Times 28797 – after Cwristmas quiz time?

The third and last of the semi-final puzzles from the TCC in October, and in my view the easiest, it took me less than my allotted 20 minutes (which the other two did not).  Quite a few straightforward anagrams opened it up, and I had the required GK. I liked Joycean and cadenza and am raising an eyebrow at the parsing of sword cane.

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

1 Degradation of middle, now vulgar (3-6)
6 Primarily kale and peppers, suitable for stuffing (5)
KAPOK – First letters of Kale And Peppers, OK = suitable.
9 Organisation of space and length of entry to air passage (5)
NASAL – NASA the “space organisation”, L for length.
10 Rigged tally to exclude new socialist (9)
ACCOUTRED – ACCOU[N]T, RED for socialist.
11 Jack with years surrounded by sea using inventive language? (7)
JOYCEAN – J for Jack, OCEAN for sea, insert Y for years. James Joyce certainly used inventive language! I’ve managed Ulysses and Dubliners but given up on Finnegans Wake.
12 A drug conveyer with petty officer in a small vessel (7)
AMPOULE – A MULE conveys drugs, insert PO.
13 To nick spy chief follows decorum (14)
MISAPPROPRIATE – M (spy chief in James Bond movies) IS APPROPRIATE = follows decorum.
17 Sign by this motorway’s last for us, seeing that bank (5,9)
YOURS SINCERELY – Y (end of motorway), OURS (for us), SINCE (seeing that), RELY (bank).
21 All Blacks maybe blocking bad guy before each player’s chance to shine (7)
CADENZA – All Blacks being the NZ rugby team; CAD (bad guy), EA (each) insert NZ.
Tiny amount of broth — a swiz (7)
SOUPCON -There should be a cedilla under the C, so it’s really the French word soupçon pronounced soupson; SOUP is broth and a CON is a swiz. (not a SWIZZ?)
25 Nothing original in parking angle to north or south (9)
PLATITUDE – P (parking) LATITUDE (north or south).
26 Time for conclusion of hopeless complaint (5)
BLEAT – BLEAK = hopeless, substitute T for the K.
27 Bedder’s somewhat pricey — exorbitant in retrospect (5)
OXEYE – reversed hidden as above. A kind of daisy seen in crosswords. When I saw “bedder” I immediately thought “plant”.
28 Genuine article, the makings of echt unit (9)
1 Wish magistrate to restrict dubious pronouncement for contest (4,4)
LONG JUMP – LONG (for) = wish (for), JP = magistrate, Justice of the Peace in England; insert UM a dubious pronouncement.
2 Lived honestly, less content and not at full strength (5)
WASHY – WAS (lived), H[onestl]Y. As in wishy washy.
3 The Speaker’s going to moderate surliness (3,6)
ILL TEMPER – I’LL TEMPER = I’m going to moderate.
4 Daughter and German man stand by sink after washing (7)
DRAINER – D for daughter, RAINER is a popular German first name.
5 Conceptual artist put tea in ditch (7)
DUCHAMP – CHA for tea, inside DUMP for ditch. Marcel Duchamp was a French artist and sculptor, among other works he was famous for “fountain”, a urinal, which was entered as a sculpture in an exhibition in 1917 and then thrown out as “not art”. I remembered his Mona Lisa version with a moustache and beard also caused a stir.
6 Family with arms factories runs under a thousand to increase power (5)
KRUPP – K (a thousand) R (runs) UP P (increase power). From 1587, says Wiki, this steel-making dynasty in Essen grew and grew, and was the largest company in Europe before WWI.
7 Rapid turnaround on a point? (9)
PIROUETTE – cryptic definition.
8 Organ tonality includes one reed’s lowest note (6)
KIDNEY – KEY (tonality), insert I (one) D (low end of reed) N (note).
14 Reports of Triad possibly sound, when heads make switch a concealed weapon (5,4)
SWORD CANE – I saw it had to be sword quickly, but took a while to think of the type of sword involved. I also am struggling with the ‘head switch’; I can see SANE = sound, but to pronounce CWORD as CHORD (a triad in music) is a bit much. Is there more to it?
15 Queen tussling with a Lib, not fairly matched? (9)
16 Pinch toy after rocking to induce sleep (8)
18 Suffering regular losses, use plan to upload flexible tool (7)
SPATULA – alternate letters as above.
19 Northern levelling up? It’s in the early stages (7)
NASCENT – N for northern, ASCENT for (levelling) up; an attempt to make the surface topical.
20 General science with a transcendental ring (6)
SCIPIO – SCI for science (as in Sci-Fi perhaps), PI = transcendental (?) O for ring. Roman general I’d heard of but know nothing about. Apparently there were at least five Scipios who were generals.
22 Not in any way missing wife’s interference (5)
NOISE – NO-WISE meaning not in any way, drop the W for wife.
24 Crack and Charlie given up (5)
CLEFT – C for Charlie, LEFT for given up.


