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I enjoyed this one. It has some novel wordplay, only two anagrams, a couple of cats, no obscure antelopes or plants, a bit of French geography, and a reference to one of my favourite bands. It took me around 25 minutes to do and parse before writing this up. As usual I was prompted to look up origins of things afterwards, on my endless search for new trivia to absorb for quizzes, so forgive me if I waffle on here and there. Maybe I'll have a waffle for breakfast tomorrow  instead of 29a.

1 Naughty Zulus stop talking! (6)
IMPISH -  The IMPI (or an IMPI) are (is) a band of Zulu warriors; SH ! = stop talking.
4 Hiccup interrupting, say, Persian talk (8)
CHITCHAT - A Persian, say = CAT, insert HITCH = hiccup.
10 Because of every other character leaving jobless, take industrial action (4,5)
DOWN TOOLS - Because of = DOWN TO, O L S = alternate letters of j O b L e S s.
11 One creeping on round, sheepish? (5)
OVINE - O = round, VINE = one creeping.
12 Be deceiving: a protracted row starts (6,5)
STRING ALONG - A LONG = a protracted; STRING = row.
14 Dish in constant use, ultimately (3)
PIE - PI = constant, π; E = use ultimately. The other day I foolishly asked Alexa to tell me π to 1000 decimal places, I had to tell her to shut up before the end. But she knows! Try it if you're lonely or can't sleep.
15 Asylum seeker to cater for again, mostly, embracing universal good (7)
REFUGEE - RE-FEED would be to cater for again; delete the D (as in mostly) and insert U ang G for universal good.
17 Queen's issue clear, one requiring king's backing (6)
KITTEN - Regulars know that Queen in puzzles often refers to a lady cat. Clear = NETT, I, K, all reversed.
19 Back of garden behind houses in French city (6)
NANTES - Your NATES are your buttocks, from the Latin plural, insert N being the back of garden. I went to a few six lettered French cities ending in S, (Cannes, Rennes, Vannes, Tarbes, Troyes, Amiens...) before seeing why  it was Nantes, which is France's sixth largest city, on the Loire, a thriving place and pleasant enough to visit.
21 Introduce first of paratroopers, then withdraw (7)
PRECEDE - P(aratroopers), RECEDE = withdraw. My hair withdrew 40 years ago.
23 That girl's pa has lost weight? (3)
HER - FATHER = pa, no longer has FAT, so has lost weight.
24 Lip, with cheek very close (4,3,4)
NECK AND NECK - Both lip and cheek can mean neck.
26 Cash in silver, instantly withdrawn (5)
WONGA - Reverse AG = silver, NOW = instantly. Apparently (says Wiktionary) Wonga derives from wongar or wangar, Romany word for coal, and coal itself was also used as a slang word for money in the 18c and 19c.
27 Complex, getting neighbouring Greek island to squeeze in (9)
BYZANTINE - BY = neighbouring, ZANTE is a lovely Greek island (also known as Zakynthos), insert ("squeeze'') IN. The complex meaning seems to derive directly from either the architecture (many mosaics) or the complex layers of government which existed in the Byzantine Empire.
29 Breakfast is not a sausage, also refusing alcohol, in mess (8)
OMELETTE - O = not a sausage, nothing; TT = refusing alcohol, inside MELÉE = mess. I don't much like this definition, an omelette is not exclusively, or even mainly, a breakfast dish. The spelling -ette is the usual British and omelet is more American, although both are permitted either side of the ocean it seems. A rather strange clue IMO.
30 Place where a long tooth shortened, by the way (6)
STATUS - ST = street, way; A TUS(K).

1 Asian runner getting taste for work (8)
INDUSTRY - The river INDUS runs 2,880 km through Asia, and TRY = taste.
2 Influence someone £0.01 overdrawn? (5)
POWER - Well if someone is a P OWER they owe someone else a penny, I suppose, so are that overdrawn.
3 Some dipso then? (3)
SOT - Hidden in DIP(SO T)HEN.
5 Cushion can keep foot warm? (7)
HASSOCK - A foot which HAS SOCK should be warmer.
6 Interpret ideas, however ahead of the pace (7-4)
THOUGHT-READ - However - THOUGH, TREAD = pace. Not sure the definition is quite on the money.
7 Rug is cheaper one I replaced (9)
HAIRPIECE - an anagram at last. (CHEAPER I I)*.
8 Ancient city, above all, unfinished (6)
THEBES - Above all = THE BEST, unfinish it.
9 Heart of gold in fellow (6)
MORALE - OR = gold inside MALE.
13 About to appear, sense of anticipation overwhelming a singer (11)
NIGHTINGALE - NIGH = about to appear, a TINGLE could be of anticipation, insert A (i.e. A is overwhelmed).
16 Bouquet guy found in Bordeaux, perhaps? (9)
FRAGRANCE - RAG = guy, tease, insert into FRANCE where Bordeaux definitely is.
18 Liking snakes, we must be crazy (8)
20 After pillage, save brass instrument (7)
SACKBUT - SACK = pillage, BUT = save, as in but for, save for. Seen a few times before.
21 Square food item topped, article covered (6)
PIAZZA - a PIZZA is a 'food item topped' and it covers A an article.
22 Band still in fashion? On the contrary (3,3)
THE WHO - Well, I still like them,at least the original band's stuff if not the reconstituted version. I even use the intro to 'Won't get fooled again' as a ring tone, to annoy Mrs K. If they were out of fashion and forgotten and someone mentioned them, I guess you might say 'THE WHO?' At least I think that's where the setter is going with this. EDIT thanks to Paul below, we now see there's even more to this, or at least a proposal to that effect. Very clever.
25 Number in team half lost after capsizing, survive (5)
EXIST - Put SIX (a number) into TE(AM) = team half lost, then capsize or reverse it all. E(XIS)T.
28 Fastener, one with screw loose? (3)
NUT - Double definition, one whimsical.

Quick Cryptic 1217 by Orpheus

I suspect this will be another puzzle rated too hard by many. I thought I'd got lucky with some half-remembered vocabulary, along with trusting the wordplay where my ignorance was exposed, but ended up with one wrong (20ac, see below). I wasn't going to chalk up a PB today anyway - I spent at least 5 minutes trying to figure out and parse my last two in (10ac and 4dn).

Until recently, I've not really been interested in solving at speed nor improving (or even recording) my times, so I quite enjoy the frustration of struggling with a few educational clues - thanks Orpheus! I'm starting to get the itch, though, and have decided to try and get quicker. Maybe it's all the recent chatter about the championships, and the stunning display from many of the TftT team! To this end, I've been reviewing some websites that I dimly remember reading in the past, and post the links here for any other beginner- or intermediate-ability solvers who might be interested. If you know of any other useful general resources, let me know in the comments.

The (highly binge-able) "Cracking the Cryptic" videos on YouTube.

Two interesting stream of consciousness blogs by Mark Goodliffe (à la Jeremy) from 2008 and 2012.

Some very useful tips from the legendary Peter B, especially this page on abbreviations.

Anyway, here's the blog. Definitions underlined.


7 Radio-controlled aircraft, one used by medical practitioner (5)
DRONE - ONE by DR (medical practitioner).
8 European computer technology a couple of men follow (7)
ITALIAN - IT (computer technology) which AL and IAN (a couple of men) follow.
10 Genuine misprint (7)
LITERAL -double definition. I saw the answer from checkers, and had a vague sense it might fit the first definiton. I did not know the second definition.
11 Frogman in seedy bar by river (5)
DIVER - DIVE (seedy bar) and R (river).
12 Like bishops, work in special complex (9)
EPISCOPAL - OP (opus, work) in an angram of (complex) SPECIAL.
14 Note brick-carrier brought back (3)
DOH - reversal of (brought back) HOD (brick-carrier). I knew there was a word for the thing one stacks bricks into, but wouldn't have recalled it had I not seen the instruction to check the notes (doh-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-doh) backwards.
15 Dismiss unknown person in Casualty (3)
AXE - X (unknown person) in A and E (casualty). I was going to ask about the superfluous 'person', as 'unknown' is sufficient to indicate X (or Y, or Z); perhaps it could refer to the X-mark of an unknown signatory?
16 Storyteller working near court (9)
RACONTEUR - anagram of (working) NEAR COURT. In my haste, I put 'recounter' in without checking the fodder, and had to wait to get 5dn before seeing my error.
18 Mature insect, one initially misidentified in the past (5)
IMAGO - I (one), first letter of (initially) Misidentified, and AGO in the past. Dim memories of an A-Level biology lesson, but I wouldn't have been able to recall it without the wordplay.
20 Publication Buddhist priest rejected: dentists use it (7)
AMALGAM - MAG (publication) and LAMA (buddhist priest), all reversed (rejected). This was my error! I had 'amalgum' (reversal of the priest then 'gum' for something dentists use. I'd read an amalgum, but no such publication exists. Every definition up to this point has been at the beginning, so perhaps I was on autopilot!
22 Bringing in openwork fabric (7)
NETTING - double definition.
23 Business leader with responsibility for extra perk (5)
BONUS - first letter (leader) of Business, then ONUS (responsibility).
1 Debasement of drug in grown-up share (12)
ADULTERATION - E (ecstasy, drug) in ADULT (grown-up) and RATION (share).
2 Tories to reform: one’s slow to move! (8)
TORTOISE - anagram of (reform) TORIES TO.
3 Endure Paddington, for example (4)
BEAR - double definition.
4 Charge the least possible amount for boost (6)
FILLIP - FILL (charge, as in "charge your glasses") and 1P (the least possible amount). Not a word I can remember ever having seen, and clued very sneakily.
5 Instrument chap at party left at home (8)
MANDOLIN - MAN (chap), DO (party), L (left), and IN (at home).
6 Capital that is sunk in key venture at first (4)
KIEV - IE (that is, inside (sunk into) the first letters of (at first) Key and Venture.
9 Monster thorn flourished nearest the Arctic (12)
NORTHERNMOST - anagram of (flourished) MONSTER THEN.
13 Throw up in vehicle, one principally carrying disinfectant (8)
CARBOLIC - LOB (throw) reversed (up) inside CAR (vehicle), I (one) and the first of (principally) Carrying.
14 Digging up road to the north, moving slowly (8)
DREDGING - RD (road) backwards (to the north) and EDGING (moving slowly).
17 Rocky extremities of crater ageing gradually (6)
CRAGGY - first and last letters (extremities) of CrateR AgeinG and GraduallY.
19 Affectedly cultured chap finally thrown out of do (4)
ARTY - last letter of (finally) chap removed from (thrown out of) pARTY (do).
21 Pulpit in Chesham Bois (4)
AMBO - hidden in (in) cheshAM BOis. I couldn't think of another way to interpret the clue, and with a 'b' in third place, this went in with a shrug.

