Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1543

A medium strength offering this week. While I like my Jumbos to keep me camped in my reference books – and this was certainly one of them – this one wasn’t entirely satisfying. Perhaps it was a little too scruffy here and there, perhaps there were one too many repeats or one too many exotic clues shoehorned in to fill an awkward space. Whatever it was, it didn’t really grab me, despite some good clueing.

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 grown bored of hiding under your bed and is now ensconced in your shower, silently judging all who use the toilet, then you might find my Just For Fun page of help, where you’ll find links to solutions for hundreds of the things. Elsewhere there are the usual ancient book reviews and a story of mine.

Thanks as ever for the kind words and input. It’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of fellow solvers once they’ve set down their pens. Till next time, stay safe out there, kids.


Across clues

  1. Choose a poor sounding instrument (7)

Answer: PICCOLO (i.e. “instrument”). “Sounding” indicates the solution comprises homophones of PICK (i.e. “choose”), A and LOW (i.e. “poor”).

  1. Understanding silly mix-up about hubby on vacation (8)

Answer: SYMPATHY (i.e. “understanding”). “On vacation” indicates the solution is derived by taking all the middle letters from the words SILLY MIX-UP ABOUT HUBBY.

  1. Protecting side of ditch holding last of large and small fish (6)

Answer: ESCARP (i.e. “protecting side of ditch” against a rampart, supposedly). Solution is E (i.e. “last [letter] of large”) followed by S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) and CARP (i.e. “fish”).

  1. Mariner that’s experienced abominable deed as drifting (4-6,6)

Answer: ABLE-BODIED SEAMAN (i.e. “mariner that’s experienced”). “Drifting” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ABOMINABLE DEED AS.

  1. Foil container for food (6)

Answer: HAMPER. Solution satisfies to “foil” and “container for food”.

  1. Pit dog against prey regularly (8)

Answer: COLLIERY (i.e. “pit”). Solution is COLLIE (i.e. “dog”) followed by RY (i.e. “prey regularly”, i.e. every other letter of PREY).

  1. Girl wanting one to get in close (4)

Answer: ENID (i.e. “girl’s” name). Solution is END (i.e. to finish or “close”) wrapped around or “getting in” I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: EN(I)D.

  1. Physicist discovered in small lake something repelling water? (9)

Answer: TARPAULIN (i.e. “something repelling water”). Solution is Wolfgang PAULI (i.e. “physicist”) placed or “discovered in” TARN (i.e. “small lake”), like so: TAR(PAULI)N. Made a hell of a lot easier by pretty much the same clue appearing last month. Seems like The Times is cracking out their Marconi GridFill 4000TM again to autopopulate the grids.

  1. What rank is there for chief Greek commander? (8)

Answer: TAXIARCH (i.e. “Greek commander” – a taxis was a division of an ancient Greek army). Wow, I nearly made that sound like I knew what I was talking about. Pfff! No chance. Bradford’s to the rescue, as per usual. The clue was just too flimsy and tenuous for my idiot brain, particularly given only the even letters of the word to work with. Anyway, TAXIs of the sit-in-the-back-and-hope-the-driver-doesn’t-speak-to-you variety congregate at “ranks”, while “chief” gets you ARCH.

  1. Wizard new city love affair with rand (11)

Answer: NECROMANCER (i.e. “wizard”). Solution is N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) followed by EC (i.e. “city” – basically the City of London’s postcode area. Yeah, I know: London, London, London, but the national press is pretty much all London-centric so what can the 90% of us living outside of the M25 do? Petition setters to also adopt DH for Durham, NR for Norfolk and so on? Don’t give them ideas!), then ROMANCE (i.e. “love affair”) and R (a recognised abbreviation of “rand”, South Africa’s currency).

  1. Rosy glow is divine in developing sunrise (9)

Answer: RUDDINESS (i.e. “rosy glow”). Solution is DD (i.e. “divine”, specifically a Doctor of Divinity or Divinitatis Doctor we’ve seen a few times recently in Jumbos) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “developing”) of SUNRISE, like so: RU(DD)INESS.

  1. Aware of work to finish trapping flock of pheasants (4-4)

Answer: OPEN-EYED (i.e. “aware”). Solution is OP (i.e. “work”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “opus”) followed by END (i.e. “to finish”) once wrapped around or “trapping” EYE (i.e. “a flock of pheasants” – a new one on me), like so: OP-EN(EYE)D.

