Times Cryptic Jumbo 1663 – 16 March 2024

Hello again. This Jumbo I thought was somewhat harder than average, but none the worse for that with some very neat clues. What did you think?

Please, do feel free to ask questions or comment as required.

I use the standard conventions like underlining the definition, CD for cryptic definition, DD for a double one, *(anargam) and so forth. Nho = “not heard of” and in case of need the Glossary is always handy

1 Being a huge Reading fan, playing Albion, aim big before the end (11)
7 Paper follows translated articles on our planet (5,3,3)
UNDER THE SUN – UN and DER, French and German articles; and the Sun, a newspaper under the same ownership and increasingly, the same management style, as The Times. A MER at the definition, since every other planet in our solar system is under the same sun, and so far as we know every other planet is under some sun or other as well.
13 Spreads sandwiches along with famous courses here (2,7)
ST ANDREWS – AND (along with) in STREWS (spreads).
14 Outliers in terribly irrational state — it’s unsurprising (7)
TYPICAL – T(erribl)Y + PI (irrational number) + CAL, California
15 Show distress and hesitation like a judge? (5)
SOBER – SOB (show distress) + ER, a hesitation. Cue a very, very old joke:

Judge: “So you say you had been drinking, at the time of the alleged offence?”

Defendent: “Oh yes, I was as drunk as a judge.”

Judge (kindly): “I think, my good man, you meant as drunk as a lord?”

Defendent: “Yes, m’lord.”

16 Cultural agency in Scotland’s odd about French art (6)
UNESCO – ES, French art (as in, art thou French? I think), in UNCO, a strange Scottish word meaning strange. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It does a great deal of good in the world, which we never hear much about because only bad news counts.
17 Chilled old writer nearly put on coach out of India (8)
TRANQUIL – TRA(i)N (coach, out of I(ndia)) + QUIL(l)
18 Cold Parisian’s here by Scottish river (7)
ICINESS – ICI (here, in French) + NESS. Not many will know of the River Ness, which is only six miles long, poor wee thing. But what with Loch Ness, and Inverness (which means “mouth of the Ness”), not hard to guess that it must exist.
20 Happy to tour in case of annual holiday, with flying fare from Europe (11,9)
CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST – so: IN, in CONTENT (happy), + A(nnua)L, + BREAK (holiday) + FAST (flying). I have had hundreds of them, occasionally sublime, more often disappointing. A baguette does not keep overnight.
23 Capital firm keeping tax returns for powerful Roman (7)
OCTAVIA – VAT in AI (capital) + CO (firm), then all reversed. Several Roman ladies were named Octavia, the revference here is probably to Octavia the Younger, elder sister of Augustus and fourth wife of Mark Antony.
24 Foot in pool in Durham, say (7)
SPONDEE – POND (pool) in SEE, a Bishop’s diocese, such as Durham. I am aware of all sorts of similar words to spondee such as trochee, iamb, dactyl .. useful in crosswords but not even the faintest idea of what they mean.
26 Strip joint that’s seedy welcomes record by Queen (7)
DEPRIVE – EP (record) + R(egina), a queen, in DIVE, a seedy joint.
28 Place to hide Arab’s money from the east (4)
LAIR – RIAL, rev.
29 Opponent of Orthodox Church receives Mass, shut off from the world (8)
HERMETIC – M(ass) in HERETIC. Wikipedia says:

“The word hermetic comes from the Greek god Hermes. A hermetic seal comes from alchemy in the tradition of Hermeticism. The legendary Hermes Trismegistus supposedly invented the process of making a glass tube airtight using a secret seal”
32 Leopard’s tail, one possibly spotted in parts, maybe (9)
DIVISIBLE – (leopar)D + I VISIBLE. I am not certain about the def. But if something is in parts it must be to some extent divisible I suppose
35 Permit naive Republican to get taken in by rotter (5,4)
GREEN CARD – GREEN (naive) + R in CAD, your rotter. In the UK, a foreign use certificate extending your car insurance is commonly known as a green card. The term will be familiar to our US cousins as well..
36 English boy screening short film about sharp decline (8)
NOSEDIVE –  VIDE(o), a short film, in E SON then all reversed
37 Fan of fascism’s extreme characters in part of UK (4)
NAZI – AZ in NI.
39 Beginning with covers of Nirvana track (7)
NASCENT – N(irvan)A + SCENT, track or trail
41 Cheers up person having somewhat reduced meals (7)
SUPPERS –  hidden, as indicated
44 Hide murders cracked by Sherlock at last (7)
DOESKIN – (sherloc)K, in DOES IN. I liked this neat clue. I am not certain the surface makes complete sense but hey, near enough 🙂
45 Might one enjoy Labour MP turning on left with shout that’s wild? (7,3,10)
GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT – *(MP TURNING ON LEFT + SHOUT). A convoluted anagram sadly wasted on me, as I bifd this one.
49 Dip into alcohol suitable to be consumed (2,5)
AL DENTE – DENT (dip) in ALE. Al dente is Italian for “undercooked.” Therefore a MER at the definition, Philistine that I am.

