Sunday Times Cryptic No 5043 by Dean Mayer — He blinded me with charm!

With this I had an experience unusual in solving a Dean puzzle, of seeing all the answers fairly quickly but then spending much more time puzzling over the parsing of a few of the clues. Yet, starting late in writing this, I am appreciative that so many can be explained with simple notation.

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

 1 Medical facility quick to bandage injury (8)
 5 Wasted game, having bowled first (6)
BLOTTO   B[-owled] + LOTTO, “game”
10 Tories out to cut benefit — a “restructuring” (11)
They’ll do it every time!
PERESTROIKA  PERK, “benefit” with (“Tories”)*  interrupting it + A
11 Being clumsy, comes in t{o a f}anfare (3)
OAF   Hidden
12 Refuge in an epidemic, possibly (6,8)
PATENT MEDICINE   TENT, “Refuge” in (an epidemic)*, &lit   An over-the-counter remedy could mitigate symptoms and as such be to some degree a temporary “refuge” from Covid (if not a resurgence of polio, say, due to anti-vaxxers).
14 The blue salad ingredient is mushroom (9)
SKYROCKET   SKY, “The blue” + ROCKET, “salad ingredient”
16 Reckon visitors need time to leave (5)
17 Back to front, those standards (5)
ETHOS   “those” with the terminal E moved to the beginning
19 One pound charge at sea secured travel on return (6,3)
RESCUE DOG   (secured)* + GO<=“on return”
21 Corporal pressing for stress reduction (7,7)
SWEDISH MASSAGE   CD, playing on “Corporal,” conjuring a military officer, and “pressing”
24 Save barrel that’s not closed (3)
BUT   BUT[t]
25 Visitor and son in rented complex (11)
NONRESIDENT   (son in rented)*
26 Saw French art of various colours (6)
ESPIED   ES, “French art” + PIED, “of various colours”   ES, en français, is the “formal”—singular—second-person present indicative form of être, “to be.” There was a time when the singular form of the English “are” (with the subject “thou”) was “art.”
27 Holds water to swallow / drink (6,2)
STANDS UP   STAND, “swallow” + SUP, “drink”
 1 Youngster a future monarch? (4)
PUPA   PUP, “Youngster” + A   A question mark because it could grow to be, say, a comma instead, or any other kind of flutterby
 2 Everyone’s short on cash by now (7)
ALREADY   AL[-l] + READY, “cash”
 3 Graduate of charm school, briefly (6,2,7)
MASTER OF SCIENCE   The abbreviation for the answer is hidden in “charM School.” Apparently, “of” (?!) signals to look for something hidden and “briefly” that it’s a shortened form of the term sought (it would be usually be MS in the US, but in the UK, I learned, it’s MSc).   …I filled in the answer quite confidently as soon as I had all the crossers and finally accepted that this had to be it, though I couldn’t see how it works for the life of me! (Nothing to do with “charm” quarks or anything so far out…) Whether or not you find “of” passing muster here, the surface is odd: It’s hard to see how anyone could be only “briefly” a “Graduate” of any school (OK, your degree could be revoked because of professional misconduct, sure…). “Graduate seen [in/visiting/dropping in on/…] charm school briefly”…?
 4 Acting in scene shot again in estate? (9)
CARETAKER   CA(RETAKE)R   …It took me an inordinately long time to see the definition—in fact, I had to have it pointed out to me (thanks, Keriothe!), although the term “caretaker government” is not unfamiliar to me.
 6 Isn’t it? It is (7,8)
LEADING QUESTION     &lit… or CD?    …I underlined the whole thing, anyway.
 7 See another trumpet, I’m told? (3-4)
TWO-TIME   “toot” + “I’m”    “You can’t have your Kate and Edith too…”
 8 Being so, could make some gaffes (3-7)
OFF-MESSAGE   (some gaffes)*   &lit   …Amusing that we have both MASSAGE and MESSAGE here. Wikipedia: « [Marshall] McLuhan frequently punned on the word “message”, changing it to “mass age”, “mess age”, and “massage”. A later book, The Medium Is the Massage[,] was originally to be titled The Medium is the Message, but McLuhan preferred the new title, which is said to have been a printing error. »
 9 Outstanding payment after misdemeanour (4)
13 One’s belt is loose, it’s alleged (10)
OSTENSIBLE   (One’s belt is)*
15 Witness protection for pollen producer is offensive (9)
TESTAMENT   TE(STAMEN)T   Monday is the… 55th anniversary of the TET Offensive, which was launched against South Vietnamese and US armed forces on January 30, 1968, by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese People’s Army; TET is an abbreviated form of the Vietnamese word for the Lunar New Year.
18 Tilt and extract remains of drink (7)
HEELTAP   HEEL, “Tilt” + TAP, “extract”
20 Stray soldier turned up in uniform (7)
DIGRESS   D(GI<=“turned up”)RESS
22 Husband with present (4)
HAND   H(usband) + AND, “with”
23 Finish second best (4)
STOP   S(econd) + TOP, “best”


46 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5043 by Dean Mayer — He blinded me with charm!”

