28114 Thursday, 21 October 2021 Ballet tricky

Well, I struggled my way through this one, taking 33.39 with answers scattered all over the place, trying (and failing) to parse as I went so I could look you all in the face and explain myself. It’s all done now, but it took some doing.
I expect to find solvers with Nervererdovs turning up today, especially perhaps those lacking Latin and Greek, Eng Lit and Geography in their collection of O-levels. But I can’t fault (and I occasionally enthusiastically applaud) the cluing which is by turns deceptive especially for the seasoned solver, witty and inventive, and kind where it needs to be (mostly). So yes, a struggle, but rather an enjoyable one. Couldn’t help noticing two ballets!
Below is my working, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS.

1 Build hotel by Yankee Stadium’s entrance? Irritation all round (8)
PHYSIQUE H(otel) Y (NATO Yankee) and S at the entrance to Stadium with PIQUE for irritation “all round”, which for once is not a reversal indicator but a placement indicator. Well, it confused me.
5 Failure overtakes our team again? (6)
LAPSUS Often enough, “overtakes” might be an inclusion indicator, but it’s not here. Just LAPS US for overtakes “our team”. Lapsus is, as you might guess, Latin, and found in phrases such as lapsus calami, a slip of the pen, and lapsus linguae, a slip of the tongue.
9 Peninsula in America — gas found within thousand kilometre area (9)
KAMCHATKA One of my earlier entries, which for some reason occurred to me despite not being part of America: it’s on Russia’s eastern edge. I then worked out the construction: AMerica contributes its first two letters, gas is CHAT, thousand and Kilometre provide the two surrounding Ks and A(rea) finishes.
11 Once yours truly’s heading inside, nearly everyone heads there (5)
THINE Separate yours and truly or you end up with me. Our old version of your’s is produced by the first letters (heads there) of Truly’s Heading Inside, Nearly Everyone.
12 Lock where key may be found a hindrance (7)
RINGLET I don’t know about you, but my key (and others) is found on a RING. LET is hindrance. “Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.“
13 China of the future, maybe, appeared a friend of America (7)
ROSEBUD It probably helps if you know China Rose is a thing, “Rosa chinensis, a shrub rose, ancestor of many cultivated varieties” (Chambers). Google disagrees and says China Rose is a variety of hibiscus and not a rose as such. Take your pick. The wordplay’s easier: appeared is ROSE, and friend of America is BUD.
14 Recent order he dispatched for type of hat? (5-8)
THREE-CORNERED Right, lets have a decent anagram (dispatched) of RECENT ORDER HE. Manuel de Falla wrote an entire ballet about one.
16 Understood fellow had one position to complete (2,3,8)
GO THE DISTANCE Understood: GOT, fellow had: HE’D, one: I, position: STANCE. Respace (though of course you don’t have to)
20 Betting with gold creating stir abroad, once (7)
SPANDAU SP (Starting Price) for betting, with: AND (not just a filler), gold: AU. Home to Nazi war criminal Rudolph Hess until he died in 1987, when it was demolished. “Stir” is one of  the many slang terms for prison.
21 Blended whiskey to crack open as roast’s cooked? (7)
INWOVEN W (NATO Whiskey) cracks (is inserted into) the way a roast is cooked, IN OVEN.
23 Letter abroad recalled very different times (5)
OMEGA I meant to go back and check this one, but only just now did so. AGE and MO are very different times, are they not? Reverse (recalled).
24 Price of flat, one brother’s acquired (4,5)
EVEN MONEY Price (as in a Starting Price above). Flat is EVEN, ONE is in plain sight, and you’re meant to see brother as an exclamation similar to MY, which “acquires” ONE
25 Vital Geordie heads for Fleet Street? (6)
NEEDED Geordie indicated the N(orth) E(ast), Newcastle-ish and you then have two ED(itor)s, from the days when the press occupied Fleet Street
26 Man in charge and boy inside: equal before the law? (8)
ISONOMIC Man gives you I(sle) O(f) M(an). Put SON for boy inside and end with I(n) C(harge). Didn’t know the word, but ISO- is common enough for equal, and nomos is Greek for law, so entered with relative confidence.
1 The usual sandwiches put out with a spicy snack (6)
PAKORA PAR for the usual with KO for put out sandwiched, and A in plain sight. Yummy fried potato/vegetable and gram flour confections.
2 Country having long border where you find it (5)
YEMEN Interesting grammar. Long gives YEN, bordering ME for Middle East, where indeed it is.
3 Breather? Gas fitter needs one at the start (7)
INHALER The gas is N(itrogen) with HALER for fitter (more fit). I (one) is indeed needed at the start
4 A competent note-taker will be fresh! (2-2-3-6)
UP-TO-THE-MINUTE So a competent note-taker will be UP TO  (the task of taking) THE MINUTE.
6 One with craft capsizing in ocean as it rains (7)
ARTISAN  A reverse (capsizing) hidden in oceaN AS IT RAins.
7 Poet, second Graves, maybe, eclipsing Smart (9)
SWINBURNE Algernon Charles, satirised by G&S in Patience. Graves is not Robert, but the wine. So we have S(econd) WINE eclipsing (for which read enclosing) BURN for smart.
8 Substitute pops note with flyer inside ladder (8)
STEPDADS My POI, which I just couldn’t make head or tail of for ages. It’s D (pick one from 7) for note plus AD for flyer inside STEPS for ladder.
10 Maybe fighter’s fitness trainer who is unusually small (13)
AIRWORTHINESS Another I’ve only just parsed, though it’s only an anagram (unusually) of TRAINER WHO IS plus S(mall)
14 Time to take in film, ensconced in Peg’s sofa (4-1-4)
TÊTE-À-TÊTE (Accents optional) an S shaped sofa designed for intimate conversation &c. T(ime) plus EAT for take in plus ET for the film of unrivalled usefulness to setters, al “ensconced” inn TEE for Peg.
15 Urge to behave amorously that’s taken up at breakfast? (3,5)
EGG SPOON EGG for urge, plus SPOON for the type of amorous behaviour undertaken by the light of the silvery moon.
17 Willing to support objective when mate approaches? (7)
ENDGAME The last few moves in chess. GAME for willing “supports” END for objective.
18 Reporter from NSW wrestling with name (7)
NEWSMAN An anagram (wrestling) of NSW plus NAME
19 Working together with popular broadcast’s founder? (2,4)
IN SYNC IN is popular, and then we have a soundslike (broadcast’s) SINK for founder, spelt with a Y and a C
22 What makes ham have harmful ingredient! (5)
VENOM So to get have from ham you have VE and NO M. There’s clever!

