Sunday Times 4660 by Tim Moorey: short in duration

Another plain vanilla one from Tim Moorey which I polished off in 12:11. After last week’s stinker from Dean I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet.

This puzzle came in for some stick on the club forum, but there was nothing that bothered me too much while I was solving. The comedian at 20ac won’t be universally known, but this is the Sunday Times after all. And there are some neat clues in here, notably 18ac and 27ac, even if the answer to the latter arguably isn’t really a recognisable phrase. Again, it’s Sunday: relax.

There’s some slightly obscure vocabulary, but it was all stuff I have picked up over the years of doing these puzzles so none of it held me up for long.

1 Most unusual storing data in tropical area
6 Reports heard or herd in Africa?
GNUS – sounds like ‘news’, outside Flanders & Swan songs at least.
9 Top horse race in China
CROWN DERBY – CROWN (top), DERBY (race). Not to be confused with the sage variety.
10 Tailless weasel-like mammal in covered walkway
STOA – STOAt. A STOA is a ‘portico or covered colonnade’ in ancient Greece. I have come across the word before, but only in crosswords.
12 Soccer team in one of the UAE capitals?
UNITED – which is what the capital U in UAE stands for.
13 Very pleasing girl, outwardly competent
ADORABLE – A(DORA)BLE. Lo hicimos!
15 Attractive result of going undercover before midnight?
18 This one chose after shuffle?
ACE OF HEARTS – (A, CHOSE AFTER)*. A semi-&Lit where the definition is just ‘this’, and needs the rest of the clue to make sense of it.
21 Name region engulfed in foremost of endlessly sectarian turmoil
NEAR EAST – N (name), then the first letters of Endlessly Sectarian Turmoil containing AREA. This one is a full-fat &Lit.
22 Cake for comedian Jenny?
ECLAIR – DD, the second a reference to the comedian Jenny Eclair. This clue did not meet with universal approval on the club forum.
24 It’s tidy in the old Bull
NEAT – DD. NEAT is an old word for an ox, which you will know if you’ve been doing these things for long enough.
25 Just hurry on in front of one partner
LEGITIMATE – LEG IT (hurry on), I, MATE.
26 Garden feature stood out unusually in leaves
SHED – SHinED. This is in ODO as a past participle of ‘shine’. It’s also in Chambers but marked as archaic.
27 You could find me bust, with a new ring in hock?
GERMAN WINE – (ME, A NEW RING)*. The definition is by example, indicated by the question mark.

1 Get back on horse-drawn carriage with no end of trouble
2 I study topless image that’s famously representative of its type
ICONIC – I CON (I study), pIC.
3 Party food for a cannibal?
FINGER BUFFET – a sort of semi-cryptic definition.
4 Thatcher’s material heartlessly delivered
REED – REscuED. Or possibly REalisED, or REdeemED, or REleasED, or REmittED, or REnderED, or REprievED, or REturnED, or possibly something else.
5 Press people plot to divide petitioners
7 VIPs and what they hate to hear when booking dinner
8 Disturbances at university interrupting Arab leaders in speech
SHAKE-UPS – SHAKES (sounds like ‘sheikhs’) containing UP (at university).
11 Angry representative sample?
CROSS-SECTION – another semi-cryptic definition.
14 Fuss manufacturer’s understood, so to speak
MAKE A SCENE – sounds like ‘maker’s seen’. Sort of.
16 Proceeds to upset grannies
17 Man showing up in challenge is a poet
DE LA MARE – DARE containing a reversal of MALE.
19 Revolutionary republic defends volunteers of another Arabian state
QATARI – reversal of IRAQ containing TA. Don’t mention the World Cup.
20 English novelist putting area first for excellence
GREENE – GREEN (putting area), Excellence.
23 Movie company that’s had a change of direction
FILM – FIRM (company) with R (right) changed to L (left).

