Times 26571 – nearly a laugh a minute?

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
I’m not sure if this was the third puzzle in the Championships semi-finals; based on the last two weeks it ought to be, no doubt someone with a tree-based newspaper or who was there on The Day and can still remember, will confirm. I found it straightforward enough, with no obscure or unknown words and only 5d which might stump the overseas brigades.
There are numerous witty double-definition clues, most of them easy enough, like 17a, 3d, 15d and 16d, and a meaty anagram at 26a; unusually, no hidden word clue in this one.
Well within the twenty-minute target for me, in a relaxed environment at home, but as one of three to be done in an hour in Fort Murdoch a different story could well have emerged.
I’m off for a spin in my Tardis for lunch on the exoplanet Draugr today so any responses needed to queries or comments will follow later in the day, or not.

1 RISIBLE – RILE = nark, insert SIB, being prelate BIS(HOP) relieved of H and OP, reversed; D ludicrous.
5 SCAMPER – SCAM = cheat, PER = for each; D run.
9 POLICE STATE – POLE = highest latitude, insert ICE and STAT being very cold and datum; D harsh regime.
10 LOG – Double def.
11 AT MOST – ATMOS(PHERE) = half the air, T = time, D more likely less.
12 QUADRANT – a QUAD RANT would be to speak passionately in a court; D some of circle.
14 SHAKESPEAREAN – Deduct one with-coffee biscuit if you biffed. SHAKES PEN = wields quill, insert AREA = some ground, D Will specialist.
17 TABLE MOUNTAIN – Cryptic def, ha ha, if you haven’t yet been to stand on top there on a clear day, do so, before you die, it’s special.
21 EASY MEAT – EA (each), (STEAMY)*, D an obvious target.
23 ON CALL – ONC(E) = in the past nearly, ALL = everyone, D available for work.
25 MOA – MOA(N) = complaint no end, D it’s extinct. The moa was (9 species of) a giant flightless bird, some 12 feet high, sadly made extinct by the Maori hunters around 1400 CE, before even a young David Attenborough could get a glimpse.
26 STIPENDIARY – (ANY SPIRITED)*, D paid magistrate.
27 RUSSIAN – RAN = worked, insert US and IS reversed; D European maybe.
28 MAYFAIR – MAY blossom, FAIR = attractive, D wealthy district (of London) as Monopoly players know.

1 REPEAT – RE on, PEAT fuel, D familiar programme. A familiar clue too.
2 SALAMIS – A MISSAL is a service book, move half SAL to the front; D ancient battle. Deduct another biscuit for biffing. The Greeks won this one in 480BC but lost the next round at Thermopylae which led to the Persians occupying Attica and Boeotia.
3 BACKSPACE – Cricket time. If your captain doesn’t use his spin bowler he BACKS PACE. D key.
4 ERSE – VERSE is poetry, lacks its V; D language, Irish or at one time Scots Gaelic.
5 SWAN-UPPING – Insert WAN = pale into SUPPING; D a custom on the Thames. No swans are injured in the carrying out of this annual procedure, we can assure our readers.
6 AHEAD – Thomas Arnold was headmaster of Rugby School; double definition, the other one being ‘up’.
7 PILLAGE – PILE (heap) around LAG (convict); D plunder.
8 RIGATONI – RIGA being the capital of Latvia, as The Donald may one day learn; go from there TO NI; D tubes, of pasta.
13 DECORATION – DURATION = period of time, swap the U for ECO = green; D medal.
15 A RAINY DAY – Cryptic definition, ha ha.
16 STREAMER – Another double definition.
18 BUS PASS – BASS = singer, insert US and P for quiet; D free ticket. Mine’s not much use here because there are no buses.
19 NIAGARA – A RAGA I N would be an Indian tune, one note; rises = reversed; D falls.
20 PLAYER – P(hoto), LAYER can mean shoot, as I wasn’t aware but I quote from the online dictionary; Horticulture. A shoot or twig that is induced to root while still attached to the living stock, as by bending and covering with soil. A plant so propagated. D actor.
22 MASAI – AS A = like a, M I around that, D Africans often found in crosswords.
24 SEAM – STEAM for energy drops its T; D joiner.

49 comments on “Times 26571 – nearly a laugh a minute?”