89 comments on “28114 Thursday, 21 October 2021 Ballet tricky”

  1. The SNITCH is currently at 154, which is something of a comfort as I had a struggle with this one. Like FOI 4d kind of a struggle. LOI OMEGA, of all things; I just couldn’t see how to parse it–toyed with OSERA for a while–until the very end. Biffed EVEN MONEY, parsed-post-submission. Ditto YEMEN, where I finally thought of Middle East. Never figured out the IN of INHALER, and only put it in rather than EX once I had PHYSIQUE. Like Z I thought of KAMCHATKA early on, partly because of ‘kilometer area’, and partly because ‘Peninsula in America’ strongly suggested that it wasn’t in America. Is ‘again’ needed in LAPSUS?
    1. I think so, no? If I just overtake you I haven’t lapped you yet. If I overtake you again, I’ve lapped you. At least that’s how I read it.
      1. I guess I didn’t actually know what ‘lap’ meant. So if you’re ahead of me from the start, and complete a lap and pass me, you haven’t lapped me?

        Edited at 2021-10-21 06:19 am (UTC)

      2. I don’t think lapping is necessarily overtaking again, since you can be ahead from the start, but the clue would have been very difficult without it. It was hard enough as it was!
        1. I don’t see how it helps; it got in the way for me, anyway, as I thought ‘re-‘ something.
          1. It certainly helped me. I had US for ‘our team’ and then got LAPS directly from ‘overtakes again’ where I don’t think I would have got it from just ‘overtakes’.
            1. Ah; that’s where ignorance pays off: I thought ‘laps’ meant, more or less, ‘overtakes’, so the ‘again’ was extraneous and indeed misleading.
  2. Thanks for parsing that tricksy clue! Tough and enjoyable puzzle with some interesting wordplay.
  3. As the hour approached with still three answers missing in the NW I relented and looked up the unknown peninsula which then gave me checkers to crack the remaining clues with comparative ease.

