Laugh at me, mock me, beat my score and time

Solving time : 13m23s – 3 wrong(!). Yesterday’s gloat has been fully paid for, not just by fbgp beating my time, but by a horrendous foul-up today, with eons taken to resolve 15, 18, 19, 22 and no great speed before that. To cap it all, my one 50/50 guess was wrong, as was the last letter I entered, and I forgot to recheck another answer which was also wrong. Nice work, Magoo.


1 WEST HAM UNITED, anag – I couldn’t decide if this was a brilliancy based on the Hammers being due to inherit the new Olympic stadium – in the end I think I read that Leyton Orient were favourites to get it, so probably not
8 “Thin” pronounced “Fin” – I had cause to read a bit of Phineas Finn (a Trollope novel) for a quiz recently, though I knew the name anyway. It looked interesting.
10 HESITANT, anag – a very concealed anagram, though I know some sages who would oppose both its punctuation and indicator.
16 N + IKE – President Eisenhower was of course a Commander-in-Chief and Nike the Greek abstract notion (as well as Goddess) of Victory, but I’m not going to claim I like the clue.
17 BLOT, 2 defs – Nice clue as it doesn’t look like two definitions – I thought about D, E and X for ‘bad mark’ – but no excuse for me putting FLAT based on ‘Dry’ and then not re-checking before stopping the clock.
18 TABLED + HOT + E – this was the monster that scuppered my time. I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t come up with a good word for the –H-T- space (WHITE and PHOTO just didn’t seem to work). Eventually I spent minutes convincing myself that “well-cooked English” MUST give HOTE and finally agonisingly tumbled on the apostrophe. Gaah
20 Pre-CIS – I was only vaguely aware that the USSR was called the CIS at one point, but the definition was limpid.
22 PROMPTER, 2 defs – Filled this in last (as PROMPTED) with a “Get that puzzle out of my sight” tantrum. Sharp!
24 ANN + O + DO + MINI – those who dislike elliptic definitions, prepare to censure “having a date, she may put it on”.
27 SUNDER in MIST + AND – nice definition


2 IS (Rev) + NAI(l) – Took ages over this, too, which is a bit sad with ‘Mount’ in the clue and the S and N filled in.
3 HER B.A. LIST – again the female pronoun is treated a bit loosely, though fairly for me this time. “simple” = HERB is an important bit of Times knowledge
5 AH in NUM(bers) – I didn’t guess the ‘holy books’ very quickly until the H was in.
6 I BERET (rev) + nTH – Remarkably a success for me, given that I didn’t know the meaning of the answer. (Actually, I quickly wrote in TARABOOSH for the cap, then actually looked at the wordplay and amazingly immediately understood it). NTH as ‘last in a series’ amused me.
7 OUD (rev) – If an OUD is standard knowledge, I’m a monkey’s uncle (though I knew it myself from Listeners etc)
14 R in TACO in PUSS – never worked out the wordplay, didn’t need to thanks to checking.
15 TREBONIUS, anag – Guessed TRENOBIUS. Obviously now I know the right answer, it doesn’t seem 50/50 any more, but it did at the time. Maybe ENOBARBUS (a Shakespeare character I DID know) crossed my subconscious.
19 TIP (anag) in BASE – Still crying about this one. How much easier could it be? Why couldn’t I get it? Why?
21 S + WORN – I thought “sworn IN” was ‘getting confirmed in office’.
25 MY N (rev) – More Shakespeare ignorance (though I had heard of Nym at least (didn’t know there was one in Merry Wives too)

14 comments on “Laugh at me, mock me, beat my score and time”

  1. People can also have a laugh and a go at beating my effort – 19 mins but I forgot to check FLAT, which was highly iffy at the time, so one bad mark against me!
    One of those puzzles where you really needed to check EVERYTHING: I changed my TARABINTH to TEREBINTH, but that wasn’t enough!
    Last I got was HESITANT. I do agree with the comment about the punctuation in this.
    WEST HAM UNITED an anagram of THE NEW STADIUM, eh? I hope that isn’t an omen, as I was rather hoping that for once a new Athletics stadium might be allowed to remain an athletics stadium, tho if Orient do get it that won’t feel quite so bad, somehow…
  2. You are allowed an off-day once in a while, Magoo!

    After getting thoroughly depressed yesterday at the times you guys can achieve, I was expecting more of the same today when I clocked 17:27. Never got REALLY stuck, but a lot of clues seemed to need a lot of effort!

    Last one I wrote in was BLOT, had been thinking of FLAT, but then twigged the 2nd (clever) definition.

    I know they were straightforward clues that did not really merit a mention, but I had not come across RESTHARROW or MOBILE (the port) before (nor TREBONIUS but didn’t consider alternatives!). Such is the way of things that I did know OUD though!