  1. PATENT MEDICINE: (in an epidemic)* won’t do it: It’s TENT (refuge) in (an epidemic)*

  2. 22:59
    Another winner from Dean. I biffed a couple–PERESTROIKA, CARETAKER, TWO-TIME, and of course MASTER OF SCIENCE– failing to figure out that last one. I liked CARETAKER, RESCUE DOG, & LEADING QUESTION.

  3. 50 minutes for me, with a couple where I didn’t see the wordplay (like the MSc). I thought CARETAKER was something to do with Pinter’s play The Caretaker, although I basically did the opposite of biffed it, I put it in from the wordplay (BIFWP?) of RETAKE in CAR.

    Two days ago (27th) was the official end of the Vietnam War (that the Vietnamese call the American War), when the Paris Peace Accords were signed. Presumably Tet this year was last Sunday (I assume it is the same as the Chinese New Year).

    1. Retake in Car, which is an estate.

      Tet was the North Vietnamese ‘Tet offensive’. It was named after a holiday- but not convinced it had to do with the timing of this crossword

  4. 48 minutes. Yes, gentler than usual for Dean but I had no hope of parsing MASTER OF SCIENCE. Although I couldn’t think of anything else and could see the whole clue as wordplay, I thought PATENT MEDICINE as a cryptic def, ie a ‘Refuge in an epidemic, possibly’, wasn’t great. I liked PERESTROIKA, SKYROCKET and TWO-TIME (and our blogger’s little witticism).

    At the risk of revealing my ignorance, I would regard OFF-MESSAGE as a semi-&lit, as ‘Being so’ doesn’t contribute to the wordplay. As for LEADING QUESTION, it works for me as a cryptic def in that ‘Isn’t it?’ is indeed a LEADING QUESTION. There is another possible interpretation (pretty weak, I agree) in that a QUESTION (‘Isn’t it?’) is the LEADING (first) part of the clue.

    Thanks to Dean and Guy

    1. On reflection, I think you’re right about the semi, and possibly the CD. It still feels strange to me to underline something like “being so” as the definition all on its own when the wordplay contributes most of the sense of the clue, and also to separate the wordplay from the part that indicates, at least, what part of speech you’re looking for in decrypting it.

      “You Can’t Have Your Cake and Edith Too” is, if you don’t know, a song by the excellent Statler Brothers (famous also for such other numbers as “Counting Flowers on the Wall”).

      1. Thanks. Never heard of this song or the Statler Brothers. I’ll do a bit more searching on YouTube.

      2. On 8D, I think underlining “being so” is the best you can do, but I’d count the clue as an &lit, like ones which have used “this” in a similar way. In both cases, the part that’s not wordplay and hence strictly technically the def, is not a definition that’s any use on its own. For those like me who see the “definition” in a cryptic clue as the words that confirm what the answer is, rather than the part that’s not wordplay (which is of course very often the same thing) that’s definitely the whole clue in cases like this.

        1. I questioned your comment here and then realised I agree with you! The whole clue here is both wordplay and definition: ‘could make some gaffes’ doesn’t work on its own as either.

          1. OK, so I reverted to my original version. Right the first time!
            This is definitely more an art than a science.

      3. Never heard of the Statler Brothers, but the song is clever – very 60s but quite risque!

  5. Held up for a long time by 12a, for which I was trying to force PARENT DOMICILE to work, being the refuge children might turn to in an epidemic. It has all the letters of ‘an epidemic’ included, and all the crossers bar one, but fails further parsing. When the penultimate FINE finally went in, then PATENT MEDICINE could be swallowed without fuss.
    40minutes for another FINE Dean Mayer puzzle.

    1. Exactly! Not least because it was my SOI, following a swift PHARMACY. Sadly, my ‘run’ ended there , with a few NHOs blocking the solution to others, such as: SWEDISH MASSAGE and HEELTAP. Still don’t understand the parsing of RESCUE DOG, but that’s more likely me being OFF MESSAGE than anything else.
      This one a bit above my pay grade, but enjoyed the tussle.

      1. Definition: “Charge” is meant in the sense of a “ward”: a dog is a “charge” of a dog pound; one particular kind of such a charge is one taken from an abusive owner, a RESCUE DOG.

        Wordplay: “At sea” is the indicator of an anagram, which takes care of 7/9ths of the clue, RESCUED, the rest being “travel,” GO, “on return” meaning flipped around to OG.

  6. 3d appeared as “Graduate of middle school briefly” in the printed edition, which is somewhat more obvious than the version in the online edition. I must say I didn’t much like the online version, which was my LOI

  7. 6D: There is something very unusual about this clue, noted in the phone call with Dean about proposed editing tweaks. It’s possible to reword the clue as “It is, isn’t it?” and still use it for the same answer, because “it” is leading the question, which in this case is the whole clue, rather than the question that’s leading the clue being “it”, as in the printed version.

