June 19th, 2021

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1502 - 5th June

I thought this at the gentler end of difficulty for a Jumbo, taking just over 35 minutes. It did take me a while to get properly going, though, solving only 6 across clues on the first pass. For once, I didn't encounter any real stumbling blocks - there is usually at least a couple of words that are new to me and I get stuck on, although I had to check that 19A was a real word to convince myself I'd got it right. A generous smattering of really good clues kept me entertained to the end of solving... and writing the blog. In particular I enjoyed 44A, my second from last one in (22D was my last) and the  two 2-word &lits : 56A and the triple definition 6d - my clue of the day. Nice one! Thank-you setter for the fun. How did everyone else like it?

Collapse )
  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 28002 - Saturday, 12 June 2021. Don’t miss it!

There was concern among comments on last week’s blog about a (to be fair, very mild) suggestion that this puzzle was harder than the week before.

Maybe it was, but I found it a delight, so I hope no-one gave up on it without trying! There were cleverly disguised definitions like 12ac, 18ac, 27ac and (my favourite) 8dn. There was cute wordplay at 15ac and 19ac. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

As a suggestion, how would you all feel if we posted the blog for the previous Saturday as soon as the solutions are published, on Thursdays? That should reduce the chance of comments about the subsequent Saturday’s puzzle! Let me know in the comments section below.

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.

[Read more ...]Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions are (in brackets).
1 Neighbourhood facility in doubt, briefly (7)
5 Live comedian by church entrance (7)
9 Twelve months in Scottish resort (3)
AYR – A Y(ea)R.
10 Foreigner’s complaint about a doctor in quiz broadcast (11)
MOZAMBIQUAN – MOAN about A + MB in an anagram of QUIZ, ‘broadcast’.
11 What one’s called on to arrange with a free minute (8)
FORENAME – anagram ‘to arrange’ ON + A FREE M.
12 Happy laughter leading to outrage (6)
15 Pants one’s expecting to be up (4)
DUFF – up the duff = pregnant.
16 Duty seen as unfair, to take most of the strain (7,3)
18 Had deer, when tailed, escaped across lake? (10)
BAMBOOZLED – BAMB(i) + OOZED ‘across’ L.
19 What of Roman Britain’s capital? (4)
QUID – double definition. Latin vocab, or UK currency.
22 Very little food left after I have ended fast (6)
LENTIL – LENT=fast + I + L. I assume the definition is implying that individual lentils are small.
23 Company taking off in parts of Stranraer, of Lothian (8)
AEROFLOT – cunningly hidden, and a clever definition.
25 One doing concert tours was deranged church employee? (11)
27 Sort of request that has no weight (3)
ISH – (w)ISH.
28 Very deep article has girl reflecting on past (7)
ABYSSAL – A + BY + LASS ‘reflecting’=backwards.
29 Powerful figure of French fighter something too much to take? (7)

1 Muscle needed to carry very loud English drunk (7)
QUAFFED – QUAD ‘needed to carry’ FF + E.
2 Member of service personnel waving a frantic arm (11)
AIRCRAFTMAN – anagram ‘waving’ A FRANTIC ARM.
3 Note Dynasty actor’s skill? (6)
4 Noisy show has dull finish — a visiting artist snoring? (10)
RAZZMATAZZ – MAT + A ‘visiting’ RA + ZZZZ. I dithered over how to spell the answer!
5 Dislodge from behind piano (4)
6 Cat on stage after somersaulting dogs (8)
WHIPPETS – WHIP + STEP ‘somersaulting’.
7 Tense, short letter (3)
TAU – TAU(t).
8 Cross bears hinder mad axeman (7)
HENDRIX – anagram of X + HINDER, ‘mad’.
13 Guilt one’s tortured with bound to be shed? (11)
OUTBUILDING – anagram of GUILT + I + BOUND, ‘tortured’.
14 Graduate at bank mostly goaded for wearing shorts? (10)
17 Judge fair Spanish girl’s capacity for humour (8)
JOKINESS – J + OK + INES’S. We’ve had discussions before about whether to spell the name with an S or a Z.
18 Upset a group such as Amnesty, put up in Italian city (7)
BOLOGNA – A + N.G.O. + LOB, ‘upset’.
20 Came down to the sea as day was dying (7)
21 Persecution, from memory, coming after purging of generals initially (6)
POGROM – ROM after P(urging) O(f) G(enerals).
24 What American might offer to settle it? (4)
BILL – a banknote is a BILL in America, and could be used to pay the bill before the pandemic. Now we all pay by card or phone.
26 Clown losing hat: which you like? (3)
ANY – (z)ANY. I hadn’t thought of ZANY as a noun, but it can be. I think the definition is as in: This one? That one? Which (do) you like? Any!
March 26, 2021

Sunday Times Cryptic 4959, by Robert Price — strength in numbers

I really enjoyed this. There are no answers shorter than five letters, and (but of course, it’s Bob!) many slick surfaces evoking amusing images that may distract you so much that you skate right over the hidden point—starting with some advice that echoes Baudelaire (“Il faut être toujours ivre, tout est là ; c’est l’unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l’horrible fardeau du temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve”—Mind you, he follows up by saying you can get drunk on anything, even water or virtue), and a well-considered fashion tip.

