Times Cryptic No 27186 – Saturday, 03 November 2018. Better the devil you know.

Well, that was a breeze. I was finished in about 30 minutes, which for me rates as a gentle canter. Perhaps they decided to give the rest of us a bit of a break, while the big guns were at the finals of the competition that weekend?

My last one in was 12ac, where I needed the helpers to get this slightly unfamiliar word. But, my last one justified was 9ac, where I didn’t understand the “sounds like” component. Is that a common expression?

My clue of the day was 18dn, for the nice combination of “twisting” and “turning”. The definitions in 10dn and 22dn were also particularly nice. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. Lots of fun all round, including more than the usual number of jocular double definitions.

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 E.g. Pancake Day hamper? (7,5)
MOVABLE FEAST: double definition: the first because Pancake Day, like Easter, is tied to lunar cycles; the second a jocular reference to picnic hampers.

8 Conclude negative vote’s a disaster (7)

9 Pre-publicity on the radio increasingly highly charged? (5-2)
BUILD UP: this was a puzzle. I think the idea must be that to load charges onto a bill would be to “bill up”. If so, “billed up” would sound  like the answer we’re looking for (“on the radio”). But, is “billed up” really an expression? I couldn’t find it in the usual dictionaries.

11 Some on reflection uselessly fill unfillable void (7)
NULLIFY: backwards (“on reflection”) hidden answer (“some”).

12 Drop fowl from behind, having permit (7)
DRIBLET: BIRD (fowl) “from behind” / LET (permit). A vaguely unfamiliar word, but clear enough once I thought of it.

13 Car wheel’s sound (5)
AUDIO: AUDI (car) / O (“wheel”).

14 Taking this turns friend into devil at once (5,4)
RIGHT AWAY: if you take R out of FRIEND, you get FIEND.

16 Takes cue, perhaps, and breaks down (4,2,3)
GOES TO POT: double definition, the first a jocular reference to billiards or snooker.

19 Otologist, say, finding her area of expertise dull (5)
DREAR: DR (since an otologist, say, is a doctor) / EAR (what our otologist specialises in).

21 Vegetable lacking in hotel (7)
AUBERGE: the veg is an AUBERG[in]E.

23 Stint in India ends (7)
TERMINI: TERM (stint) / IN / I[ndia].

24 Taking home Anne, girl endlessly distressed (7)
EARNING: (ANNE GIR-*). Drop the L since the girl is endless.

25 I regret that Scottish cheese covers French bread (7)
BRIOCHE: OCH in BRIE. Chambers gives “regret” as a secondary definition of “och”. New to me.

26 Gone to take corner (5,3,4)
ROUND THE BEND: another double definition, the second the jocular version this time.

1 Subdued miss was forward (7)
MUFFLED: MUFF, as in miss a shot / LED (was forward).

2 Doctor I try controls onset of rare medical condition (7)
VERTIGO: VET (doctor) “controls” R from r[are], then GO (try, as in “have a go”).

3 Bash goof up in unwelcome surprise (5,4)
BOOBY TRAP: reversal (“up”) of PARTY (bash) BOOB (goof).

4 Posh girl yours truly raised to get settled (5)
EMBED: reversal (“raised”) of DEB (your posh girl) / ME (yours truly).

5 English Literature is ultimately subject privileging the select few (7)
ELITIST: E (English) / LIT (literature) / IS / [subject]T.

6 Salad’s got a bit of earth on it — proving this? (4,3)
SOD’S LAW: SOD on a SLAW, giving the thing known in my parts as Murphy’s Law.

7 Replace ageing slang with ‘U’ as digital expression (4,8)
SIGN LANGUAGE: (AGEING SLANG U*). Clever definition – not a computer language, after all.

10 At an early stage, continent’s bananas went by rail (5-7)
POTTY TRAINED: POTTY (bananas, as a euphemism for “mad”) / TRAINED (went by rail). And an even cleverer definition!

15 Make reservation in restaurant that’s accessible (3-2-4)
GET-AT-ABLE: with a change in spacing, GET A TABLE.

17 Trade restriction scary chap lifted with business expert intervening (7)
EMBARGO: MBA “intervening” in OGRE (scary chap) backwards (“lifted”).

18 Top person’s rubbish, turning and twisting (7)
TORSION: NO 1’S ROT, “turning”.

19 Room to rest together and chill — will they have nibbles? (7)
DORMICE: DORM (room to rest) / ICE (chill). I know nothing about dormice, but clearly they must be nibblers.

