Sunday Times 4196/Oct 29

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Solving time: 15 minutes

(Posting this all the way from America — it’s Saturday afternoon here and presumably dead of night in London).

The Sunday Times puzzle gets a lot of disrespect from the cognoscenti – it does indeed have its fair share of typos indicating lax editing, but no more egregiously than The Guardian. There’s the occasional bad clue, as well – which I’ll note if spotted. On the Timesean (if Ximenean can be an adjective…) scale it’s a relatively easy puzzle (akin to Monday/Tuesday).

In this case, I needed for 1A and 26D – and I’m a little unsure about the soundness of 10A.


1 ARETHUSA – double meaning,: orchid and nymph. Though the orchid is named after the nymph. Had to trawl wikipedia for this.
10 PIECRUST – seems to be a cryptic definition.
11 OESOPHAGI – another cryptic definition. Pleasantly misleading since the clue looks like it could be a double definition. Had to check spelling.
13 I+RAN – Not surprised.
17 INCOMPATIBLE – anag(“p + claim to be in”)
19 IN+CH –church is either CH or CE in England
21 ETNA – contained in Vietnam
24 COCKATOO – double definition. Cockatoo is an Australian species of parrot, so appropriately it’s also oz slang for a look-out. See this
27 SEARED – anag(“Red Sea”). I considered “erased” a bit but couldn’t quite make it close enough in meaning to “dried up”.


3 TOM – first half of a tom-tom drum. Use of “he” indicated a name.
4 UNSOPHISTICATED – anag(“suit is patched no”). Screamed anagram given the contrived surface and “replacement” indicator. Sometimes I use an anagram solver for these long ones when I don’t have any crossing letters yet.
6 PLENIPOTENTIARY – anag(“toe in Pinter play”). Another long anagram. Pinter play titles tend to have the “The ‘noun’” format: e.g. “The Birthday Party”, “The Caretaker”. He probably should write one called “The Ambassador”.
7 TERMINATION – anag(“into minaret”). Oh, we haven’t had a long anagram for some time.
12 SLEEPWALKER – clever cryptic definition.
18 OUTCOME – it’s what you get when you come out!
23 TROLL – double definition. Trolls can be big or little (at least in Norway). My first guess was “titan” – which is also a kind of fish. Crossing letters didn’t agree. [clarification: Troll is a verb: to fish]
26 GEB – rev(“beg”) turns out to be an Egyptian god according to this. “Directed heavenwards” is a nice way to indicate reversal in a down clue. [Update: now that I own Chambers I can tell you that geb isn’t there — which doesn’t help me solve the mystery of what reference ST uses: wikipedia? — that’s a joke]

2 comments on “Sunday Times 4196/Oct 29”

  1. Titan = fish: didn’t know that one. Picky clarification: troll=’to fish’ rather than a type of fish. Geb is new to me, but was in the first Crossword Dictionary I tried.
  2. 6a Soil upturned is contaminated = PUTRID (dirt up backwards)
    9a Hostility’s a problem in recession = ANIMUS (a then sum in backwards)
    14a Keen to hand round the joint = KNEE – gratuitous drug reference there!
    15a Inescapable – a born exile must travel around! = INEXORABLE (a born exile)*
    22a In a rigid stupor? Tom needs a stimulant! = CAT A TONIC
    25a Sportsman ran with leg injury = ANGLER (ran leg)*
    28a Loafer? Was resting before a wrestling match! = LAY A BOUT
    2d Disparage, though not very well = RUN DOWN (DD)
    5d Star letter written in Greek = ALPHA (this could also be other 5 letter greek characters – eg Gamma – as stars are named after their constellation and greek-lettered in order of brightness)
    8d Position taken by everyone on fashionable street = IN ST ALL
    16d Retire in the main = EBB
    20d French artist and film director portraying commandant in acute distress? = COCTEAU (for this clue to work the commandant must be OC inside the anagram of ACUTE). One of Jean Cocteau’s notable films was Beauty and the Beast (1946). I have only seen the Disney version on video with my kids.

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