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Me, I’ve had a cold since last Saturday, but this puzzle is hale and hearty, and its wit could’ve cheered you up if you’d caught a chill with the onset of the season mentioned in 15. Today in Brooklyn promises to be sunny and to warm up a bit, so I want to schedule this soon and get some fresh air.

I worked this at my usual unhurried, deliberative Saturday evening pace, and was pleased to see everything quite clearly, until my LOI, 9. The answer was obvious, but a key part of the parsing wasn’t. Only others in the non-UK contingent, I imagine, will have had the same experience.

I am happy that my “namesake” Guy Joao has been cleared by the Scottish police, who eventually realized (well after the contrary was broadcast by French and international media) that he isn’t the one with a “criminal past” whom the French police have sought for eight years now.

I do (nasargam)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Car, say, one with plenty of gas? (10)
 7 It is one reactionary English publication (4)
GAME — E + MAG <=
 9 Does a criminal past lead to strife? (8)
PERFORMS — PER, “a” + FORM, “criminal past” + S[-trife]  I finally found the relevant definition, in Collins, of FORM as “a criminal record” (strictly British!), but in my perplexity I had sent a message to our esteemed editor, Peter Biddlecombe, who offered this interesting background information: “OED seems to confirm my impression that ‘form’ as ‘criminal past’ comes from sport, especially horse racing, in which form is a horse’s level of performance, and a ‘form guide’ shows records of past performances. The sporting version goes back more than 200 years, but the criminal version only about 60, from the citations.” My Googling “form” and “criminal past,” before I found the definition, turned up references to employers’ background checks. Though I’d heard of racing forms, I was just assuming that one’s past encounters with the law would be shown on some official form. For Word Reference Forum, FORM has a wider scope, as it “can mean record or reputation. If a person ‘has form‘ it means the person has a well-founded reputation for being or doing something. He has form as a long-time critic and did not miss this opportunity.” But someone queried the forum about the phrase ”he’s got form for,” citing this example from a convo between two cops: “He’s got form for assault, theft, a couple of other armed robs.” Apparently this sense of the term is not uncommonly heard in British police procedurals. I also found a citation from a book called Frozen, by one Lindsay Jayne Ashford: “I mean, if he’s got form for living off immoral earnings, he’s going to be on file anyway.” (I’m sure this isn’t news to most of you! Sorry to be a 1a!)
10 A table on a train (6)
ABOARD — A table, a board
11 Good man repelled by constant affairs (6)
EVENTS — EVEN, “constant” + ST<=
13 Liqueur a popular retired crossword compiler doesn’t finish (8)
ANISETTE — A + IN, “popular”<=, SETTE[-r]
14 Often reflect on turning slightly red? (4-2-6)
LEFT-OF-CENTRE — (Often reflect on)*  Hey, no red-baiting allowed! I’m pretty far left, so don’t consider such a locution an insult—which nullifies its usually intended effect.
17 One tip: pool is fantastica great place to start (4,8)
POLE POSITION — (One tip: pool is)*  I’d heard this phrase, but only used figuratively, as I didn’t know that (Wikipedia) “in motorsport the pole position is the position at the inside of the front row at the start of a racing event.” It goes to the driver who does best in the preceding trials. Give the best driver an advantage? Guess he earned it…
20 State protocol or a document containing it (8)
21 Young minister announcing NHS statistics, perhaps (6)
CURATE — “Cure rate.”  Not at all sure a CURATE must be young, though one definition is an assistant to a priest. He might have started later in life (which reminds me of the argument of those who supported Proust for the Goncourt Prize in 1919 that the foundation’s charter stipulated that it was to reward “young talent”—not necessarily a young person).
22 Shock a maiden with essentially adult paintings from the East (6)
TRAUMA — A + M(aiden) + [-ad]U[-lt] + “paintings,” ART <=
23 Limb caught in a register, I’d be worried by that (8)
ALARMIST — A L(ARM)IST  Me, I’d know better.
25 European visiting a hospital after hostel is very well (4)
YEAH — E(uropean) comes to A H(ospital) after Y, “hostel” (YMCA, or YWCA)
26 DD is one goliath bust! (10)
THEOLOGIAN — (one goliath)* Doctor of Divinity (not a hard science). Collins says “goliath” can be uncapped, but I really wouldn’t advise it.