62 comments on “Times 28797 – after Cwristmas quiz time?”

  1. I thought this was the easiest too! And wonderful.
    My eyes alit on DUCHAMP first, and my LOI was JOYCEAN.
    I was on the wavelength all the way. NHO of KAPOK, so it was fourth from the end.
    I took SWORD CANE to be a Spoonerism, with the first sounds switched, not the letters.
    Never heard/seen WASHY without WISHY first.
    Collins gives the two-Z SWIZZ as an alternative.

  2. I didn’t find this at all easy so was pleased to have all but three answers in the SW after 50 minutes and even got SCIPIO! As an hour came up on the clock I called time as I was getting nowhere with the remainder.

    I was annoyed missing CADENZA as it’s a musical term and that’s one of my specialist areas, but it was the sporting reference in the wordplay that did for me as I forgot the All Blacks represent New Zealand.

    I failed on SWORD-CANE too and afterwards wondered why ‘reports’ rather than ‘report’ as the homophone applies to only one element of the clue i.e. triad. As for the switching heads thing, I agree it doesn’t work, but assumed the setter was attempting a Spooner device without mentioning him, and Spoonerisms in puzzles can be quite flexible in their application. (Edit: Guy posted whilst I was writing this).

      1. But surely ‘sound = sane’ so there’s no need for an indicator, and the change to CANE is covered by ‘heads switch’?

        1. Seems to me this just means it’s the sounds being switched, not the letters, in regards to “chord” (it’s not CHANE, after all) as well as “sword.”

          1. You may well be right, but I still feel the clue is unsatisfactory as so far we have 3 opinions about it, each of them different. Anyway I’m done thinking about it now as the more I think, the less I understand of it.

  3. I think Guy’s right about SWORD CANE, although I didn’t get it at the time; couldn’t get past Triad as a Chinese gang. SCIPIO went in quickly, although I didn’t know ‘transcendental’, just assuming that it was a mathematical term of some sort (which it is: ODE ‘(of a number, e.g. e or π) real but not a root of an algebraic equation with rational coefficients’). KRUPP was a gimme, and surprised me.

  4. I found this a struggle and DNF. I couldn’t parse a few and was bamboozled by the wordplay for 14d for which I bunged in SWORD CASE in desperation; I was nowhere near being able to analyse it in the detail discussed above. The only point I noted was that a V was missing for the pangram but I didn’t think such frippery would count for much in a semi-final puzzle.

  5. In the found-it-hard camp, due to lack of GK as much as anything, also thrown a bit by the wordiness of the clues. NHO CADENZA, didn’t know a chord was 3 notes, missed BLEAK and wondered why BLEA was hopeless, didn’t know a JP was a magistrate, etc. Had heard of SCIPIO (or at least one of them, SCIPIO AFRICANUS; didn’t know there were 5). As a mathematician of sorts, didn’t know PI was transcendental, would’ve put only e in that class. Without actually knowing what transcendental meant.
    FWIW I had the definition at the other end in AMPOULE – a small vessel – with A MULE as a drug-carrier.

    1. I didn’t notice that Pip had underlined the wrong part of AMPOULE! You’ve got it right.
      A triad is only the most basic chord.

  6. A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
    Born of the very sigh that silence heaves
    (I stood tip-toe upon a little hill, Keats)

    40 mins pre-brekker and I found it tough. “Levelling” up, really? And the Sword Cane is terrible. But mostly I liked it.
    Ta setter and Pip.

  7. I didn’t find this easy at all, and almost gave up. After about 45 minutes I was left with four crossing answers in the SW. I eventually got PLATITUDE, thought the general must be SCIPIO, but thought ‘science’ was SC, leaving IPI for the ‘transcental’. CADENZA took ages, achieved when I guessed CAD for ‘bad guy, followed by more staring for SWORD CANE, the wordplay to which perplexed me.
    60 minutes.

  8. 53 minutes. LOI was KAPOK which I did not know. I hadn’t heard of M. DUCHAMP either. Fortunately, both could be constructed. I had heard of SCIPIO which was as well as I wasn’t sure about either Pi or Ipi for transcendental. A bit too much I didn’t know for this to be enjoyable, or maybe I’m still recovering from too much Christmas. Thank you Pip and setter.

