Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1536

A toughie after a couple of relatively straightforward Jumbos. This was one of those that leaned a little too far into general knowledge for my liking. It was okay, but I usually prefer to camp out in my dictionaries during these things, not Google. We’ve seen a lot worse, to be fair.

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 pulled your pants down in front of the vicar of all people then you might find my Just For Fun page of help, where you’ll find links to solutions to a couple hundred of them. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.

Thanks for the kind words and good wishes. It’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of other solvers once they’ve set down their pens. Till next time, mask up, get jabbed and stay safe out there, kids.


Across clues

  1. Cover for head of state overturning treaty (4,3)

Answer: FLAT CAP (i.e. “cover for head”). Solution is FLA (i.e. “state”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Florida) followed by PACT (i.e. “treaty”) once reversed or “overturned”, like so: FLA-TCAP.

  1. Dives underworld figure runs guarded by animal (9)

Answer: PLUTOCRAT (i.e. “Dives” – one for the theologians, this was apparently a rich man at whose gate Lazarus lay. A plutocrat, meanwhile, is a person who is powerful through their wealth. If those two sufficiently dovetail then happy days. If not, write with righteous fury to The Times). Solution is PLUTO (i.e. “underworld figure”) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in a number of ball games) once placed in or “guarded by” CAT (i.e. “animal”), like so: PLUTO-C(R)AT.

  1. Article on pop art movement (4)

Answer: DADA (i.e. “art movement” of the 1920s). Solution is A (i.e. “article”, being a word like a, an or the) placed “on” or after DAD (i.e. “pop”, both words for father), like so: DAD-A.

  1. Potentially cheater, with envy, is feeling this? (5-4.4)

Answer: SEVEN-YEAR ITCH (i.e. “feeling this”, in reference to the “cheater” of the clue. The solution is a fancy for infidelity supposedly after seven years of marriage). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “potentially”) of CHEATER and ENVY IS.

  1. Better housing one’s to throw together (9)

Answer: IMPROVISE (i.e. “throw together”). Solution is IMPROVE (i.e. “better”) wrapped around or “housing” I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”), like so: IMPROV(I’S)E.

  1. Country club perhaps fools around with no tension (10)

Answer: UNSTRESSED (i.e. “with no tension”). Solution is UN (i.e. “country club”, specifically the United Nations) followed by DESSERTS (i.e. “perhaps fools” – other desserts are available) once reversed (indicated by “around”), like so: UN-STRESSED.

  1. Area of science involving endless loop and geometry (11)

Answer: METEOROLOGY (i.e. “area of science”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “involving”) of LOO (i.e. “endless loop”, i.e. the word “loop” with its last letter removed) and GEOMETRY.

  1. Don’t stick tip of spear into Josh (5)

Answer: TWIST (i.e. “don’t stick”, or to draw another card in a game of blackjack or pontoon). Solution is S (i.e. “tip of spear”, i.e. the first letter of “spear”) placed “into” TWIT (i.e. “josh” – ignore the misleading capitalisation; apparently one can twit or taunt another), like so: TWI(S)T.

  1. What musicians learn about second note in number (10)

Answer: THREESCORE (i.e. “number”, specifically sixty). Solution is THE SCORE (i.e. “what musicians learn”) wrapped “about” RE (i.e. “second note” in the sol-fa notation, i.e. do-RE-me… – can be spelled re or ray), like so: TH(RE)E-SCORE.

  1. Penning note, a manager cut further documentation (6)

Answer: ANNEXE (i.e. “further documentation”). Solution is AN EXEC (i.e. “a manager” or executive) with the last letter removed (indicated by “cut”) and the remainder wrapped around or “penning” N (a recognised abbreviation of “note”), like so: AN-(N)-EXE.

  1. This person twice burying Asian invader’s bones (9)

Answer: METATARSI (i.e. “bones”). Solution is ME and I (i.e. “this person twice”, from the point of view of the setter) wrapped around or “burying” TATAR’S (i.e. “Asian invader’s”, “any of the Mongol, Turkish and other warriors who swept over Asia and Europe” (Chambers)), like so: ME-(TATAR’S)-I.

  1. Hard worker set off to unload goods (5)

Answer: TRIER (i.e. “hard worker”). Solution is TRIGGER (i.e. “set off”) with the Gs removed (indicated by “unload goods” – G being a recognised abbreviation of “good”).