A few weeks ago, I met with an 4 in regards to the hernia operation I underwent on June 3, and I am glad to report that a couple days ago I allowed myself to return to making 15. Santé !

I indicate (a ragman’s)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

1 Sober? Drink punch! (8)
DOWNBEAT — “Drink” is DOWN and “punch” is BEAT.
5 Wearing sandals on vacation, remove socks (6)
SWIPES — Please! S(WIPE)S… “on vacation” indicating that “SandalS” is eviscerated and “remove” meaning WIPE
9 Fine veal stuffed in this? (4,4)
VINE LEAF — (fine veal)*, &lit! I hesitated over this because, though fond of stuffed grape leaves, I wasn’t aware that VINE LEAF has dictionary status. Found it in Collins (“…of any vine, especially a grapevine”), which has no entry for “grape leaf.” It’s not in Lexico, but probably in Chambers… everything seems to be in Chambers.
10 Stands back, in part sorrowful (6)
ROSTRA — Hidden, “back”
12 Rash beginning in someone poorly (5)
SILLY — S[-omeone] + ILLY, “poorly”
13 Vehicle’s bodyguards keeping step with it (9)
SPACESHIP — S(PACE)S, the “bodyguards” being Hitler’s SS, the Schutzstaffel (“Protection Squadron”), flanking PACE, “step” + HIP, “with it”
14 Delighted flights are so untroubled (5-7)
LIGHT-HEARTED — Both “delighted” and “flights” have LIGHT in the HEART, or the core. HEART in this solution is not just the letter, or two letters, in the very middle, as usually in clues.
18 Rudest dancing in underwear, cast if required (12)
UNDERSTUDIES — UNDIES with (rudest)* inserted
21 First course at Pisa, not soup (9)
ANTIPASTO — (at Pisa not)*… I like this anagrind a lot.
23 Cover that excludes son’s condition (5)
24 Annoyance about working hard finally decreased (6)
IRONED — IR(ON, “working”)E + [-har]D
25 Did alarm as dad locked up (8)
PANICKED — PA, “dad” + NICKED, “locked up”
26 Bogus appeal put in to head off physicist (6)
ERSATZ — [-H]ER(SA)TZ… In words: This is the great scientist whom the frequency unit is named after with his “head off” and SA, “appeal” (Sex Appeal, cryptic crossword chestnut for real, not seen now anywhere else ever!) inserted.
27 Deliberate hoax by helter-skelter rides (8)
CONSIDER — CON, “hoax” + (rides)*… This is a great anagrind with “rides” (♬ “When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide / ♪ Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride /♩ Till I get to the bottom and I see you again”♫). It’s a little hard to imagine what a “hoax by…rides” would mean, a deception mounted by inanimate objects, but I’m not complaining.

1 Strip clubs opening from tomorrow (6)
DIVEST — At last, back to normalcy! DIVES, “clubs” + T[-omorrow]
2 With fish, work craftily (6)
WANGLE — W(ith) + ANGLE, “fish”
3 Volume of goat used by pork pie producer (5,4)
BILLY LIAR — BILLY, “goat” + LIAR, “pork pie [CRS] producer”… I had heard of the movie, but Keith Waterhouse’s 1959 novel was also the basis of a play, a musical and a TV series, and has been referred to in popular songs (Wikipedia).
4 Number Ten is at haste to shift position (12)
ANAESTHETIST — (Ten is at haste)* Cwinkydink: Two weeks ago, as I reported here, I worked three puzzles in one day that used “number” to refer to anæsthetics, but in this case the answer refers to the person numbing (the anæsthesiologist, as I would be more apt to say) rather than to the substance that numbs. My friends at the Out of Left Field blog said their—probably unattainable—ideal is to use every cryptic “chestnut” just once (they would have to rethink one of those clues). But I regard “number” in this sense rather as a cryptic staple, a trusty standby whose use is justified if it helps to create a vivid, deceptive and original surface. I would say the same about “decrease” for IRON, as in 24.
6 A vocalist’s opening sound (5)
WHOLE — “hole,” opening
7 Digs end up hiding crack (8)
POTSHOTS — POT(SHOT)S… STOP<=“up” with SHOT, “crack” (as in “take a crack at”) inside
8 Flight impressed those at the rear (8)
STAMPEDE — STAMPED, “impressed” + [-thos]E
11 Staple fare to a top cryptic? (6,6)
MASHED POTATO — (to a top)* = POTATO, MASHED (i.e., anagrammed!)
15 Drinks provided in parties, on the rocks (9)
APERITIFS —  IF, “provided” in (parties)*
16 Set eleven without a reserve (3,5)
PUT ASIDE — PUT, “Set” + SIDE, “eleven” have A, literally, inside.
17 Issues rabble-rousing leader put to the other side (8)
EDITIONS — SEDITION, with S “put to the other side”
19 Submerged in canal, to one’s ears (6)
DUCKED — “duct,” or “canal, to one’s ears”
20 Raw volunteer (6)
22 Loveless philosopher’s welcomed back to the fold (5)
PLEAT — Hmm, well, not Schopenhauer, he did care for his cats… PLAT[-o] takes in [-th]E, “back to the”