In a word, UGH! I think it’s safe to say I didn’t get on with this one. This is a setter that I’ll never quite get, with several tells that rub me the wrong way. Still, I persevered and got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with (occasionally caustic) explanations where I have them.
As ever, some housekeeping before we begin: if you have a recent Times Jumbo Cryptic that’s left you baffled, then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If horror fiction is your thing, then my Reviews page has a few tasty morsels for you. I’ll put up another review shortly for Best New Horror 7, as it’s been a while.
Right, I won’t keep you any longer. Onto the solution. I hope you find it helpful!
1. Like an old maid with unserviceable cooker (6)
Answer: PRIMUS, a brand-named “cooker”. Solution is PRIM (i.e. “like an old maid”) followed by US (a recognised abbreviation of “unserviceable”). It never sits right when a setter chucks a product name in their grid. Yes, this one is in the dictionary, but still…
5. Scraps a few words in speech (7)
Answer: AFFRAYS (i.e. “scraps”). “In speech” indicates the solution is a homophone of A PHRASE (i.e. “a few words”).
9. Check canine? (8)
Answer: DOGTOOTH. I’m taking issue with this one, but let’s play along with the setter for a second. The clue supposedly riffs on how the solution is both a broken “check” pattern used in some tweeds, as well as a “canine” tooth. Trouble is, my Chambers has this as DOGSTOOTH (houndstooth is another such pattern). It has entirely different definitions for DOGTOOTH. I’m assuming dictionaries differ on this, so there’s only one way to solve this situation… FIGHT!!!!
13. Dreadfully crude cuts in Manchester, due to conditions (5,3,13)
Answer: UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES (i.e. “due to conditions”). “Dreadfully” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CRUDE CUTS IN MANCHESTER.
14. Bombardment on town primarily, then country (8)
Answer: THAILAND (i.e. “country”). Solution is HAIL (i.e. “bombardment”) placed “on” or after T (i.e. “town primarily”, i.e. the first letter of “town”) and followed by AND (i.e. “then”), like so: T-HAIL-AND. Not a classic.
15. Part of mechanism leaking fluid (7)
Answer: LINKAGE (i.e. “part of mechanism”). “Fluid” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LEAKING. A clue that scans rather well.
16. Co-ordinated report of high water? (4,2)
Answer: TIED IN (i.e. “co-ordinated”). “Report of” indicates the solution is a homophone of TIDE IN (i.e. “high water”).
17. A close relative cutting exercise, so it seems (10)
Answer: APPARENTLY (i.e. “so it seems”). Solution is A followed by PARENT (i.e. “close relative”) which is placed in or “cutting” PLY (i.e. “[to] exercise”), like so: A-P(PARENT)LY.
20. Eastern weapon for shooting a politician revealed in correspondence (12)
Answer: EPISOLATORY (i.e. “revealed in correspondence”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “Eastern”) followed by PISTOL (i.e. “weapon for shooting”) and then A TORY (i.e. “a politician”). Another clue that scans rather well.
23. Hat requiring some dagger-like pins (4)
Answer: KEPI (i.e. “hat” – think of old photos of French army types and there you are. Don’t worry, I didn’t know it either.) “Some” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: DAGGER-LI(KE PI)NS.
24. Diplomatic prison guard briefly incarcerated by regime (8)
Answer: DISCREET (i.e. “diplomatic”). Solution is SCREW (i.e. “prison guard”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”) and placed into or “incarcerated by” DIET (i.e. “regime”), like so: DI(SCRE)ET. Another clue that scans rather well.
26. Two locals, the first in California to find mineral (8)
Answer: CINNABAR (i.e. “mineral” – another one for which I had to fall back on my Bradford’s, given that there are hundreds of minerals to choose from). Solution is INN and BAR (i.e. “two locals”, as in public houses). “The first in California” indicates that INN is placed inside of CA (a recognised abbreviation of the US state), like so: C(INN)A-BAR.
29. Tam-o-Shanter’s super-hot pepper? (6,6)
Answer: SCOTCH BONNET. Solution satisfies “Tam-o-Shanter” (a traditional Scottish bonnet worn by men) and “super-hot pepper”. Another hat-related solution. There’s more to come, folks.
30. Break forth and flee Forces in disarray (10)
Answer: EFFLORESCE (i.e. “break forth”). “In disarray” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of FLEE FORCES. Cool word. I like it.
