Times 28623 – making out and crawling about.

A jolly romp of a puzzle this Wednesday, which I solved in 16 minutes with the top left corner last to be completed. Four straightforward anagrams and a barely hidden word gave me an easy start, and oddly enough, 1d and 1a were my last to be put in. Your feedback is welcomed on 19a.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Golf club‘s tip wet (7)
NIBLICK – NIB = tip, LICK = wet, as a verb. Even as a golfer, I had to dredge my memory for this name for an old type of golf club which was used for getting the ball out of a hole or bad spot.
5 A writer, some soldiers, and so on (7)
SASSOON – S.A.S. = some soldiers, and SO ON.
9 A small amount of cremating bungled (9)
CENTIGRAM – (CREMATING)*. Ten milligrams, as you would expect.
10 Style of note female swapped with Charlie (5)
ECLAT – E FLAT being a musical note, replace F by C.
11 Large creature to return carrying? Cry audibly (8,5)
HUMPBACK WHALE – to HUMP BACK = to return carrying, WHALE sounds like WAIL.
13 Kill American, then relax close to balcony — that’s cold (3,5)
ICE LOLLY – ICE = U.S. slang for kill, LOLL to relax, Y the end of balcony.
15 Turns down occasionally yummy Asian food (3,3)
DIM SUM -DIMS = turns down, e.g. a light; y U M M y.
17 China object to a pet exercising (6)
19 Crawling on this is a result of poor judgement? (3,5)
ALL FOURS – I’ve underlined the whole of this clue, because I think it must be a cryptic definition of some sort, but neither I nor Mrs P can see why crawling on all fours can be this. How else can you crawl, but on all fours? Explanations below, please.
22 Novel liquid’s cool and blue (9,4)
WATERSHIP DOWN – WATER’S (liquid’s) HIP (cool) DOWN (blue).
25 Dog ignoring bone initially getting good score on course (5)
EAGLE – a BEAGLE dog loses its initial B from bone. A score of 2 under par on one hole, like hen’s teeth in my case.
26 Shopkeeper, say, and master criminal (9)
27 Affair of cat eating a box of ingredients (7)
LIAISON – LION (cat) has A I[ngredient]S inserted.
28 Spooner’s dratted pig is shamefaced (7)
HANGDOG – Rev. Spooner would have said DANG HOG. Well, his American cousin might have said DANG, I doubt he would have done so.
1 Arrest New York basketball player for speaking (4)
NICK – I know very little about basketball, but I did know the New York team is called the KNICKS, which sounds like nicks. Something to do with knickerbockers and Dutch settlers, I believe.
2 Article on short page supporting Bob’s first Wailer? (7)
BANSHEE – B (Bob) AN (article) SHEE[T]  = short page.
3 When in France, me and a lady picked up a turn of phrase (5)
IDIOM – MOI (me in French) DI (a lady) “picked up” i.e. reversed.
4 Fork out to cover party game (8)
KORFBALL – (FORK)* then BALL = party. It’s a kind of netball / basketball for mixed teams.
5 Fool to be awful when entertaining His Majesty (6)
SHMUCK – SUCK = be awful, with HM inserted. From Yiddish, I see, literally meaning penis. So use with care.
6 Not straight with southern part of London over smell (9)
SKEWWHIFF -S (southern) KEW (part of London) WHIFF (smell). I wrote it in and it looked odd with two Ws together, but it is so spelt; is there another word in English with two Ws consecutively?
7 City uncovered more lists (7)
ORLEANS – OR = more “uncovered”, [M]OR[E]; LEANS = lists. Pleasant city near Paris.
8 Lowest part of engine thermostat (10)
NETHERMOST – here it is, hidden as above.
12 A&E, say, with request to lab perhaps that’s unnecessary? (5,5)
FIFTH WHEEL – musically, from A to E is a fifth interval; W (with) HEEL instruction given to your labrador retriever.
14 Old and stern? Not so much, and not smelly! (9)
ODOURLESS – O (old) DOUR (stern) LESS (not so much).
16 Upset friends a little, being careless (8)
SLAPDASH – PALS reversed (upset) then DASH = a little.
18 Island worker on one other island briefly (7)
ANTIGUA – ANT (worker) I (one) GUA[M] = other island briefly.
20 Mundane novel is anonymous (7)
21 Outlaw seen outside shack somewhere in Asia (6)
BHUTAN – BAN (outlaw) with HUT inserted. I’ve been to a lot of countries but not Bhutan, and it’s not high on my bucket list at this point. They have a nice dragon on their flag, though.
23 Poem about old theatre (5)
ODEON –  ODE (poem)  ON (about).
24 Make out small drink containing eggs (4)
SNOG – S for small, NOG as in egg nog. When I practised snogging in my youth (happy memories) I’d never have called it “making out”, I suspect this is an Americanism.

