Posted by Pierre on February 10th, 2013
Poins is a regular in the IoS slot, and as usual this was a generally pleasing and not too fiendish puzzle; but I do have a few niggles and am interested to hear what other solvers thought of it.
My main difficulty was with 25ac. I confidently entered UNION FLAG on my first trawl through the clues, and of course this completely knackered me in the SW corner until I finally realised that it was UNION JACK. My criticism is that both these answers are possible, so if Poins wanted to point unambiguously towards the latter, then perhaps another surface might have been appropriate. There were a couple of other fairly remote synonyms that didn’t make life easy either. But some well-constructed and nicely misleading clues as well.
cd cryptic definition
dd double definition
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x] letter(s) removed
definitions are underlined
1 One propping up the bar with old pals got tipsy
This was my CoD for its clever story-telling surface. (O PALS GOT)* with ‘tipsy’ as the anagrind.
5 Counsel‘s weakness of character evident after today
‘Counsel’ could be a noun or a verb, but the wordplay makes it perfectly clear: it’s a charade of AD for Anno Domini and VICE.
10 Cooks finally run out of seafood and eggs
A charade of S for the last letter of cookS and P[R]AWN. Most commonly heard in FROG SPAWN, which we’ll be seeing before too long.
11 Had a strong desire to hold fellow to account for having a miserable expression
An insertion of F and AC in LONGED.
12 Detest weird toe mania going round Belgium
Such a strange surface reading that it pretty much screamed out anagram: it’s (TOE MANIA B)* with ‘weird’ as the anagrind.
13 Girl taking in Mozart’s earliest opera
An insertion of M for the first letter of ‘Mozart’ in NORA. It’s actually an opera by Bellini, of course.
14 Animal eating bit of straw from a dish
I wasn’t completely head over heels in love with this. MOUSSE for ‘a dish’? Well, it’s definition by example, I suppose. Whatever, it’s S for ‘a bit of straw’ in MOUSE for ‘animal’.
15 Short note about decomposed rat discovered in waste disposal unit
An insertion of (RAT)* in LINE.
18 It’s hot information, regarded as scandalous, involving a leading performer
Again, ‘it’s hot’ for MUSTARD? An insertion of STAR in MUD for ‘information regarded as scandalous’, as in ‘mud-slinging’.
20 Not likely to fail in attempt against the French
A charade of STAB for ‘attempt’ and LE for one of the words for ‘the’ in French.
22 Side from the East touring Malta in March
M for ‘Malta’ in an envelope of PART reversed.
24 Curt gets second best position in American sport
I suppose US solvers have to put up with silly mid-off, long leg, third man and so on, so Brits will have had to suffer with this one, which is referring to a position in baseball (I think). A charade of SHORT, S for ‘second’ and TOP for ‘best’.
25 A standard upheld by Poles
A cd. As I said in my preamble, I think there are two equally valid answers to this clue.
26 Stop legal action to arrest Earl
An insertion of E for ‘Earl’ in CASE.
27 Try to block extremely serious cuts
It’s ‘try’ in the legal sense; Poins is asking you to insert HEAR into SS for the ‘extreme’ or outside letters of SeriouS.
28 Existing for the least amount of time as a celebration of cheese
A whimsical way of describing what lovers of brie might do. I think on reflection I quite like this.
1 Perhaps Hertz van, lacking traction ultimately, overturned after a blast of wind
Nice misdirection and another good surface reading. Hertz is of course the car and van hire company; but this is referring to the German physicist and Nobel Prize winner GUSTAV HERTZ. A reversal of VA[N] after GUST.
2 An American incorporating a company emblem which is similar
An insertion of A LOGO in AN US.
3 It’s used to make a point by a writer keen to back Descartes
A charade of PENCIL for ‘a writer’, SHARP for ‘keen’ and ENER, a reversal of RENÉ Descartes. Cogito ergo sum; or a drunken fart if you’re into Monty Python.
4 Manage to retain ferocious outside left
An insertion of L in SAVAGE
6 The trial fee incited riots
(TRIAL FEE INCITED)* with ‘riots’ as the anagrind. ‘The’ is the (only) definite article in English, a source of much joy to learners of our language. Until they get on to the harder bits.
7 Run into a dog near the centre of Altrincham
A charade of IN for the central letters of AltrINcham and CUR.
8 Made beloved stop collecting expensive delftware finally
An insertion of DEAR and E for the last letter of ‘delftware’ in END.
9 A French dance said to be amazing
UN, one of the French words for ‘a’, followed by REAL, a homophone of ‘reel’ for ‘dance’.
16 Embarrassed by harsh command given to troops
ILL AT EASE
‘Harsh’ for ‘ill’? Then it’s AT EASE for the command.
17 They’re enthusiastic in a game set up among friends
Maybe it’s just me this morning, but ‘they’re enthusiastic’ as a definition of AMATEURS is pretty loose, imho. It’s an insertion of RU (Rugby Union, or ‘game’) reversed in A MATES.
19 Brought back head of languages to help over manuscript of poor quality
A reversal of L and an insertion of MS in AID.
20 Game fish about to return
A charade of SNOOK for the fish and ER for a reversal of RE for ‘about’.
21 Optimistic over getting Ecstasy in club
A charade of UP for ‘over’ (‘the game is up’) followed by an insertion of E in BAT. Good surface; tough clue.
23 Girl having a large dessert
A final charade of A, L and ICE.
Many thanks to Poins for the puzzle.