Sunday Times 4994 by Dean Mayer

17:51. A tricky puzzle, up to Dean’s usual very high standard. I had one error, having been over-hasty to bung in my first thought at 13ac which proved to be wrong. I was a bit puzzled by 16dn, my last in, and I remain unsure of my explanation. No doubt someone will enlighten me if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

How did you get on?

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

1 As married man, go off with mother
6 It may kill when provoked, initially
ASP – AS, Provoked.
10 Blanket as protective attire
11 A field among fields?
FARMING – cryptic definition.
12 We are old and confused, other employers dominate
WEAR THE TROUSERS – WE, ART (are, old), (OTHER)*, USERS. Intricate wordplay.
13 Shoot somebody clever
WHIZ – I put WHIP here, thinking the expression ‘whip-smart’ might extend to WHIP being a word for someone clever. It wasn’t particularly convincing so I should have kept thinking.
14 French towns seizing queen while backing palace
VERSAILLES – VILLES (French towns) containing ER, reversal of AS.
17 Certain musical parts in ballet, oddly
18 Crack supply (not ecstasy)
21 Copper cable clips onto plastic point
23 In high fashion, make better clothes available
24 Wrong start, thus not starting
OFFENCE – OFF (start), hENCE.
25 Be able to read a letter
SEE – DD. You will find SEE for the letter C in various dictionaries.
26 Conservatives with no time for principles
2 Warm place in hard ground
3 Heyday of veteran in biology classes
4 Volunteer assassin?
OFFER – two definitions, one cryptic – a person who ‘offs’ someone.
5 Natural pockets of drink in distant seas?
MARSUPIA – MAR(SUP)IA. I didn’t know the plural of ‘mare’, a sea on the moon, was MARIA. I came close to putting in MARRUMIA here, but it didn’t look right so I thought again.
6 Best mate knocked out by playwright
AN IDEAL HUSBAND – I’m not quite sure how to classify this clue but the idea is that AN IDEAL HUSBAND is the best possible mate for a wife, and Oscar Wilde ‘knocked out’ this play.
7 Stars identify as you and I
PEGASUS – PEG (identify), AS, US.
8 Something to play with that’s amazing dog
BOW-WOW – BOW (something to play with), WOW (that’s amazing).
9 Who could start this?
RELATIVE CLAUSE – pretty much a straight definition! From Collins: a relative clause is a subordinate clause which specifies or gives information about a person or thing. Relative clauses come after a noun or pronoun and, in English, often begin with a relative pronoun such as ‘who’, ‘which’, or ‘that’.
15 Give nothing in push for glory
16 That which a shopper shouldn’t?
DISCOUNT – I think the idea here is that a shopper shouldn’t DISCOUNT a DISCOUNT.
17 The effects of rogue deeds
19 Judge enters for a favour
PREFER – P(REF)ER. PER = ‘for a’.
20 Choke is left out
22 Criminal leaving certain Greek island

28 comments on “Sunday Times 4994 by Dean Mayer”

  1. This was a major struggle. POI THEORIES, LOI DISCOUNT, but several others were recalcitrant. And some of the ones I got soon enough took a long time to parse, like WEAR THE TROUSERS, THEORIES; never figured out OFFENCE, and wondered about DISCOUNT, where I settled on keriothe’s solution. I didn’t care much for SEE; one can be sighted but illiterate. And THEORIES as principles seemed a stretch. I liked OFFER and RELATIVE CLAUSE.
  2. The hardest DM for a while – I struggled to get a foothold, but it was worth sticking with it.
    I particularly liked DISCOUNT (quite audacious, semantically), RELATIVE CLAUSE and, my favourite, COUTURE.
    I could be wrong but shouldn’t it be ‘you and me’ in 7d? Or maybe I’m just annoyed about the time I spent trying to fit WE in.
    1. ^ Forgot to sign that ‘Twmbarlwm’, sorry. (And I also liked QUIP – a touch of David McLean/Hoskins!)
      1. Twmbarlwm caught my eye. I used to walk as far as the pimple from Upper Cwmbran when I was younger and could actually walk anywhere.Are there any other Twmbarlwms? Ann
        1. Hello Ann, and sorry I’ve only just seen your comment. As far as I know there’s only one Twmbarlwm. I used to go there as a kid and loved it. Perhaps we briefly had a similar exchange on the The Times Crossword Club forum a few months back? If not there’s someone else who’s conquered it! – Best wishes, Mike/Twmbarlwm
    2. If you’re a prescriptivist, it’s ‘as you and I’ (similarly, ‘he’s as old as I’, etc.). If you’re a normal native English speaker, it is, indeed, ‘as you and me’ (‘he’s as old as me’, etc.).
    3. Although it passed me by, I like the distinction that “you and I” should give “we” and “you and me” should give “us”. Yes
  3. …I put WHIT for 13ac. Even that didn’t fit any required definition. I was thinking of WIT.
    Thanks for explaining that, keriothe as well as THE GROOM and MARSUPIA. Until I read the blog I had no idea about MARIA being a plural of MARE; I just semi-biffed it once I worked out the significance of ‘natural pockets’.
    I agree with Kevin about SEE.
    Good Dean puzzle and thanks again to keriothe. I also agree with you re DISCOUNT.
  4. Worked online, no notes. If memory serves, MARSUPIA was LOI.
    I wasn’t satisfied with DISCOUNT either.
    One could divide 6 between definition “knocked out by playwright” (i.e., a theatrical work) and the rest, which isn’t, however, a cryptic but a literal spelling out of the title of said play, which I wouldn’t, y’know, count as another definition, as that part doesn’t have dictionary status… &lit? Semi-&lit? Some clues elude strict definition, without being illegal.
  5. Discounting DISCOUNT, a most enjoyable tussle. I particularly liked the pdm which came with LOI MARSUPIA. (I saw a few on my morning walk today!)

