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Times 1260 Quick Cryptic by Mara

Solving time: 9 minutes. When blogging there seemed to be an excess of anagrams or partials but on counting them there were only 9, which out of 24 clues is surely not above average. I lost a moment along the way over the parsing of 16dn and hesitated to write in the correct answer in although it had occured to me as soon as I saw the word 'boxes' in the clue.

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Mephisto 3043 - Don Manley

This puzzle had an extended closing date because of the festive season, and since Jim was quicker on the draw than me, it is going to end up slightly out of order on the site. I was planning on getting this written up yesterday and got caught in my travel back from Australia.

The first defnition in clues is underlined. Definitions can be confirmed in Chambers, so I will focus on the wordplay in clues.

Away we go...

1 Leggings in fashion, shortened and special (5)
SHAPS - SHAPE(fashion) missing the last letter, then S(special)
5 Vigorous university lecturer rebuffed criticism (7)
LUSTICK - U(university) and L(lecturer) reversed, then STICK(criticism)
11 Old year tuck that’s unhooked a freak (10, two words)
COLD TURKEY - anagram of OLD,YEAR,TUCK minus A. An all-in-one clue where the entire clue is the definition.
13 Tower in second home by water in France (7)
MOINEAU - MO(second), IN(home), then EAU(water in French)
14 Italian provides accommodation for horse in travellers’ inn (6)
IMARET - IT(Italian) containing MARE
15 Street dog heading off for a while (6)
STOUND - ST(street) then HOUND missing the first letter
16 What makes emperor well finally, one sort of oil (6)
NEROLI - the emperor NERO, then (wel)L, I(one)
18 Music from the Monkees (3)
EMO - hidden in thE MOnkees
19 Put out of home, get vessel on river (8)
DISHOUSE - DISH(vessel) then the river OUSE
20 Dangerous material’s found in demolished cab sites (8)
24 Tribe wandering about (3)
GAD - double definition, one of the twelve Tribes of Israel
27 Hospital procedure taking long time after short journey (6)
TRIAGE - AGE(long time) after TRIP cut short
29 Very drunk graduate got rid of (6)
MASHED - MA(Master of Arts), SHED(got rid of)
30 Fantastic Spice Girls finally becoming stars (6)
PISCES - anagram of SPICE then (girl)S
31 Description of acid that’s used to kill man (fine!) (7)
PIPERIC - PIP(kill), ERIC.  ERIC is both a man's name and a blood-fine.
32 Old ruler and baronet getting drunk in skin tent (10)
GUBERNATOR - anagram of BARONET in GUT(skin tent). Surprised to see this listed in Chambers as "rare". It is a pretty common term in the US.
33 Password as reset works (7)
TESSERA - anagram of AS,RESET
34 The enemy heard something fragrant? (5)
THYME - sounds like TIME (the enemy)

1 Old box in teachers’ room with unopened brandy (6)
SCRINE - SCR (Senior Common Room), then WINE missing the start - brandy being distilled wine. As pointed out in the comments, it was most likely FINE for French brandy missing the beginning.
2 Male in very old age shows goal-directed behaviour (5)
HORME - M(male) in HORE (Spenserian version of HOAR, old age)
3 A boy tucked into seaweed and fruit (8)
ALGAROBA - A, ROB(boy) inside ALGA(seaweed)
4 Horse gets left inside, fixed north of the border (6)
STEELD - STEED(horse) containing L
6 Problem with the waterworks troubled our little girl (6)
UROSIS - anagram of OUR, then SIS(little girl)
7 Boaster renders funny performance with energy (5)
SKITE - a comedy SKIT then E
8 Operator in temporary accommodation — no man is allowed in (10)
TENOTOMIST - TENT(tempoary accommodation) containing O(no), TOM(man), IS
9 Drugs making people irascible in America (6)
CRANKS - double definition
10 Bad patch in last bit of work glued carelessly (6)
KLUDGE - (wor)K, then an anagram of GLUED
12 One out to be the supremo? (10)
PROMETHEUS - anagram of THE,SURPEMO and another all-in-one.
17 Inclination to escape pollution hanging over a big town (8)
FUGACITY - FUG(pollution), A, CITY
20 A politician in ceremony taken short — a hairy situation? (6)
ARMPIT - A then MP(politician) in RITE shortened
21 Deep problem? I cease to be troubled (6)
SEA-ICE - anagram of I,CEASE. This is two words in Chambers, but it would make sense for it to be hyphenated
22 More presentable girl involved in row (6)
TIDIER - DI(girl) in TIER(row)
23 Not entirely nice, art ridiculously garish (6)
CRIANT - anagram of NIC(e),ART
25 Queen once said to be upset by this request (6)
DESIRE - the Queen is ER I, then SED(Miltonic form of SAID), all reversed
26 Diving bird a bit confused inside fountain once (5)
GERBE - mess up the middle letters of GREBE(diving bird)
28 Set in biology, number probing something precious (5)
GENOM - NO(number) inside GEM(something precious), former term for GENOME
Happy New Year to all.

Unless you’re very experienced you are unlikely to solve a Mephisto without using Chambers. The idea is that you use the precise wordplay to derive an answer that you then verify in the dictionary. 9A is a perfect example.

This puzzle was a bit chewy in parts. A little help needed with 22A please.

In the clues, definitions are underlined. Wordplay explanation is followed by very helpful comments.


1 Derbyshire’s gully runs into Yorkshire opening bowler (6)
GROUGH: G(R)OUGH; Darren Gough is a retired English cricketer and former captain of Yorkshire County Cricket Club who opened the bowling – perhaps a tad obscure; a gulley in the Peak District
5 Stories about Catholic churchgoers (6)
ONCERS: ON(C)ERS; ONERS=lies; C=Catholic; people who attend church once on Sunday;
9 One disrupting US President will get returned on time or early retirement (8)
RETRAICT: C(I)ARTER all reversed - T; obsolete (early) word for retreat=retirement;
11 Figure of speech over in a new schedule (12)
ANTIMETABOLE: A-N-TIMETAB(O)LE; O=over (more cricket); the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order. For example, "I know what I like, and I like what I know".
13 Ordinary member in cut coming back earnestly (7, two words)
EX,ANIMO: OM-IN-AXE all reversed;
14 One who’s made a proposal married again (5)
16 Victor’s against more than one rowing in Shetland springs (5)
VOARS: V-OARS; victor=V (phonetic alphabet); Spring in Lerwick;
17 Scratch before squeezing a head on spot (5)
ERASE: ER(A-S)E; S from S(pot);
19 Pulls punches, relieving pressure (4)
22 Harsh notes one’s omitted around Christmas poem opening (4)
TWAS: TWA(ng)S; don’t quite see the wordplay; "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" well known poem by Clement Clarke Moore
23 Taking extra time and time again bent over (5)
LEANT: LEAN-T; taking extra time = LEAN in printing jargon;
25 Sage Henry also known as Mark (5)
29 Unarmed soldier miles to the rear (5)
INERM: soldier=miner (a sapper) then move “m” to the rear;
30 Suit includes unusually neat fur (7)
GENETTE: GE(NETT)E; to suit=GEE; neat=NETT; fur of the genet;
31 One hint of departure poll to be considered further (12, two words)
32 Worker behind tackles one having a long snout (8)
ANTLIATE: ANT-L(I)ATE; insect’s proboscis;
33 See this writer with poet take away business card (6)
34 Excellent backing put across song subjected to criticism (6)
FLAYED: DEF reversed surrounds LAY; slang for excellent = DEF;


1 Two experts, both caught out supporting Greek mythological sisters (6)
GRAEAE: GR-A(C)E-A(C)E; three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth among them
2 Intervals excessive overlooking a considerable tenor cast (7)
OTTAVAS: OTT-A-VAS(t); t=tenor; octaves
3 Wee statuette? Fig leaves! (5)
4 Mike underneath Georgia having sex (5)
5 Pool player of the month has work with champion, nothing less (10)
OCTOPUSHER: OCT-OPUS-HER(o); an underwater hockey player apparently;
6 American at the rear gets derisive cheer in state (7)
7 Standard disc is striking (8)
RULERING: RULE-RING; old school punishment;
8 Pole by himself supplying old-fashioned spread (6)
10 Very boring moderation for a Madagascan (4)
12 African rhino turning up in say, stream before yours truly (10)
EMALANGENI: IN-EG-NALA-ME all reversed; stream=NALA; currency of Eswatini
15 Newspaper has to pass on fine material (8)
18 Figures going around on Russian adviser (7)
STARETS: STA(RE)TS; an elder of a Russian Orthodox monastery who functions as an adviser
20 Dissolute period? The opposite, time for prayer (7)
21 Cross-shaped connection one’s seen in opening (6)
24 Like some parties in sea around Malta (6)
26 Finally back garden plot gets cut (4)
KERF: (bac)K-ERF;
27 Soprano Eleanor is sharp, concerning the wind (5)
SNELL: S-NELL; a keen wind in Kelso
28 Headbands given by number close to Midwest state?
TENIA: TEN-IA; IA=Iowa, a Midwest state;
As is traditional at this time of year, the last Sunday Times puzzle to appear before Christmas is a jumbo, and as is also somewhat traditional at this time of year, it’s a bit of a toughie. However for me this was a puzzle of two halves, the first very straightforward and the second much harder. So although I ended with a sense of having completed something very tough my overall time at 46:27 wasn’t off the scale. The Boxing Day puzzle was much harder.

