Sunday Times 4679 by Jeff Pearce

A solid sort of puzzle this week – no pyrotechnics but pleasant enough. 7d was unknown to me, but fortunately the wordplay was generous and we were given 60% of the cross checkers.

Thanks to Jeff for an enjoyable offering.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–)

1 Choose dry red when touring with English MPs here (6,9)
SELECT COMMITTEE – SELECT (choose) + COMMIE (red) ‘touring’ TT (dry) + E (English)
9 Controller loses to orderly (7)
REGULAR – REGULATOR (controller) without the TO (loses to)
10 Softly trace around a copy (7)
REPLICA – RELIC (trace) goes ‘around’ P (softly) + A
11 Penny consumed spread (4)
PATE – P (penny) + ATE (consumed)
12 Everyone’s after torn pieces of cloth to make another one (10)
TATTERSALL – ALL (everyone) ‘after’ TATTERS (torn pieces of cloth) giving another piece of cloth, in this case the check patterned material used for shirts but originally designed for horses
13 Poet takes second to think of Nancy (7)
SPENSER – S (second) + PENSER (to think in Nancy – and elsewhere in France)
15 Absolutely motionless at the games (4,3)
DEAD SET – Answer is clear enough, but I found the exact parsing tricky to pin down. I think it’s just a cryptic with “absolutely” giving us DEAD (as in dead centre) and SET coming from the point immediately before a race when contestants are required to be motionless – i.e. “on your marks, set…”
17 Nob is replacing ends of rope and twine in posh tent (7)
MARQUIS – IS replaces EE (ends of ropE and twinE) in MARQUEE (posh tent)
19 Circle lake after a place to sleep (7)
COTERIE – COT (place to sleep) followed by ERIE (lake)
20 Having dodgy locks is when mishaps occur (3,4,3)
BAD HAIR DAY – Mildly cryptic clue
22 Leaders of Kent’s new orchestra tackle Ravel (4)
KNOT – First letters (leaders) of Kent’s New Orchestra Tackle the thing that might need to be unravelled…
25 Poet, left say, during robbery in Bow (7)
ELEGIST – L (left) + EG (say) in (during) HEIST (robbery in Bow)
26 Sub-standard rocket? (7)
TORPEDO – The “standard” rocket-like weapon of the Sub(marine)…
27 Heather starting work of great importance (5-10)
EARTH SHATTERING – *(HEATHER STARTING) with “work” as the anagrind
1 Axe green areas of Paris to the north (5)
SCRAP – PARCS (green areas of Paris) reversed (to the north – given this is a Down clue)
2 Finally Plymouth Argyle – it’s awfully far to go! (5-4)
LIGHT YEAR – *(ARGYLE IT) plus H (finally PlymoutH) also thrown into the mix, and “awfully” as the anagrind. Good to see “The Pilgrims” getting an outing – true stalwarts of the lower divisions of the Football League, with Plymouth apparently being the largest city in England never to have had a team playing in the top flight
3 Biting fish around lake (4)
COLD – COD (fish) around L (lake)
4 Pirate‘s vulgar song on the radio (7)
CORSAIR – homophone (indicated by “on the radio”) of COARSE AIR (vulgar song). I found the urge to do a quick search for rude pirate songs irresistible, but the ones published on the internet all seem pretty tame: I’m sure there must be some good bawdy stuff out there somewhere…
5 Earned ceremony in the sea (7)
MERITED – RITE (ceremony) in MED (sea)
6 Crucial to bring in worker (9)
IMPORTANT – IMPORT (to bring in) + ANT (worker)
7 Volunteers to lead a soldier up lots of freezing trees (5)
TAIGA – TA (volunteers) + AGI (a soldier) reversed (up). LOI and had to trust to wordplay here as this was unknown to me.
8 Earl leads girl to a flashy pad (9)
EPAULETTE – E (abbrev. Earl) + Paulette (girl)
13 Note from doctor, covering one priest in diocese (9)
SEMIBREVE – MB (doctor) ‘covering’ I (one) + REV (priest), with the whole lot surrounded by SEE (diocese)
14 Prudish girl entertains leader of Quaker’s sect (9)
SQUEAMISH – SUE (girl) ‘entertains’ Q (leader of Quaker’s) + AMISH (sect)
16 Plain ties and green buckle (9)
SERENGETI – *(TIES GREEN) with “buckle” as the anagrind
18 Way to gag bird (7)
STRETCH – ST (abbrev. Street = way) + RETCH (gag) giving an alternative to bird for porridge…
19 Key I placed in bed for singer (4,3)
COAL TIT – ALT (key on computer keyboard) + I ‘placed in’ COT (bed). Why does it always take me ages to link references to “keys” to keyboards?
21 Miserable nurse at end of ward (5)
DREAR – REAR (nurse) after D (end of warD)
23 It’s not right to pack flip-flop (5)
THONG – THRONG (pack) loses its R (not right)
24 Yorkshire cricketer dropping a player? That’s correct (4)
TRUE – Fred TRUEMAN drops the MAN (player). Whilst the peerless Fred is probably pretty well known to UK folk even amongst the ranks of non-cricketers, he may be unknown across the pond (or in Greece for that matter). A gruff, earthy, pipe smoking character who epitomised Yorkshire Man (“I call a spade a bloody shovel”) and one of the greatest fast bowlers ever.