  1. I thought this was quite easy and that I was on course to finish well within target (30 minutes) until my brain seized up completely with 6.5 answers in the NW still outstanding and that’s more or less how things remained for another 30 minutes until I gave up in disgust and went off to solve the QC instead. On returning I spotted 1dn and gradually the remainder came together.

    I can confirm the Club platform has this labelled as one of the Championship puzzles.

  2. This is the puzzle that did for me on the day. I stared at a blank NW corner for half an hour, and although I eventually figured out the wordplay at 9ac, allowing me to re-enter POLICE STATE where I had erased it in doubt, I didn’t get any further. Of course the answers I didn’t get – RISIBLE, AT MOST, REPEAT, SALAMIS, BACKSPACE – all seem totally obvious now. Ah well, there’s always next year.
  3. Like Keriothe, I’m pleased to say, I had trouble in the NW. Got RISIBLE without understanding why (SIB?); ditto for SALAMIS and POLICE STATE. Ditto for PLAYER, too, for the matter of that, but that’s not NW. 5d wasn’t a problem, though I’d never heard of it and still don’t know what it is; but 3d was my downfall; I put in ‘backstage’. Pip was kind enough to explain the cricketology, but I’m still totally (and moderately blissfully) ignorant; but at least I now know how ‘key’ fits in.
  4. I refer of course to 1ac RISIBLE (which we encountered recently)with its IKEA-type clue, with some attatchments missing, and the wrong kind of nark insinuated. It made the NW frontier a tricky place to venture.

    I was done in 27 minutes bar three but lingered on until 1dn REPEAT at last revealed itself, some 16 minutes later!

    I initially had great difficulty parsing 24dn SEAM.

    I wonder how our American Cousins got on with 3dn BACKSPACE?

    All in all very enjoyable except that is for 1ac.

  5. Pleased to finish this one after thinking the NW corner would do for me for sure. Despite never having been involved in an ancient battle, the very mention of them fills me with dread. And sure enough, this was another one I’d never heard of and will immediately forget.

    For some reason SWAN-UPPING seemed plausible (it really shouldn’t). We have a suburb in Perth named Upper Swan (“so where would you rather live, Innaloo or Upper Swan?”) which I’m sure has nothing to do with the quaint Thames custom, but somehow it helped me towards the solution.

    Hanging on grimly to be 2 over par for the week.

    COD SHAKESPEAREAN. Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2016-11-16 07:53 am (UTC)

  6. This was my quickest of the three on the day, with only a short delay in the northwest. I do remember biffing RISIBLE unparsed — someone explained it to me later in the pub.

    I can confirm that this puzzle was harder in October.

  7. Got stuck in the NW Passage. Very good clues. Total respect to those who sailed through this at the Championships. I am just going outside and may be some time.
  8. That’s the 3rd championship puzzle I’ve completed in around 30 minutes – which means I won’t be worrying the other competitors just quite yet.
    Hadn’t a clue about parsing 1a or 13d (thanks Pip) – and yes I biffed 14a too. I much liked the imagery in 17a.
    1. I told them that I shouldn’t be the navigator; I get distracted when the sun is over the yardarm.
  9. All I remember about this one is agreeing with everyone afterwards that the NW corner was a real beast, that at one time I thought I’d never complete.
      1. Sure did – I came 11th which meant that I made the Grand Final session in the afternoon.
  10. As Jack, I gave up with a couple in the NW left undone. Unlike Jack, I didn’t come back to finish it. Bah humbug.

    And that’s another darn cricketing ref to add to the list…

  11. Gave up after staring at my remainders in the NW for the last twenty minutes of my hour. Let down by my usual gaps in knowledge: no idea of “missal” or SALAMIS, a cricket reference too obscure for someone who’s never knowingly wielded a bat, and even what was presumably an obvious bit of religion: knowing a prelate is a bishop.

    If I’d carried on a bit the ______ STATE I was staring at would probably have fallen into place, especially as I’d considered “pole” before I finally biffed the STATE bit in desperation…

    Happy at least to have got the rest of my unknowns. I think I have heard of SWAN UPPING, but I had to get there from the wordplay to be reminded. And though my father was a day boy at Rugby, I have no knowledge of their former heads!

    Edited at 2016-11-16 09:19 am (UTC)

    1. Just by the bye, Dr Thomas Arnold, one-time head of Rugby School, features significantly in Tom Brown’s Schooldays, the novel and BBC adaptation, which by chance cropped up in a recent TLS puzzle. I’m surprised your dad didn’t make you read it!

      p.s. and Michael Palin played a version of Arnold, as well as the eponymous hero, in the wonderful Tomkinson’s Schooldays. Ah, St Tadger’s Day ….

