Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1540

A medium-strength puzzle this week, and one with a mixed bag of clues. Some were very nicely constructed, while others got right up my nose. Can’t have it all, I guess.

You can find my completed grid below along with explanations of my solutions where I have them. I hope you find them helpful. If you’ve found a recent Jumbo spent the entirety of lockdown secretly downloading eyewatering amounts of elephant porn through your Wi-Fi connection then 1) consider changing your Wi-Fi password, and 2) you might find comfort in my Just For Fun page, where you’ll find links to solutions for hundreds of the pesky buggers. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.

Thanks for the kind words and feedback, folks. It’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of other solvers once they’ve put down their pens. I’d have posted this a number of hours ago had I not become absorbed in the inaugural World Seniors Darts Championship. It’s been a fascinating (if glitchy) watch so far with several old favourites from the BDO and PDC playing. The semi-finals and final are on tomorrow (well, later on today now I suppose) on BBC iPlayer or BT Sport. The previous sessions are also on iPlayer, but you’ll have to go searching for them. Here’s hoping it returns again next year. Anyway, till next time, stay safe out there, kids.


Across clues

  1. Not as many contracts for navigator in the past (6)

Answer: Abel Janszoon TASMAN (i.e. “navigator in the past”). “Contracts” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: NO(T AS MAN)Y. Straight to Bradford’s the moment I saw “navigator in the past” as this was obviously going to be one of those solutions solely there to plug an awkward space. Setters waste no time deploying crap like this when put into a tight spot, so why should we?

  1. Newly baked buns close to Weihnachten: a German institution! (10)

Answer: BUNDESBANK (i.e. “a German institution”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “newly”) of BAKED BUNS and N (i.e. “close to Weihnachten”, i.e. the last letter of Weihnachten).

  1. Symbol of bear seen by millions (5)

Answer: TOTEM (i.e. “symbol”). Solution is TOTE (i.e. to carry or “bear”) followed by M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”).

  1. Girl clips rail exercising (9)

Answer: PRISCILLA (i.e. a “girl’s” name). “Exercising” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CLIPS RAIL.

  1. A number of just people excluded from company? (4,3,6)

Answer: ONLY THE LONELY (i.e. “a number” by Roy Orbison). Solution is ONLY (i.e. “just”) followed by THE LONELY (i.e. “people excluded from company”).

  1. Want to take in film with female: a recent catch? (3,4)

Answer: WET FISH (i.e. “a recent catch”, as opposed to frozen or dried fish). Solution is WISH (i.e. “want”) wrapped around or “taking in” ET (i.e. “film”, specifically ET: The Extra Terrestrial) and F (a recognised abbreviation of “female”), like so: W(ET-F)ISH.

  1. Port to progress slowly with age (7)

Answer: INCHEON (i.e. a “port” of South Korea). Solution is INCH (i.e. “to progress slowly”) followed by EON (i.e. “age”). Again to Bradford’s for pretty much the same reason as 1a. Who cares how easy the parsing is? If you see “port” in a clue, you have my permission to be a big cheating bastard like me. Bradford’s alone lists 900 of them. Are you going to sit there and learn them all? For a crossword? Really? No, of course not. Treat it like the lazy cop-out it is, cheat and move on.

  1. One making mistake: he’s put his foot in it? (7)

Answer: SLIPPER. Solution satisfies “one making mistake” – playfully, hence the riddly question mark – and “he’s put his foot in it”.

  1. With passion, elected representative repeated lines of poetry (1,8,1,8)

Answer: I REMEMBER I REMEMBER (i.e. “lines of poetry” by Thomas Hood). Solution is IRE (i.e. “passion”) and MEMBER (i.e. “elected representative”) “repeated”.

  1. From a piece of furniture, article’s removed (2,2)

Answer: AS OF (i.e. “from”). Solution is A followed by SOFA (i.e. “piece of furniture”) once the A has been removed (indicated by “article’s removed”, an article is a word like a, an or the), like so: A-SOF.

