Sunday Times 4976 by Dean Mayer – I love it when a plan comes together

10:36. What a great puzzle. Not particularly difficult, but a model of wit and elegance. How did you get on?

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

1 Where wine is produced, drink out of bag
4 A brief search around prison for continentals
9 Bad indeed, but nearly ignored
11 Soft bed gets an award
12 Warning about extremely angular small strokes?
OARSMEN – O(AngulaR, S)MEN. Definition by example indicated by the question mark.
13 Tell me there’s one bird in fountain
15 PC connection lines with marks on both sides
17 Time following near darkness
18 Moorland area hike — sorry, rambling
20 Flying out with band on the road
22 Good standing?
24 Armed conflict that takes two seconds
AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR – CD. A French term for a duel.
25 Classics expert one can put in register
26 Huge parts shine, which is not actually striking
GO-SLOW – G(OS)LOW. OS = outsize, parts = separates.
1 Charges a levy for hearing
ATTACKS – sounds like ‘a tax’.
2 Of course it will happen
3 Catholic wants to overhaul beliefs
5 See finished
FOLLOW THROUGH – SEE (follow, as in to understand, I think), THROUGH (finished). &Lit.
6 One simple design, or a museum piece?
IGNORAMUS – contained in (a piece of) ‘design or a museum’.
7 Hannibal’s men fed in the morning
8 Bone in back that I’m unsure about
10 Sunday goes by, cryptic is ultimately unsolvable
14 What’s the sense of home schooling?
16 In good shape, dog gets home in spring
17 Something thrown up in the air, caught by little girl
NETBALL – NE(TBA)LL. I’d have thought ‘in the air’ is more TBD than TBA but it’s close enough. Edit: as Peter points out in the comments, the definition is of course ‘something thrown’ (and not ‘something thrown up’ as I originally put), and ‘up in the air’ indicates TBA.
19 Be humiliated, and the rest will stop a fight
EAT CROW – E(A)TC, ROW. A starter before a main course of humble pie, perhaps.
21 Inappropriate force will break one
23 Right-on party piece

32 comments on “Sunday Times 4976 by Dean Mayer – I love it when a plan comes together”

  1. was my FOI – it only took a couple of seconds,but DUEL would have done. COD Eat Crow. Time 15.23 mins

    Edited at 2021-10-17 04:55 pm (UTC)

  2. I was the opposite and took forever to get AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR. First I had to realize it was French, then that there was an apostrophe hidden in there. FOLLOW THROUGH took too long too. Dean somehow manages to use very few words in many clues (not just today).
  3. Elegant cluing, indeed. ‘Of course it will happen’, ‘Good standing’, ‘See finished’, … Perhaps a bit infelicitous that ‘home’=IN in two adjacent clues. I knew 24ac was a duel, but it took me a while, and a few checkers, to realize it wasn’t English. Hannibal puzzled me for a while, too, and I only inferred from A-TEAM that he was the leader. I liked TURNED A BLIND EYE and TOURING.
  4. I wasn’t too sharp idling away for 44 minutes, amid COTTONY clouds.

    FOI 1ac ALSACE

    LOI 12ac OARSMEN


    WOD 18ac YORKSHIRE – ‘God’s Own County’ where pudding is served first, wi’gray-vy.
    ‘Them tha’ eats t’most puddin’ gets t’most meat’ – as they say in a land where women eat their young! Blackstuff!

  5. I think this must have been my fastest ever time for an Anax puzzle. It would have been under 30mins but for the obligatory 1m checking time.
    As paulmcl has indicated, Dean uses few words in his cluing but they are well used.
    Thanks, keriothe, for ALSACE and CREDO and for the blog, generally.
    I did like IGNORAMUS, A-TEAM, GO SLOW and RONDO. The last one was, I thought, a good example of ignoring punctuation.
    On the other hand I never like solutions with apostrophes -AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR. I also didn’t much like FOLLOW THROUGH as I thought it was literal rather than cryptic.

    Edited at 2021-10-17 03:45 am (UTC)

  6. 34 minutes. AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR was my last in by a long shot but at least it hit its mark. I’m not ashamed to admit I didn’t know the specific ‘Hannibal’s men’ and A-TEAM link, or the quote for that matter. A clue like NETBALL is much more my style and was my pick of a very good crop.

    Thanks to keriothe and Dean.

    1. Between Hannibal and an A-team? I had to just put in the only term that seemed possible for (1,4)
  7. Wonderful puzzle, finished in 35 minutes with GO-SLOW, having first been made to EAT CROW. IGNORAMUS is a brilliant hidden, The AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR had one more ‘n’ than I bargained for but everything was fully parsed. COD to NETBALL amongst many fine clues. The economy of FOLLOW THROUGH is masterly. Thank you K and Dean.
  8. 37 minutes only taken over my target half-hour by the foreign expression at24ac, punished rather unfairly by the setter for simply not knowing it. I got as far as realising it was a cryptic definition leading to the French for ‘duel’ (not that there’s anything in the clue to indicate French) and I worked out the first word had to be AFFAIRE but if one doesn’t know the expression what was there to do but give up on it?
    1. I take the point, but surely H_N_E_R does not have many alternatives? And honour and duelling are quite closely related concepts… Honour must be satisfied, and all that?
    2. I think there was some chance of remembering that “honour” is something that was often linked with duels. In its US spelling, it appears 50 times in the Wikipedia article on duels.