Times Cryptic 27188

My solving time was off the scale and it was well past an hour when I got to my final two missing answers at 16dn and 24dn. By that stage I had completely run out of ideas so I set the puzzle aside for a while and when I returned to it the answers miraculously came to mind. I was very pleased just to complete this without resorting to aids.

No change of blogging style from me, as I altered it 2-3 years ago to give more detail when it became apparent that we had an influx of new contributors joining us from the QC. Also, as I blog for both puzzles, it was handier for me not to have to switch gear when moving across from one to the other. As for revealing my thought processes when solving, I wouldn't wish to inflict some of them on people who may be of a nervous disposition! One can apply straight logic only so far and there comes a point where lateral thinking is required and that's seldom easy to explain in simple terms.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1216 by Howzat

Well, that was fun. I finished just shy of 14 minutes which would indicate a difficult QC in any case, but I’m now looking forward to writing the blog to piece together the many bits I’ve missed. I must confess to some biffing around and about the grid. LOsI 21dn and 3dn. There were two stand out clever short clues (14,16ac) which together merit COD - more of those later - here we go into the details.

Read more...Collapse )

QC 1215 by Felix

Well here I am blogging at you, not, as predicted in my last blog two weeks ago, from New York after a cruise down from Canada, but instead from the majestic streets of Hammersmith as per usual. A family illness sadly caused us to abort our holiday, so instead of soaking up North American culture for a couple of weeks I find myself collating receipts and medical reports to support an insurance claim, which I calculate should occupy a similar amount of my time. (Sorry, that's just me being grumpy. It'll probably only take me a day.).

Partly as a result of that, and partly just because it's been the way my crossword life has been going the last few weeks, I am writing this from a very limited viewpoint. If you have been reading my recent fortnightly blogs you will realise that I have been doing the 15 x 15 as regularly as ever, but that I have only been looking at the quickie on my appointed blog days (so I don't know in the intervening time what the difficulty level has been like - sorry). All I know is that on my last two blogs I have encountered what you might call 'quickie stiffies' (stop sniggering there at the back). I have written the blogs on these days thinking that dementia is setting in and that my mental faculties are rapidly deteriorating, only to find from the comments that everybody else has found them difficult too, and that I am in fact providing a more useful service than normal, with several people being genuinely grateful that I have been able to shine some light into their darkness (for which, of course, I am in my own turn grateful).

So once again, this is the first quickie I have done since my last blog two weeks ago, and I would say it is a return to normal standards. Medium difficulty, with no fewer than six pretty straightforward anagrams that I can count on a quick read-through and at least two fairly obvious double definitions, with two or three slightly more difficult clues to push me up to the 10-minute mark. Overall I found the clues pleasant and witty and I am grateful to Felix for taking me on a nostalgic tour of some of my youthful enthusiasms (such as T S Eliot and topology). Great fun.

And before signing off perhaps I could just give my personal comment on the 'stiffies' mentioned above. There were a lot of comments on the blog complaining that they were too hard for quickies, but personally I disagree. I found them genuinely enjoyable. I am sorry if they put some people off, but equally well I am sure that there were some people who are working up to the 15 x 15 who found them a very valuable stepping stone. You can't have a 'standard difficulty' every day for either the quickie or the 15 x 15, you can only have a range of difficulty with any single crossword falling either side of the mean. In terms of the 15 x 15, we tend to talk of 'Monday' and 'Friday' puzzles, and when we encounter a particularly elegant example we all stand back and applaud. I felt similarly with those last two quickie puzzles because they show how far you can go with that format (and to be honest I am sure that if the setters really tried they could go a lot further). There have been some people commenting on the blog asking if we can 'flag up' when there is an 'easy' 15 x 15 that the inexperienced population can have a go at. Such people could presumably also regard a 'difficult' 13 x 13 as a similar scale of challenge.

Inevitably, there will be easy and difficult 13 x 13s, and the same for 15 x 15s. Together they form a spectral ladder which the novice can aspire to climb until they reach a level at which they can look down and regard a successful daily 15 x 15 solve as a formality rather than an occasional cause for celebration.

It remains for me to say:

FOI 1A, as it should be. A nice welcoming anagram to kick off with.

LOI 14D (I think).

COD? I think I will go for 15A. An elegant mechanism that took me drifting gently down the Thames with my beloved Mr Eliot to finish up (as I see it) on Margate Sands. Even though this location is mentioned earlier in the poem and not specifically referred to in this final part it seems likely to me that this was his intended final destination.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can lay my mental mitts on.

1 Catamaran ordered to transport grand historic document (5,5)
MAGNA CARTA - anagram of CATAMARAN with G (grand) 'transported' (i.e. put inside).
8 Farm building containing old cut of beef (5)
BARON - BARN (farm building) 'containing' O (old) gives BARON (a double sirloin).
9 Girl’s tunic boy picked up by mistake (3,4)
GYM SLIP - GYM sounds like JIM, so if you heard someone saying GYM you might instead 'pick up' JIM. Put this 'by' SLIP (mistake) and there can be no mistake.
10 A French work put forward without being challenged (9)
UNOPPOSED - UN (French indefinite article) + OP (opus, work) + POSED (put forward).
12 Syrupy stuff, mostly wholesome (3)
GOO - GOO is 'mostly' GOOd (wholesome).
13 Small pieces of coal, loose (5)
SLACK - double definition.
15 The two letters often associated with Lowry’s estate (5)
LANDS - L(aurence) S(tephen) Lowry was the guy who painted the 'matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs', and is almost always referred to as 'L S' Lowry. Thus L AND S are the 'two letters often associated with Lowry'. Put them closer together and you have LANDS, a mostly archaic term for a person's estate, as in The Waste Land by T(homas) S(tearns) Eliot (coincidentally another guy who is most commonly referred to by his initials):

"I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?"
17 Rag and bone (3)
RIB - another double definition.
18 Remedy nun concocted in historic English meadow (9)
RUNNYMEDE - straight anagram of REMEDY NUN.
20 Kit out for short film recording (7)
PROVIDE - PRO (for) + VIDE ('short' VIDEo).
21 One hundred and fifty live in part of Ireland (5)
CLARE - CL (Roman 150) + ARE (if to be is to live, then in the second person YOU ARE can mean YOU LIVE). I suppose the meaning is most powerfully illustrated in the biblical quote where Yahweh proclaims his name by saying "Before Abraham was, I AM".
22 Look after sea eagles, small, being kind (10)
TENDERNESS - TEND (look after) + ERNES (sea eagles) + S (small).
1 I miss pub: sort that’s put out special ribbons? (6,6)
MOBIUS STRIPS - straight anagram of I MISS PUB SORT gives these topological curiosities. A Mobius strip is a band which has only one surface. If you want some fun you can make one yourself by taking a strip of paper and putting a single twist into it before gluing it into a band. You can then draw a line from any starting point and follow all the way round the strip back to the starting point and realise that your line has passed through the whole surface of the strip thus demonstrating that the structure has only one surface. Then if you cut the strip down the middle, that is, along the line that you have just drawn, instead of ending up with two strips as you might expect, you get just one larger strip. Even more strangely (or maybe less strangely, depending on what sort of scale of strangeness you are using) if you then cut that resulting strip down the middle you do now end up with two strips, but they are linked together as in a paper decoration chain.
2 Actress filling sugar bowls and cigar boxes (5)
GARBO - hidden word: ciGAR BOxes. [jackkt has kindly pointed out that I omitted to mention the other hidden GARBO in suGAR BOwls, see comments below.]
3 Girl’s warning oddly ignored (3)
ANN - take wArNiNg and ignore the odd letters...
4 An uncannily grim, upsetting story, that’s initially impressive (6)
AUGUST - ... and now take all the initial letters (initially): An Uncannily Grim Upsetting Story That's.
5 Male deity unexpectedly requiring a pause in operation? (4-5)
TIME-DELAY - another straight anagram of MALE DEITY ('unexpectedly').
6 Keep signalling vessel (6)
FLAGON - if you keep signalling with a flag, you might be said to 'FLAG ON'.
7 Luther’s prose adapted for stuffy artisans? (12)
UPHOLSTERERS - straight anagram of LUTHER'S PROSE ('adapted').
11 Metal rod, old penny and diamonds for gambling game (5,4)
POKER DICE - POKER (metal rod) + D (denarius: an old penny as in pounds, shillings and pence (l. s. d.) in the days before the decimal scourge washed ashore) + ICE (diamonds). (NB no BREXIT opinion is being expressed here, just a simple nostalgic fondness for the eccentric old British monetary system).
14 England”: book penned by a famous author (6)
ALBION - B (book) 'penned by' A LION (a famous author). A lion in the modern sense can be any sort of celebrity but was much more likely to refer to an author back in the days when literature was king. Albion is a romantic name for old England (when everybody used to reckon in pounds, shillings and pence, see above).
16 Nude DA, wandering around like a zombie? (6)
UNDEAD - straight anagram of NUDE DA.
19 Dodge publicity, going in the night before (5)
EVADE - AD (publicity) 'going in' EVE (the night before, as in Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve).
21 Vehicle that’s about right (3)
CAR - CA (circa, about) + R (right).

