Times 26509 – Beware of the Biff!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I thought this was a slightly trickier than usual Monday offering, but that may have been because of my masochistic streak, which saw me up till all hours watching England’s hapless football team play like ten Sam Allardyces in a place called Trnava. Only Lallana looked as if he might get into the German second eleven.

And of course I also fell straight into the trap at 22 across during my 29 minutes.


5. SCOT – CO in ST.
9. MILITIAMEN – anagram* of TIME IN LIMA.
10. CODA – CO-DA.
14. CHEERY – HE in CE + RY.
17. UNTAPPED – two definitions, one whimsical.
19. FIASCO – A in IS in FCO.
23. INTO – NT in I + O.
26. EARN – sounds like URN.
27. ENGAGEMENT – a gig is a boat as well as a concert/engagement, so it works with the naval battle surface.


1. BUMP – BUM + P[ilot].
2. SILENCE – ‘put an end to’; Hamlet’s last words are ‘The rest is silence’, followed by a few Os.
4. ZEALOT – Z[air]E + A LOT.
7. CHORTLE – T + L in CHORE; Carroll’s portmanteau of ‘chuckle’ and ‘snort’.
18. TROTTER – Napoleon in Animal Farm had four trotters to stand on, and Rodney Trotter was Delboy’s nephew bwuvver in Only Fool and Horses. Post-war English culture in 8 words.
21. ATHENA – hidden; literal is ‘source of practical skills’.
23. WHAT – as a relative pronoun ‘what’ means ‘the thing’, as in ‘What England need is talent’.

63 comments on “Times 26509 – Beware of the Biff!”

  1. That’s two under par, using the new scoring system I’m trialling.

    Since you asked, you choose an appropriate par time (mine is 20 minutes), you get a birdie for each full minute under par, a bogey for every two minutes over par, and a mistake is a triple bogey.

    The tournament is strokeplay over five rounds, Monday to Friday.

    Nice crossword today. COD to TROTTER even though half the clue was meaningless to me. And I always thought IN LOCO PARENTIS had something to do with kids driving you crazy.

    Thanks setter and U.

    1. OK, I’ll take you on. My par time is 30 minutes, so I’m five shots behind you.

      I like a target…

        1. Good wheeze. I shot 16 minutes, no bogeys, so 4 under on your scale. As my real handicap is 8, I think I’d better set 12 minutes as par, so I was 4 over gross, or 40 points Stableford net. I doubt if I’ll be ahead by Friday though.
          (note to non golfers: we make it sound more complicated than it really is).
  2. … almost defeated by a Brit TV program. Thankful that Eric Blair is better known.
    Not at all fond of “hairpin bends”: bit of a yawn?

    And to Galspray: yes, insanity is hereditary … you get it from your kids. So now bring on a bunch of schoolboy Latin translations? Let’s start with “Moderatum in Omnibus” (No Standing on the Upper Deck).

    1. I’ll leave that to Ulaca and his clever mates. I could never get past “annus horribilis”.
  3. At 28 minutes I was almost at one with today’s blogger, and not for the first time, though I have no idea what the trap was that he nearly fell into at 22ac but I apparently didn’t. Biffed TRANSISTOR once I had a checker or two but took ages to finalise the parsing after the event.

    It’s too late in life for me to be interested in learning the intricacies of golf scoring, so the suggested system is not for me.

  4. Thirty minutes on the nail.

    FOI MILITIAMEN LOI 23dn WHAT(I’d had it as WATT initially)

    Ulaca – what was trap at 22ac?

    COD 18dn TROTTER (Only Fools and Horses – try the videos).

    WOD ICE YACHT – much like a nice yacht but further north!

    horryd Shanghai

  5. My fastest time ever, at 29 mins 21 seconds. Clearly I was on the same wavelength as the setter’s TRANSISTOR.

    My only trouble was biffing “accusation” at 13d for a while, but I had a feeling it was wrong, so when 26a didn’t fall I quickly went back and figured it out, and those were my LOsI.

    Some luck involved — I should probably have taken the time to go back and parse my biffs — but I think I’m going to take a Napoleonic attitude to luck today. Thanks to both setter and blogger.

    1. Sorry to be tardy with my congratulations, but I didn’t have time yesterday to tackle the crossword and, therefore, did not look at the blog. Better late than never: well done! While not the most difficult puzzle of all time, I also did not think it was among the easiest, making your PB especially praiseworthy.

