For the most part this was a relatively straightforward puzzle. Unless you tried starting the thing in the top-right-hand corner, in which case… well, that noise mechanics make when you ask how the MOT went? Yeah, that noise. Ouch. I rarely enjoy uneven puzzles and this didn’t do much to buck the trend. Still, at least there were a few nicely disguised clues to enjoy.
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 recent Jumbo has stolen all your currant buns then you might find solace in my Just For Fun page, where you’ll find links to the last 180 of them. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.
Thanks once again for the kind words and input. They’re much appreciated, and it’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of other solvers. Till next time, mask up and stay safe out there, kids.
- Striking Tories perhaps without qualification (8)
Answer: OUTRIGHT (i.e. absolute or “without qualification”). Solution is OUT (i.e. noticeable or “striking”) followed by RIGHT (i.e. “Tories perhaps”, politically speaking).
- Argument stated, reserve knocked over (4-2)
Answer: BUST-UP (i.e. “argument”). Solution is PUT (i.e. “stated”) and SUB (i.e. “reserve”, short for substitute) all reversed (indicated by “knocked over”), like so: BUS-TUP.
- Considerate deed farthest off you feel, always ending on the periphery (7)
Answer: TACTFUL (i.e. “considerate”). Solution is ACT (i.e. “deed”) placed in or having “on the periphery” TFUL (i.e. “farthest off you feel, always ending”, i.e. the last letters of “farthesT“, “ofF“, “yoU” and “feeL“), like so: T(ACT)FUL.
- Sending out chef, start on breakfast (6,5)
Answer: FRENCH TOAST (i.e. “breakfast”). “Sending out” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHEF START ON.
- Runs bagged, another top ground for cricket perhaps (11)
Answer: ORTHOPTERAN (i.e. “cricket perhaps” – other such insects are available). Solution is R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs”) placed in or “bagged” by an anagram (indicated by “ground”) of ANOTHER TOP, like so: O(R)THOPTERAN. The wordplay was reasonably obvious but good grief this took some dictionary wrangling!
- Bring joy to conclusion of life story’s retrospective? (5)
Answer: ELATE (i.e. “bring joy to”). Solution is E (i.e. “conclusion of life”, i.e. the last letter of “life”) followed by TALE (i.e. “story”) all reversed (indicated by “retrospective”), like so: ELAT-E.
- Time Carol is knocking off (7)
Answer: ERASING (i.e. “knocking off”). Solution is ERA (i.e. “time”) followed by SING (i.e. to “carol” – ignore the misleading capitalisation).
- Trouble’s back: certainly coach seeing problem (9)
Answer: EYESTRAIN (i.e. “seeing problem”). Solution is E (i.e. “trouble’s back”, i.e. the last letter of “trouble”) followed by YES (i.e. “certainly”) and TRAIN (i.e. “coach”).
- Somewhat hot here, torrid coming to that (7)
Answer: THERETO (i.e. “coming to that”). “Somewhat” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: HO(T HERE TO)RRID.
- Allowing for changes, autumn mist is tad different (7,8)
Answer: MUTATIS MUTANDIS (i.e. “allowing for changes” in Latin, because, you know, The Times). “Different” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AUTUMN MIST IS TAD. Another where the wordplay was fairly obvious, and another that took some dictionary thumbing to get.
- Sound of rapper, villain penning all the best dross (3-1-3-3)
Answer: RAT-A-TAT-TAT (i.e. “sound of rapper” or one knocking). Solution is RAT (i.e. “villain”) wrapped around or “penning” TATA (i.e. farewell or “all the best”) and followed by TAT (i.e. “dross”), like so: RA(TATA)T-TAT.
- Entertain Royal Engineers, primarily (6)
Answer: REGALE (i.e. “entertain”). Solution is REGAL (i.e. “royal” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) and E (i.e. “engineers, primarily”, i.e. the first letter of “engineers”).
- You and I see, certainly (4)
Answer: YEAH (i.e. “certainly”). Solution is YE (i.e. “you”) followed by AH (i.e. “I see”).
