Sunday Times 5088 by Dean Mayer – anax woz here

13:36. The usual fun from Dean, with a couple of particularly nice clues. My favourites were ‘Ham producer’, the CD at 18dn, and the initially utterly bamboozling and then quite brilliant 28ac. How did you get on?

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

Across
1 She who isn’t really a player at Christmas
PANTOMIME DAME – CD.
10 Here in Rome, vessels cause minor problems
HICCUPS – HIC (here in Latin), CUPS.
11 I’ll call it “breaking cover”
VISITOR – VIS(IT)OR.
12 Fish spear with no tip, maybe
PERCHANCE – PERCH, lANCE.
13 On, more or less
ABOUT – DD.
14 Ham producer working around a hotel
NOAH – reversal of ON, A H. Ham being one of those whom Noah begat. Clever!
15 Passion female needs to take back romantic hero
HEATHCLIFF – HEAT, reversal of F, FILCH. Of Wuthering Heights fame, of course.
19 Oppose pilot with car entering races
CONTROVERT – CON (pilot, as a verb), T(ROVER)T.
20 Grand piano I found in city district
EPIC – E(P, I)C.
22 Cold potato flakes (starter only)
ALOOF – ALOO (potato), Flakes.
24 “Batter” in fish — don’t buy it
SMELL A RAT – SMEL(LARA)T. A reference to Brian Lara, legendary West Indies batsman.
26 Golf and water sport on the rise
GROWING – G, ROWING.
27 Impact after bombing old Mexican port
TAMPICO – (IMPACT)*, O. A port in Mexico I had never heard of.
28 As 33 is here, No 102 is too
PERIODIC TABLE – arsenic (As) is 33 in the PERIODIC TABLE, nobelium (No) is 102. Very clever and completely baffling on first sight!
Down
2 Pin down, as in trace perhaps
ASCERTAIN – (AS IN TRACE)*.
3 Shown how wrong pronunciation may be
TAUGHT – sounds like ‘tort’.
4 Staff accepting very skilled worker
MASON – MA(SO)N.
5 Flash competes with Jack Nicholson eg
MOVIE STAR – MO, VIES, TAR.
6 Well, a channel surrounds this ship
DISPATCH – DI(SPA)TCH.
7 Legend behind uprising, but no leader
MOTTO – reversal (uprising) of bOTTOM.
8 Swap joint with coppers
CHOP AND CHANGE – no explanation needed.
9 Joy’s novel got Africa in it
GRATIFICATION – (GOT AFRICA IN IT)*.
16 Veins damaged by old saw?
ENVISAGED – (VEINS)*, AGED.
17 Just one militant will seize power
IMPARTIAL – I, M(P)ARTIAL.
18 You may read it at your convenience
GRAFFITI – CD, based on the idea that GRAFFITI often appears on the walls of public conveniences. Who remembers Nigel Rees?
21 Compound put up an old girl
ALUMNA – ALUM (a colourless soluble hydrated double sulphate of aluminium and potassium, as you know), reversal of AN.
23 A thinning layer” (Australian joke)
OZONE – OZ, ONE (joke, as in ‘that’s a good one’). Is it still thinning?
25 Bluestocking’s smuggled weapon
ESTOC – contained in ‘bluestocking’. A ‘short stabbing sword’, according to Collins. I didn’t recognise the word but with checkers and wordplay it had to be.

34 comments on “Sunday Times 5088 by Dean Mayer – anax woz here”

  1. Another winner from Dean; this one took me a long time. DNK LARA, CHOP AND CHANGE (some explanation needed: does it mean ‘swap’? Not according to ODE), ESTOC of course, PANTOMIME DAME (I tried LADY, corrected once I looked it up). 28ac became clear to me once I remembered (being fooled by) As at the beginning of a clue, and then noticed that ‘No 102’ had no period. Very clever indeed, and my nominee for COD, with NOAH a close second.

    1. I wondered about the definition for CHOP AND CHANGE too, as Collins has “to keep changing your plans” and Dictionary.com “Verb as in blow hot and cold”—which itself is defined lower down by “as in keep on and off.” There is no connotation of repetition or alternation in “swap.”

        1. It’s in the OED 1933 edition vol 2 under chop verb2 I 4. The sense of chop here is to barter. Then under I 4 is a subentry for chop and change of which they say to change one’s mind frequently.

          1. But from your description (I don’t have the OED), it appears that the “barter” sense applies only to CHOP, with the sense of vacillation applying only to its combo with CHANGE.

            1. No this specifically relates to CHOP AND CHANGE. I would find a relevant citation but I’m cooking at the moment!

              1. « This phrase dates back to the 1400s. This was a period when Henry’s father, Henry VII, came to rule the English throne. The word chop during this period meant to barter, derived from the Old English word “ceapian,” from which we get the word cheap. Initially, the chop and change phrase was meant to barter and exchange and remained in use until the 1600s. However, by the mid-1600s, the meaning had shifted to its current meaning. Presently, chop is an archaic word used for centuries to mean “change suddenly.” »
                https://www.theidioms.com/chop-and-change/

    2. It’s a good point – I didn’t think twice about it when solving. OED says it can mean to barter, or to exchange, but that meaning seems obsolete.

  2. Great puzzle this week. Dean on top form. Difficult to pick a COD. 14a and 28a are up there.

    Guy: I hear chop and change most often used when someone cannot make their mind up in continually alternating between two ideas.