  1. Pass out from worry (5)

Answer: EXEAT (i.e. a “pass” or “formal leave of absence, especially for a student to be out of college for more than one night” (Chambers)). Solution is EX (i.e. Latin for “out from”) followed by EAT (i.e. “worry”, as in “what’s eating you?”). Not one I’m familiar with, not being of that bracket, but nicely worked all the same.

  1. Leaves here couple on golf course for picking up? (3,5)

Answer: TEA CADDY (i.e. “leaves here”). Solution comprises homophones (indicated by “for picking up”) of TEE and CADDIE (i.e. “couple on golf course”), despite CADDY being an acceptable variant spelling of the latter.

  1. Grey exterior to tower that is becoming darker (8)

Answer: GLOOMIER (i.e. “darker”). Solution is GR (a recognised abbreviation of “grey”) wrapped around or being “exterior to” LOOM (i.e. “to tower”) and IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. …um… i.e.!), like so: G(LOOM-IE)R.

  1. Prayer leader embracing wife with an expression of disbelief (2,1,8)

Answer: I’M A DUTCHMAN (i.e. “expression of disbelief”). Solution is IMAM (i.e. “prayer leader”) wrapped around or “embracing” DUTCH (i.e. “wife” – supposedly cockney rhyming slang after the Duchess of Fife) and followed by AN, like so: IMA(DUTCH)M-AN.

  1. Boss, after row, one getting on with staff (4,7)

Answer: LINE MANAGER (i.e. “boss”). Solution is LINE (i.e. “row”) followed by AGER (i.e. “one getting on”) once placed “on” or after MAN (i.e. to “staff” an operation), like so: LINE-(MAN-AGER).

  1. Reporters of contests involving sailors and boxer (11)

Answer: JOURNALISTS (i.e. “reporters”). Solution is JOUSTS (i.e. “contests”) wrapped around or “involving” RN (i.e. “sailors”, specifically the Royal Navy) and Muhammad ALI (i.e. “boxer”), like so: JOU(RN-ALI)STS.

  1. What spectacularly sparks love affair and also large splits (5,6)

Answer: ROMAN CANDLE (i.e. “what spectacularly sparks”). Solution is ROMANCE (i.e. “love affair”) wrapped around or “split” by AND (i.e. “also”) and L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”), like so: ROMANC(AND-L)E. Nicely worked.

  1. Where US driver pulls in – and remains in pole position (4,4)

Answer: REST STOP (i.e. “where US driver pulls in”). Solution is RESTS (i.e. “remains”) followed by TOP (i.e. “in pole position”).

  1. Sword that is needed by impressionist, to cut (8)

Answer: SCIMITAR (i.e. “sword”). Solution is SC (i.e. “that is”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of the Latin scilicet) followed by IMITATOR (i.e. “impressionist”) once the “TO” has been “cut”, like so: SC-IMITAR.

  1. Note is the writer’s – mostly the writer’s (5)

Answer: MINIM (i.e. musical “note”). Solution is MINE (i.e. “the writer’s” from the point of view of the setter) once the last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”) and the remainder followed by I’M (i.e. “the writer’s”, again from the point of view of the setter – this time a contraction of I AM), like so: MIN-I’M.

  1. You must not assume this at the outset (4)

Answer: DON’T (i.e. “you must not”). Solution is DON (i.e. “assume”) followed by T (i.e. “this at the outset”, i.e. the first letter of “this”).

  1. Rage, and split with the Foundation, as McCarthy did? (3,4,5,3,3)

Answer: SEE REDS UNDER THE BED (i.e. “as McCarthy did”, specifically Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had an unhealthy obsession for alleged communists in 1950s America. Thank goodness we’ll never see such craziness again in US politics. (Looks to camera)). Solution is SEE RED (i.e. “rage”) followed by SUNDER (i.e. “split”), then THE and BED (i.e. “foundation” – ignore the misleading capitalisation).

  1. Host outside departs in vain for key (6,1)

Answer: MIDDLE C (i.e. musical “key”). Solution is MC (i.e. “host” or Master of Ceremonies) wrapped “outside” of D (a recognised abbreviation of “departs” used on timetables) once it as been placed “in” IDLE (i.e. “vain” – one of its lesser used meanings), like so: M(ID(D)LE)C.

