Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1553

A tricky one this week. On the whole this was good with some inventive clueing to decipher, though I didn’t quite think so at the time. (34d certainly didn’t help!) I often make fun of setters in these posts when it seems they’ve all queued up to use the office GridFill 4000TM, so it’s only right to credit setters when they’ve clearly made an effort. It was refreshing to find so many long ‘uns in the grid. In fact, I counted only two phrases among the solutions. Nicely done.

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 your book of naughty Jumbo anecdotes, leaving you with an awkward space to fill in your blog this week, 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 again for the kind words and input. It’s always interesting to hear how other solvers got on, or if they have alternative takes for any of the clues. Till next time, stay safe out there kids.


Across clues

  1. Provider of social introductions to a smart set possibly (11)

Answer: TOASTMASTER (i.e. “provider of social introductions”). “Possibly” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TO A SMART SET. Nicely played.

  1. Turning Mossad’s core agents – note about four likely to join up (11)

Answer: ASSOCIATIVE (i.e. “likely to join up”). Solution is OSSA (i.e. “Mossad’s core”, i.e. the middle letters of “Mossad”) reversed (indicated by “turning”) and followed by CIA (i.e. “agents”, specifically the Central Intelligence Agency) and TE (i.e. “note” in the sol-fa notation) once wrapped “about” IV (i.e. “four” expressed in Roman numerals), like so: ASSO-CIA-T(IV)E.

  1. Cut up over doctrine being changed – it’s not helpful (17)

Answer: COUNTERPRODUCTIVE (i.e. “not helpful”). “Being changed” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of CUT UP OVER DOCTRINE.

  1. Put in type of small English ram (3,2)

Answer: SET UP (i.e. “put in”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) and TUP (i.e. a “ram”). “Type of” seems redundant phrasing, but I could be missing something.

  1. Volunteers chess piece for capturing (6)

Answer: TAKING (i.e. “capturing”). Solution is TA (i.e. “volunteers”, specifically the Territorial Army) followed by KING (i.e. “chess piece”).

  1. Large car going back into advanced plant for restorative action? (8)

Answer: CAMOMILE (i.e. “plant for restorative action”). Solution is LIMO (i.e. “large car”, short for a limousine) reversed (indicated by “going back”) and placed “into” CAME (i.e. having “advanced”), like so: CAM(OMIL)E.

  1. Club perhaps losing several seconds cost series (7)

Answer: COTERIE (i.e. “club”). Solution is COST SERIES with the Ss removed (indicated by “losing several seconds” – S being a recognised abbreviation of “second”), like so: CO(S)T-(S)ERIE(S) => COT-ERIE.

  1. Set up the brim of sombrero initially to tease dandy (9)

Answer: COCKSCOMB (i.e. “dandy” – Chambers and Oxford offer no real overlap between the two that I can see, however my Collins Concise backs the setter up with “a conceited dandy”). Solution is COCK (i.e. to “set up the brim of”) followed by S (i.e. “sombrero initially”, i.e. the first letter of “sombrero”) and COMB (i.e. “to tease”).

  1. Allowing girl showy jewellery (8)

Answer: ENABLING (i.e. “allowing”). Solution is ENA (i.e. “girl’s” name) followed by BLING (i.e. “showy jewellery”).

  1. House in Home Counties close to motorway (4)

Answer: SEMI (i.e. “house”). Solution is SE (i.e. “Home Counties”, also known as the South East of England) followed by MI (i.e. “motorway”, specifically the M1 with the 1 swapped for its Roman numeral equivalent).

  1. What can raise lumps needing at first to be covered by clothing (5)

Answer: TONGS (i.e. “what can raise [sugar] lumps”). Solution is N (i.e. “needing at first”, i.e. the first letter of “needing”) placed in or “to be covered by” TOGS (slang for “clothing”), like so: TO(N)GS.

  1. Compelled civil engineer to split crossing (6)

Answer: FORCED (i.e. “compelled”). Solution is CE (a recognised abbreviation of “civil engineer”) placed in or “splitting” FORD (i.e. river “crossing”), like so: FOR(CE)D.

