This week’s puzzle can be summed up in four words: too tenuous, too often.
While the setter seems to have tested every rickety bridge of their thesaurus and explored the most remote definitions of their dictionary in composing the clues to this puzzle, the general overreliance on weak links to get the job done made for an increasingly joyless grind. Putting this post together hasn’t exactly been fun, as you’ll probably detect the longer you read.
Still, at least Max Ernst didn’t appear this time.
Anyway, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. Be warned: 47d is a pure guess, so if you’ve subscribed to receive these answers via email I’d recommend checking back on this post later in the week in case anything comes to light. [EDIT: The answer to 47d seems correct after all, thanks to a stellar comment from zouzoulap. Huzzah! – LP]
Some housekeeping before we begin. If you have a previous Times Jumbo Cryptic showing a few gaps then you might find my Just For Fun page useful. If you like the odd book review then I have some odd ones here. I’ll put a review of Best New Horror 10 up shortly, if only to banish this puzzle from my sight.
Anyway, that’s quite enough grumping from me. To the answers!
1. Maybe Kentish tribe providing sheltered seat for travellers (5)
Answer: SEDAN (i.e. “sheltered seat for travellers”). Solution is SE (i.e. “Maybe Kentish”, referring to how Kent is in the South East of England) followed by DAN (i.e. “tribe” – it’s backed up by my Bradfords, but isn’t clear why. My best guess is that tribes can be deemed classes or divisions of people, and you get dans in martial arts to classify proficiency in their use. Any better suggestions are welcomed. Let’s call this Overly Tenuous Clue #1.)
[EDIT: Thanks to Mick and Flossie in the comments for clarifying DAN as one of the twelve tribes of Israel described in the Hebrew Bible. Time to expand my reference library! – LP]
4. Damning evidence from NZ expert on harmful addiction (7,3)
Answer: SMOKING GUN (i.e. “damning evidence”). Solution is GUN (i.e. “NZ expert” – it’s backed up by my Chambers, but a new one on me) preceded by SMOKING (i.e. “harmful addiction”).
9. A far-reaching current (6)
Answer: ABROAD. Clue riffs on how abroad can mean far-flung or “far-reaching”, and “current” (again, backed up by my Chambers, but I’m struggling to readily work it into a sentence).
[EDIT: Thanks to Clive in the comments for suggesting a better fit for this one, being A followed by BROAD (i.e. “far-reaching”). As mentioned earlier, “current” is one of the letter-visited definitions of “abroad”. – LP]
14. Badly outclassed Democrat quits futile campaign (4,5)
Answer: LOST CAUSE (i.e. “futile campaign”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “badly”) of OUTCLASSED once the D (a recognised abbreviation of “Democrat”) has been removed. A clue that scans rather well.
15. Antipodean version of Harry Potter film? (3,6,2,2)
Answer: THE WIZARD OF OZ. Clue riffs on how OZ is often used to describe Australia (i.e. “Antipodean”) and how “Harry Potter” is a WIZARD. You get the idea. Though both originated in books, I’m guessing the setter has added “film” to the clue because L Frank Baum never wrote a book explicitly called The Wizard of Oz.
16. Fish mostly taken by corporation cart in Revolution (7)
Answer: TUMBRIL (i.e. “cart in [French] Revolution” – they were used to cart prisoners to the guillotine. Also used to carry dung, in case the prisoner’s day wasn’t off to a bad enough start already.) Solution is BRILL (i.e. “fish” – did a Google Image search… Yup. Fish.) with the last letter removed (indicated by “mostly”) which is preceded by TUM (i.e. “corporation” – a lesser-used definition of the word, and hence loved by setters, is the large belly of something), like so: TUM-BRIL. A variant spelling of this solution, tumbrel, appeared in a recent puzzle, which didn’t help my decoding efforts. Only a “hang on, let’s just look in Chambers” moment revealed the intended spelling. Ugh!
17. Painter upset almost everyone around arrival time (9)
Answer: PERINATAL, which relates to a period from the seventh month of pregnancy through to the first month of the wee bairn’s life (i.e. “around arrival time”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “upset”) of PAINTER followed by ALL (i.e. “everyone”) with its final letter removed (indicated by “almost”), like so: PERINAT-AL.
