Times Cryptic Jumbo 1337

Posted on Categories Jumbo Cryptic
Many thanks to Johninterred for swapping shifts on this one so that I could enjoy my holiday and not panic about solving and blogging Jumbo 1336 at a time when I should be sleeping, unpacking and pretending to help with the laundry.

In the introduction to the 12th Book of Times Jumbo Crosswords, which was in the goody bag handed out at last year’s championship finals, Richard Browne, Erstwhile Times Crossword editor, posits that it should take about twice as long to complete a Jumbo as a standard 15×15, it containing c60 clues vs c30 in the daily puzzle.  Well, my “par” time for the daily cryptic is probably between 12 and 13 minutes so an “average” Jumbo should take me around 25 minutes.  But it doesn’t.

Admittedly my regular Jumbo solving is generally limited to weeks when I have to blog it, in which case I take time to ensure I fully understand everything when solving, but I solved a few recent Jumbos on holiday and, Greek lager notwithstanding, 30-45 minutes was probably the norm.  Of course there are some very long lights in a J so (and I can’t be @rsed counting) I suspect there are more than twice as many letters to write, and I gather from recent comments on J blogs that solver fatigue can set in after a while, but does anyone else find they take more than RB’s suggested 2x daily cryptic time, and are there any credible theories as to why?

Back to business then, 1337 took me 40 minutes, with PILLOW FIGHT first in and CELEBRANTS last.  There seemed to be a fairly high count of answers requiring specialist general knowledge but on the other hand a smattering of crossword chestnuts cropped up in the wordplay.  A lot of inserting seemed to be required as well.  Average difficulty for seasoned solvers I’d say, but probably on the tricky side for novices.  What sayest thou?

As per, clues are in blue with definitions underlined and explanations intended to enlighten.



Down in the mouth after this domestic battle? (6,5)

PILLOW FIGHT – a mildly amusing CD to get us started – down as in feathers, although you could be foaming at the mouth if your opponent’s pillow is tempura.


Reckless runner pelted around bishop (11)



See enormous energy unrestrained (5)

LOOSE – LO OS (outsized) E[nergy]


Hide as soon as having entered western state (7)

CONCEAL – ONCE in CAL[ifornia]


Broken rule again produces intermittent pain (9)

NEURALGIA – (ruleagain)*


Relative sullen about Brexit finally extended 25 journey (5,4)

GRAND TOUR – GRAN DOUR around {brexi}T.  The answer to 25 is EUROPEAN.  The term refers to the 17th- and 18th-century custom of a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank


Dissolute academic at contest, losing it (10)



Insurance adviser in truth right to replace two lines (7)

ACTUARY – ACTUALLY with R[ight] replacing two L[ines]


Thomas Stearns embodies warmth in creative practices (3,4)

THE ARTS – TS (Eliot) around HEART.  Yer man crops up again at 7 down.


Alumnus confident rounding Cape in dark (7)

OBSCURE – O[ld] B[oy] and SURE around C[ape]


Scotsman accommodating Moor or Maltese? (8)



Rascal one stealing fish (14)



Gold left to be collected by irrational scientist (5)

PAULI – AU L[eft] in PI


Second in importance (6)



Priests shouting to interrupt stars (10)

CELEBRANTS – RANT in CELEBS (as in short for celebrities, not a constellation in the western spiral arm of the galaxy).


