Times 26,282

This puzzle took a very sharp upward curve in terms of difficulty from my POV. Straight in with the nice long 1ac to give me a start, and a few other early gimmes left me thinking this was going to be a sprint like yesterday, but I found myself at walking pace by the end, as I filled in the “middle bits”, the result of all that being a time of 15:42. The setter may have carefuly planned it so that the puzzle all came together piece by piece at the end, as the trickier clues revealed themselves, or it may just have been me failing to see the wood for the trees.

(Trying to explain how this felt, I came up with the idea that some crosswords require inspiration, and others require perspiration; this one started as the former and ended as the latter. Let’s see if the collective experience matched mine.)

1 STATE OF THE ART – if you see “gallery” and immediately think “Tate”, the enumeration makes this a write-in. TATE in SOFT, HEART. The definition is “contemporary”, though it makes a nice surface which calls to mind the Tate Modern on the Southbank.
8 REST – BREST is the port, take out the B{ritish}.
9 PAINKILLER – PILL swallows [A INK], followed by the hesitant ER.
10 START OUT – or STAR / TOUT, which would be a playful way of expressing brilliant / solicitor.
11 MOLEST – MOLE by ST{reet}.
13 COVERTURES – C{old} OVERTURES. This was one of the late ones which needed a lot of checkers before I got to grips with it, mostly because I don’t think I know the word, though it looks obviously right once you write it down.
16 COOP – POOC{H}rev. Once you have C_O_, it’s not as hard as it is with, say, _A_E to come up with words which might work, though COOP as “basket” didn’t really ring true at first if the only one you know is the sort which holds chickens – it turns out there is a specific, secondary, definition, which is a basket used in catching fish.
17 SAGO – S.A.=”sex appeal”=”it”, GO(=try).
18 DEMOLISHED – DEMO(=rally), {fina}L, I SHED.
20 TOILET – TOILE, T{emperature}. Fabrics are rather like horse-drawn carriages, in that most of my knowledge of the subtly different types comes almost entirely from crosswords. TOILE is one of them: all I can say about it is that it’s easily mistaken for TULLE.
22 LAME DUCK – I took a long time to parse this satisfactorily – if I hadn’t been blogging, I’d probably have said it was one of those “don’t try to over-analyse it, you can see what it’s getting at, it’s sort of cryptic” clues, and considered it…well, a bit lame. However, I know you deserve better than that, so I eventually spotted that the “game” has nothing to do with sport, but is the less common British slang – also expressed in the phrase “gammy leg”, which makes the difference between the two more abundantly clear – so it’s LAME(=game), DUCK(=no score) and it’s an &lit. That’s more like it.
24 LACERATION – broken down into LACE RATION, because Nottingham is a long-standing centre for the production of LACE. This may have puzzled non-UK solvers (and some UK solvers, probably).
26 VIEW – VIE, W{ith}. Is a view the same as a conviction? Close enough.
27 KITCHEN GARDEN – KIT(=supplies), then ENG{land} in C{onservative} HARDEN(=set).
2 ASTIR – reverse hidden in caR ITS Always.
3 EXPLOITED – ITE{m} in EX PLOD. The archetypal policeman P.C. Plod may be another peculiarly British reference which eludes overseas solvers…
4 FRITTER – {diete}R in FITTER. Mmmm…fritters.
5 HOKUM – OK(=yes) in HUM(=unpleasant smell).
6 ALL BLACKS – (BALL)*, LACKS(=needs). I imagine even non-rugby union fans are familiar with the repeat world champions from New Zealand. Taking it further, the best nickname in sport is the New Zealand basketball team, who are known as the Tall Blacks.
7 TIE – sTaInEd.
12 SMOKESCREEN – SMOKE=London=generally, “the big city”, SCREEN.
14 EMOLLIENT – gangster’s MOLL, I.E. hidden in E.N.T., your ear, nose and throat department.
15 SALAMANCA – if you can’t see the wordplay, and you have the final letter A, there are lots of possibilities which suggest themselves, so I toyed with Barcelona, and Tarragona, and Cartagena, which has the bonus of having a cut-off gent in it. With more checkers, I finally worked out that it’s A MAN in [A CLAS{S}].
19 MULLION – MULL(=study), 1 ON. The upright bar in a window with several panes.
21 TEACH – A is the top grade (no such thing as A* in Crosswordland), inserted into TECH, short for Technical College.
23 DAVID – D{irect} A VID. Best-known, I’d say, for The Death of Marat.
25 AUK – A{rea}, U.K. See previous blogs for long discussions about the technical differences between Britain, Great Britain, the UK etc. etc. One of those where even I would suggest it’s overly pedantic to point out the difference, even more so to claim it’s going to stop anyone solving the clue.

