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Mephisto 3018 - Paul McKenna

No problems with this straightforward puzzle. The setter’s customary play on words across the top of the puzzle refers to Wykehamist – an old boy of private school Winchester College such as Oswald Mosley

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

ACROSS

1 Whippy osier in creek for some focus of interest (6)
WICKER; WICK-(int)ER(est); creek for some=WICK; focus=centre; is there such a thing as a rigid osier?
6 Edition by school ma’am left out (6)
MISSED: MISS-ED;
11 In the morning and certainly berserk (4)
AMOK: AM-OK;
12 By the way is pickle dark? (7)
OBSCURE: OB-S-CURE; OB=obiter=by the way; is=’S; pickle=CURE;
13 Quiet old woman during day is battling eating condition (9)
DYSPHAGIA: (day is)* surrounds P-HAG;
14 Trump and right senses cut: excellent in the ’hood (7)
SLAMMIN: SLAM-MIN(d); ‘hood=US slang for neighbourhood;
16 We go through Metamorphosis in Latin, a Bible of its age (6)
LARVAE: L-A-RV-AE;
18 Outrage of flaming frontiersman heading off (5)
ARSON: (c)ARSON; reference Kit Carson 1809-1868
20 Large backing devoted to Labour expelling first trio — wonderful (8)
GLORIOUS: LG reversed-(lab)ORIOUS;
22 Stone lying on the ground is hardly ever noisy (8)
STREPENT: ST-REPENT;
25 Botswanan coughs it up — girl pouring wine stands by it (5)
THEBE: ‘T-HEBE; money in Botswana, to cough up is to pay;
26 A kid is relaxed (6, two words)
AT,EASE: A-TEASE;
29 Wig is leading fashion (7, two words)
START,ON: STAR-TON; wig=nag
30 Royal exes accommodating by choice (9, two words)
CIVIL,LIST: CIVIL-LIST; abolished in the UK in 2011;
31 This whips up rent trouble (7)
TORNADO: TORN-ADO;
32 Potty for one not old (4)
INTO: I-N’T-O;
33 Spain with special housing estate, say demanding inclination (6)
ESCARP: E-S(CAR)P;
34 One who picks on new form of protection (6)
NAGGER: N-AGGER; an AGGER is a defensive mound

DOWN

1 In Holyrood struggle with earls needing a shake-up (6)
WARSLE: (w + earls)*;
2 One's easily influenced, one’s quitting graft? (7)
IMPLANT: I’M-PL(i)ANT;
3 Fallen crew adore lack of courage in Spenser (9)
COWARDREE: (crew adore)*;
4 Variety magician is revealing sources (5)
ETYMA: hidden (vari)ETY-MA(gician)
5 Char is overhead fitting one inside shelter (8, two words)
ROSIE,LEE: ROS(I)E-LEE; tea;
7 Tease this Aramaic goddess of war (6)
ISHTAR: (this)*-AR;
8 Who wouldn't strike director over being near-the-knuckle once? (7)
SCABRID: SCAB-DIR reversed;
9 Fine grass with root pulled up (4)
ERIC: grass=rice then move the “e” to the top;
10 Beloved non-smoker finds secrecy and hiding once (6)
DEARNS: DEAR-NS;
15 Is old language good for establishing a pure culture? (9)
ISOLATING: IS-O-LATIN-G;
17 Privates dropped from start of reign? This leads to firm action (8)
CONATION: C(or)ONATION; OR=Ordinary Ranks
19 US ref including fashionable plant (7)
ZEBRINA: ZEBR(IN)A; refs in US football wear zebra striped shirts;
21 Trained girl, thus not sweet as before, becomes neurologist, possibly (7)
UNSOOTE: (neurologist – girl)*;
22 Pompous about pinch of curry spice used by Moses (6)
STACTE: STA(C)TE; C from C(urry);
23 Unruly lad stuck into a salesman (6)
PEDLAR: PER = a contains (lad)*;
24 Designed, as they say, gold trainer (6)
MENTOR: sounds like “meant”-OR;
27 Drum when rested up (5)
TASSA: AS-SET reversed;
28 Prejudice getting nothing for anonymous short stories (4)
BIOS: prejudice=bias then change “a” to “o”;

I enoyed this a lot more than the last Pearce entry it was my duty to blog. No complaints this time about any of the double definitions (or anything else). Nothing too far out, but creative—there are a couple clues that almost defy classification, though they work perfectly well.

(gamarans)* like this, definitions underlined…


ACROSS


 1 Surgery by medical practitioner on part of mouth—the cause? (8)
GUMDROPS—GUM(DR)(OP)S. It took me a minute to see the definition, but the candy might cause (or create the need for) surgery (though I don’t know how it would make your gums drop). The definition is intertwined with the wordplay, but I was still hesitant to mark it as an &lit.
 5 Small bag of yen found in street (6)
SACHET—S(ACHE)T
10 Uranium and oil developed with Asian state (9)
LOUISIANA—(U+OIL+ASIAN)*
11 A child related to Spike and Brad (5)
SPRIG—But isn't this really a triple definition? The first part could have been the amusing UKism “sprog,” but not the last two. Besides being “A descendant or younger member of a family or social class” (Oxford), a SPRIG is also a “small, headless brad,” as per Collins. (Headless Brad? That could have been fun) and, according to Oxford, “A stud on the sole of a shoe or boot”—usually in the plural—so there’s your “spike.” All these definitions are not always found in the same source. (There’s also one relating to pottery…)
12 Untrustworthy person loses women’s support (5)
EASEL—[w]EASEL
13 Outrage, sadly, drinking litre after litre—one might (5,4)
LAGER LOUT—(outrage, L, L)* Not an expression you hear in the States. This must be meant as an &lit, as the definition cannot be understood without taking into account the wordplay.
14 Underground community member is excellent in new version of “Porridge” (7,3)
PRAIRIE DOG—“Excellent” = A1, AI to us, in (porridge)*. Cute definition.
17 Cover old pool (4)
LIDO—LID+O
19 See red bit of cloth on end of line (4)
RAGE—RAG + E
20 Single out a copper concealing money before judge—that’s not right! (10)
ACCENTUATE—A + C(CENT)U + [r]ATE.
22 Prisoner and guards carrying iron and gold for priest (9)
CONFESSOR—CON(FE)SS(OR). SS in Hitlerland stood for Schutzstaffel—literally, Protection Squad.
24 Often a Jamaican opera starts in the middle (5)
RASTA—opeRA STArts
26 Make one old coin (5)
UNITE—Double definition. How often do you find a verb acting as a noun? I had to look up the English piece of gold, in circulation from the years 1604 to 1619.
27 We hear you left idiot in disguise to do several jobs (9)
MULTITASK—MA(U)(L)(TIT)ASK
28 Put uniform on the Spanish cardinal (6)
ELEVEN—“The[,] Spanish” = EL + “uniform” = EVEN.
29 A boiling hot day when composer tours church (8)
SCORCHER—SCOR(CH)ER

DOWN


 1 After 50th anniversary insurance policy for pilot gives lavish payout (6,9)
GOLDEN PARACHUTE—The 50th anniversary is traditionally said to be GOLDEN, and the “insurance policy for pilot” is of course the meticulously packed bundle of silk on his back… Too obvious?
 2 Openers for Middlesex are usually lively and skilful batters (5)
MAULS—M(iddlesex)A(re)U(suallY)L(ively) and S(kilful).
 3 Stocktaking is their aim (8)
RUSTLERS—Cryptic definition.
 4 Ring includes ruby at the front and this? (5)
PEARL—PEA(R)L. Is this an &lit? I wasn’t sure if I shouldn’t underline just “this.”
 6 Insist on having a lock-up (6)
ASSERT—A + TRESS<—-
 7 Instrument heard to injure girl (9)
HARMONICA—Hurt Lewinsky?
 8 Wasted painter, say, has to escort top lady to see Polish circus act (9,6)
TIGHTROPE WALKER—“Wasted” = TIGHT, “painter” = ROPE (definition by example) + “escort” = WALK + “top lady” = E(lizabeth) R(egina). “Polish” is, I finally realized, a pun relating to the long pole the performer uses for balancing.
 9 Cabinet minister follows staff around river—one’s more suited to swamps! (8)
MANGROVE—“Staff” = MAN + (Michael) G(R)OVE.
15 South American broker grabs rand in central part of Kimberley (9)
ARGENTINE—A(R)GENT IN (Kimb)E(rley)
16 What a dance! (6,2)
EXCUSE ME—Double definition. I didn’t know about the dance.
18 Having worse weather about, one maiden goes off to the North (8)
STORMIER— RE + I (1) + M + ROTS <—-
21 See member of clergy briefly before worship (6)
REVERE—REV + ERE
23 Roman Catholic priest retained a bit of old religious tradition (5)
RELIC—R(ELI)C… “Eli” being possibly the most famous priest in biblical history (to crossword solvers, anyway).
25 Legendary guitarist left band outside (5)
SLASH—S(L)ASH. I’ve heard that it is not a tradition with the Sunday Times puzzles, as it is with the dailies, to use only the names of deceased persons. But I checked to make sure that the Guns N’ (sic) Roses axman was still among the living.

Jumbo 1330

I found this one of about average difficulty, though the leaderboard seems to suggest a consensus of a bit harder than that. Some interesting constructions, e.g. in 8A, 14A, and 11D, a number of four-part charades (which for some reason always tickle me), and a couple of unknowns, one of which (40D) was my LOI.


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I started quickly on this one and after about 30 minutes had done all bar two. 3dn was just a blind spot for me, but 4dn is definitely my clue of the day. A very unusual concept! I also smiled at 5ac, and felt a twinge of sympathy for the wounded pig. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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

Across
1 One way the Germans drive out a crazy husband, covered by veto (8)
AUTOBAHN: (OUT A*), then H (husband) in BAN.

5 He is entitled to hop on board? (6)
KNIGHT: clever cryptic definition, referring to the chess piece. Possibly one of these two-in-one clues since “he is entitled” is a satisfactory definition. Someone who understands the taxonomy may enlighten us.

9 Rodents almost steal from some wood a set of little posts (9)
MICROBLOG: MIC{e}, ROB, LOG.

11 Consternation about a section of flight (5)
STAIR: A in STIR.

12 Amid signs of slack housework, one's grand contempt (7)
DISGUST: DUST is a no-no for Mrs Mop. Insert I’S and G.

13 Stay a while; as a result, trip is by no means finished (7)
SOJOURN: SO (as a result), JOURN{ey}. So we learn “by no means finished” means drop more than one letter.

14 Here notices how pig was wounded and died (8,5)
BULLETIN BOARD: BULLET IN BOAR might be how pig was wounded? Then, D=died.

16 Twice as true, power make you concentrate more? (13)
SUPERSATURATE: (AS TRUE AS TRUE P*). The trick here is to work out what the anagram letters are. I started with (AS AS TRUE POWER*), and of course got nowhere!  You have to double up on “AS TRUE”, and then need only P from “power”.