  1. Great genes uncovered of both sexes (7)

Answer: EPICENE (i.e. “of both sexes”). Solution is EPIC (i.e. “great”) followed by GENES once its first and last letters have been removed (indicated by “uncovered”), like so: EPIC-ENE.

  1. Helping to hold one after old rugby player’s seizure (13)

Answer: EXPROPRIATION (i.e. “seizure” of property). Solution is RATION (i.e. serving or “helping”) wrapped around or “holding” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and placed “after” EX (i.e. “old”) and PROP (i.e. “rugby player”), like so: (EX-PROP)-R(I)ATION.

  1. Those with swag bag’s contents? (3,6)

Answer: TEA LEAVES (i.e. “bag’s contents”). Clue plays on how TEA LEAF is cockney rhyming slang for “thief”, who you might stereotypically find carrying a “swag bag”. You get the idea.

  1. Physicist entering lake in waterproof covering (9)

Answer: TARPAULIN (i.e. “waterproof covering”). Solution is Wolfgang PAULI (i.e. “physicist” – no, me neither) placed in or “entering” TARN (i.e. a small mountain “lake”), like so: TAR(PAULI)N. Chalk one to my Bradford’s here.

  1. Making uneasy old Austrian ready to accept deal? (5-8)

Answer: SPINE-CHILLING (i.e. “making uneasy”). Solution is SCHILLING (i.e. “old Austrian ready”, or currency) wrapped around or “accepting” PINE (i.e. “deal”, specifically a board of pine that we’ve seen a few times in Jumbos now), like so: S(PINE)CHILLING.

  1. Scholar’s problems returning after many years (7)

Answer: Desiderius ERASMUS (i.e. Dutch “scholar” of the 15th century). Solution is SUMS (i.e. mathematical “problems” – another we’ve seen a few times in Jumbos) reversed (indicated by “returning”) and placed “after” ERA (i.e. “many years”), like so: ERA-SMUS.

  1. Leaves hotel to be hosted by queen, say (5)

Answer: CHARD (i.e. “leaves”). Solution is H (“hotel” in the phonetic alphabet) placed in or “hosted by” CARD (i.e. “queen, say” – other playing cards are available), like so: C(H)ARD. Make easier by CHARD being part of a solution in a recent Jumbo.

  1. One who orders programmer to engage male staff (9)

Answer: COMMANDER (i.e. “one who orders”). Solution is CODER (i.e. “programmer”) wrapped around M (a recognised abbreviation of “male”) and MAN (i.e. to “staff” or provide with a worker), like so: CO(M-MAN)DER.

  1. Learned person stayed put without vehicle (6)

Answer: SAVANT (i.e. “learned person”). Solution is SAT (i.e. “stayed put”) placed around or “without” VAN (i.e. “vehicle”), like so: SA(VAN)T.

  1. Clean items smashed in a hundred pieces (10)

Answer: CENTESIMAL (i.e. “in a hundred pieces”). “Smashed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLEAN ITEMS.

  1. Offer to host games for baddie in Animal Farm? (5)

Answer: BIPED (i.e. “baddie in Animal Farm“, basically the humans in the story). Solution is BID (i.e. “offer”) wrapped around or “hosting” PE (i.e. “games”, specifically Physical Education), like so: BI(PE)D.

  1. Some power to keep ruler near throne room (5,6)

Answer: WATER CLOSET (i.e. toilet or, playfully, “throne room”). Solution is WATT (i.e. “some power”) wrapped around or “keeping”) ER (i.e. “ruler”, specifically Elizabeth Regina) and CLOSE (i.e. “near”), like so: WAT(ER-CLOSE)T.

  1. Preacher in say one part of church spinning record (10)

Answer: EVANGELIST (i.e. “preacher”). Solution is EG (i.e. “say” or for example) and NAVE (i.e. “one part of church”) both reversed (indicated by “spinning”) and followed by LIST (i.e. “record”), like so: (EVAN-GE)-LIST.

  1. Care to play what sounds like harsh Stradivarius? (9)

Answer: RACEHORSE (i.e. “Stradivarius” – I’m not a betting man, so this needed a quick Google to confirm. I was genuinely surprised to find he’s still going strong. I was expecting him to have been some mega-famous racehorse during the 1950s or something, known today solely to the types of wrinkly old men who have every edition of Racing Post ever printed. Apparently Stradivarius won the Goodwood Cup a record four years in a row in 2020 and the Ascot Gold Cup a bunch of times. Is that enough to immortalise him? Will non-horsey types come to The Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword Book 25 in the years to come and immediately think “ah, yes, good old Stradivarius. Bloody good horse, that…”? Hmm. We’ll see). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “to play”) of CARE followed by a homophone (indicated by “what sounds like”) of HOARSE (i.e. “harsh”), like so: RACE-HORSE.

