Sunday Times Cryptic 4991, by Dean Mayer — What it’s all about

Solid, sufficiently scintillating session.
Slick surfaces.
Succinct suggestions.
Sly subtexts.
Some small something seemed strange, still…

I indicate (a Sam rang)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Poor piece of work that setter’s put away? (4,6)
DOGS DINNER — Semi-cryptic hint to the literal meaning of the idiom defined. …Fido devoured your devoir?
 6 Sweet with fruit (4)
WHIP — W(ith) + HIP, “fruit” (specifically rose hip)
10 Fruit bats (7)
11 Swim around soldiers, say? (7)
BREATHE — B(RE)ATHE …I like Lexico’s example sentence: “We’re together at last,” she breathed. (OK, but let’s not breathe a word of this…)
12 Working order is not what is without it? (14)
ROADWORTHINESS — &lit; (order [-i]s not wha[-t] is)*
14 Growing popular — time to grab groupie (6)
INFANT — IN(FAN)T, as an adjective meaning developing, in a very early stage—hence, one assumes, “Growing”
15 Put faith in fiction or end up accepting it (6,2)
RELIED ON — (or end)* swallowing LIE, “fiction”
17 Old scrap among his presents (8)
19 One will nick twenty runs (6)
SCORER — SCORE, “twenty” + R(uns
22 Activity in which people are drawn to scale (14)
24 Squeaky clean but not square (7)
UNOILED — UN[-s]OILED Neither Lexico nor Collins (not to mention Merriam-Webster) have S as an abbreviation for “square.” Nor anywhere else I looked. I don’t have Chambers or the OED. But I have a whole week to put this thing together, so… Eventually, I found that yer Ordnance Survey uses the abbreviation S for “square,” along with a heap of other things. On this page on the site of the National Library of Scotland, there are six separate entries for S, with some redundancy between them (why, a dinnae ken).
25 Sound check (7)
STAUNCH — DD …I prefer, in real life, to distinguish between STAUNCH for “Sound” and stanch for “check.”
26 End of brush behind handle (4)
HAFT — [-brus]H + AFT, “behind”
27 Native American trails in quarry — one’s taken aback (10)
INDIGENOUS — IN DIG, “in quarry” leads ONE<=“taken aback” + US, “American”

 1 An outstanding collector’s item? (4)
 2 Stopped running left (4,3)
 3 Boxing rings? (4-4,6)
DING-DONG BATTLE — CD …Fortunately, I learned this sense of DING-DONG in blogging the Xmas Jumbo this year.
 4 Old Greek home over river (6)
NESTOR — NEST, “home” + O(ver) + R(iver) From the Iliad. …I was thinking he was a centaur, but he “actually” fought the centaurs. Still, he was looked to for horse sense.
 5 Poison from bee in one excreting it? (8)
 7 Daredevil had to wrap old article (7)
HOTHEAD — H(O)(THE)AD Synonymous insofar as they both refer to “reckless” sorts, “Daredevil” is rather less pejorative than HOTHEAD and a person so described doesn’t act from unthinking impulse but takes a more or less calculated, even if very high, risk in order achieve a certain aim, such as fame and prize money—or even, like Marvel’s Matt Murdock, a victory over enemies of society.
 8 Sally is in lower class tackling Latin (10)
 9 Wickedness embodied in Vatican elder upon conversion (5,9)
DEVIL INCARNATE — (Vatican elder)* …Diabolically clever anagram, melding perfectly with the anagrind
13 Coastal feature — it’s south of Rhode Island (5-5)
RIVER-MOUTH — RI, “Rhode Island” + VERMOUTH, “it” underneath, specifically (Lexico: informal, dated British) Italian vermouth, usually uncapped …I love the way these two little letters unfurl to make up 4/5ths of the answer.
16 Walked south, dust being raised, on retreat (8)
STRIDDEN — S + DIRT<=“being raised” + DEN, “retreat” …This raised both eyebrows, for a second, but of course it’s a real word, the past participle of “stride.” Yet I’m sure I’ve never heard it used! I also discovered that in a separate entry for STRIDDEN, Collins online has it as both past tense and past participle. I can’t imagine using STRIDDEN for the simple past tense!
18 Half of buggy contains uranium to transport away (4,3)
HAUL OFF — (Half of + U)*
20 Arrest leaders of those on strike (3,4)
RUN INTO — RUN IN, “Arrest” + T[-hose] + O[-n]
21 Black captain almost straddled watercraft (3,3)
JET SKI — JET, “Black” + SKI[-p], further shortened short form of “skipper”
23 So good to escape gangsters (4)

