Times Cryptic Jumbo 1650 – 26 December 2023

Hello all, and Happy New Year.

I like to blog when the puzzle is fresh in my mind (which should mean doing the write up early but in practice means leaving the solve until the last minute too).  Not something I managed with this one – and with all the fun and games on Boxing Day, I don’t think the puzzle was fresh in my mind even at the time!  All I remember is that I found it rather tricky and did look up one or two things.  Had to work quite hard to parse some of it a second time around as well.  My COD is 46d (RHONDDA), which really tickled me.  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 Skip American judge we must think not quite appropriate (4,4)
JUMP ROPE J (judge) + UM (we must think) + PROPEr (appropriate) without the last letter(not quite …)
5a Capital made out of sarcasm — a rationale we don’t wholly get (6)
ASMARA — We find the capital city of Eritrea hidden in (… we don’t wholly get) sarcASMA RAtionale
9a Turning, you drive off briefly after function (7)
SINUOUS U (you) and OUSt (drive off) without the last letter (briefly), all after SIN (function)
14a Harsh, beginner having to go in with new form of metal (7,4)
WROUGHT IRON ROUGH (harsh) and TIRO (beginner) sandwiched between (having to go in) W (with) and N (new)
15a Rebuff gained at home daily for speaking out (3,2,3,3)
ONE IN THE EYE — Sounds like (… for speaking out) WON (gained), IN (at home), and THE I (daily -newspaper)
16a Sanction put on that hurt junior parliamentarian? (5)
OWLET LET (sanction) on OW (that hurt)
17a Zero per cent of staff backing appeal (3,1,3)
NOT A BIT BATON (staff) reversed (backing) + IT (appeal)
18a Fish, sort of cut on top, to have with wine (3,6)
RED MULLET MULLET (sort of cut on top) going next to (to have with) RED (wine)
19a Rivet or nut, crude (7)
ENGROSS EN (nut, in printing terminology) + GROSS (crude)
20a What can attract good fortune? (9,6)
HORSESHOE MAGNET — Whimsical cryptic definition playing on the attractiveness of magnets and the supposed luck-bringing qualities of horseshoes.  If a literal fortune happens to be made of the right stuff, a (horseshoe) magnet could attract that too
22a Slight resistance restricts one working for solicitor (10)
PETITIONER PETITE (slight) and R (resistance) surrounds (restricts) I (one) and ON (working)
23a Drink brought back is allowed to turn cold (6)
COGNAC CAN (is allowed to), GO (turn) and C (cold) all reversed (brought back …)
25a Black veil must be worn (4)
EVIL VEIL must be anagrammed (worn)
28a Sadly, tale erring: half is exaggerated (6,4,4)
LARGER THAN LIFE — An anagram of (sadly) TALE ERRING: HALF
30a Repulsive boxer nursing ear, fifty years later (4-4)
PLUG-UGLY PUG (boxer) holding (nursing) LUG (ear), with L (fifty) and Y (years) coming later.  I’ve learned something: I had always heard this as PUG-UGLY.  But it’s not a term I would use anyway
32a Gathers dance must be attraction for schoolkids (4,4)
TUCK SHOP TUCKS (gathers) + HOP (dance)
34a End argument? Vis-a-vis league title, it might (4,10)
37a Old people‘s home? Not exactly (4)
INCA IN (home) + CA (circa: not exactly)
38a What one may have seen in garden after storm and scoffed? (6)
NOSHED — What one may have seen in garden after storm?  NO SHED!
39a Square in Melbourne where exhibition had finally earned money, we hear (4,6)
FAIR DINKUM FAIR (exhibition) + haD finally + INKUM which here sounds more-or-less like (… we hear) INCOME (earned money),
43a I don’t know what could make the guy overemote (5,3,2,5)
YOUVE GOT ME THERE — An anagram of (what could make) THE GUY OVEREMOTE
45a Irish church worker perhaps is into refreshing brew (3,4)
ICE BEER IR (Irish), into which the combination of CE (church) and BEE (worker perhaps) goes (is into)
47a Proceed with an awkward balancing act (4,5)
ROPE DANCE — An anagram of (… awkward) PROCEED with AN
49a Summoning up nerve to dispense with the odd act of approval (7)
EVOKING — Discarding odd letters (… to dispense with the odd) nErVe + OKING (act of approval)
51a Possible Italian tourist handbook with nothing for the English (5)
GUIDO GUID[e] tourist handbook with O replacing the E (nothing for the English)
52a Christian doctrine somehow thriving without turning to ridicule (6,5)
VIRGIN BIRTH — An anagram of (somehow) THRIVING outside (without) the reversal of (turning) RIB (to ridicule)
53a Fish caught by pair at bridge wrapped in leaves? (11)
ENGARLANDED GAR (fish) and LANDED (caught) by EN (pair at bridge)
