Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1561

A medium strength puzzle this week, but another of those that leaned too far into general knowledge to be of much interest to me. Your mileage may vary.

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 begun to outstay its welcome then you might find my Just For Fun page of use, 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 what other solvers think once they set down their pens. Till next time, stay safe out there kids.


Across clues

  1. In position with weapons for military command (7,4)

Answer: PRESENT ARMS (i.e. a “military command”). Solution is PRESENT (i.e. attending or “in position”) followed by ARMS (i.e. “weapons”).

  1. Say what I saw and heard, naked man in court (4,7)

Answer: BEAR WITNESS (i.e. “say what I saw”). Solution is a homophone (indicated by “heard”) of BARE (i.e. “naked”) followed by WITNESS (i.e. “man in court”).

  1. No piffling oration broadcast, but something of enduring value (9-8)

Answer: INFLATION-PROOFING (i.e. “of enduring value”). “Broadcast” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of NO PIFFLING ORATION.

  1. Fields for example almost all next to sea (5)

Answer: MEDAL (i.e. “Fields for example”, apparently a medal awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40 for outstanding contributions to the field. No, me neither). Solution is ALL with the last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and the remainder placed after or “next to” MED (i.e. “sea”, short for Mediterranean), like so: MED-AL.

  1. Macbeth’s life a brief one, but a measure of certain intensity (6)

Answer: CANDLE. Solution satisfies Lady “Macbeth’s life a brief one”, referencing a line from The Scottish Play, and “a measure of certain intensity”, specifically of light.

  1. Heavenly group beg one to interrupt less regularly (8)

Answer: PLEIADES (i.e. “heavenly group”, a constellation you see in Jumbos suspiciously more than others). Solution is PLEAD (i.e. “beg”) wrapped around or “interrupted” by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and followed by ES (i.e. “less regularly”, i.e. every other letter of LESS), like so: PLE(I)AD-ES.

  1. Material can appeal to the left, and in France to the right (7)

Answer: SATINET (i.e. “material”). Solution is TIN (i.e. “can”) with SA (i.e. “appeal”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of Sex Appeal I’ve only ever seen used in cryptic crosswords) placed “to the left” of it, and ET (i.e. “and in France”, i.e. the French for “and”) placed “to the right” of it, like so: SA-(TIN)-ET. One nailed from the wordplay, to be honest.

  1. Excellent month with a brilliant sight (9)

Answer: SUPERNOVA (i.e. “brilliant sight”, as in being a bit on the bright side). Solution is SUPER (i.e. “excellent”) followed by NOV (i.e. “month”, short for November) and A.

  1. Bond linking animal to one insect (8)

Answer: ASSIGNAT (i.e. “bond” – over the Chambers: “one of the paper bonds first issued in 1789 by the French government on the security of the appropriated church lands, and later (1790-97) accepted as notes of currency”. A modern everyday term, then. Righto). Solution is ASS (i.e. “animal”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and GNAT (i.e. “insect”).

  1. Jump out of plane tree in the end (4)

Answer: JETE (i.e. “jump” – and again to Chambers: “a leap from one foot to the other in which the free leg usually finishes extended forward, backwards or sideways”. If you were in any doubt that this week’s setter has wilfully gone heavy on the general knowledge, consider how many other words could have fitted the letters _E_E). Solution is JET (i.e. “plane”) followed by E (i.e. “tree in the end”, i.e. the last letter of “tree”).

  1. Indian sage’s last to lead islanders (5)

Answer: IRISH (i.e. “islanders”). Solution is RISHI (i.e. an “Indian sage” or poet) with the “last” letter placed first or “to lead”, like so: RISH(I) => (I)RISH.

  1. Odds on at first, nonetheless (4,2)

Answer: EVEN SO (i.e. “nonetheless”). Solution is EVENS (i.e. “odds”) followed by O (i.e. “on at first”, i.e. the first letter of “on”).

