Sunday Times 5092 by Robert Price

11:05. This wasn’t particularly difficult but I thought it was a delightful puzzle, with lots of concise and elegant clues: the perfect way to end the crosswording year. The anagram at 16ac is a cracker, and I also particularly liked 27ac (‘a trifle left open’), 5dn (‘takes stock of others’) and 8dn (‘Planet Earth enthusiast’).

How did you get on?

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

Across
1 Row about computers being backed up
TIER – reversal of RE IT.
4 My answer tally
CORRESPOND – COR (my!), RESPOND.
9 Alters dresses
SHIFTS – DD.
10 Singular gents, game for a drink
SCHNAPPS – S (singular), then CHAPS with the A replaced by NAP (a card game).
11 Team not made up of stars
SIDEREAL – SIDE, REAL.
12 Grass, direct shortcut for drivers
RAT RUN – RAT (snitch, grass), RUN (direct).
13 Some of Lear maybe serves as a clue?
NONSENSE VERSES – a reverse cryptic: as a clue SERVES could be represented by the answer. The Lear here is of course Edward, not the King.
16 A godsend that is ridiculously unlikely
AGAINST THE ODDS – (A GODSEND THAT IS)*.
20 Take flight affected by damage on the wings
DECAMP – DamagE, CAMP (affected).
22 Reverse out initially, heading off to the point
OPPOSITE – Out, aPPOSITE.
24 One of the keys in a Saint’s organ
PANCREAS – PANCR(E)AS. The saint named after the station, of course.
25 How a highwayman might confess cutting horse’s foot
IAMBUS – “I AMBUSh”.
26 Lasting prettiness takes some work
PERSISTENT – (PRETTINESS)*.
27 A container for a trifle left open
AJAR – A JAR.
Down
2 Church supported by end parts in a royal motto
ICH DIEN – I(CH, DIE)N. The motto of the Prince of Wales. It means ‘I serve’.
3 Gun provided by the French Resistance at the front
RIFLE – R (resistance), IF (provided), LE (the French).
4 Pieces about English society having no class divisions
CASTELESS – CASTL(E)ES, S. Cue complaints from chess players!
5 Adjusting results takes stock of others
RUSTLES – (RESULTS)*. Great definition!
6 Number one of the two one has left
ETHER – EiTHER.
7 Put on a coat, thick and tight
PLASTERED – triple definition. I think the second is a reference to makeup or similar.
8 Planet Earth enthusiast with something to write about
NEPTUNE – reversal of E-NUT (Earth enthusiast), PEN.
14 Suggestions to limit one’s pains
NUISANCES – NU(I’S)ANCES.
15 Opinion survey score
VIEWPOINT – VIEW, POINT (score in a sport such as tennis, I think).
17 Fruit cordial lacking in pineapple
GRENADE – GRENADinE.
18 Darling little piggy
TOOTSIE – as in ‘this little piggy goes to market’.
19 Fruit a requirement, like in a turnover?
SATSUMA – reversal (turnover) of A, MUST, AS.
21 Flakes off starter of poached fish
PEELS – P, EELS.
23 Dance, one road away from Brunel?
SAMBAiSAMBArd Kingdom Brunel.

37 comments on “Sunday Times 5092 by Robert Price”

  1. I put in SCHNAPPS with a schrug, not knowing NAP.
    ICH DIEN was last, if memory… serves. So the motto of the Prince of Wales is in Deutsch! Honi soit qui mal y pense!

  2. Solved on treeware. Thank you keriothe for the explanation of the substitution in 10ac schnapps..nho nap.
    Your blog is much appreciated, as is this lovely puzzle from Mr Price.

    Happy New Year to all .

  3. I remember I flew through this but managed to get RAT RUN wrong. I can’t remember what I put as the second word now, but it wasn’t RUN!

  4. I couldn’t see how SCHNAPPS worked despite toying with CHAPS, NAP and even SNAP. The substitution was well hidden.

    I still don’t understand the explanation for ETHER. There’s no reference to number in Chambers. Even if there was I still don’t see how this clue works. Can someone help me out here?

    1. Number=something that numbs. This comes up from time to time, though not as chestnutty as flower, so keep it in mind.

  5. 37 minutes. I was delayed by having confidently biffed NONSENSE RHYMES as that’s the term I have always used to describe Lear’s poems. I wondered why I had been unable to parse it.

    I didn’t understand ‘score / POINT’ at 15dn, and now having read in the blog that it can refer to tennis I am even more baffled. It’s the one sport I know something about, yet I can’t think of a context in which the two words might be interchangeable. It’s probably me, but I’d welcome further enlightenment.

    1. I wondered about that myself, but I know very little about sport so I thought I’d just let it go. I’m open to enlightenment!

      1. Resorting to my Thesaurus I found ‘score = points’ which seems reasonable. The only place I found ‘score = point’ was in Chambers Crossword Dictionary so perhaps that’s where the setter looked for inspiration? However it doesn’t have it the other way round, ‘score = point’, only ‘score = points’.

      2. The only example I, as a sports fan, can think of, is rugby league, where, traditionally, a team scored one point for a drop goal. Now, I note, it scores two points if the kick is made from behind the the 40-metre line, one point, otherwise.

        1. That would only work if rugby league players referred to the point from a drop goal as ‘a score’.
          I’m still struggling with this one.

          1. Where’s Eddie Waring when you need him?

            ‘Score’ is close enough, I reckon. Most players don’t talk proper, anyway!

