Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1463

Back to a medium strength puzzle after last week’s stinker. It was another good ‘un too, with a healthy dollop of well-written clues marred only by yet another appearance of AT A LOOSE END. When I cast an initial glance over the clues and saw blah, blah, blah (2,1,5,3), I immediately thought AT A LOOSE END and genuinely groaned when I actually read the clue. I rather liked how setters were slotting different shapes into their grids earlier this year, but sticking the same solution in week-in-week-out feels a bit cheap. Maybe Max ERNST will start haunting these pages again…

Anyway, minor bellyaching aside, you can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them useful. If a previous Jumbo has done for you, then you might find succour in my Just For Fun page, where you’ll find links to solutions for the last 100+ of these things. I’ve also got a dusty collection of book reviews and a story of mine knocking about the place.

In other news, I’ve tried to persevere again with WordPress’s new editor – the one I’m being increasingly pressured to use – and once more had to work around it, reverting to the old editor. Sadly the new editor is poor, enforcing concepts like document blocks which don’t lend themselves easily to these kinds of posts, plus it hides useful controls away in cumbersome menus and no longer recognises often-used keyboard shortcuts. (No Ctrl+U for underline? Seriously?) Producing these posts in the new editor is like pulling teeth. I really appreciate the kind words and assistance I receive in the comments each week, so I’ll have a think on how to continue these posts once WordPress finally kills off its classic editor. Would anyone object to me posting these things as PDFs, for example? Would that adversely affect accessibility for anyone? Let me know in the comments.

Till next time, stay safe, mask up and keep supporting the NHS and key workers everywhere, especially as this second wave of Covid ticks ever upwards. And to the anti-lockdowners who leafleted my neck of the woods this weekend: try being a little less paranoid. Wearing a mask isn’t going to kill you. The restrictions on our lives aren’t going to be permanent. This isn’t the thin end of the wedge that’ll see government stormtroopers goose-stepping up and down Main Street. By all means moan about the state of things, but let’s also get some perspective on this. Also, thank you for closing my gate.



Across clues

1. Out of action, sort lower in rank (9)

Answer: DOWNGRADE (i.e. “[to] lower in rank”). Solution is DOWN (i.e. “out of action”) followed by GRADE (i.e. “sort”).

6. Money about right for wreck (5)

Answer: CRASH (i.e. “wreck”). Solution is CASH (i.e. “money”) wrapped “about” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: C(R)ASH.

9. Source of inspiration after retirement perhaps caused bewilderment? (7)

Answer: BEMUSED (i.e. “caused bewilderment”). Solution is MUSE (i.e. “source of inspiration”) placed in BED (indicated by “after retirement perhaps”, a play on how MUSE has been put to bed), like so: BE(MUSE)D.

13. Book first of vacations in time for Christmas (5)

Answer: NOVEL (i.e. “book”). Solution is V (i.e. “first [letter] of vacations”) placed “in” NOEL (i.e. “time for Christmas”), like so: NO(V)EL.

14. Singer taking short cut to city in Nevada, heading west (7)

Answer: CROONER (i.e. “singer”). Solution is CROP (i.e. “cut”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “short”) and followed by RENO (i.e. “city in Nevada”) reversed (indicated by “heading west” – this being an across clue), like so: CRO-ONER.

15. Decide to turn off before quarry, possibly (9)

Answer: DETERMINE (i.e. “decide”). Solution is DETER (i.e. “to turn off”) followed by MINE (i.e. “quarry, possibly”).

16. Musical composition by college principal, a tour de force (11)

Answer: MASTERPIECE (i.e. “a tour de force”). Solution is PIECE (i.e. “musical composition”) placed after or “by” MASTER (i.e. “college principal”).

17. Solemn Aussie, a sexton maybe (11)

Answer: GRAVEDIGGER (i.e. “a sexton maybe” – a sexton is “an officer who rings a church bell, attends the clergyman, digs graves etc” (Chambers)). Solution is GRAVE (i.e. “solemn”) followed by DIGGER (“an informal Australian term of address” (Chambers again)).