    I had no idea what was going on with SYNC at 19dn. Earlier I had spent ages trying to make the answer ‘en bloc’.

    And speaking of wasting time, I lost track of the time spent trying parse the easy answer ARTISAN as an anagram. Eventually I gave up on it and never did spot the reverse hidden!

    I’ve seen EGG SPOON very recently either here or elsewhere and wondered again today whether such a utensil actually exists? I’ve always used a teaspoon, and the spoon in ‘egg-and-spoon race’ is a dessert- or table-spoon.

    Edited at 2021-10-21 02:37 am (UTC)

    1. It may have a special shape, jack, but an egg spoon in a silver service is gold plated in the operative area, to protect against the sulphur in the egg eating the silver in the spoon while you eat the eggs.
        1. invented and designed ‘the egg spoon’as we know it today. I have a very lovely blue ‘Mandarin’ egg spoon/cup from Alessi. Also see ‘Private Eye’.
          1. I’d forgotten that, horryd — a different kind of egg spoon, and hard to use in most non-professional kitchens, eh? But in my view pretty much exactly as pretentious as a Victorian gold-plated siver service number. Porcelain does seem like a good idea

            Edited at 2021-10-21 11:59 am (UTC)

  4. DNF, with the Lapus / Stepdad crossers and the Airworthiness / Isowhatever crossers irkingly unfinished due mostly, I now see, to shortsightedness and lack of imagination. I did know Kamchatka, but still don’t see what the “in” is doing — its wrong for both the surface and the construction.
    I began to put ticks for particular cleverness, but after the fifth or sixth in a row decided to just save my ink. Thanks setter, and ditto a

    Edited at 2021-10-21 04:03 am (UTC)

      1. thanks — usually I don’t expect misdirection in the connection/filler bits, and this stood out because it was pretty much the only slightly awkward bit of any clue in the whole puzzle.
        And, it was ‘thank you Z’ in my post. (thank you, siri)
  5. Time 74 minutes – which is about 2 per SNITCH point.
    KAMCHATKA was a gimme as Waddington’s ‘Go’ board-game which strongly featured the Soviet peninsula. Playground of the GRU – ‘the gru-lag’ as we used to call it, komrade! My WOD.

    The Most Annoying Clue (MAC) was 22dn VENOM – dear Lord! It parseth all understanding, here in Meldrewvia.

    FOI 18dn NEWSMAN – I nominate Max Aitken – ‘The Beaver’

    LOI 19dn IN SYNC – unlike Biden & Co.

    COD 20ac SPANDAU – the Nazi Old Folks Home!

    13ac ROSEBUD – ever Citizen Kane

    Friday bodes dodgy, innit!?

    Edited at 2021-10-21 05:25 am (UTC)

  6. Really enjoyed that. The clues, as Paul says, seem to all deserve ticks – very well crafted. Also a mighty struggle, finally finishing with LAPSUS and STEPDADS. Kamchatka known from the 1980s, where KAL 007 went off course and flew over it only to be shot down by a pair of MiGs. Also known more recently as colleagues went to work there – in the snow and ice of winter!
    COD airworthiness for the unexpected definition.
  7. Another one to struggle at 77 minutes. I didn’t know LAPSUS (last in) or ISONOMIC and many others, eg TÊTE-À-TÊTE, were entered first and parsed later. Some v. good defs in ‘Substitute pops’, ‘stir abroad, once’ and ‘Maybe fighter’s fitness’ but the most satisfying bit for me was working out the VE NO M wordplay.

    Took a while but glad to have solved what the SNITCH (so far) indicates is the most difficult one we’ve had for a few weeks.

    Thanks to setter and blogger

  8. Not the fastest solve, but one of the most enjoyable. Just a series of gems offering themselves up one at a time. The last to fall were my NHOs, PAKORA and KAMCHATKA, although I also didn’t know LAPSUS, or that an EGG SPOON was a thing.

    Reluctant to nominate a COD, but I’ll plump for VENOM on the basis that Horryd found it most annoying.

    Well done setter, and thanks for the blog Z.