110 comments on “Times 28623 – making out and crawling about.”

  1. Re SKEWWHIFF: I think powwow, glowworm and arrowwort might fit the consecutive w criterion.

  2. 16:43
    I was surprised to see 1d; I couldn’t have told you the name of the NY basketball team. NHO KORFBALL; tried KICKBALL but quickly dropped it. Biffed the whale from the B and E, parsed post-submission. Biffed FIFTH WHEEL, never parsed it. And I had no idea what was going on with ALL FOURS.

  3. Felt good about getting KORFBALL, SHMUCK and SKEWWHIFF, but didn’t check closely and I had mistyped TRADESMAN, so boo.
    I think ALL FOURS refers to someone getting poor scores from judges across the board (4 out of 10).

  4. More puzzles recently seem to have a US flavour – make out and the Knicks today. I find it a little disorienting.
    I’ve never seen Schmuck without a ‘c’. And someone should tell the editor that the Knicks are not really a basketball team: they’re five guys who from time to time wander aimlessly around on a b-ball court.

    1. Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet, and there’s room for variation in transliteration. The YIVO transliteration, which I suppose is authoritative, has sh- not sch, also -k not -ck, so shmuk, shtik. But words like ‘schmuck’ and ‘shtick’ have become English words, and rules of transliteration become irrelevant: ‘shmuk’ and ‘shtik’ look (are) wrong.

    2. To be fair to the Knicks, they had a pretty good season this time around, only losing in the play-offs to a well-coached Heat squad that could win it all. But yes, your comment is true for most of the last 25 years.

    3. I don’t find the americanisms disorienting, but I do find them distasteful, annoying, unnecessary and unwelcome. Strangely, I don’t find the use of French or German words annoying in the least.

  5. 35 minutes today. NHO KORFBALL and have to admit googling it before finishing to make sure. FIFTH WHEEL an expression Ive never heard of was my LOI and only because I finally parsed it. NICK was a guess but the only possibility really – so the NY team are the knicks with a k, thanks blogger. The rest was straightforward though, in my case, slow 😉
    Thanks as always to the setter and blogger

    1. A fifth wheel coupling is the bit that an articulated trailer attaches to on the tractor unit. Not sure how that gets me to ‘unnecessary’.

  6. Re 19a. “All fours” is a legal reference.

    If two legal cases are identical they are said to be on “all fours”. This means that a judgement in a similar case should be applied in this case ( ie “there’s a precedent”

    So a poor judgement on a previous case could find one beaten down and crawling on all fours .

    My best guess!

  7. Also finished in the top left, 1D last in. Mostly as I saw the clue to Watership Down first, and it was a write-in. Worked out from there.
    Befuddled by all fours, but either suggestion above sounds reasonable. Prefer George’s as 1. a trace of humour, and 2. the legal one doesn’t require poor judgement, just any judgement, and it’s a stretch to get to crawling after a poor judgement.
    Otherwise no problems – had heard of KORFBALL, but thought it was tennis with paddleboards – that’s pickleball, google tells me. Don’t mind the occasional Americanism, so quite liked this, good fun.

    1. I think the earlier plaint was that American usages seem more common than perhaps they ought. Up to a point, Lord Copper, and I sympathise. I would hate The Times to lose its particular British style, but equally, if it indicates that our cousins enjoy it, perhaps we Brits should take it as a compliment.

  8. 27 minutes but I was delayed by having an incorrect answer at 4dn which allowing for my never having heard of KORFBALL had seemed perfectly reasonable and I had no reason to question it until two of the checkers it gave me prevented me coming up with two intersecting answers, both words that I wasn’t overly familiar with, NIBLICK and CENTRIGRAM. What was my answer at 4dn? Why, FOOTBALL, parsed as FOOT (fork out – as in foot the bill ) BALL (party).

    1. I also had FOOTBALL, thinking along the same lines/. Slowed up my NW corner, which several people found challenging. 25m30s

      1. Me too. And I didn’t actually write in KORFBALL as I didn’t believe in it.

  9. 21 minutes for me (which was ⅔ of the time it took me to finish the “quick” cryptic). Never hears of KORFBALL but otherwise straightforward.

