Times 24,629

The received wisdom (which I believe we are told to ignore by the Crossword Editor) is that Monday puzzles, if not always easy, tend to the easier end of the spectrum, but that Bank Holiday puzzles can be especially tough. As they can’t both be true, perhaps we should listen to the editor’s advice. Even if today’s was quite a gentle opener for the week, which this deputy was once more happy to see.

There again, this may be one of those puzzles where the knowledge required was stiffer than anything demanded by the wordplay: my time (not recorded exactly, but <15 minutes) was helped on more than one occasion by dragging half-forgotten knowledge from the lumber-room of my memory, and I may have been lucky that it chimed with me – others may have been undone by their lack of familiarity with such diverse subjects as cricket, the Savoy Operas, chess, Jane Austen, and musical theory. Much more from the humanities than the sciences, of course, which suits me, but will not please all…

11 PHALANX – [H(earts) + A] in PLAN + X.
12 PEA SOUPER =”P. SUPER”. A London particular is one of the especially bad fogs/smogs that may be remembered by any solvers who pre-date the Clean Air Act of 1956.
21 OILED – sOcIaLnEeD; I carelessly wrote in CANED at first, which may explain why the SW corner was the last to fall.
24 FUNFAIR – F(orte) + UNFAIR.
25 OVERRUN – O(ld) VERDUN with R replacing D.
26 HARTEBEEST – (BARESTEETH)*; the hartebeest is not a gnu.
27 METE =”MEAT”.
1 ANTIPOPE – TIP in A NOPE; perhaps it’s picky, but I’m not sure that an Antipope is necessarily less holy than the actual Pope, he just has an alternative claim. After all, there have been several Popes whose behaviour was reportedly less than exemplary.
2 CHAPATTI – CHA + PATTI(es), the neighbours at table being, as usual, bridge opponents, in this case East and South.
4 EAT UP – EA(ch) TUP.
5 HYPERBOLE – Y(ear) PER B(urglary) in a HOLE.
6 DIATONIC SCALE – cryptic def.: the key to this was remembering from long-ago piano lessons that “accidentals” had a musical meaning to do with sharps and flats. I expect one of the more skilled musicians round here can explain the principle more helpfully to the layman, if required. ETA. As pointed out by anon., this is also an anagram of I,O,ACCIDENTALS, which makes it a fantastic &lit. Brilliant and yet so subtle I didn’t even notice it!
7 CHARGE – triple def.
10 SMOTHERED MATE – I’ve found various ways of losing at chess in my life, but never this one, as far as I can remember. As the wiki entry demonstrates, it’s delivered by a knight, and thus not a bishop.
15 BUNTHORNE – BORNE round (HUNT)*; from somewhere in the recesses I recalled that Bunthorne’s Bride is the alternative title of Patience, and the answer leapt immediately to mind.
16 DEMIURGE – DEMI + URGE gives the Creator in Greek.
17 INSTANCE – IN STANCE as a batsman at the crease would be while waiting for the bowler to deliver.
19 LOOFAH – A in [LO OF H(orror)].
20 ELINORELI + NOR gives Ms Dashwood, the heroine (and “sense”) of Sense and Sensibility.
23 ROOTS – ROTS round O.

32 comments on “Times 24,629”

  1. 39 minutes of intense concentration. Wish I’d started in the SW corner. Does anyone have loofahs these days? They are redolent of bath-nights in the 1950s, along with pumice stones and carbolic soap.
    And talking of the 1950s, I thought the definition for PEA SOUPER very clever. So, cobwebs dusted out of the brain, I’m off to enjoy the bank-holiday sunshine.
  2. Quite a wide variety of knowledge required here I thought. Dredged up ‘Smothered mate’ and ‘diatonic scale’ from somewhere, but needed aid for ‘demiurge’
    Particularly liked ‘Frankenstein’
  3. 27 minutes and unfortunately wrote in Bunthorpe. Rather a clever puzzle I thought, medium range. COD 6.
  4. One of these trivial pursuit puzzles for the artistically inclined. For example, Gilbert for me was the English physicist rather than the creator of trivia referred to here. 25 gentle minutes assisted by remembering the London sulphur reeking smogs only too well and getting the long music clue from the literal without even noticing the anagram. Agree with you about ANTIPOPE.
  5. Not too tough, tho, as topicaltim says, quite an eclectic range of (non-science, sorry Jimbo) GK required. However, I messed up by incorrectly entering CIABATTA at 2dn. It fitted the “bread” bit of the clue and the checking letters, but the wordplay made no sense at all and I knew in my bones that it was wrong. Silly as I had no trouble spotting the bridge reference and concluding that something like “es”, “en” etc needed to be subtracted from another word or words meaning “tea” and “hamburgers”, but I still couldn’t see it. Doh! Some good and ingenious stuff. I particularly liked FRANKENSTEIN, PEA SOUPER and ANTIPOPE. I’m a bad and infrequent chess player, but SMOTHERED MATE surfaced from the mists of memory if only because (I’m pretty sure) it has appeared once before in the cryptic in the last couple of years. I haven’t the foggiest idea what it entails.

  6. 33:36 .. Well, it sure didn’t feel like a gentle opener in this (loofah-owning) household. Living outside the UK, I was only dimly aware of this being a bank holiday, so had no preconceptions. It’s a mesure of how tough I found this that I was pleased to look at the clock and see that my time was only thirty-three minutes.

    Last in DEMIURGE. COD DIATONIC SCALE – brilliant stuff; hats off to anyone who figured out the wordplay unaided by crossing letters.

