Times 26,709: Taking Down Particulars

I’m standing in for pipkirby today so I’ll keep things short and sweet. I did this funny and ingenious puzzle on paper, in 9 minutes and 18 seconds according to stopwatch, so by no means a walk in the park compared to its two predecessors this week. FOI was 23dn which jumped straight out at me, LOI 2dn which is at least straightforwardly clued, but I won’t be the only one to have struggled with the definition part.

Of particular note, not one, not two, but three clues where something has to go inside something else and then inside something else again: the title of this blog was almost going to be “March of the Matryoshka” until I noticed the 12ac/11dn meta-double-def. I’ll nominate 11dn as my Clue of the Day for cleverness and economy. Many thanks to the brilliant setter for making me question my axiom that Friday is always the best day of the crosswording week. And talking of which, I’m sure you’ll have an unusually good Friday this week with the blog in Pip’s capable hands. See you all in 9 days!


1 Supporter penning a line on cricketing trophy for writer (10)
JOURNALIST – JOIST [supporter] “penning” A L [a | line] on URN [cricketing trophy]
6 Bird hissing back, not half! (4)
IBIS – reverse of SIBI{lant} [hissing “back”, “not half”]
9 Sticky food, say, including piece of chicken munched by friend (7, 3)
CHEWING GUM – E.G. [say] “including” WING [piece of chicken], “munched by” CHUM [friend]
10 List staff that everyone can see (4)
MENU – MEN U [staff | that everyone can see]
12 Record score broken by one male in particular (14)
DISCRIMINATING – DISC [record] + RATING [score] “broken by” I M IN [one | male | in]
14 One live broadcast from West European peninsula (6)
IBERIA – I BE [one | live] + reversed AIR [broadcast “from West”]
15 Plant shoot died, one in meadow (7)
BUDDLEIA – BUD D [shoot | died] + I in LEA [meadow]
17 Brother keeping mum (8)
TRAPPIST – cryptic def (for a monk who has taken a vow of silence)
19 Searcher, try and look (6)
GOOGLE – GO [try] and OGLE [look]
22 Ideal state to always always stay up then? (5-5, 4)
NEVER-NEVER LAND – if you NEVER NEVER LAND you “always always stay up”
24 Shade in colour certainly retro (4)
ECRU – hidden reversed in {colo}UR CE{rtainly}
25 Asian set out to maintain reputation amid challenge (7)
VIETNAMESE – (SET*) [“out”] “to maintain” NAME [reputation], amid VIE [challenge]
26 Abandoned building (4)
SHED – double def
27 Good luck, lock’s opening ancient city secured by key (3, 3, 4)
ALL THE BEST – L{ock} + THEBES [ancient city], “secured by” ALT [key]


1 Raise flag (4)
JACK – double def
2 Retinue surprisingly not having the same parents (7)
UTERINE – (RETINUE*) [“surprisingly”]. Uterine means “born of the mother but not having the same father”.
3 Secure ships, cutters (4, 8)
NAIL CLIPPERS – NAIL [secure] + CLIPPERS [ships]
4 Register those in the vanguard in Germany in art gallery (6)
LOGGIA – LOG [register] + G{ermany} I{n} A{rt}
5 In team I am indebted – debatable (8)
SPURIOUS – in SPURS [team], I.O.U. [I am indebted]
7 Quickest way to drop priest into Roman well (7)
BEELINE – ELI [priest] into BENE [Roman (i.e. the Latin for) well]
8 Resentful criticism from those downtrodden and spoiled? (4, 6)
SOUR GRAPES – grapes are trodden down to make wine, but these are sour ergo spoiled.
11 Particular type of car hire (4, 2, 6)
HARD TO PLEASE – HARDTOP LEASE [type of car | hire]
13 Huge vessels, large troughs actually, all beginning to feed swine (3, 7)
OIL TANKERS – L{arge} T{roughs} A{ctually} “to feed” OINKERS [swine]
16 Peculiar concoction of ale and spice (8)
ESPECIAL – (ALE + SPICE*) [“concoction”]
18 Bad jingle? (7)
ADVERSE – a jingle is a verse in an advertisement, i.e. an AD VERSE
20 Italian certainly not donning some layers (7)
GENOESE – NO [certainly not] “donning” GEESE [some layers]
22 Something to do with an egg that’s hit the road (4, 2)
BEAT IT – One thing to do with an egg is BEAT IT
23 Most courageous removing bra, item of underwear (4)
VEST – {bra}VEST [most courageous, “removing BRA”]

44 comments on “Times 26,709: Taking Down Particulars”

  1. Never quite got into the swing of things on this one, and had a few in the NW corner left at the end of my hour. I’d never heard of the cricketing trophy, but I still can’t believe it took me so long to see JOURNALIST, despite having the J from the beginning.

