Mephisto 3260 – We welcome new Mephisto setter John Grimshaw

When tackling a puzzle like Mephisto with a new setter, one never knows quite what to expect.   As solvers, we have gotten used to the styles of the rota of solvers, and we know what tricks they are likely to use.    So my first step was to find a few easy answers and try to get started, and see how things went.

Fortunately, this was not that hard a Mephisto.  There are a few sitters to get you started, and everything is very fair.   Perhaps Mr G held back a little for his first puzzle?   The only thing that was really tough was that duck, where the both the answer and the cryptic require careful consultation of Chambers.   Other than that, this one was very straightforward, and I managed to solve it in about an hour and a half.   And you?


3 Very active in reading a strange script (10)
DEVANAGARI – V, A in an anagram of READING A – the script in which Sanskrit and other Indic languages is written.
10 Ecologists stripped local watercourse (4)
REEN – [g]REEN[s], a dialect word indicated by local.
11 What may show heads of Edward and David in cast metal? (7)
MEDALET –  E, D in an anagram of METAL.
12 Unfit, I pant when running (5)
INAPT – Anagram of I PANT, a starter clue.
13 Stag’s bellowing hard escaping from gorge (5)
15 One’s in bed in part of upper storey (8)
STRIATUM – STR(I)ATRUM, the upper story in the sense of you brain – nothing upstairs?
17 Part of generator turns round, emitting energy (6)
STATOR – ROTAT[e]S backwards.
18 Overprotective US hostel tailing new girl (5)
NANNY – N ANN + [The] Y, as in a nanny state.
19 Overpraised through one I repeatedly cancelled (7)
VAUNTED – V[i]A UN]i]TED, very clever.
22 Returning soak locates missing Dutch drink (7)
SNIFTER –  RET FIN[d]S backwards.
23 Plant grown for seeds over in Nebraska (5)
BENNI – Backwards hidden: IN NEB[raska].
24 Straight there, flying round (6)
HETERO – Anagram of THERE + O
29 Crew’s done for — bar of sand caught the boat, perhaps (8)
SPITCHER – SPIT + C + HER, the boat.   A bit of nautical slang.
30 Side in lawsuit retracting that old criminal charge (5)
PARTY – YT + RAP backwards.   Yt is not a word, but rather an 18th-century ligature for that.
31 Meeting Israeli unit for exchange (5)
AGORA –  Double definition, or maybe a triple.
32 Palm tree flowing with oil (7)
TROELIE – Anagram of TREE + OIL.
33 Cook needing work over weight (4)
POOD –  DO + OP, two stock elements giving a Russian unit of weight.
34 Computer to solve code? It barely divides (10)
MICROCRACK – MICRO + CRACK, very simple, as it turns out.
1 Can floating petrels eat small fruit? (10, two words)
PRISON SHIP – PRI(S)ONS HIP.   Don’t be fooled by the more common usage of prion – here, it is the bird.
2 Alpine things seen in outskirts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (7)
GENTIAN – G(ENTIA)N.   Entia is the plural of ens, and you may get a bit of a hint from English entity.
3 Uncovered hare in lair lying concealed locally (5)
DEARN – DE([h]AR[e])N.   Widely used in Middle English and Spenser, now local dialect.
4 Once consecrated Vatican City seal (6)
VOTARY –  V + OTARY, a seal you find by the seashore, not in the Lord Keeper’s office.
5 Inclined to love a friend coming around four (7)
AMATIVE – A MAT(IV)E, another starter clue.
6 Drink, for instance in student group (5)
NEGUS –  N(E.G.)US, two commonly-used-in- crosswords abbreviations.
7 Oily seed eaten by rather northern duck (8)
GARGANEY – G(ARGAN)EY.   One that gave me considerable trouble, but everything is in Chambers.
8 A luminance frequently up the mast (5)
9 Sure kidney’s removing nitrogen? (4)
14 Slow-moving craft penetrated by a river mine (10)
16 Chain of old iron must finally break record (8)
20 Shield carrier good in limited fighting groups, right? (7)
21 Finisher assigned to body exterior (7)
ENDERON –  ENDER + ON, the skin.
23 Bleat about tasteless stuff? Sweet potato (6)
25 Maybe a king rejected garment with runs in (5)
TAROC – CO(R)AT backwards.  A variant of tarot, which decks contain a wide variety of figures, including kings.
26 Visual language college rejected (5)
27 Prepare to eat hot chicken à la Wellington? (5)
CHOOK – C(H)OOK, New Zealand slang, hence Wellington.
28 Currency replacing lira (4)
LARI –  Anagram of LIRA.   I had RIAL for quite a while.

8 comments on “Mephisto 3260 – We welcome new Mephisto setter John Grimshaw”

  1. I had 31a as a triple definition.

    I’m not sure about your ‘very fair’ comment. I too had RIAL for 28d. It was my FOI, as I often start at the last down clue, and it made the bottom corner impenetrable. To me, the mark of a good – and fair – clue, is that it has only one answer, and the solver should be in no doubt about it. To have two answers that can only be resolved by checkers is not on, for me. Others may choose to disagree.

    1. It’s very rarely I read the Mephisto blog as I don’t attempt them, but as there’s a new setter I thought I’d take a look today.

      Whilst I know that your expectation of a good and fair clue is held by many and I respect that, I have to put myself firmly in the ‘others may disagree’ camp. It’s a crossword, not a succession of disembodied clues intended to be solved in isolation, so if there are two possible answers to a clue that can be resolved by checkers, that’s fine by me. An unfair clue would be one that has two possible answers with all their checkers in common.

      1. I too had RIAL for a long time. Unlike a 15×15 the words that cross in a Mephisto are not necessarily words you will ever have heard of. So I was stuck forever in the SW corner before considering there might be another answer. TBH it spoiled the crossword for me.

        1. I had RIAL too, and there’s no reason it’s wrong aside from its not fitting the crossers. Not the ideal clue, then.

  2. A very enjoyable puzzle from the new setter- lots of very clever clues and the parsing all very clear, I liked Microcrack, prison ship, gentian and votary in particular. Shame about rial and lari, I got lucky and saw lari first.
    Thanks Vinyl for the helpful blog as always.

  3. Mostly I enjoyed this, apart from the aforementioned problem with 28D. Like Kevin I had AGORA as a triple definition. In the end I finished in just under 1 hr and 1/2, but I was all but done in an hour. I doubt that Mr G held back for this puzzle – it will have been the puzzle he entered as a sample as part of the selection of the new compilers. Nice one John – Thanks. I look forward to the next one. And thank-you Vinyl for the blog.

  4. I got well over half of this done (just had another stab at it before giving up), despite not finding an optimal time for concentrating on it this week—and I still don’t have Chambers! If I had, I might have found TROAT (seeing it nowhere else today), instead of what I wrote, which was THOAT (excising the wrong letter), which is (as I didn’t actually remember) a kind of stag on Mars (Barsoom) in the John Carter books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (mentioned in my blog entry today for last week’s Sunday cryptic).

    My friend Laurie in Tel Aviv says the AGORA coin is no longer in use or minted, being too small now to make any difference…

  5. I try all the acrosses before the downs, so I already had MICROCRACK in before looking at 28 down and there was no other alternative. Fun puzzle, I really liked the clue for CHOOK.

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