  7. 12.55 – rather enjoyed this. I only knew the London particular through Dickens’ use of it in the opening of (I’m guessing now) Bleak House or Our Mutual Friend maybe? I just assumed it was his coinage. Had PLATOON carelessly at 11 for a bit. Agree that 6 is an exceptionally good clue.
    Re 24 I never knew biassed as an alternative spelling.
  8. Not the sort of puzzle I was looking for after Saturday’s. Got this one done through liberal resort to aids, although the only two words/phrases I didn’t know were ANTIPOPE and the chess term. Excellent creation – just a bit too hot for me to handle. COD to ANTIPOPE for the delicious mix of registers, testifying to the ‘intellectual imagination’ of the setter.
  9. Just under the hour here but most of it had been completed in 40 minutes. After completion I needed aids to confirm that PEDIGREE at 16dn was, as suspected, wrong. I have never heard of DEMIURGE so I don’t feel too bad about not getting it.

    Didn’t really understand ELINOR or BUNTHORNE before I loked them up later but the wordplay was clear and I was confident they were correct. Not quite convinced by 27ac.

    1. Forgot to say I missed all the fun at 6dn because as a former musician it was bread and butter and the answer went straight in at first glance.
    2. Very disappointed with you, Jack. When I finally got BUNTHORNE from aids and followed it up on Wikipedia, I immediately thought, “G&S, Jack will have it!”
      1. I’ve a bit of a blind-spot on G&S. I know Pinafore and Pirates in some depth but my knowledge of the others is very sketchy.
  10. I thought that this was an interesting and challenging puzzle: if ones GK was weak, this was probably very hard.

    Completed in about 35 minutes, but completely missed the subtlety of DIA…SCALE. COD to FRANKENSTEIN, despite my not knowing of Mary Shelley’s anniversary whilst solving!

    Harder than Saturday’s I thought.

  11. Is that really a possible spelling of OUGHT, meaning “anything”? I would be much happier with AUGHT, but have no dictionary to hand. SMOTHERED MATE was new to me. Last in TRANSIT.
    1. OED and Chambers both perfectly content with it. Oddly, it can mean both “anything” and “nothing”, the derivation of the former being an alternative version of “aught”, the latter coming from “a nought”, in the same way as “a nadder” has become “an adder”.
  12. I didn’t find this at all simple, needing about 45 minutes, ending with DEMIURGE, after sifting through ‘semi-‘ and ‘hemi-‘ words as well, trying to find a combination that looked like a real word. Clearly, DEMIURGE isn’t part of my everyday vocabulary. The phrase at 14A was new to me also, but I finally got it from wordplay and checking letters. I agree that the &lit at 6D is the COD today. Regards.
  13. 24 mins, held up on 12A PEA-SOUPER (hadn’t heard of ‘London particular’) and 18A FRANKENSTEIN. I was also a little surprised by the definition of ANTIPOPE, though it didn’t delay my solving. Very enjoyable overall, and I have to give COD to 6D DIATONIC SCALE, the brilliance of which went over my head.

    Tom B.

  14. Not a happy Monday. I ploughed through the cloying mud of the other clues but came unstuck (perversly)with the one that referred to a chess move, even though I was convinced that smothered had to be right. Was the definition a tad vague? Concentration not helped by trying to complete the puzzle in Soi Cowboy in Bangkok. Still, one is only human.
  15. Though most of the puzzle was quite easy, the last few entries to go in took ages, even though they weren’t really all hard (FRANKENSTEIN, for example). Last in was ELINOR, which I did get from the wordplay only after a search on the net rejected some alternatives. The rest I did manage on my own in due time, despite my weaknesses in cricket, Gilbert and Sullivan and the like.
  16. Guessed at INSTANCE correctly and saw the reasoning only when I came here. About
    40 minutes in two sessions. Liked FRANKENSTEIN a lot and LOOFAH and PHALANX
    which I got right away.
  17. I managed this in just over 16 minutes, which I was very happy with because there was a good smattering of unpossessed knowledge: London particulars, chess terms, Gilbert & Sullivan, Semiurge.
    Having checked throught the puzzle I see I made an irritating error by writing ELENOR at 20dn in spite of understanding the clue in full.
    A very good puzzle I thought and an enjoyable way to wind down after a hectic bank holiday Monday. 6dn is brilliant and like others I didn’t spot the anagram.
  18. This clue is devilishly clever, but is it accurate? I find it hard to get to grips with what a diatonic scale is, but it seems to me that you can have accidentals in one. Certainly not zero accidentals. As one of the websites I looked at said, “We use accidentals to make a diatonic scale.”
    1. True, a diatonic scale can have accidentals, but there are two senses in which the clue seems to me perfectly permissible. A C major scale is an archetypal diatonic scale and has no accidentals. Secondly, if the diatonic scale is in the home key, and there is a key signature, no accidentals will be used in the spelling of that scale, when it appears.
      1. Strictly speaking you have a point as, with reference to minor keys, it is impossible to write the scale either in its melodic or harmonic version without resort to accidentals. But the setter is probably covered by the definition in the Oxfords which is what matters for crossword purposes: Using only the notes proper to one key without chromatic alteration.
    2. Hi, all. First post for me, although I’ve been following this community for quite a while. Regarding accidentals, my understanding is that they are changes to the key signature added during a piece. So a diatonic scale (and any other scale, presumably) will have no accidentals. Great anagram, which I completely missed while solving!
  19. 12:28 late last night after returning from a weekend away, with one mistake – “SEMIURGE” at 16D which I wondered about after a post-solve ponder. Another who missed the anagram at 6D, and couldn’t remember exactly what “smothered mate” described, though I’d somehow heard of it.
    1. It came up in a puzzle within the past year I would say. I’d never heard of it before then.

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