Sunday Times 4970 by Dean Mayer

24:28. I found this really tough, and absolutely brilliant. Going back over the clues to write the blog none of it seems desperately hard, but I was thoroughly fooled by some of the misdirection. Great stuff, thanks very much to Dean and here’s how I think it all works.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

1 Sounded loud in Germany
FATHOMED – F (loud), AT HOME (in), D (Deutschland, Germany).
6 Thus spies left party
9 Wind up with a closing passage
CODA – COD (hoax, wind-up), A.
10 Fellow in tie carrying book
11 Cavern reached when crossing river
12 Ditch and a river with two channels
13 Agency plan to retain English Bible
INTERVENTION – INT(E, RV)ENTION. RV = Revised Version, not to be confused with a recreational vehicle. I found this definition a bit odd, but Lexico has ‘action or intervention producing a particular effect’, and gives the example ‘canals carved by the agency of running water’. I still find it a bit odd (can running water really be said to ‘intervene’?), but I’ll have to take my complaint up with the Oxford lexicographers.
16 Convict escapes, bars open, risk uncertain?
19 Turkey is part of this region in retreat
21 Great band on the radio?
AIRING – AI RING. A definition by example – since it could also be on the TV – indicated by the question mark.
22 Cabin not used by Captain Hook
ROUNDHOUSE – a bit of an odd one this. A ROUNDHOUSE is ‘a cabin on the quarterdeck of a sailing ship’ but I can’t find any evidence that it isn’t (or is) typically used by the captain. But the device is very clever. A ROUNDHOUSE is also a hook in the sense of a type of punch.
23 To work soil
24 Talking without interruption? Shut up!
INTERN – sounds like ‘in turn’. If you speak in turn, you don’t interrupt one another. Very neat.
25 Heavy chain carried by tennis player
HENCHMAN – Tim HEN(CH)MAN. ‘Chain’ here is a unit of length equal to 22 yards (Gunter’s chain) or 100 feet (engineer’s chain).
2 A way to hold a scarf on
3 Well, just pay for it
HEALTH INSURANCE – CD. If you’re well, you don’t use this, you just pay for it.
4 Second time to stuff cushion, usually
5 Appeal to stop building tower
DRAWBAR – DRAW (appeal), BAR. ‘Building’ here is just a link word.
6 Wise person, I’ll see you shortly
SOLON – SO LONg. Solon was an Athenian statesman and the word means a sage or wiseacre according to the OED.
7 Qualify with equal score?
8 Autocrat, possibly one initiating operation
14 Enthusiasm keeps injured one in battle
EL ALAMEIN – ELA(LAME, I)N. I was a bit surprised by this definition of ELAN too, but Lexico to the rescue again: ‘energy, style, and enthusiasm’. Collins has a definition more in line with what I would expect – ‘style and vigour’ – but includes ‘enthusiasm’ as one of the definitions in its American edition.
15 Worry about oriental private capital
FREETOWN – FRE(E)T, OWN. Capital of Sierra Leone.
17 Gag about South African guy’s perfect shot?
RETOUCH – RET(OU)CH. OU, a South African term for a man, is a bit Mephistosih. The ‘shot’ here is a photograph.
18 Crashed again with learner in old Ford
20 Like a producer of egg white

26 comments on “Sunday Times 4970 by Dean Mayer”

  1. This took me ages–well over an hour–and now I can’t remember what my main hangups were. LOI DRAWBAR, which I didn’t know. I did check OU, which is indeed Mephistophelean; a PDM when I realized that ‘perfect’ was a verb. INTERN went in from ‘shut up’; I only got the ‘in turn’ bit just before coming here to read K’s blog. Liked AIRING, GROTTO, BINAURAL, but especially FATHOMED.
  2. 63 minutes. I got all the answers but had three or four unparsed, some resolved by research after the event.

    OU for the SA guy was unknown, of course, as were both required meanings of ROUNDHOUSE, neither of which came to light during my recent research of the word for another puzzle. I only knew it as an engine shed.

    I had a MER at PRISON BREAK(S) as I doubted it as a lexical item, and indeed it doesn’t appear to be, although both Chambers and Lexico have ‘prison breaker’ and ‘prison breaking’.

    Incidentally I added a sticky to Peter’s posting to ensure that it’s seen by the wider weekday audience on Monday.

    Edited at 2021-09-05 05:02 am (UTC)

    1. I’ve come across ’roundhouse punch’, although never knowing what kind of punch it is. ODE has (2:informal; a blow given with a wide sweep of the arm.

      I had a slight MER at PRISON BREAK, but slight. Interestingly, perhaps, ‘jailbreak’ is definitely a lexical item. ODE sv ‘break’, noun 5, has: ‘(informal) an escape, typically from prison’, and gives several examples with ‘prison break’.

