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For some reason, I was never comfortable working on this crossword. (Sorry, setter. It wasn’t you, it was me, I’m sure.) On the first pass, I only got two answers, and for most clues I couldn’t even see a possible definition or what the wordplay might be. I muddled through in the end, but I’m marking myself an F.

I made things harder for myself by pencilling in EMBOLUS at 14ac. It did after all have MB (doctor) and US (American), and an embolus is a clump of cells. Three points of agreement seemed compelling! Of course, I couldn’t explain the E - - OL in the answer. And worse … I was, as you can see below, working with an incorrect or incomplete definition.

In fact, on looking through the blog, I think it’s fair to say that this puzzle featured an outstandingly well disguised set of definitions! Look for example at 1, 6, 12, 14, 20 and 26 across, and 3 and 9 down. The definition that utterly delighted when I finally saw the answer was 20ac. Special mention! The uncertainty principle was worth a smile too. I also loved the clever juxtaposition in 10ac. Thanks to the setter.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC'. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 Male dog is cuddled by computing pro with file? (10)
MANICURIST: MAN, then CUR_IS is “cuddled” by IT.

6 Give a wave to mass retailer on the way back (4)
PERM: M (mass), REP (retailer) all reversed (“on the way back”). A small quibble: the sales reps I’ve encountered have all worked for wholesalers, not retailers. The people talking to the end customers are salespeople to me. Perhaps this a difference in usage between countries?

10 A greeting from abroad, going west? (5)
ALOHA: “hola” is a Spanish greeting. Going right to left (i.e. “west”), A_HOLA becomes ALOHA. And of course, Hawaii, the home of the “aloha”, is a long way west of the UK. Brilliant clue! On edit: by "going right to left" or "going west", I mean written backwards.

11 Intimate a new baby with many siblings is in litter (9)
PALANQUIN: PAL, A, N[ew], QUIN.

12 Ship rocking when in colder harbours or weak swell (8,6)
CHINLESS WONDER: anagram (“rocking”) of (SS WHEN IN COLDER*), where SS is a ship.

14 Medic's injecting bodily fluid in American's cells (7)
MOBILES: BILE (bodily fluid) “injected” into MO’S. The definition refers to cell phones, of course.

15 A measure of acid, when current, leads to a disorder(7)
APHASIA: A, PH (pH is a measure of acidity), AS (when), I (electrical current), A.

17 Turkey's leader confirmed as touchy? (7)
TACTUAL: T[urkey], ACTUAL. I didn’t know the answer, and struggled with whether “confirmed” is “actual”, but I suppose it’s OK. And, “tactual” is of the same form as “visual” and “aural” for example. The one slightly disappointing clue for me.

19 Pasting fancy lace on sack the wrong way (7)
DEBACLE: DEB=BED (sack) the wrong way; ACLE=(LACE*), “fancy”.

20 Scatter articles from Spanish American writer (4,10)
ELLA FITZGERALD: EL and LA are the Spanish articles, FITZGERALD (F. Scott, or Zelda) is the American writer. And, of course, Ella was the supreme scat singer. Delightful definition!

23 Hollow blocks harden and contract (9)
INDENTURE: DENT “blocking” INURE.

24 Signal recalling the marines (5)
ALARM: . à la (“recalling”), RM (Royal Marines).

25 Attic maybe concealing right anorak (4)
GEEK: a Greek concealing the R.

26 Crackpot here begins to give name in uncertainty (10)
HEISENBERG: (“crackpot”) anagram of (HERE BEGINS*). Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is a major concept in quantum physics.


Down
1 Beef — love digging into piece (4)
MOAN: O (love, or zero) in MAN (chess piece, perhaps).

2 Hope no novel writer's appalled by the novel (9)
NEOPHOBIC: “novel” (HOPE NO*), BIC.

3 Water sport for Norman, say, a remote activity (7-7)
CHANNEL-SURFING: whimsical definition (since Normandy is on the English Channel), then a just slightly less whimsical one.

4 Turning some crasser perfume bottle up (7)
REPRESS: reversed hidden answer (“turning some”).

5 Polish area of icon's head in lit up aisles (7)
SILESIA: I (head of icon) in “lit up” (AISLES*).

7 At first, Ezra Pound could be an ass (5)
EQUID: E (Ezra at first), QUID.

8 Awe-inspiring underground worker, one with special powers (4-6)
MIND-READER: MINER (underground worker) “inspiring” DREAD (awe).

