Sunday Times 4974 by Robert Price

19:50. I found this tough, and the extra time it took me was most welcome because I thought it was a brilliant puzzle and I enjoyed every minute of it. Not much unfamiliar vocabulary for me – I didn’t know the word for ‘grind’ at 13dn and I’m not sure I’ve come across the collar before – so the trickiness all came from clever wordplay and well-disguised definitions. So thanks to Bob for a very entertaining puzzle and here’s how I think it all works…

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

1 Cut ankle finally bound
LOPE – LOP, anklE.
3 Screen capturing India coach’s time-wasting tactic
FILIBUSTER – FIL(I, BUS)TER. A live topic of debate across the pond where it is less a time-wasting tactic than a means of making functional government practically impossible.
10 Delta stops fish reaching a lake
11 The German artist’s consumer’s guide
DIETITIAN – DIE (German for ‘the’), TITIAN (artist of eponymous red fame).
12 What you may need to print or redo, retracting blunders
14 One imagined being unoriginal, taking year off after college
15 Supporter in a cap
ABETTER – A, BETTER (outdo, cap).
17 Gambling on promotion
19 Fine clock broken by American old woman
FUSSPOT – F(US), SPOT (clock). A rather sexist expression.
20 Chap almost venturing to nick neckwear
23 Gums filled with bad things to suck
24 Ancient craft spoken of in esoteric terms
ARGOT – sounds like ‘Argo’.
25 One irritated by study and run down
DENIGRATED – DEN (study), I, GRATED (irritated).
26 Credit notes dismissed by academic’s boss
STUD – STUDious.
1 Gentle soul’s first to cry over what may go on after dark?
LIGHT BULBS – LIGHT, reversal of Soul, BLUB.
2 Murderer chewing over a charge, turning delusional
PARANOIAC – reversal of CAI(O)N, A, RAP.
4 Self-absorbed daughter not prepared to enter pub
5 A deceit disguised something chilling
6 Like a line of spilt Indian emulsion
7 Skinny guy’s foremost obsession
8 Step of ladder, right in the centre
RUNG – RUN (ladder, as in tights), riGht.
9 Look, Tom’s admitted to cheating, OK?
13 Attempted to gobble pie up outside United’s ground
TRITURATED – TRIED containing a reversal of TAR(U)T. I didn’t know this word but the instructions were clear.
16 Class-A drug taken up to escape
TOP-FLIGHT – reversal of POT (drug), FLIGHT (escape).
18 Troop member that’s into acting, or ill-advised
GORILLA – contained in ‘acting or ill-advised’.
19 Penalty leads to striker showing extra skill
FINESSE – FINE (penalty), Striker, Showing, Extra.
21 Burning desire of a man to drop gym classes
ARSON – A peRSON. ARSON is burning property, I’m not sure where ‘desire’ comes into it, but it appears to be part of the intended definition.
22 Starter of stuffed sweet potato
SPUD – Stuffed, PUD.

29 comments on “Sunday Times 4974 by Robert Price”

  1. …and the DINO (Democrat In Name Only) senator from my home state, God help me.
    I liked this puzzle well enough. Not sure I knew before that a group of GORILLAs was called a troop, but it makes sense, eh?
    Had the same MER about the clue for ARSON—which need not be committed by a pyromaniac (s/he with such a “Burning desire”) to qualify as such.

    Edited at 2021-10-03 01:44 am (UTC)

    1. West Virginia, I assume? I don’t know what it says about me that I am more furious with him and his colleague from Arkansas than I am with my own government, which had me queuing for 20 minutes for diesel yesterday evening. Am I too online? Or is it (as I would prefer to think) weight of consequences? The death of American democracy seems to me more consequential for all of us than our local incompetence.
      1. I’m sure I told you already, James, that I’m from that very problematic state (which exists only because of the Civil War, but a lot of people there seem to forget that).
        My home county—and my home town, the county seat, Webster Springs—were profiled in The Guardian not so long ago…
        (Let it be said that I never felt such a “fierce desire to stay”… far from it! It’s beautiful country, though.)

        Edited at 2021-10-03 02:12 am (UTC)

        1. Yes I think you did, Sandy. I don’t think I’d have had you down as an Arkansas fella anyway 😉
          I’m listening to an Audiobook about Lincoln at the moment so the creation of West Virginia is somewhat top of mind for me.

