Sunday Times 4737 by Dean Mayer

Another very fine puzzle from Dean, with the trademark concise clueing and some enjoyable splashes of wit. For me this was quite a tussle which I undertook on the train back from Manchester to London, completing it just before we pulled into Euston.

14ac and 10d were my choice picks from a very fine crop of clues, with the ingenuity of 25ac also well worth a mention in despatches. 2dn and 6dn unnerved me somewhat as, whilst the answers came readily enough, I felt I was missing something – see further comments in the blog below.

Thanks as ever to Dean for a most enjoyable challenge.

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

1 Theatrical group (4)
CAMP – DD – a gentle entry point that belied the rigours to follow…
3 About to crack puzzle that’s big, say (3,7)
FOR EXAMPLE – RE (about) ‘cracks’ FOX (puzzle) + AMPLE (big)
9 Sort of stopped carrying on (9)
POSTPONED – *(STOPPED + ON) with “sort of” as the anagram indicator. I think the definition here is based on a postponement meaning a temporary cessation, with ‘carrying on’ simply placing ON in the anagram mix. On the other hand, maybe the whole clue is intended as an & Lit. All advice appreciated…
11 Evil guards heading for Orient Express (5)
VOICE – VICE (evil) goes around (guards) O (heading for Orient)
12 Wee bairn does better after this (6-8)
TOILET TRAINING – Cryptic definition with the youngster’s urination skills improving following tuition. Well, that’s good to know…
14 I saw, or see, monarch astride horse (6)
LOGGER – The lumberjack appears with LO (see) + ER (monarch) going around (astride) GG (horse). Very neat.
15 Wasted, I had spoken for favourite (4-4)
BLUE-EYED – Homophone (spoken) of BLEW I’D (wasted I had)
17 Son meets various tragic heroes (8)
SAVIOURS – S (son) + *(VARIOUS) with “tragic” indicating the anagram
19 A desire to circle around bay (6)
ALCOVE – A LOVE (a desire) ‘circles’ C (around – circa)
22 Broadcast movie is Dragnet, possibly (9,5)
STREAMING VIDEO – *(MOVIE IS DRAGNET) with “possibly” indicating the anagram
24 Prison camp starts to give up inmate (5)
GULAG – First letters (starts to) of Give Up + LAG (inmate of the prison)
25 As 2 is, with 2 2 (9)
VOWELLESS – MISSING (answer to 2 down) with 2 vowels (I and I) ‘missing’ (answer to 2 down). Very neat and a tad unorthodox – which makes it more fun in my book.
26 Piece in each line of letters (10)
EPISTOLARY – PISTOL (piece – slang for firearm) ‘in’ EA (abbrev. each) and RY (line – as in railway)
27 Spellphotograph” (4)
SNAP – DD, the first being as in cold snap/spell
1 Make MONEY (10)
CAPITALISE – Clever concise clue, with the upper case reference and the added underlying meaning of capitalising on a situation to make money
2 Lost without being lost (7)
MISSING – Cryptic definition which I found a bit odd (as it is pretty close to a literal definition) – but maybe I’m, er, missing something. Initially I thought ‘being’ gave us IS, but the remaining MSING doesn’t seem to lead anywhere. So I think its simply acknowledging that, if something is missing, it may turn up again in which case it is temporarily lost but not necessarily lost in the more finite sense of a game that is lost. On Edit: see Kevin’s much better explanation below (first comment)
4 Detailed lecture about Newton (6)
ORNATE – ORATE (lecture) goes around (about) N (Newton in the scientific sense of a measure of force)
5 I’d be all upset over comedy western (2,6)
EL DIABLO – *(ID BE ALL) – with “upset” indicating the anagram – plus O (over – cricket abbrev.). Did not know of the movie, but the anagram fodder was clear enough particularly once a couple of cross checkers were in place.
6 A qualification? (8,5)
ADVANCED LEVEL – Another cryptic somewhat like 2 down where I spent some time looking for layers of complexity that are probably not there (unless I’ve missed something). I think this is simply based on A(dvanced) levels often being referred to just as “A’s”.
7 Provide sandwiches I can freely give? (7)
PLIANCY – PLY (provide – as in ply with drink) wraps around (sandwiches) *(I CAN) with “freely” pointing us to the anagram
8 Still happening, not finishing (4)
EVEN – I think the definition is based on the usage of even meaning ‘yet’ (or possibly as a comparative – even better / better still), with the wordplay EVEN{t} (happening not finishing)
10 In old money, 2 and 6 perhaps (6,2,5)
PIECES OF EIGHT – Delightful cryptic with 2 and 6 being the summands (a word I’ve only just discovered so I might as well show it off! – being the addition equivalent to factors in multiplication) and also carrying echoes of the old half crown. My clue of the day thanks to its trickery in sending me off looking for some time at 2d and 6d.
13 Inert gas? (4,6)
IDLE GOSSIP – Nice droll cryptic definition
16 Being proper, wash up early (8)
PRIMEVAL – PRIM (being proper) + LAVE reversed (wash up). My Chambers gives Lave as being archaic and I’d not come across it before, but with its French and lavatorial echoes it seemed a pretty good punt.
18 Order to break 7 egg yolks (7)
VITELLI – TELL (order) gets in between (to break) VII (7 in Roman numerals)
20 A blonde totty dated friend (3,4)
OLD BEAN – *(A BLONDE) with “totty” apparently being the anagram indicator, giving us the somewhat old-fashioned term of endearment (much used by my old French master who should have been a character in a Wodehouse novel). The only meaning of totty with which I was familiar was the decidedly non-PC slang term, but my Chambers also gives it as “tipsy” which makes it a perfect anagram signpost.
21 A reply means we receive pens (6)
ANSWER – Hidden in (‘penned’ in by) meANS WE Receive
23 Duck almost became ugly one (4)
OGRE – O (duck) + GRE{w} (almost became)

