Jumbo 667 – cheeky setter rides again?

Just remembered this was waiting to be posted …

Solving time 15:55

A fairly easy jumbo, this one. I don’t have as much data about Jumbo times as for the daily cryptic, but the 10 minutes I think of as ‘par’ for a 15×15 (for someone with Championship ambitions) probably equates to 25-30 minutes for a jumbo. My fastest jumbo time so far is 11:20 for no. 627, and I’m hoping to crack 10 minutes one day. I believe someone round here once beat the hour for the Saturday cryptic, Jumbo and Listener – which I’d guess was about 5, 10 and 40 minutes respectively.

I’m not totally convinced that a weekly jumbo is a great idea – we don’t seem to get quite the same consistent high quality that the old 27×27 bank holiday ones used to have (it would be unfair to expect it, and the criticism doesn’t apply to this one), and the grid size has been reduced to 23×23, presumably because the stock of 24/25/26/27-letter phrases and words was running out. Nor do we seem to get any themes in them any more – in the past we’ve had a few puzzles with sets of things like Jane Austen novels. And I do wonder what the point is when a jumbo puzzle contains no answers longer than 15 letters! (Again, this one passes the test). I’m not sure of the precise editorial standards, but I think you’ll find the odd “Chambers-only” word (i.e. one not in Collins or Concise Oxford) in jumbos.

This puzzle has some cracking clues and includes orgies,boxer shorts, no trousers, and some bloke who’s ‘andy when one’s husband (Alistair with his lean look, perhaps?) is away, so I wonder if this is the cheeky setter Magoo wrote about on 3rd Nov.

1 G(RAP)P,A – Italian brandy, usually clear – unlike my mind last time I tried some.
13 PIN THE TAIL ON THE DONKEY – cryptic def. Jumbos quite often use CDs for long phrases, and this should cause little difficulty to solvers – if you mark the word breaks in the grid, just a few checking letters are often enough to give the game away – e.g. P?N at the beginning of this one. My copy indicates that for both of the long answers, I marked one word break and then spotted the answer. And how often would you want to write or solve a charade this long?
17 APPENDAGES – included as a warning about tempting ‘false friends’ – I see an overwritten “IC” from a hasty write-in of APPENDICES. (Same trouble with WRITE OUT/OFF at 36, a bit more excusably.
20 STARS AND BARS – which I thought was an informal name for the US flag, but was actually a Confederate flag. Nice surface.
24 COMFIEST – anag. of I’m C of E, plus St.
34 BUS,I(NESS)LIKE – Loch = NESS, as usual. Come on setters, give us an Eil, Etive, Lochy, Lomond or Shiel for a change!
38 BE A(R)SKIN(g) – make enquiries = “be asking” is a very Timesy kind of step.
39 (h)ANDY – beautifully simple and, er, suggestive!
46 G(old),AS WELL – if you can have an oil well, …
48 W(ATERL=anag. of later)OO(d)
50 ALL MOUTH AND NO TROUSERS – another cryptic def, using boxers = b. shorts
51 A,LIST,AIR – as beautifully simple as ANDY
3 PANEL BEATER – What’s My Line, younger readers, was probably the first well-known panel game on British TV.
4 AP=pa rev.,HI(C.I.D.)E – superbly constructed
10 EPOC=cope rev.,H
19 GE=e.g. rev,ORGIE(s)
21 ART HOUSES – anag. and wonderfully simple again
31 D(O,N,N)ISH – another little gem
34 B(R)AND LEADER – a strange expression when it’s really a ‘market leader’. Jumbo setters seem to specialise in finding pairs of very similar long phrases and exploiting them to make a clue.
37 FREIGHTER – anag. Possibly an old chestnut, or am I remembering the “right? Wrong!” trick from other words with RIGHT in the anag fodder?
47 S,CAMP – minor flap here when I initially thought of Private Eye’s Dave SPART, but stopped myself on “def. too vague” grounds after writing the P.

One comment on “Jumbo 667 – cheeky setter rides again?”

  1. 19:43, slowed down (if I remember rightly) by STARS AND BARS, which I hadn’t heard of, and BEARSKIN. I also somewhat smugly wrote in GEORGIA at 19dn to start with, having remembered the plural ‘orgia’ but failed to notice the word ‘endless’ in the clue.

    I read with horror that Pin The Tail On The Donkey ‘is generally not competitive, and “winning” is only of marginal importance‘!! What is the world coming to?

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