  9. DNF. 29/30 again. Defeated for a second time by SWORD CANE which I couldn’t get on the day either. KAPOK, KRUPP and DUCHAMP were all also unknown at the time and constructed from the wordplay. Thank-you Pip and setter.

  10. Steady solve; no GK problems, but not my favourite setting style, too wordy for me.
    Sword cane from “chord sane,” didn’t bother me unduly at the time, but perhaps should have. Inelegant, at the least.

  11. Reading the comments so far about SWORD CANE I’m rather surprised the clue was allowed through in a Championship puzzle where one might expect that all clues would be subjected to the utmost scrutiny by the editorial team. In my view it’s a dog’s dinner that at least needed to be refined, or perhaps better, chucked out and a new clue constructed from scratch.

  12. I managed this in the 6 minutes I had left from the first two, with 24 minutes injury time, finding it on the tough side, especially in the SW where blanks jeered at me for almost a third of my time. That general had possibilities, including Franco, and I hesitated over PI for transcendental. Chambers gives “obtrusively religious, sanctimonious” which seems a long way off.
    I didn’t mind the Spoonerism, even if our setter in the effort not to apply the Speverend rather smudged to job.
    I was rather chuffed to get the arty bits: isn’t Duchamp the guy with the urinal? Ceci n’est pas un pissoir.
    Note to setter: if you go to all the trouble to get the top scoring Scrabble letters in, it seems capricious to miss out the V.

  13. 47 minutes and an amazingly similar experience to johninterred above. LOI was sword cane and it took me about 5 minutes of fiddling round to get the cane part, is it really meant to be chord sane?
    I can see why some people thought it was easy because the two long across clues misappropriate and yours sincerely did go in fast, and there were a few others similarly like my FOI scipio. But after that it was a real battle and I suppose that‘s what separates the men from the boys. I‘d like to get to the point where I can finish a puzzle like this inside 30 minutes, maybe another year or two 😉
    Also NHO kapok, I had heard of the Krupp family actually (otherwise I‘d never have got kapok) but only after dredging my memory.
    Thanks setter and blogger, really appreciate all the work that goes into this.
    Oh well back to work…

  14. 51:04 but technically a DNF as in my haste to submit I didn’t notice SCIPIO had turned into SCIPPO.

    I found this a mixed bag, with plenty of answers entered on first reading, a few where I immediately thought of the answer but couldn’t initially parse (yes you SWORD CANE), and a few particularly in the SW which took some unpicking.

    A nice challenge and happy to eventually fall over the line albeit with a typo.

    Kudos to the speedsters and thanks to setter and blogger both.

  15. This took me about ten minutes this time, definitely helped by remembering some of the clues that really held me up the first time.
    The interpretation of 14ac depends on the definition of the word ‘head’. If you read it as ‘the first letter’, the clue doesn’t work, but is there any reason to be so prescriptive? ‘Head’ just means the front part of something, which could just as legitimately mean the initial sound in the context of a homophone.

    1. I thought this was the hardest on the day, and I only just finished it 10 seconds before the hour was up. It still took me 14 mins this time! You’re right about the parsing of SWORD CANE, which is just a simple Spoonerism by a different name (i.e. with phonetic heads switched). I remember this causing some discussion on the day, partly because it’s a rather convoluted clue and partly because many people (including me) had never heard of the weapon in question. Apart from this one, the other clues I struggled with on the day were JOYCEAN (not sure I was aware of the word), KRUPP (also NHO) and, strangely, DRAINER, since I’ve never come across the name “Rainer”.

      1. Rainer didn’t strike me as a common German name either; the only one I could bring to mind when solving was the filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

        1. Let down by my abysmal knowledge of German(-speaking) cultural icons. I’m afraid neither Fassbinder nor Rilke have impinged on my consciousness. I must do better.

          1. Well yes. I don’t understand the objection here. There are two reports: ‘chord’ and ‘sane’. The clue instructs us to switch the first sound (head, first part) of each ‘report’ to get ‘sword’ and ‘cane’. It’s unusual in that the instructions all apply to the sounds of the words, so the spelling is irrelevant (and indeed distracting) but I don’t see anything wrong with that.

            1. I agree. It’s a perfectly sound clue in terms of the wordplay. My problem with it is the surface reading, as I can’t make much sense of “when heads make switch a concealed weapon” – “head” as in “capo” and “switch” as in “stick” I suppose? A bit clunky if you ask me.

