Times Cryptic Jumbo 1658 – 10 February 2024

Reasonably straightforward this, with some clever clues but also some rather poor surfaces. What did you think?

1 Writer Jane — typical American — penning principally erotic fiction (5)
DEFOE – E(rotic) + F(iction), in DOE. Jane Doe and John Doe being names used in the US particularly when someone’s real name is either not known or should not be published.
4 Say 2000 guineas initially captured Alfa Romeo vintage model? (7,3)
CLASSIC CAR – CLASSIC (say 2,000 guineas) + C(aptured) A(lfa) R(omeo). The 2,000 guineas is one of the five Classic flat horseraces, the Epsom Derby being probably the best known. Not keen on that surface reading..
9 Nearly new frame for Canaletto artwork (6)
FRESCO – FRES(h) (new, nearly) + C(analett)O
14 Soldier in red gear going on manoeuvres (9)
15 Wow, Bernard Levin no longer popular? That’s surprisingly novel! (5,3,5)
BRAVE NEW WORLD – *(WOW BERNARD LEV(in)). Ie leaving out IN = popular. Bernard Levin, not a name you hear much nowadays but he was famous enough in his day, as a journalist and TV/film critic. He has a crossword connection, as his classics teacher at school was one DS McNutt, aka Ximenes. McNutt’s own Wiki entry is interesting, if accurate; I hadn’t known he had such a love of caning boys…
16 Elite forces circling around send for The Blues (7)
SADNESS – SEND, rev., inside SAS, elite forces.
17 Hurricane winds becoming more earthy (9)
RAUNCHIER – *(HURRICANE). Another strange surface, but a neat anagram
18 Yellow Sea for French shellfish? (5)
ORMER – OR (yellow, golden) + MER, French for sea (so, not its crossword meaning!)
19 Spooner lets me off when pinching the first bit of egg flip (4,4,6)
LOSE ONES TEMPER – *(SPOONER LETS ME + E(gg)) .. I often find Spoonerisms hard, so it was a mild relief to see that this isn’t one!
22 Launch  parody (4-3)
25 Cursed wicked spirit renounced religious belief when killing knight (10)
IMPRECATED – IMP (wicked spirit) + RECA(n)TED. N = knight, in chess notation
27 Gasbag bishop shampoos little Christopher before the start of evensong (12)
BLATHERSKITE – B(ishop) + LATHERS (shampoos) + KIT (eg Kit Marlowe, Kit Carson) + E(vensong). Originally a Scottish term, not intended as a compliment.
30 Familiar extremes of temperature during month (5)
MATEY – T(emperatur)E, in MAY, your month.
31 Blag dealer of supply (8)
32 Child catching Greek character who was an old monster (8)
MINOTAUR – TAU (Greek character) in MINOR, a child. The Minotaur was half man and half bull, for reasons that don’t bear close scrutiny.
35 Liberated grass-covered meadows (8)
RELEASED – LEAS , (meadows) in REED, grass.
36 From superior keyboard instrument we hear something flowery (8)
HYACINTH – Sounds like “Higher Sinth.” An attractive flower, though sadly it always makes me think of Hyacinth Bucket.
37 Riviera city accommodating eastern relative (5)
39 Top brass in the army? (7,5)
TRUMPET MAJOR – Just a whimsical CD I think, playing on the fact that top brass would not normally be a lowly major.
41 Down, lacking energy, daughter always makes time for the old man (7,3)
FATHERS DAY – F(e)ATHERS (down, with no E) + D(aughter) + AY, Scots for always. Father’s Day is on the third Sunday in June in most countries. In the UK it is quite a recent import and my parents, for example, saw it as a commercial gimmick and would have nothing to do with it. Now that I am a father I am quite in favour, and wonder when we shall have a grandfather’s day as well?
43 Cold, solitary, eating variable pie from Italy (7)
CALZONE – C(old) + Z (a variable) in ALONE, solitary. Setters are allowed to choose between X,Y & Z for a variable. Is a calzone a pie? Discuss ..
45 Diocesan rally organised to defend women’s church leader (8,6)
CARDINAL WOLSEY – W(omen’s) in *(DIOCESAN RALLY). One of the great church leaders, sacked by Henry VIII who reportedly regretted doing it, ever after.
48 Talk about the introduction of regional map (5)
CHART – R(egional) in CHAT
49 Well-bred one from stable background? (9)
RACEHORSE – Just a CD I think, racehorses generally being thoroughbred and thus carefully documented and bred.
51 Follow upper-class, Liberal, boring online partner? (7)
EMULATE – An E-MATE could be an online partner I imagine, Tinder etc, let’s not go there; and U + L is put in it.
53 Panama hat, mag and his sandwiches…a peaceful chap (7,6)
MAHATMA GANDHI – I biffed this and am struggling to parse it, now. Oh yes, it is a hidden! And what a good one!
54 Foolish, sick arbitrator, ultimately good (3-6)
ILL-JUDGED – ILL (sick) + JUDGE (arbitrator) + (goo)D
55 Register Nick held with both hands (6)
LEDGER – EDGE (nick, cricketing term perhaps) in L & R, both hands
56 Chronic weak person eschewing R&B (10)
INVETERATE – INVE(r)TE(b)RATE. Is an invertebrate weak? They form the vast majority of animal species, around 95% of the total. Let us ask a 30ft squid if it’s weak..
57 Healthy appetite by the end of day (5)
LUSTY – LUST (an appetite) + (da)Y
