Sunday Times Cryptic 4995, by Robert Price — Turn that frown upside down!

Maybe it’s because Bob is one of our fellow commenters on this blog (regularly providing an erudite and apt literary citation) that his puzzles rarely, if ever, occasion any MERs, let alone controversy over definitions, classification of clues, etc., among his grateful readers. (At least such is my impression, admittedly without having done a review of a representative sample.) They still manage to be challenging as well as entertaining.

I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Drug ring a girl goes after (10)
 6 Touch something that’s blown over (4)
ABUT — TUBA<=“over”
 9 Leaf disease making quiet start on firs (5)
FOLIO — P, “quiet” is replaced by F[-irs] in POLIO, “disease” …My LOI, believe it or not!
10 Was Mark held back by one playing an adventurer? (3,6)
TOM SAWYER — T(WAS M<=“held back”)OYER, the title of the Twain novel being The Adventures of…
12 Skip round Euler’s number to contemplate larger numbers (13)
14 Bashful, possibly embarrassed star (3,5)
RED DWARF — “Bashful” is one of the seven DWARFs, and embarrassment may be the reason he is RED. The word order makes it imperative to read the wordplay as one unit, not as separate charade parts, to identify this astrophysical phenomenon.
15 Act foolishly on your bike (4,2)
BEAT IT — BE A TIT …As I wrote in my entry for Sunday Times Cryptic 4895, by Dean Mayer, “This phrase has been clued many times here by breaking up the words this way, with sometimes TIT meaning a silly person”—it’s either that or a bird. “On your bike,” though, is a fairly recent addition to my own lexicon of Britishisms, and I hadn’t seen it used to clue this before.
17 Page left out of rave reviews for vets (6)
AUDITS — [-pl]AUDITS, with the same sense of vet found in 22
19 Mountain feature men note being worn by a river (8)
COLORADO — COL, “mountain feature” + OR, “men” [see 27] + DO, “note”—all draped over A
21 A row about tucking into jam in school (13)
24 One’s plated prime duck with a herb stuffing (9)
ARMADILLO — ARM(A)(DILL)O, with “prime” here being ARM in the sense of (Collins) “to insert a primer into (a gun, mine, charge, etc) preparatory to detonation or firing” and O being 0, “duck”
25 Islamic order’s oil happened to be endless (5)
FATWA — FAT, “oil” + WA[-s]
26 Band plays as host entertains (4)
SASH — Hidden
27 Old blunder covered up by TA soldiers (5,5)

 1 Hit book providing introduction to fretwork (4)
BIFF — B(ook) + IF, “providing” + F[-retwork]
 2 One found in lake regularly lays flat (4,3)
LILY PAD — &lit; L(I)LaYs + PAD, “flat”
 3 In desperation, pays to card’s limit (2,4,4,3)
AT ONES WITS END — ATONES, “pays” + WIT’S, “card’s” + END, “limit”
 4 Sort of motor available to directors (8)
OUTBOARD — OUT, “available” + BOARD, “directors”
 5 Rover’s given up on barking (5)
Poor old dog!
NOMAD — ON, “given up” + MAD, “barking”
 7 Weapon that underpins a stabbing risk (7)
BAYONET — B(A)(YON)ET, YON being “that,” which, along with A above it, pierces BET, “risk”; from the French baïonnette, originally bayonnette, because it was thought that the earliest such weapons were made in Bayonne
 8 One on the left at the end of a country dance (6,4)
TURKEY TROT — TROT(skyist) after TURKEY, “a country”
11 “A welcome present must include diamonds” and I don’t argue! (5,2,6)
13 Company which arranged regattas stores warm clothing (10)
GREATCOATS — (regattas + CO)*
16 Put back soprano and tenor in music on a single (8)
18 Monday’s hectic for energetic types (7)
DYNAMOS — (Monday’s)*
20 Something worn for warmth by an ancient Iranian (7)
AVESTAN — A VEST AN, old Persian language
22 Man first to abominate large check trousers (5)
A fashion leader!
VALET — V(A[-bominate])(L)ET
23 Stage one in reversing seasonal disorder (4)
DAIS — S(easonal) A(ffective) D(isorder)<=“reversing,” secreting I, “one” …I’m more disturbed by the increasing disorder of the seasons themselves. Forecast (as of Monday the 21st) is a high of 65º F, 18.33º C, here in Brooklyn Wednesday.

20 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 4995, by Robert Price — Turn that frown upside down!”

  1. LOI POSTPONE, which I couldn’t see for ages; I was ready to throw in the towel when it suddenly appeared to me. DNK Euler’s number. I liked FOLIO, but COD to BEAT IT.
  2. Again, a test. I see VET/VETS make two appearances: 17ac in the clue, 22d in the solution.
    I’m glad I didn’t give in to temptation and resort to Word Wizard.
    Thanks Guy particularly for LILY PAD. I’m never sure if what I’m looking at is an &Lit or not.
    I was also unsure if AVESTAN would be correct. I thought it might be a post-Soviet republic that Putin was about to liberate.
    Nor did I know where bayonets came from! So thanks, again, Guy.
  3. I see my time was over 3 hours which probably means I got stuck and came back to it later. But a week later, I don’t really remember. All correct anyway. AVESTAN from the wordplay since I’d never heard of it. I didn’t manage to biff BIFF since I needed the wordplay!
  4. An enjoyable struggle (not always a contradiction in terms) which took about 1 hr 20 min. Good surfaces and clear wordplay made this possible, otherwise would have been too hard. Difficult ones for me were OTHER RANKS (I liked the misleading TA), CONSERVATOIRE and PREPONDERANCE. AVESTAN went in as a dim memory from previous crossword appearances. POSTPONE was also my LOI, just as I too was on the point of giving up.

