Times 26,453: Sailing The Sees (And Teas)

I took exactly 9 minutes over this puzzle, which I thought was perfectly pitched Friday fare: none of the wordplay was particularly difficult to decrypt, but equally the solver was credited with enough intelligence to navigate some interesting technical vocab (20ac, 25ac, 1dn and the tea in 20dn all giving me pause) and allusions. I *would* have been 8 minutes and change, but I’d managed to convince myself, without much basis in historical fact, that the “President once” was EVITA, requiring a keyboard to have an ALB key, which was frustratingly close but didn’t seem quite submittable. But still, what else could it be? With 9 minutes on the clock looming I hit the button and it all worked out alright in the end. Better lucky than good…

It seems as though most of the hefty anagrams we get these days require a bit of preliminary work to be done to get at the actual fodder, but this was not the case for 12ac and 25ac, which both flew straight in. I was amused to see “see” standing in for no fewer than three things in this crossword: ELY, LO and UNDERSTAND – a lovely illustration of the strange multivalency of our utopian realm. I *was* a bit worried that there might be an element of personal rebuke creeping into the puzzles that our esteemed chairman may now be scheduling for his Friday blogger: 10ac, 12ac, 18ac, 26ac, 27ac, 3dn… if RR has got something to say to me may he should say it to my face! Actually he probably already has but I may have been too wasted to remember. Anyway, great puzzle either way, I thought – nice work setter!


1 Go down and see, as befits one who is wise (6)
SAGELY – SAG [go down] + ELY [see]

4 Engineers needing time with advantage not initially getting extra component (8)
RETROFIT – R.E. needing T with {p}ROFIT

10 See a Parisian dress being worn by bishop in watering-hole (6-3)
LOUNGE-BAR – LO + UN + GEAR being worn by B

11 Decisive female favoured by small boy (5)
FINAL – F + IN [favoured] + AL

12 Unruly fan — seems he’s cad creating embarrassment (14)

14 County dandies (5)
BUCKS – double def

16 Sally during trip dumping old sweetheart (9)

18 Affected by bingeing and about to have rebuke, you finally fast (9)
CRAPULENT – C + RAP [rebuke] + {yo}U + LENT [fast]

20 Truck that is stuck on marshy terrain (5)
BOGIE – I.E. stuck on BOG

21 Chemical process stops this honey becoming runny (14)

25 Power with which star runs — probably a runner to fade? (5)
PACER – P, with which ACE R

26 Record set by fellow, one with a very high level of self-regard (9)

27 Female in charge in Civil Service works in traditional library? (8)

28 Very last bit of information — there’s enthusiasm to collect it (3,3)
FAG END – GEN collected by FAD


1 Left wood with lead outside in bag to make bathroom fitting (10)
SPLASHBACK – L ASH, with PB outside, in SACK

2 Squash, say, not right with a particular cheese (5)
GOUDA – GOU{r}D with A

3 Famous wartime pilot became so drunk (7)
LEGLESS – double def, the wartime pilot in question being Douglas Bader

5 Jane keeps island home for birds (5)
EYRIE – (Charlotte Bronte’s) EYRE keeps I

6 Sports official still falling short as provider of clarification (7)

7 Stopping coastal occupation around the province (9)

8 Instruct archer taking very careful aim (4)
TELL – TELL, the archer being William Tell, shooting apples off his son’s head

9 President once holding key, rising to make a case (8)
ABLATIVE – ABE (Lincoln) holding VITAL reversed

13 See sudden rant turning nasty (10)

15 Repetition of tea dance (3-3-3)
CHA-CHA-CHA – CHA repetitiously

17 Firm has number given to worker, one sharing room with others? (2-6)
CO-TENANT – CO has TEN given to ANT

19 University has afterthought about performance improvements (7)
UPTURNS – U has P.S. about TURN

20 European region where half of milk goes in black tea (7)
BOHEMIA – MI{lk} goes in BOHEA

22 Setting up of university complex requiring destruction of quiet wood (5)
SUMAC – reverse of CAM{p}US

23 Performer getting cut, a superficial mark (5)

24 Blemish reported in engineer’s design (4)
SPEC – homophone of SPECK

50 comments on “Times 26,453: Sailing The Sees (And Teas)”

  1. Thank you for putting me out of my misery on my final two. Pretty good performance for me on a Friday, but sadly though I’d considered FAG END among many possibles I didn’t spot the wordplay on the way past, and yet again I forgot that “case” could indicate a part of grammar, so was completely up the wrong alley trying to work out ABLATIVE. I was still trying to think of longer presidents with a single letter for a musical key in them when my hour bell went off.

