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14:26. Nothing terribly difficult this week, but there were a few unfamiliar words and phrases to slow me down a little. Quite a lot of unfamiliar words actually, making for an interesting puzzle, but there was always something else in the clue to help get to the answer. I like puzzles like that.

So my thanks to Jeff, and without further ado, here’s how I think it all works.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*, anagram indicators like this.

Across
1 Group of subs run over to crowd
WOLF PACK - reversal of FLOW, PACK. From ODO: ‘a group of people or things that operate as a hunting and attacking pack, in particular a group of attacking submarines or aircraft’. This concept seemed vaguely familiar, but I’ve no idea how.
5 Is about to eat a short meat sausage
SALAMI - reversal of IS containing A LAMb.
10 Post contains Howell’s first move
STANCHION - (CONTAINS, Howell)*.
11 Old-fashioned hairstyle worn by Fifties youth
DATED - DA, TED. The DA or Duck’s Arse is a hairstyle I know about because my dad apparently had one in his youth. If I didn’t know about it for that reason I would almost certainly know it from crosswords.
12 Fish on a line is just right
IDEAL - IDE, A, L.
13 Spread on plate for Goldilocks?
BUTTERCUP - BUTTER as a spread seemed OK but I was puzzled by ‘plate’. Collins to the rescue: ‘a cup or trophy awarded to the winner of a sporting contest, esp a horse race’. A BUTTERCUP is (Collins again) ‘any of various yellow-flowered ranunculaceous plants of the genus Ranunculus‘, and goldilocks is ‘a Eurasian ranunculaceous woodland plant, Ranunculus auricomus‘. So there you have it.
14 Sweet American sailor’s an old comic
GOBSTOPPER - a GOB is ‘an enlisted ordinary seaman in the US Navy’, apparently, and TOPPER was a comic that ran until 1990, when it merged with The Beezer.
17 Blue feathers
DOWN - DD, and a bit of a chestnut.
19 In Margate but backing City
AGRA - contained reversed in ‘Margate’.
20 Is cheddar this tough?
HARD CHEESE - not the hardest clue ever seen…
22 Snazzy racing driver’s a cause of much debate
HOT BUTTON - HOT (snazzy), BUTTON (Jenson, racing driver). A HOT BUTTON topic is a controversial one. I can’t think of an issue like that at the moment.
24 It’s refreshing to be returning home, sleeping like a baby
TONIC - IN is in COT, hence sleeping like a baby, geddit? The whole lot reversed.
26 Catch nasty whiff around governor
NABOB - NAB (catch), reversal of BO.
27 Ran to get 50 in over
COMPLETED - COMP(L)ETED.
28 We would change in Malaysia to tour this country
SWEDEN - S(WE’D)EN. A SEN is a 100th of a Ringgit, as you know.
29 Productions of Potter may use this epic metamorphosis in dramatic performance
PIPE-CLAY - PLAY containing (EPIC)*.

Down
1 Including trendy names “Which” is put out with gas appliances
WASHING MACHINES - (NAMES WHICH GAS)* containing IN (trendy).
2 Hire back of hotel and relax
LEASE - hoteL, EASE.
3 It’s appropriate to surmise taking top off
PECULATE - sPECULATE.
4 At first childish lady is missing Barbies — grow up!
CLIMB - first letters of ‘childish lady is missing Barbies’. The CLIMBing here is being done by some kind of plant.
6 Doc visits a green prince
ANDREW - A, N(DR)EW.
7 Choir take off for something to eat after Jerusalem
ARTICHOKE - (CHOIR TAKE)*. If you put ARTICHOKE after Jerusalem, you have a Jerusalem ARTICHOKE, which is a completely different plant, so is the ARTICHOKE of the answer still there to be eaten? Hmm.
8 Broadcast newspaper’s political interviewer film
INDEPENDENCE DAY - homophone (‘broadcast’) of “Independent’s”, DAY (Robin, one-time BBC political interviewer).
9 Spooner’s engineer used leg to hurt gatecrasher in bed
KNOTWEED - how the Reverend might have said ‘Watt kneed’.
15 Here’s food for the peckish
BIRD TABLE - CD.
16 Rehearsal of first part of play in Priest’s church
PRACTICE - PR(ACT I), CE.
18 Minor invention with changing key before rest
WHITE LIE - (WITH)*, E, LIE.
21 Judge eating doctor’s roll
RUMBLE - RU(MB)LE. Think thunder.
23 Raised multinational computer company’s popular “cloud” many times over
NIMBI - reversal (raised) of IBM, IN.
25 Finally obstetrician is given a detailed story about birth
NATAL - obstetriciaN, A, TALe.

JUMBO 1306

many, many thanks to Mohn2 for pointing me to the "magic" script and notes on getting it to work in Safari so that I could blog this puzzle in glorious technicolor with 5D Dolby surround sound.

Clues are in blue and therein definitions are underlined and anagram indicators emboldened.  Hopefully everything else in the explanations will make sense.

There were a few unfamiliar words in here which took my time to a shade over an hour inclduing taking notes and figuring out parsings so by my reckoning we're in slightly tricky territory here.

First in was ARNO, last was NEWLY-WED

Across

1

Run down and tired horse originally looked energetic next to sheep (10)


RAMSHACKLE - HACK L(ooked) E(nergetic) after RAMS

6

Gamble involving everyone Asian with a passion for dance (12)

BALLETOMANIA - BET around ALL then OMANI A

14

Bloke briefly in a US city consuming hot fish (7)


ANCHOVY - Russian doll time... H[ot] in COV{e} in A N[ew] Y[ork]

15

American with friend in NATO, for example (7)


ACRONYM - AM[erican] around CRONY

16

Swiss citizen given information by Welshman? (7)


GENEVAN - GEN EVAN

17

Wading bird lives in the same place to the west (4)


IBIS - IS with IB (ibid being Latin for "in the same place") to the West of it.

18

Make all-out effort, producing a little music (6)


STRAIN - DD

20

Ministerial friend entertaining old Times proprietor (8)


PASTORAL - (Lord) ASTOR in PAL

24

Effective ruler on whom the monarch may turn his back? (3,5,6,3,6)


THE POWER BEHIND THE THRONE - CD

25

Bakery product member dropped in condiment container (7)


CRUMPET - M.P. in CRUET

26

The last word about warty amphibian, we hear, or worm (8)


NEMATODE - AMEN reversed then a homphone for toad

27

Duck first of objects thrown out of vehicle? (6)


SCOTER - SCOOTER with O(bjects) removed.  If you haven't heard of a scoter, it looks like duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck...

29

Drop scone? It may make this on the floor (7,7)


PANCAKE LANDING - CD of sorts

31

Knight leaves Cornish resort with male groom, perhaps (5-3)


NEWLY-WED - NEWLY{n} W[ith] ED

34

Status of property built by army doctor right beside sea (8)


MORTMAIN - M.O. R[igh]T MAIN. You don't need me to tell you that mortmain is the status of lands or tenements held inalienably by an ecclesiastical or other corporation.

36

Mystery writer chewing the rag at Ischia (6,8)


AGATHA CHRISTIE - (theragatischia)*

39

Carpeting for evaluation (6)


RATING - DD

41

Ugly old woman in bed beginning to eat game (8)


CRIBBAGE - BAG in CRIB E(at).  The daddy of card games if you ask me.

43

Accident involving veg in first half of meal (5-2)


SMASH-UP - MASH (mashed potato) in SUP{per}

46

Remain aliveconduct tidy performance of 1930s song? (4,4,3,4,8)


KEEP BODY AND SOUL TOGETHER - DD, the second presumably a reference to the 1930 song by Ruth Etting.  The song and singer were both unknown to me, indeed I didn't even know the supposedly more famous versions by Coleman Hawkins in 1939 and by Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett in 2011.  I do, however, have the excellent Joe Jackson Album of that name.

47

Relating to sound half of N African dish swallowed in a brief moment (8)


ACOUSTIC - {cous-}COUS in A TIC

48

Work hard in attempt to secure prize (6)


TROPHY - OP H in TRY

49

Man or woman ringing about fiddle (4)


SCAM - SAM around C[irca]

53

Two women cutting keys for an imposing building (7)


EDIFICE - DI and FI in E C E

54

Demanded move to block former press chief (7)


EXACTED -ACT in EX ED

56

Watchman’s funeral? (7)


LOOKOUT - DD, the second, I'm guessing, as in the phrase "If he wants to go out with Keeley that's his lookout / funeral".

57

Actively opposed worker striving for effect (12)


ANTAGONISTIC - ANT AGONISTIC

58

Soldiers in new red masks — one working on shift, perhaps (10)


DRESSMAKER - R.E. in (redmasks)*

Down

1

Level-headed about little girl’s spasmodic twitch (9)


REALISTIC -RE ALI's TIC

2

Armed man’s outstanding feature, say, aristocratic in bearing (7-6)


MACHINE-GUNNER -CHIN E.G. U in MANNER

3

Gangsterone who wrote poems (4)


HOOD -DD. I assume we're talking about Thomas Hood (23 May 1799 – 3 May 1845) who wrote "The Bridge of Sighs", "The Song of the Shirt" and "There Was a Young Man from Nantucket".

4

Method of communication confusing their cat, say — ESP? (14)


CRYPTAESTHESIA - (theircatsayesp)*, another term for ESP, but then you knew I was going to say that.

5

Grassland: source of enjoyment in the Hollywood area (3)


LEA - E(njoyment) in L[os] A[ngeles]

7

A small number crossing river, one flowing through Florence (4)


ARNO - A NO around R[iver]

8

Buddhist monk’s current movement keeping Muslim leader’s feast? (10)


LAMMASTIDE - LAMA'S TIDE around M(uslim)

9

How we may combine to collect present, in short (8)


TOGETHER -TO GET HER{e}

10

Girl left outside vault giving sovereign support (11)


MONARCHICAL -MONICA L[eft] around ARCH

11

New law over misguided introduction of this rock plant (9)


NAVELWORT -N + (lawover)* + T(his). A wild flower that grows in walls, stony banks and rocky areas, particularly in shade or damp places.

12

Area in E London to search for relative (4)


AUNT - A[rea] {h}UNT

13

Hand-out given to poor actor in former PM’s birthplace (8)


GRANTHAM - GRANT HAM.  For the uninitiated, Margaret Thatcher was born in the "picturesque" midlands town of Grantham.

