Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1556

A decent enough stinker with some clever misdirection and fine clueing to decode, though its reliance on general knowledge and a few made-to-fit solutions made it drag after a while. My Bradford’s was rather warm by the end of it.

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 ran off with your £184,000,000 EuroMillions jackpot-winning ticket – yours as well, huh? – then you might find solace in my Just For Fun page, 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 the thoughts of other solvers when their pens are stilled. Till next time, stay safe out there kids.


Across clues

  1. Reg maybe backing Paul the physicist (5)

Answer: DIRAC (i.e. “Paul the physicist”). Solution is CAR ID (i.e. “reg maybe”, a playful reference to a car registration) reversed (indicated by “backing”). Made. To. Fit.

  1. Yankee after arrest to be sick as a parrot? (7)

Answer: COPYCAT (i.e. to “parrot”). Solution is Y (“Yankee” in the phonetic alphabet) placed “after” COP (i.e. to “arrest”) and followed by CAT (i.e. “to be sick” – can’t place the usage, but Chambers backs it up), like so: COP-(Y)-CAT.

  1. Symbol from memory needed on most of elite kit (9)

Answer: PICTOGRAM (i.e. “symbol”). Solution is RAM (i.e. computer “memory”, specifically Random Access Memory) placed “on” or after PICK (i.e. “elite”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “most of…”) and TOG (i.e. “kit”, both words for clothing), like so: (PIC-TOG)-RAM.

  1. Leaving it to fuzz? One presumably not (9)

Answer: VIGILANTE. Clue plays on “fuzz” being a slang word for the police, and how vigilantes act outside of the law. Not picking much else up from this one, to be honest. I could be missing something clever.

[EDIT: Thanks to Craig in the comments for clearing this up. The solution is an anagram (indicated by “to fuzz”) of LEAVING IT. Nicely done. Thanks, Craig! – LP]

  1. A welcome game of cricket forces our Elizabeth to stop arguing? (5,2,6)

Answer: AGREE TO DIFFER (i.e. “stop arguing”). Solution is A followed by GREET (i.e. “welcome”), then ODI (i.e. “game of cricket”, specifically a One Day International), then F and F (recognised abbreviations of “force”), then ER (i.e. “our Elizabeth”, i.e. the Queen, or Elizabeth Regina).

  1. A little foreign cash needs dispatched to auditor, as I see it (7)

Answer: CENTIMO (i.e. “a little foreign cash”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “to auditor”) of SENT (i.e. “dispatched”) followed by IMO (i.e. “as I see it”, specifically an abbreviation of In My Opinion), like so: CENT-IMO.

  1. Compounds skill fabulously with a touch of aplomb (7)

Answer: ALKILIS (i.e. “compounds”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “fabulously”) of SKILL, A and A (i.e. “a touch of aplomb”, i.e. the first letter of “aplomb”).

  1. Haze from rear crossing unobstructed, largely (3,4)

Answer: SEA FRET (i.e. “haze”). Solution is SEAT (i.e. “rear”) wrapped around or “crossing” FREE (i.e. “unobstructed”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “largely”), like so: SEA(FRE)T.

  1. Explain I must have quiet at rave (4,7,4,3)

Answer: TALK THROUGH ONE’S HAT (i.e. “rave” or talk insensibly). Solution is TALK THROUGH (i.e. “explain”) followed by ONE (i.e. “I”, its Roman numeral equivalent), then SH (i.e. “quiet”) and AT.

  1. After first of January, pub serves spirits (4)

Answer: JINN (i.e. “spirits”). Solution is J (i.e. “first [letter] of January”) followed by INN (i.e. “pub”).

  1. A large Lowry? Remarkable Irish drawing (3,6)

Answer: ALL SQUARE (i.e. “drawing”). Solution is A followed by L (a recognised abbreviation of “large”) followed by LS (initials of artist “Lowry”), then QUARE (i.e. “remarkable Irish”, i.e. a dialectical variation of QUEER).

  1. Twig gate’s not closing right (6)

Answer: WICKER (i.e. “twig”). Solution is WICKET (i.e. “gate”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “not closing”) and the remainder followed by R (a recognised abbreviation of “right”), like so: WICKE-R.