- Recover after a mauling when lioness won and duck lost (4,4,6)
Answer: LICK ONE’S WOUNDS (i.e. “recover after a mauling”). “Lost” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of LIONESS WON and DUCK.
- Girl, she’s drunk a huge amount of water (5,3)
Answer: IRISH SEA (i.e. “huge amount of water”). Solution is IRIS (i.e. a “girl’s” name) followed by an anagram (indicated by “drunk”) of SHE, then A, like so: IRIS-HSE-A.
- Particular things, matches involving French team? (8)
Answer: NICETIES (i.e. “particular things”). When written as NICE TIES the solution also satisfies “matches involving French team”.
- Blue fluff on one’s tongue, perhaps? (4,2,3,5)
Answer: DOWN IN THE MOUTH. Solution satisfies “blue” or feeling low, and “fluff on one’s tongue, perhaps”, fluff being all downy and that.
- Arsenal, looking back, compact and organised (4)
Answer: SNUG (i.e. “compact and organised”). Solution is GUNS (i.e. “arsenal”) reversed (indicated by “looking back”).
- Loyal subject ultimately out of practice (6)
Answer: TRUSTY (i.e. “loyal”). Solution is T (i.e. “subject ultimately”, i.e. the last letter of “subject”) followed by RUSTY (i.e. “out of practice”).
- Relevant where taper’s heading? (2,3,5)
Answer: TO THE POINT. Solution satisfies “relevant” and “where taper’s heading”.
- Purplish, purplis and purpli mouse? (9,6)
Answer: SHRINKING VIOLET (i.e. a timid person or “mouse”). The first part of the clue plays on how PURPLISH (i.e. “violet”) is seen to SHRINK one letter at a time.
- Holidaymaker, one freaking out? (7)
Answer: TRIPPER. Solution satisfies “holidaymaker” and “one freaking out”.
- Nation, one entertained by an American refrain (9)
Answer: AUSTRALIA (i.e. “nation”). Solution is I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) placed in or “entertained by” A US (i.e. “an American”) and TRA-LA (i.e. a simple song or “refrain”), like so: A-US-TRA-L(I)A.
- What’s lost, finding a way to cut pay (7)
Answer: WASTAGE (i.e. “what’s lost”). Solution is A and ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) both placed in or “cutting” WAGE (i.e. “pay”), like so: W(A-ST)AGE.
- Sign on end of rope, near hole in the middle (5)
Answer: ENROL (i.e. “sign on”). Solution is E (i.e. “end of rope”, i.e. the last letter of “rope”) followed by NR (a recognised abbreviation of “near”) and OL (i.e. “hole in the middle”, i.e. the middle letters of “hole”).
- Puzzle isn’t a doddle, unfinished brother admits (11)
Answer: BRAINTEASER (i.e. “puzzle”). Solution is AIN’T EASY (i.e. “isn’t a doddle”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “unfinished”) and the remainder placed in or “admitted” by BRER (i.e. “brother” in Southern US dialect), like so: BR(AIN’T-EAS)ER.
- Telling stories is generally nice, all kicking off should I be unable to do so (11)
Answer: SIGNIFICANT (i.e. “telling”). Solution is SIGN (i.e. “stories is generally nice, all kicking off”, i.e. the first letters of “Stories”, “Is”, “Generally” and “Nice”) followed by I and CAN’T (i.e. “be unable to do so”).
- Sponges in sediment mopping up last bits of classic French wine (7)
Answer: LEECHES (i.e. “sponges” off of). Solution is LEES (i.e. “sediment”) wrapped around or “mopping up” CHE (i.e. “last bits of classic French wine”, i.e. the last letters of “classiC“, “FrencH” and “winE“), like so: LEE(CHE)S.
- Some hollow fruit collected (6)
Answer: SEDATE (i.e. “collected”). Solution is SE (i.e. “some hollow”, i.e. “some” with its middle letters removed) followed by DATE (i.e. “fruit”).
