Times 28767 – don’t be foxed by this, it’s fun.

What an excellent Wednesday! I don’t know if this was the first of the three Championship semi-final puzzles; it took me just under half an hour to solve and parse, so beyond my 20 minute allowance; I thought it was great fun and very clever in places. I’m not sure I liked “high” as an anagram indicator, but someone will probably tell us we’ve seen it before.

EDIT I now see they have added a header to the effect that the next TCC puzzle will be published on 13 December, so this isn’t one.

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

1 Middle of rough part’s cut really suddenly for a player (6)
SUBITO – SO (really) with [ro]U[gh] BIT (part) cutting it. Subito as can be written on a music score.
4 Tender embraces stop someone doing wrong (8)
OFFENDER – OFFER with END inside. Seen it before.
10 Hero’s recast in musical, giving a bit of a bow? (9)
HORSEHAIR – HAIR the musical with (HERO’S)* inside.
11 Pot or goblet perhaps changing hands (5)
GRASS – GLASS = goblet, changes L to R. Pot as in cannabis.
12 Some dialogue Jack pens right for old script (6,1)
LINEAR B – LINE (some dialogue) AB (sailor) with R inside.
13 Never disappearing outside, after dropping by (7)
ETERNAL – EXTERNAL (outside) drops the X (by, multiplied by).
14 Log from high tip of nut tree (5)
ENTER – (N TREE)*, the N being ‘tip of nut’. High as an anagrind is a bit naughty I think.
15 Plan route of vehicle around India, given possible entry point (8)
NAVIGATE – VAN reversed, I[ndia], GATE.
18 Odd rocks round ship, and now unfortunately resulting in crash (4,4)
DOSS DOWN – (ODD)* around SS (ship), then (NOW)*.
20 Girl is leaving stores stocking fabric (5)
LISLE – hidden as above.
23 Jazz man attending that school rings doctor (7)
SATCHMO – AT (attending) around SCH, then MO for doctor. Satchmo a.k.a. Louis Armstrong.
25 Siegfried poetically soldiers on after ring’s brought back (7)
SASSOON – SAS (soldiers) SO (Os reversed) then ON.
26 Rather wet philosopher failing to finish papers (5)
HUMID – HUM[e], ID = papers.
27 Family, first to last, with courage that supplies writer with material (3,6)
INK BOTTLE – KIN moves the K to the end; BOTTLE = courage.
28 Hopeful cop has energy, stopping decline (8)
WANNABEE – NAB (cop) E(energy) inside WANE = decline.
29 Holder of drink, holding another that’s been emptied (6)
BEARER – BEER (drink) has AR (AnotheR emptied) inside.
1 Start of stamina work which scares old playmaker (8)
SCHILLER – S[tamina], CHILLER a work which scares.
2 North London district houses old, entitled fellow (7)
BARONET – BARNET (N. London borough) with O for old inserted.
3 Articles about singular, extinct bovid in reference work (9)
THESAURUS – THE and A around S[ingular], then URUS a species of bull or bison described by Julius Caesar and long extinct. You can buy an aptly named Lamborghini Urus – a posh SUV – if you have £167,000 or more to spend.
5 This makes me cross desert without oases, touring east (3,7,4)
FOR HEAVENS SAKE – HAVENS are our oases, with E[ast] inserted, all inside FORSAKE = desert.
6 Lead taken off hunting dog, a predatory creature (5)
EAGLE – BEAGLE loses its B.
7 After some smoking, figure turning up means to catch some in school? (7)
DRAGNET – a DRAG on a fag, then TEN reversed. School as in fish.
8 Way to break edict and behave like a crooked cowboy (6)
RUSTLE – ST[reet] inside RULE = edict.
9 CO ordered men — and one cox — on board (6,8)
16 Left to inspire a couple of learners stumped in calculus (9)
GALLSTONE –  GONE (left), insert A, LL, ST (stumped as in cricket notation).
17 Vixen maybe in grass, rolling over, under control (8)
REINDEER – REIN = control, DEER = REED (grass) reversed. One of Santa’s; it had me foxed for a while!
19 Possible German king, say, from a vast empire (7)
OTTOMAN – OTTO (might be a German chap) MAN (king say in chess).
21 Arm is small, and nose (7)
SHOOTER – S[mall], HOOTER = nose.
22 Give up in seconds, boxed by English champ (6)
ESCHEW – E (English) S (seconds) CHEW (champ).
24 Losing case, The Yard cracked persistent problem (5)
HYDRA – HYARD = [t]H[e] YARD  (with THE losing its outside / case), so (HYARD)* cracked. As I remembered, the Hydra was a nasty beast which grew two new heads each time one was cut off, so was a persistent problem; the term ‘hydra effect’ is used to describe events where an attempt to reduce a problem only makes it worse.