      Edited at 2016-11-16 09:51 am (UTC)

      1. Thank you. I don’t think my dad enjoyed his days at Rugby. I think he once told me that he was sent down for getting into a fight with the chaplain’s son…
  12. This was the one that did for me on the day. I didn’t find the NW corner too tricky; I can’t see “risible” without hearing it delivered by Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate in Life Of Brian. But at little old 24dn I biffed “beam”, didn’t go back to parse it thoroughly enough and was mortified when I saw the solution.

    Cracking puzzle, though – really liked 14ac, 5dn and 8dn.

    1. How strange that we both posted comments about Michael Palin, in 2 different guises, at exactly the same time. Spooky.
  13. Cantering along quite nicely till I came to Keriothe Corner and finally ground them out 2 minutes after I would have been chucked out of the hall. And that’s not including the other two puzzles, which took me a further hour between them.

    So, not quite ready to join Cryptic Sue or the Magoos just yet…

    Edited at 2016-11-16 09:52 am (UTC)

    1. The four lowest finishers in prelim 1 only correctly solved 76 of 90 clues between them in one and a bit hours so whilst I’m not suggesting you fly over next year because you’ve a realistic chance of winning I would say that you and many others on TftT could have a decent bash and not feel out of place.
      1. The fivethirtyeight.com analysis gives ulaca no more than a 30% chance of being the next Times Crossword world champion, as opposed to Magoo’s healthy 70% plus…
      2. I got 90 out of 90 in a total of 72:49. I suspect I could trim a few minutes off by being able to switch between puzzles when cornered. Still not quite there, but not a million miles away either.

        Dare to dream, eh? Then of course there’s the small matter of the Perth to London air fare to consider. One day, maybe. One day.

  14. My poor spell of form continues. Biffed SCARPER instead of SCAMPER and not knowing Dr Arnold, went for amend presuming the definition was doctor (despite thinking it unlikely it would be clued as Dr).

    I did at least manage SALAMIS although it was an unparsed guess. I thought it might be some sort of sausage related conflict, maybe akin to the more recent cod wars.

  15. Defeated by the NW, had to go out after 32 minutes with 3 undone. 5d very nice clue, knew SALAMIS from Civ2. Thanks pip and setter.

    Edited at 2016-11-17 11:37 am (UTC)

  16. I know, it demonstrates a total absence of a sense of humour to remember the Goons. Well, only serious people do the Times Crossword. Second verse of the Tony Bennett classic is of course, “I left my teeth on Table Mountain”. Struggled for a while in NW before getting home in 25 minutes, inventing first the ARCTIC SCALE as a datum. Also on 24d wanted the energy to be a THERM, but couldn’t see why that pretty Channel Island HERM was a joiner. Is 3d making the case for Jimmy Anderson’s accelerated return? CODs SHAKESPEAREAN. FOI SWAN UPPING. Enjoyable.
  17. Another excellent puzzle but like most others I struggled in the NW. I’ve seen most of these old battles before in puzzles but could not recall this one for some time. Eventually wrote in RISIBLE as a guess and worked from there.

    The BUS PASS situation is RISIBLE. Across the land we have pensioners with passes – local government must provide them – but no buses because local government can’t afford subsidies. Pensioners have offered to help fund the buses but central government have refused the offer!

  18. I think I had most of this done in about 12 minutes, polished off puzzle two then came back to this and stared at the famous five for about twenty minutes. I think repeat was the first to surrender and that enabled me to finish off with about 2 minutes left of the original hour.

    The added 5 minutes for the “incident” alarm didn’t seem to help much as only two other solvers came in all correct behind me.

