• jerrywh

Jim Biggin

I am sorry to have to advise you all that Jim Biggin (DorsetJimbo) has died. He passed away last month, after a short battle with cancer.

his stepson Paul said: "He was pretty much out of action in his last few weeks, whilst mentally strong his body was another matter. I know he loved his blogging and his contributions to the council and residents association, he’ll be sorely missed."

Certainly I will miss him. He was an early inhabitant of TfTT, in 2008, and blogged many, many crosswords including about a decade's worth of Mephistos. He commented on most days crosswords and he was prone to call a spade a spade :-)

For interest I have copied his not uncharacteristic blogger's biog, below. RIP, Jim.

dorsetjimbo / Jim Biggin / since 2008

Born 1942 (you can do the sums). Introduced to The Telegraph cryptic
crossword by my rather Edwardian aunt when I was 12 and she caught me
kissing my cousin (those were the days). Moved on to The Times when I
was 15 and have been doing it ever since. I've never been
particularly fast (I can't read and write at the same time apart from
not having the brain power) and puzzles normally take me from 20 to
50 minutes. My all-time favourite puzzles were those set by Ximenes
in the Sunday Observer and I've still got my tie somewhere. I'm
retired now after spending most of my working life applying IT to
insurance and finance. I wrote my first computer based actuarial
valuation in 1964 using an ICL1301, which probably accounts for my
sense of humour. For 18 years my wife Maureen and I were foster
carers looking after teenagers until we retired from that in 2006,
during which that same humour kept me sane. I now devote my time to
local community affairs, golf and the Times crossword, of course.
  • Current Mood
    sad sad

Quick Cryptic 1814 by Pedro

This was very pleasant, and not too difficult for the most part. I seemed to biff my way through it fairly rapidly, getting held up only on 15ac and 16dn. 8 minutes.

1 Turned up with barge: river an easy challenge (8)
PUSHOVER - PU ('up' backwards) + SHOVE + R for river
5 Gift paper maybe will revolutionise any present at the outset (4)
WRAP - Initial letters of Will Revolutionise Any Present
8 Trial episode: one’s gripped by storyline (5)
PILOT - PLOT with I inside
9 Peace in the time following admitting the French (7)
SILENCE - SINCE with LE inside
11 I will escape financial disaster in banking crisis? (3)
RUN - RUIN minus the I. A run on a bank is when everyone tries to take their money out at once.
12 Amateur’s debut in autumn fight? That’ll make you laugh (4,5)
FALL ABOUT - FALL (autumn) + BOUT (fight) with A for amateur inserted
13 Odds at this point offering a round figure (6)
SPHERE - SP (odds, starting price) + HERE
15 Direct pleasure offered by King’s mistress mostly (6)
FUNNEL - FUN (pleasure) + NEL(L) as in Gwyn, mistress of Charles II. This held me up for a bit because I failed to apply Curarist's first law, which is: when stuck, change the part of speech. 'Direct' here is cleverly presented as an adjective when it is really a verb.
18 Attack expression of humour with tons going wrong outside (9)
ONSLAUGHT - LAUGH inside an anagram ('going wrong') of TONS
19 Little point in security number? (3)
PIN - double definition
20 Marine creature in hold at sea retains power (7)
DOLPHIN - anagram ('at sea') of IN HOLD with P for power inserted.
21 Prow of boat to survive storm (5)
BLAST - B (first letter, i.e. 'prow', of 'boat') + LAST
22 Runs are hard to come by (4)
23 Chartered accountant, for example, participating in Conservative group (8)
CATEGORY - CA (chartered accountant) + EG insterted into TORY