37 comments on “Times 26,282”

  1. I’d be interested to know who thought that including “art” in 1ac. was clumsy.Gallery , on it’s own , would suffice.
  2. Very similar experience to Tim. 1A was a write-in and much else flowed but I was left with those irritating gaps. Finally ground it down with LAME DUCK my LOI. Also thought the whole clue was a lame duck until I saw the “duck” bit and then the “game” bit. Sadly, I suspect a lot of solvers will just think it was a bit weak

    Like the Nottingham rent allowance

  3. DNF and don’t know why. Too much perspiration and perturbation.

    I had “Say Go” for starting a race at 17a.

  4. My experience very much matched yours, with the answers flying into the top half of the grid so rapidly that I thought I might achieve a positively Magoovian time. Predictably I did hit a big speed bump in the bottom half, not being able to think up MULLION and several others for a while. Still made in under 9 minutes with no silly errors today, which I guess is acceptable. VIEW LOI, it’s always the short one that pull you right up isn’t it?
  5. Some of us on the Club Forum wondered if the double-vision effect of having ART in the clue (contemporary art gallery housed in quiet centre) as well as in the answer was just an error of transcription. I failed to parse EXPLOITED because I’d forgotten about Mr Plod and so had EXP as an old penny and then a muddle. I also had an unparseable CURT instead of COOP for a while. COVERTURE is rather obscure. I think it survives mostly as a bit of law French to torture fledgling lawyers – from the time when women lost all their property rights when they married. 20.46 – a good bit of it spent digging myself out of holes. P.S. Sorry – Barracuda got there first on ART.

    Edited at 2015-12-15 11:47 am (UTC)

  6. 28 minutes, so well inside my target. Rather like the French law now that it’s explained to me.
  7. I also started very quickly on this, and slowed down a lot in the second half of the solve. I still came in a shade under ten minutes though so I appear to have been on the wavelength.
  8. 21:00, so inside my target too. Like others, the first two across went straight in and then a few more came quickly, but getting the bottom sorted took a while. Thanks for the reminder of the alternate spelling of gammy. COVERTURES an unknown, but it couldn’t be anything else from the wordplay and checkers. It took me a while to remember what Nottingham was famous for making… 24a my LOI. 6d my favourite.
  9. 10:52. Top half quick, bottom half slow, as Tarzan might say.

    Didn’t know the particular meaning of coop and couldn’t remember what Nottingham (or Dottingham in my current state) was famous for but had a long list of things it wasn’t, such as shoes, hats, steel and seafood.

    Whilst struggling with the bottom downs I paused to try and parse the previously-biffed kitchen garden to make sure it was correct but couldn’t see it and decided that “engarde” might mean “set” as in “ready… set… thrust/parry”.

    I thought there were some terrifically concise clues with, on closer inspection after the event, highly plausible surfaces like those for hokum, teach, molest, sago and view.

  10. Well summed up by the blogger. My experience was similar but in a different time frame.

    Didn’t manage to parse LAME DUCK or LACERATION. Had no idea what was produced in Nottingham, after eliminating “nightmare Test match scenarios” as a possibility.

    Nice challenging puzzle. Thanks setter and Tim.

  11. Same experience as many others – top half relatively easy, bottom half required effort and perspiration. I had mis-parsed ASTIR and completely missed the reverse hidden, taking component of CAR as AR with ITS reversed inside it. Could do better! Also confused and briefly detained by ART appearing in both clue and answer. However, other than that, the whole NW half went in fine, and then I had to stop as work interrupted.

    The SE half was much more difficult, but eventually yielded when DEMOLISHED and the Spanish city revealed themselves. (As a kid I would get myself lost in Spanish City in Whitley Bay for hours at a time!).

    Overall, very satisfying. Nice puzzle, nice blog.

