A little later than usual (working weekend) but here’s my completed grid for this week’s Times Jumbo. It was a so-so puzzle for me, with a few good clues but a few others where I thought the setter was pushing things a little too far, particularly with homophones. Your mileage may have varied. In any case, you can find explanations for my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful.
As ever, I’ll hawk some other stuff while you are here. Consider it my fee. You can find previous solutions to these things on my Just For Fun page, some book reviews or a story of mine. There, that wasn’t painful, was it?
And so to the answers. Till next time, continue to give thanks to the NHS and key workers everywhere, stay safe, eat your greens and wash behind your ears.
1. Bloomer made by union leader surrounded by dangerous reptiles (6)
Answer: CROCUS (i.e. a flower or “bloomer”). Solution is U (i.e. “union leader”, i.e. the first letter of “union”) placed in or “surrounded by” CROCS (i.e. “dangerous reptiles”), like so: CROC(U)S.
5. Canadian law enforcer free to pursue method of working (7)
Answer: MOUNTIE (i.e. “Canadian law enforcer”). Solution is UNTIE (i.e. “free”) placed after or “pursuing” MO (i.e. “method of working”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Modus Operandi), like so: MO-UNTIE.
9. Barker put on TV with porter (8)
Answer: AIREDALE (i.e. a breed of dog, or “barker”). Solution is AIRED (i.e. “put on TV”, “put” taken as past tense) followed by ALE (i.e. “porter”, a strong beer).
13. Extremely helpful, like an English noble once? (5,4,6,2,4)
Answer: WORTH ONE’S WEIGHT IN GOLD (i.e. “extremely helpful”). “Like an English noble once” refers to a noble, an English gold coin from the fourteenth century. Nicely worked.
14. Beg last of theatre managers to manage current stars (8)
Answer: PLEIADES (i.e. a group of “stars”, visible to the naked eye). Solution is PLEAD (i.e. “beg”) and ES (i.e. “last of theatre managers”, i.e. the last letters of “theatre” and “managers”) wrapped around or “managing” I (a recognised abbreviation of an electrical “current”), like so: PLE(I)AD-ES. One I remembered from a previous grid, to be honest, though I’ll never remember how it’s spelled.
15. Illegal enterprises involving court? (7)
Answer: RACKETS (i.e. “illegal enterprises”). “Involving court” riffs on how rackets – or racquets, both spellings are recognised – are used to play tennis.
16. Film most of pleasant outdoor meal (6)
Answer: PICNIC (i.e. “outdoor meal”). Solution is PIC (i.e. “film” – both taken to mean movies) followed by NICE (i.e. “pleasant”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “most of”), like so: PIC-NIC.
17. Plea by Liberal in Lincoln referable to higher court? (10)
Answer: APPEALABLE (i.e. “referable to higher court”). Solution is APPEAL (i.e. “plea”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “Liberal”) once it has been placed “in” ABE (i.e. Abraham “Lincoln”), like so: APPEAL-AB(L)E.
20. Pieces of fruit a presbyter conceals, some say (12)
Answer: ELDERBERRIES (i.e. “pieces of fruit”). Solution is ELDER (i.e. “a presbyter” – an elder of the Presbyterian Church) followed by a homophone (indicated by “some say”) of BURIES (i.e. “conceals”).
23. Partner? One may be a fool’s or a scholar’s (4)
Answer: MATE (i.e. “partner”). The remainder of the clue plays on chess terms: a “fool’s” mate is “the simplest of the checkmates (in two moves by each player)”, while a “scholar’s” mate is “a simple mate accomplished in four moves” (Chambers, both).
24. Lacking shape, one leaves in livery (8)
Answer: UNFORMED (i.e. “lacking shape”). Solution is UNIFORMED (i.e. “in livery”) with the I removed (indicated by “[Roman numeral] one leaves”).
26. Caustic quality potentially making crony mad (8)
Answer: MORDANCY (i.e. “caustic quality”). “Making” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CRONY MAD.
