Times 24985 – now that’s a crossword!

Solving time : Well with the championships coming up, I thought I’d break out the timer and see what happens. And even with a break to open the door, I stopped it at 7:36. It helped that I don’t think you could have a crossword any more on my wavelength than this (which makes me wonder if the setter is someone I had several drinks with at the Bay Hill Pub once). There’s a device I’ve never seen in the Times before, and I didn’t get it until after solving but it made my jaw drop. Add that to a fun theme with 4 and 5 down and it’s a rather good romp.

I’m not usually this gushy, but I have an early show tonight so I’m blogging and solving on budgeted time and this is exactly how I need to spend it!

Away we go

1 DEBRIEFED: BRIE,F in DEED and a great surface to get us going
9 MAFIOSO: (IF,SO)* in MAO (Tse-Tung)
10 WINDSOR: (DISOWN)*, then R(King), and another great surface
11 our across omission
12 TETHERING: first two letters in TEENAGERS, and THE RING can mean boxing
13 CAIRO: AIR(inflation) in CO
14 PETERS OUT: I got this from the definition, but apparently PETER is a call for trumps in whist, and then we have SOUT(h)
17 LIGHTSOME: My last in, and really from the definition, but the wordplay is stunning – EIGHTSOME with two of the lines of the E at the start taken off
18 SHADY: AD in SHY(short, as in “I’m a little but shy this week, don’t break my kneecaps, mr 9”
19 NEW LABOUR: (NOW,A,BLUE)* then R, &lit
22 SAGES: AGE in S,S (sons)
24 SANDPIT: yourS AND PIT(mine)
25 UNAWARE: A,WAR in UNE(French female one)
26 D,I,SHY: SHY sneaks in again
1 DEMO,B: After reading this I was wondering if there’d be a link in the clues between the 1s
3 IRONED OUT: ED in IRON(press),OUT(published)
4 FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: cryptic definition of the 15-letter down entry
5 DOWN(county), TO THE GROUND: and another reference to a 15-letter down entry
6 oliberately demitted
7 SUSHI: US in SHI(p)
15 RESISTANT: I’S,TAN in REST(holiday)
20 WINES: I in W,N,E,S(directions)
21 AMPLY: AM would be other than PM, then PLY(bend)

37 comments on “Times 24985 – now that’s a crossword!”

  1. … and glad to be back in the cruciverbal universe after ventures in the world of car mechanics. Thanks to Koro for covering for me at short notice yesterday.

    Agreed that this was a great puzzle with a hats off to LIGHTSOME. (I wonder if anyone ever writes answers in l/case letters?) Needed George’s explanation for the PETER bit (14ac) — so many thanks for that. Thinks: how many calls or signals are there in well-known card games? And do I have to learn them now?

    Edited at 2011-10-20 03:23 am (UTC)

  2. 19 minutes; for a while I thought I was going to beat yesterday’s 18, but I got slowed down, for one thing, by putting in ‘passes out’ at 14ac at first, and wondering about 17. Never heard of ‘peter’ in this sense, but it had to be. And I certainly didn’t understand 17; thanks to George for the explanations. I wonder if this means an easy weekend? (fat chance)
  3. 25 minutes, with TETHERING last in. COD to 1ac for the excellence of surface and definition. The Scottish dance clue was a bit too fond of itself for my liking. NEW LABOUR is a nice follow up to the recent PAY CUT (‘TUC yap’ reversed).
  4. 29 minutes for me – the two relatively easy but generously placed 15-letter answers helped to get things moving along nicely. I’m glad I didn’t stop to work out 14 or 17 – in fact, I bunged in LIGHTSOME without any great conviction in order to beat the 30-minute barrier.
  5. 28 minutes, so two consecutive sub-30 solves for me, which suggests things will be tougher tomorrow on my blogging watch.

    I agree with all the praise that has gone before.

    One point on 14ac, which I’ve never heard of despite having being a keen card player in the past, I understand that PETER is not a call but the convention of playing a low card in a suit having previously played a high one as an indication to one’s partner regarding the remaining cards in one’s hand – hence the word ‘signal’ in the clue.

