Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1444

A toughie this week, but not an entirely enjoyable one. Some of the clues were word salads than anything coherent, as if the setter was having a hard time gluing all the components together. Could just be me. There were some good clues to be had, mind, as well as some interesting bits of wordplay, but overall it wasn’t for me.

Anyway, I got there in the end. You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful.

As ever a spot of housekeeping before all that, if you’ll permit: I’ve got some book reviews gathering dust over here, and an old story of mine over there. If you’ve come to grief with a recent Jumbo Cryptic, then my Just For Fun page could be just the ticket, stuffed with links to solutions for the last ninety-odd of the buggers.

Right. With that little lot out of the way, let’s get down to business. Stay safe, youses, and all being well I’ll see you around for the next one.


Across clues

1. Try to spot invisible character in play (5)

Answer: GODOT (i.e. “invisible character in play”, referring to Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting For Godot, in which two characters wait for the titular Godot, who never arrives). Solution is GO (i.e. “try”, as in have a go) followed by DOT (i.e. “to spot”).

4. Barrier protecting platform for unconventional art (7)

Answer: DADAISM (i.e. “unconventional art” of the early 20th century – think Salvador Dali and such). Solution is DAM (i.e. “barrier”) wrapped around or “protecting” DAIS (i.e. “platform”) like so: DA(DAIS)M.

8. Lip ring ensemble with no strings attached (5,4)

Answer: BRASS BAND (i.e. “ensemble with no strings attached”). Solution is BRASS (i.e. “lip”, both taken to mean impertinence) followed by BAND (i.e. “ring”).

13. Passage that spans short story about uninhibited people (9)

Answer: TRAVERSAL (i.e. “passage”). Solution is TALE (i.e. “story”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”) and the remainder wrapped “about” RAVERS (i.e. “uninhibited people”), like so: T(RAVERS)AL.

14. Publish marks off Rhodes scholars etc (13)

Answer: POSTGRADUATES (i.e. “Rhodes scholars etc” – the Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford (Wikipedia)). Solution is POST (i.e. “publish”) followed by GRADUATES (i.e. “marks off [by degrees]”).

15. Be rude to seaside town where each dismisses an English dramatist (7)

Answer: Anton CHEKHOV (i.e. “dramatist”). Solution is CHEEK (i.e. “be rude to”) and HOVE (i.e. “seaside town”) once both have removed or “dismissed” an E (being a recognised abbreviation of “English”), like so: CHEK-HOV.

16. Sound contented, getting back into bed unclean (7)

Answer: CORRUPT (i.e. “unclean”). Solution is PURR (i.e. “sound contented”) reversed (indicated by “getting back”) and placed “into” COT (i.e. “bed”), like so: CO(RRUP)T.

17. Rotary engine’s short piece, spun almost completely around (7)

Answer: TURBINE (i.e. “rotary engine”). Solution is BIT (i.e. “piece”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”) and the remainder then placed in or “surrounded” by TURNED (i.e. “spun”) once it too has had its last letter removed (indicated by “almost completely”), like so: TUR(BI)NE.

18. Answer book dispatched virtually having no pages unexpectedly missing (6,7,5)

Answer: ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE (i.e. “unexpectedly missing”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”, as in Q&A) followed by B (ditto “book”) then SENT (i.e. “dispatched”) and WITHOUT LEAVES (i.e. “[book…] having no pages” – pages of a book are referred to as leaves) with the last letter removed (indicated by “virtually”), like so: A-B-SENT-WITHOUT-LEAVE.

21. Rafter on Mississippi hotel attached to back of roof (4)

Answer: Huckleberry FINN (i.e. a “rafter on Mississippi” in a number of Mark Twain’s books). Solution is INN (i.e. “hotel”) placed after or “attached to” F (i.e. “back of roof”, i.e. the last letter of “roof”), like so: F-INN. Good clue.

23. Settled in house, sister produces fumes from trap? (9)

Answer: HALITOSIS (i.e. “fumes from trap” – trap being a slang term for one’s mouth). Solution is ALIT (i.e. “settled”) placed “in” HO (a recognised abbreviation of “house”) and followed by SIS (ditto “sister”), like so: H(ALIT)O-SIS.

25. Observation of lucre paid back but not in full (6)

Answer: APERCU (i.e. a brief outline, glimpse or “observation”). “But not in full” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “back” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: L(UCRE PA)ID. One of those weird words I strangely knew. Doesn’t always happen like that!

26. Not fancy food? It’s arisen unexpectedly (6)

Answer: SARNIE, an informal name for a sandwich or “not fancy food”. “Unexpectedly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ARISEN.

28. Not an original way of multiplying (12)

Answer: REPRODUCTION. Solution satisfies “not an original” and “way of multiplying”.