- It having broken ornamental stone, daughter upset (8)
Answer: AGITATED (i.e. “upset”). Solution is IT placed in or “breaking” AGATE (i.e. “ornamental stone”) and followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”), like so: AG(IT)ATE-D.
- On holiday, whip is eccentric (7)
Answer: OFFBEAT (i.e. “eccentric”). Solution is OFF (i.e. “on holiday”) followed by BEAT (i.e. “whip”).
- Remedial teacher I put in a spin (11)
Answer: THERAPEUTIC (i.e. “remedial”). “In a spin” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TEACHER I PUT.
- Harsh material’s ending in secure boxes (9)
Answer: INCLEMENT (i.e. “harsh”). Solution is IN and CEMENT (i.e. “secure”) wrapped around or “boxing” L (i.e. “material’s ending”, i.e. the last letter of “material”), like so: IN-C(L)EMENT.
- Play dirty with handle on weapon, bet the elbow bent going in? (3,5,3,4)
Answer: HIT BELOW THE BELT (i.e. “play dirty”). Solution is HILT (i.e. “handle on weapon”) wrapped around or having “in” an anagram (indicated by “bent”) of BET THE ELBOW, like so: HI(TBELOWTHEBE)LT.
- Separating foolish peacekeepers, head of security puts things straight (8)
Answer: UNTWISTS (i.e. “puts things straight”). Solution is S (i.e. “head of security”) placed in or “separating” UN TWITS (i.e. “foolish peacekeepers”, UN being the United Nations), like so: UN-TWI(S)TS.
- Improbable cerebral talent, however pedestrian activity (7-7)
Answer: THOUGHT-READING (i.e. “improbable cerebral talent”). Solution is THOUGH (i.e. “however”) followed by TREADING (i.e. “pedestrian activity”).
- Snooker player’s stick somewhere in Hertfordshire (7,3)
Answer: POTTER’S BAR (i.e. “somewhere in Hertfordshire”). Solution is POTTER’S (i.e. “snooker player’s”) followed by BAR (i.e. “stick”).
- American writer you no longer read briefly visits (7)
Answer: Henry David THOREAU (i.e. “American writer”). Solution is THOU (i.e. “you no longer”, i.e. ye olde form of “you”) wrapped around or “visited” by REA (i.e. “read briefly”, i.e. “read” with its last letter removed), like so: THO(REA)U.
- How to make something smaller succeed (3,2)
Answer: CUT IT. Solution satisfies “how to make something smaller” and “succeed”.
- Appropriate to charge? I’m not sure it’s an offence in rugby (7,4)
Answer: FORWARD PASS (i.e. “it’s an offence in rugby”). Not one I’m 100% on. I guess “appropriate to charge” gets you FORWARD, with the riddly question mark suggesting something clever is afoot. Search me. You can “charge” forward, but the rest of it? Pfffff. “I’m not sure”, meanwhile, nets you PASS, which is exactly what I’m going to do.
[EDIT: Thanks to sirram999 in the comments for clearing this one up. “Appropriate to” gets you FOR, while “charge” gets you WARD, e.g. a child placed in care. Cheers, S! – LP]
- Revolutionary figure in register – such as him? (8)
Answer: LENINIST (i.e. “him”, in relation to the “revolutionary figure” at the start of the clue). Solution is NINE (i.e. “figure” or number) reversed (indicated by “revolutionary”) and placed “in” LIST (i.e. “register”), like so: L(ENIN)IST. Pretty much the exact same clue appeared only a few weeks ago in grid 1525. Ugh.
- A laugh arising in story (4)
Answer: SAGA (i.e. “story”). Solution is A GAS (i.e. “a laugh”) all reversed (indicated by “arising” – this being a down clue).
- Pet sounds mellow if allowed on woman’s sofa, initially (6)
Answer: MIAOWS (i.e. “pet sounds”). “Initially” indicates the solution is derived from the initial letters of “Mellow”, “If”, “Allowed”, “On”, “Woman’s” and “Sofa”.
