Sunday Times Cryptic No 5071 by Robert Price — happy chappy

Non, je ne regrette rien ! My journey through this was uninterrupted and relatively quick, though I did stop briefly in quite pleasurable puzzlement at several crossroads along the way—such as the well-disguised cryptic definitions for 12 and 21.

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

 1 Fix a soft drink first to dilute a cocktail (4,6)
A high ball, then?
PINA COLADA   PIN, “Fix” + COLA, “soft drink” + Dilute + A
 6 Bitter leaves off bay tree (4)
ACER   ACERb   B for “bay” is found on “maps, etc” according to Collins.
 9 Layer put on when making pasty (5)
ASHEN   AS, “when” + HEN, “Layer”
10 Club star regularly skipped meal, but not starter (9)
12 Private events actively fending off drugs (13)
PREVENTATIVES   (Private events)*   …The word has an unnecessary syllable (the third), but is used at least as often as the more svelte alternative. For the adjective, I would put a hyphen in “fending-off.” (Not a concern here, of course.)
14 Team, Liverpool, say, bitter having let in five (4,4)
PORT VALE   PORT, “Liverpool, say” + V, “five” + ALE, “bitter”
15 Ran after being pronounced innocent (6)
CHASTE   “chased”
17 Hapless chap trapped by changes in rules (6)
EDICTS   EDI(Chap)TS   …My LOI, ironically (again) for a person who makes such changes all the livelong day
19 Plant workers’ group jolly to Morecambe? (8)
TURMERIC   TU, “workers’ group” + R(oyal) M(arines), “jolly” + ERIC “Morecambe”
21 Amusement mounts as music hero sings out (7,6)
ROCKING HORSES   ROCK, “music” + (hero sings)*
24 Deputy, less sensible, outspoken as well (6,3)
NUMBER TWO   NUMBER, “less sensible” + “too”
25 Last stand (5)
26 In New York this would be almost noble (4)
27 Late in the evening, move with the music crowd (10)
ATTENDANCE   AT TEN, “Late in the evening” + DANCE, “move with the music”
 1 Piano provided to introduce a singer (4)
PIAF   P(iano) +I(A)F   As this is an English puzzle, that could be simply the last name of the legendary chanteuse with the distinctive tremolo, but piaf in French also means “sparrow.” Her original name was Édith Giovanna Gassion.
 2 Drama over a lost cause (2-5)
NO-HOPER   NOH, “Drama” + O(ver) + PER, “a”
 3 A revolt about jam sandwiches in school (13)
CONSERVATOIRE   CONSERVE, “jam” slathered over A + RIOT<=“about”
 4 Coffee retail, extremely variable in recent times (8)
LATTERLY   LATTE, “Coffee” + RetaiL + Y, “variable”
 5 Cow’s too thin, diameter not good (5)
 7 Splits in two sticks (7)
 8 Caine — not one involved with screen revival (10)
RENASCENCE   (Ca[-i]ne + screen)*
11 Do or don’t top your hot dog? (3,3,7)
CUT THE MUSTARD   Cryptic hint for the idiom, taking it literally
13 Look, a reindeer mostly eats veg (10)
16 Economic area’s lament when turning to gas (8)
EUROZONE   RUE<=“turning” + OZONE, “gas”
18 One new around Rome after migrating? (7)
INCOMER   I, “One” + N(ew) + C, “around” + (Rome)*   &lit
20 Raised on French, Welsh girl’s native language (7)
RUSSIAN   SUR<=“Raised” (“on[, in] French”) + SIAN, “Welsh girl”   I thought “native” may be seen as not necessary, though on the surface it does seem to imply that the young Cambrian originally spoke another tongue besides Welsh or English. But now I see two definitions!
22 Leave before rubbish is suggested (3,2)
GOT AT   GO, “Leave” + TAT, “rubbish”
23 Yield protected by finan{ce de}partment (4)
CEDE   Hidden


27 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5071 by Robert Price — happy chappy”

  1. 19A: strictly speaking, a “jolly” is just one Royal Marine, but somehow cryptic crossword tradition allows “jolly” rather than “jollies”, which would match “gunners” = Royal Artillery = RA. The best excuse I’ve found is that regimental initials sometimes follow names, and in “Fred Smith, RM”, the meaning is really singular.

  2. 26:00
    I put in CHASED at 15ac, which seems to me justifiable; changed it once I had RENASCENCE. NHO PORT VALE. Biffed ROCKING HORSES, parsed post-submission. I wondered about B for ‘bay’, but figured it would be in Chambers. I liked TRUNCHEON & EDICTS.

    1. CHASTE, yes, I’m afraid could just as easily go either way. In fact, if memory serves, I opted for CHASED first too.

      1. I have seen this sort of ambiguity criticised previously, but I think there is a valid case for the defence.

        OK, so you may have to solve another clue to resolve the ambiguity here, but cross-reference clues also explicitly require the solver to do this, and they seem to be widely accepted, (especially in the Guardian).

        And after all, it is supposed to be a puzzle. Some extra thinking may be needed, but isn’t it because “thinking is required” that we do cryptic crosswords in the first place?

          1. If that’s what Astro is saying (and I think it is), I agree. I think a clue with two correct answers is absolutely fine as long as the checking letters resolve the ambiguity.