60 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4991, by Dean Mayer — What it’s all about”

  1. 1A DOG’S DINNER is a double def, with the first using a British expression – a dog’s dinner (or breakfast) being something messy or bungled. My Merriam-Webster app only has the breakfast version. Just to be sure, the setter in the second one is a dog, with “put away” = “eaten”.

    24A S = square – Chambers has it, but that’s not supposed to be enough in the ST xwd, so I should have requested a change.

    Edited at 2022-01-30 12:46 am (UTC)

    1. I first underlined “Poor piece of work” as the definition, and took the rest to be a cryptic hint alluding to the excuse of the dog eating one’s homework. As that last bit didn’t seem to be a definition properly speaking and since “work” makes those two bits overlap, I called it a CD.

      Of course “that setter’s put away” by itself (sans “work”) can also be taken as the literal reading of DOG’S DINNER, but that phrase has dictionary status only as the idiom meaning a botched effort. So I wouldn’t call the literal sense a definition.

      (I don’t see how you could have thought, from what I had written, that I didn’t realize “setter” meant a dog.)

      Edited at 2022-01-30 01:34 am (UTC)

      1. Fair point on “setter”.

        When “flower” is used as the definition for a river, or to indicate a river, that’s certainly not in the dictionaries.
        This is less imaginative – it just treats the phrase as meaning what the words apparently say. I feel sure that this has been done many times, certainly when there’s a plain def as well.

        1. Hmm, well, I think both definitions in a DD should refer to a meaning with a dictionary entry. “Flower” in our argot is equivalent to “river” and, with whatever other information is encrypted, alludes to a certain river whose name is in the dictionary. There is no need for a “green paint” phrase like “a canine’s meal” to be defined in a dictionary, only for the idiom to be explained, where those words don’t have the literal meaning.

          In any case, an idiom has also surely often been clued as a single definition with a cryptic hint playing on a word like “setter” and suggesting the literal meaning. (D/CD, perhaps? No, because the second half in itself doesn’t really allude to the idiomatic meaning, which is what has dictionary status.)

          I still find it hard to believe that clue wouldn’t remind everyone of “The dog ate it” in reference to homework. But maybe that’s an Americanism.

          Edited at 2022-01-30 07:06 am (UTC)

          1. If you had recognised the Brit informal meaning involved, I think you would have classified it as a double definition, or def + cryptic def, because you could see one clear def and extra text that made a less conventional definition.

            As you’re writing about a type of crossword in which cryptic definitions are allowed, it should be clear that in our puzzles, definitions do not have to match dictionary ones.

            The “dog ate my homework” isn’t specific to the US, and could occur to solvers. I didn’t mention it because it wasn’t an aspect which I thought mattered in discussing the logic side of the clue.

            1. If I had recognized…?!

              I’m flabbergasted. I underlined that as the definition.
              As you know, I wrote that my underline originally ended after “work.”

              I’ve come across that idiom here numerous times before.

              I took that definition as a given, and apparently hallucinated another allusion in the wordplay—taking the word “work” as involved and hence adding another—but not unrelated— meaning, which didn’t seem to replace the first… 

              I’ve underlined the definition and again left the rest as wordplay, as I had it in my first drafts. I don’t think you’ve followed my thinking about the classification, but I don’t really care.

