ST 4292 (Sun 31 Aug) – Sofia so good

I’ve lost my solving time for this, but I think it was about average. There were some trickier words this week though, as well as an erroneous definition at 18dn.

* = anagram.

6 G([d]ECK)O
9 TIT + A + [brow]N
10 LIBRARIAN (cryptic defn) – this came to me before the intended misleading alternative of ‘accountant’ or similar.
11 PUSILLANIMOUS; (A SLUMP IN US OIL)* – forgive the link word ‘of’ and the fact that ‘processing’ cannot be intransitive (according to Chambers, anyway) and this is a pretty good clue. This word comes from the Latin ‘pusillus’, meaning ‘very little’, and ‘animus’, meaning ‘mind’.
14 DENARII (cryptic defn) – a denarius in Roman coinage was ten asses.
16 VIOL + A + TE – this might have been neater without the word ‘one’, giving VIOLA + TE.
17 ASSEGAI; ASS + rev. of (I + AGE)* – ‘I take’?!! Aaargh!!.
19 LUST + RUM – an unjustifiable ‘for’, but the intention is clear enough, which is helpful for a fairly obscure word.
21 STRAYING SHEEP (cryptic defn) – a curious clue, which I don’t really get, except that a Barbary is a sheep. A pun on ‘dam’ = ‘mother’, perhaps? This phrase isn’t in any dictionaries of mine, but it does give a few hits as a hymn tune on Google.
24 PRIMIPARA; PRIM + (A PAIR)* – ‘a woman who has just given birth for the first time or is about to do so’ (Chambers).
26 F(LU)OR – a mineral (same as ‘fluorite’). This wordplay is very subtle, nothing to do with European geograhpy and took me a while to see: FOR; place in LU[xembourg], with .lu being the Internet suffix for Luxembourg (these are listed in one of the appendices). This was probably my favourite clue.
27 SLANG (double defn) – not the best clue, these two meanings are effectively the same word.
1 ANTIPODEAN; (DANE IN A TOP)* – not convinced by this attempted semi-&lit; the definition is effectively ‘Not a Dane’.
2 ARTISAN; (SITAR)* in AN – a careless ‘artiste’ held me up here.
3 ANNU[a]L
4 CULPABILITY; (A PIT BULL I + C)* + Y – unusual to have an abbreviation (‘caught’ = C) as part of an anagram, but I think it’s fair enough with such a common one.
5 EBB (cryptic defn) – a much better, and topical, cryptic definition.
7 CH(I)ASM + A – a cross-shaped connection in biology.
8 OWNS; (NOW)* + S
13 TEAM SPIRIT; (PART-TIME IS)* – good anagram, not sure about the question mark.
15 REGARDING (double defn) – I thought this was very good.
18 SE(S + TIN)A – I’m no poetry expert, but if Chambers and Wikipedia are to be believed then a sestina is not a six-line stanza, it’s a poem of six such stanzas, so this clue is a dud.
20 ROE + BUCK – rather wordy.
22 SO + FIA[sco] – ‘only part fiasco’ = FIA might be considered vague, but at least it has a question mark.
23 SPAS (cryptic defn) – ‘Well’ should have been an immediate giveaway here, but I missed it, so I have to concede that this was a pretty good clue.
25 A M.P.

5 comments on “ST 4292 (Sun 31 Aug) – Sofia so good”

  1. Thanks for explaining FLUOR; I failed to spot the reasoning.

    21 was the other one that baffled me and I still can’t see it. Unless someone can come up with a better explanation I shall have to conclude it’s a rubbish clue to a rubbish answer.

  2. I guess 21 is just that Barbary has an old meaning of ‘pagan’, as well as being a breed of sheep, so Barbary dams would be sheep straying from the path of righteousness (and echoing the NT parable). But it’s not exactly persuasive. More ‘hmm’ that ‘By George, yes!’.

    I liked 3d a lot – great surface – and a really good anagram at 13d. Just a shame about the clunkers.

    1. If Barbary = pagan then I might concede the first point, but it’s not in Collins, the Concise Oxford, Chambers or so it must be stretching things a bit, in my opinion.

      But then we are left with “straying sheep”. I know of “lost sheep” and “poor little lambs who’ve gone astray…lost our way” etc, but I haven’t been able to establish that “straying sheep” is an accepted phrase or saying.

  3. 8:40 here. 21 is a mystery to me as well. I didn’t find this puzzle a complete dead loss, but it was too sloppy for my taste (SESTINA and AMP being particularly unsatisfactory).
  4. A fairly easy run-out apart from the enigmatic STRAYING SHEEP at 21a where I join the ever increasing throng of solvers who don’t understand the clue despite having derived the correct answer.

    I did not realise that SESTINA at 19d was an incorrect literal. I was just glad to have constructed the correct word from the clue.

    Thanks for the blog Talbinho and the poetic enlightenment.

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