Times 27187 - Torcher, say?

There will be no time and no music today, because I had to solve this on the train on the way home from New York City, and I had to give up after an hour with one unsolved.   When I returned to the puzzle later, I decided to go for a likely answer and biffed it, without being able to make much of the cryptic.   In the end, my solution turned out to be correct.

My solve was an interesting example of getting to a correct solution without really knowing everything that is needed to solve this puzzle.   I had a hard time getting started, and several of the clues were definitely a stretch.   Taking a hint from Jeremy, without completely altering my blogging style, I'm going to go into a little more detail than usual about how I managed to solve some of the more challenging ones.  Anyone moving up from the Quickie to the main puzzle is eventually going to run into some more difficult puzzles, and developing a good technique will enable you to solve them....eventually.

1 Block entrance to office used by surgeon (4)
VETO - VET + O[ffice].   Not obvious because of the word order, and skipped over until crossing letters became available.
3 Having several parties subsequently in action (10)
TRILATERAL - TRI(LATER)AL.   It seems perfectly simple, but I was fixated on BI and THEN.   Once I tried LATER, it became obvious....but that was much later.
9 Keys a morbid type reportedly kept in lightweight anorak (7)
CAGOULE - C(A GOUL)E.   One of my last ones in, and very difficult.  With all the checkers, I realized that C and E were the keys, and you want A G_U_ in the middle.  But what?   I considered 'a glum', but 'glum' is not a noun and doesn't sound like 'glum', it is 'glum'.  Eventually, another word rang a vague bell in the back of my mind, although if you had asked me what a 'cagoule' is before I started solving I would have had no idea.  The other possible meanings of 'lightweight anorak' offer additional chances for confusion, but here 'anorak' actually refers to an anorak.
11 Small network I’m working to turn around (7)
NOMINAL - LAN + I'M + ON backwards.   I had biffed 'minimal', but couldn't get it to work, so I just started writing in likely equivalents from right to left, read out what I had, and there it was!
12 Intimidates thirty, having change of heart? (9)
THREATENS - THRE(-e,+A) TENS.   I saw at once there must be some fancy synonym for 'thirty', but I actually biffed the answer from the checkers and worked backwards.
13 Broadcast protected by company’s capital (5)
CAIRO - C(AIR)O, one of the useful starter clues that went straight in - there weren't many of them.
14 Welding substance damaging on eye? Exactly (12)
OXYACETYLENE - Anagram of ON EYE? EXACTLY.   I saw this was an anagram, but the two Y's and an X gave me pause.  It was only when I got the first letter from the crossing word that I realized what it must be.
18 Camp fellow frames conditions covering posh wrapping material (6,6)
BUTTER MUSLIN -BUT(TERM(U)S)LIN.   The most difficult clue, IMO, the dreaded obscure answer with an obscure cryptic - obscure to me, anyway.  An early attempt to put 'ifs' around U was not successful, but when I had more crossers I saw it must be 'terms' around U, and that the last word was probably 'muslin'.   I thought of 'butter muslin' almost at once, but I still trawled through the alphabet in search of a better answer.   But in the end, I supposed that if there is cheesecloth, then butter muslin might exist as well, and I was right.   Of course, if you live in the UK and know who Billy Butlin was, the whole thing is much easier.
21 Hope and believe this is bound to be heard (5)
TRUST - sounds like TRUSSED.   I was hung up on 'tied' until I got the first and last letter.
22 Deliver additional note about island clubs (9)
EXTRICATE - EXTR(I,C)A + TE.   A lot of possibilities in a short clue, but once you think of 'extra' it really can't be anything else.
24 First-class bishop, single chap, backing state (7)
NAMIBIA - A1 B, I MAN all backwards.   Another one where you will be rewarded by meekly following the instructions.
25 Suffering fever, knight concealed torment (7)
ANGUISH - A(N)GUISH.   A write-in for me, because I just solved the same clue in another puzzle, I can't remember where.
26 S African native — worker in Francis Bret’s time? (10)
HARTEBEEST -  HARTE(BEE)'S T.  I saw 'worker' and 'South Africa' and saw immediately what the answer must be.  Bret Harte was a 19th-century American writer, for those who don't recognize him.  He had to change the spelling of his name from 'Hart' in order to get the clue to work.
27 Fish trap creepy duke put out (4)
WEIR - WEIR[d],   a chestnut, and my FOI.   I had to search the whole puzzle to find an easy one!
1 Calling out initially for last of tea in break (8)
VOCATION - V(-a,+O)CATION.   I saw that this was a letter-substitution clue, but I needed a little help to figure out what the word to operate on was.   The -tion' ending was sufficient, and the initial V allowed me to get VETO as well..
2 Stone the writer picked up after row about golf (8)
TIGEREYE - TI(G)ER + EYE, sounds like I.   I spotted the TIGER part quickly enough, but wasn't sure about the rest until I got the crossing Y.
4 Magistrate constantly upset about illegal drug (5)
REEVE - EVE(E)R upside-down, a compendium of crossword cliches leading to one of our favorite magistrates, along with the doge.
5 Concerning two bodies jointly travelling in a Rolls round university (9)
LUNISOLAR - Anagram of IN A ROLLS around U.   Another toughie, and at first I played RR around U.  Or maybe 'rolls' are the sort that are served with dinner, which could lead to all kinds of possibilities.  Eventually, the checkers made it clear this must be an anagram, but even with all the checkers it was very difficult to place the remaining letters.   I juggled a U, an I, and an O, and eventually I found it.
6 Taking a while polishing off porridge? (4-9)
TIME-CONSUMING - TIME + CONSUMING, in the prison-sentence sense of 'porridge'.   I thought this might be a cryptic definition for 'life sentence', which fortunately does not fit, but managed to get it eventaully.
7 Managed to get record, holding second of rivals off (6)
RANCID - RAN + C([r]I[vals])D.   You would think by now that the setters would know that a CD is not a record, particularly with all the LP and EP clues that keep popping up.
8 Proceed lumberingly and see ballot set up (6)
LOLLOP - LO + POLL upside down.   An easy one; clearly, LO and POLL must be involved in some combination, but it is not clear whether to invert one or both, so this took several tries.
10 Female noble gripped by message defying explanation (13)
UNACCOUNTABLE - UNA + C(COUNT)ABLE.   Another one that should have been easy, but since the second C is the crosser, it is easy to suppose that the girl must be four letters, ruling out the obvious UNA.    I got around to the idea that there must be two C's only after trying a lot of four-letter females and four-letter nobles.
15 Petite gal skipping small part of book (5,4)
TITLE PAGE - Anagram of PETITE GAL, a relatively simple clue.
16 Like lime perhaps from prickly plant in winding lane (8)
ALKALINE - AL(IKALI)NE, where the outside is an anagram of LANE.   I couldn't think of an appropriate prickly plant, and in the end just biffed it.  'Kali' is probably more familiar as either a Hindu goddess or a Linux distro.
17 Loose article pinched by ’awker, perhaps? (8)
UNTETHER - UNTE(THE)R, i.e. the stage cockney's version of 'hunter'.
19 Stink son on Web kicked up, about hackers primarily (6)
STENCH - S + NET upside-down + C + H[ackers], a very convoluted clue, but the answer is obvious.
20 Portion of flavourful marine bird (6)
FULMAR - hidden in [faith]FUL MAR[ine], a bird I had only vaguely heard of.
23 Athenian courtesan doing for certain Asians (5)
THAIS - Double definition.   Thaïs is a courtesan in an opera by Massenet, but she is Alexandrian, not Athenian.   However, few solvers are likely to know or care.

The Times Crosswords Championships 2018

If anyone has happened to glance at the TfT right-hand sidebar, you will see that the results of the 2018 Championships are out, and we are once again providing links to the results.

Other than the actual results, interested parties who did not attend know little or nothing, as the Times does not usually publish its report until the following Monday.  However, it is evident from both the results and Keriothe's comment in the Sunday puzzle blog that the great Magoo has finally been dethroned, and we have a new champion.

