Sunday Times 4711 by David McLean

I found this one a real challenge, and took an age to grind my way through the intricacies and density of the clueing. Lots of very clever stuff, particularly with well disguised definitions and misdirections all over the place. I think it would be fair to say it was a puzzle that I admired rather than enjoyed, but then these things are highly subjective. Thanks to Harry for a monumental work out!

I have my doubts whether I have unpicked it all correctly, but here is my best shot…

Definitions underlined: DD = double definition: anagrams indicated by *(–): deletions indicated by {-}

1 Reported one hacking jewellery store? (6)
COFFER – Sounds like (reported) COUGHER (one hacking)
4 Roared with editor after rubbish article (8)
GUFFAWED – W (with) + ED (editor) ‘after’ GUFF (rubbish) + A (article)
10 Company access good rates at sea (5,4)
STAGE DOOR – *(GOOD RATES) with “at sea” as the anagrind – the company in question being, of course, the members of the cast
11 Sports club with no parking, say (5)
UTTER – {P}UTTER – sports club without its P (no parking). The cryptic reference to the device that routinely enables me to convert birdie opportunities into double bogeys, coupled with the use of “say” as a definition rather than an indicator of an example, had me scratching my head for a long time… lovely misdirection
12 Forward planning to hug hot ref abroad (11)
FORETHOUGHT – *(TO HUG HOT REF) with “abroad” as the anagrind
14 Jewish mentor craving sandwiches (3)
RAV – This word for a Rabbi (unknown to me) is ‘sandwiched’ within cRAVing
15 Some work little dogs over 45 minutes? (7)
LABOURS – LABS (little dogs – abbrev. Labradors) goes around (over) {H}OUR – i.e. three quarters of an hour (or forty five minutes…)
17 Bowled in match between extended families (6)
TRIBAL – B (cricket abbrev. for bowled) in TRIAL (match – as in trial of strength). The definition had me a bit puzzled for a while, until I saw that a dispute between extended families could well be described as a ‘tribal dispute’
19 Drip plugged by daughters with wife (6)
WEDDED – WEED (drip) ‘plugged’ by DD (daughters)
21 Upset milliner might take this off new Lion (7)
CAPSIZE – When a new British Lion is selected, they are awarded their cap – in which case the team milliner will need to enquire as to the correct size for said headgear. Very nice cryptic stuff. Whether Lions’ caps are physical or metaphorical these days I was unable to establish during the short amount of time I allowed myself for such an arcane line of enquiry – but I’m sure someone here will know (meat and drink to ulaca, I suspect…)
23 Take drugs regularly to work (3)
USE – DD (I think), although work / use had me a bit bemused
24 In a hole if ban’s set in motion (11)
FASHIONABLE – *(A HOLE IF BANS) with “set in motion” as the anagrind
26 After trimming, season and lay to rest (5)
INTER – [W]INTER – season is trimmed
27 Source social worker doing well at work? (9)
INFORMANT – Whilst the answer went in fine from the definition and elements of the rest of the clue, I must admit the precise parsing here eluded me. I can see “in form ant” works well as a cryptic rendition of ‘worker doing well’, but I’m not seeing quite how the “social” and “at work” bits fit in. Looking forward to enlightenment from the gang here…
29 Involved in selection process shown on TV (8)
SCREENED – DD – and a generous one within the context of this puzzle!
30 Cast figure act doesn’t need all three tenors (6)
STATUE – STATU{T}E (act – of parliament) loses one of its three Ts (tenors)
1 City break a selfie documents (4,4)
CASE FILE – C (abbrev. city) + *(A SELFIE) with “break” as the anagrind
2 Dash in radioed distress signal? (5)
FLAIR – Sounds like (radioed) FLARE (distress signal)
3 Study centre, of a sort (3)
EYE – DD. Eye up (study) and eye of the storm (centre)
5 Just in a good mood and okay without love (7)
UPRIGHT – UP (in a good mood) + RIGHT{O} (okay without love). Fortunately I used to have an Uncle Ken – a cheery butcher – who said “righto” all the time, otherwise I think I would have struggled with this one (took me a while anyway, even with – no doubt – old Ken trying to prompt me from the great butcher’s shop in the sky).
6 Writer at home opening a punnet of nuts? (8,3)
FOUNTAIN PEN – IN (at home) getting into (opening) *(A PUNNET OF) with “nuts” as the anagrind
7 Sea current taking hold of excise vessel (5,4)
WATER TAXI – WATER (sea) + I (current – physics term) with TAX inside (taking hold of excise)
8 Come from Eastern parts to work hard (6)
DERIVE – E (eastern) inside (parts) DRIVE (to work hard)
9 Very merry solver cracking immature joke (6)
JOYOUS – YOU (solver) entering JOS{H} (immature joke – i.e. not fully formed)
13 Brilliant achievement to release our defector (4,2,5)
TOUR DE FORCE – *(OUR DEFECTOR) with “release” as the anagrind
16 Exploit earl in drink for royal bodyguard (9)
BEEFEATER – FEAT (exploit) + E (earl) ‘in’ BEER (drink)
18 On a little dry lake, Spot gathers up sticks (8)
RESETTLE – RE (on – regarding), then SEE (spot) goes around (gathers) TT (a little dry) + L (lake). Took me a long time to work out the definition, let alone the full wordplay. Very clever stuff, but I think I need a lie down now…
20 Team that’s sacked back, backs love to hate (7)
DISLIKE – SID{E} (team that’s sacked back) reversed (backs) + LIKE (love). Tricky wordplay. I had ‘despise’ for a while, albeit (not surprisingly) I couldn’t parse it; the definition does seem to lend itself better to that, but I guess it’s the old story that if you can’t parse it, it’s probably wrong…
21 Bosses around one’s kitchen workers (6)
CHIEFS – CHEFS (kitchen workers) go around I (one)
22 Circle that square rings and rings (6)
QUOITS – QUITS (square – as in “we’re quits / all square”) goes round (rings) O (circle)
25 When to have a flutter on a horse? (5)
BEAST – AS (when) has BET (a flutter) around it (‘on’ it)
28 Rubbish men picked up close to street (3)
ROT – OR reversed (men picked up) + T (close – last letter of – streeT)