  16. 25:29. A bit of a struggle, but all worthwhile. No problem with the structure of the SWORD CANE clue, although it and SCIPIO were the source of most of my problems in the knotty SW corner.

  17. A number of visits this morning so no time, but not quick! All of which didn’t matter as I DNF, with a biff at SWORD CAgE… my options were “cage” and “case”; cane never came into it and attempts at parsing didn’t help. Quite happy with others, enjoyed JOYCEAN and CADENZA. SCIPIO and KRUPP were somehow write-ins for me. Only other biff was NHO KAPOK (well I think I’ve heard the term but no idea where from). Thanks Piquet and setter.

  18. I found this tricky and eventually came unstuck having come up with SCAPIO, which I looked up only to discover it should be SCIPIO, so I submitted off leaderboard, but then discovered a typo in CADENEA. Had a MER at SWORD CANE too. Otherwise all solved and parsed in 34:40. Thanks setter and Pip.

  19. People seem to be coming round to the fact that SWORD CANE is just a Spoonerism (why did the setter so obliquely avoid saying that it was a Spoonerism? Was it because for some reason some people don’t like them?) and homophonic rather than literal. I can’t see the problem. My problems were that I’d never heard of a SWORD CANE and also couldn’t get past the Chinese gangs. The fact that it was Reports not Report also threw me. Otherwise it was OK, but I used aids at the end for this and CADENZA (nice clue), PLATITUDE and NOISE as the time ticked up to 60 minutes. And I couldn’t equate ascent and levelling up.

    1. Yes, I’m another who only knows ‘sword stick’, which didn’t help. Obviously the clue was not unsolvable, and those who bother little with parsing probably had an advantage here, but the very fact clue has been the subject of so much conflicting opinion here and (we learn from Stavrolex) on competition day, only serves to underline that it’s an unsatisfactory clue.

        1. Well yes. But you are assuming that your parsing of the clue is the correct one, and indeed what the setter intended. I’m happy to accept that it’s a possibility, and even more than a possibility, but I’m still not entirely convinced. Yet I have no doubt about the correct parsing of any other clue in the puzzle.

  20. DNF, too hard in both SW and NE corners.
    Wasn’t expecting KRUPP although in retrospect it’s quite easy.
    I’ve heard of SWORD STICKs but not canes.
    Oh well, remind me never to enter the competition.

  21. 80 mins but included a shower and post Christmas snooze so I guess 50 minutes on the job. I thought SWORD CANE was pretty legit. ‘Triad possibly’ gives you chord, ‘sound’ gives you sane, switch the initial sounds (ignoring the spelling) and you get sword cane. And a nice surface about Triads and flick knives. What’s not to like?
    Rainer Maria Rilke, anyone, for other famous Rainers?

  22. Beaten by SCIPIO, NHO the general and didn’t understand the meaning of transcendental so stood no chance. Was pleased to have solved the rest although much was hit and hope.

  23. Found this very difficult and would have approximately 10 clues in the allotted 20 minutes. Pleased to gradually work through in 44 mins – SE corner proved the most difficult. I had thought of misappropriate early on but could not see how it worked and ruled it out by stupidly entering unequable so that slowed me down a bit. Somehow I must have heard of SCIPIO so it went in once I had the checkers but did not understand it until I came here. Sword cane went in with fingers crossed and as per the debate above I think it a slightly meh clue. Overall though superb puzzle – loved Joycean, Drainer,Duchamp.
    Thanks P and setter

  24. I printed this out and worked on it at around 3am when I decided I wasn’t going to get back to sleep, so no excuses necessary for the over-an-hour for most of it, being left with 3 or 4 clues unsolved. The morning brought fresh energy and YOURS SINCERELY hove into sight, confirming my suspicion of SWORD being the first of the 14D words. I had twigged ‘chord’, so it was just a case of going through the alphabet until CA-E made sense. Luckily, I didn’t stop at CAGE, but went through to ‘n’, and the penny dropped. It may have been my LOI, but I rather like it.
    I am the world’s least likely rugby fan, but I had heard of the All Blacks, which made CADENZA fairly straightforward once I’d sorted out the order. Couldn’t parse BLEAK or SCIPIO, so thanks for the explanation, Piquet. Liked DUCHAMP, JOYCEAN and ACCOUTRED.

  25. 26:49

    Found this a bit of a slog. Not at all keen on SWORD CANE and “PI” for TRANSCENDENTAL seems quite a stretch. I did like JOYCEAN and MISAPPROPRIATE.