24 comments on “Sunday Times 4660 by Tim Moorey: short in duration”

  1. Finally realized how 26ac, and keriothe’s explication, worked; I biffed this, but had no idea how the clue worked. Never heard of Jenny Eclair–and if I had, wouldn’t this have been a risibly easy clue?–but with the C in I considered it, although ‘cake’ would not have occurred to me in describing one. I went at first with ‘eccles’ until forced to correct it. Googling afterward, I discovered both Jenny Eclair and ‘Jennifer Eccles’, who had lots of freckles; but not a comedian, evidently. I didn’t like 27ac, not because of the clue–which seemed to be the problem on the club forum–but because GERMAN WINE–unlike ‘German measles’, say, or ‘German shepherd’–is not a lexical item, any more than, say, ‘American underwear’ is. COD to 20d.

    Edited at 2015-09-27 06:36 am (UTC)

  2. Very enjoyable if slightly off the wall. I happened to know Jenny Eclair so 22ac was a write-in but otherwise I might not have appreciated the contemporary reference.

    SOED assures me that “shined” is a valid alternative to “shone” with specific reference to polishing (shoes etc) but I’m not clear whether it can be applied legitimately to excelling at something or standing out, which is the context in the clue. Hock is German wine so I don’t see what’s to argue about at 27.

    1. Mercedes are German cars, the Seine is a French river, and whisky is an alcoholic beverage, but I wouldn’t expect ‘German cars’ or ‘French river’ or ‘alcoholic beverage’ to be the solution to a clue. (A part of a clue, perhaps, of which ‘Mercedes’ or ‘Seine’ or ‘whisky’ is the solution, but not the solution.)
    2. Chambers also shows this as a (non-archaic) alternative for ‘polished’, but I discounted this for the reason you mention. It’s in ODO without qualification.
  3. Nice enough puzzle, but for me it lacked the crackle and fizz which we usually get treated to on Sundays. Which probably just goes to show how spoilt we are!

    3dn provided a chuckle (albeit a somewhat disturbing image), and I liked 18ac – very neat.

    Like Kevin, I convinced myself there was a funny lady called Jenny Eccles, which held me up for a while until Qatari had to be right, thereby putting an end to Ms. Eccles’ brief appearance… Unlike Kevin, had no issue with German Wine (occurred to me that if someone was to ask me “what is hock?”, then that would most likely be my off the cuff answer). However, most grateful to Kevin for using the word “lexical” – what a ripper!

    Thanks for the blog Keriothe, and for parsing SHED, which I failed to do.

  4. The use of the non-standard phrase GERMAN WINE in a “plain vanilla” crossword just adds to the disappointment, even if it is Sunday, and kevingregg’s reaction is justified. I’m not convinced that n the n’s crackle and fizz are regular features of Sunday cryptics. Occasional visitors, perhaps.
    1. Guess it depends where you set the bar – my crackle and fizz point may well be lower than others!
    2. For the avoidance of doubt, when I use the phrase ‘plain vanilla’ it is not intended as a slight. I like a variety of difficult and easy puzzles, and not knowing which you’re going to get. And I like vanilla!
      1. I like variety and I like vanilla but if I set a crossword and you described it as “plain vanilla” I would feel slighted. Then I recall your defending “stinker” as a compliment.
  5. Vanilla is right, 15 minutes, pleasant but not stretching. I had no issues with Eclair or Hock, both seem OK to me given it’s Sunday so live people are allowed.
  6. If Wikipedia is right about “lexical terms”, they include “collocations”, which are sequence of words or terms that co-occur more often than would be expected by chance. Their examples are “strong tea” and “powerful computers”, which are considered the right phrases rather than “powerful tea” and “strong computers”. I don’t know how you prove the bit about chance, but “German wine” seems to me at least as convincing a crossword answer as “strong tea” or “powerful computer”. The idea that such a phrase is “non-standard” presumes that there is an accepted standard, and when it comes to “what phrases are OK in cryptic crosswords”, there isn’t one – it’s a matter of judgement.
    1. Thanks Peter. I can sort of see Kevin’s point, but I felt that the definition led pretty directly to the answer: it’s asking for a category of which Hock is an example, and WHITE WINE doesn’t fit!

