Times Cryptic Jumbo 1629 (12 August 2023)


I completed this in one session but had quite a lot of problems along the way with several missing answers scattered around the grid throughout before eventually succumbing to my best efforts.


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 Support one position taken by fool up front (10)
ASS (fool), I (one), STANCE (stance)
6 Part of PR for harbour island lacked initially (12)
PRO (for), PORT (harbour), IONA (island), L{acked} [initially]. I solved this quite easily via wordplay but struggled for some time to understand the definition and what the answer had to do with Public Relations. Then came the penny-drop moment when I realised that PR can also stand for the voting system, Proportional Representation.
14 Sun‘s leader moved then taken out as amateurish (9)
UNS (sun) [leader moved], KILLED (taken out)
15 What makes setter and solver mature? Practice (5)
US (setter and solver), AGE (mature)
16 Close-fisted, half-hearted boxing, in practice (7)
SPAR{r}ING (boxing, in practice) [half-hearted]. In ‘close-fisted’ we have another term for ‘miserly’ at least making a change from ‘near’ which has received a lot of flak here recently.
17 Balance between sides that’s characteristic of noughts and crosses (9,8)
I sort of understand the cryptic hint but I’ll leave the explanation to others better qualified to expand on it if they wish to do so. On edit: Please see Kapietro’s comment below pointing out a much simpler explanation than I had imagined. One can overthink things sometimes!  
18 Bottle that’s drunk on either side of Philadelphia (5)
Anagram [drunk] of PHILA or LPHIA (either side of Phila{de}lphia)
19 Step up pressure within dysfunctional family (7)
P (pressure) contained by [within] anagram [dysfunctional] of FAMILY
21 Surrounded by a weather feature in which Land’s End can be seen (6)
{lan}D [end] contained by [can be seen…in] A + MIST (weather feature)
22 Middle section of theatre’s our central facility (8)
Hidden in [middle section of] {theat}RE’S OUR CE{ntral}
24 I show embarrassment about new cut (7)
I + GO RED (show embarrassment) containing [about] N (new)
26 Church member has central point deleted from innocent article (8)
ANG{e}LIC (innocent) [central point of the compass deleted], AN (indefinite article)
27 Support for shooting party returning after expedition (6)
TRIP (expidition), then DO (party) reversed [returning]
30 Clear line in female’s news that’s hellish (11)
NET (clear, after tax ), then L (line) contained by [in] HER (female’s) + WORD (news)
32 A thorntree’s damaged in wind (11)
Anagram [damaged] of A THORNTREE’S
33 Protest with explicit section of population (11)
DEMO (protest), GRAPHIC (explicit)
35 Unreasonable non-attendance upset best man, I see (11)
Anagram [upset] of BEST MAN I SEE
37 A free source of news and entertainment, so-called (6)
A, UNTIE (free). A nickname for the BBC which has come up here before and may be familiar to our overseas contributors by now. The surface reading may be designed to raise hackles as the BBC is by no means free.
38 Teller of traveller’s tale that’s blunt, nothing held back (8)
FRANK (blunt), NIL (nothing) reversed [held back]. The definition refers to The Franklin’s Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. A franklin was a landowner of lower rank than the gentry.
39 Lose thread, pointlessly sewing inside of frock (7)
{sew}I{n}G [pointlessly] contained by [inside] DRESS (frock). Once again we’re asked to delete points of the compass – 4 this time.
42 Duck, getting caught after not scoring (8)
NOTHING (duck – nil) with C (caught) placed after NOT
44 Point about exercise for small Rugby team, say (6)
HEAD (point – coastal feature) containing [about] PT (exercise). A heptad is a group seven people and there is a cut-down version of rugby football called ‘sevens’ with only seven players in each team.
46 Mary mysteriously abandoned keyboard instrument (7)
The hint refers to the merchant vessel Mary Celeste that was found abandoned at sea in 1872. The keyboard instrument is perhaps best known for its use in Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.
48 Cook‘s odd selections from statuettes (5)
S{t}A{t}U{e}T{t}E{s} [odd selections from]