19

Language fellow used about one propping up bar! (8)


ALBANIAN -ALAN around BAN on top of I (one)

21

Husband rings father about start of Liverpool game (4-2)


HOOP-LA - H[usband] OO +PA around L(iverpool).  I wrote this answer in at 7:41 on Saturday 27th Jan.  At 7:45 Liverpool's televised F.A. Cup game against WBA kicked off.  Spooky.

22

Intuitive feeling of Conservative opening popular allocated work (8)


INSTINCT - C(onservative) in IN STINT

23

Resentfully envy and petition Barnaby? (8)


BEGRUDGE - BEG RUDGE

28

One in HMP stole sheep originally, the devil! (14)


MEPHISTOPHELES - I in (hmpstolesheep)*

29

Finally free in afternoon, what gamblers go for in Welsh town (8)


PEMBROKE - (fre)E in P.M. + BROKE (as in go for...)

30

What the setter has, being a drudge! (8)


DOGSBODY - DD (setter as in English, Irish or red rather than crossword)

32

Keep an eye on the hands — lest they do this? (5,3,5)


WATCH THE CLOCK - CD based on the idea that if you don't watch your workers they'll become clock watchers (i.e. naff off home at bang on 5).

33

Alert eccentric in court battle (8)


WATERLOO - (alert)* in WOO

35

It’s shattering, what a reluctant wind player may do! (4-7)


MIND-BLOWING - DD, one whimsical

37

Girl turns out to be murder victim (6)


ISABEL - IS ABEL

38

Eats with last of escapees, back inside: it’s boring (10)


DREARINESS - DINES (escapee)S around REAR

40

Health worker, one who believes criticism is accepted (9)


THERAPIST - THEIST around RAP

42

Turncoat’s article put away with mail (8)


APOSTATE - A then ATE (put away) after POST

44

Bounds of archaic poem kept in safe? (9)


PERIMETER - RIME in PETER.  I originally had this a PARAMETER but couldn't figure out what an ARAM might be.

45

Like extensive wanderings? Yes, a don’s travels (8)


ODYSSEAN - (yesadons)*

50

Variable film supported by a character in Patras (4)


ZETA - Z E.T. on A

51

Saw second maiden cast off long dress (4)


MAXI - MAXI{m}

52

Nautical spar that’s never bust? (4)


BOOM - Boom and...

55

Beetle making staff sit up? (3)


DOR -ROD reversed
After the mystery clues of the previous Saturday, this was a straightforward solve. I took a wild stab at the botany clue, and took the setter at his word for the geography clue, but everything else was within my ken. I sidetracked myself for a while with an unjustified (and wrong!) guess at 21ac, but the rest was smooth sailing. Around 30 minutes on the clock I would say.

My clue of the day is 16dn. I will forevermore see that word with the fruit inside! Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Anagram indicators are in bold italics. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, followed by the wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', deletions are in {curly brackets}.

Across
1 Time to run demo and finish out of sequence (6,9)
FOURTH DIMENSION: (TO RUN DEMO FINISH*). To physicists, three dimensions of space and one dimension of time make up the four-dimensional space-time continuum. Let's agree to ignore string theory and its hypotheses of extra dimensions too small to see!
9  Most ancient item, left to the front as focus of interest (9)
LODESTONE: the OLDEST ONE is the most ancient item. Move the “L” to the front.
10  Romeo lives with woman in palace: it’s a step up (5)
RISER: R for Romeo, IS (lives), ER (woman in palace).
11 It makes one sick, withdrawing article in city (6)
EMETIC: EC(1) is the postcode for the City of London. Insert ITEM backwards.
12  Sponsor about to secure one plant (8)
ANGELICA: your sponsor is an ANGEL, I for one, CA for about.
13 Fellow rambler returning after time (6)
TREVOR: T for time, then ROVER “returning”.
15 Grow roughly fifty for the first time in grounds (8)
ESCALATE: start with ESTATE (grounds), and replace the first T by CA (roughly) L (fifly).
18  Cut police launches here (8)
DOCKYARD: DOCK (cut), {Scotland} YARD (police).
19  The way papers burn (6)
STREAM: ST (street / way), REAM (lots of paper). Nice to put the definition alongside paper, so it’s hard to see the intended meaning. Good work, setter!
21 Insubstantial odd slices of veal with holes (8)
VAPOROUS: VA (the odd letters of VeAl), then POROUS (with holes). I guessed ETHEREAL, which was a hindrance not a help!
23  Notice surrounding layout of hedges, staggered (6)
AMAZED: MAZE inside AD.
26 Telling stories mostly in Greek houses (5)
LYING: hidden answer, indicated by “houses”.
27  Flexible items for test carried back by porter (9)
ADAPTABLE: You need BAT and PAD for the cricket test. Put them backwards inside ALE.
28 Dash for one, scrambling up mountain track (11,4)
PUNCTUATION MARK: (UP MOUNTAIN TRACK*).

Down
1 Choirboy maybe briefly gets up after Fiona and Hazel (7)
FILBERT: FI (Fiona), then TREBL{e}, (the choirboy), backwards (up). Had no idea filbert means hazel(nut), but it looked like a word that fitted the helpers.
2 Excessive burns doused periodically (5)
UNDUE: alternate letters of b U r N s  D o U s E d.
3  The setter's on for blocking grumpy evidence (9)
TESTIMONY: TESTY (grumpy), blocked by I’M (the setter’s) ON.
4 Fate of party, a short time after upset (4)
DOOM: DO (party), MO (short time) backwards (upset).
5 Humble state keen to be represented in pickle (8)
MEEKNESS: (KEEN*) inside MESS (pickle).
6 Minister to fly over home counties (5)
NURSE: RUN (fly) backwards (over), then SE (home counties).
7 Found popular part of US to house retired soldier (9)
INSTIGATE: IN (popular), STATE (part of US) around IG (GI retired).
8  Tell island about the missing hotel (7)
NARRATE: ARRAN (island) backwards (about), then T{h}E (dropping “hotel” from “the”).
14 Freak, not counting overs in nets (9)
EXCEPTION: EXCEPT (not counting), then O (overs) netted by IN. “Freak” is perhaps a bit stronger than “exception”, but they have a similar flavour.
16  Superior fruit eaten by an android (9)
AUTOMATON: U (superior) TOMATO (fruit), inside (eaten by) AN.
17  Talked of steep ditch causing furore (8)
BROUHAHA: BROU sounds like “brew”, a HAHA is a ditch with a concealed wall.
18 Expand day cover, avoiding November (7)
DEVELOP: D (day), E{n}VELOP missing N for November.
20 Wed perhaps feeble, overthrown, undersized king (7)
MIDWEEK: DIM backwards (overthrown), WEE (undersized), K (king).
22  Republican battle lacking leader that's fair (5)
RIGHT: R (Republican), {f}IGHT.
24  Head of zoo takes age caging black animal (5)
ZEBRA: Z{oo}, ERA (age) around B (black).
25 West African nation, or part of E African one (4)
MALI: MALI in the west, {so}MALI{a} in the east.

Quick Cryptic 1024 by Mara

Sorry this is a bit late. I overslept, Friday being the new Saturday in this house. 8 minutes for me this morning. This is a good demonstration of the wonderful and infinite world of anagrinds, i.e. words indicating the presence of an anagram. As you see they can be convoluted, gathered, poor, sliding, strange, desperate, fancy or complicated. And when you think you've seen them all, they will come up with a new one.





Across
1 Note down the highest score ever? (6)
RECORD - double definition
4 A peak volume (6)
AMOUNT - A + MOUNT
8 Credit quote convoluted: it involves going through hoops (7)
CROQUET - CR (CREDIT) + anagram ('convoluted') of QUOTE
10 Figure seen on middle of sofa regularly (5)
OFTEN - middle of 'sofa' is OF, figure is TEN.Thrown by the word 'regularly' which normally commands us to go looking at alternate letters
11 A couple of kings happy to retire for real (5)
PUKKA - A + KK + UP all backwards
12 Dog lead (7)
POINTER - double definition
13 Vegetable gold, black and green, I gathered (9)
AUBERGINE - AU is gold B is black, the rest is an anagram ('gathered') of GREEN I
17 Poor Jack is in depressed condition (7)
LOCKJAW - anagram ('poor') of JACK, inside LOW (depressed)
19 Risk sliding around close to crevasse, for one going down mountain (5)
SKIER - Anagram ('sliding') of RISK, around E (close to, i.e. end of, 'crevasse')
20 Square, primarily, in proper solid shape (5)
PRISM - S (first letter of 'square') inside PRIM.
21 Report result of tight vote? (7)
RECOUNT - double definition
22 Unlikely flier, one strange bird! (6)
PIGEON - PIG (unlikely to fly) + Anagram ('strange') of ONE
23 Evaluate female equine? (6)
ASSESS - Female ass. I guess we put this as a cryptic definition

Down
1 Intervening in desperate scrap, judge finally sums up (6)
RECAPS - anagram ('desperate') of SCRAP with E (judge finally) 'intervening'
2 Grandfather maybe witnessing activity of bored employee? (5-8)
CLOCK-WATCHING - GRANDFATHER is a type of clock + WATCHING
3 Regret overheard gibe, and waffle (7)
RHUBARB - LOI for me. RHU- sounds like RUE ('overheard'), BARB is jibe
5 I wander uphill to see native New Zealander (5)
MAORI - I ROAM backwards ('uphill' for a down clue)
6 Latest out, umpteenth I fancy (2-2-3-6)
UP-TO-THE-MINUTE - anagram ('fancy') of OUT UMTEENTH I
7 Holding tureen is complicated (6)
TENURE - anagram ('complicated') of TUREEN
9 Outstanding spinner has trophy, perhaps, to lift (3-6)
TOP-DRAWER - spinner is TOP, trophy is REWARD, lifted (backwards)
14 Small animals in nonconformist groups (7)
INSECTS - IN + SECTS
15 Mistake students raised (4-2)
SLIP-UP - Students are PUPILS raised (backwards)
16 Gaol's opening: despicable type is free! (6)
GRATIS - G + RAT + IS
18 Massive job mujaheddin must keep up (5)
JUMBO - hidden word, backwards jOB MUJaheddin

Times 26,957: Inna Gadda Da Vida

I did this likeable puzzle on paper while feeling woozy from eating one too many Oreos, alright, alright, quite a few too many Oreos, and in such a sugar-discombobulated state my time on the timer was a shade over the 9 minute mark. FOI was 20ac, LOI 22dn once the L in 21ac became available.