18. Silver-grey article that woman wears (5)
Answer: ASHEN (i.e. “silver-grey”). Solution is AN (i.e. “article”) that is wrapped around or “worn” by SHE (i.e. “that woman”), like so: A(SHE)N.
19. Running dodgy affair within walls of prison, evacuating agent (6,8)
Answer: LIQUID PARAFFIN, which can be used as a kind of laxative (i.e. “evacuating agent”). Lovely! Solution is LIQUID (i.e. “running”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “dodgy”) of AFFAIR once it has been placed “within” P and N (i.e. “walls of prison”, i.e. the first and last letters of prison), like so: LIQUID-P(ARAFFI)N.
22. Having mastery over new spinner, given the necessary for protection (2,3,2)
Answer: ON TOP OF (i.e. “having mastery over”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and TOP (i.e. “spinner”, as in a spinning top… ask your great-grandparents, kids) placed in or “protected” by OOF (i.e. “the necessary” – informally this can mean cash, and oof is a Yiddish slang word for money), like so: O(N-TOP)OF. I think we can all agree this comfortably qualifies as Overly Tenuous Clue #2.
25. Maintenance shed put up on circuit (10)
Answer: ROUNDHOUSE (i.e. “maintenance shed” – matches a few definitions, but I’ll plump for “an engine house with a turntable” (Chambers)). Solution is HOUSE (i.e. “put up”) preceded by ROUND (i.e. “circuit”).
27. Bread merchant from Germany chosen at random, not having succeeded (5,7)
Answer: MONEY CHANGER (i.e. “bread merchant” – riffing on “bread” being a slang word for “money”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “at random”) of GERMANY CHOSEN once the S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) has been removed (indicated by “not having…”).
30. One can’t tolerate hot drink, tossing off whiskey (5)
Answer: HATER (i.e. “one can’t tolerate”). Solution is H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”) followed by WATER (i.e. “drink”) once the W has been removed (indicated by “tossing off whiskey” – “whiskey” being W in the phonetic alphabet).
31. Exhaust Spooner’s 18 individual (8)
Answer: TAILPIPE (i.e. “exhaust [of a motor vehicle]”). The solution to “18 [across]” is ASHEN. An ashen “individual” would be a PALE TYPE. The spoonerism of this, i.e. swapping the sounds of the initial letters, gets you TAILPIPE. The pernickety side of me would have preferred some kind of homophone indicator here. C-minus, setter. See me.
32. Eponymous royal in danger, having swallowed 100 tablets (8)
Answer: PERICLES (i.e. “eponymous royal” – after some digging around, this seems to refer to the chief magistrate in various ancient Greek city states – the eponymous archon – though if Wikipedia is any guide (I know, I know) Pericles seems only to have been the man behind the man, or, later, a de facto ruler.) Solution is PERIL (i.e. “danger”) which is wrapped around or “swallowing” C (i.e. “[Roman numeral] 100”) and followed by ES (i.e. “tablets”, as in ecstasy pills), like so: PERI(C)L-ES. Is it just me, or does “royal” feel like a poor fit here? I think this qualifies as Overly Tenuous Clue #3.
[EDIT: Thanks to Mick in the comments for suggesting a better fit for this clue. The “royal” element references a Shakespeare play called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. – LP]
35. Dogs as a body featured in writing (8)
Answer: MASTIFFS (i.e. “dogs”). Solution is A STIFF (i.e. “a [dead] body”) placed or “featured in” MS (i.e. “writing”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “manuscript”), like so: M(A-STIFF)S.
36. Further amend register at the last moment (8)
Answer: READJUST (i.e. “further amend”). Solution is READ (i.e. “[to] register”) followed by JUST (i.e. “at the last moment”).
37. Girl from the east making appearance before noon (5)
Answer: MARIA (i.e. “girl”). Solution is AIR (i.e. “appearance”) followed by AM (i.e. “before noon”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “from the east” – this being an across clue), like so: MA-RIA.
39. Confuse Lorna’s boss at the office (2,4,4,2)
Answer: DO ONE’S HEAD IN (i.e. “confuse”). Solution is DOONE’S (i.e. “Lorna’s”, as in Lorna Doone, an 1869 novel by Richard Doddridge Blackmore) followed by HEAD (i.e. “boss”) and IN (i.e. “at the office” – though setters more often use “home” to describe IN, it can also mean “at the office”). A small admission from the setter, do you reckon?
