Sunday Times Cryptic 4989, by Robert Price — With wit and cunning

…this puzzle is constructed. No exotic vocabulary, no CDs (not that I mind either), no stretchy definitions, all quite clear and no questions or quibbles left after solving… and yet I had to look at many of these clues more than once… or twice. The craftsman’s skill is epitomized by the expert dovetailing of anagrind and anagrist in 15 and 16.

I indicate (Mara sang)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Wool from a cold mountain area’s clothing (6)
ALPACA — ALP(A)(C)A, with the final A being “area” …It might get cold where I’m going, so alpaca sweater.
 4 Thieves going through the speaker’s drawers (8)
Shades of the Capitol riot!
KNICKERS — “nickers”
 9 Barring passage, ignoring resistance (6)
10 Maybe Gloria Gaynor’s first and last show (4,4)
SWAN SONG — That’s Gloria SWANSON, star of silent films and eventually (remarkably apt here) Sunset Boulevard + G[-aynor].
12 Gross charge (9)
13 Fume against Liverpool’s top scorer (5)
RAVEL — RAVE, “fume” + L[-iverpool], with “scorer” indicating a composer, Maurice R.
14 Usher wearing gun as anti-theft device (8,4)
STEERING LOCK — STEER, “usher”+ IN, “wearing” + GLOCK, “gun”
18 Arctic region secure after crime provided great returns (6,6)
BAFFIN ISLAND — SIN, “crime” + IF, “provided” + FAB, “great” <=“returns” before LAND, “secure” (as in “I landed that job”)
21 Photo of Ajax’s centre back in operation (5)
AFOOT — Reverse hidden
22 Detailed curve function follows increase in volume (9)
CRESCENDO — CRESCEN[-t], “De-tailed curve” + DO, “function” (in the sense of a social event)
24 Fancy working aboard steamship or cutters? (8)
SURGEONS — S(URGE)(ON)S, with URGE being “Fancy” (in the sense of a whim)
25 Curious question put by university is not for commoners (6)
QUAINT — Q(uestion) + U(niversity) + AINT, “is not for commoners”
26 Two parts of a horse’s yard and a third being talked of (8)
FOREFEET — “four feet”
27 Second year “locking in” went fast (6)

 1 This boy raised in a mean person’s pub (8)
ALEHOUSE — A LOUSE, “a mean person” holding HE<=“raised”
 2 Calmed down so long as one has walked around (8)
…that often helps…
PACIFIED — PAC(IF)(I)ED, IF being “so long as” or provided
 3 Gangster, almost completely chicken (5)
…like all bullies…
CAPON — CAPON[-e] Cut ’em off!
 5 Native Geordie going on ramble without enthusiasm (3,9)
 6 Picks up bargains (9)
 7 Extremists must abandon gun to make progress (6)
 8 With wisdom and cunning, keeping time (6)
11 Weight indicator I intended to hold constant (12)
SIGNIFICANCE — SIGN, “indicator” + I + FI(C)ANCE
15 Traditional food and beer fatso ordered (5,4)
ROAST BEEF — (beer fatso)* …So very traditional, in fact, that rude French slang for an Englishman is un rosbif.
16 Make bitter, rum and juice (8)
JAUNDICE — (and juice)*
17 Line in diary to broadcast with skill (8)
ADROITLY — (diary to + L)*
19 Bass is regularly one frequency below medium range (6)
MASSIF — M(edium) + bAsS iS + I, “one” + F(requency)
20 Fear over mix-up after beheading by Henry (6)
HORROR — H(enry) + O(ver) + [-e]RROR
23 Charlie being intimate with Penny (5)
CHUMP — CHUM, “intimate” + P(enny)

25 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4989, by Robert Price — With wit and cunning”

  1. I enjoyed this. Thanks, Guy, for explaining AFOOT and HORROR.
    I suspect ‘Rosbif’, as applied to us by the French, dates back to Hogarth’s painting: “O, the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gates of Calais’)”
    The ones I enjoyed were STEERING LOCK, BAFFIN ISLAND, SIGNIFICANCE and SPEEDY. (Went, indeed!)
  2. Thanks for parsing 20d Guy. Everything else parsed nicely except, horror of horrors, not this one. I didn’t notice it was a pangram until after I’d finished, so it was no help this time.
    Thanks to Myrtilus too. Some great surfaces in this.
  3. Typically, I couldn’t see the hidden, making AFOOT my LOI. As Corymbia says, some great surfaces. Loved SPEEDY. [on edit] I was glad to see that I wasn’t alone in having trouble with AFOOT.]

    Edited at 2022-01-16 12:17 pm (UTC)

  4. I wasn’t feeling particularly great.

    FOI 3dn CAPON

    LOI 21ac AFOOT



    20dn HORROR!? I was when I was little!

