May 1st, 2021

Cryptic Jumbo 1493 - 17 April 2021

Hello again. This Jumbo I found to be a steady solve, not too hard although when I had finished, there were four or five clues I could not properly parse. Hopefully doing the blog will sort that. There were some excellent, misleading surface readings.. I think 2dn was my favourite, always nice to see a scientific reference. What did you think?

Because the Jumbo is a big beast dimensionally challenged of a crossword, some of my comments below may be a bit terse but please, do feel free to ask questions or comment as required. We are all friends here..

I use the standard TfTT conventions like underlining the definition, CD for cryptic definition, DD for a double one, *(aargnam) and so forth. Nho = "not heard of"
1 Kid arrested by inspector put away for attack (8)
DIATRIBE - DI (detective inspector) + RIB (kid) in ATE (put away
5 Flower pot almost useless (6)
CROCUS - CROC(k) (pot, almost) + US (useless). When you look at flower (or banker, or runner, see 22ac or 31dn) and immediately think "River," you may have been doing crosswords for too long ..  I remember the late, lamented setter Araucaria saying that almost everything he saw or read reminded him of something to do with crosswords
9 Leads astray spies holding foreign nobleman (7)
SEDUCES - DUC (foreign nobleman, sp. a French one) in SEES (spies. Not meaning the CIA, for once)
14 Internal strain some might say brings carelessness (11)
INATTENTION - sounds like "Inner Tension." Does to me, anyway. Though I like the dodgy ones even more.
15 In which all the sides get to score? (11)
ICOSAHEDRON - CD. Made me think for a bit.. an icosahedron is a solid figure with twenty sides, hence the "score." As CDs go, quite a good one ne c'est pas?
16 Live as daughter — prosperously (5)
DWELL - D(aughter) + WELL (prosperously, as in "She did well for herself.")
17 Approachable female appears in a moral tale (7)
AFFABLE - F(emale) in A FABLE. One of Aesop's, perhaps.
18 Dignitary having to praise horse in speech (4,5)
LORD MAYOR - sounds like "Laud Mare." A bit.
19 Last words of mine in each quiet hour (7)
EPITAPH - PIT (mine) in EA(ch), + P (quiet) + H(our)
20 One among nine soldiers rating rebel in gambling haunt (9,6)
AMUSEMENT ARCADE - A MUSE (one among nine) + MEN (soldiers) + TAR (rating) + CADE (rebel).  I've seen almost all of the nine muses in crosswords, over the years .. don't remember Polyhymnia, or Melpomene, but Erato and Clio turn up regular as clockwork. Cade's Rebellion took place in 1450 and not much is known about him, though speculation aplenty. Not far from my house in Kent, above the North Downs is a dell called Cade's Hole, where he is reputed to have hidden afterwards. Children snigger.
22 Main source of energy and power: runner holding record (5,5)
PRIME MOVER - P(ower) + MEMO (record) in RIVER (runner)
23 Chuffed having ended argument amicably (4,2)
MADE UP - hmm, well this might be a DD I think, since if one is chuffed, one could be said to be made UP .. at a stretch. Perhaps. I suppose if you can be made happy, you can be made chuffed.
