Times 26233 – The Referee’s Decision is Final

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
A gentle way to ease into the new week with a weird dance and a weird painting, but little else to bother the seasoned solver. Talking of which, many congratulations to Mark Goodliffe for snaffling the prize for the eight consecutive year at the Times Crossword Championships, and to a host of other bloggers and commenters for sterling performances, not excluding Mohn (fifth place), the three Jumbo bloggers (Helen Ougham, Simon Hanson and Fat Hippy – all well up there), Verlaine and Tony Sever, who all got through to the Grand Final. Keriothe, Topical Tim, Andy Wallace (Linxit) and the Mighty Penfold also performed admirably by finishing in the top 25 in their heat to gain an exemption from qualifying for next year’s edition. Actually, I note that only one of these is not a blogger, so, You Know Who, O Mighty One!, we look forward to receiving your wit and wisdom on a regular, formalised basis sharpish. Not on my watch, mind!

20 minutes plus change for me on this decidedly, non-Grand Finalesque offering.


1. HULA-HULA – whenever I read ‘dance’ (or ‘ted’) I think of our Jimbo, who I am sure has assayed this measure in his long Terpsichorean career. The initial letters of Held Under Local Auspices, repeated.
10. STIFLE – a nicely hidden hidden.
12. SECCO – S + EC + CO. Those with a passing knowledge of Latin or wine will gather that this has something to do with dryness. ODO specifies that something as ‘the technique of painting on dry plaster with pigments mixed in water’.
13. EARTHWORK – [primitive]E + ARTWORK around H[igh].
14. LONG-STANDING – you read ‘pine’ you think LONG soon enough, just like those Norwegian Blues and their fjords.
18. CUMULONIMBUS – an anagram* of SUMO CLUB IN M[alib]U.
21. DESERT RAT – TAR reversed after DESERT.
23. EVADE – NEVADA without its borders > EVAD + E. I’m banking on this being the clue where people will come to check the parsing and make this thankless task worth it by saying “Thanks, mate, I really had no clue until you explained everything”. Or not.
24. MEAGRE – M + EAGRE, where the latter means much the same as ‘bore’, as in the wonderfully named Severn Bore. All to be found on the western side of the border, of course.
25. ECSTATIC – E + STAT[e] in CIC.
26. CRYING – Y in C + RING.
27. GLADSOME – GLADSTONE (the chap who befriended ladies of the night as part of his service to his country, or just to annoy Victoria Regina perhaps; who knows why men do these things?) with the TON (fashion) changed to OM (Order of Merit).


1. HOARSE – [alask]A in HORSE.
2. LAUNCH – UN in LA + CH. Not overly taxing.
3. HYDROFOIL – F[ine] + OIL after HYDRO (hotel). Not being much of a Renaissance Man or a New Man, the meaning of ‘hydro’ as ‘a hotel or clinic originally providing hydropathic treatment’ completely passed me by when solving. But so much does that I didn’t bat an eyelid.
4. LANDED GENTRY – LANDED + G + ENTRY. Not too taxing either.
6. HITCH – I’d have thought one would do it to obtain a life [should read ‘lift’ – thanks, Jack – but left in because it might be my best joke – it was a typo of course], not merely to a lift, but then of course, on the other hand, one could do it to the word string ‘a lift’, so I think this clue passes muster, even if it probably wouldn’t be champion at the Cryptic Definition of the Year Awards, and may, I’m sad to say, not even be asked back for the following year’s festivities without first having to go through that process which the Mighty One and others are now quietly sniffing at.
7. DAFFODIL – F in LIDO and FAD, both reversed.
8. WRECKAGE – WAGE (as in ‘wage war’, which Julius Caesar was always doing when he wasn’t making ablative absolutes) around RECK (an old word for ‘heed’, used only in negative and interrogative contexts, know ye not?).
15. NAUSEATED – DEAN reversed around U + SEAT.
16. ACADEMIC – a slightly under strength double definition.
17. EMISSARY – a slightly underwhelming (am I being unduly harsh, is my Scottish blood boiling at a perceived injustice?) clue: E + MISS + RY (trains) around A.
19. TATTOO – a whimsical clue in which that which can be etched on your torso can also be that which is sounded drum-wise (or ‘beaten’) for evening roll-call.
20. RESCUE – RUE around ESC; ESC, together with (breaking off to have a quick look at my keyboard) DEL, ALT, ENTER and quite possibly SHIFT, is commonly clued by ‘key’.
22. RERUN – RE + RUN. My lips are sealed – I have said enough for one day.