20 Insect in tree intended heading off (4,3)
FIRE ANT: FIR, {m}EANT. A nasty insect too, by all accounts.

21 A light ship heading back for old kingdom (7)
ASSYRIA: A, then AIRY (light) SS (ship) all reversed (“heading back”).

23 Erect, beams to audience (5)
RAISE: sounds like RAYS (beams). The definition is a verb, not an adjective.

24 Courtesy in middle of missive is quite extraordinary (9)
ETIQUETTE: the middle of LETTER is ETTE; insert (QUITE*).

25 Like a country gentleman, initially thin and weak (6)
TWEEDY: T{hin}, WEEDY.

26 Cast-off clothing (8)
KNITWEAR: another clever cryptic definition. This is an exception to the guideline that two-word clues are normally double definitions. Casting off is a knitting technique, of course.

Down
1 The Spanish force maiden into a British academy (6)
ARMADA: insert M in A RADA.

2 They secure government revenue for auditors (5)
TACKS: sounds like TAX.

3 Curious university foible that avoids putting fossils into power (7)
BIOFUEL: (U FOIBLE*). This was my next to last answer. I couldn’t see the anagram letters, and couldn’t think of a word to fit B_O_U_L. Nothing wrong with the clue though – just me.

4 Boro’ making big strides towards success? (4,3,6)
HALF THE BATTLE: The Battle of Borodino was fought on 7 September 1812 in the Napoleonic Wars during the French invasion of Russia, so BORO{dino} is half the battle, no? If anyone claims to have got this from the wordplay, expect to be greeted with scepticism!

6 Unfortunately Jones died in operation (4,3)
NOSE JOB: (JONES*), followed by OB for obiit, Latin for “died”. (Thanks, Kevin.)

7 Make rough opening: the moon’s rising within (9)
GRANULATE: LUNAR backwards (“rising”, since this is a down clue) inside GATE.

8 Lament number finally lacking teacher put back a year (8)
THRENODY: THRE{e}, DON backwards, Y (year).

10 Hand-waving from legion Tacitus misinterpreted (13)
GESTICULATION: (LEGION TACITUS*). No trouble working out the anagram letters here, but I needed a few helpers too.

14 One piece in small snack between two (9)
BIPARTITE: I PART in BITE.

15 Pro engaged in a piece of satire to invite trouble (3,3,2)
ASK FOR IT: FOR (pro), in A SKIT.

17 Start to repair each split, having hit a vehicle (4-3)
REAR-END: R{epair}. EA, REND.

18 A way to catch old king in raid (7)
ASSAULT: A ST (street), around SAUL.

19 Worry over monarch’s progress (6)
CAREER: CARE over ER.

22 Stop working, computer finally failing, and to restore connection (5)
RETIE: RETIRE, minus the second R.

 

Times Cryptic 27,083: Larks Ascending

Not very Fridayish, completed by me on paper in 6 minutes even - today's QC gave me considerably more trouble! But enjoyable enough
box-ticking stuff. FOI 10ac; LOI 28dn; minor eyebrow raise of the day to 26ac which felt slightly cumbersome, unless I'm missing a nuance; COD to 16dn and its clever &littery. Grands remerciements to the setter - how did the rest of you cryptical lot get on?

ACROSS
1 Deceitful cheat with quiet line (6)
WEASEL — W EASE L [with; quiet; line]

5 Shakespearean heroine over-familiar Plantagenet king ravished (8)
VIOLATED — VIOLA TED [Shakespearean heroine; over-familiar Plantagenet King]
The Plantagenet King is any of Edward I, II, or III; I'm not 100% sure that any of them were ever referred to familiarly as "Ted".

9 A very stiff drink to start event (6,4)
TRIPLE JUMP - TRIPLE [a very stiff drink] + JUMP [to start].
Even a Verlaine balks at ordering more than a double! Except on special occasions.

10 Suddenly get time before lecture (4)
TWIG - T before WIG [time; lecture]. "Get" as in "understand".
Youngsters like myself (hem hem) only know this use of "wig" to mean "berate" from the Times crossword.

11 Scold for getting in contact (8)
REPROACH - PRO getting in REACH [for; contact]

12 Scream when green ogre catches one (6)
SHRIEK - SHREK catches I [green ogre; one]. Referring to the first ever winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2001, and its eponymous green uglihero.

13 No information on fluorine, perhaps something good and light (4)
HALO - No GEN on HALOGEN [information; fluorine, perhaps]

15 People keeping books as a way of recording things (8)
NOTATION - NATION keeping OT [people; books]

18 State having a friend in America and a lot of dependency (3,5)
ABU DHABI - A BUD and HABI{t} [a; friend in America; "a lot of" dependency].
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven UAE.

19 Times certainly is after right photograph (1-3)
X-RAY - X + AY is after R [times; certainly; right]

21 Fantasy heroine abridged after appeal for emphatic writing style (6)
ITALIC - ALIC{e} after IT [fantasy heroine "abridged"; appeal]

23 Spectator seeing throne with king and queen performing (6-2)
LOOKER-ON - LOO with K and ER ON [throne; king; queen; performing]

25 Buddy with male date? (4)
PALM - PAL with M [buddy; male]

26 Hamlet’s mother, say, is one that’s shown stagy performance? (5,5)
DRAMA QUEEN - double def, more or less, Hamlet's mother Gertrude being a queen, in a drama, as well as the phrase's idiomatic meaning.

27 Back in stables is pony safe? That’s general view (8)
SYNOPSIS - hidden reversed in {stable}s is pony s{afe}

28 Boy going on to bask under the water (6)
SUNKEN - KEN going on SUN [boy; to bask]

DOWN
2 Frightening English series never succeeded (5)
EERIE - E [English] + {s}ERIE{s}. "Never succeeded" implying: remove every single instance of S (= succeeded) from the word.

3 Cook soup of red tomatoes, perhaps (9)
SUPERFOOD - ["cook"] (SOUP OF RED*)

4 Raised fish process margin of safety (6)
LEEWAY - raised EEL + WAY [fish; process]

5 A mullah’s waiving broadcast for composer (7,8)
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS - (A MULLAH'S WAIVING*) ["broadcast"]. Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958.

6 Facing work to advance start of earning (8)
OPPOSITE - OP POSIT E [work; advance; "start of" E{arning}]

7 Following behind King Edward (5)
AFTER - AFT ER [behind; King Edward]. I guess "following behind the queen" would have been just a little *too* QCky.

8 Succulent fruit raised with input from unknown writer (5,4)
EMILE ZOLA - ALOE LIME raised, with input from Z [succulent; fruit; unknown]. 1840-1902, French, il accuse!

14 Capricious Rita messed with Barry (9)
ARBITRARY - (RITA + BARRY*) ["...messed with..."]

16 What could give you extra change? Yes, but most often no! (3,6)
TAX RETURN - ["what could give you"] (EXTRA*) + TURN [change]. A semi-&lit, though it might have just about made it as an &lit without the second half of the clue.

17 Removes wrapper around fish for help with stock control (8)
BARCODES - BARES around COD [removes wrapper; fish]

20 Slough service carries soldiers (6)
MORASS - MASS carries OR [service; soldiers]

22 Output from auto industry keeps Britain in uncertain state (5)
LIMBO - LIMO keeps B [output from auto industry; Britain]

24 Sulphur found in old beer, mostly stout (5)
OBESE - S found in O BEE{r} [sulphur; old; beer "mostly"]

Times Quick Cryptic No 1129 by Pedro

Hello fellow QC fans. Here we a have a juicy offering from Pedro that is full of bear-traps and, as you will see, I fell into just about all of them. Some sneaky definitions and unusual anagrinds plus a clue which seemed to have more than one possible answer (and I chose the wrong one) combined to leave me floundering for a good 50% over my average time before I received the "Congratulations" from the website. Along the way I enjoyed a couple of clues in particular, 12d and, my clue-of-the-day, 6d. This seemed to me at the harder end of the scale, but maybe I was just on the wrong wavelength today. Thanks Pedro for a great puzzle. How did you all find it?
Read all about it here...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic No 1128 by Tracy

A lovely puzzle today from Tracy, with lots of simple, natural disguises - the anagram indicator at 9ac and the "country retreat" at 12ac are two I see without having to scroll too far down. Little of obscurity, apart perhaps from a couple of place names for our non-local friends. "Bosun" in 22ac was new to me as a contraction of "boatswain" - it's been around since at least 1592, with boatswain being Old English. Was there a time, around the mid-sixteenth century, when someone bemoaned how this typified how standards of English were going to hell in a handcart? Probably, but it could have been pointed out that such things, and indeed worse things, happen at sea: the OED refers us to "rollock" for "rowlock" and "gunnel" for "gunswail" as similar nautical contractions. Rather modest contractions you might think, but I suppose rock and gull were already taken. 'Sblood and zounds, that's quite enough nonsense. I missed my target by a few seconds courtesy of 2d, all very enjoyable, many thanks to Tracy!