133 comments on “Times 28767 – don’t be foxed by this, it’s fun.”

  1. 26:16
    I doubt that I would have thought this fun if I had been there, but I wasn’t and it was, although it took me a while. FOI to my surprise SUBITO, which I only parsed after submitting; didn’t know I knew the word. Also biffed LINEAR, waiting to see if it was A or B; biffed 5d from the F and K, then parsed; and biffed GALLSTONE, parsing post-submission. I’ve never seen WANNABE spelled with a double E. Like Pip, I was puzzled by ‘Vixen’ at first.

  2. The note seemed ambiguous as to whether this was a championship puzzle.
    I found it fairly easy. I started out by working each quadrant alternately, but still only had two answers in the SW after finishing the other three. I didn’t biff anything—not entirely, though I didn’t know the URUS.
    We’ve definitely seen “high” as an angrind, didn’t raise an eyebrow.
    I am reminded of “subito” every time I sing (at karaoke) Charles Trenet’s “Le Soleil et la lune”:
     « C’est alors que docteurs, savants et professeurs
      Entonnèrent subito tous en chœur
      Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune
      Mais la lune n’est pas là et le soleil attend… »
    I haven’t gotten to yesterday’s yet, and now I have time.

  3. 27 minutes. I wasn’t so much “foxed by this” (very good) but foxed by ‘that’ in the clue for SATCHMO, wondering if it provided the AT. For 3d, SAURUS looked close enough for ‘extinct bovid’; never mind about the extra S and A. NHO HYDRA for ‘persistent problem’ either but it seemed the only possibility from the anagram fodder and crossers.

    WANNABEE caused me some trouble and if this was a Championship puzzle, it may have struck a chord with the contestants on the big day.

    1. I’ve found what I’ll call a “short homage” to your Delerue link that I’ve added to your Truffaut comment on that day.

      1. Thanks very much; love that piece of music too. Yes, they’re not dissimilar and maybe it is a “short hommage”.

  4. 26 minutes, finishing with SUBITO. Enjoyed the clue for SCHILLER more than his ‘Ode to Joy’.

    1. That makes three of us who should be tho-rough-ly ashamed; I too ended it all suddenly.

  5. 40 minutes. I was delayed by SUBITO, although with music as one of my specialities I should have spotted it a lot sooner.

    I agonized over GLASS or GRASS as I was convinced that either was possible, but on revisiting the clue this morning I cannot understand why I had thought this. Fortunately I plumped for GRASS.

    I biffed CARBON MONOXIDE but eventually gave up trying to understand why. I guessed it had to be an anagram but was unable to deduce the grist having missed the indirect element involved. After 2-3 years of solving The Guardian puzzle every day I should be used to that sort of thing by now despite it being quite rare in The Times.

    I don’t recall meeting URUS before but took its existence on trust.

    Missed the philosopher in HUMID.

    Was pleased to remember the LINEARs, as they have caught me out so often in the past.

  6. Well, greetings from sensational summery Sydney where I am spending a few days and I admit to coming in and out of this crossword because the view from my hotel room takes in the entire length of the glittering blue harbour from Watson’s Bay to the city. So in the end it was 50.41, but who cares? Actually I found this harder than everyone else and was grateful to piquet for several explanations, especially FOR HEAVENS SAKE and REINDEER. I learn now that GALLSTONE = calculus and I hope that’s all I will ever know about gallstones. A tough but enjoyable puzzle, I didn’t do myself any favours by trying to solve the CO clue with an 8/6, not 6/8, enumeration. LOsI SUBITO and SCHILLER.

  7. 27 minutes, with the last six spent staring at S_B_T_ and trying to figure out how the clue worked. I never actually did, but SUBITO came to mind from somewhere. Still, starting at 4a and doing both long downs just afterwards helped me zip around the rest speedily enough.