1 Old man, unusually spry, snatching University manuscript from long ago (7)
PAPYRUS - PA + anagram ('unusually') of SPRY with U for university inserted
2 No US city’s backing artistic gathering (5)
SALON - NO LA'S backwards.
3 Panting, about to engage in towelling oneself down? (3,2,6)
OUT OF BREATH - RE (about) inserted into OUT OF BATH
4 Article is elevated in cathedral without difficulty (6)
EASILY - A (article) + SI (is 'elevated') inside the crossword setter's favourite cathedral, ELY.
6 Lacking energy and listing (3,4)
RUN DOWN - Double definition, though my dictionary has the first one with a hyphen and the second as a single word.
7 Request time to make feature of dress (5)
10 Allege beauty mostly misrepresented in sports ranking (6,5)
LEAGUE TABLE - anagram ('misrepresented') of ALLEGE BEAUT(y)
14 Swindler hurtles around (7)
HUSTLER - anagram ('around') of HURTLES
16 Extended line, English, for you in the Bible? (7)
LENGTHY - L (line) + ENG + THY ('for you' in biblical language). Not sure why I made such heavy weather of this.
17 Arab leader accepting last list of discussion items (6)
AGENDA - AGA with END inside
18 Tell British to abandon frontier (5)
ORDER - BORDER minus B for British
19 Scotsman in Post Office to get instrument (5)
PIANO - Remember that in crosswordland, all Scotsmen are called IAN. Insert into PO.

Times 27,905: Pursued By A Bear

I got bogged down in the top half of this puzzle, particularly the NE where Casals was a piece of GK too far for me, resulting in a long trawl of Cawalt, Casamb, Catang, Cagalo... the possibilities are almost endless if classical musicians don't have to be your forte and you have foolishly not nailed down the answer to 8d. I certainly experienced the phenomenon of the MER several times during this puzzle, but there were also some straight up brilliant clues, let me single out the unlikely-seeming containment in 14dn, the fact that 15ac so deceptively screams out "anagram", and my COD, the only actual straight-up anagram of the entire puzzle, 2dn. Very well played to the setter for serving up a proper Friday toughie, that I hope I will not discover in the morning took Mohn under 4 minutes to crack!

1 Iberian: what brought about a state of agitation for him? (8)
HISPANIC - in a state of agitation due to HIS PANIC

5 A short dance written by composer, primarily for cellist (6)
CASALS - A SALS{a} written by C{omposer}. Pablo, the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century

10 No-win situation fair, on reflection, in report (9)
STALEMATE - reversed MELA [(Hindu) fair] in STATE [report]. Gotta say I thought "mela" the kind of vocabulary that would be more suited to the Monthly Club Special or Listener, but perhaps it's just me that never heard of one before...

11 Ring doughnut at last comes in for my sweet (5)
PETAL - PEAL [ring] that {doughnu}T comes into. A term of endearment

12 Very big self-obsession, Georgia (4)
MEGA - ME [self-obsession?] plus GA (the American state). Obviously "me" is a big part of "self-obsession", I wasn't necessarily convinced that they are completely substitutable for each other...

13 Chap after party lapping up cheers — some function! (9)
COTANGENT - GENT after CON(servatives) "lapping up" TA [cheers]

15 Current cycle trail, scintillating (10)
IRIDESCENT - I RIDE SCENT [current | cycle | trail] - hands up if your brain too was desperate to anagram this into "electricity"...

17 Native American doctrine unfinished (4)

19 Company was gloating (4)
CREW - double def. As in the past tense of "crow", SOI

20 On having cracked puzzle, enough to demonstrate my point (3,7)
FOR EXAMPLE - RE [on], having "cracked" FOX [puzzle], + AMPLE [enough]

22 Critic: one choosing “Dumbo”, perhaps? (3-6)
NIT-PICKER - a dumbo is a twit is a nit, so if you choose it you're a nit-picker

24 Handle towards the rear on back of latch (4)
HAFT - AFT [towards the rear] on {latc}H

26 Eastern European going west? Get away! (5)
ELOPE - reversed E POLE

27 Use of weapon when body enters fray (5,4)

28 Flower attached to tail of giant guinea pig (6)
TASTER - ASTER attached to {gian}T

29 Holy work restricting perversion of rites (8)
PRIESTLY - PLY "restricting" (RITES*)

1 Crowd present (4)
HOST - double def, "present" as in "emcee", not "gift"

2 Player's brief decision targets game (5,10)
STAGE DIRECTIONS - (DECISION TARGETS*). Hats off to "game" as a surreptitious anagrind

3 Maintain senior was usually around? (8)
AVERAGED - AVER AGED [maintain | senior]. If "the temperature averaged 30", it was usually around 30...

