Sunday Times 4984 by David McLean

9:46. I didn’t find this puzzle particularly hard but I really enjoyed it. Some clever stuff here including (to take a couple of random examples) the excellent cryptic definition across the top row and the very similar ideas used in 1dn and 3dn. Really good stuff, thank you Harry.

How did you get on?

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

1 A game decided by its one and only shot?
RUSSIAN ROULETTE – CD. This is very obvious once you see it, but I’m sure I wasn’t alone in going down various sport-related cul-de-sacs (should that be culs-de-sac? I think not). This is of course exactly what cryptic definitions are supposed to do.
9 Regular outgoing covering goal and old kit
10 Farm workhorse with men on piece of land
TRACTOR – TRACT, OR (other ranks, soldiers, men).
11 Glorify God for all to hear
LAUD – sounds like ‘Lord’ in the mouths of non-rhotic speakers.
12 A man is bold showing these off!
13 Fancy home featured in snap?
15 State flag twirled by drug-fuelled artist
ERITREA – reversal of TIRE (flag), R(E)A. RA = Royal Academician = artist.
17 Month’s work for camo-covered marine type?
OCTOPUS – OCT, OPUS. Nice definition. Truly amazing animals.
19 Firm head welcoming youth leader’s modesty
20 A copy tends to be odd with the middle redacted
SYNCOPATED – to SYNCOPATE is ‘to shorten (a word) by omitting sounds or letters from the middle’. News to me.
22 Female visiting dead ace in place of rest?
SOFA – SO(F), A. SO = very = dead.
25 Hot drink princess sent back could be thus
INSIPID – IN (hot), SIP (drink), reversal of DI. Image of a princess sending her tea back because it is too weak.
26 Evil girl taking in European is criminal
27 Take the blame for response to armed robbery?
HOLD UP ONES HANDS – two definitions, one vaguely whimsical.
1 Rivers in the country
RURAL – R, URAL. Quite clever this.
2 It helps one get up from sunlit mat abroad
3 Different diamonds taken out of America
ICED – ICE (diamonds), D (diamonds). A similar trick to the rivers above. ICED is an American (‘of America’) term for killed, or taken out. Very neat.
4 Somebody unfit?
NOTABLE – NOT ABLE. A ‘somebody’ (as opposed to a nobody) is an important person, or a NOTABLE.
5 Away clubs flat? Not hard to get result!
OUTCOME – OUT (away), C, hOME. ‘Flat’ here is of course a definition by example, indicated by the question mark.
6 I’m told skill in storytelling is a drawback
LIABILITY – sounds like ‘lie ability’.
7 Some congratulate trampolinist or swimmer
TETRA – contained in ‘congratulate trampolinist’. I know this fish from crosswords. Not sure I’ve ever come across it irl.
8 A curtness needing correction in old people
13 This minor criminal is an old forger
14 Setter is ready to act, solver textually unprepared
IMPROMPTU – I’M (setter’s), PROMPT, U (‘you’ in text lingo, hence ‘textually’). By (logical) convention in cryptic puzzles the setter is me/I and we the solvers are you.
16 One arranged with regard for a music producer
18 Tolerate kid scratching bottom or get ready for a fight?
19 Police squad tailing conservative on crack
CREVICE – VICE after C, RE (on).
21 City hospital brought up regarding some organs
NASAL – reversal of LA SAN.
23 A chap on board upset one shouldering great weight
ATLAS – A, reversal of SALT.
24 Worthless gas barrel left on top of a hotel
BLAH – B, L, A, H.

36 comments on “Sunday Times 4984 by David McLean”

  1. About 5 minutes until the penny finally dropped on LOI ICED. I think the ‘of’ (rather than ‘from’) threw me off. I only very recently learned ‘camo’, which otherwise would have slowed me down a bunch. The ink isn’t strictly speaking camouflage, though, is it? (ODE: ‘the natural coloring or form of an animal which enables it to blend in with its surroundings’.) I liked ERITREA & LIABILITY.
    Out of curiosity, I looked up ‘cul-de-sac’ in ODE; it gives ‘culs-de-sac’, with ‘cul-de-sacs’ as an alternative. Also ‘fers-de-lance’ before ‘fer-de-lances’, and ‘aides-de-camp’ only. Me, I’d put the -s at the end in all the cases; they’re English words now.
    1. I saw “camo-covered” as referring to an octopus’s ability to change the colour and apparent texture of its skin.
      1. I think that actually passed through my mind at one point, but evidently all too fleetingly.

