Times 24,977

Timed at 33:25, and tricky, to say the least (apart from the SW corner, which I found really tricky). In fact, very much the sort of puzzle which you always worry will arrive on your day for blogging: lots of obscure knowledge required, and cunning wordplay to be unravelled. Still, good for the soul once in a while.

1 SILVERBACK – cryptic def., hand over a note and get some silver back, possibly some copper as well.
6 CALF – double def., calf (skin) and what one finds inside one’s stocking between the ankle and the knee.
10 REMOTESM.O.T. in (SEER)rev.
11 BOHEMIA – [Made + 1] in BOHEA.
12 BASE METAL – Maiden in (BEATLES)*.
13 RODEO – cryptic def.
14 PROMO – PRO + MOment.
15 PER CONTRA – (CANREPORT)*; a legal term, apparently.
17 OPERATIVE – OPERATIc (Figaro being the Barber who is to be married) + VersatilE.
20 TIMID – TIM + aID. Until I had the checkers, I was not egocentric enough to choose Tim as the obvious man.
25 CROQUET – Runs in COQUET. This could work the other way round, of course, which led me to attempt to force in the made-up PRIQUET before I got 14 down.
26 ROSEATE – ROSE + ATE. I’m sure I was not alone in starting with RED____ and getting nowhere.
1 SCRUB – double def.
3 EXTEMPORANEOUS – (POEM)* in EXTRANEOUS. Got there eventually after attempting to make anagrams of (IMPROVISEDPOEM) and (POEMCOMPOSEDIN) with predictably ineffective results.
4 BUS STOP – BUSS (=kiss = smacker) + TOP.
5 COBBLER – double def. “Man (working) at (a) last” is an old one but I took ages to spot it; and while I knew the fruit crumble-style pudding (which wasn’t required), I couldn’t bring to mind the sangria-type drink (which was).
9 CHARLOTTE RUSSE – [CHAR (fish) + Left + OTTER (fish-eater) + (USES)*].
14 PROVENCAL – PROVEN CALifornia; nice lift-and-separate, though once you realise that France doesn’t have states, of course, it’s more obvious.
16 TIME SHARE – TIMES (paper) + HARE (runner).
18 IGNITER – (G.I.)rev. (“American serving”) + NITER (i.e. nitre as it would be spelled by this mythical American GI). Top-notch self-referential clue.
19 ENTERED – [N.T. in EmpirE] + RED .
22 GROOM – double def. I vaguely remembered seeing the term “curry-comb” which is something used in a stable to care for a horse’s coat, and then the penny dropped for “man of the match”. It’s my wedding annversary tomorrow; luckily I have already remembered to book a suitable restaurant and buy flowers, thus ensuring there will be another one.
24 DREAD – Real in DEAD (completely as in “dead right”, “dead on time”).

34 comments on “Times 24,977”

  1. I didn’t find it hard except for the ne corner, which took a second cup, so the opposite to you Tim.. about 20mins in all
    I assumed a silverback must be some sort of note like a greenback or a pony, but you are obviously right, and it just means silver back..

  2. … and quite a deal of fun from the incredibly economical clueing. Had a fair idea what I was in for watching the puzzle come off the printer: “Change for gorilla? (10)”. Sounds like a line from the Goon Show; as does the next one: “Leather stocking filler (4)”. Also noted several well-hidden defs; but hats off especially to “in effect” at 17ac. The best bit of wordplay has to be “Tea cups” at 11ac. Wonder if the setter has heard of Iron Maiden (12ac) — that would have gone down well I thought.
  3. Best puzzle for some time I thought – 25 enjoyable minutes. I don’t think there’s a wasted word in those clues!

    Didn’t know the painter so needed checkers for that. Took a while to see the “niter” trick at 18D. Thank you setter.

  4. I liked the texture of this one. Tricky and tough. 44 minutes (just managing to avoid lamb for lama at the end). Looked for a word beginning RED a long time in 26. Several sharp clues; and the entertaining 9, my COD. Might go and buy one with chips the more to savour.
  5. Not too hard for me either, today, probably because I think BUSS=kiss is the only unknown bit of vocabulary (I even managed to dredge up BOHEA from a previous puzzle). Lots of good clues led to lots of pennies dropping.

  6. Well, it would have taken about half an hour, if it weren’t for the entire NE corner, which remained recalcitrantly incomplete for a further half hour before I gave up on it. Eventually returned and finished it quickly. How does that work? Buss was a puzzle to me too, but I’m sure we’ve seen it before and COBBLER as a drink completely unknown.
    I echo the sentiments of others here; extremely slick clueing and enjoyable to boot. I liked CALF but COD to BOHEMIA for its tea cups.
  7. 34 minutes. Like Tim I found this tough: I struggled to find the setter’s wavelength but I enjoyed the struggle. A smattering of unknowns (PER CONTRA, Harry LIME, BUSS) and a couple of familiar words in unfamiliar guises: “extraneous” (thought it just meant irrelevant/inessential) and the masculine form of “coquette”. A bit like Jerrywh I thought a SILVERBACK must be some sort of coin, so thanks for clearing that one up.
  8. I found this very tough and agree with those who’ve praised the succinct clueing. In fact when I looked at the first two clues I wondered if I’d printed the non-cryptic by mistake. It took me a full 65 minutes from start to finish, and at one point I thought I wouldn’t finish, but getting PROVENCAL was a huge help in the SW corner.