 2 Ever vow to change? (first of inquiries in survey) (8)
OVERVIEW — (Ever vow + I)*
 3 High? Not at work! (3)
OFF — Shh, don’t tell the boss! DD
 4 Extra small habits (5)
MORES — MORE, “Extra” + S(mall)
 5 Clue spa differently for Tatler’s readers, perhaps (7)
UPSCALE — (Clue spa)*
 6 Stuff cash in thy bloomers (9)
HYACINTHS — To foil muggers? (cash in thy)*
 7 Work? I really must achieve something more! (2,3,6)
GO ONE BETTER — ”Work,” GO + ONE BETTER, “I really must”
 8 Mass revolutionary anger that Boris ultimately deserves (6)
MERITS — Tell me about it! M(ass) + IRE<= + [-tha]T [-Bori]S
12 Pretty poor in bed? Feel without mojo initially (3,2,2,4)
NOT UP TO MUCH — NOT UP, “in bed” + TO(M)UCH
15 Save for a season in America, go to pieces (4,5)
FALL APART — Autumn aside…
16 Noble Italian crook returned item of value (8)
CONTESSA — CON, “crook” + ASSET<=  (an Italian noble, rather)
18 Irreverent supporters seen on end of terrace (7)
PROFANE — PRO + FAN + [-terrac]E
19 Broadcast programme of inferior quality (6)
COARSE — “Course”
21 Conservative liberal drinking bitter in drag (5)
24 Face flipping Magnus Carlsen? You must be drunk! (3)
MUG — G(rand)M(aster) swallowing U, for “You”


( 46 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 12th, 2019 11:17 pm (UTC)
38 minutes but without understand what was going on in the wordplay for MUG. Y for 'hostel' came up once before when it was completely new to me, but fortunately I remembered it this time. Off to tackle Robert Price now.
Oct. 13th, 2019 12:04 am (UTC)
The 7:39 part being devoted to PERFORMS. I tried to make 'does'='deer', and of course had no idea about FORM, but at long last the checkers led me to the solution. No idea who Magnus Carlsen was, thus forced to biff MUG. Also didn't get YEAH. I was not pleased to see BETTER for 'had better'; I suppose soon the Times will be writing 'could of'. Liked PROFANE.
Oct. 13th, 2019 01:30 am (UTC)
Re: 37:39
Both Merriam-Webster and Collins (for both American and British) give "had better" as one definition of "better"—marked as "Informal," certainly. But "could of" is simply wrong, not merely informal.

Edited at 2019-10-13 01:31 am (UTC)
Re: 37:39 - kevingregg - Oct. 13th, 2019 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 02:59 am (UTC)
young talent
I was going to mention that Proust (48) won the Prix Goncourt by a vote of 6-4 over 34-year-old Roland Dorgelès, who later became president of the Goncourt Academy. I'd never heard of Dorgelès, but his anti-war 'Les croix de bois' was evidently a major critical and popular success.
Oct. 13th, 2019 03:26 am (UTC)
Re: young talent
Oui, je le sais ! My current rereading of À la recherche… was sparked by a very interesting—and amusing—book that was hot off the presses when I was in Paris in May, Proust, Prix Goncourt, by Thierry Laget. It is, after all, the hundredth anniversary of the only time the academy got it right.

Dorgelès's publisher was taken to court for advertising his book with the words PRIZ GONCOURT, and, in much smaller letters, "4 votes out of 10"! He did win, as a sort of consolation prize, an award from a feminist publishing collective. And his book outsold Proust's… for a while.

Edited at 2019-10-13 03:40 am (UTC)
Re: young talent - kevingregg - Oct. 13th, 2019 05:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: young talent - guy_du_sable - Oct. 13th, 2019 05:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 05:28 am (UTC)
I think there’s still confusion about “form”. It simply means “criminal past” (usually for a specific kind of crime) not any document about it. In “form guide”, it’s “guide” that tells you it’s a document, and if one criminal knew that another had committed undetected and therefore undocumented crimes, I think he’d still call those crimes “form”.
Oct. 13th, 2019 05:40 am (UTC)
“criminal past”
Well, the only dictionary definition I’ve seen (from Collins) was “a criminal record,” but it’s evident from your OED input, the Word Reference Forum, and cop-show idioms that the term has taken wider applications, in various contexts, the cop shows being most relevant here. "A criminal reputation" (which Collins doesn't exactly say) could of course exist in the absence of any concrete record, via word of mouth, word on the street.

