Sunday Times 4842 by Robert Price

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
24:48. This is the first puzzle from the new setter replacing Jeff Pearce. His name is Bob Price, and as we heard from Peter Biddlecombe last week (see comments here) he is a regular winner of the ST clue writing competition. So effectively I suppose what we have here is a gifted amateur making his first foray into the professional arena. Edit: turns out we have no such thing. Bob Price is apparently Myrtilus, already an established TLS setter and regular commenter here.

And what a debut [narrator: it was not a debut] it was. I found it very tough indeed, and it gave me a strong sense that I was struggling against an unfamiliar and original setting mind. Of course I may have imagined this, knowing as I did that this was a new setter: maybe it was just hard. But in any event I enjoyed the struggle enormously.

I don’t normally nominate a clue of the day, and there are lots of great clues in this puzzle. Some of the surfaces are particularly good. This week though 11dn is the winner for me (by a short head over the brilliant 1ac) just for the sheer magnitude of the penny-drop moment. Even after I had figured out what the answer must be I puzzled over it for perhaps another 5 minutes before I managed to justify it.

So welcome and thanks very much to Bob for a fine debut, and here’s how I think it all works…

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

1 Harry Carpenter’s lost pages in boxing volumes
CHIVVY – CHIPPY (carpenter) has lost its Ps (pages) in the process of boxing (containing) Vs (volumes). An excellent clue with a quite original construction, and Harry Carpenter was a boxing commentator, making the surface reading particularly apposite. Brilliant stuff.
4 Work on second at Oxford, drinking a lot
SOFTEN UP – S, UP (at Oxford) contains OFTEN. This clue describes my university career precisely.
9 Recycled material this chap turned into hives?
REHASH – RASH containing a reversal of HE.
10 Dish that’s sharp mostly fed unnatural greed
KEDGEREE – KEEn containing (GREED)*.
12 Mop up road spills in High Barnet
POMPADOUR – (MOP UP ROAD)*. Barnet (Fair) being CRS for hair, of course, and the POMPADOUR being a hairstyle in which the hair is brushed high above the forehead. It’s named after Madame de POMPADOUR, mistress of Louis XV, but seems to be mainly a style for young men these days.
13 Get too hot while slicing baloney
14 Something used to focus or intensify a concert not working right
18 Murder trial documents found here
DISPATCH CASE – DISPATCH (murder), CASE (trial). I had DESPATCH for a while, which caused me problems with 15dn for some time.
21 Guy taking time to relax
22 View of skyline or of space for rebuilding
ROOFSCAPE – (OR OF SPACE)*. The arrangement of the anagram fodder here is so close to the answer that I saw it immediately.
24 Top drivers may do this at lay-bys
PULLOVER – two definitions, one slightly cryptic if only because it should be two words.
25 Sweet place to hold the Royal Ball
26 Bishop finally admitted to a slight thirst
27 Last time transport picks up close to home
HEARSE – HEARS, homE. Neat definition.

1 Motor at speed in soft top? Hardly
2 Callous article suppressed by popular philosopher
3 Most gutsy, ejecting supporter before a match
5 Extreme response from more than one class in school conflict
OVERREACTION – OVER (more than), RE (one class in school), ACTION (conflict). Tricky wordplay!
6 He got trim woven for a producer of woolly bears
TIGER MOTH – (HE GOT TRIM)*. A woolly bear being the caterpillar of this particular type of moth.
7 A Christie novel has an added French dialect
NORMAN – N OR M (Christie novel), AN. I had forgotten about this Agatha Christie novel so bunged in the answer from definition and AN and crossed my fingers.
8 At the end stir in sauce very quickly
11 Score over half a century, say
FORTY PER CENT – CD. A score is twenty, half a century is fifty, so the former over the latter is…
15 Cut in diet originally due to nuts
16 Outside US city, dismal saloon provides stop-off for diners
17 Home again, engineers sat on wooden bench
RESETTLE – RE, SETTLE (wooden bench). ‘Sat’ here means ‘sitting’, which is arguably non-standard but a very common usage.
19 More work about opiates covered up
UTOPIA – contained in ‘about opiates’.
20 Cod’s wasted in rubbish batter
23 Wrap, possibly with fur ripped off

30 comments on “Sunday Times 4842 by Robert Price”

  1. A challenging workout indeed from our new setter! I had to battle for 57:39 before I was able to submit, with fingers crossed over 11d, as I’d been unable to work out the parsing, so thanks K for that. Some very clever stuff in this puzzle; CHIVVY, POMPADOUR, WALLOP. I didn’t know the Christie novel either. HEARSE made me chuckle when the penny dropped. I liked SALAD BAR too. Relieved to have finished with all correct, even if it was a marathon. Thanks Bob and K.
  2. 11d was my favourite too, but there were loads of super clues in this debut.
    The setter is not quite an amateur, though – as ‘Myrtilus’ he sets cryptics in the Times Literary Supplement (I think alongside Messrs Biddlecombe and McLean of the ST).

    – Nila Palin

    1. I suspected as much. I wonder if we’ll eventually get clues referring to green preserves or rascals:-)
    2. ^ Actually, does he post here as well, or is the username a coincidence? (I’m not a regular commenter, clearly!)