  19. I don’t recall this one giving me particular problems on the day, but maybe that’s because 2dn was a bit of a write-in for me. Slammed in 1ac unparsed and 3dn with a shrug – I’d got as far as reckoning it was something to do with cricket. 6dn may have been my LOI, a shocking admission from a TLS blogger probably, and I was slightly perplexed about LAYER meaning shoot too. I think I finished 3rd or 4th in this prelim so all this ambient bewilderment didn’t hurt me much. You can’t ever put an answer in whose parsing seems completely mysterious, but as long as it’s about 80% plausible I’m fine with writing it in and not giving it a second thought!
  20. I had several interruptions during this solve, which probably add up to about 20 minutes to subtract from the 84 minutes between starting and finishing, so I found this one a beast. The NW, as previously mentioned took me an age, until I eventually saw REPEAT which gave me RISIBLE, the B of which finally gave me BACKSPACE. I managed to construct SALAMIS from Missal, without too much delay and POLICE STATE didn’t hold me up for very long. FOI was LOG, and second to LOI SHAKESPEAREAN, which I didn’t see until I had all the crossing letters. I hadn’t heard of, or had totally forgotten Dr Arnold(must have forgotten as I did read TBS in the dim and distant past), and the only result of my alphabet trawl was AMEND which I shoved in last of all, without much conviction. A gruelling test! Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2016-11-16 01:11 pm (UTC)

  21. 10m 16s today, but in tournament conditions I’d have spent longer trying to parse SALAMIS. For some reason I couldn’t figure it out, and the battle itself only rang a vague bell from previous crosswords.
  22. Have no idea how I would have fared as the NW was revealed to me at the pub afterwards.A very enjoyabe session it was.
  23. 26.57 for me in an afternoon solve, might have been quicker on the day if the Adrenalin kicked in, but might equally have been paralysed by panic, especially with the NW being so intractable. I’ll put in a word for DECORATION’s clue, being clever but doable, in contrast to 1ac’s being too clever by half and almost inscrutable.

  24. I got through this in around 20 minutes, although I may have lingered a tad longer trying to figure out my last two, REPEAT and AT MOST. SALAMIS and BACKSTAGE weren’t a problem, and their checking letters led to RISIBLE, which I actually parsed. But parsing AT MOST was beyond me, so biffed and figured out a few minutes later. PEAT as fuel isn’t the first thing that springs to mind, either. On the other hand, as vinyl pointed out, SWAN-UPPING has appeared before, and once seen by this US solver, it became unforgettable. And somewhat weird, I must say. Our swans are on their own. Regards.
  25. 19 mins. I had all but six clues in the NW done in 8 or 9 mins but then ground to a standstill. I remember keriothe saying shortly after the championship that he came to grief in the NW quadrant of one of the heat puzzles, and after staring blankly at the six clues for a few more minutes I knew this had to be the one. I’ve no idea why it took me so long to see POLICE STATE, especially as I had STATE filled in quite early in the solve. After the penny finally dropped I got BACKSPACE, AT MOST, SALAMIS, RISIBLE and REPEAT in that order.
  26. FOI MASAI, and bottom half went in easily enough. Then I spotted SWAN-UPPING and the NE corner was done.

    But I was defeated by the complexity of 1ac, the parsing of 1dn (which I hadn’t seen before), the battle at 2dn and the cleverness of 3dn.

  27. 20m for all but most of the NW CORNER and then at 40m abandoned all hope with nothing added. A victim of my own invention I discovered as I’d biffed FASCIST STATE but spelt it facist and never noticed that the fact/datum connection only worked with an extra space. Doh! Thanks for enlightening blog.
  28. Like keriothe and others, I came to grief in the NW corner. I’d had a bad night the night before, and my brain had all but seized up by the time I reached this puzzle, so that although I was almost certain I knew exactly what was wanted at 9ac, I just could not think of the phrase.

    It was that clue that eventually gave me a way in – after many minutes working round the other missing clues, racking my brains – and I was then mortified to realise that I’d missed SALAMIS, which I’d thought of early on but dismissed because I couldn’t immediately see how the wordplay worked. (Doh!)

    Despite all that, I have to acknowledge that this was a very fine puzzle.

  29. If this puzzle is anything to go by, I’ll be ready for the championships shortly after I learn to walk on water and fly unaided.

    I finished after 68 minutes, with one wrong. I failed to see the parsing of 2d and, after getting all the checkers, I decided that nobody would straight-facedly name a battle after Italian sausages, so I plumped for “Salamos”. I really ought to brush up on battles of former millennia – my ignorance of the subject pains me daily.

    And while I’m brushing up on ancient history, I should probably bite the bullet and get to grips with cricket too. 3d held me up for quite a while – quite how I failed to grasp that “spin” is the opposite of “pace” I do not know – it seems so obvious in retrospect.

    As you can perhaps tell, I am in a profoundly grumpy mood.

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