      Edited at 2016-09-06 05:47 pm (UTC)

      1. Thank you! It’s pleasant to join the sub-half-hour club for once. Hopefully establishing a PB in the region will encourage me to continue making inroads…
  6. 16.38, thought I could have submitted at 15 if I wasn’t so worried about ATHENA as the source of practical skills, giving way simply because it had to be a hidden. Has ATHENA ever been clued as AA, or ATHENS as AS?
    Rather elegant, this one, I thought, without being overly taxing. Fooled me into thinking I might struggle with the dread word plant first off, and trying to kick off with a P at 1d (wrong end of the clue for definition), wondering whether an UNK was a collision.
    Loved definition 2 of TROTTER, but wondered whether we might get a blast from those who disapprove of “popular culture” for the first. When does a sitcom become classical enough?
    1. My 22 across problem was that ‘supervisors’ contains an anagram of previous – which took some crossers to fix
  7. Just under par but, like our blogger, disqualified for a gross error in the bunker on the 22nd. I agree with others that this was enjoyable for the reasons already given. I am now off to retrieve my clubs from the pond next to the clubhouse.
  8. 10m. Not hard, but fun. My only unknown was what practical skills had to do with ATHENA, but it was a hidden so it didn’t cause me any problems. I even knew the plant.
    My par time is around 15 minutes but under this scoring system I would regularly post scores like 7 under or 12 over par.

    Edited at 2016-09-05 06:44 am (UTC)

    1. Yes, there could be some wild scorecards returned. And just a heads-up, at 15 minutes I think the handicapper will be watching you very closely!
      1. I’m going to pass on your scoring system for the present, Galspray. Next month I’m having a second bash at the Championships where they take a rather less forgiving view of mistakes (the rotters!). Silly mistakes being my downfall last time, I don’t want to get into further bad habits.

        Edited at 2016-09-05 07:40 am (UTC)

      2. 15m is my average time. This isn’t just an estimate: I have a spreadsheet!
        Our true average solving times for these things are likely to be slower than we imagine, because there is more variability on the slow side. It is far more common for me to be 10 minutes slower than average than 10 minutes faster.

        Edited at 2016-09-05 09:10 am (UTC)

        1. I wasn’t thinking of par representing one’s average time (not that I was thinking much at all), but more like one’s target score, if that makes sense.

          In my case, I chose 20m because for me that represents a “successful” solve. I suspect my average time would be well over 20m. As you say, there’s a lot more room on the high side than the low side, which I partly accounted for in my system.

          And of course this is all a bit like deciding which way to walk around a lake, in that it doesn’t actually matter one bit!

          1. Oh, OK. I thought that in golf your handicap (and hence your own personal par) was supposed to represent your average performance, but admittedly I know very little about golf. I guess my par score on this more subjective measure would be 10m, based purely on how irrationally disappointed I was to go about 5 seconds over this morning!
            1. I think most golfers are pretty happy to shoot par on any given day.

              But you need to give yourself some room on the low side as well, so I’d have you pencilled in for a 12-minute par. Subject to ratification by chief handicapper Ulaca of course.

  9. 9:54 … a pretty clean round with no detours into the sand-traps or water hazards. Not hard, but I thought it was fun.

    A few things mentally pencilled in and later confirmed by checkers, including ATHENA, who I always thought was the goddess of tennis players who couldn’t afford underwear.

    1. Indeed – those who play off scratch.

      Here’s the poster for those not of a certain age, or not, as in Sotira’s case, informed of such things by their parents.

      [WARNING: Barely safe for work]

      Edited at 2016-09-05 08:26 am (UTC)

  10. Like Ulaca I play off a par 30, which gives me a slight edge at 4 under for today. Somehow I reckon I’ll be well off the mark by Saturday though.
    No real problems and a satisfying start to the week, despite being too fixated with 1a until the “Z” fell into place.
  11. After trying, like Z, to start 1d and 1a with a P, I moved on to the NE corner where CHORTLE, SCOT and CODA went straight in. It wasn’t until I came back and solved ZEALOT that the plant went in and gave me the B for BUMP. I quite enjoyed this puzzle, which kept me busy for 34 minutes. LOI was VINEGARISH. Liked UNTAPPED and CHINLESS. TROTTER raised a smile too.
  12. A wonderful example of the aforementioned in 8d. To possess one was the young teenage aspiration in the 1960s. Nonetheless, as jack has mentioned, the parsing took a while. Also today thought we had a theme, with three mentions of Her Majesty at 25ac, 20d and of course 1ac – at 90, she still does lots of 27acs. COD for me is 18d, with its cultural references, which I welcome. 19′. Thanks ulaca and setter.
  13. Apologies to the non-footballing members, but I must rush to Big Sam’s defence. I don’t know if our otherwise excellent blogger ever saw him in his heyday as a player at Burnden Park. With all the subtlety of a man standing in the tradition of Chopper Hartle and Tommy Banks, Sam once kicked Garth Crooks into the invalid cars in the moat alongside the ground. Which one of us hasn’t also felt that need by the time Garth has reached his fifth subordinate clause? I don’t fancy the golf scoring system when I can record times as diverse as 15 minutes (today) and one hour (late last week) for ostensibly similar standard puzzles. I think the handicap committee might blackball my membership. And we’ll end up with daft rules like we have to wear a tie unless we sit outside with the puzzle. It all fell into place so I enjoyed today with LOI VINEGARISH. I guess though I enjoy it more when it does take the hour.
    Apologies for the blog title too. Youngest son home from university has E4 on all the time, and I’ve got sweet on Megyn Price. Don’t tell him though.