69 comments on “Times 26233 – The Referee’s Decision is Final”

  1. I only realized after submitting how much I’d biffed; but there wasn’t that much to reward setting back and savoring. HULA-HULA strikes me as as dated as ‘pizza pie’; it’s certainly been decades since I’ve come across either. (For those of you whose idea of hula is based on the stuff elderly mainlanders at hotels are taught, you might google ‘hula kahiko’ for a taste of the traditional dance.) EVADE was nice; sorry, Ulaca, this was one I didn’t biff.
  2. Though I am indeed glad for the parsing of EVADE. At 6dn I started with CATCH which seems to work, at a pinch. But that left _C_D_W at 5ac. Impossible!
  3. With a few minutes spent on GLADSOME at the end. I knew which PM we were dealing with, but just couldn’t put the parts together in a meaningful way.

    Thanks setter and commiserations Ulaca. Brave effort by your lads (BTW, just how many nationalities do you lay claim to?). Had us holding our breath for a few minutes there at the end, but some nice composure by Foley to seal it. Aussies will need to step up to beat the rampaging Pumas, and no-one will get near the ABs based on Saturday’s performance.

    Edited at 2015-10-19 04:48 am (UTC)

  4. 27 minutes for this very enjoyable puzzle. I lost time in a few places, first considering (like mct) CATCH at 4dn, being very wary over the spelling at 18ac and inventing that non-existent mode of transport, the hoverfoil at 3dn before checkers supplied by 9ac brought me to my senses. I had a problem too parsing 18ac, thinking there was an element of containment in the clue rather than being just a straight anagram.

    I think our blogger is being too accommodating re 4dn where I suspect a setting or editing error has resulted in a missing word. Yet another to add to the recent tally.

    Btw I like the idea of hitching ‘to obtain a life’ which I suspect is what has motivated many impoverished youngsters to set out on their early travels.

    Speaking of one’s youth I find it easy to imagine our esteemed colleague Jimbo in his day as a ted wearing a long drape jacket and winkle-picker shoes, but less so exchanging that mode of dress for a hula-hula skirt in order to dance the 1ac!

    1. 4d seems fine to me – quantity wise, at any rate. A lucky American might win ten Gs for donning a pork-pie hate and drainpipe kegs adorned with a giant bow and dancing the hula-hula. Or is this not the bit you’re querying?
      1. Sorry, I was querying 6dn (HITCH) not 4dn (LANDED GENTRY). Unfortunately I can’t change it now there’s been a reply.

        On the subject of typos, I like the idea of ‘pork-pie hate’.

    2. Thanks Jack but you forgot the DA and quiff

      HULA-HULA was never within my compass and have to stick to foxtrots and rumbas these days

  5. 11:13 .. a bit of thought needed in the NE, otherwise pretty straightforward.

    Indeed, some fine performances from hereabouts at the weekend. Congrats, all.

  6. Struggled a bit until I realised it was CUMULONIMBUS not NIMBOCUMULUS and HITCH rather than CATCH

    Edited at 2015-10-19 07:37 am (UTC)

  7. 8m. A nice gentle Monday job, with quite a lot of biffing. I didn’t understand how HYDRO was a hotel but it didn’t slow me down.
    I don’t have a problem with 6dn. In fact I used a similar construction in my last blog – describing ‘pop’ as ‘something you might do to the shops’ – so I’m inclined to think it rather witty and elegant.
  8. 25 minutes but could not parse 23a (Thanks ulaca).”Hitching a life” should be entered into the lexicon – it sums me up (and Douglas Adams?)