Whatever the difficulty level I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable challenge, and everything was clear to me in the end. So thanks to Dean and best wishes to him and everyone else for 2019.

Edit: turns out that in spite of everything being clear to me I had an error. Drat.

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

1 Father Christmas’s first year in job with special outfit
PAPACY - PAPA, Christmas, Y. An interesting way of defining the pontiff’s job. It also comes with a nifty company car, and infallibility must come in handy when the annual review comes around.
4 Small chocolate boxes secure small chocolates
9 Preserved wrapping paper that’s accumulated
DRIFTED - DRI(FT)ED. A great misleading definition, which refers to snow.
13 Phenomenon in sky or atmosphere, say
AURORA - sounds like ‘or aura’.
14 Such a campaign, even if successful, isn’t working
16 After Mass, avoid American waterfowl
SHOAL DUCK - I confess I looked this one up before entering it (just to be sure I had everything clear for blogging duty, you understand). ‘Mass’ is not the most helpful definition for SHOAL, and I had never heard of this particular duck. I am familiar with the concept of a shoal as a mass of rock near the surface of a lake that will destroy your motor if you drive over it but that seemed a bit niche in the context of a Times crossword.
17 Musical notes staff sent back to record company
DO-RE-MI - reversal of ROD, EMI.
18 Coloured glass therefore must contain whiskey
SMALTO - S(MALT)O. Another I looked up, conscientious fellow that I am. The wordplay seemed clear but the answer looked unlikely.
21 Tango I’d turned into sensible routine
TRADITIONAL - T, ID reversed inside RATIONAL.
22 Lost the race to rebuild primitive toilet
EARTH-CLOSET - (LOST THE RACE)*. A new term for me but a logical (if not particularly pleasant) alternative to the water closet.
24 Extend Noel after upsetting scandal?
ELONGATE - (NOEL)*, GATE (scandal). Has anyone called the scandalous goings-on at Tesla ELONGATE yet?
25 Where stock is kept for Christmas shopper, you might say?
BYRE - sounds like ‘buyer’.
26 King of Norway liking Louisiana — it’s fine outside
SAINT OLAF - SA(INTO, LA), F. SA is sex appeal, also ‘it’ in crosswords but nowhere else. I didn’t know Norway had had a king who was also a saint but it seemed perfectly possible.
28 Publication, one for Christmas travellers
29 Kindly reach island’s empty temple
31 Garden close to place where thieves gather
EDEN - placE, DEN.
32 Stocking fillers from shop in Soho
PINS - contained in ‘shop in Soho’.
33 They’re partial to fashion shopping
34 It may adversely affect one’s view of last year
STYE - another containment clue, this time in ‘last year’.
36 Not here holding can, so not drinking
37 Topless bar gets TV award
EMMY - jEMMY. A type of crowbar, to be precise.
39 Nanny turns around to feed baby
WET-NURSE - WEE (baby) containing an anagram of TURNS.
42 Tiny animals standing in time machine
TARDIGRADES - TARDI(GRADE)S. Fascinating creatures.
44 My turkey stuffing would be of no culinary use
45 What dove goes over to carry flying mammal.
COLUGO - CO(LUG)O. Knock knock. Who’s there? Doves go. Doves go who? No, silly, doves go coo, not who. (Also works for cows). A COLUGO is a flying lemur, which was news to me.
47 Stream circling power plant
48 See you crossing river with long insect types
TRACHEARA TRACHEATA - T(R, ACHE)ARA. Another word I didn’t know, and which isn’t in any of the dictionaries I have access to at the moment. Collins and Chambers give TRACHEARIA. Edit: it turns out I didn’t know it because it didn’t exist! The answer is in fact TRACHEATA. Not that I knew that either of course. I don’t know why I picked ‘tara’ for ‘see you’: perhaps because it has appeared recently, perhaps because I thought the resulting word looked more likely. ‘Tata’ is a more ‘normal’ choice though..
51 Boxer may want this reason to fight?
BONE OF CONTENTION - a straight definition with a canine cryptic add-on.
52 Advent calendar to be opened outside home — wow!
COMING - Calendar, OMG (oh my god, wow) containing IN.
53 Second present, mum’s new “single white male”, outside
SNOWMAN -S, NOW, MA, N. Nice definition.
54 Without thinking properly, nurses got off
ABSENTLY - AB(SENT)LY. ‘Give me a minute, I just need to get this email off’.
55 Right parts to be bought in spring
VERNAL - VE(R)NAL, where ‘to be bought’ gives VENAL.

1 Wrestles with God when worship is heard
PRAYS - sounds like ‘praise’. I don’t really understand ‘wrestles with God’. Surely wrestling requires some countervailing action from one’s counterpart, and even if you believe in the existence of said counterpart this surely isn’t how praying works.
2 Electronic device for a boy holding paper is real fancy
PERSONAL ORGANISER - PER (for a), SON (boy), (REAL)* containing ORGAN (paper).
3 A Christmas activity alternatively turned into job
CAROLLING - reversal of OR in CALLING (job).
5 Swimsuit on, reasonably concealed by dress
6 After some drinks, see about a song
7 Delay winter — the fire’s out
8 Hard to lance boil? Tinsel might do it
9 One escorted around part of supermarket
DELI - reversal of I, LED. A slightly odd definition in that a supermarket might have a DELI counter, but the word usually refers to a dedicated shop.
10 Wanting revenue, collecting penny rent
11 Minimal air traffic to hold back pilot
TRIAL - contained reversed in ‘minimal air traffic’.
12 Get into party given by Nag’s Head
DON - DO, Nag.
15 Glad tidings from Rome — no suitcases lost!
19 By the way, is this what lacking appreciation means?
OUT OF INTEREST - because appreciation is something that happens to a sum of money if it earns interest.
20 This dancer’s worried about work with female ice skater
CHRISTOPHER DEAN - (THIS DANCER)* containing OP, HER. I am just about old enough to remember Torvill and Dean.
21 Idiotically claim PET short for PET?
THERMOPLASTIC - (CLAIM PET SHORT)*. Polyethylene terephthalate being an example (indicated by the question mark) of this.
23 Mistletoe + friend + an unexpected freedom
26 Divers get warm out of water
27 Wrong shape for mine shaft
UPCAST - UP (wrong, as in ‘what’s up?’), CAST (shape). Another word I didn’t know.
30 They are using the Internet and getting on with it
35 Uproar at home — curry in place of Christmas meal?
38 Old men will keep turning to passion
MOTH-EATEN - M(reversal of TO, HEAT)EN.
40 Where Santa is, and not the welcoming people, oddly
41 Is it going to suggest voting results?
EXIT POLL - I’m not really sure how this is supposed to work. ‘Going’ is a word for EXIT… er I think that’s it.
43 Water flea, possibly an aphid
46 Fast, or primarily slow
LENTO - LENT (fast), Or.
49 Christmas tree decoration made by a new setter
50 I do a portrait
51 Public transport not quite working
A gentle offering, with evenly paved surfaces slick enough to trip you up as to the cryptic parsing. I have a two or three quibbles, but no major complaint—nothing nearly so troublesome as my problems with the postal service, here and/or in France, which I ramble on about (again) quite irrelevantly below.

It’s going to be a big day for blogs, so I hope this doesn’t get slighted in the shuffle.

I do (sanamgra)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues. Five of ’em this time!

 1 Talk about a long story (4)
SAGA — GAS<— + A
 4 European gripped by bad splenetic disease (10)
PESTILENCE — (splenetic + E)*
 9 Negligent first couple of reports by teacher (6)
REMISS — RE[-ports] + MISS. As Keriothe confirmed the last time it came up on my watch, female schoolteachers are still called “Miss” over there in Merrie Olde. Quaint.
10 Idiot husband wearing golf trousers? (8)
CLOTHING — DBE. “Idiot” is CLOT, + H[usband] + IN, “wearing”  + G[olf]
11 A child star upset with all in chorus? (2,3,3)
AS ONE MAN — A SON (“child”) + NAME (“star”) <— (“upset”) Not sure why there is a question mark.
13 Strange old jerk pursuing old flame (6)
14 Awfully indecent and best-limited inclinations (10)
TENDENCIES — (indecent + [-b]ES[-t])*
16 Couple I encountered from the East? (4)
ITEMOne of the Wise Men got lost? I + MET<—
17 Chances of dying do soar at the front (4)
ODDSHow true!
18 European dominance upset grasping American leader (10)
MACEDONIANAnd that’s a kind word for the leader I’m thinking of…! (dominance + A)* Second clue with “upset” in the wordplay, a “redundancy” one, at least, of the setter team at The Nation would want to “correct.” On the other hand, it makes a connection between “grasping American leader” here and “child star” above, which seems apt.
20 Relish October’s final on which the cup rests (6)
SAUCER — SAUCE + R. If memory serves, this was my LOI, for no clear reason.
21 Investment minister has secured in error (8)
MISTAKENOr so (s)he says! MI(STAKE)N
23 Miss when in Madrid, part of Essen, or Italy (8)
SENORITA — But this doesn’t mean she’s a teacher.
24 Release hawk on Lahore’s outskirts (3,3)
LET OUT — L[-ahor]E + TOUT
26 When one might suffer an awful shock? (3,4,3)
BAD HAIR DAY — Static electricity could be at fault!
27 Instrument animal knocked over (4)

