Sunday Times 4759 by David McLean

It’s always encouraging when you spot 1 across in a heartbeat – particularly when it gives you the entire top row – and sure enough I found this to be one of Harry’s less demanding offerings, albeit there were a few tricky bits to sort out along the way.

One feature of this particular setter’s puzzles seems to be the cunning use of innocuous looking small words which at first sight appear to be deployed simply to make the surface read better, but which then turn out to be the key to unlocking the clue. 11ac (with ‘a’ being the key to understanding the clue) and 1dn (with ‘say’ being critical) were both classic examples of this ploy, and both caused much head scratching on my part before I was finally able to parse the clues properly.

Thanks to our setter for an enjoyable puzzle.

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

1 One in Wentworth hotel about to admit defeat (5,2,3,5)
THROW IN THE TOWEL – *(WENTWORTH HOTEL) – with “about” pointing to the anagram – and I (one) also added into the mix
9 Two types of drink one used to give strength? (7)
SUPPORT – SUP + PORT – (two types of drink)
10 Precious stone picked up, possibly blue, in Italian stream
RUBICON – Sounds like RUBY (precious stone picked up) + CON (blue – as in the colour associated with the Tory party). I was initially somewhat thrown by “Italian stream” for what I’d always imagined to be a major river, but apparently these days it is indeed a modest, shallow waterway.
11 On reflection, possibly a high-class school (4)
ETON – NOTE (possibly A) reversed (on reflection). Took me a while to twig what was going on here
12 I’m a slob and in need of working on these (10)
ABDOMINALS – Cryptic definition with the wordplay being *(IM A SLOB AND) with “in need of working” signalling the anagram.
13 Chatter aimlessly on second-rate Blackberry? (7)
BRAMBLE – RAMBLE (chatter aimlessly) following (on) B (second rate)
15 Models old politician in drink upset (7)
EXEMPLA – EX (old) + MP (politician) in ALE reversed (drink upset)
17 Go on too long about catching your vicar gyrating (7)
OVERRUN – ON (about) surrounding (‘catching’) UR REV (your vicar) reversed (gyrating). I was a bit baffled by UR for YOUR, but apparently this is standard “text-speak”. At risk of going on ‘too long’, the surface brought back fond memories of a 50th birthday party held for one of Mrs. Novice’s girlfriends who is married to a vicar: his spectacularly raunchy dance floor manoeuvres amazed and delighted the assembled throng.
19 Decide to do the crossword again? (7)
20 Lady’s chair is put out (10)
DISCOMMODE – DI’S (lady’s) + COMMODE (chair)
22 Hairdo the Queen gets in May, say (4)
PERM – ER (the Queen) ‘gets in’ PM (May, say – Theresa of that ilk)
25 Complain about a heavenly fall in conversation (7)
ARRAIGN – Sounds like A RAIN (a heavenly fall in conversation)
26 Have I finished making drug? (7)
AMIDONE – AM I DONE (have I finished), giving us a pain relieving drug similar to morphine, apparently. Fortunately I’d never come across this substance, but the rather neat wordplay got me there without too much trouble.
27 Who she better tap for a change of position? (3,6,4,2)
THE POWERS THAT BE – Cryptic definition with the wordplay being *(WHO SHE BETTER TAP) with “for a change” signposting the anagram
1 Savour putting down socialist leader, say (5)
TASTE – STATE (say) but with the S moved further down (put down Socialist leader). Tricky stuff – at least, it was for me…
2 Agent with habit fed by volunteers turned rogue (9)
REPROBATE – REP (agent) with ROBE (habit) ‘fed by’ TA reversed (volunteers turned)
3 Stop sending up old husband and wife on April 1st (4)
WHOA – OHW reversed (sending up old husband and wife) ‘on’ A (April 1st), giving the instruction generally used by riders to their steeds
4 Worthy reason some might eat on their laps? (7)
NOTABLE – If there’s NO TABLE, you might eat on your lap. Christmas cracker level of humour, but it made me chuckle.
5 Compound found in hyacinth or moneywort (7)
HORMONE – Hidden in (found in) hyacintH OR MONEywort
6 Buns mixed up with other bites can lead to this (9)
TUBBINESS – *(BUNS BITES) – with “mixed up”: and “other” signposting the anagrams of BUNS and BITES respectively
7 Toilet one gets stuck in with accountant — magic (5)
WICCA – WC (toilet) with I (one) ‘stuck in’ + CA (accountant)
8 Light head after drinking second variety of shot (9)
LANDSCAPE – LAND (light) + CAPE (head) have S inserted between them (after drinking second)
13 Extensive batch of hams to be distributed by hand (9)
BROADCAST – BROAD (extensive) + CAST (batch of hams – i.e. actors). The definition refers to the pre-radio/TV usage of broadcast in the sense of sowing seeds by scattering them manually.
14 Kind of red or grey ducks each soaring (9)
BARDOLINO – O NIL O (‘ducks’ – three of ’em) + DRAB (grey) all reversed (soaring), giving the very pleasant Italian red quaffer.
16 Polluted ground university dons extracted from field (6,3)
PULLED OUT – *(POLLUTED) – with “ground” signalling the anagram – and U (university) also added to the mix
18 One put up by colliery during Christmas mostly (7)
NOMINEE – MINE (colliery) inside (during) NOE{L} (Christmas mostly)
19 MPs needing to better society led by Corbyn? (7)
REDCAPS – CAP (to better) + S (society) with RED in front (led by Corbyn), with the clue requiring us to recall that MPs can also stand for the Military Police (who are nicknamed the redcaps)
21 Minister to commence action in court before judges? (5)
SERVE – DD. The first (minister to in the sense of assist) is straightforward enough, but the second seems to me to lend itself to two possible interpretations. One is a tennis reference (i.e. starting the point by serving) with the “before judges” referring to the line judges: the other could be a legal reference, whereby litigation is kicked off by the “serving” of written pleadings before the case gets in front of the judge. In any event, all roads lead to Rome…
23 Bit of me, you and the old nonsense! (2,3)
MY EYE – M (bit of M{e}) + YE and YE (‘old’ renditions of ‘you’ and ‘the’)
24 In spite of horse, humorist gets up on it (4)
WITH – H (horse) preceded by WIT (humorist gets up on it). The definition perplexed me somewhat, but then I thought of phrases such as “With a broken wrist, Cowdrey nonetheless batted out the last over”.