            1. Such clues are not perfect or ideal, in my view. As you know. That kind of thing is typical of non-cryptics.

              1. Yes I know, and it’s a perfectly reasonable view. I just think the grid is an integral part of the puzzle so it’s perfectly fair for the setter to use it.

  3. Worth it for ‘bitter leaves’, ‘amusement mounts’ and the’hapless chap’ alone. Thanks all.

  4. 29m 53s. I thought there were some very good surface readings.
    7d CLEAVES was interesting as Rose Wild had an item on words with double meaning in her ‘Feedback’ column the day before; one word mentioned was CLEAVE.
    1d was also interesting. I learnt a little while ago that Charles Aznavour was once hired by Edith PIAF as an assistant and general factotum.
    I liked it that ‘club’ in 10ac and ‘team in 14ac had different meanings. I think I’m right in saying that PORT VALE is the only club in Great Britain to have VALE in their name but if I’m not, I’m sure someone will tell me!
    CODs: 17ac: I really liked the ‘hapless chap’!
    26ac: (N)earl(Y)

    1. In New York, it would be “almost.”
      But it’s not in NY. It’s (entirely) “noble.”

  5. I forgot to record my finishing time but I have few workings in the margins so I’d guess I found it fairly straightforward.

    My only query was based on 6ac being clued as ACER{bic} but now that you’ve explained it’s ACER{b} I can confirm ‘b’ can also be ‘bay’ as the colour of a horse as indicated on a racing card. Whether it’s in any of the usual dictionaries I don’t know, but it’s listed on the Racing Post and Jockey Club sites and we’ve had other horse colour abbreviations in the past.

  6. DNF. Cruised through this roughly in order from FOI 1ac PINA COLADA – which of course meant Barry Manilow singing along for the rest… However, the north east corner proved troublesome. Had no clue where the RM in 19ac TURMERIC came from, not knowing Royal Marine = jolly. I guessed wrong on 15ac and went for CHASED, not CHASTE, with ACID for 6ac. Which screwed up any possibility of getting 8d. But in any case had no idea RENASCENCE could be spelt that way so doubt I would have got it even with correct crossers. Oh, and also couldn’t figure 22d even with G_T_T… A DNF, after 35 minutes. Thanks to blogger for the explanations.

  7. Even with the anagram I messed up RENASCENCE with two Ss, otherwise an enjoyable crossword. EDICTS was my last, struggling to find what a hapless chap was doing in the clue, until it hit like a brick.!

  8. DNF too. 25a I plumped for ARISE rather than ABIDE, which only met one of the two defs. DOH!
    Liked TRUNCHEON and the hapless chap.

  9. No problems other than two needing the blog to understand the parsing: the clever EDICTS and equally clever EARL.
    Chuffed I had parsed NO HOPER correctly remembering the Japanese dance-drama which has cropped up before and the reindeer in APPEARANCE.

  10. Nobody so far has mentioned that hapless is not the same as hap-less, and so 17ac could be criticised for being unXimenean. I think. It looks to me rather Guardianesque. But I once wrote this clue for yo-yo: ‘timeless toy spun repeatedly?’ and Michael Macdonald passed it, so perhaps I’m making a fuss about nothing?

    Otherwise much enjoyed as usual. Robert repeatedly produces very elegant clues. His crosswords tend to be a bit easier than those of the other two, but that is no criticism.

    1. I don’t see ‘hapless’ as a problem. It literally means ‘without hap’ just as ‘joyless’ means ‘without joy’ and one wouldn’t expect to use a hyphen in the latter example. And both surely work in cryptic crossword terms to indicate removal of the first three letters?

    2. If you look up “hap” and “hapless” in ODE or Collins, I think you might agree that “without hap” is exactly what “hapless” means.

  11. A sheer delight as usual. It took me 47 minutes, but I did eventually see all of the little tricks involved. COD to the hapless chap and the British noble almost visiting New York.

  12. Lovely puzzle. I got all correct. I love Robert’s puzzles which have such clever (usually short) clues, without any real obscurities (well, ok, who knew RENASCENCE was a valid spelling).

  13. 19.21

    Another delightful puzzle from Mr Price.

    So many excellent surfaces as always but I particularly liked the jam sandwiches.

    Thanks Guy and clever setter

  14. Clever setter indeed! Was off and running with PIAF (seem to find the down clues an easier start than acrosses), and once I’d ditched the idea of 1a having to start with pink (a lot of cocktails do) and bothering to build the cryptic, arrived at the correct answer. Unfortunately had not heard of PORT VALE, so that slowed me down somewhat, had to be CHASTE once 8d was in, but never did get EUROZONE, APPEARANCE nor EDICTS ( love the hapless chap!). ROCKING HORSES very clever deceptive definition, so my COD amongst many other standouts.

  15. Thanks Robert and guy
    This was my entertainment on a two hour plane trip from Melbourne to Queensland, without aids and with the usual interruptions on a flight. Total time was 83 minutes, was very chuffed for it to be all correct and correctly parsed, although I did have to confirm PORT VALE was actually a team after landing. Don’t know whether I have ever seen a fourth division team make it to a British crossword before.
    It did take a couple of goes to get the spelling of RENASCENCE correct – not seen this variation of this ‘revival’ before. As with others, enjoyed the quirky definitions in 12a and 21a and also the ‘hapless chaps’ at 17a.
    Finished in the SW corner with that PORT VALE and APPEARANCE.

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