  1. Bigoted and enthusiastic about right in unrewarding time (10)

Answer: INTOLERANT (i.e. “bigoted”). Solution is INTO (i.e. “enthusiastic about”) followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) once placed “in” LEAN (i.e. “unrewarding”), then T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), like so: INTO-LE(R)AN-T.

  1. Deplore pay scale for top management? (8)

Answer: EXECRATE (i.e. “deplore”). When written as EXEC RATE the solution also satisfies “pay scale for top management”, i.e. executives.

  1. Property cleaner cries with attic having to be reorganised (14)

Answer: CHARACTERISTIC (i.e. attribute or “property”). Solution is CHAR (i.e. a “cleaner”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “to be reorganised”) of CRIES and ATTIC, like so: CHAR-ACTERISTIC.

  1. Sobriety at business? Some getting drunk (14)

Answer: ABSTEMIOUSNESS (i.e. “sobriety”). “Getting drunk” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AT BUSINESS SOME.

  1. Lover of the beautiful with a short girl, note (8)

Answer: AESTHETE (i.e. “lover of the beautiful”). Solution is A followed by ESTHER (i.e. “girl’s” name) with its last letter removed (indicated by “short”), then TE (i.e. “note”, again in the sol-fa notation), like so: A-ESTHE-TE.

  1. Ceasing to be home for artist in removal (10)

Answer: EXTINCTION (i.e. “ceasing to be”). Solution is EXTRACTION (i.e. “removal”) with the RA (i.e. “artist”, specifically a Royal Academician) swapped “for” IN (i.e. at “home”), like so: EXT(RA)CTION => EXT(IN)CTION.

  1. Species at this point forms social class (6)

Answer: SPHERE (i.e. “social class”). Solution is SP (a recognised abbreviation of “species”) followed by HERE (i.e. “at this point”).

  1. Gauleiter, losing province after return, secure again (5)

Answer: RETIE (i.e. “secure again”). Solution is GAULEITER with the GAUL removed (indicated by “losing province” – Gaul being an ancient province covering modern-day France and a bit more beyond) and the remainder reversed (indicated by “after return”).

  1. Second person once seen wearing socks in hothouse? (4)

Answer: THOU (i.e. “second person one” – first person is I, second person is you, third person is them; “you” in ye olde speak is THOU). The remainder of the clue plays on how THOU can be found in HO(THOU)SE, wrapped within the letters of HOSE (i.e. hosiery or “socks”).

  1. Means to choose short film (4,4)

Answer: FREE WILL (i.e. “means to choose”). Solution is FREE WILLY (i.e. “film”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “short”).

  1. George displaying gold helmet piece for auction (9)

Answer: AUTOPILOT (i.e. “George”, apparently RAF slang for the device). Solution is AU (chemical symbol of “gold”) followed by TOPI (i.e. a pith “helmet”) and LOT (i.e. “piece for auction”).

  1. Hedging put back: sound cut by a small volume (7)

Answer: EVASION (i.e. “hedging”). Solution is NOISE (i.e. “sound”) wrapped around A and V (i.e. “small volume”, i.e. the recognised abbreviation of “volume”) and all reversed (indicated by “put back”), like so: E(V-A)SION.

  1. Certain South Pacific needs a change of key (8)

Answer: SPECIFIC (i.e. “certain”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “south”) followed by “PACIFIC” with the A swapped for an E (indicated by “needs a change of [musical] key”), like so: S-P(A)CIFIC => S-P(E)CIFIC.

  1. Military show inking on skin (6)

Answer: TATTOO. Solution satisfies “military show” and “inking on skin”.

  1. Returning to identify one’s dope (5)

Answer: IDIOT (i.e. “dope”). Solution is TO followed by ID (short for “identify”) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) all reversed (indicated by “returning”), like so: I-DI-OT.

  1. Actually, “nymphet” is misused and not in a kind way (17)

Answer: UNSYMPATHETICALLY (i.e. “not in a kind way”). “Misused” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ACTUALLY NYMPHET IS.