29. Reduction in level of French euphoria about southern California (2-10)
Answer: DE-ESCALATION (i.e. “reduction in level”). Solution is DE (i.e. “of French”, i.e. the French for “of”) followed by ELATION (i.e. “euphoria”) once it has been wrapped “about” S (a recognised abbreviation of “southern”) and CA (ditto “California”), like so: DE-E(S-CA)LATION.
30. Clearly only teacher turns out a novel (10)
Answer: COHERENTLY (i.e. “clearly”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “novel”) of ONLY TEACHER once the A has been removed (indicated by “turns out a”).
32. Eg Fowler’s old lady transfixed by married woman (10)
Answer: GRAMMARIAN (i.e. “Eg [Henry Watson or Francis George] Fowler” – the brothers worked on a number of acclaimed books in the early twentieth century, perhaps most famously A Dictionary of Modern English Usage). Solution is GRAN (i.e. “old lady”) wrapped around or “transfixed by” M (a recognised abbreviation of “married”) and MARIA (i.e. “woman”, basically a woman’s name), like so: GRA(M-MARIA)N.
34. Self-aggrandising type came out clasping female Arab (12)
Answer: MEGALOMANIAC (i.e. “self-aggrandising type”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “out” – one definition of the word is “away from the original or normal position or state” (Chambers)) of CAME, wrapped around or “clasping” GAL (i.e. “female”) and OMANI (i.e. “Arab”, specifically one from Oman), like so: ME(GAL-OMANI)AC.
36. Energy invested in fellow’s joint academic office (8)
Answer: DEANSHIP (i.e. “academic office”). Solution is E (a recognised abbreviation of “energy”) placed or “invested in” DAN’S (i.e. “fellow’s”, basically a man’s name made possessive) and followed by HIP (i.e. “joint”), like so: D(E)AN’S-HIP.
38. Explosive that throws me in moat! (8)
Answer: AMMONITE. Not one I’m 100% on, but I can’t immediately see anything else that fits. The solution is an anagram (indicated by “throws”) of ME IN MOAT. An AMMONITE is an extinct marine mollusc – hardly the kind of thing you’d see bobbing around a moat. I guess the setter is riffing on AMMO being an “explosive”, but that isn’t terribly satisfactory. If someone swings by with a better solution then I’ll update the post, but as it stands this one is destined for the setters’ sin bin.
[EDIT: Thanks to a number of people in the comments for highlighting that ammonite is a form of an old high explosive called Amatol. It’s a definition that is not supported by any of the dictionaries I have, but it does get a two-line mention in some far-flung Wikipedia page for Amatol. I don’t think it’s enough to bring the setter out of the sin bin, though. Which reminds me, I didn’t leave any food or water in there. (Checks sin bin.) Shit… – LP]
39. Alcoholic drink? Some welcome a Dubonnet (4)
Answer: MEAD (i.e. “alcoholic drink”). “Some” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: WELCO(ME A D)UBONNET.
41. Contrive goals, once proper, to live within one’s means (4,4,4)
Answer: MAKE ENDS MEET (i.e. “to live within one’s means”). Solution is MAKE (i.e. “contrive”) followed by ENDS (i.e. “goals”) and MEET (i.e. “once proper” – we’ve seen this in a recent puzzle, and was brought to light by Dr John in the comments: meet is a formal or archaic word meaning qualified or fitting, an example being in the Bible quotation “Therefore it was meet and proper that that in everything he should resemble his brethren…” (Hebrews 2:17)).
43. Like moonrock brought to earth? It’s hard to credit (3-7)
Answer: FAR-FETCHED. Solution satisfies “like moonrock brought to earth” and “it’s hard to credit”.
44. Knocked back drink with spirit, engendering furore (6)
Answer: RUMPUS (i.e. “furore”). Solution is SUP (i.e. “drink”) reversed (indicated by “knocked back”) and placed after or “with” RUM (i.e. “spirit”), like so: RUM-PUS.