              Edited at 2022-01-30 08:45 am (UTC)

              1. I cannot see the original version of your explanation, but it certainly indicated to me that you did not know the meaning which you now say you’ve come across numerous times before, because, as far as I recall, it was not mentioned in your explanation.

                1. I find your tone insulting.

                  My first gloss on this, which you read or at least replied to, said that I had initially underlined only what was necessary for the definition of the idiom, “Poor piece of work.” The underline ended at “work.”
                  DOG’S DINNER = “Poor piece of work.” As y’all know. And I did too.
                  Even if I hadn’t known it, I obviously must have looked it up before I wrote the blog!
                  It then explained why I (temporarily, as it turned out) made the whole clue a CD instead. I didn’t think I needed to explain how the idiom was spelled out in the wordplay, and wrongly (thank you!) thought there must be another dimension to the wordplay involving the word “work.”

                  Edited at 2022-01-30 09:34 am (UTC)

                  1. Whatever your original version said, it did not convey to me that you knew the British idiomatic meaning when you wrote it. If it had done, I would not have explained it. IIRC, the only definition content identified was the dog/homework idea, and the whole clue was underlined. And just to be sure, by “original version”, I mean the first one visible here.
                    1. Peter, what I originally wrote is in my email. I get email notifications with your reply.
                      I revised that gloss numerous times and it was obviously too elliptical at the iteration you read, which was:

                      CD, alluding to the old excuse: Fido devoured your devoir ! …Initially, my underline ended after “work”—but I can’t qualify this as an &lit, and the definition and wordplay overlap on that word, so…

                      I could have been clearer that I saw/imagined the cryptic dog eating cryptic homework as a spin on the literal sense of the idiom. But I didn’t explain specifically the cryptic sense of “setter,” either.

                      For some reason, I sometimes make perhaps too much of an effort not to insult anyone’s intelligence.

                      Ending the underline after “work,” however, means that I knew “Poor piece of work” was the literal definition of the idiom, the answer, DOG’S DINNER.

                      After all, if I didn’t know (easy as it is to find out), I would have been complaining about a “green paint” answer in the esteemed Sunday Times Cryptic.

                      And I think it can be assumed that I understood all parts of the idiom: I.e., what a dog is, what a dinner is…

                      Edited at 2022-01-30 10:21 am (UTC)

                      1. FWIW, I don’t think it’s an insult to intelligence to identify an idiom in a clue if you think it has or might have a role in the explanation.
                        1. Now I really am puzzled. Not being self-explanatory is the essence of an idiom, as I understand “idiom”.
                        2. It seemed that it was clear that “Poor piece of work” defined DOG’S DINNER. What is left to explain? What a dog is? What a dinner is? It makes sense that such a phrase would mean a mess. Besides, I really thought it was a very well-known expression.

                          It seems you’re trying hard to misunderstand, though.

                          Edited at 2022-01-30 06:00 pm (UTC)

                        3. Well, “seemingly well-known” isn’t the same as “self-explanatory”, and as I’ve already said, my Merriam-Webster app, which I think matches the “collegiate” version, only has “dog’s breakfast”, marked “chiefly British”, so I wouldn’t expect Americans to know that “dog’s dinner” means the same thing here.
                        4. I didn’t say they were the same thing.
                          The definition of the clue, “Poor piece of work,” and the answer seemed to me self-explanatory.
                          Moreover, how DOG’S DINNER could mean a mess, a botched effort, a “poor piece of work” also seemed to me self-explanatory.
                          BESIDES, I said, it’s (also, see) a well-known phrase.

                          I am an American, yes, but one who daily works English cryptics… and has edited American ones.

                          Good day, Peter!

                        5. Example in Jackkt’s blog for the Monday 15×15:

                          19 Establish where an Arab might be (7)
                          A definition with a cryptic hint leading to the alternatively spaced IN STALL (where an Arab – horse – might be)

                          “In stall” is a grammatically sound phrase, but has no “dictionary status” (whatever latitude we give that classification), whereas INSTALL does.

