Times Cryptic No 27168 – Saturday, 13 October 2018. Cue the cunning clues.

This puzzle had some very original wordplay, like 13ac and 1dn. 1dn was my clue of the day. It was all so smooth, I don’t have much else to say here. 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 Irish lake Mike crossed by shallow vessel’s tiller (9)
PLOUGHMAN: LOUGH (Irish lake) / M (Mike, in the phonetic alphabet), “crossed by” PAN (shallow vessel). A nice juxtaposition of “tiller” with “vessel”, since the answer is a tiller of the soil, not a tiller on a vessel. I saw LOUGH quickly, but didn’t get further till I realised it might be followed by an M.

6 Wrap up tool making small holes in wrap (5)
SHAWL: SH (I think this is “wrap up”, as in “be quiet!”) / AWL (tool). Better suggestions welcome – I feel I may not have altogether got this clue.

9 Not the leader in tangerine-coloured product line (5)

10 Last piggy in toilet let out (6,3)
LITTLE TOE: (TOILET LET*). From the nursery rhyme, of course.

11 Good reception on a TV I fixed, first having substitute set off (8,7)
STANDING OVATION: STAND-IN (substitute) / GO (set off) / (ON A TV I*).

13 Letter replaces later one read aloud at opening of vegetable hamper (8)
ENCUMBER: replace “CU” (sounds like “Q”) with “EN” (sounds like “N”) in CUCUMBER.

On edit: thanks to Ulaca for pointing out “en” not only sounds like the letter N, it is the name of it according to the usual dictionaries. I must say I find that puzzling. Do all letters of the alphabet have names? How do you spell the name of the letter “a” for example? And does “z” have different names in UK and US? Apparently so, according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_alphabet. Learn something new every day!

14 Authoritarian, no saint, before a panel (6)

16 Surly politician tucked into more than half of Swiss cheese (6)
GRUMPY: MP “tucked into” GRUY[ere].

18 Banks maybe partly backing Yeltsin at oblast (8)
BOTANIST: reverse hidden answer (“partly backing”). Sir Joseph Banks.

21 Threatened with crumbled Stilton coating, the man would rage (2,3,6,4)
ON THE DANGER LIST: (STILTON*) outside (“coating”) HE’D (the man would) / ANGER (rage).

23 Hugging brat (a jerk) is extremely pleasant (9)
SIMPATICO: SO (extremely) “hugging” IMP (brat) / A / TIC (jerk).

25 Grip bit of seafood softly (5)

26 Was “courting” old-fashioned? (5)
DATED: double definition.

27 Spooner’s optimal equipment for offer at pub? (5,4)

1 Legendary prince’s abilities, missing the crossbar (5)
PARIS: take PARTS (as in “a man of many parts”), and don’t cross the T. Obvious from the definition, but a delight when I saw how it works.

2 Never working, good-for-nothing (2,2,7)
ON NO ACCOUNT: ON (working) / NO-ACCOUNT (good-for-nothing).

3 Upcoming fashion, say, including a thousand anoraks? (7)
GEEKDOM: MODE (fashion) / EG (say), all reversed (“upcoming”), and “including” K (a thousand).

4 Fake illness needs mother to stay around (8)

5 Crazy career representing teachers’ interests? (6)
NUTJOB: NUT (teachers’ union) / JOB (career).

6 Slur lacking in gossip for ruler’s wife (7)
SULTANA: [in]SULT (slur) / ANA (gossip).

7 Prone or flat in compact form? (3)
APT: double definition: one is apt/ prone to, or apt. as a real-estate agent’s abbreviation (“compact”) for apartment/flat. I didn’t recognise the abbreviation until writing up the blog!

8 We initial changes to prepare an ambush (3,2,4)

12 Careless, having DIs leave blame (11)

13 Sod’s green after treatment is absorbed (9)

15 Trick with passion round back of bottling plant (8)
FOXGLOVE: FOX (trick) / LOVE (passion) “round” [bottlin]G. I took some time to see “trick” wasn’t CON.