  1. Water and a leek vegan digested (4,6)

Answer: LAKE GENEVA (i.e. a body of “water”). “Digested” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of A LEEK VEGAN.

  1. Sweet ban rejected: a handout all round (8)

Answer: ADORABLE (i.e. “sweet”). Solution is BAR (i.e. “ban”) reversed (indicated by “rejected”) and placed in or having “all round” A and DOLE (i.e. “handout”), like so: A-DO(RAB)LE.

  1. They distrust all sportsmanship: it flourished only without pressure (14)

Answer: MISANTHROPISTS (i.e. “they distrust all”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “flourished”) of SPORTSMANSHIP IT once one of the Ps has been removed (indicated by “without pressure” – P being a recognised abbreviation of “pressure”).

  1. Baronet is concealing difficult time, old flame discovered (7,2,5)

Answer: BROUGHT TO LIGHT (i.e. “discovered”). Solution is BT (a recognised abbreviation of “baronet”) wrapped around or “concealing” ROUGH (i.e. “difficult”) and T (a recognised abbreviation of “time”), and followed by O (a recognised abbreviation of “old”) then LIGHT (i.e. “flame”), like so: B(ROUGH-T)T-O-LIGHT.

  1. In Rome, building stone dries up, but not out (2,6)

Answer: ST PETERS Basilica (i.e. “in Rome, building”). Solution is ST (a recognised abbreviation of “stone”) followed by PETERS (i.e. “dries up, but not out”, i.e. peters out with the “out” removed).

  1. Soldiers love armoured vehicles to capture so-called German (5,5)

Answer: OTHER RANKS (i.e. some “soldiers” of the British Army – often you’ll see its abbreviation, OR, used in cryptic crosswords). Solution is O (i.e. “love”, a zero score in tennis) followed by TANKS (i.e. “armoured vehicles”) once wrapped around or “capturing” HERR (i.e. “so-called German”, a form of address), like so: O-T(HERR)ANKS.

  1. Heart is troublesome, somewhat, for performer (6)

Answer: ARTIST (i.e. “performer”). “Somewhat” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: HE(ART IS T)ROUBLESOME.

  1. Captain engaging Mike to do a rush job (5)

Answer: SKIMP (i.e. “to do a rush job”). Solution is SKIP (i.e. “captain”, short for skipper) wrapped around or “engaging” M (“Mike” in the phonetic alphabet), like so: SKI(M)P.

  1. In inaccessible place I lost Jane (4)

Answer: EYRE (i.e. “Jane”, eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brontë’s novel). Solution is EYRIE (i.e. a high or “inaccessible place”) with the I removed (indicated by “I lost”).

  1. Artist and minor comic (8)

Answer: Piet MONDRIAN (i.e. “artist” – again, me neither). “Comic” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of AND MINOR.

  1. A “dispiriting” worker, tax inspector finally traps men (9)

Answer: EXORCISER (i.e. “a ‘dispiriting’ worker”, playfully taking the word to mean the removal of spirit from something). Solution is EXCISE (i.e. “tax”) and R (i.e. “inspector finally”, i.e. the last letter of “inspector”) all wrapped around OR (i.e. “men”, specifically the Other Ranks we encountered in 38a), like so: EX(OR)CISE-R.

[EDIT: Thanks to Michael in the comments for fixing this one. I’d accidentally written EXORCIST rather than EXORCISER. Cheers, Michael! – LP]

  1. Wounded hare – it’s less speedy? (7)

Answer: HASTIER (i.e. “less speedy” – I guess this is playing on the phrase “more haste, less speed”, replacing “haste” and “speed” with the comparative adverbs HASTIER and “speedier”). “Wounded” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HARE IT’S.

