28198 Thursday, 27 January 2022 Bienvenue encore!

Well, I found this tough, and it seems to be testing our high flyers. It’s be interesting to see where the SNITCH settles down to. The ones that pushed my time out from around 20 minutes to the final 25.20 were two of the short ones, 1ac and 20ac which I was determined to solve and justify before submitting: this is blog night, after all. In this endeavour, as you will see, I failed but (spoiler alert) found a twinkle of light at the end of the game. Not quite as tough as yesterday’s COMMON, but not far off. Otherwise, I have successfully negotiated the (French again!) plants for one of which the clue provides most of the answer to a further plant, and have gamely attempted to cover the rather higher than usual science-y stuff but am prepared to be corrected by people who know. Some really good examples of the noble art of surface writing today.
Here is everything I’ve managed to work out, with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS.


1 Incapacitate old gun — by neglecting it (4)
MAIM Of course, you think you’ve got to find a word for gun from which you can exclude IT, but not this time. The sneaky “by” gives X (2X4), to be removed from MAXIM. Invented in 1884 by Hiram Stevens Maxim, credited as the first properly automatic machine gun and used in practically every theatre of war until 1959, which qualifies it both as a gun and old.
4 After disturbance, men get into plant (10)
MIGNONETTE How wonderful: the setter must have seen me coming. After trying to present MISTLETOE as an otherwise unlikely plant ending -ETTE on Monday, here we have a real one, an anagram (after disturbance) of MEN GET INTO. Take your pick from lettuce, a fragrant herb, the henna tree and a vine. And a sauce
9 Dam’s state primarily means adding extra top covering (10)
MOTHERHOOD Stop trying to think where the Hoover Dam is. Take the first letter (primarily) of Means, while adding OTHER for extra and HOOD for top covering. Dam is here an oldish word for mother.
10 Live with a top-class lover (4)
BEAU Be for live, plus a in plain sight and the Mitford upper class U.
11 Two blokes picked up very short unit (6)
MICRON Two random male names, strictly only one of them as a homophone, Mike and Ron.
12  Probably a bad conductor, Miles interrupts musicians with a line (3-5)
NON-METAL Pretty surface. The musicians are a NONET, interrupted by M(iles) with A L(ine) tacked on the end. Graphite, a form of carbon, is the only common non-metal conductor, if not a particularly good one, so our setter properly puts in “probably”. Maurice Miles, sometime conductor of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and BBC Welsh and Scottish Orchestras is the only musical example I can find.
14 Pillar of Islam deceived judge (4)
HADJ  Pilgrimage to Mecca, one of te for chief duties of the faithful Muslim. HAD for deceived plus J(udge).
15 Fluster some returning crate (10)
RATTLETRAP Rattle for fluster plus PART for some reversed (returning). An old car or jalopy.
17 Disease — PhD worked with it, I hear (10)
DIPHTHERIA Hands up if you struggled with an anagram (worked) of DISEASE PHD, but then realised it’s actually of PHD and IT I HEAR. No homophone, then, either.
20 Help from A-M not given? (4)
ABET My last in and a gamble. I’ll let you know if I’ve worked it out by the end of the blog. OK, I have it. A-M is the first half of ALPHABET, and it’s not given. Just the second half, then. Gosh I feel clever!
21 Stylish brother a cardinal? I can’t see it (8)
INFRARED IN for stylish, FRA for brother (as in Fra Angelico) and RED for cardinal as an adjective.
23 Checks around island’s seed store (6)
TESTIS Seed store! Tests for checks around I(sland).
24 Couple came across India heading west (4)
ITEM Came across plus NATO India reversed (heading west).
25  Iris‘s French food outlets bringing in foreign cash (5-2-3)
FLEUR-DE-LIS I think this is FR(ench) DELIS (food outlets) with LEU for foreign cash, which is not foreign for our Romanian contributors, included.
26 Pious sister nursing Yankee medic’s breakdown (10)
HYDROLYSIS Pious: HOLY sister: SIS, nursing or including NATO Yankee DR for medic. Any chemical breakdown of material by water.
27 Soak‘s under the table spewing last of beer (4)
DUNK Under the table DRUNK losing (spewing) the last letter of beeR. Not the most pretty image.
2 Outrage current host taking lift in a race (11)
ABOMINATION This is current: I, host: MOB reversed (taking lift) inside A NATION for a race. Let’s not have the race/nation debate again.
3 Prince‘s mother nearly has a pint over at hotel (9)
MAHARAJAH After abandoning the idea of a prince’s mother being a Queen, I saw mother: MA, HA from has nearly, plus A JAR, colloquial for a pint reversed (over) at H(otel).
4 Eliot’s weaver bags iodine salt (7)
MARINER It helps if you know George Eliot’s Silas MARNER and that he was a weaver. Throw in the symbol for Iodine and decide that you’re looking for the sailor salt not a chemical one.
5  Refreshing nude art contributes to my amiable disposition (4-11)
GOOD-NATUREDNESS An anagram (refreshing) of NUDE ART encased in GOODNESS for the laconic my. Memories of Geoffrey Boycott pronouncing it aim aye’ able.
6 Possibly first racket stopping exam (7)
ORDINAL Racket is DIN, and exam ORAL. The first “stops” the second
7 Maybe post minute in Times (5)
TWEET Minute is WEE  (wee cowering timorous beastie – well it was Burns night on Tuesday) inside two T(ime)s
8 Reach the qualifying rounds (5)
EQUAL Today’s beautifully hidden hidden. Inside thE QUALifying.
13 An old rebel musician snubs American RA perhaps (11)
ACADEMICIAN Your old rebel is Jack CADE who tried to bring down the government of the day in 1450, so yes, old. An gives you the initial A. Add MUSICIAN in plain sight minus the American US. RA Royal Academician.
16 Leader of tap dancers managed to grasp new beat (9)
TRANSCEND Perhaps not the first meaning of beat that springs to mind, but as equivalent to surpass it’s fine. It’s the leader (first letter) of Tap plus an anagram (managed) of DANCERS plus N(ew).
18 Shy about turning over university newspaper cutting (7)
HURTFUL Shy gives HURL, surrounding the reverse (turning over) of U(niversity) F(inancial) T(imes).
19 Star workers in colonies are kept in (7)
ANTARES Workers in colonies are ANTS and they keep in ARE in plain sight. Here’s Uhura singing “Beyond Antares”
21 Hibernian flag planted on peak of Himalayas (5)
IRISH Just IRIS for flag  (the flower version, see 25 ac) and the first letter (peak) of Himalayas.
22 Police finally breaking in to discover addict (5)
FIEND The last letter of policE inside FIND for discover