  1. Endlessly prolong situation not having to settle in mitigation (11)

Answer: EXTENUATION (i.e. “mitigation”). Solution is EXTEND (i.e. “prolong”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “endlessly”) and the remainder followed by SITUATION once the SIT has been removed (indicated by “not having to settle”), like so: EXTEN-UATION.

  1. Middle of Kent county, nice and never one inconvenience (11)

Answer: ENCUMBRANCE (i.e. “inconvenience”). Solution is EN (i.e. “middle [letters] of Kent”) followed by CUMBRIA (i.e. “county”) and NICE once the Is have been removed (indicated by “never [Roman numeral] one”), like so: EN-CUMBRA-NCE.

Down clues

  1. Moment to change direction to start to exploit game (4-4-3)

Answer: TICK-TACK-TOE (i.e. “game” of noughts and crosses in the US). Solution is TICK (i.e. “moment”) followed by TACK (i.e. “to change direction” in general), then TO and E (i.e. “start to exploit”, i.e. the first letter of “exploit”).

  1. Millions in NZ city lacking land in a violent rage (5)

Answer: AMUCK (i.e. “violent rage”, a variant spelling of amok). Solution is M (a recognised abbreviation of “millions”) placed “in” AUCKLAND (i.e. “NZ city”) once the LAND has been removed (indicated by “lacking land”), like so: A(M)UCK.

  1. Prolonged muscle contraction set tuna swimming (7)

Answer: TETANUS (i.e. “prolonged muscle contraction”). “Swimming” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SET TUNA.

  1. Cautious when getting head down and twisted to one side (4)

Answer: AWRY (i.e. “twisted to one side”). Solution is WARY (i.e. “cautious”) with the first letter or “head” taken “down” a notch – this being a down clue – like so: (W)ARY => A(W)RY.

  1. A number holding promotion by pub is shabby (10)

Answer: THREADBARE (i.e. “shabby”). Solution is THREE (i.e. “a number”) wrapped around or “holding” AD (i.e. “promotion” or advertisement) and BAR (i.e. “pub”), like so: THRE(AD-BAR)E.

  1. He led operation to scramble communication device (14)

Answer: RADIOTELEPHONE (i.e. “communication device” working over radio waves). “Scramble” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HE LED OPERATION.

  1. Knife found in dried up sea is kept for the record (8)

Answer: ARCHIVAL (i.e. “kept for the record”). Solution is CHIV (i.e. “knife”) placed “in” ARAL (i.e. “dried up sea” between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan – a new one on me, but interesting given this particular sea began shrinking in the 1960s and was all but gone by the 2010s), like so: AR(CHIV)AL.

  1. Succeeded with fish spear (5)

Answer: SPIKE (i.e. “spear”). Solution is S (a recognised abbreviation of “succeeded”) followed by PIKE (i.e. “fish”).

  1. High point of belief about church held by Poles (9)

Answer: CRESCENDO (i.e. “high point”). Solution is CREDO (i.e. “belief”) wrapped “about” CE (i.e. “church”, specifically the Church of England) once this has been placed in or “held by” S and N (i.e. “poles”, specifically recognised abbreviations of south and north respectively), like so: CRE(S(CE)N)DO.

  1. For instance, radios and televisions can be valuable items (6)

Answer: ASSETS (i.e. “valuation items”). Solution is AS (i.e. “for instance”) followed by SETS (i.e. “radios and televisions”).

  1. I’m talented partner working between government ministries (17)

Answer: INTERDEPARTMENTAL (i.e. “between government ministries”). “Working” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of I’M TALENTED PARTNER.

  1. Dickens is so naff, too (11)

Answer: EUPHEMISTIC. A euphemism is a word or phrase used in place of something decidedly worse, so I reckon the clue is playing on how “dickens” and “naff” are euphemisms, respectively another word for the devil and an acronym for – smelling salts at the ready – Not Available for Fucking or Fornication. (Thank you, Chambers.) The clue could therefore be read as “dickens is so; naff, too”.