1 Be really into established summary publication (6)
DIGEST – DIG (be really into) + EST(ablished).
2 Centre of military operations in theatre of war? (5,8)
FIELD HOSPITAL – a CD. The operations being of the surgical kind, obviously
3 Delete answer posed in Gaelic language (5)
ERASE – A(nswer) in ERSE, the Irish language. A crossword regular, Erse. Such languages always remind me of the books of Isaac Asimov, where everyone speaks the same lanugage, and the eccentric theory that on the (mythical) planet of human origin, a large number of different languages were used is treated with complete incredulity… after all, what would be the point?!
4 Tory crossing boundaries becomes a Red (7)
CRIMSON – RIMS (boundaries) in CON(servative).
5 It helps to improve the atmosphere after one’s kicked up a stink (3,9)
AIR FRESHENER – another CD. Personally I much prefer a smell I understand, to a chemical one that contains heaven knows what. Room and air fresheners have some quite advanced chemicals in that you are forced to inhale, with no come-back on the manufacturer if you end up with asthma or an allergy; both of which they have been suggested as causes of.
6 Took over undersea vessel, American, coming up on the sea (8)
SUBSUMED – SUB + US rev., + MED. A slightly clunky charade clue
7 Runs first-class cricket club at the borders for fun in Ireland (5)
CRAIC – R + A1 in CC, (as in MCC).
8 Improve a real-time broadcast receiving Oscar (10)
AMELIORATE – *(A REAL TIME + O). A slightly devious definition as I tend to think of amelioration as just making things less bad, but that is an improvement, of course..
10 Argument with rugby forward where he sticks his oar in? (7)
ROWLOCK – ROW + LOCK. The lock forward is in the second row of the scrum, behind the hooker and the props. S/he will be big and strong. Intelligence, speed and agility are desirable too, but are by no means a prerequisite.
11 I chuck bombs skyward, just missing a Republican hothead in Italy (9)
STROMBOLI – I LOB MORT(ar)S, all rev. I liked this clue!
12 Earlier file force deleted (5)
OLDER – (f)OLDER, a file lacking the F(orce)
13 Twice-divorced royal female going on-line, getting a date? (5,3,6)
HENRY THE EIGHTH – HEN (female) + RY (railway line) + THE EIGHTH, a date. I confess I just wrote it straight in.
20 Time metaphorically affected the Opposition (5,4)
ENEMY CAMP – ENEMY (“time is the enemy”) + CAMP, affected.
21 Large hollowed out yucca in colonnade having multiple fibrous stems (8)
POLYARCH – L(arge) + Y(ucc)A, in PORCH, a colonnade. Struggled with this, not seeing (still not seeing, in fact) that porch = colonnade, and also not knowing polyarch. But hey, I got it, though it does look a bit of a dodgy clue to me. Where I come from, a porch is a thing the size of a phone box stuck round the front door..
23 Iris surely fled in a tizzy (5-2-3)
24 One reporting on those who make scenes? (4,6)
FILM CRITIC – (yet) another CD…
26 Old King Aethelred laboured with graft (6,3,5)
ALFRED THE GREAT – *(AETHELRED + GRAFT). Another write-in, which is a bit of a shame as it is quite a clever anagram.
28 Rascal (and German!) coming in to make a half century (9)
SCOUNDREL – UND (German for and) in SCORE L, to make 50 in a game of Roman cricket.
29 Actor entertaining game fan of drama (8)
PLAYGOER – GO (a game) inside PLAYER, an actor
33 EU’s ban angered ground beef producer (8,5)
ABERDEEN ANGUS – *(EUS BAN ANGERED). I always get them confused with Highland cattle, which are shaggy and better looking (imo)
34 Book — aka Inner Circles — and article not available earlier (4,8)
ANNA KARENINA – hmm, tricky. I think it is AN + N/A, + *(AKA INNER). A book by Tolstoy, like War and Peace but a quarter the length and four times as readable (imo!)
38 Observe answer in projecting feature’s links leading to Hunter? (5,5)
WATCH CHAIN – WATCH (observe) + A(nswer) in CHIN, a projecting feature unless you are quite unlucky. The hunter is the watch, a type with a metal case that covers the glass. For added protection when your horse throws you, I surmise
40 Freed, if not let outside hospital (9)
UNLEASHED – H(ospital) in UNLEASED (not let)
42 Russian fighter nearly fell from sky? What a pain! (8)
MIGRAINE – MIG, the only Russian fighter setters use, + RAINE(d). No fun at all, a proper migraine. Don’t ask me how I know this.
44 Month compiler uncovered a group of eight musicians (7)
OCTETTE – OCT(ober) + (s)ETTE(r). Not a spelling I was familiar with, but fortunately it came up elsewhere just a day or two beforehand.
46 Trick husband, taken in by little fib (7)
WHEELIE – H(usband) in WEE LIE, a lie. What bike riders do to show off.
47 Boom that was said to attract Doris’s attention? (6)
HEYDAY – “HEY, (Doris) DAY.” Does heyday = boom? Discuss..
48 Pack animal arrived, then left (5)
CAMEL – CAME (arrived) + L(eft). Not a hard clue, but very neat.
50 Strategy to reduce risk beginning to hurt margin (5)
HEDGE – H(urt) + EDGE, a margin.
52 General regularly puts out ally (5)
USUAL – alternate letters of pUtS oUtAlLy.