    It’s also good to have the wordplay explained for my biffs, especially 3d. I’d heard the name Douglas Bader, but had never heard his story. Amazing stuff.

  2. 14m. No major problems this morning, and no out-and-out unknowns, although CRAPULENT and BOGIE were only vaguely familiar. Nice puzzle: I thought the anagram at 21ac was a corker.
  3. 25 minutes. Excellent Friday crossword. It contains my sort of words (Legless and Lounge Bar, not Classics and Ablative). Liked the runny honey and the wartime pilot.
  4. Full of foreboding when a pass through the acrosses yielded nothing, and the downs very little; but after a few minutes of near-despair, suddenly things picked up. I learned that I didn’t know the meaning of CRAPULENT; whereas I do know the meaning of MONOMANIA, and self-regard isn’t it. I share horryd’s (and some posters’ on the forum) feeling about LEGLESS; rather tasteless, no? 21ac most impressive.
  5. Quite easy this morning, I found yesterday’s far harder. Impressed with 21ac fine anagram
    No problem personally with 3dn; and it is hard to imagine that Sir Douglas would have minded.
  6. 23:50. I had a few moments of doubt over BOHEMIA as I’ve never heard of BOHEA tea but it couldn’t really be anything else. SPEC my LOI despite being a software engineer and often writing code specs.
    1. As an engineer I see them as very differrent things. Spec is a description of something, what it should do, what it should look like. Design is the details of its innards.
      This crossword seemed strangely un-Timesish to me. More like the amateur ones I do which are a bit clunky, with telegraphed clues, and very prolix.
      Easy enough, under 20 mins with a few distractions.
  7. A finish in one sitting so must beat the very easy end. Had to check 18a as I was not too sure it should appear before the watershed. Thanks to the blogger for parsing 9d and 20d.
    By the way Bader once inspected our CCF parade at school in the 60’s, we were all very excited, we normally just got a local colonel or something, but a war hero, well!
    Thanks setter for getting my weekend off to a enjoyable start.
  8. … meant LOI SPEC after 25 minutes with no biffs and everything parsed. Nice puzzle. Think I knew BOGIE from Thomas the Tank Engine. In a crueller age, Terry Butcher the England centre half was nicknamed Douglas Bader because he was great in the air but crap on the ground.
  9. 13;11 … seems there’s no longer such a thing as a Friday puzzle, but this would have been a pleasure any day of the week. My only real question was how does ‘record’ give MONO- … anyone?

    My aviator dad met Bader a few times. From what I’ve heard, JerryWH sums it up perfectly. Wouldn’t have minded a bit. There’s that lovely quotation from him describing his bailing out and arriving at ground level to find that he was, as Pete and Dud would have it, deficient in the leg department to the tune of one:

    “I then realized my appearance was a bit odd. My right leg was no longer with me. It had caught somewhere in the top of the cockpit as I tried to leave my Spitfire.”

    1. It’s in ODO as ‘a monophonic recording’ and Chambers as ‘a monaural gramophone record’. Good to see that Chambers is keeping with the times.

      Edited at 2016-07-01 09:43 am (UTC)

  10. Nothing to do with Verlaine! Rather my 23 minutes. A best Friday time for a whole yonk!

    I was completely taken aback by my second one in – 3dn LEGLESS! I was hoping the answer was going to be BIGGLES!I think a few years ago say 1983 (after he had died – as one has to be deceased to appear in The Times Crossword) questions would have been asked in The House.This would have not been at all PC – if such an expression existed then. These days things may be different – although now we are forbidden to mention Bader’s dog by name! PC is very odd stuff! The poor doggie’s credit was forcibly removed from the VCD!