      Other point: if a French word ends in “E?R”, I think it’s practically guaranteed to end in “EUR”, which might have helped a bit.

      1. But how would one know the NN without knowledge of spelling of the French word? I may have known it at one time but I’ve had no dealings with written French since leaving school in 1964.

        As mentioned in the very first comment above if one was solving the clue cold, with no checkers and no enumeration the answer could equally have been DUEL. I think there should have been some indication that it was a French, or at least foreign, expression. Usually we would have had ‘Armed conflict in Nice…’ or some such, though I’m sure Dean could have come up with something a lot more inventive and amusing than that cliched example.

        Edited at 2021-10-17 09:23 am (UTC)

        1. My last school French lesson was in 1976, but I think I’ve encountered some written French since then, eg on holiday. And maybe I’ve picked up from experience that an N sound followed by a vowel is often NN in French spelling – as in cloisonnée (which I’ve just learned is from “cloison”), Dubonnet and tonneau, as examples which have some use in English.

          In the school of hard knocks which was the Times crossword of c. the 1980s, I think this kind of linguistic nous was a useful tool.

          FWIW, I’ve looked at the first and last 50 or so emailed entries, and these only had one dud answer for this – a replacement of D’ by A, which could have been identified as impossible as “affaire à honneur” would be (7,1,7)

        2. I agree with Jack. Duels were not the preserve of the French. As the clue was CD there was no helpful wordplay. Also why are hyphens indicated in the letter numbering but not an apostophe? A recent blog by Guy generated a lot of comment about whether a solution was or was not hyphenated — probably due to Anglo/American differences. I would prefer to forego the hyphens in mumbering than having to guess that DH is actually D’H.
          Thanks to all for the excellent discussion which continues to improve my solving.
          Jean (Perth Au. We get this
          published a week later)
  9. Enjoyed it all, as usual. I failed to parse NETBALL and now see that it is excellent and my COD.
  10. Struggled with this one, though I could see each clue was perfectly fair once the various pennies dropped. Overall it took around 90 minutes. Phew. FOI 2d SURE THING. LOI 8d STERNUM because it fitted, though eventually I saw the how of it. NHO EAT CROW at 19d and for a while had EAT SNOW! Enjoyed the simply clever clues, like 26ac GO SLOW. Overall a satisfying and enjoyable challenge to complete. Thanks to Dean Mayer – who has become my favourite compiler for his sense of mischief – and blogger.
  11. Another fine effort from one of our best setters. I loved the elegant construction of 6dn, and 4ac, but the surface readings generally are as good as they get.
    1. 4ac was ‘dead elegant’! But 6dn was a gimme! I like Mr. Mayer’s brevity most. (Remember ‘Larry the Lamb’?)
  12. My reading of 17 was that “something thrown” was the def, and “up in the air” indicated TBA.
    1. I note that TBA appears to defined as ‘To Be Announced’ but in my experience it has been ‘To Be Allocated’.
      Worldwide the acronym TBWA has represented the Madison Avenue ad agency Tragos Bonnange Wiesendanger Ajroldi, since 1970. In 1995 aka The Disruption Company.

      Edited at 2021-10-17 09:30 am (UTC)

      1. Collins defines it as ‘to be arranged’, which is closer to ‘up in the air’ than ‘to be announced’, which is what it’s always meant in my experience. For the avoidance of doubt this is just my experience, I’m not saying Collins is wrong…

        Edited at 2021-10-17 09:32 am (UTC)

        1. Fancy you knowing that Mr. Pedwardine, very few in the biz do! Now I know where you are coming from! Wikipedia has TBA as’to be agreed’ where as I always thought it ‘to be assigned’. Take your pick!
          1. I have never been a Collins fan – Chambers/Merriam Webster for me; but then I am indeed Anglo-American. Pedwardine Anglo-American sounds like an Oil Corporation!
  13. Not that easy for the average solver, particularly when errors creep in.
    I had NODES at 15a for a long time.
    And at 5d I had FALLEN THROUGH, then FILTER.I struggled to parse this obviously and eventually hit upon FOLLOW.
    All corrected in the end. A very good puzzle. My favourites were TOURING and DOING WELL.
    No problem with the duel.
  14. John “Hannibal” Smith, played by George Peppard, was the leader in the 1980s TV series “The “A-team”.
    1. Doh! Thank you Pete.
      Now you mention the program I did see an episode or two but didn’t remember any of the character’s names.
      PS – good blog, good Xword; thanks to all.
  15. ….which took me a while to get into, before becoming the gift that kept on giving. I enjoyed my LOI when I finally got there, and also raise my hat to TURNED A BLIND EYE, and the use of TBA in NETBALL.

    TIME 13:21

  16. Thanks Dean and keriothe
    Excellent puzzle as is usual from this setter with his trademark brevity in his clues. Was able to get it completed in two sittings – a half hour one followed by a 10 minute clean up of the rest.
    Some sloppy parsing with FOLLOW THROUGH (just saw the whole definition and forgot to remember that it would have more in it than that) and NETBALL (where again carelessly didn’t follow up on the TBA part). Had to check in wiki about the A-TEAM TV series to fully understand where ‘Hannibal’ fitted in.
    Think that OARSMEN was my clue of the day – tricky word play and a cleverly disguised definition.
    Finished in the NW corner with CREDO (again clever word play), ATTACKS (neat homophone) and ALSACE (took a while to think French wine).

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