46. Artlessness of first-class surgeon in Newcastle area (7)
Answer: NAIVETE (i.e. “artlessness”). Solution is AI (i.e. “first-class”, i.e. A1, often taken to mean excellent – the 1 replaced by its Roman numeral equivalent) and VET (i.e. “surgeon”, specifically a common shortened form of veterinarian) both placed “in” NE (i.e. “Newcastle area”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “north-east”, as opposed to any specific area in Newcastle), like so: N(AI-VET)E.
48. Merseyside port’s guttersnipes ultimately unshod (8)
Answer: BOOTLESS (i.e. “unshod”). Solution is BOOTLE (i.e. “Merseyside port”) followed by S and S (i.e. “port’s guttersnipes ultimately”, i.e. the last letters of “port’s” and “guttersnipes”).
50. Over the moon, having sampled seasonal delights! (4,2,3,4,2,6)
Answer: FULL OF THE JOYS OF SPRING. Solution satisfies “over the moon” – both phrases meaning “very happy” – and “having sampled seasonal delights” – riffing on SPRING being one of the four seasons. Another nicely worked clue.
51. Veracious husband withdraws, holding son to be gullible (8)
Answer: TRUSTFUL (i.e. “gullible”). Solution is TRUTHFUL (i.e. “veracious”) with the H removed (indicated by “husband withdraws” – H being a recognised abbreviation of “husband”) and S slotted in (indicated by “holding son” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “son”), like so: TRUT(H)FUL => TRUTFUL => TRU(S)TFUL.
52. Outstanding aim first to be funded (7)
Answer: ENDOWED (i.e. “funded”). Solution is OWED (i.e. an amount of money “outstanding”) with END (i.e. “aim”) placed ahead of it or “first”, like so: END-OWED.
53. Make fun of carrier, a slovenly dresser (6)
Answer: RAGBAG (i.e. “a slovenly dresser”). Solution is RAG (i.e. “make fun of”) followed by BAG (i.e. “carrier”).
2. Argument over the Spanish horseman’s spiked wheel (5)
Answer: ROWEL (i.e. “horseman’s spiked wheel [on a spur]”). Solution is ROW (i.e. “argument”) followed by EL (i.e. “the Spanish”, i.e. the Spanish for “the”).
3. Audibly damn head adopting the writer’s quality of joined-up writing (11)
Answer: CURSIVENESS (i.e. “quality of joined-up writing”). Solution is CURS (i.e. a homophone, indicated by “audibly”, of CURSE, i.e. “damn” – I’m not keen on how this setter plays fast and loose with homophones, it must be said. Reading CURS on its own, you would pronounce it differently to CURSE) and NESS (i.e. “head”, as in the geographic feature, a headland) wrapped around I’VE (i.e. “the writer’s” – a sneaky bit of wordplay, this is a contraction of “the writer has” rather than the possessive “writer’s”. It doesn’t matter that the clue doesn’t scan in this form, so long as it disguises what the setter is playing at. From the point of view of setter, “the writer has” then equates to I HAVE, or I’VE), like so: CURS-(I’VE)-NESS. Ugh…
4. Agenda of revolutionary law lord brought up in Home Counties (8)
Answer: SCHEDULE (i.e. “agenda”). Solution is CHE Guevara (i.e. “revolutionary”, and catnip for Times setters) and LUD (i.e. “law lord”, as in a facetious form of “lord” used to address judges, m’lud), the latter reversed (indicated by “brought up” – this being a down clue). These are then placed “in” SE (i.e. “Home Counties”, basically the South East of England), like so: S(CHE-DUL)E.
5. Problem about entertaining at home less (5)
Answer: MINUS (i.e. “less”). Solution is SUM (i.e. “problem” – Chambers has this definition for SUM: “a problem in addition, or in arithmetic generally”) reversed (indicated by “about”) and wrapped around or “entertaining” IN (i.e. “at home”), like so: M(IN)US.