        Edited at 2021-12-12 09:33 am (UTC)

  2. The proper French plural, en fait, is culs-de-sac. I see that “cul-de-sacs” is accepted in English, so whatever (though “sack-bottoms,” the former, makes more sense to me than “bottom of sacks”).

    FOI RUSSIAN ROULETTE. My former friend Michelle Shocked wrote a song that, apparently evoking Grahame Greene, says of this absorbing pastime, “Yes, I’m sure it’s a cure for the blues /You lose you win, you win you lose.”

    The linguistic sense of SYNCOPATE was news to me too.

    Edited at 2021-12-12 02:06 am (UTC)

    1. The plural in French, of course, is ‘culs-de-sac’. I’m talking about English ‘cul-de-sac’, which is a monomorphemic word having nothing to do with sacks or their bottoms. One cul-de-sac, 2 cul-de-sacs.
      1. I was editing my comment, in case I was not clear.
        “Cul-de-sacs” is indeed often given as the standard form in English, and “culs-de-sac” as a variant (but not in the ODE, eh?), while in French the opposite situation prevails.

        I tend to read originally French words and phrases as if they are still in French.

        The confluence of the two tongues can be a site of chaotic turbulence. I often see in the Anglophone press the italicized phrase coup d’état. But if the intent is to render the phrase in French (hence the italics), it should be coup d’État. A biography I read last week translated from the French by an award-winning author italicized double entrendre, which is not French at all but an English phrase made up of two words borrowed from the French (the most nearly synonymous French phrase is sous-entendre).

        It’s somehow amusing to think of people using the word to mean “dead end” and having no idea of why those syllables express that. For less complicated words, put to similar usage, some fanciful spellings may even be imagined…

        Edited at 2021-12-12 02:47 am (UTC)

        1. What’s amusing? The word does mean ‘dead end’, and most of us don’t know the etymology of most of the words we use.
          Didn’t know that about ‘double entendre’. Japanese does that all the time with English.
      2. Exactly. I have never heard or used the word in French but if I did I would write ‘culs-de-sac’. In English, always ‘cul-de-sacs’.
        1. And you would pronounce it as in French; whereas you would (I hope) say ‘cull de sacks’ in English.
  3. Apart from SOFA and ICED, I thought this was quite straightforward.
    As keriothe says, 1d and 3d are similar. COD has to be RUSSIAN ROULETTE.
    I would say that’s a bit unusual to have so many (six) anagrams? 12ac, 20ac, 2d, 8d, 13d, 16d.
    I see Greta has made her way into Crosswordland with BLAH!
  4. After 31 minutes I left 23ac unanswered – and clean forgot to return as I sat on my sofa. Thus a DNF!

    FOI 7dn TETRA

    (LOI) 3dn ICED

    COD 20ac SYNCOPATED related to words – “A word like opera almost always becomes opra, a word like general/genral, a word like chocolate/choclate. In longer words, syncope is possible as well, and more options surface. For example, respiratory can surface as respirtory or respritory.” (Michael Hammond, The Phonology of English: A Prosodic Optimality-Theoretic Approach. Oxford University Press, 1999)
    Also noted camera/camra – aspirin/asprin – restaurant/restrant – comparable/comprable – over/o’er (Wordsworth/Wordswoth), growest/grow’st (Shakespeare/Shakespear!), Ricciardo/Riccardo (F1)

    WOD 24dn BLAH! Indeed!

    Edited at 2021-12-12 03:37 am (UTC)

          1. They don’t call me “Good logic Kevin” for nothing. Come to think of it, they don’t call me that at all.
  5. 1ac Russian Roulette – The first trace of Russian roulette can be found in the story – “The Fatalist” 1840 the very last story from the collection – ‘A Hero of Our Time’, by Mikhail Lermontov, Russian poet and writer (d.1841!). So both my COD and WOD.

    Edited at 2021-12-12 07:16 am (UTC)

  6. Of course the French don’t use the term as we do in Britain and the pluralisation of ‘Impasse’ is more straightforward.
    1. My Petit Robert defines ‘cul-de-sac’ as ‘rue sans issue’, so the meaning certainly exists. As I mentioned above though I have never heard it in French.
        1. I see from online dictionaries (none of which stamp it as vulgar) that cul-de-sac is now also used as part of the name of a few anatomical features, such as the one mentioned in this article on conjunctivitis (which I have a mild case of, as it happens) at “Les conjonctives tarsale et bulbaire sont en continuité au niveau du cul-de-sac conjonctival.”