  9. What a strenuous (but lovely) workout! But some really enjoyable clueing. I needed help with the P in SPANDAU — I didn’t know the prison, and I did remember SP = starting price but thought it had something to do with markets, rather than betting. Vinyl helped urge me towards the UK meaning for ‘gas’ = CHAT, which I had forgotten. Finally fell over the line with LAPSUS… kept trying to make PASSUS work, but I knew it wasn’t right!
    1. SP is bookies’ and track-betting, latterly adopted by the markets when ‘the lads’ entered the fray. Spandau Ballet!? Unpleasant derivation – not suitable here.

      Edited at 2021-10-21 05:29 am (UTC)

      1. I’ve never heard SP in a financial market context. There isn’t really an equivalent of the betting term so I wonder what it would even mean.
        1. The financial markets are little different to what goes on at Kempton Park and Huntingdon on a raceday. ‘What’s the SP on the S&P’. I learnt a new bit of CRS from Huntingdon, last time out – ‘Goin’ for a Stanley?’ = Fancy some Sushi!? – Stanley Tuschi is immortalised along with with Gregory Peck – some neck – and Ruby Murray.

          Edited at 2021-10-21 09:25 am (UTC)

                1. Mr. Pedwardine, you must understand that Lord Keriothe has to have the last word! Watch this space!
  10. I often seem to do well when I haven’t slept properly. This was hard but most enjoyable, finished in 22′ 13″.

    The parsing of ROSEBUD was unknown to me, I constructed the idea that ‘china of the future’ meant one’s intended and thought of the poem ‘gather ye rosebuds while ye may’ ……it does fit

    VENOM ! — not in a million years would the parsing have occurred to me, but I will now consider this device in the future.

    Thanks z and setter.

    Edited at 2021-10-21 06:36 am (UTC)

    1. “Future” as “fiancé(e)” was my guess there too, though I wasn’t sure if that sense had been transplanted French (futur[e]) to English—and apparently it hasn’t. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this part.

      Edited at 2021-10-22 04:36 pm (UTC)

  11. I fell at LAPSUS, a word I’ve never heard of. Everything else correct. I knew KAMCHATKA only because of the Korean Airlines flight. I had no idea what was going on with VENOM but I couldn’t think of anything else. I didn’t know ISONOMIC nor the Greek for law, so that was not filled in with confidence. I first tried ISONANIC (with IAN as the man, before realizing ISONOMIC seemed more likely). I didn’t know China Rose was a thing, but I got that one anyway. I also fell into the trap of trying to make ARTISAN as an anagram of “as it rains” which it nearly is, before having a PDM. I thought STEPDAD was brilliantly misleading once I’d stopped being misled. Also, I agree that overtakes and laps are separate things. “overtakes twice” or something would be ok, but LAPS just never occurred to me and eventually I bunged in CAUSUS (no idea about the CA bit, but US US was “our team” US and “again” US again.
  12. This crossword was clever and slightly different but what it lacked for me was a little light relief.
  13. To think of things that are well outworn?
    Of fruitless husk and fugitive flower,
    The dream foregone and the deed forborne?

    How apt. After 35 mins pre-brekker, I was left with the NHO Lapsus and gave up.
    I liked it. Very clever. Mostly I liked: Airworthiness, In Synch and Endgame.
    However, I do think Gas=Nitrogen=N is overreach.
    Thanks setter. Great blog Z.

    1. Mr. Myrtilus: Something more fruitful – may I recommend this season’s ‘Cherry Preserve’ from Bonne Maman. So very intense and utterly delicious with un croissant ou deux! Meldrew, Cherry Hinton, Cambs
  14. DNF
    Blew it on isonomic – forgot about IoM and put tsonomic, as in a hurry – needed to get going on the school run.
    Thanks, z.
    1. What a nice word! I have yet to read ‘Blewitt’s Isonomica’.
      You still do the school Cross-Country!? At your age? What did you do wrong!?
  15. 53 minutes, with LOI LAPSUS a construction. FOI was the peninsula. VENOM was a biff and TÊTE-À-TÊTE was hard enough to construct but easier than it is to type with accents here. I’d no idea what was going on with ROSEBUD any more than I had with Citizen Kane. SWINBURNE was helped by yesterday’s wine discussions but only after burial places and Robert of that ilk had been considered. COD to STEPDADS. Tough puzzle.Thank you Z and setter.
    1. In French accents are optional on capitals so I’m not sure the effort was worth it 😉
  16. This grid made me grumble and cuss
    With one clue I just couldn’t suss
    So if you were to say
    “Did you solve it today?”
    I’d reply,”No, it was a LAPSUS”
  17. All done by Tottenham Court Road, not sure of the time.

