Sunday Times Cryptic 4835, 13 January 2019, by Jeff Pearce — Huckleberry friend

Fun one, not as hard as I feared, once I finally got started. I’m sure 15 was extremely easy if you happened to know what “Honister” refers to; I didn’t, but got it (eventually) anyway. It took a while to figure out the excellent 8 too, though the answer was right at my fingertips.

I do (nasamgar)* like this (six this time!), and italicize anagrinds in the clues.


 1 Want to hold fool back when keeping dry (10)
ABSTINENCE — ABS(NIT<—)ENCE. Some may not consider “when” to be part of the definition, which is certainly a valid point of view.
 6 Some twitcher hears ostrich-like bird (4)
RHEA — It’s hidden in the foliage, get out your binocs!
 9 Mineral found in veins? (10)
10 Flipping time machine is missing—blast! (4)
DRATNow I’ll never get home! TARD[-is] <— The ever-popular Doctor Who reference.
12 Son on horse crushing head of Colorado beetle (6)
13 Red jag, say, outside pub with a blonde in the front (8)
CINNABAR — The “jag” is a Jaguar… C(INN + A + B[-londe])AR
15 Many consider Honister to be such a difficult place to be (1,6,4)
A PRETTY PASS — DD  My LOI, if memory serves. Then I looked up “Honister.”
18 Informed experts caught in dreadful congestion (11)
COGNOSCENTI — (congestion + C)*
21 Most passionate lutists played with energy (8)
LUSTIESTThe lead lute solos used to have the damosels swooning. (lutists + E)*
22 Crack cocaine set out (6)
24 Layer toiletry oddly (4)
TIER — (Obvious)
25 Practise with an awkward animal (7,3)
PERSIAN CAT — (practice + an)*
26 Turn over a bun (4)
27 Valuation of corrupt men’s assets (10)
ASSESSMENT — (men’s assets)*

 1 Attack from male hiding in a thicket (6)
 2 Catchphrase is a big hit primarily before end of election (6)
SLOGAN — The process would seem rather convoluted, but I think you’re supposed to take the “a” in the clue, put “big hit,” SLOG (“Not ‘slug’?” I thought…), in “primarily” (that is, before A) and the whole thing “before end of election,” N. “Primarily” and “before” must have two different functions, or the second would be redundant. Of course, “a big hit” could also define SLOG, but that would leave the A in the answer unaccounted for.
 3 Southern Asian class briefly tours a north American city (12)
INDIANAPOLIS — “Southern Asian” is INDIAN, and “class” is POLIS[-h] (in the sense of savoir faire, style, refinement of manners), going round A. Seems I forgot to parse this one, and earlier today, gripped with blogger’s brainfreeze, i couldn’t see how the clue worked. As it happened, I had to ask a Brit (Keriothe). You know, we Americans never think about “class” (except for leftists like me. Oh, well). I thought “class” might be AP, and the lower-case “north” misled me into thinking other words might be “tour[ing]” A and N; after all, the definition would be fine without “[N]orth,” aside from the chauvinistic aspect of taking “American” to refer to the United States, as INDIANAPOLIS is both a north(ern) US city and a North American city. In any case, when you see “Southern Asian” and “American city,” and especially if you already have crossers suggesting -APOLIS, the answer is rather obvious. So I have to give Jeff credit for making the parsing as difficult as possible.
 4 Forgetting starter warms a meal (4)
 5 Happy sister carried uniform (10)
 7 Warning device has to emit light in tree (8)
 8 … is what it will be if the typist doesn’t get a shift on (8)
ASTERISK — CD. My COD! And pretty self-explanatory, no?
11 In broadcast Dylan wails I’m an old singer (4,8)
ANDY WILLIAMSWe know, Bob, but it’s cool! (Dylan wails I’m)*  According to Bob’s official website, he has performed Andy’s signature song “Moon River” exactly two times, in 1990 and 2018. (You can find the latter rendition on YouTube, and you might be surprised.) When Dylan started out in NYC folk clubs, he was often described as perpetually wearing a “Huck Finn cap.” I wonder if the surface wouldn’t be improved by adding quotemarks around “I’m an old singer.”
14 More than one joker restricts King being played (10)
TRICKSTERS — (restricts + K)*
16 Artist portraying small vessel going around lake on hill (8)
SCULPTOR — S is “small,” with CU(L)P + TOR
17 There’s some white in this paint (8)
19 It’s awkward being left in Paris (6)
20 Odd number of players performing for 30 days on film (6)
SEPTET — SEPT (the ninth month) + ET (or E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg movie, a cryptics chestnut). “Performing” isn’t necessary for the definition, but it’s not part of the wordplay (it would make a good anagrind).
23 American woman who once won Wimbledon (4)
ASHE — A(merican) + SHE. Arthur.

