Times Cryptic No 27144 – Saturday, 15 September 2018. A crossword from another universe?

Well – where has this setter been hiding? This puzzle wasn’t easy, and had delightful originality. Unusual vocabulary, original wordplay, delicious definitions.

I gathered it was going to be a challenge when my first pass of the across clues came up empty. I did get one down clue first time through, but it eventually turned out to be wrong! It was a slow, thoughtful solve over several hours, but every clue makes sense when you see through it. If only we had a SNITCH for Saturdays, I’m sure it would be glowing red. The clue of the day was undoubtedly 29ac, with special mentions to 30ac and 18dn. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’, with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Finally, seeing a narrow opening illuminated (6)
GASLIT: [seein]G “finally”, A, SLIT. Apparently, GASLIGHTING is a different thing entirely these days.

4 One unknown couple, outwardly shy, becoming passionate (8)
SIZZLING: I (one), Z Z (a couple of unknowns), all inside SLING (shy, in the sense of throwing).

10 Old jacket sailor put back on board, XL (6,3)
DOUBLE TOP: DOUBLET (old jacket), P.O. (Petty Officer) backwards. The definition is XL, “forty”, the score for this throw when playing darts.

11 College head, finishing early, leaves to the right (5)

To quibble (and why should today be different?), the RECTO definition should be “pages”, not “leaves”. Each leaf has a RECTO (right) page and a VERSO (left) page. But of course, “page” or “pages” wouldn’t fit the surface! On edit: some commentators endorse the reading that “the leaves to the right (of the book opening)” present the recto pages. Fair enough.

12 Difficulties with cryptic clue for setter (5,6)
QUEER STREET: since QUEER STREET could clue SETTER as an anagram. A quaint expression.

14 Right-wingers in reality are not all the same (3)
YET: “right wing” letters of [realit]Y [ar]E [no]T.

15 PM, once about to resign, remains (7)

17 Visitor from afar after lift back, certainly (3,3)
YOU BET: BUOY (as in “lift your spirits”) backwards, then ET (visitor from afar).

19 Non-imperial police forces in London, and Dublin historically (6)
METRIC: MET[ropolitan Police] from London, R[oyal] I[rish] C[onstabulary] from Dublin once. Metric units – metres, kilograms etc.

21 Girl’s portrait: it electrifies retrospective, in part (7)
LETITIA: reverse (“retrospective”) hidden answer (“in part”).

23 Exercise to improve these ratings? (3)
AB’S: exercise your abdominals, or just talk about sailors.

24 Hint not a sensible thing to share? (11)
ADUMBRATION: A, DUMB, RATION. As (dumb?) luck would have it, nearly this same clue appeared only the day before, but it’s still delightful.

26 Language perfect for putting cipher in, mostly (5)
AZERI: ZER[o] (cipher, mostly), inside AI (perfect).

27 Elaborate tent with ultimate in style for birthday? (9)
TWENTIETH: (TENT WITH E*). The final E is the ultimate in [styl]E.

29 Broadcast line containing Tango Tango Alpha Golf Bravo Juliet? (8)
ATTAGIRL: what a beautiful clue! Just put TTAG (Tango Tango Alpha Golf) inside AIR (broadcast), then add L (line).

The definition is “Bravo Juliet” … or another girl of your choice, if you prefer. Sierra, perhaps, I wondered? She is one of the usual suspects in the phonetic alphabet lineup, but you might think of mountain ranges. And, astonvilla1 reminds us that long ago there was a UK TV series titled Juliet Bravo, so Juliet is clearly la fille juste for this clue.

30 Lamb tender, also second rate, offered originally by sly butcher’s (2,4)
BO PEEP: B (second rate), O[ffered] “originally”, PEEP (sly look, from Cockney Rhyming Slang: “butcher’s [hook]”). “Also” is just a filler.

 Nice definition – she did indeed tend to lambs, or at least sheep.

1 Zealous bunch work with detective at the Yard (3,5)
GOD SQUAD: GO (work), DS (detective sergeant), QUAD (yard). Another quaint answer.