  3. After my poor showing a few days ago, there’s not too much sniggering going on here. Remembering yesterday’s reported times and spotting 1A instantly (writing about WHAM the other day probably helped), I was a bit disappointed with my time when I stopped the clock. Trebonius was new to me too – I think I avoided the wrong choice by copying the ending from Suetonius and the like. Also tried D/E/F at 17 and pondered FLAT, but some “def too weak” warning came through from the fussier solving brain cells, so just looked for other words to fit ?L?T and found it that way (last answer for me). Those ignored apostrophes in enumerations can cause a lot of bother. I may have damaged some furniture when I eventually got “L’Elisir d’Amore” (Donizetti opera) as a very cheeky (7,6) in a Grauniad puzzle years ago.

    Trollope: yes, this bloke can write – must get onto the rest of Barchester after reading The Warden a year or so ago.

  4. After an hour’s struggle I was left with ?L?T and S?O?N — couldn’t see my way to BLOT (consider FLAT but…) and S for “succeeded” didn’t occur to me (standard Times fare??).

    Anyway, as the beginner’s representative, I can report this was a difficult challenge. TREBONIUS was new to me (but reachable since it had to be an anagram) as was TEREBINTH (likewise the wordplay eventually yielded). I remembered Nym and Pistol et al since a set of Stanford computers were named for them years ago…

  5. 16:18 but like Magoo I had Trenobius instead of Trebonius. I seem to be very bad at making 50/50 guesses. Unlike Magoo I did like the clue for NIKE!
    1. I’m surprised a little at the ignorance about “TREBONIUS”. Did no one else do Julius Caesar at school 🙂
      I am very impressed by Peter’s performance today. I thought this was one of the hardest Times puzzles I have done for a long time, and I would be fascinated to analyse exactly why it proved so difficult (obscure vocab apart). eg I also found BAPTISE very hard to crack, like Magoo. Maybe its being a day after an easy one made it especially evil?
      By the way, going back to yesterday (as I like to!!) my wife plays the OUD…


  6. Tough but satisfying puzzle. Needed return commute from Canary Wharf to Waterloo to complete (approx. aggregate time 25 mins, but less than ideal solving conditions in morning crush-hour!) Fortunate to avoid pitfalls mentioned above.

    Did anyone else come to the puzzle having just read the Sports pages? (See para 4 of following article:,,174-2457117,00.html)


    1. Welcome aboard, Shane. A quick xwd campfire story: Shane was a year ahead of me at Eastbourne Grammar School, which I went to for the last couple of years of my school life. I didn’t know him well enough to keep in touch after leaving school, but recognised him and said hello on 1st July 1989 when we were both at the London A final of the Times Champs – the first I attended, and we’ve met at various regional finals sinc. Sad bunny that I am, I still have the 1989 results – Shane was 27th and I was 33rd. Shane has been close to making the Times final a few times, and I hope we’ll both be in it together one day, flying the flag for a school that’s sadly no more – buildings are now a 6th form college or similar.
  7. I’d just like to offer some (belated!) thanks for introducing me to the word ‘gaah’ (18ac). It’s so much better than ‘aagh’, ‘grrr’ etc in some contexts (like today, for example, when I managed 95% of a decent orienteering race, then got into ‘sprint finish mode’ and screwed up the final control in spades. Gaah).
    1. Wow, you’ve been waiting a while to use this rather uninspired ‘word’, talbinho. How successful the rest of your orientering career et al must be! And thanks for reminding me of my last known mistakes in the Times…
      1. Oh, it’s always had plenty of spoken use, but until your report I’d never “known” how to spell it. Yesterday was the first time since that I remember wanting to write it (in a text message) so I was reminded of this posting.

        Coincidentally, since commenting yesterday I have had further use for the word, having discovered my entry for the third Times qualifier in a pile of paper*, which (more so than the slowish time) may explain why I haven’t heard anything. Gaah

        (* – while searching, with mixed success, for various (mostly unsolved) bits of ‘Novenary’. Gaah)

  8. I can take hours – even a day – solving a leisurely Times X-word in my equivalent of a “fag break” without the tobacco. Just sometimes the benefit of the leisurely approach is that you have time to eke out the correct answer.
    The “easy” ones deemed to obvious to mention:

    9a Weed has to stay at school = REST HARROW
    11a American port not always in the same place? = MOBILE (in Alabama?)
    13a Place one’s offered in discussion – I’m glad to receive it = COM PLI MENT
    26a Dagger rips short (skir)*t = KRIS (the X-word blade)

    1d Seizing smack, we arrest for sort of crime = W HIT E COLLAR
    4d Rustic instrument not sounding? Needs internal fix = MU SET TE
    12d … fast come to prefer flutes, etc = LIKE THE WIND (the dots followed from the earlier clue about the OUD which is apparently an Arabic lute and therefore a string, rather than wind, instrument)
    23d Genuine wrinkle, we’re told = PUKKA (SL Pucker – a word from our Indian colonial heritege perhaps?)

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