  8. To-night he’s in the pink; but soon he’ll die.
    And still the war goes on; he don’t know why.
    (In The Pink, Siegfried S)

    20 mins mid-brekker and it all seemed to flow easily. I liked For Heanens Sake and “tender embraces”. Less keen on “ring’s” = O’s.
    Ta setter and Pip.

    1. What’s the problem with ring’s = O’s? You can just read it as [ring=O], [s=S], ignoring the punctuation. Seems pretty standard stuff to me, no?

      1. Yes it has become standard stuff, sadly. I just don’t like ring-shaped things being equated with O. We have had ‘wheel’, ‘egg’, etc. I am softening my position on ‘bagel’ as it seems to have become a term for zero score.
        My worry is that we start getting ‘step ladders’=A. I think I have seen ‘rugby posts’=H.

        1. Oh I see, I thought it was the punctuation you were objecting to.
          I don’t read it that way: an O is not a ‘ring-shaped thing’, it’s a ring! You can’t draw an O without drawing a ring, and vice versa. This is not true of a ladder. Rugby posts are a more ambiguous case!

          1. I have never heard ‘bagel’ for zero. ‘Doughnut’, yes!
            Thinking about it though if we follow this line to its logical conclusion you can’t equate the letter O to the number 0. An O is not an 0 (or vice versa), it is just an 0-shaped thing (and vice versa).

            1. It’s a tennis thing. A score of 6-0 6-0 is known as a double bagel. I think this was discussed on here recently.

                1. Bond traders talk about getting bagled or getting the big bagle in their bonus after they put on a trade which has earned a bagel.

            2. O is used to mean zero, e.g. 1908=Nineteen O Eight
              I am ok with cross=X too, because cross (and vote and kiss) are really synonyms for, X rather than because you can’t draw an X without drawing a cross.

              1. Fair enough! The real point though is that an O is not a ‘thing shaped like a ring’. It is a ring, in the abstract sense which is synonymous with ‘circle’. Or as Collins puts it ‘any object or mark that is circular in shape’ (my emphasis).

                1. My point is whether ring is a synonym of (or can be abbreviated to) O.
                  I have been trying to think of a ‘substitution test’ that treats Ring as O, but I can’t see one. I don’t think O is a ring (as you say), I think it is a ring shaped letter.
                  On the map, put a ring/circle around Leeds. Tick. Put an O round Leeds? I don’t think so.
                  Put an X/cross in the box. Tick.

                  1. I just replied to you then accidentally deleted it!
                    Let me try again.
                    An O is a ring, it’s an example of the category.
                    A halo is also a ring, it’s an example of the category.
                    ‘Ring’ is, I think, a perfectly good definition of ‘halo’.
                    But you wouldn’t say ‘put a halo round Leeds’.

                  2. P.S. all the usual dictionaries have a definition of ‘ring’ that would include an O (or indeed a 0):
                    Chambers: ‘any object, mark, arrangement, group or course of a similar form’
                    ODE: ‘a circular marking or pattern’
                    OED: ‘a circular mark or band’

                    1. I think you are saying that anything (Mark, Arrangement, etc.) that is circular ( e.g. Circle, Ring, Halo) is ok as a synonym for O. Which is what I don’t like as I said at the start. But each to their own.

                  3. Replying here as I can’t below – perhaps a sign that this has gone on too long!
                    That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that in one of its definitions a ‘ring’ is any object of a certain shape. So a halo, an O, a zero, an onion ring, a ring of fire, a bicycle inner tube… all of these things are rings.
                    That doesn’t mean that ‘halo’ is a synonym for O any more than ‘bicycle inner tube’ is a synonym for ‘onion ring’.

            3. But can we not equate O with o;
              o1223 not 01223 in spoken English.
              A GWR pannier tank engine is an o-6-o, never a 0-6-0.

  9. 30:26. Phew! first one all correct this week. LOI SUBITO after SCHILLER. I entered CARBON MONOXIDE when “CO” clicked, without figuring out the anagram. I liked the foxy REINDEER; it’s the time of year to be swatting up on the names of Santa’s team

    1. Originally: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem. Donner and Blitzen, and also Rudolph, appeared much later …

  10. 22:01

    On the wavo today while on the train to Glasgow – several bunged in without fully understanding so thanks to P for the elucidations. On the plus side, assumed SUBITO (Italian for ‘Immediately’) to be the musical command – parsed after entering – and HYDRA as the persistent problem.

