A toughie this week, but another miss for me. Some of the clues were well worked, but in the main this didn’t push many of my buttons. Maybe next week, eh?
You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If a recent Jumbo has trashed your reputation across the whole of social media – even Myspace – then you might find comfort in my Just For Fun page, where you’ll find links to solutions to hundreds of the buggers. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.
Thanks again for the kind words and feedback. It’s always interesting to hear how other solvers fared once the dust settles. Till next time, stay safe out there, kids.
- Brief success then pain, collapsing after race (5,2,3,3)
Answer: FLASH IN THE PAN (i.e. “brief success”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “collapsing”) of THEN PAIN placed “after” FLASH (i.e. to “race” around), like so: FLASH-INTHEPAN.
- Last drink, and what’s said to precede it? (7,2)
Answer: BOTTOMS UP (i.e. “what’s said to precede [drink]”). Solution is BOTTOM (i.e. “last”) followed by SUP (i.e. “drink”).
- Vote not yet in post (5)
Answer: ELECT. Solution satisfies “vote” and “not yet in post”, e.g. a president-elect.
- Sorcerer, on reflection, wearing habit adapted for hot country (3,6)
Answer: THE GAMBIA (i.e. a “hot country”). Solution is MAGE (i.e. “sorcerer”) reversed (indicated by “on reflection”) and placed in or “wearing” an anagram (indicated by “adapted”) of HABIT, like so: TH(EGAM)BIA.
- Sacred buildings where patriarch receives queen (7)
Answer: MOSQUES (i.e. “sacred buildings”). Solution is MOSES (i.e. biblical “patriarch”) wrapped around or “receiving” QU (a recognised abbreviation of “queen”), like so: MOS(QU)ES.
- Commercial openings for musical extracts ready to be sung (12)
Answer: MECHANTABLE (i.e. “commercial”). Not 100% on this one. My solution, for what it’s worth, is M E and R (i.e. “openings for musical extracts ready”, i.e. the first letters of “musical”, “extracts” and “ready”) followed by CHANTABLE (I guess “ready to be sung”, or in a chantable form. A bit rubbish if this is right. I prefer derivative words to be explicitly mentioned in a dictionary, but maybe I’m being a bit 29d…)
- Stimulant from way back hoarded by a medic in East (10)
Answer: ADRENALINE (i.e. “stimulant”). Solution is LANE (i.e. “way”) reversed (indicated by “back”) and placed in or “hoarded by” A, DR (i.e. “medic”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “doctor”), IN and E (a recognised abbreviation of “East”), like so: A-DR-(ENAL)-IN-E.
- Unloaded suite partner collected (6)
Answer: SEDATE (i.e. “collected”). Solution is SE (i.e. “unloaded suite”, i.e. the word “suite” with all its middle letters removed) followed by DATE (i.e. “partner”).
- Accountant registers around 100 reliable sellers (4,4)
Answer: CASH COWS (i.e. cash-generating businesses or “reliable sellers”). Solution is CA (i.e. “accountant”, specifically a Chartered Accountant) followed by SHOWS (i.e. “registers”) once wrapped “around” C (i.e. “100” as a Roman numeral), like so: CA-SH(C)OWS.
- Put meat in coating of fire (6)
Answer: FLAMBE. Solution satisfies the clue in general, but is also LAMB (i.e. “meat”) placed “in” FE (i.e. “coating of fire”, i.e. the first and last letters of “fire”), like so: F(LAMB)E. Nicely worked.
- Oscar in condemned prison cell briefly remains there (10)
Answer: NECROPOLIS (i.e. “remains there”, i.e. a burial site). Solution is O (“Oscar” in the phonetic alphabet) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “condemned”) of PRISON and CELL once this latter has had its last letter removed (indicated by “briefly”), like so: NECR(O)POLIS.
- Percy moving south stops northerners giving chase (2,3,7)
Answer: IN HOT PURSUIT (i.e. “giving chase”). Solution is HOTSPUR (nickname of Sir Henry “Percy”, an English knight from the fourteenth century) with the S (a recognised abbreviation of “south”) “moving” to the end. This is then placed in or “stopping” INUIT (i.e. “northerners”), like so: IN(HOTPURS)UIT.
