Mephisto 3230 – Rosie the River!

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This was a bit of a toughie – not a one-day solve.   In fact, I picked at it for most of the week, and finally finished on Thursday.    The setter seems to be rather fond of letter removal, and even multiple letter removal.

And now a  message from the founder of our long-standing blog: Don Manley is stepping down from Mephisto after his 200th puzzle in January, and we are looking for one or more new setters. If you have some crossword setting experience and would like to be considered as a possible contributor, please email

1 Tool for piercing tag of leather kept in closet? (4)
BROG – B(R)OG, a closet of the water type, probably.
4 Sign of damage in disease for worms (8)
10 Resources meant to be marshalled in a case of major back strain? (12)
ARMAMENTARIA – A R-M (anagram of MEANT) ARIA, where R-M are the first and last letter of major backwards.
11 Saving skin Indians slaughtered bear? (5)
NANDI – Anagram of [i]NDIAN[s].
12 Not more than one rugby official starts to satisfy Twickenham (6, two words)
AT MOST – A TMO + S[atisfy] T[wickenham].   A Television Match Official, evidently.
14 Break said to be about a week for conferences (6)
PAWAWS – PAW(AW)S, where the enclosing word sounds like PAUSE.  Pawaws is an alternate spelling of powwows.
15 End of razor-like spike reversed for a climber (5)
LIANE – [razor-lik]E NAIL back words, for the plant usually spelt liana.
16 Country leaders wanted in desert region (7)
17 Forward close in scrum initially clinging to leg (6, two words)
SEND ON – S[crum](END) + ON.
22 Pressure dropping, plug back in sinks again (6)
REPOTS – STO[p]PER backwards, pots like a snooker ball, not a plant.
23 Test perhaps around half-term is a clincher (7)
RIVETER – RIVE(TE[rm])R.    England’s most ambiguous river.
24 Bound to restrict Queen being heard (5)
TRIED – T(R)IED, the simplest clue this week.
26 My Moroccan house mostly used for group to which old men belong (6)
THERIA – THE RIA[d].   Not just old men, but all men are apparently therians.
28 Prosperous Middle East state ignoring Foreign Office flyer (6)
29 Get round West End of London on wheels (5)
ROTAL – ROTA + L[ondon].   Round as a noun, the schedule of work assignments.
30 They’d take deposits from Peter and Dotty (12)
SAFECRACKERS – SAFE + CRACKERS, another pretty easy one.
31 Black leaving mountain-top paths? Lights needed (8)
ENTRAILS – [b]EN TRAILS.   The trick here is to remember the various meanings lights might have.
32 Mclaren’s black and bluish grey Tesla rejected (4)
SLAE – SLA[T]E.   I’m not sure how T can be Tesla – it’s not the stock symbol, although it is on the front and back of every Tesla.
1 False god engaging large number in flat (5)
2 Miscellaneous collection on a main ground (7)
OMNIANA – Anagram of ON A MAIN.
3 Ceremonial seat seen with historic rod and Crown of India? (4)
GADI – GAD + I[ndia].
4 A member’s cape that’s worn outside? (5)
AMICE – A + M + I.(C)E, a clever &lit.   M as in M.P.
5 Series on US prisons getting a lot of stars (7)
SERPENS – SER + PENS, a rather dim constellation that requires a dark sky to make out.
6 Wife sharing top room close to home in two stages (7, two words)
AT TWICE – ATT(W)IC + [hom]E.   I had never heard of this expression, but the cryptic is clear enough.
7 Having several branches, Standard banks advance millions (6)
8 One saying no residents represented (9)
9 Some turned up in crack military unit for provincial governors (7)
SATRAPS – SA(PART backwards)S.
13 Expert on tuck initiated twisting (9)
DIETITIAN – Anagram of INITIATED.  The trick is to see what sort of tuck is meant.
17 Series of mouldings on French home (7)
18 Tiles built up a third-class cold painting well (7)
OSTRACA – A + C + ART + SO upside-down.   Both third-class and cold may indicate the C, so I suspect the editor failed to remove one, probably cold.   The root of ostracize,  of course.
19 Note found in Asian sea giving muster of a force (7)
ARRAYAL – AR(RAY)AL.   Yes, RAY is given as an alternate spelling of re, the note.
20 Style shown by Jerry, supplier of chips (7)
POINTEL – PO’ + INTEL, my POI that I couldn’t see for a long time, even though I have a substantial holding in INTC stock.
21 One German car in competition with another after final 25 per cent discount (6)
BEEMER – BEE + MER[c], as in a spelling bee.
24 Metal armbands in discussions overheard (5)
TORCS – Sounds like TALKS if you speak with RP.   Few do, nowadays.
25 Seaweed from delta followed by two universities (5)
DULSE – D + U + LSE.
27 Run out of plant pots (4)
WOKS – WO[r]KS.   My LOI -plant as a factory had me completely fooled.

7 comments on “Mephisto 3230 – Rosie the River!”

  1. 26a: ‘Old man’ is an Oz term for a male kangaroo, and THERIA are the group of marsupials to which roos belong.

    Agree with Kevin on Tesla, and equally confused by the duplication of Cs in 18d – strikes me as an either/or, one of which Tim or the editor forgot to remove.

  2. Agree on the double C issue. Also, in my paper copy the definition for 13d was food expert, which made it a lot easier! On the downside it had signs of damage at 4a which slowed me down as I was trying to fit scars in.

  3. After some discussion with a friend about 18d we see third class as the third letter of class thus giving a more logical explanation of the clue and the double c issue has gone away.

    1. Not sure about that. Reading it this way would leave a redundant A, which is not this setter’s style. Also, grammatically, it would have to read ‘third of class’, which makes no sense.

  4. I found this very hard, and ended up with a pink square. I considered SERPENS but it’s not in Chambers so I rejected it in favour of the only word that is in Chambers that fits – SERPENT. Funnily enough I couldn’t parse it.

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