25 Brute, tiresome person in conversation (4)
BOOR - I wrote BOAR to start with, because I don't pronounce BOOR and BORE (tiresome person in conversation) in the same way. But 11dn put paid to that, so BOOR it must be.
28 Having been around to hotel — nothing in order (4,2,3,5)
30 Radiant discharge associated with constellation losing alpha star (8)
ARCTURUS - ARC (radiant discharge) + T(a)URUS (constellation losing alpha). Arcturus is an interesting star, a red giant and the very brightest star in the sky, in the Northern hemisphere (bar Sol, of course). It marks the Northern end of the Milky Way.
32 What students may wear as provided in university rules (8)
UNIFORMS - UNI(versity) FORMS (rules). I had some trouble equating rules with forms. Best I can do is Lexico: "The customary or correct method or procedure." as in "good form." I couldn't get it through the substitution test though. [on edit: and no wonder, as it is not forms but norms, as Jackkt points out below: IF (provided) inside U (university) + NORMS (rules)]
34 Getting on train for Winchester perhaps? (8,6)
BOARDING SCHOOL - Boarding (getting on) + SCHOOL (train).
37 What precedes foxtrot in the choreography (4)
ECHO - Well echo does precede foxtrot in the NATO Alphabet. And only now, do I see that it is also hidden in thE CHOreography, and so nothing to do with Sir Frederick Ashton after all.
38 What in time controlled capital (6)
TEHRAN - EH (what?) in T(ime) + RAN (controlled). A capital, but no place for tourists just now
39 Be creative using black cats and dogs? (10)
BRAINSTORM - B + RAIN STORM (as in raining cats and dogs). I have attended many, usually to no great result. Fun, though.
43 Book's first note: wretched mortal flees war (1,8,2,4)
A FAREWELL TO ARMS - A (first note) + *(MORTAL FLEES WAR). A novel by Ernest Hemingway.
45 Those taking marks off in schools for example? (7)
ERASERS - Erasers take marks off but why the reference to schools I don't know.. is it a reference to board rubbers? At my school they were mainly used for throwing at pupils they thought weren't paying attention (often me)
47 Overly emotional behaviour where mad racist thrown out (9)
49 Excellent guy from east must take minute in shops (7)
EMPORIA - M(inute) in AI (excellent) + ROPE (guy), both rev.
51 Trouble associated with graduate's blind faith? (5)
DOGMA - DOG (trouble) + MA (graduate). I am no particular fan of dogs but it seems a bit harsh to equate them with trouble. And if you can be "Dogged by troubles" it implies that dog and trouble must be different and separate.
52 Doctor Tom Potter is an eye specialist (11)
53 Italian leader having run-in with Croat moved political border (4,7)
IRON CURTAIN - I(talian) + *(RUN IN + CROAT)
54 Disorder casts monarch into endless peril (7)
DERANGE - ER (our own dear queen) in DANGE(r) (endless peril)
55 What's yet to come from Stevenson? (4,2)
EVEN SO - hidden in stEVENSOn. A cunning definition, which surprised me a bit but seems to work well. "I understand what you say, but even so .."
56 Gatecrasher one less polite entertaining conservationists (8)
INTRUDER - NT (conservationists) in I + RUDER

