guy_du_sable (guy_du_sable) wrote in times_xwd_times,
guy_du_sable
guy_du_sable
times_xwd_times

Sunday Times Cryptic 4963 by David McLean — Not amateur hour

…with maestro McLean displaying his usual level of 7 (and I’m glad there are no Spoonerisms), presenting us with two deftly executed &lits amid a plethora of other excellent clues, which all seem fairly 2 after all, when the penny finally drops. My only quibble is that a few of the surfaces do not paint a clear picture.

My cryptic-creating friends Joshua Kosman and Henri Picciotto (formerly at The Nation, now producing the Out of Left Field cryptics blog via Patreon) have published a new e-book, Word Salad, “the most comprehensive guide to cryptic crosswords ever published in the United States. There are dozens of chapters on cryptic clueing, with hundreds of examples, preceded by a big-picture introduction and followed by a tour of the cryptic scene in North America and the debates that liven it up. The intended audience ranges from the cryptic newbie to the seasoned constructor. Will Shortz, crossword editor for The New York Times and public radio’s puzzle-master, writes: ‘Solving cryptic crosswords is one of the joys of my life, and I don’t know of any better or more entertaining introduction to the puzzle than this book.’ Word Salad is in an e-book format (epub) that can be read on just about any device. You can purchase it here.”

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


ACROSS
 1 Ready for the future? (4,3)
NEST EGG — CD, playing with the sense of “Ready” as cash on hand
 5 Group in the know about attack (3,4)
SET UPON — SET, “Group” + UP ON, “in the know about”
 9 Top player first to be sent off pitch (3)
TAR — [-s]TAR
10 Server wear seen in hosts needs fixing (6,5)
TENNIS SHOES — (seen in hosts)* This surface seems a bit opaque.
11 Scamp dashes to net a kipper (14)
WHIPPERSNAPPER — WHIP(PER, “a”)S + NAPPER, “kipper”
13 Grass arresting officers abroad grilled again? (8)
REHEATED — I doubt if that weed is any good RE(HEAT)ED… “The HEAT” being one of our colorful Yank expressions for the fuzz, coppers, Johnny Law…
15 A question and answer about liberal state (6)
ALASKA — A(L, “liberal”)ASK+ A, “answer”… This state isn’t particularly “liberal.”
17 Delighted benches Conservative angered (6)
HUFFED — [-c]HUFFED “Delighted” is a strange subject for the verb “benches,” and an equally odd adjective for “benches” as a noun. Though “benches” is a neat way to put the C out of play, I don’t see any other sports reference here. Paul_in_london (figuratively) has alerted me to a bit of British parliamentary slang that I’m now trying to wrap my head around. I was sure I was missing something… about sports!
18 Plant training volunteers around Stirling? (4,4)
PEAT MOSS — PE, “training” (physical education) + AT<= “Volunteers [Territorial Army] around” + MOSS, last name of the race car driver Stirling—not surprisingly, my LOI.
20 Am I certain this dispersed adders? (14)
ARITHMETICIANS — (Am I certain this)* Ironically enough, in light of the anagrist, I bunged in MATHEMATICIANS at first, so had to rethink for STRAIGHTFORWARD.
23 Passable food tucked into by partygoers (11)
TRAVERSABLE — T(RAVERS)ABLE
24 Tribe discovered in Thai wilderness (3)
IWI — Hidden A social unit among the Maori
25 Petrifying women in America involved in drugs (7)
MEDUSAS — MED(USA)S, where MEDS = “drugs” + “America” is USA, inside
26 Where corporation is in bother over British boys (7)
ABDOMEN — A(B)DO + Men, for “boys”

DOWN
 1 The Tory won after a landslide? Remarkable! (10)
NOTEWORTHY — (The Tory won)* Remarkable anagrind of the week!
 2 Direction that’s easy to follow (15)
STRAIGHTFORWARD — DD… could even be seen as a CD
 3 Scoff all is in ruins apart from Belgium (3,2)
EAT UP — [-b]EAT UP… B being Belgium’s international vehicle registration code
 4 Dope tires stoned groups of high people (8)
GENTRIES — GEN, “Dope” (probably from “general information”) + (tires)*
 5 Sport in which runners are stood on? (6)
SKIING — CD
 6 Inspection by nuns possibly finds guinea pig (4,5)
TEST PILOT — TEST, “Inspection” + PI(ous) LOT, “nuns possibly”… I am a TEST PILOT for Joshua and Henri’s outlandish contraptions.
 7 Poor Spoonerisms fail to display this (15)
PROFESSIONALISM — (Spoonerisms fail)* &lit!
 8 London hospital making good northern grub (4)
NOSH — The G(ood) in the renowned GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children) becomes N(orthern).
12 Improvised performance in WI event? (3,7)
JAM SESSION — One of the most famous civic-minded activities of the Women’s Institute was making fruit preserves. From https://iwm.org.uk: “In 1939, realising that much of the fruit from the summer’s bumper harvest might be wasted unless it were made into jam, WI’s headquarters secured sugar supplies direct from the Ministry of Food. WIs across the country gathered in surplus fruit from gardens and allotments or growing wild. In their first wave of jam making, it is estimated that the WI saved 450 tons of fruit from rotting.”
14 A department head might have it (9)
ADEPTNESS — A + DEPT, “department” + NESS, “head”… and another &lit!
16 Bit of backbone shown by green energy supporter (8)
VERTEBRA — Go team! VERT, “green” + E(nergy) + BRA, “supporter”
19 When coming across inspiration is funny (6)
AMUSES — A(MUSE)S
21 Church split by concerning democratic dogma (5)
CREED — The C of E is cleft by RE, “concerning” and then we have D for “democratic” (as a party affiliation).
22 Piece of paper? (4)
ITEM — CD
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