18. Reindeer given mashed potato, say, before run (6)

Answer: DANCER (i.e. one of Santa Claus’s “reindeer”). Solution is DANCE (i.e. “mashed potato” – ask your grandparents, kids) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “run” used in a number of ball games).

19. Eavesdrop? Line isn’t tapped! (6,2)

Answer: LISTEN-IN (i.e. “eavesdrop”). “Tapped” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LINE ISN’T.

21. Yellow flowers in neat borders (6)

Answer: OXLIPS (i.e. “yellow flowers”). Solution is OX (i.e. “neat” – an alternative meaning of the word is “an ox, cow or bull” (Chambers)) followed by LIPS (i.e. “borders”). One I remembered from a previous puzzle, if I’m honest.

25. Family, edgier unfortunately, after gym (8)

Answer: PEDIGREE (i.e. “family”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unfortunately”) of EDGIER placed “after” PE (i.e. “gym” or Physical Education), like so: PE-DIGREE.

26. End disagreement? This may have a bearing on title (4,10)

Answer: GOAL DIFFERENCE (i.e. “this may have a bearing on title”). Solution is GOAL (i.e. “end” or aim) followed by DIFFERENCE (i.e. “disagreement”).

28. Baffle fool, hiding face (5)

Answer: ELUDE (i.e. “baffle”). Solution is DELUDE (i.e. “fool”) once the first letter has been removed (indicated by “hiding face”).

29. Spot used to be put back for playground attraction (6)

Answer: SEESAW (i.e. “playground attraction”). Solution is SEE (i.e. “[to] spot”) followed by WAS (i.e. “used to be”) once reversed (indicated by “put back”), like so: SEE-SAW.

30. Crowd sitting for improvised performance (3,7)

Answer: JAM SESSION (i.e. “improvised performance”). Solution is JAM (i.e. “[to] crowd”) followed by SESSION (i.e. “sitting”, as in a court session).

33. Where one is a consequence of being sent for an early bath? (2,3,5)

Answer: IN HOT WATER. Clue plays on how serious on-field offences in sports can warrant a player being dismissed from the game, often called “being sent for an early bath”, which places them in trouble or IN HOT WATER with their teammates. Also plays on how baths generally place you IN HOT WATER, unless you are one of those people who for some reason like ice baths. Brrr!

35. Cloak carried by Ripon chorister (6)

Answer: PONCHO (i.e. “cloak”). “Carried by” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: RI(PON CHO)RISTER.

36. One like Harpagon, in intense discomfort, endlessly (5)

Answer: MISER (i.e. “one like Harpagon”, central character of Molière’s The Miser). Solution is MISERY (i.e. “intense discomfort”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”).

38. Play a hit, newsletter broadcast (3,7,4)

Answer: THE WINTER’S TALE (i.e. “play” by William Shakespeare). “Broadcast” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A HIT NEWSLETTER.

40. Old-fashioned Republican next to witness (6-2)

Answer: PASSER-BY (i.e. “witness”). Solution is PASSE (i.e. “old-fashioned”) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “Republican”) and BY (i.e. “next to”).

42. A year in mean accommodation provides sanctuary (6)

Answer: ASYLUM (i.e. “sanctuary”). Solution is A followed by Y (a recognised abbreviation of “year”) once it has been placed “in” SLUM (i.e. “mean accommodation”), like so: A-S(Y)LUM.

43. Damn tack, the cause of a sore finger? (8)

Answer: HANGNAIL (i.e. “cause of a sore finger”, being “a torn shred of skin beside the fingernail” (Chambers)). Solution is HANG (i.e. a euphemism for “damn”) followed by NAIL (i.e. “tack”).

44. Precise as regards unfinished shopping centre (6)

Answer: FORMAL (i.e. “precise”). Solution is FOR (i.e. “as regards”) followed by MALL (i.e. “shopping centre”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “unfinished”), like so: FOR-MAL.