- African hovel and its interior (4)
Answer: HUTU (i.e. “African”, an ethnic group of Rwanda and Burundi). Solution is HUT (i.e. “hovel”) followed by U (i.e. “its interior” – referring to the middle letter of HUT).
- Spiny fish Scotsman’s thrown back eaten by piscivore (3,5)
Answer: SEA SNAIL (i.e. “spiny fish”. The images I’ve seen don’t look all that spiny, so I guess this is just a play on how it has a backbone. Like most fish, then). Solution is IAN’S (i.e. “Scotsman’s”) reversed (indicated by “thrown back”) and placed in or “eaten by” SEAL (a “piscivore” or fish-eating creature), like so: SEA(S’NAI)L.
- I cut to vet being televised (2-6)
Answer: ON-SCREEN (i.e. “televised”). Solution is ONE (i.e. Roman numeral “I”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “cut”) and the remainder followed by SCREEN (i.e. “to vet”).
- Landing fish in middle of night (8)
Answer: PERCHING (i.e. “landing”). Solution is PERCH (i.e. “fish”) followed by IN and G (i.e. “middle [letter] of night”).
- Be left to enter (4,4)
Answer: COME INTO. Solution satisfies to inherit or “be left”, and “to enter”.
- Bloke’s cloak shortened (4)
Answer: COVE (i.e. “bloke”). Solution is COVER (i.e. “cloak”) once its last letter has been removed.
- Instrument restricting power remained part of sound system (6,6)
Answer: RECORD PLAYER (i.e. “part of sound system”). Solution is RECORDER (i.e. musical “instrument”) wrapped around or “restricting” P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) and LAY (i.e. “remained”), like so: RECORD(P-LAY)ER.
- Itinerant setter on constant watch for guidebooks (10)
Answer: GAZETTEERS (i.e. “guidebooks” – over to Chambers: “a geographical dictionary, a reference book containing alphabetical entries for places of the world, with maps etc”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “itinerant”) of SETTER placed “on” or after GAZE (i.e. “constant watch”), like so: GAZE-TTEERS. I’ll stick to “guidebook”, thanks. Gazetteer makes me sound like I’ve recently lit from Mr Fogg’s dirigible and am henceforth perambulating in the general direction of the seashore to capture a series of fine daguerreotypes to present to the Reform Club upon my return.
- Spots lady on vacation, 54 (6)
Answer: RASHLY (i.e. “54” – the solution to 54a is ON IMPULSE). Solution is RASH (i.e. “spots”) followed by LY (i.e. “lady on vacation”, i.e. the word “lady” with its middle letters removed), like so: RASH-LY.
- Direction given shortly after reversal of current cuts (5,3)
Answer: EDITS OUT (i.e. “cuts”). Solution is SOUTH (i.e. “direction”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “shortly”) and the remainder placed “after” TIDE (i.e. “current”) once reversed (indicated by “reversal of…”), like so: EDIT-SOUT.
- Fuel cell used regularly fades first (6)
Answer: DIESEL (i.e. “fuel”). Solution is EL (i.e. “cell used regularly”, i.e. every other letter of CELL) placed after or having “first” DIES (i.e. “fades”), like so: DIES-EL.
- Digital guide an enhancement for reference books (5,5)
Answer: THUMB INDEX (i.e. “enhancement for reference books”). Clue plays on THUMBs being digits found on hands and INDEXes being guides to, say, the contents of a book. You get the idea.
- A church training learner having left animated and with insight (12)
Answer: PERCEPTIVELY (i.e. “with insight”). Solution is PER (i.e. “a” – think how you could say “miles per hour” or “miles an hour”) followed by CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England), then PT (i.e. “training”, specifically Physical Training), then LIVELY (i.e. “animated”) once the first L has been removed (indicated by “learner having left” – L being a recognised abbreviation of a “learner”), like so: PER-CE-PT-IVELY.