31 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4835, 13 January 2019, by Jeff Pearce — Huckleberry friend”

  1. When I began this puzzle I thought I was in trouble, as I struggled to get a foothold, but things gradually came together and everything gelled for a reasonable time of 23:42. HORNBEAM had me flummoxed for a while. These puzzles have finally taught me that CINNABAR is not spelled CINNEBAR:-) Liked ASTERISK a lot. Didn’t know the BLOODSTONE but the wordplay was clear. As a northerner, I had no trouble with A PRETTY PASS. Arthur ASHE had me puzzled for a while. Enjoyable crossword. Thanks Jeff and Guy.

    Edited at 2019-02-03 01:25 am (UTC)

  2. More challenging than many of Jeff’s, although 19d and 26ac were QC level. I especially liked DRAT. I never did work out how SLOGAN works, and like Guy had to look up Honister afterwards. 8d took me a bit longer than it might have if I had a different keyboard; on my Mac, the asterisk shares a key with the colon. I biffed 13ac, solved post-submission. The ‘jag’ should be ‘Jag’; Peter confirms this in the forum (at least I assume he was referring to this one; neither of us mentioned the clue, of course).

    Edited at 2019-02-03 01:18 am (UTC)

    1. Yeah, I nearly mentioned (complained about) that. If it were corrected, the surface would lose as much as cryptic rectitude would gain.
      1. I would think just the opposite: ‘Red jag’ means nothing that I can think of, whereas ‘Red Jag’ means what it should mean.
        1. jag
          noun 1.
          a sharp projection.
          synonyms: sharp projection, point, snag, jagged bit;

          Although the surface gives a clearer picture when you see it as a CAR immediately, I thought some ambiguity was intended by using the lower-case letter. There are plenty of names of cars that don’t mean anything else.

          Edited at 2019-02-03 02:02 am (UTC)

    2. I don’t find any comments about this puzzle on the forum yet. What were you referring to?
    3. Well, ignorance is bliss because I never knew that capitalisation didn’t work both ways. I do now.
        1. Exactly; it means what it should mean for the setter’s purpose, i.e. it looks like, ah, ‘red Jag’.
  3. Fell at the last hurdle, unable to work out TRICKSTER.

    Had a spooky moment re 7dn as immediately before starting the puzzle I had been listening to John Betjeman reading ‘Summoned By Bells’ with its opening lines:

    ‘Here on the southern slopes of Highgate Hill,
    Red squirrels leap the hornbeams’.

    Other than that context it’s not a tree name that I’m familar with.

  4. 27 minutes. Sixty years and it seems like yesterday. I learnt the game from Buddy, if I ever did. COD to ANDY WILLIAMS. To hear his Bobship sing Moon River this morning was a real treat, Guy. Given this reference and the date today, I just put Dylan and Buddy in to Google and got Bob singing Heartbeat, worth listening to. The Winter Dance Party played Duluth, so Bob was watching Buddy not long before the crash. To the puzzle. Honister’s also famous for its slate mine, an attraction up there with the Keswick Pencil Museum. Us COGNOSCENTI know plenty. An enjoyable affair. Thank you Guy and Jeff.
  5. 57 minutes, pushed out by Arthur ASHE and ANDY WILLIAMS both being from rather before my time, and only vaguely recalling that Honister was something Lake Districty, even though I may have walked it at some point.

    Loved 8d ASTERISK once I figured it out. Happy to see I wasn’t alone in getting SLOGAN without quite knowing why. I see Chambers has “A hard blow” as its first definition for SLOG, whereas I’d’ve expected “A strenuous spell of work” to be there, rather than second.

  6. ….(C)IN(N) A BAR in Birmingham (the Wellington, on Bennett’s Hill, off New Street). A choice of 16 real ales, and a 5 minute stroll from New Street Station. Alas, only time for one pint, but I highly recommend this pub. They don’t do food, but apparently if you bring your own they’ll supply crockery, cutlery, and condiments !