    Failed to (fully) parse:
    SCHILLER – assumed there must be a playwright with that name
    THESAURUS – got as far as THE but no further
    CARBON MONOXIDE – could see there were bits of anagrist in the clue but didn’t stop to work out which bits to include
    FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE – from definition, enumeration and a few checkers
    NHO – URUS


  11. 9:24. Nice one. I didn’t know this meaning of HYDRA. I have come across the URUS before but that was a biff so I didn’t even notice him while solving.
    I’ve also never seen ‘wannabe’ spelled like that. All I can say to that is ‘zigazig ah’, and mean it to sting.

  12. Some very clever cryptic instructional wordplay eg. ‘Jazzman attending that school rings’.
    Calculus = GALLSTONE – where has this been my whole life?
    Very nice puzzle with no gotchas, thanks all.

  13. 27:56
    Great puzzle. Slight (and pedantic) beef with ‘which’ in 1 dn. Strictly speaking, it either needs to have a comma before it or be replaced with ‘that’. Restrictive / non-restrictive, etc.
    Thanks, p.

    1. I am very fond of this rule too, and it is house style where I work. But it is far from being universally observed, even by quite reputable sources.

      1. It is not a rule of English grammar at all, it’s an entirely made-up peeve on a par with the split infinitive. You are of course entitled to like it, and adopt it as a house style (just as the New Yorker is perfectly entitled to spell ‘cooperate’ in a way no other user of English does) but that doesn’t make it a rule.

        1. We’ve been thru this before, and more than once. It seems your objection is to my use of the word “rule,” while my point was precisely that it is (merely) a discretionary matter of style. There are no real grammar police to enforce grammar laws decreed by a grammar legislature. I would argue, though, that when observed (and if noticed!), it can add clarity to expression, whereas the “split infinitive” thing never had any excuse for existence.

          1. There aren’t grammar police, because the rules of grammar are a natural part of the language which we observe without thinking, so they don’t need enforcing. We say ‘Sally loves Bob’, not ‘Sally love Bob’ because of a rule. We say ‘big green egg’, not ‘green big egg’ because of a rule. The way you can tell that the which/that distinction is not a rule of English grammar is that it isn’t observed by 99% of users of the language.

            1. (So yes, what I object to is the use of the word ‘rule’, or the notion that using which or that in any particular situation is a ‘mistake’).

              1. That escalated quickly! Sorry, k. I did say I was being a bit pedantic. As with Guy, it’s a house rule at the publisher where I work, so I guess I’m always on the lookout for it 🙂
                Split infinitives are absolutely fine, as you rightly say.
                ‘Sally love Bob’ is possible in a subordinate clause. *Dons hard hat and runs for cover*

                1. No problem of course, sorry for being so grumpy about it: as you can tell though this stuff does bug me: pet peeves are my pet peeve!
                  I have no problem with house styles, and I even have a few peeves of my own, we just need to recognise them for what they are.

                  1. No grumpiness inferred. Pet peeves and the fine points of grammar are part of the joy of this forum! Talking of house styles, I need to log in and get on with earning a crust. No rest for the wicked 🙁

                  1. Well exactly. We all know that in that grammatical construction we don’t need the S. We’re obeying a rule of grammar and we don’t even think about it!

              2. What’s the rule for ‘big green egg’?
                Would you say that ‘the boy which I gave the book to’ is not a mistake?
                Not that I don’t agree with you, mind you.

                1. I’m not sure I understand the question: adjectives are strictly ordered by category in English (and other languages, I don’t know if it’s universal) but I’m sure you know that.
                  Yes I think I would say that’s a mistake (although it’s not a very helpful word), because I don’t think native speakers would ever say it.

              1. haha. Can’t think of a football forum where grammar police ever win, perhaps maybe the Corinthians??

                1. Might be getting better through being moderated by Penfold. Haven’t heard “ the boy done good” for ages.

            2. Which is the point I thought I was making, except that I used the word “rule” for… a pattern, a procedure, a consistently observed distinction… that I just happen to be “fond of” (and then described as “discretionary”), that The Nation opts to follow, and that is far from being widely observed —actually hoping to forestall going thru this whole thing again (or, specifically, your going thru it all again: I nearly mentioned you!)…

    2. Surely a “which” without comma can introduce a defining relative clause.
      Tonight there’s a programme that/which you might like.
      The scarinessof the stamina work could be seen as defining the type of work.