4 Biblical character represents Adam oddly, and Charlie (5)
ISAAC - IS [represents] + A{d}A{m} + C

6 Porter maybe carrying small drink up mountain (6)
ALPINE - ALE [porter, maybe] "carrying" reversed NIP. Mountain in the adjectival sense here

7 Where boater may go down instantly? (2,3,4,2,1,3)
AT THE DROP OF A HAT - boater being a type of hat

8 Sprayed with liquid in second: dashed about? (10)
SPLATTERED - LATTER [second], with SPED [dashed] "about" that. This took ages as I got stuck on the S being the second and couldn't work out which of PLATTERED or PLUTTERED was more likely to mean "dashed"

9 Period ends this time in prison? (8)
SENTENCE - double def

14 Throw candleholder into mire (10)

16 China — country gutted about Elvis, say? (8)
CROCKERY - C{ountr}Y "about" ROCKER

18 Fabric in green, pure and simple (8)
CASHMERE - CASH [green, as in folding stuff or lolly] + MERE [pure and simple]

21 Galley providing portion of lamb, I remember (6)
BIREME - hidden in {lam}B I REME{mber}

23 Direct favour initially ignored (5)

25 Those last in races at sea may remain behind (4)
STAY - {race}S {a}T {se}A {ma}Y
  • glheard

Times 27904 - maybe I had to go?

Time taken: 13:04 but with one very very silly error where I put in one of two possible answers without checking all the wordplay, silly me! Somtimes you back yourself and I turned the oven on just before starting this thinking it would come to temperature about the time I was finished, but the temperature indicator started beeping at me when I was about two thirds of the way done.

Overall I think this is one of the more difficult puzzles, and the early times do seem to be a little longer than usual.  Better get this finished before the ice storm that is on its way kills my power.

Away we go...

1 Representation of star artist appearing on Let It Be (4-2)
AMEN-RA - RA(artist) after AMEN(so let it be). The star being the sun
5 Work the crowd, introducing Yankee investigator (4,4)
MOBY DICK -  MOB(the crowd), then Y(Yankee), DICK(investigator)
9 Sharp chance? (10)
ACCIDENTAL - two definitions, the first musical
10 Puff goes from Lorraine or Nancy with exercising (4)
VAPE - VA(go in French) then PE(exercising)
11 Right hand coming in low grasped retreating American ladies (8)
WASHROOM - RH(right hand) inside MOO(low) and SAW(grasped), all reversed.  This was my downfall as I bunged in BATHROOM
12 Such a large cupboard, fashionable, going on to be stolen (4-2)
WALK-IN - IN(fashionanle) next to WALK(to be stolen)
13 Palm hence to cross with silver? The reverse! (4)
SAGO - SO(hence) outside, rather than inside AG(silver)
15 Deafening silence, perhaps, after Oscar axes dunce (8)
OXYMORON - O(Oscar) then the X and Y axes, MORON(dunce)
18 Men must follow my clear path (8)
CORRIDOR - OR(men) after COR(my), RID(clear)
19 Bomb was humming — second to be dropped (4)
TANK - STANK(was humming) missing the S(second)
21 Drive from place across moor (6)
PROPEL - PL(place) across ROPE(moor to a jetty)
23 Secure computer data that has digital application (8)
NAILFILE - NAIL(secure), FILE(computer data)
25 Loves welcoming very quiet colleague (4)
OPPO - O and O (loves) surrounding PP(very quiet)
26 After time, order mints to smother large, large cocktail (3,7)
TOM COLLINS - T(time) then OM(order of merit), COINS(mints) surrounding L and L (large, large). Fun clue, and I have everything I need to make one but I had just poured a glass of local mead before starting the crossword. Maybe tomorrow.
27 Dependant sweetheart, full of passion (6-2)
HANGER-ON - HON(sweetheart) containing ANGER(passion)
28 Initially fast, then flat out? (6)
FLYING - an all-in-one. First letter in Fast then LYING(flat out)
2 Note copy artists primarily draw for tourists (5)
MECCA - ME(musical note), CC(carbon copy) and the first letter of Artists
3 Unexpectedly huge, Robin Hood’s person? (9)
4 Being a primate is in fashion, old man reflected (6)
APEDOM -  MODE(fashion) and PA(old man) all reversed
5 A number of maidens travelling on tube, arm-in-arm (2,10,3)
MR TAMBOURINE MAN - M(maidens) then an anagram of ON,TUBE,ARM-IN-ARM
6 City rule ok — brief cheer going round (8)
BULAWAYO - LAW(rule), AY(ok) inside BUOY(cheer) missing the last letter
7 Wasn’t dying about Dickens (5)
DEVIL - LIVED(wasn't dying) reversed
8 Sign top player at last — current seed (9)
CAPRICORN - CAP(top) then the last letter in playeR, I(current), CORN(seed)
14 Some books: each had brief, overwhelming appeal (9)
APOCRYPHA - A POP(each), then HAD missing the last letter, surrounding CRY(appeal)
16 Money spent to keep old former pupil in touch (3,2,4)
OUT OF PLAY - OUTLAY(money spent) containing O(old) and FP(former pupil - an abbreviation I don't recall seeing before).  The definiton refers to rugby.
17 One who worships procrastinator’s maxim? (8)
IDOLATER - the maxim is I DO LATER
20 Alert naval officer involved in quarrel (3-3)
TIP-OFF - PO(naval officer) in TIFF(quarrel)
22 A point behind? No good! (5)
PRONG - PRO(behind, in favour of), NG(no good)
24 Somewhat Phoenixlike this old leader, were he to rise? (5)
LENIN - tricky clue, though biffable answer. Reverse LENIN to get NINE L, which is IX, L which is inside phoenIXLike