    Edited at 2015-10-19 07:31 am (UTC)

  9. Could someone please tell me what the “COD” acronym means when used by bloggers and commentators discussing the pains and joys of crossword solving?
      1. Aha! Thank you. (Actually, I’m not really new — I’ve been dropping in to check on this site occasionally since about Feb this year. And I have picked up the meaning of “FOI”, “LOI”, “anagrind”, and “biff” so that I can follow the rather opaque jargon of the contributions.) But thanks again for your speedy response to my query.
  10. 16 minutes, parsed, even Nevada and the TON > OM. Well done to all successful Saturday sitters. As the Wednesday Man I expect I shall be deciphering the challenges publicly soon.

    I shall be golfing tomorrow with several Scottish people, which could require patience and / or earplugs, since they were denied by a poor bit of refereeing – a TMO referral would have meant they won. But I agree with galspray, the ABs are way ahead.

    1. We don’t agree on everything Pip. A TMO referral would have resulted in a scrum to Australia in an attacking position. Pretty confident they’d have converted that into points, but we’ll never know will we?
      In any case, despite the justified admiration for Scotland’s gallant effort, five tries to three would suggest that the better team won.
    2. I know absolutely nothing about rugby, and didn’t watch the match, but I heard on the radio this morning that the rulebook precluded a TMO referral (whatever that is).
    3. As I put it in my heading, the ref’s decision is final. If Joubert did not see the intervention of the Australian player, he must give a penalty. Some of the outbursts from former players have been most regrettable.
      1. Not to mention the Twickenham crowd booing Moore and Cheika during the post-match interviews. What the?

        Oh and since you mention it, if the intervention of the Australian player (Phipps) was unintentional, which it clearly was, then the offside decision stands. Apologies to Craig Joubert all round.

        Great game, fair result, move on.

        1. I didn’t appreciate this nuance of the law, which, if you are correct, means that Joubert was doubly correct, both as the final arbiter of such (unreferrable) decisions and in his interpretation of the law in this specific instance.
          1. Although now that I’ve seen a different camera angle, I’m much less certain that Phipps didn’t intentionally play at it. Scotland were robbed!!!
  11. 15:37… and pretty straightforward Monday fare, I thought. As for HYDROs, we had a rather splendid 3-day clan gathering a few years ago at Crieff Hydro, in Perthshire, celebrating my parents and aunt and uncle’s golden weddings. A wonderful place for rest and recuperation from, say, an unfortunate rugby refereeing decision.
  12. I thought it must be ‘ad’, as in ‘had’ (duped) when said, in ‘Show’ (broadcast) – not ‘had’ in ‘sow’ ??
  13. 7.58 and a new personal record – or it would have been but for a typo unchecked in my haste to submit. Adds to my woes after a weekend where I’m afraid I rather let the side down by failing to complete any of the grids. Just not my day, I think, though I think the set tasks were rather harder than last year’s.
    Sincere(-ish) congratulations to all named here, and especially to Penfold for that 25th: I trust you allowed yourself a proper leap of joy.
    Nice blog Ulaca – not easy to do when most of the clues are on the trivial side. And yes, I did get EVADE, but only by not noticing that Nevada has no second E and spending time wondering where ?ELUDE? or ?ELOPE? might be.

    Edited at 2015-10-19 11:07 am (UTC)

  14. 12:29. I’ll be brief for now as I’m on a train back up north having spent yesterday evening being Scottish at Twickers.

    Ulaca, you’ll be delighted to hear that I couldn’t parse evade so was genuinely grateful for your explanation.

    Top 25 in the prelims gets a free pass and I nabbed the coveted 25th spot in heat 1.