[note: yes yes, I know what it really means. Not cooked for long enough, so your teeth must struggle.]

50 In the US, female fashion shows seen here (8)
BROADWAY – BROAD (woman, in the US) + WAY (fashion). Of broad in this context, Collins says: “sometimes considered offensive.” Presumably the “sometimes” allows wiggle room. Not a word I would ever use.
51 Come back among aircrew, snappily heading west (6)
ANSWER – hidden, reversed, as indicated.
53 Nerdy American girl coming out holding The Times (5)
DWEEB – WE (at The Times) in DEB, a girl coming out, as I believe they still do? Too many Americanisms …
54 Football club leaving a learner in charge? This may be fatal (7)
ARSENIC – ARSEN(al) + IC, in charge. Chemical symbol As, for future reference …
55 Score roughly with header from youth — net’s broken (9)
56 Periodically debated introducing strict limit in African province (7,4)
EASTERN CAPE – STERN (strict) +CAP (limit), in (d)E(b)A(t)E(d). A province of South Africa, home to the Mandelas, amongst others
57 Support cryptic setters in minor ways (4,7)
BACK STREETS – BACK (support) + *(SETTERS). Another very neat clue to end the acrosses with.


1 Barney reversing express vehicle at first (4-2)
BUST-UP – BUS (vehicle) + PUT (express, as in “I can’t put it more clearly than that”) rev. They have barneys in Eastenders almost every night
2 Feeble argument about Thin Lizzy covers being very bad (15)
BLAMEWORTHINESS – OK, LAME (feeble) + WOR (argument, about) + THIN, all inside BESS (Lizzy).
3 Asian language group cheers up the writer’s mood (10)
INDICATIVE – INDIC (Asian language group, which includes Urdu, Sanskrit etc) + AT (Ta, cheers, rev.) + IVE (The writer’s).
4 Gathering police must conserve energy (4)
MEET – E(nergy) in MET, the London police force
5 Unconditional reason why orchestra can’t perform? (2-7)
NO-STRINGS – a DD, the second whimsical.
6 Insect queen turned part of its head? (7)
ANTENNA – ANT (insect) + ANNE, rev. Queen Anne was the last Stuart monarch. Remarkably, she died leaving no heir, despite giving birth to no less than 17 children. Several were stillborn, and the oldest died aged 11. Tough times..
7 University teacher admitting new choice is not fully explored (9)
UNPLUMBED – N + PLUM (choice) in U(niversity) + B.Ed. Not sure why the “fully.”
8 Like a peer around mostly boring houses (5)
DUCAL – CA (circa, around) in DUL(l), boring, mostly
9 Tucking into bread with sweet topping, king had a merry time (9)
ROLLICKED – ROLL (bread) + K(ing) in ICED, a sweet topping
10 I appal hosts, dancing with son in ill-advised ball (8,4)
HOSPITAL PASS – *(I APPAL HOSTS + S(on)). “a pass made to a team-mate who will be tackled heavily as soon as the ball is received” says Collins.
11 Theme of chapter probing sea and air transport (7)
SUBJECT – C(hapter) in SUB + JET, sea and air transport
12 German scientist’s cosy home around Rhein’s banks (6)
NERNST – R(hei)N in NEST. Today’s first NHO for me, though Walther Nernst was a remarkable man, a friend of Einstein and a Nobel prizewinner.
19 Excluding the public during rise of computer age (2,6)
IN CAMERA – IN (during) + MAC (a computer, rev.) + ERA, age
21 Made better, stopped nursing tiring complaint (7)
EMENDED – ME (tiring complaint) in ENDED, stopped. ME stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis.
22 Change look of navy flag, suppressing centrepiece (8)
REDESIGN – RED E(n)SIGN, flag of the British merchant navy, insofar as we still have one. The P&O ferry I went to France on last week was flagged as Cypriot..
23 Kind of ring, jewellery worn by soldier (8)
OBLIGING – GI (American soldier) in O (ring) + BLING
25 After work, can get involved (3,2)
OPT IN – OP (work) + TIN, can
27 Written ruling over opponents in board game (2,5,3,5)
IN BLACK AND WHITE – IN (over) BLACK & WHITE, chess or draughts or go opponents
30 House in France occupied by Democrat president (7)
MADISON – D(emocrat) in MAISON, a French house. James Madison was the fourth president of the USA. Also an unrepentant slave owner, and a persecutor of native Americans, according to Wikipedia
31 Speaker’s shy in class (5)
CASTE – sounds like “cast,” shy or throw.
33 See classical quartet that is more brilliant than the others (8)
VIVIDEST – V (see, eg the Holy See) + IV, Latin quartet, + ID EST, ie that is..
34 Like an ace French figure on heartless DJ’s device (12)
UNRETURNABLE – UN (French figure) + RE (on) + TURN(t)ABLE
38 Scary creature in the main running through sewer (3,7)
SEA MONSTER – ON (running) in SEAMSTER, a sewer. The main is the sea, eg the Spanish Main, for reasons I’ve never properly understood
40 Group of lawyers stopping money in place for levies (5,4)
TITHE BARN – THE BAR (group of lawyers) in TIN, one of many words that mean money.
42 Anglicans following e.g. him or me, say (9)
PRONOUNCE – PRONOUN (him, me) + CE, the Anglican church
43 After error in speech, dodge dealing with grammar (9)
SYNTACTIC – SYN (sounds like sin) + TACTIC, a dodge.
45 Flipping bounder right to leave garment, possibly Nike (7)
GODDESS – DOG (a bounder) rev., + D(r)ESS. Nike was the Greek goddess of victory
46 Drugs sent north in lead vehicle in Asia (7)
PEDICAB – ACID + E (drugs) rev., in PB, lead. Pedicabs are tricycle taxis, and are becoming ubiquitous outside Asia as well as inside. They can be found in both London and Edinburgh, for instance
47 Manage northern oilfield, finally drilling well (6)
HANDLE – N(orthern) + (oilfiel)D, in HALE, well.
48 Lingerie items donned by royal composer (6)
BRAHMS – HM (royal, his/her majesty) on BRAS, lingerie
50 Maybe Iraqi, going around south, turns up here? (5)
BASRA – S(outh) in ARAB, rev. Basra is indeed in Southern Iraq.
52 Not as large, empty vessel (4)
LESS – L(arg)E + SS, a vessal. I have underlined the large, which seems to be needed for the def., but it is needed for the wordplay as well. That will bother some (not me, particularly) and seems a little unconventional. It is an easy clue to solve, however, so ..