17 Baked dish with no cover on top is unevenly coloured (7)
PIEBALD: PIE (baked dish) / BALD (no cover on top).

19 7 nabbing Spanish boy’s fruit (7)
APRICOT: APT “nabbing” RICO. Not obviously a Spanish name, I would have thought.

20 Difficult driving plane when one’s out of it? (6)
TAXING: TAX[i]-ING. Driving a plane on the tarmac, in this case.

22 Lush plant in new container looking up (5)
TOPER: REPOT (plant in new container) “looking up”.

24 Finalists in ballroom drama cut a rug (3)
MAT: last letters (“finalists”).

35 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27168 – Saturday, 13 October 2018. Cue the cunning clues.”

  1. Got there in the end, but TAXING took an age and a laborious alphabet trawl until the wet fish slapped me in the face. Lots to like in this puzzle which took me 43:02. Didn’t know what was going on with PARIS, but got him from definition and crossers. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  2. Puzzled by 1d and 6ac –DNK ‘wrap up’–so thanks to Bruce for elucidating. Like him, I took a while to let go of CON at 15d. DNK Banks, but then I didn’t have to. LOI FASCIA. I biffed 11ac from the O and N, only got around to parsing it post-submission. Fortunately, we had GUEST BEER recently, or I would have had a rather longer time. Rather tougher than many of the recent Saturday puzzles.
  3. PARIS was my LOI, if memory serves, and I was delighted when the cryptic became clear.

    Edited at 2018-10-20 05:50 am (UTC)

  4. 38 minutes last Saturday morning while watching the cricket. A very pleasant puzzle. COD to STANDING OVATION although I enjoyed the taste of the GUEST BEER too. I like Spoonerisms, unlike many solvers. I didn’t fully parse SHAWL, so thanks for that, B. I biffed PARIS from crossers. I’ve never heard of Sir Joseph Banks either, but the reverse letters stood out like a daffodil in grass. I first wondered if Tommy Banks, the great Bolton left back of the fifties, took an interest in Botany, but any winger who tried to beat his slide tackle was the one who would taste the Burnden Park turf before landing on to the invalid cars on the track below. Thank you B and setter.

    Edited at 2018-10-20 06:12 am (UTC)

    1. Tommy Banks ended his career at my club, Altrincham, along with his Wanderers team mate, John Higgins. You wouldn’t have fancied being tackled by either of them !
    2. Not sure why Bolton Wanderer doesn’t like many of us. “I like Spoonerisms, unlike many solvers.” A blushing crow!
      1. We’ve just arrived in Lytham St Annes from London for a brick quake, quite possibly caused by Cuadrilla’s resumption of drilling a couple of miles up the road. I’ve only just read this. It was damn near a six hour drive as they ‘smartify’ the M1 and M6, but I still love you all!
    3. Actually I speculate that most solvers like Spoonerisms. It is just that those that don’t, like to say so a lot which creates a misleading impression.
  5. 37 minutes but I failed to spot how PARIS worked. The best I came up with was: PARI{tie}S [missing the crossbar] – tie, being a horizontal beam, but I couldn’t really square ‘parities’ with ‘abilities’ despite my best efforts to do so. ‘Equal abilities’ could have worked but that would have meant there was a word missing in the clue, which of course never happens.

    Edited at 2018-10-20 06:34 am (UTC)

  6. ….and only PARIS was unparsed at the end of my 11:34 session. Thanks for clearing that one up Bruce.


    Like Bolton Wanderer, I enjoy Spoonerisms so “dew of the clay” goes to GUEST BEER, especially as it appeared during the J.D.Wetherspoon Beer Festival – all 30 guest beers were successfully and enjoyably sampled this time (over a 10 day period, and mostly in thirds of a pint !)

    1. Hopkinson, Hartle, Banks, Hennin, Higgins, Edwards, Birch, Stevens, Lofthouse, Parry, Holden. Names etched in my soul, total cost £110 when the signing-on fee for player was £10. It was never to get better, not even the great years with Big Sam.
      1. Strangely, the current Altrincham first choice line-up also has five players whose names begin with H, plus another out injured !
  7. I managed not to start my timer for this one, but it felt like about 50 minutes, according to my notes. Thanks for explaining 1d PARIS; I didn’t have a scooby.