56 comments on “28198 Thursday, 27 January 2022 Bienvenue encore!”

  1. Mostly easy, but hard to finish. Couldn’t parse the obvious biff MAIM, or the easy anagram TRANSCEND, or the obvious biff HYDROLYSIS, so I was loath to enter them. No other problems, few unknowns: the guessable MIGNONETTE, who wrote Silas Marner, and that Marner was a weaver.
    Like infrared best of all, ahead of rattletrap.
  2. 36 minutes. No hope of parsing ABET. At least I resisted the temptation to do an A-Z (not just an ‘A-M’) trawl. Well done for working it out. FLEUR-DE-LIS (originally spelt with a Y) was barely parsed and went in courtesy of the enumeration, including those helpful hyphens.

    I liked the ‘Dam’s state’, ‘seed store’ and ‘salt’ definitions and RATTLETRAP, a word I’ve not seen for ages.

    Thanks to Zed and setter

  3. Biffed MAIM—I would never have come up with the Maxim*—and ABET, which was my LOI and I’d just gotten impatient. This hadn’t seemed too difficult, until near the end. POI was ACADEMICIAN—finally remembered the rebel.
    * And really, now, it’s not X neglecting Maxim but rather X being neglected.

    Edited at 2022-01-27 06:29 am (UTC)

  4. z, is there a typo on your final time in the intro?

    My final time was 50 minutes on the dot following an alphabet trawl to come up with ABET solely from definition. Oh, the irony of that statement!

    MAIM took some justifying too, but I eventually remembered ‘maxim’ as a gun and accounted for the removed X.

    Although we’ve had two toughies in a row I felt there was a marked difference in enjoyment between yesterday and today. This one being far more fun.

  5. I agree with Jack that today’s was more enjoyable than yesterday’s….26 mins more enjoyable in my case.
    Surprisingly, I only needed an explanation for two clues: ABOMINATION and ABET, so thank you, Z, especially for ABET. very clever! Almost as fiendish as COMMON yesterday.
    Slight raised eyebrow at JAR in MAHARAJAH. A jar just means a glass of beer, not necessarily a pint. It brought back memories of Z-Cars and Softly Softly when Charlie Barlow would ask Det. Sgt Watt “Come for a jar John?”
    COD has to be TESTIS!
    1. Northern lingo I suspect to set the tone for Z-Cars set near Liverpool , and not to be confused with Dixon of Dock Green’s Cockerney ‘jam jar’.
    2. When I worked in pubs in Leeds in the 70s ‘a jar’ was definitely a pint and ‘a glass’ was a half.
    3. When I worked in pubs in Leeds in the 70s ‘a jar’ was definitely a pint and ‘a glass’ was a half.
  6. Maim!
    You charm the husk right off of the corn, …

    25 mins of fun pre-brekker spoilt for me by the Alpha-trawl at the end, not knowing whether I was stripping an X, a BY or an IT (or even SA=IT) from a gun I had never heard of.
    Thanks setter and Z.