- Vigorously steer west of British port (3,4)
Answer: CON BRIO (i.e. “vigorously” in musical lingo). Solution is CON (i.e. “steer” – one of its lesser used variant meanings) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”) and RIO (i.e. “port”, specifically Rio De Janeiro). “West of” just means CON is placed to the west of the remainder of the solution, this being an across clue.
- Rejected 80% of smaller veg without thinking (2,7)
Answer: ON IMPULSE (i.e. “without thinking”). Solution is MINOR (i.e. “smaller”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “80% of…” – this being a five letter word) and the remainder reversed (indicated by “rejected”). This is then followed by PULSE (i.e. “veg”), like so: ONIM-PULSE.
- Cajun stew pot overturned – boy goes short (5)
Answer: GUMBO (i.e. “Cajun stew”). Solution is MUG (i.e. “pot”) reversed (indicated by “overturned”) and followed by BOY once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “goes short”), like so: GUM-BO.
- A lackey sent off across road for teatime treat (5,4)
Answer: LARDY CAKE (i.e. “teatime treat”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “sent off”) of A LACKEY wrapped around or placed “across” RD (a recognised abbreviation of “road”), like so: LA(RD)YCAKE.
- Genial tenor embracing left winger who shares his outlook? (7,6)
Answer: KINDRED SPIRIT (i.e. “who shares his outlook”). Solution is KIND (i.e. “genial”) and SPIRIT (i.e. the gist or “tenor” of something) wrapped around or “embracing” RED (i.e. “left winger”), like so: KIND-(RED)-SPIRIT.
- Footloose graduates working for man in lodge (9)
Answer: FREEMASON (i.e. “man in lodge”). Solution is FREE (i.e. “footloose”) followed by MAS (i.e. “graduates”, specifically Masters of Arts) and ON (i.e. “working”).
- Introduction of virtual reader arranged as stated (7)
Answer: AVERRED (i.e. “stated”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “arranged”) of V (i.e. “introduction of virtual”, i.e. the first letter of “virtual”) and READER.
- Begin life in France and post damning report (7,3)
Answer: HATCHET JOB (i.e. “damning report”). Solution is HATCH (i.e. “begin life”) followed by ET (i.e. “in France and”, i.e. the French for “and”), then JOB (i.e. “post”).
- One colonist after another with head down, swimming (6)
Answer: NATANT (i.e. “swimming”). Solution is ANT (i.e. “one colonist”) placed “after” ANT (i.e. “another [colonist]”) once its first letter or “head” has been moved forward or put “down” – this being a down clue – like so: (A)NT-ANT => N(A)T-ANT.
- Ornate chair Charlie graded (12)
Answer: HIERARCHICAL (i.e. “graded”). “Ornate” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHAIR CHARLIE.
- Slack line with first items for airing (8)
Answer: PLAYLIST (i.e. “items for airing”). Solution is PLAY (i.e. give or “slack”) followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”) and IST (i.e. “first”, the 1 replaced by its Roman numeral).
- Knight bachelor breaking American hearts (4)
Answer: NUBS (i.e. “hearts”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “knight” used in chess) followed by B (a recognised abbreviation of “bachelor”) once placed in or “breaking” US (i.e. “American”), like so: N-U(B)S.
- Investor not liking to approach with resolution (4,4,2)
Answer: BEAR DOWN ON (i.e. “approach with resolution”). Solution is BEAR (i.e. “investor”, the opposite of a bull) followed by DOWN ON (i.e. “not liking”).
- Musician at first enthralled by lighter fiddle (6)
Answer: TAMPER (i.e. “fiddle” with). Solution is M (i.e. “musician at first”, i.e. the first letter of “musician”) placed in or “enthralled by” TAPER (i.e. “lighter”, e.g. of candles), like so: TA(M)PER.
- Old couple touring ruined castle finding event hard to negotiate (8,4)
Answer: OBSTACLE RACE (i.e. “event hard to negotiate”). Solution is O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) followed by BRACE (i.e. two, or a “couple”) once wrapped around or “touring” an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of CASTLE, like so: O-B(STACLE)RACE.
