, GROUND

16 Thief beats up beloved in Paris (8)

18 RIP! Old females depart quickly (4,3)
TEAR OFF - TEAR [rip] + O + F F

19 With river flooding in, send for solution to problem (4-3)
CURE-ALL - CALL [send for] "flooded by" URE

20 Guide soldiers over Dartmoor landmark? (6)

22 The bird — he avoided dog (5)

25 A daughter overlooked by son is out of sorts (3)
SAD - A D under S