    Edited at 2022-01-27 08:12 am (UTC)

  7. 15:29. Tricky. There were a few in here (DIPHTHERIA, HYDROLYSIS, ANTARES) where I had to pay close attention to the wordplay to be sure of the spelling.
    I had no idea about ABET, my last in, and now that I see the explanation I don’t think it works. I spotted that ‘A-M not given’ might somhow mean the second half of the alphabet but not the rather daring leap to taking away half of the word. What next, 9.6 for DOZE?
    24% of 40 winks? (4)
    Edit: forgot to say that this is the first time I have deduced Silas Marner immediately from ‘weaver’. I can’t remember if I read the book when I did Eliot (I don’t think so) but I know this biographical detail from its occasional appearance in these puzzles.

    Edited at 2022-01-27 10:50 am (UTC)

    1. I got the book immediately, but then got sidetracked – probably deliberately – by the first part of the name, and trying to justify something like SALINAS
    2. Thanks for stressing the there; I was going to, even thought I had… I don’t quite get your hypothetical clue (otherwise, afraid to say, I might actually like it). What is DOZE cut off from? I was thinking DOZEN, but that… does not compute. Must be me, never having been an accountant or particularly a whiz at math(s).
    3. I thought we had had the A-M thing before — though my memory is that it, plus something else, clued Alpha. At least I saw this right away, which I surely wouldn’t have if it hadn’t come up in past. But the clue does work for me — if the clue read “help from half of alphabet not given” I don’t think there’d be an issue, and I didn’t have a problem with substituting A-M for ‘half of alphabet’.
  8. 47 minutes with LOI. MAIM. Only at that point did I think of the MAXIM gun. I only knew MIGNONETTE as a sauce so it was almost an obscurity clued as an anagram. I knew FLEUR-DE-LYS so that was OK, apart from I’ve always spelt it with a y. I liked HYDROLYSIS and WOD RATTLETRAP but COD to NON-METAL. A toughish but stimulating puzzle. Thank you Z and setter.
  9. 20:58 LOI DUNK. I didn’t see how ABET worked so thanks for that Z. DNK the flower or that Silas Marner was a weaver and… ah… that’s how you spell DIPHTHERIA – thank-you crossers.
  10. MIGNONETTE nho, but gettable. ABET LOI, no chance of parsing.

    Fun, though.

    25′ 11″, thanks z and setter.

  11. I found this much easier than yesterday (an abject failure).

    Toyed with HARM instead of MAIM for a while until I saw MAXIM. Knew MIGONETTE as a word but not what it was. Pleased to parse ABET. Lots of good clues

    Thanks setter and z

  12. I struggled greatly to finish with MAIM today. It was my first thought, but I only knew the word in the sense of mutilation, and whilst mutilation certainly incapacitates, it’s not synonymous. For the cryptic, like Z said I started off looking for a gun from which to remove IT. My breakthrough eventually came when I realised that parsing made the word “by” superfluous. A relief to finally finish!
  13. I liked this one, always a sucker for a good surface reading and this had lots.

    I knew the word mignonette fortunately, but if asked its meaning I probably would have said it was a small french car, or something ..

    Silicon is a conductor, if you treat it right … a semiconductor, anyways 🙂

    1. Completely agree on the surface meanings, which for me made this a terrific puzzle. (Helped that I was largely on the wavelength.)

      It was a refreshing change from the formulaic ‘Put the last letter of X and the first letter of Y into the reverse of Z without an abbreviation, and as long as it’s (barely) grammatical, don’t worry if it is pretty meaningless.’

    2. Silicon conducts – it’s a semiconductor, so not that well, unless it’s doped. I always think of it as metallic. Group 4: mnemonic from school is Can Simon Get Stoned at the Pub? Carbon is carbon, silicon germanium tin lead all metals.
      For non-metallic conductors think high-temperature superconductors. Mostly ceramics, and all conduct much better than metals at the same temperature.