  10. I was grateful to Pip (as ever) for parsing LIAISON and FIFTH WHEEL (I understood the “wheel” part of it well enough !) and I’m not surprised that even he struggled with ALL FOURS which is an awful clue.

    LOI ECLAT (once I eventually saw NETHERMOST !)
    TIME 8:13

    The SNITCH seems quite low to me at a mere 73 (I’m 3rd on the leaderboard at this early stage) and I note that, of the 41 solutions so far, 7 (17%) have an error. I’m sure this is a tougher puzzle than is indicated by the data.

  11. Annoyingly it took me 4+ minutes to get anything (finally untangled CENTIGRAM) and another 5+ at the end to get FIFTH WHEEL, had no idea what the A&E was about. Subtracting those wasted minutes from my 26.09 would have given me a very smart time but I suppose it doesn’t work like that. NHO KORFBALL (had korfbash at first which I think sounds better) and agree re ALL FOURS, if any of the noble attempts at an explanation above are correct it’s one hell of a stretch. As for NIBLICK, I am a fan of the old golf club names. In the pre-war years my father was in amateur theatre and musicals often required some general background chatter from the cast. Rather than repeating ‘rhubarb’ the company opted for ‘mashie niblick in the bunker follow through and keep your head down.’ What’s not to like?

    1. Mate of mine in Melbourne got a gig as an extra in a cafe for one of the soaps, might have even been Neighbours. Was told very specifically not to say rhubarb as it would come through as such; had to have actual real conversations prepared, even being only the background rhubarb.

      1. That’s probably what motivated dad and his pals! I just like the bounce and rhythm of the mashie niblick nonsense but suspect it came more naturally to youngsters in the 1930s than it would today. Also they weren’t in a TV studio where every utterance is picked up…

    2. Still good advice if you’re in a bunker! (Though maybe not with a mashie niblick?)

      1. I think those rules of ballplay are probably timeless, whatever club you have!

    3. My first set of golf clubs consisted of a spoon, a mashie, a niblick, wedge and hickory-shafted putter (second-hand ladies’ clubs, as I was, and still am, squat), which was all that Great Aunt Mary’s leather-cornered canvas bag would allow. I was told by a wee, wise, wiry Scotsman that, if I couldn’t get round in under 100 with the latter four only, I should take up bridge.
      How to identify a niblick:
      When in bother try every club in turn. Mark the one that works with a piece of chalk, for that is the niblick !
      Which book did that come from?

        1. Wasn’t it an ever-so-slightly lofted wood, faced with a plate of metal?
          The book may have been The Art of Coarse Golf.
          Oh, and forty years later I took the Scotsman’s advice.

  12. Shaky start – FOI ICE LOLLY – then the bottom half felt quite easy, and the real head-scratching started. Took me quite a while to get some purchase with SKEWWHIFF and BANSHEE, then a tough but enjoyable solve.
    NIBLICK – knew it was a word, had no idea of the definition
    NY Knicks not entirely unknown to me – but really had to dredge that one up
    Unlike our blogger, I thought NETHERMOST rather well-hidden
    KORFBALL seemed a wildly improbable word, but I trusted the cryptic…
    LOI FIFTH, alpha-trawled without the musical insight

    Somewhat surprised to see such a low SNITCH rating – but also a big green tick in 36:58. Thanks P and setter

  13. NHO of KORFBALL, but I got it!
    SKEWWHIFF has come up here before—else how would I have known it?
    For ALL FOURS, the legal term would seem the best explanation if it did not also seem a terribly specialized bit of vocabulary.

  14. 9:10. A fair amount of my time was spent on my LOI, FIFTH WHEEL. I had WHEEL, and I guessed A&E wasn’t referring to a hospital ward, but the only other thing I could come up with was that they were vowels. I then tried alpha trawls of the first, the third and the fifth (which now seems ironic!) letters, the last of which yielded fifth or sixth. I had a vague idea that FIFTH was something musical, and also figured a FIFTH WHEEL made a better expression for something unnecessary than a sixth one, enabling me to finally make it over the line.

  15. 30:40, pretty much best ever for me. Great when one seems to have an affinity with the setter (for a change!) Also didn’t understand parsing of ALL FOURS or FIFTH WHEEL.

    COD BANSHEE for its excellent surface read

    Thank you piquet for the blog.

  16. Flew through this, finishing in 9’09”.

    FIFTH WHEEL LOI, nho the phrase, but enjoyed the parsing.
    SLAPDASH appeared in another newspaper yesterday.
    Like others, bemused by ALL FOURS.
    Had heard of KORFBALL, with no idea what it is.