      Edited at 2015-09-27 08:21 pm (UTC)

    2. If you did a corpus search of ‘profound’, you’d find that it is followed by ‘ignorance’ an awful lot; given the grammatically possible words that could follow ‘profound’, you can say that ‘ignorance’ appears far more frequently than would be expected by chance. In this sense ‘profound ignorance’ is a collocation. If you did a corpus search of ‘German’, you wouldn’t find any such skewed distribution. Nor is ‘German wine’ in any sense an idiom–it means ‘wine that is German’. In point of fact, I doubt that you’ll seldom if ever find solutions like this in Times cryptics, ST included–although I’m not going to do a search to find out!
      1. I think you’re right, but I still don’t mind it because GERMAN WINE is a category that is readily identifiable from the clue, even if it isn’t an idiom. By the same token if the definition were ‘Citroën, for example’ and the answer were FRENCH CAR, I would consider that fair. It’s not necessarily elegant, of course, but in this case the clue has other merits to make up for that.
      2. Not a fan of this kind of solution either (though I will add that the ST Cryptic is my favourite of the puzzles in the Times stable). Such solutions are indeed rare and, from the occasional notes that I have kept over the last 5 years or so, the lion’s share of them across the broadsheets have appeared in the ST Cryptic – perhaps not surprising given Peter’s defence of them (here and elsewhere). There is also an FT setter who is fond of them, but otherwise they seem to be avoided by most setters/editors. I must admit I had assumed they were a product of the setter being forced into a corner by the way the rest of the grid had been filled to that point.
        1. I was actually surprised by Peter’s comment, as I had come to think that German-wine types of solutions were actually banned in Times cryptics. They’re certainly rare, as you suggest. What, dare I ask, would Ximenes have said? Not, I hasten to add, that I would take his opinion as automatically the last word.

          Edited at 2015-09-28 07:28 am (UTC)

  7. CROWN DERBY and BEAUTY SLEEP are standard phrases and easily accepted as such. GERMAN WINE is not. It is however as convincing a crossword answer as “strong tea” or “powerful computer”, ie not very. Of course it’s a matter of judgement when it comes to what phrases are OK. In this case the editor’s judgement was disappointing.
  8. I agree with the foregoing – that puzzle gave me the feeling that it needed a little more work to be entirely satisfactory. Perhaps Tim was under pressure to meet a deadline?
  9. Brisbane. After a few hours and only two in i resorted to the blog as i have done for about five years. Clearly not getting the hang of it though Strangely i had Eclair as a gimme.
  10. Agree that GERMAN WINE is not a readily recognisable couplet but merely a descriptive phrase. Rubbish clue.
  11. [Sorry about the “Anonymous”: don’t know how to get my ‘handle’ – still anonymous, I guess! – up on this site]
    May my first post on the site be a nitpick? 10A – surely the walkway is in the mammal, not the other way round as the clue represents?
    Also, does anyone else find FINGER BUFFET to be as worthy of discussion as GERMAN WINE appears to be? It’s not a buffet variation I’ve heard of.
    1. Hi Johnno2, and welcome. It’s quite easy to create an account on LiveJournal: it must be, because I managed it! It’s also free.
      On the subject of 10a, if I’ve understood your question correctly then you are assuming that the answer (i.e. the letters to put in the grid) ‘is’ the definition, rather than the wordplay, but it is of course both. So the clue construction can be ‘wordplay in definition’ or ‘definition in wordplay’. Note that 1ac and 9ac have the same construction.
      I would say that FINGER BUFFET is more of an identifiable phrase than GERMAN WINE. It’s in all the dictionaries.

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