In alternative case he could be one (10)

AMBASSADOR – change lower case “he” to upper case “HE” and you get His Excellency, the ambassador (who is spoiling us with these Ferrero Rocher)


Irish reflected French taste in dress (3,3)

RIG OUT – IR[ish] reversed then GOUT (as in chacun a son …)


Pressure husband coming in to assist sucker (5)

APHID – P[ressure] H[usband] in AID


Blanket over table? (6-3-5)



Friendly agents book in alone (8)



Raise meaning of belief occasionally (7)

ENNOBLE – {m}E{a}N{i}N{g}O{f}B{e}L{i}E{f}


Trumpet blast so long after beat (7)

TANTARA – TARA (think Cilla Black) after TAN


Conditioned cask worried daughter carries (7)

ATTUNED – TUN in ATE D[aughter]


Sauce from Irish county girl rebuffed in northeast (10)

MAYONNAISE – MAYO then SIAN reversed in N[orth] E[ast]


Bring back prize and trophy at highest level (3-6)



Trouble finally packed in kit-bag, I’m set to be a success (4,2,3)

MAKE IT BIG – {troubl}E in (kit bag im)*.  The anagrind appears to be SET.


Asian sustains blow in brain parts (7)



Connect to computer using company symbol and name (3,2)

LOG ON – LOGO N[ame]


Mad Mennonite imprisons Greek national (11)

MONTENEGRIN – (mennonite)* around GR[eek].  My first stab had an A instead of the I.


Youth taking beer outside party caught in commotion (11)

ADOLESCENCE – ALE around DO then C[aught] in SCENE.  A double insertion, if you’ll pardon the expression.



German count friend buried here? (9)

PALSGRAVE – PAL’S GRAVE.  It’s the same thing as a Count Palatine, if that means anything to you.  Nope, me neither.


Our menfolk beaten — or prepared to put own needs first? (4,5,6,3)

LOOK AFTER NUMBER ONE – (our menfolk beaten or)*.  Boomtown Rats earworm anyone?


Love to examine mountain nymph (5)

OREAD – O READ.  I must revise my nymphs, graces and fates before the chamionships.


Detail revised for Mary’s industrial livestock facility (7,4)

FACTORY FARM – FACT + (for mary)*


Create case for Trollope after classes (8)



Control men stripped from other senior worker (3,5,4)

THE UPPER HAND – OTHER withou O[dinary] R[anks] + UPPER + HAND


Poet runs to stop novelist making bloomer (10)

HELIOTROPE – Eliot (there he is again) + R[uns] in HOPE (presumably Anthony).  The plant gives its name to the pinkish colour.  Note that STOP is one of those wordplay instructions that can tell you to put thing A both inside and outside thing B, given its differing meanings in real life.


Material includes composition ultimately related to organ (5)

RENAL – REAL around {compositio}N


Evidently geocentric, these conservative classes? (11)

BOURGEOUSIE – I think this just works on the basis that GEO is slap bang in the middle of the answer.


Three articles about secret police woman (9)



Horse and trap turning north — that’s imminent (4)

NIGH – H[orse] GIN reversed


Face looking wretched sergeant major ignored (4)



Attack old Greek fellow without wit to join winning side (4,2,3,9)

JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON – JUMP ON THEBAN DON around WAG.  Clever. It took me a while to spot the fellow/don bit.


One wishing to keep piano turns performed again (8)

REPRISED – DESIRER reversed around P[iano]


Invention in computer programs becomes relevant (7)



Poet keeping English as framework (8)

SKELETON – (John) SKELTON (me neither) around E[nglish]


Old red wine added to spirit that’s weak (8)

IMPOTENT – O[ld] TENT after IMP.  The setter’s favoured grape-based tipple, along with SACK.


Membrane found defective in a primate (3,5)

PIA MATER – (a primate)*.  It’s the innermost of the three membranes (meninges) that cover the brain and spinal cord.  And for years there was me thinking it was the outermost of the four meninges.


Others claiming champion boxer’s no romantic (7)



Find range in destroying invader’s area (6,6)

SIERRA NEVADA – (invaders area)8.  WARNING, WARNING, definition not at beginning or end of clue.


Where darts player might aim quickly (2,3,6)



Revolutionary to name a ship that’s wrecked (6,5)

THOMAS PAINE – (to name a ship)*.  TP was something to do with the American Revolution and all that stuff.