Times Quick Cryptic No 1813 by Izetti

Well, this puzzle from Izetti was quick enough, but not particularly simple.  It took me 13 minutes to complete (firmly in my place in the Middle Class, and not threatening the Top Form), but a couple of them caused me some concern, and some GK was required to complete, particularly at 16a and 5d.

2, 3 and 4d got me off to a quickish start as FOsI, but 5d was less familiar and slowed me up.  Overall, a high-quality puzzle from the Don with much to enjoy.  I imagine that the SCC may struggle a little with the novelty of some of the devices, but with 8 meaty anagrams or part anagrams, everyone should be able to make a start.


Lovely cleaner of high-quality porcelain (8)
CHARMING – CHAR (cleaner) and MING (high-quality porcelain from the Ming dynasty in China).  Remember CHA / CHAR – with an R it is a cleaner or daily help (or sometimes a fish or to burn something), without an R it is tea.
6  There’s little good in lad who is a malign influence? (4)
BOGY – G{ood} inside BOY (lad).  BOGY is defined as the Devil or a goblin, as well as some more or less savoury meanings!
8 Cautious in conflict, coming to enemy finally (4)
WARY – WAR (conflict) and {enem}Y (finally).
9 Like problematic jar of marmalade? End up with one chucked! (8)
UNOPENED – Anagram (chucked) of [END UP] with [ONE].  An UNOPENED jar of marmalade can be a problem, unless one has one of those little vacuum breaker gizmos that make opening it a doddle.
10  One praising novel art aloud (8)
ADULATOR – Anagram (novel) of [ART ALOUD].  My first thought on reading the clue was IDOLATOR which was close, and then I saw the anagram.
12 Remain to offer support (4)
STAY – Double definition, the second as in the STAY of a corset.
13  Star perhaps getting a black eye (6)
SHINER – Almost a straight double definition.
16  Entertained by churchmen, delightful scientific monk (6)
MENDEL – Referring to Gregor MENDEL, scientific Augustinian friar, recognised as the founder of Genetics, and hidden inside (entertained by) {church}MEN, DEL{ightful} in this clue.
17  Everyone at the back of hotel room (4)
HALL – ALL (everyone) behind (at the back of) H{otel} (phonetic alphabet).
18  I’m so funny in fancy lace garment (8)
CAMISOLE – Anagram (funny) of [I’M SO] inside another anagram (fancy) of [LACE].  With STAYs in 12 across and CAMISOLES here, this QC is quickly becoming foundational!
21  Card some organised for colleagues (8)
COMRADES – Anagram (organised) of [CARD SOME].
22  Show contempt for hospital food (4)
DISH – DIS (show contempt for, as in the slang transitive verb) and H (hospital).  I am more used to seeing DIS spelled as DISS, but either is ok apparently.
23  Greek characters sat back after end of voyage (4)
ETAS – more than one ETA (Greek character).  SAT (reversed or back, to give TAS) after E (end of {voyag}E.
24  Tiny dame, surprisingly explosive (8)
DYNAMITE – Anagram (surprisingly) of [TINY DAME].


