Times Cryptic Jumbo 1640 – 21 October 2023. Topping!

Hi everyone.  This was a confidence booster as despite a few unknowns or barely-knowns I found everything provided to enable me to enter it all in reasonable confidence – and in very reasonable time (for me) of under 40 minutes too.  A couple of “presumably” clues in the mix, which did stand out, and a few hats which by their nature can stand out, but the prior appearance of the TOPPER probably helped with the Spoonerism.  Thanks setter!

Definitions are underlined in the clues below.  In the explanations, quoted indicators are in italics, specified [deletions] are in square brackets, and I’ve capitalised and emboldened letters which appear in the ANSWER.  For clarity, I omit most link words and some juxtaposition indicators.

1a Fanatical skipper in a cap and hat cavorting with sailor (7,4)
CAPTAIN AHAB — An anagram of (… cavorting) IN A CAP and HAT + AB (sailor)
7a What makes the daily grind when pausing the daily grind? (6,5)
COFFEE BREAK — Cryptic definition
13a Secretary passes translation around (8,9)
14a Relative temperature finally seen in November frost (5)
NIECE — The last letter of (… finally) temperaturE seen in N (November) ICE (frost)
15a Alternatively, a revolutionary alternative to spinach (6)
ORACHE OR (alternatively) + A + CHE (revolutionary)
16a Change parts of shell (8)
SHRAPNEL — Double definition
17a Picture Thrace, fed by this canal transporting water (7)
URETHRA — PictURE THRAce has inside it (is fed by) the answer
19a Unbiased, the setter’s quite keen (9)
IMPARTIAL IM (the setter’s) + PARTIAL (quite keen)
21a Plain speaking in French we hear: “Everything OK?” “No” (8)
SAVANNAH — When speaking in French, this sounds like (we hear) ÇA VA (everything OK) + NAH (no)
23a Weep when moving new joint in the leg (4)
KNEE KEEN (weep) when moving the N (new)
25a Inuit boat unaffected by rolling over (5)
KAYAK — The answer is a palindrome (unaffected by rolling over)
27a Walking over northern base (2,4)
ON FOOT O (over) + N (northern) + FOOT (base)
28a Shabby treatment given to rather bad European (10)
THREADBARE — An anagram of (treatment given to) RATHER BAD + E (European)
30a Ring laced around roughly 25mm piece of meat (4,4)
LOIN CHOP LOOP (ring) laced around INCH (roughly 25mm)
31a Blond fop in Soho converted an important man of the cloth (6,2,6)
BISHOP OF LONDON — An anagram of (… converted) BLOND FOP IN SOHO
34a Turkey might need this as currency bear runs riot (9,5)
CRANBERRY SAUCE AS CURRENCY BEAR is anagrammed (runs riot)
35a Tease and tear into joint of beef (3-5)
RIB-ROAST RIB (tease) and ROAST (tear into)
38a Christmas greetings message sent round that hurts playwright (4,6)
NOEL COWARD NOEL (Christmas) CARD (greeting message) sent round OW (that hurts)
40a Crone hiding topper oddly where topper might be found (6)
HATPEG HAG (crone) surrounding (hiding) odd letters of (… oddly) ToPpEr
41a German with initially really enormous joint (5)
MITRE MIT (German with) + initially Really Enormous
43a United featured in rubbish, heavy defeat (4)
ROUT U (United) featured in ROT (rubbish)
44a Retired celebrity entertains Russian in the capital (8)
BRUSSELS — In reverse (retired) SLEB (celebrity) takes in (entertains) RUSS (Russian)
45a One millimetre units of measurement the Spanish ultimately employ hugely (9)
IMMENSELY I MM (one millimetre) + ENS (units of measurement) + EL (the, Spanish) + the last letter of (ultimately) emploY
48a Greek character trips the light fantastic, daughter dropping subtle hints (7)
NUANCES NU (Greek character) + [d]ANCES (trips the light fantastic), D (daughter) dropping
49a Always fitted in coach the cheapest berths (8)
STEERAGE EER (always) fitted in STAGE (coach)
50a Key universal party once ready for Lisbon? (6)
ESCUDO ESC (key) + U + (universal) + DO (party)
53a Jones the architect‘s blue after losing diamonds (5)
INIGO IN[d]IGO (blue) after losing D (diamonds)
54a Ace dad full of energy copies nan sporting a badge of honour (1,7,2,4,3)
A FEATHER IN ONES CAP A (ace) + FATHER (dad) around (full of) E (energy) + an anagram of (… sporting) COPIES NAN