  1. Space probe that’s reached across third of universe (6)

Answer: GIOTTO (i.e. “space probe” used to observe Halley’s comet up close in the mid-1980s). Solution is GOT TO (i.e. “reached”) wrapped around or placed “across” I (i.e. “third [letter] of universe”), like so: G(I)OT-TO. Made. To. Fit.

  1. Aim to put on air transport (7,5)

Answer: EXPRESS TRAIN (i.e. “transport”). Solution is TRAIN (i.e. to “aim”) placed “on” or after EXPRESS (i.e. to “air”, say, an opinion).

  1. To perform, men getting in camera (6-4)

Answer: CLOSED-DOOR (i.e. “in camera”, or in secret). Solution is CLOSED (as in a door being closed “to”) followed by DO (i.e. “perform”) and OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks of the British Army).

  1. Updates record, having finally included it in a bizarre ritual (5,5)

Answer: AUDIT TRAIL (i.e. “updates record”). Solution is D (i.e. “finally included”, i.e. the last letter of “included”) and IT both placed “in” A and an anagram (indicated by “bizarre”) of RITUAL, like so: A-U(D-IT)TRAIL.

  1. Place for one of the cabal, later evacuated frantically (8,4)

Answer: BACHELOR FLAT (i.e. “place for one”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “frantically”) of OF THE CABAL and LR (i.e. “later evacuated”, i.e. the word “later” with all its middle letters removed).

  1. Help to push horse back: that’s painful, indeed! (3,3)

Answer: AND HOW (i.e. “indeed!”). Solution is HAND (i.e. “help”) with the H (i.e. “horse”, both slang words for heroin) “pushed…back” and followed by OW (i.e. “that’s painful”), like so: (H)AND-OW => AND(H)-OW.

  1. Some inside sang – or applauded yarn (6)

Answer: ANGORA (i.e. “yarn”). “Some inside” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: S(ANG OR A)PPLAUDED.

  1. Unwrapped afternoon treat carried by mother, the perfect combination! (5,4)

Answer: DREAM TEAM (i.e. “the perfect combination”). Solution is CREAM TEA (i.e. “afternoon treat”) with the first and last letters removed (indicated by “unwrapped”) and the remainder placed in or “carried by” DAM (i.e. “mother”, a cattle-related usage we’ve seen occasionally in Jumbos), like so: D(REAM-TE)AM.

  1. You might catch one at sea, or catch one at the piano (4)

Answer: TUNA (i.e. “you might catch one at sea”). The solution is a homophone (indicated by “catch” or to hear) of TUNER (i.e. “one at the piano”).

  1. Warning people passed on should be believed? (4,3,4,2,5)

Answer: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (i.e. a “warning”). Clue plays on DEAD MEN being “people passed on” and how TALES are often referred to as lies. If one TELLS NO TALES then they “should be believed”. You get the idea.

  1. One’s more ineffectual executioner? (7)

Answer: IMPALER (i.e. “executioner”). When written as I’M PALER the solution also satisfies “one’s more ineffectual”.

  1. Education publication’s, I hesitate to say, a little square (7)

Answer: TESSERA (i.e. a “little square” used in a mosaic). Solution is TES’S (i.e. “education publication’s”, specifically the Times Educational Supplement) followed by ER (i.e. “I hesitate to say”) and A.

  1. First taxi maybe about to drive brother from Spain? (7)

Answer: CARAMBA (i.e. “brother from Spain”, playing on “brother” being an exclamation). Solution is CAB A (i.e. “first taxi maybe”) wrapped “about” RAM (i.e. “to drive” into something), like so: CA(RAM)B-A.

  1. Miscreant errs with abandon in Mormon city (3,10)

Answer: SAN BERNARDINO (i.e. “Mormon city”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “miscreant”) of ERRS and ABANDON IN.

  1. Private network, small one, not English, is being moved (2,7)

Answer: IN TRANSIT (i.e. “being moved”). Solution is INTRANET (i.e. “private network”) with the E (a recognised abbreviation of “English”) swapped for (indicated by “not”) S (a recognised abbreviation of “small”) and I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”), like so: INTRAN(E)T => INTRAN(S-I)T.

  1. PC meeting army officers? It’s a small world! (9)

Answer: MICROCOSM (i.e. “it’s a small world”). Solution is MICRO (i.e. computer or “PC”) followed by CO and SM (both “army officers”, a Commanding Officer and a Sergeant Major respectively).

