Times Cryptic Jumbo 1655 – 20 January 2024

Hello everyone.  I did this on a train journey which always makes it harder to think.  After an encouraging start I ran into problems at the end.  I turned to aids to get the first part of 46a PANHANDLE STATE, which in turn was needed to disabuse me of the notion that 43d was somehow going to be PAINT POT.  D’oh, PLANT, of course!  Correct answers do have a habit of making much more sense than wrong ones …

The question marks in 6d and 15d confused me: my first assumption was there was an error, which meant I approached them with caution.

There are some in-depth constructions here as well as a few oblique definitions and wordplay elements.  In many places I could have added further explanation, so do shout if anything isn’t clear.

My favourite clue is probably 32a, and not just because I’ve been watching some classic episodes of DOCTOR WHO.  I also liked 33d, ONMISHAMBLES.

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 Something slimy in effect left sink needing an overhaul? (9)
GASTROPOD — In reverse (… needing an overhaul), DO (effect), PORT (left) and SAG (sink)
6a Reused manuscript is in France: father stumbles upon it (10)
PALIMPSEST EST (is in France): adjacent to that (… upon it) is PA (father) and LIMPS (stumbles)
12a In North America, run into terrible chap’s old band (7)
NIRVANA In NA (North America), R (run), which in turn goes into IVAN (terrible chap)
13a Assembled vehicles working for frontiersman (3,6)
KIT CARSON KIT CARS (assembled vehicles) + ON (working)
14a Scum, something on lip quaffing last of beer (5)
TRASH TASH (something on lip) taking in (quaffing) the final letter (last) of beeR
16a Whoops, retiring primates squeezed tight! (12)
CHEESEPARING CHEERING (whoops), with backwards (retiring) APES (primates) inside (squeezed)
17a Cultural learning from politician I’m referring to after a Republican (3,7)
ART HISTORY THIS TORY (politician I’m referring to) after A and R (Republican)
19a Best picture? (2,4,2,2,4)
AS GOOD AS IT GETS — Two definitions.  The second refers to this 1997 film starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt
22a One living on Crete, say, smearing on fourth of lotion (8)
ISLANDER SLANDER (smearing) next to (on) the fourth letter of lotIon
24a One taking deliveries of cherries, maybe, finding means to access container (6)
OPENER — Two definitions: a cherry is slang for a new cricket ball
25a Scale mountain finally, a ridge etc formed around it (10)
CENTIGRADE — The last letter of (… finally) mountaiN, with A RIDGE ETC anagrammed (formed) around it
26a Capital where vessel remains (5)
TUNIS TUN (vessel) + IS (remains)
29a Handsome orderly (4)
TIDY — Double definition
30a Simple life forms: some that sit or proceed backwards (8)
PROTISTA — Contained reversed in (some … backwards) thAT SIT OR Proceed
32a How scrabbling after change is for character in phone box? (6,3)
DOCTOR WHO — An anagram of (… scrabbling) HOW after DOCTOR (change)
34a Undemanding, see, show for cissies? (3-6)
LOW-IMPACT LO (see) + WIMP ACT (show for cissies?)
35a Stretch between last parts of theatre production, the interval (8)
ENTR’ACTE TRACT (stretch) between the final letters (last parts) of theatrE productioN thE
36a Problem making comeback with old player (4)
MUSO SUM (problem) backwards (making comeback) + O (old)
39a Rock, one stuck on front of swimming trunks (5)
TORSI TOR (rock) + I (one) placed next to (stuck on) the first letter (front) of Swimming
40a Mineral with a use, ’til metamorphosing (10)
ANDALUSITE AND (with) + an anagram of (… metamorphosing) A USETIL
42a Report of sandpiper on river, naturally! (3,3)
WHY NOT — Sounds like (report of) KNOT (sandpiper) on WYE (river)
44a Lead surprisingly transformed volatile character in organic compound (8)
ALDEHYDE LEAD anagrammed (surprisingly) + HYDE (transformed volatile character)
46a Piper to manage small gallery in Florida or Oklahoma, say (9,5)
PANHANDLE STATE — A charade of PAN (piper), HANDLE (to manage), S (small) and TATE (gallery)
48a Girl speaks about love where keepers sought? (10)
GOALMOUTHS GAL (girl) and MOUTHS (speaks) around (about) O (love)
49a For example, you are in this gym occupied by hate figures (7,5)
PRESENT TENSE PE (gym) containing (occupied by) RESENT (hate) and TENS (figures)
53a Sullen fellow with catapult faced by principal in college (5)
CHURL HURL (catapult) headed with (faced by) the first letter of (principal in) College
54a Narrow trousers beginning to chafe on boy with black belt, maybe stage performer (3,6)
TAP DANCER TAPER (narrow) takes in (trousers) the first letter of (beginning to) Chafe on DAN (boy with black belt)
55a Workable bringing wine into company (7)
PLASTIC ASTI (wine) in PLC (company)
56a Queen’s rocker, perhaps, loopy thing (4,6)
CATS CRADLE — A CATS CRADLE might be a rocking bed for a female cat (queen).  The loopy thing defines (somewhat obliquely) the game played with string
57a Chicken, less hot, to start smoking outside: cool it! (7,2)
LIGHTEN UP — Without H (… less hot), [h]EN (chicken), with LIGHT UP (to start smoking) outside
1d Wolf down in valley (5)
GORGE — Double definition
2d Old skyscraper where packer keeps things boxed, sometimes? (5,5)
SEARS TOWER STOWER (packer) contains (keeps) EARS (things boxed, sometimes?)
3d Return with scythe and fruit (8)
REAPPEAR REAP (scythe) + PEAR (fruit)
4d Game with pressure more satisfactory, might one say? (5)
POKER P (pressure) + OKER (more satisfactory, might one say?)
5d Fruity thing and naughty thing united in romantic event (4,5)
DATE NIGHT DATE (fruity thing) and an anagram of (naughty) THING
6d Sort of work ? that isn’t! (4)
PLAY — A play is a work … but play isn’t work!
7d Passion relating to brilliant appearance (6)
LUSTRE LUST (passion) + RE (relating to)
8d Team fixing matches, nice try! (10,4)
MANCHESTER CITY — An anagram of (fixing) MATCHES, NICE TRY
9d Sense of achievement is observed after day with party (12)
SATISFACTION IS after SAT (day) + ACTION (party)
10d Main dishes of a brasserie ultimately served up covered in soil (7)
SEAFOOD — Reversed (… served up) OF A brasseriE ultimately all covered in SOD (soil)
11d A fight to finish off innings in boisterous play (10)
KNOCKABOUT A BOUT (a fight) after (to finish off) KNOCK (innings)
15d Film about battle in house ? there it is! (3,6)
HEY PRESTO ET (film) around (about) YPRES (battle) in HO (house)
18d Male relative has time, still (8)
STAGNANT STAG (male) + NAN (relative) + T (time)
20d Look hard to retain objective, being Welsh leader (9)
GLENDOWER GLOWER (look hard) containing (to retain) END (objective)
21d Clumsiness in patois oddly written into musical composition (10)
INEPTITUDE IN + odd letters of (… oddly) PaToIs going into ETUDE (musical composition)
23d Novelist Amis, say, in flier (4,6)
SAND MARTIN SAND (novelist) + MARTIN (Amis, say)
27d Gold coin freshly minted somewhere in Oceania (3,6)
NEW GUINEA — Literally, a NEW (freshly minted) GUINEA (gold coin)
28d Basic food registered in basic hotel, say (5,3,6)
BREAD AND BUTTER READ (registered) in B AND B (basic hotel) + UTTER (say)
31d Drop what you’re carrying, huge amount (8)
SHEDLOAD — Drop – SHED – what you’re carrying – LOAD
33d Northern Ireland deception covered up by London commoners, heading off complete chaos (12)
OMNISHAMBLES NI (Northern Ireland) and SHAM (deception) covered up by wOMBLES (London commoners) without the first letter (heading off)
34d Slow destruction of Earth and rising of smoke follows conclusion of all (9)
LETHARGIC — An anagram (destruction) of EARTH and the reversal (rising) of CIG (smoke) follows the last letter (conclusion) of alL
37d Where shell may be found that’s novel? (2,3,5)
ON THE BEACH — Literally, where (a sea) shell may be found
38d Ride on and straight out (5,5)
GHOST TRAIN — An anagram of (… out) ON and STRAIGHT
41d Clear, ship turned round (9)
SPHERICAL CLEAR, SHIP anagrammed (turned)
43d Where pink might be seen in a couple of snooker shots? (5,3)
PLANT POT POT and PLANT are both types of snooker shot.  The pink is a flower
45d Copper impressed by the lifting up of a fat claret drinker? (7)
DRACULA CU (copper) inside (impressed by) the reversal (lifting up) of A and LARD (fat)
47d Cast I see standing in shot (6)
SHAPED AH (I see) upwards in (standing in) SPED (shot)
50d Buck having pulled out gun, finally ? shoot! (5)
SPRIG SPRI[n]G (buck) having removed (pulled out) guN, finally
51d Court verdict — going down then? (3,2)
NOT UP — Definition (a tennis one – a call when the ball has bounced twice before being hit) plus literal interpretation
52d Residing in Poland, an Eastern European (4)
DANE — The answer is residing in PolanD, AN Eastern