32. Take off over area of grassland and bush (4,6)
Answer: MOCK ORANGE (i.e. “bush”). Solution is MOCK (i.e. “take off”, as in to make an impression of someone) followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “over” used in cricket) and RANGE (i.e. “grassland”). A solution repeated from a few months ago, one hopes not from the same setter.
34. Enthusiastic supporters boost government’s morale? (12)
Answer: CHEERLEADERS (i.e. “enthusiastic supporters”). Solution also satisfies “boost government’s morale”, as in to CHEER LEADERS.
36. US psychiatrist that is ultimately seen amid top rankers (8)
Answer: ALIENTIST (i.e. “US psychiatrist”). Solution is IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. umm… “i.e.”) and N (i.e. “ultimately seen”, i.e. the last letter of “seen”) placed “amid” A-LIST (i.e. “top rankers”), like so: A-L(IE-N)IST.
38. Cake covering when swathed in sauce (8)
Answer: SOLIDIFY (i.e. “[to] cake”). Solution is LID (i.e. “covering”) and IF (i.e. “when”) both placed or “swathed in” SOY (i.e. “sauce”), like so: SO(LID-IF)Y.
39. Eleven motorists cross about origin of journey (4)
Answer: AJAX (i.e. “eleven”, as in a football team, particularly the Dutch Champions League semi-finalists). Solution is AA (i.e. “motorists”, specifically the Automobile Association) and X (i.e. “cross”) placed “about” J (i.e. “origin of journey”, i.e. the first letter of “journey”), like so: A(J)A-X.
41. Because airport’s close, our home proved extremely expensive (4,3,5)
Answer: COST THE EARTH (i.e. “extremely expensive”). Solution is COS (i.e. “because”) followed by T (i.e. “airport’s close”, i.e. the last letter of “airport”) and then THE EARTH (i.e. “our home”).
43. Doctor chips in, say, for his colleagues? (10)
Answer: PHYSICIANS. “[To] doctor” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHIPS IN SAY. Within the context of the clue, physicians could be “colleagues” of a doctor. A rather well-played clue.
44. When one lacks power, there’s no resistance in assault (6)
Answer: OUTAGE (i.e. “when one lacks power”). Solution is OUTRAGE (i.e. “assault”) with the R removed (indicated by “no resistance” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “resistance” used in physics.)
46. An attempt on record broken by any number in the past (4,3)
Answer: LONG AGO (i.e. “in the past”). Solution is A GO (i.e. “an attempt”) placed “on” or after LOG (i.e. “record”) which is wrapped around or “broken by” N (i.e. “any number”), like so: LO(N)G-A-GO.
48. Disorganised gaggle regularly roaming harbours (8)
Answer: STRAGGLY (i.e. “disorganised”). Solution is GGL (i.e. “gaggle regularly”, i.e. every other letter of GAGGLE) which is placed in or being “harboured” by STRAY (i.e. “roaming”), like so: STRA(GGL)Y.
50. Seize the chance to linger canal-side? Without warning of course (4,4,2,3,8)
Answer: TAKE TIME BY THE FORELOCK (i.e. “seize the chance” – it’s in the dictionary, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard the phrase. Consequently, this was one of the clues that took aaaaaaages to get). Solution is TAKE TIME BY THE LOCK (i.e. “to linger canal-side”) placed around or “without” FORE (i.e. “warning of [golf] course”).
51. Pest controller ceaselessly campaigning? (8)
Answer: WARFARIN, which is a widely prescribed anticoagulant that also acts as a kind of rat poison (i.e. “pest controller”). Solution is WARFARING (i.e. “campaigning”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “ceaselessly”).
52. Customer from the States coming in closer? (3,4)
Answer: END USER (i.e. “customer”). Solution is US (i.e. “the States”) placed “in” ENDER (i.e. “closer”), like so: END(US)ER.
53. Overcoming strong smell, I’m going back inside (6)
Answer: TAMING (i.e. “overcoming”). Solution is TANG (i.e. “strong smell”) with IM reversed (indicated by “going back”) and placed “inside”, like so: TA(MI)NG.
2. Uneven grating below par (5)
Answer: ROUGH. Unless my vocabulary deceives me (which happens more than I care to let on) this triple-whammy solution satisfies “uneven”, “grating” and “[feeling] below par”.
