Times 26589 – no duck soup here

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
My life is in chaos. Well, disarray. Thanks to a virus with the catchy epithet H5N8 – la grippe aviaire. It takes me 35 minutes – sometimes 34 – to get to or from the golf club. Yesterday, thanks to road closures, it took nearly 50. Three cases of bird ‘flu on a nearby duck farm, 20,000 fat ducks already abattu there alone, if it spreads there could be a million or two in our area and a strong smell of roast duck from wherever they ‘euthanase’ them. Stampedes to follow, in the supermarket; the thought of a Christmas without foie gras would be too much to bear for any Frenchman. Migrating swans from Russia may be responsible, they say, another Putin plot? Or is it Horryd wreaking revenge on us tireless bloggers?

Wednesdays are an oasis of calm in this chaos. The only weekdays I can ignore the car, road blocks and disinfectant troughs, be a recluse, make a coffee and blog the Times crossword. This one I tried to do under ‘exam conditions’ (although not as intimidating as those at Château Murdoch, no doubt); I found it if anything easier than last week’s, although I see only 44% of semi-finalists completed it correctly. Of the six Champiohsip puzzles so far, I thought it was the wittiest and most enjoyable. Just inside 20 minutes, done and parsed, so a level par score.  As a teamwork gesture, I’ve left parsing 18a for the commentators.

1 FOLK MUSIC – Anagram of UK FILM CO’S, D traditional notes.
6 SCOOP – Double definition.
9 KAMPALA – K = king, A LAP = a wash, reverse it, insert MA reversed; D capital, of Uganda; the name means roughly ‘Hill of Impala’ so we have an antelope clue, well sort of.
10 NEW TOWN – Insert W(ide) into Isaac NEWTON: D urban development.
11 REBUS – RE BUS = on vehicle; D puzzling symbols, etc.
12 DREARIEST – DEARIE = ducks, as in Northern expression of endearment; insert R(iver) and add T (close to boat); D most tiresome.
13 CRAVE – CRAVEN = coward, delete the N for knight; D pine for.
14 REBELLION – REEL = wind, as in reel in (a fishing line); insert B for black; add LION for cat; D rising.
17 HANDLEBAR – BAR = local, put HANDLE = name up front, D biker uses this.
18 OUTRE – D bizarre, I biffed it, no idea how it works. Ah yes, Jimbo was first, ROUTE has its R moved to near the end. Simps!
19 BROADCAST – Witty cryptic double definition, BROAD CAST and air.
22 IRISH – I, RIS(E) = mount docked, H = horse; D National.
24 TACTILE – ACT = performance, inside TILE = playing piece; D hands-on.
25 LAGGARD – LAG = wrap-up warmly, DRAG reversed = to haul, back; D trailer.
26 DERBY – RED reversed = left-winger backed; BY = times; D city.
27 SISYPHEAN – SY = StaY on vacation; insert into (IN SHAPE)* anagrid ‘jogging’; D uphill. An uphill task, as in Sisyphus who had to keep pushing that big rock up again and again.

1 FAKIR – FAIR = clean, insert K = stank ultimately; D mendicant.
2 LAMEBRAIN – Insert E(nergy) into LAMB, then RAIN = drops; D idiot.
3 MEANS WELL – MEAN = average, SWELL = toff, D has good intentions.
4 STANDARD-BEARERS – STANDARDS = guidelines, insert E(nglish) into BARER = simpler then insert that into STANDARDS: D party leaders.
6 SOWER – SOW = mother on farm, E R = alternate letters of hEaRd: D arable worker.
7 OZONE – O ZONE = old region; D by sea you could take in this. I’ve never been convinced that seaside smell is caused by ozone, a toxic gas, rather than rotting seaweed and iodine vapour.
8 PENITENCE – PENCE = coppers, insert E TIN reversed: D remorse.
13 COHABITED – CO-ED = school, insert HABIT = tradition; D came together under one roof.
15 LOOKING UP – Double definition, improving and the other bit.
16 INTRICATE – (RECITATI N)*, D involved (not varied as I had at first).
20 OCCUR – CO (commander) reversed = OC, CUR = heel, D come off. Took me a minute or two to see how this worked, atfer trying to get OSCAR in there.
21 DAISY – Insert I’S into DAY = age; D bloomer.
23 HAD ON – HA ! = I’m surprised, DON = academic; D was sporting, wore.

