Sunday Times 4761 by Dean Mayer

This one had a bit of an unusual feel to it for me, which I think was probably down to the relatively high number of cryptic definition type clues with no associated wordplay – four of them by my reckoning (11a, 15a, 20a and 4d). Such clues always alarm me (particularly when the setter is such a master of mental gymnastics as Dean), as you either get it or you don’t – there’s no alternative way into the clue. Fortunately (and with much relief!) I was able to spot what was going on with each of them; 20a in particular I thought was a beautifully crafted clue.

A couple of unknown references (which seems par for the course for me each Sunday), namely the Roman soldiers at 18d and the bit of wall at 14a. But, each came complete with generous wordplay so I managed to come through unscathed. Must admit I wasn’t overly fond of the Spoonerism at 13d, but overall a very fine and enjoyable puzzle which kept me happily occupied on and off for a large chunk of Sunday, with 17a taking me an absolute age to spot.

As ever, grateful thanks to Dean.

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

1 Fight French arbitrators (6)
FRACAS – FR (French) + ACAS, the workplace dispute resolution service that has faded somewhat from the limelight in the new era of industrial relations (unless you happen to be a Southern Rail customer, I guess)
5 Easy goal to catch stray reptile (8)
TERRAPIN – ERR (stray) is included in TAP IN (easy goal)
9 Run, with another old chap, into jail (2-6)
CO-MANAGE – O MAN (old chap) goes into CAGE (jail)
10 Spade placed on right of black debris on beach (6)
JETSAM – SAM (as in Sam Spade, private eye) is on the right of JET (black)
11 Keep one of these and give nothing away (8,4)
STRAIGHT FACE – Cryptic definition
14 Pop over low part of wall (4)
DADO – DAD (pop) + O (over – cricket abbrev.), being the lower part of a wall when it is decorated distinctly from the rest of the wall, apparently. Unknown word to me but fortunately the wordplay was generous.
15 Trying to sit in them might seem odd (4,6)
EASY CHAIRS – Cryptic definition – I guess the point being that if they are “easy”, you shouldn’t have to “try”. Or maybe I’ve missed a whole layer of subtlety here…
17 Met worker, Scots kid, outside The Academy (10)
WEATHERMAN – WEAN (Scots kid) goes around (outside) THE RMA (the academy – as in ‘Royal Military Academy’, aka Sandhurst). Nicely misleading definition which had me rifling my way through every kind of character who might conceivably work at the Met opera house or the Met Police before the penny finally dropped.
19 Fancy being given most of the story (4)
MYTH – MY (fancy – as in “my word/fancy that”) + TH (most of TH{E})
20 The catching of butterflies (12)
APPREHENSION – Lovely concise cryptic clue, based on the idea that if you have butterflies in your stomach then you feel apprehension.
23 Artist fights depression — doesn’t quite make it (6)
WARHOL – WAR (fights) + HOL{E} (depression – but not quite…)
25 Goes ahead and does what killer does (8)
PREDATES – DD, the first being “pre-date” and the second on the basis that (somewhat whimsically) a predator presumably “predates”
26 Spot almost perfect escape route from tunnel (8)
BLOWHOLE – BLO{T} (spot almost) + WHOLE (perfect)
27 A sport, one that initially backed car maker (6)
TOYOTA – A TOY (a sport) + first two letters (initially) of One That all reversed (backed). ‘Sport’ giving us ‘Toy’ caused me some consternation whilst solving, but Chambers gives “to trifle with” as one of the meanings of sport.
2 Space dock found in ascent (4)
ROOM – MOOR (dock) reversed (or, in the context of a down clue, overturned – ‘found in ascent’)
3 Corrupt corporate circles silence gambler (11)
CRAPSHOOTER – *(CORPORATE) – with “corrupt” signalling the anagram – going around SH (circles silence)
4 A deep breath (3,6)
SEA BREEZE – Cryptic definition based on the sea being “the deep”
5 Tango’s fashionable, and it’s awful (3,4)
THE PITS – T (tango – phonetic alphabet) + HEP + ITS (and it’s)
6 Hotel not to put up prince or king (5)
RAJAH – H (hotel – the phonetic alphabet strikes again) + AJAR (not to – as in “push the door to”) reversed (or, as this is a down clue, upended – put up)
7 One extremely fat behind (3)
AFT – A (one) + ‘extremes’ of FaT
8 Might I turn minister out? (10)
INACCURATE – CAN I reversed (might I turn) + CURATE (minister)
12 Scrappy fight involving FBI agents and sailor (11)
FRAGMENTARY – FRAY (fight) with GMEN (FBI agents) and TAR (sailor) included (involving)
13 Notice coat near ceiling, as Spooner might say (4-2,4)
WAKE-UP CALL – CAKE UP WALL in the whacky world of the Reverend
16 Landmass which is dry? (9)
CONTINENT – DD, the second referring to bladder control
18 Laddish guards shot some soldiers once (7)
MANIPLE – MALE (laddish) goes around (guards) NIP (shot). I’d heard of maniple meaning an item of clerical garb, but the military meaning – a tactical unit of a Roman legion – was new to me.
21 How do royals dominate its pages? (5)
HELLO – DD. “How do” (or more usually “‘ow do”) is the terse north country greeting, which might be an unknown for our overseas friends, and the magazine Hello! is traditionally long on pictures of the royal family.
22 Screen around November 26? (4)
VENT – VET (screen) ‘around’ N (November – our third phonetic alphabet reference), giving something that could be a blowhole (26 across)
24 Fell into the well (3)
HEW – Hidden in tHE Well