 2 Good performer’s excellent service (3)
ACE — Double Definition.
 3 Side with a band that’s heard (5)
ALIGN — A + “line” (“heard”). Underline “with”? But you generally need to add “with” to “align,” in this sense, too,
 4 Chap with letters after name welcoming graduate (7)
POSTMAN — POST is “after” and N “name,” with a Master of Arts in between. It took me too long to separate “letters” from “after name.” By the way, my postal carrier (a man, as it happens) just came by, and I am very upset that he had no Canard Enchaîné for me. I haven’t gotten an issue since the one for novembre 28. Their distributor changed the packaging to little plastic envelopes that tend to get stuck together so that stacks of several for all over the country get sent to one person. Meanwhile, they are pushing their new digital edition, for overseas subscribers only, but it requires paying for a whole new abonnement. I’ve talked to the USPS and written to the Canard repeatedly…
 5 Position that Oscar holds? Deputy (6-2-7)
SECOND-IN-COMMAND — Clever. “Oscar” is O in the NATO alphabet, the second letter in the word COMMAND.
 6 Those who press to see the Queen in restraints (7)
IRONERSWhy? She isn’t doing anything! IRON (ER) S. This is the weakest part of the puzzle, just pure filler. Has anyone ever used this word or heard it used? Surely there’s a more elegant term for those who press clothes.
 7 African playing the piano all round India (9)
ETHIOPIAN — (the piano + I[ndia])*
 8 Kind of second-rate pants one must wear (11)
CONSIDERATE — (second-rate + I)*
12 One likely to snap at those driving over limit (5,6)
SPEED CAMERA — Cryptic Definition.
15 Child host ordered to become washing-up helper? (9)
DISHCLOTH — (Child host)* Slightly cryptic definition, hence the question mark (used to be called a “quirk” in the Nation copy department; I wonder if I could get away with that here… And exclamation points were “sclams”!)
18 Cocktail party at centre held by midget (7)
MARTINI — M ([-p]ART[-y] )INI. Surface-wise, it isn’t clear whether the midget is holding the party or the centre. Also merely surface-wise, it is now widely considered offensive to refer to any particular smallish person as a “midget,” as we all know. Yet you still hear terms such as “moral midget.”
19 Showcase sample of pop in Underworld song (7)
DISPLAYAnother band I haven’t heard of?! DIS (P[-op]) LAY. Seems “Dis” has been a popular reference in our puzzles lately, the devil knows why.
22 Rhubarb served up following a cold ham (5)
ACTOR — “Rhubarb” is ROT <— served up, after A C.
25 Do drugs lead to untold sadness and woe ultimately? (3)
USEMy answer is, “Not necessarily.” I thought this clue was a little faulty, until Kevin pointed out how it works.

Jumbo 1358

Happy New Year to all my readers!

I am not sure whether it was Christmas overindulgence or not being on the setter's wavelength but this one took me longer than it should have done. I needed to check 44D, but I do vaguely recall it from a past puzzle.

1 BOGUS - BUS = coach, around O.G. = own goal = blunder by defender
4 ABIDJAN - ABID(e) = put up with, JAN(uary) = few weeks
8 PAPARAZZO - P.A., P.A. = a year, repeated, RAZZ = kid, O(ld)
13 INITIATES (TEST, A, N(ew) I, I, I)*
14 SEWING MACHINE - SWING = jazz, around E = energy, ME = note, around A CHIN = a punch
15 ELECTRO - hidden reversed in shORT CELEbrity
16 GOLDWYN - GWYN = actress, favourite of royal, around OLD = familiar
17 EULOGIA - GOALIE* around U(nited)
18 POCKET-HANDKERCHIEF - POCKET = appropriate, HAND = give, K(ing), E.R. = queen, CHIEF = most important
21 NIGH - NIGH(t) = stay in hotel
23 AILANTHUS - LIANA*, THUS = like this
25 TE-HEED - TE = note, HEED = note
26 METTLE - sounds like METAL = lead
28 EXPERIMENTAL - EX = out of, PERI(l) = danger, MENTAL = mad
30 STREETWISE - STREET = a way, WE around IS
33 STOPPING BY - STOPPING = plugging, BY = times
34 AIRPORT NOVEL - AIR = bearing, PORT = left, NOVEL = fresh
37 ABBESS - AB = muscle, BE = act as, S.S. = bodyguard
39 RIYADH - H(ot), DAY = date, I = one, R = romeo, all reversed
42 TONK - KNOT = turks head, perhaps, reversed
43 LOCK STOCK AND BARREL - LOCK = forward (rugby), STOCK = merchandise, AND = adding, BARREL = vat
46 TOUGHIE - TUG = yank, around O = oscar, HIE = hurry
47 RACQUET - R.A.C. = motorists, QUE = that in French, (cour)T
48 OPEN DAY - OP = work, END = objective, AY = indeed
51 UP-HELLY-AA - UP = at college, HE'LL = the chap's going to, alternate letters in pYjAmAs
52 SANTANDER - SAN = health resort, TAN = function, DER = RED = radical, reversed
53 TURNKEY - TURN = go off, KEY = principal
54 OWNED - (d)OWNED = drunk

1 BOILERPLATE - BOILER = chicken, PLATE = dish. Also cryptically as a down clue BOILER is put on PLATE which could be the instruction to assemble a chicken dish
2 GRIPE - G(ood), RIPE = ready
3 SAINT BERNARD PASS - SPAS, around AINT A RD = isn't a road, itself around BERN = Swiss capital
4 ANTIOCH - A, N.T. = books, I.O.C. = Olympic bigwigs, H = hotel
5 ISSIGONIS - I = one, (SIGN IS SO)*. The inventor/designer of the Morris Minor
6 JUST LIKE THAT - double definition, the second mildly cryptic
7 NEWSWORTHY - NEW = a stranger, SWOR(e) = cursed, THY = your
8 PINON - PIN ON = attach to
9 PAMPERED PAM = girl, P = pee, ERE = before, D(aughter)
10 RACILY - RAY = light, around C.I. = Jersey etc, and L(arge)
12 OVERACHIEVE - O(ld), VERA, EVE = ladies around C(hances) and HI = welcome
19 CALYPSO - hidden in sCALY PSOriatic
20 HEELTAP - HEEL = list, TAP = milk. This answer was in Jumbo 1348 which I also blogged, and although the wordplay split the solution the same way the cryptics were different
22 MEET ONES WATERLOO - MEET = tournament, ONES = singles, WATER = weaken, LOO = can
24 HUMANE - HUE = shade, around MAN = chap
27 HENRY V - HEN = female, R.V. = interpretation of the bible, around Y = unknown
29 NIBLICK - NIB = tip for writer, LICK = light coat
32 NIGHTCLUBBER - NIGHT sounds like KNIGHT = piece, CLUBBER = striker
33 SHANTY TOWNS - SHAN'T = I'm not going to, YTS around OWN = have
36 GANTT CHART - (THAT GRANT, C(heque))*
38 BANTUSTAN - BAN = prohibition, TN = Tennessee, around US = American and T.A. = volunteers
40 A FAST BUCK - double definition, the first cryptic as does are female deer or rabbits, and bucks are males
41 HOMELAND - HOD = scuttle, around MELAN(choly) = black dog
44 DROSHKY - DOSH = ready, around R = queen, KY = commonwealth state (Kentucky, not Kenya, I think)
45 THALIA - hidden in truTH A LIAbility
47 RUDER - RUD(d)ER = helm
49 DOYEN - DO = note, YEN = long
I found this a very enjoyable Jumbo with lots of entertaining clues and clever surfaces; rather better than 28A and not a 22D. For once, there were no words I didn't know, although there is some knowledge of mathematics required which may not be familiar to some. In all this took me about 50 minutes, so was pretty much in my goldilocks zone for a Jumbo (although such locks that I have are grey not gold). CLOUT my LOI and as for clue of the day... plenty to choose from, but I opt for the concise and clever ELEVATOR. Thanks setter! How did you all like it?
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With New Year falling between the puzzle and this, its blog, I wish everyone all the best for 2019.

One of my plans for the coming year is to do the Times Crossword on paper rather than online, to get rid of that malicious timer and those random typos, but good luck to those of you who do it the other way!

I tackled this one on paper and found it slow going, but I thought I was going to be able to get there until I came to a halt at the intersection of 9ac and 8dn. Bah! Still, there was much to enjoy before then. Thanks to the setter. My clue of the day was 27ac.

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

1 Stop driving in top gear? (8)
PULLOVER: to stop driving, you PULL OVER (4,4).

9 Is in French folk tale collector’s brief to find fabled wolf (8)
ISENGRIM: IS, EN (French for “in”), GRIM[m] (dropping the final letter of the brothers Grimm). I’ve never heard of this creature, but Isengrim did appear in the Club Monthly in March 2013 and in Mephisto in 2009, so some few souls who do those challenging puzzles may remember!