      1. The ‘rule’ says it depends on whether the speaker/writer considers the clause to be restrictive: if it is, no comma and use ‘that’; if not, comma and use ‘which’. That said, most people just seem to say or write either and omit the comma.

  14. We’ll, I struggled a bit, especially in the SW with last two in, ESCHEW and WANNABEE.

    However, all present and correct in exactly one hour. I figured this wasn’t a championship crossie having read the headline. Could have been though, as Tom Stubbs points out.

    I liked the CO, once I saw it, which gave me the B for 12ac. Liked SHOOTER too.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  15. 44 minutes with LOI REINDEER. Started badly confidently putting SOPHOCLES in 1d only to find he didn’t fit and then spent a long time coming up with SCHILLER to cover up my error. A case of “only the names have been changed to protect the guilty,” so nearly the strap line of DRAGNET. I constructed GALLSTONE, not the type of calculus I studied. SUBITO was also a construct, and one I had less confidence about. Challenging puzzle. Thank you Pip and setter.

  16. This was my most enjoyable solve for some time as I return to the paper copy after thumbing away on my phone while travelling. Horrible.
    Gave up on WANNABEE which was sheer laziness after 40 mins as it doesn’t (now) look unattainable, but discover I was wrong anyway with a DRAwNET. Well you do don’t you?

    Thanks for putting me right Pip, and setter

  17. Flew through this, 14’12”, once again evidence that lack of sleep helps. SUBITO LOI, wondering whether the tabletop game where you flick plastic soccer players had anything to do with it. Very much liked the ‘vixen’ clue.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  18. 13:42

    Much confusion. I spotted the preamble about championship puzzles but didn’t read it and set about solving a puzzle I’d “seen before” but got a bit worried about my faculties when absolutely nothing rang even the faintest of bells after a few answers had gone in.

    I then glanced at the preamble and saw that this wasn’t a championship puzzle. and proceeded to solve “normally”.

    LOI SUBITO, based on a vague notion that it was a musical notation, but not being able to see the parsing.

    I biffed CARBON MONOXIDE so didn’t notice that not all of the anagram fodder was in plain sight.

  19. 17:00
    I’m with the school of SOPHOCLES, but managed to stop myself starting to write it in.
    LOI SUBITO – not keen on SO to mean “really”.
    (I can’t be the only one who hears the young’uns saying it and mentally adds “that” to the end of the sentence. Another made-up peeve, I suppose, mumble grumble. Just don’t get me started on them using it as the first word in reply to any question.)
    The paper version tells us that the next Championship puzzle will be published on Wed 13 Dec.

    1. Since pet peeves are being aired today, let me reinforce your comments on the abuse of SO, which is a big one of mine. It’s not just in answering questions that this facetious logical consequence (of nothing) is deployed. Many people have a tic of starting almost every sentence with SO, even highly articulate thinkers. Watch the otherwise fascinating TED talk on animal languages by the tragically late Karen Bakker for a good example.

      1. Objecting to ‘so’ without ‘that’ is indeed a silly grammatical peeve. Starting sentences with ‘so’ is not a matter of grammar and I share your irritation when it’s done to excess. It’s akin to the use of ‘you know’ or ‘like’ five times in every sentence.

        1. I “literally” explode when someone at work starts a blog, Yammer post or similar with “So, myself and…”

          1. Abusers of myself and yourself….hanging is too good for ’em. I have literally exploded more times than I can count.

      2. The one that gets my teeth on edge is the substitution of ‘I’ for ‘me’. As in ‘It doesn’t matter to my wife or I…’ Surprisingly prevalent.

        1. I think that’s a losing battle in the long run. We used to have many distinctive endings showing case in English and most have disappeared. I imagine the few remaining such as who/whom and your I/me pet peeve will fade away too.

          1. But what’s so frustrating is that it’s so easy to check what’s correct – one simply removes the other person in the sentence. You wouldn’t dream of saying ‘It doesn’t matter to I’… And the people who come out with it are often reasonably well-educated – I include my own brother, a double graduate, who often falls into this trap in formal letters and articles!

    2. “Just don’t get me started on their using it…”
      Gerund with possessive. Undoubtedly the most widely ignored grammatical rule.

