May 2nd, 2021

Mephisto 3165 - Paul McKenna

Greetings barred-grid fans.

This is a tricky puzzle for wordplay, though there are not that many unusual entries in the grid. I filed out the bottom half first and worked my way up to the top, meaning it wasn't until near the end that I spotted SPY STORIES as a pun in the top row.

In Mephisto puzzles the definition can be confrmed in Chambers so I will focus on wordplay here.

Away we go!

Across
1 Previously super-punctilious special near pipped (6)
SPICED - SP(special) and next to ICED(pipped, killed)
6 Oregon snuck in limits for Loyalists (6)
TORIES - OR(Oregon) inside TIES(limits)
10 Augur is mostly rustic who'd a changing form (10)
FORESHADOW -  FOREST(rustic) missing the last letter, then an anagram of WHO'D,A
11 Woman in newspaper in costly coupling? (8)
DRAW-GEAR - a double container - W(woman) inside RAG(newspaper) inside DEAR(costly)
13 Sponge divers tire? (5)
DIPSO - DIPS(divers) and a tire is shaped like an O
14 Intimidating women’s doctor struggles (7)
DRAGONS - DR(doctor), AGONS(struggles)
16 Lift up sauce boat (5)
KETCH - remove UP from KETCHUP(sauce)
17 Perhaps philosopher’s stone is fine and acceptable (7)
SERICON - 'S, ERIC(fine) and ON(acceptable)
19 Millions invested in auctioning site — it was steep (5)
EMBAY - M(millions) inside EBAY(auctioning website)
21 Paddy’s bowled over with second flight (5)
STEPS - PET'S(paddy's, rages) reversed, then S(second)
22 Vehicle pulling out pinks and races (7)
NATIONS - remove CAR(vehicle) from CARNATIONS(pinks)
24 Underworld goddess grabbing last of these small stilettos? (5)
HEELS - HEL is the goddess, insert the last letter in thesE and then S(small)
28 Newly appointed I arrive in warm seaside area (7)
RIVIERA - anagram of I,ARRIVE
29 Tag left next on murderee (5)
LABEL - L(left) next to ABEL(murderee)
30 Scots lawyer’s stay sheltering rank diagnostician? (8)
SOLIDIST - SIST(stay in law) surrounding OLID(rank)
31 Freedom of speech is given by this energy only found in punk (10, two words)
MUTE BUTTON - E(energy) and BUT(only) inside MUTTON(punk, prostitute)
32 Sprite gambolling in some ferns (6)
PTERIS - anagram of SPRITE
33 ’Ercules, eg, in closing letter is set to love (6)
ZEROED - 'Ercules is an 'ERO, inside ZED(last letter of the alphabet)
Down
1 Mayday inviting in count’s dull bods (6)
SADDOS - SOS(mayday) containing ADD(count)
2 Sophocles’ swift swing exercises excellent Teian — almost (10)
PERIPETEIA - PE(exercises), RIPE(excellent), then most of TEIAn
3 Neat bloomer that perfumes pastures (7)
COWSLIP - COW(neat), SLIP(bloomer, gaffe)
4 Mitsotakis’s business is therefore back from oblivion (5)
ERGON - ERGO(therefore) and the last letter in oblivioN
5 Acts damn politely with those kettling demonstrators (5)
DEEDS - DEE(damn) and the outer letters in DemonstratorS
6 Sovereign Troy has a queen in Hecuba finally (7)
TSARINA - T(troy), 'S, A, R(queen), IN and rhe last letter of hecubA
7 Variety of forbidden fruit (5)
RANGE - remove O(of) from ORANGE(fruit)
8 On which we watch innocent present? (8, two words)
IDIOT BOX - IDIOT(innocent), BOX(present)
9 Being inclined to swinging, wife is caught in fling (6)
SWISHY - W(wife) and IS inside SHY(fling)
12 Engineering and science radiate a glowing warmth (10)
INCANDESCE - anagram of AND,SCIENCE
15 Open option in vers libre (except Irish or the equivalent) (8, two words)
FREE VOTE - vers libre is FREE VERSE.  Remove ERSE(Irish) and add OTE(or the equivalent)
18 Heavy South African men nailing notoriously cruel despot (7)
ONEROUS - OUS(South African men) containing NERO(despot)
20 Viewpoint echoed in speech that offers an alternative (7)
MIRADOR - sounds lied MIRRORED(echoed) then OR(an alternative)
21 Small chap’s title showering respect on frequenter of SW1? (6)
SHRIMP - SHRI(title showering respect) on MP(a frequenter of SW1)
23 Nuts lasted as they’re ____ (6)
SALTED - anagram of LASTED. the dashed line indicating the anwer
25 I’m unlikely to get out rifle which has been discharged (5)
LIFER - anagram of RIFLE
26 Informally go trapping a lieutenant — go easy (5)
WALTZ - WAZ(go, urinate) containing LT(lieutenant)
27 Beet is British and low in calories (5)
BLITE - B(british) and LITE(low in calories)

Sunday Times 4952 by Dean Mayer

17:23. Dean is on top form this week, producing a really superb puzzle. There are lots of good clues in this but I particularly liked 14ac. 10dn also deserves a mention just because it’s such an apposite anagram, as does 20dn just for being extremely neat.