1 Snake left in den after cutting tail off (7)
DWINDLE - WIND (snake) + L(eft) inside DE(n). Another really well-crafted clue
2 Scholar develops a manic idea with maximum speed (11)
ACADEMICIAN - *(A MANIC IDEA + C) with C being the speed of light, which our puny science still considers to be the maximum possible. Unlike myriad science fiction writers .. I'm an Ian M Banks fan, myself, try one of his if you want to see what technology can really do. Hydrogen Sonata, or the Player of Games ..
3 Retired boxer who refused to fight at Penge finally hit back (9)
RETALIATE - RET(ired) + ALI + AT + (Peng)E. The bit about refusing to fight feels a bit gratuitous to me now, and adds little to the clue. I've always felt that whether right or wrong, being a conscientious objector took more courage than going along with the majority.
4 Where you may find content in dictionary despicable (7,8)
BENEATH CONTEMPT - A CD, if you look in a dictionary you will find it is indeed so
6 Urban wheels revealed? (8)
RUNABOUT - *(URBAN) + OUT (revealed). A semi &lit, I suppose. Don't country folk have runabouts too? Discuss..
7 Product perhaps unique to Asian light industry? (7,7)
CHINESE LANTERN - I think just a CD, and potentially inaccurate; except that absolutely any cheap consumer item I buy these days seems to come from Asia, specifically China, so perhaps not ..
8 Taken on in the case that communist imports ecstasy (10)
SHOULDERED - E(cstasy) in SHOULD (in the case that) + RED (communist)
9 Haar coming from south-east a worry (3,4)
SEA FRET - SE + A FRET (worry). Haar and fret, both nautical words meaning fog or mist, beloved of crossword folk.
10 Fantasise about barricade put round (5)
DREAM - RE (about) in DAM (barricade)
11 Suck up taste of vindaloo left abandoned (5,6)
CURRY FAVOUR - CURRY F(l)AVOUR .. not that actual flavour has much to do with a vindaloo, it is more about heat, and I don't mean temperature. (Cue painful reminiscences of the vindaloo races I occasionally took part in, as a student)
12 Penny added to endless small items — like raisins? (3-5)
SUN-DRIED - SUNDRIE(s) + D (an old penny). Librae, solidi, denarii = LSD.
13 Inflexible leader lost argument (4)
20 Everything peripheral to First Lady needed for test (1,5)
A LEVEL - EVE (first lady, according to myth) in ALL
21 Old boy in tight trio constant, like mechanical man? (7)
ROBOTIC - OB in *(TRIO + C). The anagrind being tight, as in inebriated. Although I usually just fall asleep
22 Stop going in either direction (4,2)
PULL UP - a palindrome
24 Replacing of erne that's taken out faster bird of prey (9,6)
PEREGRINE FALCON - *(REPLACING OF ERNE). This is one that has taken me a while to parse .. a peregrine is indeed a very fast bird, when it wants to be. But only when it is plummeting. Pfft, we can all plummet, once anyway. The fastest flier in level flight turns out to be a bat. Who knew?
26 Cripes! Trouble with root vegetable amongst cabbage? Possible culprit (8,6)
COLORADO BEETLE - Another tricky one. LOR (cripes!) + ADO (trouble) + BEET (root vegetable), all inside COLE (cabbage). The only coles I knew were Nat King and Old King, but our setter has the dictionaries well on side. And potatoes, a root crop, is what the beetle dotes on.
27 Shelter Yankee in a squalid neighbourhood (6)
ASYLUM - Y (NATO alphabet) in A SLUM
29 I really put the sauce away in elementary form (7)
31 Asian runner, fierce cruel person, is losing energy (6)
TIGRIS - TIG(e)R IS. Runner, as opposed to banker, or flower ..
33 Somehow certain to engage cleaner as appropriate (2,9)
35 Wary about dangerous switching (2,4,5)
36 Greek character first in queue sees barbarian (10)
PHILISTINE - PHI (Greek character) + IST (first) in queue (LINE). Philistine is a word employed as an insult, often by folk who know nothing whatsoever about the tribe concerned.. ironically.
40 Whose words may lead to action? (9)
41 Letter also featured in comical write-up (8)
LANDLORD - AND (also) in DROLL (comical) rev.
42 Attempts made to contain old boozer in cups (8)
TROPHIES - O PH (public house) in TRIES (attempts)
44 Message left in European skiing area (7)
EPISTLE -  L(eft) in E + PISTE
46 Tool causing catastrophe in works? (7)
SPANNER - a CD. Presumably at some point, somebody did actually drop one into the works?
48 Management notice time is short (5)
ADMIN - AD (notice) + MIN(ute)
50 Iodine in decay gives dazzling display (4)
RIOT - I(odine) in ROT. "It was a riot of colour."

