guy_du_sable (guy_du_sable) wrote in times_xwd_times,
guy_du_sable
guy_du_sable
times_xwd_times

Sunday Times Cryptic 4955, by Dean Mayer — slow and steady

…wins the race!

The week before, I had been out of ink, so Saturday saw me working the five weekday 15x15s, plus test-solving two for my former Nation team, before looking at this stunning offering, where I suddenly lost momentum. I stared blankly at the page for a while, and had only a few of the shorter answers filled in when I set it aside to tackle after a good night’s sleep.

So it certainly cannot be said that I 6 thru this 9, before eventually finishing last at 12.

I indicate (a Mars nag)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.


ACROSS
 1 Reason a follower has not changed (5)
BASIS — B, “a follower” + ASIS, “not changed”
 4 Being sluggish, a pet dog rolls back over (9)
GASTROPOD — Sluggish being, rather, but the reversal suits the wordplay: DOG<=“rolls back over” A, literally + STROP, “pet”
 9 Fast 14 (2,1,4)
AT A CLIP — You have to refer to 14 for the wordplay: (CAPITAL)*, with the anagrind WORKING.
10 Deer and sheep bound for cover (7)
BUCKRAM — BUCK, “Deer” + RAM, “sheep”
11 Argument has girl coming out worried (6)
DEBATE — DEB, “girl coming out” + ATE, “worried”
12 Race track’s skilled driver (8)
GOODWOOD — GOOD, “skilled” (as in being “good at” something) + WOOD, “driver” in golf. I had never heard of this place, so this where I crossed the finish line.
14 Means to trade on A1? (7,7)
WORKING CAPITAL — WORKING, “on” + CAPITAL, “A1,” as in “Capital idea, old boy! Just brill!”
17 Ancient land, extremely dry? (14)
SUPERCONTINENT — (Ha ha)
19 Saw a head of state outside house, having gentleman around (8)
APHORISM — A + P(HO)(SIR<=)M
21 Loud noise, ultimately in head, may do so (6)
DEAFEN — DEA(F)([-nois]E)N… &lit, with a slightly odd definition (“ultimately in head”!), but that’s not uncommon when it comes to this type of clue.
23 I am playing with ants’ legs (7)
STAMINA — (I am + ants)*
24 Unscrupulous type in court. No conclusion reached (7)
CHANCER — CHANCER[-y]
25 Syntax concern in instruction book (4,5)
WORD ORDER — WORD, defined essentially as “instruction” in Lexico: “[a] command, password, or signal” + ORDER, “book” as in (Collins) “to engage ahead of time, as rooms, transportation, performers or performances, etc.”
26 Smoking? You shouldn’t have a pen (5)
TASTY — TA, “You shouldn’t have” + STY, “a pen”… This was the one I went down a fausse piste on this time, as I first had TAPER. It would have been an unusual clue (but this is Dean…), with “Smoking?” an oblique DBE; the wordplay TA, “You shouldn’t have” + PER, “a”; and another DBE, as I verified that “taper pen” is a real phrase specifying a style of writing implement. Oh, well…

DOWN
 1 Help youngster to come out and challenge private (4,4)
BEAR DOWN — BEARD, “challenge” + OWN, “private”… “Come out” in quite a different sense than the girl does in 11.
 2 Song, right after a big chorus, for a cuckoo (11,4)
SCARBOROUGH FAIR — (a big chorus for a)* + R(ight)
 3 Finding this gemstone requires patience (9)
SOLITAIRE — This is basically two definitions, the jewel and the game (patience), folded into one sentence to make a sort of CD.
 4 Good mimic makes you yawn (4)
GAPE — G + APE
 5 Web areas advance, given the same power supply? (10)
SUBDOMAINS — SUB, “advance” (subsistence allowance) + DO, ditto, “the same” + MAINS, “power supply”
 6 Flew as fighter pilot, in a way (5)
RACED — R(ACE)D
 7 For a new salon, creates things (8,7)
PERSONAL EFFECTS — PER, “For a” + (salon)* + EFFECTS, “creates”
 8 March in Paris, from out of Paris (6)
DEMODE — DEMO, “March” + DE, “in Paris, from”… Looks odd without the accent (demodé).
13 Sugar etc extremely good for cooking dessert (3,7)
EGG CUSTARD — (Sugar etc + G[-oo]D)*
15 I point and shout “Rover!” (9)
ITINERANT — I, literally + TINE, “point” + RANT, “shout”
16 Mean to cross river with a fish (8)
STINGRAY — STING(R)(A)Y
18 City had not been prepared for rising (6)
WARSAW — WAS RAW <=“rising”
20 “P” breaks for cool beast (5)
RHINO — RH(IN)O
22 Surgery reminder in Christmas card (4)
SCAR — Yes, it’s going to be quite a year… Hidden.
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