william_j_s (william_j_s) wrote in times_xwd_times,

Times Quick Cryptic 1397 by Wurm

Wurm has caught me out numerous times in the past, so I was glad to finish this in just a little over my target time: a mid-difficulty puzzle, I'd say. I had a bit of biffing to unravel afterwards at 15ac, 1dn and 13dn as described below.

What a set of clues, though! Almost all of them are of 6 words of fewer, and to pack in so much wit and misdirection is marvellous.

Definitions underlined.

1 Some twelve-stone sprites (5)
ELVES - hidden in (some) twELVE-Stone.
4 Monk has no resistance to plague (6)
BOTHER - Brother (monk) missing the (has no) 'r' (resistance).
9 Officer gone mad in German city (7)
COLOGNE - COL (colonel, officer), with an anagram of (mad) GONE.
10 Sad song in Matrix about Neo's heart (5)
DIRGE - GRID (matrix) reversed (about) then the middle letter (heart) of nEo.
11 Shining learner having that certain something (3)
LIT - L (learner) and IT (that certain something).
12 A chartered accountant meant to back the universities (8)
ACADEMIA - A, CA (chartered accountant), then AIMED (meant) reversed (to back).
15 Confuses players coming in by boat (6,7)
PADDLE STEAMER - ADDLES (confuses) and TEAM (players), all surrounded by (coming in) PER (by, as in 'by means of'). I count myself very lucky to have spotted the boat with just the enumeration and a few checkers, and apart from TEAM, left the untangling until I'd stopped the clock.
17 Barrow worker caught by deceit (8)
HANDCART - HAND (worker), C (caught) and ART (deceit).
18 Gullible person in France not returning (3)
SAP - reversal of (returning) PAS ('not', in French)
20 Trouble as wrecked Argo ships gallons (5)
AGGRO - anagram of (wrecked) ARGO containing (ships) G (gallons).
22 Policeman circling hospital in helicopter (7)
CHOPPER - COPPER (policman) surrounding (circling) H (hospital). My first thought was 'chinook' for some reason, but I quickly corrected myself.
23 Kind disposition (6)
NATURE - double definition. My LOI; so simple once the penny dropped.
24 Wild animal in eastern country (5)
ELAND - E (eastern) and LAND (country).

1 Sliced veal, look: avoid eating that (8)
ESCALOPE - LO (look, as in 'lo and behold') with ESCAPE (avoid) surrounding it (eating that). I came back to parse this one too. The answer was on the tip of my tongue, but I needed all the checkers to jog my memory and then a bit of time post-solve to work out the word play.
2 Man having beer in Vermont (5)
VALET - ALE (beer) in VT (state abbreviation for Vermont).
3 Frisky single lad gave hint (9)
SIGNALLED - anagram of (frisky) SINGLE LAD.
5 Rum included in good diet (3)
ODD - hidden in (included in) goOD Diet.
6 Dauntless display might be moreish (7)
HEROISM - anagram of (might be) MOREISH.
7 European losing final in ping pong (4)
REEK - gREEK (European), excluding (losing) the 'g' (last letter of (final in) ping). An excellent example of the need to lift and separate words from natural phrases, and my COD.
8 Survey ignoring Conservative revival (11)
RENAISSANCE - REconNAISSANCE (survey) missing the (ignoring) 'con' (conservative).
13 Conductor travelled with those chosen (9)
ELECTRODE - RODE (travelled) with ELECT (those chosen). Another I am only parsing now, having semi-biffed it earlier. I read that the elect were those chosen for salvation in Christian theology, or can be those selected for any position, but the plural noun/adjectival sense of the word was new to me.
14 All set having shaved in advance? (8)
PREPARED - 'pre-pared', or pared (shaved) in advance.
16 Plan announced for man on board (7)
DRAUGHT - the small disc-shaped playing peice (or man) on a (draughts/checkers) board; sounds like (announced) "draft" (plan). At first I was thinking the 'man on board' could be a conscript, or someone selected to be part of a team, and a little research has left me very confused about the difference between 'draft' and 'draught'. It seems either can be used for a sketch / plan, and either for a conscript / to conscript, and that the preferred usage differs between the UK and US. Thankfully I spotted the game-based explanation while writing the blog!
18 Brown as pie in the cooking? (5)
SEPIA - anagram of (in the cooking) AS PIE.
19 Sunrise sketched, right away (4)
DAWN - Drawn (sketched) with the 'r' (right) missing (away).
21 Rower starting out at regatta (3)
OAR - first letters of (starting) Out At Regatta.
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