Across
8 Boo porn that’s given out free in US (3,4)
PRO BONO - anagram (that's given out) of BOO PORN. The OED says "now chiefly US law", but the term has regained its broader currency.
9 One is blown, producing sound (5)
NOISE - nicely disguised anagram (blown) of ONE IS.
10 Singing voice of cute northerner (5)
TENOR - "Of" or from the letters cuTE NORtherner
11 Old hand English duke failed to mention (7)
OMITTED - O(ld) MITT (hand) D(uke)
12 Country retreat housing a member of the clergy (5,4)
RURAL DEAN - RURAL (country, adjectively) DEN (retreat) housing A.
14 Available? Not here (3)
OUT - A nice &lit/double definition fusion: if a new product is out, it's available; if a shop is out (of stock), it would not be available (t)here. Of course, "out" can mean "away/not here", so you can read this as a straight double definition.
16 Group starts to sketch Eiffel Tower (3)
SET - Starting letters of S(ketch) E(iffel) T(ower)
18 Long pub drink containing very soft fruit (9)
PINEAPPLE - PINE (long, ache, yearn) ALE (pub drink) containing PP (pianissimo, very soft)
21 Range of colours spread across permit (7)
PALETTE - PATE (spread) across/spanning LET (permit)
22 Having bosun at sea is a plus (5)
BONUS - just about an anagram (at sea) of BOSUN. Bonus marks is you knew bosun - the good surface reading was lost on me.
23 Lose one's nerve parking? I can, unfortunately (5)
PANIC - P(arking) ; anagram (unfortunately) of I CAN
24 With great enthusiasm, similar to mother and daughter (4,3)
LIKE MAD - LIKE (similar to) MA (mother) D(aughter)
Down
1 The nouveaux riches on horseback getting over jumps (8)
UPSTARTS - UP (on horseback) over/above STARTS (jumps).
2 Trap kick on football pitch (6)
CORNER - double definition.
3 Nothing in watering hole for pig (4)
BOAR - O (nothing) in BAR (watering hole)
4 Gloomy, ordinary seaman on board again (6)
MOROSE - O.S. (ordinary seaman) on board/in MORE (again)
5 Elected, one inside gains new badge of office (8)
INSIGNIA - IN (elected) ; I (one) inside an anagram (new) of GAINS.
6 Writer, crossing street, finds restaurant (6)
BISTRO - BIRO (writer) crossing ST. (street)
7 Soldiers, last in ward, get better (4)
MEND - MEN (soldiers) D (last in warD)
13 A cosmetic paste applied under cheek (8)
LIPSTICK - STICK (paste) applied under LIP (cheek)
15 Industrial region, seediest, for redevelopment (8)
TEESSIDE - anagram (for redevelopment) of SEEDIEST
17 Special gift, article left in shelter (6)
TALENT - A (article) L(eft) in TENT (shelter)
19 Pointer in joint without lead, led out (6)
NEEDLE - kNEE (joint, missing its head) ; anagram (out) of LED.
20 Hat in canal (6)
PANAMA - double definition
21 Father, key church leader (4)
POPE - POP (father) E (musical key)
22 Cook from Derbyshire town, not well (4)
BAKE - BAKEWELL (Derbyshire town, missing WELL)
A  likeable puzzle with plenty of wit, and only one word (at 18) which I had to pretend I knew before looking it up post solve. I’ve had to work extra time on some clues, notably 24 and 19 so as to give the impression I know whereof I speak, but this was no hardship. The setter is to be congratulated for eschewing jokes about dried fruit, and, having included a Welshman and a Scotsman, resisting the temptation to include an Englishman and the foundation for any number of jokes. 
Our setter plays a fair enough round of charades, clues where the wordplay simply requires you to put synonyms and such in straight order, rather more (or so it feels) than is usual, but this is no complaint. I took 22 minutes. My reasoning is presented with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS



Across
1 Board members aim to sermonise (11)
DIRECTORATE  Aim provides  DIRECT if you think in terms of pointing at a target, and ORATE is a reasonable synonym for sermonise: Chambers helpfully gives harangue for both, which might be unfair to some preachers, and even some orators.
7 Dry run cancelled to provide encouragement (3)
AID Think of a word for dry, and cancel the R(un) That’ll be ARID
9 Speciousness ruined story about wrecked ship (9)
SOPHISTRY The art of plausible but false reasoning, rendered by the ruined/wrecked fragments of STORY and SHIP
10 United supporters returned in usual chaos (5)
SNAFU “Situation Normal, All Fu..ouled UP. Bizarrely, I had this at the beginning of last month (27058) and I’ve got it again. This time the wordplay is a reversal of U for (usually Manchester) U(nited) plus FANS, a technical term for people that live anywhere but Manchester.
11 Mistress last month put in clinic close to Chelsea (7)
SULTANA Mistress I think in similar terms to ”the Sultan is master of all he surveys”, but possibly as concubine to a Sultan rather than wife. ULT (sc ultimo) used to be common as “last month” in formal business letters (I refer to your crossword on 7th ult). Kept in SAN(atorium) for clinic plus the last letter of ChelseA.
12 What makes Angelenos who they are, backing country? (7)
SENEGAL Who gave a good account of themselves in Russia, narrowly losing out to Colombia (who?). The wordplay is rather cute: an Angeleno is a native of Los Angeles, so born with LA GENES. Reverse.
13 Minister in service flat emptied receptacle (5)
PADRE Flat: PAD, empty R(eceptacl)E
15 Enduring blues act, crowd confined (9)
DEPRESSED Like Churchill’s “black dog” yesterday, depression might be seen as a malady that is endured  (not necessarily by choice). A neat, misleading definition, then the word constructed from PRESS (crowd) in DEED (act)
17 One may have blown it in expressing disapproval (9)
RASPBERRY cryptic (just about) definition.
19 Article in pipeline bringing money to Shylock (5)
DUCAT a coin in Venice (and elsewhere) the loss of two bags of which was much lamented by Shylock in TMOV:
“My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter,
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!”
Our sample is made of an article A in a DUCT or pipeline.
20 Single knight having impressive physique that's essential (2-5)
IN-BUILT Single I, knight N (chess), Built I believe (from overhearing  it on the awful Love Island)  a complimentary expression in the argot of  a young woman on such a programme regarding the physical attributes of the male of the species.
22 Challenge validity of attractive person's claim? (7)
IMPEACH Probably not on the lips of one of the above, being so last century, but I’M PEACH might be such a claim, though I think the question mark is valid, as it’s a designation more likely said about someone than by someone, however vain.
24 If only I'd backed Union member (5)
IDAHO Union member is a cute way of suggesting a state of the US of A. If you reverse it, it gives O, HAD I which is a dramatic version of “if only I’d”. Took me ages to work it out
25 Gather the ambassador will be furious (5,4)
RAISE HELL Gather I think as in raise taxes. The Ambassador is H(is) E(xcellency), add ‘LL for a contracted will.
27 Rebuffed university sort's acknowledgment (3)
NOD A nice and simple reverse of DON
28 Donna playing around with stove lit sometimes (3,3,5)
NOW AND AGAIN An anagram (playing) of DONNA placed around W(ith) (sneaky!) plus  the second AGA stove in two days and IN for “lit” as in the  (dated? Regional?) “phrase the fire is in”



Down
1 Energy spent, breaks down in soul venue (3)
DIS A classical term for an/the abode of the dead. Take E(nergy) out of DIES for breaks down (terminally, in this case)
2 Parry, holding short sword in both hands (5)
REPEL Which I would have got quicker if my myopia hadn’t read party. The short sword is EPE(e) enclose in Left and Right. Well, it’s not leper, is it?
3 Firm in time makes money (7)
COINAGE A straight charade of CO(mpany) (firm) IN AGE  (time)
4 Alien asleep on spacecraft (9)
OUTLANDER Asleep as in out for the count and LANDER as in the wondrous spacecraft, lunar stage of the Apollo missions
5 Area near steamer that's extremely deep (5)
ABYSS Another straight charade: A(rea) BY (near) S(team) S(hip)
6 Ancient ascetic catching cold shows perfect form (7)
ESSENCE The Essenes were a sect around the BCE CE turn who eschewed the luxury and corruption of Jerusalem for life in the wilderness. Possibly linked both to John the Baptist  and the Qumran community of the very remarkable Dead Sea Scrolls. Wrap one of them round C(old)
7 Angelica's reformulated as medicament (9)
ANALGESIC A blatantly signalled anagram of ANGELICA’S
8 Nonsense that follows from bigamy in Bow? (6,5)
DOUBLE DUTCH Dutch is CRS (?Duchess of Fife) for wife (I prefer Dutch plate/mate), so an Eastender bigamist would be twice blest.
11 Surveillance requires excellent image (11)
SUPERVISION Charades don’t some straighter.
14 Controls in place here to run committee (9)
DASHBOARD And another charade:  DASH for run and committee: BOARD.
16 Medic in film about strangely shy Scotsman (9)
PHYSICIAN Film is PIC, strangely shy is HYS (to be inserted) and the Scot is IAN, a Gaelic version of John.
18 Advantage to accept free bit (7)
BRIDOON “The light snaffle usual in a military bridle in addition to the ordinary bit, controlled by a separate rein” (Chambers). Follow the wordplay and you should be OK: RID for free enclosed in BOON for benefit
19 Flies in sink water mixed with leaves (7)
DIPTERA “Two winged”: the genus of flies. I’ve only just worked this out: it’s sink: DIP plus a mixture of WATER from which W(ith) leaves). That sneaky W(ith) again.
21 Cast shortened the series (5)
THROW Short TH(e) plus series ROW. I was nearly content with THREW before paying proper attention.
23 Stadium in region accommodating any number (5)
ARENA Any number N region AREA
26 Welshman raised in Penylan (3)
LYN Lynn Davies, 1972 Olympic gold long jumper, like most male Lynn’s, has the extra N, but I give you David Llewellyn “Lyn” Parker, Moriarty in a couple of 1930s Rathbone Sherlock films. Anyway, he’s reverse hidden (raised in) in PeNYLan.
Amusing, middle of the road puzzle with nothing too controversial and an absence of obscure plants, antelopes, primates, Muses, and amino acids; just some nice words. I don't have a time for it because I was interrupted twice and put it down, but I suspect the SNITCH will struggle to break above the average 100 mark. Although not a difficult clue, I liked 20a TANK for its surface.