30. Persecution hurt agreement, with delay of minutes (10)

Answer: HARASSMENT (i.e. “persecution”). Solution is HARM (i.e. “hurt”) and ASSENT (i.e. “agreement”) with the M (a recognised abbreviation of “minutes”) of HARM pushed back a few notches (indicated by “delay of…”), like so: HARM-ASSENT => HAR-ASS(M)ENT.

33. I attack old health resort with knife containing boron (10)

Answer: SANDBAGGER (i.e. “I attack”). Solution is SAN (i.e. “old health resort”, short for a sanatorium) followed by DAGGER (i.e. “knife”) once it has been wrapped around or “containing” B (chemical symbol of “boron”), like so: SAN-D(B)AGGER.

34. Dead and (outwardly) buried, like parts of a conspiracy? (12)

Answer: INTERRELATED (i.e. “like parts of a conspiracy”). Solution is LATE (i.e. “dead”) with INTERRED (i.e. “buried”) placed “outwardly” of it, like so: INTERRE(LATE)D.

37. Horseman with lance, not the first person unseating someone (6)

Answer: OUSTER (i.e. “person unseating someone”). Solution is JOUSTER (i.e. “horseman”) with the first letter removed (indicated by “not the first”).

39. First person expelled from more forward part of China? (6)

Answer: SAUCER (i.e. “part of china” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is SAUCIER (i.e. “more forward”) with the I removed (indicated by “first person expelled from” – to demonstrate: first person: “I did something”; second person: “you did something”; third person: “he/she/they did something”).

40. With overdose constricting the heart, depressants are marvellously effective (2,7)

Answer: DO WONDERS (i.e. “marvellously effective”). Solution is the letters OD (a recognised abbreviation of “overdose”) wrapped around or “constricting” the middle letter or “heart” of DOWNERS, like so: DOW(O)N(D)ERS.

42. Blunder and nearly get fired (4)

Answer: GOOF (i.e. “blunder”). Solution is GO OFF (i.e. “get fired”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “nearly”).

43. Be determined to acquire the company? (4,2,4,8)

Answer: MAKE IT ONE’S BUSINESS. Solution satisfies “be determined” and “to acquire the company”. Nicely worked.

46. Mozart’s contemporary position in exotic dress (7)

Answer: Antonio SALIERI (i.e. “Mozart’s contemporary”). Solution is LIE (i.e. “position”) placed “in” SARI (i.e. “exotic dress”), like so: SA(LIE)RI.

47. Cheese from Monterey urgently recalled (7)

Answer: GRUYERE (i.e. “cheese”). “From” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue while “recalled” indicates the solution has been reversed, like so: MONT(EREY URG)ENTLY. Another nicely worked clue.

48. Title composed by Beatles’ leading pair? (3,2,2)

Answer: LET IT BE (i.e. “title composed by [The] Beatles”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “composed”) of TITLE followed by B and E (i.e. “Beatles’ leading pair”, i.e. the first two letters of “Beatles”), like so: LETIT-BE. Best clue of the puzzle. Very nicely done.

50. Too easily hurt at the workplace, introducing metric works, the fourth brought in later (13)

Answer: OVERSENSITIVE (i.e. “too easily hurt”). Solution is ON SITE (i.e. “at the workplace”) which is wrapped around both VERSE (i.e. “metric works” as in poetry, verse, metre, that kind of thing) and, “later” on, IV (i.e. “[Roman numeral] fourth”), like so: O(VERSE)NSIT(IV)E.

51. Way to cure turkey that won’t burst into flames (despite appearances) (5,4)

Answer: SMOKE BOMB (i.e. a projectile “that won’t burst into flames (despite appearances)”). Solution is SMOKE (i.e. “way to cure” or preserve meat or fish) followed by BOMB (i.e. “turkey”, both references to box office flops).

52. Get off course to westernise, apparently (9)

Answer: DISORIENT (i.e. “get off course”). Solution punningly also satisfies “westernise”, given the orient refers to the east.

53. Greenhouse gas meant he worried (7)

Answer: METHANE (i.e. “greenhouse gas”). “Worried” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MEANT HE.

54. Rough outskirts of Derby found on visit (5)

Answer: SEEDY (i.e. “rough”). Solution is DY (i.e. “outskirts of Derby”, i.e. the first and last letters of “Derby”) placed after or “found on” SEE (i.e. “visit”), like so: SEE-DY.

Down clues

1. Horrendous rates charge one received without being asked (4-7)

Answer: GATE-CRASHER (i.e. “one received without being asked”). “Horrendous” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of RATES CHANGE.

2. Duke, libertine and noted sailor (5)

Answer: Sir Francis DRAKE (i.e. “noted sailor”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “duke”) followed by RAKE (i.e. “libertine”).