    Thanks Pip and setter.

  17. 7:43, with a bit of a delay at the end figuring out what ‘A&E’ was referring to.
    I still don’t understand ALL FOURS. The legal explanation is ingenious but too specialised, and doesn’t account for the word ‘poor’. George’s explanation seems more likely but the clue’s very weak if it’s right.

  18. You will with the Banshee chat,
    And will find her good at heart, …
    (A Lover’s Quarrel among the Fairies, Yeats)
    I might have done some Sassoon, but all too depressing.

    20 mins mid-brekker. I liked it except All Fours. Each morning I do: Austrian Wordl, Nerdle, Sweardle and Wordle. All fours is a very acceptable score.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  19. 25 minutes. Entered the NHO KORFBALL from crossers and wordplay, didn’t know where the FIFTH came from in FIFTH WHEEL and bunged in ALL FOURS as my LOI, not being able to think of anything else and wondering if it had something to do with being drunk and unable to stand upright; probably not. Surprised to see no pink squares.

  20. Bang on 40 mins with LOI the FIFTH part of the WHEEL after the inevitable alphabet Trawl. One could argue that a fifth wheel could be very necessary if you had a blow out on a motorway. Many cars are (were?) supplied with small (fifth) spare wheels for emergencies.

    Some odd vocabulary today, SHMUCK (I also would spell it with a C) SKEWWHIFF, and SNOG and the unknown KORFBALL, entered by following the cryptic to the letter. ALL FOURS never understood. I got the impression that the setter might be an American golf player! Enjoyable though. I liked the two longies, SKEWWHIFF and HANGDOG.

    Thanks pip and setter

    1. Good point regarding the spare wheel. I’m glad I didn’t think of that and go for sixth wheel!

  21. Very happy to have a rare complete on the biggie having failed by 2 on the quickie first.

    I heard someone recently playing gooseberry describe themselves as the ‘third wheel’ which helped me get the more logical FIFTH WHEEL which would have been a NHO otherwise and, it being a musical clue, of course I needed the blog to parse.

    Lots to like here for me in what I assume will be seen as an easy puzzle by experts, but favourites are SKEWWHIFF, ICE LOLLY and KORFBALL – which I played once only at The ‘Roses’ weekend when York and Lancaster universities face off over multiple sports across 3 days. Therefore an even rarer day when I know a word that many others on the blog don’t! (Feeling smug. Sorry)

    Thanks setter and Piquet.

    1. I was going to say that I thought it was THIRD WHEEL. It’s equally logical from a literal point of view (bicycle rather than car) and the situation is more likely to arise! It doesn’t seem to be in any of the dictionaries though.

      1. I’ve certainly heard “third wheel” (a phenomenon for which I would probably use the term “gooseberry” anyway) more than “fifth wheel”, but the ways of lexicographers are msysterious.

      2. I thought the same – but then (over)thought that tricycles exist but 5-wheels vehicles probably don’t (cue – pics in mind of 5-wheeled souped-up tuktuks!)

    2. Three vs five: I’ve often heard third wheel refering to a pal who wants to tag along when you want to be alone with your date. I’ve rarely heard fifth wheel on occasion, and then refering to a more general over-engineered situation.

  22. There is a card game called All Fours, but that doesn’t seem to help.

  23. 25 minutes or so. NIBLICK was unknown and entered with no real confidence, and I agree with glh above that ALL FOURS is referring to scores of 4/10 across the board. Hesitated over FIFTH WHEEL as for some reason I tried to go from E to A and thought “But that’s not a fifth..” Have heard of KORFBALL without knowing what it is, and instinctively I tried to spell SHMUCK with a C after the S before realising it wouldn’t fit and wouldn’t parse.

    A nice puzzle – thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Bhutan
    LOI Niblick
    COD Orleans

  24. 26.39. Musical terminology and eastern food would seem to identify the setter. Not impressed with ‘all fours’ or shopkeeper for tradesman. Philistine in the Grauniad is much more fun.

  25. A little over 20mins, so fairly quick by my standards. Some odd-looking words but thankfully no pink squares.
    What do you do if the lights are too bright in a Chinese restaurant?
    Dim some!
    Thank you. I’m here all week.

  26. ALL FOURS I guessed might be something to do with Judgement Day, not being much of a biblical scholar. The poor scores explanation did occur to me, but as others have said scores are not necessarily out of ten or some other number much higher than four.