    Aside from this being something I don’t think I have ever seen before, I’m sorely tempted to print two 8D clues when this puzzle comes up for inclusion in a book, or have a three-line clue with an italicised “or” as the second line. This could have been done in the print version, but as far as I know, it’s not possible to get the online version of a clue to include line-breaks.

  8. I’m sure I’m going to regret asking – how does 19 ac work?
    Many thanks to both setter and blogger.

    1. This clue fooled me for ages, as I thought, even after getting the answer, that the definition was referring to some kind of naval arsenal! It was only after staring at it for ages that I finally realised – ‘one pound charge’ implies an animal that is looked after in a dog pound, i.e. a rescue dog that has been collected from the streets. Then ‘at sea’ indicates an anagram, not of the previous words, but the following, ‘secured’, giving RESCUE D. The final part of the clue is a ‘return’ of a word for travel i.e. GO backwards. Hope that clears it up.

      1. Many thanks but, being dimmer than usual, I still don’t understand the one pound charge bit.
        I’d seen the secured/rescue d anag. followed by go reversed, i.e. the cryptic part of the clue but I thought a rescue dog was a dog that rescues like a St. Bernard and so the synonym was eluding me.
        And now the penny has finally dropped!
        Thank you!

      2. I would have been happier with “A pound charge” rather than “one pound charge,” which doesn’t quite make sense to me.

  9. Loved ‘leading question’ and ‘patent medicine’. Master of science went in with no clue as to how it parsed – so thanks for the blog. I was happy to show some improvement getting with=and and es=art with no trouble. Good fun!

  10. I managed to finish this correctly but with several unparsed-so many thanks to our blogger and others for the useful comments above.
    My last two were the NHO HEELTAP and FINE where I was stuck on VICE which clearly did not work.
    Some excellent clues; my favourite was PERESTROIKA.

  11. I have no comments on my paper, just a lot of anagram letters, but I did have a number of ?s in the margins, as I struggled to understand the parsing. This applied to 19A, referred to above, 12A PATENT MEDICINE, where I could see the surface sort of made sense, but not the actual cryptic. With the clever 3D I couldn’t parse it at all. As usual, after the explanation, it seemed blindingly obvious, which surely is the mark of an expert setter. CsOD to PERESTROIKA, a brilliant, elegant clue and RESCUE DOG, which fooled me for ages. Thanks, as ever, to Dean and Guy.

  12. Loved this, as always… How Dean gets such invention and such conciseness, both at the same time, is a mystery to me.
    10ac took me time to unpack the wordplay. And I don’t like 19ac. As mentioned above “one pound charge” makes much less sense than “a pound charge,” to me at least.
    3dn works fine as the online clue is, I don’t see using “middle” instead as an improvement at all..

    1. Because a rescue dog is defined as one officially taken from an abusive owner, I used “one” as a stronger hint to the answer being an example, since a dog pound would accommodate strays and those taken in for other reasons.

      1. No idea what the official definition might be.. I would happily regard a rehomed stray as being rescued, for example.. but “one pound charge” just doesn’t make definitional sense to me in relation to a canine.
        But let it be. Good to hear from you, Dean!

  13. 13:43. Good one. I can’t quite get 3dn or 6dn to work without squinting quite hard but I still like them.

  14. Thanks for the blog. I thought 3d was fine – I took it to be the charm school that’s used briefly, rather than the academic degree.

    I’m having lots of problems today though. Crosswords won’t load at all in Chrome, and in Safari every letter goes into the top left square! How about everyone else?

    1. Well, then you wouldn’t have anything to indicate the abbreviation.

      I always work on paper, but I tested the interface on both Safari and Chrome and had no problem. Folks have recommended cleaning out the browser cache and maybe cookies when similar problems have arisen.

      1. Mmm, see what you mean about the clue.

        Thanks for getting back to me re the browsers. I’ll give your suggestions a try.

  15. A delight as always, but a much easier one than usual (or I’m having a good 36 minute day). COD to TWO-TIME, definitely. I liked seeing PERESTROIKA, which reminded me that when the political perestroika was happening in the Soviet Union I was translating a Russian mathematics book about singularity theory in which the word kept appearing in a literal sense (changing of structure) all the time. So I knew what Gorbachev was talking about.

  16. Thanks Dean and guy
    Seem to have had a different solving experience to others – for a start taking much longer, a tad over two hours spread across a couple of days. Was able to comfortably see the ‘hard parsing’ of 3d and 19a, but couldn’t get the homophonic “TOOT I’M” (quite clever when it is there). Made an initial meal of the SW corner – putting in STOMACH MASSAGE at 21a (hmm ‘corporation not corporal’ silly) and MOTLEY at 26a – they both sort of worked but caused all sorts of issues in solving the crossing down clues. Eventually unravelled OSTENSIBLE to show the errors and was then able to clear it up. Then up to the NW with CARETAKER, SKYROCKET and ALREADY to finish.
    Great puzzle as usual from this setter.

  17. In our Toronto Saturday Star, 3d read: Graduate of middle school, briefly. (6,2,7). We spent a long time trying to parse the obvious answer.

    As always, thanks to all the setters and bloggers.

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