Mephisto 3300 – Four horsemen and it’s going to be us!

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This one wasn’t too bad, but there was a burst of obscurity in the NE.   I did about 2/3 of it on Saturday night, and finished most of it up on Sunday morning.   The rest lingered through the week, and involved tedious dictionary searches.

Most of my troubles involved the eternal Mephisto dilemma: no, that can’t possibly be a word, but then you look in the dictionary and there it is.     Is slive something?   How about fent?   Was there really ever a presidentess?   The answer turns out to be yes to all.


1 Religious mentor baptised for all to see (4)
BAPU – BAP + U, the UK film rating.
6 Find out about earlier rest break (6)
SALTUS – S(ALT)US.    Alt is Milton’s version of halt, apparently.
10 One not well wrapped in faded mattress (9)
11 Whale hunter spots colonising species — not the first (12)
SPECKSIONEER – SPECKS + [p]IONEER.   The main trick here is to believe the word exists long enough to look it up.
12 Fish farm near Ukraine’s capital (4)
MASU – MAS + U[kraine].
15 Balance very hard with old plough (9)
STEELYARD – STEEL + YARD.   As usual, the meanings at the back of the pack.
16 Clear gray like hog’s back (5)
RIDGY – RID + GY.  When gray means one joule per kilogram, rather than a color, it can be abbreviated GY.    Take that, you biffers!
17 Log support in addition to press (7)
19 Part ruffling a lyre bird’s feathers located here? (7)
PTERYLA -PT + anagram of A LYRE, some Greek roots for you educated chaps.
20 Crack about one arch-traitor in Holyrood (5)
FIENT – F(I)ENT.   A few words from the North.
22 Continued illness’s beginning in a gum infection (9)
26 Titanic reportedly swarming with small creatures (4)
MITY – Sounds like mighty.
27 One bringing about organised operatic trip (12)
28 Legal action idiot puts up with, losing pounds before appeal (9)
ASSUMPSIT – ASS [l]UMPS + IT.    A legal action even I have heard of.
29 Former lodging house taken by relation spending nothing? (6)
30 Prosper once hospital’s in support (4)
THEE –   T(H)EE.   Some Spenser for thee!   Thou liketh?
1 15 in Orkney pub — I’m keeping Sabbath inside (6)
BISMAR – B(I(S)M)AR.   Yes, it’s  a type of steelyard, perhaps found mostly in North Dakota.
2 Court official approved one restrained before court regularly (9)
APPARITOR – APP + A+ RIT + [c]O[u]R[t], where rit is the musical abbreviation.
3 Former leader suffering dissent with peers (12)
4 Rabbit, Ox and Ox again? Eastern years must include Tiger initially in that (9)
5 Man, say, raised boy outside? It was untrue (7)
DISLEAL – D(ISLE)AL, where LAD upside-down supplies the outer portion.
6 Slip in places climbing bad section (5)
SLIVE – EVIL S upside-down, where in  places indicates a dialect word.   It wasn’t a dialect word when it was Old English slifan.
7 Knight tucking into salmon platter (4)
LANX – LA(N)X.   Lax is a salmon caught in Norway, lanx is a platter – now you know.
8 Emperor’s son swats heretic cruelly (12)
TSESAREWITCH – Anagram of SWATS HERETIC.   Again, the problem is to believe the word might exist strongly enough to look it up.
9 Aircraftsman’s after small shirt at Leuchars (4)
SERK – S + ERK, a variant of the well-know sark.
13 Cost when working with fluid dye (9, two words)
14 Club’s quality white earthenware (9)
18 Is in a TV broadcast, simply presented (7)
NAIVIST – Anagram of IS IN A TV.
21 Staff, most of them being around years (6)
THYRSE – TH(YRS)E[m], more often called a thyrsus.
23 Spaced out good friend of Snow White wanting heroin (5)
GAPPY – G + [h]APPY.   It’s a good thing I didn’t have to try every dwarf.
24 Fish round Maori settlement (4)
OPAH –  O + PAH, a variant spelling of PA.
25 Watch closely but missing old hare (4)
SCUT – SC[o]UT, a starter clue.

8 comments on “Mephisto 3300 – Four horsemen and it’s going to be us!”

  1. I finally got around to looking at this only this afternoon. I didn’t write anything in, but did see at least part of what was going on with a few of the clues (like, TSESAREWITCH was clearly an anagram… the easy stuff). I noticed that “gray” is spelled with an A rather than an E as it would normally be in British if it meant a colo(u)r, and wondered what was up with that!

    1. The reason for “gray” with an A is that when it’s represented by Gy, it’s not a colour but an SI unit (absorbed dose of ionizing radiation), named after Louis H Gray, a British radiobiologist. (If my local phone book is a fair sample, Gray is about 7 times more common than Grey as a surname in the UK).

      1. Yes, it was my point, that the spelling of “gray” was a tipoff. I assumed the unit was named after a person.

  2. Seemed to click this week: no queries on the parsing of any of the clues. The parsing of 15 is surely STEELY + ARD?

  3. The Cesarewitch is a well-known (?) horse race run at Newmarket but, from previous crosswording experience, I know that the word from which it derives its name has multiple spelling options (8 in Chambers) – I put in the WITCH straight away but the rest had to wait.

  4. Good fun Mephisto by John Grimshaw

    I particularly enjoyed:
    – laughing at the surface of the Snow white clue (23D).
    – learning that “arch-traitor” can mean the devil (20A).
    – the clever “relation” = “story” in 29A. (Relation meaning the act of relating, narrating something, so a story).
    – LEUCHARS, as an apt indicator for “Scottish word” in 9D. RAF Leuchars was a long standing air-force station in Fife. In 2015, control passed to the British Army, but there’s still a lot of RAF presence.

    Thank you for the blog. I had missed the proper justification for “gray” = GY (16A)!

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