22 comments on “Sunday Times 4679 by Jeff Pearce”

  1. I thought this was a great crossword. Lots of very elegant clues with just 4 or 5 words, sometimes with the literal nicely hidden.

    I am the same about keys and keyboards (and I am a PhD computer scientist, I have no excuse)

  2. This must be my fastest ST, probably by a long shot, although I had to biff a couple, like 1ac, which I never parsed; thanks, Nick. Also 2d and 23d, which I parsed post hoc. And of course 24d; the only cricketer whose name I know is Whatshisname Grace (I’ve always assumed that Grace was his last name), but the checkers and d left little room for doubt. TAIGA we’ve had a couple of times, and it provoked a good deal of discussion, if I recall correctly, both here and on the forum.
  3. Much enjoyed this.
    I don’t see taiga as a particularly obscure word; it would be about level with pampas or veldt, in my book..
    1. … in which case your book is significantly more erudite than mine – no surprise there, then!
  4. Nice straightforward puzzle with some wit, 20 minutes. I too used to suffer from ‘key blindness’ Alt etc, but have it registered now.

    I saw 15a SET being a unit composed of games, as in tennis.

    Thanks Nick.

  5. When a dog is motionless pointing to game it is ‘dead set’, so I think this is a double definition. Good crossword, particularly the long lights at 1ac and 27ac.
    1. My dog is never motionless pointing to game. Faced with a squirrel, seagull or pigeon, he is the exact opposite and keen to conduct a loud conversation with them.. He does however ‘stay’ when told to.
  6. A mostly straightforward 42 minute solve here. My education continues as I learnt a new definition of THONG; until I looked it up I wondered what on earth it could be referring to!
  7. 12:46, so no problems with this, but I thought it was an excellent crossword.
    I think in 15ac the definition is ‘absolutely’, and the wordplay is DEAD = motionless, SET = games, a reference to tennis as Pip says. This definition of DEAD SET (which is in Collins) has appeared before in a puzzle that I blogged (see here), and it provoked some discussion then, so I remembered it.
    The TAIGA discussion referred to by Kevin was about this puzzle. That clue was pretty dreadful: this time we got some wordplay, so if you didn’t know the word you should just think yourself lucky!

    Edited at 2016-02-07 10:07 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks to Pip, sidcuppa and Keriothe for putting me straight on DEAD SET. One of those where the more I thought about it, the less certain I became regarding what was actually going on. That said, whilst SET = games, I’m still a bit unsure how SET = “at the games” (which was what sent me down the ‘on your marks’ road) – but I guess “at the” are just there to help the surface along?
      1. They help the surface, but in the wordplay I think you’re supposed to read ‘at’ as ‘next to’. DEAD [motionless] is next to [at] SET [the games].
        1. A set is some games, not ‘the games’. A dog points to the game, not ‘the games’, so it is unclear whether the clue refers to tennis or hunting, perhaps by intention. In the unsure basket with n the n is probably the wise place to be with this one but I’ll stick with the hunting scenario, with the s of ‘games’ a typo.
          1. I think ‘the’ here is just filler, or a link word to be ignored in the wordplay. Perhaps it’s a little inelegant but at least this way the clue parses without the need to assume a mistake, and no-one has owned up to one yet!
  8. Thanks for another good blog, Nick. I had a bad time in the SE where Trident fit my first two checkers. Regarding coarse airs, try Barnacle Bill the Sailor. A bit misogynistic, and not definitely pirates, but probably rude enough.
    1. Ah yes, that’s more like it… I recall a Geordie mate at uni who used to routinely belt this little ditty out after he’d consumed his own weight in Newcastle Brown ale (i.e. most nights…)
  9. Thanks for the help I get from this blog, though this one beat me at 13a and 13d. Will claim very limited knowledge of poets and french. Not sure if I had the “S” I would have got 13d anyway. I know I am a week late but I use the paper version here from “The Australian”, which I notice is only a week behind on this one (it is usually three or four weeks behind on the dailies.

    Could this be parsed as absolutely = dead set (as in dead set certainty). Also, in athletics are not sprinters dead set on their blocks just before the gun is fired = motionless at the games?

    Thanks again.

    Barry M

    1. Another “AUSTRALIAN” solver here Barry and almost agree with you completely on parsing of “Dead set”. Is the phrase’s use to mean “completely true”, “absolutely” an Australianism? “Dead” does double duty as meaning “absolutely” itself; e.g. “Dead easy” . The race starter’s command for complete motionlessness at the games is just “Set!”
  10. For 18d I got the word STRETCH from wordplay but cast around in vain for the meaning. The explanation given in the blog has also gone over my head. Can someone explain it to me in terms that a Canadian can understand!?

    Sorry to be asking now, but my puzzle in the Toronto Star comes 2 weeks later.

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