11 comments on “Sunday Times 4759 by David McLean”

  1. 26ac AMIDONE synthetic replacement for morphine junkies: has similar analgaesic and paharmacological properties. Am I done!? Not quite!

    24ac WITH has a double-play – the H might be heroin (horse)?



    Technically 11ac ETON is a college not a school.

    No Time given. I notice one can’t Snitch at week-ends!

    Edited at 2017-08-19 11:53 pm (UTC)

  2. Couldn’t come up with the wine, which I’d never heard of, and the ducks defeated me. RUBI, of course, doesn’t sound like ‘ruby’, except in the ears of setters. REDCAPS in the States are porters at train stations–assuming that there still are porters at US train stations; fortunately, I remembered the UK meaning from a cryptic from ages ago. I was afraid that ‘your’ was UR; alas, it was.
  3. 45 minutes to complete, in spite of doubting WITH. Took me a while to parse ETON. I knew far more Wykehamists at New College, who no doubt would have said, “Well they said, you was high classed, that was just a lie.” DNK AMIDONE but had that in early with my penchant for puns. COD THE POWERS THAT BE, Romans 13:1 apparently. They got you in the end, Paul. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you Nick and David.
  4. Enjoyable enough with WICCA and AMIDONE unknown but gettable from wordplay. Eton may have ‘college’ in its title but it is undeniably a Public School, so it seems pointless quibbling over the defintion at 11ac unless one wished to debate ‘high class’ which might be more interesting, and we could even then get on to ‘posh’.

    Our setter is a Mac not a Mc.

  5. No trouble with this pleasant job, my print out has 20 mins scrawled on it. Probably didn’t parse a few e.g. overrun. RUBI(CON) for RUBY seems fine as a homophone to me,Kevin.
    1. I’m usually arguing in support of homophones that others object to, but in this case I agree with Kevin that the RUBI in RUBICON is not pronounced in the same way as RUBY. This doesn’t mean I object: I think it’s close enough, but it isn’t a homophone, strictly speaking.
      Edit: actually on reflection I don’t think this is true. In certain accents (Yorkshire, for instance) these two vowels would be pronounced identically.

      Edited at 2017-08-20 10:50 am (UTC)

  6. 1hr 17mins. Knew methadone so with the generous word play was reasonably confident entering the unknown at 26ac. Getting the long one across the top early helped fill in the top half quickly. Not getting the long one across the bottom early meant the bottom half took a lot longer. There were also a couple of tricker ones in the bottom half. I really needed the wordplay for the wine which was known only vaguely, I also had trouble getting 13dn and 25ac. FOI 19ac, LOI 25ac. Lots to like in this one: tubbiness, batch of hams, the wine (though I’m not sure the connoisseur would pair a Bardolino with duck), 3dn and 27ac also very good. COD 25ac.
  7. I polished this one off in 32:22. AMIDONE was unknown but easily constructed. 1a went in early which was a big help. LOI was BARDOLINO which I reverse engineered after biffing from checkers. Liked Di’s commode and THE POWERS THAT BE. Nice puzzle. Thanks David and Nick.
  8. 11:25. No problems with this one, unlike today’s. Tune in next week…
    I read 21dn as a tennis clue, Nick. The alternative legal sense works OK but it isn’t really the commencement of proceedings: if you’re at the point where a court has issued something capable of being served, you’ve definitely already started!

    Edited at 2017-08-20 10:45 am (UTC)

  9. I have completed one David McLean puzzle in the past but did not make much headway with this one.
    I worked out Wicca but it meant nothing to me; and there were lots of clues I couldn’t get. DNK Amidone and may have drunk Bardolino but would never have got this clue.
    I look at the Sunday puzzle if I have finished with Saturday and also because the prize is ten times more valuable than Saturday. Why I wonder?
  10. Thanks, for the blog, Nick. Trouble is, being unable to print one’s solution post solve, I’ve largely forgotten what the puzzle was all about. I do remember BARDOLINO being my last one in.
    Nick, your mention of the Cowdrey incident reminded me that, at the time, I told my father that the BBC (those were the days!) broadcast had finished so he couldn’t watch it. What I didn’t know was that the Beeb had decided to continue the broadcast because the game had become so tense. Father was not amused when he found out.

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