3. Difficulty in setting up extremely great Russian funds after support diluted? (8,8)

Answer: TEETHING TROUBLES (i.e. “difficulty in setting up”). Solution is GT (i.e. “extremely great”, i.e. the first and last letters of “great” – “extremely” is unnecessary IMLTHO as GT is already a recognised abbreviation of “great”) and ROUBLES (i.e. “Russian funds”) both placed “after” TEE (i.e. “[golf ball] support”) and THIN (i.e. “diluted”), like so: TEE-THIN-GT-ROUBLES.

4. Refuse to acknowledge capsize without vessel identification (7)

Answer: DISAVOW (i.e. “refuse to acknowledge”). Solution is WO (a recognised abbreviation of “without”) followed by VAS (i.e. a “vessel”, tube or duct carrying liquid (Chambers)) and ID (a recognised abbreviation of “identification”). The whole lot is then reversed (indicated by “capsize” – this being a down clue), like so: DI-SAV-OW.

5. Rebuff hardened tart, keeping the French lingerie etc? (9)

Answer: DELICATES (i.e. “lingerie etc”). Solution is SET (i.e. “hardened”) and ACID (i.e. “tart” or sharp of taste) once it has been wrapped around or “keeping” LE (i.e. “the French”, i.e. the French for “the”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “rebuffed” – this being a down clue), like so: D(EL)ICA-TES.

6. Pretender’s scion imprisoned by Roman emperor (12)

Answer: IMPERSONATOR (i.e. “pretender”). Solution is SON (i.e. “scion”) placed in or “imprisoned by” IMPERATOR (i.e. “Roman emperor”), like so: IMPER(SON)ATOR.

7. Pests I shut in religious buildings (10)

Answer: MOSQUITOES (i.e. “pests”). Solution is I and TO (i.e. “shut”, as in closing a door to) both placed “in” MOSQUES (i.e. “religious buildings”), like so: MOSQU(I-TO)ES.

8. Inlet of considerable width and great height (5)

Answer: BIGHT (i.e. “inlet of considerable width”). Solution is BIG (i.e. “great”) followed by HT (a recognised abbreviation of “height”).

9. Flexible fitting installed in a low bar (8)

Answer: ADAPTIVE (i.e. “flexible”). Solution is APT (i.e. “fitting”) placed or “installed in” A DIVE (i.e. “a low bar”), like so: A-D(APT)IVE.

10. Parisian who stops married woman returning to worm (6)

Answer: SQUIRM (i.e. “worm”). Solution is QUI (i.e. “Parisian who”, i.e. the French for “who”) placed in or “stopping” MRS (i.e. “married woman”) once it has been reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: S(QUI)RM.

11. Aristocrat losing head’s spoken of natural wastage (9)

Answer: ATTRITION (i.e. “natural wastage”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “spoken of”) of PATRICIAN (i.e. “aristocrat”) once its initial letter has been removed (indicated by “losing head”).

12. Perception of part of field, is CERN mentioned? (11)

Answer: DISCERNMENT (i.e. “perception”). “Of” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: FIEL(D IS CERN MENT)IONED.

19. Replace a plant’s dried up basin (7)

Answer: SALTPAN (i.e. “dried up basin” – referring to the geographic feature). “Replace” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A PLANT’S.

20. Somewhere to go from ‘ere includes one place inside another (7)

Answer: ENCLAVE (i.e. “one place inside another”). Solution is LAV (i.e. “somewhere to go”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “lavatory” – “go” taken to mean visiting the toilet) placed or “included” in HENCE (i.e. “from ‘ere”) once the H has been dropped (indicated by “’ere” – like wot all ’em cockneys do, innit, droppin’ their aitches all the bleedin’, gawblessem, guv’nor, jellied eels and so forth), like so: ENC(LAV)E.

22. Heading away from States I had blue and white flowers, keen to raise saving target (6,2,8)

Answer: DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (i.e. “saving target”). Solution is ASSERT (i.e. “states” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) once the initial letter has been removed (indicated by “heading away from”), followed by I’D (a contraction of “I had”), then NILES (i.e. “blue and white flowers”, referring to the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers, as in how they “flow”) and MAD (i.e. “keen”). These are all then reversed (indicated by “to raise” – this being a down clue), like so: DAM-SELIN-D’I-STRESS. Phew!

24. It’s covered in Ypres mud, getting a dirty mark (6)

Answer: SMUDGE (i.e. “dirty mark”). “It’s covered in” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: YPRE(S MUD GE)TTING.

27. Plant’s energy lost in time disturbance (6)

Answer: YARROW (i.e. “plant”). Solution is YEAR (i.e. “time”) with the E removed (indicated by “energy’s lost in…” – E being a recognised abbreviation of “energy”), then followed by ROW (i.e. “disturbance”), like so: YAR-ROW. Chalk one to my Bradford’s here, given there’s a few plants out there in the world.

