26218 It’s the pelvic thrust…

18.51 for this one, which included a couple of minutes’ diligent checking to make sure everything was as right as I could get it and the parsing was all in place. Three of these later this month and I would be sneaking in under the wire, just – assuming I remembered to send in my acceptance, which I think I did and fear I didn’t. There’s a few teasers in the general knowledge department in this one, including some where the word is familiar enough but used with a less familiar meaning, and I’m guessing if there is an entry that gives rise to a communal error, it’ll be 14ac. This particular grid has one useful feature: four 7-letter words have all but 2 letters checked, so there’s really no excuse for getting, let’s say, 5 down wrong, even with the dreaded word “plant” in the clue.
Here’s my unscrewing:


1 MEDIOCRE average
For once the doctor is not a 2-letter abbreviation, but a whole word: MEDIC absorbs a 0, and you need the “on” to get the finishing RE.
9 TIME WARP requirement for hyper-fast travel
…and then a step to the right and we have an anagram of PERMIT taking in W(ith) A. Clearly nonsense – what you really need is an infinite improbability drive.
A setter by any other name. Credit provides the CR bracketing O(rder of) M(erit) and PILE for stacks
11 UPLANDER resident in hills
And the parish magazine for All Saints, Epping Upland, as it happens. Ahead gives UP (“Hamilton is well up on Rosberg in the race for the F1 championship”) and, while I tried to get in my NASA abbreviations for lunar vehicles, LEM, LRV and so on, this ones just a generic LANDER. Here’s Apollo 11’s, as pictured in 2011 by the LRO. Yes we did.
Compiled from first rate CAPITAL, IS and the beginning of Malfunction. Political/economic commentary? For or against?
14 KNOT Sandpiper
The wading bird turns up in this place about every 6 months, occasionally with its alter ego KNOT. Knot is also a huddled group. At least it’s not a homophone for sandpaper this time.
15 REALITY fact
In English law, realty is exactly immovable property: US solvers might come to the same answer from a different angle. Stick in an I.
17 STELLAR Excellent
Principal (as in the STAR of the show) “admits” E(nglish) and two L(earner)s/students.
Cryptic definition where the local is a pub and the missiles are darts. The oche is the line behind which the dartist stands, 7 ft 9 1⁄4 in from the face of the dartboard. The origin? No-one knows.
22 RELUCTANCE disinclination
A rather obviously signalled anagram of UNCLE REACT
23 MARATHON battle
MARAT was a French revolutionary, sadly in the great scheme of things best known for being murdered in his bath by Charlotte Corday. Handy that the artist David was on hand to capture the scenefor posterity. For our purpose, add H(usband) and ON for “taking place”.
25 CRUCIFIX holy image
Technically, the version with the little man on it. I(n) C(harge) is reversed, the R(oyal) U(lster) C(onstabulary), now the Police Service ofNorthern Ireland*, is inserted. FIX for “restore” is – um – fixed to the end.
*Should have been the less clumsy Northern Irish Police Service until somebody noticed the acronym.
26 TENTACLE It feels
Submerge C(old) in TENT for wine and ALE for beer
27 DILIGENT meticulous
Redo EDITING and insert L(ine). Instructions for solving are rarely this clear.