  1. Force to discard diamonds (4)

Answer: BIND (i.e. “force” or “to impose an obligation on” (Chambers)). Solution is BIN (i.e. “to discard”) followed by D (a recognised abbreviation of “diamonds” used in card games).

  1. Notice she’ll fancy device to keep washing up (11)

Answer: CLOTHESLINE (i.e. “device to keep washing up” – I’d have had this as two separate words. As a single word this is a wrestling move. Scruffy.) “Fancy” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NOTICE SHE’LL.

  1. Game and slightly drunken signs of affection (11)

Answer: TIDDLYWINKS (i.e. “game”). Solution is TIDDLY (i.e. “slightly drunken”) followed by WINKS (i.e. “signs of affection”).

  1. Place with space shows flat with central hall, having set back at front? (11)

Answer: PLANETARIUM (i.e. “place with space shows”). Solution is PLANE (i.e. “flat”) followed by ATRIUM (i.e. “central hall”) once its T (i.e. “set back”, i.e. the last letter of “set”) has been moved to the “front”, like so: PLANE-A(T)RIUM => PLANE-(T)ARIUM.

  1. No profligate equality between Leicester, say, and Elizabeth I (11)

Answer: CHEESEPARER (i.e. “no profligate”, or miser). Another win for my Bradford’s. I’d honestly lost interest by this point. Solution is PAR (i.e. “equality”) placed “between” CHEESE (i.e. “Leicester, say”) and ER (i.e. “Elizabeth I”, or Elizabeth Regina), like so: CHEESE-(PAR)-ER.

  1. Dry when eating a rook pie (4)

Answer: TART (i.e. “pie”). Solution is TT (i.e. “dry”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of teetotal) wrapped around or “eating” A and R (a recognised abbreviation of “rook” used in chess), like so: T(A-R)T.

  1. Small arboreal creature of tailless rodent class (8)

Answer: MARMOSET (i.e. “small arboreal creature”). Solution is MARMOT (i.e. “rodent”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “tailless”) and the remainder followed by SET (i.e. “class”), like so: MARMO-SET. Strange that the answer for 15d would appear in the clue. Again, scruffy.

  1. Game bird related to the dodo (9)

Answer: SOLITAIRE. Solution satisfies “game” and “bird related to the dodo”, apparently a gigantic flightless pigeon that has been extinct since the 18th century. For all my assorted gripes with this week’s puzzle, this was a genuinely interesting clue.

  1. What helps small company’s host record it for broadcast, one’s assumed (11)

Answer: MICROCREDIT (i.e. “what helps small company”, apparently small business loans to those with little or no income). Solution is MC (i.e. “host” or Master of Ceremonies) wrapped around I (indicated by “[Roman numeral] one’s assumed”), followed by an anagram (indicated by “broadcast”) of RECORD IT, like so: M(I)C-ROCREDIT. I’d like to think at this stage of my life that I knew my way around the financial pages, following with interest stories such as NatWest’s disgraceful and outright predatory handling of small businesses in the aftermath of the 2008 credit crunch – no, really, I rock – but I can honestly say I’d never heard of this term until today. Not as interesting as SOLITAIRE, though, sadly.

  1. Material for arms has not satisfied in coat of girl (8)

Answer: GUNMETAL (i.e. “material for arms”). Solution is UNMET (i.e. “not satisfied”) placed “in coat of” GAL (i.e. “girl”), like so: G(UNMET)AL. Spend too long wondering where the hell the A fitted into this one? Yup. Me too.

  1. Cool in a way – with English habitual response (9)

Answer: APATHETIC (i.e. “cool”). Solution is A followed by PATH (i.e. “way”), then E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and TIC (i.e. “habitual response”).

  1. What’s replaced our ultimately unreliable currency (4)

Answer: EURO (i.e. “currency”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “what’s replaced”) of OUR and E (i.e. “ultimately unreliable”, i.e. the last letter of “unreliable”).

  1. Pasture’s fit and available for rent (8)

Answer: LEASABLE (i.e. “available for rent”). Solution is LEA’S (i.e. “pasture’s”) followed by ABLE (i.e. “fit”).

  1. Obtain what can make a tattoo at college (4,2)

Answer: DRUM UP (i.e. “obtain”). Solution is DRUM (i.e. “what can make a tattoo”) followed by UP (i.e. “at college” – quite often pops up in Jumbos).

  1. Uncle sins with novices badly showing lack of resolution (16)

Answer: INCONCLUSIVENESS (i.e. “lack of resolution”). “Badly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of UNCLE SINS and NOVICES.

