Times Cryptic No 27288 – Saturday, 02 March 2019. Snakes on a plane.

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
This was a fly-by-night effort. In other words, I did it on an inter-city flight on my way home from a long meeting.

Under the circumstances, it went reasonably quickly – at least I finished before we landed. It was probably harder than the week before, but mercifully it was free from unknown answers clued by other unknowns. A plus for doing it later in the day was that I could use the iPad app for the Times newspaper, and avoid worrying about internet access.

I snaked my way around the grid, basically from left to right or bottom to top, so the last to yield was the NE corner, with 5ac and 7dn exposing gaps in my general knowledge. I was also reluctant to commit to 8dn – forgive the pun, but the clue seemed a bit thin. The clue of the day for me was definitely 1dn, with its imaginative “letterplay”! 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’. Deletions are in [square brackets].

1 Fruit satisfied in fall (7)

5 Place to set free American skunk (7)
POLECAT: (PLACE TO*) is “set free”. Didn’t know a polecat is, or at least is called, a skunk. In my ignorance, I imagined it would be a cat! Still, with the anagram and the helpers, it was obvious enough.

9 Forgers concerned with one article in museum (11)
SMITHSONIAN: SMITHS=forgers (of metal), ON=concerned with, I=one, AN=article.

10 Letter recently ignored in stamp collecting (3)
PHI: PHI[lately].

11 Mass of eggs, but not the first year in bird sanctuary (6)
AVIARY: [c]AVIAR=mass of eggs, “not the first”; Y=year.

12 Comic show needs help over name (8)
COMEDIAN: COME=show, AID “over”, N=name.

14 Father rows with son about celebrity’s wicked cruelty (13)

17 Making accusations about mostly unlawful politician (13)
RECRIMINATORY: RE=about, CRIMINA[l]=unlawful (mostly), TORY=politician.

21 I’m after gold that’s fake (8)
IMPOSTOR: IM, POST=after, OR=gold.

23 Only partially sanguine about money (6)
GUINEA: hidden answer.

25 There’s a point to this law needing reform (3)
AWL: (LAW*) “reformed”.

26 Popular — till people will show resentment (11)
INDIGNATION: IN=popular, DIG=till (the soil), NATION=people.

27 Completely or nearly closed account (7)
TOTALLY: TO=nearly closed, TALLY=account.

28 Note port light on front of German boat (7)
DREDGER: D=(musical) note, RED=port light, GER= “front of” GER[man].

1 Mischievous child cuts leg off its first unit (6)
PASCAL: “cut the (right) ‘leg’ off” the R of RASCAL, to produce PASCAL. An imaginative device … well done setter! (On edit, to explain further: it’s a visual clue. Write down a capital R, and erase the line that points down towards 4 o’clock on the watch dial. That leaves you with a capital P. Voila … you’ve changed RASCAL to PASCAL!)

2 One sacked after university abandons resistance (7)
UNIFIED: UNI, FI[r]ED. Dropping the R is “abandoning resistance”.

3 Graduate severe about one current leading teacher (9)
MAHARISHI: MA, HARSH around I=one, followed by I=current. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a guru to the Beatles among others.

4 Pack’s expelled a communist (4)
TROT: take a T[a]ROT pack, and expel the A.

5 Original clock face has proper gold on it (10)
PRIMORDIAL: PRIM=proper, OR=gold, DIAL=clock face. All assembled as indicated.

6 Organ adds energy for fast movement (5)
LUNGE: LUNG, E=energy.

7 Cut wood, framing picture in deal successfully (7)
COPPICE: PIC[ture] inside COPE=deal successfully. Apparently a coppice is regularly trimmed, or “coppiced”. Another thing I didn’t know!

8 Most fine chicks could be at risk in this? (8)
THINNEST: could chicks really be in danger of falling out of a thin nest, or is this just whimsy?

13 Chap, though elderly, plays regularly in several ways (10)
MANIFOLDLY: MAN=chap, IF=though, OLD=elderly, LY=even letters of plays.

15 Inject copper into deformed toenail (9)
INOCULATE: CU=copper in (TOENAIL*) “deformed”.

16 Annoying train, it runs irregularly (8)
IRRITANT: (TAIN IT R*) “irregularly”, where R=runs is our cricket cameo of the day.

18 Company scheme limits one crew member (7)
COPILOT: CO=company, PLOT=scheme “limiting” I=one.

19 What a jerk’s doing never rising before monarch? (7)
YANKING: YAN=nay “rising”=never, KING=monarch.

20 One not allowing large headline (6)
BANNER: double definition.

22 Small bag for art (5)

24 Old were furious when right’s lost (4)

28 comments on “Times Cryptic No 27288 – Saturday, 02 March 2019. Snakes on a plane.”

  1. A biffed INCULCATE held up my GUINEA and RECRIMINATORY, but the tangle was eventually sorted. 14a conjured up visions of The Wacky Races and Muttley. Otherwise only PASCAL defeated me in the parsing department. Cunning indeed! In fact many cunning clues throughout. An enjoyable puzzle which kept me entertained for 29:51. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  2. ….DASTARDLINESS at 1D, which I eventually biffed. Thanks Bruce – a week later, I was still in the dark.