Well, here is a thread to discuss this exciting development.   Contestants and onlookers are all invited to comment at length, although I am asking that you not reveal the actual clues and answers, as the Times will be reusing the puzzles in its regular daily rota.

Mephisto 3035 - Tim Moorey

Well this was an odd solve - I found myself putting a lot of these entries in from definition. It helped that there were a few obscure words that I use on occasion, but I found myself scratching my head over wordplay, and had to come back to the wordplay in order to write this up. I think I've sorted it all out.

First definitions are underlined in clues.

Away we go...

1 One headless attack in case of mate at end of tether? (12)
MANSLAUGHTER - A(one), then ONSLAUGHT(attack) missing the first letter inside M(at)E then the last letter of tetheR. An all-in-one, the wordplay is also the definition.
9 Obscure hotel around ravine (7)
INKHORN - INN(hotel) surrounding KHOR(ravine) - INKHORN is given in Chambers as an adjective form for obscure. Very tricky clue.
10 Elegant young girl getting rear pinched (4)
CHIC - CHICK(young girl) missing the last letter
12 Mostly mentioned clips sounded clearly something like a fiddle (7)
SARANGI - SAI(d) (mentioned) rurrounding RANG(sounded clearly)
13 What I give when fully committed and wild in Perth (5)
MYALL - Perth being Australia here, and I could give MY ALL
15 Safe shelter in “new” Durham town (8)
PETERLEE - PETER(safe), LEE(shelter) - a friend of mine from high school lives there now... if you call that living
16 Bit of embarrassment after dancing act reveals derrière (5)
NACHE - E(mbarassment) after NACH(Indian dance performance)
18 No good, must get late lunch order (11, three words)
CALL THE TUNE - anagram of GET,LATE,LUNCH missing G
19 Legendary Golgotha is piece of interment ground (11)
HAGIOLOGIST - anagram of GOLGOTHA,IS,I(nterment)
24 Concerned with intestines, one former physician years ago leaving hospital (5)
ILEAC - I, LEACH(alternative for LEECH, former physician) missing H
26 Bible book’s used for Vic in malignancy and idleness (8)
OTIOSITY - OT(Bible books) replacing VIC in VICIOSITY
27 One left old-timer returning for money as before (5)
PAOLI - I, L, OAP(old age pensioner, old-timer) - all reversed
28 Groundsel, perhaps wild seen on Channel Islands round (7)
SENECIO - anagram of SEEN, then CI(Channel Islands), O(round)
29 Lied about old age (4)
EILD - anagram of LIED
30 Striking content of red wine (German) (7)
TANNING - you'll find TANNINs in red wine, then G(German)
31 Muse on second article by Head, mostly for a Greek scholar (12)
ERATOSTHENES - ERATO(Muse), S(second), THE(article) then NES(s) (head)

1 A hateful guy, do not spare him (11)
2 Fruit and nuts without shell (5)
ANANA - BANANAS(nuts) missing the outside letters
3 Special mince inclined to be cut for lamb kebab (8)
SHASHLIK - S(special), HASH(mince), LIK(e) (inclined)
4 White border once with no end of geranium (6)
ARGENT - MARGENT(old spelling for MARGIN, border), missing the last letter of geraniuM
5 Number one chance, with friend right away (5)
UNITY - OPPORTUNITY(chance) missing OPPO(friend) and R(right)
6 Cell entrance blocked by fellows endlessly (6)
GAMETE - GATE(entrance) with ME(n) (fellows) inside
7 The college employs bodies on plant (9)
THALLUSES - ;T, HALL(college), USES(employs)
8 I have an inclination in speech for her (6)
EILEEN - sounds like I LEAN
11 Purchase in clubs more than once records and Smarties (11, two words)
CLEVER CLOGS - LEVER(purchase) in C,C(clubs more than once), then LOGS(records)
14 Imitation marble so glacial in new design (9)
SCAGLIOLA - anagram of SO,GLACIAL. Weirdly enough it is the name of a gallery close to my apartment
17 Component of dye as before reduced well in Italy (8)
STILBENE - STIL(l) (as before), then BENE(well in Italian)
20 Star in key broadcast (6)
ALTAIR - ALT(keyboard key), AIR(broadcast)
21 Duke, otherwise heading for “Shakespeare in Love” (6)
ORSINO - OR(otherwise), then S(hakespeare), IN, O(love)
22 Best in a mess maybe thoroughly upset (6)
OUTEAT - OUT(thoroughly), EAT(upset)
23 Rolls is to be entered for nothing in outside film areas (5)
LISTS - IS replacing O(nothing) in film LOTS
25 Like a chat perhaps with Gill, not the first (5)
AVINE - RAVINE(gill) missing the first letter. Two new ravines this week!
Good morning all. I have been travelling for most of the last week so I have had little time to solve, comment or write my blog. As I result I am typing this on Saturday evening after the championships, and I am in a position to report on the day’s activities.

This year's bombshell is that Mark Goodliffe didn’t win. He made a (for him, extremely rare) mistake in one of the puzzles in the final which gave Roger Crabtree the opportunity to take the top prize. Commiserations to Magoo and many congratulations to Roger.

It was a very strong showing indeed from the TfTT team. Verlaine did brilliantly well, coming in second overall, as did mohn2 in third. I made the final for the first time (which means I have now achieved my crosswording ambition and should probably retire) as did Penfold_61. And Philip Jordan was also among the finalists. As always it was very nice to see some familiar faces and to meet a couple of people there for the first time.

This week's puzzle? It took me 18:42, and I remember finding it a lot of fun with nothing to quibble about. Here’s how…

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

1 Pass market that has one pound off oil
DIESEL - DIE (pass), SELl.
5 Corporation strike over unlimited pay
9 Money-making drama pilot bore trashed
10 Hand bound to land with flipping force on son
SERF - reversal of F (force), RE, S.
11 Fish seen around river channel
12 Criminal is catty about husband’s celibacy
CHASTITY - (IS CATTY)* containing H.
14 It is real nasty
16 I managed land
18 Honour God’s will, so they tell us
FETE - sounds like ‘fate’.
19 Quantities of game
21 If I must steal, a thankyou’s required first
22 Upset singer regularly ignored Latvian icon
AVATAR - reversal of RAT (grass, singer), lAtViAn.
24 Mark Rothko’s first piece after unfinished study
SCAR - SCAn, Rothko. I’ve always found Rothko’s paintings mysteriously appealing. It’s nonetheless mysterious to me that this appeal can stretch to $87m.
26 Say what you want to say about wit hitting guards
OUT WITH IT - contained in ‘about with hitting’.
27 Figure you must visit New York?
STATUE - STAT(U)E. As in ‘u wot m8?’
28 Posh people experiment with dope
GENTRY - GEN (information, dope), TRY (experiment).

2 Saucy material that one male suppresses
IMPERTINENT - I, M, PERTINENT. I was a little bit hesitant about using ‘suppresses’ just to indicate that the IM is on top of the PERTINENT, but it didn’t bother me unduly.
3 Protest Congress blocking Pride?
SIT-IN - IT (the other, nudge nudge etc etc) contained in SIN. The question mark here indicates a definition by example, since other sins are available and pride isn’t really the one you’d pick, given a choice.
4 I say that woman’s involved in survey on energy
5 District making soprano a persona non grata
PARIAH - take PARISH and replace the S (soprano) with A.
6 Distressing way to increase crossword output?
7 My sort of music comes up short
COR - reversal of ROCk.
8 Chess players not allowing any middle ground
BLACK-AND-WHITE - fairly self-explanatory this one.
13 One brought in to take lead in Cheers?
TOASTMASTER - CD, and a nice one.
15 God? Time His tripe must be thrown out!
THE SPIRIT - (T HIS TRIPE)*. I’m not sure of the theological equivalence between ‘God’ and THE SPIRIT, but I’m prepared to take it on, um, faith.
17 A big band playing without any difficulties
BADA-BING - (A BIG BAND)*. I was slightly confused by this definition, because I’m not entirely sure Sonny Corleone meant anything quite this precise when he used the phrase. But far be it from me to be a linguistic stick-in-the-mud: meanings change and I never really watched The Sopranos.
20 Returns home with company and yours truly
23 When stag’s other half drained of colour
25 Dude in Bombay?
CAT - because a CAT’s the only CAT who knows where it’s at.

A rare visit from your founder …

… who realised the other day that he was getting ready for his 25th appearance at the Times Crossword Championship.  I put together some text and photos about memories on a Facebook page.  You should not need Facebook membership to read it at https://www.facebook.com/peter.biddlecombe.1/posts/10156876890166473

Best of luck to those competing today - may see you at the George later.

Jumbo 1348

I have more to comment on than usual in this one as there are a number of unfamiliar word and one clue (35A) that, despite being short, has a lot of complexity. I must make that my favourite in this solve, although I also liked 12D and 25D.

I did not time myself but I think the time was fairly standard as none of the clues were difficult to solve from wordplay and checkers, just needing subsequent fine tuning of my understanding of how the clues worked and the checking of definitions in the dictionary.

I have my doubts as to whether I will be taking up my place in the Crossword Final this year as travel arrangements are proving problematic after we moved away from the London area earlier this year, so good luck to all competitors.