    Similar to others: KAMCHATKA from Risk, NHO Rose China, TETE-A-TETE sofa, ISONOMIC. Did parse VENOM – an extreme example of this type of clue which seem to be getting too common.

    As a chess payer I would not define ENDGAME as when mate approaches – it is the stage of the game when most of the pieces have been exchanged and is quite likely to end in a draw.

  18. Funny how it takes you. On other days, I could well imagine happily settling down for an hour or two and wrestling this into submission, Today after 45 minutes, I threw it aside with a dismissive “Pah!”. A bit too much dingbattery for my liking: IN SYNC, VENOM, EVEN MONEY… Sour grapes, of course. I always though “egg on” was to urge. To egg as a verb suggests chucking one at a politician… which I often have an urge to do.

    Thanks to z and the setter

  19. DNF in 38:13 Great stuff, but defeated in the end by LAPSUS. A double alphabet trawl for 1st and 3rd letters got me to CAPSUS as an erroneous hypothesis… I should have kept going! I liked lots of these clues, but best to my mind were IN-SYNC, EVEN MONEY and VENOM. Thanks z and clever setter.
  20. Kamchatka was a shoo-in as was much else in this. My COD goes to 8dn Stepdads of which I havejust one! I looked up the derivation of ‘Spandau Ballet’. I had no idea of this WWI ‘noire’ notion! Punk kerplunk!
  21. ….and should have done so much more quickly. 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. KAMCHATKA my backside.
    1. I’ve never played Risk in my life but Chester Zoo was on my places-to-take-a -girl-for-a-day-out list back in the sixties and they had brown bears there next to a map of the peninsula.

      Edited at 2021-10-21 11:05 am (UTC)

    2. I’ll always remember Kamchatka as it was an answer in a ‘University Challenge’ style quiz I once took part in when I worked for Barclays Bank. In the same round, one of the questions was, ‘What is the meaning of post-prandial?’ to which the other team replied, ‘After having sex’. Someone in the audience shouted out, ‘Now we know what you do in your lunch hour.’
  22. 15:27. Loved this, tough but fair. Similar DNKs and difficulties to others, and another grateful for time spent playing Risk as a teenager for 9ac.

    Edited at 2021-10-21 09:01 am (UTC)

  23. Tough one, with LAPSUS / STEPDADS the biggest struggle… got over the line in 11m 32s only to discover I’d accidentally typed PEKORA at 1d. And I love a nice pakora. Frustrating.

    STEPDADS was my LOI and the toughest there in my view – not helped by a sneaky definition by example being thrown into the mix.

    Thanks everyone for explaining why Kamchatka rang a vague bell!

  24. Waddington’s ‘Risk’ was not a game for ‘Billy-no-mates’. It required lots of friends. It said on the lid for two to six players but if only two – a ‘neutral player’ had to be devised, which usually ended in endless squabbles! With three players and more, the game went on for ever, usually breaking off for at least two meals, and an irate mother or two. “They can stay for lunch, but not supper as well!” And all for what? – World Domination! ‘Cluedo’ was most fun in the billiard room with the candlestick.

    Edited at 2021-10-21 10:16 am (UTC)

    1. Indeed. The other thing about Risk I remember is that it’s one of those games where you know for a long time who’s going to win, or at least who’s not going to win. Being in the latter camp was a rather dispiriting experience and many games ended early to the great frustration of those in the former camp.
      1. ‘Scotland Yard’ is my all-time favourite board game. What a fun way to learn the delights of Central London. Recommended to all our overseas contributors for Christmas, or when the boat comes in!e

        Edited at 2021-10-21 05:06 pm (UTC)