As crosswords go it's simply but effectively clued but with a nice sprinkling of wit and surfaces that make you think "ooh, that's clever". As you will know if you are long-time reader I really like clues that seem aware of their context and as such I really enjoyed 26ac, 5dn and 19dn which are all above averagely "crosswordy"; I'll give 19dn my Clue of the Day award, by a nose.

The long answers around the edge were also all interesting phrases and tantalisingly close to being thematic with one another. Compulsory minor quibble to avoid looking like a complete brown-noser: 25ac is a bit archaic and/or a barred puzzle type word - cursory investigations make me believe its modern meaning is something completely different than "stink". But overall, much enjoyed, and many thanks to the setter!

ACROSS
1 Joy seemingly from sweets one's found in row of shops (5,8)
FOOL'S PARADISE - FOOLS [sweets] + I'S [one's] found in PARADE [row of shops]

9 Something uplifting from rubbish men (5)
ROTOR - ROT O.R. [rubbish | men]

10 Expel university staff, mostly cutting charge (9)
RUSTICATE - U STIC{k} [university | staff "mostly"] cutting RATE [charge]

11 Refusal to inhabit Bel Air curiously impractical (10)
INOPERABLE - NOPE [refusal] to inhabit (BEL AIR*) ["curiously"]

12 Lawyer’s right to prolong rest, wanting one (4)
LIEN - LIE {i}N [to prolong rest, "wanting" I (one)]

14 Heartless demagogue made choice to be loyal (7)
DEVOTED - D{emagogu}E + VOTED [made choice]

16 Flipping veteran sneakily conceals trap (7)
ENSNARE - hidden reversed in {vet}ERAN SNE{akily}

17 Marks in sum docked, after number's very low (7)
NOMINAL - M IN AL{l} [marks | in | sum "docked"], after NO [number]

19 Gather in most of tough clothing (7)
HARVEST - HAR{d} VEST ["most of" tough | clothing]

20 Speaker's blunt and cross (4)
ROOD - homophone of RUDE [blunt]

21 Diner's complaint, given pink articles used in bodega? (10)
SALMONELLA - SALMON [pink] + EL LA [two Spanish grammatical articles]

24 Restriction initially withdrawn for take-off (9)
IMITATION - {l}IMITATION [restriction, "initially withdrawn"]

25 Stink outside of malodorous object returns (5)
MIASM - reverse all of M{alodorou}S + AIM [object]

26 Trouble is to do with anagram helper (4,9)
GOOD SAMARITAN - (IS TO DO + ANAGRAM*) ["trouble..."]

DOWN
1 Offer put in exchanged for refund: it's an enticement (9,5)
FORBIDDEN FRUIT - BID [offer] put in (FOR REFUND IT*) ["exchanged..."]

2 Wrong note is better (5)
OUTDO - OUT DO [wrong | note]

3 Windy river, confined in another river (10)
SERPENTINE - R PENT [river | confined] in SEINE [another river]

4 Show resistance, then support strike (3-4)
AIR-RAID - AIR R [show | resistance] then AID [support]

5 Pardon a crack about bishop (7)
ABSOLVE - A SOLVE [a | crack] about B [bishop]

6 Heading for insolvency again, one has a large bill (4)
IBIS - I{nsolvency} + BIS [again]

7 Get rid of animal, in decline after a period (9)
ERADICATE - CAT [animal] in DIE [decline], after ERA [a period]

8 Primitive criminal alarmed, then arrested by old lady (11,3)
NEANDERTHAL MAN - (ALARMED THEN*) ["criminal..."] arrested by NAN [old lady]

13 Scientist and epicure missing grand opening of restaurant (10)
ASTRONOMER - {g}ASTRONOME [epicure "missing" G for grand] + R{estaurant}

15 A beastly noise in verse, with Carol scatting (9)
VAMOOSING - A MOO [a | beastly noise] in V with SING [verse | Carol]

18 Element's gripping during overtures (4-3)
LEAD-INS - LEAD'S [element's] gripping IN [during]

19 Day aboard boat with maiden, no relative to know? (7)
HOMONYM - MON [day] aboard HOY [boat] with M [maiden]

22 Rested in spare time (5)
LEANT - LEAN T [spare | time]

23 Drop round for sweet food (4)
SAGO - SAG O [drop | round]
Solving time:  10:14 - I thought I was going to be easily under 10 minutes but I was held up by the place name, the body artists and the thing that went in the soup. Odd little puzzle, this one, there is one clue that is what some call &lit, but I like Tim Moorey's definition of an "all in one" where the whole clue is both the definition and the wordplay.  This of course makes it difficult to underline the part of the clue that is the definition, but I'll give it a go - at least the automatic generator code thing is working again for me.

Definitions are underlined in the clues, wordplay is hopefully explained

Away we go...

Across
1 The Swiss dressed smarter than all others (8)
SWISHEST - anagram of THE,SWISS
9 Checked loud pitter-patter, might you say? (6,2)
REINED IN - sounds like RAIN DIN
10 Pasta, port, and no end of fizzy drink (8)
RIGATONI - RIGA (port and capital of Latvia), then no end of TONIC water
11 Swap halfpennies and farthings, perhaps? (8)
EXCHANGE - the coins are EX CHANGE
12 Poor relative from New York going into pottery centre (5,5)
STONY BROKE - the relative is an NY BRO inside STOKE
14 Drugs agent buried in frozen Arctic (4)
NARC - hidden in frozeN ARCtic
15 Dog trainer's assistant runs after large poodle ultimately (7)
HANDLER - HAND(assistant) then R after L, (poodl)E
17 Learner of French involved in dangerous activity (7)
STUDENT - DE(of, in French) inside STUNT(dangerous activity)
21 Singular item of clothing linked to ancients principally (4)
TOGA - TOG(singular of TOGS) then A(ncients) with the whole being the definition
22 Office staff on leave before end of August (10)
DEPARTMENT - MEN(staff) on DEPART(leave) then (Augus)T
23 Designer using short rags with holes in? (8)
TATTOOER - TATTER(s) - rags, with O,O (holes) inside
25 Train wherein I visited dining car? (8)
INITIATE - or IN IT I ATE
26 First of fibs by annoyin' tale-teller (8)
FRANKLIN - F(ibs) then RANKLIN' - one of the tellers of the Canterbury tales
27 Woman finally visiting a region abroad (8)
GEORGINA - (visitin)G then an anagram of A,REGION

Down
2 Drink — small amount — gentleman regularly refused (5,3)
WHITE TEA - WHIT(small amount) then alternative letters in gEnTlEmAn
3 Among children, a boy is mature (8)
SEASONED - SEED(children) containing A SON
4 No half-term upset in school (4)
ETON - NO, and TE(rm) all reversed
5 Head of Theology accompanied by different senior dons (5,2)
TRIES ON - T(heology) then an anagram of SENIOR
6 Loose screw in the firearm (10)
WINCHESTER - anagram of SCREW,IN,THE
7 Maybe anteater in garden, say, hiding head (8)
EDENTATE - garden of EDEN, then (s)TATE
8 Meat insufficiently reduced in price? (8)
UNDERCUT - or UNDER CUT
13 Buns someone from Belgrade brought round with a funny filling (5,5)
BREAD ROLLS - SERB(someone from Belgrade) reversed containing A, DROLL(funny)
15 Talented person's curry concoction? (3,5)
HOT STUFF - double definition
16 Close on agreement, after raising late drink (8)
NIGHTCAP - NIGH(close on) then PACT(agreement) reversed - I see one of these in my present
18 Leave fish ball accompanying stew (8)
DUMPLING - DUMP(leave), LING(fish)
19 Sister worried, getting picked up in Warwickshire town (8)
NUNEATON - sounds like NUN EATEN
20 Mean fight shortly taking place near boxing venue (7)
SPARING - SPA(r) near a boxing RING
24 Boozy type reveals how to be a complete loser (4)
WINO - if you WIN ZERO you are a complete loser.  Trust me, I'm an expert.

Quick Cryptic No 1023 by Pedro

A lovely little QC this morning from Pedro, taking me less than 10 minutes to solve, so my best time for a while, but full of interesting stuff.  Following yesterday’s discussion of first letter abbreviations started by Nick_the_Novice in his blog, there are plenty of examples here – and after the first couple, I coined the term HOLA! to describe them in honour of Nick – see 18a for the first use.

I continue to look for interesting facts about the numbers that I blog, but I fear I am destined not to find much with numbers ending in 3.  The best I can do here is to point out that 1023 is the smallest number made up of four different digits!

There is a potential NINA in the fifth row of the grid, but probably accidental.

My word of the day (WoD) is ABOUT FACE and my clue of the day (CoD) is 20a.  Interesting to see if you all found this easier than usual, and thanks to Pedro for an entertaining but gentle work out.