6. Increases desire for rise (7)
Answer: UPSURGE (i.e. “rise”). Solution is UPS (i.e. “increases”) followed by URGE (i.e. “desire”).
7. Ditch Berliner possibly, losing good hearty eater (11)
Answer: TRENCHERMAN (i.e. “hearty eater”). Solution is TRENCH (i.e. “ditch”) followed by GERMAN (i.e. “Berliner possibly”) once the G has been removed (indicated by “losing good” – G being a recognised abbreviation of “good”), like so: TRENCH-ERMAN. One I remembered from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest.
8. Bore keen to be heard (5)
Answer: EAGRE (i.e. “bore”, specifically “a bore or sudden rise of the tide in a river” (Chambers)). “To be heard” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of EAGER (i.e. “keen”).
9. Term in USA recollecting an agent of passive immunity? (9)
Answer: ANTISERUM (i.e. “agent of passive immunity” – basically a serum that contains antibodies. Topical!) “Recollecting” indicates an anagram. Solution is an anagram of TERM IN USA.
10. Accumulate work at university (3,2)
Answer: RUN UP (i.e. “accumulate”). Solution is RUN (i.e. to operate or “work” something) followed by UP (i.e. “at university” – another that’s catnip for Times setters).
11. Make brief visit, carrying short article, a piece of stage equipment (4,7)
Answer: DROP CURTAIN (i.e. “a piece of stage equipment”). Solution is DROP IN (i.e. “make a brief visit”) wrapped around or “carrying” CURT (i.e. “short” or impatient) and A (i.e. “article”, as in a word like a, an or the), like so: DROP-(CURT-A)-IN.
12. Diluted manoeuvres for an opponent of mechanisation (7)
Answer: LUDDITE (i.e. “opponent of mechanisation”). “Manoeuvres” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DILUTED.
18. Earth, possibly, about rear of large woody plant (5,4)
Answer: PLANE TREE (i.e. “woody plant”). Solution is PLANET (i.e. “Earth, possibly” – other planets are available) followed by RE (i.e. “about” – think email replies) and E (i.e. “rear of large”, i.e. the last letter of “large”), like so: PLANET-RE-E.
19. Asian girl in W African state briefly (7)
Answer: BENGALI (i.e. “Asian”). Solution is GAL (i.e. “girl”) placed “in” BENIN (i.e. “W African state”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “briefly”), like so: BEN(GAL)I.
21. Figure teacher presented about a month back (9)
Answer: DODECAGON (i.e. a twelve-sided “figure”). Solution is DON (i.e. “teacher”) wrapped around or “presented about” DEC (i.e. “a month”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of December) and AGO (i.e. “back”), like so: DO(DEC-AGO)N. Another shape-related clue, following several others in recent weeks. Definitely a theme running here!
22. Body parts a murderer’s destroyed without hesitation (8)
Answer: EARDRUMS (i.e. “body parts”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “destroyed”) of A MURDERER’S once ER has been removed (indicated by “without hesitation”).
25. Determine position of old gallery accepting nothing French (9)
Answer: ORIENTATE (i.e. “determine position”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) and TATE (i.e. “gallery” – another often-used play) wrapped around or “accepting” RIEN (i.e. “nothing French”, i.e. the French for “nothing”, like so: O-(RIEN)-TATE. (Attempts to sing Edith Piaf’s, Non Je Ne Regrette Rien.) (Quickly gives up.)
27. Woman in constant fury finding cost of storing goods (9)
Answer: CELLARAGE (i.e. “cost of storing goods”). Solution is ELLA (i.e. “woman” – basically a woman’s name) placed “in” C (a recognised abbreviation of “constant”) and RAGE (i.e. “fury”), like so: C-(ELLA)-RAGE.
