Sunday Times 4714 by David McLean

16:35 on the club timer: not too bad for one of Harry’s puzzles, and this was another in his fresh and distinctive style. Sometimes the wordplay (as in 1ac) or the definitions (as in 19ac) are a bit loose and/or liberal, but for my money at least it’s always clear what’s going on (once you’ve figured out the right way to look at the clue of course), and that is the key thing. Well actually the key thing is enjoying the experience, and in this case I certainly did.

There was some discussion on the club forum about 21dn. I thought it was perfectly clear, but I’m not entirely sure I understand what the objection was so perhaps I’ve missed the point.

Nothing too obscure in here, and a couple of saucy ones, as befits a Sunday.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (THIS)*.

1 Drugged competitors grappling with spectators
VIEWERS – I think the idea here is that VIERS (competitors) are ‘drugged’ in that they take an E to become VIEERS, which in turn contains (is grappling) W (with). The ‘drugged’ bit is arguably a bit of a liberty but I think it works. Or perhaps there’s a simpler explanation I’ve missed.
5 Method of payment inspection for auditors
CHEQUE – sounds like ‘check’. The day when this definition will have to become ‘old method of payment’ can’t be far off. It’s extremely rare for me to write a cheque these days.
8 Career working around fancy pub?
CUPBEARER – (CAREER)* containing (PUB)*. &Lit. Arguably a slightly loose definition since a CUPBEARER is (according to the dictionaries) normally someone working in a noble household, not a pub.
9 Disease setting back men in sporting contest
CROUP – reversal of OR in CUP.
11 Put out all but the first of a bitch’s litter?
12 Switched racket to draw 10-10 in time added on
EXTENSION – reversal of NOISE containing X, TEN.
13 Find fault with unit housing hot blower in motor
CARPHONE – CARP (H), ONE. How quaint!
15 Up for it, having got behind a bit of bulldog spirit
BRANDY – Bulldog, RANDY. ‘It’ here is being used in the Monty Python ‘say no more’ sense.
17 Zip fastener gymnast displays around the middle
ENERGY – contained in (and to nearly, but not quite, the middle section of) ‘fastener gymnast’.
19 Small cab rank storms buffet at the roadside
SNACK BAR – S, (CAB RANK)*. Slightly odd definition: a SNACK BAR is not necessarily (or even usually) a buffet, or by the road. Oh well, it can be.
22 A sporting swinger with nothing on can start to lift party
NICK FALDO – NICK (prison, can), FA (ahem, nothing), Lift, DO. English golfer from Welwyn Garden City.
23 Army doctor with answer for cold organs
MEDIA – MEDIC with A (answer) instead of C (cold). ‘Organs’ in the sense of newspapers.
24 Elegant royal relations and two unknowns
R, IT, ZY – R (royal), IT (relations, see 15ac), Z, Y.
25 A royal nursed by nob beginning to do well
26 One who loves to strip lady, lord and serf
27 Editor backing new claim of Number Ten
DECIMAL – reversal of ED, (CLAIM)*.

1 A sucker pushed around by a daily
2 Retired show-off or another still at it?
EXPOSER – or EX-POSER. I’m not 100% sure what the literal is driving at here, but I think the idea is that an EXPOSER might be someone who is still showing off. This makes me think of flashers, but perhaps there’s a more innocent explanation.
3 Dismiss and deny? Don’t start that!
4 Nurses go crazy for them
5 Minister’s aide in old vehicle going round university?
6 City-focused character
ECCENTRIC – I’m not sure if we’re supposed to lift and separate EC (city) from CENTRIC (focussed) here, or the whole thing is a sort of whimsical definition: if you’re city-focussed you’re EC-CENTRIC. It doesn’t really matter. ‘Character’ is used here in the Colin Hunt sense.
7 Idealistic union with Scottish foreman?
UTOPIAN – union gives us U, and a Scottish foreman might be a TOP IAN, ho ho.
10 A funny peddler turned in sensational work
PENNY DREADFUL – (A FUNNY PEDDLER)*. Doubtless a much better-known term now that it’s the name of a TV series. I wonder how many people who watch the show know what it means.
14 A chap with lots of potential — Wellington’s captain?
HIGH FLYER – a second slightly cryptic definition on the basis that a Wellington was a bomber used in WWII.
16 Rugby player in nude shot made widely available
UNLOCKED – (NUDE)* containing LOCK (rugby player). I was a bit unsure about the definition here but ODO has ‘make (something previously inaccessible or unexploited) available for use.’
18 Having snorted a bit of cocaine, left in high spirits
20 Pit housing Corbynite surge according to Spooner
BED ROOM – or RED BOOM, as the good reverend would have it. ‘Pit’ is a slang word for bed.
21 One smashed at overseas wedding beginning to rile cook?
PLATER – PLATE, Rile. A Greek wedding, to be precise. To ‘plate’ is to ‘serve or arrange (food) on a plate or plates’ (ODO), a task generally done by a cook. Generally, but not always, hence the question mark.
23 Hectic last quarter for Balearic Isle heads
MANIC – MAN (isle), balearIC.