1 POST-HASTE - Flora POSTE - Stella (Gibbons') girl from Cold Comfort Farm, around HAST = had
6 STAFFORDSHIRE - STAFFS = groups of workers, HIRE = engage, around O(ld) and RD = road. Stone is a town in Staffordshire
13 LOADS - LADS = boys, around O = love
15 PRAYS - sounds like PRAISE = approval
16 SILLY SEASON - SILLY = stupid, SEA = water, SON = boy
17 LOAD-BEARING - LOADING = extra premium, around BEAR = put up with
18 RAT RACE - RATE = speed, around R.A.C. = drivers
20 ASEPSIS - ASS = stupid man, around EP = record, IS
21 WIDOWER - W(ith), I = one, DOWER = sort of house
23 NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM - NATURE = character, ABHORS = finds repulsive, A VACUUM = household appliance
27 SKA - SKA(ter) = ice-dancer
28 SEESAW - SEE = Bishop's seat, SAW = was, reversed
29 BELT UP - double definition
31 INDIGNITY - double definition, the second defining IN DIGNITY referencing a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
34 PANELLIST - PT = part, around A NELL = a little girl, and IS/td>
35 HOPPER - (grass)HOPPER = insect, HOPPER = feeder and a HOPPER is only using one leg. So wordplay, straight definition and mildly cryptic definition. I could add a fourth reading with HOP = grass and PER = a, as Chambers has HOP = old slang for any narcotic which would be support for the first part. Hats off to the setter if that was intended
36 DRAGON - DR = GP, around AGON(y) = pain
39 TUG - GUT = narrow water, reversed
40 SWEEP UNDER THE CARPET - SWEEP = worker in chimney, UNDER THE CARPET = rugged on top (with a rug on top)
42 TARNISH - TARN = lake, IS, H(ospital)
43 EXTRACT - EXTRA = more, alternate letters in sCoTt
45 DRESSER - double definition, although there are plenty of dressers still found in kitchens
47 CASTING VOTE - double definition
49 DOUBLE CROSS - DOUBLE = repeated, CROSS = religious symbol. The reference to 55 is to treachery
51 IDOLA - initial letters of Initial Debate Outrageous Lies And. Wordplay was clear but needed to check the word before submission
52 ACCLAMATION - ACTION = operation, around C(aught) and LAMA = priest
53 VIRTU - VIRTU(e) = goodness. Another where the wordplay as clear but I needed to check the word before submission
55 TREACHERY - TEACHER = master, around R = one of the three basics, Y(ears)

1 PALM SPRINGS - PAL = LAP = part of course, reversed, MS = writing, P(oetry), RINGS = calls
2 STARLET - STARLIT = in faint light, with E(nergy) replacing I = one
3 HUSKY - double definition
5 EURASIA - EA = each, around URA(l)S = mountain range, and I = one
7 ANDALUSIA - (v)ANDAL = hooligan, USA = America, around I = one
8 FORMATS - FOR sounds like FOUR = a number, MATS = rugs
9 RAINBOW GUIDE - double definition
10 SEPHARDIM - (co)MRADESHIP* where the removed CO = business
11 IMARI, I, MAR = spoil, I = one
12 EAST GERMANY - the final letters in neglecteD depriveD pooR are DDR, the former East Germany's initials
19 AIRMAIL - cryptic definition
22 WASHING UP - double definition
24 TWEENAGER - TWEE(t) = message, ANGER*
25 HEELTAP - HEEL = send rugby ball back (in a scrum), TAP = gentle kick. I vaguely remembered this word for drink left in a glass
26 ARIDEST - A, RIDE = journey, ST(reet) = way
32 GARBAGE - GARB = clothes, AGE = start to wear out
33 RIDER HAGGGARD - RIDER = passenger, HAGGARD = looking drained. She is a novel by Rider Haggard
34 POTATO CRISP - POT = jar, A, TOP = lid, around alternate letters in CoRk and IS
37 NATURE STUDY - NATURE = science magazine, STUDY = sketch
38 FER-DE-LANCE - FENCE = barrier, around ALDER*
40 SOI-DISANT - SOD = ground, around I = one, IS, ANT = worker
41 NOTRE DAME - NO = absence of, TAME = uninteresting, around RED = colour
43 ECORCHE - hidden in dECOR CHEers.
44 TOURIST - TOUT = strongly recommend, around (i)RIS(h)
46 SCOURGE - SCOUR = clean, G(reas)E
48 SHOGI - SH = peace, OG I = I GO = one board game, reversed. Another one to check
50 CIVIC - a palindrome so no change on reversal. One can have a CIVIC centre and "of town" is the straight definition
This was a very interesting mix of clues. There were some lovely definitions, like 1ac and 2ac for a start.

There were also some clues that would only appeal to me if the puzzle was an open book exam. 14ac for example has a botanical answer that no doubt you could biff from the helpers if you knew it (which I didn’t), or you could derive from the wordplay if and only if you knew the other botanical term used there (which I didn’t). Otherwise, the whole clue might be a hell of a bore (sorry – couldn’t resist). Fortunately, I detected my vast ignorance early and looked up several answers, so for the purists I am an unrepentant DNF on this puzzle.

There were also many nice clues, but none stood out to me as the clue of the day. Perhaps I’ll pick 8dn for the pleasure of getting an unknown answer from wordplay. Feel free to make your nominations in the comments. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Sacks returned for final part of letters (5)
SERIF: FIRES (sacks) backwards (returned). Very clever definition, I thought.

4 Weaving carpet and matting would surely defeat me (3-6)
TAP-DANCER: (CARPET AND*). And another clever definition – the whole clue describes a problem that might stump a tap-dancer.

9 Peace created by fog and frost by a river (9)
ARMISTICE: A / R (river) / MIST (fog) / ICE (frost).

10 This trailer is a water container (5)
GOURD: double definition, I assume, although I don’t know whether gourds necessarily grow on (trailing) vines. Some do, clearly.

11 Just know Eskimos will have little time inside (6)
INTUIT: T (time) inside INUIT. Another nice definition.

12 Way for London to lose its attraction and shopping centre (4,4)
PALL MALL: PALL (lose its attraction) / MALL (shopping centre).

14 Round campanula flower turned back in present flowering plant (9)
HELLEBORE: O (round) + BELL (campanula flower) all “turned back”, inside HERE (present). An open book clue as far as I’m concerned, since I didn’t know either the answer or the flower in the wordplay.

16 Bluff chap (5)
CLIFF: double definition.

17 Will possibly sounds like a small child (5)
MIGHT: sounds like “MITE”. I had to look carefully to identify the definition, since it’s so natural to assume “possibly” is a wordplay element.

19 Girl group with European dance number (9)
SARABANDE: SARA is the girl, BAND is the group, E is the European. I didn’t know the dance.

21 Large wild agaves adjacent to sierra resort (3,5)
LAS VEGAS: L (large) / (AGAVES*) / S (sierra, in the phonetic alphabet).

22 Man and woman creating fine woollen cloth (6)
VICUNA: VIC is the man, UNA the woman.

25 Way to change one’s view when queen enters (5)
TRACK: to change TACK after R (queen) enters.

26 Prickly, good for temperature, as most desert crops are (9)
IRRIGABLE: IRRITABLE (prickly) with T (temperature) changed to G (good).

27 Some rowing about agreement with king’s order to forces (4,5)
EYES RIGHT: the rowers are an EIGHT. Insert YES (agreement) and R (king).

28 Fail with a Japanese poem (5)
TANKA: TANK (fail) / A. Another that would be obvious if you knew this form of Japanese poetry.

1 Dish for a European spread is in character, mostly (7,8)
SPANISH OMELETTE: SPAN (spread) / IS / HOME (in) / LETTE[r] (character).

2 Right to give out pardon (5)
REMIT: R (right) / EMIT (give out).

3 What’s established during a number of Christmases? (7)

4 Weak object loses its end (4)

5 Small flat pastry with fruit? Sin coming up! (4-1-5)
PIED-À-TERRE: PIE (pastry) / DATE (fruit) / ERR (sin) backwards.

6 Strangely genial Conservative is exceptionally kind (7)
ANGELIC: (GENIAL*) / C (Conservative).

7 Reason for action about America? No, it’s over (9)
CAUSATION: CA (about) / USA (America) / NO IT backwards (is over).

8 Film a red car for novel adaptation outside suspect café in Oxford location (9,6)
RADCLIFFE CAMERA: (FILM A RED CAR*) outside (CAFÉ*). Again, one anagram inside another – amounting in the end to one big anagram. I didn’t know of this building, but got it from the anagram.

13 Prophet’s hurrying to give an example of joint endeavour (3,7)

15 Member misses deadline to vote through law (9)

18 Challenged traveller in space series killing star king and queen (7)
TREKKER: STAR TREK is the space series. Kill the STAR, and add K (king) and ER (queen).

20 Girl is cross over ending of benefit (7)
BRIDGET: BRIDGE (cross over) / [benefit]T.

23 Merged group of four banks in the City (5)
URBAN: hidden answer.

24 Run in Oscar Wilde, perhaps for a court order (4)
WRIT: R for run inside WIT.

Times 27,185: Anatomy of a Crossword

A fine-fettled Friday the puzzle, the intricacies of whose right-hand side pushed my final time well over the 10 minute mark, in a manner disappointing on the eve of the Times Championships. I hope to see all or at least most of you there!