26 comments on “Sunday Times 4761 by Dean Mayer”

  1. Under the new club format, my time was 29:25, and if you can believe that … DNK ACAS, but with FR it looked pretty good. I must have come across MANIPLE once, as I finally solved it. Also DNK WEAN, and I stalled at the wrong Met. LOI was HELLO, even though I was pretty sure I’d understood the ‘how do’ part; it took me ages, however, to get the H, and then I dithered for a bit between E and U. Finally, I sort of remembered the magazine, and inferred it was something frothy and trivial like ‘People’ in the US.
  2. 70 minutes on this tricky Dean. Biffed EASY CHAIRS without understanding the “trying” bit of the clue. Needed all the crossers before I got my WAKE-UP-CALL, and then wondered about the synonymity (the word exists-I’ve just checked) of ‘cake’ and ‘coat’. I finally convinced myself that ‘sport’ and ‘toy’ were also treatable thus, with all the crossers and because our family car is a RAV 4 hybrid, making TOYOTA LOI. COD WEATHERMAN, which a Dylan nut like me saw straightaway. Thank you Nick and Dean.
  3. Stared at this for a whole day without getting a single clue but when l got the first one,completed it eventually.COD VENT.
  4. 86 minutes, but I was pleased to complete without resorting to aids. I’d agree that 15ac is a disappointing clue, assuming that I’m also not missing something.

    Edited at 2017-09-03 06:22 am (UTC)

  5. Couldn’t make head or tail of the easy chairs, if it was meant as a pun it didn’t quite work, it seemed to me.
    27ac took a long time to get considering I own two of them.
    I love Northern greetings .. my favourite one is the gloriously meaningless “Now then!”
    1. If I recall correctly, in Max Beerbohm’s parody of Arnold Bennett– it’s “You again?”
  6. I managed to solve this on the main Times site by accident, so I don’t have a record of my time, but it was around the 20 minute mark. Good stuff, with some of the same unknowns as others (MANIPLE, WEAN).
    I read 20ac as a DD too.
    1. Yes, I originally put in DD in the blog but then ummed and ahhed about it and for some reason moved away from that conclusion. Can’t work out why now!
  7. About a leisurely hour with pancakes. I don’t usually biff: I’m a full-parse-as-you-go type. But for some reason I put in EXECUTES for 25ac and that caused havoc for a while.
    Let me be one to give some support to the much maligned 15ac. If one felt the whole experience of sitting in them was ‘trying’, that would seem contrary to the experience promised by the name of the chair.
    Like others though, I did think the number of cryptics was unusual, despite 20ac being a great example of the art.
    Thanks Dean and Nick.