    BAYONET was a beauty – not quite an &lit, but still very good.

    Thanks to Robert and Guy

  5. 52 minutes enjoyable solving. My only remaining query was how to parse BAYONET and I’m not sure I’d ever have got it, so thanks for that, G. Did I imagine that we had ‘risk/bet’ one day last week and someone disputed it?
    1. Sounds vaguely familiar…
      Since these people fille their complaints via some Internet-connected digital device, I never know what keeps them from checking a dictionary first.

      Edited at 2022-02-27 08:16 am (UTC)

      1. That has occurred to me occasionally but then I remember we are here to deal with people’s queries and I would never want to discourage contributors so that they were in fear of asking something they might have looked up elsewhere. Often there are nuances of meaning involved and not everyone has the patience or inclination to trawl through pages of dictionary entries. I think the ‘risk/bet’ remark (if indeed it happened at all) may have been re a QC puzzle in which case I would make even more allowances.
        1. Understood. I chose the word “complaints” because I was referring only to those with an apparent chip on their shoulder—most often anonymous.
  6. Bayonet origin. In the Wikipedia article on “bayonet”, it’s stated that the oldest known written record of a bayonet is (you guessed it) Chinese. I think it’s like a fair number of other names based on places, and is more to do with where lots of them came from, or where an improvement was made. As one example, Kocs in Hungary is not where the first horse-drawn carriages (coaches) were made, but where an effective suspension mechanism was added to them.
    1. I was, of course, merely reporting the derivation of the French word, virtually verbatim from the Wiktionnaire. That such a simple weapon would have been devised earlier—perhaps chiseled out of flint—seems to go without saying. But at some point in European history, apparently, the city of Bayonne became known as the source of an eponymous weapon, and the name stuck.

      Edited at 2022-02-27 08:27 am (UTC)

      1. “from the French baïonnette, originally bayonnette, because the earliest such weapons were made in Bayonne

        Your words, my italics. No further comment.

        1. I know. That’s the reason Wiktionnaire gave. I said I just copied. Don’t know exactly what “such weapons” means there ([l]es premières armes de ce genre). Was there something that distinguished these weapons from similar ones seen elsewhere and/or earlier? Do you know? It’s really not my field!

          Edited at 2022-02-27 01:37 pm (UTC)

  7. 19 minutes. LOI and COD to OTHER RANKS with POI AVESTAN. Another very enjoyable puzzle from Bob. I’ve been familiar with the instruction “on your bike” for as long as I can remember but it was controversially given a fresh lease of life by one Norman Tebbit at a time of higher unemployment. One derivation I’ve read is from the the Welsh valleys in the 19th century where prior to the invention of the bicycle young men would marry girls from their own valley. Women would issue this instruction when their first cousin once removed came calling. As somebody whose male ancestors are from a Pennine family whose uncommon surname used to form the majority of the population in Heptonstall, this sounds a perfectly feasible explanation. Thank you Bob and Guy.

    Edited at 2022-02-27 08:20 am (UTC)

  8. Nope. Once again Robert Price is too clever and cryptic for me. Managed the south west corner then stuck. Explanations here much appreciated though I doubt I’ll ever get my brain to perform these contortions spontaneously.

    Edited at 2022-02-27 10:24 am (UTC)

  9. Robert is always the one of the three Sunday Times setters who I look forward to most. Lightness of touch. Nothing is a stretch. All went well until I got stuck on 21ac-19ac-16dn-20dn. Eventually needed aids; I had my doubts about row = riot in 21ac but dictionaries suggest it’s close enough (a noisy quarrel or dispute). It seemed to me that 7dn was just a weak CD, but no of course, a very elegant clue.
  10. Thanks Bob and guy
    A number of sessions added up to around 86 minutes in trains or on platforms waiting for them.
    Quite tough and with a lot of construction, especially of terms that weren’t the first synonym to come to mind, required for many of the clues – the classic case in point being for CONSERVATOIRE. Had tried to make BE AT IT become the word play for 15a – not all that happily and was glad to see that BE A TIT was much better.
    Did actually have a MER with the double use of ‘vet’ and of OTHER RANKS / OR. Having said that OTHER RANKS did raise a grin to see it as a reverse of its normal use in puzzles.
    Was another who finished the main part of the solve with POSTPONE, until I saw what turned out to be DAIS unfinished down in the bottom corner.
  11. Could someone please tell me what it means when you post POI in the comments? I see it now and then but don’t know what it stands for.
    1. It’s in the Glossary (see sidebar under Links)
      POI – Penultimate one in. See also LOI, FOI.

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