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Happy New Year to all.

Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 9A is a perfect example.


This puzzle was a bit chewy in parts. A little help needed with 22A please.

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.

ACROSS

1 Derbyshire’s gully runs into Yorkshire opening bowler (6)
GROUGH: G(R)OUGH; Darren Gough is a retired English cricketer and former captain of Yorkshire County Cricket Club who opened the bowling – perhaps a tad obscure; a gulley in the Peak District
5 Stories about Catholic churchgoers (6)
ONCERS: ON(C)ERS; ONERS=lies; C=Catholic; people who attend church once on Sunday;
9 One disrupting US President will get returned on time or early retirement (8)
RETRAICT: C(I)ARTER all reversed - T; obsolete (early) word for retreat=retirement;
11 Figure of speech over in a new schedule (12)
ANTIMETABOLE: A-N-TIMETAB(O)LE; O=over (more cricket); the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order. For example, "I know what I like, and I like what I know".
13 Ordinary member in cut coming back earnestly (7, two words)
EX,ANIMO: OM-IN-AXE all reversed;
14 One who’s made a proposal married again (5)
MOVER: M-OVER;
16 Victor’s against more than one rowing in Shetland springs (5)
VOARS: V-OARS; victor=V (phonetic alphabet); Spring in Lerwick;
17 Scratch before squeezing a head on spot (5)
ERASE: ER(A-S)E; S from S(pot);
19 Pulls punches, relieving pressure (4)
LUGS: (p)LUGS;
22 Harsh notes one’s omitted around Christmas poem opening (4)
TWAS: TWA(ng)S; don’t quite see the wordplay; "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" well known poem by Clement Clarke Moore
23 Taking extra time and time again bent over (5)
LEANT: LEAN-T; taking extra time = LEAN in printing jargon;
25 Sage Henry also known as Mark (5)
HAKAM: H-AKA-M;
29 Unarmed soldier miles to the rear (5)
INERM: soldier=miner (a sapper) then move “m” to the rear;
30 Suit includes unusually neat fur (7)
GENETTE: GE(NETT)E; to suit=GEE; neat=NETT; fur of the genet;
31 One hint of departure poll to be considered further (12, two words)
AD,REFERENDUM: A-D-REFERENDUM; D from D(eparture);
32 Worker behind tackles one having a long snout (8)
ANTLIATE: ANT-L(I)ATE; insect’s proboscis;
33 See this writer with poet take away business card (6)
MEISHI: ME-(R)ISHI; R=take;
34 Excellent backing put across song subjected to criticism (6)
FLAYED: DEF reversed surrounds LAY; slang for excellent = DEF;

DOWN

1 Two experts, both caught out supporting Greek mythological sisters (6)
GRAEAE: GR-A(C)E-A(C)E; three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth among them
2 Intervals excessive overlooking a considerable tenor cast (7)
OTTAVAS: OTT-A-VAS(t); t=tenor; octaves
3 Wee statuette? Fig leaves! (5)
URINE: (fig)URINE;
4 Mike underneath Georgia having sex (5)
GAMIC: GA-MIC;
5 Pool player of the month has work with champion, nothing less (10)
OCTOPUSHER: OCT-OPUS-HER(o); an underwater hockey player apparently;
6 American at the rear gets derisive cheer in state (7)
CABOOSE: CA(BOO)SE;
7 Standard disc is striking (8)
RULERING: RULE-RING; old school punishment;
8 Pole by himself supplying old-fashioned spread (6)
SPERSE: S-PER-SE;
10 Very boring moderation for a Madagascan (4)
HOVA: HO(V)A;
12 African rhino turning up in say, stream before yours truly (10)
EMALANGENI: IN-EG-NALA-ME all reversed; stream=NALA; currency of Eswatini
15 Newspaper has to pass on fine material (8)
ORGANDIE: ORGAN-DIE;
18 Figures going around on Russian adviser (7)
STARETS: STA(RE)TS; an elder of a Russian Orthodox monastery who functions as an adviser
20 Dissolute period? The opposite, time for prayer (7)
FASTDAY: FAST-DAY; dissolute=FAST;
21 Cross-shaped connection one’s seen in opening (6)
CHIASM: CH(I)ASM;
24 Like some parties in sea around Malta (6)
THEMED: THE-MED;
26 Finally back garden plot gets cut (4)
KERF: (bac)K-ERF;
27 Soprano Eleanor is sharp, concerning the wind (5)
SNELL: S-NELL; a keen wind in Kelso
28 Headbands given by number close to Midwest state?
TENIA: TEN-IA; IA=Iowa, a Midwest state;

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
petebiddlecombe
Jan. 6th, 2019 07:54 am (UTC)
22A: The harsh notes are saw-tones, with "one's missing" meaning something a bit more direct than usual. Not a term I've ever heard, but I have heard the old-style G bass trombone with slide handle, the "kidshifter" in brass band talk, likened to a circular saw when overblown.
dorsetjimbo
Jan. 6th, 2019 09:03 am (UTC)
Thanks Peter - a new one on me also
johninterred
Jan. 6th, 2019 08:02 am (UTC)
Some real obscurities here. I had to use more aids than just my Chambers for about half a dozen clues. Thanks for explaining those I still couldn't parse, Jimbo. Even so, R for take in 33a, as you explained, still had me baffled. I see now, after a bit of digging, it is used in Pharmacy to refer to prescription.
dorsetjimbo
Jan. 6th, 2019 09:09 am (UTC)
R for "take" in everyday life goes back to my mother's era and women's' magazines with recipes in them. The list of ingredients would be headed "R:" I recall she would tear them out of the magazine and file them in a folder. The ones that interested her would tell how to make something nutritious and appetising from very limited, rationed, ingredients. Strange thing for me to remember!
keepitsharp
Jan. 6th, 2019 11:55 pm (UTC)
Headbands
My Chambers gives TENIA as headband not headbands.
dorsetjimbo
Jan. 8th, 2019 09:20 am (UTC)
Re: Headbands
So does mine - well spotted. Should be "headband" in the clue.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )