Sunday Times Cryptic No 5073 by Dean Mayer — Hold on to your hat!

Probably my quickest Dean ever. I was off to a flying start with the grid-spanning 7D and then, thus encouraged, the other 15-letter Down and the two Acrosses of 13-letters. I parsed a few only after putting in the answers. Again, the clues are remarkably succinct.

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

 1 Stand out as model or poet (7)
SITWELL   SIT WELL, and you’ll be hired to pose again. Edith SITWELL (1887–1964)
 5 Made invalid call up, in a way (7)
 9 Holy book in case (5)
BLEST   B(ook) + LEST, “in case”
10 You might say “stitch” cryptically (2,2,5)
SO TO SPEAK   “sew”   Homophone clue in reverse, if you will…
11 Tiny star is cool, part of dying out (6,7)
INFANT PRODIGY   IN, “cool” + (part of dying)*
13 Please check out this item of luggage (8)
SUITCASE   SUIT, “Please” (does this SUIT you?) and CASE, “check out” (as in “CASing the joint”)
15 No ice in sweet juice (6)
17 Sound made by sailor entering base (6)
18 Filling lunch has replaced meals in America (5,3)
UNCLE SAM   lUNCh + (meals)*
20 Rider’s skill (13)
23 Freeze, as checkout employee does? (4,5)
24 Secured by jo{int, wo}n’t split (2,3)
IN TWO   Hidden
25 Row onto sandy hill where NZ craft may berth (7)
DUNEDIN   DIN, “Row” + DUNE, “sandy hill”   …Got solely from wordplay.
26 Turn pine over to show wood (7)
SPINNEY   SPIN, “Turn” + YEN<=“over”
 1 Patient’s letter supporting hero (10)
SUBMISSIVE   SUB, “hero” (sandwich) + MISSIVE, “letter”
 2 Cleopatra was such a classic film (3,7,5)
THE AFRICAN QUEEN   (Yes, she was.)
 3 Defeated, beheaded, polished off (5)
 4 Stay after order to retire (4,4)
LAST POST   LAST, “Stay” + POST, “after”   Collins: “a bugle call that orders personnel to retire for sleep”; “a similar call sounded at military funerals”   The equivalent of “taps” in the US
 5 I will open shop in allotment (6)
RATION   RAT ON, “shop” with I, literally, inside
 6 Remaining pure, one soldier’s fed (9)
 7 Stay cool to avoid sunburn? (4,4,5,2)
KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON   With a literal reading of the idiom
 8 Necessity for boxing title (4)
DUKE   A jocular reference to “putting up your dukes” for a fight, not often heard in the singular
12 Publicity piece on new Conservative bill (10)
PROMONTORY   PROMO, “Publicity piece” + N(ew) + TORY, “Conservative”
14 Fell running in old places (9)
COLLAPSED   (old places)*
16 Contra deal over WI islands (8)
ANTILLES   ANTI, “Contra” + SELL<=“over”
19 Seeing sex, is turned on (6)
VISION   VI, “sex” (6 in Latin) + IS<=“turned” + ON
21 Out of sorts (5)
ALIBI   CD, decrypted as “[an] ‘out’ of sorts”
22 Lose control of small child (4)
…which is limited, anyway…
SKID   S(mall) + KID, “child”

32 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5073 by Dean Mayer — Hold on to your hat!”

    1. Ah, right. Her literary brothers. Well, but if you had to pick one as the poet… I wasn’t aware that either of her siblings wrote poetry, though of course both did. Sacheverell even produced 50 volumes of such stuff, but remained (Wikipedia) “best known as an art critic, music critic, and writer on architecture.”

  1. 21:19, which may be my best time for a Dean puzzle. I was helped by the two long downs, which went in early, probably biffed. Definitely biffed UNCLE SAM, COLLAPSED, ALIBI, & INFANT PRODIGY, parsed three post-submission, but not the infant. I liked IN TWO (very nice hidden), SO TO SPEAK, VISION, but COD to ALIBI.

  2. I could not get on the wavelength of the setter – found this week’s very hard. Only managed to complete it with considerable prompting for 11 and 20. So I can’t claim victory this week. 21dn I do not understand at all not even with your explanation Guy, sorry.

    1. Much to my surprise, does not have “out” as a noun.
      Collins does, and in the sense here: “mainly US a method of escape from a place, difficult situation, punishment, etc”

      1. Yes, ok if I substitute ESCAPE for OUT then it makes sense. I hadn’t expected OUT to be a noun.

  3. Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules,
    Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these,
    But of all the world’s great heroes,
    There’s none that can compare
    With a meatball sub

    DNK HERO in the necessary sense, and found the puzzle tricky throughout. Nice one though, taking just over the hour. I liked LIQUOR and BLEST. Neat clues

  4. 55m 20s but 21d was a failure. I thought of ALIBI but I couldn’t justify it….until I read Guy’s blog.
    Thanks, Guy, for SO TO SPEAK, SUITCASE, LIQUOR and SUBMISSIVE as well.

  5. Didn’t encounter any real problems here, just my usual slow but steady solve, with a sense of satisfaction as each clue made sense – always even more so when it’s clever Dean. Fave clue the so-simple KEEP STILL at 23ac. Total time around 35 minutes, still well beyond the speed required for the crossword championship. Maybe not this year then! Thanks to Dean for a very enjoyable puzzle and Guy for the as-ever entertaining blogpost.

