Times Cryptic Jumbo 1599 – 11 February 2023


I found this quite easy and solved it over two sessions. It was certainly a welcome change from the beast of a Jumbo the previous Saturday.


As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Great country ready at last stages event (8,5)
HIGH (great), LAND (country), GAME (ready),{stage}S [at last]
8 Just one Roman poet absorbing pressure (9)
I (one), MARTIAL (Roman poet), containing [absorbing] P (pressure)
13 Introduction to Aida expanded in accompaniment (5)
A{ida} [introduction], LONG (expanded)
14 Heroic drunkard not so wild about love and blunt refusal? (3,1,7)
TAMER (not so wild) containing [about] O (love – tennis) + SHANT (blunt refusal). From the poem of the same title by Robert Burns.
15 Make fuss when avoiding a Greek island (5)
CRE{a}TE (make fuss) [avoiding a]
16 Woolly bear changing to me: right! (5,4)
Anagram [changing] of TO ME RIGHT. The definition is &lit.  ‘Woolly bear’ is used for the caterpillar of the tiger moth, although not exclusively.
17 Kiln tested in pair’s absence (4)
{pr}OVEN (tested) [in pair’s absence]. As has been pointed out here many a time, tested is not the same as proven.
18 Send some French dressing (8)
DES (some French), PATCH (dressing – e.g. Elastoplast)
20 Varnish from sweetheart: old sweetheart in retirement (6)
{swe}E{et} [heart], then LEMAN (old sweetheart) reversed [in retirement]. I had all the checkers when I came to this clue so it was easy to arrive at ‘enamel’, but less easy to square it with the definition ‘varnish’. Eventually I found this in Collins: enamel – an enamel-like paint or varnish. Then came the wordplay. Using the second part of ‘sweetheart’ to indicate the middle letter of the first part is a device found every week in Guardian puzzles but is so rare in The Times that I don’t expect it. Collins has: leman as  a beloved; sweetheart (archaic) –  a word unknown to me although it seems to have come up before.
21 Saddle high and yet slipping for potential killer (6,10)
Anagram [slipping] of SADDLE HIGH AND YET
24 At first those recruits helped and worked hard (9)
T{hose} + R{ecruits} [at first], AVAILED (helped)
26 Similar drinks put together with classy French wine (7)
CHA + TEA (similar drinks), U (classy)
27 Like this young woman from East African port (5)
SO (like this) + GAL (young woman) reversed [from East]
29 Taking cautious approach, apply constant force to bull neutered in Crosby? (6,6)
OX (bull neutered) contained by [in] BING (Crosby), C (constant), LEVER (force). The surface reading relies on Crosby also being a place name.
31 Up close and personal truth about drug of winner (4,2,4)
FACT (truth) containing [about] E (drug), then OF, ACE (winner)
33 Ford’s meeting with British colonialist said to be turning point (10)
CROSS (ford every stream etc), then ROADS sounds [said] like “Rhodes” (British colonialist)
35 Charming women’s group granted cracking location in London (6,6)
COVEN (charming women’s group – witches), then anagram [cracking] of GRANTED
38 In sober company Thomas Stearns Eliot initially confused (2,3)
TSE (Thomas Stearns Eliot) [initially] contained by [in] AA (sober company  – Alcoholics Anonymous). One trusts that the Automobile Association would also be sober company!
39 A staff with stone inlaid for Bartholomew? (7)
A, POLE (staff) containing [with…inlaid] ST (stone)
40 Caution cleaner in vessel carrying ecstasy (9)
CHAR (cleaner), IN + SS (vessel – steam ship) containing E (ecstasy)
42 Writer, barbarian coming in to duel crazily with Harry (6,5,5)
CONAN (barbarian) contained by [coming in] anagram [crazily] of TO DUEL HARRY
44 Zoom lens? (6)
47 Climate measure: one representing sun in autumn? (8)
RA (one representing sun – Egyptian god of the sun), IN, FALL (autumn)
49 Close to piano bar in whisky town (4)
{pian}O [close], BAN (bar). It’s a port on the west coast of Scotland.
50 Communist power avoided by extremely smart mountaineer (9)
S{mar}T [extremely], AL{p}INIST (mountaineer) [power avoided]
52 Soak leaving biscuits for Cremonese craftsman (5)
AMA{ret}TI (biscuits) [soak leaving]. ‘Soak / ret’ survives mainly in crosswords, I imagine.
53 Cutting down on waste, mince is no-go for cooking (11)
Anagram [cooking] of MINCE IS NO GO
54 Henry with a dark film genre shortly generates capital (5)
H (Henry), A, NOI{r} (dark film genre) [shortly]
55 Joining programme in French, large team coming into decline (9)
EN (in – French), then L (large) + MEN (team) contained by [coming into] ROT (decline). I’ve included ‘programme’ in the definition as I can’t fit it anywhere else, but ‘joining’ on its own would suffice.