Excellent marriages of smooth and apropos surfaces to devious wordplay, and I'm ashamed to say many went in from checkers incompletely parsed and appreciated until after submission: 1ac, 10ac, 11ac, 26ac, 1dn, 5dn, 7dn, 8dn, 15dn. That's an unusually high number for me and speaks to the fact that there were some excellently complex cryptic twists and turns in this puzzle. Thanks setter! Less perplexing but still brilliant clues include 19ac, 25ac, 2dn, 22dn... too many absolute gems to choose just one COD today really.

How are we all feeling about tomorrow then? I've had much less time to do crosswords of late than in recent years, for one reason or another, so I'm just hoping not to make any silly mistakes in the morning prelim this year round and get my face back into the final. Anything else will be gravy!

1 Utter speech hoping to sell skill with notes (8,5)
ABSOLUTE PITCH - ABSOLUTE [utter] + PITCH [speech hoping to sell]

9 Dishonest part of family in Genoa (5)
LYING - hiddine in {fami}LY IN G{enoa}

10 Fruit containing date’s pith, covered with colour regulator? (9)
MELATONIN - MELON [fruit] "containing" {d}AT{e}, + IN [covered with]

11 Busy with letters about 500 serving staff (10)
ATTENDANTS - AT [busy with] + TENANTS [letters] about D [500]

12 Plug hole’s rims accept variable pressure (4)
HYPE - H{ol}E accepts Y P [variable | pressure]

14 Coercion getting church to replace queen and noblewoman (7)
DUCHESS - DURESS [coercion], getting CH [church] to replace R [queen]

16 One with ocular singularity has operations on endless rotation (7)
CYCLOPS - OPS [operations] on CYCL{e} ["endless" rotation]

17 Maybe harvest more than in rocky spot (7)
OUTCROP - to CROP is to harvest, so to OUT-CROP could be to harvest more than another

19 Knocking out West Bromwich, playing in diamond formation (7)
RHOMBIC - (BROM{w}ICH*) "playing"

20 Italian official returned for one binge with ill effects (4)
DOGE - reverse E.G. O.D. [for one | binge with ill effects]

21 Help as Brie deteriorates, being this? (10)
PERISHABLE - (HELP AS BRIE*) ["deteriorates"], semi-&lit

24 Pink people addicted to driving? (9)
CARNATION - and presumably a CAR NATION would be all about the driving

25 What offers support for female opera star’s first half? (5)
BRAVA - the female opera star is a DIVA, replace her first half with BRA [what offers support], brilliant &lit.

26 Radical in uncontrolled movement keeping apart two Conservatives at odds (13)
CONTRADICTORY - RAD [radical] in TIC [uncontrolled movement], keeping apart CON and TORY [two Conservatives]

1 Rallying cry as mate almost lets next person deal? (3,5,2,4)
ALL HANDS ON DECK - ALL{y} [mate "almost"] HANDS ON the DECK of cards, possibly for the next player to deal.

2 Go around clubs banned from turning tricks (5)
SKIRT - TRI{c}KS reversed

3 Fruit began going bad in truck (10)
LOGANBERRY - (BEGAN*) ["going bad"] in LORRY [truck]

4 Perhaps queen’s consorts and host in drinking tribute lowering glasses finally (7)
TOMCATS - MC [host] in TOAST, with {glasse}S getting lowered to the bottom. Queen here meaning a female cat.

5 Statesman-like, still keeping Oscar fired up (7)
POLITIC - PIC [still] "keeping" O LIT [Oscar | fired up]

6 2 sounding like twice that (4)
TUTU - a skirt [2 across] that is a homophone of "two two".

7 Love curry? This food store also has eggs (9)
HONEYCOMB - HONEY [love] + CURRY [comb]

8 High official confidence in time to stop UN hardliner (14)
UNDERSECRETARY - SECRET [confidence] in ERA [time], to stop UN DRY [UN | hardliner]. A dry is the opposite of a political wet: thanks to those who clarified this in the comments!

13 Yield malevolent creature nabbed by agents over suffering at high levels (10)
ACROPHOBIC - CROP HOB [yield | malevolent creature] "nabbed by" reversed CIA [agents]

15 Unconditional truce’s ending between kitty and corgi, in disarray (9)
CATEGORIC - {truc}E between CAT [kitty] and (CORGI*) ["in disarray"]

18 Film director with no good cut is top in Rank (7)
PREMIER - PREMI{ng}ER. Film director Otto.

19 Prevailed, though apparently snubbed again, or overlooked (7)
REIGNED - RE-IGN{or}ED [apparently snubbed again]

22 Evidently vote against party (5)
BEANO - if you choose to BE A NO, you vote against

23 Wife wears cool light brown (4)
FAWN - W [wife] "wears" FAN [cool]

Quick Cryptic 1214 by Teazel

Nothing to scare the horses this morning. Started off with a long sequence of write-ins, and apart from the minor peeve at 9ac, a pleasant solve. Hard to pick a winner, perhaps 6dn for the elegant surface.

1 Tailless hatchling is elegant (4)
CHIC - hatching is CHICK, take off the end
4 Perhaps baron’s biography: look closely (4,4)
LIFE PEER - biography is LIFE, look closely is PEER
8 Like illegal broadcaster to pronounce his aitches (8)
9 Implement return of robbery proceeds (4)
TOOL - LOOT backwards. It's not clear from the clue which was the intended answer - I had it the wrong way round for a while. There's a name for this sort of clue that escapes me.
10 Cover up mother’s knee at first (4)
11 Again considered to be recovered (8)
REDEEMED - consider is DEEM, to do it again is REDEEM
12 Abscond from city in moist air (6)
DECAMP - city is EC (postal code of the square mile of City of London) inside DAMP
14 Criticise a sailor’s course in sound (6)
ATTACK - homophone, sounds like A TACK
16 Earn a hug, changing angry speech (8)
HARANGUE - anagram ('changing') of EARN A HUG
18 Sad as some music is cut short (4)
BLUE - short for BLUES
19 Time to regret being honest (4)
20 Daisy is first to kiss star (8)
ASTERISK - Daisy is ASTER, add IS + K
22 Surrealist friend conceals tough character (8)
MAGRITTE - friend is MATE, with GRIT inside
23 Aquatic bird’s back, not head (4)
TERN - STERN without the first letter

2 Valuable prisoner putting label in socks (7)
HOSTAGE - label is TAG, inside HOSE for socks
3 Caught by part of chain in prison (5)
CLINK - C + LINK. C is always caught because of what is written in a cricket scorebook, eg Lilley c Willey b Dilley: Dilley bowled it, Lilley hit it, Willey caught it and Lilley was out. Clear? Willey was fielding in the gully, but that doesn't get written down.
4 Heartfelt request to abolish parking in meadow (3)
LEA - PLEA minus P for parking
5 Bird, poor flier — deaf (9)
FIELDFARE - anagram ('poor') of FLIER DEAF
6 I see doctor: obvious I must be admitted (7)
PATIENT - PATENT with I inside
7 Call up woman to receive approval (5)
EVOKE - EVE with OK inside
11 Distasteful ruling about turning up (9)
REPUGNANT - ruling is REGNANT with UP backwards inside
13 A mature eccentric, doing it for love? (7)
AMATEUR - anagram ('eccentric') of A MATURE
15 Warship offering free curries (7)
CRUISER - anagram ('free') of CURRIES
17 Volunteers to hold up a gold vessel (5)
AORTA - 'Volunteers' are always TA (Territorial Army), though I've never quite understood why because the rest of the army are volunteers too. Add A + OR on top.
18 Suddenly run right into chest (5)
BURST - BUST is chest with R inside
21 Part of body regularly stroked (3)
TOE - alternate letters of sTrOkEd
Simply a virtuoso puzzle and I'm only sorry that this proved such a busy month that I never found time to sit down and give it the many hours of sweet tortuous agony that I deserved. So many clues that I thought were well above averagely brilliant - 1ac, 2ac, 3ac, 18ac, 22ac, all of which contain cryptic devices of exceptional originality... and that's just the pick of the across clues. Some marvellously delayed penny-drop moments e.g. at 1ac, but I'll give my COM (Clue of the Month) to 16dn for its achievements in this field.

So so hard, but just brilliant too. Thanks setter! Up with this kind of thing!

1 Royal couple making double echo over disturbing broadcast (8)
QUONKING - QUEEN + KING [royal couple], making its EE [double Echo] into O [over]

5 Ghost essentially appearing where feast is cut short, twice? (6)
BANQUO - {gh}O{st}, appearing at the end of BANQU{et}, &lit

10 One who “maximises” each height, height embracing possibly dull lives (15)
APOPHTHEGMATIST - A POP [each] + HT HT [height | height], "embracing" EG MAT IS [possibly | dull | lives]. One who "maximises" as in, "constructs maxims".

11 Reclusive teen and I stun pollsters on short walk (10)
HIKIKOMORI - I K.O. MORI [I | stun | pollsters] on HIK{e} ["short" walk]

13 Hardly an Arabian man suggesting forgiveness? (2,2)
AS IF - Asif is a masculine Arabian name, literally meaning "forgiveness".