  27. Found this tricky in parts but still came home in just under 10 minutes which is a good benchmark for me.

    I wonder whether I was slower than I could have been as I struggled with the CENTIGRAM anagram and gave up on it originally and then seemed to take a slightly slow route round the top half of the grid and only finding some of the easier clues in the bottom half after about five/six minutes had already gone.

    Does anyone have any particular tactics re speedsolving in how they approach the grid?

    Obviously spoiled it with a silly typo with ALAPDASH but haven’t had as many of those recently so reckon I’m improving!

    Thanks p and setter

    1. On speed solving: I’ve always thought learning to type without looking at the keyboard so that I’d always be looking at the grid would help. Unfortunately, I’ve never taken my own advice!

    2. I solve the clues in order at first, but my immediate objective is to have a go at every clue in the puzzle as quickly as possible, so I never allow myself to get stuck on a single clue on the first pass. If I don’t get the answer quickly I move on. Once you’ve done this with all the clues you will (hopefully) have lots of checking letters from easy clues which will make others much easier to solve.
      This happened today with 9ac: I saw that it was an anagram but couldn’t immediately see what the answer was so I left it. The next time I looked at it I had some checking letters and the answer was obvious.
      (I can also touch type!)

      1. That strikes me as a very good tactic, for one other reason: your subconscious seems to solve clues while your are doing other things – so the harder ones you didn’t get on first read are churning away and might pop out unbidden. Does that ever happen? While solving once clue the answer of another from a couple of minutes ago presents itself out of nowhere?

        1. Yes I think this happens. I sometimes find that I can put an answer in from checking letters without referring back to the clue again and without consciously remembering what the definition was.

      2. Thanks both.

        Interesting advice re going through every clue quickly first. I’ve never done that as I thought that I’m better working round checked letters to start with but I can see that it will guarantee that you will pick any gimmes up immediately.

        Your times show that it can be an effective technique too!

        I think i’m too much of an old dog to learn to touch type now

    3. I tend to start with the top across clues and the leftmost down clues as they give starting letters for others. Whenever I solve a clue I’ll then work off the checkers that gives me, concentrating first on those with starting letters and then those with the least common letters.
      If any of this yields nothing I revert to solving in order.

    4. To add to what others have said:

      Learn to touch type. It’s not difficult and you probably already know where nearly a quarter of the alphabet is anyway (QWERTY). There are numerous online tutorials, some incorporating games to make the process more fun. (Should you get hooked, I can thoroughly recommend this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Typing_of_the_Dead). How fast do you need to be? I reckon that if you can fill in a 15×15 grid with answers that you already know in less than 45s then you’re up to speed. If it’s taking 3 or 4 minutes to do that then that is a massive amount of time you’re losing simply through slow typing.

      Learn how to navigate the grid efficiently. Don’t use the mouse, use the arrow keys instead (you waste time going between the mouse and the keyboard). Learn which key(s) allow(s) you to move from one light to the next (usually the return key). Make use of the fact that you can “wrap” around the grid, i.e. going right from the last cell in a row takes you to the first cell in that row, going down from the last cell in a column takes you to the first cell in that column, etc. Make use of the fact that black squares are skipped over in your navigation so, say, going along a row that is punctuated by black squares is faster than going along a row that is all (or predominantly) white squares.

      A couple of other things apart from those online-specific solving tips. I can’t say that I’ve ever prioritised reading every clue as soon as possible (though I’m now intrigued by the thought) but certainly don’t spend much time on a clue if you don’t quickly see a way into it. The next time you come back to it, your brain may have done some whirring away in the background plus you may have some checking letters. Prioritise clues for long answers, in particular those that will give you a large number of initial letters for intersecting answers. Long answers are also worth going at first because their enumerations can sometimes provide extra information that you don’t get with shorter answers (e.g. the second word of a (4,1,4,4) enumeration is in all likelihood A). If you put in an answer that gives you an “odd” checking letter (e.g. J, Q, Z, etc) then immediately look at the clue for the intersecting light.

      I could go on, but these seem like the main points that have served me best.

      1. Many thanks all – really appreciate you taking the time to set out your thoughts

        Love the idea of The Typing of the Dead!

      2. I feel like I’m teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here but the reason I make sure I’ve looked at every clue first is that I figure any answer might give you a checking letter that unlocks another clue and I don’t want to miss any gimmes.
        I’ve never prioritised long answers, on the basis I’ll get to them all quickly enough anyway! I probably should take a look at them first for the reasons you mention, and because they are often among the easiest to solve: sometimes the enumeration makes them very obvious. I will try it.