47. Somehow smart, hi-tech policy back in the 1980s (11)

Answer: THATCHERISM (i.e. “policy back in the 1980s”). “Somehow” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SMART HI-TECH.

50. Bored? Answer: eat noodles, specially prepared (2,1,5,3)

Answer: Your weekly appearance of AT A LOOSE END, folks (i.e. “bored”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “answer”, as in Q&A) followed by an anagram (indicated by “specially prepared”) of EAT NOODLES, like so: A-TALOOSEEND.

52. Limit beer in grounds (9)

Answer: RATIONALE (i.e. “grounds”). Solution is RATION (i.e. “limit”) followed by ALE (i.e. “beer”).

53. Father hiding key makes one cross (7)

Answer: SALTIRE (i.e. St Andrew’s “cross” and national flag of Scotland). Solution is SIRE (i.e. “[to] father”) wrapped around or “hiding” ALT (i.e. “key”, as in the Alt key on a computer keyboard), like so: S(ALT)IRE.

54. Black and yellow cape missing (5)

Answer: RAVEN (i.e. “black”). Solution is CRAVEN (i.e. cowardly or “yellow”) with the C removed (indicated by “cape missing” – C being a recognised abbreviation of “cape”, the geographic feature).

55. Disorder resulting from exploding grenade (7)

Answer: DERANGE (i.e. “disorder”). “Resulting from exploding” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GRENADE.

56. Around noon, wee can of beer in Perth? (5)

Answer: TINNY (i.e. “can of beer in Perth” – Perth in this case being the one in Australia. I love how, during one recent Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, fans were reminded that they were limited to bringing in one case of beer per person – my kind of people!). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “noon”) “around” which is placed TINY (i.e. “wee”), like so: TI(N)NY.

57. Completed articles by Lawrence? Ask for more (2,3,4)

Answer: UP THE ANTE (i.e. “ask for more”). Solution is UP (i.e. “completed”, as in time’s up) followed by THE and AN (both of which are “articles”) and then TE (i.e. “Lawrence” – aka Lawrence of Arabia).

Down clues

1. Material excavated mounted (5)

Answer: DENIM (i.e. “material”). Solution is MINED (i.e. “excavated”) reversed (indicated by “mounted” – this being a down clue).

2. Book in certain members of the clan? (5,3,9)

Answer: WIVES AND DAUGHTERS (i.e. “book” by Elizabeth Gaskell). Clue plays on how wives and daughters are often “members of the clan” or family.

3. Bird in vicious gale, on ledge (6,5)

Answer: GOLDEN EAGLE (i.e. “bird”). “Vicious” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GALE ON LEDGE.

4. Pass law about edible fungus (6)

Answer: ACCEPT (i.e. “pass”). Solution is ACT (i.e. “law”) wrapped “about” CEP (i.e. “edible fungus”), like so: AC(CEP)T.

5. Circle in compound on island, circle initially difficult to understand (8)

Answer: ESOTERIC (i.e. “difficult to understand”). Solution is O (i.e. “circle”) placed “in” ESTER (i.e. a “compound”) and followed by I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”) and C (i.e. “circle initially”, i.e. the first letter of “circle”), like so: ES(O)TER-I-C.

6. Established nunnery on Hebridean island, then left (12)

Answer: CONVENTIONAL (i.e. “established”). Solution is CONVENT (i.e. “nunnery”) followed by IONA (i.e. “Hebridean island”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

7. Brazenly, turn up inside, with pride (10)

Answer: ARROGANTLY (i.e. “with pride”). Solution is ARRANTLY (i.e. “brazenly”) with GO (i.e. “turn”) reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue) and placed “inside”, like so: ARR(OG)ANTLY.

8. Monster in Binchy drama (5)

Answer: HYDRA (i.e. mythical “monster”). “In” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: BINC(HY DRA)MA.

9. Gambler leaving in profit? (6,3)

Answer: BETTER OFF (i.e. “in profit”). Solution is BETTER (i.e. “gambler”) followed by OFF (i.e. “leaving”). Nicely done.