      1. Thanks. NHO it but I’ve looked it up and note it was American so perhaps the term is more familiar there.
        1. Possibly. The fact that I had heard of the show (without ever having watched it) may explain the fact that I didn’t think twice about the expression.
  3. 63 minutes for me too, but happy not to get any pink squares. RETOUCH and HENCHMAN last two in, without parsing and therefore suspect. NHO OU as a South African. The checkers for 25a H-N-H-A-, had me looking to put Lew Hoad somehow as the tennis player. I forgot you don’t have to be dead on a Sunday and therefore didn’t consider Hensman.
    Really tough but most enjoyable. Thanks to Dean and Keriothe.
  4. ….and I was another scratching my head over ROUNDHOUSE. In the back of my mind, I think Jethro Tull used the word in this sense in one of their lyrics, but unfortunately I can’t nail down the song.

    Great misdirection at 21A where “on the radio” had me searching for a band whose name was a homophone for a meaning of “great” !

    I liked STABLEMATE and ANGLIA too.

    LOI INTERN (took a while to define “in turn”)
    COD HEALTH INSURANCE (once somebody else explained the parsing to me !)
    TIME 18:39

  5. I took 75 minutes and it was a bit of a grind, whereas I normally find Dean’s puzzles stimulating.. It took ages to fathom FATHOMED. I checked the unknown BINAURAL. I only half saw HEALTH INSURANCE. I had no idea where the OU had come from in RETCH. I had at least heard of a ROUNDHOUSE punch, I think said of Rocky Marciano’s style in the days of Don Cockell. I liked GROTTO, DRAWBAR, HENCHMAN, FREETOWN and ANGLIA perhaps because they were more my level, but this was a bit too hard for me to count it as enjoyable. Maybe I had a bad day. Thank you K and Dean.

    Edited at 2021-09-05 07:15 am (UTC)

  6. Although I normally manage to finish eventually (given plenty of time and the occasional revisit), I barely scratched the surface with this one — throwing in the towel after 4 clues. Definitely hard, and not my wavelength, but looking at the blog, there are a number of others I should have got, and I wonder if seeing Dean Mayer’s name predisposed me to consider it beyond me? Had he been setting in the week, anonymously, I daresay I might have tried harder and with more crosses, would have stood a better chance of cracking the whole thing. Thanks for the revelatory blog, K.
    Gill D
    1. Hi Gill. I used to be a bit intimidated when I saw Dean was the setter, but over time I’ve realised that he’s very fair. He rarely relies on outlandish vocabulary – his answers are usually words that everyone knows. And although his wordplay is very inventive, it’s also helpful if you look at it and think about it long enough. With Dean, it’s a question of examining all the angles – he gets you to think in different ways and consider possibilities that you might normally overlook. He wants you to solve his crosswords and enjoy the experience. Once you get into that way of thinking you can generally do okay with Dean’s puzzles.
      1. If you open a free Live Journal account you will be able to correct errors and edit after posting.

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        Edited at 2021-09-05 10:02 am (UTC)

  7. I found this very tough and as others, wondered where the OU came from in RETOUCH as well as not really understanding 22a. I vaguely knew the cabin aboard, but not the punch. FATHOMED and DRAWBAR held me up til the end. Got there eventually but it took me 47:02. Thanks Dean and K.
  8. Had to guess at ANGLIA and the parsing of HENCHMAN, as I of course didn’t know the sports dude. Was also puzzled about ROUNDHOUSE and the captain.

    Now I have three others from last week to work (not to mention a whole week’s worth of QCs), as I’ve been dealing with a failing computer drive. May be writing up this Sunday’s puzzle on a brand-new iMac. In other news, Humans Against Music karaoke returns to Freddy’s tonight. Have Excelsior Pass, will travel. Of course, a UK Covid miracle would be nice here too…

  9. Enjoyed as always. Never heard of OU and still don’t understand why the Captain cannot use the Quarterdeck.
    1. It’s not that the captain can’t use the quarterdeck, it’s that he doesn’t use the ROUNDHOUSE, which is a cabin on the quarterdeck. Maybe he doesn’t, but I haven’t been able to find any evidence to support this assumption. But you’ve got to admit it’s a clever device!
  10. FOI 8ac ACTUATOR – only known because of a recent car repair involving the turbo actuator rod. Fancy that. LOI 24ac INTERN though it was a biff. Needed this blog to explain the how of this one. All other clues were clever and quirky and quite whimsical at times. A most enjoyable 45 mins. Thanks, setter and blogger.
  11. I got there in the end, but with no idea whether my LOI ROUNDHOUSE was correct, since I didn’t know either meaning but I couldn’t fit anything else. 1A (FATHOMED) was totally brilliant clueing.

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