                        6. My first example in support of my belief about the meaning of “definition” for most people involved in cryptic crosswords is the information about 1A in the setter’s notes: “Whimsical DD”. I doubt very much that Dean would have changed this to “Def plus ‘cryptic hint'” for other xwd eds he’s worked for. My second is from “Word Salad”, a book about cryptic crosswords by the setters of the US cryptic crosswords which I believe you used to edit (or maybe still do edit). It’s a “punny double def” from their section on DDs, with one def certainly being for a version without “dictionary status”.
                          YELLOW SUBMARINE: Song about a sandwich with extra mustard? (6,9)

                          Edited at 2022-02-01 10:45 am (UTC)

                        7. Hmm, well, I might’ve called the second a CD, actually, but I’m not crazy about it, in any case! Pretty lame clue. Screamingly obvious, whatever it’s called! Joshua and Henri are no longer at The Nation and I am just one of the test solvers for their current venture.
  2. Beautiful Sunday morning, breakfast on the balcony and a Dean Mayer crossword. Contentment.
  3. The usual >1 1/2 hrs for a Dean puzzle but that’s what I expect.

    I liked the ‘setter’s put away?’ part of the double def for 1a, which was my LOI. Now you’ve explained it, I like the CD parsing too. Other good bits were the ‘straddled watercraft?’ def for 21d, the DING-DONG BATTLE CD and the easy to ignore ‘it(‘s)’ for VERMOUTH at 13d. I confess the “some small something seemed strange” at 24a eluded me out of plain ignorance and sloppiness.

    Had to think hard for EMBITTER (part of speech for ‘Poison’) and the NHO STRIDDEN. Interesting that PLEASANTRY for ‘Sally’ had appeared elsewhere only a few days before.

    Thanks to Dean and Guy

  4. …is the title of the film about the 1976 edition of the Paris-Roubaix one-day cycle classic, a race also known as the “Hell of the North because of the cobbled sections and the mud, if it’s wet.
    This was A Sunday in Hell for me. I’ve logged 2hrs 07m 40s as my time but to get to that stage I had to use aids for at least INDIGENOUS and HAUL OFF and possibly more. Possibly the most difficult Anax puzzle ever for me.
    I think I now understand ROADWORTHINESS but I’m still looking askance at ‘up’ as an anagram indicator in 15ac.
    Amidst the carnage, I liked RIVERMOUTH, RUN INTO and DEBT but COD to DOGS DINNER.
    1. This word is not found in all, or even most, lists of anagrinds, and is often greeted with grimaces on its rare appearances in that role, but nevertheless has legal anagrind status, as meaning “in an active, excited, or agitated state.” Collins’s example: her anger was up
  5. Not many songs have great versions by Elvis and Buddy Holly, as well as so many others. I’m sure both of them would have used sq rather than s though. They didn’t like their music that crazy. I just assumed there would be some dictionary somewhere which had it that way though. 51 minutes. It all started so well too with the terrific DOGS DINNER. I put in BREATHE without having seen the definition. RIVER-MOUTH was an absolute cracker too. A tough puzzle, but a very good one. Thank you Guy and Dean.
  6. This took me *ages*; I think my first session was 48 minutes and I was tempted to give up and leave it half done at that point. In the end, though, I came back for a couple of extra sessions later in the day and finally completed at somewhere around the three-hour mark, I’d guess. It was very satisfying to get there in the end, but I’m not sure I could cope with being so far off the wavelength very often!
  7. Epic fail this week. Just couldn’t figure out what Dean was looking for. Only got six answers and two of them were wrong! Eg, went for WEIGHTWATCHING at 22ac. It’s kind of logical, and when I had no crossers…. Oh well.
  8. Per my notes I had six left at 7.30 PM. I gave it a good go but was defeated.
    DNK NESTOR; the BREATHE clue was either brilliant or too difficult. And maybe that applies to some of the others I could not get like EMBITTER.
    The bottom half was OK including the unknown HAFT. Perhaps this was a game of two hafts?
  9. 22:48. I thought this was a superb puzzle, even by Dean’s exalted standards.
    FWIW I would not classify 1ac as a DD because it’s not a recognised idiom for a canine’s evening meal. So this is one of those cases – like ON TIPTOE in last week’s puzzle – where the ‘cryptic’ part of the clue (the wordplay) is actually more literal than the literal.
    I don’t recognise the expression at 3dn, but I knew DING-DONG tout court as an expression for a bust-up so it seemed likely.