55 comments on “Times 26589 – no duck soup here”

  1. 18A OUTRE is ROUTE with “R” moved “almost to finish”

    Surely easiest of this years competition puzzles so far. Only SISYPHEAN gave pause but easily solved from checkers + definition

        1. I was told that the majority of the ‘failures’ on the day with this particular crossword were due to the inability to spell 27a!
          1. And brilliant setting for such an easily misspelt word, isn’t it? The wordplay can be interpreted either way, in fact I think it leans more towards SYSIPHEAN. Very sneaky device to separate the wheat from the chaff in the Championships.

            And that’s from someone who got it wrong, after getting it wrong last time it came up. Guess what? I will never, ever, ever, spell this word incorrectly again. Ever. Until next time.

        2. I wrestled with it, wrote it correctly in the margin and then got it wrong in the grid 🙁
  2. About the half hour but would have been quicker if I hadn’t thought 23 down was MID ON, a sporting position, until the search for a national generated IRISH. Tricky in places but no seed fell on stony ground.
  3. All done in about 20 or so minutes, so very quick time for me. Buuuuuuut…. I got the I and the Y the wrong way around at 27ac, so it doesn’t count (even though I got the ROUTE=>OUTRE parsing!).
  4. 14:21 … pretty straightforward here, too, though I had to write out Sisyphus / Sysiphus before deciding the second one looked wrong. I notice quite a few with 1 error on the Club leaderboard and suspect this was the culprit clue.

    Thanks for the entertainment, Pip, though I think delays in getting to the golf club and a foie gras shortage are what Guardian readers like to call “first world problems”, n’est ce pas?

    1. Indeed, tongue was firmly stuck in cheek. Although I am checking Bloomberg to see if foie gras futures are worth a punt.
  5. With a minute left in my hour, I put in KAMPALA as a vaguely-remembered capital, without really seeing the wordplay for the PALA bit. Everything else was parsed, including OUTRE…

    …or so I thought, until I found myself in the same camp as nige and janie with “Sysiphean”. It looks very obviously wrong when I write it like that, so perhaps the all-caps was masking my error. Ah well.

    I’m still pleased to have finished one of the competition crosswords in under an hour, even with the one mistake. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  6. I see – now I am the scourge of the ‘tireless’ bloggers and have the powert and ability to send migrational Russian geese to Kirbyland in order to disadvantage our wise and snowy owl. OK c’est moi et M.Putin! Bon Noel!

    Pip, I’ll have you know I am very fond of fois gras as are the Chinese – especially in Hong Kong where they can afford it!.

    I was over the hump in 45 minutes but no Habana.


    COD SISYPHEAN (spelt correctly) and WOD REBUS

    1. Nice avatar. Presumably the Chinese make their FG from Chinese ducks, not imports from France? I had a vision of flocks of virulent Peking Ducks being GPS-programmed and deported and arriving here on the wing…
      1. The avatar was designed more for the midweek QC – if you can’t beat ’em – join ’em.
        In Singapore, fifteen years ago,FG was imported directly from France.
  7. … to all the woes of the DQ, I’m back after my own touch of something grippe-ish. (Thanks to Galspray for being in touch.) But being very out of practice I dragged my feet and then myself across the finish line. (Is that zeugmatic?) Forgot all sorts of things in a week or so: that coppers can be TIN, that “vacation” has another meaning, and others too numerous to mention. Whatever I had, it must have been a disease of the brain.
    1. Thanks for ZEUGMATIC – a new word for me. In this case, coppers are pence, and tin is cash.
      1. Given your user pic, Rotter, I suspect you appreciate the recordings of Flanders & Swann. There are some wonderful examples of zeugma in their song “Have Some Madeira M’Dear”.
        1. I forget where I read it, but I remember in some book:
          “he came in 5 minutes, blue jeans, a temper, and a taxi.”
          1. Nice one. I didn’t know it. Here’s the first one in Madeira:

            She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice
            She was fair, she was sweet seventeen
            He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice
            He was base, he was bad, he was mean
            He had slyly inveigled her up to his flat
            To view his collection of stamps
            And he said as he hastened to put out the cat
            The wine, his cigar and the lamps

            Have some madeira, m’dear…

    2. Welcome back McT, but now Ulaca seems to be missing in action. So hard to keep all you kids in the same place.
  8. 30 minutes with all parsed within that time apart from OUTRE which I returned to and sussed after the clock was stopped.