  1. One calling for substitute horse in race (6)

Answer: RINGER. Solution satisfies “one calling” and “substitute horse in race”, usually a superior one surreptitiously swapped in to help dastardly types clean up at the bookies.

  1. Note about large number sick in a number of ships (8)

Answer: FLOTILLA (i.e. “a number of ships”). Solution is FA (i.e. “note” in the sol-fa notation, or doh-ray-me) wrapped “about” LOT (i.e. “large number”) and ILL (i.e. “sick”), like so: F(LOT-ILL)A.

  1. Making arrangement to train as skilled worker (7)

Answer: ARTISAN (i.e. “skilled worker”). “Making arrangement to” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TRAIN AS.

Down clues

  1. Fish in a particular locality around island (6)

Answer: PLAICE (i.e. “fish”). Solution is PLACE (i.e. “particular locality”) wrapped “around” I (a recognised abbreviation of “island”), like so: PLA(I)CE.

  1. Colonel duly banning uniform with reserve (6)

Answer: COLDLY (i.e. “with reserve”). Solution is COL (a recognised abbreviation of “colonel”) followed by DULY once the U has been removed (indicated by “banning uniform” – U being “uniform” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: COL-DLY.

  1. A big bolt I deployed for parts not to be removed (9)

Answer: OBBLIGATI (i.e. “parts not to be removed” in a musical piece). “Deployed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A BIG BOLT I.

  1. Organisation’s instructions about policies (11)

Answer: ORDERLINESS (i.e. “organisation”). Solution is ORDERS (i.e. “instructions”) wrapped “about” LINES (i.e. “policies”), like so: ORDER(LINES)S.

  1. Expensive losing tons in leak (4 – not 6 as printed in the paper. Scruffy!)

Answer: SEEP (i.e. “leak”). Solution is STEEP (i.e. “expensive”) with the T removed (indicated by “losing tons” – T being a recognised abbreviation of “tons”).

  1. Notes insect run in dream – not a social one (11)

Answer: MISANTHROPE (i.e. “not a social one”). Solution is MIS (i.e. “notes”, again in the sol-fa notation – can be spelled me or mi) followed by ANT (i.e. “insect”), then R (a recognised abbreviation of “run” used in a number of ball games) once placed “in” HOPE (i.e. “dream”), like so: MIS-ANT-H(R)OPE.

  1. Marooning a group over crew beginning to thieve (11)

Answer: ABANDONMENT (i.e. “marooning”). Solution is A followed by BAND (i.e. “group”), then ON (i.e. “over”), then MEN (i.e. “crew”) and T (i.e. “beginning [letter] to thieve”).

  1. Try short facial hair in despair (9)

Answer: HEARTACHE (i.e. “despair”). Solution is HEAR (i.e. “try” in court) followed by TACHE (i.e. “short facial hair”, i.e. shortened form of the word “moustache”).

  1. Making rapid progress with a route following river (8)

Answer: SOARAWAY (i.e. “making rapid progress”). Solution is A and WAY (i.e. “route”) both placed after or “following” SOAR (i.e. “river” in Leicestershire – another win for the Bradford’s), like so: SOAR-(A-WAY).

  1. Dismay with a red wine unfinished on bar the American way? (11,5)

Answer: APPALACHIAN TRAIL (i.e. “American way” or route). Solution APPAL (i.e. “dismay”) followed by A, then CHIANTI (i.e. “red wine”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “unfinished”), then RAIL (i.e. “bar”), like so: APPAL-A-CHIANT-RAIL.

  1. Associate parish divided up (7)

Answer: PARTNER (i.e. “associate”). Solution is PAR (a recognised abbreviation of “parish”) followed by RENT (i.e. torn or “divided”) once reversed (indicated by “up” – this being a down clue), like so: PAR-TNER.

  1. Of trees, not all are of a post-glacial period (8)

Answer: ARBOREAL (i.e. “of trees”). Solution is ARE with its last letter removed (indicated by “not all…”) and the remainder followed by BOREAL (i.e. “of a post-glacial period” – hardly what you would call common knowledge, but made a little easier to deduce if you’d already solved 39a).

  1. Tonic, sir? Mixed hors d’oeuvres? (8)

Answer: CROSTINI (i.e. “hors d’oeuvres”, specifically “small pieces of toasted or fried bread with a savoury topping” (Chambers)). “Mixed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TONIC SIR. Wordplay was obvious, but took a little brute-forcing of the anagram to nail.