  25. Scraped in under the hour at 59:56, with LAPSUS LOI, despite having just watched the Turkish GP on Catchup. INHALER got me off to a start. The NE corner gave me most trouble, with STEPDADS and ROSEBUD resisting for ages. AIRWORTHINESS was a highlight. Never did parse VENOM!!! Thanks setter and Z.
  26. Off the scale, by the end unlimited use of aids, about 90 minutes. I thought this was incredibly difficult. Lots of unknowns: pakora, isonomic, tete-a-tete in that sense (not happy with this), lapsus, Kamchatka. Agree with centralline that it’s wrong to talk of the endgame as the time when mate approaches. Never really parsed venom. I thought rosebud was some oblique reference to Citizen Kane, never knew about the china etc.
  27. Tough enough 45 minutes to finish with a few unparsed, YEMEN, VENOM and the sofa. Thanks z8 for explaining.
  28. As I am happy to see has been agreed by others, a real struggle but an enjoyable one. Also unsurprised to find I am not the only person who hears “Kamchatka” and thinks “watch out for armies building up in Alaska”.

    Finally untangled the subsitute pops (very good) after quite a while thinking that the note was TE, giving me STEAD___, which sounds likely as the root of some sort of substitute, but turned out to be a dead end. My brain needs a rest now.

  29. Yikes. 45:11 and nothing to add to what has already been said except that an unusual number went in unparsed, so thank you for the explanations. A real work-out.
  30. Absolutely bang on wavelength for this all the way through, which doesn’t happen often. Except for VENOM which solved itself with the checking letters (thanks for the parse Z I doubt if I’d have got it). Early indoctrination with Lear’s limericks produced KAMCHATKA quite quickly – there was an old man of Kamchatka who possessed a remarkably fat cur. The accompanying illustration is very unPC. Excellent workout. 20.22
  31. Luckily I had a day off today so was able to invest nearly two hours on this, but still couldn’t get LAPSUS, SWINBURNE, or ROSEBUD. I was relieved to get AIRWORTHINESS in the end, having misled myself with FEATHERWEIGHT for a long time and for no good reason. Similarly had SAMOSA for 1dn for a long time (SAMS are sandwiches aren’t they? Somewhere?) but it couldn’t survive once the excellent KAMCHATKA went in.

    Great fun – didn’t notice the time passing which is always a good sign.



  32. After grinding to a halt a little more than halfway through, from nowhere, KAMCHATKA came to mind — somewhere on the west of North America perhaps if my memories of playing Risk were anything to go by — I was wrong, it was the east coast of Russia, but it was the breakthrough I needed to finish the NW corner……

    …..which really only left the NE. With two of the three downs in place (SWINBURNE recalled from my long list of crossword poets — it does come in useful sometimes), cheated through looking up whether LAPSUS was actually a word — bl*&dy Latin!!

    LOI STEPDADs once ladder = steps hoved into view.

    Nice meaty grid — I enjoyed this one.

    1. Checking a word assembled from the clue doesn’t strike me as a cheat when it’s NHO. Looking up in dictionaries is surely allowed. Trawling for words that fit – that’s a cheat in my book.


      1. When people (including me) talk about ‘cheating’ it’s often by reference to the Times Crossword Championship, where dictionaries aren’t allowed. Beyond that though there is of course no such thing: it’s a crossword puzzle, do as you please!
  33. I only knew of the jockey so it had to be guessed as I didn’t get the cryptic either. LOI LAPSUS which was very clever, as was VENOM.
  34. DNF, gave up after the hour. Too many unknowns for me; LAPSUS, KAMCHATKA, PAKORA, and ISONOMIC. Way off the wavelength today. Thought of VENOM but couldn’t see why it was an Ingredient. An ingredient of what? Oh well, roll on Friday.

    Thanks Z for the explanations.

  35. Enjoyable until it was impossible.

    5 uncompleted clues: NHO lapsus (despite studying classics), kamchatka (never played Risk), pakora. Should have got physique had the hys but couldn’t make sense of it. No idea for yemen. Of the completed clues, couldn’t parse rosebud, spandau (what had ‘spand’ to do with betting?), venom.
    COD to substitute dads. Also liked the separation of yours and truly.
    Thanks to the setter for the workout and to our esteemed blogger for making sense of it all.