56 Not demanding numbers for an audience? (4,9)
A rather fine cryptic definition, ‘numbers’ being songs or other pieces of music
1 Sincerely believed explosive material about creative works (9)
HE (high explosive) + FELT (material) containing [about] ART (creative works)
2 Country   girl in state (7)
Triple definition
3 Enigma resolved with elder’s magical skill (11)
Anagram [resolved] of ENIGMA ELDER. The “In” word of the moment! At the time of solving a fortnight ago I had come across this answer in three puzzles in little more than a week, and I think it has turned up again since then.
4 People‘s knight fighting to oust Camelot’s leader (6)
N (knight), A{c}TION (fighting) [oust Camelot’s leader]
5 Glue’s thought to secure one that protects pugilist (9)
GUMS (glue’s), then HELD (thought – believed) containing I (one)
6 Professional negligence news boss managed badly (12)
MISCONDUCT (professional negligence), ED (news boss)
7 Get out fast packing cold ready-cooked chicken? (7-3)
SCAT (get out fast – scram!) containing [packing] C + anagram [cooked] of READY
8 First nine letters here sent north and one abroad? (4)
A TO I (first nine letters of the alphabet) reversed [sent north] gives us the Greek letter
9 Choice cut doorman criminally takes outside hostelry (11,5)
PORTER (doorman) + anagram [criminally] of TAKES containing [outside] HOUSE (hostelry). I could  nitpick a couple of things in the wordplay here, but life’s too short!
10 Duke leaves MP to state main points again (5)
RE{d}CAP (MP – Military Policeman) [duke leaves]
11 Laziness in monarch Spanish aunt supports (7)
IN, ER (monarch), TIA (Spanish aunt). And at last I discover what Tia Maria means!
12 Right to hold authentic beer mug in small 4 (13)
4 being ‘Nation’. LIEN (right of  possession in law) containing [to hold] ECHT (authentic), then STEIN (German beer mug)
19 Deliver large carpet around one (8)
L (large) + BERATE (carpet – tick off) containing [around] I (one)
22 Portuguese saint swallowing fifty-five shots (5)
SAO (Portuguese saint) containing [swallowing] LV (fifty-five)
23 Voters’ group not yet in, real cool, relaxed, on making entry (9,7)
ELECT (not yet in – as in President elect), then anagram [relaxed] of REAL COOL with LEG (on – cricket) contained [making entry]
25 In a practical sense, team hardly careless (7)
XI (team) contained by [in] A + NOUS (practical sense)
28 Matriarch perhaps on river, well-respected person (7)
GRAN (matriarch perhaps), DEE (river)
29 Writer crowned after graduate, with two Cs, getting a degree (13)
BA (graduate), CC (two Cs), A, LAUREATE (writer crowned – honoured)
30 In Row D? (3-2-3)
{en}D [end to…]
32 In company with relatives leaving a prosperous region (4,8)
HOME (in), CO (company), {a}UNTIES (relatives) [leaving a]. These are the counties surrounding London including Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent. My own home county of Middlesex is one too, but is now incorporated into London boroughs, yet it still exists historically and for some sports, most notably cricket, the county club having its home at Lords.
34 Mayhem: United supporters up for it? (5)
U (united) + FANS (supporters) reversed [up]. Situation Normal, All F’ed Up.
36 Traditional hymn not Garbo’s likely choice? (5,4,2)
The cryptic hint refers to Greta Garbo’s famous quote ‘I want to be alone’, or rather misquotation as apparently what she actually said was ‘I want to be left alone’.
37 Way old New York dealer briefly becomes hard up (5-5)
ST (way street), O (old), NY (New York), BROKE{r} (dealer) [briefly]
40 Heavenly Satie composition? Little room to accommodate it (9)
CELL (little room) contains [to accommodate] anagram [composition] of SATIE. One of his pieces was used in a series of commercials for hair shampoo and brought him renewed fame.
41 Song George Harrison wrote, part obsession (9)
SOME (part), THING (obsession)
43 Into which one may disappearon high Himalayan slopes? (4,3)
Possibly best read all in one but the first part refers to the expression ‘vanish into thin air’.
45 Red from Italy greeting worker in Channel Islands (7)
HI (greeting) + ANT (worker) contained by [in] CI (Channel Islands)
46 Criminal bands imprisoning English banker (6)
GANGS (criminal bands) containing [imprisoning] E (English). Nice to have ‘banker’ again as a change from ‘flower’.
48 Force over channel is gathering (5)
F (force), RILL (channel). Usually a rill is a stream but SOED also has it as a small temporary channel formed on the surface of soil or sand after rain or tidal ebb.
51 Vampire maybe seizing type of blood vessel (4)
BAT (vampire maybe) containing [seizing] O (type of blood)