  12. 16:25 … I thought this was really good setting. There were quite a few in the lower half where I was tempted to bung them in but didn’t quite dare. As Penfold says, some terrifically neat, concise surfaces, too. Thanks setter and blogger.
  13. Slow, but not solving in ideal conditions (well, that’s my excuse).
    Failed to parse ‘lame duck’, for the reason anticipated by Tim, so the sublety of the clue was wasted on me.
    Thanks setter and blogger.
  14. 33m today with TOILET
    my LOI as I was biffed my own acronym shoving in COACH for TEACH and so took long enough to realise that woolic (or -loc or – lac) weren’t ever going to be parsable. I really enjoyed the puzzle and thought LAME DUCK excellent. No problems with 1a – it’s always nice to get a flying start. Thanks blogger and setter today!
  15. Same as others, starting quickly and then grinding to a crawl. I never parsed LAME DUCK, so it went in a la Tim’s preliminary description, sort of cryptic, I guess. Never heard of COVERTURES and I also have no idea why ‘smoke’ gets you to the big city, although I see Tim’s London connection in the blog, I still don’t get it. Tim is also correct about the other things that non-UK solvers wouldn’t get right off. Regards.
    1. ‘The Smoke’ referring specifically to London was news to me having been born close to it and lived not far away all my life, but I see it’s in some of the usual sources. In my book it just means any large industrial city probably, but not necessarily, in the UK.
      1. You must be fairly young , jacket , otherwise you might remember the reasons ; pollution , smog etc. It’s always been referred , in my memory , as The Smoke +/- Big!
        1. I been drawing my state pension for some years and I remember London smog though living a little outside we didn’t get the worst of it. I’d identify with Big Smoke as London but Smoke on its own as above.
      2. A visit to London was often referred to amongst 1970s TV criminals (think The Sweeney) as ‘going up The Smoke’. It was also common parlance in the Met Police when I joined up soon after – very much a case of life imitating art imitating life.
  16. Like others I also struggled after racing away off the starting-blocks. Technically this was a DNF for me as I needed aids to find the unknown SALAMANCA. Other unknowns but obtained from wordplay were COVERTURES and the artist at 23dn. Oh, and COOP as a basket though I know ‘creel’ in connection with fishing. Also lost time thinking LACEMAKERS at 24ac and trying to justify it.

    Edited at 2015-12-15 05:37 pm (UTC)

  17. Graaa. Yet another puzzle where, like everyone else, I started fast only to be utterly defeated.

    I had a full 18 out of 27 answers written in within 10 minutes, easily my best time to date! But an hour later, I still lacked the entire bottom half: TOILET, LAME DUCK, LACERATION, TEACH, MULLION, COOP, and SMOKESCREEN. I had suspected all of these but couldn’t understand the wordplay and so (foolishy perhaps) refused to put them in.

    In the end I had CART [reversal of TRAC(k)] instead of COOP, which didn’t help matters. And I was certain that ‘minimum temperature’ would involve C or K somehow — IC or OK, or something like that. Perhaps a bit far fetched but so was ‘toile’.

    Thanks to topicaltim for helping me see the very many Britishisms that would have been helpful. There’s always tomorrow…

  18. A shade under 30 minutes. 16 was the clue which gave most pause, as with the C in place I had a confident CART, the result perhaps of the experience of online shopping, where add to cart and add to basket are interchangeable. And of course, it’s track (for dog) backwards. Faultless as no doubt plusjeremy would agree.
  19. I had another snooze-bedevilled solve and limped home in 37 mins, with DEMOLISHED my LOI after MULLION. Like others I found the bottom half a lot trickier than the top half, particularly the SE. I have to say that even without my concentration problems I wouldn’t have enjoyed this puzzle as much as some of you seem to have done, mainly because the difficulties lay in relative obscurity of meaning rather than cleverly disguised definitions, and I didn’t find a lot of humour in it either. Grumble over.
  20. filled 1a instantly, only to finish two hours later, got LACERATION from ‘rent’, being a foreign solver who didn’t understand ‘Nottingham’.COD SAGO. (ONG’ARA, NAIROBI)
  21. Don’t feel to bad, Andy. I was wide awake and still took 44 minutes.

    My LOI was SALAMANCA, because (a) I was very slow to parse it and (b) I was fairly certain that he was a Bond villain.

    1. He’s a Listener crossword setter of many years’ standing (most recently in No. 4374: A Tester Laid Out), which is villainous enough for most people.
      1. Ah. And is he tri-nippular?

        It’s taken me over 50 years to handle the Times’ crossword – I fear it will take me another 50 to get the hang of the Listener’s.

  22. Coverture was the now happily defunct legal doctrine under which a woman’s rights were taken over by her husband during marriage. The term was often used in wills (though usually spelt ‘couverture’)

  23. 10:03 for me, once again not really up to speed, with some time wasted trying to make LOVE the first word of 22ac (LAME DUCK).

    A pleasant straightforward solve. I’ve no objection to “art” appearing in 1ac and its answer. (I didn’t even notice it at the time, and in retrospect I think the clue is better with it.)

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