Mephisto 3225 – Paul McKenna

Greetings barred-grid fans.

I found this one pretty tricky, especially on the wordplay side. I am writing this up nearly a week after solving the puzzle and I’m kicking myself for not putting it together much earlier, as some of the wordplay elements are slipping my mind on a second look through. Back to Chambers we go!

In Mephisto puzzles definitions (the most direct of which is underlined) can be confirmed in Chambers so I will focus on the wordplay here.

Paul McKenna usually gives us a pun in the top row, but I cannot make head or tail of what this one could be.

Postscript: not a pun, but a Spoonerism of the Canadian Prime Minister’s name, and I had one mistake – missed that “of” is part of the definition and 6 down is GORSY instead of GORSE. Funny thing is as I was writing it up, I was wondering about “of” being in the clue.

Away we go….

1 Naive president ultimately becoming dull (8)
TRUSTING – last letter of presidenT and RUSTING(becoming dull)
7 Undercut coal by old form of physical discipline (4)
JUDO – JUD(undercut coal) and O(old)
10 Avoid nothing from within (9, three words)
DUCK OUT OF – DUCK(nothing) OUT OF(from within)
11 A hollow opening for Ravi’s raga (4)
ALAP – A LAP(hollow)
12 One’s own kin back hosting Queen, Mistress of Balmoral? (7)
HERSELF – FLESH(one’s own kin) reversed, containing ER(Queen)
13 Notice small trick reversing racing breaks (8, two words)
PIT STOPS – SPOT(notice), S(small), TIP(trick) all reversed
15 Felonious fellows according to police sergeant (5)
PERPS – PER(according to), PS(police sergeant)
18 Flipping inflexible eastern wrapper (4)
NORI – IRON(inflexible) reversed
19 Rector visiting residences is what’s useful in small doses (8)
HORMESIS – R(rector) inside HOMES(residences), IS
21 Uncle that’s forgotten about getting into lewd literary gem (8)
EMERAUDE – EME(uncle) then A(about) inside RUDE(lewd)
22 Term for fabric used for very considerable throw (4)
CAST – last letter of fabriC instead of V(very) in VAST(considerable)
24 With husband being absent turn grass fibre (5)
ISTLE – remove W(with) and H(husband) from WHISTLE(rat out, turn grass)
26 One who’s more stylish than effective and could be ____ (8, two words)
FANCY DAN – reverse engineering clue – DAN is an anagram of AND, so AND could be FANCY DAN
29 Short month advanced rush to the west for barge (7)
PIRAGUA – AUG(short month), A(advanced) and RIP(rush of water) all reversed
30 Cargo service is essential to investor ordering from the east (4)
RO-RO – hidden reversed in investOR ORdering
31 Vaguely sure about answer in frankincense? Solver needs this (9)
THESAURUS – anagram of SURE surrounding A(answer) inside THUS(frankincense, found in Chambers under THURIBLE)
32 Clan is heading to Ellesmere Port (4)
SEPT – ‘S, then the first letter in Ellesmere, PT(port)
33 Look! Brass such as Bond got? (8)
SPY-MONEY – SPY(look), MONEY(brass)
1 Trickery with deck (4)
TRAP – double definition, the second being to deck with trappings
2 3-D representation female and I developed in society of painters (9, two words)
RELIEF MAP -anagram of FEMALE and I inside RP(Royal Society of Portrait Painters)
3 Dodgy repute absorbing American, so Biden’s all at sea (7, three words)
UP A TREE – anagram of REPUTE containing A(American)
4 Express irritability about following chap of social consequence (4)
TUFT – TUT(express irritability) surrounding F(following)
5 Pindar’s second refrain about zip of Olympian’s juice? (8)
ICHOROUS – second letter of pIndar, then CHORUS(refrain) surrounding O(zip). Clever clue, as Pindar wrote the Olympian odes.
6 Dope runs for second round of shrub (5)
GORSY – GOOSY(dope) with R(runs) replacing the second O(round). Corrected from my original post which had GORSE
7 Equity’s contest over cape (8)
JUSTNESS – JUST(contest, form of JOUST), then NESS(cape)
8 Southern trucks shot in part of scene nearly spinning (4)
UTES – SET-UP(shot in part of scene) missing the last letter, reversed
9 Cross-country pipeline’s first rank on top site that’s reinstated (8)
OFF-PISTE – first letter of Pipeline and OFF(rank, rotten) on an anagram of SITE
14 Very obvious rule in humour — start in low gear somehow (9, two words)
WRIT LARGE – R(rule) in WIT(humour), then the first letter of Low and an anagram of GEAR
15 Quiet respect in motion’s mandates (8)
PRECEPTS – P(quiet) then an anagram of RESPECT
16 Probably Jack’s forgotten edge of hull is bearing cargo (8)
PORTLAST – PORT(left, bearing), LAST(cargo)
17 Beginning with one in some places not by virtue of office (8)
ORDINARY – ORD(beginning), I(one) and NARY(not, in some places)
20 Is Lord within independent municipality ready for siege? (7, two words)
SITDOWN – ‘S, then D(Dominus, Lord) inside I(independent), TOWN(municipality)
23 Previous regulator of supply measuring something impressive (5)
OFGAS –  OF(measuring), GAS(something impressive)
25 Homework before piano (4)
PREP – PRE(before), P(piano)
27 Constant honk becomes familiar (4)
CHUM – C(constant), HUM(honk, to smell unpleasantly)
28 Dreadfully intrusive descendant rocked up at day’s end (4)
NOSY – SON(descendant) reversed, then the last letter of daY

