Sunday Times Cryptic 5001, by Dean Mayer — Nailed it!

Almost Easter. Guess that’s why.

When I solved 17, some time before seeing what was behind the seemingly anodyne 19 that appropriately crosses it, I was flooded with my eternal revulsion at the atavistic notion that a supposedly omnipotent Creator could be compelled to pay a mysterious and fatal debt (to whom?) that humankind would have incurred had He not come up with his famous “plan of salvation” that required his putting the Nazarene through all that horrendous suffering on Golgotha.

Of course, the rational concept of such an all-powerful Being was developed long after the writing of the faith’s foundational texts. Omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are not apparent attributes of Jehovah, who often behaves in capricious and inexplicable ways. (How can an all-knowing Being change his mind?) The Israelites’ national god was originally seen as only one among many. The development of monotheism, subsuming all the many gods in one Supreme Being, was a great step in the evolution of human logic—leaving only one more effort to be made…

This is an excellent puzzle (as well as being inspiring). I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Breaking down, how come? (4,2)
 5 Cabinet material got promoted before court date (8)
ROSEWOOD — ROSE, “got promoted” + WOO, “court” + D(ate)
 9 Robbery also tackled by prison time (10)
10 Allowed to drink fine port (4)
11 Being so unclear after change? (14)
UNRECOGNISABLE — &lit, (Being so unclear)*
12 Pull on underwear or footwear (6)
WEDGIE — DD …My first thought was THONGS.
14 Rally behind figure left by spymaster (8)
ASSEMBLE — ASS, “behind” + EMBLE[-m] (M, head of the M16, which employed James Bond)
16 Love to approach sea like Nelson? (3-5)
ONE-ARMED — O, 0 or “Love” + NEAR, “approach” + MED, the Mediterranean Sea
18 I’ll say that’s an Arabian vessel (3,3)
19 One offering bids for coal after breaking rocks (5,9)
BLOOD SACRIFICE — (bids for coal)* + ICE, “rocks”
22 Compact weapons sent from the east (4)
23 Shot using one cycle trail (10)
IRIDESCENT — I, “one” + RIDE, “cycle” + SCENT, “trail”; we haven’t seen this sense of “Shot” for a while—as an adjective, meaning, speaking of textiles, “woven to give a changing colour effect | shot silk” and, more generally, “streaked with colour” (Collins).
24 Most of porcelain pots including hot toast (4-4)
25 European returning home in hurry (6)

 2 Formidable female has uniform in wash (9)
HERCULEAN — HER, “female” + C(U)LEAN
 3 Return from work on river punt (5)
WAGER — WAGE, “Return from work” + R(iver)
 4 Sweep with long flourish (7)
PANACHE — PAN, “Sweep” (as a movie camera would) + ACHE, “long”
 5 Stand to ease back pressure (9,6)
 6 3 that is second class (7)
SPECIES — SPEC for “speculation,” a kind of WAGER (answer 3) + IE, id est, “that is” + S(econd)
 7 I’m all about cutting grass, being expertly trained (4-5)
WELL-AIMED — WEED with (I’m all)* intersecting
 8 Refuse to eat from a plate? (5)
OFFAL — &lit, combining the word’s two contrasting definitions (garbage and edible animal innards) with wordplay: OFF, “from” + A + L, “plate,” specifically a Learner’s plate, affixed to a new driver’s car
13 Cricket club’s glitzy publication (9)
GLAMORGAN — GLAM, “glitzy” + ORGAN, “publication”
15 Outstanding details can catch new detective (5,4)
LOOSE ENDS — LOO, “can” + SEE, “catch” + N(ew) + DS, “detective” (Detective Sergeant)
17 Footballer, a hard man whose passing saved us? (7)
MESSIAH — MESSI, “Footballer” + A + H(ard), with a cryptic definition (seemingly addressed exclusively to Xians)
18 Flavouring with sandwiches makes sense (7)
20 Start without a meal (5)
21 From an ancient area, as oil may be (5)

36 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic 5001, by Dean Mayer — Nailed it!”