  15. Nice Monday puzzle. And, yes, Ulaca, I am indeed grateful for your parsing of EVADE. Congrats to all aforementioned for their fine showing in The Times Xword Championships. What was the astonishing Goodliffe’s average completion time?
    1. According to the article in the paper 29 mins. He also says he ‘got stuck’ on two clues and that he thought this year was harder “there was a while where I really thought I wasn’t going to complete it.” But of course he did and now he’s the holder of a Guinness Word Record.
      1. Most people start feeling that way 50 minutes, not 20 minutes in, but Mark Goodliffe is not “most people”!
      2. Thanks, Sue. Somehow I managed to miss the report of the championship in today’s paper on first read through. Blimey — it must have been tough if even Mark G needed 29 minutes!

        Congrats on your fantastic time for today’s puzzle.

        1. I’m going to have a go at the final puzzles at the weekend under ‘test’ conditions (I sit on the cat’s chair and he glares at me while the minutes tick away on the stop watch). I’ll be a lot more than 29 minutes judging by the comments of others on the day.
    2. Does anyone have a link to the full set of results? I was in the second preliminary, but had to dash off for a date with the rugby. In the end, I was quite a bit off the pace, but not too bad for a first attempt, and I’m interested to know exactly where I fit in the pecking order.
      1. Looks as though Andy will be putting up the full set later on, but the prelim 2 requested Richard results roster reads:

        33 Richard Coombs (1 error in 3rd puzzle)
        44 Richard Harris (1 error in 1st puzzle, 3 errors in 2nd, 2 errors in 3rd)
        55= Richard Wiseman (3 errors in 1st puzzle, 6 errors in 2nd, 14 errors in 3rd)

        1. Ah, thank you very much! I’m the middle one, not so much 6 errors as 6 I couldn’t manage in the time. I’m reasonably pleased with that overall. Without wishing to get too personal, it seems most people there have a few more years’ experience under their belts!
  16. Someone said on Saturday that I should add 10 mins to my solving times when posting on T4TT to avoid the weight of expectation on Finals day.

    I may well do this in the future but having just looked on the club site and seen the times posted by Jason, Magoo and young Verlaine (the latter seeming to look younger every time you see him) I just have to say that I completed today’s puzzle in 4:58!

    The poor battered brain can’t face any more puzzles today, so I’m off to read a book.

    1. Yep, only about 6 minutes for me this morning, but I felt especially fat-fingered and prone to silly things like going for NIMBOCUMULUS and then having to retype it all again 5 seconds later – and also inventing a miraculous new vehicle, the HOVERFOIL – so I feel like it should really have been 5-something!

      You know you belong in those Grand Finals Sue!

      Me and your young friend Kitty are in talks to co-set a puzzle or two by the way. Fingers crossed…

      Edited at 2015-10-19 12:08 pm (UTC)

      1. I got there before you. See above!

        I’m not even remotely into competitions, but isn’t it rather boring that the same person wins year after year?

        1. There was a character called John Sykes who was the Mark Goodliffe of his day: ten times the winner and it would certainly have been more like fifteen, but back then he agreed to skip the championship on a regular basis to give others their hour of glory! Perhaps Magoo will one day do the same. He’s earned the right to be the benchmark by which crossword solving genius must be annually judged though.
          1. I hope Magoo doesn’t “do a Borg” (or even a Sykes) and step aside. I’m curious to see how long he can keep this up for, and if anyone can ever actually beat him on the day.

            What’s the betting that when he eventually gets beaten it’s by some absolutely infuriating 15-year-old who can’t decide between his budding career as a concert pianist or the job offer from NASA. Then we’ll all pine for the good old days when Magoo won all all the time!

            1. Let’s hope he plumps for NASA and the trip to Mars? But relax … if he competes next year he will turn up on the wrong day with his underpants on back to front.
    2. Whilst I am of course terribly grateful to you and 7dPenguin for your wee slip-ups which allowed me to nick 25th spot I implore you to take an extra minute to check your answers properly next year. We want to see you in the final!

      Congrats to those TftTers who made the final, especially Verlaine who acquitted himself in the pub afterwards as well as he did in the competition, and the others who got a free place for next year. Commiserations to those who missed out.