Author: JerryW

I love The Times crosswords..

12 comments on “Times Cryptic Jumbo 1663 – 16 March 2024”

  1. I’d count this as moderately easy as I solved it in one session and had no particular queries noted on my printout, just a couple of anagram workings. My only unknowns were NERNST and HOSPITAL PASS, but the wordplay was clear so they didn’t delay me unduly.

  2. DNK NERNST, HOSPITAL PASS, EASTERN CAPE. I also biffed GLUTTON, never bothered to parse it. I had a ? by 24ac, but inferred that Durham is a see. I can never remember what a SPONDEE is, but iambs (or iambi) show up here from time to time (as well as in Shakespeare, of course). I had a MER similar to Jerry’s at AL DENTE; ‘al dente’ simply does not mean ‘suitable to be consumed’.

  3. UNDER THE SUN should not be taken literally – it’s a figurative expression that means (Chambers) “On earth”, e.g. “There’s nothing new under the sun”.

    1. I am aware (of course) of the dictionary definition, but figurative or not, it is parochial and obviously wrong, a hangover from the biblical days when we knew no better.
      I recommend that it is quietly forgotten …

      1. Try as I might I don’t understand the objection here. If the clue said ‘only on our planet’ I might just about see it, but the presence of other planets in the solar system doesn’t prevent ‘our planet’ from being UNDER THE SUN.

        1. It is very simple. “Under the sun” does not necessarily mean “On our planet ” at all, since it is equally accurate on Venus or in Alpha Centauri. So at best it is a dbe.
          I won’t lose any sleep over it…

  4. Spanish Main is an interesting term. Main here was a contraction of mainland and referred to the parts of Spain’s New World empire that weren’t islands-particularly the north coast of South America around Cartagena. From pirate movies I had always assumed the Spanish Main was the seas where the swashbucklers sailed.

    1. You are absolutely right, main in this context is short for mainland… makes you wonder what it is doing in the clue at all, in that case.. “in the main” could be omitted.

  5. I liked this one.
    The definition in 52dn is ‘not as’, so there is no double duty.
    I’m shocked and appalled at the apparent enthusiasm for overcooked pasta in this community.

    1. Been driving all day… I can’t quite see how “not as” = less.
      Don’t include me in the overcooked pasta enthusiasm thing .. I dislike ALL pasta, however cooked. If its shape is its only distinguishing feature, how interesting is that?


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