  1. Stole or cape to wear if held out (7)

Answer: FILCHED (i.e. “stole”). Solution is C (a recognised abbreviation of “cape”, the geographic feature) placed in or “wearing” an anagram (indicated by “out”) of IF HELD, like so: FIL(C)HED.

  1. City of Prague I fancy (7)

Answer: PERUGIA (i.e. Italian “city”). “Fancy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PRAGUE I.

  1. Proposal for an evening out? (3,2,8)

Answer: LAW OF AVERAGES – over to Chambers for the official word: “popularly, a proposition stating that the mean of a situation is maintained by the averaging of its extremes”, so a flattening or “evening out”. Very nicely done.

  1. Difficulty at end of term making entrance (9)

Answer: SPELLBIND (i.e. “entrance”). Solution is BIND (i.e. “difficulty”) placed after or “at end of” SPELL (i.e. “term”).

  1. Case of Arneis for one to try (5)

Answer: ASSAY (i.e. to test or “try”). Solution is AS (i.e. “case of Arneis”, i.e. the first and last letter of “Arneis”) followed by SAY (i.e. for example or “for one”).

  1. Ill-disposed to prisoner being taken in again (10)

Answer: RESORPTION (i.e. “taken in again”). “Ill-disposed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO PRISONER.

  1. Rubber of bridge players put in unusual on reflection (6)

Answer: ERASER (i.e. “rubber”). Solution is S and E (i.e. “bridge players”, specifically recognised abbreviations of south and east) “put in” RARE (i.e. “unusual”) once reversed (indicated by “on reflection”), like so: ERA(SE)R.

Down clues

  1. Work in office perhaps, kind laid on with ceremony (9)

Answer: TYPEWRITE (i.e. “work in office perhaps”). Solution is TYPE (i.e. “kind”) followed by W (a recognised abbreviation of “with”) and RITE (i.e. “ceremony”).

  1. Remote country doctors alienate NHS (5,6)

Answer: SAINT HELENA (i.e. “remote country”). “Doctors” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ALIENATES NHS.

  1. Ace writer gets credit (7)

Answer: ASCRIBE (i.e. to “credit”). Solution is A (a recognised abbreviation of “ace” used on playing cards) followed by SCRIBE (i.e. “writer”).

  1. Taste something in rum amiss (5)

Answer: UMAMI (i.e. a sense of “taste”). “Something in” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: R(UM AMI)SS. One I remembered from an age-old episode of QI, to be honest.

  1. What’s released from flies that’s sweet, leading to death, mostly (4,7)

Answer: DROP CURTAIN (i.e. “what’s released from flies” – one definition of “flies” is “the large space above the proscenium in a theatre, from which the scenes, etc are controlled” (Chambers)). Solution is DROP (i.e. a “sweet”) followed by CURTAINS (i.e. “death”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”).

  1. Pirate left to cross sea with a lesser prize? (6,5)

Answer: SILVER MEDAL (i.e. “lesser prize”). I’m not going to tangle myself up in the clunky parsing here. Solution basically comprises Long John SILVER (i.e. “pirate”), MED (i.e. “sea”, specifically the Mediterranean), A and L (a recognised abbreviation of “left”).

  1. Too many beginning to unilaterally agitate for independence (8)

Answer: AUTONOMY (i.e. “independence”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “agitate”) of TOO MANY and U (i.e. “beginning [letter] to unilaterally”).

  1. Seek new, unusual lines for organ part (4-5)

Answer: KNEE-SWELL (i.e. “organ part”, of the musical instrument variety). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “unusual”) of SEEK NEW followed by L and L (i.e. “lines” – L being a recognised abbreviation of “line”), like so: KNEESWE-LL.

  1. Cheap brace, a metal mouthpiece (3-3)

Answer: TWO-BIT (i.e. “cheap”). Solution is TWO (i.e. a “brace”) followed by BIT (i.e. “a metal mouthpiece” for, say, horses).