[EDIT: Thanks to Sue in the comments for tidying this one up. I’d accidentally written HERE IT’S rather than HARE IT’S. Cheers, Sue! – LP]

  1. Angry way we must enter lawless zone (4,4)

Answer: WILD WEST (i.e. “lawless zone”). Solution is WILD (i.e. “angry”) and ST (i.e. “way”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of “street”) wrapped around or having “entered” WE, like so: WILD-(WE)-ST.

  1. Hard work with a new catchphrase (6)

Answer: SLOGAN (i.e. “catchphrase”). Solution is SLOG (i.e. “hard work”) followed by A and N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”).

  1. A poem in part of cell (5)

Answer: ANODE (i.e. “part of cell” – and once more to Chambers: “the electrode of an electrolytic cell by which current enters the electrolyte or gas”). When written as AN ODE the solution also satisfies “a poem”. Another nailed solely from the wordplay.

  1. Most substantial course is something involving blackbirds? Allow opposition (5,2,10)

Answer: PIECE DE RESISTANCE (i.e. “most substantial course”, perhaps delivered with a chef’s kiss). Solution is PIE (i.e. “something involving blackbirds”, after the nursery rhyme: “Sing a song of sixpence; a pocket full of rye; four and twenty blackbirds; baked in a pie…”) followed by CEDE (i.e. “allow”) and RESISTANCE (i.e. “opposition”).

  1. No one more important than Cassius once? (3,8)

Answer: THE GREATEST (i.e. “no one more important”). The remainder of the clue plays on a famous speech by heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, formerly “Cassius Clay”, about how he was the greatest. What I didn’t realise was he made a spoken word album of it in 1963.

  1. Three or four days perhaps a short space to penetrate obscure knowledge (4,7)

Answer: LONG WEEKEND (i.e. “three or four days perhaps”, considering bank holidays and Easter). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “obscure”) of KNOWLEDGE wrapped around or being “penetrated” by EN (i.e. “a short space”, specifically printer’s lingo for a space half the width of a lowercase ‘m’), like so: LONGWEEK(EN)D.

Down clues

  1. Operetta ticket costs around November said to fluctuate (8,3)

Answer: PRINCESS IDA (i.e. “operetta” by Gilbert & Sullivan). Solution is PRICES (i.e. “ticket costs”) wrapped “around” N (“November” in the phonetic alphabet) and followed by an anagram (indicated by “to fluctuate”) of SAID, like so: PRI(N)CES-SIDA.

  1. The end, in two languages, is delicate in another (5)

Answer: ELFIN (i.e. “delicate”). Clue plays on how the solution, when written as EL FIN, is “the end” when expressed “in two languages”: EL being “the” in Spanish and FIN being “end” in French.

  1. People being leaderless, competent king is creator of opportunities (7)

Answer: ENABLER (i.e. “creator of opportunities”). Solution is MEN (i.e. “people”, or 48% of them anyway) with the first letter removed (indicated by “being leaderless”) and the remainder followed by ABLE (i.e. “competent”) and R (i.e. “king”, specifically a recognised abbreviation of the Latin Rex), like so: EN-ABLE-R.

  1. Fight’s ending with victory for Tweedledum – or Tweedledee? (4)

Answer: TWIN (i.e. “Tweedledum – or Tweedledee”, identical twins from Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass). Solution is T (i.e. “fight’s ending”, i.e. the last letter of “fight”) followed by WIN (i.e. “victory”).

  1. Remarkably rare day round fireplace for head of gang (10)

Answer: RINGLEADER (i.e. “head of gang”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “remarkably”) of RARE and D (a recognised abbreviation of “day”) wrapped “round” INGLE (i.e. Scots word for a “fireplace”), like so: R(INGLE)ADER.

  1. Cleaner, or theatre ghost? (8,6)

Answer: SURGICAL SPIRIT (i.e. “cleaner”). Clue plays on operating “theatres”, in which SURGERY is performed, and how “ghosts” are sometimes called SPIRITS. You get the idea.