10. Officer reportedly in game, heading off for karate, etc. (7,4)

Answer: MARTIAL ARTS (i.e. “karate, etc”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “reportedly”) of MARSHAL (i.e. “officer”) followed by DARTS (i.e. “game”) once its first letter has been removed (indicated by “heading off”).

11. Smart, Romeo leaving procession (5)

Answer: STING (i.e. to hurt or “smart”). Solution is STRING (i.e. “procession”) with the R removed (indicated by “Romeo leaving” – Romeo represents R in the phonetic alphabet).

12. Dull days breed melancholy, ultimately (6)

Answer: DREARY (i.e. “dull”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “days”) followed by REAR (i.e. “breed”), then Y (i.e. “melancholy, ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “ultimately”).

18. I must go in to protest against decline (10)

Answer: DEPRECIATE (i.e. “decline”). Solution is I placed “in” DEPRECATE (i.e. “to protest”), like so: DEPREC(I)ATE.

20. Bore is lying in shade (8)

Answer: NUISANCE (i.e. “bore”). Solution is IS placed in or “lying in” NUANCE (i.e. “shade”), like so: NU(IS)ANCE.

22. Song’s unexpected benefit (7,4,6)

Answer: PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. Solution satisfies “song” from the film of the same name, and “unexpected benefit”.

23. Ridiculous age, his female companion (6)

Answer: GEISHA (i.e. “female companion”). “Ridiculous” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AGE HIS.

24. Mint coin – sovereign, perhaps (10)

Answer: PENNYROYAL, a variety of “mint”. Solution is PENNY (i.e. “coin”) followed by ROYAL (i.e. “sovereign, perhaps”).

27. Look into touching prior to examination (8)

Answer: RESEARCH (i.e. “look into”). Solution is RE (i.e. “touching [on]” or regarding – think email replies) followed by SEARCH (i.e. “examination”).

31. Work hard on a new jingle (6)

Answer: SLOGAN (i.e. “jingle”, both taken to mean catchy arrangements of words used to advertise products). Solution is SLOG (i.e. “work hard”) followed by A and N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”).

32. Where one may get spares down the lane? (7,5)

Answer: BOWLING ALLEY. Clue plays on how “spares” in tenpin bowling are where you knock over your pins with a ball to spare, and how the sport takes place on “lanes”. You get the idea.

34. Nonsense written about large cap and papal tiara (6,5)

Answer: TRIPLE CROWN (i.e. “papal tiara”). Solution is TRIPE (i.e. “nonsense”) wrapped or “written about” L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) and followed by CROWN (i.e. “cap”), like so: TRIP(L)E-CROWN.

36. Wrongly interpret young lady defending argument against? Correct (11)

Answer: MISCONSTRUE (i.e. “wrongly interpret”). Solution is MISS (i.e. “young lady”) wrapped around or “defending” CON (i.e. “argument against”, as in pros and cons) and followed by TRUE (i.e. “correct”), like so: MIS(CON)S-TRUE.

37. Man soon set off – his business may be flagging (10)

Answer: STONEMASON (i.e. “his business may be flagging”, referring to flagstones). “Off” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MAN SOON SET.

39. Paddy had a meal, balanced (9)

Answer: TEMPERATE (i.e. “balanced”). Solution is TEMPER (i.e. “paddy”) followed by ATE (i.e. “had a meal”).

41. American and I ruin it, upside-down dessert (8)

Answer: TIRAMISU (i.e. “dessert”). Solution is US (i.e. “American”) and I MAR IT (i.e. “I ruin it”) all reversed (indicated by “upside-down” – this being a down clue), like so: TI-RAM-I-SU.

45. Kept being annoyed about time taken by duke (6)

Answer: STORED (i.e. “kept”). Solution is SORE (i.e. “annoyed”) wrapped “about” T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) and followed by D (ditto “duke”), like so: S(T)ORE-D.

