Sunday Times 5050 by Robert Price – elementary

9:42. Another very entertaining puzzle from Robert. I had a couple of quibbles, one of which (3ac) I managed to resolve for myself, the other (16dn) still seems questionable to me. I’d be interested to know what you think.

Lots of good clues including the self-referential 3ac, but the brilliant 7dn has to take the prize this week.

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

1 Set of posts in line dividing wetlands
BLOG – B(L)OG. What I’m doing right now!
3 Rome’s landfill, not filled evenly
FIFTY-FIFTY – ‘landfill’ not filled is ll, and L is 50 in Roman numerals. I thought this was a bit iffy, because you normally see Roman numerals written as capitals. However they are sometimes written in lower-case, particularly for lists: (i), (ii) etc. You’re pretty unlikely to see a list that gets to (l), but that doesn’t invalidate the concept. A very clever clue that refers to the number of the puzzle.
10 Serious Scots greeting one half-heartedly
SOBER – SOBbER. Or possibly SObBER. I didn’t know (or had forgotten) that ‘greet’ is a specifically Scottish word for ‘cry’ (or sob) but both Collins and Chambers confirm that it is.
11 Anglican clutching iron rail in café
12 Doctor without racket reportedly rents sports gear
RIDING BREECHES – RI(DIN)G, homophone of ‘breaches’.
14 Killers perhaps, but not hard-nosed
DUMDUMS – CD. These are soft-tipped bullets, so-called because they were first made in Dum Dum, a city near Calcutta.
15 Examiner’s car runs over detective
AUDITOR – AU(DI)TO, R. I got completely discombobulated by this clue because I thought the car was an AUDI!
17 Caledonian ale’s left brewing with high pH
19 Coat worn by one in employment turning metal
CAESIUM – reversal of M(U(I)SE)AC. A matryoshka clue!
20 Statesmen impress with interim reshuffles
PRIME MINISTERS – (IMPRESS INTERIM)*. Not necessarily, as a matter of either gender or ability.
23 Vehicle payment brings in zero after tax
24 Central digit poking bare elbow
NUDGE – NUD(G)E. ‘Central digit’ for G might be frowned upon by stricter Ximeneans, but it’s fine by me.
25 A way to ride in teams to confuse
26 Resentful about God
EROS – reversal of SORE.
1 Commanding Yorkshire’s top region once
BESTRIDING – BEST RIDING, a reference to the former divisions of Yorkshire. The term comes originally from the Old Norse thrithi, meaning ‘third’, hence there were three of them.
2 Old chap eating sprouts before Mass. He’ll get complaints
4 Suffer endless public transport nightmare
INCUBUS – INCUr, BUS. The male version of a SUCCUBUS, or just a nightmare or (as we learned the other day) an oppressive person or thing.
5 In Wales a flower and in France a fabric
TAFFETA – TAFF, ET (and in France), A.
6 A tongue getting ready for something tasty
FRENCH DRESSING – FRENCH (a tongue), DRESSING (getting ready).
7 Strand story leads to Reichenbach eventually
FIBRE – FIB, Reichenbach, Eeventually. This is very clever indeed, because The Final Problem, the Sherlock Holmes story in which he confronts Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, was originally published in the Strand magazine. Brilliant!
8 A character from Ye Olden Days
YORE – a character from ‘ye’ can be either Y OR E. Another clever one.
9 Maybe he makes firm declarations
PRONOUNCEMENTS – PRONOUN (maybe he), CEMENTS (makes firm).
13 Terms for the US border accepted by examiners
16 Offer to include upset batman down the order
TAILENDER – T(AIL)ENDER. As far as I know (or have been able to confirm in a dictionary) ‘batman’ is never used to denote a cricketer, so I’m not sure this quite works.
18 Did degrading act to get around test
19 Trendy revolutionary dropped by friendly set
CONGEAL – CONGEniAL, where the removed NI is a reversal of IN (trendy).
21 Uncompromising like Ireland’s uprising
RIGID – reversal (uprising) of DIG (like), IR.
22 Screams of Hoxton’s members of parliament
OWLS – ‘owls. I’m not sure people speak like this in trendy Hoxton these days but we’ll let that pass.

24 comments on “Sunday Times 5050 by Robert Price – elementary”

  1. 23:37
    I failed to get the wordplay of a couple: forgot ‘greet’, like Keriothe took AUDI for the car–left wondering if a TO was some sort of detective–failed to see Y or E. NHO Hoxton, but assumed it’s in East London. Knowing nothing of cricket, I wasn’t bothered by ‘batman’. FIBRE is indeed brilliant, but the Holmes connection was wasted on me, and fortunately is not needed to solve. Lower-case Roman numerals are often used for page numbers in introductions or prologues, although again a 50-page intro is not too likely. All in all, another winner from Myrtilus. I especially liked FIFTY-FIFTY, CAESIUM, PRONOUNCEMENTS, CONGEAL.

    1. I remember from school that some of Shaw’s plays seemed to have interminable introductions(Man and Superman?) but still were probably well under fifty pages. Also some Conrad novels had very long introductions.

      1. I think I have a French book or two with roman-numbered intros that run past fifty pages, but I’m too lazy to search for one now.