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

10 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1658 – 10 February 2024”

  1. Can’t remember a thing about this one. I’ve got ‘feh’ written by several clues, which is my way of noting a surface I especially don’t care for. DNK ‘Blag’. I seem to have liked SCOUNDREL.

  2. I found this pretty easy and solved it in one session.

    I never understood ‘nick / EDGE’ at 55ac and even now we’re not completely sure how it works are we?

    I also don’t think the whimsical TRUMPET MAJOR clue works particularly well although the answer was never in doubt.

    I didn’t think twice about ‘boom / HEYDAY’ but now you mention it I have some doubts, as I can’t think of a substitution in which they both fit.

    I was a big fan of Bernard Levin and saddened by the cruel illness that plagued him towards the end of his life. I particularly remember a TV series he presented about the River Rhine which I recorded on tape and subsequently transferred to DVD, but the picture quality is poor and I have been hoping that one day it will be issued commercially or at least repeated on TV.

      1. Thanks. I don’t follow the sport so any terminology I have picked up is from schooldays or previous crosswords.

        I forgot to say that OCTETTE gave me more of a problem here because I solved this puzzle on the day of publication which was 5 days prior to its appearance in a weekday puzzle. I had an advantage second time around though.

        A little research reveals that OCTETTE came up only last August when I awarded it a MER but then discovered that all the musical groups ending in ‘-et’ can also be spelt ‘-ette’ except ‘nonet’ for some unknown reason.

  3. I whizzed through this one, recording a time of seconds over 30 minutes, but having biffed SADDENS at 16 instead of SADNESS it didn’t stand out as wrong on fault finding. I thought DEFOE was rather clever, more than suggesting a raunchy Jane Austen (oh, Mr D’Arcy!), but not much else was especially striking.

  4. Cracked this in 37 minutes.

    The non-Spoonerism was a nice feature at 19a. Also good to see this year’s inclusion of BLATHERSKITE appearing early on 🙂

    COD to STROMBOLI, which actually had quite a lovely surface.

    1. Stromboli is the name of the island as well as the volcano, since they are much the same thing; and I was amazed to find that it has a population of 5-600, despite being in constant eruption. Daring souls ..

  5. Done online as I was away and had no access to a printer, so I don’t have any notes on this. I remember it being not too hard and I see I submitted in just over 32 minutes. From reading the blog, I was reminded I rather liked the author of smutty fiction, the non-spoonerism and the wonderfully disguised MAHATMA GANDHI. Thanks Jerry and setter.

  6. Not too hard but I had BLATHERSNIPE. It seemed the most likely option in the absence of any idea of what ‘little Christopher’ was referring to. Kit didn’t occur to me. Drat.

Comments are closed.