2  Difficult to hide ring in collection (5)
HOARD – HARD (difficult) hiding / containing O (ring).
Man bringing a bit of sunshine (3)
RAY – Double definition
Native home on Scottish island son escapes from (5)
INUIT – IN (home) and UI{s}T (Scottish island after S{on} has ‘escaped’.  Part of the Outer Hebrides, UIST or The Uists is a group of 6 islands.  This clue brought a smile, remembering the old joke about the Eskimo lottery – you have to be Inuit to win it!
5  Drink stuff – stiff stuff! (7)
GROGRAM – GROG (drink – as a retired Naval Officer I remember it well!) and RAM (stuff).  GROGRAM is a stiff fabric of silk and mohair.
6  Bishop leading the French chants offers benedictions (9)
BLESSINGS – B{ishop} ahead of / leading LES (the in French) and SINGS (chants).  This took me longer than it should have.
7  Enraged drunk – one may explode (7)
GRENADE – Anagram (drunk) of [ENRAGED].
11  Letters descend on crickets’s HQ (9)
LANDLORDS – That kind of ‘letters’ again – LAND (descend) on LORDS (HQ for the game of cricket).
14  Pay absolute attention to new author taking in English (4,3)
HEAR OUT – Anagram (new) of [AUTHOR] and E{nglish}.
15  What old lawn needs to be, we hear?  It’s faded (7)
RECEDED – Sounds like (we hear) RE-SEEDED.
19  Mum’s working for a member of a secret society (5)
MASON – MA’S (Mum’s) and ON (working).  I heard on TV yesterday that a mason would claim to be a member of a society with secrets, rather than a member of a secret society!
20  Composer’s final jazz piece included in catalogue (5)
LISZT – {jaz}Z (final piece) included in LIST (catalogue).
22  End of crossword – I am needing a bit of illumination? (3)
DIM – {crossword}D (end of) and I’M (I am).

Times 27903 - "I'm into something good".

Nothing exceptional, for me, in this puzzle, apart from what I think is a clueing error in 1d (see below). 20 minutes to do and parse, then look up 8a afterwards to see who he was, and reminisce about Peter Noone and his Hermits.EDIT it appears I was incorrect about 1d and had mis-worked the anagrist, so apologies to setter and editor for invoking a booboo.

EDIT I foolishly tried to edit a bit on my phone and now the HTML has gone haywire, introduced a big gap between Across and Down clues, but I can't see why it has appeared or any errors; please bear with it, or let me know what needs changing to fix it.