41. Pack in position respecting request to see back (3,1,4,2)
Answer: PUT A STOP TO (i.e. “pack in”). This took some getting, but the solution is PUT (i.e. “position”) followed by AS TO (i.e. “respecting”) and PTO (i.e. “request to see back”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “please turn over”).
43. Ruthless criminal, right to go for his pursuers? (7)
Answer: SLEUTHS. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of RUTHLESS once the R has been removed (indicated by “right to go”, R being a recognised abbreviation of “right”).
45. Advantage when treating possible side-effect of pub brawl (10,4)
Answer: BARGAINING CHIP (i.e. “advantage”). When read as BAR GAINING CHIP it also satisfies “possible side-effect of pub brawl”. It doesn’t really qualify as an Overly Tenuous Clue, perhaps, but nor does it qualify as a great one. Moving on…
48. Like Tom or Charlie, always keeping dry? (5)
Answer: CATTY (i.e. “like tom” – ignore the misleading capitalisation, unless, of course, you’re a fan of Tom and Jerry cartoons). Solution is C (i.e. “Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by AY (variant form of “aye”, i.e. “always”) once it has been wrapped around or “keeping” TT (i.e. “dry”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “teetotal”), like so: C-A(TT)Y.
49. La Scala habitué typically rebuffed sailor: time to express hesitation? (9)
Answer: OPERAGOER (i.e. “La Scala habitué typically” – La Scala is an opera house in Italy, while habitué is a habitual frequenter). Solution is PO (i.e. “sailor”, specifically a Petty Officer) which is reversed (indicated by “rebuffed”), then followed by ERA (i.e. “time”), then GO (i.e. “express” – not getting anything here, to be honest. They could both tenuously describe something quick, perhaps, but this is as weak as an eighth-pint piss), then ER (i.e. “hesitation”), like so: OP-ERA-GO-ER.
[EDIT: Thanks to Rodney in the comments of my About page for shedding light on this one. “To express hesitation” is to say or GO ER… which is a much better fit – LP]
51. Planet’s orbiting tracks in heavens (5,2)
Answer: GLORY BE (i.e. an exclamatory “heavens!”). Solution is GLOBE (i.e. “planet”) wrapped around or “orbiting” RY (i.e. “tracks”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “railway”), like so: GLO(RY)BE.
53. Call dad in to stop super FA squad (7,6)
Answer: CRYSTAL PALACE (i.e. “FA squad” – FA being Football Association). Solution is CRY (i.e. “call”) followed by PA (i.e. “dad”) once it has been placed “in” STALL (i.e. “to stop”), and then followed by ACE (i.e. “super”), like so: CRY-STAL(PA)L-ACE.
54. Most garrulous companion, one interrupting witness (9)
Answer: CHATTIEST (i.e. “most garrulous”). Solution is CH (i.e. “companion”, specifically a Companion of Honour) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) once it has been placed in or “interrupting” ATTEST (i.e. “witness”), like so: CH-ATT(I)EST.
55. Queen and I fancy one at Ascot, maybe (6)
Answer: EQUINE (i.e. “one at Ascot, maybe”). “Fancy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of QUEEN and I.
56. Robotic men endlessly stalked round province (10)
Answer: MECHANISED (i.e. “robotic”). Solution is MEN with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and followed by CHASED (i.e. “stalked”. Hmm. I’m no huntsman or creepy incel, but if you find you are chasing after something then I’d argue you’ve made a complete Henry Halls of stalking it. I call bullshit on this, so cue Overly Tenuous Clue #4…) once it has been placed “round” NI (i.e. “province”, specifically Northern Ireland), like so: ME-CHA(NI)SED.
57. Pick up, being extremely short of energy (5)
Answer: RALLY (i.e. “pick up”). Solution is REALLY (i.e. “extremely”) once the E has been removed (indicated by “short of energy”, E being a recognised abbreviation of “energy”).
1. Prepares portions of peaches (6)
Answer: SPLITS (i.e. “prepares portions”). A lesser-used sense of the word “peach” is to accuse or inform against, or to betray, which represents a split of sorts.
2. Clarifies fluid a bigamist used (13)
Answer: DISAMBIGUATES (i.e. “clarifies”). “Fluid” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A BIGAMIST USED.