- S American announcement of secession from oil rich state (5)
Answer: SAUDI (i.e. “from oil rich state”, specifically Saudi Arabia). Solution is S followed by A (a recognised abbreviation of “American”) and UDI (i.e. “announcement of secession”, specifically a Unilateral Declaration of Independence – a new one on me).
- Bill any number within grounds for delivery service (5,8)
Answer: POSTE RESTANTE (i.e. “delivery service”, apparently where letters are kept until they are called for). Solution is POSTER (i.e. “bill”) followed by N (mathematical representation of “any number”) once placed “within” ESTATE (i.e. “grounds”), like so: POSTER-ESTA(N)TE. One nailed solely through the wordplay.
- Weigh up Tory marginal, minister’s base (8)
Answer: CONSIDER (i.e. “weigh up”). Solution is CON (i.e. “Tory” or Conservative) followed by SIDE (i.e. “marginal”, e.g. a side issue) followed by R (i.e. “minister’s base”, i.e. the last letter of “minister”).
- Spooner’s domestic spy finds evidence of forced entry? (5,4)
Answer: MOUSE HOLE (i.e. “evidence of forced entry”). Solution is a “Spoonerism” of HOUSE (i.e. “domestic”) and MOLE (i.e. “spy”).
- Prepare for action, or relax? (6,2)
Answer: LOOSEN UP. Solution satisfies “prepare for action” and “relax”.
- At climbing aboard vehicle, turns and falls (9)
Answer: CATARACTS (i.e. water “falls” – I’ve a faint memory of seeing this one before, if you’ll forgive the pun). Solution is AT placed in or “climbing aboard” CAR (i.e. “vehicle”) and followed by ACTS (i.e. “turns”), like so: C(AT)AR-ACTS.
- Pinch over £500, leaving 1000 in expenses fund (3,5)
Answer: PIN MONEY (i.e. “expenses fund”). Solution is NIP (i.e. “pinch”) reversed (indicated by “over”) and followed by MONKEY (i.e. slang for “£500”) once the K has been removed (indicated by “leaving 1000” – K being a recognised abbreviation of kilo).
- Workshy, contemptuous son’s departed for days (8)
Answer: INDOLENT (i.e. “workshy”). Solution is INSOLENT (i.e. “contemptuous”) with the S (a recognised abbreviation of “son”) swapped “for” D (ditto “days”), like so: IN(S)OLENT => IN(D)OLENT.
- Unusually chirpy recital much too fussy (13)
Answer: HYPERCRITICAL (i.e. “much too fussy”). “Unusually” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CHIRPY RECITAL.
- Fruit punch served up by men in boat (12)
Answer: WHORTLEBERRY (i.e. “fruit” that look a lot like blueberries). Solution is BELT (i.e. “punch”) reversed (indicated by “served up” – this being a down clue) and placed, with OR (i.e. “men” – specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army), “in” WHERRY (i.e. “boat”), like so: WH(OR-TLEB)ERRY. A nod to my Bradford’s here. I’d never heard of them.
- Notably quiet dons unable to speak, last two denied right (2,10)
Answer: IN PARTICULAR (i.e. “notably”). Solution is P (i.e. “quiet”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “piano” used in musical lingo) placed in or “donning” INARTICULATE (i.e. “unable to speak”) once the last two letters have been removed (indicated by “last two denied”), then R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: IN(P)ARTICULA-R.
- Feeling the effects of being up for too long? (6-4)
Answer: SADDLE-SORE. Clue plays on “up” meaning “on a horse”, and how you’d be SADDLE-SORE after too long. That’s about it, I guess.
- Report of increased industrial action beginning (8,2)
Answer: STRIKING UP. Solution satisfies “increased industrial action” and “beginning”.
- Pay lots of jockeys, getting sole complaint (9)
Answer: SPLAYFOOT (i.e. “sole complaint”). “Jockeys” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PAY LOTS OF. Remembered from a previous Jumbo, eventually.
- Artless witticism sleuth first overheard? (8)
Answer: HOMESPUN (i.e. “artless”). Solution is PUN (i.e. “witticism”) with a homophone (indicated by “overheard”) of Sherlock HOLMES placed “first”, like so: HOMES-PUN.