Across
1 Surrounded by charity collecting millions (4)
AMID - AID for charity, insert M.
4 Reinforced barrel, mostly with locks? (10)
BUTTRESSED - BUT(T) = barrel mostly; TRESSED with locks of hair.
9 Lots of shops charge for this bank card interest (7,3)
PLASTIC BAG - Credit cards are affectionally known as 'plastic; then BAG as in 'not my bag', it isn't my interest. I don't understand why UK shops don't just ban plastic bags instead of selling them, as has happened in several other European countries. Maybe the Plastic Bag industry has a good lobbyist, or is owned by MPs.
10 Sea food left within range (4)
ALGA - Well the AGA is a famous brand of kitchen ranges, so insert L for left. ALGA is the singular of ALGAE which includes all manner of micro-organisms, but it's also is Latin for seaweed and in English can mean just that. I suppose you can describe ALGA as seafood, but it's a bit oblique. On the other hand, how else would you describe it without making it too easy? Sea stuff?
11 Removing piano, examine bug (6)
INSECT - INSPECT = examine, throw away the P.
12 Distance at greens fluctuates (8)
ESTRANGE - (AT GREENS)*; distance as a verb.
14 Stop TV doctor beginning to amputate (4)
WHOA - Doctor WHO plus A for amputate.
15 Judge battle on river is deflecting waves (10)
REFRACTION - REF = judge, R for river, ACTION for battle. Not a very scientific definition for refraction, but it could be worse.
17 Initiates left foxhunting for one (5,5)
BLOOD SPORT - BLOODS = initiates, PORT = left.
20 Churchill maybe smelt bad, heading off (4)
TANK - Smelt bad = STANK, drop the heading S. Not Winston, who smelt of booze and cigars. He often held meetings while in his bath, so presumably was BO free.
21 Bony obstruction presents a challenge (8)
GAUNTLET - GAUNT = bony, emaciated; LET = obstruction, legally; challenge when you throw down the gauntlet.
23 Don's devouring duck, giving first impressions (6)
PROOFS - PROFS or professors could be Dons; insert an O for duck.
24 First couple in capital have escaped fever (4)
AGUE - PRAGUE being a capital city, loses its first two letters.
25 Idea grabs new female in charge of biography, say (10)
NONFICTION - NOTION = idea; insert F for female and IC for in charge. Usually, but not definitively, hyphenated.
26 Without a break, treated measles with cunning (10)
SEAMLESSLY - (MEASLES)*, SLY = cunning.
27 High water that runs unevenly (4)
TARN - Odd letters of T h A t R u N s; a mountain lake hence high water.
Down
2 Furious coalmen recalled trouble involving Henry's black dog (11)
MELANCHOLIA - Insert H for Henry into (COALMEN)* then add AIL reversed. A term coined by Samuel Johnson and popularised by Sir Winston Churchill, referring to their major depressive disorders, and occasionally it attacks Mrs Pip, or so it seems. Or perhaps it's my fault.
3 Outlaw some French and English in gallery (9)
DESPERADO - DES = some in French, PRADO the smart gallery in Madrid, insert E.
4 Minor star's sore point (7)
BLISTER - An A-lister is a star, so a B-lister is a minor one.
5 Start to book party of happy diners? (5,2,8)
TABLE OF CONTENTS - Double definition, one whimsical.
6 Rowing here about good times among drivers (7)
REGATTA - RE = about, G = good, TT times inside AA drivers.
7 Get rollers here, some colossal ones (5)
SALON - Hidden word in COLOS(SAL ON)ES; presumably rollers are for curling hair.
8 Hang mirror, way up above (5)
DRAPE - RD Road = way, reversed to DR; APE = mirror, copy.
13 Enter, as novice, golf puzzle, taking in 18 holes (6,5)
GROUND FLOOR - G for golf, FLOOR for puzzle, as in 'that's floored me', insert ROUND for 18 holes.
16 Panama, say, broadcast rubbish in retaliation (3,3,3)
TIT FOR TAT -TIT FOR sounds (a bit) like TITFER, slang for a hat which might be a Panama; TAT being rubbish.
18 Quiet as foreign article's brought in (7)
SILENCE - AS means SINCE, insert LE being French for 'the'.
19 I spilt last of brandy thus? (7)
TIPSILY - (I SPILT Y)*.
21 Miss pursuing grand schooner perhaps (5)
GLASS - LASS = miss, after G for grand. Remember the days of preprandial schooners of sherry at the Berni Inn? And the Irish coffee and driving home safely?
22 Flap of limited value wobbling round centre of mouth (5)
UVULA - VALU(E) = limited value, so (VALU*) goes around U being the central letter of mouth. And that's where your uvula is, more or less.

Quick Cryptic 1127 by Hurley

The second from Hurley in a row for my blogging day, and another well-pitched crossword - streching but not demoralising (I'm keeping my finger's crossed you agree!). Plenty of anagrams and biffables to get some letters in the grid, then a couple of opportunities to be brave and put an answer in on wordplay alone. All the trickiest ones seem quite spread out, too. Lots of French today.

COD to the very neat and simple 10ac.

Definitions underlined.


Across
7 Interact regularly — that's efficient (4)
NEAT - every other letter from (regularly) iNtErAcT.
8 Circular graph showing each trip at work (3,5)
PIE CHART - anagram of (at work) EACH TRIP.
9 Foul pass (6)
DEFILE - tricky double definition. Foul = defile was not quick to spring to mind, although hardly a obscure synonym. Pass = defile, on the other hand, was dredged up from some distant orienteering lesson, and only in hindsight. In full: "A long narrow pass or way, in which tropps can march only in file".
10 Stay in Berlin, Germany (6)
LINGER - hiddin in (in) berLIN, GERmany. With the indicator hidden in plain sight, and the congruous fodder, I thought this was elegant.
11 Initially erupting, this naturally active volcano (4)
ETNA - first letters from (initially) Erupting, This Naturally Active.
12 Strange mystery involving minute, pleasing form? (8)
SYMMETRY - anagram of (strnage) MYSTERY surrounding (involving) M (minute).
15 It might be proper, right to infiltrate political group (8)
FRACTION - R (right) inside (to infiltrate) FACTION (political group). A proper fraction is one that represents a number less than 1.
17 Disguise Mike as King (4)
MASK - M (mike, phonetic alphabet), AS, and K (king, chess).
18 Tot I associated with court user (6)
ADDICT - ADD (tot, as in, add up/tot up), I and CT (court).
21 Rigorous Detective Inspector leaving area (6)
STRICT - the letters D.I. (detective inspector) removed from (leaving) diSTRICT (area).
22 Seek a man out. One with familiar calling? (8)
NAMESAKE - anagram of (out) SEEK A MAN.
23 Choice of adjacent letters seen as benchmark (4)
NORM - the alphabetically adjacent letters you may take your choice of are 'N' OR 'M'.

Down
1 He abandons Sahara maybe with little hesitation (8)
DESERTER - DESERT (Sahara, maybe) and ER (little hesitiation).
2 Old King's attic lad left incomplete (6)
ATTILA - remove the last letters from (left incomplete) ATTIc and LAd.
3 Social activity after going downhill fast? (5-3)
APRES-SKI - cryptic definition.
4 Meat, very European, the French brought up (4)
VEAL - V (very), E (European), then reversal of (brought up) LA ('the' in French).
5 Alter price, getting name for resistance (6)
CHANGE - CHArGE (price) substituting N (name) for 'r' (resistance).
6 Correct time on Paris street (4)
TRUE - T (time) and RUE ('road' in French, Paris street).
13 Way of addressing man about Northern Ireland politician (8)
MINISTER - MISTER (way of addressing man) around NI (Northern Ireland).
14 Those remaining with French priest for relaxing programme (4-4)
REST-CURE - REST (those remaining) and CURE (parish priest in French/France). Lots to (not) know in this one.
16 Chile's flexible tool (6)
CHISEL - anagram of (flexible) CHILE'S.
17 Myanmar, in Asia, houses leisure facility (6)
MARINA - hidden in (houses) myanMAR IN Asia.
19 Raffle that has no winner? (4)
DRAW - double definition.
20 Group's style of bowling needing change at start (4)
TEAM - sEAM (type of bowling, cricket) needing a different first letter (change at start).

Times Cryptic 27080

I had a very hard time with this one so I was pleased to finish it eventually without resorting to aids, which towards the end had appeared unlikely as I got seriously stuck over some answers in the SE corner. There were a few unknown words, a couple of unknown meanings and arguably one or two slightly dodgy or at least loose defintions along the way, but overall I enjoyed the challenge.

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

Across
1 Maybe miss one meal, shifting tea breaks (8)
MICHAELA - CHA (tea) is contained by [breaks] anagram [shifting] of MEAL I (one)
5 Secure — in hair-raising fashion? (4,2)
LOCK UP - A straight definition with a cryptic hint
9 Nice of Civil Service hosts to hold forth medals (9)
DECORATES - DE (Nice, of - yer actual French), then CS (Civil Service) contains [hosts] ORATE (to hold forth). 'Medals' here is a verb.
11 Civic dignitary dressing right (5)
MAYOR - MAYO (dressing), R (right)
12 Aces concealed in shirt seams put back (7)
MAESTRI - Hidden [concealed] and reversed [put back] in {sh}IRT SEAM{s). A bit of a stretch is required for the definition perhaps as traditionally 'maestro' is associated with the arts - most usually music - and 'ace' is more likely to be used in the context of sport (or fighter pilots), but meanings do change so I'd say on balance its okay.
13 Creature cayman bit on toe oddly disappeared (7)
AMNIOTE - {c}A{y}M{n} {b}I{t} O{n} T{o}E [oddly disappeared]. Collins has 'amniote' as: any vertebrate animal, such as a reptile, bird, or mammal, that possesses an amnion, chorion, and allantois during embryonic development. I didn't know it as a creature but arrived at the answer via wordplay, and having heard of 'amniotic fluid' thought it was probably going to be correct.
14 Expert putting up tumble drier as ordered (6,7)
MASTER BUILDER - Anagram [ordered] of TUMBLE DRIER AS
16 It makes us cross, what short-term personnel go through? (9,4)
REVOLVING DOOR - This is one of those clues where the answer contains part of the wordplay. DOOR backwards is 'rood' which is a type of cross, but for the clue to work 'revolving' has to be a reversal indicator which is bit dodgy since it might be argued that 'revolving' would take us back to the word we started with. The main definition refers to changing personnel on a frequent basis known in some circles as a 'revolving door' policy.
20 Feeling happy no more, evidently flipped (7)
UPENDED - UP (feeling happy), ENDED (no more). I not entirely convinced that 'flipping' and 'upending' are quite the same thing but the definitions in Collins appear to have the setter's back covered.
21 Promote any number of us, sort of (7)
NOURISH - N (any number), OUR (of us), -ISH (sort of - suffix)
23 I love not being separated (2,3)
IN ONE - I, NONE (love - nil, in tennis)
24 With warm honey, set about a sort of loaf (9)
WHEATMEAL - W (with), HEAT (warm), MEL (honey) containing [set about] A. I didn't know the honey and I was missing the final checker so for a while I was torn between -MEAL and -GERM as the ending.
25 Like lubricated gear, maybe, when in neutral (6)
GREASY -  AS (when) contained by [in] GREY (neutral)
26 Solicitor at Law with facility for speaking disreputably (8)
SLEAZILY - SL (Solicitor at Law - apperently), EAZILY sounds like [speaking] "easily" (with facility)
Down
1 Not the women’s singles title at Roland Garros? (6)
MADAME - Cryptic definition with reference to the 'Roland Garros' stadium, the venue for the French Open tennis chamionships, but really all one needs to know is that it's in France where single women presumably have the title 'mademoiselle' rather than 'madame'. Definitions based on the principle 'not this, so that' are usually a bit suspect, and this is no exception in my view.
2 Supply long, trailing cape (5)
CACHE - ACHE (long) placed after [trailing] C (cape)
3 Maybe gets breeze in prime location for climbing (7)
AERATES - SET (prime - e.g. a fuse) + AREA (location) reversed [climbing]. Again a somewhat loose definition, I feel.
4 Two identical switches on top of wall light (7,6)
LATTICE WINDOW - Anagram [switches] of TWO IDENTICAL, W{all} [top]
6 Old Turkish sailor, short virile one (7)
OSMANLI - OS (sailor -Ordinary Seaman), MANL{y} (virile) [short], I (one). The language of the Ottoman Turks. Another unknown to me.
7 Enter the champion: a trusted opener (9)
KEYHOLDER - KEY (Enter - the key on a computer), HOLDER (champion)
8 Role was out mainly in the garden (8)
PARTERRE - PART (role), ERRE{d} (was out) [mainly]. According to Collins this can be 'a formally patterned flower garden'.
10 Timid chap trapping a couple of bees with slipper, worn but posh (6-7)
SHABBY-GENTEEL - SHY (timid), containing [trapping] A+BB (couple of bees), then GENT (chap) EEL (slipper). I've not come across this before but I was aware of 'shabby-chic' so I just went with the wordplay.
14 Old film technique from USSR, heading off endless cash grabs (9)
MOVIETONE - MONE{y} (cash) [endless] contains [grabs] {s}OVIET (from USSR) [heading off]. An early sound-movie technique apparently whereas I knew the word only only from 'British Movietone News' that used to show in cinemas between the main features. Its rival was Pathé News.
15 Finish on the tiles after Greek jaunt (8)
GROUTING - OUTING (jaunt) follows [after] GR (Greek)
17 Issues with hose  / used by firemen? (7)
LADDERS - Two definitions, the first referring to what are called 'runs' on the other side of the Pond.
18 Succulent duck put in stews: ace! (7)
OPUNTIA - 0 (duck), anagram [stews] of PUT IN, A (ace). Another unknown to me but it's a cactus better known as 'prickly pear'..
19 Agent X following stuff on phone (6)
PHILBY -  BY (X - times) following PHIL which sounds [on phone] like "fill" (stuff). Kim Philby, one of the Cambridge Five spies.
22 Old people off home to reflect (5)
ICENI - ICE (off - murder), IN (home) reversed [to reflect]. The ancient tribe famously led at one time by Boudica.

