Sunday Times Cryptic No 5103 by Dean Mayer — Not a word wasted

Clues succinct and densely packed, somewhat like koans, hard to crack. (Yes, there are two syllables in koan, so that line is metrically flawless.)

I indicate (Ars Magna)* like this, and words flagging such rearrangements are italicized in the clues.

 1 That is a sign of penitence, in a way (8)
SCILICET    Or “namely,” “used esp in explaining an obscure text or an ambiguity, or supplying a missing word” (Collins) and usually appearing shortened to its first two letters; from Latin scīre licet, “it is permitted to know”   S(CILICE)T, “a way,” ST(reet) around CILICE, a hair shirt, the wearing of which is an act of penitent mortification of the body
 6 Car maker left out of TLS book reviews? (6)
AUDITS    AUDI, “Car maker” + TlS   …My favorite clue here, for the smooth surface/definition meld, and maybe because I sometimes read the Times Literary Supplement
 9 An embankment’s architect (4)
ADAM    A DAM  Probably Robert (1728–1792) A., though there was also James  (1732–1794) and William (1689–1748).
10 One bird giving me a secret about another (10)
11 Sex talk almost crucial (5)
VITAL    VI, “Sex” being Latin for “six” + TALk
12 Felt I tuned it badly (8)
INTUITED    (I tuned it)*
14 I’m into this, interrupting sadly prostrate conjuror (15)
PRESTIDIGITATOR   I DIG IT, “I’m into this” breaking into (prostrate)*
16 Part-time board member? (10,5)
OCCASIONAL TABLE    OCCASIONAL, “Part-time” + BOARD, “table”   &lit   Collins tags this sense of “board” as TABLE as archaic: “esp one used for eating at, and esp when laden with food.” It seems that the most broad definition of “member” is demanded here, such as Collins’s “a distinct part or element of a whole, as of a mathematical equation, a sentence, a syllogism, a series, a building, a bridge, etc.” Or… a TABLE. If, say, you have an unusual number of dinner guests, this usually superfluous piece of furniture is called into service.   …That’s the best I can do with this, anyway!
19 Excessive butt on one girl (8)
Tous les goûts sont dans la nature…
PRODIGAL    PROD, “butt” + I, “one” + GAL, “girl” has “butt” (“verb as in bang up against with head”) as a “Related Word” for PROD, though not one of the synonyms or strong matches.
20 Sweep a little to hide marks (5)
22 Without power, playing Shelley’s covers album (10)
HELPLESSLY   (Shelley’s)* surrounding LP, “album”   …The setter was probably thinking of Peter S. (who hasn’t an album of covers to his name, AFAIK).
24 Match action (4)
25 After that, sleeping? (6)
BEYOND    YON,  old-fashioned or dialect for “that,” is literally in BED.
26 Not a word published — knowledge wasted (8)
SHRUNKEN    SH, “not a word(!)” + RUN, “published” + KEN, “knowledge”
 2 Corpse in one rotten state (7)
CADAVER    CAD, “one rotten” + AVER, “state”
 3 Border I’m filling in (5)
LIMIT    L(IM)IT   LIT is “in” in the sense of a fire that is not… out.
 4 Having beef, vanilla slices next (11)
 5 Its art is not laid out in squares (15)
TRADITIONALISTS    (Its art is not laid)*
 6 I am willing to give it back (3)
AGO    A GO    A fill-in-the-blank clue, such as we rarely see.    …A sentence starting with any pronoun would have done the job, right…? “One might be willing to give it back” works, I think…
 7 A country boy upset about a famous exile (5,4)
DALAI LAMA    A MALI (A) LAD <=“upset”
 8 A little n{ode prot}ecting upturned sea shell? (7)
TORPEDO    Reverse hidden
13 New artillery parts for a wife / attorney (5,6)
TRIAL LAWYER    (artillery)* with W(ife) butting in
15 Joker — turn over to show face (5,2,2)
STAND UP TO    STAND[-]UP, “Joker” (comedian) + TO, “turn over” as in the abbreviation T.O., which I find in Collins only as American English, and with the dots   The phrase “to show” merely links wordplay and definition. Such connective tissue is scarce in this puzzle.   Or Bletchleyreject’s parsing may be better: STAND UP as a “Joker turn” or comedian’s set, “over” (above)  TO, with “show” merely linking wordplay and definition.   …I can’t shake the feeling, though, that “shows” should be the verb with the singular subject of a phrase.
17 Train to have wheels in middle (7)
CORTEGE    CO(GET<=)RE   One Collins entry for “have” is “to GET, take, receive, or obtain | to have news of someone, have a look at it.
18 50 per cent left with room to fill grid (7)
21 Bowled, eg, bowl (5)
BASIN    B(owled) + AS IN, “eg”
23 Close fri{end}s, to some extent (3)
END   Hidden