  6. Is eleven a good clue for me?
    Might be “red dwarf”, just possibly?
    There’s a letter shortfall
    It’s not “spacey” at all
    The answer’s INFANT PRODIGY

  7. It looks to me as if Astro_Nowt has pointed out a slip in the INFANT PRODIGY clue. I was going to grumble and say that neither of the answers to 11ac or 7dn were in Chambers, but they’re in Collins. That’s not the reason, though, that I took so long: unlike Guy and some of the commenters I found this incredibly difficult and won’t give my time for fear of embarrassment. At 18ac I don’t see how ‘Filling lunch’ = [l]unc[h] — OK the filling of lunch, but just filling? At 26ac pine = yen?? And I had thought the Last Post was just a funeral thing, but Chambers and Wikipedia (but not Collins) correct me.

    1. 18A “filling lunch has” indicates UNC
      26A Collins has both “pine” and “yen” as (intransitive) matches for “yearn”
      11A: I don’t understand what’s supposed to be wrong. The anagram works as shown in the explanation, and an infant prodigy is a young (and therefore tiny compared to an adult) person famous for some ability like maths, musical performance/composition or chess, for which “star” seems understandable.

      1. Sorry, but I still don’t see how the ‘has’ makes any difference at 18ac. How does ‘filling’ indicate the action of filling? ‘The filling of’ would do so, as would ‘filling lunch (is UNC) …’ but simply ‘filling’?

        Nothing wrong with 11ac. As I said, it’s in Collins (although not Chambers, in which I initially looked).

        1. I’ll accept that “filling (noun) lunch has” is not completely natural language, but so far nobody else has told me that they didn’t understand it after seeing what the answer was.

          1. I did eventually understand what was going on but it seemed that in a tough crossword with some beautiful clues this was a bit Guardianesque (a word I use without actually having much experience of the Guardian, but going by what people say …)

            1. It’s a device which has been used in The Times before. For THEME MUSIC (or something similar) the clue began with the def “Air show has…”. Similarly, a clue for STAIRWELL began with “Space flight takes…”.

          2. I understood it as (a) Filling (adjective) lunch being a lunch that fills one, as US lunches tend to do in my experience.

  8. 38 minutes, so not too bad for me for one of Dean’s puzzles.

    I learnt ‘sub’ as a sandwich here within the past year or two but ‘hero’ was completely unknown. I had to enquire using an AI app to find the connection.

    Never fully understood SUITCASE but I see it now.

    I lost time at 7dn working on the assumption that when expressions appear as Times crossword answers and there’s a choice of YOUR or ONE’S the answer will always be ONE’S – but it wasn’t to be here. I suppose the reasoning is that this saying originated as an injunction, in which case ‘Keep your hair on’ would be the more widely used.

    1. In my championship contesting days, I tried to resist filling phrases like that until I had a checking letter confirming one’s/your. I can’t remember whether potential time saving from not having false checkers ever happened.

      1. Yes, I found that myself once I had established what I was looking for but before that I hadn’t made the connection between sub/hero and sandwich. I don’t use sandwich bars so I have no idea whether subs are sold by that name here, let alone heroes. The AI app I play around with is Google Bard. It’s great fun and can be enlightening, but the output needs to be treated with extreme caution.

    1. “Keep your skirt on” isn’t a phrase that I can find in a dictionary. It’s given a meaning on some websites that could mean “keep cool”. My instinct is not to ask the competition admin people to allow the “skirt” version as an alternative, but I will get another opinion tomorrow.

      1. ‘Keep your skirt on’ gets quite a lot of hits on a Google search but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it. The alternatives to ‘shirt’ that I know are ‘hair’ and ‘knickers’.

        1. Heard it twice when Bucks Fizz were performing Making Your Mind Up and once at the Highland Games.

  9. 13:38. Good one. I have heard of the hero sandwich but I didn’t remember it when solving, and ‘patient’ seemed a bit loose as a definition but so 1dn just went in with a shrug based almost entirely on letter=MISSIVE.

  10. A lot of this puzzle’s subtleties were too much so for me ( and I still don’t understand ALIBI – although I put it in as the only possible word). NHO SUB=hero=sandwich, so that held me up for a while, but I shrugged and moved on. A wrongly guessed ADsomething to begin 12d ( I’d put in LIQUID instead of LIQUOR at 15a) meant that corner was a mess, so I didn’t get SPINNEY either. Was very happy to start off with a bang though, with SITWELL, THE AFRICAN QUEEN ,RATION and QUALIFICATION going straight in, then BLEST and SUITCASE and VIABLE. Could make neither head nor tail of UNCLE SAM, liked KEEP STILL and DUNEDIN ( I’m an antipodean too.). COD to SO TO SPEAK.
    Good crossword that took me near on an hour to not finish!

    1. An ALIBI is a kind of “out,” in the sense of (quoting Collins again, as I do in a comment above) “a method of escape from a place, difficult situation, punishment, etc.” That’s an explanation, of sorts. (Actually, a very good one.)

  11. Thanks Dean and guy
    A single-sitting solve done on the day of publication down here in just under the hour. Took a while to get those long ones to help fill the grid – about the fifth one for THE AFRICAN QUEEN and mid solve for the other one, especially after having to change ONES for YOUR. DUNEDIN is a well-known port in NZ when one lives in this part of the world, so it was an early entry.
    Had to go looking hard to equate ‘bill’ to PROMONTORY after getting the word play and similarly for ‘hero’ and SUB for the sandwich. A lot of nice subtle clues and misdirections throughout, topped by the one for ALIBI.
    Finished in the NE corner with RATION, SO TO SPEAK (after unravelling an earlier SO IT SEEMS entry) and DUKE as the last one in.

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