      Oh, and Ulaca, I have no idea what this “mighty” stuff is all about.

      Edited at 2015-10-19 01:08 pm (UTC)

      1. Yes I know – you should see the bruises where I’ve been kicking myself over the last 48 hours. I am also not convinced that ‘imploring’ isn’t verging on ‘lecturing’ but I’ll let you off this time.
      2. Do you mean that I lurched alarmingly through the competition, failing to collide with pitfalls in my path more through luck than judgment, throwing out random utterances which sometimes accidentally made sense in context, and staying around longer than many better and wiser individuals than myself? Guilty as charged!
      3. You reminded me of my favourite Danger Mouse quote:

        [As Penfold falls through the air at the end of the episode]
        Narrator: Will it be Isaac Newton 1: Penfold nil? Tune in next time to find out!

  17. Did this late last night and breezed through most of it with just a little hold-up on the TATTOO/GLADSOME crossing, CD’s were never my forte.
  18. I thought it must be ‘ad’, as in ‘had’ (duped) when said, in ‘Show’ (broadcast) – not ‘had’ in ‘sow’ ??
  19. Tony Sever has been attending since 1971 and he’s still sharper than I’ll ever be!
    1. Since 1970 actually. I was there for the first Championship, but finished well down the field in 67th place. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to get into the swing of things.

      Sadly though, my best is long past, down to a combination of anno domini and the change in style of the puzzles. I make no claims to sharpness these days – certainly not in comparison with you, crypticsue and the rest – but I do have a lot of experience (Saturday’s final was my 26th) and, judging from some of the comments I read on this blog, perhaps more relevant general knowledge than most.

  20. About 30m for me with quite a long time on the 1s at the end until I saw how 1a worked and then both fell together! I look forward to not being able to finish any of the puzzles from the championship as they appear in the paper.
  21. 11 mins with ACADEMIC my LOI after DESERT RAT, neither of which were the hardest of clues. I’m happy that GLADSOME was so generously clued because I don’t recall coming across it before, although that doesn’t mean I haven’t.

    Congratulations indeed to those of you who did so well on Saturday.

  22. About 25 minutes, inexplicably ending with the fairly obvious HOARSE, which should have fallen right off. My most useful comment is congratulations to all from here who acquitted themselves so well at the competition. Also, repetitively, to Mr. Goodliffe. Regards to all.

    Edited at 2015-10-19 07:09 pm (UTC)

  23. Satisfying time for me, for a fairly gentle puzzle.
    I add my congratulations to all those who competed on Saturday, whether they excelled or not: I hope that they all enjoyed the day.
  24. A sluggish 9:02 for me. I suspect it’s going to take me a few more days to recover from the weekend. Nice puzzle, though.
    1. This was a 20-minute puzzle that I managed, somehow, to spin out for 33 minutes. A very quick start took care of everything but the NW corner and 19d, and I thought I was on for new personal best. However, I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, with TATTOO my LOI.

      The only SECCO I was familiar with was the pro variety (life is far too short to waste time drinking amateur secco), but the wordplay was clear enough. I seem to recall that Michelangelo painted the Last Supper as a secco when he ought to have painted it as a fresco, with the result that most of the original dropped off soon after completion. EAGRE was lurking in some dark, un-tended corner of my memory, but it was a near thing.

      Thanks to our blogger for sorting out one or two parsings, and to the setter for a pleasant half hour*. While I’m at it, thanks also to Sunday’s setter for the arse – I wonder if he noticed my comment about BICEPS a couple of days ago?

      (*Thinking about this, if 1 person in 60 in England does the Times cryptic every day, and if the average time taken is 30 minutes, that amounts to 500,000 person-hours of solving per day. That’s a little less than a human lifetime. Bearing in mind that murderers usually serve less than 20 years, this surely means something, but I have no idea what.)

      Edited at 2015-10-19 11:29 pm (UTC)

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