Times Quick Cryptic 1126 by Hawthorn

I''m not sure what's gone wrong but Chris posted another blog for yesterday's puzzle (1125 by Orpheus) instead of today's. He said in his intro that he is on a walking holiday and short of time so I've taken it upon myself to blog 1126 on the assumption that he won't be available to write another one at this stage. This will be a very brief effort but further explanations can be added later if needs be.

Solving time: 11 minutes

Here's the blog...Collapse )

QC 1125 by Orpheus

I found this comparatively difficult. Completely different from the last one I blogged which gave me a PB. By contrast I laboured over this one for nearly 12 minutes. The only similarity to the last one from where I was sitting was that my LOI was once again one of the easiest clues (20A). Unlike last time, however, when my mistake was caused by misreading in my haste because all the other clues were going in so quickly, this time I can only say that it was a good clue 'hidden in plain sight' that stumped me. FOI was 1A as I remember it and my COD I think has to be 8A, if only for making me stop and think about my defiinitions more deeply than I would normally do (see comment in the blog body).

Many thanks to Orpheus for a brisk and witty challenge.

Too much going on in the astartedon household at the moment for me to say much more today so I'll just leave you to enjoy it and look forward to any comments.

Definitions are underlined. Everything else is explained as best I can.

Across
1 Informer touches down in natural pastures (10)
GRASSLANDS - GRASS (informer) + LANDS (touches down). An example of what I have come to think of as a 'one and two halves definition' since I started blogging. That is to say the overall definition plus two definitions of the separate parts. I justify calling them 'halves' even when (unlike here) the two 'halves' are not equal in length, because in semantic terms they are 'halves' (or at least as much halves as any other fraction) because I see them as contributing equal doses of meaning to the whole.
7 Dance doctor held in Rugby area (5)
RUMBA - RU (Rugby Union (as opposed to Rugby League)) + A (area) with a doctor (MB, Bachelor of Medicine) 'held'. The initials are reversed because of stylised Latinisation: there was no such term as Medicinae Baccalaureus in ancient Rome, so the Classical civilisation-worshipping authorities of the universities had to invent one.
8 Compiler’s best friend — Irish, perhaps? (6)
SETTER - whimsical (double?) definition. Assuming and presuming that our compiler today is a man, then a SETTER, possibly an Irish one as here (but could have been a red one if things had been compiled differently), might be that man's 'best friend' (i.e. dog). The potential double definition lies in the fact that we tend to use the words 'compiler' and 'setter' interchangeably in Crossword Land to mean the person who is doing duty as Deity of the Day, but thinking about it more closely only as I write this I realise they must be separate roles. The setter who composes the crossword, and the compiler who is presumably synonymous with the editor who checks it over, suggests any changes and then gives it the OK. And of course these two people must surely be the very best of symbiotic friends, as they cannot really survive without each other.
10 Following publicity? It’s a craze (3)
FAD - F (following) + AD (publicity).
12 Vellum produced by knowing fellows in port (9)
PARCHMENT - ARCH MEN (knowing fellows) 'in' PT (port).
13 During conflict, duke reveals secret (6)
INWARD - IN WAR (during conflict) + D (duke).
14 Disquiet coming from misfortune, as expected (6)
UNEASE - hidden word: misfortUNE AS Expected.
17 Name a club cooked up for hospital transport (9)
AMBULANCE - anagram ('cooked up') of NAME A CLUB.
19 Put a stop to the main round, ultimately (3)
END - final letters ('ultimately') of thE maiN roaD.
20 Class invaded by large rook (6)
CASTLE - CASTE (class) 'invaded by' L (large) = CASTLE.
21 Ancient language the French can identify (5)
LATIN - a rare use of the feminine French definite article in wordplay! LA ('the' in French) + TIN (can). I've always wondered why LA isn't used more often as surely it is just as useful as a setter's building block as LE? And certainly there are enough wordplays flying around with American cities in them, which usually turn out to be either NY or LA (vide infra at 18D).
23 Shabby European with rather bad novel (10)
THREADBARE - anagram ('novel') of RATHER BAD + E (European).
Down
1 Grid fairly reconstructed for versatile female employee (4,6)
GIRL FRIDAY - another anagram.  GRID FAIRLY 'reconstructed'.
2 Start to achieve this writer’s goal (3)
AIM - A ('start' to Achieve) plus IM (this writer's). If the writer speaks of him or herself in the third person: "This writer's going to the ball...", then if he or she decided to rephrase in the first person the result would be "I'M going to the ball". Hence equivalence between 'this writer's' and 'IM' in the wordplay.
3 Run away, having originally stolen fish with hesitation (7)
SCARPER - S ('originally' Stolen) + CARP (fish) + ER (hesitation).
4 A sure thing, we hear, to declare (6)
ASSERT - homophone: sounds like 'A CERT' (a sure thing).
5 East Ender’s wife from the Low Countries? (5)
DUTCH - double definition with the first being slightly cryptic. If you are Dutch you come from the region of Europe known as the Low Countries. You could also be the wife of an East Ender, as of course we all know that they transact all their daily business in rhyming slang (certainly in Crossword Land anyway). In this case there seem to be two main etymologies: Dutch plate (presumably from the decorative regional tableware) = MATE, or Duchess of Fife = WIFE. Actually I heard another example of RS the other day that I hadn't come across before but I liked it and thought it worth a mention. I had arranged to have a property cleared, and the guys turned up with their van and did the job. At the end I asked if I could pay them by card and the leader said, "No sorry, Mate, you couldn't go over the road to Tesco's and get some Cadbury's could you?" (Nice bit of misdirection in the surface there...). As it happened I didn't need to go over the road as I do normally carry a load of Cadbury's Smash (cash) in my pocket for just such eventualities.
6 Envoy’s time to receive eastern member (8)
DELEGATE - DATE (time) 'receiving' E (eastern) + LEG (member).
9 Presence at function about two hours before midnight? (10)
ATTENDANCE - AT DANCE (at function) 'about' TEN (two hours before midnight).
11 Gloomy signal from the conductor? (8)
DOWNBEAT - double definition, one signalled as slightly cryptic by the interrogation mark, although to me it seems a perfectly reasonable straightforward DD.
15 Irritated, being required to cross lake (7)
NEEDLED - NEEDED (required) to 'cross' L (lake).
16 Extension built by woman overlooking river (6)
ANNEXE - ANN (woman) 'overlooking' (in this down clue) EXE (river).
18 Security device initially tested in US city church (5)
LATCH - T ('initially' Tested) in LA (US city (there you go: vide supra at 21A)) + CH (church).
22 Meal players left unfinished (3)
TEA - TEAM (players) left unfinished = TEA.

Time: 29 minutes
Music: Mendelssohn, Midsummer Night's Dream Music, Previn/LSO

I vaguely felt that this was a little more difficult than usual for a Monday, without being able to point to anything particularly obscure.  The Snitch says otherwise, but only a few results are in yet.   Anyway, while many of the answers were write-ins, a little thinking was required here and there. 

Across
1 Opens containers filled with eggs, oddly (6)
BEGINS - B(E[g]G[s])INS, not the first containers I thought of, either.
4 Old surgeon — successful one, presumably — less well-known (8)
OBSCURER - O + B.S. (Backelor of Surgery) + CURER. 
10 Close — and quickly — after turning key, storage facility at bank (5,4)
NIGHT SAFE - NIGH + FAST backwards + E.
11 Severe wound identified in A & E (5)
ACUTE - A(CUT)E.
12 Democrat and Republican etc make it, somehow? (5,6)
DREAM TICKET - anagram of D + R + ETC MAKE IT.
14 Half the people on earth smell (3)
HUM - HUM[ans].
15 One lives on alcoholic drink, reportedly (7)
RESIDER - RE + sounds like CIDER.
17 Outcast going back into fresh air apparently (6)
PARIAH - backwards hidden in [fres]H AIR AP[parently]
19 Male name given with some hesitation (6)
CALLUM - CALL + UM, a Scottish name derived from Latin Columba.
21 Sickly-looking child's coat (7)
PALETOT - PALE + TOT, one of those words the French took from English, and then sent back in a garbled form.
23 Computer in 2001 revealed what's 75% of 50% (3)
HAL - HAL[f].   Yes, I saw the movie when it came out in 1968.
24 Fail to achieve target, as nostalgic German banker might? (4,3,4)
MISS THE MARK - Double definition, one jocular.
26 Attacker drops new weapon (5)
LUGER - LU[n]GER.
27 60s' film hero visiting hostile mining area (9)
COALFIELD - CO(ALFIE)LD.   The movie may be forgotten, but everyone remembers the song.
29 Offensive and frosty-sounding, speaking thus? (8)
TETCHILY - TET + sounds like CHILLY, the offensive that will live forever alongside Beerbohm Tree and sex appeal.
30 Tabloid journalist coming in right before work (6)
REDTOP - R(ED)T + OP, and write-in for most solvers.
Down
1 One place to sleep at foot of hill in Spanish resort (8)
BENIDORM - BEN + I DORM.   Never heard of it, but the cryptic is very generous.
2 Music sent up in Brussels concert? (5)
GIGUE - EU GIG upside-down.
3 Egg, one with top sliced off (3)
NIT - [u]NIT. 
5 Finish school, having gap year before attending university? (5,2)
BREAK UP - BREAK + UP, a bit of a UK-ism.
6 Growth of one singing French version of She? (11)
CHANTERELLE - CHANTER + ELLE, where 'growth' is a little vague for a famous fungus.
7 Rowdy players getting plastered (9)
ROUGHCAST - ROUGH + CAST, a chestnut.
8 Unhealthy male in grip of unusual malady at last (6)
RHEUMY - R(HE)UM + [malad]Y
9 Higher gear, zigzagging across motorway (6)
GAMIER - GA(MI)ER, i.e. an anagram of GEAR.
13 Novel, fateful time for Julius Caesar? (11)
MIDDLEMARCH - Double definition, a very witty one.
16 That girl's dazzled … by such illumination? (9)
STARLIGHT - anagram of THAT GIRL'S, a cryptic I didn't notice until after finishing the puzzle.
18 Fed Midlands community on upside-down pudding (6,2)
STOKED UP - STOKE + PUD upside-down.   The city is also known as Stoke-On-Trent, but that would not do here.
20 American going through two states to find, say, Oklahoma! (7)
MUSICAL - M(US)I + CAL, where both a modern 2-letter postal abbreviation and an old-style abbreviation are used.
21 Was getting advice about cutting tool (6)
PITSAW - WAS TIP upside-down.
22 Fellow reduced rent for holiday accommodation (6)
CHALET - CHA[p] + LET
25 Quick drink before road trip starts (5)
ALERT - ALE + R[oad] T[rip]
28 Price of fuel cut (3)
FEE - FEE[d], most likely, with 'fuel' as a verb.
A real vocab-fest this month, taking in Antipodean and American slang, Indonesian medicine, a heated Chinese sleeping platform, a Japanese hostelry, an Indian water porter, an African mountain and that glorious German mouthful, a synonym for Bildungsroman, at 4dn. All this and some denizens both human and piscine of British Columbia to celebrate Canada Day, which made me extra happy as it reminded me that I'm flying out that way for my summer holidays in fewer than 4 weeks now.