55a Near Egypt, he messed with technique using DNA (4,7)
GENE THERAPY NEAR EGYPT, HE anagrammed (messed with)
56a Harsh, upper-class rubbish old Republican to whom we say “Bless you!” (11)
STERNUTATOR — A charade of STERN (harsh), U (upper-class), TAT (rubbish), O (old) and R (Republican)
1d Alloy trophy in locker bent out of shape (11)
CUPRONICKEL CUP (trophy) + IN LOCKER anagrammed (bent out of shape)
2d Run into dad and mum somewhere in Emilia Romagna (5)
PARMA R (run) goes into PA (dad) and MA (mum)
3d A different answer — different woman (7)
ANOTHER A (answer) + NOT HER (different woman)
4d Tidy amount initially put in after tax deducted (4)
NEAT — The first letter of (… initially) Amount put in NET (after tax deducted)
5d Former PM with scar a literary hero? (10)
HEATHCLIFF HEATH (former PM) with CLIFF (scar)
6d Poor Somali husband with yen for a vacation? Hardly! (7,7)
BUSMANS HOLIDAY — An anagram of (poor) SOMALI HUSBAND + Y (yen)
7d Ladies’ man Staunton occasionally opening the bubbly (8)
CASANOVA StAuNtOn occasionally going inside (opening) CAVA (the bubbly)
8d Weak leaders of firm regret adding inexperienced labour (5)
FRAIL — The first letters (leaders) of Firm Regret Adding Inexperienced Labour
9d Train that’s caught by Rouen tour agent (9)
ENTOURAGE — The answer is inside (caught by) RouEN TOUR AGEnt
10d British soldier maybe starts to enjoy romantic badinage (6)
BANTER B (British) + ANT (soldier maybe) + the initials of (starts to) Enjoy Romantic
11d Station jumbo beach construction with no roof (8,3,6)
ELEPHANT AND CASTLE ELEPHANT (jumbo) + sANDCASTLE (beach construction) without the first letter (with no roof)
12d Watch over fortified tower — middle of storm coming in shortly (4,2,3,2)
KEEP AN EYE ON KEEP (fortified tower) + EYE (middle of storm) coming in ANON (shortly)
18d Two-tone pen knocking out note of grief (8)
BICOLOUR BIC (pen) is replacing (knocking out) the D (note) of [d]OLOUR (grief)
20d Quiet energy used in this training briefly? (8,9)
PHYSICAL EDUCATION — P (quiet) and E (energy) put together give PE, the abbreviation for (… briefly) the answer
22d Only Crosby, presumably, lacking prospects (2-4)
NO-HOPE — Referring to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, NO HOPE would presumably leave only Crosby
24d Descriptive character Victor deleted from film cassette (8)
IDEOGRAM — V (Victor) is deleted from [v]IDEOGRAM (film cassette)
26d An inducement to retaliate? (8)
KICKBACK KICK BACK (to retaliate?)
29d Sensational stories about sailor brothers turning over car parts (5,9)
SHOCK ABSORBERS SHOCKERS (sensational stories) around (about) AB (sailor) and BROS (brothers) reversed (turning over)
32d Perhaps coconut shy is a legitimate target (4,4)
FAIR GAME — Two meanings, although as usual I’ve just underlined the one you’d find in the dictionary
33d Founder of Persian Empire assuming power in Mediterranean island (6)
CYPRUS CYRUS (founder of Persian Empire) assuming P (power)
34d Challenging Tory acting as nominal leader (11)
CONFRONTING CON (Tory) + FRONTING (acting as nominal leader)
36d Young trendy getting two very different hats from Spooner? (11)
TEENYBOPPER — The two very different hats are BEANIE and TOPPER, and they get the Spooner treatment
37d Rising temp spreading, which is to be expected after winter (10)
SPRINGTIME — An anagram of (… spreading) RISING TEMP
39d Cop wreaks havoc in an area of the office? (9)
WORKSPACE COP WREAKS, anagram (havoc).  I can’t say this indicator quite does it for me
42d Paltry sum of cash in bank of late (8)
RECENTLY CENT (paltry sum of cash) in RELY (bank)
46d Beginning noon climb (7)
NASCENT N (noon) + ASCENT (climb)
47d Challenge the bill for climate control? (6)
ACCOST AC COST (the bill for climate control?)
49d Ancient realm where the Queen made a noted arrival (5)
SHEBA — Cryptic definition referring to Handel’s The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
51d Sober, presumably, like a rough diamond? (5)
UNCUT — Since half-cut means drunk, UNCUT presumably means sober
52d Old capital elevating noble knight (4)
BONN — Reversing (elevating) NOB (noble) + N (knight)