  1. FOI LEFT, LOI SHOW UP. I saw HOW in SUP, but never figured out how it worked; and ‘sup’ is rather different from ‘down’. In retrospect, I’m not sure why this took me so long. Liked WEDGIE.
    1. In my part of the world, Kevin, (Eastern Bay of Plenty), I see signs advertising SUP hire: Stand-Up Paddleboards!
  2. …I used aids to get BLOOD SACRIFICE. I also had a nerror: I put ASSEMBLY. Only now can I understand both clues, so thanks, Guy.
    Yesterday, Bruce though I must have led a sheltered life as I admitted to never having heard the term whizz to describe a pee. Guess Bruce was right as, if I’ve heard the term WEDGIE to describe “pull on underwear”, I don’t recall it. At least that guess was correct.
    I liked SHOW UP and OFFAL although, in the case of the latter, I think to go from ‘plate’ to ‘L’ is a bit of a stretch.
    Thank you setter, thank you, Guy.
    1. I remember wedgies from junior high school, though I never received one, or gave one, of course. By high school, we were above that sort of thing. One would sneak up behind the victim and yank his shirt up. This, especially if the victim was wearing his undershirt tucked into his underpants, would pull his underpants up, wedging them uncomfortably between his buttocks.
    2. I really don’t think plate is a bit of a stretch. We refer to both L and P plates for drivers, which anyone (in the UK, at least) would understand in the context. I think Dean has simply constructed the clue so that it presents a clever surface, as he usually does. I mean, you could use ‘plates’ to mean feet in Cockney rhyming slang – it’s all about misdirection, no?
  3. For Dean this was less of a workout than it sometimes is. A few things I’d not heard of like BRIGANDAGE but plausible and fairly clued. I actually liked MESSIAH, and since The Times is from London and England has an official religion, I don’t mind (even if it is not my thing). If I was doing the Jerusalem Times Crossword, I’d be equally tolerant of Jewish references. LOI WEDGIE which took far too long to see.
    1. I am not repelled so much by the appearance of references to a country’s official religion in a crossword from that country but by notions promulgated by that religion, which has a global sweep, as well as the notion of a national religion itself, which surely leaves some (nonetheless full-fledged) citizens feeling left out)—and is exactly the kind of thing the likes of Putin like, you know. Of course, if a country is going to maintain an institution like royalty, it can’t ditch the “divine right” of kings.

      Edited at 2022-04-10 04:06 am (UTC)

      1. You seem not to have noticed that your underlined definition included a final question mark, and is therefore addressed to anyone who understands a central belief of a major faith, whether they believe it or not.

        If you don’t think Britain has ditched the divine right of kings, I can only suggest reading Wikipedia ( or Britannica ( to understand why Charles I lost his head and James II was deposed.

        1. The clue isn’t ‘addressed’ exclusively to Christians, although ‘us’ certainly is used exclusively (I don’t think the question mark matters).
          1. Well, in my world at least, a question mark is a way of indicating possible doubt, and that was its purpose in the clue.
          2. It depends on whether the reader takes themselves as included in “us.” I could have said instead that the clue “addresses” the belief system of Christians only.
            1. I don’t see that that makes any difference. Christians believe that the MESSIAH saved everyone, including you and me. The question mark refers to the act of saving, the subjects of that purported saving are not in doubt.
                1. Isn’t that what they believe? Sins of the world and all that. Of course you’ve got to keep saying hail Marys, turning other cheeks and whatnot if you want to stay saved but my understanding was that Jesus did a bulk job that benefitted everyone. Not my area of specialism as you can tell.
                  1. Jesus, being the son of God and all, by dying offered redemption to all of us, who are paying the price for Adam and Eve’s little mistake (although some of the more repellent forms of Christianity, like Calvinism, would say that the number of us [exclusive ‘us’] saved is a small fraction of the whole population). But redemption doesn’t come for free. (For the Jews, Jesus, by dying, showed that he was NOT the Messiah.)
                    1. Indeed, and this is what I meant by ‘terms and conditions apply’ in my comment below. But for the purposes of the clue I think this justifies using ‘us’ to apply to everyone.
          3. I don’t think ‘us’ is exclusive: the whole son-of-god crucifixion rigmarole is believed to have ‘saved’ everyone, no?
            1. To many Xians—fundamentalists, like the church I belonged to—you’re not saved unless you believe in Jesus, i.e., are a Xian. If you can’t wrap your mind around the brilliant plan of salvation, you’re destined for *eternal* torment, “where the worm dies not and the fire is never quenched.” It is true that modern theologians like Karl Barth put forth the notion that all are saved by Christ’s “sacrifice” (his brief nap under the dirt), whether they know it or not, and ditched that absolutely reprehensible notion of God as infinitely worse than, say, Hitler….
              1. Even in the former case, as I understand it the initial Salvation acts as a sort of bulk job without which subsequent individual devotion would be of no use because of original sin or something. Perhaps the clue should have read ‘man whose passing saved* us? *terms and conditions apply’.
        2. The question mark seemed to me merely to indicate the oblique (cryptic) nature of the clue.