  1. Woman drinking beer and spirit is game for romance (4,3,6)

Answer: SPIN THE BOTTLE (i.e. “game for romance” – Tsk! Bottles are for drinking, you bloody heathens. What’s wrong with Postman’s Knock? Oh, wait, that’s right, its not the 80s any more. Don’t answer that…) Solution is SHE (i.e. “woman”) wrapped around or “drinking” PINT (i.e. “beer”) and followed by BOTTLE (i.e. courage or “spirit”), like so: S(PINT)HE-BOTTLE.

  1. Scuppered French quintet in audition? (4)

Answer: SANK (i.e. “scuppered”). “In audition” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of CINQ (i.e. “French quintet”, i.e. the French for “five”).

  1. Like unhealthy foods around large mouth, mostly? (9)

Answer: CALORIFIC (i.e. “like unhealthy foods”). Solution is CA (i.e. “around”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) and ORIFICE (i.e. “mouth”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”), like so: CA-L-ORIFIC.

  1. Performed some opera, wanting a drink (7)

Answer: SANGRIA (i.e. “drink”). Solution is SANG ARIA (i.e. “performed some opera”) with one of the As removed (indicated by “wanting a”), like so: SANG-RIA.

Down clues

  1. Maiden losing heart for one of the dukes (4)

Answer: FIST (i.e. “one of the dukes” – slang for one’s fists). Solution is FIRST (i.e. “maiden”) with the middle letter removed (indicated by “losing heart”).

  1. Believer very entertained by a person putting on braces? (9)

Answer: ADVENTIST (i.e. “believer”). Solution is V (a recognised abbreviation of “very”) placed in or “entertained by” A DENTIST (i.e. “a person putting on braces”), like so: A-D(V)ENTIST.

  1. In which one’s king is in check? (14,8)

Answer: CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY, “in which the power of the sovereign is defined and limited by the constitution” (Chambers), or, in other words, keeping “one’s king in check”.

  1. Parking message again, perhaps, in dodgy grounds (7)

Answer: PRETEXT (i.e. “dodgy grounds”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “parking” used in signage) followed by RE-TEXT (i.e. “message again”).

  1. Israeli politician joining triumvirate for reform (11)

Answer: PERESTROIKA (i.e. “reform” undertaken in 1980s Soviet Russia). Solution is Shimon PERES (i.e. “Israeli politician”) followed by TROIKA (i.e. “triumvirate”).

  1. Least smart lingerie? Time to gather it up (9)

Answer: UNTIDIEST (i.e. “least smart”). Solution is UNDIES (i.e. “lingerie”) and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) wrapped around or “gathering” IT once reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue), like so: UN(TI)DIES-T.

  1. Error of player, one who overplays old characters (5)

Answer: OGHAM (i.e. “old characters”, specifically “an ancient alphabet used in Celtic and Pictish inscriptions” (Chambers)). Solution is OG (i.e. “error of player”, specifically an Own Goal) followed by HAM (i.e. “one who overplays”). One solved solely through the wordplay.

  1. Alter view of it and repent half of errors anew (11)

Answer: REINTERPRET (i.e. “alter view”). “Anew” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of IT, REPENT and ERR (i.e. “half of errors”, specifically the first half).

  1. Singer grasping piano composition in class (6)

Answer: TIPTOP (i.e. “class” or excellent). Solution is TIT (i.e. a songbird or “singer”) wrapped around or “grasping” P (a recognised abbreviation of “piano” used in musical lingo) and followed by OP (i.e. “composition”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “opus”), like so: TI(P)T-OP.

  1. Model needing to follow a diet, not half fat (7)

Answer: ADIPOSE (i.e. “fat”). Solution is POSE (i.e. to “model”) placed after or “following” A and DI (i.e. “diet, not half”, specifically the first half of “diet”), like so: (A-DI)-POSE.

  1. In one fancy net, see rising gas (9)

Answer: ACETYLENE (i.e. “gas”). Solution is ACE (i.e. “one” in playing cards) followed by an anagram (indicated by “fancy”) of NET wrapped around or having “in” ELY (i.e. “see”, specifically a diocese in East Anglia that is a popular go-to for Times setters) once reversed (indicated by “rising” – this being a down clue), like so: ACE-T(YLE)NE.