28 comments on “Sunday Times Cryptic No 5103 by Dean Mayer — Not a word wasted”

  1. Almost beyond me. 25a was last one in, and I couldn’t see how it parsed. There are a lot of possibilities with -E-O-D as checkers. SECOND and BEYOND would both do for ‘ after’ . I plumped for the second of these, but fully expected a pink traditionalist or two. Thanks for the explanation, Guy. It’s now my COD.
    A toughie at 43:43

  2. 60 minutes. I was happy to complete this, but after reading Guy’s blog, I see now there were a few that I couldn’t parse including SCILICET (NHO CILICE), OCCASIONAL TABLE, and the GET sense of ‘have’ in CORTEGE. I’d heard of the word before, but I wouldn’t have been able to say what a PRESTIDIGITATOR was. Favourite bit was the yucky but apt surface for CADAVER.

    Just a suggestion, but an alternative parsing for STAND UP TO may be:
    STAND UP (‘Joker – turn’) above (‘over’) TO (‘to’), with STAND(-)UP = stand-up comedy = ‘Joker turn’, with ‘turn’ as an act or gig. This leaves ‘show face’, which maybe doesn’t quite work, for the def.

    Thanks to Guy and Dean

    1. Ah, yes, I think STAND UP must be “Joker turn” and “over” just a positioning word—with “show” linking wordplay and definition, without the help of “to.” Thanks.

  3. Thanks, Guy. I came here to get your read on “member” in Occasional Table. I can’t help thinking I’m missing something. Elsewhere I liked (among others) Basin.

  4. This took me over an hour, over a (long) lunch. Couldn’t understand SCILICET because NHO CILICE. I took STAND UP to be JOKER, i.e. a stand-up comedian; TO=turn over (as in PTO), which I see was your original reading.. LOI the table. I liked PRODIGAL, LIMIT, & esp. BEYOND.

  5. Had to use aids to solve 6ac and 16ac unfortunately.
    Thanks Guy for BEYOND, AGO and LIMIT.
    My only contribution today is that a CILICE is mentioned in Dan Brown’s book, ‘The Da Vinci Code’. One of the characters wore one.

    1. The character called Silas wore one, but it was a spiked belt around his thigh rather than a hair shirt. The meaning seems to have been extended to other devices used for bodily penance.

      1. The word originally meant goat hair from the region of Cilicia and is translated in the KJV as “sackcloth.” I really wonder if it has been extended anywhere else besides the fiction of Dan Brown to mean the thing the thing worn by that character.

  6. I was well over an hour on his but even then I had to use aids for LOI 24ac when my lengthy alphabet trawl had failed to produce a result. It turns out there are more than 50 words that fit the checkers S?I? and my brain was too tired by that stage to sift through and consider them all logically. I can’t be sure I ever got as far as SU.

    Elsewhere my only unknown was the sign of penitence needed for wordplay at 1ac, but the answer to the clue had come easily enough from the checkers and definition.

    ‘Board’ still has many associations with table, so I’m surprised that Collins and SOED consider it obsolete. Chambers doesn’t. Amongst other things it’s the origin of boardroom, board of directors, member of the board (relevant to the clue), sideboard etc. So TABLE went into the grid right away but my problem was coming up with a 10-letter word to put in front of it. I kicked myself when the answer emerged eventually because I am fully familiar with the concept of the occasional table but I had distracted myself thinking that it was going to be some sort of extendable table such us draw-leaf, or the type where the centre portion can be completely removed for storage when not needed.

  7. 16ac made perfect sense to me as I merrily wrote in “occasional chair”. I assumed if a table could be occasional then maybe a chair could (extra guests at Christmas for example).

    That worked nicely as a part time board member who only sometimes acts as Chair.

    The only flaw was that it was wrong and consequently I was unable to complete the grid!

  8. I was also unsure of the word member in 16d.
    At the time I wondered if it referred to one of a set or nest of occasional tables but am not convinced I am right.

  9. This took…oh, ages. But, it was worth it. Very enjoyable, very challenging. I didn’t quite complete it; 1ac defeated me and I had to use aids. Turns out I’d NHO any part of it, not SCILICET nor – checks Guy’s notes – CILICE. I did get the ST = way though! 14ac: PRESTIDIGITATION was a word I recalled from Leonard Sachs and The Good Old Days! The things we absorb… Thanks, all.

    1. Yes I thought 1ac was a bit tough. I don’t mind if NHO of solution if I can get it from the wordplay – but I’d NHO of that either! Perhaps better suited to Mephisto. All in all more difficult than usual – but that is not a criticism.