2 ELONGATE stretch
Again, follow the instructions. Take the front off (m)ELON, place ATE for scoffed after G(ood)
3 IMPERIAL stag/magnificent
Checked post-solve, but deer have many epithets and this might just as well be one. In this case, “a stag with fourteen points on its antlers”, which I assume is quite a lot.
4 COLD heartless
C(onservative) OLD for veteran. Another bit of political commenttary?
5 ETRURIA pot plant
The pot is significant: Etruria was the 4th factory built by Josiah Wedgwood in Staffordshire for his upper class gazunders. So not an unknown bit of greenery at all. An anagram of RURALITE with the L ditched. I would have believed it was a house plant if a faint bell hadn’t rung. Just as well there are 5 checkers.
6 EMBLEMATIC significant
Assemble the anagram fodder from 2 M(ale)s and CELIBATE.
7 CARDINAL College man/of fundamental importance
Don’t bother looking for Oriell, Eton or the LSE: Cardinals of the Catholic variety belong to their own College, and this is a pretty straight double definition.
8 OPERATOR Machiavellian (noun)
Consstructed from ORATOR for speaker with P(romise)E emptied and inserted. “Al Capone was some operator”.
13 AFTERSHOCK tremors later
In many households, puddings are AFTERS. Add a glass or two of HOCK, British for German white wine.
15 ROOM-MATE One shares
MATE is a winning position in chess, of course, and a MOOR/Arab “uprising” provides the rest.
16 ADHERENT Follower
D(ied) HERE (in this case) consumed by by the crossword regular soldier ANT
18 LOATHING Disgust
Heather’s nom de plume is LING; force it to “defend” OATH for expletive
Arcadia is “a district in Greece whose people were traditionally idealized as having a simple rural lifestyle, with much music and dancing”. For construction purposes, the song is an ARIA, and the misreant a CAD. Add a chess (k)N(ight) to complete.
20 GLANCEDtook a quick look
G(rand) and D(uke) surround LANCE, close enough to a pike, though I would propose that one is cavalry, the other infantry. Still essentially a pointy stick.
24 FULLComprehensive/with no spare places
A neat double definition to finish with.

48 comments on “26218 It’s the pelvic thrust…”

  1. Hadn’t a clue about ETRURIA, but nothing else seemed to work (I had E R and I at the time; in fact getting it gave me UPLANDER). “Don’t bother looking for Oriel …” he says; NOW he tells me. I amazed myself by remembering OCHE. That’s the great thing about these cryptics: you can learn a whole bunch of new words that you can use in these cryptics. LOI 12ac; had to do an alphabet run, but fortunately C is well placed for such. COD maybe to 26ac for its misleadingness.
  2. Liked the misleading definitions “one shares” and “it feels”. “Pot plant” was also clever, but I didn’t realise that until reading the blog.

    One question. A stack is a pile, but how does “stacks” clue “pile”? I assume I’m missing something obvious?

    Thanks setter and Z.

    1. I did consider questioning singular pile from plural stacks, not least because our compiler could easily have left the S off without affecting the surface reading. I suppose either word, whether singular or plural, could answer the question ” how much money does he have?”  To that extent, they’re interchangeable, so just another misdirection. Unless it really is an editorial slip!

  3. No major problems for this one but it took me a very steady 50 minutes to unravel it. I noted there was an opportunity at 1ac for the doctor to bring back nothing instead of bringing it in.
  4. 22 minutes of fun-


    Oche (1920’s) was originally spelt ‘hockey’in the 1920’s darts rule book but became oche in the 1970s.

    Might derive from hochen – to spit – a mark used in pub spitting competitions! Not so nice.

    horryd – Shanghai

  5. Great puzzle today and nice blog, z8.
    Re 7a, Christ Church (Oxford) was called Cardinal’s college when founded, then Henry VIII disposed of Wolsey in 1530, but the college crest still sports his hat. Wolsey is still regarded by us as the founder and Henry as a bounder; we are or were Cardinal’s men…
    I liked oche and Etruria for the lateral thinking needed.
    1. Thank you, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that much about the Vatican version either, but thought it a decent assumption, confirmed after submission.
  6. Too tricky for me today, and resorted to aids after an hour. Many thanks for the blog, was truly needed today… ‘pot plant’ *groan*
  7. “I must occupy immovable property” looked to me like LEGOLAND which did not help, especially as it doesnt fit. OCHE was the word that I clued in jerryw and sotira’s last Xmas Turkey and I think that the professional did a much better job here. Thank you setter and z8.

    Edited at 2015-10-01 08:17 am (UTC)

  8. A shade over 20 minutes. This felt a bit chewier than yesterday, and was indeed 5 minutes chewier here. Spent a while at the end staring and starting to panic at the IMPERIAL/CAPITALISM combination. Very enjoyable puzzle.
  9. A fun puzzle that needed diligent application – thank you setter and great blog as always z8

    Not often I like cryptic definitions but OCHE is very good if rendered easy by O?H?