Word of the day is BARAGOUIN just because its Chambers entry claims that it comes from the Breton (ie basically Welsh) "bara gwenn?!" which means "white bread?!", due to Breton soldiers' amazement that such a thing could possibly exist. How that becomes a synonym for meaningless gibberish I'm not quite sure, but it's lovely. Runner up in this category is MONDEGREEN because I do enjoy a good mondegreen, for instance Elvis Costello's classic 1979 song I Love A Zombie. If you're one of the four people reading this blog, what's your favourite mondegreen?

Some quite enjoyable cluing going on here too: 26dn is notable for having its definition part slap bang in the middle of the clue and requiring an inversion of the usual thought processes. But everything was fair and not too complicated. I do think having to shorten multiple three letter words into two letter particles is quite a hard task though - there are a lot of three letter words out there, if you're hunting for the right one! But thanks to the setter for a uniformly enjoyable puzzle.

ACROSS
1 Knitter’s beginning to replace front of pullover with simple woollen fabric (10)
KERSEYMERE - K{nitter} to replace front of {j}ERSEY, with MERE

6 Prison bunk, both short and sweet, in Invercargill (4)
JUBE - JU{g} BE{d}

8 Pen once possessed by Mozart, a classicist recalled (8)
ALCATRAZ - hidden reversed in {mo}ZART A CLA{ssicist}

9 Aussie nipper’s reduced offer accepted by auction site in turn (6)
YABBIE - BI{d} accepted by EBAY reversed

10 Revered image of king in part of compound (4)
IKON - K in ION

11 Drug suitably absorbed by colourless mineral in kidney stones (10)
WHEWELLITE - E WELL absorbed by WHITE

12 Mount soldiers to front corporation’s war machine (9)
TORMENTUM - TOR MEN to front TUM

14 Possibly eight billion dried berries (5)
CUBEB - CUBE B

17 Teacher’s whiskey drunk by Laplander (5)
SWAMI - W drunk by SAMI

19 Moth circles round Washington’s chopper (3,6)
EGG BEATER - EGGER circles BEAT

22 Rough core from quarry in excavation is reviewed to find tree-like fossil (10)
SIGILLARID - ILL {qu}AR{ry}, in DIG IS reversed

23 Half-finished jumper with a pouch that’s warm to sleep on (4)
KANG - KANG{aroo}

24 Haunt a degenerate in a religious state? (6)
UTAHAN - (HAUNT A*) ["degenerate"]

25 A loss nearly burying quiet British guesthouse (8)
MINSHUKU - MINU{s} burying SH UK

26 Around noon, this nautical pulley is to be strung up (4)
SWIG - if you were to put the answer around N for noon, you'd get SWING, "to be strung up".

27 Misheard words about 60 Minutes in Minnesota (10)
MONDEGREEN - ON DEGREE in MN

DOWN
1 Vancouver islanders with regular appearances in skiwear knit until start of summer (9)
KWAKIUTLS - {s}K{i}W{e}A{r} K{n}I{t} U{n}T{i}L + S{ummer}

2 Tool for scraping base element from upper atmosphere containing chlorine monoxide (7)
RACLOIR - {uppe}R + AIR containing ClO

3 Course deviation crossing road with old rod as a measure (8)
YARDWAND - YAW crossing RD, plus AND [with]

4 Hesitant words about unknown quantity that is unable to decide eg Nero’s origin story? (15)
ERZIEHUNGSROMAN - ERS about Z IE HUNG + ROMAN

5 Turtles get up to welcome brother Donatello at first (6)
EMYDES - SEE reversed, welcoming MY! D{onatello}

6 States, after the writer in French book, tree height in Morocco (5,4)
JEBEL MUSA - USA after JE B ELM

7 Water carrier wanting silence during work meeting (7)
BHISTEE - HIST during BEE

13 Mother and Mike selfishly keep little fish (9)
MUMMICHOG - MUM and MIC HOG

15 Gobbledygook in an attempt to stop airline bankruptcy (9)
BARAGOUIN - A GO to stop BA RUIN

16 Conformity of rating on island nightclub activity (8)
ABIDANCE - AB on I DANCE

18 Local maker of saddles shortened crop and upped power unit (7)
WHITTAW - WHI{p} + reversed WATT

20 European tug, craft from the south, shows small forest animal (7)
TRAGULE - E LUG ART reversed

21 Choice to get width of printing in completely filled space (6)
PLENUM - PLUM to get EN in

Mephisto 3017 - Tim Moorey

I didn't have a lot of question marks next to entries in this one, but I did have to look up a lot of references. Tim Moorey tends to scatter places, people and things from a wide range of times and spaces, and this time the only one I knew right off was the author at 9 down, so I'll try to include the references as I go along.

Grid-watch! I liked the 90-degree symmetry, but it really does divide this up into a puzzle of four quadrands, which is how i solved it - top right fell first, then the bottom right, top left and finally the bottom left.

First definitions are underlined in clues,

Away we go....

Across
1 Falsely claimed to include nothing on type of evidence (11)
MEDICO-LEGAL - anagram of CLAIMED,TO with O(nothing),LEG(on side in cricket) inside
11 Flat design expert overlooking central heating (6)
PLANAR - PLAN(design) then ARCH(expert) missing CH(central heating)
12 Girl put out back on falling over inside (6)
ELINOR - RILE(put out) reversed with ON reversed inside
13 Modern instrument unknown in South and North (5)
SYNTH - Y(unknown) in S, NTH
14 Paddy breaks walking-stick, one from Egypt (7)
CAIRENE - IRE(paddy, rage), inside CANE(walking-stick)
15 Profits coming from furniture in dorm, first 500 dispatched (8)
BESTEADS - BEDSTEADS(dorm furniture) missing the first D(500)
16 Antiquated operation not available in foreign plant (5)
URENA - URE(use, operation), NA
18 Father’s embraced by exceedingly old Trojan (6)
DARDAN - DA(father) inside DARN(exceedingy)
19 Which kind of headgear’s new in West Africa? (6)
WHATNA - HAT(headgear), N in WA(West Africa)
21 Love Elizabeth taking in second old hound (6)
OBSESS - O, then BESS containing S
24 Pole's behind force joining genuine Glaswegian conflicts (6)
FECHTS - S(south pole) after F(force), ECHT(genuine)
28 Disloyalty not on for one looking after money briefly (5)
TREAS - TREASON(disloyalty) missing ON
29 End by chance won by a tiny margin? (8)
CLOSE-RUN - CLOSE(end), RUN(chance)
30 Old actor is one to bore Roland's chum (7)
OLIVIER - I inside OLIVER. The actor is Laurence Olivier and Roland and Oliver comes from the Song of Roland. This one had me scratching my head for a bit.
31 Crop profit about right (5)
GRAIN - GAIN(profit) surrounding R
32 Pound steeply up? Not unknown (6)
PESTLE - anagram of STEEPLY missing Y
33 Great run lost, having an afternoon drink (6)
TEAING - TEARING(great) missing R
34 Type of poker abandoned within state border (11, three words)
TEXAS HOLD 'EM - OLD(abandoned) inside TEXAS(state), HEM(border). Here you see very little other poker being played, sometimes you can catch it on the telly (it's not riveting)

Down
2 See Italian restaurant snubbed, offering plates of worms! (6)
ELYTRA - ELY, then TRA(t)
3 Risks day overlooking western French town (7)
DANGERS - D then ANGERS(town in Western France)
4 Fiancé’s lovemaking finished around noon (8)
INTENDED - IT(lovemaking), ENDED(finished) surrounding N
5 Dyestuff that’s purple and gold, nice for painting (6)
ORCEIN - OR(gold) then an anagram of NICE
6 Local rivers flowing into depressed area for grazing (6)
LEASOW - EAS(rivers) inside LOW
7 Shingle tiles to be taken up partly? Pick needed (5)
ELITE - hidden reversed in shinglE TILEs
8 Spike supporting one outmoded approach (5)
ANEAR - EAR(spike) under AN
9 Jack perhaps left close to river (6)
LONDON - L, ON, DON(river), for the author of Call of The Wild
10 Very, very out of date sin (11)
TRESPASSING - TRES(very), PASSING(very out of date)
11 Suppose coed wrong for image-maker (11)
PSEUDOSCOPE - anagram of SUPPOSE,COED
17 Long-tailed male, a canine in the country (8)
MACRURAL - M(male), A, C(canine, in dental charts), RURAL(in the country)
20 Opposite of the good inspiring one Greek district (7)
THEBAID - THE BAD containing I
22 Point in report granted after size reduced (6)
BULLET - LET(granted) after BUL(k)
23 Cloth garments, for instance put up by Welshman? (6)
SAREES - AS(for instance) reversed with REES(Welshman)
24 Hut for changing in quarter (6)
FOURTH - anagram of HUT,FOR
25 Thin worsted fabric once taken around Michigan (6)
TAMINE - TANE(taken) surrounding MI(Michigan)
26 Old-fashioned lift is seen in part of Plymouth (5)
HOISE - IS inside HOE - there is a large park in Plymouth called Plymouth Hoe - originally I thought it meant promontory and was referring the Plymouth in Massachusetts
27 Girl from press over in Los Angeles (5)
LEILA - LIE(press) reversed in LA

Sunday Times 4804 by David McLean

13m. Nothing too taxing from Harry this week, but the usual high standard and some nice witty clues. I don’t have much more to add, and am a bit short of time this week, so without further ado…