3. Subtler comrade initially in control after uprising (5)
Answer: NICER (i.e. “subtler” – both descriptive of something more delicate). Solution is C (i.e. “comrade initially”, i.e. the first letter of “comrade”) placed “in” REIN (i.e. “control”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “after uprising”, this being a down clue), like so: NI(C)ER.
4. Filthy hat with short band on top (7)
Answer: SQUALID (i.e. “filthy”). Solution is LID (i.e. “hat”) preceded by (indicated by “on top”, again this being a down clue) SQUAD (i.e. “band”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “short”), like so: SQUA-LID.
5. Person eager to form crew, trying to stay ahead (3-9)
Answer: ONE-UPMANSHIP (i.e. “trying to stay ahead”). Solution is ONE (i.e. “person”) followed by UP (i.e. “eager”, a remote definition of “up” is “with vigour” – a bit weak if I have it right, but then “tenuous” is this week’s watchword) and [to] MAN SHIP (i.e. “to form crew”).
[EDIT: Thanks to Steve in the comments for suggesting a better fit for UP/eager, as demonstrated here… anyone UP for a slightly easier Times Jumbo Cryptic next week? – LP]
6. Swimming trainer introducing wife in twenties or thirties? (8)
Answer: INTERWAR, in this case the period between the two World Wars (i.e. “in [nineteen-]twenties or thirties”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “swimming”) of TRAINER wrapped around or “introducing” W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”), like so: INTER(W)AR.
7. Inexperienced politician (5)
Answer: GREEN. Solution satisfies “inexperienced” and “politician”, as in a member of the Green Party.
8. Chance participant in an Anglo-French engagement? (10)
Answer: UNINTENDED (i.e. “chance”). “Engagement” in this case relates to being engaged to marry one’s INTENDED. “Anglo-French” indicates the engagement would be between an English person and a French person. French for “one” is UN, so the solution could be read as UN INTENDED. You get the idea.
10. Contrary girl coming out quickly obliged to lie (7)
Answer: BEDFAST (i.e. “obliged to lie [in bed]”). Solution is DEB (i.e. “girl”) reversed (indicated by “contrary”, as in the opposite or inverse) and followed by FAST (i.e. “coming out quickly”), like so: BED-FAST.
[EDIT: Rodney added a comment to my About page offering a better explanation for this one. A “girl coming out” would be a debutante, an informal form of which is DEB. This is reversed and then followed by FAST for “quickly”. Thanks, Rodney! – LP]
11. Is dry laundry taken thus ready to wear? (3-3-3)
Answer: OFF-THE-PEG. Solution satisfies “dry laundry taken thus” and “ready to wear”. A recent repeat.
12. Drop off note that twelfth man’s completed? (5)
Answer: DOZEN (i.e. “that twelfth man’s completed” – twelve makes a dozen). Solution is DOZE (i.e. “drop off”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”). While I’ve rather whaled on this week’s setter all through this post, I do rather like how DOZEN has been slotted in 12 down.
13. Manchester-based players intent on scoring? (5,9)
Answer: HALLE ORCHESTRA, which are based in Manchester. “Scoring” in this case relating to musical scores, and “players” being musicians. That’s about it, I guess, unless I’ve missed something clever.
20. Ashes here often getting a bad press (5,4)
Answer: UNDER FIRE. Solution satisfies “ashes here often” and “getting a bad press”.
21. They stole to pay for accommodation (8)
Answer: FOOTPADS, an archaic word for a highwayman (i.e. “they stole”). Solution is FOOT (i.e. “to pay for”) followed by PADS (i.e. “accommodation”).
23. Signal the person behind, after warning from driver (10)
Answer: FORESHADOW (i.e. “signal”). Solution is SHADOW (i.e. “the person behind” – again, weak, bordering on overly-tenuous) placed “after” FORE (i.e. “warning from driver”, as in someone teeing off in golf).
24. Ancient Greek, sound as a bell, died in his god’s embrace (10)
Answer: ARCHIMEDES (i.e. an “ancient Greek”). Solution is CHIME (i.e. “sound as a bell”) and D (a recognised abbreviation of “died”) placed “in” ARES (i.e. “his god’s embrace”, Ares being the Greek god of war whose arse you eventually get to roundly kick in the excellent and entirely historically accurate God of War), like so: AR(CHIME-D)ES.