        1. I’m an old-school journo, I started out on typewriters and touch-typing was regarded as somewhat effete. Not getting your tie stuck in the roller after a long lunch was a better benchmark of competence. Finishing in a fast time is all very well, but I think the sheer delight of being able to think your way through the various traps and obscurities the setters bowl up every day takes precedence and I prefer being able to appreciate the subtleties of the clueing over a frenetic dash to the finish line. Having said that, I get peed off when I get stuck on a ‘doh!’ clue and lose valuable time…

      3. In the first place, I completely agree that the ability to tuoch-type is important. Given how ubiquitous keyboards are, and how much typing most of us do, it really is a no-brainer. When I learnt, using online tutor software, it took me less than a week at 1hr/day to touch-type faster than my two-finger prodding could do.

        In the second place, I have felt for a long time that although not particularly interested in outright speed myself, for those that are there is room for an article about how to do crosswords more quickly. What do others think? Should we add one to the TfTT arsenal? In a world where the same chap wins the Xword championship almost every year, maybe it would help us also-rans?

        1. Many years ago – OK, the 1970s – the head of the christian De la Salle Brothers in the UK (who ran my school and several others) visited and gave a speech to the whole school. He said there are three things you should all learn as valuable lifetime skills. One was to drive (duh), one was to read the stock market, and finally learn to touch-type. Quite far-sighted I thought, especially as they were all boys schools and we definitely didn’t at the time see typing as a thing we would ever need to do. Take a letter, Miss Jones!

          I did take the advice, on all three points. And very glad I did.

        2. Deane,
          A pencil !
          I’ve outlined my reasons below.

  28. 12:36. Like Pootle I got stuck on my LOI, FIFTH WHEEL for quite a while before seeing how the wordplay worked. Mystified by ALL FOURS, but I knew KORFBALL as my daughter played it at Uni. UAE is pretty good at it, I believe. Thanks Pip and setter.

  29. 21 mins which is very good for me and close to a PB. Luckily the sporty top left corner came quite quickly and some pretty straightforward anagrams and hiddens elsewhere got me going. Obviously never parsed ALL FOURS, nor DIM SUM for that matter. NHO CENTIGRAM though an obvious anagram and enjoyed NETHERMOST; not too difficult but nicely positioned I thought. Thanks to Piquet and setter.

  30. 19.11, and feeling very lucky not to have pinks. Only after submitting did I remember the NY Knicks, and I still wonder whether they ever refer to one of them as a Knick. My admiration for the FIFTH WHEEL clue soared when I realised how it worked, though isn’t the fifth wheel in anything other than a Reliant Robin the one with the nut behind it? Rather handy for not hitting things.
    Chambers has SKEW-WHIFF, our light doesn’t.
    I’ve just binge watched Wolf Hall, and it seems quite a bit of it involved people on ALL FOURS because they had displeased Henry and needed to confess their perceived poor judgement. Not really perhaps a solution to the conundrum: perhaps the setter was anticipating the result of the rest of us scoring the clue out of ten and being remarkably consistent.

    1. Knick is commonly used to refer to a single member of the Knicks, e.g. “Once a Knick, always a Knick” is sewn on the inside of the team jerseys.

    2. For those who watched Succession, Logan Roy’s ‘game’ of boar on the floor was also an example of forcing people to crawl on all fours. The objective being to find the person who had exhibited poor judgement by betraying him.

    3. Easier to chop their heads off, if they are kneeling… I’ve only read the books, because the TV series apparently couldn’t afford any lighting. But it is not until book 3 that the hero is made to kneel ..

  31. 08:54, and mostly entertaining. Devotees of Half Man Half Biscuit – a recurring motif on this blog – will be familiar with the song Joy In Leeuwarden, a celebratory song about the European korfball championships being awarded to the city (in fact, I note that our resident HMHB correspondent has already updated the relevant forum, fast work). It took me a while to work out why ALL FOURS was correct, before I reached the same conclusion as others – I’m sure it’s meant to suggest, say, the Strictly Come Dancing judges holding up a row of 4s, which is bad, but there are plenty of occasions where scoring 4 is perfectly respectable, good even, so it’s not cut and dried in the way you like a definition to be, even a playfully cryptic one…

  32. 34.49 – just pleased to not have a DNF today, as I’ve been rather SLAPDASH lately

  33. Fair flew through this to begin with – then got stuck in the top right, with my LOI being the hidden NETHERMOST. Palm and forehead collided.