  1. Unlawful attendance in lycée’s very short-lived (11)

Answer: TRESPASSING (i.e. “unlawful attendance”). Solution is TRES (i.e. “in lycée’s very”, basically the French for “very”) followed by PASSING (i.e. “short-lived”).

  1. Dignitary dressing right (5)

Answer: MAYOR (i.e. “dignitary”). Solution is MAYO (i.e. “dressing”, specifically mayonnaise) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”).

  1. What order’s observed in abbey (or almost) (12)

Answer: ALPHABETICAL. Clue plays on how the letters of “abbey” and “almost” are in alphabetical order.

  1. Back in need of nurse – and doctor on the way (8)

Answer: REARMOST (i.e. “back”). Solution is REAR (i.e. to “nurse”) followed by MO (i.e. “doctor” or Medical Officer) and ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”).

  1. Wood producer not oddly seen off in retort ever (3,4)

Answer: FIR TREE (i.e. “wood producer”). “Not oddly seen” indicates we want only the even letters of OFF IN RETORT EVER.

  1. Method of delivery of bullet with gun (5-3)

Answer: ROUND-ARM (i.e. “method of delivery” of a ball). Solution is ROUND (i.e. “bullet”) followed by ARM (i.e. “gun”).

  1. Being tense when instructed to speak out by Head (8)

Answer: TAUTNESS (i.e. “being tense”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “to speak”) of TAUGHT (i.e. “instructed”) followed by NESS (i.e. “head”, geographical features – ignore the misleading capitalisation), like so: TAUT-NESS.

  1. A button on the end, one coupled with zip? (8)

Answer: ANIMATED (i.e. “with zip”). Solution is A followed by N (i.e. “button on the end”, i.e. the last letter of “button”), then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and MATED (i.e. “coupled”).

  1. Used to hold jack so unable to play? (7)

Answer: INJURED (i.e. “unable to play” sports). Solution is INURED (i.e. “used to”) wrapped around or “holding” J (a recognised abbreviation of “jack” used on playing cards), like so: IN(J)URED.

  1. Joel was one awfully hard prep monitor! (5,7)

Answer: MINOR PROPHET (i.e. “Joel was one” – I bet it didn’t say that on his business card. I bet it said “BIG ASS PROPHET” in gold lettering or something). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “awfully”) of H (a recognised abbreviation of “hard” used in grading pencils) and PREP MONITOR.

  1. At college hospital, doctor has varying fortunes (3,3,5)

Answer: UPS AND DOWNS (i.e. “varying fortunes”). Solution is UP (i.e. “at college”) followed by SAN (i.e. “hospital”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of a sanatorium) and OWNS (i.e. “has”).

  1. American stunner to perform in hit record with Queen (11)

Answer: SOCKDOLOGER (i.e. “American stunner”, specifically old US slang for a hard or decisive blow. Not a word I’ve come across, but then I haven’t read a whole lot of Twain and his ilk. Great word, though). Solution is DO (i.e. “to perform”) placed “in” between SOCK (i.e. “hit”) and LOG (i.e. “record”), and followed by ER (i.e. “queen”, specifically Elizabeth Regina), like so: (SOCK-(DO)-LOG)-ER

  1. After drink, our Henry needs a rest, they say (6,3,2)

Answer: RUMOUR HAS IT (i.e. “they say”). Solution is RUM (i.e. “drink”) followed by OUR, then H (a recognised abbreviation of “Henry”, a unit of measurement that’s been like catnip for setters this last year), then A and SIT (i.e. “rest”).

  1. Guides began to manoeuvre vehicles on beach (4,7)

Answer: DUNE BUGGIES (i.e. “vehicles on beach”). “To manoeuvre” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of GUIDES BEGAN.

  1. A dozen balls to hold in clubs in Bury (9)

Answer: OVERCOVER (i.e. “bury” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is OVER and OVER (i.e. two overs or “a dozen balls” in cricket) wrapped around or “holding” C (a recognised abbreviation of “clubs” used in card games), like so: OVER-(C)-OVER.

  1. Brummie maybe in dark turning up with lighter? (9)

Answer: MIDLANDER (i.e. “Brummie maybe”). Solution is DIM (i.e. “in dark”) reversed (indicated by “turning up” – this being a down clue) and followed by LANDER (i.e. “lighter”, both vessels), like so: MID-LANDER.