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




Across
1 Casting rod with a handle at the middle
WAND - W, A, haNDle. Nothing to do with fishing!
4 Sort of hand exercises, etc
AND SO FORTH - (SORT OF HAND)*.
9 Party after which a tot might be brought out
LABOUR - a tot being a baby here, and LABOUR in the childbirth sense.
10 Brilliant storybooks taken apart by editor
TALENTED - if you take ‘storybooks’ apart you get TALE (story), NT (new testament, books). Add an ED for ‘editor’.
11 Act I put on for God
POSEIDON - or POSE I DON.
13 Say about two sons coming out
EGRESS - EG (say), RE (about), SS (two sons).
14 What police tailors might do is serve well
FIT THE BILL - two definitions, one mildly cryptic.
16 Now try to get picked up
HERE - sounds like ‘hear’ (try).
17 One opposing article Congress rejected
ANTI - AN, reversal of IT (nookie, the other, congress, nudge wink etc).
18 Case of crescent-shaped fruit
BANANA PEEL - CD.
20 One docile and subservient as a greyhound?
LAPDOG - because a greyhound does laps of the track.
21 Going out without clothes initially could be thus
EXCITING - EX(Clothes)ITING. Semi-&Lit.
23 Bad ailment? Good to get in a sheet of tissue
LIGAMENT - (AILMENT)* containing G.
24 Coin collector student relieved of capital
EARNER - lEARNER. ‘Coin’ here just means ‘money’.
26 Being pressured to chuck out last posh pants?
UNDERDRESS - UNDER DuRESS. U is ‘posh’ in the Nancy Mitford sense, and the wordplay instructs you to take out the last one. The definition is by example, indicated by the question mark.
27 Network following leader with eccentric style
ELAN - Eccentric, LAN (network). ‘Leader with eccentric’ is a slightly odd form of words.

Down
2 Bingo’s a bit of a laugh
AHA - A HA, where HA is a ‘bit of a laugh’ presumably because a whole laugh needs more than one. The surface is probably meant to be about the game but I read it as a P.G. Wodehouse reference.
3 One to mate with the queen, that’s a buzz!
DRONE - DD.
4 A way to cross a flower and prune?
ABRIDGE - or A BRIDGE. ‘Flower’ here being a river, of course.
5 Refugee lock-up is a relaxing place (reportedly)
DETENTION CENTRE - sounds like ‘de-tension’.
6 Maintenance advice for metal hinges in crude container
OIL WELL - one definition, one very mildly cryptic indication.
7 Possession of drugs? Not primarily cool
OWNERSHIP - dOWNERS, HIP.
8 One might slice cherries and our greenest bananas
TREE SURGEON - (OUR GREENEST)*.
12 Basic preferences I tear into on broadcast
ORIENTATION - (I TEAR INTO ON)*.
15 Inferior rider that needs training
THIRD-RATE - (RIDER THAT)*.
18 One with good mind to go after British egotist
BIGHEAD - I, G, HEAD (mind) following B for British.
19 Top underwear thieves?
NICKERS - kNICKERS.
22 Sweet child with its foot in Rhine on vacation
TORTE - TOT with it’s foot (last letter) ‘caught’ in the middle of RhinE. I don’t know when this ‘on vacation’ device was first used but I always spot it immediately these days.
25 Artist depressed by ultimately blue period
ERA - bluE, RA (artist).

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1329: B for Mutton

A straightforward enough Jumbo with some nicely concise cluing, and which touched on some interesting areas of general knowledge in the across clues. Did I blog this one on the actual correct day for the first time in months? I really hope so...

Given that this was on the vanilla end cryptically my favourite clue ended up being 51ac, for being moderately funny. No bad thing to have a puzzle that isn't too hard but gets your brain warmed up for the weekend; thanks setter!

ACROSS
1 Resolve to prevent note reaching people (13)
DETERMINATION - DETER MI reaching NATION [to prevent; note; people]

8 Volumes here returned, he passed on fine examples (9)
BOOKCASES - reversed OB. + OK CASES ["returned", he passed on; fine; examples].
Ob. is short for obiit.

13 Queen adopts one orphan (5)
ANNIE - ANNE adopts I [queen; one].
Little Orphan Annie from the comic strips/films/musicals.

14 Device very quietly supersedes first learner in group (9)
APPLIANCE - PP supersedes L in ALLIANCE [very quietly; L{earner}; group]

15 A few in heat: I'm panicking they’ll be beaten (7)
TIMPANI - a few (letters) in {hea}T I'M PANI{cking}

16 Plymouth has a complex temperature controller (12)
HYPOTHALAMUS - (PLYMOUTH HAS A*) ["complex"]
Per Wikipedia "the hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, important aspects of parenting and attachment behaviours, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms." Busy lad.

17 Prominent sign of male parish priest submerged in water (5,5)
ADAM'S APPLE - PP submerged in ADAM'S ALE [parish prient; water]

18 Respect judge (6)
REGARD - double definition

19 Install thereon after changing around noon (8)
ENTHRONE - (THEREON*) ["after changing"] around N [noon]

21 The last Edward's stature, first, to last (6)
EIGHTH - HEIGHT [stature] with its first letter moving to the end.
Edward VIII was king for less than a whole year in 1936, before abdicating to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

24 Professional heretic's predicting how complaint will go (10)
PROGNOSTIC - PRO GNOSTIC [professional ; heretic]

26 Sort of gearing for gap in rates (12)
DIFFERENTIAL - double definition
A differential gear allows the wheels to revolve at different speeds while cornering, clever stuff.

29 Brit in Oz retains English lines (4)
POEM - POM retains E [Brit in Oz; English]

30 Little change at seaside due to opposing attractions (4,4)
NEAP TIDE - cryptic definition
A neap tide is "a tide just after the first or third quarters of the moon when there is least difference between high and low water", hence only a little change. The opposing attractions are the gravitational pools of earth, moon and sun.

31 Royal wife and cool patriarch ignoring bishop on way back (8)
MAHARANI - IN A{b}RAHAM [cool; patriarch "ignoring B{ishop}], on way back = reversed.
A maharani is the wife (or just female equivalent) of a maharajah.

34 Extra work finished magazine (8)
OVERTIME - OVER TIME [finished; magazine]
Time, the American weekly news magazine founded 1923, print readership 26 million.

35 Group seem endlessly flummoxed by this Freudian concept (8)
SUPEREGO - (GROUP SEE{m}*) ["flummoxed"]

36 Record of events left in can (4)
BLOG - L in BOG [left; can].
The "bog" was the preferred word for the gents during my schooldays, for sure, though I can't remember hearing it so much recently.

39 Music station's old booze a source of energy? Could be (12)
RADIOISOTOPE - RADIO IS O TOPE [music station; (i)s; old; booze]

40 Is eastern doctor poking Peg's gut? (10)
DISEMBOWEL - IS E MB poking DOWEL [is; eastern; doctor; peg]

43 Are depressing old poems set in heart of Kansas withdrawn? (6)
SADDEN - EDDA set in NS [old poems; {ka}NS{as}], all reversed
The Edda are the literary works of 13th century Iceland, some written by the brilliantly named Snorri Sturluson.

44 Old boy's story about constant handicap (8)
OBSTACLE - OB'S TALE about C [old boy's; story; constant]
C is the speed of light, a constant 299,792,458 meters per second.

45 Loose stones close to cairn presenting riddle (6)
SCREEN - SCREE N [loose stones; {cair}N]
A screen can be "a large sieve or riddle, especially one for sorting substances such as grain or coal into different sizes."

49 Such characters are inclined to be idealistic, sort of (10)
ITALICISED - (IDEALISTIC*) ["sort of"]

51 Possibly preparing mutton for frying as opener? (9,3)
BATTERING RAM - a quirky reimagining of the phrase "battering ram" as a culinary activity. A battering ram must be about the least subtle "opener" of doors imaginable, but it'll do the job.

53 Everyone devours salmon and strong drink (7)
ALCOHOL - ALL devours COHO [everyone; salmon]
Coho are Pacific silver salmon and just one of those words you need to know for crosswords.

54 Sweet Papa allowed in separately (5,4)
APPLE TART - P LET in APART [Papa; allowed; separately]

55 I run back to collect clubs? Run up! (5)
INCUR - I + RUN reversed, collecting C [clubs]. As in "run up debts"

56 Exploratory device to conclude very big deal (9)
ENDOSCOPE - END OS COPE [to conclude; very big; deal]

57 Insect doggedly lands all over the shop (5-8)
DADDY-LONGLEGS - (DOGGEDLY LANDS*) ["all over the shop"]

DOWN
1 Finish role climbing dangerous building? (9)
DEATHTRAP - DEATH + PART "climbing" [finish; role]

2 10p, say, secures time for security in camp (4,3)
TENT PEG - TEN P, E.G. secures T [10p; say; time]

3 Work for sloppy clerk to do with breaking in? (2-8)
RE-ENTERING - If a clerk fails to enter things properly the first time, he will need to engage in re-entering. Or else punctuate differently as RE ENTERING [to do with; breaking in]. A rather convoluted clue I thought...

4 Book this writer has tipped — it's about perfect (6)
ISAIAH - I [this writer] + HAS "tipped", about A1 [perfect]
Isaiah had two sons, naming one Shear-jashub, meaning "A remnant shall return" and the younger, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, meaning, "Spoil quickly, plunder speedily". So if anyone knows anyone who's pregnant right now and struggling for baby name ideas...

5 Order that's a bit cheap sadly, yet wholly absorbing (12)
ALPHABETICAL - (A BIT CHEAP*) ["sadly"], absorbed by ALL [wholly]

6 I left to support one probing city vice (8)
INIQUITY - I + QUIT to support I probing NY [I; left; one; city]

7 Elected in Tyneside square (4)
NINE - IN in NE [elected; Tyneside]. Nine = 3 x 3 = a square number.

8 Bachelor to study European spy returning cutter (5,5)
BREAD KNIFE - B READ + E FINK returning [bachelor; to study; European; spy]. A fink is a rat but more specifically perhaps an informer, which I guess means they might've been doing some spying?

9 Promptly issue denial that's taken up (2,4)
ON TIME - EMIT NO, all "taken up" [issue; denial]

10 Firm hosting wife in island steps on board (12)
COMPANIONWAY - COMPANY hosting W in IONA [firm; wife; island]
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides and a companionway is the steps that lead down below from a ship's deck.

11 Start to strum instrument? That's not natural (5)
SHARP - S HARP [S{trum}; instrument]. The musical sense of the word "natural".

12 Yen and cents in old money? That's scary (5-8)
SPINE-CHILLING - PINE and C in SHILLING [yen; cents; old money]. Yen is often a noun meaning "yearning", but can also be a verb, to yen.