15 Demolish ickiest of human settlements (7)
EKISTIC - (ICKIEST*) ["demolish..."]

17 Previously checked Poles were going out (7)
SNEBBED - S N [(both) Poles] + EBBED {were going out]

18 Related partial U-turn of CTC to those sending signals? (7)
COGNATE - hidden reversed in {charli}E TANGO C{harlie}

19 Desire abnormal purge after census (7)
LUSTRUM - LUST RUM [desire | abnormal]

21 Born fairly recently, having heart defect, feeling cold in some parts (4)
NESH - NE{wi}SH [born fairly recently, with defective "heart"]

22 Part of gullet in oryx, one without parents taking irregular turns? (10)
OROPHARYNX - interleave ORPHAN [one without parents] with ORYX irregularly

25 Not having enough excitement to grip European, a road somewhere in Bedfordshire (8,7)
LEIGHTON BUZZARD - LIGHT ON BUZZ [not having enough excitement] to "grip" E [European], + A RD [a | road]

27 Opening of Bard’s own Shakespearean club (6)
BALLOW - B{ard} + ALLOW [own]

28 Poet’s rule about verse is extremely bombastic? (8)
SOVRANTY - about V [verse] is SO RANTY [extremely bombastic?]

1 Caribbean provincial, apparently one subjected to suppression (7)
QUASHEE - also humorously suggesting "one who is quashed"

2 Mixed-load carrier with breadth limited by wheel shapes (3)
OBO - B [breadth] "limited by" O O [(two) wheel shapes]

3 Relaxed briefly under exotic khaki and white pines (10)
KAHIKATEAS - AT EAS{e} [relaxed "briefly"] under (KHAKI*) ["exotic"...]

4 Bring up Canadian media theorist, then dismiss leftcentre prophet (5)
NAHUM - M{cl}UHAN first reversed, and then losing L C [left | centre]

6 Nanny’s answer affected toff (4)
AYAH - A YAH [answer | affected toff]

7 Royal attendant overlooking leader keeps inches away, lifting blackcurrant plant (6-5)
QUINSY-BERRY - {e}QUERRY [royal attendant "overlooking leader}] "keeps": INS [inches] + BY reversed [away "lifting"]

8 Terrible discomfort, losing every third in multiple divisions (7)
OCTOFID - (DI{s}CO{m}FO{r}T*) ["terrible..."]

9 Left my aunt to go north, collecting East Germany’s fabulous ash (8)
YGDRASIL - L + I SAY [left | my aunt!] reading from south to north, "collecting" GDR [= German Democratic Republic, the official name for East Germany]

12 Combination of likes and gripes in a form of chess (11)
KRIEGSSPIEL - (LIKES + GRIPES*) ["combination of..."]

14 Rude noise that’s surprising famous person upending huge wine bottle (10)
BELSHAZZAR - RAZZ AH SLEB [rude noise | that's surprising! | famous person] reversed

16 Opposite of his little snags? (8)
CHEERIOS - The opposite of "hi" being "cheerio", then pluralise! Snags and cheerios are both Antipodean words for sausages.

18 Cross meeting lack of firmness in jaw (7)
CONFLAB - CON [cross] meeting FLAB [lack of firmness]? Unless it's C ON [cross | meeting], but I would have thought cross was more likely to be abbreviated as X...

20 Erase fifth letter in a jumble involving third square in anagram form? (7)
MIXEDLY - MEDL{e}Y [a jumble, with its fifth letter "erased"], "involving" IX [third square, after I and IV]

23 Catering chain sinking billions into turning drink container round (5)
PUBCO - sink B [billions] into reversed CUP ["turning" drink container] + O [round]

24 Jerk with resistance measures switching extremes (4)
SHMO - OHMS [resistance measures], swapping its first and last letters

26 Glaswegian personal trainer shedding two layers? (3)
AIN - {tr}AIN{er}, losing not just its first and last letters, but its second and penultimate too

Times Quick Cryptic No 1213 by Pedro

For some unaccountable reason, this gentle puzzle by Pedro took me 17 minutes, 2 minutes over my target, although I can’t understand why looking back.  I think it took me a couple of minutes to get my brain in order and make a reasonable start, after which things moved more easily.

Some very nice clues, and an occasional clumsy surface, but all-in-all enjoyable.  Apologies for the slightly abbreviated blog – other things on my mind at the moment.  Welcome to November!


1  Regulation applied to new part of garden (4)
LAWN – LAW (regulation) and N(ew)
4  Support for sail in good time, without needing a professional (8)
MASTERLY – MAST (support for sail) and E{a}RLY (in good time, without needing ‘a’, i.e. drop the A from EARLY)
8  Picture of listener? Come close (4,4)
DRAW NEAR – DRAWN (picture) of EAR (listener)
9 Encourage heading away from sudden rise in water (4)
URGE – {s}URGE (heading away from, i.e drop first letter of SURGE) sudden rise of water.
10  Not very close regarding small item (6)
REMOTE – RE (regarding) and MOTE (small item)
11 Accompaniment to sushi: was sailor given one? (6)
WASABI – WAS (was) AB (sailor, as in Able Bodied) and I (one).  WASABI is the pungent gree paste made from the mountain hollyhock, used extensively in Japanese cookery, and often accompanying sushi.
12 Commemorative envelope from factory drives production (5-3,5)
FIRST-DAY COVER – Anagram of (from - production) [FACTORY DRIVES].  A FIRST-DAY COVER can be much prized by philatelists, and consists of an envelope with stamps postmarked on their first day of issue.
16  Forecaster getting editor to show anger (3,3)
SEE RED – SEER (forecaster) and ED{itor}
17  Deliver drink before work  (6)
SUPPLY – SUP (drink) and PLY (work, as in to PLY a trade – usually means to work at steadily)
19  Boss curtailed educational activity (4)
STUD – STUD{y}  - study is educational activity, curtailed indicates drop the last letter.  A STUD is a projecting boss, knob or pin
20  Kitchen device, say – good range, on reflection (3,5)
EGG TIMER – EG (say) G{ood} and REMIT (range) reversed.
21  Vegetarian food: obscure line taken by aficionado (8)
HAZELNUT – HAZE (obscure) L{ine} and NUT (aficionado)
22  Trio ignoring hot part of forest
TREE – THREE (trio) ignoring H{ot}, dropping the H to give T{h}REE


2 Time to come round about match (5)
AGREE – AGE (time) coming round (surrounding) RE (about).
Executive toy used by scientist from birth? (7,6)
NEWTON’S CRADLE – Cryptic definition
It helps me perceive an exclamation of surprise (2,3)
MY EYE – Double definition
5  Second loud comment about beard without much substance (7)
SCRAWNY – S{econd} and CRY (loud comment) about (surrounding) AWN (beard – an AWN is the beard of wheat).  Reminds me of an art teacher at my grammar school whose unusual surname was SCRWAWLY or something similar.
Stuff for DIY-er – amount in piles scattered around (8,5)
EMULSION PAINT – Anagram (scattered around) of [AMOUNT IN PILES]
Easy-to-read French articles about British territory (7)
LEGIBLE – LE and LE (French articles) surrounding GIB{ralta} (British territory)
10 Sure – football will involve one (3)
REF – $Lit clue including a hidden answer, hidden in {su}RE – F{ootball}
13  Reluctance to move, i.e. train broken down (7)
INERTIA – Anagram (broken down) of [I.E. TRAIN]
14  Failure has gone wrong, leading to pique (7)
DUDGEON – DUD (failure) with anagram (wrong) of [GONE].  DUDGEON means offended indignation or pique, and is my WoD
15  Sun god linked to unknown quantity of sunlight (3)
RAY – RA is the sun god of the ancient Egyptians and Y is a symbol for an unknown quantity in a formula or equation
17  Picked up this when taking in good view (5)
SIGHT – THIS (reversed, or picked up in a down clue) including (taking in) G{ood}
18  Vassal that is restricted by broken leg (6)
LIEGE – IE (that is) restricted by (contained within) an anagram (broken) of [LEG]

Times 27184 - around the world in 29 clues

Solving time: 10:20.

I got off to a flyer here, but slowed down in the middle with those long answers taking a while to piece together.

If you didn't notice in yesterday's comments, we lost one of the regular Times setters, David Crossland, also Dac in the Independent and Flamande in the Quick Cryptic. There's a really good interview with him here. Cheers, Dac/Flamande/Smokey, you will be missed.

OK, I'm going to write this up and hit a late round of Halloween parties, so first definitions are underlined in the clues and away we go!