      1. Guy, can you elaborate on this? I thought a gerund was a verb/noun combination or maybe a verbal form used as a noun. So “on their using it” would seem to be more appropriate if the noun function was emphasized but “on them using it” would be better if the verb function was stronger. Anyways, I think I might use either at times so wonder which is better (or correct)?


        1. The latter. Here’s Merriam-Webster: “the English verbal noun ending in -ing that has the function of a substantive and at the same time shows the verbal features of tense, voice, and capacity to take adverbial qualifiers and to govern objects.” If you object to them (who are) using something, “using” is a participle, not a gerund. If it’s the “using” you object to, it’s a gerund and “their using.”

          1. Thanks, this helps clarify for me what is going on. I’ll be referring back to this post often!

  20. 9:27 Well I’d have been delighted to be presented with this in London as it was right on my wavelength and would have chopped 10 mins off my final time. I enjoyed it a lot but also biffed quite a few, including the CO one and the HEAVENS one, so some of the wordplay was lost on me until just now. Calculus is Latin for pebble I believe and I’ve always assumed pebbles must helped Newton (or whoever) in some way when he discovered calculus, but it’s been a long time since my Ad Maths O-Level. Always good to be reminded of Michael Ventris’s genius in deciphering Linear B! The other one may never be cracked. COD to HORSEHAIR.

    1. Wiktionary
      The word calculus is Latin for “small pebble” (the diminutive of calx, meaning “stone”), a meaning which still persists in medicine. Because such pebbles were used for counting out distances, tallying votes, and doing abacus arithmetic, the word came to mean a method of computation. In this sense, it was used in English at least as early as 1672, several years before the publications of Leibniz and Newton.

  21. Thank you for the explanation of how 5d works – I could see what the answer had to be, but couldn’t understand how to get there.

    Was I the only one to look at 29a, see that it must contain AR and be something to do with drink, and so jump to CARAFE? This caused major problems in that corner, as you might guess.

  22. 15:04. I enjoyed this puzzle. I was glad we had had SATCHMO before as it would have stumped me as it did last time. It took me ages to spot that LISLE was a hidden. I finished in the SW corner with ESCHEW and WANNABEE which made me smile but I liked the 2 long ones best. Thanks Pip and setter

  23. I was feeling quite chuffed about my 16.09, because I’d seen, but not read, the italics at the top and could imagine myself a challenger. This was fun, though, especially with those wilfully misleading definitions, CO, vixen and calculus in particular, which together with my failing to spot the hidden for LISLE slowed me in my last quarter. I think I may have inadvertently increased the number of fabrics you can make stockings with.
    I have no opinion on one E or two for WANNABEE – I rather lose interest after the horrid wanna – but it’s definitely out there with two (pace Spice) and curiously includes a fabric trade name, though whether you can make stockings out of it is not clear.

  24. 33 minutes, I felt I should have been faster today. LOI was carbon monoxide, could have kicked myself when I saw it. Another really good xword imo, third in a row this week.
    Many thanks setter and blogger.
    PS looking now at the other comments, I was also very slow to see LISLE. Cunningly hidden obvs!

  25. Half and hour door-to-door, unnecessarily slowed down by inventing PALLSTORT for 16D (*enter shrugging shoulders emoji here). It wasn’t even the fact I made it up but that I left it in for so long. Ho hum.

    I enjoyed this one though, with a bit of care and attention required to enter the unknown SUBITO correctly.

    Thanks to the setter and blogger. I obviously have work to do before I can even consider entering the champs.

  26. Yes I thought this a cracking test and was very chuffed to finish in just under the half hour. LOI the never-seen hidden LISLE, entered on a prayer and the vaguest of memories. SUBITO was quick as I speak some Italian and well remember my early confusion between subito (at once) and pronto (which generally means ready – it’s what Italians say when they answer the phone – and sometimes speedy).

  27. Why can’t people be clear? That preamble doesn’t tell us whether or not today’s crossword was a Championship one or not, and I’m still not sure, not that it matters. 36 minutes on a nice puzzle — the LISLE hidden was clever I thought and I was slow to see it — and I thought I’d learnt a new extinct bovid: at 3dn I had the’s (or, as it perhaps should be, thes) around (s auru) but in fact obviously it’s as Piquet has it. Collins has ‘under the influence of alcohol or drugs (informal)’ for high, and lots of synonyms for this which are generally accepted, so surely it’s OK.