    I hope everyone else thought this was a tad easier than usual.

    horryd Shanghai

          1. After all these revelations about Guy Gibson’s dog, I’m worried that even “Shep” might have been a euphemism for the actual name, now…
  11. Overshot my half-hour target by 1 minute, delayed at the end by SINGE and FAG END. Very enjoyable but the definition at 25ac seems a bit clumsy.

    Edited at 2016-07-01 08:43 am (UTC)

    1. Mmm, I did puzzle over the 25ac definition a little bit afterwards – eventually I did think I saw what it was getting at, but didn’t like to bring it up in case “fade” was basic terminology in some sport or other that I just don’t know (wouldn’t be the first time!)
      1. ODO has ‘(of a racehorse, runner, etc.) lose strength and cease to perform well: she faded near the finish‘. So I think the definition makes perfect sense, but I also agree with Jack that it’s a bit clumsy.

        Edited at 2016-07-01 09:48 am (UTC)

      2. I know nothing of the subject but I’ve a vague idea the pacer runs alongside someone in training, sets the pace and then drops back, so fading. Wasn’t Chris Brasher pacer to Roger Bannister when he set the mile record back in the 1950s? To find myself writing about athletics is a surprise! It’s probably rubbish.

        Edited at 2016-07-01 10:10 am (UTC)

        1. A pacer typically sets the pace, ie runs in front of his ‘charge’, so that the runner can follow and run at the ideal pace for the stage of the race. As well as Chris Brasher, Roger Bannister also had Chris Chataway for a different section of the race and may have had others.
        2. PACER is another word for ‘pacemaker’. ODO again: ‘a person or animal who sets the pace at the beginning of a race, sometimes in order to help a runner break a record’. The pacemaker would be expected to ‘fade’ at some point because they wouldn’t be as fast as the runner they’re helping over the full distance.
  12. OK, I may be in a minority of one, but I had difficulties with this. I don’t have a time but it was probably around 45 minutes. Unlike V, I didn’t much like the triple use of “See” – a bit too clever by half (or third?), which summed up the whole puzzle for me.

    Edited at 2016-07-01 09:48 am (UTC)

  13. Thanks Jack – my error it was Guy Gibson indeed – if Bader had a dog I wonder what its name was!?

    Though my point about PC is not diverted!

    horryd Shanghai

    1. Pilot?

      Oh, I am confusing Bader with Mr. Rochester.

      On edit, how about Pow Bow Wow?

      Edited at 2016-07-01 09:18 am (UTC)

  14. I hope Bader would have loved it – his name isn’t mentioned but we know who he is. COD RETROFIT took a while to parse, wasn’t sure it is a word. As for MONO, in the days before digital, before mixing, before 8 track, and before stereo, we had mono recordings, look it up. Nowadays also a PACER (not allowed in the past) doesn’t really fade, just gives up competing after a certain while, deliberately. Roger Bannister had his pacers, but nobody complains now. Banged in ABLATIVE without parsing, Latin ‘O’ level 1970. 14’12” today, thanks setter and Verlaine.
    1. Sadly I do remember mono recordings. I just hadn’t realised you could use mono as a noun as well as an adjective.
  15. Only 16 minutes, sitting on uncomfortable chair waiting for the chap to do the controle technique on my car. Agree with jerrwh, easier than yesterday’s, and not a problem with the legless one. CRAPULENT is a word I must remember to use more often, although it sounds like it might be rude.
  16. A steady solve finishing in 28 minutes. I expected the long anagrams to be slow in coming and needing several checkers, but both fell with only a couple of letters in place. 9 ws the penultimate entry when I twigged the sort of case that was wanted, and 16 followed, when I realised I’d been looking at the wrong end for the definition.
  17. 15:49 and I reckon 5 minutes of that was spent wrestling with my last two in, INCURSION and ABLATIVE.

    Spotting the anagram fodder at 21 might have been easier if I hadn’t miscounted “honey becoming” as having 14 letters.

    I was also confused by MONO at 26 but that was because I took MONO SET to be accounting for record when of course SET is just a position indicator.