46. Concealed hide close to nest (6)

Answer: COVERT (i.e. “concealed”). Solution is COVER (i.e. “hide”) followed by T (i.e. “close to nest”, i.e. the last letter of “nest”).

48. A sailor holding line where knot may be tied (5)

Answer: ALTAR (i.e. “where knot may by tied” – tying the knot meaning to get married). Solution is A TAR (an informal term for “a sailor”) wrapped around or “holding” L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”), like so: A-(L)-TAR.

49. Delicate point, female being sacked for showing no skill (5)

Answer: INEPT (i.e. “showing no skill”). Solution is FINE (i.e. “delicate”) and PT (a recognised abbreviation of “point”) once the F of FINE has been removed (indicated by “female being sacked” – F being a recognised abbreviation of “female”), like so: INE-PT.

51. Slow to understand Democrat, unable to relax, blowing top (5)

Answer: DENSE (i.e. “slow to understand”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “Democrat”) followed by TENSE (i.e. “unable to relax”) once the first letter has been removed (indicated by “blowing top”), like so: D-ENSE.

20 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1463

  1. Hi Lucian. Thanks, as always, for your explanations. I thought this one wasn’t nearly as bad as last week’s, but like you I had a curious feeling of déja vu when I saw AT A LOOSE END.

    To answer your question about the user-hostile nature of the new WP editor, have you considered going over to Blogger? I find it much simpler than WP, and I use it for my main blog. If you do decide to try going down the PDF route, how would that work?

    Stay safe. SB

    1. No worries, Sue, and thanks for your feedback.

      Re: switching platforms, a sticking point might be my domain name, which was purchased through and gets renewed by WordPress. I don’t know how easy that would be to move over. Ideally I’d also want to retain the content I’ve published – you’d be surprised how many of the older solutions still get views today – so that could be quite a lot of work.

      If I went down the PDF route, I’d still produce posts containing my usual intro blather and an image of the completed grid, but then have a link to the solutions housed in a separate PDF hosted on my site. At least then I can apply all the snazzy formatting I want, but this feels a clunky solution for readers, especially those who receive my posts via email. It also makes searching my site for specific solutions impossible. (Not sure if anyone does that, though.)

      Or I could live-Tweet each solution as I get them!

      Keep well – LP

      1. Seems feasible. Splitting myself across platforms might give me the kick up the backside needed to post something here other than crossword solutions! I’ll keep it it mind. Cheers! – LP.

  2. A pleasant workout this week. I could even work out the parsings!

    I’ve got a computer background and am very familiar with creating web pages, but my dealings with WordPress have left me choking for breath whenever I’ve come across it. Intuitive it is not. Simple it is not. Ditch it if you can, there are much better things out there.

    1. I’m probably not helping matters by using so much formatting in my posts – I appreciate there’s long been a drive to separate content from its layout and appearance, and it seems WP’s new editor is a step in that direction. I might be able to address some of my issues through the use of style sheets, but some of the other stuff – highlighting regular letters in clues, for example – I reckon could remain a right old slog. As you and Sue suggest, it might be time to consider alternatives. – LP

  3. I find WordPress generally does its job well and I think there’s simply an element of finding a change difficult with the new Gutenberg/Block Editor…
    …having said that I think there are a few things needing ironed out!
    – The editing of structure/whole section of blocks is clunky (doesn’t affect what you do here though?)
    – I think there’s a bug specially with underline shortcut – should get sorted?!
    – I also think they will sort their approach so that workflows that edit somewhere else and then paste into WP work better (which might also address your issue!)

    Surely each question and each answer just form a block in new editor?

    I thoroughly appreciate your solutions so hope you keep it up! (And no wouldn’t see a pdf approach as being an issue… might form an interim approach?)