  6. Nice crossword and all green. A few I biffed and didn’t even understand after I had submitted, such as SCHNAPPS. So Guy, the Royal Family is actually German. Queen Victoria spoke to Albert in German. They switched from Saxe Coburg to Windsor(after the castle, very English) in WW I since German was not acceptable. Lots of similar things happened in the US, mostly to do with beer, although mostly in WW II (although Budweiser sounds pretty German, but it is Belgian today, part of InBev). And “honi soit…” is because the language of the court after the Norman Conquest in 1066 was French which is why in English our meats have the French names: pork-porc, lamb doesn’t work today but the old word was mutton – mouton, and beef = boeuf. There is a word “pullet” in English (poulet) but it is a technical term in chicken farming not what we use in the supermarket. Of course, this is all diluted today, since the Duke of Edinburgh was a Greek Prince, and Diana was pretty much pure-bred English. So William will not be very German (or Greek).

    1. Yeah, I know about the royal family, actually.
      Honi soit… is the motto of the British Order of the Garter, the highesr knighthood (except in Scotland)—as well as being the title of an album by the great John Cale (from Wales).

    2. ‘Ich dien’ dates to the 14th century, when Edward III made his son the Prince of Wales; if I recall correctly Edward was a Plantagenet. The House of Saxe-Coburg-Something dates (in England) to George I, 18th century.

      1. wow, I just looked it up, and it it just as you say. It is so weird to have a German slogan on your shield in those days. I assumed it was a German era of the monarchy thing. Did anyone speak German back then?

        1. Legend has it that Edward the Black Prince effectively stole the motto and the ostrich feather heraldic device from the dead body of King John of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg, at the battle of Crecy, in 1346. Along with his helmet. Happy days..

            1. Not really .. as an example the jury is still out, on whether the Black Prince was doing honour to his brave adversary, or just fancied having the nice shiny helmet..

  7. Scrambled my way through three-quarters of this, biffing as I went – answers first, understanding following. Mostly. Couldn’t parse 10ac, 6d or 8d. But south-west corner resisted all attempts, 20 & 25ac, 17 & 21d remaining unsolved. Got 24ac PANCREAS, unparsed. And NHO the grenade/pineapple thing, though I was on the right lines at least, trying to take the I and N out of genial for cordial… DNF. Not unexpected since it was Mr Price. Thanks, all, and well done.

  8. There was some unfamiliar vocabulary here – SIDEREAL and IAMBUS – though I’d heard of iambic, so not a great leap. With the former, the clueing was fairly straightforward, and I checked later. I was unable to parse 10A SCHNAPPS, not having heard of the game. It was my LOI, as I originally put ELDER for 6D, which made the crosser impossible. Unsurprisingly, I’d thought 6D a poor clue, but after revising and having the PDM I’ll award it my COD, along with SATSUMA, which made me smile. Thanks, Robert and Keriothe.

  9. I really liked this, very elegant and towards the easier end of Robert’s offerings. Very slick surface readings .. compare and contrast with, well, certain others, say no more 😉

  10. Finished happily enough but took an age to see past ‘I am bus’ and work out why that worked for a highway man! Doh. The Lear/nonsense verse business at 13ac also posed problems. All good fun though.

      1. How a highwayman might confess cutting horse’s foot. I AMBUS(h). I ambush then ‘cut’ the H for horse. The answer is ambus which is a metrical foot.

    1. I played Nap/Napoleon (and Canasta) on Saturday evenings with my grandmother and aunts when I was a child.

  11. Rattled through this excellent offering as always from RP but just couldn’t see PANCREAS. Dare I say I was a little thrown by the superfluous “a”? 🙂 No, just my ignorance of Saints and laziness in thinking of enough organs.

    NONSENSE VERSES and AGAINST THE ODDS my favourites but every clue is always a delight. Keep ‘em coming!

  12. ICH DIEN appears on the reverse (tails) side of all 2p coins minted between 1971 and 2008. These are probably still the majority in circulation. They have the Prince of Wales feathers, with ICH DIEN written on the ribbon near the bottom – although I now have to use a magnifying glass to read it.

    Thank you very much for the blog. I still don’t understand what “trifle” is doing in 27ac “AJAR”. Could someone please explain that to me?

    1. I guess it’s just that a trifle(i.e slightly) open is closer to the meaning of AJAR than wide open.

      1. Thank you!

        (And D’oh!)

        I see now why Keriothe mentioned it in the blog introduction as one of the clues he particularly liked.

        I know AJAR is not uncommon in crosswords. But the misdirection in the surface reading – combined with my continually forgetting that ajar means “slightly open”, rather than just “open”- meant that one got me!

  13. Thanks Bob and keriothe
    Had more trouble with this one than many others here by the looks – taking an hour and a half across three sittings and a couple of days. Ended up having the error with RAT RUN (new term – had RAT OUT and was tangled up with making a truncated ROUTE a part of the word play and a loose AT). Also missed the parsing of PANCREAS (didn’t know the saint and obviously didn’t look hard enough to find him) and didn’t see I AMBUS[H] (was wondering how I AM BUS linked to a highwayman -maybe some coachline or coach model named that was the thinking). Also, had to look up the unheard of Isambard Brunel.
    Started with CASTELESS (which took numerous goes to get the word play right) and finished with SCHNAPPS (where I was aware of the card game) and the ill-fated RAT OUT.

  14. Just doing this today, 1/20/24
    We are a little slow in Canada as this puzzle is in today’s Toronto Star. Anyway, my favourite clue was “Fruit cordial lacking in pineapple.” Go Bills!

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