20 Indicated one man has kidnapped another (7)

22 Loopy figure’s importance, bypassing the Head (5)
EIGHT: [w]EIGHT. More cleverness!

18 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27186 – Saturday, 03 November 2018. Better the devil you know.”

  1. My take is that as a secondary, cryptic, hint at the answer (as indicated by the question mark and ‘on the radio’) ‘billed up?’ does not actually have to exist as an expression in its own right.

    Edited at 2018-11-10 01:02 am (UTC)

  2. Not that breezy for me, at least compared to recent Saturdays. DNK that ‘och’, and DNK ‘pot’. More embarrassingly, I never spotted the hidden in 11ac, and simply BIFD. SIGN LANGUAGE was clever, although sign languages are better characterized as manual rather than digital; but my COD goes to POTTY TRAINED. On edit: Jack reminds me that I was going to say that I put in BUILD-UP without the slightest bit of a MER.

    Edited at 2018-11-10 01:02 am (UTC)

  3. 42 minutes with no misgivings here if it was a little easier than we’re used to on a Saturday, as this was an absolutely top-notch puzzle.
  4. 25 minutes with no real problems. I didn’t pause too long on BUILD-UP but like others I just took the homophonic second definition to be a pun. It’s not an expression I’ve used. COD and LOI to MOVABLE FEAST by a short head from POTTY-TRAINED. Does the mountain of empirical evidence for SOD’S LAW demonstrate that the Devil is running the show? Thank you B and setter.
  5. I took the paper with me to The George and started the solve on the way home. I got quite a few on the train and finished at 8.30pm at home. Perhaps beer and crossword chat are good preparation,or was it just that this was a relatively easy puzzle?
    My last three were DREAR,EVINCED and BRIOCHE. Lots of candidates for COD I thought. I’ll say Potty Trained edges out Brioche. David
  6. ….there’s only one place left to go – AUBERGE.

    I did the puzzle on Monday after my return from London, and the Chris Rea song was Earworm of the Day.

    A bit of a mixed bag, but cleared up in 9:42

    LOI BOOBY TRAP (strange to have first and last crossing !)

    Found BUILD-UP puzzling, wasn’t keen on the random men at 20D, and groaned at the chestnut that was INFERNO.

  7. 35 minutes here, and I can’t help much with 9a as that was the only one I had a question-mark against myself.

    Apparently I enjoyed quite a few here, including 1a MOVABLE FEAST (though I knew the phrase more from the Hemingway book, where he spells it “moveable”), 13a’s concise AUDI-O and 19’s lovely DR EAR.

    I got the same earworm as Philip from 21a, as that song is the first place I ever encountered the word AUBERGE…

  8. 18:43. As our blogger says, a lot of fun clues. RIGHT AWAY, DR EAR and SODS LAW all got a tick, but COD to POTTY TRAINED. Done on the Sunday, I was surprised to find an answer in common with one of the Grand final puzzles. {No i wasn’t in it, but sat at the back and had a go… and then carried on on the train home].

    Edited at 2018-11-10 09:21 am (UTC)

  9. I enjoyed this a lot and took 25:48 to complete it. POTTY TRAINING was the highlight for me too. No problem with BUILD UP. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  10. POTTY TRAINED – a thumbs up for this clue. Very droll.
    I came to the blog to understand the parsing of one biff but as it has been a week since I did the crossword I cannot now remember which one it was! Possibly BRIOCHE as I remember that being my LOI. Thanks for the blog anyway.
  11. Potty-trained was easily COD. Audio the opposite – when I first discovered this site I read all the links including Peter Biddlecombe’s tips:
    Brand names not alllowed. That always seemed to be non-binding for: The Times, and other newspapers like FT, Sun, Express. Then Sky (the channel of the Antichrist) and even Al Jazeera got in. Now everything goes – Audi is not the first in the past year or two. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but we’re going to hell in a handcart. It’s worse than the Guardian.
  12. 25 across New to you means you didn’t solve it in 30 you cheated. Cheating to solve a puzzle is as pleasing as cheating at golf. More time wasting crap for the click.
    1. It’s common, as in this case, for an answer to be obviously right, so it can be submitted confidently, but to need research before one can give a full explanation in the blog. My feeling is that other readers, like me, come to these blogs to find out the full explanation.

      If you don’t like that, you’re welcome to do it your way!

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