9 Where drinkers go and make advances too (4,3,7)
INTO THE BARGAIN: drinkers go INTO THE BAR, then GAIN (make advances).

13 Dash to confess about affair (10)
SMATTERING: SING around MATTER.

16 What harvester has: welcome recovery period (4,5)
SICK LEAVE: a harvester might even today have a SICKLE. AVE was a Latin greeting.

18 Leaves disconnected phone around middle of den (7)
LETTUCE: CUT TEL “around”, then [d]E[n].

19 Stray she-cat, with head covered by diamonds (7)
DIGRESS: [t]IGRESS, with head covered by D.

21 By Hollywood location, delve regularly for scoop (5)
LADLE: Hollywood is in LA, then odd letters of DeLvE.

22 Sticks up for superior (4)
SMUG: GUMS “up”.

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
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john_dun
Apr. 26th, 2019 11:27 pm (UTC)
I got there eventually, but the struggle went on for 1:37:58. I think that's the longest a 15x15 has taken me since the first Times puzzle I attempted. I liked the Uncertainty Priciple clue too. I didn't understand the meaning of Scat, but got Ella regardless. I also toyed with EMBOLUS having had one myself a coupe of years ago, but it wouldn't parse properly. A really tough one which I'm relieved to have got all correct. Thanks setter and Bruce.
martinp1
Apr. 27th, 2019 04:35 am (UTC)
Almost matched you for time: 1hr 37m 19s
(no subject) - john_dun - Apr. 27th, 2019 09:16 am (UTC) - Expand
kevingregg
Apr. 27th, 2019 01:06 am (UTC)
Took me over an hour, and then I had a typo. LOI LETTUCE, which I biffed; never would have come up with TEL. I have no notes on my copy, other than 'COD' by a half-dozen clues. I think I'd pick ELLA as the top one.
martinp1
Apr. 27th, 2019 04:35 am (UTC)
I have COD ticks by eight clues in my notes and, yes, ELLA was the pick of my bunch, too, Kevin.
isla3
Apr. 27th, 2019 01:26 am (UTC)
Brilliant
Most enjoyable crossword for ages. I love all the off-beat definitions that are hard to spot: scatter, give a wave, weak swell, American's cells, appalled by the novel etc. And uniformly great surfaces, not a weak clue amongst them.
Very difficult, well over the hour compared with usual aim of 20 minutes.
Thank-you setter, and well-blogged brnchn.
martinp1
Apr. 27th, 2019 04:39 am (UTC)
1hr 37m 19s
My notes start with "Tough!!"
Thanks, Bruce, especially for MOAN and LETTUCE.
A bit like Kevin, I have COD ticks against 8 clues but my favourite is ELLA "SCATTER' FITZGERALD. Brilliant.
I don't mind saying I sought help with four clues: CHINLESS WONDER, TACTUAL, NEOPHOBIC and CHANNEL SURFING.
jackkt
Apr. 27th, 2019 05:16 am (UTC)
This took ages but the struggle was enjoyable enough and even quite rewarding at times. I didn't really understand the 'going west' part of the ALOHA clue.

I have an absolute and utter aversion to scat singing so I avoid the lovely Ella when she's in that mode and tend not to think of her in those terms.
brnchn
Apr. 27th, 2019 05:25 am (UTC)
Go west, young man
I've added a postscript in the blog to say:

On edit: by "going right to left" or "going west", I mean written backwards.
Re: Go west, young man - jackkt - Apr. 27th, 2019 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevingregg - Apr. 28th, 2019 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
boltonwanderer
Apr. 27th, 2019 06:09 am (UTC)
How strange the change from major to minor
This puzzle went the other way into major key. 56 minutes with LOI MOBILES. COD the terrific ELLA FITZGERALD. I never cared for her Scat that much though. APHASIA and MANICURIST were good clues too, and you'd expect me to have a special mention for Heisenberg. Sadly, it appears that the wave form is being collapsed at Bolton Wanderers with position established and momentum leading us off to hell at the speed of light in a handcart. DNK but guessed correctly EQUID and TACTUAL.Thank you B and setter for a tough but enjoyable puzzle.
martinp1
Apr. 27th, 2019 08:04 am (UTC)
Re: How strange the change from major to minor
You must be upset at the current state of a club with a very distinguished history.
philjordan
Apr. 27th, 2019 07:14 am (UTC)
I must go....
....INTO THE BAR(a)GAIN, because strong drink would have helped me massively in solving this absolute cracker of a puzzle. Even though at times I thought it was all G(r)EEK to me, and I parsed a fair few after I'd biffed them (apart from MANICURIST - thanks Bruce), I eventually finished successfully, albeit well outside my 20 minute target. Definitely a Championship Final standard puzzle which would have been a DNF in those circumstances.