  1. Most general doubts are resolved after leaving university (8)

Answer: BROADEST (i.e. “most general”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “resolved”) of DOUBTS ARE once the U has been removed (indicated by “after leaving university” – U being a recognised abbreviation of “university”).

  1. Briefly, a storyteller’s other name (5)

Answer: ALIAS (i.e. “other name”). Solution is A followed by LIAR (i.e. “storyteller”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “briefly”). The possessive ‘S is tacked on the end, like so: A-LIA-‘S.

  1. Employee carries on, clean (4,5)

Answer: WAGE SLAVE (i.e. “employee”). Solution is WAGES (i.e. “carries on”) followed by LAVE (i.e. an archaic word meaning to “clean”).

  1. Drum almost filled with a fruit (6)

Answer: TOMATO (i.e. “fruit”). Solution is TOMTOM (i.e. “drum”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “almost”) and the remainder wrapped around or “filled with” A, like so: TOM(A)TO.

  1. Animal’s in group on the way out? (10,7)

Answer: ENDANGERED SPECIES. Solution satisfies the clue as a whole, playing on how ENDANGERED can be described as being “on the way out”.

  1. Profit from ID document, and betray trust (4,3,4)

Answer: SELL THE PASS (i.e. “betray trust” – not a phrase I’ve come across before, but my Chambers backs it up). The first half of the clue pretty much sums up the solution as well.

  1. Charlie committed too many tenants: one’s on the bed (8)

Answer: COVERLET (i.e. “one’s on the bed”). Solution is C (“Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet) followed by OVERLET (i.e. “committed too many tenants”).

  1. For example, Plato’s gall bladder problem that has a transforming effect? (12,5)

Answer: PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (i.e. “that has a transforming effect”, a mythical compound sought by alchemists to turn some metals into gold). Solution is PHILOSOPHER’S (i.e. “for example, Plato’s” – other philosophers are available) followed by STONE (i.e. “gall bladder problem”).

  1. Short performance by little creatures and big ones (6)

Answer: GIANTS (i.e. “big ones”). Solution is GIG (i.e. “performance”) with its last letter removed (indicated by “short”) and the remainder followed by ANTS (i.e. “little creatures”), like so: GI-ANTS.

  1. Wanting assistance from power in underworld, minutes away from tricky situation (8)

Answer: HELPLESS (i.e. “wanting assistance”). Solution is P (a recognised abbreviation of “power”) placed “in” HELL (i.e. “underworld”) and followed by MESS (i.e. “tricky situation”) once the M has been removed (indicated by “minutes away from…” – M being a recognised abbreviation of “minutes”), like so: HEL(P)L-ESS.

  1. Senior pupil hid lager to distribute (4,4)

Answer: HEAD GIRL (i.e. “senior pupil”). “To distribute” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of HID LAGER.

  1. Vehicle fitted with the one replacement body part that sparkles in its turn (9,5)

Answer: CATHERINE WHEEL (i.e. a firework “that sparkles in its turn”). Solution is CAR (i.e. “vehicle”) wrapped around or “fitted with” THE and followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and NEW HEEL (i.e. “replacement body part”), like so: CA(THE)R-I-NEW-HEEL.

  1. In regular succession go off people, forgetting first name (8)

Answer: ROTATION (i.e. “regular succession”). Solution is ROT (i.e. “go off”) followed by NATION (i.e. “people”) once the “first” N (a recognised abbreviation of “name”) has been removed or “forgotten”, like so: ROT-ATION.

  1. Shown a card – taken (6)

Answer: BOOKED. Solution satisfies “shown a card” in a number of sports, and “taken”.

  1. Penniless, taking new courage, loving disaster? (6,5)

Answer: BROKEN HEART (i.e. a “loving disaster”). Solution is BROKE (i.e. “penniless”) followed by N (a recognised abbreviation of “new”) and HEART (i.e. “courage”).

  1. Really, really mean to take charge (11)

Answer: SUPERINTEND (i.e. “to take charge”). When written as SUPER INTEND the solution also playfully satisfies “really, really mean to”.