10 Legendary ruler getting racket on ball (4)
ODIN: O is the ball, DIN is the racket. Odin is a Norse god.

11 No English composer's works will be fine (12)
SATISFACTORY: SATI[e]’S the composer, FACTORY is the works.

13 A mat? It could be this (6)
TATAMI: it’s a Japanese mat. It “could be” an anagram of (A MAT IT*), too. For me it was a pure guess where the “M” went, but I got lucky. One chance in three. This word has come up nine times before in TftT, but has generally been clued in a way that helped with the spelling!

14 Old policeman's way to block dodgy dealer (8)
LESTRADE: ST is the “way”. Put it inside a “dodgy” anagram of (DEALER*). For me the fact that Lestrade is fictional is more significant than his age! He’s probably the most common Scotland Yard Detective Inspector in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

15 Little beast returning from dissolute revels (7)
LEVERET: reverse (“returning”) hidden answer “from” [dissolu]TE REVEL[s].

16 Problem for athlete with running spikes (7)
CRAMPON: CRAMP would be a problem. ON could be running. I’ve never seen one, but a crampon could I assume have several spikes.

20 Hit big tree (3,5)
BOX ELDER: BOX as in “box one’s ears”, then ELDER as in “elder brother”.

22 Face of girl guide, a sentimental sort? (6)
GUSHER: G is the face of the G[irl], USHER is the guide.

23 Repetitive sound by model of Ford car (12)
TAUTOLOGICAL: the Ford Motor Company established itself by making  the model T AUTO. Sound arguments should be LOGICAL. Join where indicated, please.

25 Victim of murderer clever in hearing (4)
ABEL: sounds like ABLE.

26 Where to find crude artwork competition (8)
OILFIELD: an artwork might be an OIL. The competition would be the rest of the FIELD.

27 Stare at both sides of chewy dish? (3,5)
EYE CANDY: EYE (to stare at) “C” AND “Y” (the “sides” of C[hew]Y).

2 Inappropriate European's left behind to make waves (8)
UNDULATE: UNDU[e}] minus the “E” for European that’s “left”; then LATE (behind).

3 Leeds playing with ball, not getting trophy (8,4)
LONSDALE BELT: anagram (“playing”) if (LEEDS BALL NOT*). The helpers suggested the first word, and then the second word drops out. I’d never heard of this trophy, but could get the answer from the wordplay.

4 Measure of potential fury about a polemical writer (8)
VOLTAIRE: VOLT (measure of electrical potential), IRE (fury), all “about” the letter “A”. He was given to polemics against Christianity, it seems.

5 Endless danger with only fried food (7)

6 Old-fashioned sweetheart's somewhere in France (2,4)
LE MANS: LEMAN is an archaic word for sweetheart. It’s come up in TftT a number of times before, but rang no bells with me.

7 Shipment out of top vessel (4)
ARGO: the shipment could be [c]ARGO. The vessel would have been Jason’s.

8 Celestial fire’s fuel in rising star (8)
EMPYREAN: a theatrical star might be a NAME. A funeral PYRE is a fire which in this case "fuels" the reversed ("rising") NAME. The answer was another unknown. (Thanks to isla3 for clearing up my total confusion about how this one should be parsed!)

12 I'm leaving Indian dish — I’m grateful for fishy one (12)
TARAMASALATA: TARA (British for “I’m leaving”), MASALA (Indian dish), TA (I’m grateful). A dish made of fish roe.

15 Drink in freedom, without hesitation (8)
LIBATION: LIB[er]ATION without the “ER”.

17 Rocky ridge with ice is a killer (8)
REGICIDE: anagram (“rocky”) of (RIDGE ICE*).

18 Eve hard to move with “Love is in the air” (8)
OVERHEAD: anagram (“to move”) (EVE HARD O*), where the “O” is “zero” or “love”.

19 Group ordered to pack kit (7)
BRIGADE: BADE “packing” RIG.

21 Most of toy soldiers in ancient monument (6)
DOLMEN: DOL[l], MEN. It’s a megalithic tomb.

24 Picked up unappealing fruit (4)
UGLI: sounds like “ugly”.

Times 27,239: Cutting A Dash

I would describe this crossword as being fairly simply clued, but not in a bad way - there are some belters in the mix today, top of the heap in my opinion being 14ac for the never-gets-old device of significant punctuation; but honourable mentions to some entertaining definitions such as "corn cutter" and "Breton style", more than making up for a few over-crosswordese-y surfaces. Thanks setter!

I got a fair bit of change out of my ten minutes for it though - it feels like quite a while since the hardest puzzle of the week has fallen on a Friday, though I guess this isn't that surprising while we're getting Championship puzzles every Wednesday? Roll on the proper stinkers that will provide me with the comeuppance I so richly deserve, anyway, I say!

1 Vamp never having time for leading lady (7)
EMPRESS - {t}EMP{t}RESS [vamp, stripped of every T for time]

5 Runway with struts? (7)
CATWALK - a cryptic definition, for the sort of runway that models strut up and down.

9 PC rings about source of random artwork on farm (4,7)
CROP CIRCLES - COP CIRCLES [PC | rings] "about" R{andom}

10 Crew's long hair cut (3)
MAN - MAN{e} [long hair, "cut"]

11 Chaperone in Madrid expected lady to come back (6)
DUENNA - DUE [expected] + reversed ANN [lady]

12 Taller ship picked up high priest (8)
HIERARCH - homophone of HIGHER ARK [taller | ship]

14 Beachwear, sort of umber — unusual sort (7,6)
BERMUDA SHORTS - (UMBER*) ["sort of..."] + DASH [—] + (SORT*) ["unusual..."]

17 Check pink revised version (13)

21 Inspect boy covering over outstanding work (8)
CASELOAD - CASE LAD [inspect | boy] "covering" O [over]

23 He wrestled with oars, arriving here? (6)
ASHORE - (HE + OARS*) ["...wrestled with..."], semi-&lit

25 Tender chicken for one, not rook (3)
BID - BI{r}D [chicken for one, minus R for rook]

26 Axe poet describing Irish corn cutter (11)
CHIROPODIST - CHOP ODIST [axe | poet] "describing" IR [Irish]

27 Fashion model assuming a Republican title (7)
EARLDOM - (MODEL*) ["fashion..."] "assuming" A R [a | Republican]

28 Yak from heart of Tibet needing whip to avoid area (7)
BLETHER - {ti}B{et} + LE{a}THER [whip, "avoiding" A for area]

1 Old bit of Lisbon that is toured by Brussels party (6)
ESCUDO - SC [that is (scilicet)], "toured by" EU DO [Brussels | party]

2 Saw dog restrained by lead (7)
PROVERB - ROVER [dog] "restrained" by PB [lead]

3 Crank primarily collects money in Morecambe (9)
ECCENTRIC - C{ollects} + CENT [money] in ERIC [Morecambe]

4 Nimble mole overcomes resistance (4)
SPRY - SPY [mole] "overcomes" R [resistance]

5 Stop work to phone Italian lady with Yankee (4,2,1,3)
CALL IT A DAY - CALL IT ADA [phone | Italian | lady] with Y [Yankee]

6 Star cast will include European stunner (5)
TASER - (STAR*) ["cast"] will include E [European]

7 Fan drier controls damp in odd places (7)
ADMIRER - AIRER [drier] "controls" D{a}M{p}; not an anagram of DRIER {d}AM{p} as I somehow managed to assume at first...

8 Family owns a housing society in African capital (8)
KINSHASA - KIN HAS A [family | owns | a] "housing" S [society]

13 Short county boxer's married, Breton style (10)
SURREALISM - SURRE{y} ALI'S M ["short" county | boxer's | married]. That would be Andre Breton we're talking about.

15 Waves down close to front, a certain sign of cold weather (9)
HAILSTONE - HAILS [waves down] + {fron}T + ONE [a certain]

16 Forecaster said supporting vineyard's a severe test (8)
CRUCIBLE - homophone of SIBYL [forecaster], supporting CRU [vineyard]

18 Cool leftie is upright person with confidential info (7)
INSIDER - IN [cool] + reversed RED IS [leftie | is]

19 Upset female carrying old books and old tool (7)
NEOLITH - reversed HEN [female] "carrying" O LIT [old | books]

20 Gambler showing improvement (6)
BETTER - double definition

22 It's clear police left uniform on top (5)
LUCID - C.I.D. [police], L U [left | uniform] on top

24 Grave, sort of square old doctor (4)
TOMB - T O MB [sort of square | old | doctor]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1259 by Izetti

A typically testing but fair puzzle from Izetti today with admirable surfaces to the clues. A good mix of clue types, we have no less than 3 cryptic definitions and a couple of "rubbish" clues. (No I don't mean the clues are bad!) I don't recall anything holding me up too much and I finished in about an average time, but one or two are a little tricky, I think. Lots of candidates for Clue Of the Day, REBUSES for one made me laugh, but I pick SHIPOWNER for the slightly sneaky definition. Thanks Izetti! How did you all get on?
Read all about it...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic No 1258 by Breadman

A gentle enough puzzle from Breadman today - I was twelve minutes yesterday and just over half that today (making a welcome change of pace after yesterday's championship crossword!). This is only Breadman's tenth QC offering since 2015, but has been appearing more frequently over the last year. Some tougher ones in that list by the look of past blogs, this however was a very good entryish-level puzzle, with a broad mix of clues, some generous openers, little in the way of obscurity, and a number of nice surface readings to keep it all good fun. Happy new year and many thanks to Breadman!

