Sunday Times 5036 by David McLean

17:48. A tricky puzzle that felt a little quirky to me as I was solving, but having gone through it to write the blog I can’t now see why. It all seems perfectly in order.

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

1 Issue making tense conservative leader laugh
SCREAM – STREAM (issue) with T (tense) changed to Conservative.
5 Fairly rough cut first pulled from James Bond?
9 Desire blonde Tory to ditch concerning undies
LONG JOHNS – LONG (desire), JOHNSon.
10 What’s up with voicing on Top Gear?
HIGH – sounds like ‘hi’ (what’s up). I thought when solving that the definition was a reference to car or bicycle gears but on reflection that would be ‘in’ so I think it’s referring to drugs.
11 Sword Beach can be crossed by one tailing gunners
RAPIER – RA (gunners), PIER.
12 Sailors at sea head of editorials put in The Sun
SOLARISE – (SAILORS)*, Editorials.
14 Feather-shedding perhaps in sudden health loss
DOWNFALL – or FALL of DOWN (feathers).
16 Representation for one badly-represented defendant?
ICON – I, CON. A convict might (or might not, hence the question mark) have been badly represented by his or her lawyer.
18 Yellow is all right
FAIR – DD, the first a reference to hair.
19 Old music producer given backing part for single
BACHELOR – BACH, reversal of ROLE.
21 I’m jumping American, but oddly I’m no ogre
GERONIMO – (IM NO OGRE)*. ‘A shout given by paratroopers as they jump into battle’, according to Collins. I didn’t understand this definition: I had no idea the meaning of the expression was so specific.
22 Very short of time and long to get to end of July
24 Bubbly sort has no front; jerk’s ultimately lacking
26 One in rough currents in windy and icy passage
CRESTA RUN – (CURRENTS)* containing A.
27 People sailing to American or Mediterranean city
TARSUS – TARS, US. Tarsus isn’t actually on the Mediterranean but it’s close.
28 A thing one can be in behind soldiers in action
CREASE – C(RE)ASE. A cricketing definition: if you are batting (in) you are behind the CREASE.
2 Duff or beat local team up?
3 Endless sport all around you could create this
ENNUItENN(U)Is. Semi-&Lit. Quite topical!
4 Is it possible that officer gets a lead on islander?
MAJORCAN – MAJOR, CAN (is it possible that).
5 One that Bailey might ring about stale shot
6 You must put different questions on radio or else!
OTHERWISE – sounds like ‘other whys’.
7 Self-righteous type banishing Republican Napoleon?
PIG – PrIG. Animal Farm reference.
8 Grass, coke and E smuggled by artist whose mum got framed?
13 Vote where Mitt might be put up by several members?
SHOW OF HANDS – CD, not very cryptic.
15 I scorn act playing numbers that might get you hooked
NARCOTICS – (I SCORN ACT)*. Numbers as in things that numb.
17 In the centre, chess tactics excited and delighted
20 After a revolution, drink dry revolutionary’s house
PISCES – reversal of SIP, reversal of SEC.
23 With little time, language is concise
25 Caught caught caught catch here?
SEA – sounds like (caught) “c”. A slightly odd homophone because I don’t think you would actually say “c” in this context. If you were reading a cricket score written ‘c Stokes b Anderson’ you would say “caught Stokes bowled Anderson”.

20 comments on “Sunday Times 5036 by David McLean”

  1. I had trouble with a couple of the clues, not seeing how SCREAM worked, for instance, or LONG JOHNS, and not knowing the ‘health loss’ meaning of DOWNFALL (not US). GERONIMO, on the other hand, was easy to get, although ‘I’m jumping American’ seemed odd as the definition. I liked OTHERWISE

  2. NHO CRESTA RUN, but got there… It took me a while too to think of Bojo for the LONG JOHNS clue. I remember finding this a bit tough. Not convinced, either, by 25, which was probably my LOI or nearly. Among other clues, I found 5 across pretty damn clever.

  3. I read 25D as caught (heard) caught C (so sea). And “caught catch here” as SEA (as in fishing). So the last 3 words, not just 2, would be underlined. I didn’t know one words, SOLARISE, but the instructions were clear and the meaning was plausible. I thought 8D was clever (the one with the “artist whose mum was framed”.

  4. I noted my starting time but not when I finished, however I think I struggled a bit. I had an unusually large number of queries remaining at the end, some of which have since been allayed by the blog or it turned out my reasoning, of which I was not sure, was correct.

    SCREAM went unparsed for wordplay as did HIGH.

    At 14ac I don’t associate DOWNFALL in a figurative sense with health issues; it’s more usually a reversal of fortune. Nor do the usual sources other than Collins which mentions health in one definition as one example bundled in with ‘loss of position or reputation’.

    I don’t think much of the clue to ICON at 16ac as the cryptic hint is far too loose. Going by the main definition alone I considered ICON and IDOL and plumped for the latter almost by toss of a coin as I was unable to make any sense of the rest of the clue.

