Times 26,573: Awesome & Moresome

A rather exemplary puzzle to close out the week, I thought. Consider all the features you may find herein:

* Superb cryptic economy, with a many of the clues weighing in at just 3-5 words;
* Clear mastery of all the tools in the setter’s toolbox – even some of the rarer devices turning up here, the Spoonerism and the &lit;
* A molecule of science, a modicum of the classics, a dash of sport, a Bible character rubbing shoulders with a cattle breed and nautical and camping terminology – all bases covered there;
* Some suitably old-fashioned-feeling (ergo Timesy) vocab without anything likely to provoke a rash of “never heard of its” in today’s comments;
* Really good definition parts, not wilfully obfuscatory but with very, very few instances of something that you can just throw in from the definition straight away. A touch of lateral thinking often required to.

In short while this didn’t strike me as a necessarily pyrotechnical puzzle, as e.g. when you sit down to an Enigmatist in other papers you know you’re in for quite a ride (for better or more infuriating), it’s definitely something I’d be happy to show anyone as an example of all the things that make our hobby clever and good. Major kudos to the setter from me, then.

I was mostly on the wavelength too today, finishing in just over 7 minutes. COD to 2dn (because I’ve still got politics on the brain), SW the toughest quadrant, near-disaster of the day at 8dn where I really wanted to bung in LELL TENT. How about you lot?


1 Polish nationals losing heart (6)
FINISH – FIN{n}ISH [nationals, “losing heart”]

4 Vegetables with gel put in tin some time ago (7)
PESETAS – PEAS [vegetables] with SET [gel] put in

9 Not the sole promoter? (5)
UPPER – being all of a shoe that isn’t the sole; and an UPPER could, rather whimsically, be one who promotes (moves up) something.

10 Some licensees plan a development where trippers take the air? (9)
ESPLANADE – hidden in {license}ES PLAN A DE{velopment}

11 Nestling pigeon was apparently injured and fell out (9)
SQUABBLED – SQUAB BLED [nestling pigeon | was apparently injured]

12 Poet‘s birthplace close to harbour (5)
HOMER – HOME [birthplace] + {harbou}R [“close to…”, i.e. last letter of]

13 Speaker’s shabby appearance (4)
MIEN – homophone of MEAN [“speaker’s” shabby]

14 Hamlet’s hue troubled the old man (10)
METHUSELAH – (HAMLET’S HUE*) [“troubled”]

18 Merry, having drunk up like a champion (10)
SUPPORTIVE – SPORTIVE [merry], having “drunk” UP

20 Section of index maybe that traditionally can’t be split? (4)
ATOM – A TO M would be your “section of index”, presumably preceding N TO Z. But an atom *can* be split, you might protest! Not in Greek though, where the word literally means an “indivisible entity”. Maybe they should rename it a tom.

23 Batsmen’s primary edges? Bowlers’, more likely (5)
BRIMS – B{atsman’s} [“primary”] + RIMS [edges]. BRIMS are the edges of bowler hats.

24 On which you might overhear political policy? (5,4)
PARTY LINE – Not so much of a problem in modern telephony, but well I remember back in the day picking up the handset and getting to listen in to a complete stranger’s conversation. Would today’s children even recognise a rotary dial if they saw one?

25 Reduce pianist’s exercise from the top (5,4)
SCALE DOWN – SCALE [pianist’s exercise] + DOWN [from the top]

26 Pay for bargain (5)
TREAT – very nice double def, as in “pay for someone at lunch” and “treat with the enemy”.

27 Fly biting seabird relentlessly (7)
STERNLY SLY [fly] “biting” TERN [seabird]

28 Securing boat, this lady causes historic damage (6)
SCATHE SHE [this lady], securing CAT [boat]. Being a landlubber I assumed the CAT was probably short for CATAMARAN in some way, but in actual fact a catboat is a vessel with “a single sail and a mast carried well forward”. Not to be confused with a catbus either. Oh, and “historic” damage because we don’t really use “scathe” anymore except in well-trodden contexts, such as “scathing review” or “escaped unscathed”.


1 More of us playing small golf contests (9)
FOURSOMES – (MORE OF US*) [“playing”] + S [small]

2 Ruler at sea, showing strain after rise of pound (7)
NEPTUNE – TUNE [strain] after reversed PEN [“rise of” pound]

3 Writer‘s simple dwelling in Kent perhaps? (6)
SCRIBE – CRIB [simple dwelling] in SE [Kent perhaps]. Though I bet top rappers’ “cribs” are anything but “simple dwellings”.