    Edited at 2022-01-30 10:21 am (UTC)

    1. Just so you’ll remember even more easily next time.

      Result of donning Wonderbra? Ding-dong! (4-2)

    2. We seem to be going round in circles here. The meaning of “Dog’s dinner” used in the clue is an idiom because you cannot determine its meaning (“something messy or bungled”) from the meanings of the words involved. If “dog’s dinner” was used to mean “a canine’s evening meal”, it would not be an idiom.
      1. That’s exactly my point! ‘Poor piece of work’ is the definition, because it’s a recognisable idiom. ‘That setter’s put away’ is wordplay, because it isn’t.
        1. FWIW, “wordplay” to me means the kind of process in one part of clues that aren’t cryptic or double definitions, or what Tim Moorey calls “novelties” in his book – i.e. construction kit or similar instructions about building or finding the answer. As a logical but non-standard reading of the words involved, I’m seeing “that setter’s put way”, like “flower” mentioned above, as a definition of some kind. Maybe “whimsical” describes it, though that normally means using more imagination than just giving individual words their usual meaning.
          1. That’s one way of thinking of it. I think of wordplay as anything that isn’t a definition, and a definition has to be something you will find in a dictionary. This obviously isn’t right or wrong, but just the way I personally classify these things.
  10. Definitely on the trickier side. DOG’S DINNER was my FOI. Many answers had to dragged out kicking and screaming. I did like RIVER MOUTH and DEVIL INCARNATE. Got WORTHINESS before ROAD, which I needed checkers for. Eventually assumed it was an anagram. PLEASANTRY was LOI. 46:41. Thanks Dean and Guy.
  11. I don’t agree about definitions having to be in a dictionary. If they do, cryptic definitions can’t count as definitions. And I’m sure there are plenty of definitions in the “that is/does something” style, not typically used in dict defs, which accompany my version of “wordplay”, but I don’t recall people saying that those clues have no definition.
    1. I think we have clearly established that we don’t agree! Cryptic definitions are a separate category but I would categorise them as wordplay. I am really just talking about straight definitions here, and I don’t classify ‘that setter’s put away’ as one of those for the reasons I’ve already explained. I guess you might call it a cryptic definition actually, since it is designed to mislead. So you might say the clue has two definitions, of which one is cryptic. But the cryptic one is still not-definition (in the straight sense) so in my personal classification it’s wordplay, and in my analysis of the clue I would not underline it. Others are free to do otherwise!

      Edited at 2022-01-30 12:33 pm (UTC)

      1. Fair enough, but all the people I can think of writing about cryptic clues in books tell people that the one thing they can rely on seeing in at least 99% of clues is a definition, so they must be using my “definition” meaning. And I would venture to say that on a site like this with multiple writers, it would be helpful if terms like “wordplay” and “definition” had consistent meanings, matching those used in the books that newer solvers are presumably still advised to buy.
        1. Fine, you have a different view. This is OK!
          In a cryptic definition the CD is of course the definition (you’ve got to underline something!) but I would argue that it’s also wordplay. Indeed the cryptic definition — relying as it invariably does on puns — is in a sense the archetypal example of wordplay.

          Edited at 2022-01-30 02:14 pm (UTC)

          1. Any CD will cryptically define a word or phrase that can be found as a dictionary entry, just like any other definition in the crossword. DOG’S DINNER as the idiom qualifies; the literal sense does not. End of story!
            1. I can only say that I find this interpretation of “definition” puzzling and potentially unhelpful for readers.