1 Savoury jelly originally served in a popular film (5)
ASPIC - A, PIC (popular film) insert S from served.
4 Lie by river accommodating alien Yankee craft (8)
BASKETRY - BASK (lie), ET (alien) by R(iver) Y(ankee).
8 Old French monk? He’s involved with their tempter! (5,3,6)
PETER THE HERMIT - (HE THEIR TEMPTER)*. I had to look up this chap after solving the anagram, Pierre l'Ermite was an eleventh century monk from Amiens who went on the First Crusade and came back. L'Ermite was most likely his surname, he wasn't a troglodyte.
10 Practised parking English undertaker’s vehicle in road (9)
11 Retired teacher greeting Hindu sage (5)
RISHI - SIR reversed, HI. Rishi is a Vedic term for "enlightened one", good to know; Mr Sunak for one.
12 Singer reversed test, having ultimately scant appeal (6)
TOMTIT - MOT (annual car test) reversed, T (end of scant) IT (appeal).
14 Split from company at first, taking holiday, pocketing a grand (8)
CLEAVAGE - C(ompany), LEAVE, insert A G.
17 Tirade in Irish islands ultimately scathing in tone (8)
HARANGUE - HUE = tone, insert ARAN (Irish islands) and G from end of scathing.
18 University originally paying part of castle’s running costs (6)
UPKEEP - U, P(aying), KEEP (part of castle).
20 Plankton: prey rorquals principally swallowed (5)
KRILL - prey = KILL, insert R(orquals).
22 Colleague’s wife teacher stumbled over first (9)
BEDFELLOW - B.Ed (teacher) FELL (stumbled) O(ver) W(ife).
24 Final, formal brushoff for Augustus or Gwen? (4,4,6)
DEAR JOHN LETTER - Reference to Augustus and Gwen John, brother and sister artists.
25 Learners of French involved in daring escapades (8)
STUDENTS - DE (of in French) inside STUNTS.
26 Astute waif initially avoided scrap (5)
SHRED - SHREWD (astute) loses the W of waif.

1 Communist administrators that endlessly pack Paris, oddly (12)
APPARATCHIKS - anagram of THA PARIS PACK. Not THAT PARIS PAC as I initially proposed.
2Playing area perfect for some musicians (5)
PITCH - double definition; play on a pitch, have perfect pitch meaning have the ability to recognise or create a note without a reference tone.
3Bloomer in motor race (9)
CARNATION - CAR (motor) NATION (race).
4Most advisable to accept the governor’s command (6)
BEHEST - Insert HE (His Excellency) into BEST (most advisable).
5Agenda revolutionary Law Lord set up in Home Counties (8)
SCHEDULE - CHE (Guevara) and LUD reversed inside SE (South East of England).
6Wrongdoing of troublesome brat the head expelled (5)
ERROR - TERROR loses his T.
7Bring back control say (9)
REINSTATE - REIN (control) STATE (say).
9Deprived of authority, we’d some pride destroyed (12)
13Slip up in dumbshow, not ignoring Oscar’s mirth (9)
MERRIMENT - ERR in MIME, followed by N(o)T = not ignoring Oscar.
15Sufficiency of drink surrounding politician on loch (9)
AMPLENESS - ALE around MP then Loch NESS.
16Colour of barrel upset by British private (8)
NUTBROWN - TUN reversed, BR(itish), OWN = private.
19Comely youth in farmstead on island (6)
ADONIS - hidden as above.
21Sensational start to lecture union leader delivered (5)
LURID - L(ecture) U(nion) RID = delivered.
23Sell up, leaving island subsequently (5)
LATER - RETAIL = sell, up = LIATER, remove I for island.
  • jackkt

Times Cryptic 27902

I worked at this for 50 minutes but eventually had to give up with two answers unresolved, and resorted to aids. One of them I might have stood a chance at as I have blogged the answer before, a couple of years ago, but the other I never had a hope in hell of getting as the word itself is obscure and I didn't know one of the elements in the wordplay. In several other places I biffed and couldn't see the wordplay until writing the blog.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1811 by Tracy

If only I'd have got 1ac straight off, I think his would have been another fast solve. As it was I ended up chasing around the grid and filling in piecemeal. Still, I'm not complaining about 9 minutes. I'll be interested to hear how you got on - particularly whether 1ac hastened your solve (or not).

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  • jackkt

Times Quick Cryptic 1810 by Mara

Solving time: 7 minutes. This was fine puzzle to solve but when I was blogging it felt a bit repetitive in the type-of-clue department - 6 anagrams and 8 double meanings including 4 of the last 5 Down clues. Also there are 2 straight hidden words with is one above par. I haven't made a study of how all this compares with an average day so perhaps I'm being unfair.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

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