  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27960 - Saturday, 24 April 2021. In dire straits?

This was fun. About standard weight for a Saturday puzzle, with lots to enjoy.

I confess that once I saw the helpers for 14dn, I decided I had no interest in trying to guess where the B, D and N went, so I looked it up! Everything else is gettable, even 18ac where the wordplay gave the spelling. I didn’t quite understand 28ac, although the answer is obvious. Dire Straits? Cue Mark Knopfler!

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on? Here we go.
[
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 struck through.
1 Have operation slightly less dangerous than Damocles? (2,5,3,5)
GO UNDER THE KNIFE – better than under a sword, I agree.
9 I indicate we are to leave miserable cell (4,5)
BLUE PETER – the Blue Peter was originally a blue maritime signal flag meaning "P" or "outward bound", flown to warn a ship's crew in port of an imminent sailing. Take BLUE for miserable, and add PETER which we now discover can mean prison cell.
10 Engrave plaque initially unwanted by playwright (5)
INTERPINTER is the playwright. This meaning of the answer is in Chambers as obsolete.
11 Drunk, though a round behind (6)
LAPPED – double definition. The milk is drunk, or the track racer is lapped.
12 Like Elizabeth, popular online, full of spirit (8)
VIRGINAL – GIN in VIRAL. One of my last.
13 Make pet harmless, the rule at Christmas? (6)
DECLAW – or DEC LAW: is the law in December any different from other months?
15 Spotting row containing fruit, mostly good (8)
DAPPLING – APPLE in DIN, followed by G for good.
18 Repetitive disease spares one small shrub (8)
BERBERIS – BERI-BERI is the disease. Take out (spare) an I, add S for small. Generous wordplay.
19 Grotesque figure runs into battle (6)
21 Stingy type is irrational, love held in contempt (8)
SCORPION – PI is an irrational number. 0 is love in tennis. Put them both in SCORN. You need to read the definition with a hard G.
23 Affected elegant greeting (3-3)
CHI-CHI – CHIC is elegant, HI is the greeting.
26 Old character returning in Sky feature (5)
DRACO – O for old, CARD for character. Turn it all round. The sky feature is a northern constellation.
27 End of fighting in Crimea: it’s ruined (9)
ARMISTICE – anagram (ruined) of CRIMEA ITS.
28 In dire straits after reputation collapsed, a first for relatively wealthy area (11,4)
STOCKBROKER BELT – I’m not sure I quite understand this clue, so if anyone can help, please comment!

I think STOCK = reputation, BROKE = collapsed. With less confidence, BELT = in dire strait(s), although I’m not quite sure how that last bit fits. Chambers does say ‘belt’ can mean ‘strait’, or vice versa, but I don’t know why ‘straits’ plural would become ‘belt’ singular.

Anyway, insert R from Relatively, and voila!

1 Ate so fast, mouth appeared injured (7)
2 Our faction in revolt about king — who did this? (5)
USURP – US + UP around R. A clue where it’s hard to pin down how much is the definition!
3 Protest against fall in value — I missed out (9)
DEPRECATE – take an I out of DEPRECIATE.
4 Wrap is sexy, shortened at both ends (4)
ROTI – take the ends off EROTIC. I think of a roti as just the bread, not a wrap, but I can see it could be used for that.
5 Hard rain disturbed shrew (8)
HARRIDAN – anagram (disturbed) of HARD RAIN.
6 Flooring put round in one of the clubs, perhaps (5)
KOING – put a round O in the KING of clubs. The answer is flooring as in K.O.-ing.
7 Meaning one attached to how the Book of Revelation may be seen? (9)
INTENDING – I for one, then the book in question is the N.T. ENDING, since it’s the very last book of the Bible.
8 It is put in the canal to limit waves (7)
EARPLUG – cryptic definition.
14 Can do boar stew or beef stew (9)
CARBONADO – anagram (stew) of CAN DO BOAR. The answer is in Chambers, but to me it’s still basically a foreign word, unhelpfully clued as an anagram.
16 Ship’s officer drinking tea he buys (9)
17 Monster (“bully”) youngster clutches almost tight (8)
MINOTAUR – MINOR clutches TAUT. “Bully” because the minotaur had the head of a bull.
18 Places for well-mannered doctor, having a day out too (7)
BESIDES – take a D out of the doctor’s BEDSIDES, where he/she displays that bedside manner. Very clever.
20 Divide up equally to sample sparkling wine, say (7)
TRISECT – try secs Sekt, do you hear? Sec Sekt is German sparkling wine.
22 Board given nothing to replace a cheap bottle (5)
PLONK – take a PLANK and change an A to an O.
24 For recitation, get up this poetic tract (5)
CLIME – sounds like CLIMB.
25 Rooms known to be reduced in snowy city (4)
OMSK – hidden answer.

Monthly Club Special 20,247: Can We Solve It?

An enjoyable tour of the less well-trodden reaches of the dictionary, with some really brilliant clues: My favourite moments being "presumably gross" to clue UNNET, and my Clue of the Month 27 ac. That Laotian currency cryptic gag literally never gets old. WOD to 15ac. Shout out to the crossers 26ac and 20dn, which you might well think would be ISABGOL and CALLALOO if you weren't paying close attention to the cryptic. In your metal face, Dr Fill!

I was marginally less fond of 2dn because it's a word the chances are you haven't heard of, clued by a synonym for a "pointed stick" _A_ in the middle. As "gad" is also an obscurity, I felt like this clue was too likely to send us scurrying for external aids, not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that of course. Overall, this pudding was excellent.