2 It follows good soak (5)
SOUSE: SO (it follows, as in “therefore”), USE (good, as in “what is the good of worrying?”).

3 Sick leave denied wife (3)
ILL: remove W[ife] from [w]ILL (leave, as in “leave it to your children”).

5 Warriors trained yet displaying lack of devotion (7)
IMPIETY: IMPI (Zulu warriors), (YET*).

6 Guide upset at Arthur’s ripping apart old prophet (11)
ZARATHUSTRA: A-Z (London guidebook, “upset” i.e. backwards), then (AT ARTHURS*). I needed helpers to spell this!

7 Paltry remuneration, first to last, leads to restlessness (5,4)
ITCHY FEET: TITCHY FEE, with the first T moved to the bottom.

8 Annoyed about recommendation at first that’s a little hollow (6)
GROTTO: GOT TO (annoyed), around R[ecommendation].

9 Problem for side having very little to wear? (6)
STITCH: double definition: either a pain in one’s side, or not a stitch to wear.

13 Forcing way inside fence (11)

16 Hunting around like that is most uncomfortable (9)
QUEASIEST: AS (like) and IE (that is), inside QUEST.

18 Tools placed on skip a security concern (8)
PAWNSHOP: PAWNS (tools) on HOP (or skip or jump). The definition is a security concern, in that you pawn something as security, they lend money. Cute.

20 One doing my job sober gets in a mess! (7)
CLUTTER: the setter is a CLUER, and TT (sober) gets inside.

21 Improviser dispatching poster for campaigner (6)
LIBBER: AD-LIBBER beheaded. “Women’s libber” for example – thanks, Isla, for the definition.

22 Staff collected anecdotes for some future time (6)
MAÑANA: MAN (staff), ANA (collected anecdotes).

25 Periodically debrief suit about foreign department (5)
ISÈRE: alternate letters of “debrief suit”, read from right to left. A department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France, named after the river Isère.

28 What’s needed for match as well as broadcast (3)
TWO: sounds like (“broadcast”) TOO. Definition as in “it takes two to tango”

29 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27144 – Saturday, 15 September 2018. A crossword from another universe?”

  1. I found this very tough and it took me way over the hour at 77:53, but at least I didn’t have any errors. ILL was my FOI and AZERI my last as I suddenly remembered that a cipher could be zero. SIZZLING and ZARATHUSTRA just preceded AZERI. Phew! Lots of convoluted thinking required for this formidable puzzle. Smiled at BO PEEP. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  2. A nice challenge for a Saturday. I liked how many of the definition bits were clever or cryptic, and if they weren’t the word itself was pleasingly offbeat. Thank you setter. Ditto brnchn
  3. This was a workout, especially compared to the last few Saturdays. Lots of lovely surfaces. DNK DOUBLE TOP, my LOI, but fortunately the wordplay left no doubt. I didn’t remember A-Z until after submitting. COD maybe to 16d.
  4. FIZZLING for passionate, why not? Well FIZZING perhaps, fizzling means the opposite. Gah, mental dyslexia – thought of fling before sling and went with it. Otherwise really enjoyed all the hard-to-find definitions and the interesting answers. Double top and libber unknown, pure guesses, though I found I did know libber: as in Women’s Libber.

    Edited at 2018-09-22 01:24 am (UTC)

  5. .. where they will chew barbed wire. or be wasted in futile, frontal attacks… (H H ASQUITH). Just over the hour on this. LOI ISERE, following close behind the penultimate BO PEEP. Didn’t succeed in parsing YOU BET. COD to the brilliant ATTAGIRL. I liked ITCHY FEET too. Fine crossword. Thank you B and setter.
  6. I had a wild theory about how the clue for SOUSE worked, thanks for disabusing me of that notion!