16 comments on “Sunday Times 4711 by David McLean”

  1. … DISLIKE. But it had to have a K to complete the pangram; so not DESPISE. Getting more used to DM’s style after a few puzzles. I like them. Perhaps not as much as the other DM??

    27ac: Guess this must just be an “in-form ant” — a social worker who’s performing well.

    Edited at 2016-09-17 11:35 pm (UTC)

  2. I also had ‘despise’, but made the mistake of leaving it in (didn’t notice the pangram). I parsed INFORMANT as McT did, while wondering if ‘at work’ was necessary. CAPSIZE was late in coming–I have CAPTION, CAPTIVE, CAPRICE written in the margin–, largely because I had no idea what ‘new Lion’ meant; still don’t, actually. RESETTLE also took me time–was my LOI–I think because ‘up sticks’ to me (it’s not in my dialect) meant moving without implying a destination (can one up sticks and take to the road?). I was/am puzzled by USE/work.
    1. Lions are the Rugby Union international team made up of players from any of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. A new selectee would need his cap size taken so that he could be properly capped.
  3. Never less than interesting, these puzzles, and they’re satisfying to complete though I’m not sure that “enjoyable” would be exactly describe my experience.

    RAV was unknown as was C for “city” at 1ac which seems to be sanctioned only by the Oxfords (of the usual sources) and then only with reference to names of football teams when the C is one of several letters. I’m not keen on this as it sets a precedent for any letter of an acronym or longer abbreviation to be taken out of context and used to stand for almost any word. Still it’s what I’m getting used to on a Sunday so I wasn’t exactly taken by surprise and floored by it.

    Edited at 2016-09-18 05:14 am (UTC)

    1. The example of C = City in ODE is “Lincoln C”, in which it’s the only abbreviated word. You could see it in something like “Man C”, but unless the dictionaries start recording Manchester as a meaning of “Man”, it will NOT be allowed to indicate Man in a clue without a “first 3 letters” indication. The same applies to single letters like O=orchestra, as in LSO and many others, but not under O in the dictionary.

      Edited at 2016-09-18 06:18 am (UTC)

  4. 22:13. I enjoyed this a lot.
    ‘Social worker’ is quite a common way of defining ANT (or indeed BEE). The way I read it the words ‘at work’ are unnecessary but they contribute to the surface and turn the clue into a kind of DBE, since work is just one of the things you might be doing well at if you’re IN FORM. Although I’m not sure what that might be if you’re an ant.

    Edited at 2016-09-18 08:41 am (UTC)

      1. But surely that is work for an ant. I don’t think they’d do it otherwise, given the clear impossibility of the task. Unless they were particularly optimistic.

        Edited at 2016-09-18 12:38 pm (UTC)

          1. Well indeed, but I remain sceptical. It seems to me he’d just be butting his head against, well, something or other.

            Edited at 2016-09-18 07:34 pm (UTC)

    1. Thanks for the insights K. Had not come across the “social worker” (as opposed to worker) for ant before – will tuck that one away for the future.
  5. I usually like DMs puzzles, and I usually get through them with a bit of work. I liked this, but did not get through it even with rather a lot of work. Lots of places I got the wrong word – the worst was ERG, the unit of work, which is alternate letters in TAKE DRUGS. Thanks for the edification, Nick.
  6. Thanks for pointing out the pangram McT – totally missed that. Thinking about it, I guess that is a classic example of when spotting a pangram can be extremely useful, otherwise there was nothing else to indicate that Despise was wrong as the cross checkers fitted (unless, of course, you happened to be blogging it and therefore felt compelled to parse the thing…)
  7. Can someone enlighten me regarding the reference to a pangram in 20d. I have no idea why it meant the letter K had to be there.

    Margaret in Ottawa

    1. I think a pangram is a crossword in which the answers include all the letters of the alphabet. I think the setters like to do this to give themselves a challenge. In this case, for the more awkward letters: J is in Joyous, Q is in Quoits, V is in Rav and Derive, X is in Water Taxi, Z is in Capsize. So to be a pangram there needs to be a “K” somewhere and it is in 20 down, Dislike. However, I think that the clue should give an unambiguous answer and it should not be relying on a external device such as the crossword being a pangram.

Comments are closed.