    I have just received an email notifying that renewal of my Times Crossword Club subscription has failed. This is interesting if only because it doesn’t expire until 11th March 2012!

    1. I just got one of those mails and my sub goes to June 2012. Suspect the left hand (FuturePay) knoweth not what the right hand (The Times) is doing. And this casts some light on the PETER business:

      Edited at 2011-10-20 05:27 am (UTC)

      1. I have had trouble every year with Worldpay, duplicated subs, wrong date,etc. This year, despite the site showing my renewal date as Oct and no renewal agreement, Worldpay collected in September.
        To make it worse The Times did not reply to my many emails of complaint and I eventually telephoned (despite the cost from Spain). The young lady denied receiving any but my last email and offered me a six month’s free period which I accepted.
        I am confidently predicting more trouble next April.
    2. The Times is possibly worried that the world IS going to end on the 21st (the day before the championships) and so is trying to get your money in quickly!
      1. Well, my subscription apparently runs out today. All reminder emails to date have directed me to the website to renew, notwithstanding that there is no way of renewing a subscription from the website (which is a stroke of design genius in itself!) I am still waiting for the fulfilment of Barry’s prediction that eventually I will receive a link that will work…
          1. Thanks mctext, but does it help? Well, as far as I can see, no, actually. What is it?
            1. It’s the help page for WorldPay. They handle the sub payments for the Times. You will have used them before if you have subscribed by online credit-card payment and should have a username and password. You can use this to make a renewal payment if you so wish.

              As far as I can see, PB’s advice is correct and repeats what I noted to you on this site the other day; but there’s no way to make a payment directly from your Times home page. (Though there should be.) However, if you log out and go to the main page, there’s a prominent “subscribe” option.

    3. Information also posted on the xwd club site:

      * If you click “My profile” on the club front page and then choose “My invoices”, the information shown includes payment dates and the subscription period that each payment relates to.

      * FAQs / My Account tells you about this, and also about the rolling subscriptions. It also gives you contact details if you have any concerns about subscription payments.

      Peter Biddlecombe
      Sunday Times Puzzles Editor

      1. Thank you Peter. I tried that fairly early on in the piece. The “My Invoices” section tells me that I have no recurring arrangements. The only invoices shown are one from 2010 for the period to 20/9/11, and a free gift for the period 21/9/11 to 20/10/11. The only relevant thing I can find in the FAQ is a note that I have to start a new “rolling subscription”, but there is no explanation of how to do that.
        1. Finally as the clock ticked past midnight into 21 October the payment page finally materialised. What a ridiculous system!
  6. So 16 mins for me. Almost my fastest time

    As to renewals, I had all the same issues. Worldpay told me my subscriptin was renwed. Good. Then Times told me my subscription was about to expire. I emailed them and they were clueless. eventually my subscriptioh did expire despite being renewed so I payed again. And a couple of days later they refunded one of the subscriptions. But I have something like this happen every year. If everyone was the same the entire subscription money would be lost to collecing it.

  7. … despite many of the clues going in speedily…!

    I had lighthole (thought this was some sort of window, and a hobble was some sort of Scottish dance…), and chito (alt spelling of quito, maybe??? – and this despite have spent part of my honeymoon in CAIRO, but that was many, many moons ago…)

    Bah humbug.

