Sunday Times Cryptic No 5033 by David McLean — the Moor and the merrier

This was very engrossing, and took me an enjoyably long while. Or two. Much of the deviousness here is in word order. Sometimes if you don’t follow the directions very carefully, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a syllable.

I prithee speak to me as to thy THINKINGs.

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

 1 Where leaves are stored ready for burning? (9,5)
CIGARETTE PAPER   CD   Though autumn has arrived (finally), the leaves here are not les feuilles mortes of song but marijuana or tobacco or anything else intended for smoking. Hopefully not OREGANO.
10 Formerly damned without right and pardoned (7)
EXCUSED   EX, “formerly” + CU[-r]SED
11 I do it mixed with dash of icing (cold and half-baked) (7)
IDIOTIC   (I do it + I[-cing] + C)*
12 Hood’s crony chippy perhaps eavesdropped on getting food (5,4)
FRIAR TUCK   One of the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest   “fryer” (like a fish-and-chip shop, “chippy”) + TUCK, “food”   If you solved 13 first, it could be a hint!
13 Singer appearing embarrassed about their chest? (5)
ROBIN   CD   The European bird popularly called robin redbreast is (I didn’t know this!) not a species related closely to the small thrush with an orange-red chest that goes by the same name in the United States—where Al Jolson sang, “When the red, red robin comes bob, bob bobbin’ along…”
14 Shake a little, wanting medium-sized drink (6)
15 Very needy princess involved with Guy Chambers (8)
INDIGENT   IN, “involved” + DI, “princess” + GENT, “Guy”; “Chambers”: positional indicator
18 Old fruits hanging around about dragonflies? (8)
ODONATES   O(ld) + D(ON)ATES  Entomological etymology: This term was coined in 1793 from an Ancient Greek root meaning “tooth,” because of a distinguishing anatomical characteristic (not to get too technical) of this order, of which dragonflies are only one member (hence the question mark).   …My LOI. I hope no one takes “old fruits” amiss.
20 Copper is on the walkie-talkie for so long (3,3)
SEE YOU   “Copper” = CU, “see you”
23 This girl’s after top tip for air and fire signs (5)
ASHES   SHE[’]S, “This girl’s” follows A[-ir]
25 Soldier and sailor about to go on leave (6,3)
DESERT RAT   DESERT, “leave” + TAR<=“about”   “a soldier fighting in the N African desert in World War II, especially a British soldier” (
26 One might gush over turning 51 in a positive way (3,4)
OIL WELL   O(ver) + LI <=“turning” + WELL, “in a positive way”
27 Old horse brought back by mineral plant (7)
OREGANO   ORE, “mineral” + {O(ld) NAG, “horse”}<=“brought back”
28 Where Doctor Who travels occasionally (4,4,2,4)
FROM TIME TO TIME   The cryptic hint is, as so often, comically literal.
 2 Bend to hear the Speaker and part of Conservative policy (7)
INCLINE     Collins (British English): “to bend or lower (part of the body, esp the head), as in a bow or in order to listen”—as in the idiom incline an ear    IN, “part of” + C(onservative) + LINE, “policy”
 3 Country in state, having installed a Labour leader (9)
 4 Ultimately becomes excited by butts (4,2)
Down, boy!
ENDS UP   ENDS, “butts” + UP, “excited”
 5 Philosophy piece with weak introductory part (8)
THINKING   THIN, “weak” ushers in KING, “piece” in chess
 6 Stuffy male brought out with soldiers preceding (5)
PRIOR   PRI[-m] + OR, “soldiers”(Other Ranks)
 7 Post Office counter and safe to be put away (7)
POTABLE   PO, “Post Office” + TABLE, “counter”
 8 What might be needed for torn Nice courts? (14)
RECONSTRUCTION   (torn Nice courts)*  &lit   The surface of the anagrist is rather strange, which almost makes it double as its own anagrind—what else could it be, but an anagram? A tour de force.
 9 Dish of beaten frogs awful, female admitted (4,10)
BEEF STROGANOFF   (of beaten frogs + f)*
16 Seriously hot and dread taking top off near home (2,7)
IN EARNEST   IN, “hot” + [-f]EAR by NEST, “home”
17 Fruity sort holding close upper-class swinger (8)
PENDULUM   P(END)(U)LUM   …For the surface, I wonder—as with 18—how we’re expected to visualize the “fruity sort” locking the “swinger” in an embrace.
19 One tragically set up new hotel on foundationless lot (7)
OTHELLO   (hotel)* + LO[-t]   Yes, he was misled as to Desdemona’s guilt, but he was ultimately (as a tragic hero in the proper sense) a victim of his own fatal flaw.
21 Police and their power to get part for an old ship? (7)
YARDARM   (The) YARD, “Police” + ARM, “their power” (as in “the long ARM of the law,” of which says, “This expression began as Kings have long arms [or hands] and was listed as a proverb in 1539. The current version, now often used lightly, was first recorded in 1908.”)
22 Type seen tailing a small group (6)
ASSORT   A + S(mall) + SORT, “Type”
24 Way in which author gets wasted (5)

19 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5033 by David McLean — the Moor and the merrier”

  1. 25:08
    I seem not to have bothered to parse FRIAR TUCK and IN EARNEST, and didn’t get INCLINE, not including ‘the Speaker’ in the definition. DNK ODONATES, of course.

