Quick Cryptic 540 by Palpatine

Posted on Categories Quick Cryptic
I was going to welcome a new setter, but a glance at my notes on former puzzles revealed that Palpatine has appeared once before (#300 in May last year) when he (?) treated us to a puzzle with a ‘Star Wars’ theme, and indeed the pseudonym is the name of the Emperor in that series of films. That may have been the only occasion we’ve had a themed QC, but if there’s something similar going on today I’m afraid it’s as lost on me as it was when I blogged Palpatine’s previous offering. (On edit: And indeed it turns out there is. Please see AetherElemental’s first comment below).

I think this is fairly straightforward though it delayed me by 5 minutes over my target time so I wouldn’t say it’s easy by any standards and I look forward to reading what others made of it. 15 minutes.

As usual defintions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions} are in curly brackets and [indicators] in square ones.


1 One who’s fired prior to his arrest? (8)
ARSONIST – Cryptic definition
5 Travel by sea perhaps from Cornwall? One mile (4)
SWIM – SW (Cornwall – South West, of England), I (one), M (mile)
8 Old train‘s position, say (6,7)
10 Not against an Established Church’s power (5)
FORCE – FOR (not against), CE (Established Church – of England)
11 Primate received, at first, poorly in Indian state (7)
GORILLA – R{eceived}[at first] + ILL (poorly) inside GOA (Indian state)
12 A New Hope is she (6)
SOPHIE – Anagram [new} of HOPE IS
13 Ancient city strikes back with part-time soldiers (6)
SPARTA – RAPS (strikes) reversed [back], TA (part time soldiers – Territorial Army – now called the Army Reserve)
16 Ask anew for revival – complies? (7)
AWAKENS – Anagram [for revival] of ASK ANEW, but the only way I can make any sense of the defintion is to treat it as &lit in which someone or something complies with a request for revival and awakens, but it’s tenuous and awkward and I really don’t like it.
18 Ancient king hated garish displays (5)
EDGAR – Hidden [displays] in {hat}ED GAR{rish}. One King of Scotland and two of England, though the second English one was proclaimed but never crowned. Take your pick.
20 Hunter battles to alter and completely reverse positions (4,3,6)
21 Weakling managed support at the very end (4)
RUNT – RUN (managed), {suppor}T [at the very end]
22 Eastern girl: a railway agent (8)
EMISSARY – E (eastern), MISS (girl), A, RY (railway)

1 A pudding sent up cold? (5)
ALOOF – A, FOOL (pudding) reversed [sent up]
2 Right to come in to rouse support for horse-rider (7)
STIRRUP – R (right) inside [come in] STIR UP (rouse)
3 Noted sinner, after correction, is not staying (3-8)
NON-RESIDENT – Anagram [after correction] of NOTED SINNER
4 Form of winter transport needing second shelf (6)
SLEDGE – S (second), LEDGE (shelf). The wordplay leaves no room for confusion with “sleigh” today.
6 Turn with back of foot (5)
WHEEL – W (with), HEEL (back of foot)
7 Make-up with which mother covers a lasting mark (7)
MASCARA – MA (mother) encloses [covers] A+SCAR (lasting mark)
9 Items of headgear for lying in? (7,4)
PORKPIE HATS – A straight definition with a cryptic hint. Two of the three usual sources have ‘pork-pie hat’ with a hyphen but Collins sanctions it without. I must say it looks odd to me. The foodstuff would be two words.
12 Broadcast exotic arts etc (7)
SCATTER – Anagram [exotic] of ARTS ETC
14 Turning up in mail: a German’s ceremonial robes (7)
REGALIA – Hidden and reversed [turning up] in {m}AIL A GER{man}
15 After rising, comes to English judge (6)
ESTEEM – MEETS (comes to) + E (English) reversed [rising]
17 A right reverend on an island off the Scottish coast (5)
ARRAN – A, RR (right reverend), AN
29 Perilous run: one very high place! (5)
RISKY – R (run), I (one), SKY (very high place)

26 comments on “Quick Cryptic 540 by Palpatine”

  1. 44 mins here, so definitely on the trickier side.

    You’re correct that there’s a Star Wars flavour to a number of clues:

    12a: “A New Hope” is the name of the original Star Wars movie, and “is she” echoes the mode of speech of the Jedi master Yoda.

    10a and 16a: The Force Awakens is the name of the most recent episode in the series. The Force is the power of telekinesis and ESP possessed by Jedi and Sith in the Star Wars universe.

    13a: cf “The Empire Strikes Back”, the second in the series.