49 Keep record of Ireland’s importance for combatting rebels (17)
COUNT (keep record of),  ERIN’S {Ireland’s}, URGENCY (importance)
51 Composer who sounds like his compatriot (7)
Sounds like “Briton” (his compatriot)
52 Fish from West side of Thames, adjacent to Waterloo (5)
T{hames} [west side of…], ROUT (Waterloo)
53 Refusal to accept what may come with a catch? (9)
The cryptic hint refers to a ‘catch’ as a means for a batsman’s dismissal (being ‘out’) in cricket
54 Eg turns on TV broadcast as inner ear test (12)
Anagram [broadcast] of INNER EAR TEST
55 Distant, like the islands of Tonga? Just the opposite (10)
The hint refers to the Kingdom of Tonga’s unofficial alternative name. It became known in the West as the “Friendly Islands” because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773.
1 Overshadowing in a non-speaking part (11)
A, DUMB (non-speaking), RATION (part)
2 Material for rope or line unaltered when turned over (5)
L (line) + AS IS (unaltered) reversed [turned over]
3 Less sinful, isn’t commonly detected in small untruth, right? (9)
AIN’T (isn’t, commonly) contained by [detected in] S (small) + LIE (untruth) + R (right)
4 Largely mistreated aversion (7)
Anagram [mistreated] of LARGELY
5 In French script, it underlies one character being soft-spoken (7)
Barely cryptic as the clue describes exactly what the diacritical mark ‘cedilla’ does in French.  When placed under a C thus Ç the cedilla represents the soft sound (s) where a C would normally represent the hard sound (k).
7 Interpret assignment as another chance for student (11)
READ (interpret), MISSION (assignment)
8 Fairly    fair (6)
Two meanings
9 Part of flower in Burgundy cut in different fashion (8)
STYLE (part of flower) contained by [in] RED (Burgundy). Collins: style – an extension of the pistil, which, when present, bears the stigma at its apex.
10 Not fitting in pocket (13)
IN, APPROPRIATE (pocket – steal)
11 Bizarre ironies more obvious to listeners (7)
Anagram [bizarre] of IRONIES
12 Money and support an uncle, say, provided — about time! (5,6)
LEG (support), A, LENDER (uncle, say – pawnbroker – slang) containing [about] T (time). I’m not sure what ‘provided’ is doing here other than giving sense to the surface, but it’s not usual to use such a specific word as filler.
13 Makeshift reason for mistrial? (4-6)
A literal and a cryptic. Jury- as a prefix is a nautical term for something that’s temporary or expedient, so jury-mast, jury-rudder and jury-rigging are contrivances to keep a ship going when one such item of equipment has been damaged.
20 Fold part of flower on plant (9)
PEN (e.g. sheep fold), STEM (part of flower), ON. NHO this one.
23 Old-fashioned way to contradict him upset 19th century president (8)
NO SIRRAH (old-fashioned way to contradict) reversed [upset]. This variation on ‘Sir’ was a form of address expressing contempt, reprimand, or authoritativeness (SOED).
25 Hanging skin friend hitched up (6)
PAL (friend) + WED (hitched) reversed [up]
26 Heard broadcast covering kind of horse or cow (8)
AYR sounds like [heard] “air” (broadcast), SHIRE (kind of horse). I spent ages on this clue a) solving it, and b) trying to parse it. I was misled by a number of things such as thinking that ‘broadcast’ indicated a homophone (heard = HERD), and that ‘covering’ indicated containment when it just meant on top of.
28 Brevity of speech in which you can see the spin is doctored (9)
Anagram [doctored] of THE SPIN IS
29 Verbally communicated what doctor may have written about individual (6)
PHD (what doctor may have – Doctorate of Philosophy) containing [written about] ONE (individual)
31 Puzzle creator of this island breed (7,6)
ENGLISH (of this island), SETTER (puzzle creator)
33 Set up island air support open to identification (11)
ELBA (island) + SONG (air) + AID (support) reversed [set up]
34 One who gets Brahms and Liszt and pays for it, facing the music? (11)
Cryptic definition with the surface referencing ‘Brahms and Liszt’ as CRS for being drunk, and ‘facing the music’ as suffering the consequences of one’s actions.
35 Everyone repeats what Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck do (10)
ALL ITERATE (everyone repeats). M/M and D/D.