Following the theme of recent discussions, there are quite a few cryptic definitions in here. But Dean is particularly good at this type of clue, so if they were banned (as some people would like) I would miss them in his puzzles.

Brilliant stuff, thank you very much Dean.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

Across
1 Faith in me shown by artistic lady
MADAME - M(ADAM)E. The Faith here is Adam of that ilk, a pop star of the 1960s only vaguely familiar to me. I was puzzled by the definition too, but Lexico says that MADAME is ‘used as a title for women in artistic or exotic occupations, such as musicians or fortune-tellers’. My last in.
4 One understanding one’s time as a dreamer
IDEALIST - I, DEAL (agreement, understanding), I’S, T.
9 End of census possibly not declared
UNCONFESSED - (END OF CENSUS)*.
11 “Gratis” not right if this applies
FEE - FrEE.
12 Travel partners occupying property
TRANSIT - TRA(NS)IT. North and South are partners in bridge.
13 One cowardly old man nicking lead?
DASTARD - DA(STAR)D. My personal definition of this word has always been ‘like Dick Dastardly from Dastardly and Muttley’, which turns out to have been inadequate.
14 For feigned affection, press 0
CUPBOARD LOVE - a press is a kind of cupboard (we have one that was sold as a ‘linen press’), and 0 is of course LOVE in tennis. A brilliant clue with a slightly surreal but amusing surface reading.
18 Liking and understanding growth
APPRECIATION - triple definition.
21 Intolerable as order to cut finger
TOO MUCH - TO(OM)UCH. OM is the Order of Merit.
23 Thought caller might be talking
GUESSED - sounds like ‘guest’.
24 Rubbish skin pic
TAT - DD. ‘Tat’ is short for ‘tattoo’.
25 One providing evidence in drive-by shooting
SPEED CAMERA - CD, and a fine one, although I wonder if this idea has been used before. I got caught by one of these on a ‘smart’ motorway recently, having set the cruise control to 60mph and failed to notice when the limit reduced to 50. Annoying, but fortunately they let me take a course instead of the points, so now I know that swans often land on motorways because they mistake them for rivers.
26 Deliberate tackle initially accepted by referee
MEDITATE - MEDI(Tackle)ATE.
27 Shutter protecting lens
EYELID - CD. Again, this is neat but I wonder if it’s been done before.
Down
1 Sheds demolished, most of slum too
MOULTS - (SLUM TOo)*.
2 Stop scratching, as a rule, around Christmas?
DECLAW - or DEC LAW, geddit?! A horribly cruel thing to do to a cat.
3 Little less difficult clue
MINUSCULE - MINUS (less), (CLUE)*.
5 Such people have little in common
DISADVANTAGED - and another CD. I think the idea is that if you are DISADVANTAGED you have little, so (the possession of) little is what DISADVANTAGED people have in common with each other.
6 Mountainous area of Libyan Desert
ANDES - contained in ‘Libyan Desert’. I was a bit puzzled by the capitalisation of ‘desert’ here but it’s a reference to an actual desert I hadn’t heard of, rather than just a generic desert in Libya as I had assumed.
7 If puncture occurs, men will find air pump
INFLATOR - IN [case of] FLAT, OR (men).
8 More in band about to split
TRENDIER - T(REND)IER. You might select a band/tier of membership, for instance, or be in an income band/tier.
10 Governing body that puts out NHS timetables
ESTABLISHMENT - (NHS TIMETABLES)*. Amazing anagram!
15 Being sick, end our day by 12
DUODENARY - (END OUR DAY)*. Not a word I knew so I needed all the checkers.
16 Handyman in particular old corporation
FACTOTUM - FACT (particular), O, TUM (corporation).
17 Without energy, dropout somehow got out of bed
UPROOTED - (DROPOUT)* containing E. Not that kind of bed!
19 On top of a mushroom?
AS WELL - A, SWELL.
20 King Lear
EDWARD - King EDWARD, and EDWARD Lear.
22 Delivery company starts to examine this complaint
UPSET - UPS, Examine, This.