7 Regular characters in local, flushed, had a row (5)
OARED - "regular characters" in lOcAl, RED (flushed)
8 Popular one in academic period is temporary (7)
INTERIM - IN (popular), I (one) goes in TERM (academic period)
10 Quiet woman on river (7)
SHANNON - SH (quiet) ANN (woman) ON
11 Only altered new fabric (5)
NYLON - anagram (altered) of ONLY, N(ew)
12 Welshman tracks remote maiden where cows are milked? (5,4)
DAIRY FARM - DAI (Welshman) RY (railway/tracks) FAR (remote) M(aiden)
14 Father's dance step (3)
PAS - PA's = father's. A dance step and a dance in its own right.
15 Pack run in the morning (3)
RAM - R(un) AM (in the morning)
16 Church function includes mostly pleasant historical record (9)
CHRONICLE - CH(urch) ROLE (function) includes NIC ("mostly" NICE, i.e. pleasant)
18 Piece of sculpture, disturbed by king, broke into pieces (5)
BURST - BUST (piece of sculpture), disturbed by R (rex/king)
20 Headwear around flat spoiled access for pet (3,4)
CAT FLAP - CAP (headwear) around an anagram (spoiled) of FLAT.
22 Divorcee confines energy outlay (7)
EXPENSE - EX (divorcee) PENS (confines) E(nergy)
23 Man on board eating right seafood (5)
PRAWN - PAWN (man on board) eats R(ight)
1 Significant political party face Republican expert (12)
CONSIDERABLE - CON (political party) SIDE (face) R(epublican) ABLE (expert)
2 A living thing's heart perhaps is beginning to move (8)
ORGANISM - ORGAN (heart, perhaps), IS, M ("beginning" to Move)
3 Last ones in hike off-road stumble upon idyllic place (4)
EDEN - Last ones/letters in hikE off-roaD stumblE upoN
4 English Queen, the fourth to back European city (6)
VIENNA - ANNE (English queen) IV (the fourth) back/reversed
5 He's paid for risky feats, double maybe (8)
STUNTMAN - cryptic(ish) definition with a pun on "double": twice the pay in the surface reading; a lookalike in the cryptic.
6 Showing heart repeatedly, work pal's spoken (4)
ORAL - the heart/centre letters of both wORk and pAL's
9 Clearing bombs from pits, visible upset (12)
MINESWEEPING - MINES (pits), WEEPING (visible upset)
13 Mad Cathy has drunk gin, guiding an aquatic vessel (8)
YACHTING - anagram (mad) of CATHY has an anagram (drunk) of GIN
14 Training copper who tells lies: strange (8)
PECULIAR - P.E. (training) Cu (Copper) LIAR ([someone] who tells lies)
17 Scam that's employed in court (6)
RACKET - double definition
19 Engrossed artist emptied paint (4)
RAPT - RA (artist) empty the letters of PainT
21 Printing error in naughty postcard (4)
TYPO - "in" the letters of naughTY POstcard
Perhaps it’s the sheer plethora of extra puzzles over the holiday period, or the sheer horror that was yesterday’s competition sample, but I find I’m not at my quickest at the moment, and this one took 24 and a quarter minutes. There’s an Americanism of sorts, balanced by a Britishism that tends to jar mildly on Americans, but otherwise there’s not much to frighten us tenderer solvers.
17 across gives me the excuse to congratulate NASA on two momentous achievements in 24 hours that certainly moved and thrilled me: their first picture of the snowman in space at Ultima Thule 4 billion miles away and the extraordinary feat of going into orbit round the 500 metre asteroid Bennu, at 1/5 millionth the gravity of Earth. And best wishes to China, attempting shortly to land on the far side of the Moon. Humanity is not all insane politics.
Back to the puzzle: my exposition is coded with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS. Enjoy!
[(click to open)]
1 Territory bordering a pole, oddly? (7)
LAPLAND And we start with a rather nice &lit. Territory is LAND, which “borders” A and the odd letters of PoLe. If we were being picky, we’d say Lapland doesn’t quite border the North Pole, but it’s only just past Christmas so we’ll allow a certain chap-with-a-beard based licence.
5 Barren wife deputising for husband in expedition (5)
WASTE Both mean “unproductive” in Chambers. W(ife) replaces H(usband) in expedition: HASTE
9 Marine vehicle driven to port by a learner (5)
NAVAL The vehicle is a VAN, which when driven to the left gives NAV, add A L(earner)
10 Spooner's secured location, in a few words (5,4)
SOUND BITE Which in Speverend Rooner’s orchard tinglish would be BOUND SITE
11 Yankee on drug adopting Republican line, roughly (7)
HARSHLY First NATO of the day, Y(ankee) tacked onto drug-of-choice HASH containing R(epublican) after L(ine) has been added.
12 Went out with clean 5 across from timberyard (7)
SAWDUST 5 across WASTE becomes pat of the definition. SAW for went out with, DUST for clean
13 Mac's strength of spirit added to general excellence (10)
WATERPROOF In a Mephisto, Mac usually means a delve into the hoots mon section of the dictionary. Not here. Strength of spirit is PROOF, general excellence is WATER. The link is in the phrase (most commonly) “of the first water”: the more gemstones, especially diamonds, resemble pure, clear water, the better. Extended to mean excellence in anything.
15 Charge double, initially, for forage (4)
FEED I think more in the noun sense. Charge: FEE, Double initially D
18 Sort of tale that'll keep you in stitches? (4)
YARN whimsical cryptic definition
20 Victor commanding guards, impossible to pass (10)
IMPERVIOUS Commanding provides IMPERIOUS, which guards our second NATO of the day, V(ictor)
23 Better medic with peculiarly regal bearing (7)
GAMBLER The medic you want here is MB (Medicinae Baccalaureus - Bachelor of Medicine) borne by a variant on REGAL
24 House maybe trades gold (7)
WINDSOR Trades are the WINDS that blow towards the Equator (if I correctly recall my O-level Geography), so a definition by example heralded by “maybe”. Add OR for gold.
25 Concession that man's pocketed in republic (9)
FRANCHISE The republic, currently their cinquième, is FRANCE. Include (pocket) HIS for that man’s
26 Return of goods — deficiency ultimately unclear (5)
FOGGY Follow the instructions. Retut=rn of: FO, add G(oods), 2 of them, and the last of deficiencY
27 Tail-enders in the marathon put a strain on all runners (5)
ENTRY The tail enders of thE and marathoN plus put a srain on: TRY
28 Crowd on balcony when faithful audience is catered for (3,4)
GOD SLOT Was (is still?) the term for the religious bit in broadcasting such as “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4. Balcony is interpreted in its highest (physical) form as GODS, crowd is LOT. Respace.