11 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1640 – 21 October 2023. Topping!”

  1. I wrote ‘Dead easy’ on my copy and noted that I finished under an hour ( though not by how much) which is surely a rare occurrence for me and Jumbos.

    I had only two queries. Firstly not being familiar with RUSS as an abbreviation for Russian which Collins says is archaic, but it was a fairly safe bet. The second was how to make sense of the cryptic clue to COFFEE BREAK which I sort of see, but then I read it again and I don’t. I get that it’s a break from the daily grind and the connection with grinding coffee beans, but I can’t make sense of ‘What makes the daily grind…?’ I’m probably missing something obvious.

    1. Russ in in Chambers with the required meaning. I remember checking at the time, as it was new to me too, but having found it thought no more of it.

      Yes, there was a reason I didn’t elaborate on COFFEE BREAK! It seemed to be ok but makes less sense the more I think about it. A bit like life really …

      1. Me again. Is it just “What makes the daily grind” = COFFEE and “when pausing the daily grind?” = BREAK, for an &lit?

        1. I took it as meaning the coffee break makes the charlady (daily) grind the coffee, while one pauses one’s daily grind.

  2. I had the same query about COFFEE BREAK as Jack; still have. It seems rather far-fetched to say that the break itself makes the coffee; not to mention that the grind in this sense is (ground) beans, to which water needs to be added. Anyway. DNK CUPRONICKEL, SHRAPNEL in the ‘change’ sense, ORACHE, SLEB (44ac was my LOI), or that CAVA is bubbly. I liked SAVANNAH, although one has to exclude “No” from what we hear in French.

  3. Wow. All polished off in 46 minutes 21 seconds for a new Personal Best for a Jumbo. Great fun.

    I too had a few “barely knowns” – DNKs that I would still have been able to pick out of a multiple choice list – ORACHE, CYRUS and the awful SLEB, and the totally unknown STERNUTATOR where you just needed to write down what it said in the clue. Didn’t even notice the problem with COFFEE BREAK, but yes. I liked the nicely complex IMMENSELY.

    Many thanks for the blog

  4. A definite Jumbo PB for me at 22:46 but then Verlaine had to spoil it by coming in at under 1o minutes!

  5. Definitely on the easy side at 37:10.

    As above, I assumed “the daily” refers to the charlady, who grinds the coffee.

  6. Pretty straightforward. I came here hoping for an explanation of COFFEE BREAK but I see others are as confused as me. I don’t buy the charlady explanation.

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