  1. Man of the cinema shot tennis, I see (10)

Answer: Sergei EISENSTEIN (i.e. “man of the cinema”). “Shot” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of TENNIS I SEE.

  1. For Judith and others, a call father accepts with cry of delight (9)

Answer: APOCRYPHA (i.e. “Judith and others”, a reference to books of The Bible). Solution is A followed by CRY (i.e. “call”) once placed in or “accepted” by POP (i.e. “father”, informally) and followed by HA (i.e. “cry of delight”), like so: A-PO(CRY)P-HA.

  1. Being most stupid, is buried in wet earth (8)

Answer: SILLIEST (i.e. “being most stupid”). Solution is LIES (i.e. “is buried” – think headstones) placed “in” SILT (i.e. “wet earth”), like so: SIL(LIES)T.

  1. Writer leaves joint epistle unfinished (7)

Answer: Sidonie-Gabrielle COLETTE (i.e. French “writer”. Search me). Solution is CO- (a prefix denoting “joint”) followed by LETTER (i.e. “epistle”) once its last letter has been removed (indicated by “unfinished”), like so: CO-LETTE. Another solved solely through the wordplay.

  1. Long and very narrow lake I approach (6)

Answer: LINEAR (i.e. “long and very narrow”). Solution is L (a recognised abbreviation of “lake”) followed by I and NEAR (i.e. “approach”).

  1. Expression of delight about examiner’s last question (5)

Answer: WHERE (i.e. a “question” – a bit too airy-fairy for me, but there you go). Solution is WHEE (i.e. “expression of delight”) wrapped “about” R (i.e. “examiner’s last” letter), like so: WHE(R)E.

  1. Messy stuff runs out of some rock (5)

Answer: GUNGE (i.e. “messy stuff”). Solution is GRUNGE (i.e. “some rock” music) with the R removed (indicated by “runs out of” – R being a recognised abbreviation of “runs” used in a number of ball games).

  1. Inspection of car that is held (4)

Answer: VIEW (i.e. “inspection”). Solution is VW (i.e. “car”, short for a Volkswagen) wrapped around or “holding” IE (i.e. “that is”, i.e. “i.e.”, short for the Latin id est), like so: V(IE)W.

13 thoughts on “Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword 1561

  1. Thanks Lucian. We finished this, but it was a mixed bag – and there was a higher-than-average incidence of “No, me neither”. We now mark such clues with NMN.

    Re 48a, your explanation gives the anagram as HERE IT’S not HARE IT’S. Slip of the keyboard, no doubt.

    Take care, and stay safe. SB

  2. Enjoyable but a few of the answers were somewhat obscure. However, the clueing was fair as they could always be deduced. Quite a few nice clues. I liked 55a (Cassius / The Greatest) and 39d (Apocrypha).

    I twigged 16a (Pleiades) pretty quickly but had to wait for the intersecting answers as I couldn’t remember the correct sequence of the three vowels in the middle.

    The Fields medal clue (14a) clue was excellent. Beautiful piece of misdirection. I kept on thinking fields in the countryside or possibly people such as WC Fields. Got it in the end. Yet, I had heard of the Fields Medal. It came to some prominence in the 1990s when a mathematician called Andrew Miles won it for demonstrating the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. It made the national news. Now then, sit back while I lay out the proof for Lucian (ahem!).