    I pushed on for fifteen more minutes, but still never thought of the obvious “disc” for record, otherwise I might not have given up. As it was I also had LOGGIA—thought of but not known, and oddly I didn’t spot the GIA in the wordplay—and the unknown UTERINE still to go. Ah well.

    Strange when you plough though what feel like harder clues only to run aground on things that seem a bit more obvious in retrospect. FOI 1d, COD 6a.

    Thanks to setter and blogger.

      1. Yur, it seemed reasonably obvious after the fact, but if you didn’t know that in the first place…
  2. About 55 mins over pancakes. I had a tussle in the north east for no good reason. I really liked the Oinkers, Roman well, Bad jingle; but COD is definitely the Hard-top lease. Brilliant. Thanks to setter and V.
    BTW not sure chewing gum is food.
    1. I too would balk at calling chewing gum “food”, but the fact that I feel a strange sense of deja vu about discussing this on a crossword blog makes me think that maybe someone on the Times setting crew really thinks that it is?
  3. Skipped merrily along until the first four downs (had ____CLIPPERS for a while), 1ac and 9ac stopped me mercilessly in my tracks. I liked 8d very much, and 17a proves how wonderfully strange the English language can be.
    JOURNALIST taught me a good lesson in not relying on chestnuts – supporter? Must be bra, tee or fan surely! And if I’d looked past ASHES, which was so clearly not going to be part of the answer, I’d have got this much quicker. Harumph.
    Really lovely puzzle all told. Many thanks, setter and Verlaine.
  4. The 1s were my LOIs in this surprisingly quickly solved puzzle, first 1ac –couldn’t get beyond ‘cup’ for ‘trophy’, and JOIST wasn’t forthcoming — finally 1d. I biffed OIL TANKERS, and never did parse it; a couple of others –VIETNAMESE, ALL THE BEST — became clear once I typed them in. I wondered if the two PARTICULARs was inadvertant; in any case, I’ll go along with Verlaine in giving HARD TO PLEASE the COD.
  5. Spot on half an hour for this, which I found tricky. There were lots of enjoyable clues and GOOGLE will for evermore carry this secondary meaning. I saw COD TRAPPIST straightaway which helped. I guessed UTERINE must mean the definition supplied by V but have never heard it. LOI DISCRIMINATING with penultimate JOURNALIST, having tried to fit Ashes and the Specsavers County Championship in before thinking of that little URN. Thank you V and setter.
  6. Ran out of time so didn’t finish this clever offering. Great to see the ancient city not UR and supporter not FAN or LEG. The juxtaposition of car/hire and art/gallery was brilliant. COD to 11d but 7a made me smile.
  7. … and today’s One Error is ‘studious’ at 5dn. When will I learn that if I need to come here to find out how to parse that one last pesky unparsable clue, it could actually mean that that one is wrong…?

  8. Tough going, but pleased to finish after silly errors on Monday and Tuesday. I reckon I probably complete more tough ones successfully than easier ones through being forced to stop and think!
  9. Was it 22a (not 23) that leaped out at you V? I was another trying for the ashes, and I wasted time with “scissors”…. The two “particulars” were very good. 16.21
  10. Tough but I nearly got there. When faced with 19a I decided I couldn’t bring myself to write in the name of the unethical b@@@@@@ds so I choose not too to finish. Is this a first? Please stop using them until they act responsibly. I have emailed them to ask them to do so but, oddly, have yet to receive a response. COD 2d where my background helped. Thanks Slogger
    1. B@@@@@ds is a word I know, but b@@@@@@ds must be a much worse epithet.

      Edited at 2017-04-26 05:46 pm (UTC)

  11. About half an hour: NW took most time, as it seemed clear that the supporter in 1ac had to be B(l)ACK, followed by some forgotten sponsor’s name, which meant that 1dn couldn’t be the obvious JACK, and that 2dn wasn’t an anagram.
    Describing 9ac as ‘food’ was unhelpful – I’d EGG from e.g. which didn’t work.
  12. 17:48. I felt I was being pretty dense on this one: several times I found myself scratching my head thinking ‘how on earth…’ only for the penny to drop, and everything to suddenly appear blindingly obvious. This is when crosswords are the most fun, of course. I particularly enjoyed the OINKERS and the HARD TOP LEASE.

    Edited at 2017-04-26 09:27 am (UTC)

  13. I actually thought some of this a bit of a stretch in terms of synonymy (which I go on about a lot), but quite inventive at the same time. If it’s a struggle to be different, this was a good stab at it!

    Liked the split of HARDTOP LEASE, but for reasons above it’s really hard to get from ‘a type of car hire’.