54a Family members briefly demanding seconds behind one’s back (7)
SISTERS — Without the last letter (briefly) STERn (demanding) and S (seconds) after (behind) the reversal of (… back) IS (one’s)
55a Bled once cold increased (6)
CUPPED C (cold) + UPPED (increased)
56a Suffocating outside for hockey team visiting a resort (8)
ASPHYXIA — The outer letters of (outside for) HockeY and XI (team) going into (visiting) A SPA (a resort)
1d Strongman’s deadly weapon, essential for Churchill’s preference to war? (7)
JAWBONE — Two definitions, referring to Samson in the bible and Churchill’s famous (mis?-)quote
2d Person with two jobs: second one mostly easier (11)
MOONLIGHTER MO (second) + ONe mostly + LIGHTER (easier)
3d OMG: T-shirt’s ripped at far end (9)
RIGHTMOST OMG: TSHIRT is anagrammed (ripped)
4d Make firm decision to accelerate (3,4,4,4)
PUT ONES FOOT DOWN — Double definition
6d Flyer from member of Trinity finally spending term inside (8)
SONGBIRD SON (member of Trinity – the holy one) + the last letter of (finally) spendinG + BIRD (term inside)
7d French film dealing with boy given egg dish but no starter (1,4,2,7)
A BOUT DE SOUFFLE ABOUT (dealing with) + DES (boy) + sOUFFLE (egg dish) but without the first letter (no starter).  I had to look up the film
8d Ace finding missing uniform narrowly avoided disaster? (1,4,5)
A NEAR THING A (ace) + [u]NEARTHING (finding) missing U (uniform)
9d Needs one twice as new, not dated (4,3)
SINE DIE — An anagram of (… as new) NEEDS and I I (one twice)
10d What game’s been covered by New Statesman once? (5)
NEHRU EH (what) and RU (game) is under (has been covered by) N (new)
11d Now history lecturer’s beginning to get close, making improper advances? (11)
OVERLENDING OVER (now history) + Lecturer’s first letter (beginning) + ENDING (close)
12d Watch from gallery, following instructions (8)
SPECTATE TATE (gallery) following SPEC (instructions)
13d You’ll find that in bunker golf gets played more slowly (4)
GRIT G (golf) + RIT (ritenuto or ritardando: played more slowly)
20d Requiring hotels for sons, go up and down Bray (6)
HEEHAW — With Hs replacing Ss (requiring hotels for sons), [s]EE[s]AW (go up and down)
21d One getting back from post-war celebration in rage (7)
AVENGER VE (post-war celebration) in ANGER (rage)
22d Irrational, being behind old governor (6)
PILATE PI (irrational – irrational number) + LATE (being behind)
24d State miss “succeeded” — and recorded hit (10,5)
CALIFORNIA GIRLS CALIFORNIA (state) + GIRL (miss) + S (succeeded)
26d Gangster, sweetheart and actor keeping house in disarray (3,4,3,4)
ALL OVER THE SHOP AL (gangster) + LOVER (sweetheart) + THESP (actor) containing (keeping) HO (house)
27d After vacation, liftboy chose uniform for school (6)
LYCEUM — On removal of inner letters (after vacation), LiftboY ChosE UniforM
29d Master, not the head, meaning to grab large bible (7)
ENSLAVE — Without the first letter (… not the head) sENSE (meaning) taking in (to grab) L (large) and AV (bible – Authorised Version)
31d Be preoccupied and worried by predicament (6)
FIXATE ATE (worried) by FIX (predicament)
33d Rye is one to down, reportedly, with strong wines (6,5)
CINQUE PORTS CINQUE sounding like (… reportedly) SINK (to down) + PORTS (strong wines).  There has been discussion about Cinque Ports here recently.  I was slightly surprised by SINK rather than SANK, but it’s the pronunciation in the dictionaries
35d Shares figures related to rise, ie kind falsified no longer (6,5)
NIKKEI INDEX KIN (related) going upwards (to rise) + IE KIND anagrammed (falsified) + EX (no longer)
36d When upset, brother gets poetic rhythm out of proportion (10)
ASYMMETRIC AS (when) + reversal of (upset) MY (brother – as in oh brother! / oh my!) + METRIC (poetic rhythm)
40d Character of eg hairdo quietly altered (9)
IDEOGRAPH — An anagram of (… altered) EG HAIRDO with P (quietly)
41d What I Claudius was for old entertainer (8)
BYGRAVES — The novel I Claudius was BY (Robert) GRAVES
42d Italian birds seen around late autumn (8)
GENOVESE GEESE (birds) seen around NOV (late autumn)
44d The works outing in one? (7)
OMNIBUS — Two definitions
46d Don’t take any extra personnel to north Wales region (7)
RHONDDA ADD NO HR – don’t take any extra personnel! – reversed (to north)
48d RAM that’s needed to operate computer disk (5)
DRIVE — Another double definition, with some sneaky deceptive capitalisation in the mix
50d Standard-bearer who gaily shows up (4)
IAGO — WhO GAIly contains in reverse (shows up) the answer