          Whatever the official position of the *official church* on Divine Right, the continued existence of the union of church and state seems to this outsider to not be unrelated to the perpetuation of the institution of royalty. In the collective (un)consciousness, if you will…

          1. I think the perpetuation of the institution of royalty has more to do with the inability to agree on something better.
            1. This seems to imply that the royals do something essential and would have to be replaced.

              Edited at 2022-04-10 09:39 am (UTC)

              1. Well you need a head of state and there are certain advantages to having one who does nothing.
  4. I spent a very long time on this and, in the end, was defeated only by WEDGIE.
    I liked GLAMORGAN and MESSIAH amongst others.
  5. 40 minutes, but I needed an aid for WEDGIE, a term I have never heard of in either sense. I assumed that I either didn’t go to that sort of school or I’ve lived a sheltered childhood. In fact, conversations during the week confirm almost total ignorance among my peers, apart from someone who’d heard it on the Simpsons. Not much chance for me there then. IRIDESCENT was constructed from the instructions. I liked, among others, SHOW UP, ASSEMBLE, AND HOW, GLAMORGAN and MESSIAH. I’m sure Lionel would happily crucify Cristiano without waiting for Easter. Quite a tricky puzzle as well as containing one mission impossible. Thank you Guy and Dean.
  6. 12:22. Fairly gentle for Dean, and highly entertaining.
    As Peter suggests above, I thought the question mark redeemed (ho ho) 17dn, turning it into what the journalist John Rentoul calls a QTWTAIN.
    No problem with either meaning of WEDGIE.

    Edited at 2022-04-10 08:10 am (UTC)

    1. Can you spell out QTWTAIN, as I can’t guess the acronym, other than probably Question for the first word!
      1. Question To Which The Answer Is No.
        It usually refers to a certain type of newspaper headline (THE END FOR HARRY AND MEGHAN?), often associated with articles containing statements like ‘speculation was increasing last night’ for which the only evidence is the existence of the article itself.

        Edited at 2022-04-10 08:47 am (UTC)

  7. I found this slightly tougher than usual, taking 48:20 to get LOI, HERCULEAN, which was preceded by WEDGIE. Managed to remember the connection between shot and IRRIDESCENT. Thanks Guy and Dean.
  8. Thought this was a cracker with some excellent clues such as SHOW UP UNRECOGNISABLE and ONE-ARMED amongst others. A pleasure to solve

    Thanks Guy and Mr Mayer

  9. All very good as usual from Dean, except, so far as I could see, for the CD at 5dn. Maybe it does work, but I can only see that a stand is a rearguard action, and that rear = back. No doubt I’m missing something, which doesn’t mean I’d necessarily approve, but might at least explain things.
    1. This sense of “stand” is covered by the first definition in Collins for the word as a noun: “26. the act or position of standing (in various senses); esp., a stopping; halt or stop ; specif., a. a stopping to counterattack, resist, etc., as in a retreat”
  10. I read through the initial rant and some of the comments and gave up.
    I think it all completely inappropriate for a crossword forum, and I speak as an atheist here, totally uninterested in dogma… opinions are one thing, rants another.
  11. Thanks Dean and guy
    A quicker than normal grid fill, but failed miserably with the parsing of CHIN-CHIN. Hadn’t seen ‘shot’ being a definition for IRIDESCENT until checking it here.
    I rather liked the cd for REARGUARD ACTION – a misleading surface reading for a whimsical definition.
    Finished in the SE corner with INCAN, ANISEED (with the clever middle bit) and AND HOW (a tricky one to finish).
  12. Good crossword. As usual, thanks to all the setters and bloggers.

    I’d never heard of a wedgie until I came to Canada and heard the following joke.

    “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a duck” isn’t always true.

    It could be me receiving a particularly painful wedgie.

Comments are closed.