28. French murder victim meeting death finally on race (8)
Answer: MARATHON (i.e. “race”). Solution is Jean-Paul MARAT, a key player in the French Revolution who was assassinated in his bathtub, i.e. “murder victim”, followed by H (i.e. “death finally”, i.e. the last letter of “death”) and ON, like so: MARAT-H-ON.
31. Pistol-case they regularly require at first after vacation (7)
Answer: HOLSTER (i.e. “pistol-case”). Solution is TE (i.e. “they regularly”, i.e. every other letter of THEY) and R (i.e. “require at first”, i.e. the first letter of “require”) both placed “after” HOLS (i.e. “vacation”, specifically a shortened form of “holidays”), like so: HOLS-TE-R.
33. Report of woman with a European husband leaving US city (11)
Answer: MINNEAPOLIS (i.e. “US city”). Solution is MINNE (i.e. “report of woman”, i.e. a homophone of MINNIE, a woman’s name – again the setter’s use of homophones is jarring. It’s bad enough when setters use non-existent words as homophones, but it’s something else when the homophone doesn’t work in isolation) followed by A and POLISH (i.e. “European”) once the H has been removed (indicated by “husband leaving” – H being a recognised abbreviation of “husband”), like so: MINNE-A-POLIS.
34. Old lady with weapon pinches article? Keep quiet about it! (4,3,4)
Answer: MUMS THE WORD (i.e. “keep quiet about it”). Solution is MUM (i.e. “old lady”) and SWORD (i.e. “weapon”) wrapped around or “pinching” THE (i.e. “article”, as in a word like a, an and the), like so: MUM-S(THE)WORD.
35. Identify vocation, provoking verbal abuse (4-7)
Answer: NAME-CALLING (i.e. “verbal abuse”). Solution is NAME (i.e. “identify”) followed by CALLING (i.e. “vocation”).
37. Mail old S African province following delivery (9)
Answer: POSTNATAL (i.e. “following delivery” of a baby). Solution is POST (i.e. “mail”) followed by NATAL (i.e. “old S African province”, now called KwaZulu-Natal).
40. Dancer’s work in oil company limited by drink (8)
Answer: BEBOPPER (i.e. “dancer”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, as in a recognised abbreviation of “opus”) placed “in” BP (i.e. “oil company”, specifically British Petroleum), which is itself placed in or “limited by” BEER (i.e. “drink”), like so: BE(B(OP)P)ER.
42. Trembling female replacing Victor’s source of water (7)
Answer: AQUIFER (i.e. “source of water”). Solution is AQUIVER (i.e. “trembling”) with the V (“Victor” in the phonetic alphabet) replaced by F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”), like so: AQUI(V)ER => AQUI(F)ER.
43. Agonises over wife cut by a carpentry tool (7)
Answer: FRETSAW (i.e. “carpentry tool”). Solution is FRETS (i.e. “agonises”) and W (a recognised abbreviation of “wife”) wrapped around or “cut by” A, like so: FRETS-(A)-W.
45. Behave like Bunter – indulge in mockery (5)
Answer: SCOFF. Solution satisfies “behaves like [Billy] Bunter” – who liked the odd snack – and “indulge in mockery”.
47. Peaceful woman, one associated with Descartes, possibly (5)
Answer: IRENE (i.e. “woman” – the “peaceful” bit hints at a play on the word irenic or irenical). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) followed by RENE “Descartes”. Score one to Monty Python’s Philosophers Song, here.
48. Attempt to assimilate famous poem divided into two parts (5)
Answer: BIFID (i.e. “in two parts”). Solution is BID (i.e. “bid”) wrapped around or “assimilating” IF (i.e. “famous poem” by Rudyard Kipling), like so: B(IF)ID.
49. Rise for soldier’s mother, a character in Thessaloniki (5)
Answer: SIGMA (i.e. “a character in Thessaloniki” – basically a Greek letter, Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city). Solution is GIS (i.e. “[US] soldiers”) reversed (indicated by “rise for…” – this being a down clue) and followed by MA (i.e. “mother”), like so: SIG-MA.