  1. Cheat Harry getting into row (7)

Answer: FINAGLE (i.e. “cheat”). Solution is NAG (i.e. to “harry” – ignore the misleading capitalisation) placed “into” FILE (i.e. a line or “row”), like so: FI(NAG)LE.

  1. Wash thoroughly and comb (5)

Answer: SCOUR. Solution satisfies “wash thoroughly” and to “comb” or search.

Down clues

  1. Within Homer’s house perhaps there’s name for later poet’s (4,7)

Answer: DOVE COTTAGE (i.e. a “house” in which the “poet” William Wordsworth lived). Solution is DOVECOTE (i.e. “homer’s house” – ignore the misleading capitalisation, this is a reference to homing birds) wrapped around or having “within” TAG (i.e. “name”), like so: DOVECOT(TAG)E.

  1. Ungrateful daughter of stage manager’s showing up (5)

Answer: REGAN (i.e. “ungrateful daughter of stage”, specifically in William Shakespeare’s King Lear). “Showing” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, while “up” indicates the solution has been reversed – this being a down clue, like so: MA(NAGER).

  1. All fashionable ladies’ hats eclipsed by suit, without a doubt (4,4,8)

Answer: CALL INTO QUESTION (i.e. “doubt”). Solution is ALL, IN (i.e. “fashionable”) and TOQUES (i.e. “ladies’ hats”) all placed in or “eclipsed by” ACTION (i.e. legal “suit”) once the A has been removed (indicated by “without a”), like so: C(ALL-IN-TOQUES)TION.

  1. Being open, willing and positive, game turned around (7)

Answer: CANDOUR (i.e. “being open”). Solution is CAN DO (i.e. “willing and positive”) followed by RU (i.e. “game”, specifically Rugby Union) reversed (indicated by “turned around”), like so: (CAN-DO)-UR.

  1. Rash more manageable on reflection, with no spots around (9)

Answer: PREMATURE (i.e. “rash”). Solution is TAMER (i.e. “more manageable”) reversed (indicated by “on reflection”) and placed in or having “around” PURE (i.e. “no spots”), like so: P(REMAT)URE.

  1. Be suddenly assertive in finally mastering that dessert recipe? (5,3,4)

Answer: CRACK THE WHIP. Solution satisfies “be suddenly assertive” and, playfully, “finally mastering that dessert recipe”. I rather liked this one.

  1. Sweater something the unfortunate canoeist may turn down (10)

Answer: TURTLENECK (i.e. “sweater”). Solution is TURTLE (i.e. “something the unfortunate canoeist may turn”) followed by NECK (i.e. to “down” a drink).

  1. Supports old ploughman in work (5)

Answer: PIERS. Solution satisfies “supports” and “old ploughman in work”, a reference to a fourteenth century poem called Piers The Ploughman ascribed to William Langland. A new one on me. Chalk one to my Bradford’s.

  1. Part of goal put out by legal people generally (8)

Answer: CROSSBAR (i.e. “part of goal”). Solution is CROSS (i.e. angered or “put out”) followed by BAR (i.e. “legal people generally”).

  1. Round holiday time carrying one’s “bag for life”? (6)

Answer: OVISAC (i.e. “bag for life”, or egg capsule). Solution is O (i.e. “round”) followed by VAC (i.e. “holiday time”, short for vacation) once wrapped around or “carrying” I’S (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one’s”), like so: O-V(I’S)AC.

  1. One who’d make improvements dealing with health first (9)

Answer: REFORMIST (i.e. “one who’d make improvements”). Solution is RE (i.e. “dealing with” – think email replies) followed by FORM (i.e. “health”) and IST (i.e. “first”, with I being a Roman numeral one).

  1. Battle site’s ruins by chance not recalled (7,4)

Answer: MARSTON MOOR (i.e. “battle site”). Solution is MARS (i.e. “ruins”) followed by ROOM (i.e. “chance” – over to Chambers: “opportunity, scope or occasion”) and NOT once these latter two have been reversed (indicated by “recalled”), like so: MARS-(TON-MOOR).

  1. Pal idly twisting leaf (4,3)

Answer: LILY PAD (i.e. “leaf”). “Twisting” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PAL IDLY.

  1. Cautious movement – fraction of half-inch as it were? (7)

Answer: STEALTH (i.e. “cautious movement”). The remainder of the clue plays on “half-inch” being cockney rhyming slang for pinch, or to STEAL, and TH being a suffix denoting a “fraction” of something.