    Edited at 2022-02-20 04:37 am (UTC)

  6. I never came back to this and finished it. I saw DISCOUNT but couldn’t see why, and I never got THEORIES. So DNF.
  7. Quite hard work but mostly rewarding, however I too have an issue with ‘be able to read / SEE’. Blind people can read thanks to Braille, for example.

    I failed to get WHIZ as my LOI even after several alphabet trawls – I guess my concentration was flagging by the time I got to W. Also I’d have tended to spell it ‘whizz’ which appears to be the preferred English spelling. The single Z is given as an alternative, and more than one of the usual sources cites it as American.

    Edited at 2022-02-20 02:29 pm (UTC)

  8. Another to fall at 13a for which I also put in ‘whit’, despite not fitting either def, so a DNF in just over an hour. Otherwise not as many tough ones as expected, even if I couldn’t parse DISCOUNT satisfactorily either. FARMING was my favourite.

    Thanks to Dean and keriothe

  9. Another DNF here. At 11a I had FENCING which seemed to fit quite well. The unknown and distant seas were therefore MENRUMIA – the Menai straightened?
    Otherwise I struggled with WIZZ at 13a but did eventually correct it.
    BOW WOW was my favourite.

  10. 50 minutes with DISCOUNT put in with a shrug. LOI the excellent FARMING. COD to BOW WOW even if Daddy wouldn’t buy me one. I got WHIZ but I’d spell it with two Zs. Lots of great clues. Thank you K and Dean.
  11. I ‘whizzed’ through this in just over ten minutes, but was undone by 13a, where I had WHIP. On checking, it’s defined as ‘shoot’, and the second definition, to me, was justified by the phrase ‘smart as a whip,’ which implies that a ‘whip’ is something or someone very clever.

    The first time I’ve seen WHIZZ spelt with one Z was when I looked it up in Chambers this morning.

  12. I’m so relieved to see that most other commenters here found this one a challenge because I got next-to-nowhere with it – a total of ten answers, but at least they were correct. Onward!
  13. As you’d expect from Dean, some lovely clues, but I was unimpressed with THE GROOM at 1ac. It doesn’t seem to have ‘dictionary status’, as Guy elegantly calls it; also 11ac, which seemed to me to be rather a wishy-washy CD — perhaps I’m missing something.

    Edited at 2022-02-20 12:13 pm (UTC)

    1. I’m sure you’re not missing anything, Wil, but I thought it was quite a good cryptic. A field is an occupation or area of knowledge and an occupation in the fields might be farming. It has a touch of the DBE about it but the question mark covers that.
  14. Not far short of 2 hours to complete this one. I’m with all of you who put DISCOUNT in with a shrug. At 13ac I was so sure I needed two Zs that I had WIZZ in for a while, like davidivad above, but had to bite the bullet when I got the second crosser. Lots to like including FARMING, COUTURE, OFFER and QUIP
  15. I took a bit of a punt on WHIZ. My LOI and I was quite glad to finish in 50 minutes – when I started I thought it would be longer. Very challenging for me but satisfying, as usual with Dean’s puzzles. Ann
  16. But I remain unconvinced that WHIZ is any better than WHIP for the given clue, which perhaps should have been “Go shoot someone clever”, making it an unambiguous triple definition at the cost of only two extra letters.
    1. I would like to agree with you (since it’s what I put) but I can’t think of or find any justification for WHIP for ‘somebody clever’.
      1. “Smart as a whip” seemed good enough to me at the time. I didn’t even blink. It took a bit longer to convince myself that whip = shoot
        1. Yes I thought the same but I don’t think it works, just as ‘cucumber’ wouldn’t work for a cool person, ‘picture’ for a pretty one or ‘24 hours’ for an honest one.
          1. You are technically correct.

            But! Some of those examples would work with the assistance of a question mark, and you left out ‘mouse’, which does work for a quiet person.

            Should I really have to whip out my dictionary for every clue to check a) has the vernacular entered the dictionary yet, and b) is there an American spelling of an another word that fits?

            If the setter’s goal was to was to be annoyingly pedantic, then mission accomplished I guess, but I think the clue could have been better is all.

            Edited at 2022-02-21 09:22 pm (UTC)

            1. I think the setter gets close to being deliberately unfair here. He chooses WHIZ to fit W?I? out of 18 possibilities, eight of which have an H as the second letter.

              Why choose a word that has a variant spelling that only appears in a dictionary, and that no one here has apparently seen before? Solving the puzzle, and doing an alphabet trawl here, I dismissed WHIZ, because I ‘knew’ that the word had two Zs. From comments, I don’t appear to have been alone.

              Elephant traps are all well and good: they catch the biffers who don’t think enough about the wordplay. Here, WHIP I think can be construed as a cryptic (though elliptical) second definition. Hence my opinion of the clue.

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