4 Get the better of journalist introduced by channel (5)
PIPED – PIP ED [get the better of | journalist]

5 The case sailor originally transported? (3,5)
SEA CHEST – (THE CASE S{ailor}*) [“transported”], &lit.

6 They say public transport will prove a hindrance (7)
TRAMMEL – homophone of TRAM’LL [“they say” public transport will]

7 Forecaster adopting new curl of the lip (5)
SNEER – SEER [forecaster] “adopting” N [new]

8 Spooner’s national hero inclined to provide holiday accommodation (4,4)
BELL TENT – Spoonerism of TELL BENT [(Swiss) national hero | inclined]

15 Band from Sussex hanging around (8)
HOVERING – the band from Sussex is the vaguely unsavoury-sounding HOVE RING.

16 Deformity from bash to end of nose (9)
HAMMERTOE – HAMMER [bash] + TO + {nos}E [“end of…”]

17 The Lions’ fresh source of milk? (8)
HOLSTEIN – (THE LIONS*) [“fresh”]. A Holstein cow, of course.

19 High churchman‘s strait-laced spouse missing mass (7)
PRIMATE – PRIM {m}ATE [strait-laced | spouse “missing mass”]

21 Go up to stop explosive weapon (7)
TRIDENT – RIDE [go, up] to “stop” TNT [explosive]

22 Mongolia’s first city’s strangely enigmatic (6)
MYSTIC – M{ongolia’s} [“…first”] + (CITY’S*) [“strangely”]

23 Singer touring one’s grounds (5)
BASIS – BASS [singer] “touring” I [ones]

24 Long-winded chap finally promising to follow (5)
PROSY – {cha}P [“…finally], followed by ROSY [promising]

54 comments on “Times 26,573: Awesome & Moresome”

  1. TEA CHEST held me up for a while. POTATOS? DNK SPORTIVE but nothing else seemed to fit. Good fun.
  2. I think the definition for 9ac is “not the sole” since “upper” is not actually used to mean “promoter”.


    I found this relatively tricky (though thankfully with a smattering of easy clues), some definitions being somewhat opaque, e.g. 4dn, 18ac, 26ac, 27ac.

    Lots of nice surfaces. Cheers.

    1. Could I unscramble the comment on UPPER? It’s a double definition, I believe , where both “not the sole” and “promoter” mean the same, one by (rather unusual) negative definition, the other by a touch of whimsy
      1. ‘Promoter’ surely isn’t a reference to part of a shoe?!
        I justified the second part to myself by thinking that a football club might be ‘upped’ a league. I think the question mark is doing quite a lot of work though.
        1. Sometimes attempts at clarification obfuscate instead. I agree with you, and should have said something like both “not the sole” and “promoter” point to the same word, if with different meanings. And upper would be a whimsical term for someone who pushes something upwards.
    2. I think you’re right: I hadn’t realised that “sole” and “upper” between them constituted the entirety of a shoe until I checked just now. I can see “to promote” and “to up” meaning the same thing but obviously “upper” would be an incredibly whimsical way of saying promoter. Big ups to you!
    1. Can’t be part of the anagram Tone, but you’re right it’s not part of the definition either. It’s just “s”.
  3. Good today, pleasing Friday. ATOM took a while to drop, as did FINISH. Excellent use of ‘chamipon’ = one who supports. 14ac a bit of a gimme. Thanks V and setter.

    Can I recommend today’s QC and blog?

    1. I wish the QC was on the Times Crossword Club site, then I’d do it every day! I will check out the blog though, fair’s fair.
  4. 15:26 … we’re being spoilt with so many good puzzles.

    Last in were the perplexing PESETAS/PIPED pairing. PIPED is somewhat ming-bending. I spent some time looking for the definition everywhere but the right place, as no doubt the setter intended.

    I really enjoyed BELL TENT — gloriously silly, as a Spoonerism should be.

    Edited at 2016-11-18 09:12 am (UTC)

  5. A solid two over par for the week, which is the closest I’ve ever got to par. Wonder if Ulaca will let me slip my handicap by another minute?

    Never heard of a BELL TENT, but I like a spoonerism. Also enjoyed SQUABBLED and METHUSELAH.

    Thanks setter and V. Have a good weekend everyone.

  6. 33.17 today, with a lot of time wasted because of my current inability to register all the letters in anagrams. I was convinced the fodder for HOLSTEINS (how appropriate!) had no E, and therefore wasn’t the anagram I thought it had to be, but something more sinister. And like sawbill, I confidently wrote in TEACHEST making the vegetables above looking suspiciously like a misspelling.* Only when I saw the light of gel=SET did I revisit and count. Too right, though, V, an excellent puzzle.
    * on reflection and edit, how nice to be reminded of the innocent days of Dan Quayle, when the worst you could expect of a potential president was that he couldn’t spell.