Across
7  I make assessment, providing cross (5)
IRATE – I (I) and RATE (make assessment) to provide that sort of cross, as in angry
Flattens designs (4,3)
LAYS OUT – Double definition, the first with a number of possible interpretations, such as how a pugilist might lay out (or flatten) his opponent, and the second referring to laying out a design or sketch.
10  Not too bright about location of Taj Mahal? Here’s a plan (7)
DIAGRAM – DIM (not too bright) around (or about) AGRA, the city location of the famous marble mausoleum in India
11  Dismissal involves 50 becoming careless (5)
SLACK – SACK (dismissal) includes L (Roman numeral for 50)
12  Improving electrical safety after new close shave (4,5)
NEAR THING – EARTHING is a way to improve electrical safety, after N{ew}.
14  Agreement, heading off item of legislation (3)
ACT – The agreement is a {p}ACT from which the heading (first letter) has been removed
15 See odd parts of Ghent (3)
GET – Odd letters from G{h}E{n}T.  See and GET are synonymous in expressions such as ‘get / see the joke’ or ‘get / see the point’.
16  A fight expert comes round following reversal (5-4)
ABOUT-FACE – A (a) BOUT (fight) and ACE (expert) come around F{ollowing}.  F is a legitimate abbreviation for following according to my online Chambers, and is another example of the first letter abbreviation controversy that was discussed in yesterday’s blog.  ABOUT-FACE will be familiar to anyone who has drilled on a parade ground, where it is a common drill command ‘inviting’ military personnel to make a 180-degree turn, or a reversal.
18  Rocketry experts taking line regarding nose (5)
NASAL – The rocketry experts are NASA taking L{ine} – another of those pesky first letter abbreviations.  I just did a check, and according to Chambers, every single letter in the alphabet (A through to Z) is a legitimate first letter abbreviation for something, in many cases for several or many things.  In tribute to Nick_the_novice who raised this yesterday, I am going to coin the term HOLA! (Harrumph Opening Letter Abbreviation) to describe these from now on (if I remember)!
20  Lose lustre: rather like small mountain lake? (7)
TARNISH – A TARN is a small mountain lake, and something that is rather like that might be described as being TARN-ISH.
22  Poison distributed in scare (7)
ARSENIC – Our first anagram of the day, indicated by ‘distributed’ of [IN SCARE]
23  Relative giving vague directions, perhaps, losing last two (5)
UNCLE – Giving vague directions might be described as UNCLEAR.  Lose the last two letters as instructed to give the name of a close relative.  The ‘perhaps’ is there because there are other ways of being unclear other than giving vague directions.

Down
1 Meeting might not proceed before locating this ulterior motive (6,6)
HIDDEN AGENDA – A cryptic definition
What may prevent you seeing waterfall? (8)
CATARACT – Double definition, the first posed as a question.
Look equal (4)
PEER – Classic two-word double definition, obeying Rotter’s First Law of Cryptics – two-word clues are nearly always double definitions (there are exceptions that prove this law).
4  Man I arranged to host first of London University’s ex-students (6)
ALUMNI – Anagram (arranged) of [MAN I] containing (hosting) first letters of L{ondon} U{niversity}.
Vision certainly accepted by rowers (8)
EYESIGHT – Certainly is YES and this is accepted by (inside) EIGHT,  An EIGHT is a name given to a team of rowers in an eight-oar boat (as in the annual boat-race between Oxford and Cambridge)
6 Bright star, one seen at Stratford, on the rise (4)
NOVA – The river at Stratford is the AVON (hence Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare), which is reversed to give the name of a transient astronomical effect that causes the sudden appearance of a bright, apparently new star.
Assume command, putting an end to game of roulette? (4,3,5)
TAKE THE WHEEL – Cryptic clue – if one took the wheel being used, any game of roulette could not continue without a replacement
13  Hard splitting dog and Siamese here? (8)
THAILAND – H{ard} (a legitimate HOLA!) splitting TAIL (dog, as in the transitive verb sense of to dog or to tail) and AND (and).  Siam is a formerly used exonym for THAILAND, whose people are still referred to as Siamese in some quarters.
14  A bit of plumbing in church?  If absolutely necessary (2,1,5)
AT A PINCH – A (a) TAP (bit of plumbing) IN (in) CH{urch}.  AT A PINCH is an expression meaning ‘in case of a necessity or emergency’.
17  Sudden movement in operations to make lenses (6)
OPTICS – The sudden movement is a TIC inside OPS (operations).  OPTICS is the science of light, or the plural of OPTIC, an old name for a lens, telescope or microscope
19  Call for help over feeling less than well? (2-2)
SO-SO – Call for help (SOS) followed by O{ver} (yet another HOLA!).  If feeling less than well, one might describe one’s condition as SO-SO.
21  King exiled in decisive battle (4)
ROUT – R (king, another HOLA! this time from the Latin R{ex}) and OUT (exiled).
 
Another cracking Wednesday puzzle to blog; unravelling some of the parsing took a bit of the old
lateral thinking, although there was plenty of scope for BIFD. [I once heard speak the good Dr de Bono, he is still with us, aged 84, one of two candidates I can come up with when I'm asked to name a famous Maltese person. The other one is a snooker player.]
I confess to having to look up 12a for confirmation and enlightenment at the end, although he was guessable, and also to check the real connection between GLEE and the answer to 8d my LOI. My CoD is 13a because I stared it for ages wondering how the SCREAM came into it, then a Doh! moment arrived and it was obvious. 25 minutes and a few more to do the post mortem.
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, thank you Mr Setter.

Across
1 Help for viewer turning over colossal gypsum exhibits (8)
SPYGLASS - Well hidden reversed in COLO(SSAL GYPS)UM.
5 A great success, not using public house as place for reception (6)
ATRIUM - A TRIUMPH loses its pub i.e. PH as on OS maps.
10 Am endlessly pressed — ideally making this comment? (2,4,3,6)
MY LIPS ARE SEALED - Bun in the answer then work out the fodder, (AM PRESSE IDEALLY)* drop the D as 'endlessly pressed'.
11 Double whiskey formerly had after last of port (7)
TWOFOLD - T (last of port), W (whiskey), OF OLD (formerly).
12 Italian dramatist performing one at the end of The Archers? (7)
GOLDONI - ON = performing, I = one, after GOLD I can only see as the bullseye on the target therefore the 'end' archers are aiming for. There's no-one in Ambridge of that name, as far as I know, and I know them all, as Mrs K is addicted. Apparently GOLDONI was a noted Italian playwright.
13 A consequence of murders: scream (8)
OFFSHOOT - Doh! OFFS = murders, HOOT = scream, as in 'she's a hoot / a scream'.
15 Bones bend when put back (5)
SACRA - Reverse of ARC AS = bend when. The sacrum is a triangular bone at the base of the spine.
18 Grey governess of Acton (5)
AGNES - Agnes Grey the first novel written by Anne Brontë under the pen name Acton Bell. Agnes was a governess, obviously.
20 Men after sailor’s rum (8)
ABNORMAL - AB = sailor, then two blokes, NORM and AL.
23 Italy’s star man left goalie floundering (7)
GALILEO - (L GOALIE)*.
25 Grab boy’s pants, infant’s costume (7)
BABYGRO - (GRAB BOY)*. Babygro is a Trademark, but now seems to have crept into dictionaries as a generic.
26 Frequently banged up, I’m finally free at the eleventh hour (2,3,4,2,4)
IN THE NICK OF TIME - If I were IN THE NICK OFT, I'd be frequently in jail. Add IM and (FRE)E.
27 Wicket will accommodate your spin (6)
GYRATE - YR = your, insert into GATE = wicket.
28 Reacted angrily, being stood up (8)
BRISTLED - Double definition.

Down
1 Arab, maybe, taking up our online edition? (6)
SEMITE - Reverse E-Times being the online edition of our paper.
2 React to pain, perhaps, failing to complete delicate catch (9)
YELLOWFIN - YELL OW! = react to pain, perhaps; add FIN(E). Catch as in yellowfin tuna.
3 Computers from China, on reflection, best (7)
LAPTOPS - PAL = China, mate, reverse it add TOPS = best.
4 The way a hand becomes steady (5)
STAID - ST(reet), AID = a hand.
6 Runs to stop rat on one’s garden frame (7)
TRELLIS - TELL = rat on, insert R, add IS (one's). Derived from the Latin TRILIX, not named after Mrs Trellis of North Wales, our frequent correspondent to ISIHAC.
7 Current, unending depression round White House (5)
IGLOO - I = current, GLOO(M) = unending depression,There's a topical Trump joke here, waiting to be cracked, but I can't just put it together.
8 Something akin to glee, seeing red port, large (8)
MADRIGAL - MAD = seeing red, RIGA a Baltic port, L(arge). GLEE, aside from the usual meaning, also can refer to part song and be a synonym for madrigal singing.
9 Build up layer, inserting cube (8)
HEIGHTEN - Insert EIGHT, two cubed, into HEN, a layer.
14 Passion, maybe, from speaker, over the moon (8)
ORATORIO - ORATOR = speaker, IO = a moon of Jupiter. Passion as in e.g. Bach's works.
16 Barbecue daily, with quiz (9)
CHARGRILL - CHAR = daily, cleaner, GRILL = quiz.
17 Raising racket sport with judge (8)
JANGLING - J for judge, ANGLING a sport.
19 With no financial problems? That’s not to be sniffed at! (7)
SOLVENT - Double definition, the second one whimsical, or advisory.
21 Turns away from experts in bible study? (7)
REBUFFS -  R.E. BUFFS wold be those experts.
22 Harry to close what’s left of joint? (3-3)
DOG-END - DOG = harry, pursue; END = close.
24 After selling up I should leave (5)
LATER - RETAIL = selling, reverse and remove the I.
25 Odd bits of blackberry one found in tub in nursery? (5)
BAKER - Take the alternate letters of B l A c K b E r R y and get one of the three men in a tub, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

Quick Cryptic 1022 by Teazel

Not too tricky, but no pushover either - I thought this was a very good QC. In particular I felt it gave newcomers exposure to a number of frequently recurring conventions / tricks of the trade, so a good puzzle for those moving along their learning curve.

1ac highlights an abbreviation that always causes me to harrumph somewhat (although it's a fairly low level harrumph), and I bang on about this in an attempt to assist newcomers in my explanation of the clue (old hands should skip this bit as it will be quite tedious). I also treat 4d and 17d as potential learning experiences for newer solvers, so the same observation applies with regard to the seasoned campaigners.

I had not come across the phrase which is the answer to 3d, but post solve research indicates it is not that unusual. In any event, the cluing was pretty generous so no problem there. Also, the second definition in 14d caused me to pause for a while. Other than that, a reasonably smooth solve that I'd rank as probably pretty straightforward for experienced solvers but quite tricky for newer players.