  1. Attempt snooker shot that’s completely impracticable (8)

Answer: CRACKPOT (i.e. “completely impracticable”). Solution is CRACK (i.e. an “attempt”) followed by POT (i.e. “snooker shot”).

  1. Music hall – a bygone vessel for lyric verse (3,2,1,7,3)

Answer: ODE ON A GRECIAN URN (i.e. “lyric verse” by John Keats). Solution is ODEON (i.e. “music hall”) followed by A, then GRECIAN (i.e. “bygone”) and URN (i.e. “vessel”). One remembered from its last appearance, making for a much easier get. Interestingly this solution is placed in the exact same place of the exact same grid layout as that puzzle. I guess the office GridFill 4000TM has only half a dozen solutions it can comfortably fit there before tying itself in knots.

  1. Warranted daughter retiring without resistance (8)

Answer: DESERVED (i.e. “warranted”). Solution is D (a recognised abbreviation of “daughter”) followed by RESERVED (i.e. “retiring”) once its first R has been removed (indicated by “without resistance” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “resistance”), like so: D-ESERVED.

  1. Fool swallowing whiskey substitute (4)

Answer: SWAP (i.e. to “substitute”). Solution is SAP (i.e. “fool”) wrapped around or “swallowing” W (i.e. “whiskey” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: S(W)AP.

  1. Pay attention to male editor (4)

Answer: HEED (i.e. “pay attention to”). Solution is HE (i.e. “male”) followed by ED (shortened form of “editor”).

  1. Fertiliser that’s put on salad plants? (8)

Answer: DRESSING. Solution satisfies “fertiliser” and “that’s put on salad plants”. Vital that one doesn’t get the two mixed up, I feel.

  1. Briskness of Alabama river in metropolis (8)

Answer: ALACRITY (i.e. “briskness”). Solution is ALA (recognised abbreviation of “Alabama”) followed by CITY (i.e. “metropolis”) once wrapped around or having “in” R (a recognised abbreviation of “river”), like so: ALA-C(R)ITY.

  1. Lose an opportunity with girl with fur during the tango (4,3,4)

Answer: MISS THE BOAT (i.e. “lose an opportunity”). Solution is MISS (i.e. “girl”) followed by BOA (i.e. “fur” worn round the neck) once placed in or “during” THE and T (“tango” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: MISS-THE-(BOA)-T.

  1. Definite about court case involving separated self and Charlie (11)

Answer: CATEGORICAL (i.e. “definite”). Solution is CA (i.e. “about”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “circa”) followed by TRIAL (i.e. “court case”) once wrapped around or “involving separately” both EGO (i.e. “self”) and C (“Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: CA-T(EGO)RI(C)AL.

  1. Collecting tray, for instance, during a hymn (5,6)

Answer: SALVE REGINA (i.e. “hymn” that doesn’t appear in any of my reference books so far as I can see. Just goes to show how many of them there are, really, especially considering most hymns are mere variations of “Oh God and those connected to Him; you’re great, thanks for existence and all that; we’re not worthy; Amen”. The sheer number of them makes me wonder whether they were all spawned from some annual Eurovision Hymn Contest centuries ago, presumably with the Church of England finishing last every year). Solution is SALVER (i.e. “collecting tray”) followed by EG (i.e. “for instance” or for example), then IN (i.e. “during”) and A.

  1. Award includes decoration mostly for healing (9)

Answer: MEDICINAL (i.e. “healing”). Solution is MEDAL (i.e. “award”) wrapped around or “including” ICING (i.e. cake “decoration”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “mostly”), like so: MED(ICIN)AL.

  1. Passing trains running extended new timetable at first (9)

Answer: TRANSIENT (i.e. “passing”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “running”) of TRAINS followed by ENT (i.e. “extended new timetable at first”, i.e. the first letters of “extended”, “new” and “timetable”), like so: TRANSI-ENT.

  1. Put out about hog running wild in kennel (8)

Answer: DOGHOUSE (i.e. “kennel”). Solution is DOUSE (i.e. “put out” a fire) wrapped “about” an anagram (indicated by “running wild”) of HOG, like so: D(OGH)OUSE.

  1. Miserable and visibly embarrassed over wind (7)

Answer: MEANDER (i.e. to “wind”). Solution is MEAN (i.e. “miserable”) followed by RED (i.e. “visibly embarrassed”) once reversed (indicated by “over”), like so: MEAN-DER.

  1. A couple of bishops with letter for convent’s head (6)

Answer: ABBESS (i.e. “convent’s head”). Solution is A followed by B and B (each a recognised abbreviation of “bishop” used in chess), then ESS (i.e. “letter”, specifically the letter S).