          These anatomical references are not found in my tattered Petit Robert, edition 2000, which has cul listed as “FAM” (mais bien sûr) but attaches no such caveat to cul-de-sac. In fact, besides the separate entry for cul-de-sac, the entry for cul itself says, toward the end:
          PAR ANAL[ogy!] (emploi non vulg.) Fond de certains objets. Cul de bouteille, de verre, de pot. => aussi cul-de-basse-fosse, cul-de-four, cul-de-lampe, cul-de-sac.

          Edited at 2021-12-12 05:34 pm (UTC)

  7. 32 minutes, detained for a while in the SE. COD to RUSSIAN ROULETTE. LIABILITY was a great homophone too. Did Greta get into David’s head on 24d? Sorry, I see Martin got there first. I thought SYNCOPATED was how a drunk walked, with irregular staggering from bar to bar. Nice puzzle. Thank you K and David.

    Edited at 2021-12-12 08:30 am (UTC)

  8. ….as I found this to be on the moderate side.

    TIME 8:26

  9. I wouldn’t presume to say this was easy but it caused no difficulties for this novice. Maybe I’m getting better? Completed in just under the 30-minute mark. FOI 2d STIMULANT (I usually hunt out the anagrams first), LOI 15ac ERITREA, at which I stalled briefly with every alternative interpretation of flag – iris, paving stone, etc – except what was needed, TIRE. Similar delay on 3D ICED. Must remember diamonds and murder! Impressed by the ABDOMINALS anagram. Enjoyably smooth, and the first for ages where I’ve actually understood the how of my answers without recourse to this blog. I must be learning, thanks to everyone here.
  10. My FOI was RUSSIAN ROULETTE which gave me a strong start and put me in a good mood.
    TETRA joins COHO in the list of unknown fish derived from random letters, normally consonant, vowel, consonant etc- thank you Carol.
    Add me to the LOI ICED club.
    An enjoyable puzzle which I finished around 3.30pm.

  11. As Keriothe said but 3 times slower

    Got RURAL quickly-ish (have crossed the latter river; never pronounce it with a y sound at the beginning Mrs D tells me)

    But ICED took a good few minutes of alpha trawling at the end. Got there though

    Particularly liked ERITREA for some reason

    A real skill to produce a crossword that is interesting, do-able in half an hour for us laggards but with some aha moments on the way

    Thanks Harry and the excellent blog as always on a Sunday

  12. 4984 Nice puzzle. Just under 25 minutes. Struggled to parse SOFA Top half took a lot longer than the bottom half. RUSSIAN ROULETTE took far longer than it should have and finally led me to NOTABLE, ICED and LIABILITY. ABDOMINALS was LOI. Thanks Harry and K.
  13. Is ‘B’ an abbreviation for barrel then? I could see “BL” as an abbreviation but then didn’t understand what “left” was doing.

    Thanks blogger and setter.

    1. I was also delayed by this question. I found this in Wikipedia under ‘barrels’

      Other terms are used when discussing only oil . . . . . One common term is barrels per day (BPD, BOPD, bbl/d, bpd, bd, or b/d), where 1 BPD is equivalent to 0.0292 gallons per minute.[19] One BPD also becomes 49.8 tonnes per year.[19] At an oil refinery, production is sometimes reported as barrels per calendar day (b/cd or bcd), which is total production in a year divided by the days in that year. Likewise, barrels per stream day (BSD or BPSD) is the quantity of oil product produced by a single refining unit during continuous operation for 24 hours.

    2. I was reminded by the anonymous comment below that I had forgotten to reply to this. B appears as an abbreviation for barrel in Chambers, but not in either Collins or Lexico. This is unusual because Peter Biddlecombe has stated explicitly in the past that he will normally only accept abbreviations that are in one of those two sources. However it seems a pretty natural one to deduce or assume.
  14. Thanks David and keriothe
    Only got to this last evening after the Christmas Day / Boxing Day festivities and found it a very enjoyable way to unwind. At 48 min a bit slower than pretty much all here – and put it down to the above. I think that once in the 70’s I had a small aquarium with TETRA in it, popular because of their bright colouring – it was the first one in here.
    Annoyed when I missed the same trick with ICED as seen with RURAL. Went down the path of LIAR-BILITY as the homophone in 6d. At least these last two didn’t impact the grid fill. Didn’t see the proper parsing of OCTOPUS, not getting past work=OP and trying to squeeze the camo-clothed US marines involved !
    Like the OCTOPUS, drifted down to the bottom and solved that first, although the proper parsing of SOFA had to be revisited post solve.
    Finished with the ETRUSCANS, that LIABILITY and the erroneous ICES as the last one in.

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