Club Monthly 20183 December 2015

I thought this blog might be a little bit late this month, but the competition entries close at midnight on the last Thursday of the month – which this month apparently means the exact moment when Jools Holland officially declares the new year. So, happy New Year to all!

This crossword is absolutely bang on, as it almost always is. I have the greatest respect for those who just go on from month to month, producing such top quality work, without expecting a knighthood … here’s to a good 2016, to everyone in that category.

If you are still looking for a suitable New Year resolution, why not try solving this crossword every month? It is excellent training for the daily cryptic and teaches patience, as well as lots of interesting vocab.. it may look forbidding and it will take longer than half an hour (unless you are Jason or Magoo) but it is rewarding and not as hard as it looks. if it was, I couldn’t do it!


1. Voice-activated app inputting question and answer about Middle Eastern people (6)
Iraqis – Q + A rev. in SIRI, which I believe is an Apple inc. app. I will have nothing at all to do with Apple products, myself. I see them as an expensive victory for style over substance, and a sad commentary on the popularity of proper engineering. I am aware I am in a minority here. Sorry!

5. Brilliant creature in past beset by routine trouble (4-4)
ruby tail – BY (past) in RUT (routine) + AIL (trouble). Ruby tail wasps may be brilliant in appearance but their personal habits do not bear close examination
9. Wind melted icicle encasing black ring (8)
libeccio – B(lack) in *(ICICLE) + O. One of a number of winds that turn up hereabouts from time to time
10. I see Greek sanctuaries rejected a Midwesterner (6)
Ohioan – OH (I see) + NAOI rev. The plural of Naos, a classical temple.. not a word I knew but still not too difficult a clue
11. Gently blows over cutting at back for plant that’s fragrant to Bard (4-4)
nose-herb – BREATHES ON, rev. and with the AT removed. The bard in question being Shakespeare
12. Tinder has you on phone, after a passionate love (6)
amadou – A MAD O (a passionate love) + U (you on phone!). You can buy amadou on Ebay…
13. Rest with extended weekend’s beginning in Malawi city (8)
Lilongwe – LONG W (extended weekend’s beginning) in LIE (rest). Lilongwe is the capital of Malawi.
15. Middle note in part becomes euphonious (4)
mese – hidden in becoMES Euphonious. The middle string of a lyre, I discover
17. Spiritual Muslim’s uncertainty with American from the other side (4)
Sufi – IF (uncertainty) + US (American), both rev.
19. Australian fish died with rage over being caught by chance (8)
luderick – D(ied) + IRE (rage) rev., in LUCK (chance)
20. Island area circled westward by German eight, where long boat trip ended (6)
Ithaca – I(sland) + A(rea) in ACHT (German eight) rev. Where Odysseus’ odyssey ended..
21. Husband temporarily disliking sister and grand musical humorist (8)
Hoffnung – H(usband) + OFF (temp. disliking) + NUN (sister) + G(rand). A write-in for me, having been brought up on the works of Gerard Hoffnung, such as this one. It was the way he told them…
22. This old reindeer with feathers could supply a humiliating punishment (6)
tarand – TAR AND (feathers)
23. Sea changes with wind allow having energy in mid-month (3,5)
lee tides – E(nergy) in LET (allow) + IDES (mid-month)
24. About half a dozen cereal seeds for ruminant, say (8)
cavicorn – CA (about) + VI (six) + CORN (cereal). Some ruminants have hollow horns, (sheep, goats) and then again some (eg deer) don’t
25. Huntsmen, yours out of season? (6)
yagers – AGE (season) in YRS (yours).
2. Short attack on unfinished poem presented logically (8)
raisonne – RAI(d) (short attack) + SONNE(t) (unfinished poem)
3. Defiant gesture, not quite defeated over length of dash (8)
quenelle – EN (length of dash) in QUELLE(d) (not quite defeated). None of the usual sources have this meaning, but it is easy to find if you google it and I remembered it then.
4. Runaway rescuable in Calais, an indication of exasperation (5,4)
sacre bleu – *(RESCUABLE). Known to me from Beau Geste etc. Never actually heard it used..
5. Letter doctor enclosed, recording name of computer, about part of brain (15)
rhombencephalon – RHO (letter) + MB (doctor) + ENC(losed) + EP (recording) + HAL (the computer in 2001, Space Odyssey) + ON (about).. clever clue!
6. The lad surrounded by surly youth and Ecstasy drug source (7)
yohimbe – HIM (the lad) in YOB (surly youth) + E(cstasy). Yohimbe is a plant extract used as an aphrodisiac in West Africa which has the unusual property of actually working, some of the time at least.
7. Perhaps Watergate aim’s mostly concerned with repressing (8)
aboideau – IDEA (aim) in ABOU(t) (mostly concerned with)
8. Learner accepted by good varsity, taking one Italian course (8)
linguini – L (learner) + IN (accepted) + G (good) + I in UNI (varsity)
14. Playing lightly although covering very loud tracks (9)
whifflery – FF (very loud) in WHILE (although) + RY (tracks, ie railway)
15. Gentleman entering large town marks stands of nutmegs (8)
myristic – SIR (gentleman) in CITY (large town) + M (marks) all rev., (stands, which I suppose does work as a reversal indicator for a down clue)
16. Physicist “rationalised” Noah’s ark, making Newton see (8)
Sakharov – *(NOAHS ARK), except the N (Newton) becomes a V (see)
17. Having a knees-up dance to reggae or something similar, with new man (8)
skanking – SKA (something similar to reggae) + N(ew) + KING (man, specifically a chess man)
18. One typically opposing leaf on erect strong-smelling plant (8)
frondeur – FROND (leaf) + RUE (strong smelling plant) rev.
19. With heart sinking, summarily execute first person caught opening for service in the evening (7)
lychnic – LYNCH (summarily execute), with the N sinking + I + C (caught)