23 comments on “Sunday Times 4714 by David McLean”

  1. … until RITZY signalled a possible pangram. Problems were FALDO, UTOPIAN and the forgotten bomber (14dn). Only just starting to get the hang of this Sunday setter.
  2. A typical Harry puzzle, always fun to solve. Put me down as a fan.

    COD NICK FALDO. Thanks Harry and Keriothe.

  3. I must have mistyped from my handwritten copy, since I’ve got a 580, although everything is as K says. Even PLATER, which I wasn’t sure of. I also realized when coming here that I’d forgotten to parse NICK FALDO; I tend to associate FA with an S, so I doubt I’d have succeeded had I tried. DNK Wellington. I raised an eyebrow or two over CUPBEARER, but wotthehell. COD to NICK FALDO.
  4. Good Sunday stuff. I missed the parsing for 12, 14 (should have remembered the Wellington bomber) and 23d, but otherwise it wasn’t too devious. I liked ‘A sporting swinger…’ too, but my favourites were the SURGEONS anagram and the &Lit at 8.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

  5. I am guessing that those doubting 21dn were thinking SLATER, from Nigel Slater, a cookery writer. This being the ST, living people are allowed and there might be a place where slates are broken at weddings.
    1. Ah yes, thanks bigtone, I didn’t think of Nigel, despite owning a couple of his books. His method of making Hollandaise/Béarnaise sauce (using lumps of softened butter rather than melting it completely) is one of my all-time favourite ‘cheats’ in cooking. It never splits.
      1. Ooh, now there’s a top tip, ta. I’ll look his method up; I love a good eggs Benedict but my Hollandaise-making is so hit-and-miss I’ve recently relegated them to times when a chef can do the work for me.

        As far as the puzzle, I have no notes of my efforts last Sunday but all the answers seem so familiar that I must at least have finished it, I think. Really must start doing the weekend puzzles on paper again so I have an aide-memoire for times like this!

        1. It’s very simple: rather than melting the butter just leave it out to go very soft and add it in squidgy lumps rather than pouring. I don’t usually think that far in advance so I chop it into chunks and soften it in the microwave (you have to be a bit careful doing this to avoid melting it completely). I have never had it split like this, whereas my success rate using the traditional method is 50% at best.
    2. Yes,Big Tone, those were the exactly issues that concerned me a bit. PLATER seems too loosely defined by “cook” even with a question mark – in my opinion of course, but the wordplay was clear enough to lead to the correct answer if one didn’t over-think the remainder.

      35 minutes which must be a PB for one of DM’s puzzles.

      Edited at 2016-10-09 08:39 am (UTC)

      1. I agree. The definition is a bit loose, and I only figured it out after deducing the answer from wordplay. It’s also a slightly obscure usage: I doubt anyone outside professional cheffery uses the verb ‘to plate’ in this sense. However ‘one smashed at overseas wedding’ is about is clear as wordplay can get.

        Edited at 2016-10-09 09:52 am (UTC)

  6. Found this pretty tricky but highly enjoyable. Some great surfaces – Mr. Faldo was a cracker – and some very neat clues (particularly liked 4d and 14d).

    Interesting observation you make, Keriothe, regarding Harry’s liberal approach. I was trying to work out why it is that with the other setters I am usually fully confident of an answer once I have parsed it, but with Harry I am sometimes still a bit unsure: I think your analysis provides me with the answer…

  7. Well, the admittedly (sometimes infuriatingly!) allusive Harry is perhaps a bit loose with his ‘roadside’ part, but not so much with his ‘buffet’ bit: ODO for ‘buffet’ has ‘2A room or counter in a station, hotel, or other public building selling light meals or snacks’.
    1. Yep, fair enough. It’s a curious usage, isn’t it? It strikes me as what I’ve heard referred to as an ‘elegancy’, an affectedly posh word. A place in which one might partake of a collation of comestibles.
      1. Exactly – but I wonder how the affected would pronounce the word. Some pronunciations make me cringe in the same way the mention of Bisto affects you.
  8. 22ac NICK FALDO – nice fella – horribly over-diverted clue.


    horryd Shanghai

  9. I’ve been away in sunny Montenegro so only just got round to doing this. Most enjoyable – especially the “sporting swinger”. 37 minutes. Btw, why is David “Harry”? Or is it a generic term for crossword setters – like Abdul for Bangladeshi waiters. Ann
  10. I love words and simpler cryptics but just can’t make progress on these, even after months of trying. The answers often seem such a stretch. Any clues?
    1. It takes years of practice to get to the point where you can reliably solve the more difficult cryptic puzzles, so I can only advise you to stick at it. We’ve all been in your position. Using these blogs is also very helpful: if you can’t solve a clue, it is extremely useful to be able to figure out why. Much quicker than trying to work out all the tricks for yourself.

      Edited at 2016-10-16 09:27 am (UTC)

      1. That’s helpful to know. I’ll keep the long-term view in mind. I work through this blog every week and find it invaluable 🙂
  11. I was waiting to see why OR reversed meant men in the word CROUP but there was no explanation. Take pity on a Canadian!

    Margaret in Ottawa

    1. Hi Margaret.
      OR is short for ‘other ranks’, and is reasonably common in crosswords as an indication for soldiers or, as in this case, men. Remember it: it will certainly come up again!

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