ST 4231 (Sun 1 Jul) – Easy as Phi

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 2:41

Wow, where did that come from? 2:41 is a PB for me for this puzzle, and my best time ever for a 15×15 blocked crossword. A little wasted time on 9ac, which I made up, and also 5dn which refers to it, but other than that this was very straightforward, though I nervously looked up ‘Mosel’ and ‘rasher’ after finishing. Some good clues in this, and a few old chestnuts.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

Across
1 BI[g] CEPS – ‘cep’ = mushroom is worth remembering.
5 PURCHASE (double definition)
9 DELPHINIUM; (HELD UP MINI) – a new word (one of these) but luckily I made this up quickly from -E-P… once I guessed the -IUM ending.
10 hidden in [aud]IOTA[pe]
11 BLUE (triple definition)
14 MO(R)SEL – Mosel turns out to be a German wine.
16 COCK (= ‘tap’ as in ‘water cock’) + TAIL
18 ASHTRAYS; (TRASH SAY)*, &lit – when solving I missed this apposite anagram and thought it was just a cryptic definition.
20 RASHER (double definition) – I had to search pretty hard to justify the ‘fish’ definition. Eventually I found this, which says that a rasher is ‘a commercially important fish of the Pacific coast of North America’, though this isn’t in Chambers or the Compact OED. Maybe it’s in Collins or the Concise Oxford?
22 BROKEN NOSE; (ONE’S)* – wordplay in the answer.
24 R + ASP
26 FAR + O – a city in Portugal.
30 RANG + ER
Down
1 IDE + A + L
2 EXPRESS – if I remember correctly an almost identical clue cost me lots of points in a recent Race the Clock/Times 2 puzzle. Fortunately I was quicker this time round.
4 SCINTILLA; (LILAC + TIN’S)*
5 [del]PHI[nium] – I would probably have got this straight away if I’d been confident about 9ac. As it was, I got 5ac first. This is the second Greek letter, to go with 10ac – is one or the pair the setter’s signature, perhaps?
8 S(A TURN)INE – curiously ‘Saturnian’ means ‘happy, pure, simple’ while ‘saturnian’ means ‘grave; gloomy’. Something to do with lead poisoning apparently – Saturn is the metal lead in alchemy.
13 PICASSO (cryptic definition) – the reference to the Blue Period meant nothing to me, but ‘He had a brush’ was transparent enough.
15 O.B. + SERVANT
17 CARP + ENTER – a reference to ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
19 TAKE OFF (double definition)
21 SURGEON (cryptic definition) – obvious, but this took me two looks.
23 NAOMI; rev. of (I MOAN)
25 SHOVE[l]
28 EGG (cryptic definition) – a pun on toast soldiers.

5 comments on “ST 4231 (Sun 1 Jul) – Easy as Phi”

    1. Probably 10 seconds on the two clues, but I’m not complaining – I might have expected to need 4 or 5 of the crossing letters to get DELPHINIUM, as I didn’t know the word, so it was still faster than it should have been.
  1. Well your 2:41 makes my 4:10 look pretty damned slow, but it was a clean sweep, and it did (as always) include a check to see that I hadn’t made any mistakes (but perhaps your 2:41 did as well). I spent a few seconds agonising over RASHER, not having heard of the fish before. But, like most middle-class children of my generation (and the generation before), I’d come across DELPHINIUM at a very early age from reading (or having read to me) A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young, in which The Doctor and the Dormouse begins:

    There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
    Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
    And all the day long he’d a wonderful view
    Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

  2. Yes – pretty quick for me too – within 10-20x Talbinhos at least.

    Just the 5 “easies” omitted from the blog. I expected only about 5 IN the blog when whizzing (it was for me) through. Here they are:

    12a They take steps to be noisy entertainers (3-7)

    27a Where the circus flag might be is a little extreme (4-3-3)
    OVER THE TOP

    29a What the chicken needs is a good beating (8)
    STUFFING. And a little cranberry sauce?

    6d Funny sailor gets up to dance (5)
    RUM BA

    7d Samson’s distressing experience? (7)
    HAIRCUT

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