Times Saturday 26706 – April 22, 2017. Simply elegant.

Posted on Categories Weekend Cryptic
Lots of delightful cluing this week. Great breadth of answers, geographic, culinary, classical, arts and more. Some clever single and double nested answers, and some nice misdirection. Even the dreaded fauna item was something familiar even to me. One oddity – as usual, I did the puzzle on paper and then tried to submit it to check the answers before doing the blog. But no … the grid was only 14 columns wide! I tried both Chrome and Firefox: same problem. Luckily Microsoft Edge was OK. Did anyone else encounter this I wonder?

Technology aside I found it harder than the last few weeks, struggling for some time with gaps in the NW, SW and South Central. Thanks to the setter. Looking at the leaderboard, I see that as I prepare to post, the 100th best time was 14 minutes, just below normal for a Saturday – so it does look like others found it a little easier than the average.

Clues are reproduced in blue, with the definition underlined. Anagram indicators are bolded and italicised. Then there’s the answer IN BOLD, followed by the parsing of the wordplay. (ABC)* means ‘anagram of ABC’, {deletions are in curly brackets}.

1. Unimportant item gazed upon, sin recalled in it (10)
IRRELEVANT: NAVEL [item gazed upon(!)] ERR [sin] all backwards [“recalled”] inside IT.

Lovely clue. Navel gazing indeed! I could see only one possible answer, but only saw how it worked after I peeled the “IT” off and looked at the rest.

7. Zero European capital lacking in Russian city (4)
OMSK: O [zero] M{in}SK [MINSK, capital of Belarus, lacking “in”]. Omsk is somewhere in Siberia.

A nicely deceptive clue I thought – my first assumption was that something would be lacking “E” = “European capital”. The answer jumped out as soon as I had the crossing letters.

9. One having fled prison, Alcatraz finally consumed by raging fire that’s hot! (8)
JALFREZI: JA{i}L [“1” having fled JAIL=”prison”] then Z [Alcatraz finally] “consumed by” (FIRE*).

DNK the word, which made it hard without helpers – or even with helpers, but JALFZERI didn’t look plausible. My first thought was JALAPENO, only discouraged by its total lack of fit with the word play! Is this cuisine, or at least the name, specific to Britain?

10. Quite fair (6)

11. Small bird or seal you might catch (6)
CYGNET: baby swan (so, a small bird), sounds like SIGNET. Strangely, looking for something starting with S for small plus the crossing Y gave me the answer.

13. Capsize in open vessel (8)

14. Extremely tasty, a rich baked confectionsuch as this? (8,4)
BIRTHDAY CAKE: (T{ast}Y A RICH BAKED*). More misdirection – how can the anagram indicator be anything other than “baked”??

17. Looker securing opening in faculty for the record confined to history? (7-5)
SEVENTY EIGHT: SIGHT [faculty] around EYE [looker] around VENT [opening]. Another nice disguise – “obviously” there should be an “F” (opening in faculty) somewhere in the answer.

For those too young to remember, a 78 was a version of phonograph record, 10 inches in diameter, which rotated at 78rpm. No longer produced, hence, a form of record “confined to history”. Cunning definition!

20. Cherry-bound paper needed (8)
REQUIRED: QUIRE [paper] in RED [cherry].

21. Country straddling a wide lake (6)
MALAWI: MALI [country] around A W{ide}. Cute to use the lake rather than the country as a definition.

22. Famous Sevillian fruit, orange, not half round! (6)
FIGARO: FIG [fruit] then ORA{nge} backwards. He was of course the Barber of Seville in the Rossini opera.

23. Don Corleone initially in film hampered by siren? (8)
LECTURER: C{orleone} in ET [the eternal crossword film], all in LURER [siren]. Another doubly nested clue, like 17ac!

25. Bet poet needs no introduction (4)
ANTE: {d}ANTE was the poet. ANTE (Latin: before) is your initial stake on a poker hand.

26. Graduate in his anger unfortunately gives severe scolding (10)

2. In the soup, my dear, nine of the ingredients pre-blended (5-3)
READY MIX: (MY DEAR*) then IX=nine.

3. Spirit soared briefly upward (3)
ELF: FLE{w} backwards.

4. Once having worry, leave (5)
EXEAT: EX [once] EAT [worry]. Leave of absence from school etc.

5. What can be stretched to cut some maintenance (7)
ALIMONY: LIMO [can be stretched!] inside ANY [some].

6. One leaning over a river ending in Liffey in Irish county (9)
TIPPERARY: TIPPER [one leaning] A R{iver} {life}Y.

7. Past one’s peak then? (4,3,4)
OVER THE HILL: what should I call this – a somewhat punny cryptic definition? Whatever, it made me smile.