  1. Divine hosts have a clue party with nothing on is to prove a flop (2,4,4,1,4,7)

Answer: GO DOWN LIKE A LEAD BALLOON (i.e. “prove a flop”). Solution is GODLIKE (i.e. “divine”) wrapped around or “hosting” OWN (i.e. to “have”) and followed by A, then LEAD (i.e. “clue”), then BALL (i.e. “party”), then O (i.e. “nothing”) and ON, like so: GOD(OWN)LIKE-A-LEAD-BALL-O-ON.

  1. Art employed briefly in play’s titular event (7)

Answer: TEMPEST (i.e. “play’s titular event”, referencing William Shakespeare’s The Tempest). I’m not 100% sure about this one, but I reckon when written as TEMP EST the solution satisfies “art employed briefly”. Several setters have recently used “art” as a ye olde form of “are”, the French for which being “es” or “est”. Trouble is there is no ye olde indicator in the clue, nor a French indicator. A bit of a dog’s dinner if I’ve got this right. If I’ve not, and if some kind soul swings by with a better explanation, then I’ll update the post.

[EDIT: As mentioned by a few in the comments, the clue uses the tiresome ye olde device often employed by setters when their solution ends in -EST. For some reason I hadn’t twigged that “art” was the ye olde indicator. Ugh. I blame the lurgy. If there’s one type of wordplay I’d happily drown in a lake it’s this one. Thanks all for helping! – LP]

  1. Lesbian character ill-disposed to wine (7)

Answer: CHIANTI (i.e. “wine”). Solution is CHI (i.e. “Lesbian character”, basically the twenty-second letter of the Greek alphabet. Lesbos, meanwhile, is a Greek island) followed by ANTI (i.e. “ill-disposed to”). Imagine my Google search history before I twigged this one.

  1. Mash ripe bananas – they’re heavenly! (8)

Answer: SERAPHIM (i.e. “they’re heavenly”). “Bananas” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of MASH RIPE.

  1. Render bucolic river with hill around it (8)

Answer: RURALISE (i.e. “render bucolic”). Solution is URAL (i.e. Russian “river”) placed in or having “around it” RISE (i.e. “hill”), like so: R(URAL)ISE.

  1. How poem ends in unbroken voice (5)

Answer: ENVOI (i.e. “how poem ends”, also spelled envoy – a new one on me either way). “In” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: BROK(EN VOI)CE.

  1. Serving man dressing king in jacket (5)

Answer: PARKA (i.e. “jacket”). Solution is PARA (i.e. “serving man”, specifically a paratrooper) wrapped around or “dressing” K (a recognised abbreviation of “king” used in chess), like so: PAR(K)A.

  1. Sort of coffee colour seen during this month (7)

Answer: INSTANT (i.e. “sort of coffee”). Solution is TAN (i.e. “colour”) placed in or “during” INST (i.e. “this month” – a shortened form of “instant” used in formal correspondence), like so: INS(TAN)T.

  1. Effuse endlessly about a wine that’s sweet (7)

Answer: SUGARED (i.e. “sweet”). Solution is GUSH (i.e. “effuse”) with the last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and the remainder reversed (indicated by “about”), followed by A and RED (i.e. “wine”), like so: SUG-A-RED.

  1. Strong metal peg left after change in America (6,5)

Answer: NICKEL STEEL (i.e. “strong metal”). Solution is TEE (i.e. “peg”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”) both placed “after” NICKELS (i.e. “change in America”), like so: NICKELS-(TEE-L).

  1. Praising cosmetician after a make-over (11)

Answer: ENCOMIASTIC (i.e. “praising”). “After a make-over” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of COSMETICIAN. One I remembered from the very first Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword, which I covered last Christmas. Very nicely worked. Probably my favourite clue of the puzzle.

  1. A property manager’s moving ecstasy to China, say (9)

Answer: EASTWARDS (i.e. “to China, say” – other easterly destinations are available). Solution is A STEWARD’S (i.e. “a property manager’s”) with the E (street name of the drug “ecstasy”) “moved” to the beginning, like so: A-ST(E)WARD’S => (E)A-STWARD’S.

  1. Criticise and contradict female for doubting (9)

Answer: DISBELIEF (i.e. “doubting”). Solution is DIS (i.e. “criticise” – can be spelled with one or two Ss) followed by BELIE (i.e. “contradict”) and F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”).