      Edited at 2022-01-27 04:31 pm (UTC)

  14. I found this tough but very enjoyable, far more so than yesterday.
    Have now learnt how to spell DIPHTHERIA. To me, jar and pint are synonymous, but each to his or her own.


    Thanks to z and the setter

  15. Not sure how long I took since I went away in the middle and forgot to pause the timer, but probably about 50 minutes, with HARM: even with the correct answer I couldn’t parse it until I looked up a list of guns. The maxim was not familiar. And I never understood ABET, although I put it in because it fitted the definition. Not sure I really understand it properly even now; very tortuous. Otherwise quite nice.
  16. I thought I’d done this in a little under 9 minutes, but I’d actually failed at the first hurdle – instead of MAIM (never heard of MAXIM in this context) I’d gone for the rather looser HARM, on the basis that a HIT-ARM could be an old term for a gun. Not as implausible as some of the stuff I’ve come up with in the past, but not really defensible.
  17. 65:13. It f felt difficult from the start. LOI MAIM without seeing it at all and expecting pink squares. Spotted ABET and quite liked it. Generally well satisfied to have (sort of) cracked this puzzle in the end
  18. Thanks for the parse on MA[x]IM Z – I’d heard of the gun but couldn’t make it work in the clue. I got becalmed in the top half and had to work up from the bottom and I agree with others that it was more fun than yesterday’s. Silas Marner is much shorter than Eliot’s other stuff so a lot more digestible. 27a and 2d reminded me of what Dorothy Parker said happened to her after too many martinis. 23.30
  19. I enjoyed that a great deal more than yesterday’s puzzle. Some really satisfying pennies dropping eventually, including LOI ABET. DNK MIGNONETTE but once I had all the letters it sounded most plausible. Bit of a quibble about MICRON’s homophones, but apart from that I thought the cluing was excellent. Particularly enjoyed the elegance of EQUAL and COD TESTIS. Bravo!

    Thanks, Z, for a very entertaining blog, and Setter!

    All the best,

  20. Particularly, in the case of this Miles, a musician who might have interrupted others with ‘a line.’
  21. BEAU was FOI followed by METAL. The NON part came after ORDINAL. RATTLETRAP and GOOD NATUREDNESS gave a helpful set of crossing letters. I learned how to spell DIPHTHERIA too. MA(x)IM came late in the proceedings but gave MAHARAJAH and HADJ, leaving 4a and 7d to do. I eventually twigged MIGNONETTE which allowed me to see WEE instead of M for minute. ABET went in on definition only. Would never have spotted the parsing. Kudos Z! 37:56. Thanks setter and Z.
  22. Toughest of the week so far for me. After 40 minutes I put it aside with about seven unsolved. Later I went back to it and plugged away for another 15 minutes or so. MAIM and ABET were guesses from the definitions. The wordplay defeated me. I was embarrassingly slow to see that 4a was an anagram.
  23. Gave up after an hour with many left uncompleted. Returned after tai chi class to knock off the rest in a few (untimed) minutes. Could not see maim so settled for harm (another ‘hit arm’ here), nor did I have any idea of the parsing of abet. Thanks Z. Brilliant, if rather dodgy.
    If I had been forced to define mignonette, I would have suggested it could be a hairstyle but it turns out that is a chignon. Oh well. 4ac and 7dn were my last two in. It took me far too long to see that 4ac was an anagram. I was looking for a word for disturbance to begin the clue.
    COD testis for its clever definition.
    Thanks setter for a tough and enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Z for working it all out.
  24. A lot of that time spent trying to justify MAIM and ABET before deciding that (for the second time in quick succession), yes, I would prefer to fully parse everything before submitting but, you know, I do have other stuff to do. A good decision as I very much doubt I’d have got the required explanations any time soon, so thanks to Z for doing the hard work, meaning I don’t have to 🙂
  25. Presume there’s some overlap In the Times and Magpie crosswordsVenn diagram.

    If so, would be good to put a face to a name at the Magpie drinks tonight and discuss non-advanced crosswords too — other topics of discussion are allowed!

  26. Went nowhere with this at the first (hung over) attempt – a light sprinkling of answers but no real foothold, gave up at around 22m and went to do something else. Returned a few hours later, without much enthusiasm or expectation of success – but gradually got into the groove until by the end I was having fun and feeling competent. NHO MIGNONETTE – so pleased to descramble that with only three crossers, and finished off with ANTARES => TWEET => MAIM…

    …except that I correctly solved ANTARES, but wrote in the word I was previously guessing from looking at the crossers, ANTERIS. The remains of the hangover, despite a restorative bike-ride, dealt me one final cruel blow. Thanks z and setter.