8. God put wind beneath it (6)
SATURN: SA [“it” still = sex appeal in crosswords] TURN [wind].

12. Nothing in books covered by practice of American space exploration? (3,1,7)
NOT A SAUSAGE: OT [books] covered by NASA [American space exploration] USAGE [practice].

15. Bird part assimilating small fish (5,4)
DOVER SOLE: DOVE [bird] ROLE [part] assimilating S{mall}.

16. Food: time to eat Eastern dish (4,4)
CHOW MEIN: CHOW [food] MIN [time] eating E{astern}.

18. A round lump primarily roughlike this? (7)
NODULAR: (A ROUND L{ump} *).

19. Very many for example taken in by celebrity (6)
LEGION: EG [for example] in LION [celebrity].

21. Coffee, second brew (5)
MOCHA: MO [second] CHA [brew].

24. Some drug habit — yuk! (3)
UGH: hidden.

18 comments on “Times Saturday 26706 – April 22, 2017. Simply elegant.”

  1. I can’t remember what took me so long, other than DNK JALFREZI, where, once I’d narrowed it down to rezi/zeri, I dithered, looked it up, then neglected to correct it! So a DNF, and richly deserved. I’m glad I’d come across NOT A SAUSAGE recently somewhere, or it might have taken me a while, especially as ‘American space exploration’ is an odd way to refer to the government agency that conducts it. Lots of good clues otherwise, with some nice surfaces like 10ac and 13ac, and the Russian-doll clues.
    1. I think you have to read the whole phrase ‘practice of American space exploration’ as NASA USAGE.
  2. Or at least wasn’t with this puzzle, solved in just under the half hour. Chicken Jalfrezi is on the shelves of all major supermarkets and the menus of most Indian restaurants and was a write-in despite the clever clueing. COD SEVENTY-EIGHT if only for old times sake. I can recall my Dad’s old collection of Al Bowlly and Big Band music, with my Mum having gone for Bing. They both liked Al Jolson. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you brnchn and setter.

    Edited at 2017-04-29 06:34 am (UTC)

  3. I found this on the harder side of average. My local Indian will do a Jalfrezi as hot or unhot as you wish. Still hotter than most English food of course ..

    For reference, your 14-column problem is because of a browser setting, Brian. The browser is zooming the page beyond 100% so cannot get it all in. I assume it is just a coincidence that both Firefox and Chrome were affected, unless you have altered a setting in Windows itself.. on Firefox, adjust via view menu item

      1. OK, and you checked the Windows setting too?
        When you do track down the problem it would be useful to know what it was, for future reference. Clearly it is in your pc somewhere since others are working fine..
  4. I really enjoyed this. It took me a while but I managed to finish it. LOI was the unknown Omsk but I felt it had to be right. I wrote in Nodular without parsing and when I went back to check it I had Nodule (a round lump) plus R (primarily Rough) which gave me Noduler, which did not look right but I thought could be correct. No dictionary has this.
    I knew Jalfrezi from many Indian restaurant menus. Lots to like – Not a sausage and Seventy-Eight in particular. David
  5. Can’t remember many details about this one, but I finished all correct in 49:41. I liked SEVENTY EIGHT and EAR BASHING. Thanks setter and Bruce.
  6. Excellent puzzle – really enjoyed 1ac and 17ac. And a pangram to boot, with the help of ‘Jalfrezi’. WC
  7. I particularly liked that there were no partial words without clear direction, like remove the In from MINSK. This was a crossword more like those of old!
    thanks to setter and blogger
  8. 17:19, but I somehow managed to write SYGNET, despite knowing perfectly well how to spell CYGNET.

    Edited at 2017-04-29 04:31 pm (UTC)

  9. Enjoyable puzzle. A quickish solve for me for a Saturday in 46mins 31secs. FOI 14ac. Held up a little at the end by LOI 23ac, 18dn and the wordy 17ac with its neat definition. COD 22ac.
  10. Turns out to be something to do with my new UHD monitor. Works fine on laptop screen. Bah humbug.
  11. Thanks again for the terrifically well-written blog and comments, which are helping me no end to finish these puzzles within a not-entirely-humiliating length of time.

    However, I am still being thrown by some of the tremendously old-fashioned abbreviations that persist in these crosswords. I very much relate to Brian’s comment about SA “still” meaning IT, & vice-versa (8 down)? (I’m suspicious – was that ever really in common parlance?) Or the almost-weekly “OR” for “men”. Is it just me who thinks there’s a bit too much reliance on these antediluvian references?

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