ST 4298 (Sat 12 Oct) – Fita, Apia, more obstructive

Solving time: 11 mins, 5 of which on 30ac.

After a couple of very good puzzles, this one was very much at the other end of the spectrum, being riddled with mistakes and dodgy clues. If anyone can offer any better explanations for 17ac, 30ac or 18dn I would be grateful.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 MULE – two definitions, one being a kind of slipper. Splitting of ‘horseshoe’ into two words is required here.
3 SPIRITEDLY; (PLIES DIRTY)* – ‘trade’ as an anagram indicator?
10 CATCH + WORD – rather weak.
11 WIN(C)E
12 ORIEL (2 defs) – a kind of window and an Oxford college.
13 EVILDOER; (DELIVER + O)* – there’s not really an anagram indicator here, unless you count the question mark.
15 CESSPIT; (INSPECTS – N)* – I originally put in ‘cistern’ which slowed me down on 9dn and 4dn.
17 GUANACO – I have no idea what’s going on here, but I can’t find anything else to fit. A guanaco is an animal (a kind of llama), ‘guano’ means ‘the dung of sea-fowl’ and ‘Co.’ might be ‘firm’, but this is so far from making sense that I must have missed something.
18 POLLACK; rev. of LOP, + LACK
21 SHINDIG (hidden)
22 PANORAMA; NORA in rev. of (A MAP)
24 T(H)ORN – I can’t see how ‘Rent hard to accept’ can really mean ‘[Word for] rent with H[ard] accepted’.
29 DESTROYERS (2 defs)
30 APIA – this is the capital of Western Samoa and so must be the answer, but the wordplay defeats me: perhaps ‘first-class return’ means ‘reverse of A1’ = IA, but where does the P come from?

2 LATHI; LA + (HIT)* – a Hindi word meaning ‘a long heavy stick used as a weapon’.
7 DANCE (= ‘ball’) + BAND (= “BANNED”) – the enumeration here should be (5,4) or possibly (5-4) at a push, but surely not (9).
8 YSER (hidden) – a new river to me. This was the site of the Battle of the Yser in the early months of World War I. This is another dodgy clue: ‘Yser’ is central to ‘to many services’, not just ‘many services’.
14 GORGON + ZOLA – the writer is Emile Zola, he of ‘J’accuse!’ fame.
16 SYLLABLES (cryptic definition)
18 A + VIA + TORS ? – unless I have misinterpreted this, there is a missing ‘a’ before ‘route’ in the wordplay.
20 KNAVERY – a sort of cryptic definition based on ‘jack’ = ‘knave’ in cards.
21 SNAPPER (cryptic definition)
23 OLDER – as in the phrase ‘older and wiser’. I thought this was pretty poor.
25 OWN UP; OW, + rev. of PUN
26 G + RID – ‘gravity’ = G is not accurate.

As an aside: Next Sunday I will be in the Lake District doing this, so won’t be able to blog until very late that night. If anyone who can blog earlier in the day would like to sub, please volunteer in a comment here. If noone volunteers that’s fine, it will just be a late blog.

10 comments on “ST 4298 (Sat 12 Oct) – Fita, Apia, more obstructive”

  1. I couldn’t solve 30a and lost the will to research it – the result of so many dubious ST clues is that you lose faith and wonder if the effort will be rewarded.

    Looking at it now, I’m wondering if the IPA is International Priority Airmail.

    1. And, I meant to say, I can’t make head or tail of the wordplay in 17 either. My sympathies to you for having to blog this one.
  2. I’m afraid the logic behind 17A and 30A defeated me too. I thought that the A in AVIATORS (18D) might conceivably be a shortened form of “A-road”, so that “route over high hills” = A VIA TORS, but I’m far from convinced.

    In addition to all the other annoyances with this puzzle, the solution to 21D is given as “Snapers”, turning 28A into “eseeranto” and 29A into “destroyess” in the interactive solution, which probably eliminated any on-line solvers from consideration for a prize.

  3. The IPA acronym mentioned above is not listed in any of the standard references (Chambers, COED, Collins etc). I wondered if the definition was simply ‘capital’ and the wordplay was AI PA reversed (Pa is an island in New Zealand) but there is no indicator for reversing the island.

    17a is certainly an enigma.


  4. Well certain minds think alike… I looked at 17 and thought “it has to be guanaco, maybe guana is another spelling for guano?” without going and looking it up. I saw “island capital” at 30 and wrote in APIA without thinking much (flights from LA to Melbourne fly almost directly over it), and I figured A was some sort of main road in A,VIA,TORS. We shall all go down together!
  5. I have given up worrying about ST clues: near enough is good enough as far as I am concerned. The problem we have is that we are spoiled rotten by the overall quality of the Times, and forget that there is a lot of sloppy second rate stuff out there too.
  6. 15 across suggests a possible &lit: but it would probably only work in Australia.
    “Alternative to cesspit? (7)”


  7. I had no problem with Guanoco or Aviators. Bat dung is very well known as guano. I came up with each and then googled the words Guanoco is a variant of Guanaco and Avia is Italian/Latin for path or route. I agree with your comments on Danceband. Surely G is common for Gravity, we talk about G forces.

    The Yser is not a new river for me, seen it in crosswords before. I’ve also been to Belgium and Ypres, something everyone should do once in their lives to realize the enormity of World War I.

  8. Is this what Moneypenny might whisper at the MI5 Christmas party? If so it might explain the spelling of GUANOCO by (Anon) above. Nice try but I don’t think so – the South American camellid remains a mystery.

    On the other hand, at 8d, YSER is central (to man Y SER vices) using central as in “Central London” rather than “central to”.

    I was ashamed to say that I did not know that APIA is the capital of Western Samoa and I could not parse the clue. Failed on a Geography clue – Noooooooooooo!

Comments are closed.