  14. An odd solve in which I gave up on the top half and worked from ESPECIAL (another particular clue?) upwards, and finished one second before 22 minutes. Lots to like, though a bit disappointed not to get Spurs straight off: and no jokes about them not being a proper team, please. I’m still touchy about taking an hour and a bit getting from Wembley Stadium to Wembley Park tube with a wheelchair completely surrounded by Cheslea fans (other lucky, lucky sides are available) after a misdirection from the other boys in blue.

    Lots of fun, especially the naughty bit about bra removal. Chewing gum is not, however, a food. It’s pavement glue.

  15. Just over an hour, but at least I did it without checkers. Mainly held up by biffing INUTERO (not even an anagram) and SAFE BREAKERS at 3d, which messed up about 5 other clues. LOI SOUR GRAPES and MENU.
    1. Ooh, interesting point! I didn’t even think about that, just banged it in…
      1. Iberia pops up so often these days that the editor obviously was unable to cope and Hag* won.

        (Hag is today’s setter.)

      2. Whether It is East or West, and whether it is part of the wordplay or not, the fact is that the phrase West European peninsular was enough for a write-in regardless of the rest of the clue.

        Edited at 2017-04-26 05:46 pm (UTC)

  16. I managed to make an oinker’s ear of timing myself for this (forgot to start) but I reckon about 15 minutes. I was just glad, like Pootle, to have survived error-free for the first time this week.

    Like dining in an understaffed restaurant it took me far too long to get MENU: without the second letter I mused if a RODU or MANU might be some kind of (no doubt classics or theology-related) list.

  17. Liked this a lot, finishing in a little over 50 minutes, as I recall, but any joy I feel is tempered by the fact that dear old Gallers came a cropper again.
    1. if the Australian Magoo works anything like a voodoo doll, and can subtly influence the destiny of the other Magoo (but only on Championship day, I’m not vindictive the rest of the year) then his stalwart service to the cause will be appreciated!
    2. I don’t want to talk about it. But if I did, I’d point out that I was undone by a plant, so it’s really an all-correct by any sane and decent standard.
  18. 48:44, but at least I was all correct today. Found it tough but fair with a number of penny drop moments. FOI was IBERIA, having draw a blank until then, and LOI was IBIS, where I never saw the wordplay but biffed it from the checkers. Very clever now V has elucidated. I wasn’t getting far until NEVER-NEVER LAND appeared out of the mists, then it gradually came together. Didn’t know the UTERINE definition and tried starting it with UN and IN for a while. Liked OINKERS and HARDTOP LEASE too. Thanks setter and V.
  19. 15 mins all parsed, so I was pretty much on the setter’s wavelength. I agree that the clue for 11dn was a cracker, and I also liked the one for ADVERSE. OIL TANKERS was my LOI after NEVER-NEVER LAND.

    As far as Vinyl’s point about answer similarities is concerned I did the Quickie at lunchtime like I usually do, and by the time I got home to start this one I’d completely forgotten that DISCRIMINATE was in the Quickie so it didn’t help me with 12ac in the slightest, and I needed quite a few checkers before I got it.

  20. Fun puzzle, and kept me on my toes – didn’t know the definition of UTERINE and loved the wordplay in CHEWING GUM and OIL TANKERS
  21. About 20 minutes, ending with JOURNALIST. I got it from the checking letters, leading me to deduce that the cricketing trophy is an urn. Is that what the ashes go in? Regards.
  22. ‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello. I was way off wavelength for this one so no time today, just pleased to finish. FOI 10ac. LOI 12ac. Bottom half went in relatively smoothly but the top half was a real slog. COD to 13dn. I tend to miss most surfaces so thanks to Vinyl for pointing out the amusing swift chucking of the priest down the well at 7dn which I missed.
  23. …crippled by floraphobia at 15ac. Bah. An easy one to parse, but I managed to stuff it up.

    Still enjoyed the hardtop lease. Thanks setter and V.

  24. I’m sure that this is obvious, but I can’t see it. Why is U “something that everyone can see” in 11ac?
  25. I was feeling horribly tired last night and lacked the energy for checking through the clues at that point. Which I wanted to do before commenting here. Which is why this is so late. (Sorry!)

    An interesting mixture. One of the things I wanted to check was whether anyone else thought that “West” in 14ac should have been “East” (or if I was simply losing my marbles), so I’m relieved to hear from mal26. And I wasn’t too keen on CHEWING GUM being “food”, or SOUR GRAPES being “spoiled”, or “Beat it” for HIT THE ROAD – all just a bit too loose for my taste.

    On the other hand I loved the clues for OIL TANKERS, ADVERSE and HARD TO PLEASE, particularly this last (a definite COD), which I’m amazed to say I don’t ever recall coming across previously since “type of car hire” seems such an obvious (and delightful) construction.

    Overall the pluses outweigh any minuses (mostly just me being too picky), so I raise my hat to the setter. I should have been faster than my 13:49, but (once again) I blame my tiredness.

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