    1. Thanks for your feedback, Iain, and for your kind words. I’d say the main issue I have with the new editor lies in how much time it adds to a fairly lengthy process. I write up each post in Word (mainly for spellchecking and autotext), which, most weeks, takes around 3-4 hours. I then put it all together in WP, format and proofread, which usually takes another hour. The new editor sadly adds quite an overhead to this last stage, especially when trying to shepherd 60+ clues and solutions into their own blocks, and to then hunt through assorted menus to format them as appropriate.

      I’ll try a few other tricks next time to see if they can better fit WP’s block-based approach. Not beaten yet!

      Stay safe, – LP

      1. Ah, with you! Yes the writing elsewhere and transferring to WP approach does seem to be a bit broken and a fairly obvious use-case so a bit frustrating… I think (hope?) this will get fixed since it’s a pretty common pro approach to writing.

        Pdf may offer a good interim as you suggested?

        (And I did wonder how long it took you to write up. Even more appreciate your effort now…!)

      2. Was thinking further about this: the main place you use underline is for the actual solution (as well as the odd heading). Can you simply change your approach so that you use bold instead (which shortcut should work and perhaps would even survive formatting transfer too)?

        (The reason that WP removed underline in the first place was I think to encourage better consistency with html since underline => hyperlink.)

        Not sure about the wider/pasting block issues unless I test them….

      3. Cheers for the info, Iain. When my typing up my solution to 1464 in MS Word I used double carriage returns between clues and solutions, which the new editor then successfully broke into blocks. I’ve used bold lettering rather than underlined, as you suggest. I’ve had to leave much of the colouring alone, sadly, as the new editor forces users to elect a colour for each block without remembering the last colour selected. Thankfully the new editor no longer treats clues as numbered lists (it used to renumber all the clues pasted into a post – not helpful!), so it seems WP are still tinkering with it. Onwards! – LP

      4. I am new to this website so apologies if I’ve got this wrong. I maintain a couple of WordPress websites and didn’t like the new unintuitive block editor. So, in the WordPress back-end dashboard, under settings, I checked “Classic editor” as the default editor for all users and “No” against the option to “Allow users to switch editors”.

        This still seems to work and we have so far avoided having the block editor forced upon us.

        Re: The Times jumbo, congratulations on a great website. I manage to complete the crossword most weeks and resist the temptation to look at your solution until the Friday evening, should there still be a clue I am stuck on.

      5. Thanks, sirram, and welcome aboard! I used a similar workaround in that I’d start a post, close it and then navigate to my posts list, which would give me an option to edit it using the classic editor. I’d still be nagged to use the new editor at every turn, but I could at least dismiss the warnings. It’s only a matter of time until the classic editor is killed off, though, so I’ve tried to make the jump to the new editor, flaws and all. Thanks for dropping in! – LP

  4. Whatever you have to do to make your wonderful site accessible is fine with me. I am happy to say that I completed this week’s puzzle at noon today (a record for me) but having your site to refer to for the solutions is a fabulous resource and often leaves me groaning at my own stupidity. Many thanks.

  5. Yes, keep up the good work Lucian. It seems you spend longer writing up the solution than actually completing the puzzle. The good news: an easier puzzle this week and like Charles I finished it yesterday. The bad news: I’m now Dale Esotano for the rest of the week.

  6. I manage to complete the Jumbo most weeks and (Honest Injun!) I only look at your site on a Friday evening if there is anything I still can’t solve. Above, I knew the answer was Donner but had no idea why.

    Re: WordPress, I maintain two not-for-profit websites. I am not a fan of the new block editor. I did try it out at the beginning but couldn’t achieve anything. At present, in the WordPress backend, it is thankfully still possible to keep the beast at bay.

  7. Enjoy your ramblings but reading .pdf on a small tablet or phone might be a bit tricky. Hope you get something sorted.

    1. Good point, Desmond, and thanks for your feedback. I agree, a PDF may not be suitable for all devices. I’ve spent some time experimenting with the new editor, trying to find ways of using it that don’t add massively to the length of time spent creating the posts. My solution to 1464 looks a little different to previous posts, but hopefully I’ve found a workable way of using the new editor. – LP

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