  27. 24:50. A jolly romp, with only MAIM unparsed at the end. Thanks for the enlightenment. Rather too long wasted on racking my brains for a TS Eliot poem mentioning a weaver before the penny clattered into place. I thought ABET was clever, although I seem to remember ALPH being clued by a similar device recently (or was it ALPHABET clued by reference to a sacred river? Remarkably little adheres these days…)
    1. I should have read all the way down before I commented in reply to keriothe above — but I think you’re right about the Alpha clue.
  28. Well, I hate being unable to parse, but today MAIM and ABET both went in with crossed fingers. NHO Maxim, but Maim seemed a closer definition than Harm. Also NHO Cade — history not my strong point — but that was unarguably correct. The Y in Fleur-de-lys was corrected on parsing, so a relief to come here and find all correct after yesterday’s failure, and to discover the mystery clueing behind 1 and 20A. Many thanks to blogger and setter.
    Gill D
  29. I failed after 25 mins at 1ac MAIM – I knew the Maxim Gun because of ‘War Horse’, but failed to pull the trigger. FOI Mignonette. COD Maharajah. WOD 15ac Rattletrap.
  30. 30.16. It took a while to settle into this one before I started to make any real progress. I failed to parse maim or abet so got lucky on those ones. I thought there were some really nice touches. I was misdirected at every turn and needed to look two or three times at a lot of clues to crack them. Equal was a superb hidden. Very enjoyable.
  31. ….other than that I was surprised to break 10 minutes after seeing the SNITCH rating beforehand, especially since I missed my target on the rather tricky QC.

    I eventually biffed ABOMINATION, and my LOI.

    TIME 9:37

  32. Well, today the inevitable happened and I fell at the last. ABET and TESTIS doing for me. Annoyed that despite the number of NHO’s but entered (John Cade, MIGNONETTE, despite living in Provence, the gun, RATTLETRAP and ANTARES) I nearly finished but didn’t.

    I think this week has worn my brain out. I’m dreading tomorrow !

    Thanks Z and setter.

  33. Nice puzzle, and I ditto all the positive remarks above.

    I knew Maxim, and first deleted the ‘x’ by deleting a self-referntial “it” — it refering to maiming, or x-ing. After I was done I saw that the ‘by’ bit might work better, but that partial error saved me five minutes of headscratching.

    My LOI and mer was Testis — since seed is only created but is not stored there, storage is in the adjacent Epididymis. I tried many permutations of “silo” plus something while sorting that out.

    And, as above (twice) I agree with david_ch that we’ve seen the A-M trick before.

    Edited at 2022-01-27 06:10 pm (UTC)

  34. Late to the party today.

    Plenty unparsed/NHO etc:

    MA(X)IM as a gun — alpha trawl gave me LOI MAIM
    MIGNONETTE — unknown, but worked out with just the final E in place and guessing it was an -ETTE
    MICRON — even though my name is MIKE, didn’t twig that it was a ‘sounds-like’ for ages. POI
    ABET — not a clue what was going on here — best guess
    TESTIS — would normally have spelt this with and -ES at the end — don’t know what the difference is
    FLEUR-DE-LIS — would have thought LYS but assumed LIS is acceptable
    HYDROLYSIS — worked out without knowing the definition

    Much better with the ‘Downs’ except for:

    ACADEMICIAN — from checkers. NHO Jack CADE

    1. TESTES/TESTIS: I think you’ll find the difference is found in a cheerful ditty about Adolf Hitler, to the tune of Colonel Bogey.
  35. Very happy to get this done all correctly in a pretty good time, because I found it tough — in the right kind of way. Synapses were making the connections and I spotted all the devious traps laid by the setter. Could have come a cropper with my initial spelling of fleur-de-lys, but as I couldn’t parse it, and as the crosschecker was an unlikely y, I thought twice. Can it be spelled with a y? Answer yes. In French. (someone’s probably mentioned this already but I havent had time to reead all the comments yet). Loi Maim. Nearly put in Harm, but for once following to my oft-neglected rule of understand-before-answering I paused, and I’m glad I did. Maim took some time to analyse, but I got there. The Eliot I stupidly took as TS at first – classic patriarchy-think I suppose. Which was ridiculous because I’ve just finished Kathryn Hughes’ excellent biography of George, and am now re-reading Mill on the F. I hadn’t appreciated what a wonderful man George Lewes was.
  36. I’m a star FIEND, it has to be said
    From a sub-MICRON plasma
    A NON-METAL miasma
    Turns hydrogen to helium instead

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