    Edited at 2016-11-18 09:34 am (UTC)

  7. 50 minutes with a couple of answers from wordplay, such as BRIMS, where I took some time to understand the definition. I had one wrong at 20ac where I put ITEM based on a loose literal (section of an index) and an even looser cryptic hint to do with people in a relationship being described as an “item”, and as we know of course they never split. Reminder to self, if it feels wrong it’s probably because it is.
    1. I certainly considered ITEM for a bit before rejecting it as ever so slightly too weak! But in a puzzle with as much low-level quirk as this, these things (see also keriothe‘s TOPED below) seem a bit more plausible, don’t they?
      1. It’s kind of you to suggest excuses for me. I think you’re right that the quirky feel of the whole puzzle had me willing to accept something that on another day I simply wouldn’t have settled for. No criticism of setter or puzzle is intended as I rather like “quirky”.
  8. Very good puzzle, but unfortunately I had TOPED at 4dn, which seemed like a perfectly good answer to me. Now of course I see that ‘introduced by channel’ would be a very oblique sort of definition, so I should have considered alternatives in a less half-hearted way than I did. Oh well.
  9. Finished this very enjoyable puzzle in about 35 minutes while watching Joe Root have an up and down day. I didn’t understand the ‘historic’ about SCATHE, but I guess it is only used as a participle or a past tense negative, and it must have been fully used as a verb once. Was unsure about STERNLY meaning relentlessly too. Solved the Schleswig- Holstein question in 17d. Is it true that only three people have ever understood this before? We always just called them Friesians on the Fylde. COD BELL TENT, somewhere between a chuckle and a guffaw.

    Edited at 2016-11-18 10:08 am (UTC)

    1. Palmerston used to say that only three people had ever understood it: Bismark, who was dead; Metternich, and he was mad, and himself, and he’d forgotten. ..
      (JerryW, not signed in)
    2. Palmerston used to say that only three people had ever understood it: Bismark, who was dead; Metternich, and he was mad, and himself, and he’d forgotten. ..
      (JerryW, not signed in)
      1. My ancestors were from Mecklenburg (or at least that was their surname) which hopefully was just far away enough from Schleswig and Holstein not to have to worry about the question…
  10. Beaten with six to go at the end of my hour. Some of those I should have got—SCALE DOWN most definitely—but I was just out of time. Too many unknowns for me to construct today; I got some of them, like FOURSOMES, TRAMMEL, BELL TENT, “sportive”, “crib” as a simple dwelling, but it all took a bit too long and I didn’t get to the rest, like PROSY, HOLSTEIN or “squab”…

    Ah well. Thanks for the workout and the working out.

    Edited at 2016-11-18 10:08 am (UTC)

  11. Thought I was on for a PB with all but 5 complete in 15
    then inexplicable meltdown with 15,16,21,27,28 taking a further 15.Perhaps I should have popped a 9 (another take for this light)Thanks for the blog great puzzle.
  12. I was quite pleased with PIOUS for 24d – a new way of doing IOUS maybe? and pious people can be long winded.. but that left me with STERNUS. Ah well! Very enjoyable crossword otherwise. Thanks to setter.
    1. +1 to that combination spoiling an otherwise not really remarkable, but at the same time not awful, time of 23 mins. Except for the wrong bits obvs.
  13. Not bad for a Friday but started after breakfast rather then before. 33 minutes.

    FOI 10ac ESPLANADE LOI 28ac SCATHE. CAT is short for catamaran as well as the single-sail CAT boats noted in the CAYMAN ISLANDS.


  14. Threw in the NW very quickly then slowed down until I was left with 4d and 4a. Tried to work out why CAPED or TOPED would be introduced by channel, until the seed germinated and I finally spotted that I was looking for old money rather than a vegetable at 4a. 42 minutes in all. Great puzzle. Thanks setter and V.
  15. Not all of this went in confidently so I expected to find I’d gone wrong somewhere. And I wasn’t to be disappointed, as I had SCYTHE at 28, assuming that CYT was a boat of some kind.

    I also had PIOUS at 24d for a while but corrected it when I got STERNLY.

    Trammel is a lovely word – I think V used the even lovelier untrammeled in a previous blog.

    Nice puzzle, thanks all round.

  16. Well, my grumpy mood continues unabated, since I was beaten on the third consecutive day, this time by PROSY. I dithered over 27ac, not being convinced of the synonymity of STERNLY and “relentlessly”. And, in the absence of the relevant checker, the only thing I could think of for 24d was “pious” (end of “chap”, and “promises”), which didn’t really make a lot of sense. In the end, I went with STERNLY but then gave up on 24d.

    Despite my grumpth, I have to concede that this was indeed a fine puzzle, as pointed out by our esteemed blogger.

  17. Finished with PROSY, but did it so long ago that I can’t remember the time, but more than 2x AMs, so will be seeing the therapist tomorrow.

    Talking of AM, there was a time when 2 over par would win you all four Majors. Wanting the handicap increased! Sheer banditry…

  18. … with quite a few in the bottom left missing.