Possible Nina: signed by the artist on the bottom row? Thank you so much for these puzzles sir!

1 Focuser of light reflected around flower, one seen in mountains formerly (8)
SPICKNEL - LENS [focuser of light] reversed round PICK [= cream = flower]. Apparently this is a plant from mountainous European regions; "formerly" because the modern spelling is "spignel", per Chambers.

9 Zulu king stopping to bind a bale perhaps recalled anniversary of loss (8)
YAHRZEIT - Z R "stopping" TIE HAY, all reversed. Jewish anniversary of a relative's death

10 Lily of the Mediterranean except as otherwise noted in Jerusalem (3,5)
SEA ONION - E.A.O.N. in SION. Aka the sea squill

11 Japanese corporation turning into queer person’s guiding light (8)
CYNOSURE - SONY reversed into CURE [queer person]. The Dog's Tail = The North Star

12 Intrusive photographer added to agitation of Euro politician in Greece (10)
PAPANDREOU - PAP(arazzo) AND (EURO*). Founder of PASOK and two-term Greek PM

14 Retired crawlers etc in post at Balmoral (4)
STOB - reversed BOTS [(web) crawlers]. A Scots stake or stump

15 Purple colouring in food partly digested by stomach (7)
CUDBEAR - CUD [food partly digested] by BEAR [stomach, as a verb]. Not what you might think "cudbear" would mean, if you didn't know any better

17 Sketch libertine undressed (7)

21 Processes that bend back even pieces of zirconium (4)
UNCI - reversed {z}I{r}C{o}N{i}U{m}. An uncus is "a hook-like process"

22 Dense vegetation and sand trap Chesapeake Bay herring (10)
MOSSBUNKER - MOSS + BUNKER. Big noises in the world of fish oil manufacture

23 Something from Punjabi has me musing over his European wife? (8)
MEMSAHIB - hidden reversed in {punja}BI HAS ME M{using}, semi-&lit

25 Symbol to represent sound limit in Muscat, say (8)

26 Cry audibly, not finishing thick, leafy soup (8)

27 Reels in 100 at traditional country scene (8)
LANDSKIP - LANDS [reels in] KIP [100 at, in Laos]

2 Long, pointed stick breaking up turned hard wood (8)
PYENGADU - YEN [long] + GAD [pointed stick, something like a goad presumably] "breaks" reversed UP

3 Cambridge hosting colourful spring festival’s somewhat irregular verse (8)
CHOLIAMB - CAMB "hosting" HOLI. "A variety of iambic trimeter having a spondee for a iambus as the sixth foot". One to commit to memory I feel

4 Duke outdated as he used to go by every time (4)
NEIF - NÉ [as he used to go by, bit rarer than NEÉ probably] + IF [= whenever = every time]. Neif is an old word for a fist

5 Local terraces include this Rovers manager and Roman (7)
LYNCHET - (Bet) LYNCH [manager of the Rover's Return in Corrie] + ET [and, in Roman].

6 Weak glue builder used for whatnot (10)
THINGUMBOB - THIN GUM BOB (the Builder, can we fix it, yes we can)

7 Juiciest tangles of subtle arguments (8)

8 Aspen is a source of timber to veneer medium barrel (8)
ATREMBLE - A + TREE [source of timber] "veneering" M BL

13 Daughter damages hotel after hostel in India (10)

15 Crook caught by unusual practice for test (8)
CRUMMOCK - C by RUM MOCK. Shepherdy implement

16 Submerge breakwater for platypus (8)
DUCKMOLE - DUCK [submerge] + MOLE [breakwater] = a word we should use more for this delightfully rum beast

18 Scarcely aged, presumably gross males (8)
UNNETHES - UN-NET (therefore "presumably-gross) HE'S. Spenserian for "almost", hardly, etc etc

19 One with no more than a word of sympathy raised a welcome in NZ (8)
HAEREMAI - I with A MERE AH!, the whole reversed. Maori "welcome"

20 Heave herb cut up as thickener for food (7)
ISABGUL - LUG BASI{l}, reversed

24 Spirit that’s weakest in month around November (4)
JANN - JAN around N. The least powerful order of jinn