    I did not record my time as I nodded off!

  5. 45 minutes. Yes, very enjoyable as usual with more than enough to keep us solvers entertained and engaged. Eventually saw how HORROR and AFOOT worked and a couple of others, namely CAPON, where I thought ‘Gangster’ might be CAPO and CHUMP, where I couldn’t get HUMP for ‘being intimate’ out of my mind, also took some sorting out.

    Favourites were SWAN SONG for the way it brought “Sunset Boulevard” to mind and FOREFEET for the inventive homophone.

    Thanks to Robert and Guy

    1. Thanks. I had that same thought in passing, but decided not to be the first to bring it up…
        1. Before it acquired that meaning, I always used the word as a transitive verb to mean to move something heavy, like furniture, or to make a long clearance at football. I still often do, to enjoy the ambiguous looks on younger faces.
  6. 31 minutes. LOI AFOOT, eventually seeing the reverse hidden having explored Greek mythology, Dutch football and scouring powder. I saw RAVEL straightaway, surprisingly, since he hasn’t had a game for a while with Salah, Mane, Firmino, Jota and Origi keeping him on the bench. COD to SWANSONG. I think the only other Gloria I know after those two is in excelsis deo. Lovely stuff. Thank you Robert and Guy.
  7. Just over the hour, and well worth it. FOIs ALPACA KNICKERS in the top row. Very comfy. Also distracted by the HUMP in 23dn. Liked QUAINT and SPEEDY, but COD to SWAN SONG. And I’m reminded that my grandmother used to roast a CAPON on special occasions

    Edited at 2022-01-16 08:23 am (UTC)

  8. Completed, though hardly speedily, in over an hour, and with one biff at 26ac. Still don’t understand FOREFEET. A fine satisfying one otherwise, with a logic I understood. FOI 14ac STEERING LOCK, LOI that guessed 26ac. Thanks, setter and blogger.
      1. Thank you, Keriothe. It was the rest of it – yard and a third being talked of – that bamboozled me but the penny has finally, finally dropped. It’s so simple once you see it. Sadly seeing it is too often my difficulty! Thanks, though.
  9. Slow to get started and slow to finish; I found this very tough overall. My last few were best guesses. FOREFEET was the big problem for me; hard to see how the clue worked-but I got it eventually. I had to correct TERROR to get HORROR. I parsed MASSIF but AFOOT was another guess, having missed the hidden.
    In the middle there was lots to like. I thought I had drifted into the Private Eye crossword when I got CHUMP, but it was my mis-parsing and so did not justify the ?! on my paper copy.
  10. Fine effort this. Never noticed it was a pangram, as per usual.

    16dn JAUNDICE a clue of beauty.

    They call us rosbifs, we call them frogs, so 15 all, really.

  11. 25.42 but with a horrible ESCAPE bunged in as it fitted the checkers as my POI and not given sufficient care

    I normally get the hiddens quickly but AFOOT was also my LOI so obviously well disguised

    Also really liked the anagrams at 15 and 16 down

    Thanks for a great puzzle and blog

  12. 24:49, with an embarrassingly long time at the end struggling over JAUNDICE. I think the fact that the anagram fodder straddled two lines somehow prevented me from considering it as such. That’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
    I did find the rest of it pretty challenging, and absolutely first class even by the exalted standards of our friend Myrtilus.
  13. Excellent puzzle which I tackled after breakfast in the pub we were inhabiting for the weekend. A steady solve until LOI, JAUNDICE, which I left to stew overnight, as I was called to a rehearsal before I could crack it. Saw it straight away then! Thanks Bob and Guy. 30:49.
    1. Long enough to be on two lines as displayed on my screen. ‘Make bitter, rum and/ juice’.
  14. A very enjoyable 47 minutes, with some very ticklish pennies (i.e., ones I was tickled by) dropping, such as the yard and a third in FOREFEET. Saved from HUMP in 23 down by having to accomodate Penny somehow, and once I had the P my LOI SPEEDY fell into place quickly. I liked the GLOCK in 14 ac as well (though it was clear it would be ending in LOCK). There were many clues that needed reflection before they could be solved, but nothing unfair.
  15. Thanks Robert and guy
    Printed this one off last night after arriving in Queensland, started it then and took five or six attempts to get it completed in between catching up with my sister after twelve months and the occasional looks at the Australian Open matches on TV.
    Beautifully crafted clues and clever misdirection throughout took it to over an hour and a half of solving time. Mainly held up in the SW corner with the well-hidden reversed AFOOT and the tricky to parse HORROR and the NW where I finished up with OFFENSIVE, ALPACA and ALEHOUSE.
    Completely missed the pangram.

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