21 comments on “Mephisto 3225 – Paul McKenna”

  1. I have GORSE for 6d, but the E is shown as wrong, for some reason. I’m away for the weekend, without Chambers, so can’t check, but is it meant to be GORSY?

    1. I didn’t find this too hard, with lots of friendly vocabulary, but I had GORSE too, as George has in the blog. It’s an unchecked letter so there’s no way of knowing the answer should be GORSY. GOOSE is surely a better fir to “dope” than GOOSY. Grr.

      1. GOOSY is specifically defined in Chambers as a ‘blockhead’, so I don’t think you can say it’s any worse as an answer, but it’s also not better!

        1. I’m not sure about that. GORSY is an adjective, while the clue refers to ‘second round of shrub’, which I would take to mean the noun, GORSE.

          1. The problem is the function of the word OF in the clue. Is it part of the definition – ‘of shrub’ – in which case it is adjectival; or is it simply a link word? In the first case, the answer is GORSY, and in the latter, it’s GORSE. You pays your money …..

            The problem is exacerbated by GOOSE and GOOSY both being valid synonyms for DOPE.

            1. On second thoughts, you’re right – it has to be read with ‘of shrub’ indicating an adjective.

            1. I’m presently stuck in a B&B in Kintyre. All I can check at the moment is how heavy the rain is. I’ll take your word for it.

              1. Actually I’m talking nonsense, I’ve just looked again and it isn’t a noun at all. Not sure how I managed to misread that the first time. So you’re right, you have to read it as ‘of shrub’.

                  1. You know what they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

                1. I’m pleased to see the “of shrub” conclusion. I’m very reluctant about clues with a “[wordplay] of [definition]” structure rather than “[definition] of [wordplay]”. If you search for [“sunday times” “clue writing” “bloody mary”] you can see how many times I’ve used a cocktail to describe why.

                  1. Would you disallow GORSE as an answer?
                    One might also argue that GORSY doesn’t mean ‘of shrub’ but ‘like shrub’, not quite the same thing.

                    1. My current assessment is that I think we should stick with “GORSY” as the correct answer, but I’m going to check whether Paul and our puzzles editor agree with my reasoning before passing on a clear instruction to the people who do the prize draw, and confirming it here.

                    2. Our decision is that GORSY is correct and GORSE isn’t, for two reasons. First, the direction of “of” as a linkword, as already discussed. Second, on the question whether “of shrub” can mean “like shrub”, this is justified by one meaning of “of” in Chambers — “in the manner that characterises”, which is a bit strangely worded but as “it’s spiny like gorse” and “it’s spiny in the manner that characterises gorse” seem to be exactly the same statement, this meaning of “of” seems to match “like” precisely.

                  2. I can’t reply below so I’ll do so here.
                    I can’t say it bothers me hugely but I think it’s a bit unfair to disallow GORSE. I can understand your preference for clues in which the answer for a clue is ‘made from’ the wordplay, but I’ve never come across this as an absolute rule and I can’t see any really good reason for insisting on it. The letters in the grid are the product equally of definition and wordplay: they are just two ways of arriving at the same output. There’s no objective reason to regard one as ‘made from’ the other any more than the other way round.

                    1. [Summary added after more thought: The answer is like a destination, and the wordplay in the clue is a route to that destination. Reaching a destination is the result of following a route, but unless there’s only one way to get there, the route is not the result of deciding to go there.]

                      As some pragmatic support, a long time ago I put together a list (link below) of what I thought were the rules specifically used in Times crosswords. That included a statement that you might see “{def} from {wordplay}” clues, but not “{wordplay} from {def}” ones. And as “of” here seems very similar to “from”, I think the same would apply. That was 14 years and one Times xwd ed ago (and I no longer solve the Times crossword and then discuss it in detail every day), so I can’t guarantee that my rule worked out by observation is still there, but I think it may well be.

                      I’m certain that the similar rule I stated about “for” still applies in Times crosswords, and just knowing about one rule like that says to me that the Times xwd ed agrees with me that the answer is the result of carrying out the instructions in the wordplay, rather than those instructions being the result of the answer — partly because many sets of instructions can lead to the same answer, and normally a particular set of instructions leads to just one answer.


  2. 6dn is indeed supposed to be GORSY, but GOOSE is surely a perfectly good answer.
    I found this one of middle-level difficulty.

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