    FOI 1a PLOUGHMAN, LOI 14a FASCIA, despite having recently read about the fasces after being intrigued by a reference in the Mussolini bit of The Shortest History of Europe

    Liked 28a DATED, 22d TOPER; some nice surfaces all round.

  8. 19:28 – and no errors/typos for a change.

    In 1928 we discover Miss Moneypenny’s ill in Ian Fleming’s novels. Well, something like that.

    COD. A tie. The clever PARIS and the delightful GUEST BEER of Reverend Spooner.

    Edited at 2018-10-20 04:47 pm (UTC)

  9. I cheerfully lengthen the list of uncomprehending PARISians: I don’t often spot the ones which mangle the actual letters, but then there can’t be many. Have we ever had a Q with no tail? Or an upside down A with no crossbar? Or half a W? Footless E? I leave them (freely) as a challenge to the setters to make them more elegant and/or mystifying.
    Not sure where the time went, but 28 minutes.
  10. Just popping by to say that ENCUMBER is a cool word, and kudos to Bob Russell for including the word in his hit song ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, covered most notably by Allan Clarke and the Hollies.
  11. 27:14 I seem to have been fairly on the wavelength for this one. It helped that the BBC had some recent programmes on the art of Oceania which referenced Cook’s voyages and the botanist accompanying him at 18ac. Didn’t quite parse the Trojan prince or apt properly. Ploughman, little toe, encumber, guest beer, all good stuff. FOI 9ac. LOI 14ac.
  12. Managed to get most of this after the usual Saturday struggle -enjoyable though.
    Paris -unparsed-was LOI. I was not sure about the spelling of Si/ympatico and I was bamboozled by Yeltsin and I chose between Moralist and Botanist. I thought Oblast (which I had seen before) might be something to do with priests so I went for Moralist. As ever when in extreme doubt look for an error or a hidden. Still learning. Liked Guest Beer. David
  13. I’m sorry to bang on about 13a, but I reckon that, rather than sounding like N, EN is the letter N. Parsing it the other way means a rather awkward need to make ‘read aloud’ refer to the subject of the sentence as well as the object, which, though not impossible, would normally be signalled by something like a dash or a pair of brackets. Collins gives En for the letter N as American, but as so often I think this may be something of an arbitrary distinction.

    Edited at 2018-10-20 04:11 pm (UTC)

    1. I agree with you. Both Chambers and SOED in their printed editions have en = the letter N without any qualification whatsoever. The UK printed edition of Collins doesn’t have it at all, but I note their on-line version says it is ‘American’ as mentioned in your comment.

      I think Collins on-line is sourced from more than one of their dictionaries, including an American version, and I have often found their classification as American or UK English to be somewhat arbtrary as you suggest.

      Edited at 2018-10-20 05:25 pm (UTC)

      1. Try telling many of the victims of our appalling educational system that the name of the letter “H” is aitch rather than haitch…………..
    2. Thanks for pointing that out! Never would have occurred to me.

      I’ve noted it in the blog, but I must say I find it puzzling. Do all letters of the alphabet have names? How do you spell the name of the letter “a” for example? And does “z” have different names in UK and US?

        1. Indeed, but I would have said the name of that letter is “z”, pronounced “zed” on one side of the pond and “zee” on the other. Clearly it emerges that some view it differently!
        1. Also Chambers has ‘see’ as a name for C, which you need to be aware of in parsing clues.
    1. It’s in the dictionary: transitive verb (initˈialling or N American initˈialing; initˈialled or N American initˈialed)
      To put the initials of one’s name to, esp when acknowledging or agreeing to something
      1. OK, fair enough then.
        It still does feel odd to me but I see your point.
        Sorry that my name is ‘Anonymous’. I never posted here before and don’t know how how to make myself known to the folks here.
        1. No problem. As I recall, you can set up an account then your details will show automatically. If it’s not worth your time, just sign off with your name at the end of your comment.

          Coming back to “initialling”, it’s a common enough thing when you’re signing a legal document. “Just initial the changes, and sign at the end …”.

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