              First reason: The purpose of a definition in a dictionary is to tell you what a word means. Although cryptic clue “definitions” (as most people use the term) are not always as clear as dictionary ones, because they’re part of a challenge, the purpose is the same. And what most people call “wordplay” in clues has a different purpose – to lead you to the answer in a way that’s not connected with its meaning. This means we use “wordplay” with a different meaning to its usual definition in dictionaries, but we’re using jargon specific to an particular activity, like “mouse” in computing, which worked fine before it reached the dictionaries. [Some years ago, “wordplay” hadn’t been thought of as a name for this, and we used names like the “subsidiary indication” in Don Manley’s book. But most people seem to prefer the shorter name, and sensible books about cryptic crosswords explain the local meaning.]

              Second reason: the point stated above – that at least 95% (my estimate) of the cryptic xwd community use “wordplay” and “definition” as I’ve just described them (100% in relevant recent books as far as I know), and having different meanings for important terms in different reports here cannot be something that helps people understand them.

              1. I don’t think you understood what I wrote, which seems to me patently uncontroversial. All answers in a crossword should have dictionary status: even those clued by a CD: i.e., no answer should be mere “green paint.” That’s all I’m saying.

                Thru arguing with you, though. Dead horse and all that.

                Edited at 2022-01-31 01:17 pm (UTC)

                1. If that’s all you intended to say, I don’t think you understood what your written words appear to say.

                  You told Keriothe, in bold print, that he was “absolutely correct” after discussion about our different views about what could count as a definition in the text of a clue, including “that setter’s put away” in the 1A clue as an example. And that’s a view which you seem to agree with, as you have not underlined that text or called the clue a double definition.

                  As far as dictionary status for answers goes, I’ve already said in other comments that “ding-dong battle” isn’t in our usual reference dictionaries. Neither is “devil incarnate”. I think this means they would both be disallowed in a Times cryptic, but I’m happy to include ones that seem likely to be recognized by most people.

                  1. That’s why I qualified with adding that “green paint” is unacceptable. Phrases not in Collins, etc., may still be found in more specialized lexicons, etc.
                    1. You also said, earlier on, “Any CD will cryptically define a word or phrase that can be found as a dictionary entry, just like any other definition in the crossword. DOG’S DINNER as the idiom qualifies; the literal sense does not. End of story!”.

                      Are you seriously claiming that this “end of story” comment was about the validity of the answer rather than the def?

                      Edited at 2022-01-31 04:03 pm (UTC)

                      1. I don’t know what your last sentence is supposed to mean… so your tone of mock incredulity is offensive.
                        “End of story” meant that my (and James’s) opinion that only “Poor piece of work” should be underlined in 1ac had been amply justified.
                        I am done with this thread.
                        Take care.
                        1. My last comment meant that I could not equate the “end of story” comment with the previous “All answers in a crossword should have dictionary status: even those clued by a CD: i.e., no answer should be mere “green paint.” That’s all I’m saying.” My genuine incredulity remains – if you’re still talking about what should be underlined in the clue, a comment about the validity of answers cannot be all you’re saying.
                        2. Dear sir, my work day has begun, and I must deal with words that cannot be played with.

                          I have been utterly serious in this thread all along. It seems you would have me repeat myself. But it is hard for me to follow your patterns of thought.

                          The validity of the clue is not the issue but the part of the clue that refers to that valid clue, which cannot be just any old sequence of words, like the proverbial “green paint.”

                          There are often parts of the clue we do not underline because they do not actually define the word but merely signal the respective elements of the verbal construction… charade, anagram, hidden word(s), cryptic hint, etc.

                          Duty calls.

  12. Sorry, perhaps I’m being dim, as I tend to be when the CD rears its ugly head (as it did often enough here to mar what was otherwise a great puzzle), but in 3dn what is the battle? OK boxing takes place in rings, but boxing rings is not equal to a ding-dong battle, so far as I can see. Aren’t they only the place where a ding-dong battle takes place?
    1. According to a Google search for “ding-dong battle”, they can certainly take place on rugby pitches. “Ding-dong battle” is not in either of our reference dictionaries, but seemed such a common alternative to “ding-dong” that I didn’t mind. Brewer defines “ding-dong” as “A ding-dong battle. A fight in good earnest.” So in this elusive CD, I’m seeing “boxing” as a sample “battle”, accompanied by representations of rings of a bell which will be heard in a boxing match.