- Plant a feature of Italy’s summer (7)
Answer: ALYSSUM (i.e. “plant”). “A feature of” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: IT(ALY’S SUM)MER.
- Verdict going straight across the page? (6)
Answer: RULING. Solution satisfies “verdict” and lines “going straight across the page”.
- Remarkable piece of jewellery? That’s the unusual set inside? (5-10)
Answer: EARTH-SHATTERING (i.e. “remarkable”). Solution is EARRING (i.e. “piece of jewellery”) wrapped around or having “set inside” an anagram (indicated by “unusual”) of THAT’S THE, like so: EAR(THSHATTE)RING.
- Great extra-terrestrial (3,2,4,5)
Answer: OUT OF THIS WORLD. Solution satisfies “great” and “extra-terrestrial”.
- Reportedly walk while swaying – something saucy in that? (6)
Answer: SACHET (i.e. “something saucy in that”). “Reportedly” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SASHAY (i.e. “walk while swaying”).
- Odd bits erased, touch label on figure (7)
Answer: OCTAGON (i.e. a shape or “figure”). Solution is OC (i.e. “odd bits erased, touch”, i.e. every other letter of TOUCH) followed by TAG (i.e. “label”) and ON.
- Walking, where mule should be? (2,4)
Answer: ON FOOT. Solution satisfies “walking” and “where mule should be” – a variant meaning of the word is “a backless slipper or shoe” (Chambers).
- Focus of attention being cold main dish, male tucking in (6,5)
Answer: CENTRE STAGE (i.e. “focus of attention”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold”) followed by ENTRÉE (i.e. “main dish”) once wrapped around or having “tucked in” STAG (i.e. “male”), like so: C-ENTRÉ(STAG)E.
- Chap drinking wine in one measure – not worth mentioning (11)
Answer: UNIMPORTANT (i.e. “not worth mentioning”). Solution is MAN (i.e. “chap”) wrapped around or “drinking” PORT (i.e. “wine”) while itself placed “in” UNIT (i.e. “one measure”), like so: UNI(M(PORT)AN)T.
- A solution to glaring problem? (10)
Answer: SUNGLASSES. Clue plays on how “glaring” can mean to dazzle and to refer to something obvious.
- Tariff triples unfortunately, tying in one client originally (5,4)
Answer: PRICE LIST (i.e. “tariff”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unfortunately”) of TRIPLES wrapped around or “tying in” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and C (i.e. “client originally”, i.e. the first letter of “client”), like so: PR(I-C)ELIST.
- Where sultan, I suspect, had embraced capital in Byzantium? (8)
Answer: ISTANBUL (i.e. “capital in Byzantium” – technically Constantinople, which was then renamed Istanbul in 1930). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “suspect”) of SULTAN I wrapped around or “embracing” B (i.e. “capital [letter of] Byzantium”), like so: ISTAN(B)UL.
- In secret, someone’s outside, not far apart (5-3)
Answer: CLOSE-SET (i.e. “not far apart”). Solution is CLOSET (i.e. “secret”) wrapped around or having “in” SE (i.e. “someone’s outside”, i.e. the first and last letters of “someone”), like so: CLOSE(SE)T.
- Almost selling out, society in disorder (7)
Answer: ILLNESS (i.e. “disorder”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “out”) of SELLING once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “almost”), followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “society”), like so: ILLNES-S.
- Similar sore, evidently, behind cuts (7)
Answer: RELATED (i.e. “similar”). Solution is RED (i.e. “sore, evidently”) wrapped around or being “cut” by LATE (i.e. lagging “behind”), like so: RE(LATE)D.
- Farm office locally not opening (5)
Answer: RANCH (i.e. “farm”). Solution is BRANCH (i.e. “office locally”) with its first letter removed (indicated by “not opening”).
- Back circling river, mythical ship (4)
Answer: ARGO (i.e. “mythical ship” that carted Jason from one Ray Harryhausen spectacle to the next). Solution is AGO (i.e. “back”) wrapped around or “circling” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: A(R)GO.