    Also, I had ‘pious’ for PROSY, so would never have got STERNLY.

    Challenging puzzle, which didn’t become any easier after I’d gone away for several hours to have a think about it…

  19. About 35 minutes, for a puzzle I found pretty challenging. Good reason, too, as I had PROXY instead of PROSY. Why? Saw ‘Promising to follow’, and I just threw it in. Ugh. That was before I finished (so to speak) with PIPED and PESETAS, whereat I was so busy congratulating myself that I never questioned whatever the hell ROXY might have to do with the former. Oops. Well, live and learn. Regards for the weekend to all.
  20. No Friday knock for a change, possibly because I only worked a four day week after taking Monday off, and I came in a few seconds under 13 mins so I must have been on the setter’s wavelength. SCATHE was my LOI after TRIDENT. Have a good weekend y’all.
  21. I have been searching and searching sternly for how on earth the word “sternly” might be a synonym of the word “relentlessly” but it seems utterly baffling. How can it be? I hope the setter doesn’t become unemployed anytime soon and have to attend a Job Seeker interview. “And have you been looking for work since they dispensed with your services at the Times, Mr Setter?”

    “Oh, yes. I have been looking sternly for months now!” Or is it just me?

    1. “For hours they stared relentlessly at that scarlet ribbon on the map and hated it because it would not move up high enough to encompass the city.” (Catch-22)

      Glad the book is finally useful for something…. 🙂

    2. Try Collins, which defines ‘stern’ as ‘relentless’! ODO and Chambers both have ‘unrelenting’, so that’s a full house.

      Edited at 2016-11-18 06:02 pm (UTC)

      1. But you know (better than anyone, perhaps!) what dictionaries are like, dragging us kicking and screaming to lie on their Procrustean Beds!

        Nice to have an example that shows the words (very probably, and with a high degree of approximation) acting in very similar ways.

        1. I would never apply the word ‘Procrustean’ to dictionaries, since I don’t consider them to be any kind of authority: they are followers, not leaders. They do all give examples for ‘stern’ (ODO gives several), but they are largely of the type ‘matron had a stern face’ so not very helpful. Collins’ ‘the stern demands of parenthood’ is perhaps the best: it certainly strikes a chord with me.
          I think you can argue that ‘relentless’ on its own is a rather unsatisfactory definition for ‘stern’, but in the circumstances we have to take this argument to the lexicographers, not the setter.
          FWIW I have great respect for the work of lexicographers: their job is like nailing jelly to a wall and they do it admirably.
    3. You clearly can’t just substitute “sternly” for “relentlessly” in all the places where the latter is used and expect it to work, it just doesn’t.

      However I would say that being “stern” definitely presupposes an unwillingness to “relent” in my mind. So after a small hesitation I was happy enough that it worked and pressed the submit button!

  22. A DNF due to not checking properly in the NW corner and entering TEA CHEST, could I see why it was POTATOS. Also put off early on by the mention of FOURSOMES, foursomes is hard work, especially if you have a partner who, after you have shanked into the cabbage and apologised, says “There are no sorrys in this game”. I always reply “If you do that to my best drive of the day you had better say sorry otherwise I’ll be playing the rest of the round without my 6 iron”.
  23. How on earth did you manage it in 7 minutes? I can’t write that quickly. Thank you for your excellent explanations, though!
  24. Quite a nice puzzle, despite the problems I had accessing the crossword club for much of the day, mostly due to my computer, I suspect. Unfortunately a DNF, but my one mistake is not uninteresting and is getting to be a recurring problem. English is my native language (well, the American version), but German is the language which surrounds me in daily life and there are unfortunately many words which are very similar in both languages but with slightly different spellings (particularly, the order in which vowels occur). Since the German spelling is the one which I see most frequently, I tend to slip into it in these crosswords as well, so my mistake today was METHUSALEH for METHUSELAH (in German he is called METHUSALEM!). I have had the same problem in the past with MAHOGANY (in German MAHAGONI) and I am sure there are other examples. I could kick myself.

    Edited at 2016-11-18 10:50 pm (UTC)

  25. Damn! 8:52, but I failed to spot on my final check-through that I’d typed FOUESOMES, thus bringing to the end a reasonably decent run of all-corrects. My fourth mistake of the year in the daily cryptic (two of the other three were pure carelessness).

    An interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

    1. The use of a stopwatch and a print-out (or even treeware) will put an end to your woes. Technology works both ways.
    2. This is why I never do a check-through – you can still not see an error even if you look over it several times (see also Neil’s STIPENDIAYY at Champs). Commiserations!
  26. Not if you spell TRAMMLE by its less common alternative spelling.
    Quite tricky, but reasonably fast all the same except 24 dn where an extended alphabet trawl was needed.

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