  36. A fine workout. I felt I was biffing a lot of these but having checked the blog it was probably only the sneaky VENOM that I didn’t at least partially parse. Wasn’t too confident about the peninsular but the wordplay left few alternatives. Good stuff.
  37. …I needed to use aids to get LAPSUS and ISONOMIC. I gave up on Catholicism a few years ago. Does that make me a LAPSUS’d Catholic?
    Thank you, Z, especially for VENOM. That was a hard one. Thanks also for OMEGA, YEMEN, EVEN MONEY and SPANDAU.
  38. Great fun had, many thanks to setter. Some brilliant deviosity. I’m delighted at the very high Snitch. Yesterday it was designated as ‘easier’ and I was only five minutes quicker then than I am today! Lapsus appears in French a lot, meaning slip of the tongue or Freudian slip. Pakora I had to guess. Came close to putting Trial and Soledade for my last answers, but thankfully paused for sufficient thought.
  39. ‘Tremendously difficult but also tremendously pointless.’ Indeed – you’ve never really joined in the TfTT or added much in way of pleasure to others. ‘The Mephisto’ beckons. Farewell.

  40. Tremendously difficult but also tremendously pointless. The thing has less than 170 entries and it’s 1030 in the evening.

    Imagine trying to solve this in the old days on the 730 from Epsom to Waterloo without a dictionary. I doubt even Reggie Perrin would have been able to congratulate himself on this one. This was just an exercise in gratuitous elitism-or rather not gratuitous, since some of we mugs were asked to pay over £40 a month for this all-too-frequent nonsense.

    Egg spoons and Lapsus indeed! Rosebud, tête-à-tête. . .I mean, just what is the setter thinking? Which demographic are they appealing to? It’s all very well contributors on here going all soppy about the ‘quality’ of the clues-some of them are indeed quite good(ish)-but I think we’re all being blind as to whom this type of crossword actually satisfies? Which, outside of this forum is a tiny minority I’d suggest. And for an organ with a circulation of over 400,000 that could be read as pretty damning. I was going to say this was mephisto standard, but this was far harder than any mephisto I’ve tackled. And I won that once. I got nowhere with this, and there will have been hundreds like me.

    There’s a place for this sort of crossword but not as the daily offering. By all means let’s have a difficult crossword, but let’s not double down with the obscure Latin and gardening, and the elitism eh? And let’s have the difficult one in the right place in the paper, with the right titling so that solvers know from the start what they are taking on. Otherwise some of us are unwittingly wasting our time. Personally I’d suggest it replace the Chambers love-in mephisto which is dying a slow death. Either that, or have it as the prize offering in the ST. (Mr Grumpy)

    1. You really are very grumpy indeed, aren’t you.
      Everything doesn’t have to be easy all the time.
    2. Though I grumble a bit sometimes about this clue or that (Latin and plants are particular bugbears of mine), I like the variation in styles and difficulty from one day to the next — and in truth, I have learned many things, new words, definitions and have read up on many words which I don’t know much about. There is always a reliable level of quality which the Times crossword maintains, and which TfTT followers seem to appreciate. Reputation is sometimes acquired through many years of quality, attracting many of us who enjoy the challenge.

      You, Mr. Grumpy, are welcome to have a stab or not, as you please, welcome to view your opinions as you wish, but I doubt that much will change — why would it when there are so many of us that are happy for the Times crossword to persist in its long-established form?

      Edited at 2021-10-21 11:13 pm (UTC)

    3. You’re welcome to make your points, but since you mention things being in the right place, I think you’d be far better off posting your concerns in the Times Crossword forum or sending them directly to the editors. Even if a substantial number of people here were to agree with you (and I see no evidence of that) nobody at TfTT is in a position to do anything about it.
  41. I worked this one quarter by quarter: SE, NE, SW, and then, painfully, after AIRWORTHINESS, the NW.
  42. Couldn’t disagree more with Mr Grumpy. His comments remind me of those appearing on a much less distinguished forum when Dean Meyer started setting the Sunday Times cryptic. Much moaning and chunnering about his clues.
    I loved him! Yes, frustrating at times but I am an infinitely better solver due to DM. The wit and elegance, particularly the anagrams, continue to delight. DNF today due to Lapsus but really enjoyed the contest. Those light bulb moments (Stepdads – Yes!) make the struggle all the more enjoyable.

    Many thanks to Z for his always edifying and erudite blog. Comment is free but this is one of the few Times sites where exchanges are witty and full of bonhomie. Long may it remain that way.

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