Sunday Times Cryptic No 5065 by Robert Price — Better look that over one more time…

Brilliant stuff, as always. For some reason, I had a hard time getting started, and then my progress was slow. I even put it aside for tomorrow before turning on the light again and finishing the NW. Clues whose essential wordplay were common were yet worded so as to hide those inner workings—at least from me! (Your mileage may differ.) All very satisfying in the end, leaving no complaints or questions. But maybe someone will tell me that I missed something! This was not my slowest solve ever, but definitely my most quickly written blog.

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

 1 Paper that’s still listened to (10)
STATIONERY   “stationary”   …My POI… believe it or not! I seem to have formed a habit of starting nearer the bottom than the top.
 6 Stagger round the bend to the left (4)
STUN   NUTS<=“to the left”
 9 Checks for “F” in nymphs (10)
What a horrible speller!
PROOFREADS   PRO, “for” + O(F)READS   “Oreads” inhabited mountains and hills, in mythic Greek times.   …Oddly—for a copy-editor—this was my LOI.
10 Paddy’s back in action (4)
STEP   PETS<=“back”   “Paddy” in the strictly UK sense of  “a fit of temper”   (Collins marks that as “sometimes offensive”—which would be when one thinks of its derivation from the capitalized version, oft deemed an ethnic slur.)
12 What’s in Heather’s clothing? (6)
LINING   L(IN)ING or LIN(IN)G   &lit!
13 Fresh location for the IOW ferry (8)
INSOLENT   IN SOLENT   The Solent is a strait between the Isle of Wight and mainland Great Britain. The word predates Old English, and past that point the weeds grow tall and thick…   …I first heard of the Isle of Wight when Dylan played at a festival there.
15 Broadcaster’s japes about king’s high offices (11)
SKYSCRAPERS   SKY, “Broadcaster” + C(R)APERS   Where said workplaces are located, actually (so many empty ones these days…), but close enough, no?
18 Run into trouble joining criminal society (11)
21 Hat that’s flash, worn by old sailors (8)
TRICORNE   TRIC(O)(RN)E   The “sailors” are the R(oyal) N(avy).   …I like to say “in a trice” as much as  “for the nonce.”
22 Plant’s accountant seized by a US agency (6)
24 Genuine article about limiting carbon (4)
ECHT   C(arbon) inside THE<=“about”   …My FOI
25 Harshly rebuked rotter named by Spooner (10)
KEELHAULED   “Heel called”
26 Bleeds or clots (4)
SAPS   DD   That’s “clots” in the sense of idiots, dolts, clods…
27 State surely worried by a society cut in two (10)
ASSEVERATE   A + S(ociety) + SEVER, “cut in two” + ATE, “worried”
 1 Issue with freedom of movement (6)
SUPPLY   DD, verb & adjective   Not the first definition you might think of for “Issue,” but two weeks ago we had ISSUE with the DD “flow of supply.”
 2 Several beers, more or less (6)
 3 Where kids learn of clans in hot exchanges (6,6)
INFANT SCHOOL   (of clans in hot)*   …Not a term I was familiar with
 4 Essential work by the sound of it (4)
NEED   “knead”
 5 Whip made of cord with grip in plastic (6,4)
RIDING CROP   (“cord” + “grip in”)*
 7 Tied up in Paris and owing money? (8)
TETHERED   ET—“in Paris[,] ‘and’”—is literally in THE RED, “owing money”
 8 Crude poem isn’t helping relations (8)
NEPOTISM   (poem isn’t)*
11 Fawn belt covering zip with difficulty (3,3,6)
BOW AND SCRAPE   B(O)(W)AND + SCRAPE, “difficulty”
14 Fancy garden has to contain unknown shrubs (10)
HYDRANGEAS   (“garden has” + Y)*   X, Y, and Z are our usual options for “unknown.”
16 When to bring in top aides (8)
17 Improve by studying language in court (6,2)
POLISH UP   POLISH, “language” + UP, “in court” (in Collins, “appearing before a magistrate”)
19 Monster caught breaking partner’s back (6)
SCYLLA   C(aught) interrupting ALLY[’]S<=“back”   Odysseus escaped her clutches (all twelve of them—she also had six heads!), but six of his men didn’t.
20 How to pronounce a composer’s name (6)
HANDLE   “Handel”
23 This is one group for which IQ isn’t central (4)


20 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5065 by Robert Price — Better look that over one more time…”

  1. 35:03
    FOI INSOLENT; I couldn’t believe it took me so long to get STATIONERY. Biffed SKYSCRAPERS, parsed post-submission. LOI ABETTERS, where the definition puzzled me. I liked INSOLENT, BROTHERHOOD, & NEPOTISM. This was tougher for me than Robert’s recent ones, but enjoyable as always.

  2. 38 minutes with no problems other than never having seen TRICORNE with an E before. The wordplay was clear however and I confirmed it afterwards as a valid alternative spelling.

  3. I read 9ac as a CD: one checking for nymphs spelt nymfs. Didn’t look any further than that. I have to say I much prefer your construction.