  1. One having an account in prose? Do badly with it (9)

Answer: DEPOSITOR (i.e. “one having an account”). “Badly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PROSE DO and IT.

  1. Two vessels touring isle that’s a sacred place (7)

Answer: VATICAN (i.e. “a sacred place”). Solution is VAT and CAN (i.e. “two vessels”) wrapped around or “touring” I (a recognised abbreviation of “isle”), like so: VAT-(I)-CAN.

  1. Three sheets to the wind on the French steamer (7)

Answer: LEGLESS (i.e. pissed, or flying “three sheets to the wind”). Solution is LEG (i.e. “on” side in cricket) followed by LE (i.e. “the French”, i.e. the masculine French form of “the”) and SS (i.e. “steamer”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “steamship”).

  1. Like secretary’s work, dropping a line for father? (6)

Answer: CLERIC (i.e. religious type or “father”). Solution is CLERICAL (i.e. “like secretary’s work”) with the A and L removed (indicated by “dropping a line” – L being a recognised abbreviation of “line”).

  1. Stunner was a model once more, making a comeback (5)

Answer: TASER (i.e. “stunner” device). Solution is RE-SAT (i.e. “was a model once more”) reversed (indicated by “making a comeback”).

  1. Star not quite following a strict diet (4)

Answer: VEGA (i.e. “star” in the constellation of Lyra). Solution is VEGAN (i.e. “following a strict diet”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “not quite”).

11 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1536

  1. Thanks, Lucian. Could 18d be “emp” i.e. a brief/shortened form of “employed” within “test” for “play”, as in “match”? Not totally convinced, as it really needs “play” to indicate the dramatic sense of the word.

    1. Another possibility is a sign of the times. ART is an antigen rapid test, I believe, round emp (briefly employed). Thanks Lucian, for improving my crossword solving in my retirement,

  2. Thanks Lucian. This one was definitely not enjoyable. We did manage to finish it but didn’t always understand why, so your explanations are, as always, much appreciated.

    Re 18d, I had to consult a crossword-solvers’ forum, but this is the explanation I was given on there:

    ‘Art’ in the wordplay is the second person indicative of the verb ‘to be’ (as in ‘thou art’), so “[thou] art employed briefly” translates to “[thou] tempest” (‘to temp’ being to work as a temp).


    Take care, and stay safe. SB

  3. Thanks, Lucian, quite a good one this week. Favourite was tea leaves as I am a sucker for Cockney rhyming slang. Re 18d, as The Tempest is a Shakespearean play, I think the setter was using his/her own Shakespearean language in the solution as in “ not fully-employed? Then tempest thou, good fellow?” Cheers

  4. Re: 5d (Answer Plutocrat) – I cottoned on to the “Dives” bit from my recollection of Vaughan Williams’s “Dives and Lazarus”. But, literally, I would say that “dives” is Latin for “rich” (adjective) rather than rich man (adj. + noun)

    Still, who am I to disagree with the late and great Ralph Vaughan Williams, let alone The Bible.

  5. Another explanation for 18d (Tempest) would be “tempt” (as in play for a fool) outside “es” – but despite sipping a whisky and soda this evening, I am not at all sure.

    However, I liked this week’s Jumbo overall. There were some decent clues.

  6. Thanks Lucian.
    That was a real slog.
    Re: tempest, I agree with various above comments.
    It’s just a deliberately jokey juxtaposition of a modern word (the verb ‘to temp’) in a ye olde format, so ‘thou art employed briefly’ becomes ‘thou tempest’.

  7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – you liked Encomiastic but it was one of the clues I hate … a word found in dictionaries and crosswords but nowhere else! There were several clues which were so weak we only pencilled the answer until we could cross-check. Also tiresome “endless” type clues for 21A, 11D, 32D.
    On the other hand … Biped was concise and witty, also Seven-Year Itch was neatly anagrammed.

    1. I can’t stand those “endless”-type clues either, because they’re impossible to solve just from the wordplay. You have to guess the answer then work backwards. The same is true of clues which include a name or an animal (we had an example of the latter in 5a), for the same reason.

  8. My comeuppance for complaining that previous two Jumbos were risibly easy. This one a cumbersome swine. I rarely start the Jumbo before Thursday (only get my once-weekly Times on a Saturday and then save the treat), the one rule being that it must be finished before the next one arrives. Fulfilled that brief at 02.15hrs on Sat, 15th!

  9. Since when are still alive racehorse fair game for setters? Poor effort, if its a person then they must be dead by convention, the same should apply to racehorses….red card setter!

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