Baptist minister introducing learner to poet (4,6)

JOHN MILTON – JOHN MIN around L[earner] TO


Replacement horse to stable in Sandwich (9)



Last to be first in this test! (9)



Against going through slump with zero capital (8)



Queen sent up having lost a country (5)

NIGER – REGINa reversed


Trace local banished from China for example (5)



Announcement of PM’s successor as Muslim leader (4)

IMAM – Is this just “I’m A.M”? Weird.


Initially sweet family film (4)

SKIN – S{weet} KIN

19 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1337”

  1. Difficult to comment on time as this was the Lost Weekend on the Club site and you (I) can’t return to the online Times version to check on how I did.

    Having said that, the Jumbo usually takes between 40 minutes and somewhere over the hour: I at least once completed in less time than the 15. This week the Jumbo (a real beast with some of the hardest clues I’ve ever seen: I agree with Jack) took me twice as long as the 15, but I found the 15 tough too.

    I agree with you that IMAM is odd, but I think you have the parsing right. AM does follow PM even if we normally think the other way round: it’s an anthropomorphic morning that is odd.

    I think I’ve heard of Wolfgang PAULI, but saying that may only be to stave of the scorn of those with greater knowledge of physics than me: I did pass O-level, but we did none of the exciting stuff like quantum theory, mostly fussing about levers and such.

    Thorough blog P, many thanks

  2. I completed this without recourse to aids other than THALAMI which on reflection I should have got from wordplay, but Jumbos are for me such a lengthy process that I simply run out of steam sometimes. Today’s is a beast and with only half of it completed I have used aids 3 or 4 times so far because I knew I wouldn’t recognise the answers even if I were to happen upon them. Life’s too short.

    Edited at 2018-08-25 09:23 am (UTC)

    1. To add insult to injury this week, the site stalled when I hit submit and now won’t go back to review, though it says I’m 100%.
  3. DNK WHIPPER, never figured out RELIC. My LOI was 25ac; I would have thought EUAN was Welsh rather than Scots, but what do I know? as Montaigne said (“Qu’est-ce que Gregg sait?”). SKELTON isn’t much, but he’s pretty much what there is for a long stretch after Chaucer. PAULI is rather important, although I have no idea for what; what I remember him for is his dismissal of another physicist’s theory: “It’s not even wrong.” I’ve had test papers like that.
  4. It usually takes me between 20 minutes and 40 minutes to do the 15×15, and the Jumbo is usually between 1 hour and 90 minutes. This one came in at 76:08. I do sometimes find myself losing the will to continue if it’s a particularly difficult puzzle. I needed aids to come up with PIA MATER and to confirm PALSGRAVE for this puzzle, but otherwise it wasn’t too much of a strain. I also thought EWAN was the Scottish version of the name, but I stuck with the wordplay. I remembered Thomas Paine this time! Thanks setter and Penfold.
  5. About average difficulty I thought, with the only hold-ups the unknown PALSGRAVE and an inability to see what was going on with the clever AMBASSADOR clue. Perhaps a sign of my age that LOOKing AFTER NUMBER ONE is a Mel and Kim lyric in my mind rather than anything to do with the Boomtown Rats. Pauli’s most famous contribution to human thought is his Exclusion Principle, which – among other things – explains why stuff takes up more space than you might expect. He also predicted the existence of neutrinos, which I suppose gives him a connection to the Times Crossword Club.

    An average Jumbo contains about 2.3 times the number of white squares as an average 15×15 so you might expect on that basis that it would take roughly 2.3 times as long to solve one. The fact that there are only twice as many clues is a bit deceptive – the average answer length is longer, meaning in all likelihood more wordplay to unravel and more time required to physically enter the answer into the grid. Experienced 15×15 solvers will also be much more familiar with words/expressions of length <=15 letters, meaning that longer words/expressions are less likely to be immediately available for recall. Solver fatigue is definitely a thing – I bet a lot of first-time visitors to the Championships are surprised how draining the format is.