ALL (everyone), ITERATE (repeats). . I think we have a problem with wordplay here as ‘repeats’ (vb) would give us ‘iterates’,  and ‘repeats’ (n.pl) would be ‘iterations’.

Thanks, Kevin G, for pointing out there is no problem with the clue as I had originally surmised because I used ‘lift and separate’ when there was no need. I’ve done that twice recently, but I think I may have written this blog before my previous error had  come to light.

36 Religious work the writer’s changed partly? Yes (7,4)
MY (the writer’s), anagram [changed] of PARTLY YES
40 Explosive, for example, turned over coal (9)
EG (for example) reversed [turned over], LIGNITE (brown coal)
41 A prisoner put inside as well as a snake (8)
A + CON (prisoner) contained by [put inside] AND (as well as) + A
43 Holidaymaker in French city — it wraps up the final part (7)
TOURS (French city).  IT contains [wraps up] its S (the final part)
45 Sand piled up on middle of ridge in Pacific port (7)
DUNE (sand piled), {ri}D{ge} [middle of…], IN. It’s in New Zealand.
46 Lots of boatmen heard on river in leisure craft (7)
CRUISE sounds like [heard] “crews” (lots of boatmen), R (river). I think the leisure craft is more usually called a cabin cruiser to distinguish it from the warship.
47 Save large weight that’s worth very little (6)
BUT (save – except), TON (large weight). ‘Not worth a button’ was a popular expression at one time.
50 Proceeded with caution and replaced one’s diamonds (5)
Anagram [replaced] of ONE’S, then D (diamonds – playing cards)

13 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1629 (12 August 2023)”

  1. DNF
    I put this down with 37ac AUNTIE, 42ac NOTCHING, 44ac HEPTAD, and 33d DISPOSABLE unsolved, and forgot to come back. DNK 20d PENSTEMON. 35d ALLITERATE: if everyone repeats, all iterate.

  2. Thought 18a was remarkable. I could never have imagined there would be a word beginning and ending with the same five jumbled letters.

  3. I needed the full two hours for this one, starting well but slowing right down at the end. And I still had to look up my LOI HEPTAD. I spent ages on my last three: the intersecting CONCERTGOER, FRANKLIN and HEPTAD.

    For BILATERAL SYMMETRY I took it as nothing to do with the game noughts and crosses, just that the letters O and X are symmetrical. I liked DIGRESS with its pointless sewing.

    I liked PHIAL too. In response to Rick Beck’s challenge, off the top of my head, there’s antioxidation, giving the two anagrams of iotan (adj) very small, even though Collins does not seem to have caught up with this word yet

    edited at 11:30 am to sort out the original muddle

    1. Noughts and crosses: Many thanks. So simple when seen! I’d been thinking of their placement in the squares.

  4. In many ways I wish I hadn’t started this. It has been hanging around the kitchen table glaring at me all week. I seemed to be off kilter with so many clues but managed a few at each passing. I had to guess and then check HARRISON, not recognising the ‘old fashioned way to contradict’, (which I think of more as a military manoeuvre) or the president. I never saw AUNTIE, determined as I was to put ‘rid’ in somewhere and then toying with Aeneid as the only entertainment that would come to mind. Rather at opposite ends of the spectrum. But my final undoing was CONCERTGOER. A clever and convoluted cryptic definition, but I had UNITED as a rugby team which messed up the crossers. I now see that HEPTAD is a lovely clue.

    Thank you setter, I think, and Jack for ploughing on through.

  5. I don’t time my weekend crosswords, takes a bit of pressure off, but this one took a while. A lot of crafty clueing but lots to like.

    I had to look up DEWLAP, then looked in the mirror and realized I’ve got one! Who knew.

    I liked CELESTE, UNFRIENDLY (thanks for explanation re Tonga, Jack) and CEDILLA.

    Thanks Jack and setter.

  6. A toughie this, pushing over the hour, and I don’t think, after reading the blog, I saw everything properly. I was taken up with XO clue remembering # as the game nobody could win, referenced in War Games, and sort of smudged the answer from there. I must have seen the PHIAL trick, but don’t remember the wow factor that should have been there.
    I liked the chestnutty ADUMBRATION.

    1. ENGLISH at 31d seems poorly clued. England isn’t an island, and not all of the target audience is on the island of Great Britain.

      1. The clue doesn’t say England is an island, it defines ENGLISH as ‘of this island’ which is correct, just as Scottish and Welsh would be. The island of Great Britain is implied as that’s where The Times newspaper is published and the majority of its readership will be. Overseas solvers would presumably know this.

        1. If you really want to pick nits you might argue that it still needs a question mark, since someone from the Isle of Wight is English.

  7. I gave up on this with AUNTIE and PENSTEMON unsolved. I considered the latter but rejected it on the basis that the stem is not part of a flower (depends how you define it I guess), and would have probably put PENSTAMEN if I’d had the confidence to put anything.

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