  1. Dramatise larkish, unconventional trilogy (3,4,9)

Answer: HIS DARK MATERIALS (i.e. “trilogy” of books by Philip Pullman). “Unconventional” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of DRAMATISE LARKISH.

  1. Sailor in Camargue on delta, a long way from sound (6)

Answer: ABSURD (i.e. “a long way from sound”). Solution is AB (i.e. a “sailor” of Able-Bodied rank) followed by SUR (i.e. “in Carmague on”, i.e. the French for “on”) and D (“delta” in the phonetic alphabet).

  1. Drug dealer’s confession for old Irish lover (6)

Answer: ISOLDE (i.e. “old Irish lover”, from the legend of Tristan and Isolde). When written as I SOLD E the solution also satisfies “drug dealer’s confession”. Nicely done.

  1. Was boss fired again after losing it? (7)

Answer: REIGNED (i.e. “was boss”). Solution is REIGNITED (i.e. “fired again”) with the IT removed (indicated by “after losing it”).

  1. Boring advice to stop squeaking? (3,4)

Answer: OIL WELL. Solution satisfies a “boring” and, playfully, “advice to stop squeaking”.

  1. What Rover might do pointlessly in one’s parking place? (3,2,3,4)

Answer: BAY AT THE MOON (i.e. a futile or “pointless” gesture). Clue plays on how you might find a lunar “rover” on THE MOON, and how “parking places” are sometimes referred to as BAYS. Nicely worked.

  1. Scottish actor’s intention to catch LA flight (8,3)

Answer: ALASTAIR SIM (i.e. “Scottish actor”). Solution is AIM (i.e. “intention”) wrapped around or “catching” LA and STAIRS (i.e. “flight”), like so: A(LA-STAIRS)IM. Another great clue.

  1. Poem that’s more a novel primarily, somehow (3,8)

Answer: TAM O’SHANTER (i.e. a “poem” by Robert Burns). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “somehow”) of THAT’S MORE A and N (i.e. “novel primarily”, i.e. the first letter of “novel”).

  1. Very fed up as British radicals quarrel about nothing (5,5)

Answer: BORED STIFF (i.e. “very fed up”). Solution is B (a recognised abbreviation of “British”), REDS (i.e. “radicals”) and TIFF (i.e. “quarrel”) all wrapped “about” O (i.e. “nothing”), like so: B-(O)-REDS-TIFF.

  1. Remain calm about unsuitable acknowledgement returned (4,5)

Answer: DON’T PANIC (i.e. “remain calm”). Solution is C (i.e. “about”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “circa”), INAPT (i.e. “unsuitable”) and NOD (i.e. “acknowledgement”) all reversed (indicated by “returned”), like so: DON-TPANI-C.

  1. Part of maybe Mirage’s rising light over time inspiring wonderment (5,4)

Answer: DELTA WING (i.e. “part of maybe Mirage”, a reference to a variety of French fighter jets). Solution is LED (i.e. “light”, specifically a Light Emitting Diode) reversed (indicated by “over”) and followed by T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”) and AWING (i.e. “inspiring wonderment”), like so: DEL-T-AWING. Took a brute force of my Chambers after I twigged the first few letters.

  1. Drop liking for attack (4,4)

Answer: TEAR INTO (i.e. “attack”). Solution is TEAR (i.e. a “drop” of water) followed by INTO (i.e. “liking”).

  1. Make out payment finally? That is for some clothing (7)

Answer: NECKTIE (i.e. “some clothing”). Solution is NECK (i.e. “make out” or smoochies) followed by T (i.e. “payment finally”, i.e. the last letter of “payment”) and IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. “i.e.” – an abbreviation of the Latin id est).

  1. Game that’s played could end in stalemate (6)

Answer: CLUEDO (i.e. “game”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “that’s played”) of COULD and E (i.e. “end [letter] in stalemate”).

  1. Tattoo of weaver’s remains? (5)

Answer: THRUM. Solution satisfies a “tattoo” or drumming sound, and “weaver’s remains”, a variant meaning. Another new one on me.

  1. At least three notes to get wrong (5)

Answer: MISDO (i.e. “to get wrong”). When written as MIS and DO the solution also satisfies “at least three notes”, MI and DO being part of the sol-fa notation, MI in this case being plural.