    Count me as another with an error at 27ac but in my defence I’d say the wordplay is ambiguous so one needs to know the correct spelling, which I didn’t, or had forgotten. The temptation was to parse S{ta}Y followed by an anagram of IN SHAPE whereas it needs to be an anagram of the whole lot as there’s no insertion indicator – “in” being part of the anagrist”.

    Edited at 2016-12-07 10:19 am (UTC)

    1. +1 to, well, the whole post really.

      About 30 mins, and the same issue at 27a. Wordplay definitely points to SY…. for those that don’t know the spelling.

  9. Nice to know I had more success than 56% of semi-finalists, albeit under more relaxed conditions. Luckily I remembered Mr Sisyphus’s appearance from earlier this year when I had the I and Y the wrong way round.
  10. 20 minutes on the train (the equivalent of one hour under exam conditions). No problems … with the crossword not the train.
  11. for chickening out of the championships. 50 mins with many interruptions by customers, so prob about 30 mins. Maybe I’ll have a go next year, but I’m sure they won’t be as easy as this one
  12. 13:33 with no errors would have been a good performance. Would have been. Oh well.

    Excellent crossword. COD to SISYPHEAN, for sheer sneakiness.

    Thanks setter, but that’s the last time you’ll catch me out on that one. And thanks Pip.

  13. Actually I did solve this correctly, but outside my target 20 minutes, IRISH, HAD ON and LAGGARD LosI. Agreed OZONE is not taken in by the sea, poisonous, colourless and otherwise undetectable as it is. 23’23”, thanks pip and setter.
    1. I was completely sure that OZONE was colourless and odourless until I just looked it up, reminded by your comment of an idle thought I had while doing the puzzle. Apparently it’s pale blue and “distinctively pungent”!

      We were both right to think that the seaside thing is a myth, at least: “Seaside air was considered to be healthy because of its believed ozone content; but the smell giving rise to this belief is in fact that of halogenated seaweed metabolites“.

      Oddly I associate the same seaside smell with the smell given off around air ionisers, which apparently *do* produce ozone…

      Edited at 2016-12-07 11:26 am (UTC)

      1. Indeed I have smelled (or smelt?) ozone in a lab and it doesn’t smell to me the same as the seaside, it’s sharper and nastier.
  14. Completed the starboard sidei n short order having gained no entree to the port at all. The whole then took me well over championship par time, but it may just have been a slow morning.  
    Small issue: on 16 INTRICATE, I had varied for the anagram indicator and involved for the definition, which I submit is more precise.

  15. 14:40 so the hardest of the three Prelim 2 puzzles for me. I didn’t bother parsing (or couldn’t parse) REBUS, OUTRE, S. BEARERS and PENITENCE so thanks for those.

    I managed to get SISYPHEAN right but under exam conditions I could just as easily have flunked it. I needed Cryptic Sue’s virtual Tippex to correct a dodgy SWOOP at 6a.

    I panicked a bit at 5 down as with a few checkers it looked like it was going to be some medieval Latin choral work I’d never heard of called something like the Cerebryant Talus.

    So that was under 37 minutes for the set of three and even allowing for match-day nerves and checking time I’d have been close to 20 minutes faster on these than I was on the ones I was faced with in Prelim 1.

    If I qualify next year then in all likelihood I’ll try and get in the second session so we’ll see what happens.

  16. A feeling of concern began to take hold as I worked my way through the clues trying to get a foothold, with nothing springing to mind, then things started looking up at 15d, which gave me my route into 18a. The SE then took shape apart from 27a which did for me later. My LOI was STANDARD BEARER, which took a while to parse. I also struggled to parse 12a for a while as I was using the wrong R as the river. On the whole I quite enjoyed the puzzle, but as it took 48 minutes to complete with one wrong, there’s no danger of my applying to take part in the competition in the near or distant future:-) Thanks setter and Pip.