  3. Many queries along the way slowed me down but I think I understood everything eventually. The only complete unknown was ESTOC but the hidden answer was easy to spot once I had a checker in place. I recently did a themed puzzle in The Guardian containing a whole bunch of obscure swords, but ESTOC was not amongst them.

  4. I had no idea about LARA—as it turns out; it’s not something I even slightly noticed when filling in the grid. Must have been one of the later ones. But I think ESTOC was the last; it looked vaguely familiar.

    “The largest historical extent of the ozone hole—28.4 million km²—occurred in September 2000,” according to the European Environmental Agency. “This area is equivalent to almost seven times the territory of the EU.” The reference here seemed a bit anachronistic, since the ban on ozone-depleting aerosols since the 1987 United Nations Environment Programme Montreal Protocol has been one of the marked successes of environmental activism. “In 2000, the ozone hole reached its maximum extent since 1979 and has stopped increasing in size in subsequent years…. Since 2001…the ozone layer is showing signs of healing with variations in size between years that are strongly driven by stratospheric temperature, with warmer temperatures leading to a smaller ozone hole, such as in 2019.” But I’d say we’re not out of the woods yet.

  5. 28A reminded me of a old Times crossword favourite, seen in a 1990s championship puzzle, and suggested when favourites were requested for a list in 75 years of The Times Crossword.

    He represenrs one, and I another (8j

  6. Probably the best Dean Mayer crossword of the year. I enjoyed it all. NOAH and PERIODIC TABLE were great but so many to choose from.

  7. Did ok at this though struggled in the lower reaches. Didn’t understand how the clues led to the answers at 24 (the “batter” part – bloomin’ cricket again!) & 28ac, nor 3d & 21d, and NHO 25d ESTOC. It’s amazing how far you can get with guesswork! Very enjoyable exercise though, and in a decent hour approx. Thanks to setter and bloggers.

  8. Done and dusted in about 90 minutes but needed the blog for the rhyme and reason of several:
    The HIC of HICCUPS, NOAH from wordplay only, SMELL A RAT lack of cricket knowledge and ALUMNA again from wordplay.
    ESTOC unknown so glad it was a hidden.

  9. DNF. I ended up with 2 unsolved and one wrong. For 11A I had VOCITER, which seemed plausible as a Latin word used in the law – IT in an anagram of cover. Unfortunately this made 6D impossible, but in any case, I was stumped by 21D, not having heard of ALUM and thinking the whole meant a compound. Had I not worried about the compound and considered ‘old girl’ not being MA, I expect the penny would have dropped. But I loved many of the clues in the rest of it – the DAME, PERIODIC TABLE, the Ham producer and the cheeky GRAFFITI, which I would undoubtedly have spelled wrong without the useful I crosser! Thanks to Dean and to Keriothe for sorting it all out.

  10. 26.25

    Yes excellent puzzle and blog as always. NOAH also the standout for me. At the end saw the TABLE and that gave me GRAFFITI (knew what I was looking for but couldn’t nail it) and ESTOC. It also confirmed SMELL A RAT as I couldn’t parse the LARA bit. Actually that was brilliant as well

  11. As others have said, 14 and 28 were very good…took me ages but very satisfying when they finally clicked (on about Wednesday!!!). Didn’t get 21 or 27. Next time. Thanks Keriothe

    1. It’s a fair question. ‘Joint’ has a generic meaning as a cut of meat of course but it’s normally only applied to things that you roast. I roast chops sometimes but I don’t think I’d ever call the result, individually or collectively, a joint. Turns out this clue did perhaps need a bit more explanation than I thought!

  12. Great puzzle – COD to ham producer. One minor query – the great Trinidadian is still with us – is that not against times convention?

  13. Good one! Never noticed Brian LARA in the batter clue, so was foxed. Also didn’t recognise ALUM as a compound, oddly as it isn’t rare or unusual, so ta for those 2.
    I (and probably about 99% of the world) NHO ESTOC but an obscure word is OK as a hidden IMHO.

  14. 27ac I dislike obscure words clued as anagrams; I really dislike obscure foreign words clued as anagrams. And as for obscure foreign place names clued as anagrams …

    1. I’m generally very sympathetic to this view but in this case you have T_M_I_O and you have to put an A, a P and a C in the gaps. The A obviously has to go between the T and the M so that leaves you a choice between TAMPICO and TAMCIPO. To me the former looks much more likely so I think that in this case there is enough to get you to the right answer.

    2. I never heard of TAMPICO but Googled it and learned a bit of Mexican geography. Similarly, ESTOC also increased my vocabulary.

  15. As others have said: a great crossword that was also fun, and a great blog too.
    Silly enough to have tentatively entered ?????CHIEF at the end of 15a, which precluded me from getting HEATHCLIFF ( pity), also NHO ESTOC or LARA , but that didn’t stop me getting SMELL A RAT . Looking in the wrong direction for ALUMNA, but was happy to get a couple of PDMs with 14 and 28a. Roll on next Sunday!

  16. Thanks Dean and keriothe
    Busy weekend with son’s wedding, so only got to this one tonight. Agree with the consensus that it was a beauty and that 14a and 28a were equal CODs! Ended up getting an error with the only one that I couldn’t parse in DESPATCH and coming here, see that it couldn’t be ‘cos it was wrong.
    ESTOC has come up often enough in crosswords over the years to have been remembered – such an unusual word does tend to stick (pun unintended) once it has been seen.
    Finished up the top with PANTOMIME DAME (which took an age to understand and only after looking it up to see that she is traditionally played by a man in drag), MOTTO (took a while to equate it to ‘legend’) and the erroneous DESPATCH the last one in.

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