    Otherwise same as everyone else with FIFTH, ALL FOURS etc.


  34. All the bottom half of the grid was completed before I was able to crack the top half, with the exception of FIFTH WHEEL. I had the WHEEL, but the first word eluded me until the end – it not being an expression I’d heard of and furthermore being unable to parse the A&E bit (why do I never get the musical ones???) NIBLICK rang a very faint bell, though I didn’t like ‘lick’ for ‘wet’, and never heard of ‘Knicks’ or KORFBALL, so the 1D, 1A, 4D combination nearly did for me. I would also spell SHMUCK with a second-letter C, but it was obvious. Another who found the hidden very late in the day and took far too long to work out CENTIGRAM. Relieved to find all correct in the end.

  35. 26:11. Usual unknowns and half-remembereds as others. I thought of the legal meaning of ALL FOURS but I couldn’t immediately see it made sense and on further reflection I don’t think it does. The row of 4/10s looks to be the right parsing but it is a bit of a stretch.

  36. I thought my LOI FIFTH WHEEL could be wrong so thanks for the explanation.
    Surprised how many were familiar with NIBLICK but that probably says something about the typical profile of our bloggers. If you didn’t know that one then KORFBALL would have caught out more people I suspect.

    1. I’m pretty sure I’ve mostly encountered NIBLICK in crosswords, so this may not say anything about people here beyond the very obvious!

    2. Anyone who plays golf has probably owned Niblick brand golf shoes at some point.

  37. 19:04, but carelessly entered KORKBALL when mis-assembling the anagrist for fork. Drat! Thanks setter and Pip.

  38. 17 mins, but much time at the end trying to decide between FIFTH and SIXTH, nothing else making any sense. Had been hoping for PB.

  39. I managed to complete this in 38 minutes, but would have been a lot quicker had I not gone astray in the NW corner, with FOOTBALL my first answer for 4dn, for the same reason as jackkt and others. Once I had sorted that out, the rest fell into place. I knew NIBLICK because many years ago I had a card game about golf which must have dated back to the days when golfers wore plus fours, and which featured niblicks, mashies, and no doubt other long forgotten clubs. You were allowed to stymie opponents by getting your own ball between their ball and the hole. I didn’t fully understand the ALL FOURS clue, but prefer the judging out of ten explanation to the legal one, which seems a bit of a stretch.
    LOI – NICK
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  40. Kicking myself for a DNF, because I didn’t write in ‘FIFTH WHEEL’, because I couldn’t begin to parse it. Nine times out of ten I would simply have written it in, because I couldn’t see what else it could be, but I convinced myself it couldn’t be right. I know a fair bit of musical theory and on another day it might have occurred to me that from A to E is a fifth, but my mind was running on different rails; dogs didn’t enter my head either.

    I had no such hesitation about entering ‘ALL FOURS’, even though I couldn’t parse that either. Having read the comments above about the possible parsing, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is just a dismal clue.

  41. 19:06

    Slow start – just ICE LOLLY and WATERSHIP DOWN entered on first pass of acrosses. Picked up speed particularly in the lower half, before picking my way more carefully around the top.

    I initially wanted 12d to be THIRD WHEEL (like a gooseberry when two others are on a date) but ICE LOLLY obvs correct so had to think again.

    No problem with KORFBALL – one year at school saw our gym master try out a new game with his students every other week – this was one of them.


    Interesting discussion on speed-filling above – I can touch-type reasonably well but will try to incorporate some of those suggestions and see what difference it makes.

  42. Is “All Fours” possibly a reference to ice-skating? One would get a poor score from the judges for slipping over onto all fours.

  43. Didn’t cheat (for a change).
    The top was hard and the bottom had a lot of gimmes.
    I did enter NICK for 1d, without a clue of how it worked (apart from nick=arrest), so a BIFD. Nearly wrote NYCK. Am surprised that The Knicks is known by anyone not a basketball buff, and we don’t have a lot of them in the UK. The only US sports things I expect to need are Babe Ruth, Mohamed Ali, The Brickyard, and maybe the Superbowl.
    I didn’t enter KORFBALL for 4d as I simply refused to believe it exists. Was sad that my original FOOTBALL didn’t work.
    Not sure about fifth wheel; there are at least three reasons why fifth wheels are useful; spare tyre, artic trucks, and a gadget used by the motoring press attached to the car under test as (obv) they don’t trust the speedo to give them the actual speed. So they have a light wheel attached to the back bumper which displays an accurate reading. However no problem with it.