    Edited at 2016-12-07 01:16 pm (UTC)

  17. Same slow start for me, even after spotting 1a and 2d almost immediately – it all then slowed down, completing in about 55′.

    I’m obviously feeling a bit pedantic today, so as well as pointing out a small error in mctext’s post above, I’ll point out the typo in the blog – never heard of Isaac Netwon.

    I did manage to parse OUTRE, which always reminds me of John Hurt’s portrayal of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant. He uses the word most effectively in his own defence when appearing before the magistrate, I think for soliciting – lovely stuff.

  18. I’ve been caught out by the spelling of SISYPHEAN before. 14:30, though looking back I’m not sure how it took me that long, though there were a few conversations going on in the room (I bet that doesn’t happen in the championships).
  19. Tip: it’s the mYTH of sisYPHus, with the Y going with the digraph in both words.

    A relatively easy cryptic, albeit that I had difficulty parsing some of the answers.

  20. 12:38, but with SYSIPHEAN. I wasn’t sure which way round it was, and unlike sotira was none the wiser after writing them both out, so I followed what I thought was the more natural reading of the wordplay.
    Still, one wrong is better than five, so overall I would have done better in the second heat. And thanks to pootle73 and Adrian I might remember how to spell Sisyphus next time.

    Edited at 2016-12-07 03:02 pm (UTC)

  21. I didn’t find this particularly simple, but eventually I got through, but in sub-competition time, about 30 minutes. I ended with PENITENCE, after SCOOP. It took me a while to unscramble the two long down clues. Otherwise it would have gone in much more quickly, but again I prove that competition isn’t in my future. Regards.
  22. Way above the 20 minute target, so would have failed if there on the day. Preferred the old format where anyone who had done a qualifying puzzle or two could turn up to a Regional Final and then get whittled down to suitable finalists but I appreciate that this format required sponsorship. Cutty Sark whisky as I think I recall one year.
  23. (On vacation stay= SY) +
    (in shape jogging) = SIPHEAN)
    which, since the poor guy was Greek, might well be the way we spell his punishment with the Roman alphabet although as a matter of fact it isn’t.

    To spell it right we need an indicator for “insert”.

    1. There’s no need for an insertion indicator. ‘Jogging’ as an anagrind can be read to apply to everything that precedes it, so the answer is an anagram of (StaY, IN SHAPE)*.
  24. I worked a couple of hours longer than I’d intended and was quite tired by the time I got home so I probably should have saved this one for another day. I finished in 22 mins but I’m another who misspelt 27ac because I followed the wordplay too literally, which is really annoying because I’ve come across the correct spelling of the word many times before. Sneaky indeed. It was a championship puzzle so I don’t believe the setter needed to amend the clue to spoonfeed the competitors the answer.
  25. A rather scatty 9:27 for a puzzle which at one time I’d have made short work of.

    I was actually aware that SISYPHEAN was one of the answers (it was impossible to avoid hearing about it on the day), but it was the answer to the last clue I came to so I didn’t benefit greatly from knowing about it in advance, and it’s not a word I would ever spell wrongly (it’s not even on my list of difficult words).

    As I had no significant problems with any of the puzzles from the second heat, it could be that I was unlucky to be in the wrong heat – not for the first time!

  26. About an hour, finishing, of course with SYSIPHEAN, even after 1) convincing myself that the wordplay would allow SISYPHEAN as well, 2) writing both possibilities down and staring at them (unfortunately in a style of handwriting, I suppose, which made SYSI.. look likelier) and 3) having also got it wrong the last time it came up. Must remember the mnemonics suggested.
  27. “Uphill” is not a valid definition. The distinctive feature of Sisyphus’ task was not that it was an uphill climb but that it was an uphill, then downhill, then uphill again task infinitely repeated.
    Oxford Dictionaries: “Denoting a task that can never be completed.”
    Collins: “2. actually or seemingly endless and futile”
    An “uphill” task is difficult but achievable.

    Edited at 2016-12-08 07:49 am (UTC)

    1. One of Saki’s house party hosts was overheard saying one of her guests was the only person stupid enough to buy her car, which she called the Envy of Sisyphus because “it goes uphill quite nicely if you push it.”

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