      Edited at 2022-01-30 01:30 pm (UTC)

  13. Something else about 1ac. A mess just thrown together is the dogs breakfast. That ought to be the answer here. The dogs dinner is something else, as in the expression “all dressed up like the dogs dinner”. It involves presenting something, possibly unpromising, in an attractive way
    1. Collins, Lexico and Chambers all have dog’s dinner and dog’s breakfast listed together as synonyms. I’ve always used dog’s dinner this way but I do also recognise the usage you mention.
      1. Thanks. I ought to look things up more myself. I have now been googling. The dressed-up meaning of dogs dinner is there, but I am surprised how hard it is to find it, especially in Collins which absolutely treats breakfast and dinner as synonyms. How sad
        1. I think “dressed up like a dog’s dinner” is a bit more common, but that’s not in standard dictionaries either – the Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms has it.

          I’ve come across quite a few expressions like this – like “ding-dong battle” in this very puzzle – which is not even in the ODEI – maybe because “ding-dong” is in ordinary dictionaries and “ding-dong battle” just applies the adj meaning to “battle”.

          Some crossword editors would simply rule out non-dictionary phrases like this, but my instinct is to assume that people solve blocked grid cryptics with their brains rather than their dictionaries, and hope that a phrase familiar to me will be familiar to others.

  14. Haven’t been able to follow the discussion about 1ac but tend to agree with Keriothe that it falls into a similar category to ON TIPTOE last week. Fwiw I thought the definition was “poor piece of work” and the w/p the rest of it. I suspect beginners will be happy to just get the answer!

    Agree this was a superb puzzle. For me MOUNTAINEERING was an absolutely superb cryptic. Not actually difficult but like one of those optical illusions when you squint and you can see two images in one picture. Worth the entrance money alone

    Eventually teased out most of them in an hour but left with STAUNCH and THUS the latter of which wasnt difficult but I was sure I was looking for a “very” sense of “so” rather than the simple synonym whilst I had SILENCE for “sound check” which I think kind of works and even after I discarded it gor the DEVIL couldnt quite rid myself of it

    Thanks Guy Dean and the Editor for being in charge of such a brilliant puzzle 👏👏👏

  15. Thanks Dean and guy
    Tackled this one from our weekend paper on Sunday evening and took a tick over the hour to complete it – using a word finder to see MOUNTAINEERING and get me going again after coming to a full stop around the 3/4 mark. Immediately regretted having to do that for such a beautiful cryptic definition afterwards though.
    Hadn’t seen INFANT in the adjectival role previously and thought that the use of ‘it’ in 13d was sublime.
    Took a while to see the parsing of INDIGENOUS (where I think that the blog has one too many S’s – only need ONE to be reversed) and THUS wasn’t as hard as I made it out to be.
    Third to last to go in was GONE OFF (had this as a triple definition – ‘stopped’ as in not liking something, ‘running’ as the plan had gone off / running as expected and ‘left’, well as left). This was followed by EMBITTER (clever) and RELIED ON (simples when it was in but well disguised beforehand).
    A great puzzle.
    1. I am surprised that Kevin didn’t spot that!
      Thanks. Fixed (for posterity’s sake, at least).
  16. In Ireland, saying someone was Done Up Like A Dog’s Dinner was quite derogatory. A Dog’s Dinner was a mess. A synonym was a Dog’s Ballocks. Dog’s Breakfast was unheard of.

    So how’s this for a clue?

    Poor piece of work, that setter’s testicles. (4,8) ;>)

    Thanks as always to all the setters and bloggers.

    Jan and Tom, Toronto.

Comments are closed.