          Edited at 2021-10-03 02:14 am (UTC)

        2. When we were living in Munich in 1978/9 our best friend was a chap from West Virginia. He had come to Germany as a GI, married a local girl (from Dachau!) and was working for the US army as civilian liaison – because he spoke fluent Bayerisch. He told us how isolated West Virginia was. Most people in Munich were not car owners because the public transport was so good. When our friend went back to visit his family in WV his passport was not accepted as proof of ID. They wanted to see his driving licence!
          1. My dad was the best driver I have ever ridden with. And he hated to be in the passenger’s seat. He navigated those twisting mountain roads with a preternatural ease. Me, I lost my driver’s license in high school, after wrecking the family car twice. On reflection, I found it alarming that the driving test I had taken to get my permit amounted to not much more than demonstrating that I could parallel park. I aced that. But I wasn’t taken out on the road for trial under real-world conditions. There were no straight roads on level land in the entire county!
  2. I’m sufficiently out of it here that I don’t know what Guy is alluding to, although I’ll find out soon enough. I’ve been comforting myself for some time now that I’ve got permanent residence here.
    This was very hard for me, although I can’t remember specific problems. FOI 6d, which suggests the problems were general. P/LOI the 1s. Another MER at ‘desire’. Biffed STUD–easy enough with the checkers in–and had to wait for keriothe’s explication. I liked LIGHT BULBS, FAIR TO MIDDLING, & DIETITIAN.
  3. ….the CARTRIDGE, but it took a while for the TONER to arrive.

    A cracker from Robert, although NHO TRITURATED, and I agree that ARSON isn’t strictly the province of pyromaniacs.

    I enjoyed FILIBUSTER and PASTILLES, but COD to FAIR TO MIDDLING. Finished in a few seconds short of 15 minutes.

  4. 35 minutes, with LOI a constructed TRITURATED. I think an arsonist needs to have the desire to burn the building down so the clue is fine by me, although the definition may just be burning. It was as well I had a light bulb moment in the NW as I was struggling for a time there. I didn’t parse RUNG while solving. I’d had to replace my TONER CARTRIDGEs just before doing the puzzle so, once I had the CARTRIDGE, the TONER fell into place, a lot easier in fact than any of the cartridges did on the wretched printer! Maybe I should have bought the proprietary ones. COD to DIETITIAN. Thank you to K, and to Robert for another fine puzzle.
    1. Indeed, but it’s the (deliberate) burning, not the intent (to burn) that is denoted by the word: the desired end, not the desire in itself.

      Edited at 2021-10-03 07:05 am (UTC)

  5. 38 minutes is a good time for me on a Sunday as on average I find the puzzles harder than most weekdays, My only unknown was TRITURATED but the wordplay and checkers combined to construct the correct answer. I’m not sure I ever heard the expression MANDARIN COLLAR but as soon as I’d arrived at it I knew what it would look like and a quick image google confirmed what I had pictured in my mind.

    Edited at 2021-10-03 05:57 am (UTC)

  6. I found this very hard but that’s what I’ve been saying about many puzzles recently.
    Thanks, keriothe, for STUD and RUNG.
    By the end I was so dispirited at the length of time it had taken me, I had lost interest in picking a favourite clue.
  7. According to. my notes, this took ages with top half solved first; SW remained blank for some time. FOI was GARDA.
    I have always thought DIETICIAN was spelt thus so I leant something when the artist intervened. STUD came easily as I always think of that now when I see Boss. But my big parsing problem was RUNG; it was clear from the definition but I struggled with the rest. Also had a question mark about ARSON.
    My favourite was TOP FLIGHT. Top Flite is the brand of golf ball I always seem to find when I am looking for my lost Titleist Pro V1 (golfers will understand).
    I did finish eventually.

  8. I seem to have been on the wavelength for this one, as I got off to a flying start in the NW. The unknown PARANOIAC appearing from the assembly instructions without a fuss, and LIGHT BULBS quickly producing the PDM. TONER CARTRIDGES and other laser printer parts were a staple of my working life so caused no delay. The MANDARIN COLLAR was vaguely familiar. TRITURATED had to be constructed from checkers and wordplay. The clue I really struggled to parse was RUNG, but I finally saw it as I did the proof reading, and as usual, once seen, it was obvious. A fine puzzle. 22:13. Thanks Bob and K.
  9. Is so undemocratic to me and the GOP are ever using it as a crutch. A three party system would put an end to all those shenanigans, but never will. My concern was with 1dn as it pointed me towards NIGHT and not LIGHT! So I wrote in NIGHT LIGHT only to find that the there was no place for the UNICORN at 14ac. I could not parse 8dn – that sort of ladder! Doh!

