Sunday Times 4709 by Jeff Pearce

An enjoyable puzzle at the gentler end of the spectrum this week – and none the worse for that! Some very nice wit and whimsy on display at 16d and 17d, and several neat and elegant clues with 26ac, 4ac and 19d being my personal favourites.

As ever, thanks to Jeff for an engaging puzzle.

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–): letters removed indicated by curly brackets {-}

1 Loud type of musician hasn’t finished cold drink (6)
FRAPPE – F (loud) + RAPPE{R} (musician hasn’t finished). I do know some grumpy old men who would dispute the legitimacy of referring to a rapper as a “musician”, but clearly our setter is of a more generous disposition.
4 City witches go for (8)
COVENTRY – COVEN (witches) + TRY (go for). Straightforward but rather engaging.
10 Few heard to put on Bernstein classic (9)
SOMEWHERE – SOME (few) + homophone of WEAR (heard to put on) for the much-covered West Side Story number
11 Good game against the Spanish but it was disappointing
GRUEL – G (good) + RU (game – rugby union) + EL (the Spanish)
12 Fancy leaders of radio appear after jingle (7)
CHIMERA – RA (leaders of Radio Appear) ‘after’ CHIME (jingle)
14 Shorten a spanner (7)
ABRIDGE – A BRIDGE (being something that spans)
15 Clobber thief, say, with obstructions left out (14)
KNICKERBOCKERS – KNICKER (sounds like – say – ‘nicker’ – thief) + B{L}OCKERS (obstructions with L – left – out)
18 Long-haired Harry’s blue gag (6,3,5)
SHAGGY DOG STORY – Long-haired gives us SHAGGY, to harry is to DOG (so harry’s gives us dog’s) + TORY (blue). For one of the finest examples of the genre, you might like to listen to Australian cricket commentator Kerry O’Keefe’s “frog walks into a bank” joke told during the course of a slow period of play in an Australia v. Sri Lanka match here—frog-in-a-bank/5174280
22 Undercover agent? (7)
SLEEPER – DD, the first being somewhat cryptic
24 Retiring officer engaged in boring work? What a laugh! (7)
CHORTLE – LT reversed (retiring officer) inside (engaged in) CHORE (boring work)
25 Fur making cockney thus? (5)
OTTER – …the wearing of which will make an aitch dropper {H}otter. Apparently in days gone by otter fur was highly prized due to its density, and “otter” was used to refer to the fur as well as the creature itself.
26 Like a lot of Silver, say, and Gold medical equipment (9)
ASPIRATOR – AS (like) PIRAT{E} (a lot of Silver say – as in e.g. Long John) + OR (gold)
28 Author’s short book about most of Swiss city (8)
TURGENEV – RUT{H} reversed (short book about) + GENEV{A} (most of Swiss city)
29 Spike Sprite with a stronger drink (6)
IMPALE – IMP (sprite) with ALE (stronger drink than the lemonade found in a can of Sprite)
1 I ask chef to change this bit of seafood (4,4)
FISH CAKE – *(I ASK CHEF) with “to change” as the anagrind, giving us the item that often seems to be made of potato and bread crumbs with nary a bit of fish to be found
2 Weapon comrade carries back (3)
ARM – Reverse hidden in coMRAde
3 Peg worked to dissipate a potential disaster (6,3)
POWDER KEG – *(PEG WORKED) with “to dissipate” as the anagrind
5 Seasoning duck with orange puree (7)
OREGANO – O (duck) + *(ORANGE) with “puree” as the anagrind
6 Leaders in English lad’s newspaper upset scorer (5)
ELGAR – First letters (leaders) in English Lad’s + RAG reversed (newspaper upset)
7 Troops initially told Ben-Hur about bombshell (11)
THUNDERBOLT – T (first letter of Troops – initially) + *(TOLD BEN HUR) with “about” as the anagrind
8 The old dean got up and made a lot of noise (6)
YELLED – YE (old rendition of the) + DELL reversed (dean got up) – dean and dell both being words meaning small valley; having spent my childhood in the Vale of Taunton Dean, this was a bit of gen I fortunately knew
9 Once, return service (6)
REPAIR – DD, the first being that in bygone days (once) “repair” meant to return. Unlike Dean / Dell, this was news to me so this one went in purely on the second ‘standard’ definition
13 Doctor retires with this best friend (5,6)
IRISH SETTER – *(RETIRES + THIS) with “doctor” as the anagrind, giving us one brand of man’s best friend. Initially spent some time trying to justify Irish Whisky (the early cross checkers having made ‘Irish’ highly probable) on the basis that most doctors of my acquaintance would indeed regard this tipple as a staunch ally if not a best friend.
16 Peckish delivery person? (9)
KISSOGRAM – Nice droll cryptic based on a kiss being a peck (at the demure end of the spectrum)
17 Fancy planes might be flown thus? (2,6)
BY GEORGE – Very neat DD, with the first being an equivalent of “well fancy that!” and the second referencing the fact that the ‘name’ (in an anthropomorphic sense) of the auto-pilot on aircraft is George. Lovely stuff.
19 Distance, say, a cart reversed (7)
YARDAGE – EG A DRAY reversed (say, a cart reversed). Very neat.
20 Business raised some support with unknown people (6)
OCCUPY – CO reversed (business raised) + CUP (some support – being part of a bra) + Y (unknown as in algebra etc.), with the definition being the verb to people a place as in colonise it.
21 Old car key — something that wasn’t wanted (6)
ESCORT – ESC (a particularly handy key on one’s computer keyboard) + ORT (a left over scrap of food – ‘something that wasn’t wanted’), giving us the trusty old Ford. The food scrap was unknown to me, but apparently is a bit of a crossword staple so one for the memory bank…
23 Navy officer’s nicked bag (5)
PURSE – PURSE{R} (navy officer is cut / ‘nicked’)
27 Duck left concealed leaves (3)
TEA – TEA{L} – anas crecca loses its L (left concealed)