  3. I thought this was a very good puzzle. As to the general knowledge required, well, I just happened to have most of it. ‘Sell the pass’ is a common phrase, but perhaps most users don’t realise that it’s literal – it describes betrayers who sold the location of a secret pass, allowing the city etc to be captured. Example: the battle of Thermopylae 480 BC, which the Persians won only because of such a betrayal. Jete, Mondrian, Colette, Fields Medal, all seem to me quite fair – and in fact the latter was the subject of a good Matt Damon film (‘Will Hunting’, 1997). OK, I had never heard of ‘assignat’ – but all the clues around were reasonably gettable, so in the end you just look it up.
    I very much liked some clues, eg ‘Really, really mean to..’ for ‘superintend’ – made me laugh out loud when I got it.
    At 15a, the quote you want Lucian from the Scottish play is more direct, and from Macbeth himself not hs wife, “Out, out, brief candle” (Act V Sc V).
    Tiny typo at 45a – answer is ‘exorciser’ not exorcist.
    For those of you interested, I learn from the weekly Times email that there has been a dialogue going on between Richard Rogan (Crosswords Editor) and some of his many setters, about whether a Times setter should ever be named. This week the previous Puzzles Editor Morph (so named because he used to work for More 4) has outed himself as the author of Times cryptic crossword 58,314, also of Sat 11 June (p.83). Morph reveals that some setters “would prefer attribution, as recognition for their work, or would like to engage with solvers on social media about their clues”. So, welcome all Times setters to this, Lucian’s exceptionally fine column, which for the past two years has been my weekly haven as soon as the puzzle is done.

    1. Good catch, Michael. Thanks for that, and for your kind words. I’ve now corrected the post. I do think it’s unfair that Times setters aren’t credited for their work, even pseudonymously. Some of the other puzzles in the paper have author credits, so why not the granddaddy of them all? It’ll be interesting to see what happens next. – LP

  4. Some tricky and playfull clues this week and needed your solutions for 21a Assignat and 2d Elfin which I just couldn’t spot. Ta very much Lucian
    I’d like to see the setter’s name or handle – in the days when I used to read The Grauniad, it was always a treat when it was a puzzle set by John Graham (Araucaria), especially his themed Xmas specials. Cheers all

    1. There was always added joy when the Weekend FT compiler was Cinephile, I believe that was another pseudonym of Aucuparia and an anagram of Chile Pine, its common name. Thanks Lucian for your explanations and the added amusement of your weekly post.

  5. I read once (unfortunately I can’t remember when or where) that the reason why The Times has always resisted requests to identify its crossword compilers is in case readers develop a dislike for a particular setter. Having been told by Richard Rogan that there is one setter who has a particular fondness for deletion clues, I can well understand this. If I knew in advance that this week’s Jumbo had been set by that compiler, it might be enough to put me off attempting that crossword – or even put me off buying the paper at all.

  6. Well, except for Lucian, we had all heard of MONDRIAN (44a), obviously (ahem!), but I’ve just spotted a second mention of this famous artist in the very same “Saturday Review” supplement? See the Rowan Atkinson article (p. 4, col. 2).

    And, BTW, I am in favour of setters identifying themselves. Years ago, when I did The Guardian crossword (during the great days of Araucaria), it added an extra element of interest. One got used to the style of each setter, their cluing techniques and the likely level of difficulty. So, yes, let’s have some ID of the different Times setters. If nothing else, we would learn how many of the blighters there actually are.

  7. Just as well that, from the rest of the clue, “Medal” had to be the answer for, without access to the internet whilst solving, I had no way of establishing the significance of the “fields” bit.

    Had to enter “satinet” without realising quite why other than its a material (I had the French “et” and the other letters from the down clues) so another unsatisfactory route to the solution.

    Ashamed to say that, though I taught Macbeth at university in 1982-3 (easily my least favourite Shakespeare play save Coriolanus, perhaps) I’d forgotten that candle reference in the one speech almost every student could repeat verbatim from A-level.

    And should it not be “jeté”, the ballet move? Overall, not an enjoyable one at all, that week. Not even started this week’s yet – too much charging round the country!

    1. Yes, it should be jeté. But frustratingly, setters seem to ignore accents – and also (even more frustratingly) apostrophes. For example, SIX O’CLOCK would be indicated by (3,6) rather than (3,1’5). I know I’m being pedantic here, but it still feels wrong.

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