1 Continually blocking grant to youngster in form (7)
LEVERET Now you need to know that form is what a hare calls its sleeping place, and its young is our answer, and all makes sense. Continually: EVER “blocks” grant: LET
2 Fish cut up with great force (8)
PILCHARD Cut is CLIP, which in a down clue reverses when “up”. The rest comes from with great force: HARD
3 Analyse a singular state (5)
ASSAY A S(ingular) state: SAY
4 Doctor gets our compound — here in US, perhaps (4,5)
DRUG STORE What we on this side of the pond would call a chemist’s D(octo)R GETS OUR is “compounded” in this &littish clue
5 Thrillers incorporating papers women left behind (6)
WIDOWS WOWS are thrillers, papers ID
6 Apprehension from last character that is returning to crack safe (7)
SEIZURE Last character Z (in my alphabet, anyway) that is IE, both reversed and contained in safe: SURE. Apprehension more as in arrest than anxiety.
7 Leave old mate with distress (5)
EXEAT Latin stage direction for one character going off stage. No it isn't (see below). It means "let him go" and is public school pretentious Latin for leave of absence..EX for your old mate, EAT for distress as in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
8 Why a note goes astray in transit? (2,3,3)
ON THE WAY A kindly straightforward anagram of WHY A NOTE
14 Mentioning task for second examiner? (9)
REMARKING A double definition, made easier for me by one of Mrs Z’s former occupations.
16 Puts down free oyster cards, taking car out (8)
DESTROYS Puts down sounds so much nicer for what one does  to poor old ailing Rover. Free indicates anagram, the fodder is OYSTER CARDS minus the CAR bit. You don’t need to know that Oyster Cards are Transport for London’s automated fare paying system, but there, I’ve told you anyway.
17 Momentous contest well-nigh complete (8)
EVENTFUL Contest provides EVENT, and most of complete is FULL
19 Wild rave a politician's caught in (7)
RAMPANT Rave give RANT, insert A MP
21 Against crew changing direction without a second glance? (2,5)
ON SIGHT ON for against (I suppose as in on/against the wall). The crew is an EIGTH with its direction E(ast) replaced by S(outh)
22 Courageous chap's end providential (6)
PLUCKY  The ast of chap plus LUCKY for providential.
23 Raised e-cigarette's casing following blunder (5)
GAFFE In much the same way as we Brits snigger at Germans who fahrt, we’re well aware of our transatlantic cousins’ reaction to FAG, but hey, it’s just a cigarette, guys. E-FAG is reversed and contains F(ollowing)
24 Energy-filled, unrestrained exercise (5)
WIELD Unrestrained gives WILD, fill with E(nergy)
I had picked up the vibe from comments after the Competition that two of the three Final offerings were 'a bit hard'. Well, this is one of them, because it sure was harder than last week's. So I approached it once more with trepidation, knowing solving at all would be a challenge, let alone inside twenty minutes, or indeed an hour. After fifteen minutes or so, I was feeling a lot more chirpy; I had over half the grid done, checkers all over the place, and I paused for a cup of tea. But the last few had me struggling to finish at all. There are two words which were new to me, (3d, 28a) if plausible guesses without much certainty, and an expression I'd never heard at 17a. I don't have a final time, but think it's just about correct and parsed. My favourite clue was 7d, as old Sergei's harmonies are magic.
Congratulations to all 11 who finished it on the day.
1 After payment, back versatile public transport (7)
POSTBUS - POST = after, SUB = payment, reversed = back, I think this is implying a postbus is versatile because you can catch a ride as well as have your letters delivered? Anyway I'd never seen it as one word.
5 Feeble desire to accommodate mischievous child (7)
WIMPISH - My FOI. WISH = desire has IMP inserted.
9 To increase demands at college, you must devour a lot of books (2,3,4)
UP THE ANTE - UP = at college, THEE = you, insert A, NT.
10 Games host recently in Germany agreed to supply wine (5)
RIOJA - RIO = games host recently, JA = yes in German.
11 What are the odds of criminal receiving fifty lashes? (5)
CILIA - C r I m I n A l odd letters = CI IA. Isert L = fifty.
12 Nice way to do the part of King Edward? (6,3)
FRENCH FRY - Potato cooked as in a French place (in Nice), where they are frites not French fries.
13 I duck three times eg prior to blow in the kisser (7,6)
GEORGIE PORGIE - It took me ages to see that 'the kisser' was a bloke who kissed, not slang for mouth. Then the checkers gave me an answer, parsed afterwards. It's an anagram of I, O, EG, EG, EG, PRIOR.
17 Old refuse heap to burn in range in centre of study (7,6)
KITCHEN MIDDEN - Well, I think here, KEN = range (of knowledge perhaps), insert ITCH = burn. Then MID = in centre of, DEN = study. A kitchen midden is an archaeological term for an ancient food waste dump. I wasn't helped by the usual poor typography where burn looked like bum when printed out.
21 Woman putting on black while husband’s putting on green? (4,5)
GOLF WIDOW - Cryptic definition. Mrs K has been one for many years but not recently. High hopes for my new hip being fixed by May, consigning her once again to the golf-widow status (and will probably glad to see me elsewhere).
24 How Persian might go without train to the west (5)
MIAOW - to the west = reverse all of: W/O = without, AIM = train. Aren't Persians one of those cats that don't make the usual noise?
25 One visiting writer at ode? (5)
ERATO - The muse is hidden in WRIT(ER AT O)DE.
26 Victor and I felt that Peter should provide grant (9)
VOUCHSAFE - V for Victor, OUCH = I felt that, SAFE = Peter (allegedly criminal slang).
27 Eccentric whose line is far from fine (7)
SHOWERY - Too long was spent thinking of words for eccentrics. But it's (WHOSE)*, RY = line.
28 Play with funny bits of dull packaging poorly made (7)
DRAMEDY - I put this in having got D-A-E-Y and thinking it might be a made-up portmanteau word from DRAMA and COMEDY (which ideed it is). It does parse, too: DRY has (MADE)* inserted.

1 Gut feeling about West Ham after a year (6)
PAUNCH - PA = a year, per annum; I don't think this is H being the 'west' i.e. left hand letter of HAM, I think it is a Londoner from said area dropping his H from the word HUNCH = feeling to give UNCH.
2 Surpass what singers do in TV land (3,6)
SET ALIGHT - Well, I can see SET = TV and ALIGHT = land (on). And singers, people who singe things, could perhaps be setting them alight. And does setting something alight mean to surpass something, so it's a double def? EDIT as someone anon. person way below suggests, if you surpass what a singer does, i.e. singe things, then you could be setting something alight. A bit convoluted but plausible.
3 Work meeting getting Swede upset and cross (7)
BEEFALO - Another hybrid word I didn't know but thought plausible. I see it as BEE = work meeting, as in a sewing bee perhaps; and OLAF the Swede reversed. Presumably half cow half buffalo, if the two can be persuaded to have hanky panky.
4 Rogue whose dad’s loaded? (3,2,1,3)
SON OF A GUN - Dad has a gun so he's loaded. Wiki doesn't seem to support the 'rogue' idea very well, but the phrase's origins are interesting if uncertain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_a_gun
5 In place of whiskey, accept this (5)
WHERE - W = whiskey, HERE ! = accept this. Why Irish whiskey not whisky?
6 Coming in low, over cape, enormous bird. Hide! (7)
MOROCCO - Morocco a form of leather = hide. MOO = low, as in a cow. Insert variously, the ROC an enormous fabulous bird and C(ape).
7 Shot of Russian composer dismissing notorious landlord (2-3)
IN-OFF - A shot in snooker or billiards, or indeed I've seen it in golf. The aristo Russian scorer is RACHMANINOFF, so dismiss Peter RACHMAN the notorious Polish-born London 1960s landlord. If he'd kept the original RACHMANINOV the clue wouldn't have worked so well.
8 They save buckles for strapping (5-3)
14 Doctor in tuxedo heading for wedding ball’s leaving mark (4,5)
EXIT WOUND - (IN TUXEDO W)*. Once I had the W-U__ I thought of wound and then saw the anagram.
15 Dope about to cut tree close to house? That’s rich! (5,4)
GENOA CAKE - Of all the things that are rich, Genoa Cake was hardly an early spring-to-mind candidate, so biffing wasn't likely. Rely on the word play. GEN = dope, OAK is the tree, insert CA = about, add E as 'close' of house.
16 Let’s chuck the bag on the bus: it’s always the last resort (8)
SKEGNESS - After pondering old Billy Butlin slogans for a while, the penny dropped; the last letters of the first 8 words of the clue spell the answer. No need to visit Lincolnshire again. Doh!
18 Explain why old ladies perhaps should stop in (3,4)
HOW COME - HOME = in; Insert O, WC which could be the Ladies (or Gents). Explain why? as a question.
19 Irish girl packing make-up with variable speed (7)
DYMPHNA -  Well, thankfully, when we first moved to Co. Tipperary in 1974, my new boss's nymph-like wife was called Dymphna, so the name came easily to mind. DNA is your "make-up", insert Y = variable, MPH = speed.
20 Frail, after time dressing for the outdoor life? (6)
TWEEDY - T, WEEDY = frail.
22 Plain to see on reflection where general obligation falls? (5)
LLANO - Reversed, ON ALL = where general obligation falls. LLANO Spanish word for a plain, often visited in these pages.
23 Whack idiot (5)
DIVVY - Double definition. A good one, too.

Quick Cryptic 1257 by Wurm

Previous puzzles by Wurm have averaged on the trickier side in my book, but this one posed no problems. There are plenty of anagrams and hiddens to help us on our way. COD to 2dn with no doubt: succinct, reads naturally, and requires a bit of thought even after you've figured out what the answer must be! Thanks Wurm.

Definitions underlined.

1 Frenchman greatest boxer in country (4)
MALI - M (Monsieur, Frenchman) and ALI (Mohammed, greatest boxer).
4 Area, quiet river location, is suitable (8)
APPOSITE - A (area), P (quiet, music), PO (river), and SITE (location).
8 Snake bit, causing famous row (4,4)
BOAT RACE - BOA (snake) and TRACE (bit).
9 Revolutionary element to fight it out (4)
TITO - hidden in (element of) fighT IT Out. See here if you (only) see red.
10 Bond brings eastern men into court (6)
CEMENT - E (eastern) and MEN inside CT (court).
11 Dawn, in Ghana, holds sun shade (6)
AWNING - hidden in (holds) dAWN IN Ghana.
12 Valuable box sure to be in the crates at sea (8,5)
TREASURE CHEST - SURE inside (to be in) an anagram of (at sea) THE CRATES.
16 A paper sent out to be published (6)
APPEAR - anagram of (sent out) A PAPER.
17 Say no to rubbish (6)
REFUSE - double defintition.
19 Judge at posh party for sport (4)
JUDO - J (judge), U (upper class, posh) and DO (party).
20 Man's man? (8)
ISLANDER - cryptic definition, i.e. a man from the Isle of Man.
21 One having brawn rather than brains? (8)
MEATHEAD - cryptic definition.
22 European lair is delightful place (4)
EDEN - E (european) and DEN (lair).