    I once went to a party in Paris where the host had a copy of Marcel Duchamp’s death mask on the wall. Was relieve to find it was not one of those works of art where the eyes follow you around the room.

    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

      1. I’m obliged to you. Up till now, my knowledge of things transcendental has been heavily influenced by the Beatles and their search for enlightenment with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

        1. I confess I only learned this from this puzzle (leaving aside the very real possibility that I’ve learned it before and forgotten). I remember from school maths that pi is an irrational number, and it occurred to me that ‘transcendental number’ might be a thing, so I looked it up!

  26. 29:43

    Not remembered from the event apart from a vague recollection of SWORD CANE when I thought of it. My total for the three puzzles was 76:14 with the first puzzle being my most successful. Unusual but entertaining stuff here, WASHY, KRUPP, DUCHAMP amongst others…

  27. DNF

    Put ‘sword cage’ rather than SWORD CANE, thinking that sage=sound (e.g. advice). I get that a cage is an unlikely place to conceal a sword, but I never thought of ‘sane’.

    I’m slightly more annoyed by SCIPIO, as the ‘a’ in the clue led me to ‘Scapio’, with Sc for science (e.g. in BSc). Again, I know ultimately it’s my lack of general knowledge that has let me down here, but the ‘a’ really didn’t need to be there so I feel the clue is pointlessly misleading.

    Worked out KAPOK from wordplay, didn’t know JP=magistrate for LONG JUMP, and only vaguely recognised AMPOULE. Also got NOISE without being familiar with ‘no-wise’ as a term.

    COD Duchamp

  28. A shade over 35 minutes, with the SW corner proving hard to crack. Went down a few rabbit holes along the way (an anagram of GUY? Y AXIS as an angle to north or south?!). Didn’t know what a CADENZA was although had heard the term, had only vaguely heard of SCIPIO, thought of SWORD CANE early on but took forever to parse even though I know basic chords have three notes, and so on.

    Finally noticed we nearly had a pangram, so in desperation went on a letter-hunt, found there to be no V, returned to my remaining clue… and there was PLATITUDE staring me in the face.

    Not quite ready for the champs then, but at least I finished.

    Eyebrow slightly raised at SWORD CANE, and even more so at ‘bedder’, although the intent was clear.

    Thanks both.

  29. I found this the hardest so far. It was a real struggle but got there in the end. In spite of my solving problems, it was an enjoyable 63 minutes.

  30. 70 minutes, so not straightforward at all, but the tricky clues were very enjoyable (JOYCEAN, for example, ACCOUTRED, CADENZA). My last twenty minutes or so were spent mulling over SWORD CANE, where I had no problem with the switched heads, more with the components whose heads were to be switched. SWORD seemed reasonable enough, but for “sound” I first thought of “hale”, then “safe” which at least would give me the S of SWORD, and only after a long while of “sane”, which suggested CANE in the answer, CHORD as the triad, and so the correct answer. For a long time I thought the second word would be some obscure heraldic term, but thankfully it wasn’t.

  31. Mrs T and I clearly on the wavelength for this one as our time of 30 minutes is more than twice as fast as we’d have expected from the snitch (indeed we might not have even started if we’d seen that first!). That said there were three or four that we didn’t / couldn’t parse properly without the blog (esp. SWORD CANE) but we had enough checkers for the answers to be evident. We retire with feathers in our caps.

  32. “Cleft” is not a noun like crack. It is the past participle of cleave, hence an adjective meaning cracked.

  33. Pirouette is the kind of word I do better on when there is some cryptic wordplay to help me remember all the letters and get them into the right places.
    I read it (after a lot of post solve headscratching) as change the headers SW out for C to get triad (chord) when “reported”, then sound is just sane. Not a Spoonerism, as it’s only Spoonerising the first word.

  34. Got kapok from the k. A common name for a small tree which flowers in nq when leafless in the dry season (Aug to Oct). The bright yellow flowers glow in the contrasting grey greens of the rest of the dry sclerophyll forest.

    Kicking myself for missing the Scipio cadenza crossing.

  35. 22d NOISE could have been NAIVE, an easy chance missed to complete the pangram.
    Otherwise another SCAPIO. Guessed the transcendental bit as I had heard of irrationals.
    Slow start then quite fast, once I got into the top half it just filled in, an hour or so.

  36. Wouldn’t the clueing for cadenza call for the ‘nz’ to be put in the cad part, “before” ea. ie Canzdea? This, particularly crossing with the unwieldy sword cane, and unknown scipio, did for me.


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