    FWIW, I had ‘caught catch here’ as the definition of SEA but didn’t like the homophone element in the clue for the reason mentioned in the blog.

    Overall I came away feeling dissatisfied with the puzzle and didn’t think it was quite up to the super-high standard we are accustomed to on a Sunday.

  5. 89 minutes. Hard work, though as I remember eventually all parsed (or so I thought) except for the ‘on Top Gear?’ def.; I should have taken the hint from WHISTLE-BLOWER and NARCOTICS. I now see I mis-parsed 25d and agree with Paul and Jack above that the def is more likely ‘caught catch here’. I liked LONG JOHNS and CRESTA RUN.

  6. Agree with our blogger’s comments on the puzzle.
    This took me quite a while. The four I was stuck on were: SCREAM,COLLABORATE, MAJORCAN and LOI PISCES. Finished eventually.
    Enjoyably quirky. COD to BACHELOR.

  7. I once remember hearing / reading that Times policy was that living persons could not be referred to…except for the reigning monarch. Is that not correct (re. 9ac)? Or is it different for the Sunday Times?

    1. As far as I know it has always been different in Sunday Times crosswords. In some research about our past ones, I saw an answer in a 1930s puzzle which was the name of a current or recent world heavyweight champion, who died in the 1960s.

      1. It later occurred to me that the rule might not always have applied in The Times crosswords. In the 75 Years of the Times Crossword book, the puzzle for 1936 has “His garden book was done by Robert Hichens (5)” as a clue for ALLAH. This is a reference to The Garden of Allah, a 1904 novel later dramatised, written by Hichens, who died in 1950, so he was certainly a living non-monarch mentioned in a clue. My honest guess is that the moment when the rule started at The Times is unknown.

        1. Is it also the case that in the daily puzzles, “one” in a clue is not allowed to be “a” in the wordplay (as it is in this crossword in CRESTA RUN)? I think I read that somewhere. Any other differences between the daily and Sunday?

          1. Yes, I think that’s a Times crossword rule. There are others but I’m reluctant to list them, partly because my list might not be completely accurate, and they could change. But also because I prefer solvers to use logic rather than remembering rules like these – the worst that can happen if you do that is usually considering two possibilities instead of one, and 99% of the time only one of them will produce a result matching a possible definition. One example is having only one plain hidden word clue in a non-Jumbo puzzle. Once in the Times crossword championship, there was a puzzle with two. AFAIK no contestants wasted time by thinking that the second one they solved must have a different answer. And when the xwd ed of the time was told, he just said something like “well, well, well”. I believe I won my first championship without knowing some of the Times rules.

  8. I didn’t catch on to the exact parsing of 25 but did end up deciding on SEA, nor did I understand why 1ac was SCREAM but pumped for it on the basis of laugh being the point of the clue. Other than those I found the rest doable and most enjoyable. I particularly liked 8 down.

  9. DNF (in 70 minutes) because I chose the wrong “one” to build CRESTI RUN — when sports are concerned, I know from nothing, so to speak. But the rest was OK, with the usual Sunday selection of subtle and difficult clues. I actually rather liked ICON and could hardly stop laughing when I saw how it worked. My first try at 4dn was CANARIAN, but then there was no way to get the suitable underwear for current temperatures, so I’m glad I corrected it. I’m happy that I understood most of the wordplay, though I did have some trepidations.

  10. Sea was my favorite clue – I didn’t have a homophone problem, thinking “caught” gives you “c”, it doesn’t give you ‘caught’, and if you read “c” out (not read out what it stands for, but read out what it actually is) you’re at “cee / see / sea / etc”.
    I was surprised at the definition for Geronimo – no problem for the Americans in the crowd who were 10 years old and jumping off of playground equipment and out of tree houses in the 1960s, but I would think almost impossible for others.

  11. I too struggled with this ( perhaps because it’s Christmas morning and I’m in a hurry, or perhaps because I found it “a bit odd” definition-wise). Never did get SCREAM ( my understanding of laugh is a lot less OTT than that), and was blocked from making headway with 5d as I had a perfectly reasonable (?) SLOPPY for 5a ( cut=lop, in Spy, for “rough”). NHO CRESTA RUN, but Whistler’s mum was immediately thought of – liked the clue. Also failed to recognise the cricket reference in 28a, as I’m no sportswoman!

  12. Thanks David and keriothe
    Took a couple of sittings on Boxing Day and the day after to nut this one out – found it quite tough (82 min), but most enjoyable. Missed the parsing of SCREAM and HIGH, in line with a couple of others here. Had only a minor eyebrow raised at ICON – but reckon the looseness was a small price to pay for the definition which raised a smile.
    Finished in the SW corner with TARSUS (thank you St Paul for bringing it to front of mind), PISCES (tricky and clever word play) and SEA (which I rated as cod, when I was finally able to see what was going on!)

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