  28. Many thanks to setter and blogger.
    Just a minor comment re 23 ac:
    It should be AT in SCH rather than around, I believe.

  29. I just edited what I wrote, by inserting some single quotation marks in the thing from Collins, and I noticed that on my keyboard they were just simple vertical slashes they became elegant curved things when the edit became visible. This is something I’ve never been able to achieve (although I can on my old RiscOS machine, with simple keyboard shortcuts — few people here are likely to have even heard of RiscOS). Is it easy on a PC?

    1. The problem with our CMS’s internal script that changes the straight-up-and-down quotation marks and apostrophes into squiggly “smart” ones (I use a similar thing) is that it decides which way the mark curves according to whether there is a space before it. This screws up apostrophes when they replace an elided initial letter, as in (watch this now) ’twas. That’s when one has to use a keyboard command to get the desired character. On my Macs, that’s option-shift-] for the apostrophe/closing single quote, same thing unshifted for the other way round, and you use the [ key instead the same way to get double quotation marks. There’s a similar command on a PC—the “option” key is perhaps what you call “Alt”? (I’m never on one of those things.)

  30. Two goes needed. Didn’t fully parse ENTER, FOR HEAVENS SAKE or CARBON MONOXIDE; had to trust that GALLSTONE can mean calculus; didn’t know the Urus bull for THESAURUS; took ages to see the right meaning of ‘pot’ for GRASS and to combine ‘never disappearing’ as the definition for ETERNAL; only got SATCHMO because I remembered not getting it in a previous crossword.

    Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Horsehair
    LOI Eternal
    COD Carbon monoxide

  31. Had to visit this on 4 or so occasions interspersed between errands.. finally finishing in Starbucks. About 40′, which I’ll take a few off for having a couple of “now where was I” moments. SCHILLER my FOI known from Ode to Joy in LVB’s 9th. However listening to music doesn’t mean I know anything about it so NHO SUBITO was LOI having just about understood the wordplay (in fact I couldn’t get Subbuteo out of my head). Pet peeves? People who complain about split infinitives (a diminishing number) and wrongly placed apostrophe’s….

    thanks Piquet and setter

    1. When I see a misplaced apostrophe (especially at a grocery stand), I often imagine the perpetrator must be someone still learning the language and I wish them luck. Perhaps English is their second or third or fourth tongue. So many of my native-born compatriots are monolingual and have somewhat limited mastery of the tongue they supposedly know. When one of those random folks misplaces an apostrophe, it just tells me they’re ignorant. It’s beneath me to complain about something like that to someone who won’t understand. It’s punching down. I don’t do that! But I’m a copy editor and I work with people who fancy themselves professional writers. To them, I show no mercy. 😉

  32. SCHILLER was my FOI and I followed with most of the NW fairly quickly. LINEAR was biffed and I waited for CARBON MONOXIDE to provide the A or B. SUBITO came last of all when I suddenly saw where to lift and separate. No particular problems elsewhere and I submitted at 20:20. Thanks setter and Pip.

  33. I finished this excellent puzzle in 14:19 but unfortunately entered “llsle” at 20A to render it wasted effort on that level. I’m happy enough that I’d have been correct on good old-fashioned paper. COD WANNABEE.

  34. A bit of light biffage, or at least semi-biffage here and there, but I liked this very much, and finished in a distinctly respectable time for me, given the snitch.


  35. 32’50”
    Sharply away, stayed on at one pace.

    Chuffed with a double digit nitch n’ witch. All parsed en route, bar the two long ‘uns, plus urus and calculus bunged in as they appeared plausible etymologically.
    I’m having a good day; finally parsed WWI/wwi, after a week! I’m nothing if not stubborn.
    Bravissimo/a setter, this was a cracker and thank you Pip.

  36. Nho URUS but no matter, I was sure there was a dinosaur in there somewhere
    .. loi wannabee, because for the life of me I can’t see why anyone would want the extra E. Not really a proper word anyway, izzit?
    Like K, I’ve always been interested in correct grammar and punctuation. But the Internet age has beaten me finally into submission, and I suspect I am not alone.

    1. I think the possible justification for the extra e in WANNABEE is as a hint/guide to proper pronunciation. I suppose someone seeing a new word ending-abe could try to rhyme it with astrolabe!

