ST 4266 (Sun 2 Mar) – Low ebb

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: Gave up on 28ac after 10 mins. I did try again later, without success; it turned out that a crossing answer (25dn) was wrong.

The clues in this puzzle were extremely verbose with lots of superfluous words included to make the surface readings make sense. I think this is still preferable to clues with sound cryptic readings but nonsense surfaces, though I’m not sure. I have queries remaining about a couple of clues.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 FIRMAMENT (hidden)
6 SEPIA; I in rev. of APES
10 POINTLESS (double definition) – not sure what purpose ‘a clue here’ serves.
14 SAD + NESS (= ‘head’) – clueing this as SAD + NESS is very weak. At first I thought the wordplay was a reference to S.A.D. (Seasonal Affected Disorder), but on reflection I don’t think so.
16 EMPRESS; rev. of ME, + PRESS
17 LIMP + OP + O
19 TH[e] ROWER
24 PIE + C.E. + MEAL
26 YOKE + L
27 SPRAT (double definition) – as in the nursery rhyme “Jack Sprat would eat no fat”.
28 BANDY LEGS – I couldn’t solve this, thanks to an incorrect ‘N’ from 25dn, and I still don’t really understand it. Is it just a cryptic definition with puns on ‘supporters’ = ‘legs’ and ‘bowed’ meaning ‘bent’?

1 FORECAST + LE – ‘will occupy this’ is all superfluous here.
3 ARENA; A + (NEAR)*
4 EX + PRES(SION)S – the Swiss town is Sion, but how does ‘newsman’ give PRESS? Maybe it should read ‘newsmen’. Either way, using ‘newsman/men’ for PRESS twice in one crossword (16ac) is pretty feeble.
5 TRI; “TRY” – I think the question mark is because a try in rugby union is actually worth 5 points, although this isn’t relevant to the cryptic reading. What is relevant is that ‘tri-‘ is a prefix, not a word – surely these aren’t normally allowed as clue answers in standard blocked puzzles?
6 SAT (= ‘deposited’) + IN + SPA + R – satin spar is a phrase for certain calcites, including gypsum (so the clue should really say ‘Gypsum, perhaps’ or similar).
8 APSE (hidden) – not the best. ‘Found in church’ is a typical Sunday Times incomplete definition, the words ‘a state of’ are all superfluous to the cryptic reading and the hidden word coincides with the end of a word (‘collapse’) which is frowned upon by many.
12 CRESTFALLEN; (LEFT LANCERS)* – ‘in a sorry condition’ is doing double duty here, but it’s clear enough what’s going on.
13 ASTRAGALUS; (A STAR + A SLUG)* – an ankle-bone.
18 MASSEUR; (SUMS ARE)* – a good clue, with a more subtle definition (‘rubber’) which fits the surface reading well.
20 W(R)INKLE – I didn’t know this could mean ‘a dodge or trick’, i.e. a device, and spent a while looking for an alternative here.
22 COYLY; “KOI” + L[a]Y
25 EBB (cryptic definition) – I wrote in EAN here, which fits the clue (“Drop, in the ocean”) – ‘to ean’ means (of a ewe) ‘to give birth’, i.e. ‘to drop’. Although it’s an obscure word I was sure this was right so couldn’t get the crossing answer at 28ac. I have to ask why the comma was included in the clue, as it ruins the surface reading and the cryptic reading would still be perfectly fair without it.

One comment on “ST 4266 (Sun 2 Mar) – Low ebb”

  1. When I first played Rugby Union – back in the 1960s – it was only 3 points for a try. Then it went to 4 and then 5 as it is now – don’t ask me when those changes took place. I assumed that 3d was not hopelessly out of date so had to be TRI and therefore a prefix. The POINTLESS answer at 10a confirmed this. You do , of course, get 3 points for a TRI-ANGLE.

    My LOI was WRINKLE at 20d where it took me ages to equate WINKLE with FISH – it is a type of Shell – fish I suppose.

    I did eventually get the BANDY LEGS at 28a once I had all the checkers except 20d’s one. The literal of “Complaint” is a bit curious and summons up queues of horsey types at the Doctor’s surgery which I found quite amusing.

    A mere 2 omissions from this blog:

    9a (Flier)* brought to grief by a gun (5)

    23d Parrots featuring in a piece of tAPEStry (4)

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