    If you were there you would be unlikely to forget the sandpaper/sandpiper clue – still one of the worst homophones to ever appear

    1. I don’t remember it but it sounds amusing. Was there any suggestion of an accent in which the homophone works? I’m thinking Brummie.
      1. I don’t recall any indication in the clue itself

        I do remember Peter B trying to defend it I think along the lines that posh public school types might manage to mangle both words – hope I haven’t done the lad a disservice there

        Others here will recall the clue and perhaps can throw more light on it

    2. Sandpa/iper turned up as recently as June in 26119, but has a longer history than that, possibly in Other Places. Two years before, you raised it as an Awful Warning, but I haven’t been able to locate it in a Times. Certainly hard to forget, and has the advantage of reminding me of KNOT. How this hobby of ours corrupts the mind!
        1. Indeed, how could I forget “cure a sow” for CURACO!

          Always interesting to look back at the old blogs to see who was and who wasn’t contributing back then

      1. Oh no. Is that what this is doing to me? Maybe there should be a law against it. Great blog, as ever, z8.
  10. 17:43. Tough but very enjoyable puzzle, with quite a few devious tricks.
    ‘System’ isn’t much of a definition for CAPITALISM, so I took this as a rather topical semi-&Lit.
    ETRURIA is very clever, a fact I missed completely while solving. Only having to arrange two of the letters was helpful.
    My last in was KNOT: I don’t remember seeing the sandpiper before. No doubt I’ve just forgotten it.

    Edited at 2015-10-01 08:29 am (UTC)

    1. The knot/sandpiper connection is something I almost certainly only know from crosswords so I’d wager that you’ve equally almost certainly forgotten it.
  11. Fairly tough but enjoyable puzzle. Nice to see darts standing in for cricket today.

    I almost succumbed to weakness on my LOI, initially only seeing RADICALISM at 12A and thinking I might just bung it in before a trawl of the alphabet yielded CAPITALISM.

  12. I found it very hard to get into the head of the 10a today, but there were some cracking clues, particularly Etruria, oche and knot which were some of my first in. However, I spent ages going through the alphabet to find letters to make sense of 12a, and finally settled on ‘radicalism’, which was as close as I got before resorting to this journal!
  13. Just the right degree of difficulty for a busy weekday. OCHE is certainly a very good cryptic definition and my COD. Word of the day, however, goes to COMPILER, for its being so much more tasteful than “setter”.
  14. 18:25 of which 5 minutes on my last 4. I took a while to see 7d, going through all the colleges I could think of and didn’t know KNOT was another name for a sandpiper. 25a my LOI – i had to biff the answer before I could parse it. Thanks for explaining 5d – very clever. I also enjoyed 21a, 26a and 13d. Good fun.

    Edited at 2015-10-01 08:42 am (UTC)

  15. Only 22 min – but in haste at 12ac thought as ‘rad’ = excellent, it must be RADICALISM
  16. A very nice puzzle – the sort that you usually get at the Championship i.e. not necessarily the most difficult of the year, but without many answers being “write it in first, work out why later” (I think it’s this absence of biffing which distinguishes a good puzzle). A series of penny-drop moments, especially when it came to the OCHE and ETRURIA, and an educated guess at IMPERIAL.
    1. Agreed Tim. For a while this one looked impenetrable to me, thinking I needed a battle I’d never heard of, a college I’d never heard of and a plant I’d never heard of.

      Very satisfying when they eventually revealed themselves without requiring any obscure knowledge.

      I guess OCHE could be considered obscure, but it comes up often enough here for it to be a write-in today.

      1. I’m wondering whether oche is more familiar with British solvers from when the darts themed game show Bullseye was a staple of Saturday night TV. Whilst it sounds slightly bizarre to me to talk about a darts themed game show on prime time TV I guess it’s no more bizarre than watching ‘celebrities’ dance, and in fact I would say a whole lot more entertaining!
        1. Furthermore… Who can forget the dulcet geordie tones of the great commentator ‘The Voice of Darts’ Sid Waddell? Famous quotes include: “He’s as happy as a penguin in a microwave” and “When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer….. Bristow’s only 27.” Give me that over celebrity dancing any day.
  17. 25:33 … bleary-eyed after a woefully short night’s sleep, it took me something like 7 minutes to solve my first clue.