  1. As we used to say, you favour writing, music, sculpture etc (3,5)

Answer: ART FORMS (i.e. “music, sculpture etc”). When written as ART FOR MS the solution satisfies “as we used to say, you favour writing”. MS is a recognised abbreviation of “manuscript”, while ART is a ye olde form of “are” that’s getting to be as overused in these Jumbos as “Henry”.

  1. Irish sportsperson eclipsing fourth-rate track athlete (7)

Answer: HURDLER (i.e. “track athlete”). Solution is HURLER (i.e. “Irish sportsman”) wrapped around or “eclipsing” D (i.e. “fourth-rate”, i.e. a D grade), like so: HUR(D)LER.

  1. Having a nap on top of yardarm is mistake (6)

Answer: FLUFFY (i.e. “having a nap” or downy covering). Solution is FLUFF (i.e. “mistake”, as in fluffing one’s lines) placed “on” or before Y (i.e. “top of yardarm”, i.e. the first letter of “yardarm”).

  1. Old singer, close to stardom, rising up to it (5)

Answer: Dame Nellie MELBA (i.e. “old singer”). Solution is M (i.e. “close to stardom”, i.e. the last letter of “stardom”) followed by ABLE (i.e. “up to it”) once reversed (indicated by “rising” – this being a down clue), like so: M-ELBA. An easier get after I somehow remembered her from her last appearance, back in grid 1488. I wonder if remembering stuff like this is why I can never remember anyone’s birthday.

  1. Lively music, remarkably taken from Revelation (5)

Answer: DISCO (i.e. “lively music”). Solution is DISCOVERY (i.e. “revelation” – ignoring the misleading capitalisation) once the VERY has been removed (indicated by “remarkably taken from…”).

8 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1540

  1. Thanks Lucian. Some very strange words this week! As you say, a mixed bag.

    We didn’t like IRE being used as a synonym for PASSION (19a). IRE means (specifically) anger, whereas PASSION can cover various other emotions.

    You might be interested to know that the literal meaning of EXEAT (24a) is “Let him (or her) depart”. I could waffle on about Latin third person present subjunctive, but I won’t.

    Re 47a, MIDDLE C is actually a key on a piano keyboard, rather than a key in which a piece of music is written.

    Take care, and stay safe. SB

    1. EXEAT (24a) took me back to my old boarding school. A boy could be taken out by parents one Sunday per term. To us it was an escape but the school called it an “Exeat”, even though we had to be back the same day.

  2. Snap! We thought the same – several nice clues, several poor clues. 13D was clever with its alphabetical-order words. And Tea Caddy raised a smile. Likewise Fluffy.

    But Sockdologer? If we must have an archaic word, at least make it British not American. And Incheon? Sigh. Oh yes, what do you do at work? Why of course, I Typewrite.

    Your explanations were as amusing and informative as ever, thank you. Every day’s a school day – I never knew the origins of My Old Dutch.

    1. Will the Times (“of London”, you note) ever finally forswear these goddam Americanisms? “Law of averages” was a classically good solution; sock-bloody-dologer was decidedly not.

  3. Thanks, Lucian. Not much to say about this one except that I thought 22d was an awful clue. I don’t mind clues with alternative or missing letters but I do like the clue to make sense as a sentence. Alphabetical was nice though. Cheers

    1. Some might just have hours of fun (?), conceivably, working out just how the ridiculous wording of 22d could be employed as some kind of would-be Joycean sentence. Happily, I am not yet among their number – despite four days of rain, snow and ice that have kept me off the fells and finally forced me to do the Jumbo today (Monday) rather than keeping it, as is my wont, until Friday.

  4. Lucien, thank you for your comments. We look forward to them every week. Well informed and often very funny.

    P.S. Dad knew sockdologer having spent time in the US. He’s 92!! Good remembering.

  5. Alas, no Times in my village shop this week, but just received the pile of books from my win of a few weeks ago. Never had a Bradfords before!

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