    Edited at 2016-04-04 01:04 am (UTC)

      1. … and casting my mind back to last year, Palpatine is a Star Wars character, Darth Sidious.

        So was this xword due to be published on May 4th, rather than April 4th?


        1. Probably, as his first Star Wars puzzle was published on May 4th last year. Perhaps he forgot to draw it to the scheduler’s attention this time or it’s another cockup.
          1. most likely it’s because the dvd of the most recent star wars film comes out today.
  2. I thought this one was fine. I did it in two chunks as my iTunes download was a lot quicker than I anticipated so I only had a few minutes before watching my thing, then went back to it. But I think I completed in under 10 minutes given the length of the thing I watched and the recorded time (1 Hr 7 – my show was 1 hour dead). I recognized the setter from last year and obviously the theme (there was a trek word in there too, but I suspect that was a mistake). I think with an unfamiliar setter there’s always the settling into the wavelength thing but I guess palpatine’s wavelength is close to mine because after a slight adjustment in my brain I was fine.
  3. I still don’t get the awakens bit, perhaps the setter tries too hard to relate to his theme. Made the mistake of watching the latest effort on a long flight….oh dear very boring indeed.

    I also don’t understand the judge bit in esteem.

    1. I’ve already given my best excuse for AWAKENS, but having since learned of the STAR WARS reference I’m inclined to agree with you that the setter may have allowed his theme to take precedence over basic requirements (i.e. a clear definition) in this particular instance.

      I think ESTEEM is fine. As a verb, Collins has it as a formal term for judge / consider / deem.

      Edited at 2016-04-04 10:28 am (UTC)

      1. I buffed both in on the basis that with crossers I could see no other solution. I hadn’t ever run across esteem as a verb before…..oh dear a serious lack of education on my part….thanks jackkt, very helpful
  4. I have to record a dismal failure, with less than half of the clues solved. Jackkt used the correct word ‘tenuous’ which for me applied to most of the definitions and wordplay.
  5. Difficult. Finished in about 20 mins but just couldn’t see pork pie as 1 word


    1. Nor could I – and I still don’t get the clue. Can anyone explain please or am I just stupid?

      Thought I was getting better until the last two offerings, but there’s no doubt the blogs and comments help immensely

      Dave the Diver

  6. Really difficult today. The 1ac/1d combination helped to push me well over the hour, and even then I had sleigh for 4d and wondered why it didn’t parse. . . Invariant
  7. DNF today – too little exposure to Star Wars didn’t help. Was aware of Porkie as a fib, but not Pork Pie. Also discovered that there is something called a Perjury Hat, which mislead me – it may be a trademark.

    Incidentally – I find that KeyCaptcha doesn’t work on iPad. Googling this seems to suggest others have same problem – anyone know a solution? Had to resort to Bill Gates to post this. I used to resent using him, but knowing he might eliminate malaria and polio has made me feel a lot better.


  8. This was a major struggle but I completed it in the end out of sheer bloody mindedness – I don’t think I’ve ever been so far off a setters wavelength before. I agree that 14a is tenuous in the extreme with the setter putting his theme before the clue. Like bryanlawson above hadn’t come across the esteem definition of judge before.
    Overall I found this rather frustrating.
  9. No “cock-up” with the scheduling. One May 4th is enough

    The “Yoda-speak” was unintentional.
    No doubt some Star Wars purist will be along soon to bemoan the re-branding of the first film.

    May the Sith be with you 🙂


  10. Looking at the blogs, it wasn’t that awesome. Maybe I am still getting over yesterday’s final over??
  11. I found this fairly straightforward at 9.18mins but failed to even notice any STAR WARS going on. I never twig NINAS or PANGRAMS until it’s way too late.

    horryd Shanghai

  12. It took me a while to get going with this.I solved the SE quarter first. But nothing seemed untoward to me and eventually I got it done -not sure how long it took me,under an hour. Esteem was LOI. I know nothing about Star Wars. David
  13. Found this shifted to the red end of the crossword spectrum. Didnt spot the theme , but maybe this is the future of the Times quickie : themed clues or at least some cross- referencing . Anyhooo….7mins on the button .
  14. A tricky one, but 90 mins eventually got it done (if I ignore putting in SLEIGH for SLEDGE) I liked PORK PIE HATS, and STIRRUP also an elegant clue. My middle name is EDGAR, so great to see him making an appearance. Also tempted by a possible agent called an ‘elassary’. NW corner was the slow part, with 1a LOI.
  15. A real struggle but apart from 4d sleigh v sledge, managed to get there eventually. Hopefully a bit more straightforward tomorrow!

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