    1. I know (or thought I knew) nothing at all about Basketball but out of curiosity I looked at a list of NBA teams and was surprised by how many I knew: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, Raptors, Bulls, Heat, Magic, Lakers. Goodness knows how I acquired this latent knowledge!

  44. Quick today, but I didn’t enjoy it much. All rather 16dn, I thought. The tiresome Americanisms …
    I did know korfball, though I’ve never played it or seen it played.
    Four is either a poor score or a very good one, depending. So 19ac totally lost on me.

  45. The most curious name is the Utah Jazz. The team originated in New Orleans where Jazz as a nickname was totally appropriate. The franchise was transferred to Salt Lake City but for some reason kept the same name, even though it hardly suited the new, strait-laced, conservative, Mormon-based setting!

  46. 20’37” with no real hold-ups. Not keen on ALL FOURS, although it dropped in easily enough as I had all the checkers in place before getting there. My Czech colleagues talked of the FIFTH WHEEL rather than the spare wheel, though I don’t know if that was a direct translation from Czech. They also used it as a colloquialism for anything (or anyone) which or who was unnecessary or not contributing to the situation. ‘Honza’s a bit of a fifth wheel’ would mean that, as a team member, he wasn’t pulling his weight, usually through laziness but sometimes through inability. With that memory and some rudimentary musical knowledge, it fell into place with no delay.

  47. This clumsy luddite’s attempt turned into an utter fiasco, due to my being SLAPDAAH (sic).
    Fifth wheel went in at 25′, at which point I was informed that I was “unlucky, not quite right yet”.
    Given these things are supposed to be so ruddy clever, surely it could have told me slapdaah wasn’t a word.
    However, I am now done with poking at a screen with this silly dibber. After ten minutes of fruitless poking I discovered a printable version* buried under an envelope labelled e-mail (did that wretched paper-clip come up with that inspired bit of iconography).
    Should have gone to Radio Rentals ……
    …… as I did in the early 90s, and, after one evening of algebra and Microsoft Works 3.1 (?), Ladbrokes, Market Hill, Cambridge became the first to have computerised shop accounts with a 100% bugless system. Bugless because I’d done it myself.
    2023 and look at the plight of the postmasters and mistresses; AI ? No, we’ve gone backwards.

    Broke down final furlong (vet reported lost shoe, jockey claimed his mount had insisted on going back to look for it)
    42′ 35”
    * Slight hitch: No printer, but having a childish love of symmetry (Palladio makes me go weak at the knees), I will enjoy drawing the grids.

  48. Seduced by those who claim this was easier than the QC, I had a go for the first time. After an hour I managed just four (DIMSUM, TEAPOT, UNNAMED, SNOG), so I am definitely nowhere near this league. I won’t presume to trespass on this territory again for some time!

    1. You know you’ll get better with practice. I did. It wasn’t so long ago I couldn’t get more than a handful every day. But keeping at it does help, and reading this blog every day also made a huge difference for me. So do trespass, if only to read and understand to begin with. I believe the only requirement of the blog is a desire to do the Times Crossword. So you’re already welcome!


    2. I started doing them in my early teens, and it was years, or felt like it, before I actually finished one…
      Just have a look every day and do the ones you can. Then come hear to read about the others. Don’t be tempted to cheat or use aids. It matters not if the grid remains incomplete…
      I think it helps if you print it out rather than try to do it online. You get a more holistic view of the clues and the grid. Might be just me..
      And welcome! Let us know how you get on

      1. You’re both very kind….. – just wanted to assure you that I wouldn’t dream of trying it online; I only ever look at the printed newspaper. I think I’m just not yet ready – I’ll stick to the QC for a while longer yet! It was really nostalgia that was the impulse: memories of my childhood, sitting in the back of the car listening to my parents doing the Times crossword together despite one driving. They would always finish it, and only now I am discovering the contorted thought processes they must have been going through. Can’t think why they didn’t crash……
        Greetings to you both

  49. Finished pretty quickly for me. An hour or so but I never time myself. Thought 12 dn a horrible clue and biffed the answer from the crossers and the definition. The fifth interval is A to E not a A&E and we normally give an order to a dog not a request.

    As a relative newcomer tot the 15 X 15 I find I get nearly all the clues from the definition and work out the parsing later !

    1. Any words I sent in the direction of my brother’s unruly Jack Russels were uttered with the feeling that they were a forlorn plea !

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