Sunday Times 4200/hang on – not so fast

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
The SE corner held me up: took me as long to solve as the all the rest of the puzzle: total 1/2h. All in all, not as easy as last week’s and slowed down my Sunday morning coffee and eggs. Some nice puns and cryptic definitions (9A, 15A and one unintended football allusion: 7D) though I have a couple of concerns noted below (1D, 27A).


5 IMP+ALE – those little scamps are always naughty drinking ALE (a v. common cryptic refreshment). Nice shift of meaning for “spit”.
9 CONTRACT – Nice cryptic definition playing on “expand”/CONTRACT antonym. Quite possibly familiar to cryptic experts since it seems ‘obvious’ but the first time I think I’ve met it.
12 REPAID – rev(diaper = “napkin”). Diaper is Americanese for nappy (which only now did I realize is a contraction of napkin!)
15 RIDING HABITS – nice double meaning/cryptic definition – both meanings are related to horse riding and are linked by “suit”.
18 EXTORTIONATE – (tax note I tore)* with the added benefit of the fodder having definitional relevance.
24 PLOUGH – double meaning: this was one of the ones that slowed me down. I’m sure that Brits are v. familiar with the “fail exam” meaning. The other meaning is the Ursa constellations in the shape thereof.
26 NESBI+T – rev(Isben = canonic Norwegian playwright) + T (the “tip” of “top” or the “top” of “tip”). Nice way to link two authors – though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this recently somewhere.
27 MANI+TOBA – (main)* + (boat)*. Don’t like this clue for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Canada has provinces not states. Additionally, I’m learning that I don’t like indirect anagrams: need to substitute main for “sea” in “turbulent sea” and then anagram. In fact, I only worked this out ex post facto – having struggled with Manitoba as a state first. I can see why the setter preferred “state” given that it’s a verb as well as a noun.
29 RING+BARK – Last one I filled in. New word for me: it’s a way to kill off trees if that’s your thing. Charade of synonym of circle+ synonym of “bay” (nice meaning shift).


1 EN+CORE – What you shout when you want more after for instance The Beatles have left the stage. I’m a bit troubled by EN indicating singular “direction” – unless it means east by north? Is that the same as north by east?
3 TAR+TIN+I – Not sure if I think this is cute: using the inverse of the previous clue’s can/tin relationship or whether it’s sloppy. I got lucky with Tartini because I actually spent a holiday in Piran, Slovenia a couple of years ago and the town square has his statue. Nice shift of meaning for “pitch”.
4 NICK – double meaning: Nicholas’s nickname (no pun intended) + another slang term for prison.
6 MAR+SALA – Sweet wine: rev(ram = “moving plate”) + rev(alas = “Regrettably”) with “upset” indicating reversal.
7 A+LOPE+CIA – My fav clue: perhaps because I actually mentioned that “distressed” means getting a haircut last week! Anyway, CIA are common cryptic coverts. I got lucky on this clue as well since there’s a well-known Italian soccer referee who has an advanced case of ALOPECIA.
8 ESSAYIST – (sits easy)*. Don’t really like this since it kind of stretches the verb “to essay” into a nounal form with the “to try” meaning.
11 STAGING – Double definition: thanks to the_od below, the 2nd meaning is greenhouse shelving: staging def 3.[was: I think wordplay is STAG (show) + IN + G for greenhouse (which is a bit shaky). Any others?]
16 GEOMANCY – (agency MO)*. Kind of a cheat: probably any two letters can be capitalized to make a valid acronym to make up the rest of an anagram’s fodder.
17 STOVES IN – “cooker” is stove. To stave/stove means to burst a hole.
19 RO(MAIN)E – Nice to see a lettuce other than cos on the menu.
20 TILTING – Double meaning: part of my SE bête-noire. I kept thinking money when “making a charge”.
21 AUR(OR)A – What got me into the SE: gold is either Au or Or.

8 comments on “Sunday Times 4200/hang on – not so fast”

  1. Sorry about that, my link did not work. Here is the Compact OED definition for STAGING


    • noun 1 an instance or method of staging something. 2 a stage or set of stages or platforms for performers or between levels of scaffolding. 3 Brit. shelving for plants in a greenhouse.

  2. thanks! all Chambers has that’s relevant is: “scaffolding”. I didn’t think to look in the Compact OED.
  3. Message from setter: an ‘a’ has been left out at 13A and an extra ‘a’ appears at 26A. These are both printing errors, not setters’ errors
    1. Has anyone been able to access the online ST cryptic? it still doesn’t seem to be available…
  4. Despite being 100% British I am not at all familiar with the term PLOUGH meaning fail an exam (24a). Also TILTING at 20d was a stretch from “not even”. I might have got it from “not level”. Making a charge is a fair enough for TILTING though as in jousting. As these two cross each other they were the 2 that caused me to DNF. I did get the “easies” left out of the blog though. Here they are:
    1a Former spouse giving evidence that’s moving = EX CITING
    10a Countenances seen in streams = BROOKS – tricky DD in the use of both words as verbs
    13a Grand design (gets arty)* – crafty = STRATEGY – clever disguise with part of anagrist and anagrind joined by hyphen
    23a A gesture made by the organisation = MOVEMENT – another really tricky DD
    28a Jerked vigorously (and key)* turned = YANKED

    2d From tin take mushy (pea)* cocktail treat = CANAPE – nibbles with vodka-martinis? Can=Tin here whereas in 3d Tin=Can. Make up yer mind!
    14d Followers willing to appear in short skirts – MINI ON S
    22d Recoiled when third daRt pierced shin = SH R ANK
    – eg o’ lamb anyone?
    25d Small thanks team received for getting transport = TA XI – as in eg football XI. The “received” looks like a containment indicator which would give TXIA – perhaps a character in some alien shoot-em-up video game? My own home XI – hence the pic and “npbull” – are Hereford Football Club. Formerly Hereford United – this is a message from he future.

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