3. Singer from capital appended to unbalanced schedule (11)
Answer: MADRIGALIST (i.e. “singer”). This took some getting, but the solution is RIGA (i.e. “capital” city of Latvia) added between or “appended to” MAD (i.e. “unbalanced”) and LIST (i.e. “schedule”), like so: MAD-RIGA-LIST.
4. Talk of banker, fired, having additional liabilities (8)
Answer: SURTAXED (i.e. “having additional liabilities”). Solution is SURT (i.e. “talk of banker”, i.e. a homophone of CERT, as in “a dead cert” – I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: setters, please stop using made-up words as homophones!) followed by AXED (i.e. “fired [from job]”).
5. Did long account on hard press chief (5)
Answer: ACHED (i.e. “did long [for]”). Solution is AC (a recognised abbreviation of “account”) followed by H (ditto “hard”, as used in grading pencils) and ED (i.e. “press chief”, as in an oft-used abbreviation of “editor”).
6. Memory possibly defective, Charlie admitted (7)
Answer: FACULTY (i.e. “memory”). Solution is FAULTY (i.e. “possibly defective”) which is wrapped around or “admitting” C (“Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: FA(C)ULTY.
7. Energy packed FBI agents, in absolute terms (11)
Answer: ARRANGEMENT (i.e. “terms”). Another that took some getting. Solution is G-MEN (i.e. “FBI agents”) wrapped around or “packing” E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), which is itself wrapped “in” ARRANT (i.e. “absolute”), like so: ARRAN(G(E)MEN)T.
8. Very much America’s March man? (5)
Answer: John Philipe SOUSA, US composer known best for his military music (i.e. “America’s march man” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). One of his most famous compositions was The Liberty Bell, used as the theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Solution is SO (i.e. “very much”) followed by USA (i.e. “America”). A rather cool clue.
9. Depict spy hilariously out of humour (9)
Answer: DYSPEPTIC (i.e. “out of humour”). “Hilariously” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DEPICT SPY.
10. 19th century president’s allowance (5)
Answer: GRANT. Solution satisfies “19th century [US] president” – specifically Ulysses S. Grant – and “allowance”.
11. Arrange theatre score? Just about? (11)
Answer: ORCHESTRATE (i.e. “arrange”). Solution is an anagram (indicated itself by “arrange”) of THEATRE and SCORE once the last letter of “score” has been removed (indicated by “just about”). A comparatively easy get, but I liked this one.
12. More crusty deposit raised bank (7)
Answer: TESTIER (i.e. “more crusty”). Solution is SET (i.e. “[to] deposit”) reversed (indicated by “raised”, this being a down clue) and followed by TIER (i.e. “bank”), like so: TES-TIER.
18. Coach supports gym, limiting runs in early years (9)
Answer: PRESCHOOL (i.e. “early years”). Solution is SCHOOL (i.e. “[to] coach”) preceded by or “supporting” – again, this being a down clue – PE (i.e. “gym”, specifically Physical Education) once it has been wrapped around or “limiting” R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in several ball games), like so: P(R)E-SCHOOL.
19. Hat in good condition obscuring male ears? (7)
Answer: TRICORN (i.e. “hat” – a bit of a mini-theme for the puzzle, it seems). Thanks to the editor of the Times Saturday Review – in which the Times Jumbo Cryptic is published – for putting the answer on the front cover for their Poldark feature. Anyway, the solution is TRIM (i.e. “in good condition”) with the M removed (indicated by “obscuring male” – M being a recognised abbreviation of “male”) and then followed by CORN (i.e. “ears”, as in ears of corn), like so: TRI-CORN.
21. Winning entailed galloping astride horse (2,3,4)
Answer: IN THE LEAD (i.e. “winning”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “galloping”) of ENTAILED wrapped around or “astride” H (a recognised abbreviation of “horse”), like so: INT(H)ELEAD.
22. Outsider welcomes teacher being in capital (8)
Answer: LONDONER (i.e. “being in capital”). Solution is LONER (i.e. “outsider”) placed around or “welcoming” DON (i.e. “teacher”), like so: LON(DON)ER.
25. Criminal retreats with engineer’s coat – could it add to the charge? (9)
Answer: CONDENSER, which can be a type of capacitor (i.e. “could it add to the [electrical] charge”). Solution is CON (i.e. “criminal”) followed by DENS (i.e. “retreats”, as in man-caves) and ER (i.e. “engineer’s coat”, i.e. the first and last letters of “engineer”).