Thanks as ever to Teazel for an enjoyable puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

Across
1 Painter departs, returning wise (5)
DEGAS - D (abbrev. Departs) + SAGE reversed (returning wise). D for Departures (or in this case Departs) - and A for Arrivals for that matter - crop up from time to time in crosswords, and are regarded as legitimate abbreviations for use by the setter. Must admit when I first started tackling cryptics and came across these particular abbreviations I thought they were a bit dodgy, leading me to repeat the oft heard lament of the newcomer that "well on that basis seems like setters can use the first letter of pretty much any word as an abbreviation..." This issue never totally goes away - indeed T for Town triggered some debate amongst a number of highly experienced solvers in yesterday's blog of Sunday Times puzzle 4784. But, at a pragmatic level, I would urge newcomers to acknowledge (for better or worse!) that these abbreviations are in use and to learn them accordingly.
4 English singer included in my official mission (7)
EMBASSY - E (English) + BASS (singer) 'included in MY'
8 With end of fingers, squeeze round a vegetable (7)
SPINACH - S (end of fingerS) + PINCH (squeeze) 'round A'
9 Section of door and piece of window left (5)
PANEL - PANE (piece of window) + L (left)
10 Doing badly, is our hope: some national motto!
(2,3,2,5)
IN GOD WE TRUST - *(DOING) - with "badly" signalling the anagram - gives us IN GOD, + WE TRUST (our hope), giving us the official motto of the USA. Apparently it was nearly the (somewhat more loquacious) phrase "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God", championed by Franklin and Jefferson. If anyone is interested, there's quite an intriguing account of all this to be found here https://www.thedailybeast.com/in-god-we-trust-doesnt-mean-what-you-think-it-does
12 Cartoon dog tending to pry? (6)
SNOOPY - The cartoon beagle is backed up with a slightly cryptic secondary definition regarding a tendency to be a nosey parker
13 Boss is right to go after mistake (6)
GAFFER - R (right) comes 'after' GAFFE (mistake)
16 To be clear, moved with no orders (2,5,5)
IN OTHER WORDS - *(WITH NO ORDERS) with "moved" signposting the anagram
18 Measure the announced route (5)
WEIGH - Sounds like (announced) WAY (route)
20 Long period at the top of eg show business (3,4)
BIG TIME - BIG (long) + TIME (period)
21 One running away receives small support (7)
BOLSTER - BOLTER (one running away) 'receives' S (small)
22 In short autumn month wife did some cleaning (5)
SWEPT - W (wife) 'in' SEPT (short autumn month)


Down
1 Be contemptuous towards teacher — and send her
packing
(7)
DISMISS - DIS (slang short form for 'disrespect') + MISS (teacher)
2 Getting worse at skiing? (5,8)
GOING DOWNHILL - Neat DD
3 Buys Irishman a drink, and refuses any change (6,3)
STANDS PAT - STANDS (buys a drink for) PAT (Irishman). I'd never actually come across the phrase "to stand Pat", but the cryptic wordplay really couldn't lead anywhere else - particularly after a couple of affirmatory crosscheckers came in.
4 Slavishly copies city gardens (6)
ECHOES - EC (city) + HOES (gardens). EC for city (the City of London) derives from the postcode for the area: this is another crossword 'chestnut' that is likely to bemuse newcomers - forget it at your peril!
5 British at work strike (3)
BOP - B (British) + OP (work)
6 Religious programme strangely forges passion (5,2,6)
SONGS OF PRAISE - *(FORGES PASSION) with "strangely" indicating the anagram. Long running UK TV show, probably unknown beyond these shores but the definition and fairly obvious anagram indicator will hopefully have enabled an educated guess for overseas solvers (and local heathens)
7 Finally buy beer in university (4)
YALE - Last letter (finally) of buY + ALE (beer)
11 Purchasing power of earnings law agrees must be
adjusted (4,5)
REAL WAGES - *(LAW AGREES) with "must be adjusted" being the anagram indicator (and they don't get much clearer than that!). The concept underlying the Big Mac Index - sort of...
14 Considerately treat relation (7)
RESPECT - DD, the first being fairly obvious, the second somewhat less so, until one thinks of "in relation to" / "with respect to"
15 One in the club, married, remains smouldering (6)
MEMBER - M (married) + EMBER (remains smouldering)
17 Cornish sailor’s mop? (4)
SWAB - SW (Cornish - i.e. south west) + AB (sailor). Tip for newcomers: this clue highlights rather nicely the significance of question marks in clues. South West (or SW) does not inevitably flow from 'Cornish', as the SW could also be pointed to by Devon, Somerset or (at a pinch) Dorset: however, the question mark is effectively saying "maybe / perhaps", enabling the clue to work properly.
19 Almost loathe bowler, for one (3)
HAT - HAT{E} (almost loathe)

Times Cryptic 26954

I found this quite tricky and needed 10 minutes over the hour to complete it. No doubt that 10 minutes will have been enough for some to solve the whole puzzle, but as I never struggled to the extent that I was out of ideas and just sitting and staring blankly at the page, I can take the positive view that I had an hour's more enjoyment than the speedsters. Of course in retrospect I can't understand what delayed me, apart from the unknown expression at 8dn

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1021 by Izetti

I don’t want to talk anything up here, but there seems to have been a change in the puzzles produced by that once most fearsome of setters - our great friend, Izetti. Time was, when, much younger and naive in the ways of the blogging World, that name on a blogging day would make me stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, square my shoulders and, with a quick ‘once more unto the breach dear friends', I would set forth and valiantly plunge into battle.
Today's and the puzzle I was privileged to blog a mere two weeks ago, however, have been slain with a whoop and a holler in sub ten minutes.
As always, your comments are appreciated to see if my own experiences have anything to do with the reality of the wider World out there.

That is not to say that this is without interest - plenty of long clues today but very fairly clued - only LOI 3dn caused me some pause at the end, lots of multiple twists of word play, lots of anagrams. There’s also a slightly military theme in 9, 14, 16 across and 5dn. So thank you Izetti for a very enjoyable Quick Cryptic.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1020 by Flamande

I needed 12 minutes for this but am at a loss to explain why I failed to hit my 10-minute target as it all seems perfectly straightforward in retrospect. There are a few UK-centric references which may give some of our overseas contributors pause for thought but I can't claim that as an excuse.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]

Here's my blog...Collapse )
Being a bear of average brain, I rather like puzzles that are on the easier end of the scale. They make me feel a little brighter, and they reduce my SNITCH, while also reducing the difference between my time and that of the speedsters. They are, in a sense, the cruciverbal equivalent of false discriminators in language testing, i.e. items that are often solved correctly by people who do not think and incorrectly by those who do. This appeals to the contrarian in me, not to mention the nasty side of me, which enjoys taking a ringside seat and listening to the bleating of The Hopelessly Unstretched Genius (or THUG).

I jest, of course. But what an opportunity today's admirable setter missed! With the full resources of various Jewish and Christian Holy Books and Apocrypha to choose from, how disappointing that he (or she, of course) picked the minor prophet of doom, the marvellously named son of Beeri, when s/he had the likes of Eldad and Modad hanging around in the wings, waiting for their day in the sun.

It was nice, though, to see my favourite healthy pre-prandial snack at 17 across. I say "healthy", because (truth be known) my real favourite are those TERRA chips made from taro, yam etc. which con you into believing they are healthy. Well, they con me, anyway, and sometimes, contrary to Esdras - quoted above - Truth is not so great, and a bit of self-deception is the order of the day.

24 minutes.

PS congratulations to the Eagles for a great victory in the Super Bowl. I managed to catch the second half streaming, and was delighted not only by the plays but by the fact that the commentators seemed as clueless about the rules as I am.

ACROSS

1 Primate’s ring inspiring major portion of old German troops (10)
CHIMPANZEE - PANZE[r] in CHIME
6 Powder originally applied in sympathetic support (4)
TALC - A[pplied] in TLC
10 Old Frenchman’s article, say, about his wine (7)
ANGEVIN - AN + EG reversed + VIN
11 Pound for one publication: one’s opening it (7)
IMAGIST - MAG + IS (one's) in IT
12 Warwick, maybe, famous for manufacturing rulers? (9)
KINGMAKER - a reference to the 15th century's Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick - a right
busybody, if ever there was one
13 Recognised monastic office picked up by listeners (5)
KNOWN - sounds like NONE - an alternative for the more common NONES, which is the fifth of the
seven canonical hours of the divine office
14 Upland area with river in flood (5)
DROWN - R in DOWN
15 Small cup doctor set aside, containing mocha primarily (9)
DEMITASSE - M[ocha] in SET ASIDE* (anagram)
17 Nut’s facial hair changing character at the start (9)
PISTACHIO - PI for MU in MUSTACHIO
20 A second set of books about head of Cheltenham racecourse (5)
ASCOT -C[heltenham] in A + S + OT
21 That which chokes English grain (5)
WHEAT - E in WHAT (that which)
23 Bachelor digested very little, being on this? (9)
BREADLINE - ah, you see, if a university student was lazy and digested only a little of his (or
her) set text, he (or she) might have only read one line; so B + READ +LINE!! And if they ate only a
little food (because they spent all their grant on grog), then they might be on the breadline - even if
it was their own fault. Possibly. Is anyone still at fault these days?
25 Points introduced in characteristic passage (7)
TRANSIT - NS in TRAIT
26 Scandinavian lodging-place adopted by swimmers (7)
FINNISH - INN in FISH; well, for my money, a Finn (unless s/he is an ethnic Swede, I suppose) is
Nordic rather than Scandinavian, but no doubt some dictionary, somewhere out there, refers to the
"incorrect" usage that has now attained acceptability.
27 It may convey water for cleaning stockings (4)
HOSE - DD
28 Offer head fond affection (10)
TENDERNESS - TENDER + NESS

DOWN

1 Eccentric Conservative with official position (5)
CRANK - C + RANK
2 Naïve, ditching university for one? Brilliant! (9)
INGENIOUS - replace the U in INGENUOUS with an I
3 One who creates images on flags? (8,6)
PAVEMENT ARTIST - flags here being paving stones
4 Presumably rough adult embracing Poles (3-4)
NON-SKID - NO KID around our friends N and S
5 European lightweight absorbing sanctimonious maxim (7)
EPIGRAM - PI in E + GRAM
7 Travel with Parisian friend to find one in Madrid (5)
AMIGO - AMI + GO
8 One commanding regiment at last, concerned with holding grand function (9)
COTANGENT - a leetul beet tricky to parse, as David Brent might say: CO (one commanding) +
[regimen]T and then G (grand) in ANENT (ancient word for about or 'concerned with')
9 Greek trader, man in turmoil, grower of fruit and veg (6,8)
MARKET GARDENER - GREEK TRADER MAN*
14 Finally spend time in Suffolk port obtaining lighting accessory (9)
DIPSWITCH - [spen]D + T in IPSWICH; you know, it's embarrassing, but I never knew Ipswich was a
port. I thought the main ports in Suffolk were Lowestoft, Felixstowe and Harwich. Oops! Embarrassing
again...
16 Give up bag, if carrying rupees and diamonds (9)
SACRIFICE - SAC + IF in R [rupees] and ICE (diamonds)
18 Frequent visitor slightly in the shade? (7)
HABITUE - A BIT in HUE
19 Position of G-man’s boss taking too many courses? (7)
OVERFED - if you were a G-man's boss, you would have a Fed under you. Figuratively, one hopes,
otherwise we have a whole new MeToo thing on our hands
22 Welshman’s commercial vehicles, needing key to start (5)
EVANS - E + VANS
24 Characteristic spirit displayed in film and book (5)
ETHOS - ET + HOS (Hosea)

Mephisto 2996 - Tim Moorey

I was more on form than I’ve been for a while and romped through this one. It was always interesting and contains some nice clue constructions.