- Ship’s pilot keeping mum on return trip (7)
Answer: STEAMER (i.e. “ship”). Solution is STEER (i.e. “pilot”) wrapped around or “keeping” MA (i.e. “mum”) once reversed (indicated by “on return trip”), like so: STE(AM)ER.
- Greek market stocking last of woven fabric (6)
Answer: ANGORA (i.e. “fabric”). Solution is AGORA (i.e. “Greek market” – thank you, Chambers) wrapped around or “stocking” N (i.e. “last of woven”, i.e. the last letter of “woven”), like so: A(N)GORA.
- Tag on a very soft object (6)
Answer: APPEND (i.e. “tag on”). Solution is A followed by PP (i.e. “very soft”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “pianissimo” used in musical lingo) and END (i.e. “object”).
- Harmful narrowing in part of bone (5)
Answer: ULNAR (i.e. “bone”, found in the forearm). “In part” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: HARMF(UL NAR)ROWING.
- Flashing signal to land close to mark (4)
Answer: WINK (i.e. “flashing signal”). Solution is WIN (i.e. “to land”) followed by K (i.e. “close to mark”, i.e. the last letter of “mark”).
With the Premier League on its winter break I thought it high time I accompanied a post with some music again. I believe I’ve mentioned Magic Sword here before, but their two albums Volume 1 and Endless were welcome reruns (the latter featuring an excellent shades-of-Mike-Oldfield track called Depths of Power). If prog-tinged electronica sounds up your street, go check ’em out. The links will take you to Spotify.
I’ve also been filling a Pendulum-shaped hole in my listening recently with a couple of very worthy acts, The Anix and NUTRONIC, thanks mainly to the latter’s remix of a track The Anix did with Fury Weekend. The original didn’t do much for me, to be honest, but the remix is very good. See for yourself…
To give you a flavour of NUTRONIC and The Anix’s own stuff, here are a couple more vids, both belters.
And if that wasn’t enough, Carpenter Brut then goes and releases a track from his upcoming Leather Terror album. Be still my beating heart! While I tend to prefer his instrumental tracks, I have to admit that this, when played loud enough, kicks all kinds of ass. (Insert devil horns emoji here.) Laters! – LP
16 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1539”
Thanks as ever, Lucian. Every week there are clues where you spot something I haven’t. I am with you on 16a (where your parsing is definitely correct), as although ‘chantable’ is a valid Scrabble word (harrumph), the only version of such a word that proper dictionaries (and I) would accept is ‘cantabile’. Even more so you are right concerning 30a ‘sea snail’, which from what I know, doesn’t have a spine and isn’t a fish but a mollusc – so this clue is plain wrong. Overall though I really enjoyed the puzzle; there were elegant and succinct clues throughout eg 13a, 15a, 35a. 26a also very clever. Just wish setters would stop resorting to convoluted clues like 51a and 54a where you have to subtract different bits of words (even ‘80% of’ a word) and fill up the spaces with cliché’d abbreviations – tedious!
And as you say, no footy, and still a week before the Six Nations, so we are in dire need of spiritual enlightenment.
Michael, I’m in total agreement with you about those subtraction-type clues, because they’re impossible to solve just from the wordplay. You have to guess what the answer might be, then work backwards to figure out the parsing.
The question has been asked in the past: The Guardian always identifies its crossword compilers, so why doesn’t The Times? The answer given was that if readers knew in advance who had set that day’s crossword, they might be put off doing it. That would certainly be the case with the particular setter who displays a strange (some might even say unhealthy) fondness for subtraction-type clues. If I saw that setter’s name above the grid, I probably wouldn’t even buy the paper!
I think the reference is to the Liparidae which are known as snailfish or sea snails. Brittanica refers to “fish with loose and scaleless, though sometimes prickly, skins” which I assume is what the setter means by “spiny”. Don’t like the clue at all but this, I suggest, is the parsing. Though quite whether clunky setting deserves the benefit of any doubt is altogether another question..