27. Establish a spot to house country’s first queen (9)
Answer: ASCERTAIN (i.e. “establish”). Solution is A STAIN (i.e. “a spot”) wrapped around or “housing” C (i.e. “country’s first”, i.e. the first letter of “country”) and ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: A-S(C-ER)TAIN.
28. Correct delivery is taken in by ruler without delay (8)
Answer: SHARPISH (i.e. “without delay”). Solution is RP (i.e. “correct delivery”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Received Pronunciation, or – in English – saying your shit all proper, like) and IS, which are both “taken in by” SHAH (i.e. “ruler”), like so: SHA(RP-IS)H.
31. Light horse-drawn carriage: a crawler? (7)
Answer: FIREFLY (i.e. “a crawler” – is it though? Is it really? I guess the setter is riffing on creepy crawlies here, but really? A crawler? Really? Hang on, let me check my Chambers in case I’m missing some obscure definition… (riffles pages…) Nope. Thought not. Really, setter? Firefly? A crawler? Are you sure about that? A crawler? Really? Hang on, let me check for obscure references to Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV series…) – [snip] – Solution is FIRE (i.e. “light”) followed by FLY (i.e. “horse-drawn carriage”). An excellent clue, this. Best of the year so far. Five stars.
33. Follow detailed instruction to avoid crossing railway line (4,5,2)
Answer: KEEP TRACK OF (i.e. “follow”). Solution also satisfies “instruction to avoid crossing railway line”, i.e. to KEEP TRACK[SIDE] OF. Not a classic.
34. Harsh complaint impassioned with king’s intervention (11)
Answer: COLDHEARTED (i.e. “harsh”). Solution is COLD (i.e. “complaint”, as in illness) followed by HEATED (i.e. “impassioned”) wrapped around or “intervened” by R (a recognised abbreviation of “king”, specifically the Latin word Rex), like so: COLD-HEA(R)TED.
35. Scene of life class, maybe, where guests are entertained? (7,4)
Answer: DRAWING ROOM. Solution satisfies “scene of life class, maybe” – as in where you get to draw people with no clothes on (the sitter, not you) – and “where guests are entertained”. Note my use of “sitter” there, for I had this down as SITTING ROOM for most of the time. Needless to say, it didn’t help. A good clue, all the same.
37. Dad instructed staff, introducing Higher Education (3,3,3)
Answer: THE OLD MAN (i.e. “Dad”). Solution is TOLD (i.e. “instructed”) and MAN (i.e. “staff”) which are wrapped around or “introducing” HE (a recognised abbreviation of “Higher Education”), like so: T(HE)OLD-MAN.
40. Strongest church beset by strife, suffering (8)
Answer: FIERCEST (i.e. “strongest”). Solution is CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) placed in or “beset by” an anagram (indicated by “suffering”) of STRIFE, like so: FIER(CE)ST.
42. Top of oak stake tipped prime cactus (7)
Answer: OPUNTIA, better known as a prickly pear (i.e. “cactus”). Score another one for my Bradford’s, here, as you can fit my knowledge of cactuseseses on the… well, the spine of a cactus, I guess. Solution is O (i.e. “top of oak”, i.e. the first letter of “oak”) followed by PUNT (i.e. “[betting] stake tipped”) and AI (i.e. “prime”, as in something that is A1).
43. Use IT perhaps to handle move in train (7)
Answer: PROCESS. Solution satisfies “use IT perhaps to handle” – as in processing data – and “move in train” – as in a procession.
45. When territorial guards submit? (5)
Answer: ENTER (i.e. “submit”). “Guards” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: WH(EN TER)RITORIAL.
47. Lord’s swipe – one bye conceded (5)
Answer: NOBLE (i.e. “lord”). Solution is NOBBLE (i.e. “swipe”, as in to steal rather than to inhibit something) with one of the Bs removed (indicated by “one bye conceded”, B being a recognised abbreviation for a “bye” – a run awarded in cricket scored without the ball being struck by the batsman).
48. Thoroughly clean comb (5)
Answer: SCOUR. Solution satisfies “thoroughly clean” and “[to] comb [through]”.
49. Compare Liberal president with nation’s leader (5)
Answer: LIKEN (i.e. “compare”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”) followed by IKE (i.e. “president”, specifically Dwight D. Eisenhower, nicknamed “Ike”) and then N (i.e. “nation’s leader”, i.e. the first letter of “nation”).