      1. hi Krayl
        couldn’t agree more plus this clue was better suited to a general knowledge crossword. there was nothing cryptic apart from ‘ in a way’

        1. Wrong! The whole bit about penitence is cryptic too. Did you know the word CILICE? I first guessed that the actual definition was only meant to clue the first two letters of a different word. This could easily be a Mephisto clue, never one in a non-cryptic puzzle.

  10. 18:25. Another tricky but highly enjoyable puzzle from the master.
    Having said that I cannot for the life of me see how ‘member’ gives a table.
    I think your initial reading of 15dn (joker = STAND UP, turnover = TO) is right, FWIW.

  11. Though most of the puzzle went in alright until the last 3 or 4, I found this very difficult indeed to finish off, so much so that it took another attempt on Monday night, as I couldn’t get CORTEGE and BEYOND, which crossed. The latter struck me as a typical Dean offering, requiring each word to be studied carefully, plus taking the whole clue and turning it over till it made sense. Brilliant and infuriating. Having said that, I now find I got an answer wrong, putting in SPIN (as a CD) for SUIT. Match action for ‘spin’ in cricket made perfect sense, and once I’d thought of it, I was satisfied it was correct. I had a lot of trouble justifying TORPEDO, as I didn’t notice the hidden until all the crossers were there and I’d written the answer in. I was amused by 5d, which I’d assumed was going to be something along the lines of TESSALATIONS, so a great PDM when the crossers finally made the anagram clear. I didn’t understand 1a, not having heard of cilice, and assumed STAND UP TO was ‘stand-up’ (joker) turn over (reverse) ‘to’, giving the definition ‘Show face.’ However, there are clearly several interpretations possible. Thanks, Dean, and Guy for the elucidation.

  12. DNF

    I thought AGO was genius. Couldn’t see beyond an unparseable AYE which hindered the bird even though I was close to assembling the necessary parts. Also failed to untangle CORTEGE (obviously looking for a synonym for wheels) nor the w/p for HELPLESSLY. So a few I should have got but Dean does have a nasty habit of leading you down the garden path and keeping you there

    Not a fan though of the long clue in the middle which I rather gave up on early doors and which did slightly spoil the enjoyment of the rest. I guess I DIG IT was reasonably easily gettable but not easy when it’s part of a NHO

    Thanks all

  13. Chambers has TO for “turn over” (but not “turnover”). I suppose a less courteous version of “PTO”.

    Thanks for the suggestion about who “Shelley” is, in the surface for 22ac. I could only think of Percy Bysshe or Hywel Bennett, neither of whom seemed particularly likely.

  14. I’d NHO the bird or the conjuror which made this a bit of a slog. Did manage scilicet though as ‘that is’ for ‘sc’ has come up a few times and I always have to look it up…so at least I’ve finally learnt that one! Also put spin instead of suit and wasn’t sure on the table (we only have one table in our house and it’s always in use). So quite a lot wrong!! Thanks for clearing it all up Guy

  15. I didn’t find this too hard (for a Dean puzzle anyway) but I had a typo so technical DNF in just over an hour. I’d heard of everything except the hair shirt, but I did now sc. and what it stood for so that went in without a problem. OCCASIONAL TABLE went straight in (“what is it when it isn’t a table?”) without worrying about what the “member” was doing in the clue.

  16. Thanks Dean and guy
    Tricky little devil that took up most of yesterday in bits and pieces and just over an hour of puzzle time. Had the same difficulties as many others – SCILICET was known but did have to look up CILICE to understand that it was a hair shirt (used for penitence). The magician was at the tip of my tongue for ages before again looking it up – my partner finally reminded me of the film “The Prestige” starring Hugh Jackman. Really enjoyed understanding MEADOWLARK when the parsing slowly formed.
    As with others my last couple in were the CORTEGE / BEYOND pair which were both quite brilliant when they finally dawned on me. Super puzzle for the Easter period down here.

  17. Fabulous puzzle – we had it for Easter here in Aus. Impressed myself getting scilicet but after considering more than 16 possibilities for s.i. I guessed sail for 24 across, as in match racing. No Meadowlarks in these parts but I laughed when I twigged to an owl in the dark.

  18. Thought this was the clunkiest ST for a while – 15 why have ‘turnover’ followed by ‘to’ – prod = butt nho – surely a ‘trial lawyer’ is just a ‘lawyer’ – thought of but couldn’t parse 25 as guessed 17 to be ‘correct’ ie ‘collect’ (have) with ‘wheels’ (l-r) reversed. Having had my moan have to say quite enjoyed it – especially 11, 22 (yes Pete S) and 6!


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