In the blog, the definition in the clue is underlined and followed by the answer; the parsing; any comments


Across
1 Two bishops entertained by a reverend, represented as such (6)
ABBREV: A-BB-REV; abbreviation of abbreviation
7 French department to be ready when power cut off (4)
OISE: (p)OISE;
10 School hunting shark on vacation takes “Sir” away (9)
UNKNIGHTS: (hunting + sk)*; sk from s(har)k; school=anagrind;
11 One amateur after another put down as before (4)
ALAY: A-LAY;
13 Kitty for instance, returned for a hot drink (6)
SALOOP: (POOL-AS) all returned;
14 Tiny tot regularly absorbed by small guitar in Japanese school (6)
UKIYO-E: UK(IYO)E; IYO from (t)I(n)Y-(t)O(t); school of painting;
16 Hittable balls not all put over third man (4)
ABEL: hidden reversed (sll)AB-EL(battih); Adam and Eve’s second son;
18 English and French physicist in sporting team (6)
ECURIE: E-CURIE;
20 Most irate about Asian country (9, two words)
EAST,TIMOR: (most irate)*;
21 Starts taking drink in casual clothing (9)
ROLLNECKS: ROLL(NECK)S;
24 Tablet and other computers initially buggy (6)
TROCHE: (other + c)*; c from c(omputers); buggy is anagrind;
25 Oriental material made from lynx, not kangaroo (4)
IKAT: (roo)IKAT; roo=kangaroo;
28 Man on Caribbean island is famous royal spouse (6)
HECUBA: HE-CUBA;
30 Before entering, mostly put away music system (6)
STEREO: ST(ERE)O(w);
31 In New Orleans you all shout America’s first — for eccentricity! (4)
Y’ALL: shout=yell then change “e” =eccentricity to “a”=America’s first;
32 Who might capture romantic hearts of say, Jasmine, Letitia and Ingrid? (9)
TRIGAMIST: (smi + tit + gr)*; (ja)smi(ne), (le)tit(ia), (in)gr(id); a man of some stamina;
33 Fixer used in photography? Possibly (4)
HYPO: hidden (photograp)HY-PO(ssibly);
34 Personal Trainer secures missing chlorine for prolapses (6)
PTOSES: PT-(cl)OSES;

Down

1 Foot it after main vessel about to go north (8)
ANAPAEST: (SEA-PAN-A) all reversed – ‘T;  about=A; ‘T=it;
2 Bear up at first after party’s made a U-turn (4)
BALU: LAB reversed-U(p); usually “baloo”;
3 Sounds of “give way” and “go away”? It helps to stop the car (9)
BRAKESHOE: sounds like “break-shoo”;
4 Rogue sent outside convoy empty — put in Shell? (6)
ENCYST: (sent)* surrounds CY; CY from C(onvo)Y;
5 Oddly sole meunière grilled becomes rather unattractive (10)
UNSEEMLIER: (sl + meuniere)*; sl from s(o)l(e);
6 Backing needed, if and when county is a failure (6)
FIASCO: IF reversed-AS-CO; county=CO;
7 Look at silk handkerchief, head dropping (4)
OGLE: (f)OGLE;
8 Small whisky in pot and a Bulgarian’s ready (8)
S(TOT)INK-A; Bulgarian money; pot=SINK=snooker term;
9 Spot opening for estate agent (4)
ESPY: E(state)-SPY;
12 Camper in cell first (10, two words)
MOBILE,HOME: in=HOME; cell=MOBILE;
15 Real friend is in for lots of criticism (9)
BRICKBATS: BRICK-BATS; is in = BATS (cricket);
17 Strike-breaker in Welsh town stirring up quarrels (8)
BARRATRY: BAR(RAT)RY; divorce lawyers, perhaps;
19 Colonnades in European designs (8)
EUSTYLES: EU-STYLES;
22 Criminal heard supporting love and goodness (6, two words)
OH,DEAR: O-(heard)*;
23 Least likely to upset possible clients with no end of mail (6)
NICEST: (clients – l)*; l from (mai)l;
26 Book / person from northern Europe (4)
ESTH: two meanings;
27 Old ship’s slow passage long forgotten (4)
ARGO: (l)ARGO;
29 Man's head dropping for Egyptian dancer (4)
ALME: man=male then “drop” m to give AL-M-E

Sunday Times 4783 by David McLean

I thought this was good fun and not too tricky - thoroughly enjoyed it. Some nice laconic touches, particularly with the second rate crossword at 9ac and the happy tale of Lucky Les at 13ac. I also greatly enjoyed the surface at 19ac, conjuring up happy memories for me of a bizarre train journey (see below).

My last two in were the 18d / 25ac pairing, with the former throwing me somewhat through the definition, and the latter getting me wrongly fixated on sprites and Shakespeare. Other than that, smooth sailing - leaving me with an uneasy feeling that the next one I have to blog will be a snorter!

Thanks as ever to Harry - look forward to seeing how everyone else got on.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(--): omitted letters indicated by {-}

Across
1 High steward and female keeper of the flame? (6,9)
FLIGHT ATTENDANT - LIGHT (flame) with F (female) and ATTENDANT (keeper) around it
9 Excuse review of second-rate crossword, perhaps
(7)
ABSOLVE - If one was to write a review of a second-rate crossword, one might describe it as A "B" SOLVE
10 Rogue goes off in spin round rally (7)
REGROUP - *(ROGUE) - with "goes off" indicating the anagram - 'in' PR reversed (spin round)
11 Offensive, having drunk new or old red wine (4)
TENT - TET (offensive) with N inside (having drunk new). Reference to the Viet Cong offensive launched on the Tet holiday (the name of the Vietnamese New Year).
12 Direct politician on party political broadcast? (10)
ADMINISTER - MINISTER (politician) follows (on) AD (possibly a party political broadcast)
13 Fortunate chap getting seconds in the sack (7)
BLESSED - LES (chap) + S (seconds) inside BED (in the sack)
15 Look at little brother heading to wash sweatband?
(7)
EYEBROW - EYE (look at) + BRO (little brother) + W (first letter - heading - of Wash), giving us the hirsute feature designed by Mother Nature (or whoever is responsible for this stuff) to keep the sweat out of our eyes. I've never actually asked a resolute eyebrow-plucker whether they are in fact troubled by sweat in their eyes, and I probably never will.
17 Large wife enthralled by a deer moving downwind
(7)
LEEWARD - L (large) + *(A DEER) - with "moving" signalling the anagram - and W also added to the mix (Wife enthralled by)
19 One likely to talk bull when they talk shop? (7)
MATADOR - Rather nice cryptic definition. Eavesdropping on groups of practitioners of unusual jobs talking shop can be a fascinating experience, as I once discovered when I found myself sitting in a train compartment alongside a bunch of undertakers.
20 Likely where casino-goers might see royal faces
(2,3,5)
ON THE CARDS - DD, the second being mildly cryptic
22 American mobile unit (4)
CELL - DD
25 Ariel’s possibly one (7)
ISRAELI - *(ARIELS) - with "possibly" pointing to the anagram - + I (one), with the whole thing (I believe) being an &Lit since Ariel is indeed a common boy's name in Israel
26 Was Sikh leader involved in Left? (7)
EXISTED - S (Sikh leader) inside (involved in) EXITED (left)
27 Bird, shark and horse that one must avoid (5,5,5)
GREAT WHITE HERON - GREAT WHITE (shark) + HERO{I}N (horse - slang for the drug) without it's I (one must avoid)


Down
1 Diet eating up energy? Do this instead? (5)
FEAST - FAST (diet) 'eats up' E (energy)
2 Popular nieces upset about Republican leader lying?
(9)
INSINCERE - IN (popular) + *(NIECES) - with "upset" signposting the anagram - and R also in the mix (about Republican leader)
3 50% of all sheds last fine with hard roofing (4)
HALF - H goes in front of (Hard 'roofing') AL{L} (all sheds last) + F (abbrev. fine)
4 Deed man, with revision, changed for the better (7)
AMENDED - *(DEED MAN) with "with revision" indicating the anagram
5 Support taking in jolly relations one found in wood? (7)
TERMITE - TEE (support) 'takes in' RM (jolly - a term for a Royal Marine) + IT (relations)
6 I left information around man without due diligence (9)
NEGLIGENT - I + L + GEN all reversed (I left information around) + GENT (man)
7 A part of the body in operation (5)
AFOOT - A + FOOT (part of the body)
8 Excellent place to store stuff out of tot’s reach? (3-6)
TOP DRAWER - DD
13 Voting can lead to Gran supporting old-based sort of
party (9)
BALLOTING - TIN + G (can + 'lead' to Gran) under (supporting) BALL (sort of party) with O on the end (old-based). Not one of Harry's most elegant clues, I'd venture to suggest, but it works...
14 Will demoting Town end in irate announcement? (9)
STATEMENT - TESTAMENT (will) with the initial TE moving further down the word ('demoting' T - Town - and end in iratE). Had not come across T as an abbreviation for Town before and cannot find it in my reference sources, but I'm sure it's fine...
16 Dog re-homed initially with my boss and myself? (3,6)
RED SETTER - R (Re-homed initially) + ED + SETTER (my boss and myself - from Harry's perspective)
18 Drug-fuelled lawyer with mullet maybe rather heedless
(7)
DEAFISH - DA (lawyer) has E inside (drug-fuelled) + FISH (mullet maybe). I wondered a bit about the deaf/heedless equation to start with, but I think the connection is 'refusing to pay attention to' - 'he is deaf to criticism / heedless of criticism, he published it anyway'. Or something like that.
19 Stupid to climb sierra in rainy American region (7)
MIDWEST - DIM reversed (stupid to climb) + S (Sierra - as in the phonetic alphabet) 'in' WET (rainy)
21 Some after seafarer of few words? (5)
TERSE - Hidden in (some) afTER SEafarer
23 On port, head of logistics gets loaded (5)
LADEN - L (head of Logistics) goes 'on' ADEN (port)
24 Plate of hot stuff? (4)
DISH - Terry Thomas and his ilk would have used 'dish' and 'hot stuff' interchangeably to describe an attractive gel. The past is a foreign country...