16 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1556

  1. Thanks as ever Lucian. A hard one for me, not helped by plumping for Pauli for one across ( car reg I if you remember the old days, following Paul) to give us Wolfgang the physicist as supplied by my Chambers. Thx for putting me straight. Graham

  2. Phew, thank you for the explanations. There were four cases where we got the answer without quite understanding why. We never thought of a lunar rover (still not especially happy with that clue)! And gave up on Piers, not having your degree of grit and determination.
    But overall a satisfying puzzle, it’s good to tough it out in the end. We especially liked Crack the Whip and Don’t Panic was also rather clever.
    Only six days to the next jumbo!

  3. Pretty hard this week, though the clues were generally fair once solved. Just three comments:

    1d (DOVE COTTAGE) – “homer” is not a common word but, interestingly, this is the second time I have run into it recently. It was also the answer to the daily online “Wordle” a few days ago.

    27d (ISOLDE) – I carelessly entered ISOLDA (where the “A” in my tiny mind referred to Class A drugs). This then gave me a terrible time solving 40a (DREAM TEAM) until the light dawned.

    35d (TAM OSHANTER) – the answer is indicated as 3,8 but surely should have been 3,1’7

  4. Hmm lots to be not satisfied with. Audit trail is not “updates records”, pigeons not doves “home”, impaler is not really an executioner. Sergeant Major is not an Officer rank. Necktie is hardly clothing. Yuk yuk yuk. Still got there in the end, but more pain than pleasure.

    1. With my pedant’s hat on: 33ac: The clue is ‘updates record’ (singular), i.e a record of updates. An audit trail can refer to a log kept of changes to a document. Not always, I grant you, but sometimes – which is all the setter needs, to mislead us! Vlad the Impaler (Vlad III of Romania) famously executed his political enemies by impaling them – as well as kick-starting the Dracula legend. Sgt Major is a non-commissioned officer, but still an officer. Personally, I consider a tie to be an item of clothing, though I admit I don’t like the American word ‘necktie’ which sounds too much like a garotte.

      We found it difficult – failed to get Caramba and Misdo and Thrum – but not unfair.

  5. Agree with all above comments. I struggled in the bottom left corner (just couldn’t get either Alastair Sim or audit trail, so the cross clues were also elusive). 32a: surely the reference is not to a lunar rover but an earthling dog, baying uselessly at the moon. 10d: I liked “bag for life” for ovisac.

  6. Thanks as ever Lucian.
    I don’t mind difficult crosswords but there’s difficult and there’s ridiculous.
    To choose one example of many: 3d, ‘call into question’. Is it possible to get this answer from the clue? I got it by getting 3 letters into it and then guessing the answer. I then managed to work out the clue from the answer.
    If anyone genuinely worked out the answer from the clue, I would be surprised (and impressed).

    1. We guessed 3dn as well – but to be honest, we get a lot of our answers by guessing the word from a partial solve, and reverse-engineeering; I’d always thought of that as a legitimate technique!

      1. So do we, Mike. This is often the ONLY way to solve deletion-type clues, or those where the answer contains a name. Which is why I detest those type of clues, because they’re impossible to solve just from the wordplay. You have to guess the answer first, then work backwards.

        (Apologies if this comment appears more than once. WP has been having a strange interlude and wouldn’t let me post the first few times I tried.)

  7. Thanks Lucian. We really struggled with this one, and agree with all the above comments. Some good clueing, but also a lot of obscure definitions and an over-heavy reliance on specific (rather than general) knowledge. Are we really expected to know that Alastair Sim was Scottish (other Scottish actors are available), or that San Bernardino was originally settled by the Mormons?

    Thanks, as ever, for your explanations. Take care, and stay safe. SB

  8. I always welcome an occasional toughie, such as this one. Completed this the next day. Only failed on PIERS(Wrote PRESS instead)

  9. Your phrase “made-to-fit solutions” has never been more apt. This offering was irritating in the extreme: “inelegant” doesn’t even begin to condemn it. Very busy with work of late, I’d looked forward to a nice mental work-out on a rare day off: this proved to be a flog through perverse, too often unjustifiable, connections. You can’t have it all, I suppose. And when you solve a cumbersome stinker like this, there is some grudging fulfilment, perhaps. But I don’t want to encourage the setter!

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