    FOI 22dn SPUD

    LOI 1ac LOPE

    COD 20ac MANDARIN COLLAR common enough around here

    WOD 12ac TONER CARTRIDGE – hate ’em nearly as much as Stephen Fry!

    Another ‘country hour’

  10. will surely endure, unfortunately. Webster Springs WV is that not Addison (Fort Lick)!? WOD to FUSSPOT. My COD to 13dn TRITURATED – nothing to do with Old Trafford. Time: a leisurely 20 mins.
    1. Yes, the official name of Webster Springs is still Town of Addison. Fork Lick spring is one of the sources of the mineral water on which the town used to capitalize until fire destroyed the resort hotel just before the Great Depression, from which Webster County never fully recovered.
  11. Found this really challenging so super-pleased to have completed it in around two hours, hardly speedy but… FOI FILIBUSTER, which I was chuffed to work out from the clue. LOI ….well, it was a bit of an all-at-once flurry in the north-west corner. Difficulties came through words I’d never heard of: TRITURATED, UNIDIMENSIONAL, which were inspired punts. But in hindsight the clue-ing was fair and gettable. So, pleased to complete. Thanks to Robert Price and blogger.
  12. Is a blog about the London Times crossword an appropriate place for diatribes on aspects of American politics which will, I’m sure, leave most people – me for one – completely baffled?
  13. Very enjoyable. 44 minutes. I got TRITURATE from the cryptic and the checkers. A new word for me. Ann
  14. Liked it, as is the case with all Bob’s puzzles

    Cheeky check of TRITURATED but was expecting the assembly instructions to be accurate

    Think RUNG was FOI as I started with the 3 and 4 letter words. Couldn’t think of the second parts of TOP FLIGHT nor MANDARIN COLLAR which caused a 10 minute delay to complete the SW

    Really liked FAIR TO MIDDLING

    Thanks Bob and Guy

    1. My policy is that if I can convince myself that the answer is what I would have put in under competition conditions, it’s an all-correct solve even if I check before submission. I generally find myself easy to convince.
      I’ll pass on your thanks to Guy 😉
  15. Another fine crossword, and as usual with this setter I had a slow start before inspiration got going. Like others here, TRITURATED was new to me but had to be right (turns out I forgot to submit anyway!).
    A small point, but I think ‘being’ is part of the definition for UNICORN rather than a link word.
    That was a recent clue in the ST clue-writing competition – talking of which, has anyone seen this week’s winning clue for CONTAINER yet? It’s a brilliant decuple definition, which I’ve never seen before. (I think it was David McLean who did an octuple one in the ST a few months ago.)


    1. Possibly, although the word ‘one’ is then redundant and makes it a bit awkward. We don’t usually see nouns defined like this (‘one bird’, say) but I suppose technically there’s no reason why not.
  16. I certainly don’t recall having too much difficulty persuading myself it was a legitimate solve. 🙂(Between you and me the times don’t bother me too much full stop. It’s the enjoyment that’s the thing)

    As for the naming error — I do normally do a double check but didn’t on this occasion instead thinking “there were a lot of comments from Guy”. So sorry — you make all this effort when you’re a busy chap and the careless poster can’t even get your pseudonym right. Can’t even blame the drink…🙂

  17. Thanks Bob and keriothe
    Found this pretty solid going, picking clues here and there for a start before getting a decent foothold in the diagonally opposite SW / NE corners.
    Was able to work out UNIDIMENSIONAL and MANDARIN COLLAR quite early on, but the other two long ones held out until closer to the end.TRITURATED and PARANOIAC (liked the word play of it after using a word search to find it) were the new learnings for the day. Also thought the construct of ABETTER and ARSON (despite the ‘desire’) were very good.
    Finished up in the NW corner with LOPE (after finally getting off the NIGHT thinking of 1d), that PARANOIAC and BACKING (surprisingly simple in hindsight) as the last few in.

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