  2. 48 minutes. Enjoyable and not too hard, though I missed the full def and IN for ‘part of’ for INCLINE. I also missed ‘Chambers’ as a containment indicator (looking at the parsing now, I would regard it as a containment indicator rather than a positional one) for INDIGENT; good to see our blogger crack another mention (couldn’t possibly be construed as a DIG) anyway. ODONATES NHO and LOI.

    I tried to deconstruct RECONSTRUCTION piece by piece but failed. Even so, COD for me.

    Thanks to Guy and David

  3. 50m 34s
    Oh, dear! My notes say NTR.
    My one query was on the first ‘in’ in INCLINE, so thank you Guy.
    COD to PENDULUM for ‘swinger’.

  4. 40 minutes, mystified by the parsing of INDIGENT as I wasn’t aware that ‘chamber’ could be used as a verb. If such were ever needed I might have expected the verbal form to be ‘enchamber’ but the word doesn’t appear to exist.

    1. New to me too, but as you’ve probably now seen, it is in the usual sources (including the one where you might expect it) as a transitive verb meaning to confine or enclose.

      1. I’m pretty sure this is the first use of “chamber” as a verb for this purpose in a Sunday Times crossword. “Bottled” for that purpose is subject to a similar objection, but now seems pretty widely accepted. I don’t know how many other specific “containicators” there are waiting to be discovered, or how solvers would react to their use.

  5. Well. Ten minutes of staring yielded absolutely nothing, but then, finally, got OIL WELL and IN EARNEST, and from there I seemed to find the groove. Very satisfying as the clues gradually came to make sense. Only one defeated me: 17ac ODONATES which NHO. Needed the dictionary for that one. All very enjoyable. The usual hour-long exercise. Anyone else notice the change of prize? Led me down the rabbit hole of Cross/Townsend pens… Thanks to setter and blogger.

  6. 13A: “not closely related” seems pretty common with N American animals (and plants) named after ones that seemed similar long ago. Other examples are the American Badger and hemlock as a coniferous tree (apparently from crushed foliage odour)

    14A: I think you can see also see “medium-sized” as indicating M (being the claimed truth about a garment with M on the label), and “drink” as the definition

  7. Nice one. But after about 15 minutes I was left staring at O_O_A_E_ for 18A at the end for too long for my LOI. Yes I was another who didn’t know the word. I liked CIGARETTE PAPER and SEE YOU the most. Thanks Dean and Guy.

  8. I think you need to include of in the anagrist for beef s, otherwise it’s not long enough. Thanks for sorting out incline which I couldn’t work out at all though it had to be.

  9. From Auguries of Innocence ( William Blake):
    “A Robin Redbreast in a cage
    Puts all Heaven in a rage.”

  10. Not too hard, even the unknown ODONATES being easy enough with the checkers. Talking of the different ROBINs, if you watch the Mary Poppins movie, despite being set in London, when there is a robin outside the bedroom window, it is clearly an American robin.

  11. Was satisfied with my effort today, despite getting 3 wrong! I started very slowly and nearly gave up after first crosses yielded a tentative EXCUSED and IDIOTIC only, but picked up speed after the downs offered up my adopted country of AUSTRALIA and OTHELLO was a shoo-in. Some clever stuff here , though NHO ODONATES of course; lots of CDs including 1a, 28a and FRIAR TUCK when the light dawned.

  12. Thanks David and guy
    A Sunday cafe lunch solve that happily coincided with the last bit of the toast and final sip of coffee after 37 minutes. Started off with FROM TIME TO TIME down the bottom and bounced around the grid in no particular order to get the solve complete. A couple that I didn’t end up fully parsing – the IN part of INCLINE and the GENT part of INDIGENT.
    Thought that SEE YOU, YARDARM and AUSTRALIA (after an exceptional showing in the World Cup) were the best of a very good bunch of clues.
    Finished in the NE corner with the very clever cd CIGARETTE PAPER, PRIOR and THINKING (which was another very good clue).

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