  8. Another easy one, maybe softening up the entrants for Saturday?
    I enjoyed the lightsome clue.. this “physical” type of clue seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon – I don’t remember such things from my younger days. I like them.
    1. I remember a “physical” clue coming up in a Brian Greer puzzle in a Championship final – in the late 70s or early 80s, I think. I’ll try to see if I can dig it out some time.
  9. 12 minutes, with LIGHTSOME and PETERS OUT entered because they seemed to BE FITTING.
    SHADY gave me pause because I needed persuading that SHY would crop up twice in the same crossword.
    CoD to CAIRO, one of those pleasant whimsical clues.
  10. If I could have written faster, I might well have completed my first-ever sub-10 minute solve (admittedly without appreciating the full wordplay for LIGHTSOME – my COD). As it was, a never-to-be-repeated (I’m sure) 12 minutes. Thanks for the blog, George. I’ll leave it to the bridge aficionados to explain the multiple potential meanings of ‘petering’ in Bridge: my partners always complained that I’d chosen the wrong one.
  11. 13 minutes, the last two trying to come up with an alternative to LIGHTHOLE at 17ac. I wasn’t convinced but it was the only thing I could think of. I was thinking “light” for “carefree” and “opening” as the definition, and assumed that an unheard-of Scottish dance was the missing link. I was right in a way: I’ve never heard of an EIGHTSOME so I think I could have thought about this forever without getting it.
    Otherwise very straightforward: “peter” the only other unknown.
    I’ve had a bad run of late. I can only hope that I’m getting my DNFs out of the way ready for Saturday.
  12. Another 30 minute solve. Having spent 5 minutes pondering, I finally put LIGHTSOME in with no idea why. I had to google Scottish dances to find eightsome and the penny finally dropped. I can’t say I was overly impressed, but the rest was good fun.
  13. Most enjoyable puzzle. 26 mins (which is fast for me). Despite being on the easy side overall, there were some very ingenious and unusual clues. I loved the way in which the substitution of L for E was indicated in LIGHTSOME, and was glad to see that I was not alone in this. CAIRO was also nice.
  14. 12 minutes in a very roundabout way: practically none of the acrosses on first reading, but then lots of downs which went straight in. One of those puzzles where the solving time doesn’t reflect the ingenuity.
  15. 32 and a half leisurely minutes for me. I struggles with LIGHTSOME, not knowing the word or the dance, and not understanding the wordplay either. I’ve always been a keen card player, but I’ve never come across petering.

    Lots of good clues, and plenty of entertaining surfaces. Compliments to both the setter and the blogger!

  16. Another very easy offering resulting in a sub-20-minute solve (18 mins) for me. Not much to say about it except that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the surface of 1 ac as the blogger; it struck me as a bit messy.
    I didn’t understand PETER in 14, nor the clue to 17, which, thanks to the blog, I now see is very clever.
  17. Another easy puzzle – good quality clues but hardly difficult. 15 minutes to solve

    George, a (Smith) Peter in bridge is a signallling device used in card play (as against bidding) by the defence to show suit preference for leads against mainly no-trump contracts. It must be declared on the pair’s convention card and specifically drawn to opponents notice if at all unusual in its construction or use.

    Like you I don’t recall the “missing bars” device appearing before in the Times daily cryptic

    1. I pulled my definition out of Chambers, but thanks for the clarification. Not much of a cards player.
  18. To peter in bridge is to indicate a doubleton by playing the higher of 2 cards first, thus encouraging your partner to lead the suit for you to trump
  19. ..which made sense in desperation as I was eager to finish in good time. Otherwise a good stab at it not taking long…about a half hour.
  20. 16 minutes which is very fast for me. I didn’t understand PETER until coming here but put in in as a guess.
  21. About 25 minutes, ending with AMPLY and LIGHTSOME. I didn’t understand the wordplay for either, so thanks to George. I should have seen how AMPLY worked, but there’s no way I would ever have found ‘eightsome’ as a Scottish dance to even have a chance to figure out the E to L change. I never heard of the ‘peter’ signal either, but it didn’t hold me up. I also liked CAIRO. Thanks to the setter and George also, and regards to all.
  22. 7:21 here after a diabolically slow start – before I realised how easy it was. As Jerry says, they’re probably softening us up for Saturday. Nice puzzle.
  23. A super puzzle with some very clever clues, which I finished in 46 minutes but with one wrong entry — I too could think of nothing other than LIGHTHOLE on 17ac and I would never have understood the wordplay based on EIGHTSOME. I also took a long time on AMPLY and DISHY (didn’t catch that I is “one of the Romans”). I loved the surface on 1ac and otherwise my CODs would be CAIRO and SANDPIT. I especially liked “affected by inflation” as an instruction to put the AIR into CO.

    My subscription just renewed automatically, but I’m not sure why they are taking money on October 20 for a subscription which won’t start until February 8 of next year. Perhaps it’s because I started the new subscription three months early last year to get the reduced rate, but the renewal payment could have been postponed until the old subscription expired.

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