    Edited at 2017-09-03 08:55 am (UTC)

    1. Put me down as another executioner – only started hunting for an alternative once FRAGMENTARY seemed indisputably correct. Which then enabled me to wrap up 22d and 18d, my last two in.
  8. I found this very hard to crack and was at it for well over two hours before everything fell into p!ace. I kept seeing bits of clues, like the stray in 5ac, the co in 9ac or the face in 11ac but not the rest of it. At 11ac I took ages to think of an alternative to poker. Lots of great stuff as usual, the “not to put up” in 6dn and 20ac being a couple of favourites. Thanks to Myrtilus for expanding on “trying” at 15ac, I can see how that works now. Took ages at weatherman also thinking of altos and sopranos from the NY Met and wondering if bairn could somehow be worked into a type of baritone. Tough puzzle but rewarding.
  9. I am always apprehensive when I find myself left with that horrible four-letter-word-with-two-common-checkers thing, in this case _E_T at 22dn, which took an age to work out on this occasion. In my defence, the somewhat unreadable-to-my-old-eyes-unless-zoomed in numbering on the club site had 25ac numbered as a second 26 on the grid, if not in the clues, meaning I was using entirely the wrong word as the definition, so it was hardly surprising that I couldn’t find a word that fitted the wordplay and had anything to do with PREDATES…

    Edited at 2017-09-03 09:46 am (UTC)

  10. Hmmm – could do better, DM.
    25ac – a meaning of PREDATES is to occur previously, or go before, but not go ahead. Lax.
    13d – ‘cake’ for ‘coat’ is a bit of a stretch if you ask me.
    At the same time, 20ac is a thing of beauty.
    1. This pairing worked fine for me – when solving it I was recalling “cake makeup” from my amateur dramatic days.

    2. SOED has ‘cake’
      verb trans. Cover with a hardened mass. M20.
      P. L. Fermor Hair caked with snow.

      I think it’s not unreasonable to subsitute ‘coat’ in both definition and example. Something may be sugar-coated or caked in sugar.

  11. Happy Sunday all, and thanks again to Nick for a lovely blog.
    The number of CDs is moderately higher than usual, but the Sunday puzzle is one where they are more welcome (editorially at least) than on some other series. The ones at 11 & 15 across are straightforward – dare I say almost Rufus-like – and that’s deliberate, hopefully balancing out trickier clues elsewhere, as we don’t want the Sunday puzzle to be especially difficult.
    1. I thought the November 26 trick was very neat – especially as it is Mrs Myrtilus’s birthday.
    2. I like the punning cryptics on a Sunday. For me, it’s a more leisurely RHS of brain day.
    3. Whilst I fear the CDs, I find that they also generally provide a greater level of satisfaction when (if!) I eventually twig them, as they usually require a greater degree of lateral thinking and produce more “eureka” moments than more formulaic types of clue.

      Thanks for your kind comments and for a really enjoyable puzzle.

  12. I struggled mightily with this one. My time shows as 2:39:16, but I have a feeling I got distracted and forgot to pause it at one point. That’s my excuse anyway! I still finished up with one wrong, as I couldn’t get my head around 22d, and eventually slung in TENT, still fixated on screen as the definition. 26 as a clue reference just passed me by. Ah well today’s another day. I could vaguely see the EASY CHAIRS cryptic so in it went. WEATHERMAN took forever as I was fixated on the MET Opera. Lots of penny drop moments, FRAGMENTED took a while too. Quite a challenge. Thanks Dean and Nick.
  13. A DNF as I screwed up 10ac with JETSOM which made 8dn impossible.

    FOI 7dn AFT.

    COD 22dn VENT


    I found 20ac APPREHENSION a write-in it was obviouly nothing to do with lepidoptera as such!

  14. About two hours, with a half-dozen question-marks scattered next to the numbers, so I’m glad I got through unscathed. Thanks for the workings, Nick.

    At least I knew MANIPLE, another benefit of my classical education, by which I mean skiving off and reading the Asterix books. In Asterix the Legionary, Dubious Status and Nefarious Purpus are the Centurions in charge of the unit Asterix joins: the 1st Legion, 3rd Cohort, 2nd Maniple, 1st Century…

  15. Very late posting but enjoyed puzzle and blog. Thanks to Dean and Nick. Spent half hour yesterday staring at this without getting anywhere. Went out for lunch and came back with brain cells refreshed. It must have been the roast pork with crackling wot did it. Clocked out at 53 minutes total. Ann

Comments are closed.