2 Fuss about love (5)
ADORE - ADO (fuss) and RE (about).
3 Owl and pussycat were suffering equally (2,3,4,4)
IN THE SAME BOAT - cryptic/double definition. With reference to the famous Lear poem.
4 Initially alerted by Titanic, stop at sea (5)
AVAST - first letter of (initially) Alerted, then VAST (titanic).
5 Lords and ladies look to get on (7)
PEERAGE - PEER (look) and AGE (to get on).
6 Survey two gardens, but choose neither? (3,2,3,5)
SIT ON THE FENCE - cryptic definition.
7 Eat nuts, unfortunately getting lockjaw (7)
TETANUS - anagram of (unfortunately) EAT NUTS.
10 Hypochondriac finally up to bed (3)
COT - last letter of (finally) hypocondriaC, and a reversal of (up) TO.
13 Put bananas in unusual transport (7)
RAPTURE - anagram of (bananas) PUT, inside RARE (unusual).
14 British bad weather beginning to ease in country? (7)
UKRAINE - UK (british), RAIN (bad weather), and the first letter of (beginning to) Ease.
15 Member on foot in ghetto escapes (3)
TOE - hidden in ghetTO Escapes.
17 Idler can become agitated (5)
RILED - anagram of (can become) IDLER.
18 See GI shot in wartime event (5)
SIEGE - anagram of (shot) SEE GI.
The usual masterclass in clues which most mortals will have no chance whatsoever of Bunging In From Definition, needing to tease almost every one out painstakingly from the wordplay. Can JIRD and CIGUATOXIC *really* be words? Dictionary says yes!

And some very lovely wordplay there is herein too - I was particularly fond of a few of the down clues. Honourable mentions to "chill out, brah!" and the off-the-wall madness of YURT/YUFT, but the biggest smile was raised by 3dn managing to hide such a long word in a philanthropist and an ostrich. Another really good puzzle - much admiration to the brilliant setter!

1 Discarded bits of gold line considered magical reflected American vanities (6-4)
YELLOW-BOYS: reversed LEY [line considered magical] + LOWBOYS [American vanities]
An obsolete word for gold coins, hence the "discarded". Lowboys are short-legged American dressing tables with drawers, apparently.

6 Must for fermenting? (4)
STUM - (MUST*) ["for fermenting"], &lit, as stum is pretty much the same thing as must, unfermented grape juice.

9 Ruddy six-footer as Walloon’s rival? (10)
FLAMINGANT - FLAMING ANT [ruddy | six-footer]. A Flemish nationalist, hence no friend to Wallonia.

10 Prisoner releases a one-pound rodent (4)
JIRD - J{ailb}IRD [prisoner, minus A 1 LB]. A jird is some kind of Berber gerbil.

12 Intensity of warmth, both reduced by flapping true spotted cloth (7,7)
HEATHER MIXTURE - HEA{t} THERMI{c} [intensity | of warmth, "both reduced"] + X [by] + (TRUE*) ["flapping"]. A woolen fabric speckled like heather.

14 I repair junk: I live in Philippine mountains (6)
IGOROT - I GO ROT [I | repair | junk]. A Filipino ethnic group inhabiting the mountains of Luzon.

15 Proper lives led by instant messaging in the first place (8)
IMPRIMIS - PRIM IS [proper | lives] "led by" IM [instant messaging]

17 Reluctant to wear headless dummy’s strip (8)
UNCLOTHE - LOTH [reluctant] to wear {d}UNCE ["headless" dummy]

19 Aberdeen’s distant: return its grant to stop minor injury (6)
ABEIGH - reverse GIE [(Scottish word for) grant] inside ABH [minor injury (as opposed to GBH)] to get a Scots (Aberdeen's) word for aloof.

22 Violent bishop accepted by God passed easily in America, having leather straps (14)
THOROUGHBRACED - ROUGH B [violent | bishop] "accepted by" THOR [God] + ACED [passed easily (as in a test), in America]

24 Christian soldier statues were buried here in China (4)
XIAN - double def. Xi'an, home of the famous Terracotta Army.

25 Tricky to read clue free of impurities amenable to solution (10)
EDULCORATE - (TO READ CLUE*) ["tricky"]. Means "to free from soluble particles by washing".

26 Reminder that there’s potassium in long green fruit (4)
CUKE - CUE [reminder] that there's K [potassium] in

27 I deeply lament abuse about climate indicators (10)
ISOCRYMALS - I SO CRY [I | deeply | lament] + reversed SLAM [abuse]. An isocryme or -crymal is "a line connecting points on the Earth's surface having the same mean temperature in the coldest month of the year."

1 Birchbark-oiled leather tent of Siberia with right side cut
off almost-lowest part? (4)
YUFT - YURT is the tent of Siberia, find its penultimate letter ("almost-lowest part") and cut the right side off so that an R becomes an F. Yuft is Russian leather, I'll take the birchbark-oiled bit on faith.

2 Release Australian plant-eater south of grassland (5,2)
LEAVE GO - VEGO [Australian plant-eater: the equivalent of a "veggie" here I assume?] south of LEA [grassland]

3 “Overarching” philanthropist hot on ostrich cages (12)
OPISTHOTONOS - impressive hidden ("caged") in {philanthr}OPIST HOT ON OS{trich}

4 Minor software problem that produces shrill reports? (6)
BUGLET - if a BUG is a software problem then a BUGLET could be a minor one of those. Or else it's, as you might guess, a small bugle.

5 One has permission to set about guenon monkey raised for forest-dwellers (8)
YANOMAMI - I MAY [one has permission] set about MONA [guenon monkey], all reversed for the traditionalist Amazon tribespeople that there were lots of films and documentaries about in the 1980s.

7 Bring up half-forgotten Hawaiian dress scandal a few days before a feast (7)
TRIDUUM - MUU-{muu} DIRT ["half-forgotten" Hawaiian dress | scandal], all reversed. A period of prayer or religious celebration lasting three days.

8 Recall Noah’s son, mostly groomed within religious schools (10)
MEDRESSEHS - reversed SHEM [Noah's son], DRESSE{d} ["mostly" groomed] within. Fortunately the wordplay sorts out the vowels for you as otherwise they could all equally be A's.

11 Once reproachful former right-winger gathering for support? (12)
EXPROBRATORY - EX TORY [former | right-winger] "gathering" PRO BRA [for | support].

13 Poisonous smoke with auto fouled by internal combustion (10)
CIGUATOXIC - CIG [smoke] with (AUTO*) ["fouled"] + X IC [by | internal combustion]

16 Object for lawyers is to protect witch and plug cracks in one’s case? (8)
RHAGADES - RES [object, for lawyers] "protects" HAG AD [witch + plug]. Rhagades are cracks or fissures in the skin.

18 Stick with bent head master in jug? (7)
CROMACK - MA [master] in CROCK [jug]

20 US president more than half crazy, exhibiting array of bloomers (7)
IKEBANA - IKE [US president (Eisenhower)] + BANA{nas} ["more then half" crazy]

21 Crippled by indecision, regularly ignored and upset: chill out, brah! (6)
ABULIC - every other letter of C{h}I{l}L {o}U{t} B{r}A{h}, in reverse

23 Catfish killed when coming from the bottom (4)
WELS - reversed SLEW [killed]

Times Cryptic 27236

My time of 57 minutes was rather too slow, but it was a very enjoyable solve finished without any major problems so I'll content myself with that and wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Here's my blog...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic 1256 by Joker

Happy New Year everyone! Everything seems a bit slow for some reason (!) this morning and today’s crossword was no exception. You may want to wait a bit later than I did and be a bit more prepared before tackling it. I wasn’t making much progress anywhere at first but those I did get were clever so I settled down to chew slowly through the rest and found much to enjoy. Only your comments will establish if this was indeed tricky or if I was just making heavy weather of it. My end time was 17:51 which surely starts my new year in the SCC but I find the company stimulating!
11ac turned out to be prophetic - so well done and thanks to the person mentioned therein. Loi by a margin was 19ac and gets my cod.

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QC 1255 by Hurley - Bookends Theme

Doctor! Doctor! I feel like a pair of bookends!

Punchlines on a postcard please. Or a posted comment will do.

It's just that I have realised (I suppose it is pretty obvious really) that having done my first ever blog on Monday 1st January, I am now also doing my final one of the year on Monday 31st December. Which sort of makes me feel like a pair of bookends to 2018.

I wish I had time to sit and try and dream up a punchline myself but I haven't. I am afraid that this blog is being written in very rushed and chaotic circumstances as my mother has just had another fall and I've had to oversee her admission to hospital and the looking after of her dog and the updating of the family as to her condition etc etc so necessarily this is being squeezed into a few multitasking minutes. I therefore have no reliable record of my time although it definitely felt on the easy side, with quite a few anagrams and at least two hidden words slipping into position without any trouble at all.

So many thanks to Hurley for providing a puzzle that was not too difficult for me to blog on this day when I really don't have a lot of time to devote to it. FOI was 7A because it sort of jumped out to me as a straight write-in, even though 3A was not far behind. I believe in fact that the solve was so smooth and went so according to plan that the LOI was 21D just as God intended. COD is difficult as none of the clues held me up for very long, and none of them quite had the ideal combination of smooth surface with neat device, but I think I'll go with 3A. I also liked 1D for the neat internal definition of 'LENT', but as referred to above the surface felt a bit strained and unconvincing to me.