11 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1599 – 11 February 2023”

  1. I had everything in but 25d ANXIOUS & 29ac BOXING CLEVER (NHO) and was ready to throw in the towel when suddenly I thought of NOUS, and the X gave me BOXING (I’d already got CLEVER). I think, Jack, you meant to underline ‘practical sense’, no? Also the ‘in’ in 13ac. DNK the Burns poem, so the definition was lost on me; also DNK ‘woolly bear’.
    Re 17ac: The ‘test’ meaning of ‘prove’ survives in e.g. ‘proving ground’ and ‘the proof of the pudding’; also in the specific sense of testing a firearm (ODE sv ‘prove’ sense 2).
    TIA is yet another NYT chestnut (with an occasional TIO).

    1. Also in the saying “The exception that proves the rule,” which many somehow manage to see as showing the accuracy of the rule, rather than testing it.

      1. As someone who recently used this phrase on TTfT site I realize now from JerryW’s comment that I might not have understood what I was saying. After reading the long, open-ended entry in Wikipedia on this, however, with its references to Cicero, Fowler, scientific and humorous uses etc, I think I might just sensibly consider not using the phrase at all in future!

        1. I did look up the Wiki entry, and now I wish I hadn’t .. how complicated, some folk want to make life!
          The bottom line is that it is a patently nonsensical phrase in the first place.
          There, I said that in one sentence, but Wikipedia took an entire page ..

  2. Sorry about the slips now corrected. Jumbos take a lot of proof-reading! As speaking of ‘proof’, I’ve never had a problem with ‘prove/test’ as they substitute perfectly in examples such as yours, but I know some people complain whenever it comes up so I was trying to pre-empt that.

  3. Just over an hour and a half, with a lot if it spent slowly dragging out the last few including WEBCAM, LIBERATE, ENAMEL and the last two FRILL which gave me the I for AMATI. A big PDM when I saw what “Zoom” was about for WEBCAM.

    Like you, jackkt, I noticed Sweetheart cluing E in ENAMEL but I’ve become wary of saying it’s “against the rules”. Never mind. Perhaps it’s a better way of clueing E than the drug references we have had to learn and which we have twice in this puzzle.

    Thanks for the blog

    1. “An unwritten rule isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”
      Sayings of Jerry, (after Sam Goldwyn).

      I do so agree re drug references.. I have become inured to E, but having to learn and remember drug cant always irritates those of us who prefer to be law-abiding. Well me, anyway ..

    2. The ‘sweetheart’ device is not something that bothers me and I certainly don’t regard it as a rule, buy it’s so rare in Times puzzles that it seems worthy of mention when it occurs on one of my blogging days.

      Incidentally it’s not giving anything away to mention that there’s a different device that breaches convention in today’s Jumbo that I’m not sure I’ve seen before even in The Guardian. The answer is straightforward but the parsing may fox some solvers at least for a while. I look forward to discussing this further when the blog appears in two weeks.

  4. Quite liked this one … two sessions, so under the hour in all.
    Not overly keen on “Hardly careless” = anxious. And was puzzled by row D, though on further examination it is quite clever, I suppose..
    LEMAN no sweat for the Heyer crowd; though one does occasionally come across the word even nowadays

  5. Straightforward one. I think the only thing in here I didn’t know was what Greta Garbo said. I did worry briefly about my last in, AMATI, where I knew exactly who I was after but wasn’t sure of the missing letters until I worked out the wordplay.

  6. A relief after last week ! I liked ‘in row D’. As for sweetheart, the example I recall – possibly from Don Manley’s book – is ‘Gateshead’ for G – I think this sort of thing is thought a bit unsound by many, but on balance – as it’s clear – it’s OK by me!

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