      – Nila Palin

    3. Is that so? Well fancy that, I had no idea. I even checked on the crossword Who’s Who and he doesn’t appear under either name. Presumably it hasn’t been updated for a while!
  3. Definitely a challenge, and a welcome one. I’m another one who put in FORTY PER CENT with a shrug and crossed fingers, looking pretty stupid I’m sure. And now I’m feeling pretty stupid, having read K’s explanation; it doesn’t look as if it should have been so hard to grasp. I wrote ‘COD’ next to (or perhaps I should say mostly I liked) 1ac, 13ac, 18ac, and 27ac as I solved them, but 1ac definitely wins. Welcome, Myrtilus, and thanks.
  4. Yes, a very good, challenging debut from our new Sunday setter and especially good to hear he’s a regular poster here. I had quite a few unparsed, including NORMAN which I’d never heard of as an Agatha Christie novel, but eventually managed to finish in just over an hour.

    Harry Carpenter (forever associated with Frank Bruno for me) brought back some memories, so I’ll go for 1a as my pick.

    Thanks to setter – look forward to more – and to our blogger.

  5. 44 minutes fully parsed. A challenging and enjoyable first offering from our very own QC breakfast correspondent.

    Edited at 2019-03-24 05:20 am (UTC)

  6. ….go with KEDGEREE ?

    It took me a long time to get on Bob’s wavelength, and I put my pencil down after 32 minutes with three clues blank. I didn’t come back to the puzzle until the following day, when I saw SOFTEN UP and HEARSE fairly quickly (I’ve been held up by a HEARSE many times in my cab driving career !), and it took me about 5 minutes more before I biffed NORMAN (he wasn’t harmed), having never heard of “N or M”.

    More of the same please – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    TIME Just under 40 minutes ?

  7. 52 minutes, fully parsed. LOI was FORTY PER CENT, seen from crossers and only then understood when it finally dawned that this was a division and not an addition question. There were many great clues including CHIVVY where there were an impressive number of secondary clues, but I’ll give COD to HEARSE. UTOPIA was beautifully hidden too. More please, this was good stuff. Thank you Bob and K.
  8. Brilliant stuff. This took me nearly 46 minutes over two sessions. I too enjoyed CHIVVY and FORTY PER CENT, but COD to HEARSE. Thanks Bob and K.
  9. I’m glad I wasn’t alone in having forgotten about N or M since 2016! 50 minutes on the puzzle, then ten more minutes trying to justify 7d until my brain chanced upon the vaguest of vague recollections and I was happy enough to call it a day!

    FOI 1a CHIVVY, LOI 7d NORMAN, enjoyed 19d UTOPIA and 23d STOLE. 11d took me a while, but maths was never my strong suit… Thanks to our new setter and K.

  10. 32:21. A terrific ST debut. Perhaps regular TLS solving gave me an advantage here (not that there’s any correlation between my solving times for Talos and David McLean puzzles). So many neat little touches to relish in this puzzle that elevate a clue from decent to excellent: High Barnet, slicing baloney, last time transport, stir in sauce etc. A pleasure to solve.
  11. Welcome Myrtilus. I have enjoyed your posts and now I can enjoy your crosswords. I am busy checking on breakfast preserves as these are clearly going to feature.
  12. Yes it is me. After a delicious pain aux raisins, I thought I would pop in to say thank you for the kind and encouraging comments. I don’t usually post at the weekend, but I have enjoyed Jeff Pearce’s crosswords for years. I hope I can keep up the good work.
    1. Love pain aux raisins. I have a 3-cafe French run chain relatively near me in NZ and their delicious p-a-r remind me of when we lived in France.
      Thanks for an entertaining puzzle. Enjoyed ‘last time transport’!

      Edited at 2019-03-24 09:54 pm (UTC)

  13. Just back from a weekend in Cambridge -the Backs were beautiful this morning.
    I felt I had to comment on this excellent puzzle. It took me a very long time but it was well worth it. My last two were SOFTEN UP and NORMAN ( the Christie novel unknown).
    FOI was CHIVVY and I was very pleased to be reminded of Harry Carpenter whose commentaries were a great memory of my youth. I got to know him briefly in the 1990s -he was a delightful man.
    I had struggled to parse WALLOP so thanks for that -obvious once it’s explained.
    I’m glad Bob got the job. David
  14. Yes, a very good puzzle. I started out thinking I was going to really struggle as it was a new setter but gradually things fell into place.
    I had question marks against FORTY PER CENT and WALLOP so thanks, keriothe for the explanation. Like Kevin, I entered the former with a shrug but can now see the workings.
    Oddly enough CHIVVY didn’t cause me any problems. I did like POMPADOUR but my COD goes to HEARSE for ‘Last Time Transport’.
  15. In the parsing of this clue why is RE one class in school?

    Margaret from Ottawa, Canada

  16. Thanks Bob and keriothe
    Excellent puzzle that was filled with clues having original definitions, some clever wordplay and a touch of humour to round it out. It took three sessions totalling around 54 min to get out and was happy to fully parse it all, especially that FORTY PERCENT.
    It was my third to last to be written in – although it screamed out to be so much earlier – just couldn’t make sense of it until the penny dropped with a resounding noise. APPETITE and the tricky WALLOP finished off a really enjoyable solve.
  17. when you don’t know things like CRS, UP (at Oxford), Chivvy (Harry), RE (class), etc.

    Lloyd in Toronto, Canada

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