    Wasn’t El Tell a crossbowman rather than an archer?

    1. A quick scan of the Wikipedia page for crossbows reveals many references to “archers” using them, so I’m guessing crossbowmen are a subset of archers, rather than an entirely different species…
    2. He used a crossbow? Ah, jeez, what’s all the fuss about, then? Anyone could do that.
  18. Happy with that after a long and tiring week.

    Lovely anagram at 21ac.

    Thanks setter and V.

    Oh, and he was officially “Tin legs” in our Primary School textbooks.

  19. Zoomed through this one and liked it a lot – of all things I needed the wordplay to get SPLASHBACK, but all the rest completely parsed.
    1. Yes, I was also a tad confused there, until I realized they were referring to a backsplash, as we call it.
  20. I zipped through this too in around 10 minutes, somehow today’s seeming the easiest of the entire week to me. I wasn’t able to see the background leading to Mr. Bader, other than that, all parsed as I went. Nice weekend to all, and regards.
  21. Very straightforward today – a steady 25 mins finishing with FINISHING. I may not have heard of a roach but I discarded many fag-ends in my youth.
  22. A typical Friday knock-ridden solve that took 26 mins including nap time. It was only after I snapped out of my doze that I realised my “excursion” error at 16ac. Once I’d entered the correct INCURSION I got ABLATIVE, and then the SPEC/CLASSICS crossers were my last in, which demonstrates how tired I’d been because I should have seen both of them at lot quicker. I won’t pretend to know how Douglas Bader would have felt about 3dn.
    1. Me too, only I never did fix excursion – I thought a sally always went outwards – and so you know which crosser I didn’t get either.
  23. 3Vs or 27m for me but the last V was wasted cogitation to get over 18a and 9 down until I realised my BIFD Excursion didn’t parse at all. Very enjoyable puzzle today so thank you setter and thanks for the characteristically entertaining blog, V, even if it seems a little 26a to think that the puzzle was an R R rebuke!

    Edited at 2016-07-01 05:41 pm (UTC)

  24. Finished all correct in 35 minutes after returning from a sunny day at Kirkbymoorside golf course where the weather was fine until I tried to get from the clubhouse to the car, at which point I got drowned! No real hold ups, but it took a while to get ABLATIVE after which I biffed INCURSION without parsing it. FOI EYRIE, LOI PACER after SPEC. The long anagrams went in very quickly which was a big help. I also took the black tea on trust. Corpulent sprang to mind, but the dance was a gimme and I thought again. Nice puzzle. Thanks Setter and V.
  25. 8:23 here for this pleasant, straightforward puzzle (though I agree that the definition of MONOMANIA doesn’t really pass muster).

    Given the number of easy clues I made heavy weather of, I thought I was going to finish way down the field, but in fact I didn’t do too badly – and was well inside my 2 x Magoo target. In general I seem to be very bad at guessing where I’ll come relative to others.

    1. As a follower of this site I am always interested to see, and learn from, the posted comments.
      In that context … grateful if you might help me with your reference to pursuit of “2 x Magoo target”.
      1. The great Magoo consistently does these things about as fast as humanly possible (for current values of humans), in this case in just over 5 minutes if memory serves. Therefore, anyone who solved it within 10 minutes 24 seconds has come in within 2x Magoo, and is normally quite pleased with that!
      2. To add a little to verlaine’s comment, Magoo is Mark Goodliffe, the reigning Times Crossword Champion who last year completed a record-breaking run of eight consecutive wins – and on present form could well continue for another eight.

        To give you an idea of his mastery, he solved the previous day’s puzzle (No. 26,452) in 5:12, with only three other solvers – mohn (8:47), Tom Stubbs (9:28) and verlaine (10:07), all highly experienced Championship finalists – beating 2 x Magoo, and some serious contenders – including Jason (10:26), runner-up to Magoo in 2012 – missing the cut.

  26. Enjoyed it, too, and agree with pretty much everyone about being a puzzle with a nice Friday elegance. As noted above, I DNF, not knowing sallies could be incursions as well, and I had the same ‘what that?’ Kevin did with splashback. Thanks Verlaine, setter, and ed

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