  1. Paper coming down on newly-formed union (8)

Answer: CONFETTI. Solution pretty much sums up the clue, taking “newly-formed union” to be a wedding. Nicely worked.

  1. One whose speciality is dialogue in awkward voice translations (17)

Answer: CONVERSATIONALIST (i.e. “one whose speciality is dialogue”). “Awkward” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of VOICE TRANSLATIONS. Another nicely worked clue.

  1. Great folly girl’s built in northern area (6)

Answer: LUNACY (i.e. “great folly”). Solution is LUCY (i.e. “girl’s” name – another one) wrapped around or having “built in” N (a recognised abbreviation of “northern”) and A (ditto “area”), like so: LU(N-A)CY.

  1. Arbitrator set up duty list the same (8)

Answer: MEDIATOR (i.e. “arbitrator”). Solution is ROTA (i.e. “duty list”) and IDEM (Latin for “the same”) all reversed (indicated by “set up” – this being a down clue), like so: MEDI-ATOR.

  1. Policeman dispatched without right equipment endlessly (8)

Answer: SERGEANT (i.e. “policeman”). Solution is SENT (i.e. “dispatched”) wrapped around or placed “without” R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”) and GEAR (i.e. “equipment”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “endlessly”), like so: SE(R-GEA)NT.

  1. What insects can do to mongrel and parrot at home upset (5-9)

Answer: CROSS-POLLINATE (i.e. “what insects can do”, specifically giving plants the sexy times). Solution is CROSS (i.e. “mongrel”) followed by POLL (i.e. a “parrot”), then IN (i.e. “at home”) and ATE (i.e. being “upset”, as in “what’s eating you?” – too loose for my liking within the phrasing of this clue, but then it is a bit of a dog’s dinner anyway).

  1. The Spanish race has horse coming after ten others (8)

Answer: ELEVENTH (i.e. “coming after ten others”). Solution is EL (i.e. “the Spanish”, i.e. the word “the” in Spanish) followed by EVENT (i.e. “race”) and H (i.e. “horse” – both informal names for heroin).

  1. Excitement on account of European seen around old city (6)

Answer: FURORE (i.e. “excitement”). Solution is FOR (i.e. “on account of”) and E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) all wrapped “around” UR (i.e. an “old city” often used in cryptic crosswords), like so: F(UR)OR-E.

  1. American put out in a cosy home – eastern spot European husband set up (11)

Answer: ANESTHETIZE (i.e. “American put out”, i.e. the American spelling of anaesthetise). Solution is A followed by NEST (i.e. “cosy home”). This is then followed by E (a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”), ZIT (i.e. “spot”), E (a recognised abbreviation of “European”) and H (ditto “husband”) once these have all been reversed (indicated by “set up” – this being a down clue), like so: A-NEST-(H-E-TIZ-E). Bloody hell, I’m fairly inured to Americanisms but even I have to admit this was a proper WTF? when I finally twigged it.

  1. Choose yttrium component finally in part for battery fluid (11)

Answer: ELECTROLYTE (i.e. “battery fluid”). Solution is ELECT (i.e. “choose”) followed by Y (chemical symbol of “yttrium”) and T (i.e. “component finally”, i.e. the last letter of “component”) once these are placed “in” ROLE (i.e. acting “part”), like so: ELECT-ROL(Y-T)E.

  1. A prized stone set up, literally this, classically? (10)

Answer: MEGALITHIC. The solution (kind of) satisfies the clue as a whole, but also comprises A and GEM (i.e. “prized stone”) once these have been reversed (indicated by “set up” – again this being a down clue), followed by LIT (a recognised abbreviation of “literally”) and HIC (i.e. “this, classically”, i.e. the Latin for “this”), like so: (MEG-A)-LIT-HIC.

  1. Big spider scuttled into rubbish, oddly ugly, note (9)

Answer: TARANTULA (i.e. “big spider”). Solution is RAN (i.e. “scuttled”) placed “into” TAT (i.e. “rubbish”) and followed by UL (i.e. “oddly ugly”, i.e. the odd letters of UGLY), then A (i.e. “[musical] note”), like so: TA(RAN)T-UL-A.