    I knew Honister as the slate mine, but not as A PRETTY PASS. It didn’t need a lot of working out once the gaps began to fill though.

    Nice puzzle – thanks Jeff, and to Guy for an excellent blog.

    LOI DRAT – immediately after…
    COD ASTERISK – inspired !
    TIME 11:55 in less than ideal conditions for solving, but ideal for other purposes.

  7. Nearly finished this: Bloodstone was unknown and did not emerge even when I had the Blood part.
    Otherwise an enjoyable challenge. I had not heard of Honister but was able to guess the answer.
    I must now check whether Andy Williams is still alive, listen to the Dylan version and also try to remember who had the British No.1 with the song.
    1. Danny Williams. I think Andy died a few years ago. I remember being on the Kop at Anfield when ‘Can’t get used to losing you” was played in the Beatles era. People were clicking their fingers in time to that staccato backing. Good middlebrow music was appreciated too.
  8. @9ac was a bit too straightforward! In A level geology it was known as jasper. 7dn HORNBEAM was a gimme too!

    FOI 1dn AMBUSH




    Time 32 mins – a gentle Sabbath offering

  9. 12:33. I’ve never heard of ANDY WILLIAMS and didn’t know what Honister was, but neither caused me real problems. I only know about Arthur ASHE because he pops up in these things from time to time.
    1. Ashe stadium, where the US tennis open is played, shows up often in US puzzles, not least because it is almost immediately adjacent to the anagramatic Shea stadium where the NY baseball Mets played until Shea was replaced with the newer Citigroup Field
  10. 42:35 a mix of the very easy (26ac and 27ac say) and harder ones which had me foxed for a time (7dn – that tree just not on my mental list of tree synonyms – 8dn – slow to see what was going on until the checkers pretty much handed it to me – 13ac – that red just not on my mental list of red synonyms). Was slow to get 5dn, was sure the sister was going to be a nun. DNK Honister but knew the expression at 15ac. I’m glad to see that my contorted parsing to account for the ‘a’ in slogan matches the blogger.
  11. As regular completers of the daily QC, this was the first “proper” Cryptic we had done. So we were delighted to finish, commenting “Surely that was too easy to be a prize one”. Definitely encouraging.
    1. Congratulations. Is that Elizabeth and Mary? Which one of you is the sheep/ goat? They can be harder but this isn’t atypical for a Sunday. They’re often quite witty.
      1. No, actually Elizabeth & David but we keep Shetland sheep! We didn’t finish today’s though . . .
  12. Nice blog Guy. I found this easy, too. Couldn’t parse Slogan, other than seeing how all the letters were sort of present. I also spent way too much time on Tricksters, which should have been a write in.
  13. 13:08, and possibly my fastest Jeff, although I had to look up Honister afterwards. Arthur the tennis player my LOI when I’d got the cat. I enjoyed ASTERISK, ANDY WILLIAMS and CINNABAR. Like our blogger I took the lack of capitalisation to be an attempt at misdirection. On reflection, I think Jag would have been better. As for SLOGAN – I took it as A with SLOG (big hit) in front (“primarily”), “before” (“end of”)electioN – which is, I think what you said!
    Thanks Guy and Jeff.
  14. While praise for this clue seems widespread I can’t parse it. Is there some piece of information about a British keyboard that is unknown to me?
    Margaret in Canada
    1. On the standard QWERTY keyboard, the key for 8 when shifted gives you an asterisk. The Wikipedia entry for QWERTY says that keyboards in the US (where I live) and the UK are the same in this regard, but also those in Canada—even the Canadian French keyboard. Pas vrai ?

      Edited at 2019-02-16 10:21 pm (UTC)

  15. Thanks Jeff and guy
    Found this one of the easiest ST puzzles that I’ve done for a long time, ripping through most of it at a fast pace and slowed up by the last 3 or 4 at the end. Agree that ASTERISK is one of those really clever dinky clues that pop up from time to time. Thought SEPTET had a clever definition as well.
    Knew both ANDY WILLIAMS and ARTHUR ASHE (who was the first African-American to win Wimbledon and was tragically taken by cancer quite early) – from the comments it was further evidence that I must be getting on !
    Finished in the NE corner with the clever 8d, A PRETTY PASS (which I would’t have got without looking up Honister – didn’t know the phrase and had to check that as well) and CONSISTENT (which shouldn’t have been but was the last one in).

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