20 Ruminants check tossed grass (8)
REINDEER - REIN + "tossed" REED [check; grass]

22 He succeeds with a real criminal (4-2-3)
HEIR-AT-LAW - (WITH A REAL*) ["criminal"]

23 Chap's taken up wearing bespoke suits, making waves (8)
TSUNAMIS - MAN [chap] is taken up, wearing (SUITS*) ["bespoke..."]

25 Old writer finished, allowing any answer (4-5)
OPEN-ENDED - O PEN ENDED [old; writer; finished]

27 Reckoned wind instrument is captivating a boy (8)
REASONED - REED is captivating A SON [wind instrument; a; boy]

28 Place outside better for working girl (8)
STRUMPET - SET outside TRUMP [place; better]

29 Stall for box holding a small container (13)
PROCRASTINATE - PRO CRATE holding A S TIN [for; box; a; small; container]

32 Both girls set out to be disco dazzlers (6,6)
STROBE LIGHTS - (BOTH GIRLS SET*) ["out"]

33 One who's sorry journal excludes first prison (12)
PENITENTIARY - PENITENT {d}IARY [one who's sorry; journal "excludes first"]

37 Draw includes black horse from same stud (10)
STABLEMATE - STALEMATE includes B [draw; black]

38 A union gathering that is taking off (10)
ABSCONDING - A BONDING gathering SC [a; union; that is]. Sc. short for scilicet.
"Sc. provides a parenthetic clarification, removes an ambiguity, or supplies a word omitted in preceding text, while viz. is usually used to elaborate or detail text which precedes it."

41 Line with blemishes as distinctive features (9)
LANDMARKS - L AND MARKS [line; with; blemishes]

42 Dispatch across cliff? Some neck! (5-3)
SCRAG-END - SEND across CRAG [dispatch; cliff]. The inferior end of a neck of mutton. Lots of mutton in this puzzle!

46 Drops the answer to this listener's complaint? (7)
EARACHE - cryptic definition. If you have earache, you might resolve it with eardrops.

47 Most of trial took place in Venice (6)
RIALTO - most of {t}RIAL TO{ok}

48 Santa's place having rubbish toys? Not half (6)
GROTTO - GROT TO{ys} [rubbish; toys, "not half"]

50 In four notes, Ravel's opening described curve (5)
ARCED - in A C E D, R{avel}. Any letter from A to G can be a (musical) note in crosswords.

52 Ran exercises in South Dakota (4)
SPED - P.E. in S.D.
Another typically challenging Saturday puzzle, I thought. I had to do it in bits and pieces because I was otherwise engaged all that day, so I don’t have a time, but it rates as another steady solve for me. What did others think?

My clue of the day is clearly 7dn with its great definition, closely followed by 25ac with its great wordplay! I also liked 10ac, with no disrespect to the alumni of that great institution, and 24ac. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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

Across
1 One and a hundred is a thousand - that's wrong (8)
SOLECISM: SOLE (one), C (a hundred), IS, M (thousand).

5 America on bottom row (6)
RUMPUS: RUMP (bottom), US. The definition is “row”, rhyming with “cow”, not “tow”. Ah … English pronunciation: such an aid to misdirection by setters.

9 Single housing worker going begging (8)
UNWANTED: UNWED (single), around ANT (worker).

10 Be cleverer than foolish undergraduate? (6)
OUTWIT: O.U. (Oxford University), TWIT.

12 Lack of craft, perhaps, about a digital processing instrument (4,8)
NAIL CLIPPERS: NIL (lack of), CLIPPERS (craft), all around A.

15 Biblical character I whine about (5)
NAOMI: I MOAN reversed. A golden oldie.

16 Bunch attending one musical — and another? (9)
HAIRSPRAY: HAIR (a musical), SPRAY (bunch).

18 Flower - bottom part raised, we hear? (9)
BUTTERCUP: UP (raised), preceded by BUTTERC (sounds like BUTTOCK … well, more or less sounds like; really, just go with it, people!).

19 Deck, where sailors joining a party (5)
ADORN: RN (sailors), joining A DO (party). So “deck” is a verb, and has nothing to do with ships.

20 Lack of interest concerning argument (12)
INDIFFERENCE: IN (concerning: definition 15 of 17 in Chambers for “in” as a preposition), DIFFERENCE (argument).

24 Marks in Spanish listed when failing (6)
TILDES: (LISTED*). I realised the definition might be an accent, and ran through acutes and graves without luck before finally recognising the anagram!

25 Everything considered, suggesting tall helot? (3,2,3)
ALL IN ALL: ALL (everything) in THE LOT (everything, again). I biffed this confidently looking at the helpers, but then took ages to parse it. Very clever indeed!!

26 Want relief primarily in the end (6)
DEARTH: R (“relief”, primarily) in DEATH.

27 Where to work out if reliability's back in faulty gas main (8)
GYMNASIA: (Y GAS MAIN*). The Y comes from the back of “reliabilit-Y”.

Down
1 Swig punch (4)
SLUG: a straightforward double definition, where “punch” is a blow, not a party drink.

2 Dirty linen evidently washed, disgusting originally (4)
LEWD: first letters (“originally”) of words 2-5.

3 Singing in Cambridge mansion, roof coming off (9)
CANTABILE: CANTAB ("Cantab" is inter alia the post nominal suffix indicating a degree from the University of Cambridge); then knock the first letter off “PILE” to give an answer I didn’t know although it certainly seemed plausible.

4 Writing tool, magic marker? (12)
SPELLCHECKER: SPELL (magic), CHECKER (marker … of exams, for example, I suppose. A slight stretch perhaps?).

6 Central parts of industry reassuringly, and quietly, appropriate (5)
USURP: US (central parts of ind-US-try), UR (central parts of reass-UR-ingly), P (quietly). “Appropriate” here is a verb not an adjective.

7 There she goes to blunder into catastrophe, captive initially (6,4)
POWDER ROOM: POW (captive) initially, followed by ERR (blunder) inside DOOM (catastrophe). Delightfully disguised definition!

8 Enjoyable day is going well, draining lake (10)
SATISFYING: SAT (the required day), IS, FLYING, without L for lake.

11 See about lesser VIP somehow becoming megastar (5,7)
ELVIS PRESLEY: ELY (the most common diocese in Crosswordland, surely), around (LESSER VIP*). For some reason I found this very difficult to see even after writing down all the letters. Only when I looked at all the helpers and debated where to put the “V” did the answer jump out.

13 A UK citizen holds I require bottles to be drunk (10)
INEBRIATED: “BRIT” holds “A”, then “I NEED” holds all of that.

14 Meaty stuff signalled, a trombone part coming up (10)
MORTADELLA: look for the backwards hidden answer.

17 Post contains rubbish: foolish ultimately opening it (9)
STANCHION: (CONTAINS H*), where the H is the ultimate letter of “foolish”. On edit: to expand on the wordplay, "contains rubbish" calls for an anagram, "foolish ultimately" gives you an "H", and "opening it" says to put the "h" in the anagram.

21 Speeding boats (5)
FLEET: another double definition.

22 Without allure, nappies emptied (4)
SANS: SA (allure),  NS (outside letters of “nappies”).

23 A mischievous thing coming up that may irritate? (4)
FLEA: A, ELF all written from bottom to top.

Quick Cryptic 1124 by Alfie

Now, I expect this one will divide opinion. It was an enjoyable solve, and the wordplay is by and large reasonable, with the exception of 2dn maybe, and possibly 26ac if you think reversed hidden words are not fair in the QC. The main issue is with some of the definitions which are iffy to say the least, and solutions which are obscure in some cases and arguably not words at all in others. It's also a pangram (i.e. contains all the letters of the alphabet) if you like that sort of thing. 9 minutes for me.




Across
1 Group organised by wife to become more adult (6)
UPGROW - anagram ('organised') of GROUP + W. Not sure I approve of this word. It sounds made up and is not in my dictionary.
5 Supporting, loudly, college teacher (4)
PROF - PRO (supporting) + F (loudly)
9 Plucky musician with a beam following band endlessly (8)
BANJOIST - BAN(D) + JOIST
10 Country artist with a measuring of intelligence all round (4)
IRAQ - Artist is RA (Royal Academy), measuring of intelligence is IQ
11 Girl embraced by Lorenzo ecstatically (3)
ZOE - hidden word: LorenZO Ecstatically
13 Retreat from act by sponsor (4,4)
TURN BACK - Act is TURN as in ('star turn'), sponsor is BACK
16 Nimble artisan appearing regularly in Spain and Portugal (6)
IBERIA - Alternate letters ('appearing regularly') of nImBlE aRtIsAn
17 Day beginning for old Scottish town (6)
THURSO - THURS + O
18 Yacht I’m manoeuvring left? Not true! (8)
MYTHICAL - anagram ('manoeuvring') of YACHT I'M, with L on the end
20 Fool having short film wound back (3)
DIV - short film is VID, backwards. Short for DIVVY, a fantastic 1970's term of abuse meaning stupid person.
22 Initially fed up, joins in finding Japanese volcano (4)
FUJI - First letters of Fed Up Joins In. Luckily the only Japanese Volcano I know.
23 English girl: a railway representative (8)
EMISSARY - E + MISS + A + RY
25 Rosemary, perhaps, the female bishop (4)
HERB - HER + B
26 Some impugn a government, returning to combine in opposition? (4,2)
GANG UP - reversed hidden word: imPUGN A Government

Down
2 Quiet snoring sound stifling a flamboyant quality (5)
PZAZZ - Quiet is P. Snoring sound, I guess, is ZZZ, put round ('stifling') A. Possibly a bit stiff for the QC?
3 British rule in shock after uprising (3)
RAJ - shock is JAR, 'uprising' means backwards for a down clue.
4 Their timing is off the cuff? (12)
WRISTWATCHES - cryptic definition
6 Detained by wet weather on bad run, I collapsed (4-5)
RAIN-BOUND - anagram ('collapsed') of ON BAD RUN I
7 Managed to block football club’s money, once (5)
FRANC - Managed is RAN, put FC around it. I don't agree with the definition. Adding 'once' implies the answer is no longer money. Francs are still money in Switzerland.
8 Counting the number of floors out loud? Doing some recounting? (5-7)
STORY-TELLING - Hmm. Rather a weak homophone.
12 Hitler era corrupt, and more materialistic (9)
EARTHLIER - anagram ('corrupt') of HITLER ERA
14 Audibly criticises Scottish theologian (4)
KNOX - Sounds like KNOCKS. Refers to John Knox, founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland
15 Strict, if retiring, resident magistrate (4)
FIRM - IF backwards + RM (resident magistrate)
19 The lad Tuohy upset (5)
YOUTH - anagram ('upset') of TUOHY. A Tuohy needle is used to insert epidural catheters, not that it is necessary to know that.
21 Victor, with Irish trade union, displays artistic taste (5)
VIRTU - V (Victor in phonetic alphabet) + IR +TU. New one on me.
24 Second home is something bad (3)
SIN - S + IN

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