Jumbo 1305

A puzzle that was on the easier side, with perhaps only one unusual word (6D) and even that came with some helpful wordplay. COD to 34D for the nice surface and a favourite expression of mine.

I was looking through some old issues of New Scientist and found a reference to the supposed fact (from some 2005 research) that people lying down solve anagrams in 10% less time than people standing up. I have no idea if there is any genuine scientific basis for the claim but I just thought I'd resurrect it and pass it on in case anyone fancies doing a field test.

Read more...Collapse )
Well, that was hard. After about two and a half times as long as last week, I finally felt reasonably sure I knew all the answers, but now as I submit the blog five days later I am still be far from sure how to explain all the clues. It feels like we’ve gone back to the olden days, when clues had a more free-wheeling approach!

Mind you, it might just be that I’ve missed the point, and the clues – 25 and 27 ac – are even more clever than usual! We may have to draw on the wisdom of the crowd. If you can add enlightenment in the comments, I’ll update the blog. On edit: in summary, I think the consensus of the wise ones is that 25ac can be parsed as a perhaps slightly awkward and certainly obscure cryptic definition. 27ac seems to be a loose humorous definition with perhaps a gap in the wordplay.

For me, the clue of the day is 12ac, because the answer is so at odds with every part of the clue!! I’ve also seen appreciation expressed for 11dn. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Anagram indicators are in bold italics. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, followed by the wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', deletions are in {curly brackets}.

Across
1 A sign outside court depicting clown (3,3,4)
ACT THE GOAT: A (the letter “a”), THE GOAT (an astrological sign), all around CT (court).
6 Some requirement for café waitressing (1,3)
A FEW: hidden answer.
9 Some simply dreadful abuses (10)
MISEMPLOYS: (SOME SIMPLY*).
10 Bear does, maybe, crawl (4)
FAWN: to bear does would be to fawn.
12 Headgear which is worn by everyone in English cricket side (3-6,3)
TEN-GALLON HAT: one of those nested “Russian doll” clues. THAT (which), around ENG (English) + ON (cricket side), in turn around ALL (everyone).
15 Medal with a chain on friend in US resort (4,5)
PALM BEACH: PAL (friend), MBE (medal), A, CH (chain).
17 Close to farm, sort of grass ditches (5)
MOATS: M is the close to (last letter of) “farm”, OATS is a sort of grass. Combine.
18 Paintings depicting girl at end of the century (5)
TONDI: a TON is a century, DI is a girl who frequently visits our crosswords. A tondo (pl. tondi) is a circular painting.
19 Wood supplier’s men brought back pine for engineers, European (5,4)
ROWAN TREE: OR (men) backwards, WANT (pine), RE (engineers), E (European).
20 Frantically, I insist gym clubs hold nothing against women (12)
MISOGYNISTIC: (I INSIST GYM C O*), where C is for clubs, and O means nothing. Topical.
24 Fix clock (4)
SPOT: double definition. “I’m in a fix”, or “I clock that person”.
25 What one would give to be involved in the group matches! (5,5)
BLOOD DONOR: the first of the mystery clues. Normally a cryptic definition is a valid but unusual or obscure way of describing the answer. Here obviously a blood donor gives blood, and the blood bank works out its blood group, but is this really meant to be a cryptic definition? If so how does it work? In short, what have I missed??  On edit: I think z8b8d8k and jerrywh have seen through it. Replace "what one" by "who", which is a plausible change, and get "who would give [blood] to be involved in the [blood] group matches". So it is indeed a cryptic definition.
26 Deserts partner in the middle — of this? (4)
DUET: I originally classified this as a second mystery clue, although I think I largely unravelled it once I discarded the original idea that “deserts” was the definition, thus giving DUES as the answer – even though none of that seemed to relate to the rest of the clue. On reflection it seems to be the other way round: DUE can be deserts, as in “he got his deserts/due”, although perhaps the two words have slightly different shades of meaning; T is the middle letter of {par}T{ner}. Put them together and get the DUET the two of you are singing, although I’m still puzzled how it can be a duet after you desert partner!
27 What’s played during break time, not during school holidays? (10)
INTERMEZZO: and yet another mystery! If it’s not school holidays, it is of course “IN TERM”, but I have no idea where the “EZZO” comes from. I even wondered for a while when I couldn’t get 23dn, whether this answer might be INTERMEZZI.

Down
1 Confession from doctor that goes in magazine: ...? (4)
AMMO: “I am an M.O.” is the hypothetical confession. Bullets are the ammo that goes in the gun magazine.
2 ... at first this is in Paris Match (4)
TEST: “at first” T{his} gives T; EST is “is” in Paris.
3 Hard, black earth fills escarpment forming UK landmark (6,6)
HUMBER BRIDGE: UMBER for “earth”, between (“filling”) H for hard and B for black, then RIDGE for escarpment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humber_Bridge
4 Camp’s untypical after vacation, shrouded in silence (5)
GULAG: UL is U{ntypica}L “after vacation”. Put it inside (“shrouded in”) GAG, as in to gag/silence dissent.
5 DA who only worked casually (3,3,3)
ANY OLD HOW: (DA WHO ONLY*).
7 Streak on badger one likes to show off (5,5)
FLASH HARRY: FLASH (streak), HARRY (badger). Possibly not a term known to all non-UK solvers.
8 Person presented bouquets, perhaps, with one final flower (4,6)
WINE TASTER: W (with), I (one), NET (final), ASTER (flower). Wines have bouquets among many characteristics.
11 Pearls from Rouen, maybe, for old actor (6,6)
NORMAN WISDOM: pearls of wisdom, obviously, in this case from the capital of Normandy. If you don’t remember Norman Wisdom, you may not be alone.
13 In tele-ads, off and on, sanctimonious chap is made an example of (10)
EPITOMISED: “tele-ads off and on” (every second letter) gives EED. Wrap that around PI (sanctimonious), TOM (random chap), and IS.
14 Non-leftist’s dissembling animated Fred (10)
FLINTSTONE: (NON LEFTIST*). If any of our community is young enough not to remember the Flintstones, please don’t tell me!
16 Hormone turning up one way and another in sodium (9)
ADRENALIN: NA is the chemical symbol for sodium. Wrap that around I (one), LANE (way), RD (road, or another way). Then reverse (“turn up”) the whole assemblage!
21 Field needing seconds to get through (5)
SCOPE: S for seconds, COPE to get through.
22 Japanese school: one that’s raised girl (4)
INEZ: ZEN (Japanese school), I (one). Then reverse (“raise”) the whole thing.
23 Writer lowering one’s spirit (4)
BRIO: BIRO (writer), with the I repositioned.
Another really straightforwardly clued puzzle (for a Friday); you may begin to understand why my tastes have started to branch out to more exotic meats like Club Monthlies and Magpie subscriptions. This took me 7-8 minutes and I'm struggling to find much to say about it, a lot of the definitions being exactly what you'd most expect and a numbers of the surfaces being that kind of borderline gibberish peculiar to crossword clues.

Not my favourite puzzle then but certainly alright, let's focus on some positives! My LOI 19ac seemed a little bit tricker than the rest with its more lateral definition part, I liked the &lit at 21ac, and my COD by far was 24dn, simple enough but a good "story" told by the surface that misleads effectively with the definition. Thank you setter and how did everyone else fare? Maybe if anyone's interested I can tell you about getting to be on the mighty Kevin Ashman's quiz team in a few friendly rounds earlier this week - given that a stuffed bear in my seat would have scored almost as many points for his team as I did I'm not expecting any calls asking me to join the First Division any time soon, but it was a great honour nevertheless! If anyone wants to start a (lower division) team in time for the Quiz League London Summer League, do hit me up...

ACROSS
1 Good sign, mostly, about boys being happy once (8)
GLADSOME - G OME{n} [good | sign "mostly"] about LADS [boys]

5 University location affected our team (6)
CAMPUS - CAMP [affected] + US [our team]

10 Take over kingdom, having others enchanted magically (6,3,6)
ASCEND THE THRONE - (OTHERS ENCHANTED*) ["magically"]

11 Build at the sports ground and refuse to move? (4,1,5)
MAKE A STAND - double def, one quirky and one straightforward reading

13 Feature of reef failing first examination (4)
ORAL - {c}ORAL [feature of reef "failing first"]

15 Greek character recalled problem about British diamond (7)
RHOMBUS - RHO [Greek character] + reversed SUM ["recalled" problem] about B [British]

17 Girl's beginning to use speed in run, though clumsily (7)
GALUMPH - GAL [girl] + U{se} + MPH [speed]

18 Appreciates the money earned by Pole at home (5,2)
TAKES IN - TAKE [the money earned] by S IN [pole | at home]

19 Skirt needing attention around back: not true? (7)
RATLIKE - KILT [skirt] needing EAR [attention] around, the whole reversed ["back"]

21 Some inhabitants of Uranus taking a spin in these? (4)
UFOS - hidden reversed in {inhabitant}S OF U{ranus}, semi-&lit

22 Munitions left by English — not quite the safe distance? (4-6)
ARMS-LENGTH - ARMS L [munitions | left] by ENG [English] + TH{e} ["not quite" the]

