Mephisto 2410 – Mike Laws, weekend round-up

Solving time 41:20 – Chambers used after about 10 minutes.

After implying last week that Mephisto was easier than Azed, it was probably inevitable that this week’s puzzle would take over twice as long as a rather easy Azed competition puzzle. There were a number of “kick-self” moments. There are a couple of clues below for which I don’t understand the wordplay – this isn’t too unusual for the odd clue or two in this kind of puzzle. Any offers?

Across
5 USUCAPT – anag. of ‘put cause’ less E – new answer word for me
11 AL(DE(RM)AN)LY – RM = Madagascar is our IVR du jour
15 RIG,G – there’s something about types of fish – they provide dozens if not hundreds of short words for setters to use
16 ARUM – anag. of Maureen less “still, as before”=e’en
19 MA,R,GO,SA – a plant that yeeds nim oil, doubtless used in aromatherapy
24 W(a)RY,BILL – -BILL is often worth a try with birds, and I suspect having -BILL in a grid pattern may make setters react in a similar way.
25 SHORTARM – rev. of ‘rat r(ace)’ in Mohs. Mohs gave us that hardness scale for rocks so is a reasonably easy mineralogist to think of.
26 E(PI)C – PI = “sanctimonius talk”, as well as the commoner adj. meaning
33 MAR(ROW)Y – Mary S wrote the original Frankenstein book.
34 DE(ED)Y – deedy = dialect word for ‘active’, and dey, like bey, is a governor.
 
Down
2 A,D,JO,URN Рjo = sweetheart is close to an advanced cryptics cliché.
7 UNIO – the pearl-mussel genus. But I don’t understand the wordplay – any offers?
9 PI(L,GARLI=phoney grail)CK – one of the kick-selves, as I knew this was a word.
10 THE(G)N – variant spelling of thane as in Thane of Cawdor.
12 PARAPHONIA – don’t quite understand the wordplay here – can see PARIA(h) as the outcast, so then need APHON to go inside it. Can see P=quiet, HON(ey)=term of endearment, but no A. Wonder whether it was orginally “… stifles a quiet term …”, which would have done the trick.
20 SWALLOW – they eat on the wing = “up”. Don’t quite get the rest – is “up and down” a slang term for “swallow”?
25 STU(L)M – stum, oddly an anag. of must, is new wine.
30 EYNE – old word for eyes, hidden in ‘they needed’ – another word for the adv. cryptic beginner’s notebook

Weekend round-up
Times 23,444 – 7:58 – seems a while since the last Saturday stinker – maybe next week
Independent (Nimrod) – 10:23 – the most fun of any puzzle this weekend
Guardian (Araucaria) – 24:41 – pleasant thematic, some nice other clues – making a nice pair with Nimrod to write about for the other blog.
Times Jumbo 668: retired hurt after about 46 minutes, with 5 left in a stinker of a top right corner. Cheated with Chambers on CD-Rom to confirm one best guess and then stubled onto the problem. 1A is not (11) but (2,3,2,4). All eventually sorted after another 10 minutes or so.
Azed 1,798 – 38:30, using Chambers from about halfway through time and clues.

7 comments on “Mephisto 2410 – Mike Laws, weekend round-up”

  1. The clue to UNIO:

    US student loses case in which pearls were secreted?

    This is explained by JUNIOR (an American student v. Chambers) losing its “case”.

    Can’t offer anything on PARAPHONIA though! Your explanation seems most likely.

    1. Of course – another example of my difficulty with “subtraction” clues. Freshman, sophomore, juniot, senior if I remember right (4 years at ‘college’).
  2. SWAL(rev. of Laws!),LOW(=down)

    This was my first attempt at Mephisto, following Peter’s encouragement last week. I left it after almost two hours, with about half completed. I enjoyed it and will try future puzzles. I am off to order a copy of Chambers now – I took the first step before the zeroth!

    1. I should have spotted this – I = setter’s pseudonym is routine stuff when real names are not revealed.
  3. Times 23,444 – 8:21 – I think that’s the closest I’ve ever come to PB – so a PB vs PB!

    Guardian 23,921 – this is the one I “gave up” on. After 50 minutes I still had 5 clues left in the top right and had to resort to Chambers to finish off. I do labour with Araucaria.

    Times Jumbo 668 – 1:01:45 – glad it wasn’t just me that struggled with this! Obviously the incorrect numbering at 1A delayed things quite a bit, but I also got stuck in other areas of the grid. I did slog it out unaided though, but I had to guess at my last clue (Bible – another weak spot!) but it turned out to be the only word that fitted anyway.

    Azed 1,798 – 33:12 – unaided up until last clue at 14A – I could not make a reasonable guess with all the alternatives. Also got 12A wrong with the unchecked letter.

    Sunday Times 4,198 – 11.38 – but to be honest there’s one answer (maybe two!) that I am just not sure of and may well have got wrong.

    Mephisto 2,411 – 30:27 – needed to resort to Chambers for 24A and 25D right at the end, but as it turned out I had the rear end of 7D wrong.

    1. You missed the chance to thrash me on Mephisto – a mistake with one clue caused a total time of about 80 minutes which should have been about 40.
  4. Times 23444 – 18:35 – not such a good time compared to some.
    Jumbo 668 – 38:38 – I was stuck on 1ac too, but when I got 1dn it gave me enough for the answer to just pop into my head. It’s not the first time they’ve done that to us.
    Guardian 23921 – 22:36 – picked up the theme quickly
    Sunday Times 4198 – 10:24

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