  1. Cable installers converted Nine Elms (8)

Answer: LINESMEN (i.e. “cable installers”). “Converted” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NINE ELMS.

  1. Managed cold inside for every reindeer active in winter (7)

Answer: PRANCER (i.e. “reindeer active in winter”, pulling Santa’s sleigh). Solution is RAN (i.e. “managed”) and C (a recognised abbreviation of “cold” used on taps) placed “inside” of PER (i.e. “for every”), like so: P(RAN-C)ER.

  1. Cat family includes the tigers, though two in three are gone (6)

Answer: KITTEN (i.e. “cat”). Solution is KIN (i.e. “family”) wrapped around or “including” THE TIGERS once “two in three [letters] are gone”, i.e. (T)HE-(T)IG(E)RS, like so: KI(TTE)N.

  1. Girl’s not finished eating hot Japanese food (5)

Answer: SUSHI (i.e. “Japanese food”). Solution is SUSIE (i.e. “girl’s” name, yet another one) with its last letter removed (indicated by “not finished”) and the remainder wrapped around or “eating” H (a recognised abbreviation of “hot”, also used on taps), like so: SUS(H)I.

  1. Stock a line in fashionable style (5)

Answer: TALON (i.e. “stock” or “cards remaining after the deal” (Chambers) – I have a faint memory of this from a previous Jumbo). Solution is A and L (a recognised abbreviation of “line”) both placed “in” TON (i.e. “fashionable style”, an archaic variant meaning I’ve only ever seen used in cryptic crosswords), like so: T(A-L)ON.

  1. Staunch supporter (4)

Answer: STEM. Solution satisfies to “staunch” or restrict flow, and “supporter”, e.g. for a wineglass.

10 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1553

  1. Thanks Lucian. A bit of a mixed bag this time. Some good clues, but too many deletions for comfort.

    In 9d, CRESCENDO doesn’t mean HIGH POINT. It’s a musical direction meaning “getting louder”. Yellow card, setter.

    Re 14a, we wondered if it might have something to do with typesetting?

    As you know, I’m no fan of Americanisms in a UK crossword, but at least 34d had the good grace to admit it. Unlike 1d, which is what we on this side of the Pond call “Noughts and Crosses”.

    Take care, and stay safe. SB

  2. A reasonable challenge this week. I agree with the comment (above) about CRESCENDO. None of my dictionaries suggest it means HIGH POINT. But, if you Google its meaning today, one definition is, “the highest point reached in a progressive increase of intensity.”.

    Also above, I agree that 14a relates to type-setting. Remember the good old days of hot metal, let alone “Spanish practices” in Fleet Street? In 1978/79, The Times Newspaper wasn’t published for a whole year due to an industrial dispute with the unions. What on earth did Lucian do with his weekends with no cryptic crossword to solve?

  3. Glad I did most of this before I went to the beer festival (beers moderate, water buffalo burgers gorgeous).
    Very enjoyable and inventive. Loved the answer at 43a being wrapped in socks, and idem making a rareish appearance at 24d. Ashamed that my last one, 34d, was the American horror, that was my trade, when properly spelled, for over 30 years!

  4. Lots of annoyance at ‘crescendo’ – straight red in my view!! ‘Talon’ was a bit nasty, with its double obscurity. However, I enjoyed this one, on the whole, especially the good number of long word answers.

  5. My immediate thoughts on ‘crescendo’ were the same as mentioned above, but several dictionaries back up the setter.
    Eg. Cambridge Dictionary: ‘a gradual increase in loudness or the moment when a noise or piece of music is at its loudest’.
    I was annoyed by ‘anesthetize’ though, that’s not just an Americanism, it’s essentially a foreign word shoved in because nothing else would fit.

  6. Bit of a slog this week. Agree with most of above. Being a musical family, we have never known crescendo to mean a top point, always making one’s way to it, so to speak. Then again, found the new meaning on line. Always willing to learn something new.🙄

  7. I’ve never known tic tac toe to have ks. Online seems to support me. No one else on my side here?

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