    Edited at 2016-09-05 09:09 am (UTC)

  14. As a recent graduate from the quickie could someone please explain the link between constable and busy in 1 across. Thanks.
    1. Chambers has BUSY as ‘a detective (slang)’. I thought the word applied to all policemen and women

      Edited at 2016-09-05 09:20 am (UTC)

    2. My first encounter with ‘busy’ meaning policeman was in Series 2 ( I think) of “Prime Suspect”. It’s used by the Manchester drug dealer.
  15. My par would be 30 min, so I was 4 under today – would have been a lot better if I’d not been careless at 23dn, making 23ac impossible. Actually, I think more in matchplay terms, and assess my performance relative to the other regulars – barracuda is about my level now. (BTW you won’t see phmfantom on the forum, as I’d signed up to it as PeterMabey before choosing a handle here.)
  16. Found this one relatively tough, with several that I put in without parsing fully, and got stuck for several minutes at the end on the chain 4-1-2-14.

    FOI trotter LOI cheery COD silence/Venetian/what were the best of a rum lot.

  17. Finished the course and no lost balls – good enough for me…

    Thought CODA was rather neat, but COD to the excellent Rodney. Thanks U and setter – all jolly good fun.

  18. 7:15. I can only assume that Magoo had to take a 5-minute phone call in mid solve otherwise the leaderboard suggests I beat him by 30 seconds, which is impossible.

    Massive biffs for IN LOCO P, AFOREMENTIONED, ENGAGEMENT and TRANSISTOR, and a bit of scribbling to change ACCUSATION to ACCUSATIVE.

    My target time is probably 12/13 minutes so I’ll happily join the clubhouse leaders on 4 under.

  19. 75 minutes of sheer pleasure for this one, especially the superb TROTTER.
    Can I suggest that to find a par score, one should use the median, rather than the mean (average). This gives a much better indication of the ‘centre’ of a set of distributed results, and reduces the impact of occasional disasters. If you are using a spreadsheet (like Keriothe), sort your results by order of time taken, and pick the value halfway down. You can also do this by hand, but it takes a lot longer.
    1. It may not surprise you to know that my spreadsheet already has the median in it, and it’s 14 minutes.
  20. … not more than five standing

    And in loco parentis must surely be “my dad’s an engine driver”

    the old ones are the best ones


  21. Fun puzzle – though I bunged in IN LOCO PARENTIS from the enumeration without giving the rest of the clue much thought. 11ish minutes here, which is what I usually aim for.
  22. And Napoleon (B) also rode on a trotter…by the name of Marengo, who had four hooves.
    That was one of my two CODs, the other being ACCUSATIVE. 49m 45s mostly because I was held up by ICE YACHT and CHINLESS.
    “Per Ardua Ad Astra”: I wish these Vauxhalls had power steering!
  23. 10 mins. I had a pig of an afternoon at work and then got held up trying to get home because of a broken down train in the middle of the Wirral Loop section of line that goes underneath Liverpool. Consequently I wasn’t in the best of moods when I eventually started this and didn’t bother to try and parse my four biffs, which were almost the same as Penfold’s except one of mine was ACCUSATIVE rather than ENGAGEMENT. Like a few others VINEGARISH was my LOI, in my case after REINVIGORATE.
  24. One of my quicker times – chinless was where I studied the the crossers with equal parts care and incomprehension – under a half hour. That might be because today is a holiday in the US so I had a relaxed go at it. Fortunately one nice time isn’t enough to tempt me into embarrassment in Galspray’s Pro-Am, but I will keenly follow the World Standings in the press.
    What date are the Times Finals this year?
  25. 25 minutes over a tuna sandwich at lunch. My first thought for the ‘Rodney’ clue was PLONKER, but I couldn’t get it parse. Soppy old git. It makes me wonder how many sitcoms are canonical enough to be used in crosswords. There can’t be many: Dad’s Army, Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister … anything more obscure than those and solvers would probably start crying foul.
  26. 7:37 for this pleasant, straightforward start to the week.

    I’ve never actually watched more than a couple of minutes of OF&H, but that was just enough for me to associate TROTTER with Rodney.

Comments are closed.