26. Dead dead good? (3,2,4,5)
Answer: OUT OF THIS WORLD. Solution satisfies “dead” and “dead good”.
28. A team order visiting international clubs accepted (9)
Answer: AXIOMATIC (i.e. “accepted”). Solution is A followed by XI (i.e. “team”, XI being eleven expressed in Roman numerals), then OM (i.e. “order”, specifically the Order of Merit), then AT (i.e. “visiting”), then I (a recognised abbreviation of “international”) and finally C (ditto “clubs”, used in card games), like so: A-XI-OM-AT-I-C.
29. Prompter’s page cutting more off (8)
Answer: SPEEDIER (i.e. “prompter”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “page”) placed in or “cutting” SEEDIER (i.e. “more off”), like so: S(P)EEDIER.
33. Peer can shut up government official (4,5,4)
Answer: LORD PRIVY SEAL (i.e. “government official”, specifically one that has served no function for centuries and yet still attracts a ministerial salary. Nice work if you can get it, eh?). Solution is LORD (i.e. “peer”) followed by PRIVY (i.e. “can”, both taken to mean “toilet”) and SEAL (i.e. “[to] shut up”).
34. Fall over copper, oddly curious going round plant (6,6)
Answer: AUTUMN CROCUS (i.e. “plant”). Solution is AUTUMN (i.e. “fall”) followed by CROS (i.e. “oddly curious”, i.e. the odd letters of CURIOUS) placed or “going round” CU (chemical symbol of “copper”), like so: AUTUMN-CRO(CU)S.
38. Type of rock bun? (6,4)
Answer: MARBLE CAKE (i.e. “bun”). Clue riffs on marble being a “type of rock”. That’s about it, I guess.
40. I’m all attention, blasted voyeur too (4,2,3)
Answer: OVER TO YOU (i.e. “I’m all attention” – it feels weak but works if you think of it in terms of, say, debating or playing a game against someone). “Blasted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of VOYEUR TOO.
42. Early 17th century Frenchman astride a horse (8)
Answer: JACOBEAN (i.e. “early 17th century”). Solution is JEAN (i.e. “Frenchman”) wrapped around or “astride” A COB (i.e. “a horse”), like so: J(A-COB)EAN.
44. Test the water – with a new costume? (3,2,2)
Answer: TRY IT ON. Solution satisfies “test the water” (taken figuratively not literally) and “test…a new costume”.
46. Scrooge’s raised spirit bore up (7)
Answer: NIGGARD (i.e. a miser or “Scrooge”). Solution is GIN (i.e. “spirit”) reversed (indicated by “raised” – this being a down clue) followed by DRAG (i.e. “bore”, as in someone who is dull) also reversed (indicated by “up” – again, this being a down clue), like so: NIG-GARD.
47. Using the other side of racket, almost efficiently (6)
Answer: NEATLY (i.e. “efficiently”). A pure guess, I’m afraid. I cannot get a fix on this one at all, so it has every chance of being incorrect. Given the umpteen words that fit the letters _E_T_Y, combined with the setter’s tiresome overreliance on tenuous links, this could be anything. GENTLY? DEFTLY perhaps?
[EDIT: A huge thank you to zouzoulap in the comments for shedding light on this one. The solution is NEARLY (i.e. “almost”) with the R replaced by T. This is inferred by “using the other side of racket”, i.e. use the last letter of “racket” instead of the first letter. I don’t recall seeing this kind of wordplay before, but it does fit the tortu(r)ous nature of this week’s puzzle. Even so, bloody hell, setter, have a word… -LP]
48. Pine as base for cold store (5)
Answer: CACHE (i.e. “store”). Solution is ACHE (i.e. “pine”) placed below (indicated by “as base for” – this being a down clue) C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold”), like so: C-ACHE.
50. Humble seaman remains (5)
Answer: ABASH (i.e. to strike with shame or to “humble”). Solution is AB (i.e. “seaman”, specifically Able Bodied) followed by ASH (i.e. “[cremated] remains”).
52. Fox terrier bit armpit (5)
Answer: OXTER (i.e. “armpit” – no, me neither, but it’s in the dictionary). “Bit” indicates the solution is hidden in the clue, like so: F(OX TER)RIER.