    I think the spoonerism is a stretch too far. Very forced, not amusing. Generally not my favourite type of clue. Other than that, a nice puzzle.

    1. Just a straightforward Spoonerism clue. Perfectly OK in my opinion. Who said a Spoonerism clue had to be amusing?

      I thought CLUE was brilliant.

  4. 72m 13s A very good test with the ‘Northwest Passage’ particularly hard.
    Thank you Guy, particularly for BOW AND SCRAPE and the UP in POLISH UP.
    I did think 25ac KEELHAULED was a bit of a forced Spoonerism.

  5. 46 minutes. Very enjoyable. Favourites were the amusing surface for PROOFREADS, the ‘in’ THE RED trick for TETHERED and the mundane def for the not so simple CLUE.

    Thanks to Robert and Guy

  6. DNF, defeated by KEELHAULED (never heard of it) and by putting ‘sops’ rather than SAPS. Also missed the neat trick in TETHERED and was wondering how to justify the lack of ‘in’.

    COD Proofreads

  7. A few points:

    10A: “sometimes offensive” is new in Collins since my iPad app copy was installed. So far, I can’t remember anyone from Ireland commenting about it, though I prefer to make “not any more” decisions just before the first letter comes in.

    13A: by an odd coincidence, “wight” once meant “person”, so Isle of Wight and Isle of Man arguably mean the same, except that “Man” (in the island name) seems to have meant something else in those days.

    25A: I can’t see what’s wrong with “call heel” / “keelhaul” as a Spoonerism. Spoonerisms are based on sounds, so the letters can change, as in “you have tasted two whole worms” in one of the old ones invented by Oxford students rather than spoken by Spooner, and gaps between printed words can move or disappear in the style of “four candles” / “fork handles” from the Two Ronnies.

    7D “owing money” is “in the red”, and that’s intended to mean (inside “the red”). It’s the kind of two-step process that we’re not really supposed to use, but this and “in bed” as an equivalent of “retired” or “asleep” are bits of crossword tradition which I’m (somewhat arbitrarily) happier with than ones like “indeed” indicating (inside “deed”).

    1. I don’t think you’ve made an arbitrary decision, Peter. “in bed” means what it says: inside “bed”. But “indeed” is not “in deed”. Not so sure about “in the red” to mean inside “red”.

      1. I thought the device re ‘owing’ at 7dn (TETHERED) worked perfectly but I’ve become a little more relaxed about such things since I took up doing The Guardian puzzle a few years ago. They would have no problem with ‘indeed’ for ‘in deed’ and their setters use similar examples almost daily.

      2. At least in this case, “in the red” means inside “the red”.

  8. The usual high standard from Robert Price. I didn’t make any notes for it, but there were some real crackers and no MERs. Loved TETHERED when I saw what was happening, and likewise CLUE and PROOFREADS, which, with SCYLLA, was where you follow the wordplay and then discover you have an answer – so satisfying when it works.

  9. Very hard, it took me a bit over an hour, but very enjoyable and of superb quality, as the Sunday puzzles almost always are. Unfortunately, the regular cryptics during the week have recently not been of a similar consistently high standard — usually they are very easy with one or two real stinkers depending just on obscurities (unsolvable if they affect the definition and the wordplay as well). But here the difficulties have more to do with a subtle and misleading structure and very little to do with the darker corners of the dictionary.

    I nearly gave up on the NW corner but after a break, the fog in my brain lifted (beginning with A ROUND of drinks) and I managed to finish with everything parsed correctly. The very best of many superb clues were TETHERED and CLUE, of course. Thank you, Robert, for a wonderful puzzle.

    1. I hear what you say, but many of us DO solve your “unsolvable” clues. Perhaps if you thought you could do it, you could, like the little engine?
      I have a different view because I do them as an intellectual effort, and a way of exercising what remaining grey cells I have; so for me only 100% submission will do. And it has not failed me yet.

      Robert Price is a top class setter, a great find for both the TLS and the ST.

  10. Agree with all above sentiments about Robert Price, and really good puzzles like this one. My downfalls were TETHERED in not recognising the correct definition, nor separating “Paris and”. No problem with the NW corner at all, but fell at the longer (less-often used ) words like ASSEVERATE and ABETTERS. Enjoyed the PDMs at ECHT and the brilliant CLUE.

  11. Thanks Bob and guy
    Excellent puzzle that was able to complete in 49 minutes, quicker than normal for an ST crossword, but still one that required a fair bit of reviewed for the missed parsing. The second definition of SAPS took an age to eventually see – so clever. Knew that there was something going on with ‘in the red’ at 7d, but just couldn’t get the last bit of it to work.
    ECHT was also my first one in – it is just one of those words that once you have seen it, it tends to stick in one’s memory for some reason. Thought that INSOLENT was very good after not finding a port town on either end of the ‘ferry run’ and the penny finally dropped on the name of the water in between them.
    Finished in the NW, like many others apparently, with PROOFREADS (tricky word play and innocuous definition), AROUND (more clever word play) and LINING the last one in.

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