Edited at 2019-10-13 06:17 am (UTC)
Re: “criminal past” - petebiddlecombe - Oct. 13th, 2019 06:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: “criminal past” - guy_du_sable - Oct. 13th, 2019 06:49 am (UTC) - Expand
For the record.... - philjordan - Oct. 13th, 2019 05:45 am (UTC) - Expand
"form guide" - guy_du_sable - Oct. 13th, 2019 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: "form guide" - petebiddlecombe - Oct. 13th, 2019 06:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: "form guide" - guy_du_sable - Oct. 13th, 2019 06:42 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 06:41 am (UTC)
Who’s It?
31 minutes in a steady solve. COD to GO ONE BETTER. I liked HYACINTHS too. I tend to think of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) when I see ‘hostel’, so I couldn’t quite make an anagram work for YEAH, but I biffed it anyway. LOI was MUG, also somewhat of a biff, but as a result I know the name of the chess grand master. I use FORM to mean past record frequently. In fact, last week, discussing Boris’s possible liaison with Jennifer Arcuri, I could be heard to observe, “ Well, he does have form.” In childhood, we called the GAME of It either Tig or Tiggy, depending on whether I was north or south of the Ribble, and I believe it was Tag in many other places, including Famous Five Land. Similar rules applied everywhere. A pleasant puzzle. Thank you Guy and David.

Edited at 2019-10-13 06:43 am (UTC)
Oct. 13th, 2019 07:18 am (UTC)
“Well, he does have criminal past.”
RE: Boris - boltonwanderer - Oct. 13th, 2019 08:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 07:33 am (UTC)
QC report
I was in Cornwall Sunday to Wednesday for golf and took this puzzle with me.After an initial session I had lots of gaps which I kept returning to and in a last session I just wrote in the words that fitted the best.
LOI was PERFORMS almost entirely unparsed and assuming the definition was Does.For a time I thought 24d might be OMG (expression of surprise -would that be allowed?). The chess world championships were held in London only about a year ago and got lots of publicity; and Magnus Carlsen is the current superstar so GM occurred to me quickly.It took me a while to crack the excellent DD clue and then get MUG. CONTESSA,GO ONE BETTER and NOT UP TO MUCH all went in with varying degrees of hope. But I did properly parse YEAH as I have heard Y being used for hostel. A fun holiday puzzle. David
Oct. 13th, 2019 02:51 pm (UTC)
Re: QC report
I would happily allow OMG - it's in Collins and Oxford D of E, and would be a pleasing change from some of the ancient bits of language used in xwds.
Re: QC report - keriothe - Oct. 13th, 2019 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 07:37 am (UTC)
Got form
No problems with this one, form and pole position were easy for British F1 fans but couldn't parse MUG.. 20 minutes with YEAH last.
Oct. 13th, 2019 07:41 am (UTC)
All complete and correct, but I failed to parse YEAH as, like boltonwanderer, I never thought of just Y for hostel. I didn't see "ONE BETTER" either. I liked NOT UP TO MUCH and the topical surface for MERITS. 23:00.
Oct. 13th, 2019 08:46 am (UTC)
All correct in 45:29, but another who biffed MUG, not knowing the chess reference. I was also unaware that just Y could be an abbreviation for the YHA or YMCA, but muttered YEAH and moved on. Took a while to see the parsing of PERFORMS, but got there with no reservations. Liked MOTORMOUTH(and giggled at Phil's comment). As Pip mentions, anyone who watches F1 will have no problem with POLE POSITION. UPSCALE had me baffled until I had some crossers. A tricky and enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Harry and Guy.
Oct. 13th, 2019 09:25 am (UTC)
22:47. I found this pretty hard, for reasons I can’t now remember. I had all the required knowledge.
This meaning of FORM is just a very specific example of the broader meaning referring to any pattern of behaviour. The meanings overlap significantly so even if a copper is using the word it doesn’t necessarily refer specifically to a an actual criminal record.
I used to do a lot of business in Scandinavia, and a couple of years ago I was invited by some Norwegians to a client entertainment event in London in which the guests got to play against Magnus Carlsen. All the guests, that is, simultaneously. I’m clueless about chess so I declined the invitation, but it must have been great for people who play at all seriously.
Oct. 13th, 2019 11:23 am (UTC)
Magnus Carlsen
If you open up today's paper, David Howell's chess column is right next to the crossword. Magnus Carlsen is mentioned between 5a and 10a.
Re: Magnus Carlsen - petebiddlecombe - Oct. 13th, 2019 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 09:28 am (UTC)
No problems with this apart from parsing YEAH as never heard of Y = YMCA ... slightly bemused by the fuss over form, which I use in that sense often. I agree the "a" might be felt to be doing double duty but it seemed OK at the time
Oct. 13th, 2019 10:28 am (UTC)
As mentioned above, I only knew this because it came up once before and puzzled me at the time. I've now tracked it down to this puzzle: https://times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/1579216.html
but you didn't comment that day, Jerry. On searching for this I found it's a staple of Mephisto puzzles, coming up over and again, but I never do those.
Re: Y=YMCA - jerrywh - Oct. 13th, 2019 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: Y=YMCA - jackkt - Oct. 13th, 2019 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keriothe - Oct. 13th, 2019 11:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jerrywh - Oct. 13th, 2019 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keriothe - Oct. 13th, 2019 02:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 11:12 am (UTC)
48:20 but two typos aMisette and peTforms. Bah! I fear I have some fat fingered form on that front though. Happy with form for criminal past. The actual document recording previous convictions (well previous court appearances at least) used in the criminal justice system, a print out from the police national computer, is usually called a person's antecedents, at least in England and Wales. I was a bit hesitant over yeah where I wasn't familiar with Y on its own for hostel. I also didn't know the publication at 7ac, googling only brings up computer game magazines, that can't be what it's referring to can it? A fun puzzle with 14ac, 17ac, 26ac and 6dn my highlights.
Oct. 13th, 2019 11:45 am (UTC)
It / game
I think boltonwanderer is right in saying (above) that 'it' is also known as 'tag'. And I also think it's the same game called 'he' as played at my Prep school when the person doing the chasing was 'it' or sometimes 'on'.