  1. Admiral seen in hold? (6)

Answer: NELSON. Solution satisfies “Admiral” Horatio Nelson, and a “hold” in wrestling.

  1. Subtle quality of girl going topless (4)

Answer: AURA (i.e. “subtle quality”). Solution is LAURA (i.e. “girl’s” name) once the first letter has been removed (indicated by “going topless”).

13 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1543

  1. Yep, we felt the same way! Tiddlywinks was a nice one. But boo for “eye” being the most obscure name for a flock of pheasants.

    And despite a lifetime working in various financial institutions, I’d never heard of microcredit before (also my Collins dictionary has it hyphenated 5-6). 15D seemed a bit lazy to use arboreal again, but I guess there’s no law against that.

    Regardless of those gripes, it was reasonably balanced and satisfying to finish it off without too much googling.

  2. A tad waspish and world-weary this week, Lucian? I enjoyed it overall. Surprised how after an easy start it suddenly got harder, but still not over-contrived. Yes TAXIARCH is extremely obscure but all other grid words were fairly familiar. Microcredits maybe seldom mentioned in the FT but for decades they’ve been crucial to poverty reduction in developing countries. Bradford’s is a bit too near cheating for me, listing every conceivable item in a category, in alpha order and by number of letters – I stick to an online dictionary (plus Wikipedia lists when really stuck). On the other hand, like you I get really annoyed by near-identical clues within weeks of each other, TARPAULIN being a bad example. Each setter is unique and fair enough, but the Puzzles Editor could keep a database and run each grid through the infamous software, flagging recent duplicated clues and inviting setters to come up with something more original. My only quibbles this week are: HAMPER means impede not foil; SALVE REGINA is a prayer not a hymn, even if occasionally chanted; and BOREAL means northern not post-glacial (though obviously all forests are post glacial) – so this wasn’t just uncommon knowledge but faux-knowledge. Anyway chin up, at least we won the rugby (no Welsh persons read this blog I hope?)

  3. Left-hand side was, for me, much easier than the right. I hadn’t heard of “taxiarch” (20a) before, although I am pretty sure the whole world knows what an oligarch is by now.

    “Tiddlywinks” (31a) made me smile. Excellent clue.

  4. Thanks, Lucian. For some reason it took as long to get 10d as it did to get all the others put together. Sometimes you just don’t see ‘em. I liked 43d as it reminded me of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive and his gas-station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse speech. Great stuff. Cheers

  5. Thanks Lucian.

    A few quibbles, in addition to those listed above:

    1a: Since when has A (in the clue) been a homophone for O (in the answer)? Yellow card, setter.

    44a: We’d never heard of this word either, and our edition of Chambers doesn’t list it. When we had the third letter (C) and the final letter (T), we tried putting it into a wordfinder. (Yes, I know it’s cheating, but life is too short to waste time puzzling over crap clues like this.) The only word it suggested was INCONGRUENT. The wordfinder’s inbuilt dictionary defined this as – wait for it – NOT CONGRUENT. Really helpful. Not.

    35d: I always thought a BOA was made of feathers, not fur. Shows how much I know.

    51d: A name AND a deletion in the same clue??? How in the name of sanity is one supposed to solve this just from the wordplay?

    Take care, and stay safe. SB

    1. Hi Lucian, am new to this website, but so glad to have found you !
      Just one thought, a “nye” is the collective noun for pheasants. Maybe compiler had heard of this but mistakenly thought it was “ an eye” rather the “a nye”?

  6. Interesting. More likely that an eye became an accepted development of a nye. A similar thing has happened with adder which was originally a nadder after which Nidderdale in North Yorkshire is named. Cheers

  7. I must confess I’d also wondered about NYE, but couldn’t make it fit with the parsing. If the theory above is correct, then the setter deserves a second yellow card and should take an early bath. (Or possibly a nearly bath…? I’ll get my coat.)

  8. Salve Regina is in Chambers. It’s under Salve 3 – but in non-bold italics. Takes a bit of searching to find, though.

  9. My research led me to understand the collective term for pheasants is a ‘bye’, is eye a valid alternative, or some mistake?

  10. It’s nye for pheasants. As much as for Bevan (sorry). I support France myself, my love of rugby having been nurtured in winters there. My love of crosswords, however, could well be cured by efforts as leaden and obstructive as this. Unlike les bleus, no panache or elan at all.

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