  2. “Batman” was a mistake, which I seem to have noticed in test solving but failed to pick up and action in editing. There’s an apology with this week’s puzzle in print, and it will be repeated inth club forum tomorrow.

  3. “Batman” didn’t raise an eyebrow, as a TAILENDER was evidently a man with a bat (when I looked it up).
    Thanks for the gloss re Strand mag and Moriarty. Not at all necessary for solving, of course, but the connection does generously add another dimension to the clue. Interesting that the one by Bob that I blogged three weeks ago also had a (somewhat covertly) Sherlock-themed clue.
    Loved YORE.

  4. Indeed an enjoyable puzzle. My favourite was 2dn, presumably he works for OFAIR – sorry couldn’t resist. YORE I didn’t understand, but now I do – very neat. I got to SOBER via a different route by taking half-hearted to be feeble, which in Scottish is also SOBER.

  5. CONGENIAL as my LOI took me 3 minutes past my half-hour target. I didn’t notice the error at 16dn but anyway I prefer ‘batman’ to ‘batter’ which seems to be gaining currency these days.

    1. I think someone on high has decreed that we’re to call them batters nowadays, not batsmen (or batmen). It stops women cricketers from being excluded.

      1. ‘Batter’ immediately brings to mind visions of pancakes and Yorkshire pudding. I much prefer the idea 0f having a Batman or Batwoman on the pitch!

  6. No notes for this, so presumably no particular gripes, though there was a MER at ‘batman’. I liked FIFTY-FIFTY and SOBER a lot – I did know the Scots term for crying – it appears in various folk songs and poems as well as in spoken Scots. CAESIUM was a step too far for me in its convolutions, and took a good deal of head scratching to parse, but I appreciated the cleverness of NONACID, once I finally worked out what was going on. As usual, a brilliant and witty offering; although I recognised the Holmes reference, I didn’t know it originally appeared in Strand. Many thanks to Robert and Keriothe.

  7. Like Alto ego Caesium baffled me and still does despite the parsing explanation. However a new word for my ‘dictionary’.
    Fifty fifty was too clever for me

    1. ‘A worn by B’, indicates that B is inside A.
      A here is ‘coat’ => MAC
      B is ‘one in employment’ => U(I)SE
      Put B [U(I)SE] inside A [MAC] => M[U{I}SE]AC
      The whole thing is then reversed (turning).

      1. Thanks keriothe. That make sense now but as I have never heard of Caesium it’s unlikely that I would have got the solution any time soon

  8. Quite a few not fully parsed, especially FIFTY FIFTY, but I got there in the end.
    Oddly LOI was EROS, obvious once TRIMESTERS appeared. I spent ages on AUDITOR and did find the correct parsing in the end. Vorsprung durch Technik.
    Another enjoyable puzzle from Robert. COD to FIBRE.

  9. Dnf as I was convinced 24ac was BARGE – di(G)it inside bare (BARE) = an elbow barge. This parsing looks overly simplistic now. Didn’t get how Y or E worked and didn’t get CAESIUM at all. So I found this tougher than usual.

    1. In Ye Olden Days barging in the lineout in Rugby was a penalty offense I remember correctly. We had barge until we got tailender.

  10. 56 minutes, so just under an hour, which was faster than I was hoping for after the leaderboard said the average solving time was an hour and a half. Like most Sundays, an absolutely delightful puzzle, even though I didn’t catch all of the fine points of the clues (the Sherlock Holmes reference, for example). COD to OWLS, perhaps, once I saw which parliament they were members of. English’s collective nouns of that sort are absolutely delightful, many of them having originated in the 15th century — strange that people were amusing themselves with this rather preposterous nomenclature that long ago* (my favourite is the superfluity of nuns). YORE was rather good, too, and I even saw how it worked.

    *or perhaps, this recently by British standards.

    1. In cricket, no batsman has been a batman, in living memory anyway. Ironic error, coming from the home of cricket. It would have been an excellent clue, otherwise.

      The clues for yore and fibre were outstanding, and fifty fifty would have been, given it was in puzzle 5050, except that in Australia it was puzzle 1354.

  11. Felt a lot happier with my effort today, only giving up on a few clues as the hour approached and I was getting nowhere. CAESIUM I would never have solved (NHO and the cryptic too convoluted), had forgotten EROS ( how possible?), and NHO WAGONETTE. Really enjoyed the rest though, despite not twigging to the finer points of the constructions, especially FIBRE and YORE and RIDING BREECHES. I’m getting there, be it ever so slowly…

  12. Thanks Robert and keriothe
    Took exactly the hour. across two sessions, with a little help from my electronic friends toward the end. CAESIUM was the only word on the edge of my knowledge and took a lot of tweaking to winkle out how it was put together. Thought that NONACID , FIFTY-FIFTY and YORE were all excellent. Amazed to see the finesse of constructing a clue with a surface like FIBRE (haven’t read any of the Sherlock Holmes novels, so a complete waste on me, unfortunately – but can still appreciate the surface once explained).
    Finished in the SE corner with TRIMESTERS, that CAESIUM (not helped by some wrong answer that I cannot determined that was initially written into 19d) and the corrected CONGEAL (when the error was forced out).

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