  37. Can’t follow the discussion regarding ‘rings’. Surely the way the clue works is: attending=at, that meaning which) sch[ool] rings=is round, mo = doctor. Didn’t know urus or the gallstone term but had to be. Nor did I know a reindeer could be a vixen but that seemed more reasonably in the area of required knowledge. As with navigate being to plan a route rather than finding it while on the job. Last in wannabee as had rejected it as e-heavy. Thus too many clues, as so often under the modern regime, wearing a shifty expression for my liking.

  38. 43.00 with I reckon about 15 spent trying to work out my last three- in order subito, reindeer and bearer. All in their own way excellent clues though , on reflection , the first not so good as the other two. Had a little sigh when I finally worked out reindeer. Perhaps the compiler should have kept that for nearer Xmas.

    Very enjoyable. Thx setter and blogger.

  39. FOI 3d THESAURUS, NHO bovid as far as I can remember, so light pencil. I have heard of Aurochs (of which Hitler was a fan; the Nazis tried to breed a new version) which is aka urus apparantly, pl uri or uruses. It was close enough to punt but not ink.
    NHO WANNABEe as far as I know.
    Missed the CO trick at 9d. Damn! Wasted ages looking for the anagrist, then saw it was eminently biffable if you are awake.
    Slow to see the Vixen trick at 17d. Bother!
    Must have looked up 1a SUBITO at some point as I was sure it meant “suddenly” in Italian. I have some distant relatives who are Italian and I think it might be something to do with cards or table-top footie. I’m useless at musical notation; well at music really.

  40. Great puzzle I thought. Had all but 3 in 20 minutes so would have done ok on the day -assuming I would not have over indulged in the George in between😊 thx for parsing For Heavens Sake – did not see how it worked but biffed it early on.

    I had to use aids for 1a. I have never studied music so all of these terms stump me. Do the classical music buffs just absorb these terms with the music as the setters seem to assume a large amount of specialist knowledge in these terms.

    Thx P and setter

    1. I think the answer to that is ‘yes’, just as the science buffs seem to know all about obscure physicists and the classical buffs about long-dead heroes! Many classical music buffs can read music and probably play at least one instrument, so are familiar with the more well-used musical terms. Also, if studying to a higher grade in an instrument with ABRSM, one has to take the Grade V theory exam in the UK and would be required to learn the common Italian musical instructions. A quick search for ‘common Italian musical terms’ gives you the basic ones (the Wikipedia entry is a bit abstruse!) which are well worth committing to memory.

  41. I managed only a handful of answers in the morning and thought this one was beyond me but came back to it later in the day and was very pleased to complete it.
    LOI (and NHO) SUBITO
    COD FOR HEAVENS SAKE (though I had no idea about the parsing until reading the blog)

  42. I thought this would be harder than it was in the end – it just took a while to get the gist of the setter’s tricks. I didn’t help myself by not noticing that 12A was 6,1 and trying to find a 7 letter word ending in ARB! SUBITO was no problem once the S and T were in place and I twigged that it was a musical instruction. LISLE was bifd early on, but took too long to see the hidden. Liked GALLSTONE and DRAGNET, both worked out from the direction. SATCHMO also not a problem – with jazz musicians it’s not going to be someone really obscure – and I liked the misdirection – Humphrey Lyttelton famously went to “that” school! LOI ETERNAL, which took a ridiculous time to see – I was fixated on EVE being NEVER with the outside off. In the end I bifd it, and all became clear with the parsing.

  43. All done bar SUBITO, music another weak spot of mine and just couldn’t see what to put round the “bit” I had! Otherwise I found it straightforward. I’ll hope for better tomorrow.

  44. I have, for some time, been aware of the SNITCH but I’ve only just discovered this blog; and what a wonderful thing it is.
    Compared with many here, I am clearly something of a lightweight, but I like to think that I will complete the crossword most days (albeit usually in the 30-60 minute timeframe).
    This particular crossword, however, caused me a number of problems to the extent that I could not complete it, and found it much harder than its SNITCH rating.
    I was not familiar with the terms SUBITO or LISLE and have never heard of SCHILLER. I was not aware that calculus (the GALLSTONE clue) had a meaning outside of mathematics. I guessed HUMID without having heard of David Hume. And REINDEER and WANNABEE caused me to do lots of head scratching!
    Thank you for this wonderful blog and for the wonderful explanations. I shall try to do better next time!

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