1 Experts taking steps when power is lost (4)
ACES - PACES(steps) missing P(power)
4 Sadder group collecting one prestigious award (4,6)
BLUE RIBAND - the sadder group are the BLUER BAND - put an I in there
9 Hesitation shown by papa in awful divorce requiring much outlay (10)
OVERPRICED - ER(hesistation), P(Papa - NATO alphabet) inside an anagram of DIVORCE
10 Old country fellow travelling round India (4)
SIAM - SAM(fellow) aorund I(India - more NATO alphabet!)
11 Country character of yesteryear in small piece (not leader in Times) (6)
BRUNEI - RUNE(old character) inside BIT(small piece) missing T(imes)
12 Desolate areas sheltering revolutionary types disinclined to act (8)
MOOCHERS - MOORS(desolate areas) containing CHE(revolutionary)
14 What's said to restrict someone in the Far East (4)
THAI - sounds like TIE(restrict)
15 Get rid of religious type keeping unorthodox rite (10)
OBLITERATE - OBLATE(dedicated religious type) surrounding an anagram of RITE
17 Person at concert receiving good artist, one giving coded messages? (10)
PROGRAMMER - PROMMER(person at concert) containing G(good), RA(artist)
20 Measure brought by Labour leader of yesteryear (4)
FOOT - double definition, the Labour leader is Michael Foot
21 Spooner's jolly enthusiast who may operate in the underworld? (8)
FERRYMAN - Spoonerism of MERRY FAN
23 Freely moving about, using a minor highway (6)
ABROAD - A B-ROAD(minor highway)
24 Impulse our gentlemen must restrain (4)
URGE - hidden in oUR GEntlemen
25 Sport later modified somewhere in Ireland (4,6)
REAL TENNIS - anagram of LATER, then ENNIS(somewhere in Ireland)
26 Drink with politician, Left philosopher who works willingly with others? (4,6)
TEAM PLAYER - TEA(drink), MP(politician), L(left), then A.J. AYER
27 Triumphs, putting out fine food (4)
EATS - FEATS(triumphs), missing F(fine)
2 Insurance — attack sum added to bill (5,6)
COVER CHARGE - COVER(insurance), CHARGE(attack)
3 Place that's holy almost has ruler drawing back (9)
SHRINKING - SHRIN(e) (place that's holy), then KING(ruler)
4 Little donkey fed with Italian or Mexican food (7)
BURRITO - BURRO(little donkey) containing IT(Italian)
5 Somehow doing my nut, complainer being scathing (15)
6 Survive journey away from home (4,3)
RIDE OUT - RIDE(journey), OUT(away from home)
7 Proof of who you are needed in Lincoln to stay (5)
ABIDE - ID(proof of who you are) in ABE Lincoln
8 Approximately five hundred turn up making public protests (5)
DEMOS - SOME(approximately), D(500) all reversed
13 Share of top people who may discount religious claims? (11)
RATIONALIST - RATION(share) and the top people are the A LIST
16 Address about to be given border with neighbour? Engineers brought in (9)
REFERENCE - RE(about) and FENCE(border with neighbour) containing RE(engineers)
18 Endlessly praise a learner, a cadet who really made it? (7)
ADMIRAL - ADMIR(e) (praise), A, L(leaner driver)
19 Chicken maybe turning yellow with boss losing head (7)
ROASTER - OR(yellow) reversed, then MASTER(boss) missing the first letter
21 One desperately wanting knowledge very quick to engage university (5)
FAUST - FAST(very quick) containing U(university)
22 Charity event with endless chat and music (5)
RAGGA - RAG(charity event), and GA(s) (chat)

Times 27183 - word play and word work

I didn't dislike this puzzle, but wasn't enjoying it a lot either; nothing was particularly obscure except 1a which was clear enough from wordplay, but somehow it seemed more like work than fun. I'm not fond of onomatopoeic exclamations, often spelt in different ways, as clueing words. Perhaps it was just the cold weather. Around 24 minutes, with five more to see how 28a and 20d actually worked. I think 28a gets my CoD although once you see the meaning of 'completely borderless' it's cracked.

1 Singer not allowed to be heard in transmission of sorts (8)
BASEBAND - It sounds like BASS (singer) and BANNED (not allowed). Well, it's not the same as broadband, but it's something like that to do with radio waves and modulating and carrier frequencies. I didn't know the detail, but once I'd decided it wasn't just BASSBAND and both words were homophones, I plumped correctly.
5 Mate excitedly clutches extremely useful trinket (6)
AMULET - Insert U L being 'extremely useful' into (MALE)*.
10 Question master in quiz broadcast between Greek and Italian men (5,10)
GRAND INQUISITOR - Assemble as follows: GR = Greek, AND IT = Italian, OR = men, ordinary ranks; insert IN and QUIS which sounds like (i.e. as broadcast) QUIZ. The Grand Inquisitor as at the Spanish Inquisition, and in a poem on that subject in Doskoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
11 Model Charley and Pat constructed (10)
ARCHETYPAL - (CHARLEY PAT)*, model as an adjective.
13 Function of heads of state in Near East (4)
SINE - Initial letters of S tate I n N ear E ast. Trig function.
15 Front torn off, making alterations to decorative fabric (7)
HANGING - Take the front off CHANGING = making alterations to, HANGING as in wall hanging.
17 Like colour of North African city, grey? Not right (7)
ORANGEY - ORAN is a large city in Algeria, GREY loses its R. Sandy more than orangey, I'd expect.
18 Wife wants absolute guarantee (7)
WARRANT - ARRANT = absolute, as in arrant nonsense; add a W for wife.
19 Escorted solicitor round old fair (4,3)
TOOK OUT - A TOUT is your solicitor, not the old family retainer; put him around O for old and OK for fair.
21 Detective frequently spotted in school canteen? (4)
DICK - Double definition, one being slang for detective, the other SPOTTED DICK is or was a sponge pudding with currants in it to make it look spotted. Not at my school, sadly.
22 Entreat her, nastily intimidating one (10)
25 Perky neighbour in a street in south coast town (6,2,1,6)
BRIGHT AS A BUTTON - Take A ST (street), insert ABUT = neighbour into ST, insert ASABUTT into BRIGHT/ON. Brighton and Hove is / are a city, but I presume Brighton alone is still thought to be a town.
27 Yikes! No turning back for statesman (6)
YANKEE - Reverse EEK ! (Yikes!) and NAY (no) to get this 'States man'. I'm not a fan of clues like this which rely on odd exclamations and statesman lower case as a definition for an American.
28 Close friend frequently mislaying ring before journey (5,3)
ALTER EGO - After 'second self' Collins does give 'a very close and intimate friend' as another meaning, so I can't complain about the definition, although I've never heard it used that way. To get there, I think it's A LOT = frequently, mislay an O for ring, then ERE = before, then GO for journey. A L(O)T ERE GO.

1 Husband noticed gossip standing up in laundry (7)
BAGWASH - All reversed, is H SAW GAB = husband noticed gossip. I understand a bagwash includes a laundry process without pressing after washing.
2 Country with no popular resort (3)
SPA - IN = popular, so delete in from SPAIN. I went fruitlessly to BENIN and INDIA before getting to Spain.
3 Maybe one moving round capital city gets the bird (10)
BUDGERIGAR - Had we not had this recently, not exactly sure where, (Sunday?) I would have taken longer, but it was a write-in; BUDGER = one moving, maybe; insert RIGA Latvia's capital.
4 Fool suggesting somewhere to eat in Times Square? (5)
NINNY - An INN in NY would be somewhere to eat in Times Square.
6 Somewhere to eat in Times Square (4)
MESS - Hidden but not very, in TI(MES S)QUARE.
7 Drop in property rental is disappointing (7,4)
LETTING DOWN - Double definition, one cryptic.
8 Dry, short reference penned by politician (7)
TORREFY - REF(erence) inside TORY.
9 Publish a book in anger (3,5)
PUT ABOUT - If you PUT someone OUT, you could anger them; insert A B(ook).
12 Notice of delivery agreement: I prematurely terminated one (11)
CONTRACTION - CONTRACT = agreement, I, ON(E). A wittier definition.
14 Kid coming in to consider employment as story-teller (10)
RACONTEUSE - CON = kid, insert into RATE = consider, add USE = employment. A lady story teller is now called a raconteur I assume, not a raconteuse, as we no longer have actresses and chairwomen.
16 What new school must first do to make progress (3,5)
GET AHEAD - A new school has to GET a HEAD(master / mistress)..
18 Geezer extremely wary about fish smell (4,3)
WIDE BOY - W Y = extremely wary, insert IDE a fish and BO = body odour. Arthur Daley, for example. In my book a geezer doesn''t have to be 'wide', it's just a slang alternative for a chap, guy, bloke. Dodgy geezer, now yer talkin' wide.
20 Storm cone atop completely borderless city (7)
TORONTO - No tornados, storm signals or things atop things are needed; take the first and last letters from each word = completely borderless, as in s TOR m   c ON e   a TO p.
23 One way to dispose of European dog (1-4)
E-TAIL - E for European, TAIL = dog, follow. To sell or dispose of something you could RETAIL or E-TAIL it online.
24 Here we go — breathing with difficulty, lacking energy (4)
WHEE - WHEEZING loses its ZING. Another of those clues I don't much like.
26 Article you once left incomplete (3)
THE - THEE = you, once; when incomplete loses an E.

Times Quick Cryptic No 1212 by Mara


First off, thank you to (almost) everybody for the kind comments about last week's blog. I hoped it might offer some inspiration to solvers who were struggling to up their game, and it seems it did.

Now, consensus was, last week's puzzle was on the easier side. If we'd had another easier one this week, I might have forgone the full write-up. But, as it turned out, while much of the puzzle was rather straightforward, the top few clues were a bear of a solve. In fact, I think I might learn a lot from writing up my efforts, so here we go again!

Solutions first, then discussion.

Read more...Collapse )

Times Cryptic 27182

After yesterday's really easy puzzle (solved by me in 17 minutes!) we have another one today which delayed me only 25 minutes, and 5 of those can probably be accounted for by my being on blogging duty. In one respect this might be considered even easier as there is nothing comparable here with the HERDWICK googly that was bowled at 1ac yesterday. I wonder if The Times have decided to give us all an easy week in order to lull competitors at Saturday's championships into a false sense of security. If so, I expect they'll drop a bombshell on Saturday and make the prize puzzle a stinker to try to unsettle them just before they go in.

Here's my blog...Collapse )

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