19 comments on “Sunday Times 4737 by Dean Mayer”

  1. This took me forever to figure out, but I think it’s a double def: ‘lost without’ (I’m lost without/I miss you) / being lost.
  2. But by God I finished it. I normally go offline at 30′, but something (perhaps having nothing else to do) made me soldier on. Rather slow soldiering, especially given the half-dozen clues that I should have got much quicker, like 11ac or 16d. DNK VITELLI, DNK GG, although I knew ‘gee’ (from Major-General Stanley’s self-introduction). COD definitely to 25ac.
    Dean is always wonderfully concise in his clues, but this one outdoes the rest: four 2-word clues, the longest clue 7 words, average of 4.9 words per clue. Has to be a PB.
  3. Nice blog, Nick. Nice puzzle, Mr M. Hard to choose a favourite between the two cryptics, but I’ll go with the Pieces of Eight over the Wee Bairn.
  4. Agree that 9ac must be &lit. At least, that’s how I read it at the time. And thanks for clearing up “totty” at 20dn. Like Nick, I only knew the NE English version via friends from the Burra.

    At 25ac, and after much deliberation and correspondence, finally decided that the missing letters (I, I) were given by II, the Roman 2.

    Edited at 2017-03-19 02:44 am (UTC)

    1. Thanks McT: the Roman 2 parsing is most ingenious – totally missed that!
  5. Was this MISSING person with the person (being) missing – who knows – who cares!? Dreadful clue, whatever.

    All in all about an hour – not enjoyed particularly.

    I wish there was more variation in the Sunday setters – there might be more takers.


    1. Kevingregg’s parsing (first comment) seems to have this one pegged. In which case, it’s a lot better than meets the eye.
  6. I liked this, though I took ages and couldn’t nail the parsing of the clever ones such as MISSING and VOWELLESS. Favourites were the homophone at 15, IDLE GOSSIP and the ‘Wee bairn…’, my COD.

    As always, thanks to setter and blogger

  7. 42 minutes on this pleasant puzzle last Sunday morning. DNK EL DIABLO but saw the anagram possibility quickly. Happened on STREAMING VIDEO while pushing the letters around too. I guess that’s what I’m doing while waiting for the Wanderers highlights to appear from YouTube. COD TOILET-TRAINING followed by IDLE GOSSIP. LOI VITELLI. You can’t finish a crossword without breaking eggs.
  8. If I think I’m missing something with one of Dean’s clues, I usually am. 2dn as Kevin says is a neat double definition. 6dn is a cryptic def. requiring the use of A as not-a-pronoun-but-an-abbreviation. And a common one, since many have (say) 10 Os/gcses and 3 As

    I think this crossword might have the shortest, most concise set of cryptic clues I have ever seen.. well done, setter and blogger!

  9. 13:35. I didn’t find this particualrly hard, but it was very enjoyable, and the economy is remarkable.
    I read 2dn like kevingregg and 25ac like mctext. I thought at first that ‘with 2 MISSING’ was just a reference to letters, but then the clue would be more or less saying that a word is VOWELLESS if you remove the vowels which struck me as unsatisfactory.
    Anagrams of foreign words are sometimes regarded as unfair, and 5dn is one, and I haven’t heard of the movie either. But there isn’t really anywhere else to put the letters, which is good enough for me.

    Edited at 2017-03-19 09:47 am (UTC)

  10. Ashamed to say I finally gave up and cheated on my last one to finish—ashamed because it was the relatively straightforward ALCOVE, not one of the complex or controversial choices! Still, when you’ve been staring at a crossword for what feels like an embarrassingly long time… I think doing the rest had fried my brain!
  11. Thank you for the blog.
    I’d never heard of the film in 5 d so I watched it after doing the crossword. It’s a typical western with the usual music, hard man coupled with tenderfoot coming through against the odds BUT it does have a great line about Pegasus a short way in.
  12. Many thanks for the great blog, Nick.
    The bewilderment from many over 2d took me a little by surprise, but in retrospect I can understand it. You get forced into putting more stress on ‘without’ than ‘lost’, so it hides the definition. I have no idea if that is a cryptic device with a name (hey, it might be new) but it was an unexpected bonus.
  13. I found this really tough taking 77:28 to finish, but at least I was all correct. Some great clues. Liked IDLE GOSSIP and VOWELLESS. Thanks setter and Nick.

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