25 Unusual sunlamp with Internet control system (10,5)
INSTRUMENT PANEL - (SUNLAMP + INTERNET*) ["unusual..."]

27 Heads of military alliance backed a shuffle in top positions (6)
MAXIMA - M{ilitary} A{lliance} + reversed A MIX ["backed" a shuffle]

28 Old writer, not elaborate, omitting one description of office (4-4)
OPEN PLAN - O PEN PLA{i}N [old | writer | not elaborate, "omitting (I for) one"]

DOWN
1 Weight reduced with a lot of skill and a system of rules (7)
GRAMMAR - GRAMM{e} [weight "reduced"] with AR{t} ["a lot of" skill]

2 Form of current around river bend (3)
ARC - A/C [form of current] around R [river]

3 Use standby shifts for special clothes (6,4)
SUNDAY BEST - (USE STANDBY*) ["shifts"]

4 Satisfied about Biblical text in church music (5)
MOTET - MET [satisfied] about OT [Biblical text]

6 Crack around top of head produces pain (4)
ACHE - ACE [crack] around H{ead}

7 In favour of striking after Government’s initial brainwashing (11)
PROGRAMMING - PRO [in favour of] + RAMMING [striking] after G{overnment}

8 The last crooks to display cunning (7)
STEALTH - (THE LAST*) ["crooks"]

9 Half of team keen to bring in new youngster (8)
TEENAGER - TE{am} ["half of" team] + EAGER [keen] to bring in N [new]

12 Criticises one on Times about supporting strike (5,3,3)
KNOCK FOR SIX - KNOCKS I [criticises | one] on X [times], about FOR [supporting]

14 Line retained by company actor not having a common attachment to line (7-3)
CLOTHES-PIN - L [line] retained by CO THESPI{a}N [company | actor "not having A"]

16 Characteristic events on the radio offended religious centre (8)
SYNDROME - homophone of SINNED ["on the radio", offended] + ROME [religious centre]

18 French city bringing in one million for vacations etc. (7)
TOURISM - TOURS [French city] bringing in I [one] + M [million]

20 Group he left to engage in economics (7)
ECHELON - HE L [he | left] to engage in ECON [economics]

23 Greek characters will be revealed in this dawn (3-2)
SUN-UP - reverse cryptic; SUN "up" = NUS = Greek characters

24 Origin of tattoo? Daughter having booze (4)
DRUM - D [daughter] having RUM [booze]

26 Endlessly queue up, getting nothing for it! (3)
NIL - LIN{e} reversed ["endlessly" queue, "up"]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1019 by Joker

I always enjoy Joker's puzzles and this is no exception. Nothing too 8a or 23a, I think - I got home in well under my average time, but there were a couple of tricky ones along the way. 5a may include a word unfamiliar to some and the definition at 21a is a little tricky to spot. 5a, 15a, 17a, and 20a got me humming. 9a (without an "at" in the middle, which would be a bit 23a) was neat, but my favourite was the lovely example of my favourite sort of clue - the &lit, at 14a. What is more, there are some delightful clue surfaces, such as 5a, 6d and 16d. So, thank-you Joker for the excellent crossword. How did you all find it?

Definitions underlined in italics, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, {} deletions and [] other indicators.
Click here for the answersCollapse )
Greetings all, the appearance of a new Club Special reminds me that I need to post up a blog of the last one. This puzzle is a curious beast (I find): the wordplay is scrupulously fair, and would not feel much out of place in a daily 15x15, but of course the vocabulary is hopelessly obscure, such that if you can get any of it from a couple of checkers you're a better solver than I am, Gunga Din. So there's a lot of toil and trouble that goes into solving one of these, as you try to locate something, anything that could be indicated by the wordplay that has any chance of being a real word. It's all good clean fun, but I wouldn't want to do it more than once a month.

A big part of the enjoyment I think is discovering what all these ridiculous words actually mean, and I have annotated most of them with their definitions below. I'm not sure how much utility assimilating them into one's personal lexicon would provide, but we don't do crosswords because it's useful, really, do we?

ACROSS
1 Fly right into blow dealt with axe (2-6)
OX-WARBLE - R [right] into (BLOW + AXE*) ["...dealt..."]
An ox-warble is a pesky fly that produces a swelling (of the same name) on the back of an ox.

9 Within one year, not prepared to back land-tenure (8)
RYOTWARI - within I YR [one | year], RAW TO [not prepared | to], all "back"
A ryot was a peasant farmer on the Indian subcontinent. Ryotwari was a system by which the British oppressors collected taxes from the ryots, as far as I can make out.

10 Five removing cape run quietly over, uncloaked (2,6)
IN QUERPO - {c}INQUE [five, removing C for cape] + R P O [run | quietly | over]
"En cuerpo" seems to be Spanish for "out of formal dress", or "without a coat" and apparently if you're English you can spell this almost any way you like.

11 Pound, perhaps, short over time, dividing notes in threes (8)
TERZETTI - reversed EZR{a} [Pound, perhaps, "short", "over"] + T [time], "dividing" TE TI [(two) notes]
A terzetto is a trio, making terzetti "threes".

12 Peeler’s half dislodging plug in nut plant (10)
MACROZAMIA - MAC{ad->ROZ{zer}}AMIA. A peeler is a ROZZER, take the first half and use it to replace the AD [plug] in MACADAMIA to discover another plant.
A genus of Australian cycads. Presumably quite large.

14 I stand for a second in game, playful if wary (4)
ALFA - second letters of {g}A{me}, {p}L{ayful} {i}F {w}A{ry}.
A in the international phonetic alphabet. The very subtle definition part makes this my COD.

15 Female comic agreed gags: she had victims in stitches (7)
DEFARGE - F [female] that (AGREED*) ["comic"] "gags".
In Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, a tricoteuse who, Fate-like, encodes in her knitting the names of people to be killed.

17 Rare solemnity in dispatching pupils once attendant’s released slip (7)
OBSEQUY - OBS [pupils once] + EQU{err}Y [attendant, who has lost ERR meaning "slip"]
Obsequies are funeral rites and solemnities; the singular form is rarely seen.

21 Involving vital element, poisonous with lead removed (4)
OXIC - {t}OXIC [poisonous, with leading letter removed]
Something relating to oxygen.

22 Do next task, arranging places for drying out (5,5)
DETOX TANKS - (DO NEXT TASK*) ["arranging"]
Aka detoxification centres, rumours of verlaine's intimate acquaintance with which over the years are greatly exaggerated.

23 One used to extract sap keeping stone in beak once (8)
JUSTICER - JUICER [one used to extract sap] "keeping" ST [stone]
An old word for a maintainer or administrator of justice. Beak is of course slang for a magistrate, as in "up before the beak".

25 What regularly angry hosts work on by not having relatives for dinner? (8)
EXOPHAGY - EH A{n}G{r}Y [what? | "regularly" angry] "hosts" OP [work] on X [by]
Exophagy is the etiquette among polite cannibals stating that one should not eat one's own kinsfolk.

26 Stand up for Scotland? Government department not getting in way (8)
MISTRYST - M{in}ISTRY [government department, "not getting IN"] + ST [way]
To disappoint by not keeping an engagement, i.e. to "stand someone up", in Scotland.

27 Vulture, one flying through area for last of carrion (8)
ZOPILOTE - ZO{n->PILOT}E. Take ZONE, an area, and replace the last letter of {carrio}N with PILOT [one flying].
A smaller American vulture, most notably a turkey buzzard or urubu.

DOWN
2 Ten with aversion to certain insects — and salt (8)
XANTHATE - X [ten] with ANT HATE [aversion to certain insects!]
A salt of xanthic acid, which I hope is as yellow as it sounds.

3 Brief possibly pornographic song that has makings of rock (8)
ADULARIA - ADUL{t} ["brief" possibly pornographic] + ARIA [song]
A transparent orthoclase feldspar, named for the Adula group in the Alps.

4 Keen at first to have a go at climbing Highland tree (4)
BIRK - K{een} + RIB [to have a go at], "climbing"
A Scots birch.

5 Rhetorical question somewhat tame to readers, on reflection (7)
EROTEMA - hidden reversed in {t}AME TO RE{aders}
A rhetorical question; basically just the Greek word for "question".

6 Bearing old vase and vestment girl holds cross (7-3)
JOURNAL-BOX - O URN + ALB [old | vase + vestment] that JO [girl] holds, plus X [cross]
A box or bearing for a journal; a journal being that part of a shaft or axle which is in contact with and supported by a bearing. It'll come in handy one day I'm sure.

7 Rounded characters, etc, mostly mean a large measure of intelligence (8)
NASTALIQ - NAST{y} ["mostly" mean] + A L IQ [a | large | measure of intelligence]
Persian cursive script. As well as rounded characters it has long horizontal strokes.

8 Big wheel in bird enclosure, not area having young plants (8)
VIVIPARY - VIP [big wheel] in {a}VIARY [bird enclosure, not A for area]
Viviparity, that is to say producing bulbils or young plants in the flower clusters.

13 Parrot-fashion, digitally remastering CD, got lazy, repeating last bit (10)
ZYGODACTYL - (CD GOT LAZYY*) ["remastering..."]
Having two toes in front and two toes behind, in the manner of a parrot. It's all the fashion these days, I understand.

15 Yellow pack arriving in birthday post (8)
DOORJAMB - OR JAM [yellow | pack] arriving in D.O.B. [birthday]
The sidepiece or post of a door. Quite a crossword when this is the least obscure word.

16 Junk food is hard to get in Dutch province (8)
FRIESISH - FRIES IS H [junk food | is | hard]
Of the Dutch province of Friesland.

18 Bow, once, before prince related to Byzantine governor (8)
EXARCHAL - EX-ARC [bow, once] before HAL [prince]
Of an exarch, which is a Byzantine provincial governor, especially of Italy.

19 Strip title from UK, ninth and last in fencing, sadly (8)
UNKNIGHT - (UK NINTH {fencin}G*) ["sadly"]
To divest of knighthood.

20 Religious guru, celebrity, unknown beyond confines of establishment (7)
STARETZ - STAR [celebrity] + Z [unknown] beyond E{stablishmen}T
A holy man or spiritual advisor in Russia, also spelt starets.

21 Purple emblem from board game, one played for longer (4)
GOLP - GO [board game] + LP [one played for longer]
A purple roundel in heraldry. Check your own family coat of arms!

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