Thanks Lucian. This one was definitely not enjoyable. And SEA SNAIL (30a) isn’t the only dubious definition. PARTNER (18a) doesn’t automatically mean DATE – the former suggests something more permanent, whereas the latter could easily fall at the first hurdle. PIN MONEY (27d) doesn’t mean EXPENSES FUND – it’s money for little luxuries that one otherwise couldn’t justify or afford. And ANGORA (47d) refers to the hair of the Angora goat, so strictly speaking isn’t a fabric.
I agree with you about the parsing of 16a, though I’ve only ever come across the word in the context of an item needing to be “of merchantable quality” (in other words, “fit for purpose”). Incidentally you have MECHANTABLE in your description, though it’s correct in the grid. But given that MÉCHANT is French for “naughty”, maybe this is a subconscious comment on this week’s setter?
Take care, and stay safe. SB
And I thought it would be all done quickly …. unusually I got all the perimeter clues done almost immediately, opening up the grid. Several nicely worked clues slowed me down though. I share grumbles re the ‘spiny fish’ (not) and angora ‘fabric’ and add my own small quibbles (1) not happy natant is really swimming (swimming implies activity I think) and a very weak ‘forced’ in 22d’ Mousehole. Overall an ok puzzle I think. Thanks as ever for the explanations and for expressing your quibbles – it helps us to know we aren’t alone in our doubts. Cheers Graham
For Sea Snail, my dictionary says:
“any small spiny-finned fish of the family Liparidae”.
Generally we thought it was ok, although there were a few places where we pencilled the answer because it seemed so weak.
And if I might add a general gripe … there’s not much fun in clues like Hotspur (or Sea Snail) which depend on looking up obscure references in books.
Anyway, time to get moving on Mindset!
My Oxford dictionary says ‘periwinkle or similar shellfish; also small slimy fish such as the unctuous sucker’. Wikipedia says ‘Sea snail is the common name for slow-moving marine gastropod molluscs, usually with visible external shells, such as whelk or abalone’. It distinguishes them from snailfish, which are indeed fish. Apparently one breed of snailfish, ‘acantholiparis opercularis’ found at huge depth does have a prickly spine. So I concede you have a case…. but for a setter providing a two-word definition for Sea Snail, ‘slimy creature’ would be fair – and ‘spiny fish’ just isn’t!
All this completely validates your general gripe – we shouldn’t have to delve into ill-defined obscurities at the bottom of the Mariana Trench….
Now, what is Mindset and how does one get moving on it?
Tee hee, I like your style. Thank you for humouring my gripe, I feel much better now.
Mindset is on the opposite page of the Times Saturday Review section. Basically three questions which lean towards general knowledge, numeracy and wordplay. Enjoy!
I found it fairly easy this week. I went to bed with three clues remaining and, blow me down, I woke up briefly at 4 a.m. this morning realising the answer to one of them. Disturbing – and not just for my sleep.
Re: 34a (Ans. = Perching), I had always thought that perching happened AFTER landing, not that they meant the same thing.
We found 29 across lamentably negative in its construction; perhaps “African shack and its interior” would be more fitting in this day and age.
Agree. Very surprised to see “hut” taken as synonymous with “hovel”. Not in Africa it ain’t. But then I keep wine in my hut – so perhaps I’m oversensitive to the slur!
Entertaining as always – thank you Lucian.
A brief observation regarding 50d: the bone in question(/clue) is the ‘ulna’; of (this particular) bone delivers ‘ulnar’.
Yes, this is definitely the explanation. I can find no variant spelling of the bone that accepts “ulnar”. Rather, “ulnar” means “of” (i.e. pertaining to) the ulna. Some right crowbarring here, certainly – as too often through this Jumbo.
Touched to find that Lucian’s too young to have any recollection of UDI – 1965, Ian Smith and what was then Rhodesia: the term dominated the news when I was ten. And too young, too, to have used poste restantes, a godsend for those of us travelling the world decades before gap years and internet cafes. I then realised just how bloody old I was. O dear.
You are a mere youth, Ned – that UDI/Tiger talks news dominated the rungup to my A-levels (spring 1966). The following year I collected mail from post restantes in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan (the traditional hippy trail). Oh dear oh dear.
49ac I think a thumb index is the little cut outs you get in the edge of posh dictionaries