Mephisto 3224 – Wood nymphs? Baboons? Nope!

I found it a little difficult to get started in this one, and was thinking of stopping for the night with only a few solved.   But then I started to break through, and got a bit of traction.     Knowing sagamore, amanitas, and calanthus was really very helpful, and in the end I nearly finished before going to bed.   So it was just a matter of cleaning up the next morning, when you always have fresh ideas anyways.

There is a lot of dictionary lore here, including some abbreviations and short forms that do not often come up.    Solvers new to Mephisto might as well get used to it, and eventually you may come to know every word in Chambers as well as the three setters.


1 Son on edge could be a biblical one (4)
SHEM – S + HEM, definitely a starter clue.
4 Works unattributed as notepad somehow lacking name (8)
ADESPOTA – Anagram of AS NOTEPAD – N, without a master.
9 Fruit basket needing thin strip of wood in cases taken by American (8)
CALATHUS – CA(LATH)US.   CA is a valid abbreviation for cases, go figure.
11 Retraction contrived showing craft of an old Greek (10)
TRIACONTER – Anagram of RETRACTION – it’s a boat.
12 Chief’s story that goes on further (8)
15 Flexible fiddle lacking a string (5)
WANLE – WAN[g]LE, as in the Bach’s Air on the G String.
16 Dock guards are rubbish (4)
DREK –  D(RE)K.   DK is a valid abbreviation for dock, and ‘RE is a  valid form of are.
17 Ladies team abroad not close to Europe repeatedly? (8)
MATILDAS – Anagram of LADI[e]S T[e]AM….the Australian national ladies football team, to be exact, an &lit.
18 Mild oath during larkin’ about? (8)
BYRLAKIN – BY + anagram of LARKIN’.
20 Old character’s good in drive on reversing (4)
YOGH – HO(G)Y backwards, where HOY as a verb means drive on.
22 Accepted a line about the deep ocean (5)
25 Mushrooms ordered from Tasmania (8)
26 Easily recognised vagrant kneels to grab food (10)
KENSPECKLE – Anagram of KNEELS around PECK, which has the slang meaning of food.
27 A palm is badly treated when given end of cane (8, two words)
DATE TREE – Anagram of TREATED + [can]E.
28 Ordered without doubt to protect book collection (8)
INDENTED – INDE(NT)ED, another fairly simple clue.
29 Discover Japanese dishes, hot one for takeaway (4)
1 Doctor restricting exercise forgiven (6)
SCUSED –  SC(USE)D.  A doctor of science.
2 More than one Cobra improved heady Madras (11)
3 Traditional courtyard meeting about breaking horse (5)
MARAE – MAR(A)E, some Maori for you.
4 See me alas on the outside getting loss of honour (5)
ATIMY – A(TIM)Y, a write-in for classicists.  It is important to remember that this is a Tim Moorey puzzle.
5 European music reviewer of rock (8)
EUCRITIC –  E.U CRITIC who evidently reviews a gabbroitic rock.
6 Endless pasta almost entirely fresher (6)
PENNAL – PENN[e] + AL[l], a fresher at a German university.
7 Utter a couple of instructions to leave (9)
OUT AND OUT – Double definition, the second factitious.
8 High places in Scottish resort that’s special (6)
AYRIES –  AYR + I.E. + S.
10 Burns irritates after excellent drama uncovered (11)
13 Government not with it, scatty erudite banking academic rewarded (9)
GUERDONED – G + an ansgram of (ERUDITE  – IT) containing DON.   What could be simpler?
14 Cook ham, say for old-fashioned pies (8)
BAKEMEAT – BAKE MEAT, another fairly simple clue.
18 Yoga found a bit hard around lowest part of back (6)
BHAKTI –  Anagram of A BIT H around [bac]K.   If shakti is a thing, then bhakti is highly likely to be one too!
19 Girl with tablet penning one string of verses (6)
21 Hacks focus on the trophy at Lord’s (6)
HASHES – [t]H[e] + ASHES.
23 Strange held back in fear after losing final in golf (5)
UNKED – [f]UNKED, which is defined by held back in fear.
24 County flags (5)
WILTS – A very simple double definition.

5 comments on “Mephisto 3224 – Wood nymphs? Baboons? Nope!”

  1. After being lulled into a false sense of security by an easy 1ac I found this extremely hard – the toughest for ages. Nearly an hour and a half on the timer.

  2. Very hard to unpick, though helped by some words emerging from god-knows-where in the subconscious – TRIACONTER and SAGAMORE, among others. Not the kind of puzzle to settle down with on a Saturday at 7.30, with a few bottles of beer, though there was a sense of achievement in getting there in the end. (And UNKED, helpfully, cropped up recently in another puzzle.)

  3. Nice puzzle. I don’t think I had seen DK for deck before. The one that took me the longest to piece together was YOGH

  4. I wish I knew my Left from my Right, as I managed to confuse the two resulting in a pink square fr CARANTHUS, goodness knows why. Otherwise I found this a rather trickier offering.
    I thought MATILDAS was brilliant., with the definition forming (when adjusted) the anagram fodder.

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