    TIME 11:59

  3. I can’t remember what was left when I went offline at 30′, but it couldn’t have been too much. I biffed AVIARY & COMEDIAN, and never did parse them. I did get PASCAL, although I can’t remember when. I couldn’t decide whether it was brilliant or as Phil said dastardly. I suppose it depends on whether you take that line as a leg (it’s not a descender, in any case, Bruce, as it does go below the (possibly imaginary) horizontal line that is the base of the writing; p (but not P) has a descender). I think I’ll give it my COD, since I solved it.
  4. 40 minutes including parsing 1dn correctly, so I was chuffed about that!

    I think it’s worth noting the function of ‘front of’ in 27ac because without it the ‘A on B = BA in Across clues’ rule would have applied to give us the answer GER, D+RED.

    1. The blog skates over the ‘on’ in 28ac, and Jack you say that it’s worth noting the function of ‘front of’. Yes certainly this gives the front half of ‘German’, but neither of you have so far as I can see really solved the problem of the ‘on’, which as you rightly say should lead to GERRED. I think it’s there for the surface, and is swallowed up (just) by the port light: when the port light is on it’s red.
      1. Sorry, this was meant to come after Jack’s comment above. Don’t know how to move it.
      2. GER is an abbreviation for German (Collins / Chambers) so ‘front of’ is not needed to clue GER, but it is needed as a placement indicator to tell us to put D+RED ON (the) front of GER. Without it the ‘on’ rule would apply to give us GER, D+RED

        Edited at 2019-03-17 01:33 pm (UTC)

        1. Sorry guys, I feel you might be overthinking this. Clearly D=note and RED=port light. GER equally clearly is “front of German” (although as Jack says, GER might just have been an abbreviation, but since the setter went another way, it isn’t in this case).

          If you put D and RED on GER, you get DREDGER. In some clues, “on” might have some different function, but I don’t see a problem here.

          1. At the risk of overthinking things further, there is a house convention at the Times that ‘A on B’ in an Across clue = ‘BA’ and this was confirmed as recently as last year by the current Crossword Editor, Richard Rogan.

            Occasionally there is a clue which goes against this and it has not been picked up in which he has described it not as an error but ‘wrong by our convention’, and that indeed may be what’s happened in this clue. My explanation was an attempt to justify the wording so as to avoid the breach.

            My problem with ‘front of German’ cluing GER is that it breaches another convention that ‘front of’ means the first letter of a word, not the first two or three or four, unless it’s specified by some other means in the clue.

            If anyone hasn’t already lost the will to live as a result of this discussion, there’s a whole lot more on the subject as the first item on my LJ home page which can be accessed by clicking on my user name above.

            Edited at 2019-03-17 08:38 pm (UTC)

            1. Well that’s interesting! You know a lot more about this than me. Disappointing that such conventions aren’t documented prominently on the Club page. It shouldn’t be up to bloggers.
  5. Solved but couldn’t parse it. Shouldn’t the clue have ‘his’ instead of ‘its’?
  6. Is there anybody who didn’t want Dastardly and Muttley to win? 32 minutes, stuck for a while in the PRIMORDIAL swamp of the NE. LOI COPPICE. I don’t think the version of POLECAT that my Granddad feared cornering in his agricultural labourer days was ever called a skunk. It was a type of weasel. I don’t think he’d be too impressed at present-day efforts to re-wild them either! COD to PASCAL for its leg breaking approach. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you B and setter.
  7. Like others, struggled with the NE corner. LOI comedian where I was very slow to see the parsing. I still don’t understand where the P came from in pascal though? Otherwise a very enjoyable outing, done and dusted in just under the hour. Thank you b and setter.
    1. It’s a visual clue. Write down a capital R, and erase the line that points down towards 4 o’clock on the watch dial. That leaves you with a capital P.
  8. I was defeated by a number of clues in this. I could not think of a museum longer than Hermitage; and I wasn’t helped by my mischievous child being a Scamp let alone trying to work out the leg side field placing. I had the P at 5a but not the Polecat; I will now look up Skunks.
    On the plus side I enjoyed the puzzle and have learnt how to spell INOCULATE -still looks like it’s missing an N.
    1. According to Wiki, in Canada, the term polecat is sometimes applied to electric utility linemen.
      In the United States, the term polecat is sometimes applied to the black-footed ferret, a native member of the Mustelinae, and (loosely) to skunks, which are only distantly related.

  9. 14:26. Done all correct on paper but then made a typo on entering online, so no prize for me. All pretty straightforward and good fun, but I failed to parse PASCAL and TOTALLY, so thanks for the explanation. COD to INOCULATE.
  10. 19:23. I found this fairly gentle for a Saturday although 1dn was entered with no understanding of how the wordplay was indicating that my rascal should be changed to a Pascal. I’m grateful for the explanation of that clever clue. WOD definitely 14ac.
  11. I see my time was on the slow side (23.58) which was probably in part because I’ve had a couple of completely avoidable typos lately so have been extra careful. It won’t last.

    The only thing I remember about this one is thinking that a POLECAT and a skunk are two quite different things, at least in our part of the US (NY). Our younger daughter always aptly called them “stunks”. And there was one occasion when my husband and son-in-law were doing manly things outside with the barbecue while my daughter and I were inside getting lunch, when a skunk came in range and the men started trying to scare it off and the women inside the house were frantically signalling – for goodness sake STOP!

  12. 11:50. I was a bit puzzled by POLECAT for skunk but it’s in Collins and ODO as a North American usage.
  13. 42 mins with an amputated fat rascal for breakfast. Liked this device by the setter , which we haven’t seen before. It was LOI, causing several minutes delay.

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