A mer at "bic" for "writer". I thought they made disposable razors, and a writer is a "biro" when brand names come up.

FOI PERM
LOI CHINLESS WONDER
COD MIND-READER (I hated Ella's scatting)
TIME 28:21
keriothe
Apr. 27th, 2019 07:53 am (UTC)
Re: I must go....
They do make disposable razors but they are much better know for making the best-selling ballpoint pen in the world, having acquired the patent from... Biro.
Re: I must go.... - philjordan - Apr. 27th, 2019 08:02 am (UTC) - Expand
johninterred
Apr. 27th, 2019 07:22 am (UTC)
19:30. I enjoyed this a lot and managed to avoid getting stuck as the pennies kept dropping. I agree about the great hidden definitions, esp. scatter. Nice to see Herr Heisenberg. The only uncertainty I had was that I failed to parse LETTUCE, so thanks for that Bruce. Many candidates, but I go for DEBACLE as my COD. Oh, and, furthermore, I was one of the lucky ones drawn out the hat for the WH Smith vouchers!
martinp1
Apr. 27th, 2019 08:05 am (UTC)
Congratulations!
keriothe
Apr. 27th, 2019 07:59 am (UTC)
27:33. Tough but brilliant puzzle. Many great clues but it was particularly satisfying to (eventually) crack 26ac without any knowledge of who HEISENBERG was. I reverse-engineered the clue to figure out what the definition was and googled 'heisenberg uncertainty principle' post-submission. Marvellously baffling!
gothick_matt
Apr. 27th, 2019 09:33 am (UTC)
I feel better now I see how many others found this very tough! I was only halfway through after my usual hour, and took a break and a further 45 minutes to finish off at lunchtime. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this one, with many clues I liked, and a few I really didn't!

In particular, if I hadn't managed to put the letters in the right order for my LOI, the unknown 5d SILESIA, I might've had a whole case of sour grapes to throw right now... As I got it right, clearly it was instead a perfectly fair clue :D
(Anonymous)
Apr. 27th, 2019 11:20 am (UTC)
I never normally look at the Saturday blog, but did so this time to see if last week’s puzzle really was that hard or if I had simply made an utter meal of it. Like Matt, seeing some the times from regulars I feel a whole lot better. Such a shame the Snitch can’t record Saturday puzzles, this one would have been puce coloured. Thanks brnchn for explaining 20ac.
Rupert
special_bitter
Apr. 27th, 2019 12:22 pm (UTC)
56:22. Very tough. Studded with wonderfully clever hidden definitions, weak swell, scatter, etc. Glad I wasn't the only one who struggled with this and on reflection, from what others have said, I'm pleased to have dipped under the hour.
paul_in_london
Apr. 27th, 2019 12:52 pm (UTC)
I liked the puzzle, especially the well-hidden definitions. I did this in about 20 segments between chores and other activity - seeing about one answer per session in a series of penny-drop moments. I will say that crossing Equid with Palanquin was harsh - and I never figured out (still don't see) where the T in "quint" went to.
isla3
Apr. 27th, 2019 02:28 pm (UTC)
"Quin" in English, as opposed to American quint. Quint was Roy Scheider in Jaws?
(no subject) - isla3 - Apr. 27th, 2019 02:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Apr. 27th, 2019 02:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Apr. 27th, 2019 05:53 pm (UTC)
Far too hard. But 24a and 3D are particularly poor clues. The surface of 8d is the wrong way round isn’t it? ‘Dread’ should be inspiring (taking in) ‘miner’. Which obviously makes no sense but still...MrGrumpy
jackkt
Apr. 27th, 2019 07:28 pm (UTC)
Awe-inspiring
I think the hyphen makes the difference.
Re: Awe-inspiring - keriothe - Apr. 28th, 2019 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand
hydrochoos
Apr. 27th, 2019 05:58 pm (UTC)
Reading some of the other times, I see I can feel quite good about my 54 minutes' solving time. What a delightful puzzle! Nothing obvious, no weak clues, very witty allusions but eminently fair throughout. This is how a cryptic crossword should be but what is hardly ever achieved so consistently. I particularly liked CHANNEL SURFING as a "remote activity" and HEISENBERG. But ELLA, the scatter, was good too.
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