Expecting some possible external trimmings on this last day of the year, I did deploy my NATRAF (Nina And Theme Radar And Filter) but unfortunately it didn't bleep at all.

Hope you all had an excellent Christmas and don't take the foot off the gas until early on Tuesday morning! A happy and enjoyable New Year to all!

Definitions are underlined, and everything else is explained just as I see it as simply as I can manage.

3 Gauche — after time play fewer roles? (8)
TACTLESS - T (time) + ACT LESS (play fewer roles). Not like Michael Caine then if you have been listening to his autobiography "Blowing The Bloody Doors Off" on the radio recently. A wonderfully felicitous title in my humble opinion.
7 Given food — or a hat! (6)
FEDORA - pretty much what it says: FED (given food) + OR + A.
8 Warning doctor in front of Northern Ireland Conservative (8)
MONITORY - MO (Medical Officer (an army doctor)) + NI (Northern Ireland) + TORY (Conservative).
9 Supporting daughter, means to cross river (4)
FORD - FOR (supporting) + D (daughter). 'Means' here is in the sense of 'way'.
10 Regret trick, sending out son (3)
RUE - RUSE (trick) minus ('sending out') S (son).
11 Describing part of car raised unexpectedly in northeast (8)
NEARSIDE - EARSID = anagram of RAISED ('unexpectedly') in NE (northeast). Might have been a neat twist if it had appeared in the NE corner of the crossword, but in fact it is in the NW.
13 Republican one backed in Nevada city (4)
RENO - geography was my worst subject at school and geography clues are therefore amongst those that I fear most in crosswords. No problem with this one though as even I have heard of it. R (Republican) + ENO (ONE 'backed').
15 Finally gets sweet juice from part of plant (4)
STEM - take the last letters ('finally') of getS sweeT juicE froM.
17 Before game, referring to male in plot (8)
PREMATCH - RE (referring to) + M (male), placed in PATCH (plot).
19 President’s gamble, ignoring odds (3)
ABE - ABE (Abraham Lincoln) is probably the most frequent presidential visitor to Crossword Land. Ignore the odd letters of gAmBlE and there he is.
22 Small brick carrier in trainers? (4)
SHOD - S (small) + HOD (brick carrier). There is a question mark at the endof the definition as alternative varieties of footwear are available.
23 Substitute with good reputation (8)
STANDING - STAND IN (substitute) + G (good).
24 Like carrier not in correct path (6)
ASTRAY - AS (like) + TRAY (carrier).
25 Purveyor of nonsense botched weld: drat! (8)
TWADDLER - straight anagram ('botched') of WELD DRAT.
1 Suggestive of embarrassed-looking love, provided for time (8)
REDOLENT - RED (embarrased-looking) + O (love) + LENT (provided for [a] time).
2 End row for a change? That’s amazing! (6)
WONDER - straight anagram of END ROW.
3 Part of operetta, mediocre, uninspiring (4)
TAME - hidden word: operetTA MEdiocre.
4 Building material firm, new, supported by Greek island (8)
CONCRETE - CO (firm: in Crossword Land no distinction is made between the technically separate legal entities of a Co. (company) and a firm (partnership), although I do know people who use the terms interchangeably in the real world as well so maybe it's just my anal legal background kicking in) + N (new) + CRETE (Greek island).
5 Reformer left university over article? Right (6)
LUTHER - L (left) + U (university) 'over' (in this down clue) THE ((definite) article) + R (right).
6 Island story’s beginning with Biblical boat (4)
SARK - more geography. But luckily another place I have heard of. S (Story's beginning) + ARK (Biblical boat).
12 Referring to British measures, air mile, pint at first changed ... (8)
IMPERIAL - straight anagram ('changed') of AIR MILE + P (Pint 'at first'). Stones, pounds, ounces, hundredweight, tons (as opposed to tonnes), furlongs, rods, chains and perches and also grains, scruples and gills and a lot of other lovely words besides were all part of our lamented (but thankfully not entirely late as yet) Imperial weights and measures system.
14 ... inch also, recollected guy (8)
NICHOLAS - straight anagram of INCH ALSO ('recollected').
16 Girl received by Managing Director supplied with staff (6)
MANNED - ANNE (girl) 'received' by MD (Managing Director).
18 When classes show items worth having (6)
ASSETS - AS (when) + SETS (classes).
20 Difficult situation in street our group brought up (4)
STEW - ST (street) + EW (WE (our group) reversed, i.e. 'brought up' in this down clue).
21 In bag, a recommended seaweed product (4)
AGAR - hidden word: bAG A Recommended. A type of jelly derived from seaweed and much-used as a neutral culture medium in microbiology and also as a thickener in certain foodstuffs (but hopefully not both at the same time).

Times 27235 - At last, a blog we can post!

Time: 40 minutes
Music: Coltrane, Both Directions at Once

I thought this was a bit on the tricky side for a Monday, particular in its use of highly secondary meanings of words.   There was a lot going on in many of the clues, and even if you biff the answer you may spend some time figuring out how it works.    Since I solved the puzzle, I found it quite enjoyable, but others may differ

If you haven't heard of tonight's music, well, no one had until quite recently.   On March 6, 1963, the Coltrane Quartet played a session at Van Gelder's studio that resulted in about two hours worth of prime material.   This session contains some of the Quartet's finest work from when they were at the peak of their powers, but was never released.....until now.

1 Vessel settled — on board, crew starts to bail out (9)
STEAMBOAT -  S(TEAM + B[ail] O[ut])AT.   Seeing the B,O sequence, I suspected this would turn out to be some kind of boat, but it took a while to figure out what.
6 Turns back, having no time for puzzle (5)
REBUS - REBU[t]S, an obvious biff, but the cryptic is tricky, since 'back' looks like a reversal indicator.
9 Return for one challenge (7)
10 Humourless fast leading to a meal (7)
11 Ready container filled with women’s material (5)
TWILL - T(W)ILL, where ready = money, as usual.   I wasted a lot of time with R,Y.
12 Dubious in nature, containing hint of confusion? (9)
UNCERTAIN - anagram of IN NATURE + C[onfusion], a nice &lit.
14 All left needing to escape poor area (3)
SUM - S[l]UM.
15 Newspaper hurrying to provide holiday option (4-7)
TIME-SHARING - TIMES + HARING, a relatively straightforward one.
17 Every answer not right, sadly — puzzle’s last occasion to celebrate (3,5,3)
NEW YEARS EVE -  anagram of EVE[r]Y ANSWER + [puzzl]E, an obvious biff.
19 A lot of significance in match (3)
PIT - PIT[h], where 'match' is a verb, and has the sense of 'put up against'.
20 Major counting exercise involving body responsible? It’s generally agreed (9)
CONSENSUS - C(ONS)ENSUS.   I'm not sure about ONS - Office of National Statistics?  Anyway, the obvious answer.
22 Ancient priest, theologian, absorbing a lot of damage (5)
DRUID - D(RUI[n])D, DD = Doctor of Divinity.
24 Stoppage of trade thus restricts business degree (7)
EMBARGO - E(MBA)RGO, a bit of a chestnut.
26 Head of Government keeping nothing hidden, getting minimal coverage (1-6)
G-STRING - G[overnment) + ST[o]RING, another obvious biff, and my FOI.
27 French author switching couple of characters shows courage (5)
NERVE - VERNE, with a swap of V and N.
28 Evidence of burning stairs, with one about to enter (9)
1 Place its said for great deal? (5)
SIGHT - sounds like SITE, with meaning number 13 of 'sight'.
2 Wanting the best position in race after turning up (7)
ELITISM -  M(SIT)ILE, all upside down, another probable biff.  Again, the meaning of 'sit' is way down the list.
3 Fine rain and shelter will be limiting to plant (9)
4 How the solver’s performance may be judged — ready? (2,4,5)
ON YOUR MARKS - double definition, where presumably your puzzle will be graded by studying the marks scribbled on your copy.
5 Surface belly up? (3)
TOP - POT upside-down.
6 Monarch establishing a line? (5)
RULER - double definition, the king and yardstick.
7 Asian holiday spot entertaining English may be Indian (7)
BENGALI - B(ENG)ALI, another one I biffed and then saw.
8 Identify indefinite number in view when men behave badly? (4,5)
13 Fine grains in damaged crates — badger us to turn up (6,5)
CASTER SUGAR - anagram of CRATES + RAG US upside-down.
14 Is leaving Muslims to gather stones for protection from harsh light (9)
SUNSCREEN - SUN(SCREE)N[is].   If you wasted time with [is]LAM, you are not alone.
16 Point in article on City almost entirely based on hearsay (9)
ANECDOTAL - AN + EC + DOT + AL[l], another obvious answer.
18 Success gaining attention about British drinking venue (4,3)
19 Studying around University is falling a lot (7)
21 Strange upturn in passion in middle of week (5)
EERIE - [w]E(IRE upsdiedown)E][k]
23 A number really like working with computers? (5)
DIGIT - DIG I.T.   If you remember "I Dig Rock and Roll Music", you'll realize how unlikely a sentiment this clue contains!
25 No opening for idle fool (3)
OAF - [l]OAF

Mephisto 3033 note

The deadline for the Mephisto is extended for a week, so look for the blog of this puzzle to appear on January 6. 

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