    One wrong unfortunately. I put SHRUB instead of SCRUB for 1dn, thinking it was an anagram of BRUSH, with the attached WOOD being the definition. Had it been that, it would have been the sort of wordplay that I abhor; but we have occasionally had such clues in the past, so I don’t feel too bad about my error.

  9. Those of us who do both The Times and The Guardian have been treated to 2 remarkable puzzles today, The Guardian for its originality and The Times for its concision. A couple of years ago when new to this I wondered on this blog if brevity equated to quality, pooh-poohed by PB, but it did send ANAX scurrying to do word counts of his recent efforts.
  10. I shall keep my time to myself today. Suffice to say that I found this extremely challenging, and it probably wasn’t a good idea to start it late at night. ‘Man at last’ was a new one on me, but I liked it – and it finally gave me some traction when all was looking lost in the NE corner.
  11. DNF after 30 mins, the last 15 spent staring uselessly at 6ac (CALF) and 8dn (FRAGONARD).  CALF was a kickself, particularly as I’d recently had to define the medieval Latin ‘sura’ (calf of the leg), but I’d shot myself in the foot with the unknown FRAGONARD by entering the perfectly understandable PAR CONTRE at 15ac (PER CONTRA).  Other unknowns were BOHEA (11ac BOHEMIA), BUSS (4dn BUS STOP), CHARLOTTE RUSSE (9dn), COBBLER as a drink and the shoemaker’s ‘last’ (5dn, though I have a feeling that this last appeared in an episode of Whitechapel).  And to cap it all, I stupidly forgot LAMA (27ac) and plumped for LAMB.
    1. Mark,

      We had Bohemia with bohea as part of the clue earlier this year: 24976 14 March. Definitely worth remembering. I’m pretty sure “last” as a cobbler’s whatnot has come up in several different guises as well.

      How odd that Falooker started with the clues that stumped you.

      1. CHARLOTTE RUSSE has also appeared very recently in a Jumbo – 16 September.
        For what it’s worth cobbler clues get a lot worse. In the FT the other day SNOB was clued as “Crispin the old blackleg”. Crispin is the patron saint of cobblers. “Snob” is both a term for a cobbler and an old word for blackleg. Obvious really.
  12. 75 minutes including two cheats, 1ac and FRAGONARD of whom I’ve certainly never heard in my 64 years on this planet (OK, he turned up in a clue in March 2009 but we were only required to use the first letter of his name to construct the answer).

    On reflection, a lot of this puzzle should have been much easier to solve.

  13. Slightly longer than it takes to get through the Channel Tunnel. A bit guessy with CHARLOTTE RUSSE. A really good puzzle and much enjoyed.

    Je suis now en France et tout est tres bien. Les natives sont basically amiables. Aujourd’hui je commence (a manger).

    1. Bon appetit, Sotira. French, both language and culture, seems to make regular appearances these days (eg Fragonard 🙂 so do some research while you’re there..
      1. Merci, Jerry. Tomorrow we’re ‘doing’ the Louvre (should take about an hour, I reckon).
  14. After a halting start. I was pleased to finally get going on this. First in CALF and FRAGONARD (I remember “The Swing” as an illustration in my school history book – demonstrating the ornamental uselessness of the ancien regime) The rest followed smoothly. 31 minutes
  15. Enjoyed this though it was slow-going. I had to put it aside and come back twice. FRAGONARD was my first in too: was reading about the rococo era very recently.
  16. When SILVERBACK went straight, I knew I was going to struggle, and so it proved, not helped by failing to see that PER CONTRA and BASE METAL were anagrams. Was under an hour before getting to the NE, where I fsiled to spot the COBBLER and had to cheat for PER CONTRA. A mighty struggle, with a time to match. Super puzzle, though.
  17. About 45 minutes, endning with TIME SHARE. I screwed up the NW corner by starting with SCRAP instead of SCRUB, which held me up. I really liked the COBBLER clue when I finally saw it, very clever and made me laugh. Thanks to the setter. This was one where I expected to come here and see how everyone else breezed through in 10 minutes or so, thus revealing my opacity. I guess not. Unknowns were MOT as test, and whoever Harry Lime might be. Regards to all.
    1. Kevin, The Third Man must be one of the most famous films of all time. If you haven’t seen it do try – it’s well worth it and I’m reasonably certain it will have stood the test of time. Orson Wells as Lime is outstanding.

      It is also remembered for one of the more insightful lines to come from films “The Italians suffered the Borgias and produced the Renaissance. The Swiss had nothing but peace and produced cuckoo clocks!” I have had trouble taking the Swiss seriously ever since.

      1. Orson Welles?

        By coincidence, he was misspelled Orson Wells in Murdoch’s flagship Australian newspaper “The Australian” earlier this week.

  18. 8:39 for me. I’d had a rather exhausting day so approached this puzzle nervously, wondering if I should have left it to another time when I was feeling less tired, but was relieved to find a wholly delightful puzzle presenting no problems. A real tonic. My compliments to the setter.
  19. kevin from ny, Harry Lime was a character in The Third Man, played in the film by Orson Welles. The Harry Lime theme was quite well-known at one time (a catchy but ultimately tiresome tune played on a zither).

    Some good clues here, but — and I know it is a silly bit of pedantry — I hate clues of the form [def] with [wordplay] (or the reverse) as in 21ac (Hunter with dog needing no introduction). OK it can be justified, but you never see any of the well-known good setters doing this.

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