    Magoo and Jason frequently solve 15x15s in under 5m (or even under 4m) but it’s rare to see even them do a Jumbo in less than 10m (though Magoo did just that for this one), which also suggests that in practice the solving multiple is somewhat greater than two.

    By the way, there’s a mapping of the puzzles in Jumbo Book 12 to their blogs on TftT here: https://times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/1483353.html

    1. Thanks for dropping in to comment John. You’re evidently too modest to disclose your “normal” time for a Jumbo but I (and doubtless others) would be interested to hear.
      1. I stopped keeping track of my times when the switch to the new Crossword Club occurred, as the Jumbos on the new site really crawl on my machine – simply entering letters and navigating around the grid is a real chore, as the key lag can be 10s at times. Before that, my average time was a bit under 18m. My times on the 15×15 seem to be getting worse this year so I’m guessing my Jumbo times probably are too. This has coincided with a period of abstinence from Diet Coke and alcohol – struggling to decide which one might be the culprit …
  6. I think the Jumbos are disproportionately longer solves too, but then I don’t really like to speed-solve them, preferring the ‘appreciation’ route — perhaps this is what ‘normal’ solvers do of a weekend? Anyhow, I appreciated as clever quite a lot of the clues in this puzzle, and as I wasn’t in a rush I didn’t really notice it’s being all that tough. Certainly not a stinker anyway.

    Thanks setter, thanks Penfold for your excellent blog.

    Edited at 2018-08-25 08:04 pm (UTC)

  7. I’ll reflect on whether this is right, but my immediate instinct is that with a Jumbo you do more of the solving with fewer crossing letters to help.
  8. 42:12.
    I think my PB for a jumbo is about 18 minutes, which is about four times my equivalent for the daily puzzles. Fatigue is probably a factor but this doesn’t seem to affect me in the same way in the championship. Adrenaline probably helps there. In short I dunno!
  9. FOI OREAD? a write-in. Can’t believe that l entered LOG IN instead of LOGO-N, very careless of me. How is PI irrational? l only know it as ‘pious’ or ‘holy’. Agree that this week’s jumbo a stinker, went to bed with 1/4 to go.
  10. 55:42 with aids for PIA MATER and PALSGRAVE. Just about average time for me for a Jumbo, whereas my average time for 15×15 is about 22 1/2 minutes.. so definitely more than 2x. I find the longer lights add to the difficulty and, with the increased number of answers, there is more chance of finding words I’ve not come across. As with this one, I am more likely to resort to aids than with the 15×15 because of the time factor… and frowns from the wife that I’m spending time doing a b****y crossword rather than something useful around the house. I liked AMBASSADOR and TOP DRAWER.
  11. This took me about 35 mins in two sessions, a bit quicker than average.
    I strictly forbid myself the use of euphemistically named “aids” for the daily and Saturday/Sunday cryptics but like johninterred I am less particular with the jumbos, club monthly etc. In fact I have been known to not bother to do a jumbo at all (gasp) on grounds of life being too short. I definitely find they take more than 2x a daily, on average. More like 3x but my attention span is too short to finish in one go, usually
  12. My experience is apparently familiar, in that it pretty much always takes me more than twice as long to do the Jumbo, though I couldn’t say why. I’ve always assumed it was solver fatigue, or the drifting attention which comes with advancing age, or…where was I again?
  13. Nowadays I only do the Jumbo if I’m away from home and only have a hard copy. As I can’t see the whole grid and clues on this machine, solving it online requires much scrolling which here can be very sluggish – sometimes a minute or more to get to where I want. Hence I can’t give a solving time, though I do agree that even if uninterrupted it would be significantly more than twice the regular puzzle.
  14. Thanks for all the comments folks. It appears that Richard Browne was wrong. Another reason I though of is that if you’ve made headway in two separate parts of the grid in a 15×15 you might only need to get one or two answers to join them up and open up the rest of the puzzle. If you’ve only got answers in opposite corners of a Jumbo there’s a lot more ground to cover in between.

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