7 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1650 – 26 December 2023”

  1. I noted on my printout that I found this very hard but for all that, it seems that my only resort to aids was to check the spelling of NIKKEI at 35dn.

    Nice to see Max Bygraves remembered. His act became rather cheesy as he aged – Singlongamax and all that stuff – but in his younger days he was considered a smart comedian and entertainer, and turned out a handful of fine performances as a screen actor in dramatic roles. He was something of a local celebrity when I was growing up in Stanmore, and owned a West End style restaurant there called Maxim’s . According to one source: It was impossibly pretentious and extremely expensive, catering to a clientele about as far removed from Max’s wholesome family audience as can be imagined. It projected the warmth of a graveyard.

  2. Very hard. After starting slowly (25% after 45 minutes) I nearly decided to cull this Jumbo for the proper management of the rest of the herd. I am glad I didn’t. It was a good one to keep coming back to and slowly pushing through. by the end I had accumulated 2 hours 50 minutes on the clock. Well pleased to have finished. LOI FIXATE, COD GOAL DIFFERENCE, LOL NOSHED.

    Enjoyed the blog too. Thank you

  3. All completed except 41D, where I was completely flummoxed. It didn’t help that I was thinking purely of the TV adaptation of I Claudius, not the book, which I haven’t read and am not convinced I could have told you the author, and I was sure the ‘old entertainer’ was someone like a court jester. So not a chance! And while I got the answer for 1D from the first reference to Samson, I can’t see how ‘jaw, jaw’ relates to ‘jaw bone’. Perhaps I’m missing something, or maybe Jumbos are more loosely put together. I very rarely do them, as they require a fair bit of free time. The other one I couldn’t parse was WROUGHT IRON, where ROUGH and W, N were clear enough, but I NHO TIRO for beginner. One to remember (or forget) for next time.
    There were some very nice clues and PDMs – RHONDDA stood out and VIRGIN BIRTH. Thanks for the blog.

    1. The clue is saying that a JAWBONE is ‘essential for’ a jaw (Churchill’s preference to war).

  4. I solved this in the post-Christmas stupor, so I don’t remember much about it, but it took about half an hour so apparently I didn’t find it too hard. My only unknown was the capital of Eritrea.

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