    Merriam-Webster defines RECTO as
    1 : the side of a leaf (as of a manuscript) that is to be read first
    2 : a right-hand page — compare VERSO

    1. Yes, that is what our blogger is saying: recto is a whole page, but only half of a leaf.
      Myself, I think the wording is still OK, since “leaves to the right” could be interpreted as “leaves viewed on the right hand side”
  7. I completed all but two squares without reference to aids, which in itself felt like quite an achievement, but in the end I needed help with A?E?I as I had no idea what the answer could be and ‘cypher’ in the wordplay didn’t suggest anything specific. I was pleased to work out the unknown ISERE. I felt there ought to be a pangram in the making, but it wasn’t to be.
  8. Hmm, yet another fizzling here I’m afraid. What a difference one letter can make..
    Nice crossword otherwise, s’pose..
  9. 36:39, but another FIZZLING. Quite a lot of my errors come from bunging something in from the definition without proper consideration of the wordplay. It’s less common to bung something in from the wordplay without proper consideration of the definition.
    A smashing puzzle though: sufficiently so that I remember the struggle a week later. ATTAGIRL a particular highlight of course but there was lots of great stuff in here.
    ‘Lamb tender’ is good, although you might argue that BO PEEP is known for doing the opposite.

    Edited at 2018-09-22 06:47 am (UTC)

  10. ….I didn’t get a Times last Saturday. I wouldn’t have been whizzing through this little beauty in any sort of record time. Some excellent clues on offer, and I really regret missing it.
  11. I thought I might also be on course for the slowest all-correct solve. This was hard work but sufficiently rewarding to merit returning to the puzzle to fill in the gaps.
    However there were a few gaps in the end: 26a and 29a refused to yield and I had the ATTAG for 29.
    I had a fairly confident FLIRTING at 4a and that put paid to a number of other clues; RT was an unknown couple to me! Had never seen A-Z as a guide, I must remember that.
    Anyway, an excellent puzzle. David
  12. Continuing the references to the Wilde play, Miss Prism’s first name is Laetitia, and I would normally expect to see it spelt this way.
    However I still managed to solve 21a.
    Expect Cecily in a puzzle soon. David
  13. 44:09 but one error (fizzling) and one fatfingered typo due to solving online (railroafing). Terrific puzzle though brilliant stuff from start to finish. The phonetic clue was a delight. I loved the definitions here: on board, XL; lamb tender; Bravo Juliet; a security concern. Thanks blogger. Bravo setter.
  14. I must’ve been on the wavelength last week, as I finished this in an hour and five—which is about an hour quicker than my time for today’s puzzle!

    I think I was lucky that ADUMBRATION (or a very similar word) had come up in the daily 15×15 on one of the preceding weekdays, otherwise I might’ve been longer. Also lucky that I remembered “zero” for “cipher”, as I’d never heard of 26a AZERI.

    FOI 1a GASLIT, LOI 11a RECTO (I remembered verso and recto as soon as I got the O from 8d GROTTO) Enjoyed 7d ITCHY FEET and the puzzle as a whole. Thanks for the blog, Bruce!

  15. Started this morning and gave up a few minutes ago with the SW corner still unfinished. Nearly every answer was a eureka moment. It was a lovely puzzle in retrospect But I’m glad we don’t have one like this every day! Ann
  16. My timer says 1 hour 9 minutes, perhaps par for the course. An absolutely delightful puzzle, with very clever definitions (ATTAGIRL, BO PEEP, PAWNSHOP as a security concern, QUEER STREET). I didn’t quite understand DOUBLE TOP, but at least it was right (I thought XL was the size and maybe it referred to a largish sail, but the wordplay was clear enough). LOI was SOUSE, since it at least faintly fit the definition, unlike SAUCE, which I was first tempted to try. Thank you, setter (and blogger).
  17. Although you can substitute good for use in ‘what’s the good of worrying’ does that mean good = use? Liked the attagirl cluing, but not a fan of the word itself appearing in a crossword. Adumbration appearing earlier the week certainly helped
    1. My main guideline is this: if one word can be substituted for the other in a sentence, then one can clue the other. That only requires a slight overlap in meaning, of course. In many other sentences, the substitution may not work.
    2. The Crossword Editor would probably just say, it’s in the Dictionary. And it is … in Chambers; Collins and SOED only have “attaboy”. Shame.

      Regardless, it was a brilliant clue!

      Edited at 2018-09-23 07:57 pm (UTC)

Comments are closed.