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

4 comments on “Club Monthly 20183 December 2015”

  1. Well over an hour on this, so even more special than usual. Remembered the QUENELLE from the great Nicolas Anelka scandal/storm in a tasse de thé. I have many reasons to be anti-anti-semitic, but I do sometimes think we have become way too sensitive.
    I don’t see why you shouldn’t prick the Apple bubble from time to time: my experience of Apple users is that they’re always sneeringly contemptuous of PC users, and I have rather enjoyed the spectacle of their overpriced and bendy phones struggling to keep up with Android.
  2. Not only to the setters of these fiendish offerings, but to the likes of you, Jerry, and Jimbo, who seem to find them a walk in the park. I try each month, do a few clues which usually don’t help each other, then fall by the wayside. In this one, three quarters of the answers were words I didn’t know existed, and I think my vocabulary is fairly wide (although not long-experienced in solving obscure Mephistos and such). Take the wordplay, come up with an answer which could be a word meaning the definition, look it up and be right or wrong: is there a better way than this, to get to the end? I’ll keep trying, but there’s only so many hours in a day.
    I’m in your camp regarding Apple (the Fisher Price of computing?) especially in years past being the chap who had to find how to network and auto back-up some high end Macs (used by designers) across a Windows NT server LAN set-up. Nightmare.
    1. Thank you kind Sir.

      Your approach is sound – use the cryptic to derive the word and then look it up in Chambers

      However, there can be no substitute for 50 years of solving bar crosswords starting with Ximenes circa 1963! I’m not sure that I’d have the patience if I had to start from scratch now.

      Never forget, it’s knowing there are solvers who use the blog to learen that keeps Jerry, George and I writing these blogs that attract very little comment

  3. Agreed, another fine puzzle. Thanks to the setter(s).

    Don’t appologise for not liking Apple. Totally agree with Pip about networking them and backing them up – not helped by users who all seemed to have a hugely inflated view of their machine and themselves.

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