21 comments on “Sunday Times 4709 by Jeff Pearce”

  1. I did this just now, one of a half-dozen skipped while I was travelling; while I got through it in about 20′, that was because I was in a hurry and biffed a lot. Like TURGENEV, where I didn’t think of the book, or ESCORT, where I came up with (the key of) E + SCORT and decided what the hell. (I generally find the ESC button useless, by the way.) And I actually knew ORT, one of a large number of NYT chestnuts. Does the RN have pursers? I thought they were on passenger ships only.

    Edited at 2016-09-04 02:53 am (UTC)

    1. I don’t know if the Royal Navy has pursers but the Merchant Navy has officers of which the purser is one.
    2. I’m genuinely puzzled by your comment: I use the ESC key all the time! I wonder if it’s something to do with how much you use the mouse (I use it as little as possible, which is to say very little).
      1. I’m with Kevin on this one. I can see that ESC has high value to our setters, but for me it has practical value about on par with the “WALK” button on the lamppost at the crosswalk.
        1. Just to give one example, I use the ESC key every time I close an email.

          Edited at 2016-09-04 08:40 pm (UTC)

      2. I’m with Keriothe. To the extent that I’m wondering if we’re even talking about the same key.
      3. And I was puzzled by yours! (Does this have anything to do with Mac vs. PC? I use a Mac.) As you suggest, it may have to do with mouse (non-)use; I use my mouse all the time. What prompted my original comment was that, any time something goes wrong–cursor freeze, whatever–pressing ESC does nothing, and I have to reboot.
        1. I (always on Macs) use ESC most often to go out of full screen mode when watching videos. Which means I use it a lot. It will also make the cursor disappear until you move the mouse or touch the trackpad again.
          More vitally: I wouldn’t expect pressing ESC to automatically fix things if the cursor simply froze for no apparent reason, and I don’t know what other dire situations may have forced you to reboot, but ESC is one of the three keys you press at one time to get the Force Quit dialogue panel, in order to quit unresponsive apps, which is usually what you need when you see the spinning, rainbow-hued beachball of death.
  2. I really liked this but found it more towards the tougher than the gentler end of the spectrum. Annoyed to have missed out on 17d which was an excellent clue as were many others including CHIMERA, OTTER, ESCORT – the not so lamented one I once owned really did end up as an ORT – and my favourite KISSOGRAM.

    Thanks to blogger – including for the “frog in a bank” link – and to setter.

  3. A very enjoyable romp. 23 minutes with only ORT unknown. Until recently my town had a long-established family bakers called Ort’s which would have been a bit unfortunate if this meaning was widely known.
  4. 10:46. I liked this puzzle. I didn’t have a clue about the autopilot, or what an ‘ort’ (which was just autocorrected to ‘org’) was, but fortunately both of these were cryptic clues, not general knowledge tests. So I got to finish the puzzle and learn something new, which is the way I like it.
    Thanks in general for the blog, Nick, and in particular for the link. That joke is absolutely awful, which again is just the way I like it.
  5. Having pretty much finished last Saturday’s puzzle, I had time to look at this for once. I am pleased I did as I got started fairly quickly and kept going. Eventually I finished it, making it my first Sunday completion ever.
    I could not parse everything in particular 21d, so thanks as always to our blogger. For a time all I could think of was Aston (old car) plus a musical key to mean something not wanted. The SW was where I finished and I thought the author had to contain Bern but a final flash of inspiration led me to the unlikely Geneva. Greatly enjoyed the challenge. David
    1. Congrats David! I suspect from comments here and also on the Times Forum that the SW corner was where most people laboured the most (certainly I did). Here’s to many more completions!
  6. It really didn’t help that I had no idea about ORT, so wasn’t completely confident in my old car. Eventually I resorted to aids to get what turned out to be my LOI, TURGENEV. Never heard of the author, and I’m always pretty useless on the religious references. Shame, I’d done well on the rest of it, coming in under the hour.

    Edited at 2016-09-04 11:41 am (UTC)

  7. I’ll echo the “I liked this” regarding the puzzle; and also the considered thanks to Nick for the link to the frog. Very considered. I did know ORT, but was less familiar with the actual car. Learned George, which is nice to know.
  8. I struggled with the SW corner. Didn’t know ORT so biffed 21d.The author was the last one in. CUP meaning “support” was another that held me up – pun intended. 36 minutes. Ann
  9. Didn’t know ORT but it had to be ESCORT. Had a good attempt to go off the rails at 10A with SUMMERTIME. “Few heard” is “some” SUM and it’s a classic. Luckily it didn’t fit and then I realized it was Gershwin anyway.

    I have to congratulate PeterB on the quality of Sunday Times crosswords these days. I like the fact that they don’t stick to all the rules of the daily (the names of the setter appear, you don’t have to be dead to appear, clues are often a little more risqué than you get during the week). Of course it is not just Peter, it is the setters too. They all seem to be at the top of their game.

    1. Fully share your sentiments Paul, and well said if I may. Without wishing to sound over unctuous, I think the ST is invariably a superb puzzle providing a terrific combination of challenge and amusement. A fine institution with PB and the setters all doing a fantastic job.

      Edited at 2016-09-04 11:38 pm (UTC)

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