Edited at 2019-10-13 11:46 am (UTC)
RE: tag - guy_du_sable - Oct. 13th, 2019 11:52 am (UTC) - Expand
It/tag/he - keriothe - Oct. 13th, 2019 11:58 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: It / game - special_bitter - Oct. 13th, 2019 01:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: tag - guy_du_sable - Oct. 13th, 2019 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 13th, 2019 11:56 am (UTC)
Absolutely no problems with this so am at a bit of a loss with the debates above. Thanks all.
Oct. 13th, 2019 07:50 pm (UTC)
I had thought it a crossword convention that you only got clued if you were dead. Apart from that, having to know that the clued MC was a GM into which one had to insert U and then reverse it was a step too far even for a Sunday cryptic. I also cannot parse 24ac : since when, in the UK at least, is "Y" comprehensible as a hostel? Nicky
Oct. 13th, 2019 08:25 pm (UTC)
Re: 24dn
The convention applies to the Times but this is the Sunday Times where it definitely does not. I'm not sure at this moment whether in the Times it applies both to clues and answers or only answers - perhaps someone else could confirm?

Y is listed in both Collins and Chambers dictionaries as an abbreviation for YMCA / YWCA without qualification. The Oxfords have it too, only they add that its usage is 'chiefly North American'. There's no obligation for setters to specify overseas usage in a clue although they often do if they wish to be helpful.

As mentioned above, I was unable to parse MUG because I didn't know the chess guy so I have some sympathy with your POV but the answer was easy enough for most to biff it I'd have thought.

Edited at 2019-10-13 08:37 pm (UTC)
Re: 24dn - petebiddlecombe - Oct. 15th, 2019 11:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2019 04:26 pm (UTC)
I had no problem with Y for hostel. All Ys had hostel accommodation back in the day, wonder if they still do. I arrived in Nottingham on the first day of the England/Australia Test in 1972 to find that there wasn't a bed to be had in the city. Someone suggested the Y. An Atheist of conviction I still tried it despite my fear that they would they ask me questions to prove I was a Christian. This fear was the afterglow of bigoted Irish Catholic indoctrination. They were full but directed me to another backpackers hostel.
( 46 comments — Leave a comment )

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