29. Herts town, neither small nor very relevant to youth (7)

Answer: TEENAGE (i.e. “[relevant to] youth”). Solution is STEVENAGE (i.e. “Herts town”) with the S and the V removed (indicated by “neither small or very” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “small”, V “very”).

31. Record possibly first released by later engineers (7)

Answer: EXTREME (i.e. “[world] record possibly”). Solution is NEXT (i.e. “later”) with its initial letter removed (indicated by “first released”) and the remainder followed by REME (i.e. “engineers” – specifically the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers of the British Army), like so: EXT-REME.

32. Breaking into 31, fellows start on theft (12)

Answer: INFRINGEMENT (i.e. “breaking [into]”). Solution is IN (i.e. “into”) followed by FRINGE (the solution to 31d being EXTREME, being much the same thing… ish…) then MEN (i.e. “fellows”) and T (i.e. “start on theft”, i.e. the first letter of “theft”), like so: IN-FRINGE-MEN-T.

33. Doctor half-heartedly neatens up, accepting hooligan’s punishment is self-serving choice? (11)

Answer: SMORGASBORD (i.e. “self-serving choice”). Solution is DR (a recognised abbreviation of “doctor”) and GROOMS (i.e. “neatens”) once one of the middle Os has been removed (indicated by “half-heartedly”).These are then both reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue) and wrapped around or “accepting” ASBO (i.e. “hooligan’s punishment”), like so: SMORG-(ASBO)-RD.

35. Tailor badly misses stripping (11)

Answer: DISASSEMBLY (i.e. “stripping”). “Tailor” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of BADLY MISSES.

36. Ethical travel company heading for old city is filling space (10)

Answer: ECOTOURISM (i.e. “ethical travel”). Solution is CO (a recognised abbreviation of “company”), TO (i.e. “heading for”), UR (i.e. “old city” – and a favourite of setters everywhere) and IS all placed in or “filling” EM (i.e. “space” – another favourite of setters, this is a printing term for the width of a space, supposedly the same as the letter “m”), like so: E(CO-TO-UR-IS)M.

38. Son breaks down, has repressed feelings (9)

Answer: SMOULDERS (i.e. “has repressed feelings”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) followed by MOULDERS (i.e. crumbles to dust or “breaks down”).
[EDIT: Typo fix courtesy of Mike in the comments. Cheers, Mike! – LP]

40. Remedy sipped, say, for this? (9)

Answer: DYSPEPSIA. “Remedy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SIPPED SAY. In the context of the clue, you may well sip a remedy to help a dyspeptic stomach. Nicely worked.

41. Bravery of Scotsman caught in glen (8)

Answer: VALIANCE (i.e. “bravery”). Solution is IAN (i.e. “Scotsman” – another favourite play of setters) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “caught” used in a number of ball games) both placed “in” VALE (i.e. “glen”), like so: VAL(IAN-C)E.

44. In triumph, presumably, nothing is free (7)

Answer: UNLOOSE (i.e. “[to] free”). Solution is UNLOSE (i.e. “triumph, presumably” – an acknowledgement that the word doesn’t really exist) “in” which is placed O (i.e. “nothing”), like so: UNL(O)OSE.

45. Landlord with gold taken away? (6)

Answer: LESSOR (i.e. “landlord”). When written as LESS OR the solution also satisfies “with gold taken away” – OR being “gold” in heraldry.

47. Flash grand, something that collects in pocket (5)

Answer: GLINT (i.e. “flash”). Solution is G (a recognised abbreviation of “grand”) followed by LINT (i.e. “something that collects in pocket”).

49. Expression in French, too European? (5)

Answer: TROPE (i.e. a figure of speech or “expression”). Solution is TROP (i.e. “in French, too” – i.e. the French for “too”) followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”). Thank goodness for Google Translate, eh?

6 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1444

  1. Thanks Lucian. I agree with you – this one was simply not enjoyable at all (and not just because it was chock-full of “subtraction” clues, which you know I loathe). I love your description “word salads” – and no, it wasn’t just you!

    And as for UNLOSE (44d)…? FFS. Life is challenging enough as it is at the moment, without setters resorting to using made-up words…

    Stay safe. SB

    1. Cheers, Sue. I did think to myself when writing up TURBINE – employing not one but two subtractions: “I know someone who’s not going to like this!”. 😀 Stay safe! – LP

  2. Agreed. The best clues are those where you get the answer and go “oh yes, of course!“. I liked Make it One’s Business and Finn. But the last 10 or so answers were just a matter of grimly plodding through … not much fun.

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