Mephisto 3276 – “When they were giving out brains, he thought they said trains….”

Last week’s Mephisto was not terribly tricky, and I finished before going to bed on a Saturday night.    This is the grid where you can really help your solve by getting the long ones around the edges quickly.   I didn’t get all of them right away, but I saw microfilaria, considerance, indehiscence, and agglomerated, giving me the large number of crossing letters which is the key to solving a Mephisto.   There were also a number of non-obscure word in the center section, like patio, covenant, and Korea.

So I don’t think this was that difficult, and this time I was able to parse all the clues.


1 Immature parasite, I frolic madly in seas (12)
MICROFILARIA – M(anagram of I FROLIC)ARIA.   Latin mare is third declension neuter.
10 Revealing bad intention mostly over ring (12)
ILLUMINATING – ILL  + ANIMU[s]  backwards + TING.
11 Partner’s knocked back ball in bowls game (8)
SLAPJACK – PAL’S backwards + JACK, which can be a ball in bowls, among many other things.
13 Courtyard quiet at something like ten (5)
PATIO – P + AT + IO, which does look a bit like 10.
14 Bengal quince’s good inside bread roll (5)
16 Casually dismiss drink after coffee (6)
CHASSE – Double definition, the first of which needs an acute accent on the E, which the solver is free to supply.
18 Seawards old creek section comes to an end (7)
OUTGOES – OUT + GOES.   Yes, a goe is an archaic term for a creek.
20 Women trapped by evangelical test for witchcraft (4)
SWIM – S(W)IM.   A sim is a Simeonite.
21 Note tune never using a middle string (4)
NETE – N[ot]E + T[un]E.    A string on a lyre, no less.
22 It may be old fish, southern European (7)
PERCASE – PERCA + S + E.   A perca is a variant of a perch, and the literal means an old word for it may be.
23 The reverse of energy seen in a mature spider (6)
EPEIRA – A + RI(E)PE, all backwards.
26 Concern over joining uranium section of waste pipe (5)
U-TRAP – U + PART backwards.   Your part in a joint deal, your interest, your concern.
28 Water cock around eastern Asian peninsula (5)
29 Agree to putting cooker in sale by auction (8)
COVENANT – C(OVEN)ANT.   The third etymologically distinct meaning of cant, and not the last one, either.
30 Careful thought early on concerns idea evolving (12)
31 Chased loco optimised to limit resistance (12)
ENGINE-TURNED – ENGINE (a locomotive!) + TU(R)NED.    Chased in the sense of engraved.
1 Address gender-inappropriately, church say mistakenly (12)
2 Excited elation with quail’s ensnarement (12)
3 Skin ulcer turning up somewhere in Rajasthan — not the first (5)
RUPIA – [r]AIPUR upside-down.
4 Scots property owner, one in eastern Forfar (4)
FIAR – [for]F(I)AR.
5 Put in a border so as to allow for events outside Hungary (7)
INCHASE – IN C(H)ASE, a bit of a starter clue.
6 Old satin finally reduced (5)
ATLAS – AT LAS[t].   Used for binding large reference books?
7 Elevated route span really lacking breadth (8)
RIDGEWAY –  [b]RIDGE + WAY.    As in way far away.
8 In science he’d engineered non-opening of ripe fruit (12)
9 Collected arranged mortgage deal (12)
12 Merry because embraced by Scots sweetheart (6)
JOCOSE – JO(COS)E.   This word is a rendition of joy in Scots dialect – they don’t actually call their sweethearts Joe.
15 Fishing with trawl, reeling loses time (8)
17 Trough for washing ore stone on slope (6)
19 Interesting occurrence is featured in record lyric (7)
EPISODE –  EP (IS) ODE.   Or maybe in part of a Greek chorus.
24 Local Persian opera, not half fa-la-la (5)
PARSI – PARSI(fal).   Great surface!
25 Method of detection working in search and rescue (5)
27 Heaviest regularly seen amphibian (4)
EVET – [h]E[a]V[i]E[s]T.   Another of the dialectical forms that also led to eft and newt.

8 comments on “Mephisto 3276 – “When they were giving out brains, he thought they said trains….””

  1. Minor point on 18A: the final S is indicated by “section” (one of the words abbreviated as S in Chambers). There really ought to be a word like “abbreviatee” …

  2. Another couple of very minor points. 18a, GOE is a variant of GEO, which is the archaic term for a creek.

    3d, the (capital) city in Rajasthan is JAIPUR.

    12d One Scotswoman -presumably Mrs Anderson – certainly referred to her husband as her jo, as in the Burns song, John Anderson My Jo. (Though if you consult the version in The Merry Muses Of Caledonia, it’s evident that Mr Anderson was not currently performing the role with much vigour.) And Scotswomen still address their lovers as JOE, if that happens to be their name.

    1. I was going to make the same point: Raipur is in Chhattisgarh, as I’m sure you knew!

  3. Re. U-TRAP: there have been so many clues recently about bodily functions that I was looking for something to do with URETER. (I had the U.) I must admit I do enjoy those clues, and hope that the setters continue to push back the boundaries of what is acceptable in a grown-up crossword.

  4. The one square I left blank was the R in EPEIRA… where, however, I find my other wrong answer, as I had FARSI, not PARSI, going down. Still, at least I managed to engage with Mephisto this week. Most of the trouble, by far, was with the shorter answers.
    There seems almost a “chase” theme here.
    I’ve been craving a BAGEL. EDIT. It had been ages! Just got one, sesame seed, toasted, with bacon/scallion cream cheese.

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