    So I struggled, but I thought this was just a terrific puzzle. Every clue made me think. Every clue ultimately satisfied. Great work.

    COD … TENTACLE, which made me laugh when the penny dropped and which has a surreal surface.

  18. Quite slow, finishing in about 45 minutes. Three unknowns (the stag, the sandpiper and the pot plant). The NW took the longest. 3 and 12 offered little to go on apart from an -ISM ending for the latter (I didn’t know the stag for the former) and 1 and 10 were tricky. For a long time all I had up there was COLD and a tentative ETRURIA. I didn’t know the sandpiper, but knot was the most likely for the huddled group. 21a raised a smile when I got it.
  19. 20:07 with about 8 of those minutes on my last four, ELONGATE (oh, that sort of stretch), COMPILER (“stacks for me” not the def then), imperial (nothing to do with men only events then) and mediocre.

    Agree that TENTACLE was the pick of a solid bunch of clues.

    Z, you should have received a letter last week confirming final details for 17th. If, as sounds likely, you didn’t it might be worth dropping an email to crosswordchampionship “at” the-times dot co dot uk.

    1. I don’t think I’ve conciously come across it before, but I suppose it works in the same way as, say, Liverpudlian or vegetarian.

  20. While everyone is lauding it – OCHE was my downfall. Now I come here I recall seeing the word, and in a brain scan of what possibilities there were for the checking letters I think it came close to crossing my mind, but with no wordplay, there’s no way of getting it. Grumble groan where’s the coffee.
  21. Looks like I was adequately wavelengthy today, clocking in at only a little over the 10 minute mark. This probably means I’ve squandered all my reserves of brainpower and will struggle on the one I need to blog later… c’est la vie!
  22. 14:30 here, so about average for me. I bunged in ETRURIA without knowing the Wedgwood connection though, and LOI was ELONGATE for some reason – on another day it might have been a FOI! COD to OCHE – I remember Sid Waddell in the eighties on telly screaming “It’s Jocky on the oche!” Sadly neither are still with us.

    I don’t want to alarm you Zab, but I got a “Thankyou for confirming your place” letter from the Times only last week. If I were you I’d email crosswordchampionship@the-times.co.uk and start grovelling!

    1. Also for Z8 – I got one of those letters last week, too, and emailed both the Times address and David Levy directly (message me if you don’t have his email) to let them know I wouldn’t be able to take part this year.

      It was David who got back to me.

      And if there’s been a cock-up, tell them I said you can have my place!

  23. Under competition conditions I would have failed. I got interrupted three times during my 25-30 minute solve and I was running out of time with the 14ac/7dn crossers to go. I decided to cheat and I used aids to get KNOT, after which I saw CARDINAL. For some reason the possibility of a straight DD hadn’t crossed my mind. I agree that this was a quality puzzle, and I confess that although I got ETRURIA I didn’t twig its definition.
  24. Thanks to all for solicitous help on the Championship: I don’t think my path has ever gone smoothly, not always my fault! I will pass on any developments and still hope to see ome of you there.

  25. Hi all, sorry to be more late than usual, but they expect me to actually work around here sometimes. A fine puzzle that kept me going for 30 minutes, LOI OCHE, which I eventually yanked from the recesses of my Yank mind because, as Jimbo says, with O?H? how many choices are there. But it took a while to recall this UK-ism,(or at least I believe that’s what it is). No problem with KNOT, but certainly no idea why ETRURIA was correct; I thought it was a potted plant of some sort. Regards.
  26. 11:51 for me, once again finding difficulty thinking of some of the words after I’d parsed the clues correctly.

    OCHE went straight in (though I had the H in place to help me), but although I thought of ETRURIA straight away from the anagram, I didn’t twig the brilliant “pot plant” until going over the clues again after I’d finished.

    All in all a delightful puzzle, and definitely worth a drink if the setter taps me on the shoulder next time we meet.

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