Mephisto 3320 – Buck Mulligan’s Ninja Turtle

I started off as I usually start off in Mephisto, despairing of getting a single answer, only to be reviewing a completed grid in less than 90 minutes.   Mephisto is like that.     I was fortunate to be able to see petty treason as my initial answer – getting started like that gives you a lot of checking letters.   I can’t say there were many starter clues, but as I built up compact areas I was able to look up longer answers in Chambers and branch out into other parts of the grid.     Even the common words like ligature and aboard had tertiary literals, so little biffing was possible.


1 Securing string round cooked lamb dish (7)
TIMBALE – TI(anagram of LAMB)E – a tie as a noun.
6 Mark found in carbonaceous rock like a crown of leaves (5)
10 Young child linked to witchcraft died (5)
11 See a lout’s taken back bridewealth (6)
LOBOLA – LO + A LOB backwards.
12 Murder of a master — yet Potter’s a suspect name (12, two words)
13 Kilt concealed scars beginning to bleed in leg (8)
PHILABEG – P(HILA, B[leed])EG.    The parsing is tricky, but will give you the correct spelling variant.
15 Source of fur garment from Mexico king’s accepted (6, two words)
SEA APE – SE(-r,+A)APE.  King is R, accepted is A, substitute.
18 Excise casing one joint in Glasgow (4)
CUIT – CU(I)T.    The ankle, to be exact.
20 Dairy check following small volume (5)
MILCH – MIL + CH, as in a milch cow.
21 Lambert’s quite active girl (5)
LALLA – L + ALL + A.   Presumably a girl’s name – it is given in Chambers.
23 Small shark locally caught by outrigger (4)
RIGG – Hidden in [out]RIGG[er].
26 What worm has at each wriggling (6)
CHAETA – Anagram of AT EACH.
28 What’s ornamental blue ore dug up around Queensland (8)
BRELOQUE – Anagram of BLUE ORE around Q.
29 I’m just a suave spoilt example of Eurotrash? (12, two words)
30 Cleared land of flipping volcanic rock (6)
ASSART –  A’ + TRASS backwards.
31 Increasingly bitter author loses it (5)
32 Want to get round large old pinnacle of rock? (5)
33 Happiness locally about chemical engineer, green inventor (7)
SCHEELE – S(CHE)ELE.    Sele comes from the same root as silly and selig.  KW Scheele invented Scheele green.
1 Basic concept for Chambers (5)
TOPOS – TO + POS, i.e. chamber pots.
2 International Baccalaureate expenses which are climbing (6)
3 Weapon the French employ behind Garand rifle with track (12)
MITRAILLEUSE -M1 + TRAIL + LE + USE.   This was an early machine gun employing multiple barrels.
4 Casing on bridge cable post left inside unit (8)
BITTACLE – BITT + AC(L)E.   The casing for a compass, which would be located on the bridge of a ship.
5 Supple old fish (5)
LYTHE – Simple double definition, the first archaic, hence old.
6 Tailless lizard climbing around earth cavity (6)
COELOM -MOLOCH upside-down around E.
7 Sweet bun — some flour in second batch with juice regularly added (12)
MOSBOLLETJIE – MO + S(BOLL)ET + J[u]I[c]E.    A boll is a measure of weight for flour.
8 Bitter beer — had to get round in (5)
ALOED –  AL(O)E’D.   It gets the round letter O in.
9 I am surprised by long Scottish snake (7)
14 What’s mostly in Scots currency of old (4)
INTI – INTI[l].   A former Peruvian monetary unit.
16 Weakness for charmers I acquired in the past amid temptation (8)
LIGATURE – L(I GAT)URE.    Not the first meaning you’d think of for ligature, but it’s there in Chambers.
17 Fashionable fellow hit on bishop, perhaps (7)
CLUBMAN – CLUB + MAN, a bishop in chess.
19 Country, one with little river water (4)
IRAQ – I + R + AQ.
22 Sailor reportedly rowed alongside (6)
ABOARD – AB + sounds like OARED.
24 We let a building well to the north (6)
ATWEEL – Anagram of WE LET A.
25 Prince, Prince, Prince — just the ultimate type of rock (5)
PRASE – P + RAS + [princ]E.
26 Little energy in high Inca capital, lacking oxygen flow rate? (5)
27 Cave runs inside volcano upwards (5)
ANTRE – R in ETNA upside-down.

10 comments on “Mephisto 3320 – Buck Mulligan’s Ninja Turtle”

  1. I found that very hard, and ended with an error. I looked up LITHE, saw that it had the obsolete meaning of ‘to listen’, and just figured that ‘fish’ must also mean ‘listen’ in certain contexts. It seemed perfectly logical but I should have gone the next step and actually looked it up!
    ‘Young child’ for IT seems loose to me. Of course it’s a children’s game but there’s nothing to stop an adult from playing it so childhood is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.
    Unusually the definition of TOPOS does not correspond to the Chambers one, which threw me a bit. ‘Basic concept’ is in Collins.

    1. For 10ac Chambers has “IT: applied to a thing without life, a lower animal, a young child, (rarely except as an antecedent or in contempt) to a man or woman; […] (in children’s games) the player chosen to oppose all others…”

      So, I think the clue is using the former sense rather than the children’s game.

      In the current climate one would probably avoid this: but I could imagine getting on a train and finding a family with a young sleeping child – and you couldn’t immediately tell its sex – you might say “Oh, don’t worry, don’t let’s disturb it, I’ll take the free seat over there”. (And that would have been seen as an acceptable – even polite – word to use in the circumstances).

      1. Ah yes, good spot, thanks. The acceptability or otherwise in the real world is neither here not there: if it’s in Chambers it’s acceptable in Mephisto!

  2. I also found this very hard, and had exactly the same error with LITHE, having been through the same thought processes!

  3. Well I got LYTHE, but managed no less than 3 other pinks, a careless PETTI TREASON and an even more careless PHILLLBEG, and an excusable (in my mind, anyway) ALOES, on the grounds that ALOED doesn’t look as if it should exist, ALOES means bitter (maybe with a bit of a squint!) and beer and ALOES are both singular and plural forms so the wordplay works. “Had” to produce the D is ok, I suppose, but can equally just be a containment indicator. One less pink, please!
    But yes, it was tough, at 9 minutes over the hour.

  4. Add another unfortunate to the LITHE club. Not that it matters, I managed to fat-finger two other obvious typos into the grid. Hopefully will do better this week.

  5. I got LITHE but my downfall was ALOED, for which I entered ALOES – out of desperation. Just couldn’t see the parsing.

    Are given names located in some obscure corner of the app version of Chambers?


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