Mephisto 2450 / Tim Moorey – in the shade

Solving time: say 80 minutes, no books

As presented on the Times club website, this puzzle had a grid with two diagonal sequences of squares shaded, but no preamble. There may have been some instructions in the printed version, but to Mrs B’s delight, just the one newspaper is delivered to this house on a Sunday (Observer for Azed).

My first go at this puzzle was rather worrying – only about five answers written in, and most of those with queries about the wordplay. On my second look, I realised that any preamble would have said:

Letters in shaded squares are ignored in wordplay, and spell out an appropriate message.

At the Sloggers and Betters meet, I showed the roughly one-third finished puzzle to John Grimshaw (Times Two setter every day and also on the cryptic setting team). From about three letters on the shaded main diagonal, he took about five seconds to say “Two four fifty!” The rest was polished off on the train home (not bad going with the amount of beer I’d got through), with “Mephisto” being the other diagonal sequence.

Lower case in answers below indicates the shaded letters.

4 mORICHE – heroic* – unless you know about the genus Mauritia, Chambers just tells you this is a palm.
10 ‘S,w,AN,H,eRD. – yes, there really is such a thing. Ties with gooseherd for the “daftest -herd word in Chambers” award. (German shep was disqualified for cheating).
13 ESpARTOS – (assert,O)*, with ‘do’ as anag. indicator. Novel, but if you look up ‘do’, it works
16 ThRONE – tron or trone is a “public weighing-machine, also used as a place of punishment” in C. – our DTRMQTIA of the day (def that raises more questions than it answers). Oh, and also a market-place. Heads = a ship’s toilet = throne.
17 B,OFFo – “highly successful”, US slang.
22 BOTTOM,r,Y – getting a loan for a sea voyage, with the ship as security
27 L,I,MAIL – metallic sawdust
30 T,SAD,DIcKS – Hasidic leaders or pious folk in Judaism
31 OTTO = (m)otto = device
34 STAy = STA(g)
1 tS,A,M.B.A. – a Tibetan barley dish.
2 NAoS – nas is an old shortening of ‘ne was’ = ‘was not’
3 E.N.,EFfET
5 OeSTRuMS – the O in ‘storms’ moves to the top. oestrum = a gadfly, inter alia
7 CIRRi = cir.,R – {circa = about} can be: c., ca., cir., or circ. apparently
14 TO,NsIL = ‘any mass of lymphatic tissue’ apparently
18 fA(TIM)A – Tim (Moorey) = ‘yours truly’
23 MoTLEy – T = time in an anag. of mel = honey, though I don’t see how the anag. is indicated, as ‘of various types’ is all needed for the def. Full clue: “Time to tuck into honey of various types”. Any offers?
24 DAD,O,S – dad = ‘old boy’ (both are familiar forms of address for an older man)

One comment on “Mephisto 2450 / Tim Moorey – in the shade”

  1. I didn’t have time to look at this last week anyway, but one of the reasons I don’t usually bother with the Mephisto is that there’s hardly ever any theme or gimmick to it. And even on the rare occasions when there is, they forget to put the preamble on the website! The last really interesting Mephisto I solved was a couple of months ago when they printed the wrong grid and I had to do it “carte blanche”. I’m sure I’d do it more often anyway if there wasn’t such a lot of competition from other barred crosswords every weekend, e.g. Azed, EV, Listener, Inquisitor…

Comments are closed.