10 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1655 – 20 January 2024”

  1. Tough, and not particularly enjoyable, with lots of DNKs: MUSO, ANDALUSITE, KNOCKABOUT, GOALMOUTHS, PLANT, NOT UP, OMNISHAMBLES (LOI). I didn’t know a knot was a kind of sandpiper. As in the last few Jumbos, lots of ugly surfaces: Copper impressed by the lifting up of fat claret drinker (45ac), say, or Scale mountain finally, a ridge etc formed round it (25ac).

  2. I tend to agree with Kevin’s comments although I had some different unknowns such as PALIMPSEST. Considering I wrote ‘bloody hard work’ on my copy I was left with remarkably few queries when I eventually filled the grid.

    A note on OMNISHAMBLES (which also turned up in yesterday’s Guardian puzzle). It was invented by the writers of the TV political sitcom The Thick Of It to describe complete chaos in the fictional government as everything on every political front went wrong at the same time. Shortly afterwards it found its way into one or more of the standard English dictionaries as ‘Word of the Year’. That was some time 2005-12, more innocent times, as it doesn’t even begin to describe subsequent events in government, not just in the UK but pretty much worldwide. Some things are now beyond satire!

  3. Quite tricky, this. I had the most trouble in the NW corner. KIT CARSON and ANDALUSITE only very vaguely familiar, NHO PROTISTA or NOT UP.

  4. 33d (OMNISHAMBLES) is a clue for the ages. A perfect fusion of cryptic fodder and contemporary political allusion, hopefully now in the past with yesterday’s restoration of Stormont.

    1. It was my response to the ?s in 6 and 15d, Jerry, but wasn’t intended to be sardonic. I think I’ll remove it. I expect they were meant to be dashes, and technical hitches aren’t the setter’s fault.

  5. I too found this a little on the tricky side, but with some great clues. I liked the “character in phonebox”, “one taking delivery of cherries”, the “court verdict” and the “(fat) claret drinker” in particular. Thanks Kitty and setter.


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